South Africa planning next Feb/March

Mar 22nd, 2017, 12:08 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 202
South Africa planning next Feb/March

I am starting to plan a trip for next year about this time. The general plan is a few days in Capetown, rent a car to tour the wine country and part of the Garden route, then to Johannesburg for a few days and several days Safari either Londolozi, Mala Mala or Sabi Sabi.

It should be summer in Capetown, and maybe not the best, but good wildlife viewing in March.

How far along should we go East without it becoming too much, we don't want to spend all our time in the car? I think Port Elizabeth/Addo is too far, how about Knysna? Or should we stay closer like Hermanus or Heidelburg?

Lots of good ideas here on where to go. We don't need an over the top Safari Lodge, but these look like where we will have the best game drives.

Any comments or other ideas are welcome. Thanks.
carl170 is online now  
Mar 23rd, 2017, 05:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,290
It's only three hours or so from Knysna to Addo Elephant NP, less time than it would take to return to Cape Town. I would simply do a one-way car rental (easy to arrange) from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, then fly to JNB or up to Nelspruit or Hoedspruit from PLZ.

Stop in Plettenberg Bay (nicer than Knysna IMO) and Jeffreys Bay (to watch the surfers - see the original Endless Summer movie from the 1960s) en route.
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 25th, 2017, 11:52 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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We went as far as Knysna simply as that's what fitted our plans. I would have liked to get as far as Storms River. The Garden Route is generally considered to start at Mossel Bay and end at Storms River. We loved the drive back to Cape Town via the inland R62 and a highlight of the trip was the thriving little town of Prince Albert.

Much depends on how you get up to Johannesburg.
tjhome1 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2017, 01:31 PM
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Hi there!

Renting a car would be a good option for you. You could explore the Penguins, Cape of Good Hope, as well as the Winelands and further onto the Garden Route. I think you really need at least 3 nights minimum to explore the GR. There are some wonderful preserves and you really don't want to rush out.

A one way car rental makes sense but instead of going all the way to PLZ, you could go as far as Plett Bay then back track just a bit to George and fly out of George. If you take an early flight you can get to the reserves in time for afternoon game drive. But all those flights require a stop in either CPT or JNB. I would plan your itinerary carefully with those flights.

Londo, Mala Mala and Sabi Sabi are 3 of my favorites. Highly recommend. Game viewing is superb, along with accommodations, food, service etc. Skukuza would be the nearest airport for these 3 lodges so when you look at flights, plan on flying into there.

diannelovestravel is offline  
Mar 29th, 2017, 02:47 PM
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Thank you! It seems like car is the best option, we just have to decide if we want to rent one way, or the return drive to Capetown inland also sounds nice.
carl170 is online now  
Apr 26th, 2017, 04:59 AM
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Hello again, our itinerary is shaping up.

We start with 10 days to tour Cape Town, Wine Country and the Garden Route. We plan to drive to/from Cape Town. We will probably stay 2 nights in various places. The Fodor's choice hotels: The View in Wilderness, and Hog Hollow Plettenberg Bay sound like destinations onto themselves. We are thinking of driving inland on the return through Prince Albert as suggested.

Next part is 4 nights safari, maybe Mala Mala, but we are looking into other options as well. We plan to fly in/out of Skukuza if possible.

Lastly we end with 4 nights in Johannesburg.

As always, I appreciate any comments or suggestions.
carl170 is online now  
Apr 26th, 2017, 07:52 AM
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Update: the other recommended lodges are Elephant Plains, Kirkmans Kamp and Lion Sands River Lodge.
carl170 is online now  
Apr 26th, 2017, 09:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2014
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Dear Carl170

How exciting that you will be exploring my neck of the woods. I grew up in George along the Garden Route. Not many people explore this part of South Africa and it really remains one of the most scenic parts of the country! I think it’s a great idea to take 10 days and explore this region. I would recommend the following;

Day 1,2,3 - Welgelegen Guest House in Cape Town. More Quarters Boutique Hotel is also a great choice.
Day 4,5 - Franschoek Country House in the winelands is a nice cost effective Boutique hotel.
Day 6 George - Hilltop Guest House outside Victoria Bay is a great option. There is a great stop on route, just outside of Sedgefield, heading toward Knysna called Timberlake . It’s a fun place to eat healthy, organic, farm to table, while strolling around in a few shops, the Fairy shop being a personal favorite. It’s only 7km from Sedgefield off the N2. They are open Mon – Sun 09:00 – 17:00.
For restaurant stops I would suggest the following along the Garden Route;
In Wilderness I would check out this place
This is a great option in Knysna
Bar/food in Knysna
Old Nicks village is a great place for crafts and food during the day and just after you enter Plett coming from George. This is again a great place to shop and eat J
Day 7 Plettenberg Bay – Hog Hollow is a great choice.
Day 8 Tsitsikamma – Tsitsikamma Lodge, Armagh Country lodge & Spa or alternatively self-catering chalets on the beach at Stormsriver rest camp. This area has phenomenal hiking!
Day 9 – Jeffreys Bay is a wonderful place to spend a night. Stralitzia Holiday Apartments are great.
Day 10 – fly from Port Elizabeth to Kruger/Skakuza airport. MalaMala offers arguably the best game viewing in South Africa. The property is located in the most Southern Sector of the Sabi Sand and currently only traverse with Kirkmans kamp (who are only allowed on the most southern sector of the MM reserve). Main camp is due for a refurbishment but Rattrays is stunning and on the same level as Lion Sands, Londolozi, Kirkmans etc. in terms of décor and level of luxury. However due to location and land size offers the best game viewing experience. To give you a bit more background on the Kruger ecosystem, which includes the Kruger National Park and the private game reserves on its western boundary. The Sabi Sand Reserve is a collection of private game reserves adjacent to the SW portion of the park and there are no fences separating the private game reserves from each other or from the park, which means that the animals can move around freely. This makes the region one of the largest unfenced ecosystems in all of Africa and the area is home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo). You will have very high odds of seeing the Big Five if you spend time on safari in this area for a few days. MalaMala is open to Kruger on its Eastern border and all the other lodges mentioned can easily fit into the land size owned by MalaMala if combined and then some. They also have direct access to the river which flows through the length of the MalaMala reserve. You can’t go wrong here!

Is there a reason that you are spending 4 nights in Johannesburg? I would suggest adding more time in Cape Town, or alternatively adding a second safari lodge vs. spending so much time in Johannesburg. The Timbavati would combine nicely with the Sabi Sand, Kambaku River Lodge for example is a wonderful choice. Alternatively, you could use the direct flight between MalaMala and head to Mashatu for 3 nights. The camp is located in the Tuli block of Botswana, bordering South Africa. This will offer a phenomenal combination of wildlife viewing in two exceptional areas.

I hope this information helps in your planning process.

Marguerite Smit
TravelBeyond is offline  
Apr 26th, 2017, 10:06 PM
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What are you planning for 4 nights in Joburg? I like the city but 4 nights is a long time. Add more time to safari or the Garden Route. Check the HopOn HopOff bus route for most of the interesting sights. The Cradle of Humankind and caves was a fun day - and the boutique hotel there is very nice, good food, very convenient. If you are into horses, the Lipizzaner horse show on Sunday mornings is my favorite one worldwide (yup, I've been to all three plus the traveling show a few times).

Those are pretty expensive options. There are so many great guest houses/bnbs along the Garden Route plus Storms River Mouth park oceanfront accommodations at Try the Ocean View Guest House in Wilderness or maybe The Fernery. Both are very nice but much more reasonably priced. There are tons of Airbnb's and private rentals too.

Now your safari options are all over the place. Elephant Plains is possibly the best value in greater Kruger besides staying in Kruger National Park, but I'm not sure it will fit your expectations. The biggest issue is the full vehicles (up to 10 guests). It also doesn't have a water hole or water feature for wildlife visits between game drives. I think Kirkmans is one of the best values in that price range. It's a great location and great lodge. Mala Mala has famously great wildlife viewing though I keep hearing tge accommodations need a little upgrade - but it's a great lodge on a huge reserve all to themselves with a permanent river. Lion Sands is wonderful and guests adore it. There's a sleep out treehouse if you're into that you can stay for a night.

You have hundreds of options for safari lodges. What are your priorities? Here's a map of many of them.

One of my favorites is Senalala. They have a great ranger who is one of the best for a bush walk and the lodge is pretty new and very nice. Cheetah Plains (excellent location tucked in between Mala Mala and Kruger NP), Inyati, Ngala Tented in combo with Kirkmans (sister camps), Kings, Motswari Geigers are all interesting options you might consider - but all of them are favorites of someone!!

You could limit your transfers through JNB by starting with a flight via JNB to Knysha/George or Port Elizabeth. Then make your way on the Garden Route to Cape Town instead of driving both ways. Again, ten nights is a long time in the city. Then fly direct to Skukuza, Nelspruit or Hoedspruit depending on which lodge you choose.

Any time is a great time to visit S Africa but it's still pretty hot and the grass very high (tough game viewing) in April. If you can move it closer to winter it cools down and the grass starts to die back. I'd stay longer on safari, maybe three nights at two different lodges in two different reserves. If in April, be sure to get air conditioning!
christabir is offline  
Apr 28th, 2017, 11:40 AM
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Thank you again. We will try to add a day to the safari and split between Timbavati and Sabi Sands.

We mostly are interested in wildlife for the safari but do want a comfortable place. The latest proposal is 2 nights at Ngala and 3 nights at Kirklands.

Our first 10 nights will be spread between Capetown, the wine country and the Garden Route. We will look into some of the suggested guest houses/bnbs.

This will still give us three days in Johannesburg. We want to tour Soweto and the Apartheid museum. Maybe a day trip to the Cradle of Humankind. Do we need a tour guide or is the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour enough?
carl170 is online now  
Apr 29th, 2017, 05:34 AM
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Another question, should we reconsider visiting Victoria Falls? I originally thought our time would be better spent in South Africa. This would be in March. Thanks.
carl170 is online now  
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