South Africa self-drive 3 weeks THIS August.

Old Jul 3rd, 2009, 12:24 PM
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South Africa self-drive 3 weeks THIS August.

Hi Folks,

After giving up on Botswana and Namibia due to costs, we have decided to go to South Africa for 3 weeks THIS August.

We have booked our flights but that is all. We are flying into Cape Town on August 1st and out of Jo-burg on August 23rd. The plan was to spend a few days in Cape Town, rent a car and visit the winelands, drive the garden route, head to the Drakensburg, maybe do a short safari in Kruger and fly to Maputo/Vilanculos for 5 days on the beach in Mozambique.

I would love any suggestions you might have for what we should book in advance and what we can book when we get there? We're not looking for luxury---just a clean/safe place to stay, maybe with a few splurges along the way. We will be visiting the Kruger area again in the future as my future husband's mum lives there, so we don't need to visit EVERYTHING now.

Thanks for your help!
LuciaBoston is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2009, 04:16 PM
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Here is the link to a self-drive we did through SA and Namibia in July/August 2008 - it might give you some ideas. We started in Cape Town and then headed north on a self-drive. Robin
canadian_robin is offline  
Old Jul 4th, 2009, 09:01 AM
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Great info-thanks for the link.
dutyfree is offline  
Old Jul 6th, 2009, 02:15 AM
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Hi Lucia Boston.

Your trip plan sounds very exciting and pretty much spot on to see the best of SA. Our company puts together personalised itineraries for travellers so have a 'template' for a two week holiday that might be of interest. I copy it below (please see comments on how you might want to amend at the end...).

As you see, there's so much to see/do in SA that you may find what you're planning too much in terms of driving. SA really is a massive country and many travelers under-estimate this and find themselves in the car the whole time.

Day 1: Arrive at Cape Town International Airport. Hire your car and drive through to Camps Bay. Spend morning relaxing on the beach and - in the late afternoon (if the weather is good) take the short cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain. Return to Camps Bay for sundowners and dinner.

Days 2 & 3: Relax in this stunning city taking in the wide variety of activities that Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula has to offer; for example catching a ferry to Robben Island, lunch and people-watching at the Victoria and Albert Waferfront, drive along Chapman's Peak Drive to the Cape Peninsula to see the penguins and whale-watching (September to November), climbings Lions Head, visit District Six, fine dining in Constantia and partying on Long Street.

Day 4: Drive along the N2 through to Strand, then take stunning coastal road - the R44 - past Betty's Bay to the wild beach and a fresh seafood lunch at Hermanus. Take the R44 back to the N2, before coming off onto the R521 at Grabouw to take the spectacular mountain pass through to Franschhoek. Staying at one of the wide selection of boutique hotels or self-catering accommodation, indulge yourself in the gastro-capital of South Africa.

Days 5 & 6: Spend your days relaxing in the beautiful Franschhoek Valley taking in as many of the stunning wine-tasting vineyards as your liver can handle and your nights dinings at some of the best restaurants Africa has to offer.

Days 7 & 8: Start your long journey along the Garden Route, meandering along the fantastic Route 62 through the dramatic Little Karoo. Relax at a boutique guest-house in a historic farming town like Swellendam or Calitzdorp. If golf is your game, you'll want to base yourself in George, the golfing capital of SA.

Day 9: Drive along Route 62 before taking one of the dramatic mountain passes down to the N2 and dash along the coast on the long drive to Cintsa just outside East London. This is a full day's drive and you may want to break the journey with a short hike during a stopover at Tsitsikamma National Park or in a quaint beach-side guesthouse at Nature's Valley or Brenton-on-Sea.

Day 10: Enjoy the fabulous wild beach at Cintsa, perhaps interspersed with a horse-ride along the desterted beach. Dine high above the beach dunes in the wonderful location that Michaelas of Cintsa enjoys.

Day 11: Enjoy a morning on the beach before catching your flights from East London to Nelspruit. Hire a car and drive up to your luxury game lodge in a private reserve connected to Kruger National Park.

Days 12 & 13: Soak up the unique experience of an authentic African bush lodge, starting the day with an early morning game drive followed by an extravagent breakfast. Relax by the pool, before heading out on an evening game drive complete with gins and tonic at sunset. Bring plenty of camera film. You will use it, with a decent chance of clicking all of the Big Five and much more.

Day 14: Drive onto Maputo and surrounds for a beach holiday, or fly / drive back to Johannesburg to fly onto Vilanculos.

You may want to consider:
> Driving all the way along the Garden Route (rather than Route 62) which runs next to the coast, but it's quite a big, busy road and many of the resorts are very 'developed'.
> Flying from Port Elizabeth (rather than East London) to Kruger (note the flights will be via Johannesburg) to save some time. In fact, if you think you'll be going back to Kruger, you could consider doing your safari at the excellent Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth for something different.
> You'll be disappointed how expensive / irregular the flights to and accommodation in Mozambique are, unless you're willing to 'backpack', which is very basic. Given you want to see the Drakensburg, I'd consider heading down from there to the Kwazulu-Natal coast (weather should be nice in August) - perhaps Kosi Bay, St Lucia or Sodwana. It'll be a lot cheaper (the money you save could be spent on a luzury lodge...) and probably more relaxing. There are some great special offers for late booking off season at the moment...
> The above itinerary doesn't include The Drakensberg Mountains. However they are absolutely stunning and I wouldn't want to advise against you going! If you safari in Addo you could fly to Durban which is well-based for both Drakensberg and the beach locations mentioned above.

In terms of what to book in advance - I'd actually only recommend booking Cape Town (gets very busy), Kruger (if you go there) and any other guesthouses / hotels you definitely want to stay in. Otherwise things should be pretty quiet (school holidays over, no big sports events, winter) and you can give yourself more flexibility and negotiate discounts as you travel. That's what we specialise in.

Sorry for such a long answer. I hope it helps a bit. If you provide some feedback I can make some specific suggestions...
satpacker is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2009, 02:25 PM
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If you want to go really cheap, try staying at hostels. There are a ton on the garden route and all over south africa for backpackers.

Don't have to call more than 24 hrs in advance. I'd highly suggest looking at or

BTW, I had to wait around for a week to get a visa for another country and managed to live off of $100 USD for 8 days, including transport, food, tours, room and bed in South africa because of the backpackers. At the time it was 10 Rand to 1 USD... now its about 8 Rand, but still you can really cheap it out, and still get excellent service because the tourism industry there is so competitive.

Good Luck.
christinasc is offline  
Old Jul 19th, 2009, 07:22 AM
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My husband and I rented a car for seven weeks in South Africa - the only advanced booking was for a tent at Addo Elephant Park (one of the highlights of our trip). Otherwise we tried to get to a town before the Visitors Bureaus closed at 4 p.m. We stayed at self catering accommodations ranging from a two story log cabin on the beach, to an apartment overlooking the ocean at Boulders Beach - seven weeks averaged $45US a night. This was when the rand was 6 to the US dollar. Without bookings one can move on if the weather is bad, or stay if you are having a great time.
Including beach time you are trying to pack too much into three weeks. As you can return to Kruger, I would eliminate that area, spend four days at the beach and the rest of the time exploring. Oudtshorn has ostrich farms and the possibility of stroking cheetahs. The 'highways' are merely two lane roads with slower speed limits than in the U.S.
Even with seven weeks, we ran out of time to get to Kruger as there is so much to see in South Africa. You will have a wonderful time whatever you do.
twoaussies is offline  
Old Jul 19th, 2009, 03:43 PM
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hi lucia,

you lucky things - with 3 weeks you have twice as nuch time in SA than we had.

we never made it to Kruger, but IMHO in 3 weeks you have plenty of time to fit it in, and the Drakensberg too, if you fly from PE to Jo'burg as another poster has suggested. we did 3 nights eastern cape safari - one at Schotia, 2 at Shamwari, but from what I have read, there is nothing to beat the Kruger experience.

as for accommodation, i would have somewhere booked in Cape town, and then wing it, apart from any safaris. the only exception is this place -

it's a small country lodge along the garden route at Plettenberg Bay, and is one of the nicest places we've stayed, anywhere. quite reasonable too. you have your own semi-detached cottage, with a stove and hammock on the porch, and a tin roof so you can hear the monkets running across it in the night. meals are taken round a large communal table in the main building, and the food is just excellent. friends we recommended it to loved it as well.

for other recommendations, if you do a search of this forum, you wil find a number of references to accommodation along the garden route - anywhere that Selwyn [a local SA guide] recommends can be trusted completely. you might search for his name to find his recommendations.

hope this helps,

regards, ann
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