South Africa tour-12 days in Oct.

Nov 30th, 2009, 03:44 PM
  #21  
P_M
 
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Another good installment shelleyk, I'm still hanging on your every word.
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Nov 30th, 2009, 04:21 PM
  #22  
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shelleyk, sorry if I'm getting ahead of the report but I must ask: Did you take the extension to Vic Falls? I'm guessing you didn't by looking at the timeline. I'm thinking of taking this same tour in late 2010 or early 2011 and I can't decide if I want to add that or not.
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Dec 1st, 2009, 06:38 AM
  #23  
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Dtty6-I am glad to hear you are enjoying the report and find the information useful.

P_M-I do not have time to write the next installment now, but I did want to answer your question. We did not take the extension to Vic Falls. I thought it would be overload after the trip to SA. Since I plan to return to Africa , I may or may not go at that time.

I was in touch with 2 people who took the extension (most people did) because I was curious as to how they found it. From both I got the same story-The hotel at the Falls was great. The extension was exhausting after the trip to SA. The optional to Chobe which cost $150 per person was not well run. They only were able to spend 3 hours in the park. They saw mostly elephants, and suffered from temps that were approaching 100 degrees. The water in the falls was at a minimum, but they still got good photos. Both said they were glad they did the extension, but felt it would take them a while to recuperate from the very long travel day home.
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Dec 1st, 2009, 11:10 AM
  #24  
 
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Outside the hotel gate and about a ten minute walk from the hotel is a shoppers paradise for hand crafted items-carved animals, masks, batik prints,etc. It is an outdoor "mall" of about one hundred shops >>

lol Shelley, my DD spoke of nothing else when she came back from Swaziland. if it wasn't this market, it was one very like it. we have the masks and wooden giraffe to prove it.
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Dec 1st, 2009, 03:33 PM
  #25  
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Thanks for getting back w/me shelleyk. I've walked the fence on the extension due to the extra cost as well as extra time. Furthermore I will probably be traveling solo so I'll get hit again with the single supplement on the extension. If all goes as planned I'll be seeing Iguazu Falls in the spring, so maybe I'll get my "waterfall fix" from that and skip Vic Falls.
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Dec 2nd, 2009, 07:11 PM
  #26  
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After leaving the hotel in Swaziland, we drove for about an hour before reentering South Africa. At the border, we got out of the bus, had our passports stamped, walked across the border, and reboarded the bus. After another hour's drive, at about 10am, we arrived at one of the gates (there are many) into Kruger NP. Some of the group opted to transfer into open safari vehicles to drive through the park to our hotel. My DH and I opted to stay on the bus and drive through Kruger on the bus as we were going to be in safari vehicles for 9 hours the next day and I thought that would be enough.

It took us about 4.5 hours to drive through Kruger, stop for lunch in the park and arrive at our hotel at about 3PM. The others arrived at the hotel at 6PM. During our drive through the park we saw many animals and stopped numerous times to observe them. Even though we were on the main road, we never encountered a traffic jam, even when we stopped to observe the animals.

At the lunch stop, we also observed many birds which seemed to be looking for crumbs and leftovers for their lunch. We met a couple who live in Johannesburg. We told them about the different animals we had encountered in just 2 hours in the park. They said we were lucky as they have visited the park at times and had seen next to nothing.

We arrived at the Protea Hotel Main Gate at about 3PM. The hotel is just a few minutes drive from the Kruger Gate, and actually borders on Kruger NP. Our rooms were not ready when we arrived. I had read that there was an animal viewing terrace, at the back of the hotel where the bar is located, that overlooks the Sabie River. We walked over to it and after standing there for about 5 minutes, herds of elephants started coming out of the forest across the river and made their way down to the riverbank. We sat there for about an hour watching them. I stopped counting the elephants when I reached 100, and there were many more that continued to appear. Some were babies, several were lone bull elephants, and most were in family groups. It was a very unexpected treat to sit in the shade, in a very comfortable chair, observing these elephants.

We went back to the front desk and were told that our room was ready. The room was a very large room, with a king size bed, sofa, TV, modern bathroom and a balcony overlooking the jungle. The hotel has a large open air lobby, an indoor restaurant and an out door boma. It has nice grounds and a swimming pool. I thought that this was the nicest hotel we stayed at during the trip.

Dinner was in the boma. The weather cooperated to make it a very enbjoyable evening. The food was very good. And eating under the stars, by torchlight, made for a very unique experience.

Tomorrow we spend 9 hours on safari.
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Dec 3rd, 2009, 06:17 AM
  #27  
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Wake up call was at 5am. Coffee and biscotti were served at 5:30. We left in our open sided, covered topped vehicles and entered the park atat 5:45am, as it opened. The hotel packed us a picnic breakfast which we took with us to eat at our breakfast stop.

As we left the hotel. and before we even entered the park, we crossed a bridge where we saw about 10 hippos in the water. Once we entered the park we saw the following kinds of animals, most in large groups and many times over: elephants, buffalo, rhinos,zebras,giraffes,impala,duiker, wildebeests,waterbuck,reedbuck,nyala,kudu,bushbuck ,steenbuck,, warthogs, kliphopper, crockadiles, and as we left the park at the end of the day- 3 wild dogs. I have read that seeing wild dogs is fairly rare and we felt very lucky to have seen them. .

We did not see any leopards or cheetahs, but 2 of the other groups saw 2 leopards, one with a kill. By the time we got to the leopard sightings, they were no longer there.

We also saw several different kinds of birds-maribou storks, fisher eagle, and red throated hornbill, to name a few.

We stopped at Skukuza campground for our picknic breakfat at about 9 o'clock, half way through the morning safari. At the river in the picnic area we saw about 20 buffalo and several wildebeests that came to the river to drink.

After our breakfast stop, we drove up to the top of a hill to view the surrounding wilderness. You could see many miles in every direction. The visibility was excellent. The sun was shining. We knew we were in true wilderness. No development, except for the road system. No noise except for animal sounds. No air pollution. Just African wilderness.

We continued our safari until about 12PM at which point we were all ready to go back to our air conditioned rooms at the hotel. We had lunch at the hotel, did some shopping at the small Out Of Africa store at the hotel and cooled off in our room. At 3PM we left for our afternoon safari. We saw some animals in the afternoon, but not nearly as many as in the morning. We returned to the hotel, had another lovely dinner in the boma, and repacked as we are to leave tomorrow for Johannesburg.
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Dec 3rd, 2009, 04:34 PM
  #28  
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OMG this trip sounds so exciting!! I really must do this one, maybe later in 2010. If my plans for Brazil/Argentina don't pan out I might just do this one early in 2010.
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Dec 3rd, 2009, 04:46 PM
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100+ elephants viewed from the terrace--great!
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Dec 4th, 2009, 05:23 AM
  #30  
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P-M and wlbox-I hope you get to go on this trip. It really was a wonderful trip that covered a lot of SA and Swaziland in just 12 days. It feels as if writing this trip report is taking as long as the actual trip, but I do have to fit it into my other obligations. I am leaving tomorrow for a short trip to the west coast to visit my son , daughter-in-law and grandchildren, so if I am not able to finish this trip report today, it will have to wait until my return.

atravelynn-It certainly was a surprise to see such numbers of elephants from the hotel bar. I am sure some people might think they are seeing elephants after 3 or 4 drinks, but we had no alcohol and we actually did see them.
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Dec 4th, 2009, 07:25 AM
  #31  
 
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It is a pity you stayed at a hotel in Hluhluwe, there are so many gorgeous Bed and Breakfasts and lodges to stay at and so much to do in the general area that your visit seems far to short to have actually appreciated the beauty of this region. That is why I always promote self plan a trip rather than use a tour guide, most people who do and who hire a car find so much more to see and do in Sa than they would on a generic tour. Pity. www.kimssouthafrica.blogspot.com
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Dec 4th, 2009, 08:01 AM
  #32  
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kim-I signed onto this tour because it was a generic overview of SA. I knew in advance it was not going to cover the Hluhluwe, or any other region, in depth. If I take a tour, after getting the overview of the country, I know which regions I would want to revisit.

I have travelled independently as well as on tours, and I know from experience that I could not have covered or seen as much independently as I did on this tour in 12 days. I know that there are many on this board who would never consider a tour, under any circumstances. But for my DH and me, this tour lived up to what we expected, plus more.
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Dec 4th, 2009, 10:50 AM
  #33  
 
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I agree totally shelleyk! We travel independently where we can but have arranged a 17 day tour of SA for next May as we feel, like you, that we will cover much more than we would on our own.

Incidentally we did a 21 day tour of China, including Hong Kong, earlier this year and we both felt we could not have seen or done more had we made our own arrangements. An added bonus is the companionship of like-minded people, some of whom we have stayed in touch.

Reading your report has certainly whetted our appetite and hope that our tour lives up to our expectations!

Regards,
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Dec 4th, 2009, 11:05 AM
  #34  
 
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Kiss,

If you love South Africa and its people as much as your name indicates, then you will be very happy I did not hire my own car and drive around your lovely country, putting people and animals in jeopardy. I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to avoid driving on a side of the road that feels foreign and uncomfortable. That's just one reason why there are different kinds of trips for different people.

Rather than criticize someone's travel decisions in the midst of their enthusiastic report, start a new thread extolling the virtues of the type of travel you support.

Now let's get on with the show, shelleyk!
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Dec 4th, 2009, 11:42 AM
  #35  
 
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shelleyk

I have been enjoying your trip report very much, keep up the good work.

I think that what kisssouthafrica may have missed is that

this is YOUR holiday and YOUR money...and you plan what you want to see and HOW you want to see it.

I almost always use a tour guide because I see more this way, I do not mind paying more if I am seeing more.

Personally I would not want to drive around in Capetown nor down to Cape Point... I want to admire Chapman's Peak Drive and not watch every curve.

I would rather a good South Africa Tour Guide drive me to Cape Agulhas ( the most southerly point of the African Continent ) and explain points and place to me along the way.

Or any place along the N2 highway and the Garden Route.
There are some places I just do not want to drive and South Africa would be one of them.

But, for all those that have rented a car and driven....good for you, I am just not that comfortable in doing so .

I agree with atravelynn....lets get on with the show !!
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Dec 4th, 2009, 02:02 PM
  #36  
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Dotty, atravelynn and Percy-Thanks for the support. I was beginning to think I might be one of the only people on this board who actually likes tours.

And now I am off to Seattle.

To be continued....
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Dec 4th, 2009, 04:11 PM
  #37  
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shelleyk, sometimes I think I am the only person who likes tours so I can relate. Have fun in Seattle.
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Dec 5th, 2009, 09:21 AM
  #38  
 
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The question is: will you be self driving, or taking a tour in Seattle?

I admit, I self drive there. Actually my husband or my great-uncle have done the driving and I am a passenger.
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Dec 6th, 2009, 07:23 AM
  #39  
 
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Sorry for another off-topic interruption but I have a correction in a previous comment of mine.

"If you love South Africa and its people as much as your name indicates..."

I read the name "kimssouthafrica" as kisssouthafrica like kiss south africa. That's the source of my loving your country comment.

Oops.

Now really, back to the show, when you get back from Seattle via car, bus, train, or whatever mode of tranpsort you desired.
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Dec 14th, 2009, 04:29 PM
  #40  
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shelleyk, I know it's a busy time of year for all of us so I don't mean to rush you into posting more. (although I'm quite anxious to read more) But I do have a specific question for you. Was your tour inclusive of most activities you wanted to do or did they try to sell you all sorts of expensive optional excursions, like most tour companies?
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