South Africa tour-12 days in Oct.

Dec 15th, 2009, 10:28 AM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 474
Shelleyk,

This is a fantastic trip report. You are covering the sights with just enough description. I can't wait for the next installment. Please continue.

Here is my one question-how many were on your trip?

Pat
wanttogo is offline  
Dec 17th, 2009, 04:52 AM
  #42  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,739
Sorry I've been off site for so long, but I've been visiting grandchildren in Seattle. Although I do not have time to continue the trip report at the moment, I do want to answer the questions posed while I was away.

atravelyn-We flew to Seattle non stop from Boston on Alaska Air, one of the few good domestic airlines, IMO. When we travel in the US or Canada, we alsways travel independently and self drive. We've covered most of the US National Parks and most of the Canadian provinces independently doing self drives. But this trip was purely for a family visit, so there was very little driving of anything other than toy trains or cars by my grandson.

P_M-The tour was inclusive of most activities with some free time to do your own thing if you so desired. The only optionals offered were the Capetown Township Tour, which we did, a winelands tour, both around $55 per person and a tour to Pretoria, which no one went on. Also, there was 17 hours of safari time included. You could pay for about 6 more hours if you felt you would like more safari time. We felt 17 hours was enough.

wantogo-The group was 43 in SA and 30 continuing on to Victoria Falls. The Smartours groups are usually at least 30 to 40. Although this is a large number, most people are very well travelled, and for the most part, fun to be with. The age range on this trip was 30-70 (just a guess). Getting on and off the bus took about 5 minutes. When doing the township tour in Capetown and the safaris, the group was divided into smaller groups of 8-10 and travelled in safari vehicles or a van (Capetown). Most dinners were not included so you do not have to eat with the group if you choose not to. I did not find that the size of the group detracted from the trip, but if you do not like big group tours, you would not like this one.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask as it may be some time before I have the time to finish this report.

Happy holidays.
shelleyk is offline  
Dec 17th, 2009, 06:19 AM
  #43  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 115
This was certainly one of the most fascinating and comprehensive trip reports I've ever read, and I was entranced throughout (even though I do the same route as a guide). My congratulations, shelleyk, on a job well done. I have just joined the forum, and found that I couldn't wait to see the next instalment. WOW!

I'm really glad you enjoyed your trip to SA, and it looks like your choice of a large group tour suited you well.

I must say I'm sorry to hear of your experience at Hluhluwe Hotel. It is one of my favourite hotels, and I've found the service there outstanding. Maybe they have a new chef ... But thanks for the update. I'm afraid that your experience at Lugogo Sun doesn't surprise me too much; it's not a place I'd recommend.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience with us. It made for brilliant reading!
Bushkid0 is offline  
Dec 17th, 2009, 06:38 AM
  #44  
P_M
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,716
Thanks for the answers shelleyk. My plans for South America this spring have fallen through so I'm looking even more seriously at this trip. It's between this and Croatia/Slovenia.

Looking forward to reading more when your time allows.
P_M is online now  
Dec 23rd, 2009, 05:31 PM
  #45  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,943
i'm loving the report which i just came across....

too bad our dates did not mesh in cpt as it would have been fun to meet up..

our GTG day with selwyn was fantastic and the insights into township life were very interesting and informative...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 7th, 2010, 05:44 AM
  #46  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,739
Finally back to the trip report. Today was a long travel day going from Kruger NP to Johannesburg, our final destination. After a delicious breakfast at the Protea Main Gate Hotel, we left for our day of sightseeing along the Panarama Route. The route is aptly named as some of the scenery along the route is truly spectacular. We made a stop at Bourque's Luck Potholes, which is billed as SA's Grand Canyon. The sight is beautifully developed with iron boardwalks through the sight which take you into the canyon and over the river which has cut its way through the canyon. The rock's in the area are a beautiful red and the boardwalks are colored so as to blend in with the coloring of the rocks. We spent about an hour here, walking the paths and taking photos. I could have spent a little more time here if I were on my own.

Next stop was God's Window, another spot filled with beautiful scenery. The visibility was good and we got a beautiful panaramic view of the woodlands for miles around. The area was very green and reminded me of the kind of forests you would see in the Pacific Northwest. There were many tall spruce trees and we were told that this was a logging area.

The final stop of the day was at Pilgrim's Rest, a restored mining village from the turn of the century. There were tours of the corrugated iron houses, an interesting mining museum, several restaurants, and many souvenir stands at this stop. Although the guide books make this out to be a major attraction, I actually thought it was very touristy. I thought the small mining museum was worthwhile seeing, but the rest of the town I could have easily left after 10 minutes. Since this was our lunch stop and we left around 2PM, we travelled straight through arriving in Johannesburg around 5 0'clock.

The hotel for the next 2 nights is the Protea Hotel in Sandton, a very upscale suburb of Johannesburg. The hotel is a typical generic 4 star hotel, which seems to cater to busness people. The rooms were large, clean and modern. The breakfast room was lovely, and the buffet breakfasts were delicious and varied. The hotel grounds were filled with floweres and birds and when sitting in the garden at the pool you never would think you are in the middle of a big city.

The hotel is attatched to a small mall that has a food court with many options for dinner, from an upscale steakhouse to some small ethnic restaurants to a Subway sandwich shop, which closes at 6PM. We opted for a Portugese restaurant. I think the name of it was Astoga, or something like that. We chose it because it was recommended by a local woman we met who said she eats there at least once a week. She told us that she alsways orders seafood which is what we did- a kilo of shrimp for me and a shrimp and chicken combo for my DH. It was as good as she said it would be and very reasonable for the quality of the food, about $50 US, including tax and tip, but no alcohol. The people who went to the steak house said it was excellent as well.

Tomorrow is our last full day on tour with .
shelleyk is offline  
Jan 9th, 2010, 08:26 AM
  #47  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,739
Our last full day in SA started out bright and sunny, but it sure didn't end that way. The morning was spent seeing Soweto, the Oscar Peterson Museum and the Nelson Mandela House and Museum. The two museums were very interesting. I preferred the Peterson Museum because it gave and in depth view of the events that lead to the end of apartheid. The children's street demonstration, on the site of the museum, lead to the killing of Peterson by the police. This incident was the beginning of the end for apartheid, although the process took many more years.

The Mandela House was the house where he lived with Winnie before and after his arrest. We had a very good guided tour by a resident of the near by neighborhood. The tour was very interesting and informative.

The drive through Soweto was somewhat surprising in that there were many high end houses there. I did not expect to see mini mansions in Soweto. It was a very different experience from visiting the townships outside of Capetown where 99% of what we saw was very substandard housing, with no indoor plumbing, no indoor water and no paved streets. The poverty was much more apparent outside of Capetown.

After our morning tour we returned to the hotel. About half of the group wanted to visit the Apartheid Museum in the afternoon. We were told that a taxi from the hotel to the Museum would cost about $35USD one way. Since about 20 people from the group wanted to go to the museum, we asked the tour director if he could arrange to hire a van for the group and have the van wait at the museum to take us back to the hotel. He was able to do this for a cost of $25 per person.

Just as we left for the museum, the heavens opened up and it poured. Because of the heavy rain and heavy traffic it took us almost an hourto get to the museum. In decent weather it should have taken 20 minutes.

As most of us did not have umbrellas, as it was not raining when we left, we got soaked waiting on line to buy the tickets and enter the museum. Despite this, we had an absolutely facinating 2 hours at the museum. If you are a museum person, as I am, you could easily spend 4 or 5 hours here. The exhibits are explained well. However, the layout of the museum can be a little confusing. At the end of our visit, we ran through the rain to get back into the van. Just as we got into the van, the rain stopped, the sun came out, and we had a quick and easy trip back to the hotel

That evening we had our farewell dinner at the hotel. The food was very good. It was our last opportunity to sample osrich neck stew and malva pudding. We passed on the stew, but had seconds of the malva pudding.

We said our goodbys to those going on to Victoria Falls as they had a very early morning flight out the next day. Our flight back to the US was not until 7:30, so we still had another half day in Johanessburg.
shelleyk is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 06:13 AM
  #48  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,739
For our last day on tour, we opted to sleep late and have a leisurely breakfast. We did not have to leave the hotel for the airport until the afternoon, so we had a few hours to do some more sightseeing. Not wanting to waste our last few hours just relaxing, we decided to walk to the the Sandton Mall which was about a ten minute walk from the hotel.

The stores are very upscale, sort of the indoor Rodeo Drive of Johanesburg. The shoppers looked very upscale as well, with women dressed in their finest saris and burkas.

I had never seen women covered from head to toe in black cloth burka that had sequins around the eye slits and down the front. They (yes there were many women dressed this way) had jewelled sandals sticking out of the bottom of the burkas. I was very surprised to see this and so we spent several hours wandering the mall, people watching and window shopping. The window displays were very artfully done and it was fun and intersting to just wander and observe..

After lunch at one of the many restaurants in the mall, we headed back to the hotel to finish packing. We left for the airport, and checked in for our SAA flight back to the states.

Although we thought it was a non stop flight to JFK, it actually stopped in an African country ( I can't remember which one) where we had about an hour wait for the plane to take off again. After some of the passengers disembarked, and before others got on, and while we were sitting in the plane, a security crew came on board, had all of us sit in our seats with all carryons on our laps and thoroughly searched the plane,including seat cushions and overhead bins. I do not know if this is standard operating procedure or if there might have been a bomb scare. We were never told. In any event, we did eventually take off and had an uneventful trip back to the states.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to SA. The itinerary was varied and well paced. The sites and activities were very interesting. Seeing the contrasts between the very wealthy and the very poor makes me wonder how the country will progress from here. I am also curious to see how the country handles the thousands of tourists who will be arriving for the World Cup Soccer Games.

At some point I would be interested in returning to see more of Africa. Until then, my photos will be a reminder of what a wonderful trip we had to SA.
shelleyk is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 10:23 AM
  #49  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 105
Hi again shelly. Just wanted to say thank you once again for a very interesting report. It all sounds wonderful and I am definitely getting excited at the thought of our forthcoming trip. Kind regards.
Dotty6 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 10:24 AM
  #50  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 105
PS, apologies for the mis-typing of your name!! Sorry shelley!
Dotty6 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 05:35 AM
  #51  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,739
Dotty6-I am glad you found the report interesting. I hope that your upcoming trip will be as wonderful as our trip. Just curious, what company are you going with and what is the itinerary. I hope you will post a trip report upon your return.
shelleyk is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 09:47 AM
  #52  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 105
Hi again shelley, we have booked with Saga Holidays in the UK. It is a 17 day tour entitled A World in One Country. We fly from London Heathrow to Johannesburg and will stay at the Zebra Country Lodge for our first night. Briefly, we then to on to the Drakensberg Mountains & Blyde River Canyon, Swaziland, Hluhluwe down to Durban. We fly from Durban to Port Elizabeth journeying down the Garden Route to Mossel Bay, onto George and then down to Cape Town where we will have four days before flying home.

I will certainly post a trip report when we get back. It is always nice to relive the trip and hopefully help to give others ideas of what to see and do.

Regards,
Dotty6 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 02:36 PM
  #53  
P_M
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,716
shelleyk, I bet you stopped in Dakar, Senegal on the flight back to JFK?

Wonderful report, thanks for taking the time to share with us. I still hope to take this trip someday but it looks like it won't be 2010. So I'm glad to have lived it through you.
P_M is online now  
Jan 13th, 2010, 03:23 PM
  #54  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,695
Dotty -sounds great.

do let us know how it goes - many of us are only too well aware that we now qualify for saga tours!
annhig is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 05:09 PM
  #55  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,739
Dotty-I took a look at the itinerary and it looks fabulous. It certainly covers a lot of ground in 17 days. From annhig's comment, I assume Saga caters to seniors. Is that correct? In any case, have a great trip.

P_M- Yes , it was Dakar. Do you know if they always search JFK bound planes when they stop there. We've travelled a lot, and have never seen anything like that search. And that was before the Christmas Day attempted bombing of the Northwest flight bound for Detroit.

I am glad you enjoyed my trip report. I do hope you get to take a trip to SA someday. It certainly is an intersting country, both scenically and culturally.
shelleyk is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 02:23 AM
  #56  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 105
Hi shelley & annhig. Thanks for your comments. Yes, Saga tours are specifically designed for the over 50's! Having done two very hectic tours of Borneo and China over the past couple of years (both with lots of strenuous hikes and walking) we are hoping that this tour, although probably tiring, will not be quite so physically challenging!!
Dotty6 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 04:00 AM
  #57  
P_M
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,716
shelleyk, I don't know if they always do a search but I do know that when a plane enters a country it must clear customs for that country. I had a stop like that in Toronto about 3 years ago. It was like yours, a flight bound for the US but making a stop in Canada. They made us get off the plane and go into a private room while the plane cleared Canadian customs. In about an hour's time we re-boarded and continued on to the US.
P_M is online now  
Jan 15th, 2010, 11:02 AM
  #58  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,943
i think that stop is the usual route....

thanks for the end of the report....hope to see you soon

bob
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 16th, 2010, 03:41 AM
  #59  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,739
Bob- It seemed like writing the report took longer than the actual trip. I'll email you seperately so we can set up a time to get together and compare thoughts on our trips. Jim Looking forward to seeing you and Karen.
shelleyk is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
mardonna
Africa & the Middle East
9
Jul 12th, 2018 10:00 PM
berliz
Africa & the Middle East
13
May 26th, 2012 07:21 PM
gagga
Africa & the Middle East
5
Feb 24th, 2012 05:17 AM
SLChicago
Africa & the Middle East
19
Aug 19th, 2010 09:45 PM
ElenaY
Africa & the Middle East
4
Jun 25th, 2007 06:54 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:41 AM.