South Africa - tours/when to go.

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Feb 13th, 2004, 10:20 AM
  #1
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South Africa - tours/when to go.

When is the best time of year to visit South Africa? Also, which tour companies have good tours to South Africa? I a single female travelling by myself and I plan on taking an escorted tour since I am concerned that it may be unsafe for me to travel by my self. Thanks for any help.
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Feb 13th, 2004, 11:01 AM
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>>>>>>When is the best time of year to visit South Africa?<<<<<<

It depends what type of trip you want. If you like cities and general scenery and want a good chance of sunny, stable weather, I personally like autumn, around April. I would start in the south, in Cape Town and its wine growing hinterland and then work my way northwards.

If viewing wildlife is your main agenda, winter (June - August) would be a good time to go. The bush vegetation would be at its driest and there would be the least amount of foliage to interfere with game spotting. June - September also is the lowest risk period for malaria in the lowveld areas where many of the game reserves are located. Days would be warm and nights would be cool in the lowveld.

Although the lowveld is really too hot and has too many mosquitoes for my comfort by then, I do like early summer (November - December) from the point of view that many species, like impala, give birth then, and the young are really cute.

In the southern hemisphere spring / early summer (September - November), Cape Town can have beautiful weather, but it also can be rainy, windy and surprisingly cool. (What I've just said is even more true of Cape Town in the Southern Hemisphere winter!)

Summers (December - March) usually are hot (although the high elevation of South African's interior plateau keeps places like Johannesburg less hot than they otherwise would be at that latitude).

In summary, if you want a trip that concentrates on cities and general scenery, I would recommend April.

If you want to add game viewing to that mix, I would recommend starting out in Cape Town in the latter half of April and ending up in the Kruger National Park area in the northeast part of the country in early May.

If game viewing is your main agenda, I recommend the winter and very early spring months (June - September).

As to tours, the recommendations would vary considerably depending on your desired combination of city and game reserve touring. Folks here really would need to know what sorts of activities you wanted to undertake, I believe, in order to give you really useful answers.
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Feb 15th, 2004, 10:44 AM
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Judy_in_Calgary, thanks for the information. I plan on visiting South Africa in September/October this year.
I am particularly interested in Cape Town, Johanesburg and Kruger National Park.
Also, if I can I would like to make a side trip to Victoria Falls.
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Feb 15th, 2004, 11:41 AM
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Hello Germanblonde,

My information on accommodation in South Africa is out of date, so I'll leave it to others to advise you on that.

My advice, if you're visiting in the southern hemisphere spring, is to start at the northernmost point of your route, if possible, and work your way southwards. The later you reach Cape Town, the better the chances of encountering warm weather there.

By the same token, the earlier you visit the lowveld (Kruger), the better your chances of avoiding heat, humidity and mosquitoes.

Unless you have a great deal of time, you'll be better off flying between Vic Falls and Johannesburg. Whether you should get from Johannesburg to Kruger by road or by air is something you'll need to discuss with others in more detail. If your time is limited, you also could consider flying from Kruger to Cape Town.

Johannesburg and Cape Town are not equal cities from the points of view of scenery and historical interest, in my opinion. Cape Town has WAY more to offer a visitor, again IMO. A day or two would be enough for Johannesburg. Cape Town, on the other hand, deserves a MINIMUM of 3 full days, but 4 full days would be better. Indeed, you easily could make good use of a full week in Cape Town and its wine growing hinterland.

Sorry to ask you more questions. I know that can be annoying. Nonetheless, it really does help experienced travellers to give useful advice when they know a lot about a first timer's requirements. It would be very helpful for them to know

* The full length of your trip, i.e., how much time you'll have in Southern Africa (it would help if you mentioned if the time frame included or excluded flying time to and from Southern Africa).

* Your budget, e.g., how much you want to spend on accommodation per night.

I notice on the Europe forum, most people express costs in Euros. Here at the Africa forum, they sometimes express costs in US Dollars, especially when they're discussing air fares from and to the States. However, when they discuss internal costs in South Africa (for accommodation, meals, etc.) they often express those numbers in South African Rand. Here's a currency conversion website if you still "think" in Deutsche Mark or Euro but want to express yourself in ZAR (South African Rand):

http://www.xe.com/ucc/
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