South Africa trip - advice please

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Jan 18th, 1998, 12:42 AM
  #1
Mary
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South Africa trip - advice please

I'm in the midst of planning a 2-week RSA vacation in April. Currently the plan is to fly into Joburg (no choice on that with the particular tickets we have), rent a car and drive to Kruger area; 2 nights in a private reserve (we're thinking Leadwood Lodge or Honeyguide) and 2 on our own in Kruger itself (assuming we can get the bookings). We'll then drive through the Blyde River Canyon area and return to Joburg/Pretoria where we'll fly to Cape Town. We'd like to drive there too and see the Cape Peninsula and the Winelands.

Any advice or recommendations? Specifically, -
- is it difficult to find one's way out of Joburg Int'l Airport and to the N4(?)?
- anyone know what one-way dropoff charges are?
- recommendations on accomodation (we're budget to moderate B & B type people)?
- can we drive the Cape Peninsula (including the Cape of Gd Hope) on an overnight; same for the wine area?

Thanks,

Mary
 
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Jan 22nd, 1998, 05:06 AM
  #2
Noelle van der Waag
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Hiya Mary

When you leave JHB airport you can take the signpost which says Pretoria and follow that until you find one which says N4 but make sure you don't go in the wrong direction, you want Bronkhorstspruit/witbank way. Or you can follow the sign which says "East Rand" (stay in the left lane to turn) and once you are on the highway drive for about 5 kilos until you get the highway to Witbank/Benoni (I think its the R 77 plse check). This is the quicker route, don't be put off by the traffic its only bad for the first hour. Ask your car hire company at the airport for a map before you leave, there is also a good newsagents at the airport for travel guides etc. Buy your malaria pills at the airport pharmacy they will know what the latest and greatest is, as the strains tend to change and become resistant. I would advise you to book your car through avis/budget/herz in your home country and avoid paying value added tax. I don't think drop off charges are drastic if they exist at all but go for an all inclusive package (milage and insurance). If you are looking for cheap accomadation try the Panorama in Graskop or Themeda Hill near Pilgrims Rest, otherwise stop at the Mpumalanga tourist office in Nelspruit and make your booking through them - that is probably the best. If you want to you could stay at a gate camp like Orpen in the Kruger and leave from there to explore Blyde River Canyon, it one of the closest places to the area. DON'T drive through Bushbuckridge (Bosbokrand,) go through the Strijdom tunnel.

I don't know what you mean by "can you overnight" in Cape Town - if you mean places to stay, there are thousands, both there and in the winelands. Try Ryneveld Lodge in Stellenbosch for good value for money. The region also isn't huge and you could see quite a bit in 4 o 5 days.

Hope this helps, please ask again if I misunderstood you.
 
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Jan 27th, 1998, 12:13 PM
  #3
Penelope
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I second much of what the first respondent has said; getting out of the Jo-burg airport is no problem. The drop-off car rental cost is set by the rental companies, so ask each what it would be, when you make arrangements in the USA (choose a major firm like Avis). In May, 1997, my husband and I picked up a car at the Jo-burg airport and, ultimately, dropped it off at Kasane, Botswana (Chobe), with some additional expense, but not great. My strongest advice to you about car rental is to have a firm price agreed upon, preferably in writing from the auto rental firm, but certainly in your own handwriting. The employees at the rental agency in Jo-burg didn't know what they were supposed to be charging us and, later, when we dropped the car off, there was disagreement about what the charge should be.

As a great fan of Honeyguide (maybe you've seen my comments elsewhere at this site), I commend you for considering it. It is expensive, but you really feel as though you are on safari. We have driven there twice from Jo-burg, once spending the night afterwards in Barberton, very underrated as a tourist site, enroute to Swaziland.

Several years ago, my husband and I spent three weeks in South Africa during the Christmas season. We flew from Atlanta via NYC to Jo-burg, spent the night, and then flew to Capetown, where we picked up a rental car. We spent several days at the Lord Nelson Inn at Simonstown, which is just south of Capetown, and made many day trips: Cape of Good Hope (just two hours or so), wine country, and so forth. Later, we drove the "Garden Route" to Port Elizabeth and flew back to Jo-burg, where we got another car for travel to Kruger and elsewhere in the north. There are many delightful, cozy places to visit, to eat at, and to stay.

I've gotten awfully verbal, but I believe South Africa to be a super place to visit---one of the best in the world---and I'm sure that you will enjoy it. But . . . be careful; it has gotten to be a somewhat dangerous place, too, and road mortality is among the highest in the world (don't get a tiny car).
 
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Feb 1st, 1998, 06:19 PM
  #4
Mary Wong
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Dear Noelle, Penelope & others who've replied to my email,Thanks for your very helpful advice and suggestions. Our plans have firmed up a bit more, and I'd like to know what you think about them. As we're flying 13 hours from Hong Kong to Joburg, we land in the early morning. We plan to pick up our rental car (we are likely to book from here first) and drive to Nelspruit for lunch and rest, then probably overnight maybe at Sabie. Next day we will drive Blyde River Canyon & its nearby sights (Pilgrims Rest, falls etc) and stay somewhere around the area. We'll then go to Honeyguide for 2 nights, and Kruger Park itself for another 2, before heading back to Joburg to fly to Cape Town for a week (doing the things I mentioned before; winelands, etc).

What do you think? Specifically, have I allowed too much time for the first part of my trip (2 full days Nelspruit & Blyde, 4 full days private reserve & Kruger, given my 2 week trip)? Do you know which airport in Joburg SunAir, SAA and others fly to/from Cape Town? Would you recommend an overnight in Pretoria rather than Joburg on my return from Kruger, or would you prefer to fly right out that evening? Thanks again!
 
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Feb 1st, 1998, 06:30 PM
  #5
Mary Wong
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Dear Noelle, Penelope & others who've replied to my email,Thanks for your very helpful advice and suggestions. Our plans have firmed up a bit more, and I'd like to know what you think about them. As we're flying 13 hours from Hong Kong to Joburg, we land in the early morning. We plan to pick up our rental car (we are likely to book from here first) and drive to Nelspruit for lunch and rest, then probably overnight maybe at Sabie. Next day we will drive Blyde River Canyon & its nearby sights (Pilgrims Rest, falls etc) and stay somewhere around the area. We'll then go to Honeyguide for 2 nights, and Kruger Park itself for another 2, before heading back to Joburg to fly to Cape Town for a week (doing the things I mentioned before; winelands, etc).

What do you think? Specifically, have I allowed too much time for the first part of my trip (2 full days Nelspruit & Blyde, 4 full days private reserve & Kruger, given my 2 week trip)? Do you know which airport in Joburg SunAir, SAA and others fly to/from Cape Town? Would you recommend an overnight in Pretoria rather than Joburg on my return from Kruger, or would you prefer to fly right out that evening? Thanks again!
 
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Feb 10th, 1998, 01:35 PM
  #6
Penelope
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To land in Jo-burg, clear customs, pick up a car, and find your way to Nelspruit for lunch after a thirteen hour flight seems too ambitious to be enjoyable, especially if you intend to keep going to Sabie. Why not spend the night near Nelspruit? I can't weigh in on the desirability of Pilgrim's Rest, etc., because I've never been there, but four days on safari (Honeyguide and Kruger) are definitely not too many. One possibility for Kruger is to stay at the Hazyview Protea Hotel, a very nice place at Hazyview. From there, you could make day trips to Kruger. This would not be like staying at a camp in the park, where you could arrange sunrise and sunset drives, but it is a possibility.

Returning to Jo-burg from Kruger, I would fly right out to Capetown. Allow a little longer than you think it takes to drive this distance, because the roads, with pedestrians, minivans, trucks, and animals require both viligance and moderate speed.

As far as I know, all those airlines you mention fly right out of the main Jo-burg airport (whose name escapes me at the moment).

It is easy to travel in the Cape Province, so, in a week's time, you should be able to visit all the places you have mentions. So, in conclusion, your plans sound pretty good, with the exceptions I've mentioned.
 
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Mar 3rd, 1998, 10:47 PM
  #7
Ruth
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Jambo Mary,
See my post to Private Game Reserve vs. Kruger (a few topics above yours). You might want to think about flying from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth, picking up a rental car there and driving the Garden Route to Cape Town. I'd overnight the first night at Tsitsikamma, then maybe the second night at Knysna or Mossel Bay and the third night in Hermanus. Cape Town is an easy drive from there. You can leave Hermanus, visit the penguins at Betty's Bay, drive the coast road and still drive to the Cape of Good Hope and be in Cape Town by night. Simon's Town or Muizenberg are only a half hour from Cape Town. I'd spend 2 nights in Hermanus and that still leaves you 2 or 3 nights in Cape Town which I think is PLENTY. (I understand half of RAS's Parliment has a house in Hermanus). Sounds like a great trip. Have fun

Ruth
 
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Mar 20th, 1998, 04:48 PM
  #8
Joe Kosinski
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We will be travelling to S. Africa at the end of November /Early December. What are some of the must see and do's? Never have been there. Any advice is appreciated.
 
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Mar 31st, 1998, 02:22 AM
  #9
eleng
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Just came back from South Africa.We skipped Jo-burg altogether coz the crime rate there is really too high and these thugs target tourists. Whilst we were there several people were robbed and shot, many snatch-thefts, a carjacker got shot in the spine, policeman were found responsible for syndicated crimes.. you got the picture. We went to Pretoria, Sun City, Pilanesburg National Park, Kruger National Park, Panorama Drive at Blyde River Canyon reserve, Port Elizabeth, the Garden Route, Knysna, Hout Bay and Simon's Town. I would say generally the small towns are safe, but be careful.
Car rentals are expensive compared to Australia and NZ about R200 onwards per day for a 1,6 l car.We got from Comet Car Rental which has excellent service in Jo-burg.Generally the local smaller companies are much cheaper but has limited pickup points.You may wants to try taking the train from Joburg or Pretoria to Cape Town.The roads are excellent in S Africa, wide and tarred with frequent overtaking lanes.Drivers are polite and will pull to one side to let faster cars pass. If you can afford it( which we couldn't) the BLUE TRAIN is the most luxurious train in the world but the cost is phenomenal at about US$500 for a one way 24 hour trip. We took the Mainline train with sleeping berth at 2nd class ( you may want to prebook as 1st class is always full) and you get a beautiful view of the countryside not traversed by roads.The cost is R240 for 1st class and R145 for 2nd class. 3rd class is not recommended as there is no sleeping berth and muggings can occur.As for accomodation I recommend that you try the selfcatering or B&B as they are of good standards and are value for money.You can get upmarket Serviced apartments with good sea view for R285 a night( the Montery at Hout Bay) and luxurious log cabin in Knysna for R410 anight ( the popular Under Milk Wood chalets).All these come with fullyequipped kitchen, TV and Telephone and bathrooms There are a whole list at each Tourist Information and you can always get without prebooking.Restaurants generally are reasonable and cost about R40 to 50 per person for 3 course meal.The seafood is excellent in the coastal towns:you pay R30-40 for calamari or prawns or yellow tails or R130 for a very large portion of seafood plate which 3 can share.Things are cheaper isf you buy from the local coffee shop R13 onwards.Guess I've said enough about food and etc. Enjoy!
 
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