South African Itin - comments please!

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Aug 28th, 2005, 08:34 PM
  #1
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South African Itin - comments please!

After reading all of your great posts we've finally gotten the bulk of our itin narrowed down. Any comments are appreciated! Just a month and a half and we're there!!!!

Thanks!!!

Wed 19 Depart 4pm Depart San Francisco / Air France business class (used all of our miles!)
Night On plane

Thursday 20th Paris 11am 11pm
Night On plane to South Africa (Air France)

Fri 21st 10am 9:40am Arrive Johannasburg, Noon Flight to Cape Town
Night - Cape Town (Atlanticview Guest House)

Sat Oct 22nd Stellenbosch and Township visit with Selwyn! Moyo at Spier?
Night - Cape Town (Atlanticview Guest House)


Sunday 23rd Cape town market? See the city? Robben Island
Night - Cape Town (Atlanticview Guest House)


Monday 24th Car Drop off, Hike Table Mountain, abseil (rappelling down part of it)
Night - Cape Town (Atlanticview Guest House)


Tuesday 25th Simonstown shark diving with Chris Fallows, Boulders Beach, Drive to Cape
Night - Cape Town (Atlanticview Guest House)


Wednesday 26 Early AM; Drive to Franschhoek; Klein Oliphants
Night - Franschhoek (La Cabriere Guest House)

Thursday 27th Shark Diving again? (out of Gansbaai)
Night - Franchhoek (La Cabriere Guest House)


Friday 28th Winelands/ La Petite Ferme?
Night - Franchhoek (La Cabriere Guest House)

Sat 29th Flight from CPT - to Nelspruit; Shangana Cultural Village
Night - Kiepersol (Plumbago Guest House)

Sun 30th Microflight / Highgrove House for dinner?
Night - Kiepersol (Plumbago Guest House)

Mon 31st Elephant back safari at Kapama/ Panaroma Route/ Hippo Hollow
Night - Kiepersol (Plumbago Guest House)

Tuesday 1st Drive to Londolozi (2 hours)
Night Londolozi

Weds 2nd Londolozi
Night Londolozi

Thursday 3rd Londolozi
Night Londolozi

Friday 4th Londolozi
Night Londolozi

Saturday 5th Flight Nelspruit - JNB - then home to San Fran
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Aug 29th, 2005, 03:13 AM
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Hello,

The Atlanticview Guest House looks very nice. However, I would drop the Stellenbosch/Moyo visit from Cape Town -- since you are going to the Winelands and staying in Franschhoek (20 min from Stellenbosch), it makes more sense to concentrate on Cape Town rather than spending 1/2 day in Stellenbosch.

If you are interested in the townships, you may want to consider spending a night in a B&B there. I did this when I was in Cape Town and it was a wonderful experience.

For the shark diving excursions -- it would seem better to combine them (if you do decide to do two). Choose one site (Peninsula or Gansbaai) and stay there for a night or two. The current itinerary has you spending a lot of time driving back and forth between the dive sites and your accommodation in Cape Town or Franschhoek. Staying at the dive site will be more relaxing.

I would not recommend Kiepersol as a base in Mpumalanga. It's not very well-located for visiting other sights in the area, as it's quite remote and isolated from the main part of the Panorama Route. Since you are interested in the Shangana Cultural Village, I would recommend staying in Hazyview. The Rissington Inn is a wonderful country inn in Hazyview -- I've stayed there twice on my visits to the Panorama Route.

Which camp are you at at Londoz? I've stayed there several times, and my favourite camps are Bateleur and Tree. The suites at Bateleur are particularly nice. Founders is popular with families -- request another camp if you prefer a child-free holiday. Do you have any particular wildlife interests? If you are interested in leopards, request Maxine Scott as your ranger -- she is th resident leopard expert and her knowledge of the personal and family histories of the leopards of Londolozi is unparalleled.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 29th, 2005, 03:14 AM
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Sorry, one more point: When I was there in July 2005, the Shangana Village was closed for renovations, and it was not entirely clear when it would reopen. I would check whether it is scheduled to be open by the time you arrive.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 29th, 2005, 07:18 PM
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Thanks Julian for all your suggestions!

We have our reservations at Bateleur Camp - in one of the chalets - the suites were quite more, although they look great! Do you get a chance to pick your own ranger?

Ruth
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Aug 30th, 2005, 08:37 AM
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Hello,

I've stayed in the chalets at Bateleur as well, and they are very nice -- the private plunge pool is great on a hot day. If you prefer a quieter room rather than being in the centre of the camp, request rooms 3, 4, 9, or 10. 5 and 6 are also on the quieter side, but not as much as the previous four. Rooms 7 and 8 are closest to the pool, but Room 7 in particular can be a bit noisy if you like to spent a lot of time on your deck as it's closest to the main lounge.

If you send a request in advance (and the ranger in question hasn't already been requested by another party), Londoz is very good at accommodating requests for a particular ranger. If you're not into leopards, you can let them know what you are interested in and request to be matched with a ranger who has particular interests or expertise in those areas.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 30th, 2005, 09:22 AM
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Hi,

my wife and i were just in SA and Zambia. One suggestion I would have is to do Stallenbosch and French Hook on the same day. That is something we did and it will save you from making the drive out there twice. Yes it is an incredibly beautiful drive but better to save the time and apply it elsewhere.

A good place to eat in French Hook is Le Petite Firm. It sits on the base of the mountain and offers amazing views!! It was recommended to us by our British Airways stewardess. It really was worth it and the food and service was great. It is a B&B that also has a vineyard.

As for the township tour, we did one through a company called Grassroots. They were great and came highly recommended from both our guide book and hotel. If you can, ask for the tour guide named Songs. He was great.

Make sure you reserve your time slot at Robben Island as well. I am jealous, I wish I could go back again and I've only been back a little over a week!

Have fun
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Sep 12th, 2005, 08:12 PM
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Jasher - thanks for all the suggestions. Londolozi was able to get us into one of your recommended rooms - I would have never thought of these things.

Also, we are very interested in seeing leopards, but don't want to only be tracking leopards. If we request Maxine, is her only focus on the leopards?
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Sep 12th, 2005, 10:20 PM
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Hello,

Maxine is the resident leopard expert, but she's also excellent with other game -- when I was at Londoz, I saw the whole gamut of animals, including rhino, ellies, lion, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, and plenty of beautiful antelope. The advantage of being with Max is that leopard are usually the most challenging animal to find, and she's your best shot at finding them. She has also been at the reserve for a long time, and knows it intimately.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 12th, 2005, 10:20 PM
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Hello again,

Out of curiosity, which room will you be in?

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 13th, 2005, 01:32 PM
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I'm not sure yet - I requested 3,4, 9 or 10...

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Sep 13th, 2005, 03:23 PM
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Hello,

If you get any of those rooms, you should be fine. Most people don't make room requests unless they've been at the camp before, so you have a good chance of getting one of those four rooms.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 13th, 2005, 09:46 PM
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I just put in the request for Maxine to be our ranger - I'll let you know!

What were the bush walks like?

Also, what camera lens were the most used? Did you take your own binoculars? And lastly, Londolozi says that you don't have to wear neutral colored clothing at the camps - only on the drives? But aren't cetain bugs attracted to colors?

Ruth


Ruth
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Sep 14th, 2005, 10:05 AM
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Hello Ruth,

The bush walk I went on was led by my tracker, Jeremiah (who will be your tracker if you have Maxine as your ranger). They do take place in the middle of the day, so it can be warm, but Jeremiah carried a backpack with bottles of chilled water inside.

Walking in the bush was fascinating -- a completely different persepctive than from a vehicle. Jeremiah taught us about tracking (identifying tracks and determining how recently the animal had come that way) and about the traditional uses for many of the plants, which were fascinating.

I have a Panasonic FZ20, which has a massive Leica zoom lens (35-420mm) which covers everything except birds -- I'm not a birder, so I didn't mind. For birds you really need a 500mm+ lens. Definitely have one pair of binoculars/person -- otherwise, there will be times when only one person will be able to see what's happening! I use 10x40s for a good combination of magnification and light-gathering ability (there are a few binocular threads on this forum if you want more information).

Insects are primarily attracted to dark colours, especially black and blue. I think what they meant is that you can wear colours like pink and purple, not just brown and green.

BTW, did you find out whether the Shangana Village will be open?

Cheers,
Julian
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