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Specific Questions regarding So. Africa reserves/lodging?

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Jul 7th, 2004, 10:44 AM
  #1
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Specific Questions regarding So. Africa reserves/lodging?

With the following criteria, I'd love your recommendations for lodging/safari please:

approximately 14 of us (7 rooms needed)

3 night trip in March '06, in South Africa.

4-5 star accommodations, prefer tents or individual cabins not a standard hotel

no more than $800. per person per night,

within approximately 1 1/2 hour drive from an airport to the reserve (will need transfers, the private planes to airstrips are too $$)

Will fly into Cape Town (or maybe Johannesburg) from the USA

Good wildlife, preferably a private reserve on a river bed (I've heard this is always a good place to stay)

open air jeeps for safari, not vans

This will be our first trip to Africa. Are there any reserves and lodging that come to mind? Might they offer a group rate with so many of us?

Also, unless there are lockers for rent at the airport, we will need to book through a company that will hold a large piece of luggage for each couple as after this, we will be going on a cruise.
Thank you very much.
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Jul 7th, 2004, 12:45 PM
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Click on Sandi & Roccco and read their posts then come back.
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Jul 7th, 2004, 01:14 PM
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There is a lock-up luggage facility at Johannesburg airport. They charge about R36 per day per bag. They take Visa and American Express if cash becomes an issue at pick-up time.
There are private tour companies that operate out of Johannesburg which will also provide you with ground transportation to the reserves. We used Wilro Tours http://www.wilrotours.co.za/
to do a day tour of Soweto and Pretoria. They were very good. They said they handle transfers to the gameparks as well. Don't know the cost but you can contact them.
Alison
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Jul 8th, 2004, 04:14 AM
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petlover -

Is that date in March 2006? A long ways off, but not too early to gather information. Prices for that time aren't likely to have been established at this time. But with that said, I would suggest you contact some in-country SA tour operator. By email (from their sites) let them what you are looking for, number of people, etc. Try contacting the following:

www.go2africa.com (SA based)
www.tagasafaris.com (SA based)
www.africansafari.co.za (Pulse Tours - SA based)

As to a place only 1-1/2 hrs. from JNB, might be difficult, as Kruger is easily a 5-hr drive from JNB. But a nice easy drive on paved road, till reaching Kruger. These companies can provide a van and driver to get you to wherever you select and keep in mind your budget, but whether they can offer a place on the river won't be guaranteed.

Also any of these companies should be able to hold (store) your larger pieces of luggage needed for the cruise that follows.

As to arranging flights from the States, an SAA flight (from JFK or wherever [we're not sure of the new SAA hub as they will no longer be participants in Delta's frequent flyer program, but with United's Star Allicane] to JNB (from where you can go off to do your safari) offers a free connection to CPT as part of the fare. But do check whether you have to take this flight at the same time you fly into JNB or whether you can spend a few days in/around the JNB area and fly to CPT 4-days later. If you can, then you're set with your flights. If you select other carriers to SA, also inquire about the free connection to CPT.

Flight costs - SAA often has fare deals during March, but you won't know this untill only a few months prior departure, but contact:

www.premiertours.com (in Phila,PA - select their air department and inquire that prices do drop during this period, though '06 is a ways off and there's never any guarantees) Premier is also a tour operator, so you may inquire of their tour department what they can do to meet your needs and compare prices with the SA based companies.

Let us know what you come up with.
 
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Jul 8th, 2004, 05:29 AM
  #5
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Thank you. I know this is a long ways off but many of us want to use f.f. miles so we're trying to get an idea now to plan ahead. Ideally, I think we'd like to first fly into CPT and spend a few days there (resting up if nothing else!) then it does sound like we'll need to take another flight to ?? where we will need to be met to begin the trip to the reserve. From this 2nd airport, whatever it will be, is where we'd like to be within 1 1/2 hour drive to the reserve. I'd prefer to spend the extra time in Cape Town and if we skip JNB all together, this is fine. I will review the recommended sites. Thanks.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 10:23 AM
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If you are coming from the USA you can try contacting Reservations Africa http://www.reservationsafrica.com/ . They arranged our trip for us, we were a family of four. You can use one of their preplanned iteneraries or customize (that's what we did). They are excellent. Our trip was trouble free. They took care of all the international flights as well as the flights and ground transport within SA. Ask for Marianne Schaubeck, she is the owner. I believe she will accomodate your plans to use FF miles when booking the air. We were delighted with her arrangements and quality of service. Not only were the prices right, but her willingness to accomodate our ideas and frequent changes in plans was really extraordinary. They are based in Vancouver BC in Canada but also work with US clients.
You have lots of time so you can really shop around.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 06:00 PM
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ILoveAfrica - Ooops, sorry about the web address error.
 
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Jul 8th, 2004, 06:14 PM
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petlover - it's just as easy and even better to fly into JNB and spend a day or two at the Michaelangelo, or Westcliff, or the Grace to catch up from your flight versus going to CPT first. It's not really all that terrible a flight to leave you wiped out.

We arrived at CPT at 10pm and were up, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7:30 next morning and on our way to dive with the Great Whites with no ill effects from the long flight. Of course, not all of us react the same, but I have this thing about backtracking unless it's absolutely positively necessary. Or you can't get a flight into JNB - but this far in advance shouldn't be a problem.

Why pay or use miles, if you even can, for the leg from CPT to JNB, if not necessary. And since your cruise is from/to CPT - then you can fly home, save a flight and half a day minimum.

As to finding a game lodge 1-1/2 hrs from JNB - as Tony Soprano would say "forgetaboutit"!!! Kruger is still 5-hrs away by road.

So just fly into JNB, relax for a day or two (maybe pick-up a tour during this time); go to Kruger for your safari; then fly to CPT for a minimum 3, preferrably 4-days of sightseeing; then do your cruise; then fly home.
 
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Jul 9th, 2004, 12:54 PM
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petlover - sandi's advice is spot-on. Do follow it and especially her suggestion of 3 days MINIMUM in CPT. There's lots to see there and it's all very close.

Some things are quite weather dependent (Cape Point, Table Mtn) some aren't so much (Robbin Island, Winelands) so a tight window may mean you'll miss some great sights.
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