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Suddenly our S.A. Safari is So Soon! {Kruger/Cape Town/VFalls/Botswana}

Suddenly our S.A. Safari is So Soon! {Kruger/Cape Town/VFalls/Botswana}

May 3rd, 2006, 12:21 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 236
Suddenly our S.A. Safari is So Soon! {Kruger/Cape Town/VFalls/Botswana}

The year since I started reading this board has FLOWN by! Now, after a zillion hours of planning + research, we are actually leaving in just two weeks for our Big Adventure (and definitely longest trip we've ever taken) ;-)

This trip was a challenge to plan on sooo many levels -- as many of you can relate to. On top of the overwhelming confusion of planning a first-time visit to S.A., I had the extra stress of planning it as a COMPLETE SURPRISE for my husband's birthday! He only found out a month ago that he is finally going on his long dreamed about trip to S.A.! At the end of his birthday party, I gave him a gift box that contained a safari hat, binoculars, safari vest, a map book of S.A. and a note telling him his trip was all planned I think it took a few days for the shock to wear off - lol. Now we are trying to finalize clothing, packing, and last minute things.

I greatly appreciate all the info provided on this board and the many helpful replies -- esp from Julian ;-) Selwyn was also very helpful with my Garden Route + Cape Town plans. I just finalized the last part of our itinerary, so I thought I'd finally post it!

Day 1 Arrive @ JNB late pm, overnight @ Emerald Guesthouse
Day 2 Early a.m. flight from JNB to Nelspruit and + pick up rental car
Day 2 Berg en Dal
Day 3 Satara
Day 4 + 5 Olifants
Day 6 + 7 Gomo Gomo @ Timbavati
Day 8 + 9 Tangala @ Thornybush
Day 10 Fly from Nelspruit to Cape Town, arriving late afternoon
Day 10-15 Camps Bay Self Catering Apt + 4 days of various sightseeing
Day 15 + 16 Akedemie Guesthouse @ Franschhoek
Day 17 Mooiplas Guesthouse @ Outdshoorn
Day 18 + 19 Overmeergh Guesthouse @ Knysna
Day 20 Lemon Tree Lane @ Port Elizabeth (before an early a.m. departure)
Day 21 Fly from Port E to Livingstone and overnight @ Ilala Lodge / V Falls
Day 22 Transfer & overnight @ Matetsi Water Lodge (part of CCAfrica safari pkg)
Day 23-31 Serviced camping for 8 nights in Botswana w/CCAfrica {starts @ V Falls, N. Chobe,
Savute, Moremi, Okavango Delta, ends @ Maun -- "Botswana Explorer Pioneer Safari"}
Day 31 Fly from Maun to JNB and overnight @ Thatchfoord Lodge B&B (Sandton)
Day 32 Tour Soweto, evening departure flight from JNB

The things still to sort out: Various sightseeing in Cape Town and the Garden Route (including restaurants), activities at V Falls, and booking the Soweto tour. Otherwise, we are 95% set ~~ I hope! Hard to believe we're so close to departure!

Of course, my other overwhelming stress during the last few weeks has been whether Delta will STRIKE or go out of business + leave us high and dry We are *crossing our fingers* that all works out with our flights.

My husband got me a Canon 20D for my birthday in October ~~ he had no idea that I was researching new cameras because of the upcoming safari ;-) So we are set with a digital camcorder and the 20D and various accessories. HOPING the cigarette lighter in the vehicle works properly for our camping safari -- that's the only thing I see as a potential problem.

I worked really hard to create an itinerary that was diverse as well as affordable. I was really concerned about the potential cost when I began the research, as so many people are booking trips with very expensive lodging. If I were booking those types of accommodation, our trip would be about one-third as long. I'm happy to report that I was able to work out reservations that were very affordable, relatively speaking that is ;-) We have Main Camps in Kruger, lodges in private reserves, oceanview apt in Cape Town, B&B's on the Garden Route, and serviced camping in Botswana.

Have emailed CC Africa regarding the heavy rains and they have made some itinerary changes. Our camping safari is actually mid-June, so it's hard to say if we will have any changes or not.....but wherever they take us will be places we have never been My agent at CCAfrica has been very very helpful and if their safari personnel is half as great as she is, I know it will be a wonderful trip
ALadyNCal is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 12:35 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7,391
Congrats on your upcoming trip! Sounds like a great trip! If you ever need a new husband, let me know...Great birthday present, lucky guy!
matnikstym is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 01:09 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,619
What a wonderful trip you've put together! I hope you'll do a trip report when you get back, as you're staying at some "off the beaten path" places.

If you're concerned about charging batteries, it might be worth it to take extras. They are that expensive and might get you through the camping safari without the need to charge anything. Are you taking any kind of storage device for your photos such as an Epson P2000?
ShayTay is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 01:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 987
Oh, Lady, it sounds wonderful! I'm almost jealous, but not quite, as we've been home only 2 months. I'm sure you'll have a fabulous time; just hope you've left something to do on your second trip!

Bon Voyage!
Celia is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 07:43 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
What a surprise for your husband!

On the camera recharging. I'd second the suggestion for an extra battery or two. I'd also ask the agent about recharging in the vehicle and how that works. Wouldn't leave it up to chance.

A big adventure for sure.

atravelynn is offline  
May 4th, 2006, 04:31 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 993
Dear ALadyNCal,
What a fantastic surprise, and one that really was a surprise! I see you are having a night at Matetsi, and I will be keen to get your impressions of the gameviewing although you are there briefly. I have six nights there near the middle of June and I am a little concerned re gameviewing given some reports here, which is quite different from what is said by CCA. So I am hoping that the difference is explained by the time I am going etc and I am hoping to see many things, although the big cats may be few and far inbetween!

Enjoy your trip!

Kind regards,
KayeN is offline  
May 4th, 2006, 08:30 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 236
Will definitely be posting a review when we return

As to batteries, we have about 5 batteries for each the 20D and the digital camcorder ~~ so we feel we're as prepared as can be.

Overall, I'm feeling kind of stressed that our departure date is sooooooo close. Can't believe it's almost time.

This is certainly our longest trip (our trip to South America was 21 days) and I'm worrying a little about being away so long....but I'm sure it'll all be great. The difficulty getting the frequent flier seats contributed to the length of the trip (fwiw).

We've left ALLOT for a future trip ;-) All of East Africa, Zambia, and Namibia!
ALadyNCal is offline  
May 4th, 2006, 10:41 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,172
What a wonderful surprise for your husband - I have both given and received surprise trips, so I know how special it makes the recipient feel.

I hope you enjoy Akademie Guest House as much as we did - the gardens were so nice, and it was great being able to walk into town,and Arthur & Katherine are very warm and hospitable hosts (who include doing laundry! ). Such a shame that Le Bon Vivant is not open when you are there - did you make reservations elsewhere? When we went to Fraenschhoek from Cape Town we stopped at the Spier farm to pet the cheetahs - and that was really a lot of fun! And the drive is beautiful.

If you drive to the Cape of Good Hope, be sure to drive out "circle drive" - that was where we got to see our first African wildlife - bontebonks and baboons. Also be sure to go to boulder beach to see the penguins.

I hope you have a safe and fun trip!!!


cynstalker is offline  
May 4th, 2006, 01:26 PM
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Posts: 236
Cyn, Thanks for the tips I have a dinner reservation @ The Tasting Room and still have one other night to fill. Have not made any dinner reservations for Cape Town yet.

My husband is very grateful for the trip + the surprise It did end up being a MUCH bigger trip & project than I had anticipated tho!
ALadyNCal is offline  
May 4th, 2006, 05:58 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
Wow! Have a great trip. What an amazing wife you are--sounds like your husband appreciates this.

I can't wait to read all about your adventures.
Leely is offline  
May 5th, 2006, 08:28 AM
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Leely, thanks. I think I'll forward your post to my husband lol
ALadyNCal is offline  
May 5th, 2006, 10:33 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 7
We just returned from a month in SA, Botswana and Zimbabwe. It was WONDERFUL! A few suggestions:

1)Franschhoek - dinner @ Reuben's or Bouillabaisse. If you choose Reuben's, make reservation ASAP. Stop at Bread & Wine for picnic items.

2)Table Mountain - go the first day the cable car is running; it was closed 4 out of 7 days due to wind

3)K. Gardens - make a reservation for the 1 hour overview tour; it's a great way to get oriented to the gardens and spot places you want to go back to on your own. We spent 4 hours exploring.

4)Robbin Island - make reservations day before; the day we had our 11AM reservations the first time available if you walked up to the ticket counter was at 3PM

5)V&A Waterfront - Societi Bistro is the perfect place for an afternoon snack and glass of wine; sit outside (heaters by the table & blankets on the back of each chair) and enjoy the view of Table Mt. Try the Diemersfontein Pinotage.

6)drive down the coast from Cape Town, along Chapman Peak to Boulder Beach to see the penguins, back up the coast stopping at Olympia Cafe for lunch or dinner.

7)breakfast or lunch at Ile du Pain in Knysna

8) We stayed 2 nights at CCA's Matetsi Water Lodge. Beautiful place but not much to see on the game drives. Enjoy the room and the sunset cruise. Use the time to see the Falls. Don't miss the 15 minute helicopter flight. Matetsi runs a shuttle to Vic Falls daily.

If you are interested I can send you the email journal that we sent friends.

rtw2006 is offline  
May 5th, 2006, 10:48 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 236
rtw2006, thanks for all the really great info! I had thought of Ruben's in Franschhoek for our other dinner (besides the Tasting Room, which is reserved). Thanks for suggesting it and all the other ideas
ALadyNCal is offline  
May 13th, 2006, 04:38 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 189
Kruger is good, we decided to do Kruger when we saw some of the prices of the private game resorts. We had a great time - self drive and stayed outside park first night at Phalabora and then went on game drive next day. Drove around the perimeter and came lower down - went through some great little villages and then stayed at Lower Sabi and saw all the wild life you wanted to see on our drives (escorted) Highlight was the morning Rhino walk - up close and personal and it only cost about $35.00. Accomodation was extremly comfortable got to meet lots of other travellers - nothing sanitised - saw the real Africa. Not sure why anyone would want to pay $1,000 of dollars to see a sanitised view. You will love the place
Karen246 is offline  
May 13th, 2006, 08:51 AM
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Posts: 236
Karen, thanks for the info Which place did you do the rhino walk? I had thought about doing that and couldn't find the previous links where I had read about it.
ALadyNCal is offline  
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