to layover a day or two or not? Africa trip

Reply

Jan 31st, 2014, 02:11 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 29
to layover a day or two or not? Africa trip

Travelling to Africa this summer with two kids 10 and 11 yrs. We will fly from NYC/Philly area and arrive in Jo'burg. Of course all airline stop somewhere in Europe, but layovers can be long i.e. arrival at 6am and next flight is 8pm.

Wondering if its best to just book flight and see about a day trip to nearest City or just do laps around airport?!

Thought about laying over for a nite or two on the way to Africa and then doing a direct flight home as the layover times are minimal. However thats a lot of flying time all together…

Thoughts? Advice?

Thanks!
kthompson360 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 31st, 2014, 05:50 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 767
Not all airlines stop in Europe, with Delta flying nonstop to JNB out of ATL and South African Air out of JFK or IAD (one hr stop in Dakar).

Everyone travels differently. I much prefer the straight shot and have never gone via Europe. My philosophy is to get on my one plane, settle in and get the long haul over as quickly as possible. It also avoids connection issues and, as you note, undesirable layovers.
sdb2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 31st, 2014, 08:45 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,190
Well we're in the other camp. We're doing a 3 night stopover in Munich on the going leg as we want to get into the same time zone as Africa and break up the flights to feel at least a little rested. It's the going home leg we don't care if we do straight through. Coming back we're doing a flight on Lufthansa that goes JNB - FRA (4 hour layover) and then on to JFK.

If you want to do the straight through, you could always see about a day room at a close by hotel or even some European airports offer them. It gets you a place to rest and shower away from the airport crowds.

I agree with sdb2 - everybody has a different style.
patandhank is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 31st, 2014, 12:59 PM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 29
Thank you both for your thoughts!

I will explore both sides - I like the idea of flying direct on Delta from Atlanta.

However, with kids it could be too much and would be nice perhaps to wander around adjusting to the time zone in London or Paris for a day or two.

Appreciate the responses -now lets see if I can use those points of mine for upgrades so I can stretch out and sleep on these long flights…that always remains a mystery to me how there are never any seats available to do that!
kthompson360 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 31st, 2014, 04:00 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 767
If you do decide to one-shot it, give some thought to SAA 204 out of JFK. Unlike almost all other flights to JNB you leave late a.m. and arrive early a.m. the following day. The flight time is on the order of 13.5-14 hrs, so you avoid the ~7-8 hrs to Europe, the walking around at a time that is ~1 am at home and laying over for the next ~8-hr flight. With your kids in mind, the early arrival means you can head for a nearby hotel and have the entire day to chill and recover from the lag. You also avoid, assuming you decide to stay over in some city, the collecting of bags, transporting yourselves to town, and going back through the security rigamarole on your onward leg.

Using miles to Africa in general is a challenge. So many people will book 11 months out so they can get business and coach seats. I gave up on Delta's miles program a few years back. At one time getting to SA was a good deal, but a few years back they made the mileage awards crazy high (too many miles required for the flight).
sdb2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 31st, 2014, 05:42 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
It depends on how long your entire vacation is and if this is an opportunity that will not come along again for your children to experience something in Europe.

In general, I prefer no layovers.

Have a nice trip on one continent or two.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 1st, 2014, 05:12 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 21,446
I think you can get a much shorter connection time than you mention. Have you looked at KLM from JFK? If you must have a long layover, you can easily stash your bags in a locker at the airport and take a quick train ride into Amsterdam. I did this coming home from SA a few months ago; see end of report here, post from December 11:


http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...in-october.cfm





I prefer unwinding for a few days in Africa, rather than taking precious time away from that continent and spending it in Europe. If you do the latter, you have the trips to and from the airport, and probably a different set of clothing since it will be winter in SA and summer in Europe. Are you going to CapeTown?
ekscrunchy is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 1st, 2014, 11:31 AM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 29
@ekscrunchy - thank you for the reply and info. Redeeming any miles/points for any upgrade is useless. However, I am 6ft tall and need to stretch my legs out on long flights - so perhaps it will be worth it to just fork over the money for Bus Class…. grrrrr.

I live between Newark and Philly and preferred to fly out of either of those if possible. However, I can see now that most people take flights from JFK simply because of the convenience.

My arrival needs to be in the morning as I will then connect to Sabi Sands - our first destination!

Unfortunately we are not going to Cape Town….. we had it on the list, but then thought maybe our children would be "bored" wandering around a City and would prefer to jump right into Safari….which is why maybe a few days in Europe on the way over would be nice. They could get used to the time frame and we could all stretch our legs

We are also working with SOUTHERN DESTINATIONS!! Camille is our travel specialist and she has been wonderful to communicate with! Please offer more advice/details/things to pack or bring and anything you think would be useful to know - would much appreciate.

THANKS!
kthompson360 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 1st, 2014, 11:32 AM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 29
p.s. In case we arrive at nite - where would you recommend to stay in Johannesburg?
kthompson360 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 1st, 2014, 08:41 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 21,446
I will give you more tips soon, but for now, I've overnighted in Johannesburg at Ten Bompas and The Winston, the latter in December. Both are lovely small hotels with lots of garden area.

Can you reconsider and add CapeTown? It is a city like no other and you have all those kid-friendly things like the penguins, the trip to Cape of Good Hope (baboons, ostriches, and maybe whales on the drive to there) and Table Mountain. I think kids would be enthralled by these three, at least.

Southern Destinations has been a joy to work with. I am now in early planning stages for a third trip with them, for next year or year after...

You are much taller than me, but you could look into the Economy Plus (not sure if this is the real name) on KLM, if you do go out of JFK.
ekscrunchy is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2014, 08:15 AM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 29
@ekscrunchy - I would love to reconsider Cape Town - have selfishly always wanted to go - but have been advised that August is not the best time. CT can be cold, rainy and gloomy during the "winter months" - so thought about adding on time in Okavango Delta instead.

Thought about scheduling to go during Dec or March - but heard Dec can be "brutally hot" and also its the "hot" season and very expensive during the holidays. March was a consideration but prefer not to plan around children's school break schedule - more flexibility in summer.

Made final decision to take direct flight from JFK - JNB. One stop.

Happy to know of your experience with Southern Destinations!

What is your email to stay in touch? I can be reached at [email protected]
I appreciate the advice and feedback!
kthompson360 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 3rd, 2014, 04:26 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 175
I don't think there's any way you could do Okavanga Delta in such a short time frame. However, if you flew into Hoedspruit you are very near Kruger National Park and the private reserve, Sabi Sands next to it. Remember that summer in the US will be winter there, so you probably won't want anything that is camping or luxury tents. There are two very good lodges there that we have stayed at in prior visits that I can recommend. They are Cheetah Plains Lodge http://www.cheetahplains.com/ and Elephant Plains Lodge http://www.elephantplains.co.za/ They are very close together and both are excellent. The beauty of those also is their proximity to Jo'berg. They are only about a 45 minute flight between the two airports. There is a service that will pick you up (for a fee) at the airport and take you to the lodge and back. Both lodges have 2 safari's per day included in their prices and all meals and you are treated like royalty, the chalets are heated and have AC which is a plus. Since the Kruger area is in a 'high risk' area for malaria, there will be the bug nets on the bed which are so cool and the kids will love it. Kruger is in a high risk malaria zone, but that's only a concern during their warmer months. There is quite a bit of various types of wildlife in the area and a beautiful way to relax a few days. We enjoyed it. Here's a video I made there with some playful baby Hyenas that your children and you may enjoy viewing. The children are usually allowed on the safaris but of course it is essential that they stay quiet so as not to scare the animals away and also endanger the group.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLCi8Cz5aX8
1Caroline is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 3rd, 2014, 04:30 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 175
My apology, the above comments were intended for another thread. Sorry.
1Caroline is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 3rd, 2014, 06:26 AM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 29
@1Caroline - no worries, your response was actually quite helpful and appreciated~

I shared the video with my kids! We are so excited about this trip -
kthompson360 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 3rd, 2014, 04:13 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 21,446
KT: Where are you headed in SA--or did I somehow miss this info above? I am imagining somewhere near Kruger? I want to offer some packing tips so you do not make the mistake of taking too much "stuff" as I always do, and did again on this last SA trip. If you are going only to J'burg in transit, and to Sabi Sands, Phinda, or other private reserve, believe me, you do not need to take a lot of clothing. As I remember I took (for example) 3 pair of pants with me (one "nice" gray jeans, and one pair "safari" pants, and one pair back jeans for restaurants in Cape Town (there are probably details about this in my trip report that I linked above). I was gone just over two weeks, in October.

You do not need any special "safari" clothing. You can wear blue jeans on game drives; I discussed this in my trip report....the most experienced safari goers, with multiple trips under their belts, wore normal casual clothing in muted colors. Sneakers, or some kind of those (ugly) walking-type shoes, from Mephisto on down. I had one pair black leather sneakers and one pair Merrill (fairly ugly) black sandals. Again, if I am remembering right, those were the only shoes I took and the only ones I needed but you are going in colder weather so adjust, leaving out sandals.

What I neglected to take with me was a warm jacket. I brought along, for warmth, only long-sleeved black knit t-shirt (think GAP) and a zip-up black fleece jacket. I was freezing in the mornings at Tswalu. You may not be headed there, but this would certainly apply in Sabi Sands in their winter. You need not only fleece, but some kind of jacket. Next time I would also bring gloves and a knit hat for game drives early morning and after dark. Also wool scarf.

I was told this on this forum but ignored the kind and sage advice offered to me, as you will see by my reply at the end of the link, below. At Tswalu I ended up one morning wrapped in/huddled under two blankets with two hot water bottles between my legs. In October.

What you do not need is anything remotely "dressy." I rarely changed my clothes for dinner after game drives--there was almost no time to do that. Just wash up, maybe change shirt if it is dusty.

Please read here posts dated 3 October 2013, and onwards, for a few details, and let us know where you are headed to get better advice:


http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...-vs-phinda.cfm
ekscrunchy is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 4th, 2014, 05:40 AM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 29
@ekscrunchy - perfect -thank you for the advice! I was wondering what and how much to bring and if you had to change (dressy) for dinners.

Because we are bringing our children - we first thought of going in March during the Green season for a better deal financially - however we felt it was approaching too quickly and we worried about the transition back to school with jet lag etc. So August became the perfect time because they were busy at camps the first half of summer and we could be flexible with our planning…however, this is apparently when most people are travelling

We could consider Christmas holidays - but I fear the cost would double during that time.

That all being said - we did take Cape Town out of original March itinerary because of the dreary winter weather in August. We would fly into JNB direct now and then to Sabi Sands/Kruger and stay at two different camps - one a lodge and one tented camp.

From there we would head to Chobe Park Botswana and then end with time in Victoria Falls.
Total of 11 days.

Now that we are thinking to make this trip happen next summer - due to most people booking reservations both for flights and accommodations a year in advance - we have more time to budget. I would like to have an add on somewhere - either Okavavango Delta, Botswana or perhaps Namibia?

Not sure about the cold weather of August….would have liked to lounge by the pools at these camps and not worry about gloves and fleeces….so with a year to plan….when would be the best time to go with kids for two weeks?

Thank you!
kthompson360 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 4th, 2014, 12:56 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 1
It depends on the city. I just did the same thing a few weeks ago - 10 hours in Munich. The time goes by pretty quickly, considering it takes about 1.5 hours to get out of the airport and into the city, and about the same amount coming back. Munich is one of my favorite cities in the world though, so I can imagine a visit to Frankfurt or another city may not be as exciting.
johannahari is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 4th, 2014, 01:40 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 21,446
Forget Namibia with only 10 days. I would stick to South Africa, and I would add Cape Town if you can manage another time of year; why not ask Camille more on weather details, see waht she says. The city was just fine for me on my first trip in Late September, and again in October last year.

Remember that the pools at the safari camps tend to be tiny, and cold. Cold even in October in Sabi Sands (my first trip) when it was in the 90s during some days. Even thought the pools are cold, it was a bit hot to lie out in the sun next to them--confusing, I know!
How do the days break down--with only 11, including J'Burg and 2 safari camps…it sounds as if those days are almost taken…I do not think you can do justice to Botswana. MAybe you could squeeze in Vic Falls..stay in one of the atmospheric lodges along the Zambwzi in Zambia, or maybe stay in Zimbabwe, which I have not done.

Here is my earlier trip report, with Vic Falls, Sabi Sands, @ Botswana camps, etc; I never did finish the last portion, in Botswana, though:


http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...lsbotswana.cfm
ekscrunchy is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 4th, 2014, 04:30 PM
  #19
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 29
Thanks ekscrunchy!

Interesting about Namibia - maybe that is trying to "overdo" things.

We fly in/out of JNB - starting in Kruger at Sabi Sands - half the time at Lodge and half at Tented camp. Then off to Botswana and Chobe Park - ending with time at Islands of Siankaba in Vic Falls. With the consideration of Cape Town still hanging….perhaps instead add on a few days in Botswana in the Delta?

Good info about the pools - if its 90-100 degrees who would want to sit around and fry by the pool - especially if it was too cold to "cool off" in. LOL

Most people keep reassuring that August is the best time to go all around. Summer gives my kids more flexibility and the game sighting is supposed to be excellent.

Thank you for the above links - I look forward to viewing them!
kthompson360 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 5th, 2014, 03:37 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 21,446
That sounds great..yes, I would add to Botswana rather than include yet another place you have to reach by long trip, or flight. I stayed at Islands of Siankaba. It is lovely. Your kinds will be thrilled with the cruise on the river, and the whole setup of the place. Staff are so kind. I enyoyed time in Livingstone--went to the main market, and also a tourist handscraft market, which was very good for African curio shopping. You can also go to the Falls from there; we went to the Zim side one day from Siankaba.

Where are you headed in Sabi Sands?
ekscrunchy is online now  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:44 PM.