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Trip Report - Cape Town, Garden Route, Safari and Jo'burg

Trip Report - Cape Town, Garden Route, Safari and Jo'burg

Apr 15th, 2018, 12:03 PM
  #1  
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Trip Report - Cape Town, Garden Route, Safari and Jo'burg

Thanks for all the good advice. We had a great trip.

We had direct flights from Washington Dulles through Dakar to Johannesburg. South African Airways was very comfortable, it was a long flight though. We got to Jo'burg on time. In Washington, we were told we could check our bags through, but it turned out not to be the case, so we took our luggage with us. We stayed our first night at the Intercontinental. It was a good suggestion to ask the hotel concierge to send someone to meet us. We were rather confused when we landed. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant, which was fine. I tried the springbok for the first time. Our connection to Cape Town was early the next morning.

In Cape Town, we had arranged for a driver to come pick us up. We would be the next four nights at the Victoria and Alfred Hotel. We thought this would be enough time to get acclimated before we would have to drive around.

The room wasn't ready yet, our first stop was the Robben Island museum to try to get tickets. We didn't book in advance because I wasn't sure what the weather would be like. That was a big mistake. I also thought it would be low season in early March. There were no ferries today, they were all cancelled. We could get tickets for Tuesday (our last day in Cape Town). We tried to do that, but there were some many problems with their computer system that we gave up.

We had lunch at the Cape Town Fish Market, then we rode the Cape Town Wheel. We probably would not have done that, but we were still waiting to get into the room. Unpacking, nap, then dinner at Mondiall.

The next day we went early to Table Mountain, we took a cab from the Waterfront. Even then, there was a long line. It was about an hour wait, but it wasn't too hot and there was shade most of the way. The line kept moving. The cable car was nice, but we weren't expecting the rotating floor. Once we got used to it, it was nice to see the view. We walked around the medium length path at the top. We rode the Hop on-off bus back. It was nice to see some of the areas on that side, which we might not have gone through. The only problem with the bus is that it only goes in one direction.

We took the bus downtown and had lunch at Tiger's Milk. From there we could have done a few different thing, but we took the other bus line to the District Six museum, another good recommendation. It was interesting but sad. We found a taxi to take us back to the Waterfront. Dinner tonight was at Karibu, which was recommended by someone on our flight.

More to follow.

Last edited by carl170; Apr 15th, 2018 at 12:04 PM. Reason: mispelling
carl170 is offline  
Apr 15th, 2018, 02:15 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Looking forward to more
tjhome1 is offline  
Apr 15th, 2018, 02:38 PM
  #3  
 
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>>Looking forward to more<<

Ditto. I'm hoping to do a very similar trip next year - probably in August or Sept.
janisj is online now  
Apr 15th, 2018, 03:32 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2012
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Following along too. Too bad about Robben Island; reason to return.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2018, 03:11 PM
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On Sunday we went back downtown to St. Mary's Cathedral. After a quick lunch at the V&A Mall's food court we waited for out township tour. We had seen some of the township right by the airport and many of the restaurant staff said they lived there, but here we could get out of the bubble so to speak that is the waterfront area.

We went to Langa, which seems to be one of the more established townships. We stopped by a craft center, where people were bulk painting ceramics which had been ordered by various organizations. They seemed to do a good business. From the center we drove to people's houses, the tour rotates so different people don't always get visitors. We were told not to give them money, the tour would pay them something.

The first house was a three room shack. It had electricity and a cooking area. It was self-constructed from scraps that had been collected. We were told that anyone could build a shack and that they would be provided with electricity. From there we went to better constructed buildings, these were dormitories for migrant workers, but now they hold several families. It was a shock to see how many people lived in the former rooming houses, the shacks might be more comfortable. From there we drove around the township, there were more upscale homes in different areas. The central area had a lot of food stalls and small stands. A lot of people were out and about. It was definitely an eye opener to how the locals live.

Later in the afternoon, we visited the Zeitz MOCAA modern art museum. Lots of interesting artwork, one or two American artists, but mostly from different parts of Africa. We had dinner at Bertucci in the Waterfront.
carl170 is offline  
Apr 17th, 2018, 12:45 PM
  #6  
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We rented a rental car for a week to explore the Garden Route, but first we used the car to go out to Cape Point. We picked up the car downtown thinking it would be quicker, but it turned out not to be the case. There was a crowd, not very many staff, and not enough cars! We lucked out with a free upgrade to a larger, automatic car, best of all, with a navigation system.

We drove out of town and our first stop was Kalk Bay. The train tracks ran right along the coast, which was not what we were expecting. We walked through town and had a nice lunch at Sirocco, part of the Harbor House group. From there we went to the penguin colony at Boulder's Beach. It was nice to have the boardwalk to walk over. There were many more penguins than I expected. From there we drove to Cape Point. There were many signs warning people about the baboons, the car in front of us offered one a banana and he jumped on top of their car. At the point, we took the cable car up. It was later in the day than we planned so we didn't have a lot of time and rode the cable car back down. We drove back going around the other side of Cape Point, not wanting to retrace our steps. We left the coast near the windsurfer's beach and took the Ou Kaapse Weg back to Cape Town, which was pretty dramatic at points.

Back to Cape Town, there was easy parking at the Victoria and Alfred, and we had dinner at the Harbor House on the Waterfront.
carl170 is offline  
Apr 18th, 2018, 01:27 PM
  #7  
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The Garden Route

When planning the trip I was concerned about long drives. There is so much to see and do. We decided on an itinerary that went along the coast, then back on the inland route, ending in the wine country.

Our itinerary: Mossel Bay, Hog Hollow, Oudtshoorn, and Stellenbosch.

Our first stop out over the mountains was the Gabrielskloof Wine Estate. Unfortunately their restaurant was closed on Tuesday, but we did try their wine. We stopped for lunch in Riviersonderend, but missed the Ou Meul Bakery! We had heard about it but didn't find it in time. There was a lot of construction on the road, we kept having to stop for one-way traffic to go by. We stopped in Swellendam, which maybe we missed the scenic part of town, but there wasn't much to see there. We then stopped in Albertina and visited the Aloe Shop. We got a little turned around heading into Mossel Bay, but found the Protea Hotel and parked the car. According to the guidebook, the Cafe Gannet in the hotel was one of the better restaurants in town, which was really convenient.
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May 5th, 2018, 11:08 AM
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The rest of the Garden Route was really nice. We stayed in nice places, the scenery was spectacular. Not enough time to visit all the sights and do more hikes. We also caught a bug which slowed us down some. Hog Hollow was really nice, the communal table was an interesting idea for dinner, monkeys tried to steal breakfast. Thanks to poster TravelBeyond for some great places to stop along the way:

Timberlake village outside of Sedgefield, we stopped there both times. A fun place to stop to rest and shop.
Salinas in Wilderness. What a great view! We walked on the beach there after lunch.

We left the coast and drove overland to Oudtshoorn. Some of our guests at Hog Hollow had just driven in that way, they said they kept stopping to look at the scenery. Oudtshoorn probably had more to offer, but we used our time there to rest in the hotel. The Rosenhof was a great oasis to do just that.

From there we drove through Barrydale, we quickly drove past Ronnies Sex Shop, just noticing it as we passed. We stopped for lunch on the west side of Barrydale at the Joubert Tradaw winery. by the time we got to Robertson it had started to rain. Not enough rain for the drought they are experiencing, but maybe it would help a little.

Our last stop before Safari was Stellenbosch. We stayed at the Asara wine resort. Friends had stayed there on a previous trip. It is really near the dump, but we didn't notice it, except for the trucks going in and out. This was a beautiful place. We had arranged dinner reservations at Mise en Place, their on site restaurant. I tried the Springbok loin and it was very good, much better that the one we tried at the airport on our way in.

In Stellenboch we did a little shopping, but our main event was going to the doctor to make sure we were OK for our Safari. We figured this was our last chance in case we needed any medications.
carl170 is offline  
May 5th, 2018, 11:57 PM
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I was in South Africa in Mar-Apr myself. The reason you couldn't check your luggage through to Cape Town is that you go through customs and immigration at the first entry point to South Africa, in your case O R Tambo Airport in Joburg. The flight from Joburg to CT is a domestic flight.

Shame about Robben Island, but you are lucky you got to go on the cable car to Table Mountain. Cape Town is often windy, and the cableway is shut down when winds are too strong. On my first trip to Cape Town we waited a week for a good day to go. My daughter and SIL hiked to the top, and I took the cable car.

I've been to Cape Town three times now, Christmas 2014 (when it was super busy), Oct 2017, and Mar-Apr 2018. Did you go to the 17th century Castle of Good Hope? It's an easy walk from the District 6 Museum, and I enjoyed it just as much the second time as the first. What about the penguins at Boulders Beach? Cape Point National Park? Chapman's Peak Drive? Camps Bay? Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden?

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your trip report, and hope the safari part went well. You need to go back to CT one day to take in what you missed. ;-)
Heimdall is offline  
May 22nd, 2018, 03:03 PM
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We saw the castle from the Hop On/Off Bus, but didn't have time to stop. From Cape Point, we cut back across so we missed Camps Bay and Chapman's Peak Drive. It seemed shorter from our Sat Nav.
carl170 is offline  
May 22nd, 2018, 03:13 PM
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We were up early 5:00am to get to the airport. It didn't seem like it would be that far, but we were warned about traffic. And it was pretty bad. Lots of traffic, lots of small buses picking people up. Lots of red lights. We needed that hour to get to the airport. When we turned in the rental car, someone was there to help with our bags, but the price kept going up as we walked into the airport. If it wasn't so early we would have argued more.

Our flight to Hoedspruit was delayed, SA Express needed to find a plane. Something happened to the original incoming flight, but we did get a different plane. We flew over some pretty dramatic canyons. Obie was there to pick us up. We had a short wait for our luggage, but then we were off. We saw some zebra, impala and giraffe on the way to the park, then we entered the Timbavati game reserve. We were staying at the Ngala Lodge. We dropped of our bags at the room and went to lunch. We didn't have much time after, our first game drive was leaving soon!
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Mar 27th, 2019, 04:52 AM
  #12  
 
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The Garden Route

We’re exploring The Garden Route after safari in the Kruger and we’d love to see more wildlife and do more hiking. We have booked wine lands, Cape Town and Herman’s, but can’t decide if we should see Oudtshoorn or stay and explore Plettenberg Bay Area or stay at Knysna. Any previous travellers tips would be great.
thanks
life4lovin is offline  
Mar 27th, 2019, 07:11 AM
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Life4lovin, I’ve been on safaris in East Africa, so one of the things I really looked forward to in Cape Town was the penguins and seals in the area. If you are there at the right time you can see whales at Hermanus. My autocorrect tried to change it to Herman’s too.
Heimdall is offline  
Mar 27th, 2019, 03:00 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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life4ovin: You really should start a new thread of your own -- tacking on to a year old Trip Report will end up people responding to the OP not noticing that you have question(s).

Last edited by janisj; Mar 27th, 2019 at 03:24 PM.
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Mar 27th, 2019, 11:53 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
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Thank you, I got involved in Carl170 trip, I see i should start my own questions on a separate post.
Will definitely be seeing penguins seals and hopefully in October the whales.
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Mar 28th, 2019, 02:26 AM
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Thank you, I got involved in Carl170 trip, I see i should start my own questions on a separate post.
Will definitely be seeing penguins seals and hopefully in October the whales.
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Mar 28th, 2019, 04:48 AM
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To answer your question, I would have loved to stay longer in the Plettenberg Bay area, lots of hiking and wildlife options. We just drove through Knysna and then Oudtshoorn on the way back.
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Mar 28th, 2019, 05:12 AM
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About those pesky seals: When I did the boat trip from Hout Bay water was very rough (late September) and people became sick. I never get seasick but even for me, the water was uncomfortbly rough..maybe had to do with wind(??)

This report is excellent......eager to read more!! We will be back in September..so happy about that!!
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Mar 28th, 2019, 06:37 AM
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You can see seals in Hout Bay right at the dock or swimming in the harbour:
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Mar 29th, 2019, 07:15 PM
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Hout Bay isn't the only alternative. There are also small boat trips from Simon's Town. Never any guarantees on conditions...trips will be cancelled if it's too rough.

Last edited by mlgb; Mar 29th, 2019 at 08:04 PM.
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