Trip Report -South Africa

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Apr 2nd, 2006, 01:40 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 107
Trip Report -South Africa

I have to say that luck is on our side. We only had 12 days and were on a tight budget. We purchased a very cheap trip and I wasnít really sure what we would get.
Everything ended up being pretty close to perfect. Our ground operator was Thompson Tours and I canít say enough about them They were always prompt, sent knowledgable guides, and professional drivers. I was concerned about the amount of people in our group and we ended up either being on a private tour on only with 1-2 other couples.
First, we flew on South African Airways. After all of the negativity I heard, my husband and I were very happy with their service. We were on a new plane (or refurbished new) on all legs of our flight. Having flown a range of other domestic and international airlines, I have to say that I would rate them near the top. The only negative was the airports (Cape Town, Johanesburg) were very crowded and therefore a bit confusing. Other than that they travel arrangements were excellent.
We spent one night in Johnanesburg at the Rosebank Hotel. Very nice, but not much to do. We basically stayed there, walked around a little, and then fell asleep to get rid of the jet-lag.
From there we drove to Hazyview. About a 5 hour drive, but not bad in the way of scenery especially since we took the panorama route on the way back.
We arrived at our hotel, the Sabi River Sun. Now, talking to other travelers the private game lodges sounded pretty amazing. Too much $$ for us, but something to consider for next time.
The Sabi River Sun wasnít bad at all (golf course, pools, hippos in the rives and ponds, etc.), but it didnít sound as authentic or as close to the safari itself as the private reserve lodges. I would give it at B. The rooms were good but the staff was a little less than friendly. They also only had one resturant, which was very expensive and not very good. There was a little pizza place outside of the gates down the road a bit, that served very very good pizza. (strange how the best pizza I have had is in the middle of the rainforest in central America and in a small town in South Africa) So, we were ok with that, but I know many people wouldnít have been.
The safaris in Kruger were very nice. The Thompsonís guides were excellent. We did do one night drive, with a national park guide. He wasnít bad, but compared to the Thompson guide he wasnít the best. We were able to see many animals and I think we were pretty lucky for late March. The only thing we missed was the leopard.
We also did a tour in the area of the major scenery spots including Godís Window and Blyde River Canyon. Absolutely diverse and breath-taking scenery.
On our last night, we went to a festival at a Shangana Village. It rained a little, but the show and the dinner was very good. (we were told not to eat the worms
The next day we were driven back to Johansesburg and the fly to Cape Town. We checked into the Portswood and were upgraded (for no reason) to a suite! The hotel itslef was situated right behind the V & A Waterfront, so even with out the upgraded room I would still highly recommened the hotel. The staff was great (though they helped themselves to a few bottles of wine we left in the room at check-out and came back to get later...who can blame them) We took a Cape Peninsula tour and did a few other things around the waterfront. We also did a winelands tour. I am not sure if it was because we arenít really wine snobs, or if because when youíve seen one vineyard youíve seen them allÖ..but it wasnít the best tour of the trip. The scenery and the towns were nice, but when you drove down the road toward the Cape of Good Hope the day before and everything was just beautiful, the vineyard areas were a little bit of a letdown.
Everything turned out great. Thanks to all of you who replied to my questions and concerns.
(also, the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ20)
Now we are planning our next adventure and are trying to decide between Japan and Australia....we'll see.
mgtr is offline  
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Apr 3rd, 2006, 07:37 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Thompsons looks like a recommendation for cheap and good. That's a hard combination to attain.

Have fun in Australia and Japan next.

atravelynn is offline  
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Apr 3rd, 2006, 07:35 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 230
Thanks for the report. Sounds like you had a very good trip! Any pictures you want to share? We're doing the "expensive" trip this time in May, but if we get the Africa Fever Bug that seems to strike a lot of people, we'll be looking for more affordable return engagements!
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Apr 4th, 2006, 06:48 AM
  #4
bat
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
Thanks for the report and I am glad that you had a good trip.
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