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Trip Report: South Africa & Namibia April 28 – May 14

Trip Report: South Africa & Namibia April 28 – May 14

May 30th, 2016, 11:09 AM
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Trip Report: South Africa & Namibia April 28 – May 14

Trip Report: African Animal Adventures

South Africa & Namibia April 28 – May 14

The call of Africa. Ah yes. Like all of you, I have seen photos and movies depicting Africa for as long as I can remember. I mean just say Tarzan and an instant image of Africa pops up for those of us old enough to remember. I have also read the histories, the novels and hundreds and hundreds of National Geographic magazine articles over the years. The animals, the jungles, the savannahs, the deserts all seemed so far away and yet so familiar. I wanted to go. Africa. I felt it in Morocco, when we touched the edge of the Sahara. It gets under your skin. And it touches something primordial in us. The hot African sun.

This trip has been a long time in the planning. I did a lot of basic research 7 years ago when I first thought that it might be interesting as a destination. I looked at the typical safari options available for Africa. You go to Kenya for the Rift Valley and the sensational great migration, Tanzania seems ideal for the smaller and more personal experience. And of course Rwanda for the gorillas. I looked at it all and the romance of it was kindled. But as readers of my other trip reports might know by now. the tour group thing just wasn't for me. So I dismissed the idea for a while until i heard about Kruger Park in South Africa. Fodor's forum - my usual Europe info go to - has a weak Africa section but it did lead me to the SanPark forum with lots of info about Kruger. Hosted by the park system of South Africa, the forum was a goldmine of info about how to see wild Africa in a different way. Kruger allows a one on one experience without the guides, the porters and the 'get on the bus' routine. The more I read, the more I liked the idea. You see, you can self drive in Kruger. Yeah, that's right . . . rent any vehicle, bring a camera and drive yourself around amongst the wild animals in this massive park. Sounds kind of cool, right?

And once I was set on South African I started filling in the rest of the blanks. South Africa is obviously not just one big game viewing destination but it offers a host of other places to see and things to do. My long-time employer and his wife had done a trip there in recent years and I will admit I stole many ideas from them. She kindly shared their itinerary and encouraged me to go. When I saw their itinerary included a trip to Namibia, I was intrigued and the Namib desert became a permanent fixture in my itinerary plans. The mountains of the cape appealed as well offered great wines with a stunning backdrop and the finest dining in SA, so Stellenbosch and Francshhoek were added. And penguins. Are you kidding me? Who doesn't want to see penguins?

From a practical side, it required a lot of logistical planning. I never use an agent so I had to weave the flights, the rental cars and the hotels into an acceptable, doable and safe package that would work for us. I started planning this before we even took our last vacation. Trip Advisor reviews & the forums were the best overall resource.

The final itinerary:

Fly Canada to Amsterdam – 2 nights
Fly AMS to FRA - connect to overnight flight to JNB - connect to Cape Town
Rental car to Franschhoek – 2 nights
Drive to Stellenbosch - 2 nights
Fly Cape Town to Windhoek, Namibia
Rental truck to lodge near Solitaire - 3 nights
Drive back to Windhoek - 1 night
Fly SA to JNB - connect to short SA flight to Skukuza in Kruger Park
Skukuza Rest Camp - 2 nights
Lower Sabie Rest Camp - 2 nights
Hamilton's Tented Camp (Mluwati Concession) - 2 nights
Fly from Skukuza SA to JNB – Johannesburg - 1 night
Fly JNB to Cape Town - I night
Fly CPT to IST – connect to Toronto

Yeah, that's a whole lotta flyin' goin' on but the distances were too vast to consider driving. And I didn't want to drop any of our destinations, so fly we did. Every flight worked and every destination lived up to expectations. Read on, and don't worry . . . I'll get to the penguins and much, much more . . .

It’s a long report & best seen with pictures. Go to:


Ian is offline  
May 30th, 2016, 11:54 AM
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saharmali is offline  
May 30th, 2016, 12:33 PM
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Thanks for the report. It is always nice to read how people decide you explore South Africa as there are so many options. Glad that you had a great time.
Lolazahra is offline  
Jun 6th, 2016, 10:27 AM
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Excellent report, nice style, thank you.
tjhome1 is offline  
Jun 6th, 2016, 11:56 AM
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I am glad that you enjoyed it. We loved the trip. Certainly the highlights were the Namib desert & Kruger. We are trying hard NOT to book another trip to Kruger right away . . . We may lose this battle . . .

Ian is offline  
Jun 26th, 2016, 08:16 PM
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Nice trip! Next time you should hit Hluhluwe-iMfolozi. Totally different geography than Kruger. You can do self-catering at camps there, but I don't believe their camps had restaurants, so you really have to plan for all your own meals. We had gotten an amazing bargain at the places we stayed, though. Now I am totally spoiled for life.
uhoh_busted is offline  
Jun 27th, 2016, 11:48 AM
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Too late! I already booked our return with 2 full weeks in KNP. We loved our trip but we were a blur of travel. This trip we want to really take our time, do some Bushveld Camps & really enjoy the sights, smells & sounds around us.

Ian is offline  
Jun 28th, 2016, 11:42 AM
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Ha! I really don't think you can go wrong.
uhoh_busted is offline  
Jun 30th, 2016, 02:29 AM
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Thanks for a great report, Ian. Just planning our 5th South African trip, two old Aussies who find it enchanting, despite the problems. We have always driven ourselves, from the first time just after Mandela came to power.

Am so glad you and your wife discovered the joys of finding your very own animals in Kruger. I felt again like a child at Christmas, waiting to be up at dawn and out and about.Our very own elephant! Our giraffe! Our herd of buffalo or wildebeest! We packed our breakfast and cuppa, and headed for a waterhole or hide, great fun. Before our first trip, I was helped greatly by a south African travel agent who had recently moved to Australia. She lent me a book on Kruger, so that I knew which roads were best for which animals. We liked Lower Sabie too, but also Olifants further north, which is on a high escarpment overlooking a river. The Kruger Park info book you buy in the park has most of the information.

Last time we went, we were given a tiny, horrendous hire car, and didn't feel quite so good about the back roads, so we stayed on the tar. Harder to spot your own animal, but the benefit of many eyes looking, is that you may see even more. We saw our first leopards, and a giraffe killed by lions on the main road, the lions alongside in the bushes.

Am sure you will hear Africa call again. Happy travels.
Carrabella is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2016, 04:39 AM
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2nd Trip Itinerary:

JNB-Kruger Mpumalanga - arrive noon
Berg-en-Dahl - 3 nights
Skukuza - 1 night
Outside park for the canyon drive - stay Phalaborwa - 1 night
Shimuwini - 3 nights
Olifants - 2 nights
Biyamati - 4 nights
Kruger Mpumalanga - JNB

All booked. I rented a Hilux. Overkill but it will give us some height for the park. (I got attached to our Hilux after 1200 kms in Namibia)

Ian is offline  

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