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What to do with 4 extra days in South Africa?

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May 19th, 2010, 08:55 AM
  #1
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What to do with 4 extra days in South Africa?

Hello there-

My husband and I are going to South Africa for the first time next week. Short notice to be posting, I know!

Our itinerary is as follows:

May 27-June1 - Cape Town & Winelands
June 2-June 6 - OPEN
June 7-13 - safari at Zulu Nyala near Richards Bay
June 14-17 - World Cup in Johannesburg

We would love some suggestions for what to do June 2 - June 6. Is it worth it to head to Victoria Falls? If so, which side is better in early June? What about the visa fees - it looks like it is more expensive to enter Zambia than Zimbabwe. Also, the Fodor's guidebook to South Africa says that June is not a great time of year to see Vic Falls from the Zimbabwe side as there is too much mist and that cameras will be ruined - is there truth to this? The Fodor's book also makes it sound as though it is expensive and complicated to travel from one side of the falls to the other - has anyone had problems?

Will we need yellow fever inoculation to re-enter South Africa?

Thank you so much for the help!

Julia
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May 19th, 2010, 10:31 AM
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Just my 2 cents:


We would love some suggestions for what to do June 2 - June 6. Is it worth it to head to Victoria Falls?

>> The falls are FULL in June and of course it's a very good time to visit FROM THE ZAMBIAN side we had spectacular sights! Of course you have to cover your cam as the air is filled with mist! But pictures from the entrance are great. Crossing the bridge won't be possible with photo gear unless it's decently covered! So from that point no pics possible. But I would say the experience is definitely worth it! You don't have to prof you were there by providing pics ;-)

If so, which side is better in early June? What about the visa fees - it looks like it is more expensive to enter Zambia than Zimbabwe.

>> I have no info on Visa fees right now. Our visit was in 2008. Pls check. I would definitely not decide based on visa fees but on the experience which most probably is excellent from both sides. Vic falls is a bit further away from the actual falls but still very very close. That might offer also great photo opportunities from ZIM side. We only visited ZAM in June.

Also, the Fodor's guidebook to South Africa says that June is not a great time of year to see Vic Falls from the Zimbabwe side as there is too much mist and that cameras will be ruined - is there truth to this? The Fodor's book also makes it sound as though it is expensive and complicated to travel from one side of the falls to the other - has anyone had problems?

>> Crossing from ZAM to ZIM isn't a prob at all - visa fees not considered. But 30US$ Visa fee for ZIM shouldn't create a prob compared to the costs for a trip to Africa or even from SA to ZAM or ZIM.
It's up to you whether you WANT to see the falls and dedicate some $ towards that experience!
4 days/nights is quite a lot for the falls but can be combined ideally with MATETSI WATER LODGE and make it a safari experience.
Maybe you fly up to Livingstone/ZAM and spend one night at a lodge (my fav is SUSSI: http://www.sanctuaryretreats.com/lod...-and-chuma.cfm) or TONGABEZI http://www.tongabezi.com/ and then change to MATETSI:http://www.andbeyondafrica.com/luxur...e_game_reserve
or decide on only one lodge and cross from there!
If you can shift so that you can observe the LUNAR RAINBOW
http://www.afrizim.com/Activities/Vi...ar-Rainbow.asp
While visiting ZAM or ZIM please check the moon calendar
Here a German site but you just have to punch in your travel dates to get the moon phase:
http://www.wetteronline.de/afrireif.htm
The LUNAR RAINBOW is spectacular but only visible at FULL MOOM for 2 or max evenings. Make sure you get to the entrance ZAM side at 18.30h at the latest in order to not miss it!


Will we need yellow fever inoculation to re-enter South Africa?
>> If you are travelling straight from US to Southern Africa incl. ZAM/ZIM you don't need any vaccination besides your general pre-cautions.

Happy travels!

SV
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May 19th, 2010, 10:34 AM
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Sorry - the moon calender link doesn't function....too much German to get to the Moon phase.
I have checked:
Regrettably 28 May is FULL MOON so you don't have to worry about that one!

Happy planning!

SV
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May 19th, 2010, 11:54 AM
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Spassvogel-

Thank you so much! This has me much more excited about trying to head up to Vic Falls. I really appreciate the help! I'll be sure to post a trip report when we are back.

Thanks again!

Julia
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May 19th, 2010, 01:07 PM
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Maybe give some thought to a quick trip to Namibia, if you could arrange air to Windhoek, which may be difficult. You could then do a two-night jaunt over to Sossusvlei and see the fantastic dunes.
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May 19th, 2010, 06:54 PM
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If you wish to see Vic Falls, this would be a good opportunity. You wouldn't need the entire allotted time, though. If you plotted out your intentions in Cape Town, suggestions on what else to do (and there's lots) there could be given.

I would not be included to go to Nambia with the amount of time you have.
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May 19th, 2010, 07:23 PM
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atravelynn-

I'm curious about your hesitancy about Namibia. What's the difference between taking a short hop to see the Falls vs. a short hop to see the dunes at Sossusvlei? On my trip to Namibia I shared a van with a couple of people who had flown in from S. Africa (one from Jo'burg, the other from CPT), did a quick 2-nighter to Sossusvlei and then headed back. In any case, both are world-class sites/sights.

Steve
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May 20th, 2010, 12:54 AM
  #8
 
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Hi hula_bee

Given the short notice and the likely expense and logistical headaches of pulling off the Vic Falls and/or Namibian excursions, let me propose a 'fall(s) back' alternative ;-)

Stay in the Cape Town region.

- Go on a Jazz Safari with Andulela or Coffee Beans Routes.

- Drive up the west coast to !Khwa ttu for a tour and lunch, then on to the West Coast National Park and spend the night in a houseboat on the Langebaan Lagoon. Continue up to Paternoster, and even on to Clanwilliam where there is great San rock art, lovely restaurants and the stunning Cederberg Mountains. Visit a rooibos tea plantation. This is a great 3 day trip with lots of landscape diversity and much less rain in winter.

- Take Cape Malay cooking lessons and return home with the knowledge to share this unique regional cuisine with friends (and enjoy it yourself for many years...). Again, check out Andulela

- Ride horses on the beach at dawn in Noordhoek

- Go for a braai at Mzoli's

- Take High Tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel

- Spend a night or two in Franschhoek, wallowing in culinary excess

There are dozens of other options available to you that won't be as hectic as planes, trains, automobiles and 4x4's to pop in and out of the country.

If the Zim/Zam/Nam options fall through, let us know.

HTH

Kurt
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May 20th, 2010, 01:28 AM
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Hi hula_bee

If I had four extra days, I would definitely go on safari. This will leave you with more than enough time to fly to any of a number of lodges (will recommend some to you should you wish so), have a wonderful Big Five/wildlife experience, enjoy the luxury of a lodge and the absolute wonder of the African bushveld. There is nothing quite like a safari...going for an evening afternoon game drive, stopping in the bush for a sundowner after which it becomes an evening game drive in an open vehicle under the beautiful starry skies, tracking lions and finding them, following a leopard, etc etc and then returning to the lodge with a welcoming camp fire and a scrumptuous meal waiting for you...what more could one wish for? I've done many safaris and have travelled widely in many parts of the world, but once you've had the safari experience, you will always hear the voice of the African bush calling your soul to come again...

Kind regards
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May 20th, 2010, 07:48 AM
  #10
 
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I second the safari idea, if you can get into anything around Kruger and the Sabi Sands area, or even Mala Mala, it is completely different than Zula Nyala and you will see leopards and lions where you will not at Zula Nyala.
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May 20th, 2010, 11:23 AM
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From Victoria Falls it's a short drive to Chobe in Botswana. It's a wonderful place to spend a couple of days - lots of wildlife.
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May 20th, 2010, 12:57 PM
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If SHAMWARI comes to your mind:

http://www.rhinoconservation.org/201...s-businessmen/

SV
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May 20th, 2010, 05:01 PM
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Thanks, everyone. We will go on safari after our four open days in KwaZulu-Natal. Is the game much different in other parts of South Africa? We would definitely consider an additional safari if there are other things to see.

Kurt_a, thank you for the suggestions! That is our back-up plan, it's great to have extra ideas.

Julia
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May 20th, 2010, 06:00 PM
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You chose more safari--great! Living4safari expresses very well why this was a wise choice of yours.

So your June 7-13 dates are not all committed? If you can visit Phinda, which is nearby, I think that would be worth your while. It is a cheetah sanctuary. I spent a week there and had a great time looking at a variety of animals in addition to cheetah and they live in 7 distinct and scenic habitats there.

Shellcat has suggested a good option in an area that definitely would be different than Zulu Nyala or the Phinda Reserve. Kruger or Sabi Sands, the private reserves near Kruger, have some of the best wildlife viewing in Africa--especially the hard to find leopard. There are many options to choose from in this region and Mala Mala is one of them. The leopards were plentiful, along with other species, when I visited Mala Mala.

The reason I was less enthused about going to Namibia and more enthused about Vic Falls had to do with kurt a's suggestions for Cape Town. Vic Falls would not take as many days and you'd have more time for Cape Town. Even though the flights from Joburg to Vic Falls or Windhoek, Nambia are similar flying time, the entire transportation time differs. When you arrive in Vic Falls, you drive around 30 minutes to your lodging and you are there. After you arrive in Windhoek, it's another 5 hours driving to the desert. Or you can catch another flight that is less than 2 hours, but with arrival at the airport, etc. it adds a lot more time, and may even require a departure the next day.

"We would definitely consider an additional safari if there are other things to see." There are lots and lots and lots of other things to see with more safari time. Good pick!
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May 20th, 2010, 06:45 PM
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atravelynn, can't fault your reasoning. Thanks. Steve
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May 20th, 2010, 09:10 PM
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I was going to recommend safari at Kruger, but, if I'm not mistaken, your free days are on the other side of the country from Kruger. But, if you can easily work Kruger in, do it.

regards - tom
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May 21st, 2010, 12:49 PM
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WOW, this is such a great site! I can't believe all the replies, many thanks!

I realize my last post was slightly confusing. We are already booked for safari at Zulu Nyala from June 7-13. Our open days remain undecided, but it's likely that we'll choose an additional safari before Zulu Nyala so we can see more of the big cats.

I've heard about wetland safaris, but haven't been able to find a clear answer online. Does anyone know what this is, where they are, and what we'll see? We were very enchanted by the idea of sitting along the Zambezi and watching hippos, is there something similar to this in South Africa?

We are probably going to choose an additional safari over Vic Falls as the prices are rather prohibitive right now. That just means we'll have to come back to Africa!

Again, thank you for all the thoughtful responses.

Julia
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May 22nd, 2010, 05:04 AM
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"so we can see more of the big cats."
The best way to accomplish this is to include Phinda and the Krueger/Sabi Sands. Spend a day or two at nearby Phinda for cheetah. You also will probably see lion. I was told by a friend who did a day trip there that the odds are 80% of seeing a lion on such a trip. But she did not. I saw lions about 3 of my 7 days, but we were not looking for lions. Your open days could be at a Kruger or Sabi Sands location, which is known for sightings of the elusive leopard. Lions are also common. Cheetah are not seen that often.

"Wetland safaris"
Botswana's Okavango delta is the biggest wetland. You can do boat, mekoro (small traditional canoes), and land safaris there. You'd be able to see hippos and many other animals there. Might be hard to include in your itinerary.

The Sabi and the Sands River are in Sabi Sands and Kruger, where you can see hippos and wildlife drinking. I don't think you can go on the river in boats, though. Maybe others have more info on that.

You can take a boat or kayak ride on Mzinene River at Phinda. Afternoon is best for lighting on the acia trees.

Or you may be referring to the nearby St. Lucia wetlands, near Zulu Nyala. I have no personal experience there. At times of the year you can see turtles laying their eggs on the beach and there is good birdlife. You can either stay there or a day trip could be arranged. Hippos are an attraction there.

Right at Zulu Nyala there should be waterholes to attract hippos and other animals.

Hard to duplicate that Zambezi experience, though!
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May 22nd, 2010, 06:59 AM
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If you need to shorten your Zulu Nyala trip by a day or two in order go north toward Kruger, that would be okay. Phinda is a good suggestion and the Zula Nyala people can coordinate that day trip. I would recommend contacting them before your trip as often it is full by the time you arrive.

The program at Zula Nyala is different than what you may expect. You are offered a number of day trip options which are all interesting, but you do pay for the those outside adventures. I have been to Zula Nyala and found if very different than any of the camps I have been to-if you want to see lions and leopards, you must go elsewhere. And to see the Big Five, if that is of interest, is not possible as Zula Nyala does not have any lions or leopards at their park.

You can fly from Richard's Bay back to Jburg or perhaps Nelspruit. The airport is about 45 minutes from Zula Nyala, so try to catch an early flight out so you can make the evening game drive at any of the camps you choose near Kruger. It really would be a shame not to see lions and leopards on your first trip. Check out the cyberdiary on malamala.com and you will see why so many of us travel to that region every year. Sorry to say, you may get hooked.
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May 22nd, 2010, 08:17 AM
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If you want lions and leopards for sure you will see them every day at at a Sabi Sand Reserve camps. Been to three different camps there totaling 24 days.

Kruger - been there three times totaling 19 days, seen leopard 1 time, lions maybe 5 times. Kruger is great for driving around (slowly) on your own and discovering around the corner zebra, giraffe, bufffalo, elephants, kudu, implala, most anything but seldom big cats. We love it. (And cost is about 20% of a Sabi Sand camp)

And do check out the cyberdiary at camp MalaMala in Sabi Sand -
http://malamala.com/wildlife.htm

regards - tom
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