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What to see in South Africa/East Africa in only 10 days

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Nov 18th, 2004, 01:35 AM
  #1
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What to see in South Africa/East Africa in only 10 days

I am trying to plan a 10-day trip to South Africa in January. I definitely want to spend a few days in Cape Town. After that, I'm just not sure ... I'm thinking of possibly a short safari in Kruger National Park (I've been told this is the "best" park; true?) or possibly flying up to Victoria Falls. Or maybe just stay the entire time in Cape Town. Any suggestions or ideas are most welcome! Thanks!
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Nov 18th, 2004, 05:25 AM
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hi dejadeb,
in 10 days, u should have enough time to see a good bit of capetown and at the still be able to visit some great wildlife areas. kruger is great and another option would be to fly up to botswana for a 3-4 night safari. i believe air botswana now has direct flights from ct to maun making it very convenient for a quick safari excursion. there have been many posts on lodges in both ares so just start searching and ask with any more questions.
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Nov 18th, 2004, 06:53 AM
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Hello DejaDeb,

I am a big fan of the Kruger National Park, but it is not necessarily the best game reserve in Southern Africa.

A visitor's choice of game reserve depends to some extent on his/her budget. South Africa's national parks are the most affordable option. They are set up for self-drive game viewing. (This can be supplemented by an optional, extra, guided, morning or evening game drive or by a guided bush walk, if the visitor wishes.)

The accommodation in the national parks mostly is of the self-catering variety, although some of the camps in the national parks do have restaurants as well. Some visitors stay in moderately priced hotels or B&Bs just outside of the national parks, and drive into the parks during the day.

South Africa also has many private game reserves. There are several on the Kruger National Park's western boundary. They include Sabi Sand, Timbivati, Mayeleti, etc. Those particular game reserves -- unlike smaller game reserves in scattered locations -- benefit from the Kruger National Park's 2 million hectares. There are no fences between Kruger and the prviate game reserves that are continguous with it, so wild animals can roam freely amongst all of the properties.

The game lodges that are located in the private game reserves are much more expensive than the camps in the national parks. The big advantage of a private lodge is that a driver / guide will take one on morning and evening, off-road game drives in an open 4x4 vehicle. Each driver has a maximum of 6 passengers. At the lodge itself, one may be one of only a dozen guests. As I understand it, 50 guests is about the upper limit for a game lodge. This compares with the several hundred people who may be staying at one of the larger camps at Kruger.

The private lodges range from expensive to very expensive, but in judging the rates you do have to consider that they include luxury accommodation, 3 gourmet meals a day plus afternoon tea, and they do include the personalized, off-road game drives.

The guests at the lodges tend to be well travelled, sophisticated people who can converse on a wide variety of topics.

The guests at the camps in the national parks come in a wide variety. Yet there can be a certain charm in barbequing next to an ordinary South African family and chatting to them. It gives one an opportunity to meet locals and, depending on what one values and enjoys, can make one's vacation feel more authetic -- IMO, at least.

The bushveld ecosystem in South Africa's provinces of Mpumalanga (where Kruger is located) and KwaZulu-Natal is very special to me. Yet, after having lived in a cold and, more importantly DRY, climate for nearly 3 decades, I do find the heat and humidity of a bushveld summer a bit onerous now. With our kids at university, my husband and I are in the fortunate position of being able to travel in the spring or fall, something we appreciate very much.

If you are forced to travel in January, I don't know what to tell you. It depends what weather you're used to and can tolerate. Be warned that the Mpumalanga Game Reserves may get up to 105 deg F, and be pretty humid in January. If you don't like that idea, you'd be better off doing Cape Town and the Garden Route -- an itinerary that I mentioned to you in a previous post. As I believe I would have mentioned in that thread, you can have a good wild life viewing experience at Addo Elephant National Park outside of Port Elizabeth.

I've never been to the game lodges in Botswana. I've heard they are marvellous. I understand Botswana has made a deliberate decision to gear itself towards high end safaris. Consequently it is set up with private game lodges that are in the general price range of South Africa's private game lodges.

The Weather Underground website says that, between January 15 and January 20 (to pick some abitrary January dates), Maun's average daily high is 91 deg F and the possible high temperature range is from 73 deg F to 105 deg F.

Although one also can fly from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls, I understand it's quite easy to fly from Botswana to Vic Falls, so that is another factor that makes Botswana worth considering.

A country that used to be less well known for providing a safari experience, but that is coming into its own, is Zambia. If you read Roccco's posts, you'll see his accounts of how excellent the guides in Zambia are and how superb and relatively inexpensive the accommodations in some of the game lodges are.

But you do need to factor in the fact that the transfer time from Cape Town to a Zambian game reserve would be longer than from Cape Town to a South African or Botswanan game reserve. On the other hand, if you're flying to Vic Falls anyway, it wouldn't be that far from there to a Zambian game reserve.

Another factor to consider is that, according to Weather Underground, January is Zambia's highest rainfall month. I have not been to Zambia, but I've read that when it rains there it REALLY rains. So I think you would be wise to do more research before considering a January visit to Zambia.

Accommodations in South African coastal resort areas and in the national parks are heavily booked during the summer school vacations, which last until between January 15th and January 20th.

Hope that helps.
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Nov 20th, 2004, 07:54 AM
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Wow, Judy, thanks for all the great info. Since hubby isn't too keen anyway on "another third world country" (and I keep trying to tell him SA is different), we'd better stick to Cape Town. I suspect that humid, triple-digit weather would only result in the look that says "I told you so!" Guess I'd better start looking at hotel accommodations in CT, if I'm not already too late! By the way, is the weather the same in J'burg as it is in the game reserve areas, or perhaps a *little* cooler??? Thanks, Debbie
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Nov 20th, 2004, 08:30 AM
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Hello DejaDeb,

Johannesburg's summer weather usually is very tolerable. The city is 6,000 feet above sea level, so the temperature seldom is very hot. The atmosphere also is not unduly humid.

JNB is a landlocked city, however, and it does not even overlook a major lake or river. Consequently I find it less charming than the coastal cities of Cape Town and Durban. I suggest you spend no more time there than necessary.

Exploring Cape Town, the winelands and Hermanus would be a great way to spend 10 days.

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Nov 20th, 2004, 04:21 PM
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Indeed it would be easy to spend 10 days in Cape Town, and "doing" the coast to see the penguin colonies and the Cape....BUT try to fit in a safari. Check ccafrica.com to see if you can do 3-nights at one of their lodges (like Sandibe -- which gives you both water and land based activities) and it is well worth flying to Botswana for the experience. Vic falls won't give you all the lions that Botswana will. click on my name to find the post about our trip in May (which was longer....but...) and you will get a link to my pictures of both Cape Town and environs (which is extraordinary -- it is the most incredible city in the world--) and Botswana safari life. Wow. Maybe I'll be able to "top" it for you here. Also look for Kavey's posts about her extended trips in the region....This will be a trip you will never be able to forget.
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Nov 21st, 2004, 10:31 AM
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The best thing I did on my Kenya trip last year was camping at Lake Nakuru/Naivasha, and Fig Tree (this was the absolute best part of my entire Kenya trip). Also, if you go to Mombasa, you must camp at the beach at Tiwi Beach. This was awesome, a very close second to Fig Tree.

Nairobi has some great restaurants/bars with lovely atmosphere and divine food.
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