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2-3 week self drive advice

Brooklyn, NY
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2-3 week self drive advice

Planning a trip to South Africa in August 2009 for 2-3 weeks. Pretty flexible on timing. Trying to keep costs relatively low while seeing as much as possible and staying safe. There will probably be two of us traveling.

We have a friend who is a grad student in Cape Town that we plan to visit for 4-5 days.

We have a few options for traveling around and I'd love to get some advice so they we cover the most ground. Here's a game plan:

Fly into Cape Town directly or via Johannesburg. Spend 4-5 days there.

Rent a car and drive through the winelands and along the Garden Route (5 days). Visit game parks near coast.

Either drive to Jo'Burg or fly from Port Elizabeth, East London, or Durban.

Spend 2-3 days in/around Jo'Burg. Drive to Kruger (4 days).

Fly home from Jo'Burg.

Now some questions...

1. Where should I stop along the way on the Garden Route? How should I allocate my time? I'm not so interested in beaches, but nice waterfront areas are a must. Also maybe some outdoor activities (shark dives, rock climbing, etc.)

2. Is it worth visiting Kruger? Should I instead spend an extra day or two at Addo or the other parks in the South and spend more time on the coast?

3. What is the best way to get back to Jo'Burg? Is the drive interesting/safe? Where is the best place to fly out from?

4. Is it worth visiting Durban? I've heard mixed reviews from friends who have went. Is it easier to get to Jo'Burg from there?

Thanks for your help.

Newcastle upon...
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1. Re: 2-3 week self drive advice

Looking at your itinary I would fly direct to cape town if possible and you will need to do 3 weeks to cover everything on it as you intend to spend 5 days in cape town and the garden route will need at least 5 days also

Having read other posts I would consider ommitting port elzabeth and addo from your itinary as all the wildlife you will see at addo you will see at kruger and I would fly from the garden route to durban if you intend to visit there as although the driving is safe and interesting it is quite a long way.

I have just visited durban and whilst I would say it is worth a visit 2/3 nights, (and if you choose this option I would not stay in the city centre) is sufficent though from there you could make your way to the battlefields and drakensberg area which are well worth the visit then head to jburg from there

Cape Town Central...
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2. Re: 2-3 week self drive advice

Hi,

There are many other posts regarding the routes through gardenroute (Cape Town via R62/hermanus etc). A week up the gardenroute is a nice amount of time. Just to summarise

Cape Town

Hermanus (whales are there in Sept)

Gansbaai (shark diving)

Franschoek/Stellenbosch (wineyards)

Montagu (rock climbing)

Oudtshoorn (ride ostriches, drive swartberg pass)

Knysna (oyster munching/elephant sanctuary)

Tsitikamma (tree top canaopy zipline tours/bungee)

Addo elephants

PE - fly out of, nothing to see there

It is absolutely wonderful visiting Kruger if you can. Addo is also wonderful, but is not nearly as expansive, and is home to only a few lion, no cheetah (yet) etc, so if you can get to Kruger, then do it. You have the time.

Fly from Port Elizabeth to Joburg. Unless you want to visit the Transkei etc, I recommend the flight rather. The drive is, well, something that I dread, but then again, i make no point of seeing the sites, I get up there as fast as possible via the N1 highway to start my holidays up North.

Durbs? I would say that surrounding Durban is more interesting than Durban itself. Beaches can be crowded/dirty up there, and rather visit north or south of Durban rather than the city centre area. Maybe valley of 100 hills & drakensburg are better options.

Cape Town Central...
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3. Re: 2-3 week self drive advice

sorry I meant 1000 hills, not only 100.

Paris, France
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4. Re: 2-3 week self drive advice

Personally I would not spend much time going along the Garden Route in August because the weather is unpredictable. Preferably go inland into the Karoo via route 62 (which has its own website) There is wonderful rock climbing around the town of Montagu and superb walking around Prince Albert as well as the most magnificant scenery imaginable. You should maybe at that time of the year allocate more time to the east of the country perhaps discovering the Limpopo Province visiting towns like Tzaneen which is not often mentioned in these forums. From Tzaneen it is only a 3 hour drive to the Tuli Block in Botswana which would give you a different experience .Kruger for me always wins hands down over Addo due to the vastness, diversity and game viewing.

Brooklyn, NY
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5. Re: 2-3 week self drive advice

What about my time in Jo'Burg? If I spent 5 days in CT and a week driving along the coast. That would leave me with about a week to split up between Jo'Burg and Kruger. How much time should I spend in each? Is there somewhere else within driving distance worth checking out for a day or two?

Thanks.

Cape Town
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6. Re: 2-3 week self drive advice

Spend 5 mins in Joburg and the rest in Kruger! Joburg is really not a tourist destination the only advantage is that in August the weather is sunnier than the Cape, although down to 0C, or lower, at night. August is a good time for game viewing in Kruger. As others have said concentrate your Game Viewing there. Add a couple of days to Cape Town and the rest of your time in Kruger. Durban and the east coast is good for South Africans in Aug as it's warmer than most of the country in winter. But, hey, you will have just come from July in NYC so you can give it a miss!

Another tip. Start your Car Hire at Cape Town Airport the day you arrive. There is virtually no public transport in Cape Town (or anywhere in SA). Cape Town is a spread out city and by the time you pay for airport transfers, taxis (or more expensively tours) to see the sights it is much cheaper to have a hire car. Also the longer you hire the car for the cheaper the daily rate. Book before you come from one of the international brokers such as http://www.holidayautos.co.uk/ (Aircon small saloon for around USD 155 all-in per week). This is a lot cheaper than renting through a SA company and you get the same car from the same International Company.

Brooklyn, NY
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7. Re: 2-3 week self drive advice

That is the advice I've been hearing. I looked at a rental car for around Cape Town and the Garden Route (12 days) and Kruger/Jo'Burg (6 days) for approx. $400US.

Another question... I'll be visiting a friend in Cape Town for the first few days (read: free lodging). How much can I see within a day's drive of the University? I was planning on Boulders, Table Mountain, etc. But what about further out? Can I get to the wine country and back in a day? Points further down the Cape?

Thanks.

Melbourne, Australia
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8. Re: 2-3 week self drive advice

The wine country and Cape Point are both easy day trips..maybe call in on some of the Constantia wine estates on your way down to the point..don't forget to get the weighted belt for your visit to Cape Point - prevents you been blown away on the walk up to the lighthouse ;))

You could also have chance to see some whales that time of year, particularly off Simons Town, or if you feel inclined further around towards False Bay...great drive along the coast

Whatever you plan make allowance for the fact that there might be days with freezing gale force winds and torrential rain

Cape Town
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9. Re: 2-3 week self drive advice

Around UCT is a great place to be based for trips out. It is right at the junction of all the main highways out of the city. Traffic around Cape Town is generally very easy, especially compared to greater NYC! From UCT you can be out into the country in 15mins to East, South or North (West is the Mountain then the Ocean!). At first I thought you were asking could you do it all in one day and the answer to that would be "just about", especially if you pick the Constantia Wine Estates - which I would still recommend as they are only 10 mins from UCT and well worth a visit in their own right. However if you are asking can you do it in 3 or 4 day trips the answer is definitely yes. For 3 days I would suggest:

Day 1. City, Table Mountain (but you must pick a clear day so keep a close check on the weather forecast), Cape Town Castle and V&A Waterfront.

Day 2. Kirstenbosch Gardens (5mins away) for breakfast, Hout Bay, Chapmans Peak Drive, Cape Point. Drive back via Boulders, Simons Town and Constantia.

Day 3. Head east on the N2 to Stellenbosch (40mins), visit as many wine estates as you want, have a great lunch at one of 50 good restaurants in Stellenbosch, Franschoek or Paarl, visit more wineries, head home.

All these are busy but easy days with not too much driving.

If you have more days you could go north to Darling, Tulbagh and back through the mountains. Or through the Huguenot tunnel on the N1 to Worcester and the Brede Valley with more wineries and restaurants and back over Bains Kloof pass. Or, or,or......

Brooklyn, NY
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10. Re: 2-3 week self drive advice

Do you think we should be able to do a reliable, safe shark dive within a day trip of Cape Town? Any suggestions on what company?