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Need a lot of help!!

New York City, New...
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Need a lot of help!!

Hi Everyone,

We are going to make a last minute trip to South Africa in only 2 weeks. I have never been and don't know where to start. I am trying to organize a vacation around my husbands work trip there. I would appreciate any ideas on places to go, restaurants, activities. Here is what I have so far... We fly into Jo'burg Saturday August 14th and have to be back in Johannesburg Monday afternoon.

- Arrive to Johannesburg airport at 9am from Brussels

Go to Pilanesberg National Park. (any recommendations for transfers?)

-stay at either the Ivory Tree Gam Lodge, or Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge (leaning strongly towards the first option) for 2 nights

Go back to Johannesburg Monday till Thursday

-Does anyone recommend any activities or day trips I can do by myself while my husband is working?

Thursday, fly to Cape Town (husband has meeting there) and stay the weekend. Any recommendations on things to do this time of year there. I definitely want to visit the wine region but is it out of season? Should we stay at a hotel in Cape Town and just do day trip somewhere like Stellnbosch?

Fly home directly from Cape Town late Sunday night.

Thank you all in advance. Very much appreciated!

durban
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1. Re: Need a lot of help!!

Jhb day trips, Apartheid Museum, Gold Reef City, Lion Park, Jhb Zoo

Cape Town, hop on hop off bus, Boulders Beach, Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanics, Wine Farms, Robben Island, SimonsTown, so much to do in CT so little time. The CT experts will be able to give you better advice.

www.kimssouthafrica.blogspot.com

Cape Town
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2. Re: Need a lot of help!!

Definitely agree on Pilansberg if you just have the weekend. To get there I would definitely hire a car. You can then self drive around the park as well as take a couple of conducted drives. But, possibly more importantly, that will give you a car to get out and around while you are on your own in Joburg for the rest of the week. Joburg is a city with very little public transport which enables tourists to get around the city and areas outside. If you stay in a hotel somewhere like Sandton you will be very isolated on your own. I am sure you don't want to spend the whole week going around shopping malls!

On the other hand Johannesburg is a city designed to get around by car (apart from the peak hour traffic!). You could easily get to the Apartheid Museum - which will give you insight into the recent difficult history of this country. Then it is also easy to get to places outside the city. For a day, an hour or so to the North West, I would stongly recommend the Cradle of Humankind - one of the best sites in the world to understand our origins - and in the place where it probably all began! You could combine this with more wildlife viewing at the nearby Lion and Rhino Park. IMO better than the similarly named Lion Park which is more a "petting zoo".

So then to Cape Town. Also hire a car here from airport arrival to airport departure. If you want a rest from driving while your husband is working on Thursday take a city tour on the City Sightseeing open-top bus. Will give you a great idea of the layout of the city.

Then, on Friday to the Winelands. There is definitely no off-season here! All wine estates are open all year round. However many on weekdays only, which is why you should go Friday rather than Saturday or Sunday. BTW - stay your whole time in one place. The wine region starts less than 30 mins from the city so if you only have a few days why move around. Lots of threads on here on one day tours round the winelands with estates to visit and places to have lunch. Ask if you need more information.

Saturday I would plan to spend time around the city. If the weather is good head up to the Table Mountain Cable Car and take the trip up the mountain. Absolute "Must Do". If the weatehr is not so good maybe try later in the day or even leave it until the next morning. Maybe then drive to Kirstenbosch Gardens, discover the Waterfront, walk around the historic central area including the 17th century Castle of Good Hope and the Company's Gardens. Many possibilities depending on what fits your interests.

Then Sunday check out of your hotel and spend the day touring around the penninsula. Sounds like you are on the KLM late flight to Amsterdam so you want to use the whole day. It gets dark in August around 6:15 so no need to head to the airport until well after then. Even on Sunday the car hire offices stay open for drop off until the last flight.

Again many threads on here outlining the day round the peninsula. From the city down though Camps Bay to Hout Bay. Walk around the harbour here and have morning coffee. Now along Chapman's Peak Drive. One of the world's most spectacular coastal drives ending in the huge white sand panorama of Noordhoek Beach. Then down the Atlantic Coast heading for Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. If it's not too wet and windy you can get some good walking here. You could have lunch at the Two Oceans restaurant at Cape Point although on a Sunday it sometimes gets very busy. Then up the False Bay coast to Simon's Town stopping at Boulder's beach to view the large colony of African Penguins. Simon's Town is worth some time as it is a historic Naval town, although I don't think the excellent town museum is open on Sunday. On the road from Cape Point up False Bay you stand a very good chance, in late August, of seeing Southern Right Whales very close to shore. The best possibility is the few kilometres after Simon's Town. Both the Navy and the Whales know this is the most sheltered spot on the coast!

You should still have time to stop in the coastal village of Kalk Bay and browse it's many art and antique shops and maybe walk along the quay with it's colourful fishing boats (and look for more whales). Lots of good coffee shops and bakeries for afternoon tea. By now it should be starting to get dark so head up the M5 to the N2 and the short drive to the airport. Where you can drop the car and have a few hours to relax and do some shopping before your flight.

Then you just have to hope that that the current weather lasts for a few weeks more! The past two months we have had fabulous winter weather. Many days (like today) mid 20s, clear sunshine and not a breath of wind. A bit chilly in the evenings but it has not been cold in the city. Out in the winelands temperatures have dropped down towards freezing with snow on the mountains a few mornings but most days bright and clear. The forecast is still good for the rest of this week - but, after that, who knows?!

Finally you then need to work out when you can come back to spend a full holiday in this wonderful country. Because, by then, I'm sure you will! There is so much more to see.

Edited: 03 August 2010, 20:07
New York City, New...
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3. Re: Need a lot of help!!

Wow! You are so kind for taking the time to write such a detailed, useful, and wonderful response. Thank you thank you!

I wish we had more time here, especially in Cape Town. There seems to be so much to do.

Thanks,

Lisa

4. Re: Need a lot of help!!

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