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South Africa and Safari

Cleveland, England
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South Africa and Safari

Can anyone help. We are hoping to travel to South Africa next year either February or August (which would be the best month). We want to spend about 9 nights in all. 3 nights in a city, 3 nights on a safari and another 3 nights in a city. We do not wish to hire a car. We want to organise our trip independantly, but would like help in where we should fly into and where to stay and the name of a good safari company to book our safari through, would like to be collected from our hotel and returned to hotel by the safari tour company.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Linda & Trevor

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New York City, New...
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1. Re: South Africa and Safari

Linda,

My wife and I traveled in August. We went to Capetown, Johannesburg and we went on safari in Hoedspruit at Jackalberry Lodge. We are from New York but we used a company called LionsWorld to plan our trip. believe it or not, they are a Canadian company that we found through our travel agent, but you can find their website online. They were great to work with. They arrange very independent trips and you can organize it any way you like. The "guided" tours they offer are very small groups, we never had more than 6 other people with us.

Without knowing exactly what type of experience you are looking for, I would highly recommend Jackalberry. It is a very small lodge, only 7 or so rooms, on a 30,000 acre reserve called Thornybush. We saw 4 out of the big 5. Although we spent many hours tracking, we were not able to find the leopards, but I must say that tracking was all part of the fun and the experience. You can read our review on tripadvisor if you search Jackalberry.

As for the weather, August is ideal for safari. It is winter time and most of the trees and grass are dead, so it is easier to spot animals. Unfortunately, August is also rainy season in Capetown, although we only had 1.5 days of rain in Capetown, but if you do not let it bother you, it is really no big deal. The temperature at Jackalberry was between 70 and 80 degrees and 55-65 in Capetown.

If you have any other questions, feel free to message me. I'll answer anything I can.

Matt

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Johannesburg
Johannesburg
Greater Johannesburg, South Africa
Hoedspruit
Hoedspruit
Limpopo Province, South Africa
Jackalberry Lodge
Jackalberry Lodge
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Thornybush Private Game Reserve, South Africa
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Kruger National Park, South Africa
nyc
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2. Re: South Africa and Safari

There are any number of reputable tour operators in the States or in South Africa who can assist. Doing a 'search' on this forum will certainly bring up names to whom you can send an email advising of where, for how many days, type of lodging/camps and estimated budget.

However, it's a long way from Cleveland to spend 9/days in-country and only 3 or those on safari. With the exception of Cape Town which is a real 'keeper' of a city, I'd spend the balance of my time of safari.

Easy enough to fly from US to Johannesburg/JNB with connecting flight to Cape Town/CPT (or direct to CPT), spend 4/nts here (lots to see/do), then fly up to Kruger, for safari whether in the park itself or one of the private reserves (Sabi Sands, Timbavati, Manyaletti) for the remaining days You can even split these days between two area/two lodges/camps... then back to JNB for homebound flight.

Tour operator will arrange everything for you from meet/greet on landing, transfer to hotels/lodges/camps, tours, internal flights, etc.

If you haven't done so, pick up a guidebook on South Africa or Fodor's Complete Safari Planning Guide, that will have lots of useful information including names of some tour operators/outfiters.

Good lucki!

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Cape Town
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3. Re: South Africa and Safari

Linda and Trevor

Why would you fly from the USA coming from Cleveland in the UK?

I would look at flying with KLM from Teeside via Amsterdam to Cape Town – or Air France via Paris. A one stop change which is less of a hassle than changing in Heathrow or alternatively driving down and adding the cost of parking the car for 12 days. Depending on your safari choice (see later) you might want to fly into Cape Town and out of Johannesburg but again I would fly from your local airport rather than Heathrow.

As you say you want to organise the trip independently - not use a Tour Operator. This is a good decision. Everything is very easy to book on-line in South Africa. It is of course a country where everyone speaks English and if you want to discuss something just pick up the phone and call. Most UK phone packages now include very cheap International calls. and you only have one (two in your winter) hour's time difference.

You will also get lots of help in this forum both from locals here in South Africa and lots of visitors who come regularly to SA - many on here every year.

No real reason to use an agent for the safari part. You have two major choices depending on both your budget and how you like to travel. Either use the excellent South African National Parks such as Kruger, Addo or many other possibilities. These you normally self-drive but there are wonderful opportunities to see a wide range of African Wildlife. They are incredible value. A two bed bungalow in Kruger Park with private bathroom, air-conditioning and often a private terrace overlooking the park and animals, cost around R800 per night for two people (about £64 per night or £32 per person).

Alternatively you can look at private reserves. These are smaller and more expensive but are all-inclusive including meals and game drives. Different regions, but the main ones are the private reserves to the west of Kruger Park and those in the Eastern Cape in the same region as Addo. A wide range of prices depending on the luxury of the lodge that you stay in. Ranges from around £350 per night for a couple for the cheapest to as high as £1,300 per night for two or even more! All these are easy to book directly. All the National Parks through the www.SANParks.org central operation and the private reserve lodges directly through their websites. SANparks are usually more expensive through an agent while private reserves are the same or sometimes slightly cheaper if the agents are given big discounts - but you can then usually bargain!

The next question is why you say the you don't want to rent a car? In general car rental is by far the best way to get around (except long distance inter-city journeys where you fly - good Internal Airline network including Budget Airlines). Other than flights there is very little good public transport for tourists either into the tourist areas or around the cities. On the other hand the road network is excellent and hire car rates very reasonable (petrol is also a lot cheaper than the UK). Driving is of course the same as the UK, signs are in English and roads are hugely less congested than the UK - both in the cities and even more between.

For the National Parks by far the best is to drive yourselves. You only need a standard saloon not a 4x4.

Which month and where to go are interlinked. Are February and August the only months? You say you want to spend 6 days in cities and 3 days on safari. 10 days is pretty short and this is a big country. The size of Germany, France, the UK, Netherlands and Belgium combined. In 10 days flying all over the country would take up a lot of your time. I would spend 6 days in and around Cape Town. Huge amounts to see here close to the city and within a days drive. You could then link to Safari either in the Eastern Cape – two day’s great drive along the “Garden Route” or an hours direct flight to Port Elizabeth. Or fly direct from Cape Town to Kruger Airport near Nelspruit and spend your safari in Kruger or the private reserves to the West. By far the best time in Cape Town or the Eastern Cape is the Summer – November to March. My preference would be the earlier summer November/first half December. Christmas to mid January is the peak-peak season. All the SA schools are on holiday and all the holiday areas are crowded and expensive. However if you planned to go to Kruger midsummer is hot and humid with thunderstorms – especially February when temperatures often get into the 40s. This is also peak Malaria Risk season so you might choose to take anti-malarial drugs with the possibility of side-effects. IMO the best compromise time for the Cape plus Kruger is end September/early October (also Whale season in the Cape) or maybe April (although you are still in the rainy season in Kruger it is cooler.

Anyway a few ideas to get you started. post back and you will get lots more help.

Edited: 16 October 2011, 23:34
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4. Re: South Africa and Safari

Excellent reply from Van_de_Caab. I would agree that, with 9 days, I would stick to one or two regions, and re-consider driving.

I've spent 9 days in KwaZuluNatal - safari, battlefields, beach - with journeys of about 3-4 hours easy driving between stops .

Western Cape is also a delight with the Winelands and Cape Town and much more.

Cape Town and around could easily keep you busy for 4- 5 days, but I doubt you really want to spend 6 days out of 9 in South African cities? The country is huge and the scenery and people amazing.

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5. Re: South Africa and Safari

I agree with much that has been said above. Personally I would not spend 6 out of 9 nights in the city, which is something you can do anywhere in the world. The safari experience is unique to Africa and I would rather spend say 4 or 5 nights on safari, and the rest in Cape Town.

If the safari part is most important, then August is the best time to go (February is best for Cape Town, but August is best for Kruger). The greater Kruger National Park is your best bet for an excellent safari experience (South Africa's top safari destination). Apart from the options mentioned by VDC above (self drive or private game lodge), there is one other option. If you don't want to self-drive and don't have the budget to stay at a private game lodge, you can also visit Kruger with a tour operator offering guided open vehicle safaris to the Kruger National Park. Many operators depart from Johannesburg, offering 3-day, 4-day, 5-day or longer safaris. Some use accommodation inside Kruger, others use accommodation outside Kruger. Compare and see what is included and excluded, what accommodation they use, etc. Google 3-day Kruger National Park safari to find a number of options.

Good luck with your planning and enjoy your trip!

Onne from Wild Wings Safaris

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Cape Town
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SOUTH AFRICA
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6. Re: South Africa and Safari

There are many tour operators who would be able to assist with your tailor made itinerary. I agree that with 9 nights it would be best to just divide your time between safari and Cape Town. 4 or 5 nights in CT will be great - I would not recommend less than 4 nights for this beautiful city.

As for your safarai - many excellent private safari lodges are offering good "pay 3, stay 4" night special offers next year, so there are some very good deals that you can cash in on. You can fly from Johannesburg direct to your safari destination, or to the closest commercial airport (KMIA or Hoedspruit, depending on where you go) and then from there get a road transfer. A lot is going to depend on your budget. My advice would be for you to contact a couple of operators, give them your budget and requirements and ask them to help you plan the most value for money trip possible.

Tanya * owner * Africa Direct

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Cape Town
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7. Re: South Africa and Safari

I am going to South Africa in May, 2012 - to Sabi Sand (Kirkman's Kamp) and then on to Phinda (Forest Lodge). Staying at B&B - Aristo Manor in Richards Bay on the Indian Ocean for a night or too as well. I got a SMOKING deal with my travel agent, Dave Patterson who resides in Tempe, Arizona and Cape Town, SA.

All the best,

Dave P.

Dave Patterson - Owner, The Africa Safari

Destination Expert for South Africa and Sabi Sand Reserve on TripAdvisor.com

http://www.theafricasafari.com

US 480-330-9607 SAfrica 072-748-7938

If you haven't planned your trip, contact me. Dave got me great deals and now my girlfriend is joining me. I can answer any question you have. I'm flying from Minneapolis to DC to JNB then on to Nelspruit Airport for Sabi Sand and to Richards Bay Airport for Phinda. (Leopard in Sabi and Cheetah in Phinda).

M

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Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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Kruger National Park, South Africa
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8. Re: South Africa and Safari

We wanted to quickly add to this post above about Dave Patterson from The African Safari. My husband and I have been busy planning our upcoming trip to South Africa and have relied on many of the Trip Advisor reviews and forums for suggestions. We found that in almost ever forum we read, Dave had posted suggestions and tips as a destination expert. We then contacted his via private message and email to ask for further assistance. Dave replied promptly with a list of suggestions for accommodations, restaurants and offered help securing a discount for a whale watching boat trip we were interested in. We already had the rest of our trip organized so we do not require the services he offers through his company The African Safari but based on the assistance he has provided for us (considering he is not making any money out of us), we are more than impressed, thankful and would highly recommend him to others.

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9. Re: South Africa and Safari

I would highly recommend contacting Africa Direct (www.africadirect.co.za). I’ve used them for the last 4 years and have never been disappointed. I'm currently counting down the days until my 10th visit to South Africa.

Tanya always tailor-makes an itinerary according to your specific needs and budget. You will be travelling a very long way to get to Africa, and Tanya will ensure that your holiday is the best it could possibly be. Her email address is: tanya@africadirect.co.za

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10. Re: South Africa and Safari

If your real desire is less Safari and more city.

I would wait to Feb, go to Cape town and do the parks near cape town.

the original plan I had 3 days Kruger/Johannesburg 2 in Victoria falls and 3 in cape town. Seemed nice at first but then I thought that's a lot of airport time.

So I dropped Cape Town.

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