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When to go??

Banff, Canada
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When to go??

I am just starting to plan our trip to SA. I am sure I read that the time to go was July/Aug. I see by some of the posts that it is quite cold then.How cold does it actually get? When do you experts think is the best time to see the animals?

Anything you can suggest would be so appreciated. We will have 2 well behaved boys with us, ages 11 and 13 when we go. Can they go on safari's? Should we rent our own vehicle instead?

Does anyone know if there are treetop hotels to stay in. I remember seeing these hotels in pictures where they flood the waterhole with light at night.

Thank you thank you thank you!

england
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1. Re: When to go??

I'm no expert but we went to Kruger Park at the end of October and the weather was perfect. I think the summer months in South Africa are November through to Spring. We were advised to go to Kruger in the dry season when the animals have to go looking for water. It must have been good advice as not only did we see the 'Big 5', we also saw a pack of wild dogs playing. To top everything, we watched a cheetah kill an impala although our ranger told us this is extremely rare. Having been a ranger for 16 years, this was only his second 'Kill'.We stayed at Kirkmans Camp, which was brilliant. Others staying at Harry's Camp gave excellent reports. Let me know if you want any further information about Cape Town,the Garden Route or Kruger Park. I did loads of research before our trip two years ago and it paid off.

Shrewsbury
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for Barcelona
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2. Re: When to go??

Hi

In Capetown in late September this year the weather varied from very pleasant to quite chilly, with strong winds and heavy rain. In the Kruger and around St. Lucia the weather ranged from delightful to really hot (42.5C in the Kruger in mid-afternoon).

I'm not sure about treetop hotels, but we stayed in the Zululand Treelodge which has wooden huts on stilts with the balconies at tree height. Although a more commercial hotel than some we stayed at, it was very pleasant and we would recommend it. The waterhole there is floodlit but was dry because of a prolonged drought. I don't know if the situation with water has improved since we returned.

We'll put a trip report on www.avengerpenguins.com in due course - it's taking ages to write - but there are already lots of SA wildlife photos on there.

We had a fabulous time in Southern Africa - we visited Swaziland and Lesotho as well - one of our best ever holidays. If you're interested in wildlife I would heartily recommend it.

Banff, Canada
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3. Re: When to go??

Thank you for your help, YES! anymore information you can share would be fabulous.

Shrewsbury
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4. Re: When to go??

sportsmum

We’ll be ages getting the trip report finished, so here’s our itinerary with a few highlights. Our priority was bird- and wildlife watching. We spent ages putting the holiday together and it felt almost perfect. We might have chosen a night in one of the northern Swaziland reserves as well as Mlilwane, had we had an extra day, but time was at a premium. There is nowhere that we wouldn’t recommend on this list – and it varies from 5-star exclusivity in Hermanus to concrete floored huts made of cane in Mlilwane. Even buttonbirding, which as it’s name suggests specialises in bird watching is a wonderful place for a few days of relaxation with superb food and delightful surroundings – and a really well-guided couple of days birding might be a fascinating diversion to people who want more to do on holiday than sunbathing. I wouldn’t for a moment suggest that this itinerary is any better than anyone else’s but if there’s anything there that sounds interesting, research on the internet should lead you on to other things that might appeal. That’s one of the ways we built our holiday up.

For logistics we had a hire car from Cape Town airport, a flight from Cape Town to Durban (for Creighton and beyond) and a larger car from Durban airport for the rest of the holiday, dropping of at Johannesburg for the flight home.

23rd & 24th September – Simon’s Town – Boulder’s Beach Lodge – penguins, Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope, Mountain Zebras.

25th & 26th September – Hermanus - Misty Beach Chateau – whales, Fernkloof Nature Reserve (excellent flowers and scenery), four-poster bed.

27th – 30th September – Creighton, KzN – Button Birding – Sani Pass and overnight in Lesotho, family meals (gourmet standard) in the farmhouse, truly knowledgeable local bird and wildlife expert, starting the day before sunrise, finishing at sunset with deck chairs and drinks.

1st & 2nd October – St. Lucia – Kingfisher Lodge – Hippo cruise, Cape Vidal night drive, Humpback Whale cruise, mongooses in the village, duikers in the hotel grounds, swimming in shark-infested waters.

3rd & 4th October – Hluhluwe-Imfolozi – Zululand Tree Lodge – wonderful huts on stilts with a view to the fever tree forest, great game drives, game in the grounds and monkeys around the pool, luxury accommodation with a huge bed

5th October – Mkhuze – Ghost Mountain Inn – early morning walk in the Mkhuze fig-forest – good close-ups of game at the water holes, excellent birding in the reserve, a Black Mamba on the path!

6th and 7th October – Swaziland – Mlilwane National Park – Beehive huts, lots of game, flowering jacaranda trees, meals next to the pool (hippos, crocodiles and a tree full of hundreds of herons, egrets and ibises).

8th October – Kruger NP – Lower Sabie Rest camp

9th October – Kruger NP – Olifants Rest camp

10th October – Kruger NP – Letaba Rest camp

11th & 12th October – Kruger NP – Punda Maria Rest camp

For the whole of the Kruger, more wild animals than I’ve ever seen before, often within arms reach; fabulous night drives were leopards are a possibility and exciting stuff like genets and civets pretty much guaranteed; stunning views from most of the camps, temperatures in the 40s in the afternoon, excellent low cost accommodation; elephants and lions.

13th & 14th October – Nylstroom - Dinonyane Lodge – wonderful staff, good food and excellent value for money. Pretty grounds (perfect for an al fresco breakfast). A good local game reserve (Nylsvlei) with surprisingly good wildlife (jackals, giraffes, roans etc), interesting opportunity to discover small-town South Africa.

Keep checking back on the website, because there will be more photos soon and perhaps we’ll put the report out in stages – I’ll do an hour on it tonight. Until then, if the above is any use and you have any questions, feel free to ask. I usually check on here a few times each week.

Port Elizabeth
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5. Re: When to go??

Time of year is debatable. If you are looking at the Cape Town as well, but don't want to be too hot in Kruger. Oct-Nov or Mar-Apr are best. It you are looking at birdwatching Dec-Feb. If you are worried about Malaria, but don't want to take tablets because of side-effects, Jun-Aug. I think the best month for animal viewing this year was Nov because the rains were late.

The weather in Kruger is usually good. Coastal whether can be lousy at anytime of year, but is usually the most windless around Feb-Apr. Bad weather in South Africa doesn't mean rain, it means wind.

Switzerland
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6. Re: When to go??

Hi sportsmum

Been to the Northwest this August, i.e. a bit later in Winter. Kalahari (summer rainfall region) was just above 0°C at night, but between 20° and 30°C during the day - always sunny. Namaqualand (Winter rainfall region, like Cape Town) was equally cold at night, but only between 15 and 20°C during the day, and sometimes foggy. However, especially KwaZulu Natal and Krueger have less extreme day/night temperature differences, but yes, the winds at the coast can get to you.

Regarding "rent a vehicle instead" - Yes, do this, South Africa is a perfect destination for self-driving, be it in the National Parks or overland. The overland roads are generally in good condition, and I never felt unsafe. I'd only fly the long distance parts in case time is short (classic flights are Durban to Port Elizabeth/Cape Town/George, or Johannesburg to Cape Town).

Hope this helps, enjoy your trip.

Banff, Canada
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7. Re: When to go??

Thank you all so much for this information. I have printed it all out and going over it with a fine tooth comb. This is so much fun!!!!

South Africa
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8. Re: When to go??

sportsmum, in july/aug the average daytime temps in kruger are between 20 and 30 degrees C (above 70F). Early morning can be chilly but not cold. Cape Town is a different story. Its much further south and gets rainfall in winter. But for game viewing july/aug is an excellent time, perhaps even the best time.

Boys of 11 and 13 can certainly go on safaris, i was a kruger park addict at that age already.

There are a number of lodges in the more expensive private game reserves that have elevated cabins with view over waterhole and floodlights at night.

You can rent your own vehicle or go on a guided tour. Have a look at krugerparksouthafrica.com for some tips.

Port Elizabeth
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9. Re: When to go??

Cape Town

saweather.co.za/Climat/…CapeTownStats.jsp

Southern Kruger

saweather.co.za/Climat/…SkukuzaStats.jsp

Northern Kruger

saweather.co.za/Climat/…ThohoyandouStats.jsp

New Haven
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10. Re: When to go??

A message for Oscar 2010 - you mentioned that you did much research on CT and the Garden Route. Can you tell me about the driving on the Garden Route? I don't like narrow, steep, mountainous roads - without guardrails. Your thoughts? Thanks so much!