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Garden Route - Advise

In cooperation with: Cape Town Tourism
London
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Garden Route - Advise

Hi There

My first time on TA and it would be an understatement to say it was just a helpful site! so I would like to jump on the band wagon and get some help please.

We're looking to holiday in South Africa next year and would really appreciate some advise from Brits as well as locals.

I'd like to know what sort of temperatures we can expect towards late September early October as this is the time of year we would like to visit, also with regards to accomodation are you best to book in advance or is it cheaper /easier to walk in and check out the rooms first.

Brits - whats the best way to get there, are there fly drive's available, I've looked on a few sites but havent seen anything or do you book seperatley, is it cheaper to book the car hire here before you go or whilst your at your destination.

many thanks - Tess

Dublin, Ireland
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1. Re: Garden Route - Advise

Hi Tess,

not a Brit or a local but may be of some help! Just back from SA. We flew to Capetown for five nights collected the car and travelled the Garden Route over another five nights staying in Hermanus for 2, Wilderness for 1 and Plett Bay for 2. Now, first of all I would say to avoid Wilderness and instead just do the drive from Hermanus to Plettenburg of Knysa in one swoop instead of taking time out in Wilderness. The weather was about 18 average. T shirts, light jumpers, jeans kind of weather. Not quite swimming or laying by the pool weather but it was dry all the time we were there.

I booked absolutely everything before hand with Trailfinders because it was the easiest and quickest options. I was very happy with everywhere we stayed except for Wilderness. The hotel was awful. I would book beforehand as everywhere we stayed was pretty busy so in order to get quality accomodation and not spend valuable time looking for a bed for the night you can have everything sorted. In Hermanus the lady who owned the guesthouse had booked us into restaurants and a whale watching tour before we arrived (we didn't ask her to but were delighted that she did) as they book up very quickly and generally people only visit these towns for a day or two max so if you miss out you generally don't get a second opportunity.

Thats my tuppence worth anyway!

Bee

Somerset
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2. Re: Garden Route - Advise

I go every year so I book everything myself on the internet, flights, car, and accommodation direct with the guest houses. I appreciate that it can be daunting first time. You don't say where you would like to visit apart from posting on the Garden Route Forum. Firstly depends on what your interests are. If you like animals then it would be a great pity to visit SA and not have a safari. Personally I don't think anywhere can beat Kruger in either private game reserves or in the Park itself (don't be fooled by the term Park - it is about the same area as Wales). This leads me on to the weather because whilst it is late spring both in Kruger and Capetown their climates differ. Kruger would still be dry with the rains coming around November whereas Capetown would still probably be getting a fair bit of rain. I book a flight with either BA or SAA. You can possibly get cheaper flights but a direct flight is 12 hours (although with only an hours time difference there is no jet lag) but cheaper flights invariably mean a stop and change of plane somewhere in Europe. Car hire, I have used various companies. I look round a few websites and see who is offering the best deal. This year I am using Carhire3000 (based in Manchester) who use Budget in SA to supply the cars. Personally at that time of the year I would be dubious about the Garden Route because of the weather. I would Fly to Capetown have a good few days there and explore the myriad of sights including the winelands, then fly up to Kruger and have a few days their before flying back to Capetown. I'm biased because that is what I am doing in 2 weeks time! I was surprised to read the previous post about poor accommodation in Wilderness. We always stay in small guest houses (they usually have a pool) and the accommodation, food and service is quite out of this world. It really is quite straightforward to do it yourself and we find it is much cheaper. So Come back and let us know how long you want to go for, what your interests are and I and am sure others will offer some more specific advice

London
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3. Re: Garden Route - Advise

Dear Bee & Somerdetal,

Thank you both so much for your comments.

Somerdetal, We'll be going for 2 weeks (oh if only longer), we're a sort of suck it and see type of holiday maker and dont like to be to rigid regarding hotels, I'd hate to book hotels along a planned route only to find out we would have liked longer in one place and less time in another, but on the other hand I'd hate to end up with no accomodation because I didnt book!

I'd love to do a Safari but my partner is not keen as he seems to think he's going to have to rough it, so any info you can provide to change his mind would be appreciated, also advise on internal flights would be helpful, are they pricey? Our holidays are usually chilled affairs, we're not big sightseeers just like to swim (not necessarily in the sea), eat and soak up the local atmosphere although I do fancy the touristy bits in CapeTown, Table Mountain & Robban Island.

The last four years we have holidayed in the USA on fly / drives and booked at the very last minute as the flights tend to be cheaper, is this the case for SA or are you best booking in advance?

Thank you both again. Tess

Dublin, Ireland
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4. Re: Garden Route - Advise

Hey Tess,

I am a strict no camper! I like a bit of luxury. We stayed in Makutsi Safari camp up near Kruger...five hour drive from Johannesburg so I'm thinking two weeks may be too short for you to go so far out of your way. It was fantastic though...rustic but comfortable I supppose is the best way to describe it.

http://www.makutsi.com/

Bee

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5. Re: Garden Route - Advise

Hi Bee,

Tell your partner that whatever else in a game reserve he would NOT be 'roughing' it!!!

Private Game Reserves are the height of luxury but unfortunately have prices to match - look at www.sabi.kruger.co.za to get an idea of what they offer - Exeter Lodge is popular. Kruger is a malaria area so would need anti malaria tablets. For a cheaper option, you can get National Park accommodation which is extremely reasonable. It is moderately basic but some have stunning views, they are self-catering but you are right inside the Park with animals all around you - look at www.sanparks.org and go to 'accommodation' - Lower Sabie is a very nice camp

For malaria free, you could drive the garden route to Port Elizabeth (or fly there) and go to Shamwari Private Game Reserve - www.shamwari.com or fly to Johannesburg and drive to Madikwe Game reserve.

For flights, my experience is that the earlier you book the cheaper they are - for example our return flight Cape Town to Kruger Mpumalanga Int. Airport in two weeks time was booked in April, cost us £100 each, booking a couple of weeks ago for same flight would have cost £450 each!

For internal flights look at the following

www.flysaa.com

www.kulula.com

www.flynationwide.co.za

In September/early October there should be plenty of accommodation available if you prefer to pick up accommodation as you drive. After a good few years visiting we still spend 2 weeks near Cape Town and are never bored for one minute. We prefer small establishments where the service is fantastic. There are lots of very good hotels in and around Cape Town with amazing views if you prefer a bigger hotel with a large pool. At that time of the year I'm not sure you would do too much swimming, certainly not in the sea. Also as I said earlier the weather could be a bit unpredictable then as far as the garden route. Suggestions - 7 nights in Capetown, drive the Garden Route via Route 62 to PE stopping one or two nights at Knysna or Plettenburg - drive to Shamwari for 2 nights (2 nights is sufficient in a private game reserve) Drive back via the N2 (coastal road) to Cape Town.

Alternatively after stay in Capetown fly to Kruger Airport/or Johannesburg stay in Private Game Reserve and fly back to Capetown. If you still don't fancy game reserves, drive route 62 to Oudtshoorn drive down to Knysna and back along the N2 stopping off wherever takes your fancy and there are plenty of places to stop a lots to see. Whilst in Capetown I would definately have a day at Hermanus and hopefully see the whales, often very close to shore.

Go to the winelands and sample the wine and buy a picnic at one of the Wine Estates (Boschendal between Stellenbosch and Franschoek is a favourite of ours). Drive to Boulder Beach near Simonstown and you can literally paddle - or even swim if you can stand the cold water - with the penguins, on a lovely beach with a nice cafe for a meal.

You can get a lot into 2 weeks if you plan it carefully. Hope that gives you food for thought and come back for more specifics if you wish.

Somerset
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6. Re: Garden Route - Advise

Sorry should have said Hi Tess, Hi to Bee as well

Cape Town, South...
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7. Re: Garden Route - Advise

Hi there,

you've been given such excellent advice, I won't add to it except to give you this link for the school and publice holidays for 2007. When you decide your dates, if you would prefer just stopping at places, then it is really best not to go in school holiday time as places are usually booked up then.

kwathabeng.co.za/travel/…

Another hint, if you book your long haul flight through SAA and it is done well in advance, try to book the seats right at the front in the "bubble" (the upstairs place) this is not first class on SAA and we have had fabulous flights by requesting this seat and then making sure we were at the airport early so so-one could take it. There is more than double the leg room which makes for a far more comfortable flight, also being upstairs, there are less people and less of a queue at the loos and the food and drink arrives more quickly. (I enjoy comfort!)

Somerset
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8. Re: Garden Route - Advise

Can second that advice about SAA. If you book with them give them a ring and reserve seats in the "upper deck" . I think this is only available on their Boeing aircraft. I agree the front seats are great, have managed to reserve them several times but even if they are not available there is still more legroom in any of the upper deck seats than in the main body.

London
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9. Re: Garden Route - Advise

You've all been very very helpful thank you, advice has been taken on board and will be put to good use, thanks Technobabe for the school holiday link this is very helpful as we would prefer to go when all the little darlings are still there.

I'm sure I'll be back asking for more advise nearer the time.

Regards Tess

10. Re: Garden Route - Advise

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