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Lady Gaza
Nov 20, 2008



In February my wife and I are spending a couple of weeks in Southern Africa. The first week is sorted (Sabi Sands and Victoria Falls), but we currently have 7 nights we need to work out how to split between Cape Town and the Garden Route - we are arriving in Cape Town mid-afternoon on the Sunday and then need to fly out from Port Elizabeth the following Sunday mid-morning.

Kind of unsure where to stay along the Garden Route and how long for - since we have only a few days I read that flying to George will save us time. We like landscapes, nature, the outdoors, etc. so places like the Wilderness national park, Knysna forests, and then Nature's Valley and Storm's River have caught my eye. We'll have spent a number of days on safari prior to this so don't need to go to a game reserve, though any animals you don't typically spot on safari would be good to see. Not so bothered about spending time sitting on the beach. Thinking of the following itineray:

Sunday - arrive mid-afternoon, V&A waterfront or around
Monday - Table mountin and botanical gardens
Tuesday - Cape penninsula
Wednesday - Fly to George early morning, pick up rental car, see Wilderness national park, spend night in Wilderness
Thursday - drive to Knysna and forests, night in Knysna
Friday - use Knysna as a base, maybe drive to near Plet and to the Robberg Point walk, and other stuff in Knysna, night in Knysna
Saturday - drive to Nature's Valley/Storm's River (undecided yet), one night there
Sunday - drive to PE airport, fly out

How does that look? Not sure if we have enough time in each place - from what I can read online it's only a couple of hours drive at most between those places on the Garden Route, which should give enough time for stopping on the way, spending a good few hours in the parks/forests/etc. However, this is just an intitial plan - if it's too packed and it's better to pick a couple of places and spend 2 nights in each, I am happy to cut things down. I feel like I am trying to cram too much in.

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Kasumeat
Nov 18, 2004


I think you're trying to do way too much in too little time. I spent 2 weeks just in and around Cape Town last year and it wasn't enough. Mind you, sounds like I have a little more interest in the culture scene than you, but I still think you'll be happier deciding to devote a week entirely to Cape Town and surroundsóthere are countess day trips in nature worth doingóOR the garden route.

- You can take the funicular up Table Mountain, but I highly recommend hiking up instead
- The Lion's Head hike is also worth doing
- VA waterfront is okay but I think Camps Bay is nicer if you don't have time for both
- There is a huge and exciting wine scene in ZA (that most Americans are not exposed to at all), it's worth checking out if you're at all into wine, ask if you want more details
- The stunning drive from Cape Town to Hermanus is 100% mandatory, with a stop at Stony Point to see the Penguins
- Cape Town has a great food scene, don't miss it

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Lady Gaza posted:

In February my wife and I are spending a couple of weeks in Southern Africa. The first week is sorted (Sabi Sands and Victoria Falls), but we currently have 7 nights we need to work out how to split between Cape Town and the Garden Route - we are arriving in Cape Town mid-afternoon on the Sunday and then need to fly out from Port Elizabeth the following Sunday mid-morning.

Kind of unsure where to stay along the Garden Route and how long for - since we have only a few days I read that flying to George will save us time. We like landscapes, nature, the outdoors, etc. so places like the Wilderness national park, Knysna forests, and then Nature's Valley and Storm's River have caught my eye. We'll have spent a number of days on safari prior to this so don't need to go to a game reserve, though any animals you don't typically spot on safari would be good to see. Not so bothered about spending time sitting on the beach. Thinking of the following itineray:

Sunday - arrive mid-afternoon, V&A waterfront or around
Monday - Table mountin and botanical gardens
Tuesday - Cape penninsula
Wednesday - Fly to George early morning, pick up rental car, see Wilderness national park, spend night in Wilderness
Thursday - drive to Knysna and forests, night in Knysna
Friday - use Knysna as a base, maybe drive to near Plet and to the Robberg Point walk, and other stuff in Knysna, night in Knysna
Saturday - drive to Nature's Valley/Storm's River (undecided yet), one night there
Sunday - drive to PE airport, fly out

You might as well drive to George? It's about 5 hours and you'll want a car anyway for Cape Peninsula, so renting a car for two days, then flying to George and renting another car, sounds like a hassle and flying won't save all that much time vs. driving. Plus if you're into Geography Nerding you could go to Cape Agulhas on Tuesday night and break up that drive.

Also make sure to check for fire news while you're on the spot, as February is both dry season and hot season, and right now for instance George is on fire, e.g. https://scontent-amt2-1.xx.fbcdn.ne...ntent-amt2-1.xx from today. I just googled it since there's like, always a huge fire somewhere in Cape Province, it was a pretty safe bet that I'd find one raging at the moment. E: that link sucks, here's the FB group with the photos: https://www.facebook.com/KnysnaFire..._rs&_rdc=1&_rdr

Never been to George-Port Elizabeth area so can't really give any specific suggestions. You're missing all of the wine country around Cape Town but maybe you've already been or maybe you want to do something less Stereotypical First Visit to Cape Province.

Saladman fucked around with this message at Oct 29, 2018 around 18:58

Lady Gaza
Nov 20, 2008



Thanks both. My wife doesnít drink and Iím not massively bothered by visiting wineries so donít mind missing that - plus Iíd be driving so couldnít really drink.

There seems to be a lot to do around Plet; some friends recommended national parks for walking and wildlife within a short drive so weíll likely stay round there for a few days.

Captain Hotbutt
Aug 18, 2014

Hello, I'd like to humiliate some hussies and I'm in a hurry.


If you can make it, try going to De Grendel Restaurant.

I'm on my last day of a South Africa tour with my family, and even though it was earlier in our trip, it's stuck out as being the best restaurant we ate at the whole time we were here - by a far margin. Even if you don't drink, the food is totally worth all the wine talk you'd hear while there.

The views and the estate itself are totally spectacular. Try to get there around sunset. It's nuts.

About a 30-40 minute drive outside Cape Town. Reservation is a must if you decide to go.

Lady Gaza
Nov 20, 2008



An update if anyone is interested. We decided to not go to Victoria Falls and are just staying in South Africa. After 4 days at Sabi Sands we have 4 days in Cape Town, so we might go to the winelands if we have time. Then we're going to take our time driving to Brenton-on-Sea (thinking via R62) - any ideas for stops on the way would be good (we're going to do it on one day, leaving early in the morning). We've got a couple of nights there so will go to the forests and the heads, then 4 days in Plett as a base to explore Tsitsikamma.

So overall a more relaxed trip than we had previously planned, which I think will be better. Also we booked De Grendel in Cape Town on a Friday night for sunset; thanks for the tip!

Residency Evil
Jul 28, 2003

4/5 godo BRAINS


Does anyone have a good guide to setting up a 10-14 day trip to South Africa? My wife and I want to do something this fall (as a delayed honeymoon). We have friends who went through andBeyond travel and had an awesome experience, but I've typically done things on my own. Before we do something similar, is it feasible to do this on my own (and have an equally good time)? Is 10-14 days enough time to spend a few days in/around Cape Town and do a safari in Kruger while traveling from the east coast?

Lady Gaza
Nov 20, 2008



Residency Evil posted:

Does anyone have a good guide to setting up a 10-14 day trip to South Africa? My wife and I want to do something this fall (as a delayed honeymoon). We have friends who went through andBeyond travel and had an awesome experience, but I've typically done things on my own. Before we do something similar, is it feasible to do this on my own (and have an equally good time)? Is 10-14 days enough time to spend a few days in/around Cape Town and do a safari in Kruger while traveling from the east coast?

Yes you can definitely do it on your own, it just depends on how much effort you want to spend working out how long to spend in each place and where about to stay, etc. My wife and I had two weeks in SA and we just booked our own hotels and flights (we landed in JNB, flew to Greater Kruger for a few days and from there flew to Cape Town). Hired a car in Cape Town. It took a bit of organisation but I like doing that myself. SA is a modern developed country for the most part so itís easy enough to book things.

If you have 10 days I would perhaps limit yourself to safari and Cape Town area. In 2 weeks my wife and I also did a few days on the garden route and felt a little rushed, so if youíre travelling from east coast and only have 10 days donít overdo it.

If you want a more upmarket safari experience try Sabi Sands rather than a Kruger self drive - we spent 4 nights in a lodge and it was honestly one of the best things weíve ever done. The Elephant Plains lodge was really great despite being one of the cheaper ones in the area, Iíd highly recommend them. Literally 2 hours from arriving we saw a leopard drag a kill into a tree just a few feet in front of us. I follow them on Instagram now and a bunch of leopards have cubs, plus there are male lions moving into the local pride, which is quite exciting. Most people we met at the lodge did 2 or 3 nights, though I would suggest 3 at a minimum so as to give yourself plenty of time to see different animals.

BlueBull
Jan 21, 2007


Keep in mind that Cape Town weather can be a bit lovely around September / October still, the best time is usually end of Jan to end of Feb as the wind dies down then.

Kruger will be allright during SA spring though.

And yeah, there is a world of difference between doing "normal" Kruger and Sabie Sands or similer lodges. Its not cheap but 100% worth it, even if you just stay two nights or whatever.

Residency Evil
Jul 28, 2003

4/5 godo BRAINS


I'm looking at &Beyond to put together a 10 day package for Cape Town/Kruger, but is this something I could do myself easily as well? It seems like booking a hotel in Cape Town is fairly straightforward, but how about getting from Cape Town - Kruger lodges/places in Kruger? Budget is somewhat flexible (say, 10k for the two of us), but I don't want to spend money for no reason.

Lady Gaza
Nov 20, 2008



Residency Evil posted:

I'm looking at &Beyond to put together a 10 day package for Cape Town/Kruger, but is this something I could do myself easily as well? It seems like booking a hotel in Cape Town is fairly straightforward, but how about getting from Cape Town - Kruger lodges/places in Kruger? Budget is somewhat flexible (say, 10k for the two of us), but I don't want to spend money for no reason.

e: just realised it was you I replied to earlier in the thread too. Looks like I gave similar advice to both questions
-
Itís easy enough to book your own tickets and fly. There are a few airports in Kruger - we went from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit (as we were staying in Sabi Sands) and from there to Cape Town.

Youíd save so much money doing it for yourself - with 10k you could book your own nice hotel in Cape Town and a lodge in greater Kruger. For example we spent ~$3000 (2 people) on 4 nights in a lodge including accommodation, game drives, food, alcohol, tips, transfers to/from airport (lodge organised these). Cape Town was so much cheaper in terms of accommodation and food though.

It just depends on how much organisation you want to do; SA is however very developed in terms of tourist infrastructure where you want to go, and everyone speaks English, so itís easy enough to do yourself. The only time sensitive part will be finding a lodge if you go that way instead of doing a self drive - they can book up very far in advance.

For Cape Town, another thing to consider is that those tours will likely be full of older people and youíll just be shepherded round in a coach; we saw a bunch of large groups like that at table mountain and other main sites. Part of whatís nice about Cape Town is doing your own thing at your own pace. Ubers are super cheap and common so you donít even need to worry about getting around.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Lady Gaza posted:

The only time sensitive part will be finding a lodge if you go that way instead of doing a self drive - they can book up very far in advance.

I'm not sure about Kruger but I assume it's like Namibia's big NPs for this -- a lot of lodges are "booked" by tour operators, who then release the rooms 30, 60, or 90 days before the night, depending on the lodge's policy for full refunds. OTOH a lot of lodges now only give like 30-70% refunds because of that problem.

Though if you're going in high season it's probably worth the extra few bucks to get one of those reserved rooms through an operator, although I guess Kruger might be more complicated than Namibia for this since there are so many more operators there.

One way to check this would be to see what the lodge's refund policy is, then check (e.g.) availability 29 days in advance vs 31 days in advance. In Etosha for instance there was a massive difference in availability between the two days. Other places, like the NamibRand lodges, were genuinely 100% booked up months in advance even though they were north of $1000/night. Not sure how much Etosha/Namib experiences translate to Kruger, but probably a fair amount?

Like Lady Gaza I can't imagine booking a tour or using an operator for Cape Town. Just DIY on hotels.com, and rent a car and do whatever you want. Unless you want to drink a lot on a wine tour, I guess.

Lady Gaza
Nov 20, 2008



Good point about the lodges being booked up. Ours did charge a hefty non-refundable deposit , and the entire place was quite small (30 guests max) so it was a mix of people staying for overlapping periods rather than one big group.

If you want to do a wine tour in Cape Town you can just get your hotel to organise one for you.

Residency Evil
Jul 28, 2003

4/5 godo BRAINS


Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. We're thinking mainly of doing Cape Town, some Vineyards, and the park. I'm open to doing the lodging in Cape Town/Vineyards on my own, but do you guys have any suggestions for lodges in Kruger/Sabi Sands? Seems like many of them are booked through tour operators/etc, as you guys are saying.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Residency Evil posted:

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. We're thinking mainly of doing Cape Town, some Vineyards, and the park. I'm open to doing the lodging in Cape Town/Vineyards on my own, but do you guys have any suggestions for lodges in Kruger/Sabi Sands? Seems like many of them are booked through tour operators/etc, as you guys are saying.

I think your best bet is to ask TripAdvisor's forums. I find people there never give very long or detailed responses (for any country) but if you have a fairly specific question about a touristy country like SA, then the feedback is often pretty useful.

Lady Gaza
Nov 20, 2008



Residency Evil posted:

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. We're thinking mainly of doing Cape Town, some Vineyards, and the park. I'm open to doing the lodging in Cape Town/Vineyards on my own, but do you guys have any suggestions for lodges in Kruger/Sabi Sands? Seems like many of them are booked through tour operators/etc, as you guys are saying.

We stayed at Elephant Plains - one of the cheaper lodges but still fantastic. I just emailed them myself to enquire about bookings. Tripadvisor or booking.com reviews of Sabi Sands lodges will be useful too. Another thing you can do is look for travel blogs - I seem to recall reading about Elephant Plains and a place called Idube, and Cheetah Plains, on someoneís website. Those blogs have photos and more in depth descriptions of things which can help in choosing.

Residency Evil
Jul 28, 2003

4/5 godo BRAINS


Ok guys, looks like we'll use the tour company for the lodge booking (andbeyond Ngala lodge) and then book hotels in Cape Town/Stellenbosch ourselves. We've travelled plenty in Europe/South American, but this will be the first time in Africa for either of us. Cape Town is safe, right? I know nothing about safety in south africa other than hearing about J-burg being the car jacking capital of the world a few years ago and people using cars with flame throwers to defend themselves. Is Cape Town just another big city? Would it make sense to rent a car to get from Cape Town to Stellenbosch?

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Lady Gaza
Nov 20, 2008



Residency Evil posted:

Ok guys, looks like we'll use the tour company for the lodge booking (andbeyond Ngala lodge) and then book hotels in Cape Town/Stellenbosch ourselves. We've travelled plenty in Europe/South American, but this will be the first time in Africa for either of us. Cape Town is safe, right? I know nothing about safety in south africa other than hearing about J-burg being the car jacking capital of the world a few years ago and people using cars with flame throwers to defend themselves. Is Cape Town just another big city? Would it make sense to rent a car to get from Cape Town to Stellenbosch?

Cool! The lodge looks really nice.

In terms of safety, my wife and I had zero problems in Cape Town. But, this was because we were sensible and stayed in a nice area. For example, we took Ubers everywhere at night except when walking round V&A, and stayed in Camps Bay.

One of our Uber drivers said that in Cape Town crime is bad (murders etc) but limited to certain areas (eg the Cape Flats), so rich areas like Camps Bay are alright. In Johannesburg he said it is everywhere, so being in a rich area means nothing. Thatís just one opinion but it was an interesting perspective.

Iíd recommend getting a car if youíre in Cape Town for a few days. To get from hotel to attractions around town take an Uber, but if you go to Cape Point (and you should!) itís really great having your own car. You can get Ubers to Stellenbosch - we didnít go there as my wife doesnít drink but donít imagine youíd want to drive on a day visiting wineries. Your hotel can probably organise a trip too, or look up wine tours online in advance if you donít want to wing it while out there.

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