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Visiting Sth Africa and Safaris

Visiting Sth Africa and Safaris

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Old Jan 9, 16, 9:16 pm
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Visiting Sth Africa and Safaris

Visiting Sth Africa for 2 weeks, based in JNB as I am visiting some friends who are temporarily working and living there.

Am planning on also getting to Capetown for a few days. And a safari. Any other suggestions for a 2 week trip? My preference is usually not to hurry and visit too many places but spend sufficient time in fewer places of quality.

Also in terms of safaris, I always assumed Kruger (as it's best known). But some have suggested Namibia (eg Estosha) would be a better safari destination? What about other parks in SA - eg Hluhluwe & Imfolozi?

Currently looking at going late OCtober. Should I reconsider and go Late Sep or earlier in OCt?

Going solo.

ANy suggestions or recommendations welcome.

Last edited by alect; Jan 9, 16 at 9:32 pm
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Old Jan 9, 16, 11:31 pm
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Just returned from a 9 day/night SA trip one week ago.

My opinions FWIW:

1. At least four full days/nights in Cape Town, AMAZING young chefs with innovative menus (and great SA wines). Great, vibrant city, with much to see and do.

2. While in Jo'burg, we booked a three day/two night safari at Pilanesberg National Game Park (less than three hours by car); saw four of the "Big Five," no lions.

3. Regardless of city location, we used Uber to get around...practically free!

4. Rand is still falling and should remain a good value through 2016.

5. Late October to mid November would be my call.

Good luck!
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Old Jan 10, 16, 10:01 am
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Originally Posted by alect View Post
I always assumed Kruger (as it's best known). But some have suggested Namibia (eg Estosha) would be a better safari destination?
Etosha has its attractions, and is especially good at the end of the dry season (October), but bear in mind that the game density is about a tenth of that in Kruger. Species diversity is also lower, and there is far less scenic variety.

If the choice stands between Kruger and Etosha, the answer is obvious.

Namibia is a great destination, but it is a huge country. Only worth it if you have at least a couple of weeks, and even then Etosha should be somewhere at the bottom of your list of priorities. In my opinion Namibia is at its best at the end of a good rainy season, in March or April.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is great, but again not worth the extra time and effort if you are based in Johanneburg. It is not that different from the Limpopo and Mpumalanga Loweveld. The parks in KwaZulu-Natal that stand out are Ndumo and Tembe, but they cater more to special interests.

Closest alternatives to Kruger and the contiguous private reserves are Madikwe and Pilanesberg. The former is a bit of a predator zoo, and overrun with game viewing vehicles. The latter holds true for Pilanesberg too, unless you stay at a lodge with private traversing, e.g. Tshukudu.

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Old Jan 10, 16, 4:26 pm
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Originally Posted by johan rebel View Post
Etosha has its attractions, and is especially good at the end of the dry season (October), but bear in mind that the game density is about a tenth of that in Kruger. Species diversity is also lower, and there is far less scenic variety.

If the choice stands between Kruger and Etosha, the answer is obvious.

Namibia is a great destination, but it is a huge country. Only worth it if you have at least a couple of weeks, and even then Etosha should be somewhere at the bottom of your list of priorities. In my opinion Namibia is at its best at the end of a good rainy season, in March or April.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is great, but again not worth the extra time and effort if you are based in Johanneburg. It is not that different from the Limpopo and Mpumalanga Loweveld. The parks in KwaZulu-Natal that stand out are Ndumo and Tembe, but they cater more to special interests.

Closest alternatives to Kruger and the contiguous private reserves are Madikwe and Pilanesberg. The former is a bit of a predator zoo, and overrun with game viewing vehicles. The latter holds true for Pilanesberg too, unless you stay at a lodge with private traversing, e.g. Tshukudu.

Johan
Thanks. So sounds like Kruger is best both for what you get to see and proximity to JNB.

Any recommendations for mid-level safaris for solo traveller. Not luxurious, but not back-packing either. Happy to join a group as I am alone.
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Old Jan 11, 16, 4:24 am
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Any feedback on the following safari providers/tours:

http://www.africanbudgetsafaris.com/...national-park/
http://www.krugerpark.com/tours/
https://www.safaribookings.com/tours/kruger
http://www.krugerpark.co.za/Classic_...i-package.html
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Old Jan 11, 16, 7:29 am
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Hi alect!

I agree with previous posters that the Greater Kruger area, which includes the abutting Sabi Sand and Timbavati Private Game Reserves, offer far better game viewing than those within driving range of JNB. Absolutely!

Here are some ideas: I'd recommend that you start in JNB where your friends are. From there, you can then fly to Cape Town, a city that is vibrant, colorful, artistic, trendy, and hip to visit. I'd suggest 3-4 nights depending upon your interest in the area and what you want to do. You can stay on the Waterfront or in one of the neighborhoods. As for accommodations, there's a size, style and price point for all. You could stay at a larger hotel or one of the many quaint guest houses and all at varied price points. Most important is that you are comfortable with your choice as they all have pros and cons, of course.

For things to do, there is something for everyone: culture, nature, history, food&wine, the arts etc etc.. Ideas include Table Mountain, Robben Island, a day tour to Cape of Good Hope/Penguin Colony, Kirstenbosch Gardens with their Boomslang Canopy Walk, a tour on the HOHO bus to visit the many distinct neighborhoods, District 6, day trip to the Winelands, Hermanus (whale watching), Township tour (but only an authentic one). These are just a few ideas. With 3 full days, I'd prioritize and strategize so that you are able to do what you want at a pace that you are comfortable with. Everyone is unique in this way..

From Cape Town, you can fly direct (and inexpensively) to one of the Kruger airports and do a 3-4 night stay at one of the many lodges in the Greater Kruger area. I particularly recommend the private reserves as you will be taken well care of and looked after as a solo traveler. These are all-inclusive lodges with food and drinks, great service, lovely accommodations and the rangers are very well versed and trained on animal behavior. In private reserves, you are allowed to go on game drives with your ranger at night and driving off road to track or stay with an animal is also allowed. This are just some of the differences from National Parks. Additionally, rangers in private reserves collaborate with each other on sightings as well as adhere to animal protection rules by limiting the number of jeeps at a sighting in respect of the animals and to give other jeeps a chance. For a lot of reasons, I find that stays of 3-4 nights are particularly better served at lodges in Private Reserves over National Parks.

While some lodges can be pricey, there are a number that offer GREAT value for the money with consistently strong reviews. Some offer discounts with stays at 4 nights or longer. With the RAND converting at historic lows, this a great time to take advantage of your travel dollars and research different options available to you.

After your safari stay, you could then fly back to JNB from the nearest Kruger airport. So your loop of flights (JNB - CPT - One of the Kruger airports nearest to your lodge - JNB) is an efficient connection scenario.

As for time to go, I'd recommend late September vs Late October as mid to late October is really the transition to their Spring and more rain. This year, it has been unsually dry but that's not typically the case. It's so hard to predict the weather but if you can go earlier rather than later, I'd try for that.

When considering safari providers/tours, I would dig a little deeper into what's included and ask specific questions such as what time flights are, how long the transfers are, whether a solo traveler pays a surcharge, and what additional costs there are if any. Some tours are at lodges outside the park, in which case you have to pay per game drive. Some do not include food or beverage. Some include a "tour guide" which means that you are sharing in the cost of that person which is really not needed for this type of trip. Please don't confuse a ranger in the jeep with someone who just accompanies a group of travelers from Point A to B. Packages do not always equate to the cheapest way to go so read thru the details, ask lots of questions, and read reviews with a discerning eye.

Hope this is helpful!

Best
Dianne
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Old Jan 11, 16, 12:14 pm
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Originally Posted by Dianne_AfricaDirectUSA View Post
As for time to go, I'd recommend late September vs Late October as mid to late October is really the transition to their Spring and more rain. This year, it has been unsually dry but that's not typically the case. It's so hard to predict the weather but if you can go earlier rather than later, I'd try for that.
All true, but you just never know.

This rainy season is indeed exceptionally dry, yet the Lowveld had a pretty decent and early spell of rain last September, and very little or no rain in October.

The influence of the ENSO cycle is pronounced in South Africa. 2014/15 was the driest summer since 91/92, and this one is shaping up to be a disaster, with one heatwave after the other hitting the country. Chances are that the country may experience the worst drought in living memory.

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Old Jan 12, 16, 1:41 am
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Thanks Dianne. Very good and comprehensive advice. Looks like my timing may be up to the award gods - managed to secure an October award to JNB - doesn't look like an equivalent in Sep is available.
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Old Jan 12, 16, 5:55 am
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Hi alect!

Just thought I would add that Elephant Plains Lodge in the Sabi Sands Private Reserves offers incredible value for the money. It's an all inclusive lodge that gets solid reviews consistently. It's also the choice of ODP for its photographic safaris in that area! It would be my recommendation for a client looking for a budget-friendly/moderately-priced lodge. Additionally, Elephant Plains doesn't charge a single surcharge or "supplement" to solo travelers which makes it another great option for you. I have sent many solo travelers there as an extension trip to a business stay in Jo'burg or Cape Town and it works out great!

Just for your info, the single surcharge or supplement is an additional charge if there is only one person in the room. Since safari lodges are all-inclusive, the rates work differently than typical hotels. Let me know if you have other questions. I'd be happy to help. You can PM if you would like me to check availability and put something together that meets your budget. There are no fees to do so.

Have a great day!
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Old Jan 12, 16, 11:18 am
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If you can't make a full safari go to Lion Park in Jo'berg.

Best thing I've ever done in my life.


I'm doing three days at a nice $250/night lodge at Pilanesberg next month. It'll be my first real safari.
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Old Jan 12, 16, 2:35 pm
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If you can't make a full safari go to Lion Park in Jo'berg.
Just make sure to keep your windows closed at all times.

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