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Safari- Luggage Help!

Safari- Luggage Help!

Old Nov 3, 17, 12:06 pm
  #1  
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Safari- Luggage Help!

Does anyone have any recommendations for the soft luggage required on connecting flights to Safari from JNB? (Or anywhere). I've heard they are very strict with the bag size and wanted to see if anyone had any recommendations.

Also, we are doing safari first (5 days) then the rest of our time (1.5 weeks) in Capetown/ South Africa. Has anyone done the luggage storage at JNB? Is it reliable/ safe? We aren't checking into a hotel prior to safari, so I don't think storing at a hotel is an option.

Thank you!
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Old Nov 3, 17, 5:12 pm
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Originally Posted by LPKfromUSA View Post
Does anyone have any recommendations for the soft luggage required on connecting flights to Safari from JNB? (Or anywhere). I've heard they are very strict with the bag size and wanted to see if anyone had any recommendations.

Also, we are doing safari first (5 days) then the rest of our time (1.5 weeks) in Capetown/ South Africa. Has anyone done the luggage storage at JNB? Is it reliable/ safe? We aren't checking into a hotel prior to safari, so I don't think storing at a hotel is an option.

Thank you!
We flew SA Express last summer from JNB to HDS and from HDS to CPT in a very similar trip. Their handling of luggage was very similar to what I have experienced with American or European carriers. My wife and I had one regular piece of luggage that were well under the 20 kg limit and I had a 20" carry on and a laptop case. My wife had a medium sized camera bag and a purse.

My carry on was gate checked on both segments without any issue. No problem with my wife's camera bag in the cabin. I do not know if this is the norm or not, just reporting our experiences.

You may want to check out the South African Airways forum on this as well.

CEMAir (5Z) also flies the same routes and seems to have a better luggage allowance (25 kg). I have never flown them so I cannot say if this is accurate or not.

Last edited by cheltzel; Nov 4, 17 at 11:37 am
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Old Nov 4, 17, 10:24 am
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I have used a Patagonia 90L Black Hole duffel, no wheels, for two trips to South Africa. Those things are durable! It was the right size for Federal Air, but different airlines have different requirements. I had laundry done along the way (included in the room rate at some camps, reasonable at others) and was able to take everything without needing to store a bag. I think Federal Air did offer storage.
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Old Nov 5, 17, 5:53 am
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Hi LPK - there is luggage storage at Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport. When you enter the main arrivals hall (having cleared immigration and customs) there is a flight of stairs and escalator on the opposite side of the hall. Down one level and on your right there is a luggage storage. It is not individual lockers, but rather a manned storage facility.

As for the restrictions on weight it all really depends on your flight. As cheltzel mentions, if you are flying on a flight to one of the main destinations on a scheduled service then allowances are quite generous, often not very different to your international flight. However, once you start getting onto smaller aircraft the allowances become more and more restrictive. So the only real way to answer your question would be to know where you are flying to.
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Old Nov 5, 17, 4:26 pm
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I've made the decision to get a private road transfer to the Kruger area from JNB for a few reasons, not the least of which is the husband is an amateur photographer with extensive and heavy camera bodies and lenses he doesn't want to pare down (and that he himself is 6'4", 275lbs and not crazy about the ides of the smaller planes.) The downside is the 6+ hour drive that by all accounts isn't very interesting. I understand this isn't really an answer to your question, but if you have the time to spare perhaps this is an option if you're worried about the luggage weight.
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Old Nov 5, 17, 8:15 pm
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Originally Posted by isabeloh View Post
I've made the decision to get a private road transfer to the Kruger area from JNB for a few reasons, not the least of which is the husband is an amateur photographer with extensive and heavy camera bodies and lenses he doesn't want to pare down (and that he himself is 6'4", 275lbs and not crazy about the ides of the smaller planes.) The downside is the 6+ hour drive that by all accounts isn't very interesting. I understand this isn't really an answer to your question, but if you have the time to spare perhaps this is an option if you're worried about the luggage weight.
The flights from JNB to the Kruger Park area airports are all around 1 hour in length (or less). Depending on the airport you will fly SA Express or SA Airlink. SA Express flies Q400 turboprops and SA Airlink flies a mix of aircraft including regional jets (basically similar aircraft that United Express or American Eagle fly in the US). I am 6'2" and about 250 and found the seats a bit snug. The seat pitch wasn't terrible. I suspect it was either 31" or 32" pitch.

But you are right to be concerned about a lot of photographic equipment. My wife took two half frame camera bodies and 3 or 4 lenses and that was just about all we could fit in the cabin. If your husband as 2 or more full frame camera bodies and multiple telephoto lenses he may have an issue getting them on board.
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Old Nov 6, 17, 8:52 am
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Originally Posted by cheltzel View Post
The flights from JNB to the Kruger Park area airports are all around 1 hour in length (or less). Depending on the airport you will fly SA Express or SA Airlink. SA Express flies Q400 turboprops and SA Airlink flies a mix of aircraft including regional jets (basically similar aircraft that United Express or American Eagle fly in the US). I am 6'2" and about 250 and found the seats a bit snug. The seat pitch wasn't terrible. I suspect it was either 31" or 32" pitch.

But you are right to be concerned about a lot of photographic equipment. My wife took two half frame camera bodies and 3 or 4 lenses and that was just about all we could fit in the cabin. If your husband as 2 or more full frame camera bodies and multiple telephoto lenses he may have an issue getting them on board.
Thanks for the info. I really flipped a coin, tbh, but we're thislclose to being over weight limits and he doesn't want to see any of his gear damaged. While the flight length is 1hr, I'd have to get to the airport ahead of time, check in, deal with luggage issues, deal with husband issues, transfers to/from airport, etc which all add up in terms of time and hassle for me. I figure the private transfers will still be cheaper than the flights and we have a little more schedule flexibility. I know it's not a popular option (everyone seems to either fly or rent a car) but I'm just more comfortable with it than the alternatives.
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Old Nov 6, 17, 11:35 am
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Originally Posted by cheltzel View Post
SA Airlink flies a mix of aircraft including regional jets.
And J41s to PHW. Room for hand luggage on those aircraft is almost nonexistent. Everything but the smallest of bags has to be placed on a trolley before boarding, and the former are chucked in a closet by the FA as you board. Seating is very tight too.

Johan
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Old Nov 6, 17, 11:54 am
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Originally Posted by johan rebel View Post
And J41s to PHW. Room for hand luggage on those aircraft is almost nonexistent. Everything but the smallest of bags has to be placed on a trolley before boarding, and the former are chucked in a closet by the FA as you board. Seating is very tight too.

Johan
What are the PHW?

I see they also fly the Cessna Grand Caravan. On the ones I have flown, there is basically no in cabin storage on the Cessna at all.
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Old Nov 6, 17, 12:04 pm
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Originally Posted by isabeloh View Post
Thanks for the info. I really flipped a coin, tbh, but we're thislclose to being over weight limits and he doesn't want to see any of his gear damaged. While the flight length is 1hr, I'd have to get to the airport ahead of time, check in, deal with luggage issues, deal with husband issues, transfers to/from airport, etc which all add up in terms of time and hassle for me. I figure the private transfers will still be cheaper than the flights and we have a little more schedule flexibility. I know it's not a popular option (everyone seems to either fly or rent a car) but I'm just more comfortable with it than the alternatives.
I would totally agree with you on this. From what you posted it sounds like you will have more equipment that we had. And we barely made it with what we had. With your carry on baggage they can enforce a weight limit of 8 kg and a total dimensions adding up to 115 cm (Height + Width + Depth).
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Old Nov 6, 17, 12:12 pm
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PHW = Phalaborwa Airport. Literally on the Kruger boundary fence. Short runway, hence served with J41s.

Johan
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Old Nov 6, 17, 12:16 pm
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Originally Posted by cheltzel View Post
I see they also fly the Cessna Grand Caravan.
If I'm not mistaken, those are used on Airlink's Lodge Link services only.

Johan
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Old Nov 22, 17, 11:35 am
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I've got a bit of experience with both options; we stayed at Cape Town and while there did an overnight to Kruger (yes, pretty insane thing to do, but somehow worked out nicely). On the way to Kruger we flew direct from Cape Town to Nelspruit on SAA's direct flight. It's not cheap ($250 one way per person), but it gets you into Nelspruit just past noon, with just a short 45 minute drive into Kruger.

On the way back, Nelspruit flights didn't work out, plus there was the expense, so we did the transfer to JNB. Took the 8:15pm flight JNB-CPT on Safair. Very reasonable at about $60 each. You *will* get tagged with luggage fees though, but they're not predatory or hidden. Check their website for details. If you can avoid that long drive to JNB from Kruger, do so. As others have said, it's not terribly interesting, and you're going to be pretty burned out by the end of your safari if the weather is warm.

Also, since he's a photographer, he may have seen advice from others saying you don't need a long lens at Kruger. Well, that depends. There are certainly many opportunities for mid-zooms, but I would not have gotten decent photos of big cats and rhinos if I'd left my 150-600 at home. That's with a Canon 1.6 crop factor body.

Hope this helps-
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Old Nov 26, 17, 7:34 pm
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Private Transfer Co

Originally Posted by isabeloh View Post
I've made the decision to get a private road transfer to the Kruger area from JNB for a few reasons, not the least of which is the husband is an amateur photographer with extensive and heavy camera bodies and lenses he doesn't want to pare down (and that he himself is 6'4", 275lbs and not crazy about the ides of the smaller planes.) The downside is the 6+ hour drive that by all accounts isn't very interesting. I understand this isn't really an answer to your question, but if you have the time to spare perhaps this is an option if you're worried about the luggage weight.
Cheltzel's wife here. Who are you going to use for the private road transfer? I know of Ashton's but that's a group shuttle service and would like to have options for the next time in case I bring different equipment. My longest lens was a 70-200 and I think I'd bump it up next time. (Although there are lodges you can rent lenses).

I know the prospect of drive is not appealing to my dh, but if you add in the time dealing with the luggage, check-in, and other pleasantries of waiting for another flight a private transfer could have it's own appeal.
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Old Nov 26, 17, 8:22 pm
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Originally Posted by LPKfromUSA View Post
Does anyone have any recommendations for the soft luggage required on connecting flights to Safari from JNB? (Or anywhere). I've heard they are very strict with the bag size and wanted to see if anyone had any recommendations.

Also, we are doing safari first (5 days) then the rest of our time (1.5 weeks) in Capetown/ South Africa. Has anyone done the luggage storage at JNB? Is it reliable/ safe? We aren't checking into a hotel prior to safari, so I don't think storing at a hotel is an option.

Thank you!
We always use ebags- they sell a backpack that is a weekender. Looks almost like a wheelie bag from the side but itís a backpack. Have used for two safaris each.
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