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December in South Africa - what are our options?

December in South Africa - what are our options?

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Old Jan 16, 18, 8:58 pm
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December in South Africa - what are our options?

Yes, I know that it might be the worst time of the year to travel, but I do not have options - we have group of four people in the group and three of them can take vacation only during Dec 15th-Jan 3rd of the year. Based on above - seems we are going to have about 16 days total.

One of the stop/destination is Kruger - I and my wife been next to it - at one of the private game reserves but not inside Kruger itself, other two in our group have not been in South Africa at all. So plan is to have arrive at Johannesburg, get a car and drive north, staying at Kruger or at surrounding area for about 5 days.

For the remaining days the tentative plan is Garden route for a week - flying from Johannesburg to George/Port Elizabeth, get a car there and drive to Cape Town via Garden Route while seeing scenery, stopping by at parks and hike. Arrive at Cape Town by the end of Dec and stay for 3-4 days before flying back.

I was looking for alternatives of Garden Route/Cape Town (I and my wife already have been in the city) - like going to Victoria Falls and Namibia, but seems it is not an option - for Victoria Falls it will be lowest water level combined with highest temperature and for Namibia two other people in the group would need to get visas while having closest Namibia's consulate 1000km away from their home.

So, what would be other options apart of Cape Town/Garden Route? We have following requirements/preferences - nature, wildlife budget travel (without living in tents).

Thanks everybody.

Last edited by invisible; Jan 17, 18 at 3:27 am
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Old Jan 17, 18, 12:05 am
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After arriving in Johannesburg you could drive to Sun City, The Palace of The Lost City there is quite cool. Pilansberg NP is not far away, so you could do a day safari there (good chance to see rhinos). Or/and before Kruger, fly from Joburg to Nelspruit and drive the Panorama Route, very nice scenery with God's Window, Three Rondavels etc. to Phalaborwa and then enter Kruger NP. Or you could visit the east part of SA and enjoy St Lucia / Isimangaliso Wetland Park before flying from Durban to George / Port Elisabeth. There are soo many nice options!!
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Old Jan 17, 18, 11:08 am
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I could suggest adding either/both Franschhoek and Stellenbosch on the way back to C.T. We’re besotted by the Winelands, and have (this morning) managed to get BA Reward Flights for 2 weeks in December.

Same timeline as the last 2 years, but may skip C.T. altogether and just do S’bosch and F’hoek and one other (yet to be decided).

TRs in my signature may help?
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Old Jan 17, 18, 1:14 pm
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How bad will be Cape Town in December? People say that loding prices/availability is like hell...
Any alternatives to Cape Town and Garden Route? Let's imagine that we have dates like from Dec 22nd till Jan 2nd - where to?
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Old Jan 17, 18, 1:21 pm
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Drakensberg is quite nice, and in the summer should be a little cooler. Check out the Champagne Sports resort.
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Old Jan 17, 18, 1:22 pm
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We are now in January, so as long as you book soon(ish) you will be fine with accommodation, given that you are 4, you could look for an (Airbnb) apartment which would help with the costs.
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Old Jan 17, 18, 2:40 pm
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Originally Posted by invisible View Post
How bad will be Cape Town in December? People say that loding prices/availability is like hell...
Any alternatives to Cape Town and Garden Route? Let's imagine that we have dates like from Dec 22nd till Jan 2nd - where to?
ZAR 3,375 per night in early Dec last year at the Cullinan, at the height of the Rugby Sevens. ZAR 4,140 at the same time in 2016.

Pricing is of course a personal factor, but never had any problem with availability booking almost a year ahead!
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Old Jan 17, 18, 10:38 pm
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While I am going to explore options with other regions in South Africa as well, I am thinking now to do Johannesburg-Cape Town-Garden Route-Port Elizabeth/George instead of Johannesburg-Port Elizabeth/George-Garden Route-Cape Town route, New Year would be while on the Garden Route.
Does this make more sense?
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Old Jan 18, 18, 12:17 am
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When you suggest this is the worst time to visit, why do you say that? Is it is because it is during holiday season and the prices are high or the weather is bad? I'm curious...
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Old Jan 18, 18, 12:59 am
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Originally Posted by invisible View Post
While I am going to explore options with other regions in South Africa as well, I am thinking now to do Johannesburg-Cape Town-Garden Route-Port Elizabeth/George instead of Johannesburg-Port Elizabeth/George-Garden Route-Cape Town route, New Year would be while on the Garden Route.
Does this make more sense?
If your flight back is from JNB, I don't think it make a difference what direction you are driving the garden route, if your flights are not booked yet, it might make sense to book your return from CPT and therefore drive PLZ-CPT.

Personally I would prefer to do PLZ-CPT and end with the last few days in Cape Town.
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Old Jan 18, 18, 2:46 am
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Originally Posted by aaflyer93 View Post
When you suggest this is the worst time to visit, why do you say that? Is it is because it is during holiday season and the prices are high?.
Exactly. On TA forums got this reply:

the busiest time of the year is between 24th and 31st December. Not only are there tourists from abroad but also from other parts of the country, and almost all locals are on vacation. It's very very crowded. I'm a tour guide and I am considering not taking any bookings in Cape Town for that period next December - it's just too much!
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Old Jan 20, 18, 9:10 am
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Originally Posted by invisible View Post
Exactly. On TA forums got this reply: and almost all locals are on vacation.
Bit of a stretch, as most locals are can only dream of going on vacation. Poverty is widespread in SA.

Johan
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Old Jan 20, 18, 10:29 am
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A friend took his parents to Cape Town last month over Christmas week. He started planning 4 or 5 months ahead, booked a driver/guide/van for a couple days, booked Robbins Island ahead, and had a wonderful time. He successfully used points for 2 rooms at one of the Protea properties.

A personal favorite of mine is Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth. It's roughly a 90 minute drive from there. We were there in early December and had very temperate weather, even needing sweaters on early morning and late afternoon game drives.

There's a Protea hotel at the Paul Kruger Gate that will position you nicely for a drive into the park. See what you can find now in terms of cabins in the park.

I think @Happy has detailed some of her travels in South Africa with stays at Protea properties. Check the Marriott forum.

I found the garden route bland.

Last edited by SanDiego1K; Jan 20, 18 at 10:39 am
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Old Jan 20, 18, 11:03 am
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K
We were there in early December
I thought I remembered you were planning a South Africa trip. So where’s the Trip Report? ...
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Old Jan 20, 18, 11:07 am
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Originally Posted by T8191 View Post
I thought I remembered you were planning a South Africa trip. So where’s the Trip Report? ...
Troublemaker. I've written up most of the hotels and posted them in relevant forums. I'm about to settle in and do the final one today.
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