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South Africa in July-August - need recommendations/advise

South Africa in July-August - need recommendations/advise

Old Jan 17, 18, 11:14 am
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South Africa in July-August - need recommendations/advise

We have the following tentative plan for a trip to SA (USA to JNB then out of SA ex-JNB ) in July-August for a family of four with two teenagers:

- two days in Johannesburg
- two days in Cape Town
- two days in Kruger NP
- two days in Victoria Falls

Based on the time of the year, which of the above would be a "must do" and which is a "skip if we could"? And if we skip any, which one should we really have kept more time for - or is there something else we ought to be doing?

For our trip, our general plan is:

- rent a car in JNB to visit Kruger NP (and/or other local sightseeing)
- follow a JNB-Victoria Falls-CPT flight plan
- take a train one way CPT-JNB

My questions:

- are there any outright gotchas in the plan? For instance, is it too late to even find accommodation near Kruger that is affordable, given that we are budget-oriented travellers?

- are other parks better for animal sightings and/or more affordable?

- where would be a good place to stay at while in JNB? I read something about safety being better near Pretoria, especially with respect to the train. For our second leg in JNB, would that mean we should get accommodation in Pretoria then plan to get a cab to the airport for our flight back?

- How bad is the traffic in South Africa, specifically in JNB and CPT? Should we be pretty OK driving there, or is that not advised? (I've driven only in USA, Canada and Australia)

- my understanding is that as US citizens, we wouldn't be needing a visa for Tanzania, Zambia or SA. But I do remember reading someone mention visa requirement to cross the bridge over the Zambezi at Victoria Falls. So am confused...

- do we need any additional vaccinations and/or medications? I read someone refer to a Yellow Fever vaccination and someone else referred to Malaria pills.

- I've not researched either Cape Town or Johannesburg cities. What are the main things that tourists go for in these cities? Again, are these driveable areas (with parking) or is the train preferred, both from a safety and a from budget standpoint?

- is it too much to consider hiking up the Table Mountain and taking the cable car down? We are reasonably fit - not unfit, not superfit!

- a friend of mine (I could ask him this question too) went on a whale sighting tour out of Cape Town. What are the chances of whale sightings during our timeframe (he had visited in October)?

Thanks for any assistance! :-)
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Old Jan 17, 18, 11:57 am
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subscribed.. im also trying to plan a trip for similar and it looks like you have the same questions I would
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Old Jan 17, 18, 12:28 pm
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How many days in total do you have from the moment you leave the airport and until the time you have to be back for your return flight?
With only 8 days, I would forget about Victoria Falls, I would also skip the train journey which takes over 24 hours, and probably also skip JHB completely, or maybe just do a one day tour...
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Old Jan 17, 18, 1:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Ditto View Post
How many days in total do you have from the moment you leave the airport and until the time you have to be back for your return flight?
With only 8 days, I would forget about Victoria Falls, I would also skip the train journey which takes over 24 hours, and probably also skip JHB completely, or maybe just do a one day tour...
We have 11 days, but I was thinking that the first and the last days, we had better be in the JNB vicinity, though the first day, we could conceivably rent a car and drive straight to the national park (Kruger or Madikwe or ...??).

I thought the train was about 12 hours, but I could be wrong, in which case you are right - it probably doesn't make much sense!

Cannot skip JHB completely as that is our landing and takeoff location!
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Old Jan 17, 18, 1:45 pm
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Two CPT trip reports in my signature may help as background reading. It is impossible to advise unknown individuals, as ages/tastes are likely to vary dramatically!

Great country, just booked flights today for December (again). No idea about weather in the middle of the year, though ... December is the start of Summer, isn’t it?
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Old Jan 17, 18, 1:49 pm
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Originally Posted by an_asker View Post
We have 11 days, but I was thinking that the first and the last days, we had better be in the JNB vicinity, though the first day, we could conceivably rent a car and drive straight to the national park (Kruger or Madikwe or ...??).

I thought the train was about 12 hours, but I could be wrong, in which case you are right - it probably doesn't make much sense!

Cannot skip JHB completely as that is our landing and takeoff location!
OK, I checked - it is 26 hours, but for train fans like me and DS, I think it makes sense to try it out :-)
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Old Jan 17, 18, 1:53 pm
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Originally Posted by T8191 View Post
Two CPT trip reports in my signature may help as background reading. It is impossible to advise unknown individuals, as ages/tastes are likely to vary dramatically!

Great country, just booked flights today for December (again). No idea about weather in the middle of the year, though ... December is the start of Summer, isnít it?
Guess what?! I was skimming through your 2017 report earlier today - cannot believe you got flights for all those mileage points and about 1000 (was it pounds or dollars, I don't really remember)!

And yes, part of the exercise is for me to do the research and read the appropriate trip reports of course. I did read on Trip Advisor that someone (the author) climbed to the top of Table Mountain via some botanical garden and a gorge (need to go back and note down exact details!)...
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Old Jan 17, 18, 1:59 pm
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haha .. at my age I don’t do climbing or anything more energetic that looking at a menu!! And yes, this morning we snagged 2 Business Class seats again for 8-23 Dec, at (GBP) 1005 for two

Anyway, glad the TRs were of some interest, but there are a fair few local residents on this forum who can offer much better advice than a couple of old Brits. Paging roger

Happy researching!
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Old Jan 17, 18, 4:22 pm
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Originally Posted by an_asker View Post
We have 11 days, but I was thinking that the first and the last days, we had better be in the JNB vicinity, though the first day, we could conceivably rent a car and drive straight to the national park (Kruger or Madikwe or ...??).

Cannot skip JHB completely as that is our landing and takeoff location!
You didn't mention the timings of your flights and whether or not they are already booked, if it is a morning arrival it would be a good idea to rent a car and head to Kruger, it is a long drive and you might want to avoid driving in the dark, in July-August the days are quite short and it will become dark around 6-7PM or so

From there you may want to consider flying to CPT, it will be expensive but saves you quite a lot of time, 11 days is far too little to see South Africa
You could easily spend the rest of your time in and around Cape Town.

An alternative could also be to skip Kruger all together and instead fly to PLZ (or take the sleeper train ) and take the garden route to Cape Town, there are plenty of private game reserves on the route.

Originally Posted by an_asker View Post
OK, I checked - it is 26 hours, but for train fans like me and DS, I think it makes sense to try it out :-)
That is of course a different story, while very much not for the budget-oriented traveller, have you looked at the Blue train?
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Old Jan 18, 18, 2:06 am
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Originally Posted by an_asker View Post
My questions:

- are there any outright gotchas in the plan? For instance, is it too late to even find accommodation near Kruger that is affordable, given that we are budget-oriented travellers?
Short answer - what Ditto said! For a first time in SA, I too would recommend 3-4 days in Kruger and 5-6 days in and around Cape Town. As Ditto said, it depends on your flight times (and your travel class). If you really want to see Vic Falls, consider 5 days in Cape Town and 4 days at Vic Falls and Chobe National Park (Botswana) to at least get a taster of a safari, and just transit through JNB.

If you are coming off an economy flight I personally wouldn't recommend driving same day to Kruger. It is a 4-hour drive minimum, 6 hours to the central gates, and although a good highway about 50% is single-carriageway with heavy goods vehicles. If you are arriving via Europe early morning, then you can connect (preferably book through, but you can risk separate tickets with 3-4 hours in between) to KMIA (MQP) or Hoedspruit (HDS) same day. If you are planning to go to a Greater Kruger private reserve, then this maximises your time. If you are planning to 'self-drive' safari and think you can manage it, I would fly in to KMIA, pick up a hire car via Hazyview (for shopping) to Paul Kruger gate and Skukuza rest camp or via Malelane gate to Berg en Dal for your first night. But if you have been travelling for 30+ hours in economy or you are taking the Delta flight, then it might be sensible to book your first night around Pretoria and do some sightseeing in that area. From Kruger you can fly direct MQP-CPT or via JNB if cheaper.

Alternatively, timings might work out better the other way around (JNB-CPT-Kruger-JNB) because (1) from an early morning arrival you can get a safe connection to CPT and get a taxi to your hotel, so no driving on the first few days, and (2) on the last day you can do a morning game drive before travelling back for the evening flight departing JNB. This doesn't work with the Delta flight or for the train!

As well as here, the TripAdvisor and SANParks forums have lots of advice on self-driving Kruger. You have to pay the park entry conservation fees anyway. so stay in the park rest camps. Predators are best sighted when gates open and staying in the park means you are in the middle of it all. If you can afford it, consider 2 nights in Kruger NP rest camps self-driving and then 2 nights being guided in a private reserve in the Greater Kruger (Sabi Sands, Manyaleti, Timbavati, Klaserie, Balule, etc - these are unfenced and contiguous with the National Park but allow night and off-road driving). That gives you the excitement of finding things yourself and the advantage of guides/ trackers and being informed about the environment, animal behaviours etc. Accommodation will be sparse if you are travelling during the SA school holidays, but the second half of July is fine. The guest houses are very good value for money for a family of four, but if money is tight the tents (CTT code) and huts (EH code) are perfectly adequate, they just have shared (external) bathrooms and kitchen. Expect to average 25 km/hr or less within Kruger NP, so just stick to a small area and stay a few nights in the same camp. Live availability can be searched on sanparks.org. I would recommend the southern and central areas for first timers (high density of animals).

- are other parks better for animal sightings and/or more affordable?
(Assuming you are talking about self driving) Kruger in July/August is very good for the number and diversity of sightings in the southern and central areas. However, if your dates are fixed in the SA school holidays expect it be busy, but hopefully you will miss that. As long as you get up early and drive the gravel roads you can avoid the worst of the crowds, then rest up in the middle of the day. Kruger has lots of accommodation options, and so can be very affordable for a family willing to share facilities.

- where would be a good place to stay at while in JNB? I read something about safety being better near Pretoria, especially with respect to the train. For our second leg in JNB, would that mean we should get accommodation in Pretoria then plan to get a cab to the airport for our flight back?
Again depends on your flight times and what your interests are. Sorry I don't have any particular recommendations.

- How bad is the traffic in South Africa, specifically in JNB and CPT? Should we be pretty OK driving there, or is that not advised? (I've driven only in USA, Canada and Australia)
By traffic I presume you mean driving standards? Honestly, not great, but as long as you are paying attention and leave space we've never had a problem on major roads. I am happy driving in Cape Town city centre having been a few times, but you don't need a car for the first few days there. I would recommend using airport-taxis and tours/public transport to do the city stuff and then hire a car for a few days and plan accommodation away from the city bowl (i.e. hire car early, do day trip to Peninsula, stay near Kirstenbosch or the winelands, visit Hermanus, and move around for a few days depending on your interests). Driving at night is advised against because people (and animals in more rural areas) will walk along the roads (anything from rural lanes to national highways). There can also be a lot of potholes (not on highways). I have only driven on the highways around JNB to the Kruger area so can't really comment on city driving there.

- my understanding is that as US citizens, we wouldn't be needing a visa for Tanzania, Zambia or SA. But I do remember reading someone mention visa requirement to cross the bridge over the Zambezi at Victoria Falls. So am confused...
Yes I believe US citizens require a visa to enter Zimbabwe. I think you can apply for the visa on entry, but there are likely to be queues.

- do we need any additional vaccinations and/or medications? I read someone refer to a Yellow Fever vaccination and someone else referred to Malaria pills.
I'm not starting that discussion again ;-) Your medical practitioner will be able to advise you. July/August is the dry season in Kruger and there will be very few mosquitoes about. But there have been a number of malaria cases in the area during this rainy season. I believe Zambia has been removed from the Yellow Fever at risk countries, so you no longer need the certificate to re-enter South Africa (or indeed the USA), but again your medical practitioner would have the most up-to-date information on that, and any other vaccinations that you should have.

- I've not researched either Cape Town or Johannesburg cities. What are the main things that tourists go for in these cities? Again, are these driveable areas (with parking) or is the train preferred, both from a safety and a from budget standpoint?
Jo'berg / Pretoria conurbation: Apartheid Museum, 'tours' of Soweto, cradle of humankind. I am sure there is more. I would get the Gautrain to accommodation in Pretoria but otherwise I would drive (but know where I was going).

Cape Town from/in the city bowl. The city centre is walkable and there are reasonable public buses and the open top, but taxis are also cheap: V&A waterfront (restaurants and views) and Robben Island ferry (walkable in day or bus or taxi), walk or cable car up Table Mountain (open top or metro bus to cable station), District Six Museum, South African National Gallery, specific high-end restaurants (must book in advance, excellent value for money), open top bus to Kirstenbosch Gardens (winter is good for fynbos / proteas flowering). There are also beaches and surfing (not so much in winter!). I highly recommend seeing Cape Peninsula. Some people do a day tour from the city but it is an interesting drive. Parking is signposted (multi-stories in the city bowl to on-street parking) including signposted parking at Boulder's Beach for the penguins and stopping bays along Chapman's Peak drive. In towns / suburbs and supermarket car parks you might find a parking 'assistant' approaches you for small change, usually on return to your vehicle, where they will help you to reverse. Giving them 5-10ZAR is fine. If you want to do whale watching, I recommend taking a full day to drive via Betty's Bay (penguins), there are gardens and hiking along the route, to Hermanus. Then you can loop back via a night in the winelands before returning to the airport.

- is it too much to consider hiking up the Table Mountain and taking the cable car down? We are reasonably fit - not unfit, not superfit!
Plenty of people do it. Be aware of a few things. The most straightforward route, logistically, is Platteklip Gorge. It starts from the cable car station road so you can walk up and (most of the time) cable car back down. The route has no shade for ~75% so take plenty of water, even in winter. You will ascend about 700 m in 3 km in 1-3 hours. It's mostly rocky 'steps' on a reasonably made trail so take hiking poles if your knees are bad! Because it will be winter, you need to take cold weather and waterproof gear and don't ascend if it is windy or cloudy. The cable car will be stopped if the winds get up in the afternoon and you will have to walk back down. Hence you need flexibility in your days in Cape Town if you want to get up Table Mountain. The route you mentioned from TripAdvisor is Skeleton Gorge (or Nursery Ravine) from Kirstenbosch. I have never done it, because it is a much longer hike (about 10 km), it is a harder trail, it is much more exposed crossing the table top with more of a 'route' than a 'trail', and the logistics are hard because the start at Kirstenbosch is about 30 minutes drive from the end at the cable car station.

- a friend of mine (I could ask him this question too) went on a whale sighting tour out of Cape Town. What are the chances of whale sightings during our timeframe (he had visited in October)?
Very good. We have had excellent experiences at the end of August and in November. By late July, new mums will be arriving and birthing around Hermanus. The boat tours can get very close because of the whales' inquisitive and placid nature. I highly recommend it, if you like wildlife. I should point out, these southern right whales don't breach as often as other species, like humpbacks. At that time of year, expect to see lots of mums and babies lolling around and some tail-slapping, which is why the boat tours are worth it.

Enjoy the planning! I am very jealous.
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Old Jan 18, 18, 8:27 am
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Here are my recommendations based on several visits to SA at the same time of the year and with similar time constraints.

Land at JNB and spend the day/evening/night near the airport. Regardless of your choice of airlines or connection points, North America to JNB is a helluva long way, and jumping into a car on the "wrong" side of the road is not for jetlagged zombies.

Then choose your safari options:

1. Kruger/Sabi Sand/other northern safari destinations: Get a car and drive to Graskop, a pleasant town near the spectacular Blyde Canyon and other stops on the Panoramic Route. Stop at the Three Rondavels overlook and God's Window before spending the night at the Graskop Hotel. Note daylight hours will be fairly short as it's midwinter, so don't push the timing. The drive from JNB to Graskop takes a little over four hours on good roads; a couple of hours touring in the afternoon will give you a very full day. Why Graskop? Two reasons. First, the Panoramic Route (also called "Panorama Route") is incredibly scenic and VERY different than any other landscapes you'll see. Second, it makes for better value per travel dollar. The reason is that the game lodges provide two game drives daily, early morning and sundown. If you drive straight from JNB to any of the major reserves in the Kruger complex, you'll generally arrive too late to participate in the evening drive the first day. Thus one of the things you've paid (dearly) for is off the table. By spending the first night in Graskop, you can get to the lodge early enough the next day to have time to settle in before the evening drive. Spend two or three nights in a safari lodge, then drive back to JNB and drop the car. Here's a route map - https://goo.gl/maps/3zQfgZ1jft72 Note I've used Elephant Plains Lodge in the Sabi Sand reserve for this map, but the results would be similar in most of the Kruger-area reserves or the national park itself.

2. Madikwe: Easier and quicker, you can make it to most of the Madikwe lodges in time for the evening drive the same day. I've shown my favorite lodge, Buffalo Ridge, on the map - https://goo.gl/maps/L4ZQMi8mKbH2 - because it's community owned and operated, unusual among the higher-end game lodges in SA. Anyway, two or three nights there, then back to JNB as above.

I'd spend the night back at JNB before flying to Port Elizabeth the next day, NOT Cape Town. Get a car at PLZ and drive (under an hour) to Addo Elephant National Park. Addo is a self-drive park, really quite wonderful. Spend a day at Addo, then head west along the Garden Route, a stunningly beautiful drive along the Indian Ocean toward Cape Town. Stop at Jeffreys Bay, surfing capital of South Africa (made famous in the classic "Endless Summer" movie from the 1960s) and spend the night in beautiful Plettenberg Bay.

The next day, drive along the coast then swing inland for a look at the winelands around Franschhoek and Stellenbosch; maybe spend the night in Stellenbosch, an historic university town full of interesting lodgings and great food.

Then head out to the west coast. Visit Paternoster with its picturesque whitewashed and thatched cottages and colorful fishing boats on the beach, and stop at West Coast National Park where if you're lucky the spring wildflowers will be making an early appearance. If they are, you're in for an incredible treat. Then end up in Cape Town. Keep the car long enough to visit the Capes, or see the penguins at Simon's Town. Be sure to spend some time walking around the crazy-colorful Bo-Kaap district in Cape Town and be sure to eat some Cape Malay food.

Here's a map for this final phase of the trip - https://goo.gl/maps/8G1Cb4eNYGu

Summary of days:

Joburg - total 2 days counting overnights
Safari (Kruger area or Madikwe) - 3 or 4 nights
Addo/Garden route - 2 or 3 nights
Winelands/West Coast/Cape Town - 2 or 3 nights.

Skip Victoria Falls. It's not the best time of the year to see the falls (low flow) and the excursion is quite expensive. Use those resources (time and money) elsewhere.

Simple fact: Southern Africa is seriously addictive, so be prepared to find yourselves planning your return trip before the ink on your visa stamps is dry.
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Last edited by Gardyloo; Jan 18, 18 at 8:39 am
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Old Jan 18, 18, 8:52 am
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo
Simple fact: Southern Africa is seriously addictive, so be prepared to find yourselves planning your return trip before the ink on your visa stamps is dry.
Yep, we booked flights just over 3 weeks after returning home!!

Loads of interesting tips here, especially the locations nearer CT. We won’t be able to resist returning to S’bosh and F’hoek, but we’re looking for a 3rd option that’s not too far away. Looked at Paarl this morning, but not moved by the place. Next search is Camps Bay hotels
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Old Jan 18, 18, 9:24 am
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Here are a few photos to illustrate the various landscapes. All were taken in July or August.

Three Rondavels, Panorama Route



Addo Elephant National Park




Jeffreys Bay



Garden Route



Plettenberg Bay ("Plett") sunrise



Paternoster



West Coast National Park

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Old Jan 18, 18, 12:08 pm
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Ditto/konagirl2:

Thank you for your detailed responses. I will need to research some more before I can ask more detailed questions, but I do need to share some more information based on your questions.

We are definitely on an economy flight :-), landing on day 1 in the evening and leaving on day 12 in the evening. That rules out a) driving up to Kruger the first day b) returning on day 12 from CPT on the train. My original itinerary (and I am yet to modify this based on the responses):

Day 1: rent car and drive to local accommodation
Day 2: drive to Kruger (or other park) - what are the chances of us seeing wildlife along the way? Would we be sharing the road with the wildlife as well (in the sense that are there any fences that should stop the animals from roaming here)?
Day 3 and 4: at Kruger
Day 5: morning drive back to JNB; fly to Victoria Falls
Day 6: Victoria Falls
Day 7: fly to Cape Town
Day 8 and 9: in Cape Town (one day for Table Mountain and one day for whale watching/boat ride)
Day 10: take the train to JNB
Day 11: reach JNB
Day 12: fly out

Not sure if we need to spend one full day in Victoria Falls or would being there right around 24 hours be OK? If you are suggesting we go for a safari there near Victoria Falls (I was reading a trip report yesterday from someone who did that), I am assuming we'll have to drop Kruger. In that case, how does this area compare to Kruger? Do they have more or less (variety of) animals? Is that area more or less expensive? How about from a general safety perspective?

When are the South Africa school holidays? konagirl2, you said this would be the time to avoid the NP (and maybe other attractions as well).

I am confused about the 'private game reserve' reference. Not knowing anything about how things work in South Africa, at the risk of sounding silly, let me ask: do the private game reserves have (relatively) captive animals, i.e., they are fenced off, but unlike zoos, have a larger area to roam around and they get/hunt their own food unlike zoo animals? Are the admission fees much more (I don't even have an idea of the admission fees, though I vaguely remember seeing $30 or so per person at Kruger) in the private game reserves? Is Madikwe one of the private game reserves?

I wish to focus more on nature, but family would also want to see points of interest for sure.

Typically, where do the boat tours start from - Cape Town or Hermanus or somewhere else? I think I need to do some research on Trip Advisor on these.

General question: Are the game reserves (and/or the national parks) fenced? This is the same as I ask above (in my itinerary), but let me elaborate - if they are fenced, are these fences so that animals cannot:

a) roam from one preserve to the next,
b) roam on to the road
c) come visiting the tents that the tourists and sleeping in?

konagirl2: You mentioned that Kirstenbosch is a 30 minutes drive. Does that mean that we have to rent a car in CPT, or can all these different places be visited using public transportation AND without costing much less than it would if we were to rent a car. If we were to lose out on convenience for not much difference in costs, it might be a better idea to rent a car - unless, driving is tougher! I know you did say taxis are cheap, but I will need to google to do a cost comparison...

Gardyloo: Will read your response and reply later :-)

Last edited by an_asker; Jan 18, 18 at 12:09 pm Reason: Had not seen Gardyloo's response.
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Old Jan 19, 18, 12:12 am
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Originally Posted by an_asker View Post
...
Day 2: drive to Kruger (or other park) - what are the chances of us seeing wildlife along the way? Would we be sharing the road with the wildlife as well (in the sense that are there any fences that should stop the animals from roaming here)?
...
Not sure if we need to spend one full day in Victoria Falls or would being there right around 24 hours be OK? If you are suggesting we go for a safari there near Victoria Falls (I was reading a trip report yesterday from someone who did that), I am assuming we'll have to drop Kruger. In that case, how does this area compare to Kruger? Do they have more or less (variety of) animals? Is that area more or less expensive? How about from a general safety perspective?
I already recommended you focus on two areas. You won't see wildlife driving to and from Kruger from JNB (4-5 hours each way); it's all suburbia, agricultural fields and woodland nearer Kruger. Sorry I don't have personal experience of Vic Falls, but the easiest safari options near Vic Falls logistically are Chobe river front in Botswana or Hwange in Zimbabwe. There are budget guided camping tours where you put up the tents and help with chores, up to staying on a house boat on the river. These areas are very different, but then Kruger has huge variation in habitat and landscapes too. If you have a specific desire to see something, we can try and advise. But what you see will very much depend on luck. For a first timer that's why I recommend being guided for at least part if you can afford it, as they know the land better (and have radios!), and for your first time I don't think it makes a huge difference where you choose.

When are the South Africa school holidays? konagirl2, you said this would be the time to avoid the NP (and maybe other attractions as well).
SA have their winter break at the beginning of July for 2 weeks (similarly to Aus/NZ). I wouldn't say avoid the National Parks, because a safari is one of the must-do experiences IMO. But I would be aware it is busier and harder to get the best value accommodation in the National Parks and more expensive in Cape Town. But you should be fine at the end of July 2018.

I am confused about the 'private game reserve' reference. Not knowing anything about how things work in South Africa, at the risk of sounding silly, let me ask: do the private game reserves have (relatively) captive animals, i.e., they are fenced off, but unlike zoos, have a larger area to roam around and they get/hunt their own food unlike zoo animals? Are the admission fees much more (I don't even have an idea of the admission fees, though I vaguely remember seeing $30 or so per person at Kruger) in the private game reserves? Is Madikwe one of the private game reserves?
...
General question: Are the game reserves (and/or the national parks) fenced? This is the same as I ask above (in my itinerary), but let me elaborate - if they are fenced, are these fences so that animals cannot:

a) roam from one preserve to the next,
b) roam on to the road
c) come visiting the tents that the tourists and sleeping in?
Apologies for cross-posting, but the first TripAdvisor forum sticky explains the SA safari options: https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowT...th_Africa.html

Basically yes, private reserves are generally smaller fenced areas, which will have conservation fees, guided game drives and/or walks and usually food and drink included in the overnight price. The Greater Kruger private reserves have the benefit of no fences between them and between the Kruger NP so there is a huge unfenced area.

All 'big' game reserves (private and Government run) and National Parks in SA are fenced, to stop predatory wildlife 'interacting' with the neighbouring populated areas, in particular to avoid predation on domesticated/farmed animals. All SA National Park rest camps are surrounded by electric fences for visitors' safety. You have to return to your fenced camp by gate closing time around sunset. A lot of the private reserves' sleeping quarters are not fenced and so you can be visited during the night, hence there are rules about moving around at night time.

Typically, where do the boat tours start from - Cape Town or Hermanus or somewhere else? I think I need to do some research on Trip Advisor on these.
Go to Hermanus.

konagirl2: You mentioned that Kirstenbosch is a 30 minutes drive. Does that mean that we have to rent a car in CPT, or can all these different places be visited using public transportation AND without costing much less than it would if we were to rent a car. If we were to lose out on convenience for not much difference in costs, it might be a better idea to rent a car - unless, driving is tougher! I know you did say taxis are cheap, but I will need to google to do a cost comparison...
Kirstenbosch can be visited using the open-top hop-on-hop-off bus; all the places I listed are doable from the city centre. There are lots more sights and places to visit in the wider Western Cape, which I hope to keep ticking off!
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