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Advice on SA trip

Advice on SA trip

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Old Apr 16, 19, 11:59 pm
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Advice on SA trip

Hi everyone.
I am planning to spend 10d in South Africa with my GF in June. FIrst time there and first Safari for us.
I contacted a rep of safari.com who priced me arround 32kR for a 5d tour all incl in the Kruger Park. I think we will go for this one as we have no exp at all. Would you recommend it ?
Then we were wondering were to go and it seems that June is not the best time of the year for Cape Town so we will probably head for Durban. Am I correct here ? How long do you guys think we should stay there ? I think after the 5d safari we will be looking for something more comfy to rest a bit.

Thanks you un advance
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Old Apr 17, 19, 4:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Tom_D View Post
Hi everyone.
I am planning to spend 10d in South Africa with my GF in June. FIrst time there and first Safari for us.
I contacted a rep of safari.com who priced me arround 32kR for a 5d tour all incl in the Kruger Park. I think we will go for this one as we have no exp at all. Would you recommend it ?
Then we were wondering were to go and it seems that June is not the best time of the year for Cape Town so we will probably head for Durban. Am I correct here ? How long do you guys think we should stay there ? I think after the 5d safari we will be looking for something more comfy to rest a bit.

Thanks you un advance
Based on the price, it sounds like a more "basic" safari, but without knowing any details it's impossible to comment.

It's true that the weather in CPT can be somewhat variable in winter (and it can be a little chilly at night), but I would still seriously consider going there. During a five night stay, you'd be rather unlikely not to get at least 2-3 days of good weather. I've certainly experienced many days with perfect blue skies there in June/July.

Durban is nice enough for half a day, and you could spend some days relaxing at one of the nearby resorts such as Zimbali, and maybe do a day trip to Lesotho etc. - but unlike Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula - there isn't much I'd consider spectacular.
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Old Apr 17, 19, 11:13 pm
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Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post
Based on the price, it sounds like a more "basic" safari, but without knowing any details it's impossible to comment.

It's true that the weather in CPT can be somewhat variable in winter (and it can be a little chilly at night), but I would still seriously consider going there. During a five night stay, you'd be rather unlikely not to get at least 2-3 days of good weather. I've certainly experienced many days with perfect blue skies there in June/July.

Durban is nice enough for half a day, and you could spend some days relaxing at one of the nearby resorts such as Zimbali, and maybe do a day trip to Lesotho etc. - but unlike Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula - there isn't much I'd consider spectacular.
Hi,
Indeed it seems to be something basic. I asked the rep what option they had for 5d/4n and he priced me that. More like tours but with private accaccomodat and we only stay in Kruger Park. I think I will stick with that.
Thanks a lot for the tips on Cape. I was worried to be under the rain for 5d. We will skip Durban then.
Thanks again
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Old Apr 18, 19, 4:13 pm
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Originally Posted by Tom_D View Post
Would you recommend it?
If you would like a meaningful answer to that question, you will need to provide detailed information on the itinerary.


Johan
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Old Apr 19, 19, 3:06 am
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Hi,
I don't think this is something really fancy here => https://www.safari.com/kruger-nation...k-safari-os05/
As I am a total novice I was thinking I should start there. I am not really limited by the budget and can go up to 2-3k€/pers but only if is for an overall better experience, not just for the better level of luxury of the accommodation.
Thanks again
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Old Apr 20, 19, 8:33 am
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Hello!

I prefer SA in June or July. It's cooler, very limited bugs and cause much of the grassy things are dead, you can see some of the animals better.
But I hate hot, humid, and buggy.

There have been several 'issues' lately in Africa that didn't happen when I started going 10 years ago.

I'd only go to a private reserves, too many folks going to the general Kruger park area with cheap accomodations. Too much 'trouble', people doing stupid things to the animals, etc.

I'm not sure where you live OP. But if you have contacts in SA, the private reserves run ads in papers during 'slow' season. The pricing is relatively low. Sometimes you can find an 'And Beyond' property at a real buy.
As a US citizen, its just not possible for me to take advantage of them.

While I have been to about 60 countries, Those in Africa will always be my favorite. We did some very memorable crazy stuff we still laugh about today. The people are wonderful and were very giving to us. If one is kind to people, people are kind back.

I'm a creative person, working in a creative industry. But I never could dream I would see or experience the things that I have in Africa. I'm back there this October for almost a month, but in the northern half.

My favorite city in the world is Cape Town. And the wine region in that area is amazing. I could go on and on but will end here.
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Old Apr 20, 19, 1:23 pm
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The main issue with this itinerary is that you will be based at one camp (Pretoriuskop) for the entire length of your stay. You're stuck in one corner of the park, and the number of directions in which you can head out on game drives is limited compared to some other camps.

Pretoriuskop is arguably also not the best area in Kruger for game viewing. I'm not saying it is bad, but I do avoid it in summer because the Yellow Thatching Grass along the roads, which grows to a height of 6 ft and severely restricts visibility in many places.

Apart from that, I see nothing really wrong with the itinerary. For a novice, guided game drives are definitely the way to go, driving around yourself is not the best option for the clueless and inexperienced.

Johan
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Old Apr 21, 19, 1:18 am
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Originally Posted by Swanky Safari View Post
Hello!

I prefer SA in June or July. It's cooler, very limited bugs and cause much of the grassy things are dead, you can see some of the animals better.
But I hate hot, humid, and buggy.

There have been several 'issues' lately in Africa that didn't happen when I started going 10 years ago.

I'd only go to a private reserves, too many folks going to the general Kruger park area with cheap accomodations. Too much 'trouble', people doing stupid things to the animals, etc.

I'm not sure where you live OP. But if you have contacts in SA, the private reserves run ads in papers during 'slow' season. The pricing is relatively low. Sometimes you can find an 'And Beyond' property at a real buy.
As a US citizen, its just not possible for me to take advantage of them.

While I have been to about 60 countries, Those in Africa will always be my favorite. We did some very memorable crazy stuff we still laugh about today. The people are wonderful and were very giving to us. If one is kind to people, people are kind back.

I'm a creative person, working in a creative industry. But I never could dream I would see or experience the things that I have in Africa. I'm back there this October for almost a month, but in the northern half.

My favorite city in the world is Cape Town. And the wine region in that area is amazing. I could go on and on but will end here.
Hi,
Great input. I was not aware of the points you mentioned above. I am from France but I don't have any contact in SA. I was first concerned that those private reserves could have been less safe as a bigger one but with your comment I guess not, I was not expecting Kruger Park to be like "Disney Land"... We do not really care about the accommodation level for the Safari, but we won't hesitate to pay the price for a more exclusive experience. Do you have any specific recommendation, otherwise I guess I would find it online.

Regarding the time of the year, June may be compromised for us, but I think we would also like to go on a sunny place to lay down on the beach so I think our next window should be around September/October, Cape Town seems to be the consensus here
(I must admit your comment makes me regret not to go there in June )

Thanks again
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Old Apr 21, 19, 1:28 am
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Originally Posted by johan rebel View Post
The main issue with this itinerary is that you will be based at one camp (Pretoriuskop) for the entire length of your stay. You're stuck in one corner of the park, and the number of directions in which you can head out on game drives is limited compared to some other camps.

Pretoriuskop is arguably also not the best area in Kruger for game viewing. I'm not saying it is bad, but I do avoid it in summer because the Yellow Thatching Grass along the roads, which grows to a height of 6 ft and severely restricts visibility in many places.

Apart from that, I see nothing really wrong with the itinerary. For a novice, guided game drives are definitely the way to go, driving around yourself is not the best option for the clueless and inexperienced.

Johan
Hi,

Thanks for those details. While looking at the best time to do a Safari in SA, I found June as a "ok" period. I guess between June and October I should not be bothered by the the Yellow Grass, but this is the kind of details you do not find easily online

I think we will look closer to a better spot then, I was expecting Kruder Park to be a safe bet, but if it filled with tourists with limited games drives, I guess the experience could be disappointing (and prevent animals from coming closer maybe ? )

Thanks again for you precious help
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Old Apr 21, 19, 2:30 pm
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Originally Posted by Tom_D View Post
I guess between June and October I should not be bothered by the the Yellow Grass
Yes, that's right.

June = winter = dry season = grass dries out and withers, many trees lose their leaves = visibility generally good.

Originally Posted by Tom_D View Post
I was expecting Kruger Park to be a safe bet
By and large it is a safe bet.

There are some limitations, and in certain ways the experience can be a bit annoying at times, but those you either just have to accept or work around.

Simply by virtue of its size, Kruger offers scenic diversity and animal numbers that no private reserve in the country can ever hope to match.

In my very extensive experience, the game viewing in Kruger is at least on par with what private reserves offer, but usually much better. It probably helps that I know Kruger almost as well as the back of my hand, but even less frequent visitors should experience excellent game viewing most of the time. Novices will need the services of a guide to make the most of the experience.

Having said that, the game viewing in Kruger does differ from that in private reserves in several respects. Which experience is the most appealing is a matter of personal preference. The main differences are that private reserves offer a degree of exlusivity, and that they in most instances can drive off road.

Originally Posted by Tom_D View Post
if it filled with tourists with limited games drives
Kruger is not filled with tourists all the time, and not everywhere.

The key here is to avoid school vacations and certain long weekends. Certain parts of the park (mainly the north) also attract fewer visitors. If you know the park well, you can also plan your game drives to avoid the busier roads, even in the most popular parts.

Game drives are limited in the sense that you may only use the public roads if you are in your own vehicle or a commercial safari vehicle. If you go on a morning/afternoon/night drive organized by SANParks,the guide can use roads closed to the public.

There are also gate hours, i.e. you cannot go on a game drive between the time that the camp gates close in the evening and the time they open in the morning. Again, SANParks game drives are excepted.

Johan
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Old Apr 22, 19, 7:41 am
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Has anyone seen the pile up of cars on you tube? The drives when an animal is spotted.
I'll admit to not having any experience on a public drives in Kruger. But what I've seen on youtube, that is one experience I'll pass.

john rebel sound like he has more experience in this area and I'll defer to him.

Do what you can afford now. We aren't promised any tomorrows.
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Old Apr 22, 19, 9:19 am
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@johan rebel & @Swanky Safari
Thank you both for your good advice. Indeed I have no issue to pay the price to avoid the crowd and really enjoy the experience. Worse things here I think is the amount of people that can ruin the all scenery.
I won't do it every year so let's make it really memorable.
I really value your point on game viewing on public or off road, that is not something I was aware off which should make the private/ SANParks experience way better.

Thanks again for taking time out to answer my question
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Old Apr 22, 19, 1:59 pm
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Originally Posted by Tom_D View Post
I really value your point on game viewing on public or off road, that is not something I was aware off which should make the private/ SANParks experience way better.
Let me clarify this.

In the Kruger National Park (KNP) you can:

- go on a game drive in your own or rented vehicle. You may only use the designated public roads, and only at certain times (roughly sunrise to sunset, so times vary seasonally).

- go on a guided game drive organized by a private commercial operator. This will generally be in an open safari vehicle (OSV). Same rules as above apply.

- go on a game drive organized by SANParks. Their guides may, in addition to the public roads, also use certain management roads and fire breaks. In addition, they may drive at hours that others may not. This allows for game viewing in places to which one otherwise has no access, and at times when there is no other traffic (well, when there should be no other traffic. In certain parts of Kruger there's a surprising amount of traffic at night). In other words, you get a degree of exclusivity. SANParks guides may not
go off-road, but I've known them to do it anyway on more than one occasion (Sssh!).

In private game reserves:

- the network generally consists of gravel roads or two-track trails. This network is much denser than in the KNP and guides can leave the tracks and drive off-road where conditions allow.

- game drives are per definition guided and conducted in 4x4 OSVs.

Just to confuse everybody, it is necessary to distinguish between private reserves on private land, and those operating concessions in the KNP and other national parks. The latter are subject to SANParks rules and regulations on off-road driving, which are a lot more restrictive than on private land, where anything goes.

Now for the tricky matter of what is "way better". I'll try to keep it brief.

Obviously, the ability to go off-road allows you to get close to animals, and the dense road network as well as the fact that most private lodges use trackers makes it easier to look for and find specific species/animals. In the KNP there's a greater element of luck involved (more so if you are self-driving than when on a guided drive), but that is to a certain extent made up for by the fact that you can drive greater distances and cover larger areas in the same amount of time.

Although private reserves specialize in getting guests up close and personal, in the KNP you can sometimes get much closer to animals. Or rather, the animals get much closer to you. This is partly because many animals in the KNP are totally blasť about cars, and partly because a closed vehicle makes it perfectly safe.

Private reserves offer exclusivity, but only up to a point. Very few (usually the very expensive ones) offer single vehicle sightings. More commonly you have to share with two to four other vehicles. It is also quite common for each vehicle to be restricted to a time slot (ten minutes or so), after which they have to leave the sighting to make room for the next vehicle.

There's a lot more to be said about private reserves vs. self-drive vs. guided drives in national parks, but this will suffice for now. Happy to answer specific questions, though.

Johan
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Old Apr 22, 19, 2:28 pm
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Originally Posted by Swanky Safari View Post
Has anyone seen the pile up of cars on you tube?
Sure, but . . .

Don't jump to conclusions. Yes, you do get absolutely terrible traffic jams, but far from all the time, and not everywhere.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the KNP is best avoided at certain times of the year. I definitely won't set foot there during school vacations etc. Beyond that, it is a matter of carefully planning your game drives. Needless to say, knowing the park really well definitely helps here.

I've done game drives in the busy south without meeting a single vehicle for just under four hours. I've gone down a main tar road for something like 60 kilometers without meeting a single vehicle (yes, that surprised me too). I've had entire prides of lions relaxing on the tar road, without any other vehicle in sight. Coming back that same tar road an hour later, the same pride was still there, and still no other vehicles around. This has happened not once, but several times, on different tar roads. I've had numerous kills entirely to myself for up to an hour, in several cases along tar main roads. And so forth.

In private reserves, unless you go to the often very considerable expense of booking sole-use-of-vehicle, you share with up to nine other guests. I can guarantee you that at least half of them can't shut up for even a minute. When I drive in Kruger, absolute silence reigns. I decide when to drive. I decide where to drive. I decide when to stop, and for how long. At private reserves I have to put up with a vehicle full of excited and chattering tourists staring at a bunch of sleeping lions for up to an hour.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against private reserves. I've visited tons of them, and still go frequently. I have of course now narrowed my choices down to those that can offer a certain amount of flexibility to cater to my specific interests (let's face it, I'm hardly your typical run-of-the-mill safari guest). Even then I need to take a break every now and then and head to Kruger to do my own thing. I get better (by my definition) game viewing in the bargain.

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Old Apr 23, 19, 1:25 pm
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@johan rebel
What I found obvious to me is not anymore
Joke aside, I think I got your point. I think it would drive me crazy to be stuck with 10 over excited people in place like this we you only want to observe nature.

From what you explained (and you did it pretty well) I guess the better option for us is to try Kruger for a couple of days. the first days we should go on guided games, maybe the one organised by SANParks, or by private operators and if we feel confident try to do it on our own. I guess if we particularly like a place with the tour we could go back there.

I do not want to abuse your time since you already answered to many questions, but I some brief questions:
- With your experience, do you think the "off road" option makes a big difference in term of species you can encounter ? Are there any type of animal that avoid main tracks/roads ?
- Do you think that after a couple of guided games we should have enough preparation to do it on our own ?

Thanks again for you help
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