African Options

Old May 25, 19, 5:22 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 2
African Options

Hi all,

Have been browsing through the various threads here as I am in the process of booking a two week trip to Africa in early January (going solo and have never been before). First week is going to be down in Cape Town, Franschoek, Garden route, but the second lot of eight days is what I am currently trying to figure out:

Option One
Fly from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, 7 day Safari taking in Hwange, Chobe and Vic Falls. Then back to Joburg on last day to fly back to Australia. Safari package is a bit over approx $3k AUD which is about the maximum I'd like to spend but looks fantastic. Obviously then there is the cost of flying Cape Town-Victoria Falls-Johannesbug to also account for.

Option Two
Fly back to Joburg from Cape Town then spend the 7/8 days or so through Kruger & various game reserves, preferably also a guided safari.

Option Three
Fly Cape Town - Vic Falls spend a couple of days there just to see the falls, heli-ride, sunset boat cruise etc. Then fly back to Joburg and then go on a shorter four to five day safari.

So I guess the most pertinent questions are, knowing it's the second week of January (presuming school holidays?)
- Relative merits of Kruger vs Hwange &/or Chobe. Know Kruger has greater density of wildlife and would mean less flying around southern Africa, but apparently based on the short research I've done all that you can't see at Hwange & Chobe are the rhinos. Is that correct?
- Victoria Falls in early-mid January, I understand this is the start of the wet season so may not be as spectacular as it could be? Have heard it is still worth it though.
- Any recommendations of particular tour companies. These guys have stood out to me for the Vic Falls, Hwange, Chobe part.
Jenman Safaris (can't post links yet sorry!)
While what I have proposed appears quite upmarket and would be fine budgeting for it (not like I get the chance to go to Africa every year), I am going solo so would be willing to consider other options!

Really would appreciate any thoughts or comments as to y potential options as it is very difficult to make a decision which way to go!


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Old May 29, 19, 10:41 am
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Our trip report may help?

Our African Safari (s)
ranles is offline  
Old May 29, 19, 11:45 am
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My only input for a solo traveller would be to consider Stellenbosch instead of Franschhoek. There is, IMO, more ‘life and interest’ in the former, thanks to the University.

CPT Trip Reports linked in my signature
T8191 is offline  
Old May 29, 19, 1:25 pm
Join Date: May 2014
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All my research for our February trip show very wet conditions at Chobe but falls will be full so yes wet but spectacular.
We chose Kruger for a four night. Our plan is Cape Town, winelands, Joburg to Kruger back to Joburg and up to Vic Falls two days back to Joburg and home to NA
I did a lot of research on this site as well as others and spoke to several African travel specialist.
LillianJ is offline  
Old Jun 5, 19, 3:08 pm
Join Date: Jun 2015
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I will say if you go for Option Two, consider flying directly to MQP from CPT instead of to JNB. From there you can either hire a driver to take you into Kruger or there is a small (expensive) plane that will hop you over there.

I just got back from a trip that included 4 nights in the Sabi Sand reserve at an all inclusive lodge with ranger and tracker and I would highly recommend it. It is quite a drive from the MQP airport (2.5-3 hrs depending on traffic) and if I had to do it over again I would've splurged for the short plane ride.
dan9124 is offline  
Old Jun 6, 19, 6:41 am
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2 weeks (including allowing for tiredness / jet lag) is quite short to try and do 3 regions. It depends if you like whistle-stop travel or not. You can fly direct to the Vic Falls area from Cape Town or Johannesburg or MQP (Kruger Mpumulanga International Airport) but, Johannesburg is most affordable, and you have to think about logistics if you want to safari in Kruger (gate opening / closing if self driving in the National Park, or check in and check out if going to a private reserve).

Option 1. I suspect for that price you will do day trips into Chobe riverfront and stay overnight in Hwange. The riverfront from Kasane can get quite busy (like Kruger National Park self-driving in January if you pick the busier south) whereas Hwange I think should be quieter in terms of vehicles. You'll see elephants and it is pretty, with lots of other wildlife. In 5 days you should see lions and you probably have a better chance of seeing cheetah than in Kruger (very area dependent). The best way to see predators is at dawn, so staying in or as close to the Park as possible is key. A good thing with this option is the flight timings work well from Cape Town and back to Johannesburg.

Option 2. You can save time flying directly to the Kruger region from Cape Town (and fly back to Johannesburg) but it costs more than flying in and out of JNB. For AU$3000 you could find budget lodges that do no-single-supplement fully inclusive and/or do self driving in the Kruger National Park. I would personally opt for a bit of both. The lodges have quite a regimented timetable. With 7 days, some people can get a bit fatigued, so having some flexibility of driving yourself is good. And if you are willing to stay in budget (shared ablutions and kitchen) accommodation you can save a lot of money as a solo traveller in the National Park. But the south of Kruger will be busy if it is still the school holidays. Private reserves won't be - they limit the number of cars in an area. (Look at Timbavati, Manyaleti, Klaserie for budget reserves, unfenced from the national park. Consider hiring a car and driving yourself between lodges to save on transfer costs.) In a private reserve you would likely be unfenced and would feel quite remote because of the way the lodges are located. Whereas with Chobe and Vic Falls, you are probably spending most of the evenings in a more urban setting. With 5-7 days within the Kruger area (National Park and/or reserves) you have a good chance to seeing all of the 'Big 5' or indeed the 'Super 7' (including cheetah and wild dog). Cheetah only occur in certain areas, so they are hard to see, but wild dogs are doing well and leopard are common, just hard to see for more than a fleeting glimpse! The south and central parts of Kruger probably have a higher density of general wildlife. The far north of Kruger in January is excellent for birding. But, if you self drive in the National Park while it is still the school holidays then you have to expect the roads and sightings in the south to be busy.

Option 3 is more expensive because you are doing lots of activities and because of the cost of transfers to make all of that happen. One logistics pain is, you could fly direct from Livingstone to MQP (KMIA) but it doesn't arrive until 15:30 or so, which misses the private lodge afternoon game drive. It is possible (just) to get within Kruger NP as the gates close if you are self-driving. But either way you effectively lose a day to travel.

If you really want to see lots of wildlife, I would go for a longer safari option and maximise your time within the parks. If you want an adrenaline experience and/or you can afford to flit around taking in lots of paid-for activities, then your option 3 will give you a more varied experience.
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