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Young couple, two weeks in South Africa, first trip! Advice?

Mount Pearl...
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Young couple, two weeks in South Africa, first trip! Advice?

Hello! Thanks for reading this! I've planned many trips for us before but this trip I think I'm going to need some help to make the most of it. There's certainly a wealth of information available here and it's a bit like taking a drink from a fire hydrant so sorry if I'm asking again what others before me have. First, a little about us. We're a young married couple who will be visiting Africa for the first time. We have about 14 days available to us. I hope this will be enough time! We're looking at coming in the beginning of September. This would work with our work schedules best, and I believe that will still be the low season in SA which will give us cheaper rates for accommodations. Another option is possibly November. I'm open to suggestions; I can be swayed! We're budget travelers. We're used to paying around $50 US/night for a hotel room. I think this will relegate us to self catering facilities, but this is fine. We're generally a lunch and supper only kind of people but if breakfast is available then it's a bonus. I wouldn't mind spending a couple nights here and there paying as much as double that to splurge (for us).

I guess what I'm having the most difficulty with is divvying up the days. I've made a list of things we'd be interested in doing. It's not a definitive list, so feel free to suggest additions or subtractions:

Cape Town Area -

Robben Island, Cape Point, Boulders Beach (or similar with being as close as possible to penguins being the main attraction), City Sightseeing Bus, Bo Kaap, World of Birds, Table Mountain Cableway, Chapman's Peak Drive, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, eat a Gatsby somewhere

Wine country - various wineries (we drink wine but we're not by any means connoisseurs. We'd be interested in tours, tastings, maybe even a night at a winery)

Hermanus - whales (we come from an area with whales so this doesn't have to be a prime focus for us)

Garden Route - scenic drive, cango caves, ostriches, Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours (stormsriver), Addo near PE

JHB - Apartheid Museum, Gold Reef City mine tour, Top of Africa, Soweto tour, Mandela House

Kruger - Thinking maybe a guided safari one day and then self drive the next? Optional add on visit to Swaziland if time allows. Seeing the Big 5 + giraffes would be a definite highlight

The idea would be to fly into Cape Town, hire a car, drive to PE, drop off the car, fly to Jozi, rent another car, drive to Kruger and back, leaving for home from Jozi. We could also do this in reverse.

A few questions regarding the above -- will there be much to see at the wineries in September? I'd imagine the grapes aren't quite growing yet that time of year. From what I've read there should be many flowers that time of year so it should be a good time for the botanical gardens. I've read that it's also a good time to visit Kruger. Also, is visiting Addo worthwhile if we're going to Kruger as well? There seems to be many game related attractions no matter where you go in SA but I'm not sure how many we should visit without duplicating efforts. I know the time of year we've chosen may not be conducive to swimming outdoors in many parts of the country but if someone could suggest somewhere in the country we could add that in without freezing that would be appreciated too. For a township tour, is it a "you've done one, you've done them all" type of thing or is there value in doing multiple ones like Langa and Soweto?

We're still getting started looking at possible accommodations. I think when we're in the Cape Town area we'll stay in Hout Bay. Based on previous suggestions in the forums, Makuti Lodge looks like a decent place and the rates seem reasonable. We're also looking at the Franschhoek Traveler's Lodge, maybe The Beautiful South in Stellenbosch, Knysna Country House as a stopping point for the Garden Route. Again, we're very open to suggestions.

This is a trip we probably won't be able to do again for a long time so we'd like to see and do as much as possible without breaking the bank. We're really excited about visiting. I just hope our budget doesn't put too much of a damper on things. I read through these threads about budgets of $10000+ for two weeks accommodations and get depressed! Thanks everyone in advance for your help!

Cape Town
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1. Re: Young couple, two weeks in South Africa, first trip! Advice?

I think you are trying to do too much. If you only have 14 days total I would do Cape Town/ Winelands/Hermanus for 7-8 days using one base (Hout Bay?) or two Hout Bay plus winelands and then drive Route 62 to Oudtshoorn and then the Garden Route 3-4 days and spend two nights in Addo. Final day fly PE to JNB and connect to your flight back to the States.

OR again 7-8 days in Cape Town region then fly CPT-JNB 1 day there (optional) and then drive to Kruger area - one day touring Blyde River Canyon and Panorama route and then say 4 nights in Kruger at two different camps in different regions of the park and then drive back to JNB to pick up your flight.

Which of these two options you choose then depends on your personal priorities. Try and do more and you will be too rushed and start to loose the experience. And then you still have lots more to do on your second visit - and your third ...... ;-)

BTW - In Hout Bay I would also look at Houtkapperspoort Cottages. In September these are fantastic value. Still Low season and for a lovely one bedroom/living room-kitchen/one bathroom prices start from R590 per cottage per night. If you stay 6 nights you get 25% discount (R442 pn) or midweek 3 nights for the price of 2 - works out at US$28 pppn!!

Beautiful views of the back of Table Mountain and down to the sea, on a wine farm and very conveniently situated close to some excellent vineyards and restaurants..

http://www.houtkapperspoort.co.za/index.php

Edited: 22 March 2011, 16:44
Pretoria, South...
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2. Re: Young couple, two weeks in South Africa, first trip! Advice?

Hi,

Wrt budget: I am taking my mother away for five days in May and our comfortable all-in accommodation (single *2) will cost me just under ZAR10,000 - around USD1,500 at current, admittedly ZAR-favourable, exchange rates. If we had been willing to share a room (not!), the cost would have been ZAR8,000, and if we had gone to a delightful self-catering place I considered, I would have paid ZAR4,200 plus food. I don't do luxury (can't afford it), but am too old (and my mother is definitely too old) to do rock-bottom basic. All this is just to put into context those USD10,000+ prices.

Take a look at the SA accommodation websites, eg www.wheretostay.co.za or the accommodation listings on www.getaway.co.za (haven't checked that URL: I think it's correct but google Getaway magazine - thanks navigator - if it doesn't work) for a different perspective. There is also www.portfoliocollection.com which I consider to be high-end!

Edited: 22 March 2011, 18:01
Tel Aviv, Israel
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3. Re: Young couple, two weeks in South Africa, first trip! Advice?

Hi there I did a lot of what you want to do when I went to SA and I had the same amount of time but I did spend 4 days in Zambia at Victoria falls. I did a tour of soweto and a gold mine tour in Jo'berg. In Capetown I did all the usuals like table mountain etc. One of the best days was a trip to cape of good hope. I did this on an organized tour and it was a great day. I did a half day wine tour. It was July which is winter so not that many grapes, but some of the buildings are gorgeous and you will be shown round and shown the process and of course there is a wine tasting. I also did a half day tour to the district 6 museum in CPT and this included a trip to a township which was fascinating. We also got to sample Shebeen which is a local drink made by the africans. Its some sort of beer and rather foul, but it was all part of the experience. I would also recommend Oudtshoorn as it has a couple fo really great attractions. There are the canga caves which are stunning and you can do either a long or short tour depending on how far or how deep into the cave you want to go. On the same tour you can visit an ostrich farm and you can even ride one which is a riot. Lastly on the same tour you can go to a cheetah preservation center and you will be allowed in the compound to pat them which is a fantastic experience.

have a great trip

angie

www.angietravels.com

Mount Pearl...
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4. Re: Young couple, two weeks in South Africa, first trip! Advice?

Thanks all for the replies! I'm going to talk it over with my wife and decide what we can trim down on. We originally had aspirations of doing Victoria Falls as well plus side trips to Lesotho and Swaziland but it is obviously way too much to get accomplished in such a short amount of time.

Van de Caab, the Houtkapperspoort looks wonderful and fits our budget! Four stars at that! I think it would be an excellent base for our Western Cape half of the trip. Thank you for all your suggestions. It'll definitely help me nailing down this itinerary into an unforgettable experience for us.

I hope I didn't offend anyone with my remark about the 10000USD+ accommodation budget. I'm sure many have good reason (and more importantly, the means) to spend that kind of money and I'm sure the advantages are commensurate with price. Besides being the deciding factor if we could afford to make the trip at all or not, we tend to view accommodations as just a place to sleep at night rather than a destination in and of itself. While the luxury is nice, I just don't think we'll be spending an extraordinary amount of time there as we'll be out experiencing SA :) It does appear that there are decent places out there like Houtkapperspoort which fall into our desired price range. It's really nice to have this forum as I hadn't and probably wouldn't have found that place on my own. I will be checking out the websites AuntieFr0mJ0zi suggested for the other half of our trip, along with the SANparks page and perhaps some more research in the Kruger forum if we decide to go that route instead of Addo.

Hi Angie! Did you spend four days at Vic Falls out of your 14 total or in addition to? Do you think it's worth doing both the Soweto and Langa township tours or just one or the other? I do think visiting a shebeen and sampling the local creations would be one of the highlights for me, although I can see my wife giving me hers to drink after taking one sip! Thank you for sharing your experiences!

One of the things that's keeping me from cutting the garden route out of our itinerary is the stormsriver canopy tour with the foefie slides. It's taken me awhile to get my wife to agree to go on a foefie slide so I don't want to let that go :) Can anyone recommend a similar canopy tour foefie slide experience either closer to CT or somewhere around JNB or Kruger?

5. Re: Young couple, two weeks in South Africa, first trip! Advice?

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