Many thanks for your guidance about Oct-Nov and February months for Safari travel! You are too kind and generous with yoru advice. It sounds as though we must figure out a way around our ,imited schedule for going on a safari! All the best, Francie THompson
Glad I could help. Good luck planning your trip!
Okay, I need some help. I am trying to plan a very special trip for next Late March/Early April 2009 for a surprise to my husband. It will be our 25th wedding anniversary and I wanted to plan a safari trip. I decided on Africa and have been reading and watching safaris. But I hate to go that far (we live in Florida) without seeing more that Africa has to offer. I have a bid on a 3 night trip to Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in and had bid on a safari and lost. I am now looking at two other safaris. I am looking at Mateya Safari Lodge (3 nights) or Mfuwe Lodge (4 nights). Which do you think is better and why?
Also, if we get the Grootbos bid and the Safari trip that you suggest, where else should we go in Africa? What is a must see? I always thought we would want to see the penguins at the tip but don't know if it is as exciting as I heard.
Thanks for all the replies in advance. I look forward to your help and suggestions.
Well, I haven't gotten any answers to the previous post and went ahead and bidded on the Mateya Safari Lodge package. I got it! Now I will see if I get the Grootbos package. I will still need answers though to my questions, so please still advise any and all tips, suggestions and/or comments.
Hi, Betsey--sorry I didn't check for your questions sooner. I was doing what I love to do most, traveling!!
I just returned from trip to Cape Town w/stop in Senegal. It's very easy to drive in CPT, just mind the side of the road. We saw the penguins and by the fact that it's one of only 2 land based colonies, the jackass penguins are quite a treat. They are sometimes only 2-3' away. We truly loved the national park and drive to the point and Cape of Good Hope. very windy hike up the hill there but worth the time.effort.
I won the first auction for Mateya but will not be going until probably next June. We did the safari at Tuningi, Madikwe and adored it. Mateya is purportedly even more luxe so it will be quite a treat. I think you'll get very spoiled. I certainly hope you will share your trip with us, so I know your thoughts and experience.
Back to the CPT part--I also bought the LL Steenberg 2 night package for the last trip and it was outstanding in every way but the included dinner. (I am way behind on my blog "out there" featured here at LL--so sorry!!)The location is excellent to access Cape Point and Garden Route. CPT area is quite compact and easy to navigate. Gasoline is about half of EU prices.
There is a "WildCard" membership you can get for pre-paid admission for all SA National
I think it pays for itself in CPT alone, because it includes Table Mtn,Cape Point and Penguins. But it also has Kruger and so much more.
I think the Grootbos pkg looks awesome, too. What a change of scenery with LL in SA!
Keep us posted, ok?
just came back from a 21 day trip to africa (kenya, tanzania, zambia, zimbabwe, south africa) and we booked the entire trip thru CC Africa.
everything was amazing. hightly recommend them. lodges, service, and all arrangements were 5stars.
would recommend booking a safari in east africa where the migration is happening versus kruger park.
we want to go back ASAP
I am envious of your fun. I travel a lot but it is usually for business.
Thanks so much for your answer. Julian just suggested that I do a new thread and have done that under General Community. But I do have some questions about your post. Where are the jackass penguins? To see them, where do you stay and come from for the day. Is there a tour that takes you there or are you better on your own.
I will definitely share my experiences of Mateya and now Grootbos-I won that one today, but it won't be until April 2009 as that is when we plan to go.
So do you suggest going to Kruger along with Grootbos and Mateya? I am a little confused about what you are suggesting I do. I am trying to figure out where to enter South Africa from the United States and such. I guess I am just so ignorant about South Africa, I don't understand all that you are saying. Sorry.
the penguins are just south of the constantia (in the small wine valley just south of the city)and are on the way to Cape Point. you can enter from the US via Joburg (JNB) or thru Cape Town (via CPT) from ATL on Delta or South African Airways or thru Eu, etc.
congrats on grootbos, too!!!
It took us a long half day to travel from constantia to the cape of good hope and back all the way around cape town city and back to to century city via the coast road and the waterfront. the city is deceptively small and compact. we could have spent the entire day by stopping for lunch but we had such a huge breakfast that morning.
no need to feel ignorant about SA--having been there twice still leaves me so un-informed but I add so much to my memory banks each time I go. I was so surprised to find the distances so manageable. the car rental is quite easy from cpt airport of any satellite rental agency.
Grab a book at the library--I recommend Eyewitness Guides to get an idea of the area around Cape Town and the totally different experience of Joburg. I even found a video of SA that gave me some insight to the country.
Just keep asking q's and we'll keep trying to add our 2 pennies.
I've never been to Kruger and really have no inclination to go there--the "Wild Card" is like the city cards you get for NYC or San Francisco or Paris or London but it's just for National Parks (like we have in the US) for paid admission. Each of the Parks like Table Mountain, the Cape Point Park, etc have admission fees and the card covers them.
Hope that helps a bit.
Message Edited by kyshel on 07-03-2008 07:39 PM
Sorry it's taken me a bit longer than planned to get back to you! I'm trying to buy a house and simultaneously preparing to leave for three weeks on safari, and between the two I barely have time to breathe. :eek:
In terms of getting from the US to SA, there are two options from the East Coast: a marathon 17-18 hour flight from the East Coast to Joburg, or flying to Europe and connecting from there to Joburg or Cape Town. Unless you have a high tolerance for long stretches on planes (personally I find 12 hours about the limit even in First) you may find the European route less tiring, especially if you can sleep on planes as both flights are overnight while the direct US-SA flight takes place during the day. You'd fly overnight to Europe, spend the day in the city of your choice, and then fly overnight to SA. From the West Coast, you also have the option of routing via Asia, connecting in Singapore or Delhi.
I'd recommend scheduling a jet lag recovery day on arrival (In Cape Town or Joburg) rather than heading straight out on safari -- going on safari entails very early mornings as that's when the animals are most active, and combining those with jet lag is not very pleasant. One thing you may want to be aware of is that while Grootbos is lovely it's more of a low-key nature experience than a safari experience, so you only have one real safari on your itinerary.
If you want to add a contrasting reserve in SA, I'd recommend the Sabi Sands (the private reserve adjoining Kruger) -- LL sometimes has some packages from Lion Sands which is a lovely reserve in that area. There are also packages from Sabi Sabi and Leopard Hills but they tend to be too short IMO (only 2 nights) and those reserves have a higher lodge density so they aren't as exclusive. The game-viewing in the Sabi Sands is the best in SA. There are flights direct from Cape Town to Nelspruit outside the Sabi Sands. Unfortunately to get to Madikwe you will need to route via Joburg and most likely overnight there as the flights are not very frequent and the reserve isn't really close to anything else.
I noticed that you were also considering a package in Zambia -- that would be a very different experience as well, especially if you did a walking safari. Zambia feels much wilder and more remote, and in many cases you'll be staying under canvas rather than in a lodge which is a great experience. However, this would add some logistical complexity as you'd need to fly from Joburg to Lusaka.
LL often has very good deals in Cape Town and the Winelands, so you may want to see if you can pick one of them up. I've seen some great packages for Le Quartier Francais, one of the top places to stay in the Winelands, as well as good deals for the Twelve Apostles in Cape Town. If you decide to go with Steenberg, you should plan on hiring a car - Constantia is lovely but a bit distant from most of the sights, restaurants, and shops.
I've read most of the guidebooks and for an overview the Eyewitness Guides recommended by Kyshel are good -- for more detail (particularly regarding logistics) I'd recommend the Footprint Guide as the Eyewitness series isn't updated that often. For Cape Town the best guide I've found is the Time Out guide. Time Out also do a guide for Joburg which is quite handy.
I don't know how much time you have, but something like this might work:
Fly in to Cape Town. Stay in Cape Town for about 5 nights, perhaps splitting between the city centre and Constantia.
Drive to Grootbos for your Grootbos package.
Drive back towards Cape Town and spend 2 nights in the Winelands.
Fly to Nelspruit and onwards to the Sabi Sands. Spend 3 nights on safari there.
Fly to Joburg and overnight.
Fly to Madikwe and end on a very luxurious note at Mateya.
I'd normally suggest doing the Winelands after Cape Town, but because you have the Grootbos package and Grootbos is much further from the airport I think it would work better to do the Winelands after Grootbos so you don't have a long drive to the airport.