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Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too!!!

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lovetravellingoz

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PART ONE: PLANNING THE 2015 TRIP

PREFACE


Well my long yearned for African Trip is now just about all complete in terms of the planning and booking phase. Reading other African Trip Reports recently only increased my desire to go to Africa on safari, and has provided useful advice and tips on many aspects including on what size zoom lens to buy for getting those wildlife shots!

My travel past includes long overland 4WD trips in Australia such as retracing the Burke and Wills Exhibition route (though in reverse order) traversing across Australia from North (Gulf of Carpentaria) to South (Melbourne) - Trekking in Nepal for 23 days from Jiri to Kala Patthar (Altitude 5643m) overlooking Mt Everest Base Camp – and more recently week long cycling trips in Loire Valley, and along the Danube River in Austria.

So one aspect of my travel that I know that I enjoy is the journey, and it is not just the destination that is important. With the Serengeti Plains and other African Vistas long ago imprinted on my imagination my first trip to Africa ( I am ignoring Egypt were I am have been) was always going to include some aspect of an overland journey.

My daughter visited Africa in two phases of her 9 month post-University trip about 2 years ago. 1/ Egypt/Jordan and then down for 3 weeks in and out of JNB which included an overland “truck” safari to Victoria Falls, parks nearby as well as Kruger. And 2/ then after Europe a month in Morocco with 2 weeks trekking in the Atlas Mountains and 3 months volunteering in Togo. In helping her research her African Safari it rekindled my long held yearning to visit Africa and to mainly "go on safari", but to go on a longer overland trip than my daughter had. So it was time to travel in Africa at last.

After various research of which countries to visit and what to do, including reading posts here on AFF , on Flyertalk and on other forums and websites, it became clear that I should visit a number of countries and types of terrain, but that I wanted part of it to include the great migration. So Tanzania/Kenya was to be part of it and that meant travelling in July- September.

However South Africa, Namibia and other places all had appeal. Given time and space, some countries will have to be left to later trips.
For this trip I have managed to free up six weeks for both my wife and I.

MY 2015 AFRICA TRIP- Planes, Trains and Automobiles…..and yes wildlife too!!!

How? Well initially I had been thinking of joining some form of overland safari-truck or 4WD type overland tour such as my daughter had completed, but longer.

However:

1/ After some research I soon discovered that "self-drive" as it seems to be called in Africa is both safe and viable, and so this became an interesting option and one requiring more research.

2/ Equally it is not just one answer as road and track conditions very markedly. In South Africa the roads are good and so for many parks like Kruger one only needs only a normal 2WD rental car. Reportedly for many parts of Namibia it is likewise. However for many other countries where one will be using tracks 4WD is definitely the way to go.

3/ 4WD hire is available, and there are also firms available that offer suggested routes, and 4WD vehicles which have been modified for safari type trips. However it is easier to hire vehicles for use within one country. Crossing borders can be problematic and you need special paperwork for this. Some hire companies will arrange this, but the more countries visited, the more complex this is. I do not think one way rentals is really an option and especially over long distances as unlike car hire companies the firms are specialised as are the vehicles. So you have to come back in the main to where you start.

So to hire a vehicle yourself can be viable depending on exactly where you want to go. South Africa and Namibia it is straight forward.

I have done many 4WD trips throughout Australia. More important than the actual 4WD traction ability is normally the extra ground clearance that such vehicles have, and their extra ruggedness. From my trips I know that if one is going very remote, that one can easily get stuck, and that mechanical breakdowns can and do occur. The longer and more arduous the trip, then it is a matter of WILL occur. That is a major reason why on such longer and remote trips you normally seek to travel with other vehicles. ie if stuck, another vehicle with “snatchem” strap can easily pull you our backwards. Now I have also undertaken a number of 4WD trips in Australia in a sole vehicle ( including retracing the Burke and Wills route, visiting the Simpson Dessert, driving up the Finke River from Ayers Rock to Kings Canyon rather than on formed roads, crossing Cooper Creek near the Dig Tree when the water was windscreen deep)- but with a broad stock of parts, ample spare water and fuel and a Tirfor hand winch (better for solo travel as you can pull in any direction, whereas a power winch just pulls you forward, which is often the opposite of what you need to do), elaborate first aid kit and a number of other measures.

This is all a long winded may of saying, that on long 4WD trips in remote trips on rough trails something will happen...so you need to have the equipment, knowledge and ability to deal with a range of situations...and also be prepared to sit and wait for a passer bye or even to walk out if required (if radio/phone is not operable).

So I think that one need to ask where you want to go....and that can give different answers and how you can travel. There are certainly parts of Southern Africa that I would be comfortable hiring a 4WD and doing my own thing. Particularly if I could organise a group of friends to travel in 2 or 3 vehicles.

However for me, for this trip, I want the long overland experience. I want that extended sense of journey, and all the trials and tribulations that it will no doubt entail, as well as its joys, and moments of sheer grandeur.

I eventually came across a company called African Expedition Support (see HERE ) that ticked all of my boxes (or at least was a compromise that I was content with).

The journey that I have opted for is the 26 day overland trip from Nairobi to Victoria Falls through four countries and driving 4500km. No doubt some will think me mad.

Yes it is a group tour in that there is a small number of vehicles, BUT the big plus for myself, is that:

1/ During the day you are free in the main to drive at your own pace, and see as much of, or as little of, what you come across along the way. So if you find a village fascinating you can stay longer. You might find bird watching fascinating, and others may not and so you can tailor where you spend your time to a large extent. You do not have to drive as a convoy. You can choose to drive with another vehicle or not.

2/While the day is yours, you have some other like-minded travellers to meet up with each night to chat over a campfire and beer with. Having been a keen camper over the years, this is a combination that appeals to me.

3/ There is a support vehicle (see my comments above on remote 4WD travel) with a mechanic and a cook ( I just swapped emails with someone that went last year on the trip that I will be doing, and mid-safari one vehicle broke a CV joint. No problem as the mechanic had a spare. So he just replaced it and away they went again. Now a spare CV joint is not something that I have travelled with before. I have replaced them myself before as I am mechanically handy, but if you do not have the part.... well you might have a long wait! The guy that went last year indicated that the list of spares was most comprehensive. ie under his seat was a spare cylinder).

4/ You do have a fixed itinerary. Which can yes a negative. But then again some game parks you cannot just turn up to without pre-booking anyway. The route that I have signed up for is pretty much what I was looking for anyway, and so for me it is not an issue. Particularly as I will visit some other parks post this part of my trip.

ITENARY

All up I am planning 6 weeks for this trip for my wife and I.

I am still finalising the latter part of the trip, but this overland journey is the “hero” of this trip. Many of my trips revolve around a key reason for the trip and are normally activity based such as my last trip which included 9 days of cycling along the Danube River in Austria.

In essence the 2015 trip so far is:

15 Jul: Fly in to Nairobi from MEL.

I have redeemed 2 seats in J on Qatar Airways via QFF. This will be our first flight on Qatar Airways and its well regarded J cabin. One quirky point was that within a day of redeeming the flights, that the flight was changed with the 2 hour layover in Doha, now unfortunately stretching out to 6 hours. At least the new J QR lounge should be up and running by then, and I am hoping for it to be something spectacular.

18 Jul – 12 Aug: Nairobi to Victoria Falls over 4500km via:

• Masai Mara Game Reserve
• Amboseli National Park
• Lake Chala
• Zanzibar
• Lake Malawi, Chitimba Beach
• Kande Beach
• South Luangwa National Park
• Lusaka
• Livingstone and Victoria Falls

This Nairobi to Victoria Falls Safari is the only "group" part of our trip. The rest will essentially be our own arrangements, though we will go on some animal spotting 4WD or boat half-day trips, and will be independent travel.

13-15 Aug: Chobe National Park

Spend 2 nights visiting Chobe National Park staying in the one accommodation and doing river trips and games drives from it. I have gone for only two nights in order to get the rail option to work, as it only has limited departures.
For our Kasane Accommodation for 2 nights, which will also be our base for visiting Chobe, we after much discussion selected The Old House

1/ Staying actually in Chobe would have been too rushed given the two days
2/ It is easy, and economical, to transfer to from Livingstone to The Old House, and also for the afternoon flight from Kasane Airport to JNB. This will allow us to make the most of our 3 days/ 2 nights at Kasane/Chobe.
3/ That for us the main feature of Chobe, and point of difference from the other game areas on the rest of our trip is the water access and boat cruises for wildlife viewing. The Old House is good for this. Also canoe trips are an option too.
4/ It has good access for a game drive in Chobe
5/ It will also for our trip provide the experience of staying in a small African Town.
6/ It is very economical with good features and reviews. A lot of the Chobe options are very expensive. One we liked in the Chobe Safari Lodge was booked out already (as a sister property is behind schedule for opening, they have placed all bookings from 2 properties there).

15 Aug: Fly to JNB and overnight

16 Aug: Catch Premier Classe Train to Port Elizabeth

We are looking to do the overnight Premier Classe Train from Johannesburg to Cape Town/ or Port Elizabeth, or vice-versa. The Man in Seat 51 gives this most positive reports and it is perhaps a largely unknown hidden gem to experience in South Africa. See Premier Classe Train, It will certainly provide a contrast with the rest of our planned trip.

The train trip comes complete with a 5 course dinner and will provide another aspect of that sense of journey that I enjoy on my travels. However the train does not run that often and so scheduling is an issue which greatly affects what and when we do the other aspects of our trip.

One drawback is the Port Elizabeth Route can only be booked 6 months in advance.

16-23 Aug:The Garden Route and Cape Town..and hopefully some whale-spotting too

Hire a 2WD and drive the Garden Route. One day at Hermanus for the whale-spotting as the whales often come in extremely close to the shore here. See HERE

Finish with several nights in Cape Town. Everyone seems to rave about Cape Town, and so onto the bucket list it goes!

As it is the off-season here we will most likely book our accommodation much later, or even just book as we go.

23 Aug: Fly to Kruger NP.

23-27 Aug: Explore Kruger National Park / Self-drive

Hire a 2WD and visit Kruger National Park. We will use AVIS and car hire in South Africa is quite cheap.. It is only $300-400 for a week! This includes the one-way rental fee between Kruger are airports as we will fly in and out of two different airports to avoid back-tracking.

If you are driving up from from Johannesburg another company that looks ok is Car Hire Rates in South Africa
The accommodation in the SANPARKs is very economical when you consider the location. There are many camps to chose from.

We have elected to spend 2 nights at Lower Sabie Rest Camp in a Safari Tent (quite grand with kitchenette and en-suite), then 2 nights at Olifants Rest Camp, followed by one night at a private Lodge, Elephant Plains, in the Sabie Sand Sand (Private) Reserve

28 Aug: Explore the Panorama Route

This is a scenic road route along Mpumalanga Escarpment including the Blyde River Canyon.

Our six weeks is all about diversity and the stunning views along the Panorama Route will add to it. It will also be the chance to stretch the legs with a number of short bushwalks.

29 Aug: Fly to JNB

29 Aug : Return flight back to MEL

Have just booked today 2 J seats on Qantas. Is a 747 and have taken 2 seats in the upper cabin. Have selected seats on the right to perhaps gain a view of Antarctica if we are lucky, but evidently this is more if you are flying into JNB that from it.

ON QFF

One surprising thing of booking J flights too and from Africa is simply how much availability there is when compared to other routes.
In recent years I have mainly booked redemption on *A airlines. Booking a year out there was oodles of availability.

However the current rocky road that QF is on, made me think that it would be prudent to use up some of the million points I have had slowly been building up at QFF for some time.

Another advantage, particularly coming back is that the QFF connection is very direct whereas booking on *A is quite indirect.

TIP: On booking flight: Going over online availability opened at 2PM most days (Thursdays and Fridays seem to very), and coming back it was 10am every day.



Well that is the planning so far. Any thoughts or suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I am sure that the final trip will be tweaked somewhat yet.
 
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lovetravellingoz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

Booking in SANPARKS

The SANPARKS registrations open a little but under a year out. For August 2015 they
opened in early September, and WOW!!!, the cabins sure go amazingly quickly!! Particularly the preferred locations with say good views, or on the perimeter.So if you want particular cabins, early booking is certainly best.

I have booked for 2 nights each a perimeter Safari Tent at Lower Sabie:





And one of the bunaglows with the best view at Olifants Rest Camp.





Lower Sabie gets many recommendations for the wildlife and view from the restaurant terrace. And the view from our Olifant Bungalow is first class.To book accommdation, and for information on, any government park in South Africa see http://www.sanparks.org/ Part of the reason for choosing these two rest camps is that they have a good range of activities including night drive, day drive & 4 hour walks.

With that locked in first, I have then also booked one night at Elephant Plains. Elephant Plains Game Lodge | Kruger National Park | Big 5 Elephant Plains has had good recommendations on various forums, and online reviews. Of the up-market private reserves it is quite economical for what you get.

These three Kruger locations should give us a great range of territory combined with driving in-between in our own hire car.

This leaves me to book one night of accommodation on the Panorama Route for our last night. I have arranged it this way as I do not want to cut it too fine with our flight back to JNB to meet our Award flight home. Staying on the Panorama Route means that we can get the earlier noon flight.
 
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TomVexille

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

Sounds like an amazing trip. I'll be looking forward to reading about it when you go.
 

turtlemichael

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

I'm very envious. Our African adventure earlier this year was entirely in South Africa. The safari element, which was in a private Game Park called Monwana, part of the Thornybush Estate abutting Kruger, was the highlight and one of the best travel experiences I've ever had. The big 5 walking and grazing literally a few metres from you is breathtaking. One suggestion, if you like wine and can spare a day from the Cape Town part of your trip, drive out to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. It's an easy day trip though I could stay several days. The scenery is magnificent, the wineries excellently organised and the food at some of the restaurants top notch.
 

lovetravellingoz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

I One suggestion, if you like wine and can spare a day from the Cape Town part of your trip, drive out to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. It's an easy day trip though I could stay several days. The scenery is magnificent, the wineries excellently organised and the food at some of the restaurants top notch.
Thank you. and yes we are eyeing that off. As We are doing the Garden Route first, we may then visit Stellenbosch/Franschhoek finishing in Cape Town. At this stage I am inclined to not pre-book any accommodation and to leave it to weather and our mood at the time. We may well be sick of driving by then, and decide to spend 4 days sampling wines instead ;)

We are certainly looking to enjoy a range of different experiences over the six weeks.
 

lovetravellingoz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

BOOKING LOCAL AND REGIONAL FLIGHTS

Now that the major long-haul award flights were booked it was time to book the local flights. I did look at possibly doing this with award flights, but the various combinations for me were not attractive and so I elected to just buy the flights.

Last night I booked online the the flights:
  • from Cape Town to Skukuza Airport
  • Hoesdpruit Airport to JNB

However in trying to book online the Kasane, Botwsana to JNB flight it would not work. So I had to do by calling up today instead. This was easy enough. The operator indicated that in some African countries that they will not accept payment by credit card online (fraud).

So that is all flights done now.

We are flying in to Skukuza and out of Hoesdpruit as it makes for a nice route, vaguely like a giant S, with no backtracking. Skuluza is already in Kruger National Park and so therefore virtually the entire route is good for wildlife spotting or enjoying the scenery.

Skukuza and then SE to Lower Sabie, then driving up to Oilfants and then back to Elephant Plains, before curving through and around the Panorama Route to Hoedspruit.
 
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turtlemichael

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

Hoedspruit is an "interesting" airport. The check-in and luggage lodgement was a unique experience. As you approach the airport you pass game parks on either side of the road. On the right is a shooting game park where the brave people who like guns go. The theory is that it s better they shoot animals in an organised way in a special park rather than any old where. That is left to the evil poachers. One of the most impressive things was the skill of the gamekeepers and their knowledge about and devotion to the animals. Truly impressive.
 

lovetravellingoz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

Hoedspruit is an "interesting" airport. The check-in and luggage lodgement was a unique experience. As you approach the airport you pass game parks on either side of the road. .
Yes I had noted that.

I am still deciding on where to spend our last night in Africa. There are some good value "swanky" options in this airport game park zone. Though this would make the day prior a bit rushed on the Panorama Route.

I am still researching the Panorama Route for a good option. There is one "Honeymoon" Suite that looks quite good and it might be nice to pamper the on our last night.
 

lovetravellingoz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

BINOCULARS

Ok the next phase of trip preparation was to upgrade my old binoculars. Reading the various safari forums, a good pair of binoculars was rated as one of the most vital, if not most vital, things to have when wildlife watching. So time to upgrade an old pair that I have had for a few decades.

And having just looked through my new Nikon Monarch 5, 10x42s I have been blown away by the clarity of the view through them. They are stunningly good. Indeed on first looking through them, I now wish I had upgraded years ago (not that they were available at this price point a decade ago!). I can see these also now being used at the football next season!

I had been considering which pair to buy for a little while, but the 15% off Ebay sale push me into action as it meant the ebay price was cheaper than all over options, plus with the bonus now of earning extra Krisflyer points via the Spree Shopping Portal.

$250 delivered was a good price.

What to get?

After reading quite a few sites, and as I already have a pocket size pair of Pentax 8x21's (small, light and compact to take on long walks, or to have in your pocket just in case you need them) that I picked up recently on clearance I elected to go with some 10 x42s for when seriois wildlife watching was intended.


A number of sites favour 8 magnification due to hand-shake. many individuals prefer 10s for the greater magnifcation. That is the greater the magnification, the more that the image is likely to wobble and that rest would be required in order to view anything. 12s were universally regarded as being too prone to hand-shake.

Reading many sites including birdwatching ones, I zeroed in on the Monarch 5s 10 x42s as a great balance of quality of image vs price. The sweet spot for me was around the $300 mark.

A pair each was vital too, as the various safari sites had made it clear than not only was a pair of binoculars vital, but that you needed a pair each.

The Monarch 5s are light (which lessens hand-shake), waterproof and for me a big plus they can be used with or without eye glasses (they have adjustable cups). Most importantly they have an amazing view through them which at then end of the day is the most important thing.

If you want more info:


The Best Binoculars | The Wirecutter


MONARCH 5 10x42 from Nikon

Nikon Monarch ATB 10X42 and 8X42 Binocular Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS
 

saminkaz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

I bought the same binoculars and they have been invaluable on my three trips to Africa over the last 18 months. They are a brilliant investment. Now what kind of camera are you taking?
 

lovetravellingoz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

I bought the same binoculars and they have been invaluable on my three trips to Africa over the last 18 months. They are a brilliant investment. Now what kind of camera are you taking?
Pentax K30. I have had this digital SLR a couple of years now, and am very happy with it for the times I want great pics (as opposed to my smaller compacts and phone that I use for quick snaps etc).

One handy feature of the camera and lens is that they are both weather ( not perfect but better than normal ) to the extent that if it starts raining one can keep shooting. They are also more dustproof than normal due to better sealing.

I bought the camera with a SMC PENTAX DA 18 - 135mm ED AL DC WR lens.

For Africa I had wanted to also get a more powerful lens and have recently bought the HD PENTAX DA 55-300mm ED WR lens when it was on sale, at a great price. It had very good reviews on lens quality, with the main complaint being that unlike the smaller lens it has a screw drive which means that it has a little bit of noise when operating it. The lens is quite light for its size. The smaller lens has a direct current drive.
 
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lovetravellingoz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

ITENARY


15 Jul: Fly in to Nairobi from MEL.

I have redeemed 2 seats in J on Qatar Airways via QFF. This will be our first flight on Qatar Airways and its well regarded J cabin. One quirky point was that within a day of redeeming the flights, that the flight was changed with the 2 hour layover in Doha, now unfortunately stretching out to 6 hours. At least the new J QR lounge should be up and running by then, and I am hoping for it to be something spectacular.

18 Jul – 12 Aug: Nairobi to Victoria Falls over 4500km via:
.
I have now booked 2 one-way J's MEL to Nairobi on Eitihad.

I had booked originally with Qatar via QFF as those flights opened earlier and I wanted to be sure we had the flights as we have a fixed departure for our 4WD trip.

I was always open to try swapping to Eithad, booked via VA, as taxes and points (110,000) were lower, but was hoping a bonus would come along to sweeten the deal. Availability did not open till about after a month after Qatar via QFF though, and so I thought it best to have guaranteed seats rather than missing possibly out.

An effective 95,652 points and $77 in taxes each is a lot better than the 121,000 and $397 each we had paid. I am now 40,695K (Had to pay 5K each to cancel) and $640 better off.

Also not long after I made the QFF booking the second flight was put back getting into Nairobi at 1730. Eitihad and QR both leave MEL at 2255, but ET gets in at 1340. Also with the QFF flight in hand I was able to also now go for the day later departure on 16th July.

So less points, less taxes, and better arrival date and time, and quicker overall flight time.:D

16 Jul: Fly in to Nairobi from MEL
 

lovetravellingoz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

I have now reserved my seats on ET in the well regarded Pearl Business Class. My first flight on ET and so I am looking forward to sampling it. On the first flight on the 77W have booked the "love seat" which is better for couples as the two seats are oriented to face slightly together, whereas the pair of seats in alternate rows face away.

The other bonus I realised after reserving my seats was that our Award seats were also eligible for the complimentary Limousine Pick-up :) So that will kick off our six week African Adventure in grand style.
 

lovetravellingoz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

I forgot to mention just above that Virgin have now offered a 15% bonus on credit card transfers for November, and so I have moved sufficient points over from my Amex MR account to book two flights.
 

lovetravellingoz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

Bugga...may be no train now. The Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth Route for the Premier Classe Train has been discontinued. With the Capetown Route only running once per week, it is on days that do not suite me. :-|

Have to rethink that part of the trip now. Good news though that flights are cheap to Capetown from JNB.

Also reading more reviews many plumb for more time in Capetown and environs, than spending days do the Garden Route. So that may become the plan.
 

saminkaz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

I have found that some time in Cape Town (5 full days is a good amount), then renting a car to do the winelands and the Garden Route would provide you with great memories. South Africa offers some great scenery whilst being safe and comfortable. We leave in early February for our 3 month trip and we can't wait. If you need any advice then let me know.
 

lovetravellingoz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

I have found that some time in Cape Town (5 full days is a good amount), then renting a car to do the winelands and the Garden Route would provide you with great memories. South Africa offers some great scenery whilst being safe and comfortable. We leave in early February for our 3 month trip and we can't wait. If you need any advice then let me know.

I look forward to hearing about your 3 month trip.

We have 7 nights in the Cape Town region. So I am currently think to speand 4/5 nights in Cape Town and also visit the Wine Region and explore the coast near Cape Town. We will now skip the Garden Route and leave it for another occasion.
 
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lovetravellingoz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

Ok,


With a lot more research and pondering I have now sorted the Cape Town portion of our trip.

To heighten its flavour being different from the rest of our trip, and to take advantage of what the Cape Town Region offers we have decided to make a key part of this week a "foodies" trip with ample time to be spent enjoying the local cuisine and wines.

I have now made bookings for two of South Africa's Top Ten Restaurants and am eying off a couple more in the region.

I have so far booked the The Test Kitchen www.thetestkitchen.co.za in Cape Town and Overture in Hidden Valley, www.dineatoverture.co.za
adjacent to Stellenbosch. In each case we will opt for the extended menu with matched wine pairings of local wine. As you need to book these restaurants well in advance I have also locked in accommodation to suit.

I have booked 2 nights in Stellenbosch at the Oude Werf Hotel, www.oudewerfhotel.co.za , which has the distinction of being South Africa's oldest hotel. The current $40 Hotel Club discount sweetened the deal.

I have booked in three night in Cape Town at the Protea Hotel North Wharf Waterfront to take advantage of the Marriot Chain now having properties more widely in South Africa. I had some points expiring next Feb, and there was enough for 2 of the 3 nights we will be staying there.

That leaves two nights in between. At this stage I am leaving these unbooked. If the whales are about, then we will mosey on down to Hermanus. Evidently in August the whales are not always there. If not we will probably spend more time on the Cape Peninsula, including the Constantia Valley and the Groot Contantia
www.grootconstantia.co.za

We have booked a VW Polo via Avis for 4 days if this section (the days we are not staying in CapeTown.

For Kruger NP I have changed the vehicle to the Avanza as it is taller and so better for game viewing. With more internal room it may also make things more comfortable asa lot of time may be spent sitting in the car watching. It also has better ground clearnance and that may be handy on the way to Elephant Plains where I have heard the roughs are quite rough. While it is more expensive, at $300 for a week it is still cheap ca5 hire.
 
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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

If you get a chance, visit Babylonstoren in the wine lands near Paarl- it is one of the oldest Dutch farms and is beautiful to visit.

Also be cautious - the Cape is pretty safe as long as you are sensible and most of the people in South Africa are beautiful, but crime is high in the country.
 

lovetravellingoz

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Re: Nairobi to Cape Town: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4WD)…..and yes wildlife too

If you get a chance, visit Babylonstoren in the wine lands near Paarl- it is one of the oldest Dutch farms and is beautiful to visit.

Also be cautious - the Cape is pretty safe as long as you are sensible and most of the people in South Africa are beautiful, but crime is high in the country.
Thanks for the tip, and yes I think your latter observation has been noted by many and so yes we are building caution into our plans. I have often travelled in "risky" areas and so I am used to being prudent.
 
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