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South Africa Solo

TomCC

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Jan 2, 2018
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Hi everyone,

Taking advantage of the recent QF international double status credit promotion have booked in a two week trip to South Africa over new years (late Dec-mid Jan). Only definitive plan was to be in Cape Town for the cricket test 3-7th. This being a fairly impulsive booking have done little planning or research, being South Africa naturally would love to see a safari or possibly go up to Victoria Falls. Is there a logical itinerary to get around after the initial flight from Johannesburg down to Cape Town? Are the other cities on the southern coast such as Port Elizabeth or Durban worth a visit given a two week timeframe?

Any thoughts/feedback/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Flexible with budget and happy to consider a range of options whether high or low. Unsure if RSA is the best place to do a solo trip but ticks of a lot of my interests and always wanted to see a test at Newlands so am looking forward to it.

Cheers
 

JohnM

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Travelling solo is no problem. Renting a car is straightforward, with the benefit that they drive on the left if you are not familiar with driving on the right.

Kruger Park is an easy drive from JNB on an excellent dual-carriageway freeway if you want to do your own thing in terms of wildlife-watching. Otherwise there are any number of private game reserves.

Vic Falls is worth visiting IMO, but you only need a couple of days there. If there's been good rains by then and the falls are bursting, the Zambian side is better for viewing; the Zim side gets obliterated by spray.

Cape Town is a beautiful place and it's well worth some touring around the wine regions around there as they are very scenic and the wineries spectacular.
 

TomCC

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Travelling solo is no problem. Renting a car is straightforward, with the benefit that they drive on the left if you are not familiar with driving on the right.

Kruger Park is an easy drive from JNB on an excellent dual-carriageway freeway if you want to do your own thing in terms of wildlife-watching. Otherwise there are any number of private game reserves.

Vic Falls is worth visiting IMO, but you only need a couple of days there. If there's been good rains by then and the falls are bursting, the Zambian side is better for viewing; the Zim side gets obliterated by spray.

Cape Town is a beautiful place and it's well worth some touring around the wine regions around there as they are very scenic and the wineries spectacular.
Thanks mate. I don't post a lot but have enjoyed yours and many others trip reports for various locations. A lot of inspiration.

Had a couple of terrific trips to Japan as well as Sri Lanka and SIngapore in the past year but never ended up with the motivation/courage to write it up here.
 

Daver6

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Recently did the following. Flew into Port Elizabeth. Couple of nights there, followed by a couple of nights at Kwandwe private game reserve (couple of hours drive from PE). Then four nights in Plettenberg Bay, two in Franschoek and three in Cape Town.

Don't bother staying in PE. Nothing special. Plettenberg Bay was worthy of a visit. Great beach, places to eat/drink and the Robberg Nature Reserve is quite spectacular. We essentially landing up driving the Garden Route.

The advantage of the game reserves in the south are that they are malaria free (if that's a concern for you).

Going solo is no problem. Roads are in excellent condition and drivers are courteous.

Tell us more about the type of things you'd like to see or do. What interests you? Any questions, just ask.

Eating and drinking in South Africa is dirt cheap and excellent quality. Accomodation can get expensive and you're going in peak season.
 

JohnM

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In Kruger, malaria is only a (minor) risk in the far north of the park, IIRC. It's a fairly long way to get up there and needs extra days, so it tends to be not so heavily visited.
 

TomCC

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Recently did the following. Flew into Port Elizabeth. Couple of nights there, followed by a couple of nights at Kwandwe private game reserve (couple of hours drive from PE). Then four nights in Plettenberg Bay, two in Franschoek and three in Cape Town.

Don't bother staying in PE. Nothing special. Plettenberg Bay was worthy of a visit. Great beach, places to eat/drink and the Robberg Nature Reserve is quite spectacular. We essentially landing up driving the Garden Route.

The advantage of the game reserves in the south are that they are malaria free (if that's a concern for you).

Going solo is no problem. Roads are in excellent condition and drivers are courteous.

Tell us more about the type of things you'd like to see or do. What interests you? Any questions, just ask.

Eating and drinking in South Africa is dirt cheap and excellent quality. Accomodation can get expensive and you're going in peak season.
Thanks for that.

Is self-driving pretty much the only option? Was hoping to base myself in Cape Town a few days see the cricket, table mountain, Robben Island, coast, wineries preferably without a car. Love food but going solo on this one so don't think I'll be doing much fine dining.

What I'm currently thinking:
- 2 days Johannesburg
- 5 or 6 days based in Cape Town
- Victoria Falls and/or another safari for the remainder (5-6 days but may be broken up)
- 1 night or same day return to Johnannesburg (departs 6.50pm in the evening)

Whats the best way to book flights internally in South Africa? I know BA offer a oneworld option through Comair but the Qantas website won't let me input JNB-CPT. Is there a way to book through the BA website and credit points/status to QF?

Cheers again really appreciate the comments.
 

JohnM

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I'm sure you could easily get tours out of Cape Town to the wine regions. Or, as Stellenbosch which is wine central isn't far out of CT, spend a day or two there and I'm sure there would be plenty of day tours out to wineries and around the area.

Why should going solo stop the fine dining? :eek:;):p

There's not much in Jo'burg, although a half day tour (many on offer) out to Soweto to the Mandela house, museums, memorials is informative.

You can fly to Kruger and avoid the 6-hour drive. That would save basically two days that you could use in the park.

Just book direct on Comair and input your QF FF number in the FF field would be my suggestion. Failing that, just make sure to get your FF number entered at check-in. It will be simple.

If you decide to go to Vic Falls, even flying in from JNB around the middle of day 1 and out on the equivalent departing flight the next day is enough to see the falls from the ground, do a sunset boat trip on the river (huge array of levels to choose from and a must-do IMO), and take a helo ride over the falls (well worth it). It would be an effective use of your last day before taking the evening QF bird back to SYD, IMO.
 

Daver6

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You should have no problem adding the BA flights at the time of booking to your QF flights. Might need to call up if you can't do it online though.

If you are in J or SG (or above), I'd definitely fly BA just for the SLOW lounges. They are brilliant.

Not sure it's worth spending time in JNB unless there are specific things you want to see/do there?

I'd stay in Fresnchoek over Stellenbosch. Many of the better hotels will provide a free shuttle service. Taxis are available or just walk (but not advisable at night outside of the town). There's also the wine tram that takes you around. Plenty of options to avoid drink driving :)

Cape Town you don't need a car. Uber is safe and cheap.

Would recommend lunch Le Petite Ferme :)
165327
 

craven morehead

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Thanks for that.

Is self-driving pretty much the only option? Was hoping to base myself in Cape Town a few days see the cricket, table mountain, Robben Island, coast, wineries preferably without a car. Love food but going solo on this one so don't think I'll be doing much fine dining.

What I'm currently thinking:
- 2 days Johannesburg
- 5 or 6 days based in Cape Town
- Victoria Falls and/or another safari for the remainder (5-6 days but may be broken up)
- 1 night or same day return to Johnannesburg (departs 6.50pm in the evening)

Whats the best way to book flights internally in South Africa? I know BA offer a oneworld option through Comair but the Qantas website won't let me input JNB-CPT. Is there a way to book through the BA website and credit points/status to QF?

Cheers again really appreciate the comments.
I will be in CPT for a week 23/06 - 30/06 looking to do similar agenda to yourself. Flying down from DUR and will pick up a hire car at CPT Airport.

"Whats the best way to book flights internally in South Africa? I know BA offer a oneworld option through Comair but the Qantas website won't let me input JNB-CPT. Is there a way to book through the BA website and credit points/status to QF?"

This can only be done over the phone and it is rare to get someone in the call centre who has enough experience to understand "Long Sell" I will try and find the link I posted about this. I have used a combo of over the phone bookings and paid flights for internal travel with BA.

Cheers CM
 

craven morehead

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Well I nailed it !!! :D:D:D after being told by Qantas agent it wasn't possible I am now the proud owner of 2 x J award tickets on BA (Comair) JNB - DUR return. Quoted $680 pp cash end result 36k points & $188 pp. I asked the lady about the "long sell" she had no idea but was willing to ask around the office. In the interim I found some info on FT but in the end she didn't need it as someone in the office knew what is was :cool::cool::cool:
Did I mention how much I love this forum :):)

The long sell format is:

0 (zero), flight #, Class, date, city pair, and then nn (for need need) and the number of seats.

So an example below

0AA1P12MARJFKLAXNN1

Hope that helps. The lady I dealt with who was fantastic and keen to learn asked around her call centre of 30 people and only one lady with 17 years experience could tell her how to do it and point her in the right direction.
 

TomCC

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Jan 2, 2018
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Thanks a million again all for everyones input!

Didn't have any particular reason to stay in Joburg long, but felt arriving after 3pm may be a hassle/waste of an evening to then immediately find a flight to Cape Town etc. even flying over in J, 14 hours is a long time to be on a plane (+ doing a zigzag as I start from Perth...) and thinking that theres surely something worth seeing there that could occupy me for for a day/2 nights (& heard somewhere that can get in and out to a nice area of the city fairly conveniently on the train).

Thanks for mentioning Franschhoek & Stellenbosch does look very nice and would be good to stay a night or two that.

Now guess I just need to decide whether in the second week to make the effort to get to Victoria Falls (& how best to approach that) and/or to do a safari (is Kruger generally considered the best region or could potentially be tied into the Vic Falls visit?).

Bit confused on the whole long sell thing, but basically the gist of it is that I can't do it without going over the phone? Even retrospectively claiming points?

Cheers
 
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Daver6

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I too did the trip from PER. I landed up flying the day before to SYD, staying over night at the Rydges and taking the 14 hour flight the next day. Given that it's an all day time flight (according to the body clock as well) its not too bad. There should be several flights down to CPT in the evening. However, you can just break the trip up and stay the night at an airport hotel and take a flight the next morning.

If you stay at JNB, there is a IC right across the road. Super convenient but very expensive. I've also stayed at the Southern Sun O R Tambo previously at about 30% of the cost. I'd do that again. Not fancy, but decent size clean room and a decent meal at the bar. They have a free shuttle or you could just walk it too. There are a few other options. @JohnM has a favourite that I can't recall but I'm sure he'll pipe up.
 

JohnM

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I've stayed at City Lodge Hotel at JNB several times. I like it, price is (or was) very reasonable and it's a short walk past the IC to its location at the back of the carpark, and all under cover from the terminal.
 

TomCC

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Thinking about it more am keen to get to Cape Town that evening and start off with a couple of days in Franschoek, but with having to purchase a separate ticket for JNB-CPT does leave me open to the risk of any delays so might have to go with an airport hotel or stay in Joburg the night.
 

JohnM

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Stay at the airport. Don't go downtown. No reason to.

I think you'd be OK to connect to CPT that night, but you'd arrive fairly late. I reckon best overnight at JNB and cruise down to CPT the next morning.
 

Daver6

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I agree with @JohnM. You can get a decent night sleep in JNB at an airport hotel. Make as early/late start as you like the next day and be fresh to drive from CPT to Franschoek which is all of an hour.

I spent a bit of time researching different hotels in Franschoek. If you have questions, just ask them here.
 

TomCC

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Have noticed a few have done Hwange, CHobe & Kruger.

What I am looking at is a 7 day package taking in Hwnage, Chobe & Victoria Falls, perhaps something along the lines of:

or

The price of excess of $3k quoted is probably about the max I would want to budget, so potentially could look at a cheaper option of flying to Vic Falls from Cape Town, couple of days there just to see the Falls then the remainder through some sort of package through Kruger (not going to self drive, prefer to have some local knowledge to help!). Or just spending the 7 around Kruger and missing Zimbabwe altogether.

So I suppose it comes down to whether
1. Vic Falls is worth it in January
2. Hwange & Chobe make for a better experience of a safari than Kruger. Have heard that Kruger has more density of wildlife, but all are good and Hwange & Chobe are more remote etc.

So many options! So would love to hear more on thoughts and experiences!
 

JohnM

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You definitely do not need local knowledge or help to self-drive Kruger. It's easy-peasy with good roads, park maps, rest camps where you can stay or stop for a coffee and picnic spots with toilets. Just be aware that in game parks you must be off the roads and inside gated camps between sunset and sunrise - but in January the days will be long.

My experience of both Kruger and Hwange would lean me towards Kruger for greater wildlife sighting.

January is early-ish wet season and it will be hot. Generally speaking, the wet season, particularly late in the wet season, is not regarded as the best time to spot wildlife. Two reasons: they disperse widely if many pools of water are available (in the dry season, they congregate at the fewer water points) and if the grass has grown a lot, they can be more easily concealed.

That said, it is all dependent on if, when and with what intensity the wet season occurs.

But it could mean Vic Falls is roaring - in which case make sure to view from the Zambian side and go to Devil's Pool if it's open.

Chobe park wetland, very near Kasane in Botswana is a great place to do sunset boat trips and is famed for the elephants that wade into the water to feed on the grass and splash around.

Of the two tours you showed, my inclination would be to the Chobe, Vic Falls, Hwange package as ticking a good range of boxes.

Whatever you do in Africa is going to be a great experience, especially if you have never been before. Just do what you feel comfortable doing; you won't go wrong. As I say to people: "Africa is more addictive than heroin!" It will only make you want to go back.
 

vetrade

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We have travelled to all the places you have mentioned including a stay in Vic Falls for the NY. Your biggest problem is that you will find 2 weeks just not long enough so I would urge caution in trying to visit too many places. Ultimately your trip will only just whet your appetite for more so set your own priorities based on your personal preferences.

Some comments for you to consider:
Google all suggestions to decide if they're for you.
Since you live in PER, next time consider flying SAA PER - JNB to save yourself lots of time. Plenty of availability to book with Velocity points (if you have them) via the VFF call centre - and SAA on that route are the equal of QF's SYD - JNB.

On a 2 week trip don't bother with anything in JNB - there are many other things more worthy of your time.

CPT: Table Mountain is a must see; Lions Head not so much as it's a bit of a trek and since TM overlooks it, all the views are best seen from TM. Suggest you stay at or near the V&A Waterfront - many excellent restaurants at very moderate prices. Read up on Robben Island - if Mandela hadn't been jailed there no one would bother visiting as it is just barren. Uber is excellent in CPT but it's also well worth getting a hire car for some self driving. The road south through Camps Bay / Chapman's Peak to the Cape Lighthouse won't take too long but it has some great scenery.
The wine areas (Stellenbosch etc) are only an easy 1 hr drive from CPT. We did it on a day trip and saw everything we wanted. Yes the wineries are all nice but how many do you want to see? For a "blow your mind" experience book well ahead to have lunch at Delaire Graff Estate vineyard / winery - it is owned by Laurance Graff, a diamond billionaire and has magnificent sculptures and artwork throughout the grounds and buildings. Fabulous restaurant with some of the best views you can imagine.

Vic Falls - Most things are in a relatively small area so not hard to see plenty in not much time, mostly on foot. In late Dec / early Jan the flows over the falls should be moderate. Devil's Pool is accessed via a boat from the Royal Livingston Hotel but if water volumes over the falls are too high they cancel (unlikely to be a problem for the time of year you're going but seasons can vary). I would rate the experience of DP as 15 out of 10.
After DP we walked through the gate to the falls from the Royal Livingstone. RL guests get free admittance to the falls - but even if you're not staying there you can just fill in the guest book at the gate with a bogus name and room number and breeze through without a problem.
Chopper flight over VF - another "must do" we used Bonisair and they were very good. Zambezi river cruise - suit yourself

After VF we spent a few days at Imbabala Lodge which has a huge leasehold on the banks of the Zambezi right on the border with Botswana. They arrange a bus to collect you from VF. Fantastic game drives with big elephant, giraffe, buffalo and zebra herds plus lions etc and they have their own dock for river cruises to see hippos and travel up river. At night game came right up to the door of our rondavel.

Friends did a tour to Hwange and were disappointed..........

You can fly or drive (6 hrs) to Kruger - but by the time you add in pre and post flight time I doubt if flying is really any quicker overall. if you decide to go to Kruger definitely stay at a private game reserve, say, in the Sabi Sands area, rather than self drive through the publically accessible areas of Kruger NP, where you are not allowed to drive off the roads in search of game. Kruger has the disadvantage that you consume virtually a full day each way in just getting to or from there. That takes a sizeable chunk out of your 2 weeks so maybe there are better options than Kruger on this trip.
 

JohnM

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Since you live in PER, next time consider flying SAA PER - JNB to save yourself lots of time. Plenty of availability to book with Velocity points (if you have them) via the VFF call centre - and SAA on that route are the equal of QF's SYD - JNB.
I can't see whether the OP lives in PER, but he was wanting to take advantage of DSCs on the latest QF international DSC promotion, so SAA would be out.
 

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