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Planning a trip to South Africa - any 'must see' recommendations

(25 Posts)
footyfan Thu 12-Feb-15 04:00:35

I'm planning a two week trip to South Africa later this year (April or May). It'll be with my DH and three year old.
I want to go to Cape Town and maybe Kruger, other than that I don't really have a clue where to go. I was thinking about the Garden Route, but a friend has done it and thinks we might find it a bit boring.

Has anyone got any recommendations - either for places to go, or any amazing hotels (that'll take a young child)!

Thanks!

SquirrelledAway Thu 12-Feb-15 11:06:42

We took a 9 and 16 yr old last summer. Not sure I would go up to the Kruger as that's a malarial area - if you stay around the Cape then you can still do the Big 5 and not worry about anti malarials.

Lots of things to do, we covered Cape Town to Port Elizabeth:

Cape Town - Table Mountain, aquarium, beaches, Cape of Good Hope, penguins at Boulders beach, the Waterfront. We rented an apartment at the Waterfront Village for a few days.

Hermanus - whale watching, lovely coastal walks. Stayed at Whale Coast Hotel, which are SC apartments, excellent.

Plettenberg - lots of things for small children here, elephant sanctuary, big cats, monkeys, worth spending a couple of days here. Tsitsikamma with the rope bridges is quite stunning.

Oudtshoorn - Kango Ranch and Kango Caves, ostriches and crocodiles.

Port Elizabeth - Addo Elephant Park is amazing, you will be overwhelmed by elephants by the end of the day, and the accommodation and restaurant at the park are good. Book accommodation through SANParks.

There are lots of private game parks throughout the Cape, many will have the Big 5, and they range from budget to luxury, so it depends how much you want to spend.

PM me if you would like more ideas or accommodation ideas.

footyfan Thu 12-Feb-15 11:51:05

Wow squirreled: thanks so much for the suggestions. It all sounds great. I need to get the map out now!

I might PM you when I've checked it out a bit more.

SquirrelledAway Thu 12-Feb-15 14:40:58

Hotels and guest houses are great value, eating out is cheap and the food is excellent quality (had to wean everyone off fillet steak when we got home), driving is straightforward and car hire is a fraction of what you would pay in Europe. Your hubby (or you!) can try shark cage diving and bungee jumping, you can get up close with big cats (found out that cheetahs purr) and the scenery is breathtaking.

We aimed for around 50 to 80 miles between overnight stops, and stayed one or two nights at most places, and booked everything in advanced through hotels.com. We had two longish driving days, from Addo via Graaff Reinet to Oudtshoorn, and then on to Franschhoek, but we took scenic routes and did touristy things on the way. The main road from CT to Joburg is busy with lots of big lorries, but otherwise roads were generally quiet.

footyfan Fri 13-Feb-15 10:41:58

Thanks again Squirrelled. I bought a guide book today (I can't get to grips with things until I see them in print)!

Did you find the waterfront area a good place to stay in Cape Town? Does it seem very removed from the city?

SquirrelledAway Fri 13-Feb-15 12:48:30

We found the Waterfront a good base, there is security around the perimeter so there is no problem walking around after dark, and it had car parking. The aquarium is there, and lots of shops and restaurants, boat trips and helicopter flights. Taxis are a good way to get into the city if you want to have a wander around without the hassle of parking. It was easy to drive out to the Cape and the beaches to the west, and to the cable car and the botanic gardens. Do keep windows up and doors locked if there is a chance of baboons being around - the buggers know how to try door handles!

kaymondo Fri 13-Feb-15 12:56:33

We went to sa for our honeymoon - we did 4 days in Cape Town (stayed in camps bay, a suburb with lovely beach, really nice bars and restaurants) then did the garden route, taking in Hermanus for the whales, wilderness and plettenburg (stayed in an amazing lodge called Hog hollow, cannot recommend it enough!) and then we did 4 nights on the Kareiga game reserve just outside of port Elizabeth. It was amazing trip.

Would def recommend doing a trip into the vineyards from Cape Town - we had an amazing wine tasting and picnic at the Boschendal vineyard.

There is loads to do around plettenburg too, including what was the highest commercial bungee jump in the world (not sure if it still is) at bloukrans bridge - not for the faint hearted but biggest adrenalin rush of my life!

I'm jealous, I would go back tmw if I could!

crumpet Fri 13-Feb-15 12:59:19

Don't underestimate the distances in SA- it is a big place. A malaria free place would be Pilanesberg game park, next door to Sun City (and an hour or two outside Joburg). Sun City has a great waterpark, if the weather is right at that season. You could maybe look into flying into CT and out of Jo'burg?

The waterfront at Cape Town is a good place to be based with a little one as its quite compact. Quite a few years ago we upgraded a single visit to the aquarium to an annual ticket at little to no extra charge, which meant we could make multiple visits - dd loved popping in.

crumpet Fri 13-Feb-15 12:59:58

Don't underestimate the distances in SA- it is a big place. A malaria free place would be Pilanesberg game park, next door to Sun City (and an hour or two outside Joburg). Sun City has a great waterpark, if the weather is right at that season. You could maybe look into flying into CT and out of Jo'burg?

The waterfront at Cape Town is a good place to be based with a little one as its quite compact. Quite a few years ago we upgraded a single visit to the aquarium to an annual ticket at little to no extra charge, which meant we could make multiple visits - dd loved popping in.

butterfliesinmytummy Fri 13-Feb-15 13:00:57

We went there about 7 years ago but what I really remember was paddling with wild penguins on boulders beach, it was amazing. Also did wine tours, table top mountain etc.

footyfan Fri 13-Feb-15 22:32:31

Thanks everyone for your comments. I feel like we don't have enough time to see everything now.

Did anyone do both Kruger and other big 5 areas. Would we be missing something special if we don't go to Kruger?

mellicauli Fri 13-Feb-15 22:47:50

No one has mentioned Mpamalanga (beautiful), tsitsikamma national park ( great kayaking, walks etc) and the Drakkensberg Mountains/. worthy of a visit.

chipsandpeas Fri 13-Feb-15 22:58:24

go on a boat trip from cape town to false bay u might see great white sharks jumping for the seals

this is on my bucket list

SquirrelledAway Sat 14-Feb-15 15:21:06

We took 3 weeks, with the first 5 nights in CT then taking about 10 days to travel round to Addo, with the last week taking in Oudtshoorn, Franschhoek and Langebaan before a last night in CT and flying home. On a previous trip we flew into CT and drove round to Pietermaritzburg to see friends, which meant we could taken in the Garden Route, the Drakkensburg and some Boer War battlefields, flying home from CT.

I think you might be being ambitious to do CT and the Kruger with a 3 year old. DH was brought up in Kenya, and remembers that safaris were tiring and a bit dull when very young, so we spent a couple of days at a time in game parks and did different things in between. You might also be limited with what you can do with a 3 year old in the way of game drives or other activities too.

We were recommended a couple of private parks in the Cape area that had the Big 5 by locals - Schotia near Addo and Buffelsdrift near Oudtshoorn - but again you'd need to check what you can do with a very young child. We found SA very child friendly on the whole, so I'm sure you'll find something to suit.

whippy33 Sat 14-Feb-15 21:11:32

Buffelsdrift is very nice but doesn't have any cats. They have very astute rangers who will find you big herds of animals along with explaining plants and smaller wildlife to you. I have enjoyed a few day visits there but if its all the big 5 you wish to see then you would be better going elsewhere.

SquirrelledAway Sun 15-Feb-15 12:10:59

You're right - it was rhino at Buffelsdrift. Schotia has lions, as does Gondwana (when they're not escaping). You can see big cats up close at Daniels Cheetah, which is not far from Addo.

footyfan Sun 15-Feb-15 23:01:44

Thanks again everyone. This has been so useful.

I think we'll drive from CT along to Port Elizabeth. Looks like there's plenty of places to stop on the way.

Looking forward to it!

footyfan Mon 16-Feb-15 04:36:28

Does anyone know the Cape Grace, One&Only or The Marly? Which would you pick, or somewhere else?

We like to be in an interesting building but modern rooms, good restaurants, good views.

Loads of the nice Cape Town hotels seem to be adults only.

MooseBeTimeForSnow Mon 16-Feb-15 04:44:43

I've stayed at the Cape Grace. Very nice rooms. Breakfast was fabulous!

The hotel car took DH to the start of the Two Oceans Ultra. I stayed back at the hotel and had a late breakfast and spa treatment and then I went in the car to pick him up at the finish.
The One & Only hadn't been built when we were there.

footyfan Mon 16-Feb-15 11:14:33

Thanks moose. Would you recommend it? Was it worth the money?

SquirrelledAway Mon 16-Feb-15 12:48:18

I'd look at hiring an apartment at Waterfront Village or the Lawhill for a few nights, the One and Only is lovely but hugely expensive. We also stayed at The Cape Grace for a night, and would recommend trying one of its suites - was easy to hop in a taxi from there but the SC apartments are within walking distance of the shops and restaurants.

Another good tip is to sign up on the South African Groupon site, as that will give you lots of accommodation deals too.

nannyafrica Mon 16-Feb-15 13:10:41

Have a look at booking.com for accommodation, we always use them and have never had a bad experience.
Lawhill Apartments at the V & A Waterfront are really nice around £200 a night for a 2 bedroomed apartment and there is also a pool.

SquirrelledAway Mon 16-Feb-15 16:27:10

Hotels.com are even better - you get a free night for every 10 nights you book through them.

ruby1234 Mon 16-Feb-15 16:40:09

We went on a day trip to a game reserve from Cape Town, it was called Aguilla and was about 1 1/2 hours drive. We did a game drive in the morning complete with a champagne breakfast and saw the big 5 (and loads more) then in the afternoon I did a horseback safari. There was a huge restaurant and a couple of swimming pools to keep the non-riders happy in the afternoon.
We stayed at the Winchester Mansions in Cape Town - they have a heated outdoor pool which was nice. There is also a big open air swimming pool on the seafront. Remember that although it will be nice and sunny the sea is freezing!

footyfan Tue 17-Feb-15 02:19:47

Thanks again everyone. I always use booking.com to choose, then book with hotels.com!

The reviews for the three hotels I mentioned are all pretty similar. Anyone been to the Belmond Mount Nelson?

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