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Holidays

South Africa

36 replies

readyforachangemaybe · 26/01/2021 21:01

Hi team,

Looking at going to South Africa (covid permitting) in December 2021 or 2022. Does anyone have any recommendations for sightseeing or things to do?

Thank you

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Twilightstarbright · 26/01/2021 21:08

Who is going and how long are you going for?

I went in Jan 2020 with DH and 2yo DS. Went to CPT, Lynda and Stellenbosch and had a great time.

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Capetownmothercity · 26/01/2021 21:14

South Africa is my badly missed home country, Cape Town my home town. this book is brilliant, not a moment wasted of your holiday.

www.amazon.co.uk/Seven-days-Cape-Town-Fraser/dp/1770071989?tag=mumsnet&ascsubtag=mnforum-21

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readyforachangemaybe · 27/01/2021 08:35

Thanks very much for the thoughts and the link! I'll take a look at those suggestions

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Tier10 · 27/01/2021 17:31

We used this book and found it very helpful.
I’ve been to Cape Town twice, it’s my favourite place in the world. First time with my DC snd DH and the second time with just my DH. If you’re in Cape Town and the weather forecast is sunny then go to Table Mountain.
It’s very easy to drive over there and Chapman’s Peak is a beautiful drive.
Robbin island is further away than it looks, I didn’t go the first time but went the second and am pleased I went.
Cape of Good Hope is worth a visit so is Boulders Bay.

South Africa
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PresentingPercy · 27/01/2021 21:24

We have been to South Africa several times and both my girls spent a term in a school there and they travelled a bit with their South African “parents”.

From the uk most people fly to Joburg or Cape Town. Cape Town is brilliant in itself and you can easily get into the wine region. You are also well placed to travel along the garden route to Port Elizabeth. A detour into an area like the Little Karoo is worthwhile too. I think you might be too late to see whales at Hermanus. But if you decide on Sept 2022 they are wonderful.

In South Africa I strongly recommend staying in guest houses. South Africans have amazing style and first class hospitality. Far better than faceless hotels. What to see and do is best looked up in the Lonely Planet Guide. They give possible tour routes and suggest restaurants too. There are also guides to guest houses.

We are keen on wildlife and can recommend Kruger or nearby concessions such as Sabi Sands.Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve 3hrs north of Durban is a great place to see rhino and the wetlands at St Lucia are great too. You can travel east to KwaZuluNatal for the Drakensburgs and then further to the Zulu war battlefields.

Do remember December is ultra high season in SA with prices at their highest. I like September and October. You need to decide what means most to you regarding a holiday and don’t rush it! There’s a lot to see.

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BIWI · 02/02/2021 16:13

We went to Cape Town last January, for 3 weeks. (Seems like a lifetime ago, given what's happened since!)

We had almost a week in Franschhoek, which was lovely - so many beautiful vineyards with amazing restaurants. Dieu Donné in particular was sensational, and a fantastic place to watch the sunset (as well as enjoy the food and wine).

We also went to Hermanus, although it's not whale season then, but it's a beautiful setting on the coast.

If you want to do a safari, research them carefully - they can be massively expensive. As we were tacking it on to the end of our holiday we did two days at Aquila, which is much cheaper. However, although we enjoyed the safari drives, the quality of the food there wasn't great, and nor was the accommodation.

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BIWI · 02/02/2021 16:19

In case it helps, here's my post which was reporting back on what we did:

We had a fantastic time. This was what we did:

1st week in a beautiful villa in Camps Bay. We went to Boulders Beach, Chapmans Peak Hotel for brunch (except turns out they don't do brunch any more so had lunch there!), a day at the cricket (which was fantastic as we won!), a walking tour round Cape Town (history of apartheid) and lunch in Bo-Kaap, Cape Point where we saw baboons, Kirstenbosch, lunch at Klein Constantia (other lunches and dinners I can't remember!)

Then a beautiful drive to Robertson, over the Du Toitskloof pass, to stay at the most amazing hotel (Mo &Rosa) for a couple of nights, with a couple of vineyard tours/tastings, and an olive oil tasting.

Then on to Franschhoek for a few days where we did the wine bus/tram, with some beautiful wine tastings and food.

From there, to Hermanus where unfortunately the weather changed. Very good for the local communities, though, as the drought in SA is the most severe in the last 20 years. We had four days of pretty solid rain which did hamper what we were able to do. However, we enjoyed the town, despite lack of whales, wink, and the shops and restaurants were great.

Last stop was a couple of nights at the Aquila Game Reserve, where the rain continued - the first time it had rained there in 4 years! But it didn't spoil our time and we had amazing drives to see the animals much more up close and personal then I ever imagined would be possible. Our last day the sun returned, so we did enjoy a bit of warmth before we came back.

Thank you to everyone for your suggestions - it really helped. And definitely agree that it's a fantastic place to travel to.

Oh, and can definitely confirm/recommend a visit to Creation vineyard for the wine pairings/lunch. Fabulous.

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PresentingPercy · 02/02/2021 18:02

Aquila is not a “proper” game reserve. They used it on The Apprentice I think. You really need the game reserves around Kruger or north of Durban to get out into the wild. There are some other areas but the fences repurposed farmland ones are really huge zoos. You can find Bush camps that are wonderful. Safari lodges vary in price according to how up market they are. The best fun we have had is at the ordinary camps!

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BIWI · 02/02/2021 20:39

@PresentingPercy

Aquila is not a “proper” game reserve. They used it on The Apprentice I think. You really need the game reserves around Kruger or north of Durban to get out into the wild. There are some other areas but the fences repurposed farmland ones are really huge zoos. You can find Bush camps that are wonderful. Safari lodges vary in price according to how up market they are. The best fun we have had is at the ordinary camps!

Yes, that was kind of the point I was making! But for us, after two pretty expensive weeks, it was the most we were prepared to pay.
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Anoisagusaris · 02/02/2021 20:48

Dh and I went there about 15 years ago, pre kids.

Capetown, Franschoek, Stellenbosch, Hermanus, Port Elizabeth and Kariega game reserve. Not sure if Kariega is a ‘proper’ game reserve but I sure loved it! We wanted a small bit of luxury but didn’t want to travel to Kruger. It was amazing.

Whale watching in Hermanus was amazing too. As was the vineyard tour we did....just us, the guide and another couple on day long tour of vineyards....heaven!

Would love to take the kids back.

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PresentingPercy · 02/02/2021 21:47

I think making wildlife a focus of the holiday works. We don’t like doing it as a short add on as it is important to us. We spend days on safari and it’s not just about ticking off a few animals. It’s a problem with rushing around to lots of areas. Kruger is a journey in itself. But it’s absolutely worth it. As is Hermanus to see the whales. They are right in front of you by the coast path. Just stunning.

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SJaneS49 · 03/02/2021 08:56

Just following this thread as SA is somewhere we’re looking to visit over the next couple of years.

As a quick add on re National Parks v Private Reserves (farms), if you are going to visit a Private Reserve, it’s worth doing a bit of research to just double check you’re not visiting somewhere that offers lion hunts. This is a legal and pretty horrible business (there are about 200 Private Reserves in SA) where hunters pay to shoot lions and other animals that are captive bred. Normally a Reserve will not offer both hunting and safari’s (the activities being pretty mutually exclusive) but some of the hunting Reserves do do eco safari’s out of season. So if you’re visiting a Private Reserve and don’t support this industry, worth a quite check. If this ‘industry’ is something you aren’t aware of - www.bornfree.org.uk/great-betrayal

Canned Hunts are big business in South Africa. Hunting is banned in the National Parks but unfortunately there have been a couple of instances of under the cover activities:

South Africa
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SJaneS49 · 03/02/2021 08:58

Quick check not quite!

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crystalize · 03/02/2021 09:09

Has anyone ever visited during our summer months July/August? I went once in February and absolutely loved it and want to go again. The weather was perfect that time of year.

We didn't make it to Hermanus last time but would love to see the Whales there. Agree its probably my favourite long haul holiday.

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Figgyboa · 03/02/2021 09:43

I've been twice and loved it. Followed almost the same route, first with friends, second with my OH.
Flew into JB, had 2 days there, worth a visit to the apartheid museum. Picked up a 5 day Kruger safari with return to Joburg. Internal flight to George which is one of the main towns on the Garden Route, took a few days to drive to cape Town visiting cape of good hope along the way. Spent a few days sightseeing in CT.....hiked table mountain, visited robben Island etc and had 2 days in stellenbosch, wine country. Just under 3 weeks, brilliant holiday

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BIWI · 03/02/2021 11:25

That's a really good point @SJaneS49 - the lions that are in Aquila were all rescued from being hunted Sad. I had no idea that still went on, tbh.

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SJaneS49 · 03/02/2021 11:52

Unfortunately it’s completely legal and very alive and well @BIWI. As above, the majority of Private Reserves offering safari’s are completely genuine sanctuaries - however some of the Farms that do operate canned hunts do do out of season Safari’s though so it’s worth a google just to double check rather than add to the profit of somewhere that basically breeds animals to be shot for $$$.

There are loads of articles on SA Canned Hunting but here’s a more recent one.

www.google.co.uk/amp/s/metro.co.uk/2020/09/15/moment-emaciated-lions-bred-to-be-shot-by-hunters-are-rescued-13274071/amp/

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Twilightstarbright · 03/02/2021 11:55

A lot of our trip was tailored to having a 2yo with us, so a real safari was out! Also stayed in apartments as DS has food allergies and is a typical fussy toddler. Meant I couldn't do Robben Island either but hoping to go back one day.

DH has been to many African countries and says Kruger is the best safari.

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ReviewingTheSituation · 03/02/2021 12:05

We loved SA. We had a few days in Cape Town, then Franschoek (via a stop in Stellenbosch - much preferred Franschoek and glad we made that our winelands base), then over to Sanbona Park for the wildlife. Not a 'proper' safari like Kruger, but 'wilder' than Agila. We stayed in the tented village. Can't recommend it highly enough - it was amazing, and although it was a long-ish drive over there, the scenery was spectacular, and driving is so easy there. From there we headed back towards CT along the coast and via Hermanus. Then back to CT, where we stayed in Simonstown, for a very different experience from our days in the city at the start of the holiday.

It was an amazing trip, and I'd love to go back. The most well followed route seems to be CT to J'berg, along the Garden Route, but winelands and wildlife were more of a draw for us.

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PresentingPercy · 03/02/2021 13:15

Yes, @crystalize. We have been in our summer. It’s not beach weather but perfect for Kruger and further south too but it might rain. We did Hluhluwe Imfolozi and the Drskensburgs and other parts of KwaZuluNatal in August. Cold in the mornings so decent padded jackets are needed. The temp warms up at around 9 am and it’s wonderful. Prices are much reduced too!

A good time to see whales at Hermanus is Sept but you could look up whale sightings for August. Often boat operators keep a log and publish it. You don’t need a boat trip to see them though. Sharks at Gansbaii are better viewed from a boat though.

I would always use a reputable agent when booking safari lodges. There are game farms that don’t have predictors. They are not usually open to non shooters. You have to factor in that South African people do not always possess the sensitivities we have and business is business. Expert Africa is usually a good resource for lodges. The Greenwood Guide is a good resource for South African guest houses. South African style is very evident in many establishments.

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SJaneS49 · 03/02/2021 15:03

Private Reserves (or game parks) can be pretty grey areas @PresentingPercy. It’s not always a case of ‘just’ photographic or hunting activity. Timbavati is a prime example, a private reserve in which both photographic safari’s and commercial hunting for profit takes place, something that tourists visiting on photographic Safari’s might be completely unaware of! The mindset might be ‘business is business’ but when that business involves cruelty then surely we as consumers should be mindful of what we choose to support.

But completely agree about the importance of using a reputable agent & at the end of the day, a quick google on anything wildlife related is always a good idea. Sorry for derailing the thread OP, will go back to lurking for ideas on this, sounds fabulous.

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PresentingPercy · 03/02/2021 15:24

I didn’t say we, as tourists didn’t care. I meant the game park owners didn’t care and wanted the money. It’s big business in SA and it’s a different mindset from what we are used to in the uk. Definitely agree tourists should be careful and choose wisely.

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PresentingPercy · 03/02/2021 15:36

Although to be fair, the money from hunting in this reserve goes to rhino conservation and other aspects of conservation in the area.

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SJaneS49 · 03/02/2021 15:38

Absolutely!

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TeenMinusTests · 03/02/2021 15:50

@crystalize We went in August 2012 with our DDs aged 13 & 7.
We really only went for the safari.
We did:
Fly to Jo'burg.
2 nights in Sun City to recover
4 night Pilansberg game reserve
4 nights Madikwe game reserve
2 night Sun city
Home
It was ace.

We went where we went as wanted to avoid malaria areas, and also not to do internal flights or long transfers.

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