First Time in Africa - Help Me Pick Where I Go

Discussion in 'Africa' started by DestinationDavid, May 4, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    *seems a little dead in here, hope this gets seen!*

    Hey All -

    I haven't even started off on my very first RTW trip and I'm already starting to plan my next one. I'm looking to plan a Oneworld award that starts off around the beginning of January 2012 with my first stop in Africa. I'll return to the US on a "stop over" and continue on the rest of the ticket sometime in the summer.

    Since it's a OW ticket, my choices are fairly limited. OW's coverage in Africa is pretty awful compared to *A. That being said, I've narrowed down my destinations to the following candidates:
    • Kampala/Entebbe, Uganda
    • Victoria Falls
    • Cape Town
    • Dar es Salaam/Zanzibar
    • Accra
    I'm not 100% sure where I'd like to go to be honest. The appeal of Victoria Falls, Dar/Zanzibar, and Cape Town is that they are fairly popular tourist destinations and will have some comfortable infrastructure and defined "sights" to see. With Accra and Kampala, they interest me because they're a little more off the beaten path and I have had friends visit these destinations and give positive reviews. I worry I won't have much to do in those two locations though.

    Some things I like in a destination: interesting sights to see, unique food, friendly locals, accessibility to cultural activities, clean and safe hotel facilities, and safe for solo visitors (by safe I mean I won't get killed or violently mugged, I can deal with dirty water/begging/etc).

    Some things I don't need in a destination: night life or western food.

    Any thoughts on which location would be good? Anyone been and have feed back? I'll be taking BA flights most likely, so any feedback from people who've taken these routes would be great as well!

    Thanks!
     
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  2. jmrich1432
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    jmrich1432 Silver Member

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    I have just returned from a trip to Africa and Victoria Falls was positvely breathtaking. That being said, I was there when the falls were at the height of their flow and the amount of water coming over was unreal. The spray was intense and the folage was full and beautiful (there are rainforests around the falls). Most of the locals/return visitors said their favorite time to view the falls was August/September. I will definitely return and I can't recommend it strongly enough as a "must-see" destination, but the timing is personal preference thing. January is not a time that seems to be highly recommended for a visit. Although there are tons of other activities in both Vic Falls and Livingstone, so I'm sure you could find something enjoyable. I will say that Vic Falls is a great town based on the criteria you gave for yourself. The locals are very friendly and there are more than enough clean/safe hotel facilities. During the day you can easily walk to the curio market, the falls, the Zambia side of the falls (across the bridge) and all around town by yourself. I had the opportunity to try some interesting game meats (warthog, impala, crocodile) and local stews and although the food wasn't totally bizarre it was all very good. Obviously the falls are an interesting site, but there is a lot more around there to see.

    I flew to VFA with BA through JNB which I am fairly certain is the only option for them into VFA. Perhaps they have other routings to LVI, but I think that goes through JNB also. I would recommend the town of Victoria Falls over Livingstone as it's much more walkable.

    If you have any questions feel free to PM me. I was there at the beginning of April.

    Enjoy your trip!
     
  3. mhnadel
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    mhnadel Silver Member

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    Are you interested in wildlife, scenery or culture? If wildlife, I'd say Vic Falls for the access to Chobe National Park (in Botswana but doable as a day trip). For scenery, either Vic Falls or Cape Town would do. For culture, either Accra (with trips to Elmina / Cape Coast and Kumasi) or Zanzibar. They're rather different places. Ghana is a very gentle taste of West Africa, while the culture on Zanzibar is Arab influenced. Personally, I think Zanzibar is one of the most magical places on earth, but I'm very big on Islamic architecture. I'd also say that, of the places you've listed, Accra has the friendliest people and the infrastructure there is quite good.

    I have never been to Uganda so can't comment on that.
     
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  4. Gardyloo
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    Note that except for Cape Town, it will be hot and humid in all the places mentioned in January, and it can be pretty warm in Cape Town, too. If that's a concern, so be it. Personally, we try to time our visits to Africa for the winter/dry seasons where possible, especially if wildlife viewing is a priority (since the winter is also the dry season in many safari areas, and coincides with not much in the way of obstructing foliage if one is talking about forested or savanna areas.) Just for a thought experiment you might think about starting somewhere else in January, then hitting southern/eastern Africa later in the year. Of course that might play havoc with the rest of your itinerary. (What is it? Inquiring minds...)

    I can't speak to West Africa but would mention that if you're using Oneworld airlines getting to and from ACC or EBB can be problematic, since both are cul-de-sac destinations, i.e. only served by BA ex-LHR. That might have implications for your mileage/connections plans. DAR now has Comair service from JNB as well as BA from London; Comair also serves both VFA and LVI, from which you can get to Victoria Falls and/or Chobe Park. Thus if you started in, say, CPT, you could hit either Victoria Falls or Dar/Zanzibar on your way north, or even both (but watch out for connection/stopover limits re JNB.) Getting to Chobe from LVI involves crossing the Zambezi by ferry or private boat, which can be a little exciting/amusing. Chobe is more easily accessed by road from the Zim side of the falls, but of course that means contributing to the Mugabe Retirement Fund en route.

    As to destinations, well, Cape Town pretty much has it all - beautiful scenery, a very interesting local cultural scene with a combination of European, African and south/east Asian (especially Malay) influences, great food, beaches, history, and fabulous self-drive excursions - to the wine district, Cape, and - a favorite of ours - up the west coast to West Coast National Park, a lovely area just a couple of hours from the city. No big cats, but plenty of antelope, zebra and other wildlife to be seen. Starting in CPT, then heading via Joburg to Dar/Zanzibar, then up to Europe (or, of course, the reverse) sounds like a terrific intro to Africa. I'd just rent a car in CPT and put your own tour together, or if you're reluctant, drop an email to Selwyn at http://www.ilovecapetown.com/ who will set you up easily.

    I put a bunch of pictures of Chobe, Victoria Falls and Cape Town (along with many other places) into a page on my website covering a 2005 RTW - http://gardyloo.us/rtw05.htm - if you need visuals. Happy planning!
     
  5. DestinationDavid
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    Thanks for the feedback, Vic Falls is high on my list. I know I'll go there eventually, just not sure when yet. What were prices like for your food and hotel? I know it's a bit of a scenario where you're a captive audience and there might not be too much choice. Did you find it affordable? Average prices? How much did you end up paying to get out and about to explore?

    Thanks for your feedback, especially on Ghana. When did you go and how did you get around? I'll be traveling alone, so that's a bit of a concern for me. Did you organize a tour with a local operator, join up with a group, etc?

    Thanks for the input Gardyloo! Your idea on heading into CPT and then on to Dar/Zanzibar sparked a great deal of interest in me. I hadn't thought about a multi leg intro to Africa, but now I'm trying to see how I'd work it out. Thanks for sparking some thought. :)
     
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  6. mhnadel
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    mhnadel Silver Member

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    I was in Ghana primarily on a special-purpose tour (to see the 2006 solar eclipse) but then spent a while afterwards with private arrangements. I'd recommend TransAfrica (which is based in Lome, Togo) as a good travel agency to use in that region, as their guides are local and well connected. For example, we were able to go to an Asante funeral in Kumasi (a completely amazing cultural experience) due to their arrangements. They do both small group tours and private arrangements.

    That said, Ghana is English speaking and has decent intercity bus service. You should be able to hire local guides in all of the places of interest and that would be less expensive.
     
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  7. jmrich1432
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    jmrich1432 Silver Member

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    Prices weren't terrible considering Vic Falls is all about the tourism. I stayed on the Zim side, so everything was in USD. Breakfast was included with our hotel, lunch was around $7 US pp, dinner was around $12 US pp, a beer is $1 US. Tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel was $25 US. A taxi anywhere (essential at night) was $5 US. The hotel I chose was $120 US per night including breakfast and was VERY nice and most importantly very close to the Falls. There were many options for lodging (much cheaper and much more expensive). Some of the hotels are pretty far from the town and the falls which I wasn't fond of. Any activity you do other than the town and the falls you will have to take a car or taxi to so I wanted to be within walking distance of something.

    To visit Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side it was $30 US pp and on the Zambia side $20 US pp (plus the $20 day visa to cross the border). I did both of these and found it to be worth every penny. To me, the sides were very different and I am really glad I got to see the falls from both sides. You can walk across the bridge (without entering a new country) for free and you can also walk around the curio market and (on the Zim side) to the lower Zambezi to see the falls for free. It's a $5 cab ride to the "big tree" and then activities like an elephant-back safari, lion walk or day safari to Chobe National Park are about $120 US for each activitiy (with discounts for booking multiple activities).

    The dual-entry visa for Zim was $45 US pp (which you will need to cross into Bots or Zam). For multi-entry you have to apply before you go, but it's only $55 US (so worth it if you will be crossing in/out a few times). It's $30 US for a single entry which you can get if you use up your dual-entry. We had no issues getting visas at the border as needed.

    Let me know if you have any other questions! It's an amazing place to visit, the people are wonderful, the sites are beautiful. Definitely make sure you cross it off your list at some point!
     
  8. Kagehitokiri
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    Kagehitokiri Silver Member

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    tanzania - safari
    capetown - city
     
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  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    My only Africa experience so far has been the Capetown area (and Garden Route) and then about a week of self-driving safari in Kruger National Park. Rented a car in Jo'burg and drove to Kruger, where we stayed in the camps that are scattered all over the park (which I think is about the size of Belgium). Might not be the most efficient way to see all the big game, but I think we saw all and plenty of most and it was very nice to be independent in our own vehicle. And certainly it was a TON cheaper than the often fairly luxurious safari offerings I have since seen advertised.
     
  10. thetenken
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    thetenken Silver Member

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    I live in Accra and as said above, it's West Africa lite. You can visit the slave castles, take the canopy walk, and wander around Accra in about 2 days. Being more adventurous, you could head up to Kumasi, Mole, or beyond. Still, aside from the slave castles, there aren't any "big" sites to see.
     
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  11. TheBeerHunter
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    TheBeerHunter Silver Member

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    DestinationDavid, where have you decided to go?

    My husband and I have booked BA F to CPT in May 2012 using our Chase companion cert and we're not sure what to do once there. Initially we were considering a safari (self drive) in Namibia, but that's really expensive. Actually, everything is "really expensive". :eek: I think we knew that, but when actually pricing things out we're a bit shocked. Wondering if we should spend a few days in CPT, then fly to JNB, and drive to Kruger, or if we should head to Zim due to the "relative" cheapness there, or if we should do the "garden route" from CPT. Haven't been to Africa other than Egypt before, and open to anything; not necessarily "cheapskates", buuuuuut...

    HaveMilesWillTravel, was doing the Garden Route interesting/safe? Would you recommend a Kruger experience before a Garden Route one? Anyone else have any other suggestions?
     
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  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    My experience is from a trip nearly 11 years ago. We were in South Africa for two weeks: the first week visiting with friends in the Capetown area and driving from there the garden route where we stayed in a little bed and breakfast in Knysna. That seemed perfectly safe and we was quite nice. Scenic coast line (though I live in California on the coast... ). We went whale watching in Knysna, which was quite fun.

    That said, for me the highlight of the trip was the second week. We flew from Capetown to JNB where we stayed one night at an airport hotel (Holiday Inn, if I recall). The plan was to drive to Krueger NP the next day. Getting to the hotel with the rental car was quite the adventure: we kept seeing it on one side or another of the freeway, but it was seemingly impossible to get there. We must have circled the airport area for about 45 minutes and it was getting dark, so we pulled off the freeway into a gas station to ask for directions when another car stopped right in front of us and the driver asked us if we were lost. He seemed concerned that we were walking around in that area (gas station!) and offered to show us the way. 5 minutes later we were at the hotel. Remember, that was before the invention of consumer GPS devices :)

    The next day we drove to Krueger where we had booked five or six nights in the various rest camps all over the park. Getting there is pretty straightforward and for the most part is a freeway, but towards the end you get to drive through villages that looked back then pretty poor and isolated (but even back then, GSM cellphone service worked all along the route). My wife felt that it wasn't the safest idea to drive their and there had been some reports of western tourists getting held up by robbers, but I never felt in danger.

    Krueger itself was amazing. We were driving all over the park for nearly a week in our own car, at our own pace. The rest camps are fenced in little villages with cabins, tents, restaurant and little shops. They close the gate at night (to keep animals out, so you have to be sure to be at your booked rest camp by "closing time" (6pm).

    We took an organized night drive with rangers from one of the camps to see nocturnal animals, and from another camp we went on a daytime hike, again with rangers. There are a few areas outside the main rest camps where you can get out of the car, but otherwise you're required to stay in for your own safety.

    We saw TONS of animals. My wife and I would take turns driving and spotting.

    Some particularly memorable experiences where when one evening on the way back from dinner walking towards out cabin we came across a warthog on its front knees digging a hole... yes, inside the fenced in camp. We didn't bother it, it didn't bother us. Another time, we walked along the outside perimeter fence when we came across a BIG hyaena ... it was on the outside, we were on the inside, but it was an eerie experience.

    The "laughing" hippos in the rivers by some of the camps are fun to listen to at night.

    In one camp a troop of baboons was raiding some of the fridges that for some reason were on the porch of cabins; they went from cabin to cabin, opening the fridge and looking for good stuff (beer?). Quite amusing, in a way.

    My wife and I have often talked about going again, and she wants us to fly from JNB to Skukuza, one of the bigger rest camps. Turns out that's no longer possible. This page has some info on how to get to Krueger:

    http://www.skukuzaairport.com/parks/kruger/get_there/

    I suspect the park's facilities have been modernized quite a bit in the last ten years. The camps back then were pretty basic, but it was part of the appeal for us.
     
  13. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    My wife & I have been to Africa two times.

    First time we flew to Capetown, had a couple of days on our own & then did an overland tour through Namibia with GAP Adventures(now G Adventures). At the end of the tour we had another 4 days on our own in Capetown.
    We found this the most affordable way to do a trip to Africa. We usually travel independently but for Africa this worked best for us. The tour was not perfect but we had a great time, saw lots of great sites & animals and met some interesting people.

    Second trip was to Kenya & Uganda. We flew to Johannesburg since we couldn't get flights with mileage to where the tour left from. On this trip we had 3 days total on our own in Jo'Burg and a few days on our own in Nairobi. (we actually really enjoyed Nairobi!)
    For this trip, we did a tour with Nomad, a South Africa based company. This was a camping tour which we loved! Up until this trip I had camped maybe 2 other times/ days in my life & never set up a tent. There were so many highlights but the top was trekking to see mountain gorillas. The wildlife viewing in the Maasai Mara was ridiculously amazing too.

    If you want more info, you can DM me and I can tell you more about each trip and answer questions you might have.
     
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  14. Gardyloo
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    Gardyloo Gold Member

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    I am neither DD nor HMWT, but I can offer some opinions having done all of the above on a number of occasions.

    First, how long do you have? Second, are you comfortable driving on the left?

    The reason for asking is that SA is a very big country, and it's so amazingly diverse (scenery, cultures, environments) that the best one can achieve in one visit is just a sampling of what it offers. It's a very addictive place, fair warning. So if you have enough time (I'd say 3 weeks at a minimum) and you're okay driving on the left, it's an ideal place for self-touring. We've driven all over the country and still have big areas yet to explore (Namaqualand, Wild Coast among others.)

    So here's my take on your options, assuming you don't have time for both the Garden Route and a safari up north.

    The Garden route is beautiful, but - just in my opinion - it's not that different from what you can experience in the general Cape Town area with day trips or one overnight. The road distances are surprisingly long, and while the towns (some of them, especially Plettenberg Bay) are very nice and the beaches are lovely, the scenery is frankly not something you haven't seen, especially if you're familiar with places like the California coast or parts of coastal Australia.

    By comparison, going on safari to one of the bigger national parks or game reserves is an experience you really can't have elsewhere, so I wouldn't miss it. Yes, it can be expensive at one of the pricier lodges or reserves, but you only need a couple of nights for an excellent experience.

    Here's what I'd do, assuming the road trip option doesn't appeal:

    Enjoy Cape Town for a few days. See the sights, go visit the penguins at Boulders Beach, maybe spend a couple of days in the wine country (you might be there around the harvest, and it's always good food time) or maybe go to Hermanus and see if the whales and/or sharks are making appearances.

    Then fly either to Joburg or (preferable) to Nelspruit (note - look for intra-Africa mileage awards using BA or SA - they're good value). Pick up a car and drive to the town of Graskop and stay at the affordable and funky Graskop Hotel. Eat fabulous pancakes at Harrie's next door. Why Graskop? Because (a) it's at an altitude that doesn't require malaria prophylaxis (if you're concerned) and (b) it's a short drive both from some of the key sights on the Panoramic Route, e.g. the Three Rondavels or God's Window, and the Kruger-area game reserves.

    Then make a morning run over to the Sabi Sand game reserve, adjacent to Kruger Park. I'd recommend booking into one of the more modestly-priced lodges; our faves would be either Elephant Plains or Chitwa Chitwa. It's about a 2-hour drive from Graskop, and you'd want to be there in the early afternoon, in time to go on the evening game drive that day. I'd book two nights at a minimum, three would be better.

    In our experience, the SSGR offers the highest-yield wildlife viewing experience. There are other reserves bordering Kruger Park (most with no fences between the private reserves and KNP, so the animals wander freely) that offer comparable experiences, but SSGR tends to have the greatest variety of pricing (and highest number of lodges/beds) so your choices might be greater.

    Unless you're exceptionally unlucky or just not easily impressed, you'll have a fabulous time. The "big 5" is virtually guaranteed, but (in our view) it's the other things that are the coolest - fantastic bird life, a real insight into the ecosystem that sustains the amazing diversity of animals - and a real sense of place. Like I said, addictive.

    Then toodle back to Nelspruit or Joburg, and continue on with your trip or head home.

    Note there's an alternative to the Kruger area that we've done a couple of times - also great animal viewing but more convenient to JNB. The Madikwe reserve is about 3 hours' drive from JNB (right up against the Botswana border near Gaborone) and is malaria-free, again, if that's a concern. We stay at the Buffalo Ridge lodge mainly because it's community-owned and managed - the first such in SA (but not the last.) Madikwe doesn't have the long history of the Kruger-area reserves, but it's a very enjoyable place, and quite convenient (and easily reached on good roads) from Joburg. Again, 2 or 3 nights would be best.

    If you had plenty of time and chose the Kruger option, you can drive back to Cape Town in around 3 days (or longer if you stay on the Garden Route) and might think about hitting said Garden Route at the top, near Port Elizabeth, in order to hit Addo Elephant National Park, where you can self-drive through the park and see huge numbers of elephant as well as other wildlife. (You can't go off-road in the national parks while the private reserves will allow it.) More driving, but well worth it.

    Anyway, hope this doesn't add too much confusion to the picture.

    Oh, meant to add, regarding Zim and Victoria Falls. Frankly, I'd put that into the "second trip" category. And don't worry, you'll be planning the second trip while you're waiting in the CPT lounge for your flight home.
     
  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Great post! Thanks for chiming in.
     
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  16. TheBeerHunter
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    TheBeerHunter Silver Member

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    Thank you very much HaveMilesWillTravel, MLW20, and Gardyloo for all sharing your insights and ideas. Gardyloo, I'm looking at Sabi Sands now and think that may be just the ticket for us. And you're right, I'm certain: we'll no doubt be planning return trips as well. It doesn't hurt that we will have 2 more BA Chase companion certs (and a lot of BA miles on hand even after the Avios switch over devaluation) to use to get us there if we wish!

    I think half the trouble is, there are too many choices available -- so many different places to see -- it's hard to narrow it down!

    But thank you all for sharing your ideas. I'll be sure to post back once we've figured out exactly what we're doing. :confused: Hopefully that'll be helpful to someone else down the road!
     
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  17. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    How much do those flights go for nowadays?
     
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  18. TheBeerHunter
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    TheBeerHunter Silver Member

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    I honestly don't know, their new 'calculator' is apparently useless and I haven't been keeping up with all the scuttlebutt about the switch. :) My several hundred thousand points will hopefully still get me to South Africa again (using the companion cert)...I hope.
     
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  19. thetenken
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    thetenken Silver Member

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    The new system is mileage-based, with no award chart. So if you're traveling far, then often it's not worth it. Probably better to buy a ticket and use the companion cert. Now once you're on the ground, you might be able to use the mileage-based calculator to your advantage, if you wanted to hop around.
     
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  20. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    You are very welcome! If you end up around Cape Town, definitely take Gardyloo's advice & visit Boulders Beach. The penguins are amazing to see. I also visited the Cape of Good Hope which is near by- also great scenery, some animal spotting etc.
    I also did shark cage diving in False Bay. The boat went to Seal Island where the sharks breach the water. The water was a bit murky there so if you are interested in shark diving I'd recommend a different area...
     
  21. TheBeerHunter
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    So after much debating (and way too much information overload), it looks like we're going to do a 1 week no-frills camping trip with Wild Dogs in Namibia, fly to JNB to spend a few days at Kruger, before finally ending up back in CPT for a couple of nights before heading back to the states.

    While we've got several other international trips planned between now and this trip in May, this is the one I absolutely cannot wait for. :D
     
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  22. MLW20
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    Sounds great! I still want to visit Kruger at some point. Are you doing an independent trip or a tour? Where will you be camping?
    I hope you are also going to see the sand dunes. Namibia is a great country to travel around-we went overland from Cape Town to Windhoek.

    If you are looking for a decent half day trip from JNB, you can visit De Wildt Cheetah Sanctuary. The have lots of animals to view in a somewhat natural setting. You get driven around the property in a safari-like vehicle.
    You can look them up at http://www.dewildt.co.za/

    While in JNB you can also go on a township tour.
     
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  23. TheBeerHunter
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    TheBeerHunter Silver Member

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    So I am back from our Africa trip and just wanted to share what we decided to do in the end, since we did so much waffling:

    we were looking at booking a camping trip with Wild Dogs, then heading to Kruger for the remainder of our time...but I really don't like camping very much and also am not big on group tours (having done a few in my youth...) and so was desperately looking for alternatives that were as reasonably priced. I came upon some reviews of a company called ATI Holidays/Info Tour Africa who puts together various packages that you can do independently, and they happened to have a self-drive trip that looked perfect; when we compared pricing between what we'd have to pay for the Wild Dogs trip + Kruger compared to the ATI self-drive + some days in Cape Town at the end, the ATI option just made more sense -- so that's what we did. It was a 12 night self-drive of Namibia starting and ending at Windhoek, with stops along the way at the Kalahari, Sossusvlei & Sesriem, Swakopmund, Twyfelfontein, Otjiwarongo, and the amazing Etosha NP.

    It was absolutely stunning, the whole trip -- but the hightlight for us was definitely Etosha: we stayed in a waterhole chalet (highly recommended!) and saw a non-stop parade of animals right outside our door from the moment we arrived. We drove ourselves around Etosha and were dumbfounded by first of all the lack of other people there (relatively speaking), but then also by the abundance of animals we saw at each and every waterhole we visited: starting with 15 lions, then 16 elephants at the next stop, 9 giraffe at the next...it just went on & on. This was like Garden of Eden amazing. And the dry season has only "just begun" -- I can't imagine what it's like in a few months time.

    It was also at Etosha where we saw the Wild Dogs truck driving their group(s) around, and were very thankful that we decided to do the self-drive: we got to sit and stay at that waterhole while they obviously had a schedule to keep -- they came in, spent 5 minutes, then left. In doing so, they missed the opportunity to see a second male lion sitting in the high grass, "babysitting" 4 cubs, and another couple of female lions who appeared shortly thereafter.

    The driving distances were long, but the country is so beautiful and stark and the sky so big and beautiful...I would do the whole thing again in a heartbeat, though now I know I would want more time at Etosha.

    ATI had someone meet us at our hotel in Windhoek to get us the truck and review our entire itinerary, etc. They set you up with insurance that takes care of literally everything (which I've read is a bit unusual in Namibia, due to all the gravel roads) so we did not have to worry about anything at all; they also provide emergency evac insurance for you too, "just in case". We didn't need any of this but it certainly helped with peace of mind. They even gave us a cell pre-loaded with contacts at each of our stops, plus emergency #s, etc. "just in case" (which we never needed). They were great to work with and I recommend them highly. Everything went perfectly with them.

    Namibia is a really safe country. And did I mention it is beautiful? :D

    Used Namibia Transfers for transport to/from the airport in Windhoek, and would recommend them. They were cheaper than what the hotel or ATI could arrange for us, and very responsive via email.

    We stayed at the Hilton Windhoek on points both our first and last nights. I am a "fake" Hilton Gold (thanks to the sign ups you can get online), and we were upgraded on both stays: the first, to a lovely terrace room (there's an outdoor private garden) with club access, the second to a club room. Club lounge was great, location of the hotel is central, staff wonderful; it's a great hotel.

    In CPT we stayed at the HIX City Center on point breaks -- a great deal, I didn't compare actual prices but for 5K points/night it was a steal! We did a township tour with an outfit called Siviwe Tours http://www.townshiptourscapetown.co.za -- the tour guides all live in the township and seem to know EVERYONE there. This is really highly recommended, it's very eye-opening. Definitely the best thing we did in Cape Town.

    We lucked out getting the new first on BA for all 4 legs (SFO-LHR-CPT-LHR-SFO). I've now flown BA F 5 times, and each time in the new F! The crew from LHR-CPT wasn't that great, but the rest of them were stellar.

    We have one more BA Chase companion certificate to use...and I think we are more or less intent on going back to Africa as soon as we can. We had an amazing time. The worst part was deciding where to go in the first place and how to do it!
     
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  24. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Alright, I think you just bumped up Namibia a few levels on my to-do list. Self-driving is definitely a major part of what I enjoyed about Krueger NP... stopping where I wanted, waiting where I wanted, not having to listen to other people babble how cool everything is, etc.

    Is the tour you booked still on ATI's website? The only 12 day self-drive trip I see is a camping trip, and I'd probably prefer to pay a bit more and skip the camping part. :)
     
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  25. TheBeerHunter
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    TheBeerHunter Silver Member

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    Hmm...I don't see our trip now, either. What had been posted was a "green season special", though we were traveling outside the "special" dates, and they just moderated the price accordingly. I have a copy of the intierary from their site, but it's a Word doc and I can't upload that. PM me if you wish to have it, I'll send via email.

    We did price it out independently too, and they definitely were able to come in cheaper than what we could do. I don't want to sound like a shill for a specific agency, but these guys were really great, and pricing wise, saved us a bunch over what we could have done the same if we booked independently.
     

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