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Old 02-16-2018, 10:56 AM
 
Location: Seattle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDak15 View Post
I have considered South Africa as well. Did you ever go to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park?
No, I haven't. I've been a couple of times to the Madikwe reserve on the SA side of the Botswana border, and it's terrific, but fairly pricey as it's a private reserve (albeit huge.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by NDak15 View Post
To respond to both of you, the only time I can go is June, July, or August.
Those are good times for most safari areas in South Africa.

Just as a thought experiment, look at this as a possible itinerary:

Fly into Joburg, get a car and drive up to the Kruger area, spending a night en route in Graskop, a pretty town close to the Panorama Route and Blyde Canyon area. (Google these places.)

Spend a few days in and around Kruger National Park, including, if your budget allows, a couple of nights at a lodge in one of the private reserves that abut the national park (like Sabi Sand, Balule, etc.) The reason for this is that the safari vehicles can go off-road, which the national park doesn't allow. Kruger is available for self-driving, and has budget accommodations in numerous rest camps.

Then drive back to JNB, drop the car, and fly (cheap) to Port Elizabeth on the Indian Ocean. Get a second car there and visit Addo Elephant National Park, a short distance from the airport. You'll see as many elephants (and other Big Five species) at Addo as you would at Chobe, but at a lower cost. Addo is another self-drive park, with ample affordable lodging all around.

After visiting Addo, drive west along the "Garden Route" coast to Cape Town, via Hermanus (whale watching) and the winelands around Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. This is a superb experience.

If time permits, extend your tour up the Atlantic coast to Paternoster and West Coast National Park, particularly if you're into birds - another terrific experience.

Some sample pictures illustrating these places -

Three Rondavels, Panorama Route near Graskop -



Typical Kruger scene -



Addo Elephant NP -



Garden Route -



West Coast National Park -

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Old 02-16-2018, 04:25 PM
 
Location: SLC
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I have only seen some of these places. Saw the big five - including a rhino and an elephant all to myself for half an hour in a small SA national park (forget the name but closest - about 4 hours - to Jo’burg)! Also saw the whales near Harmanus. Stellenbosch and the Garden Route near Cape Town is excellent.

I would second the experience along the lines of Gardyloo over organized tour, but that reflects my traveling preference. Let’s you get a sense of the place, forces you to apply yourself, and you come out richer.
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Old 02-16-2018, 07:52 PM
 
Location: North Dakota
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions and for the information on South Africa. Looks like I have plenty to think about!
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Old 02-17-2018, 02:22 PM
 
Location: Kirkland, WA (Metro Seattle)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDak15 View Post
The other is a two week trip to Southern Africa. This one includes Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Highlights are Etosha National Park, Swakopmund, the Kalahari, the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, and Victoria Falls. This one is more lodge accommodation than camping.

Thanks in advance.
Amusingly enough, I took a route from Cape Town up through NW SA into Namibia (amusing border crossing at Vioolsdrift on the Orange River, more First than Third World I felt). Then hugging the interior and coast of Namibia, arcing up from Swakopmund into Caprivi, and Caprivi east into Botswana. Only a couple days there, and into Zimbabwe. I flew home from Vic Falls. Vic Falls airport kind of cool, and again more organized than one might imagine worst-case. Far from worst-case, actually.

How are you intending to go? Driving is one thing, and probably pretty cool in and of itself I suppose. Strikes me as a bit dull, but that's my personality.

I was in a group, we had a purpose for being there that combined business with sightseeing. Most of us were on BMW motorcycles. We had a couple guides, plus a support truck. One is a household name celebrity in a certain community. He's also a cool guy on a personal level, I'd call him "business partner" rather than friend. The other guide is getting to be a friend, he's now a certified African tour guide of some kind.

BMW (or KTM, or a few other brands) is an utterly awe-inspiring way to see these places. I figured that out and went for it, but I've been riding street and dirt for three decades. One of our party was seriously injured, though not life-threatening, and needed to be flown out of Cape Town on Day 2. He was in over his head, though a good guy. I did some of the triage and stabilization on him before our medic arrived. Riding 1200cc Adventure bikes in Africa is not for the inexperienced, let's just say. Timid, physically unable, you'll by dead in an hour. The rest of us made it fine though most threw our bikes down a few times in the next 3K miles. I did, four times in the sand, each more amusing than the prior until I'd had "enough!" ...and kept it upright.

Along the way in SA we spent nights in Franschhoek, Springbok, Clanwilliam, and Cape Town itself. I could fill books about those places, it's overwhelming. We stayed in nice lodges. Cape Town is heavily-armed opulence next to ratty townships (aka "slums") so dunno how you feel about that, I found it a sad Apartheid legacy. Those currencies are weak compared to the US dollar, or were at-least, so everything was pretty much fifty cents on the US dollar. In fact no place we stayed was less than the African version of four or five star, on the cheap. These are wild, remote places (some of them), don't expect the Plaza Hotel on Park Avenue in NY NY you'll be fine. But it's not like we were in tents eating jerky: this was their version of first class.

I'm speechless about Namibia, equally impressive to SA in a different way. I always wanted to see Walvis Bay and the great dunes once in my life; mission accomplished. The stories could go on for hours. There are probably few countries wilder and more remote on this earth than Namibia. Some of what I saw made my mind bend, in terms of weirdness (two ton animals wandering around, birds 6' tall running 40mph). Baboons pissed off that motorcycles interrupted their day, the whole troupe unloading on us with screeches and howls. Elephants stamping their feet if we got too close. The people, pretty friendly and always bemused at all the Whites in our biker garb (sometimes we were the most interesting thing to roll through town that day).

Some parts were wilder than you'd think, hundreds of miles of nothing but astounding geology, animals, and fauna alien to the U.S. The towns, some of them, like Runda for example about two dial-clicks away from being a frontier with guns and barely contained lawlessness. Others pretty sedate, Third World but organized enough for-sure with kids in white school uniforms (tons of those).

As for the Smoke That Thunders, in Zim, that is beyond description. That whole country is in thin ice anyway, making the adventure that much more interesting.

Whatever the situation, I'd short-list that idea. But I've never been to Kenya, so wouldn't pooh-pooh that either. I'll be back to SA and Namibia at some point. Botswana and Zimbabwe, meh: neither here nor there, but stories in and of themselves of course.
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Old 02-17-2018, 03:14 PM
 
Location: On the road
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As an aside, since we're sharing stories from travel in the area =

The border crossing from South Africa into Namibia was less than ideal experience. It was late at night in a deserted area on the Intercape bus, and the officers on the ZA side separated all the males to another building for strip searches, leaving the women behind to pull all the luggage to be spread out on the ground for rummaging through. Another passenger on the bus from ZA who takes the route regularly told me it usually happens when there are passports from Nigeria, DR Congo, or Angola in the pile they collect from everyone since it's a smuggling route and those are the usual smugglers. On the Namibia side they took the luggage out (again), ran entire bus through a giant x-ray machine, and did a few random searches of the bags. The lady in Namibia was quite polite, moreso than the ZA side.

Not a huge deal I get that it's their country and they do what they have to do to enforce security, but didn't I care much for being separated from my wife for a half hour in the middle of the night without knowing what was going on where she was. Every other border crossing I've done in Africa has been absolutely painless, of the wait in line for bored sweaty guy to stamp you variety.
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Old 02-17-2018, 10:36 PM
 
Location: North Dakota
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Those of you who flew into Windhoek or Victoria Falls (if any of you did) did you find any flights that didn't cost a small fortune or didn't have ridiculously long layovers! If so, where did you look? Sky scanner has not been helpful.
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Old 02-18-2018, 04:25 AM
 
Location: On the road
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Try kiwi.com, they sometimes slap together itineraries with non-affiliated local airlines that can save you a lot of time/money.
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Old 02-18-2018, 10:31 AM
 
Location: North Dakota
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lieqiang View Post
Try kiwi.com, they sometimes slap together itineraries with non-affiliated local airlines that can save you a lot of time/money.
Thanks, I'll check it out.
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Old 02-18-2018, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Kirkland, WA (Metro Seattle)
4,023 posts, read 3,269,161 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDak15 View Post
Those of you who flew into Windhoek or Victoria Falls (if any of you did) did you find any flights that didn't cost a small fortune or didn't have ridiculously long layovers! If so, where did you look? Sky scanner has not been helpful.
? What's a "small fortune?" Cost me a couple grand on British Airways, last time, close to three K actually with various upgrades I finagled at SeaTac, Johannesburg, and Heathrow respectively. Who gives a crap, what, am I going to fly around the world in cattle class? That's unbearable 20-something, broke, sleeping-in-the-bathtub BS. Good luck with that.

Last time, went World Traveler Plus (premium economy) so I could sleep, and sleep well, on various legs: about 24 hours outbound, and 22 hours inbound, last time (SEA to Cape Town; and Vic Falls to Jo'Burg to Seattle). 7 or so hour layover in Heathrow outbound, which was awesome since I had time to wander Hyde Park and have a nice dinner near Paddington Station after taking the train from Terminal 5.

To me First Class at ten grand in up is a bit excessive, but Business might not be. Might try that next time.
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Old 02-18-2018, 12:25 PM
 
Location: North Dakota
7,749 posts, read 9,053,224 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blondebaerde View Post
? What's a "small fortune?" Cost me a couple grand on British Airways, last time, close to three K actually with various upgrades I finagled at SeaTac, Johannesburg, and Heathrow respectively. Who gives a crap, what, am I going to fly around the world in cattle class? That's unbearable 20-something, broke, sleeping-in-the-bathtub BS. Good luck with that.

Last time, went World Traveler Plus (premium economy) so I could sleep, and sleep well, on various legs: about 24 hours outbound, and 22 hours inbound, last time (SEA to Cape Town; and Vic Falls to Jo'Burg to Seattle). 7 or so hour layover in Heathrow outbound, which was awesome since I had time to wander Hyde Park and have a nice dinner near Paddington Station after taking the train from Terminal 5.

To me First Class at ten grand in up is a bit excessive, but Business might not be. Might try that next time.
Over $2k is excessive to me. I'll deal with the cramped seating even though I'm a somewhat fat guy.
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