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2 wks in South Africa with teens - Feedback requested please!

2 wks in South Africa with teens - Feedback requested please!

Old Dec 31st, 2017, 12:36 PM
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2 wks in South Africa with teens - Feedback requested please!

We are taking our first trip to Africa this summer with our 13 and 15 year olds, spending 2 weeks in South Africa. I have planned a pretty aggressive itinerary and wondering if it's possible to do. We tend to travel a little crazy, keeping busy, and vacillate between DIY and big splurges (trying to get the balance of the bargain and the presidential treatment!). Daughter (15) is a rock climber & adrenaline junkie; husband is active & outdoorsy; son is an animal lover; I am a travel-aholic with a poor knee; and we are all scuba divers that like warm water - ha! We are planning to rent a car. I really would like to get some ideas on moving between Hluhluwe Nat'l Park to Kruger (car? airplane? transport service?). Lastly, any suggestions places/guides for my daughter to either boulder or climb would be appreciated. Many thanks in advance!

June 3 - leave US
June 5 - Cape Town - arrive midday. Explore Cape Town
June 6 - Cape Town - Table Mountain, Bo Kaap
June 7 - Cape Town - Cape Point, Boulder's Beach, Chapman's Peak Drive
June 8 - Hermanus, Cage diving with great whites, drive to Oudtshoorn (4 hours)
June 9 - Oudtshoorn - Cango Caves, Ostrich farm, drive to Plettenberg (2 hours)
June 10 - Plettenberg - Canyoning, whale watching or water activities
June 11 - Plettenberg - Bloukrans (Bungee?), Tsitsikama drive to Port Elizabeth (2.5 hours)
June 12 - Addo Elephant Park, fly to Durban
June 13 - Durban - Canopy tour or microlight? Natal Shark Board? drive to St. Lucia
June 14 - St. Lucia - horse safari? Imfolozi - boat cruise
June 15 - Hluhluwe National Park
June 16 - travel to Kruger (maybe starting the evening go 6/15) - fly to JoB and drive? transport? drive to Kruger from St. Lucia?
June 17- Kruger
June 18- Kruger
June 19 - Kruger am, back to Johannesburg (car or transport?)
June 20 - Johannesburg - Soweto, Apartheid museum, evening flight home.
jennmmcc is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2017, 12:57 PM
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Well apart from the cage dive* which I would urge you to reconsider, I think you have the makings of a decent trip. We took our kids to SA when they were only a little older than yours and we had a great time.

I'm not sure that if you are going to Kruger that there is any point in going to Addo which we found quite disappointing. I also think that your Garden route drive is a bit frantic - we found that 2-3 night stays were much more worthwhile than "one night stands" and that we needed 4 nights in Cape town - you may want the same especially if you are having to factor in jet lag which we didn't have as we were flying from Europe where there is no time difference.

Also I suspect that you are not allowing enough time for doing things along the Garden Route - there are canopy walks and other activities that you can do at Tsitsikama and you have completely ignored Knysna. If your kids are anything like ours were at that age they prefer doing to driving along.

also, I've not been there but is there some reason why you rejected the Drakensberg?

But in the end it's such a wonderful place you're almost bound to have a great time.

*Regarding that cage dive, apart from being potentially very dangerous, it also encourages sharks to think of people as prey which is inherently a bad thing particularly for the sharks which are then killed when they attack people. Really we should be trying to keep away from them as much as possible.

Here's an article that puts both sides:

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Old Dec 31st, 2017, 07:59 PM
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I agree entirely with annhig. Teaching sharks to associate food with people is just a bad idea. If you really want to do it, there are many places closer to home you can do it (including around 100 mikes from my house and local beaches). Better than teaching them in a far off place and leaving the locals to deal with it.

I don’t know where you’re coming from but it takes 2 days to get there from the States, 1 day back. The flights are exhausting. June 21 is the shortest day of the year so it’s dark around 5:30 pm or so, sunrise is around 6am.

For me, your itinerary is TOO much moving around for just 2 weeks, even though you want to “do crazy”. Don’t. Just 1 full day in Cape Town, arriving very tired - add at least a day. You’re skipping Robben Island - personally very important to see it.

I would choose the Garden Route or KwaZulu Natal - you really don’t have time for both to experience anything. Addo for a day is not advised and St Lucia for 1 night is not enough time. You’re missing Wilderness/Storms River where there’s so much fun and beauty. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi (one park, not in St Lucia) is sensational and an important park, best for more than a day trip - 2 nights minimum.

KwaZulu Natal is my favorite part of S Africa (so far). You’re only spending 2 days there - there’s so much to do and see and experience. There’s excellent diving at a Aliwal Shoals and Sodwana or Kosi Bay. The Indian Ocean is pretty warm in winter but you’ll still need wet suits (it’s winter). Try Coral Divers - the only dive shop I have any personal reviews. There are excellent private reserves we visit too. Tembe Elephant Park was recently returned to the local tribe through reconciliation and is owned and staffed entirely by local people. It’s a wonderful experience. Tembe has family tents for 4. The lodges in a Manyoni Reserve are great - the reserve was founded with help from WWF to expand the black rhino population. Rhino River Lodge has excellent family accommodations in the cabins/chalets and cottage with a bit more private space. We’ve been every couple of years and the reserve is aging beautifully - it’s set in a valley of the a Drakensbergs and very pretty. They are affordable too.

St Lucia is on the edge of the gorgeous iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The drive to Cape Vidal is my favorite drive anywhere. Wildlife, scenery, ending at a gorgeous, wide, pristine beach.

Try Oribi Gorge for your daughter. They usually refer to it as abseiling in S Africa, even though it’s not 100% accurate. There’s excellent hiking and beautiful views in Giants Castle and Royal Natal. The San Art in Giants Castle is accessible and fascinating.

The Natal Shark Board trips are very early morning. Add a night near Durban to do that.

You can fly direct from Durban to MQP near Kruger. Or drive from St Lucia with a night in Mbabane, Swaziland to Kruger. Are you doing a private reserve lodge or self drive in Kruger? If self driving, 2 nights at 2 different camps (4 nights) is recommended. Or 3 nights at a private lodge unfenced to Kruger. Share a budget and we can help with recommendations. Then drive to JNB.

A day in Johannesburg doing the HopOn HopOff bus with Soweto can be done the day of your evening flights home. Don’t miss the Apartheid Museum. The Cradle of Humankind and caves is a great day with kids too - it’s outside the city so add a night to visit.

If you do the cage dive (please don’t), it’s early am so you need to get there the night before. It’s weather dependent so many choose to stay 2 nights.

Me? I’d do 4 nights Cape Town, fly Durban and do 3 nights in Oribi Gorge, Giants Castle, 2 nights St Lucia. Add a day or 2 for diving. Then do a 3 night private game reserve in KwaZulu Natal or 3 nights in Hluhluwe-iMfolizi. Or shorten something and do 4 nights in Kruger, plus a travel day whether driving or flying. Then 1 night in Johannesburg a full day drive!), fly home. Yes, that’s too many nights but it’s still too much for 2 weeks. When we go, we do 2 weeks and generally just do KZN and Kruger and still haven’t seen/done it all.

We stay in mostly public park accommodations with bathroom and kitchenette/utensils included and fully equipped guest houses so we can cook or eat out as we choose. We prefer having a way to have snacks, ice, drinks any time too. See www.safarinow.com for guest houses, www.sanparks.org and www.kznwildlife.com for public parks.

You can’t do it all either. Choose what’s important to you and enjoy it. Don’t just drive by it - check a map to see how far everything really is and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy what you choose. You’re young, you’ll be back. It’s not so far any more. Honest - I go often and still fit in other holidays too. But S Africa has grabbed my heart and calls me back again and again (and again...).

Have fun.
christabir is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2018, 03:11 AM
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Great advice there from Christabir, who is far more experienced in SA than I.
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Old Jan 1st, 2018, 06:34 AM
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check this out. My self and my 2 adult children did the primitive trail June 2016, had a great experience.

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Old Jan 1st, 2018, 08:38 AM
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Only kids over 16 allowed to do those excellent wilderness trails. Do it next time - they are really great for the right people!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2018, 08:57 AM
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Thanks for the info. I'm sure we could spend 2 months in South Africa and not see everything. I think I'll plan the front and back ends (Cape Town and Kruger) first and spend some time doing more research for the middle of our trip. I had not considered Drakensburg. Especially appreciate the info on Oribi Gorge, flights between Durban and Kruger and all the details. Understand the controversy regarding cage diving, thanks for the feedback.
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