Author Topic: South Africa Getaway  (Read 1280 times)

Offline TAVI

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South Africa Getaway
« on: January 04, 2018, 06:15:11 PM »
Just wanted to share some notes around our recent trip to South Africa. It was more challenging to plan this trip than usual, as we only got the final approval for the trip a month prior to departure date due to busy work schedule and the need to find babysitting solution for the kids. Also, to complicate thigs further, we were joining up with friends from Israel, so needed to line up the itineraries accordingly. Furthermore, the fact that we were traveling during the Christmas break, which is the busiest season for SA, didn’t help matters either. But all’s well that ends well, and we ended up having a great time exploring this wonderful country and made it back to NYC before this lovely storm.

Some accounting for flight routing and costs:
•   JFK – ATL – JNB, Delta One - 95K DL + $5 p/p
•   MQP – CPT, SAA econ - ~$300 p/p
•   CPT – JNB – MUC – EWR, SAA / UA Biz – 80K UA + $95 p/p

We got in to JNB in the evening, and decided to stay 1 night in the Melrose Arch area. Chose the Protea Fire and Ice which was about $80. Did the pretty standard Soweto / Apartheid tour in the morning before driving out to Kruger.

Spent 3 nights in Kruger, at Protea Kruger Gate hotel, which was a steal as a Marriott cat 1 property. Comparatively, cash rates were ~$350 a night. The property is also very unique and gorgeous, built into the trees, and was truly a delight, especially since it is located right outside of Paul Kruger gate. If they could only teach some of their staff how to smile, it would truly be amazing. Granted, we wanted to experience the private game reserves, but given that we booked this trip last minute and needed 2 rooms, nothing was available, unless we were willing to spend $2,000 a night. 
We did 2 game drives, 1 guided (book directly with KNP instead of hotel or tour agency for cheaper price) and 1 self-drive. While they were both fun, the self-drive was truly memorable, as we ventured and explored on our own and twice ran into a game of chicken with a sizable elephant (who needless to say won both times). There are ton of activities that can be done in the area, and we chose to do a quad biking tour and an archery lesson with Induna Adventures, which were lots of fun.

We spent 6 nights in Cape Town, and stayed at Marriott Crystal Towers in Century City using a 7 night cat-5 cert, which again was a steal as comparable properties during the NYE period were running $300+ a night. The property is outside of city center and about a 10-15 drive from VA waterfront, but most of the attractions in Cape Town need to be driven to, so this was not an issue at all. The hotel itself is excellent.  It is modern and provided a superb service through an army of staff members who immediately catered to our needs while smiling all the time . Also, they had the most comfortable beds I’ve slept in quite a while, to a point that my better half is insisting we buy Marriott bedding immediately.

In terms of activities in Cape Town, we did most of the usual ones:
•   Day 1 - Cape of good hope, Cape Point, Boulders Beach

•   Day 2 – Camps Bay / Clifton, VA Waterfront shopping.

•   Day 3 – Great White Shark Cage Diving – this was the most disappointing part of our trip, as after 3+ hours of driving each way and ~5 hours on the boat, the star of the show (i.e. the great white) was nowhere to be found. And after climbing into the cage in freezing water, we had to settle for smaller copper shark, but even then, the water visibility was so bad you couldn’t see anything through the snorkels. Note that due to some orcas in the bay, they have been having major issues on these tours in recent months, and I wouldn’t recommend the undertaking until this changes.

•   Day 4 – Wineries and Table Mountain – Spier farm in Stellenbosch offers a Segway vineyard tour, which was quite fine and I recommend it. The 2 hour wait for the Cableway on the way down from Table Mountain was just frustrating and significantly detracted from the experience.

•   Day 5 – massages / relaxing before NYE party and Shimmy Beach Club. The was fun, but the crowd was not as upscale as we were expecting from this venue.

•   Day 6 – gift shopping prior to flight back to NYC.

I won’t provide commentary on dining as only 1 in our party kept kosher.

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2018, 08:47:40 PM »
Nice write up! Pics! Pics! Pics!

Offline Dan

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2018, 09:43:49 PM »
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.

Offline stbaum

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2018, 01:11:39 AM »
Am I the only one that doesn’t really read TR and just checks the pics?? Or have I been spoiled by SF? We’re gonna need pics, dude
My greatest achievement? I am fluent in FRIENDS quotes

Offline Yammer

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2018, 02:38:11 AM »
Am I the only one that doesn’t really read TR and just checks the pics?? Or have I been spoiled by SF? We’re gonna need pics, dude
Depends if I plan on traveling there in the future or the destination had multiple TRs etc

Offline TAVI

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2018, 08:46:47 AM »
Nice write up! Pics! Pics! Pics!

thnx, will load some as soon as wifey transfer from phone to desktop

Offline Dawie

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2018, 10:27:05 AM »


•   Day 4 – Wineries and Table Mountain – Spier farm in Stellenbosch offers a Segway vineyard tour, which was quite fine and I recommend it. The 2 hour wait for the Cableway on the way down from Table Mountain was just frustrating and significantly detracted from the experience.


I won’t provide commentary on dining as only 1 in our party kept kosher.

quite a day to do both Table Mtn and Stellenbosch in one day
To those that keep kosher there are 2 wine farms (at least) that are kosher (Klein Draken/Zandwijk and Backsburg)

Offline cdlaz

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2018, 09:07:09 AM »
quite a day to do both Table Mtn and Stellenbosch in one day

Spier is 35 mins from Century city and then TM Cable Car parking is 45 mins from Spier.
Sunset is late in summer so can certainly do both in 1 day.

Offline Dawie

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2018, 01:13:17 PM »
Spier is 35 mins from Century city and then TM Cable Car parking is 45 mins from Spier.
Sunset is late in summer so can certainly do both in 1 day.
not counting traffic

Offline TAVI

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2018, 03:04:19 PM »
not counting traffic

maybe we were very lucky, but the only time we encountered any traffic in our 10 days was on our drive to Gaansbai. otherwise it was all smooth sailing...

Offline yoohoo

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2018, 03:29:29 PM »
“Pics or it didn’t happen”  ;D

Offline TAVI

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2018, 03:48:11 PM »


JNB and Melrose Arch Protea Fire & Ice

Offline TAVI

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2018, 03:50:57 PM »
Melrose Arch Christmas Decorations


Offline TAVI

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2018, 03:57:01 PM »
Soweto Tour

Offline TAVI

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Re: South Africa Getaway
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2018, 04:02:05 PM »
First is while lounging by the pool.

The other was a guest at our breakfast.
Not sure if i can load a video here, but the monkey just jump onto a table near us, grabbed some sugar packs and hopped away. it was really cool.