South Africa Suggestions

South Africa Suggestions

From Amy Hartman:

Hi Jim-

I really enjoy the blog and following your travels.

You know me, always planning a year in advance, so we have plenty of time to talk about this. The dates have been set by school schedules and FF tickets. We fly into Cape Town, arriving on the morning of July 14 and depart Nairobi late evening on August 1, so we have 18 nights in country. The tentative plan would be to possibly rent a house for 5-6 nights in the south suburbs of Capetown or closer to Hermanus — whale watching, shark diving, penguins, Robbens Island, wine country etc. Head north to the wild coast (and warmer temps), possibly by Premier train (same route as Rovos and the Blue Train but 1/10 of the price!), and then head into Kenya — Joburg to Kisumu via Nairobi (?) to meet up with Lauren. Lauren has her own truck so we will self drive to wherever we go next from Kisumu. She spends her vacations in the Mara — not a bad option 🙂 but I would prefer to take advantage of the
second trip to East Africa by visiting an area where we have not been, so Uganda really looks to be an interesting option — Kibale v Kabarega and Murchison Falls.

All the Best,

A. from Jim:
Whales don’t really get going until the end of July, through November. Shark diving is best from Pt. Elizabeth, a 2- or 3-day drive from CPT or a 1- or 2-day drive from Hermanus, at the east edge of the Garden Route. Penguins, Robben Island and the wine country are all best done from Cape Town. So you’ll have to decide where to rent your house: Cape Town, Hermanus or Pt. Elizabeth, since they are mutually exclusive areas. Now if you decided to drive the Garden Route after Cape Town, you could then hit both Hermanus and Pt. Elizabeth.

The Wild Coast is even further east from Pt. Elizabeth, almost to Durban along the coast. The waters of the Indian Ocean do get warmer, but the temperatures on land compared to Cape Town get colder. There are some beautiful wildernesses, here, but they really are wild and best for self-catering drivers; not a lot of lodges, and the game is sparse compared to other parts of the country… There is no train service east from Cape Town further than Pt. Elizabeth, so if you were continuing east into the Wild Coast from there you’re only option is to drive. There are good bus services.

You must have a very old guide book. KabeLega is the name that Idi Amin gave to Queen Elizabeth National Park. It was rescinded when he was deposed in 1981… I don’t think I’d recommend you spend any time in Uganda at all, having just as you know returned from there. That’s because I doubt you’ll have enough time to do the chimps in the north all the way down to the gorillas in the south, with all the other things you want to do on this trip. That’s a minimum of 7 days, and more likely 8 or even 9 if you include Murchison Falls. Gorillas are better done in Rwanda, anyway, and that you can nip off in 3 days. So if you can concede doing chimps, then I’d concentrate on a 3-day gorilla trip in Rwanda… You simply will not be excited at all in the game areas of Uganda.