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Help needed 25th wedding anniversary celebration vacation

Hua Hin, Thailand
Level Contributor
747 posts
83 reviews
Help needed 25th wedding anniversary celebration vacation

We just booked our tickets! This will be our 1st visit to SA. So excited!

We decided to go with Emirates through Dubai. Just wanted to try a new airline & a different country for our layovers. We pick longer layovers so we can rest & visit a bit between the long flights.

We will be arriving /departing to/from Johannesburg, Sept 12th - Oct 11th 2018.

We're mid - late 50ties. We like slow casual travel. We're not into museums but rather slowly soak up the vibes of the different cities we visit by waking around & trying the local food. We like hiking but we're not too adventurous so we would not bungee jump or swim with the sharks.

Please let me know if you see any red flags in the following itinerary or if you have suggestions:

Sept. 12th - Arrive in Johannesburg

Sept. 12-15th - Visit Johannesburg while recovering from the long journey

Sept. 15th - Fly to Port Elizabeth & rent a car

Sept. 15-18th - Safari at Lalibela Game Reserve (great deal pay 2, stay 3 nights)

Sept. 18-21st - Jeffrey's Bay (visit Storm River, PE, Francis Bay, ...)

Sept. 21-24th - Knysna (visit Plett, Robberg Nat. Reserve, ...)

Sept. 24-25th - Swellendam (Marloth Nature Reserve)

Sept. 25-27th - Hermanus (hope to see whales from the coast)

Sept. 27-29th - Franschoek (do the wine route with tram/bus or wine walk)

Sept. 29-Oct 9 - Cape Town (I'll go over our plans there in more details on that forum)

Oct. 9th - Return car to airport & fly to Johannesburg

Oct. 10 - Fly back to Seattle through Dubai.

I know this is a lot more days than most people do on the Garden Route but I tried to organize it so we do no more than 2 hour drive between destinations. We would like to be able to hike everyday (weather permitting) & also be able to rest & relax in each place. We heard about the ostrich farms & the caves in Oudtshoorn but decided to skip that & focus mostly on the coast.

Any comments, suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated.

I already have a pretty good idea where we will stay in each places but I'm waiting for feedback before booking all the accommodations in case the # of days in each places changes. Planning to do mostly Airbnbs or B&B. Since we're traveling for 1 month & splurging on a Safari, we're trying to keep it at $100 or less/night for our rooms/apartments.

P.S. We know a self-drive Safari would have been cheaper but since it's our 1st safari we decided to splurge a little.

13 replies to this topic
Frankfurt, Germany
Destination Expert
for Garden Route
Level Contributor
2,287 posts
80 reviews
1. Re: Help needed 25th wedding anniversary celebration vacation

In a nutshell, it looks pretty good to me, except for the Jeffrey's Bay part. I don't think there is much to there for 3 days, and I would rather visit Addo Elephant National Park for a day or two and stay two nights in or near Storms River Mouth, it is a very special place.

You were asking for most memorable places to eat beforehand. My in laws had stayed at Hopefield B&B near Addo and said that their dinners were really special (reading the reviews, it's not everybody's cup of tea), they even asked to see the chef, for a round of applause in the dining room.

You don't need to self drive inside Addo Elephant National Park, there are day tours -or- Addo Elephant National Park offers the service of "hop on" rangers. Members of the local community are your rangers inside your car, helping you to spot game. Maybe this sounds like something memorable to you.

I would probably not stay in Jeffrey's Bay at all.

Edited: 22 November 2017, 17:59
Hua Hin, Thailand
Level Contributor
747 posts
83 reviews
2. Re: Help needed 25th wedding anniversary celebration vacation

Thanks for the feedback! Good to have the opinion of someone who's been there. While looking for Airbnbs in PE, we saw a great one in Jeffrey's Bay. That's why we thought we would use it as a base for that general area.

Johannesburg, South...
Level Contributor
294 posts
55 reviews
3. Re: Help needed 25th wedding anniversary celebration vacation

You have almost a month and no Kruger? I would go there after Joburg and do safari part in Kruger or Sabi if you want an all-inclusive. Eastern Cape is nice but just cannot compare.

Hua Hin, Thailand
Level Contributor
747 posts
83 reviews
4. Re: Help needed 25th wedding anniversary celebration vacation

I know, we evaluated this for a long time but the extra drive or extra flight back & forth did not appeal to us at all. We also considered visiting other places in Africa but we just decided to focus on The Garden Route & Cape Town on this trip.

Reviews are excellent on Lalibela & it's just an hour drive from PE airport. We decided this would be good enough for our 1st safari.

We might consider a self-drive in Addo on our way back to PE.

Level Contributor
1,047 posts
12 reviews
5. Re: Help needed 25th wedding anniversary celebration vacation

Dudels advice is good, couldn't put it better myself, and I lived in J Bay so know the area . I can however recommend a coffee or lunch stop at' Kitchen Windows'in Jeffrey's Bay, especially if the weather is good..... Sit outside and watch the waves.

Leeds, United...
Destination Expert
for Western Cape, Cape Town Central
Level Contributor
5,465 posts
623 reviews
6. Re: Help needed 25th wedding anniversary celebration vacation

I also agree with Dudel. I wouldn’t stay In Jeffrey’s Bay. Do try and fit in Addo. You will see so many elephants, the memory will stay with you for another 25 years!

I stayed at Lalibela on my first visit, which I think was 12 years ago. I was really pleased with the experience and I hear it’s recent had a major facelift. No it’s not the Kruger or Greater Kruger. But yes it will make a very good first safari experience. It took me 16 trips before I visited the Kruger area, and I’m now hooked!

When you’re in Swellendam, make sure you visit the museum there, it’s really interesting. Also Bontebok Park is really worth visiting.

But looks a great trip!

Lisa

Level Contributor
269 posts
7. Re: Help needed 25th wedding anniversary celebration vacation

Try to Stay at Storms River Mouth in the Tsitzikama section of the Garden Route National Park ...it is awesome with several easy(ish)/hiking options. If spending time in Knysna, I recommend the Trip to the Featherbed Nature Reserve with lunch etc. included. The Robberg Penninsula near Plettenberg Bay is also an amazingly beautiful hiking option.... nothing too strenuous but well worth doing.

Hua Hin, Thailand
Level Contributor
747 posts
83 reviews
8. Re: Help needed 25th wedding anniversary celebration vacation

Ok, you've convinced me, we gave up on the idea of staying in Jeffrey's Bay.

So after our 3 night safari at Lalibela, now we're thinking of staying 1 night near ADDO so we can do a self-drive there. Then we will head to the Storms River Mouth area for 2 nights at the Storm River Guests House.

Does that sound better? Anything else we should change?

Leeds, United...
Destination Expert
for Western Cape, Cape Town Central
Level Contributor
5,465 posts
623 reviews
9. Re: Help needed 25th wedding anniversary celebration vacation

That sounds much better! Looks a great trip

Frankfurt, Germany
Destination Expert
for Garden Route
Level Contributor
2,287 posts
80 reviews
10. Re: Help needed 25th wedding anniversary celebration vacation

Super!

You might want to have a look at the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp. It is state run and gets mixed reviews. Some people complain about its management and/or maintenance, but the location is just stunning!

I would look at the cottages (especially OC2, aka honeymoon cottage) or the chalets.

https:/…

You will have a great holiday and by judging your planning, you will be bitten by the Africa bug!

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