Questions about Cape Town/South Africa? Ask a Capetonian!

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#21
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by floridatravelersforlife
Thanks

Interesting that you pick August. Most cruises are there from Dec to April which is not good for side excursions for Safari.

It seems Kruger Park is well developed and independent reservations for travel and on site camps is relatively easy?
You will still have a fantastic safari time during those months, especially in the Kruger, which is very rich in game. December, January will be quite warm, but that is not a problem for everyone, and depending where you stay, there will be swimming pools, fans, air conditioning etc. to make it more bearable. April would be good, as it has begun to cool down a bit by then.

Kruger Park and the surrounding private game parks are exceptionally well developed. Independent reservations should be very straight forward.


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#22
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by travellovers
Sounds like we can just pop in for wine tours and no reservations are needed??

We have a full day driver hired. I want to squeeze in a lot. Can we do the coast drive in the morning and spend the afternoon in the wine region with a couple of wine tastings? How long would this take

Have you ever been to Botswana or Zimbabwe? We are going onto Victoria Falls and then on the Zambezi Queen Riverboat. I have been on cruise critic mainly looking for the river cruise reviews.

Thanks in advance for your time and help
Do you mean popping into the individual wine farms? If so, then you are absolutely right, no need for reservations, just arrive during open hours and wine taste away! Some special items may need a reservation on certain wine farms eg. Cellar tours, but they normally clearly indicate this on their websites.

If you start early (I assume you will be here in summer, which means the sun rises around 5:30am and sets around 9pm), you can indeed do the coastal drive in the morning, then do some wine tasting in the afternoon. It will be a busy day, but definitely doable. A peninsula tour, with a couple of stops for pictures and to admire the views, will probably take 3-4 hours. The Constantia wine route is actually the end leg of a typical peninsula tour, which means you can grab some lunch in the Constantia wine region, then spend a few hours in the afternoon sampling various wines on the farms in the area. Alternatively, you can take a longer drive out to the Stellenbosch, Paarl or Franscchoek wine regions. Takes about an hour drive outside of Cape Town centre to get to these areas, but they also have fantastic wine farms, and are beautiful areas to visit in their own rights.

I grew up in Zimbabwe, so know it very well. You will love Victoria Falls, it is spectacular! I have also been to Botswana. In my humble opinion, there is no better country for safari game viewing in Southern Africa. A beautiful country. Any particular questions, will be happy to help as I can.


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#23
Bridgeville, DE
2,069 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by Zimbo
Do you mean popping into the individual wine farms? If so, then you are absolutely right, no need for reservations, just arrive during open hours and wine taste away! Some special items may need a reservation on certain wine farms eg. Cellar tours, but they normally clearly indicate this on their websites.

If you start early (I assume you will be here in summer, which means the sun rises around 5:30am and sets around 9pm), you can indeed do the coastal drive in the morning, then do some wine tasting in the afternoon. It will be a busy day, but definitely doable. A peninsula tour, with a couple of stops for pictures and to admire the views, will probably take 3-4 hours. The Constantia wine route is actually the end leg of a typical peninsula tour, which means you can grab some lunch in the Constantia wine region, then spend a few hours in the afternoon sampling various wines on the farms in the area. Alternatively, you can take a longer drive out to the Stellenbosch, Paarl or Franscchoek wine regions. Takes about an hour drive outside of Cape Town centre to get to these areas, but they also have fantastic wine farms, and are beautiful areas to visit in their own rights.

I grew up in Zimbabwe, so know it very well. You will love Victoria Falls, it is spectacular! I have also been to Botswana. In my humble opinion, there is no better country for safari game viewing in Southern Africa. A beautiful country. Any particular questions, will be happy to help as I can.


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We will be in Capetown early May, 2015. We want go do a photo safari then on to Victoria Falls. You say Botswana is probably the best location for a safari. Can you recommend a place to stay? Or better yet, do you know of anyone I can contact that would do an all inclusive package that includes the safari, Victoria Falls and airfare?
If mentioning a company poses a problem, you can email me at:
ka4293 at gmail dot com. Just put safari in subject line.
Thanks so much for your help.
Kathleen.


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#24
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by shootingstar07
We will be in Capetown early May, 2015. We want go do a photo safari then on to Victoria Falls. You say Botswana is probably the best location for a safari. Can you recommend a place to stay? Or better yet, do you know of anyone I can contact that would do an all inclusive package that includes the safari, Victoria Falls and airfare?
If mentioning a company poses a problem, you can email me at:
ka4293 at gmail dot com. Just put safari in subject line.
Thanks so much for your help.
Kathleen.


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Early May is the perfect time (IMHO). My wife and I did a very similar itinerary last year to the one you are proposing. Cape Town to Victoria Falls for 2 nights, then from Vic Falls a short flight across the border to Botswana for 7 nights. In Victoria Falls we stayed at Toka Leya lodge, and then in Botswana we split our time between Zarafa camp and Jao camp. Can very highly recommend all 3 lodges, absolutely superb, we had the time of our lives. Trip Advisor reviews can back me up on this. All 3 camps fall under the Wilderness Safaris company. I can also highly recommend the Little Mombo camp in Botswana, also a Wilderness Safaris camp (http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/)

To book our trip we used a lady named Ricky, who is a Cape Townian. Her company is African Luxury Vacations (http://http://www.africanluxuryvacations.com) and she organised us an amazing once-in-a-lifetime (or hopefully there are a few more similar to come ) trip. Her contact details are on the website - let her know that Nick and Melissa recommended her to you. She will be able to organise you a all-inclusive package absolutely tailored to your needs, and could not be more helpful.

Let me know if you have any more questions, happy to help in any way I can.
#25
BC, Canada
828 Posts
Joined May 2011
I am hoping you are still monitoring your thread. We are looking at a cruise that will end in Cape Town next December 21st. We have the opportunity to do 1 of 2 post cruise 3 day land packages. One goes to Chobe and Victoria Falls and one goes to Kapama game reserve. Do you have any thoughts on either of these destinations? At this point in time I don't have any details just the 2 destinations but hope you have some insight into which one you recommend. Thanks for any thoughts you might have.
#26
Brisbane
33 Posts
Joined Dec 2013
Originally posted by Zimbo
Here goes!

Things To do

- If you are in Cape Town during the summer months (November to March/April), which I should imagine is the peak time for cruise arrivals, then a fantastic afternoon/evening activity is to take in one of the open-air concerts at Kirstenbosch gardens, which are held every Sunday evening, and normally feature local artists and bands, including the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Take a picnic blanket, arrive a bit earlier and grab a nice spot on the grass, and enjoy a fantastic evening. You can also take a picnic basket and drinks with you, or order and grab at the venue.


- Staying with Kirsenbosch, if you are the more active type, explore Kirstenbosch gardens, and then take one of several paths that leads up the mountain and go for a bit of a hike above the gardens, providing various great views of the city, surrounds, and two oceans.


- Elephant's Eye Cave hike, in the Silvermine reserve - a relatively relaxing hike, and beautiful scenery and views http://namibsands.wordpress.com/2010...at-silvermine/


- Driving - Cape Town and surrounds is a lovely place to just take a leisurely drive around, starting in the CBD, follow the waterfront around the peninsula through Camps Bay past the 12 Apostles to Hout Bay, and then around the awe-inspiring Chapman's Peak Drive through to Noordhoek and its incredible long white beaches. With more time, continue from there to Fish Hoek and then to Cape Point and its nature reserve. I would also highly suggest a drive up the West Coast, with spectacular views of Table Mountain. Cutting across, you start to hit wine country, which has lots of lazy, winding and scenic mountainous roads. Take your time, stop wherever it takes your fancy, and enjoy the diversity that Cape Town has to offer, from landscapes and scenery, to wine farms, farm stalls, ocean-view cafes and bars, nature reserves, etc.


- High Tea - the only place for high tea in Cape town, at the Mount Nelson Hotel! Enjoy the gardens whilst you are there.



- Robertson - lesser known wine region, and slightly further from the usual touristy spots, but worth the drive, as it has excellent wines, some very good restaurants, and nice little places to stay. Around the year they have certain wine and food festivals as well.


- Food and Craft Markets - Cape Town has lots of morning markets, normally Saturday, which are fantastic to visit and just chill. Some of my favourite include the market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, the Hout Bay market, and the Saturday morning market at Laborie wine farm in Paarl.


- Wine Tasting - of course! Just pick one of the main wine routes (Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, Durbanville Hills, Constantia), and just lazily drive along and pop into each.


- Table Mountain - for the adventurous and active, rather than take the cable car, hike up instead! Make sure you are properly kitted out, take a trail map, and start earlier in the day whilst it is still cool and there is lots of daylight.


- Lions Head and Rhodes Memorial - both awesome places for views, Lions Head especially for the beautiful summer sunsets and sundowners!


- Walk around the CBD - Cape Town CBD is a lovely city, and it is worth, if you have the time, exploring it by foot. Start down the International Convention Centre end, and just take a leisurely stroll up, through St. George's Mall and into Company Gardens. Lots of vibey little coffee bars, pubs and cafes to pop into, and lots of informal markets selling little trinkets. Don't get bullied into buying something you don't want, for too much! Always haggle, but remember, at the end of the day, in local currency what you eventually pay is probably very little when converted to US$, pounds or Euros, so don't be too stingy! ;-) You can also take a stroll along the World Cup fan walk, which starts from the CBD and takes you to the Cape Town stadium in Greenpoint, which is worth a look. Continue past it, and you end up in the lovely surrounding gardens and park, and ultimately in Sea Point. Take a stroll along the Seapoint promenade next to the water in the afternoon, really nice walk, and the locals come down to walk their dogs, do pilates, or go for a jog.


- Franschhoek Motor Museum - really lovely private car collection, with various makes from over a century, in a fantastic setting on L'Ormarin's Estate. A must see if you are even slightly interested in anything automotive, and it even tends to fascinate those who aren't!



Places to Eat


Much like wine estates, Cape Town is blessed with a wide variety of excellent, world-class restaurants. Some of my favourite, in no particular order:


- The Test Kitchen - make sure you book months in advance, and prepare to spend a few hours there marvelling at the art that arrives on a plate. And that is before you taste it!


- La Mouette - lovely little place in Greenpoint/Seapoint area.


- La Colombe - excellent, deserves its stellar reputation


- Bizerca Bistro - more informal than the above, but probably a contender for my number 1 favourite. Menu changes daily, always fresh ingredients.


- Bombay Brasserie - for a "fancy" curry.


- Eastern Food Bazaar - for a "basic" curry, but just as tasty, and dead cheap!


- And Union - great craft beer and wine bar, favourite of locals after work, also serve rustic but very tasty German and Portuguese fare


- The Crypt Jazz Restaurant - in the crypt underneath Cape Town's St. Georges Cathedral. Enjoy the unique surroundings and great live jazz music every night whilst having a bite to eat.


- Azure Restaurant - at the 12 Apostle's Hotel, absolutely stunning views over the ocean whilst sitting on the deck, and really good food is a bonus!


- Den Anker - my favourite place to eat at the V&A Waterfront. Good food, excellent beer and wine, nice location.

These are but a sample, you need to spend several years in Cape Town to experience everything!


I loved your list of "things to do" in and around Cape Town - while I have been there before (8 years ago and 32 years ago) my partner has not visited and I found your list the most useful and informative source of information I have found so far. Thank you !! We are in and around Cape Town for 8 days ahead of joining the Queen Mary 2 on 28th January 2014 and are staying close to the V & A area. For half of the time we will have a car, so we should be able to get through quite a bit of your list !!

My only questions are do you have any new thoughts or additions to your list since you wrote it, and do you know of anything special that might be on in Cape Town around the time we are visiting ?
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#27
Hollister, CA
877 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
We will be in Cape Town in early May and are staying at the Commodore Hotel. Can you please advise on best way to get to hotel from airport... And if by taxi what would be the approximate cost? Do taxis take visa? Thank you..
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#28
Upstate South Carolina
1,055 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
We will be in Cape Town before our transatlantic cruise in November 2015. We have been told that it is pointless to go to Victoria Falls as it is the dry season. Is this true? Also from which country will the views be best? I am just in the beginning stages of planning. Our wish list is to see the Big Five, Victoria a Falls, and Nelson Mandela sites. I know we will need flights to accomplish this. Thank you for any information.

Pearl
#29
Vancouver
2,066 Posts
Joined May 2008
Zimbabwe has the best view of the falls. you can walk onto the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe and have a different view from there. You do not need to purchase a multi entry visa that way for Zimbabwe. You just have to tell the immigration people that you are just walking on to the bridge and not going into Zambia. You will have to stop at immigration again on the way back to let them know you are back in Zimbabwe.
The baboons by the bridge are quite entertaining.
#30
Manchester UK
1,007 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
Originally posted by Pearl64
Our wish list is to see ......Nelson Mandela sites....Thank you for any information.
Pearl
We were in Cape Town last month and as you probably know one of the 'must sees' is Robben Island. The tour was booked up for three days in advance, so make sure you book on online. From memory this can be done up to three months in advance.
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#31
2,236 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
We will be arriving in Cape Town in May and cruising up to Dover. I am still in a quandary about taking malaria pills and would love to hear a Capetownian's opinion. Yellow fever shot is mandatory, but that is all. We are not doing a Kruger type safari.
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#32
Northbrook, illinois
2,381 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
We're thinking about taking a cruise that departs from Capetown in November & has a precruise short safari from near Port Elizabeth. Do you know had bad the misquetoes are that time of year at these game preserves as my dw is allergic to misquetoes? thanks
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#33
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by 1982CruzStart
I am hoping you are still monitoring your thread. We are looking at a cruise that will end in Cape Town next December 21st. We have the opportunity to do 1 of 2 post cruise 3 day land packages. One goes to Chobe and Victoria Falls and one goes to Kapama game reserve. Do you have any thoughts on either of these destinations? At this point in time I don't have any details just the 2 destinations but hope you have some insight into which one you recommend. Thanks for any thoughts you might have.
Apologies for my delayed response! Have been very busy the last few months, hardly room to breathe! Hopefully I am not too late with my advice.

In my opinion, I would do the Chobe and Victoria Falls package. Chobe is excellent for wildlife, probably as much so as Kapama. And then there the Victoria Falls, which is an absolutely magnificant sight and should be on everybody's bucket list. Because of this, it shouldn't be a difficult decision!
#34
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by ausethanol
I loved your list of "things to do" in and around Cape Town - while I have been there before (8 years ago and 32 years ago) my partner has not visited and I found your list the most useful and informative source of information I have found so far. Thank you !! We are in and around Cape Town for 8 days ahead of joining the Queen Mary 2 on 28th January 2014 and are staying close to the V & A area. For half of the time we will have a car, so we should be able to get through quite a bit of your list !!

My only questions are do you have any new thoughts or additions to your list since you wrote it, and do you know of anything special that might be on in Cape Town around the time we are visiting ?
Sorry I didn't get a chance to reply before your trip. I hope you had an amazing time - I did see the QM2 docked in the harbour, a beautiful ship and awesome sight given its size in our small little port!

If it's any consolation, there isn't much I can add to my previous list, most of it still stands. The reality is, there is so much to do in Cape Town, and so many events on all the time, that you could pretty much wonder around aimlessly and still have a wonderful time.
#35
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by drandyl
We will be in Cape Town in early May and are staying at the Commodore Hotel. Can you please advise on best way to get to hotel from airport... And if by taxi what would be the approximate cost? Do taxis take visa? Thank you..
There are actually quite a few ways to conveniently get to the Commodore Hotel from the Cape Town airport.

The City's new and very modern bus service MyCiti has a station directly outside the arrivals terminal at the airport. If I recall correctly, a bus departs every 30 minutes (the A01) and it will take you all the way to the Waterfront. You can get off at the Granger Bay stop and it is a short walk across to the Commodore. If your flight arrives sometime during the day, this is not a bad option, and costs around R60 per person (cash).

There is also the option to take a shuttle bus. My preference is CitiHopper (http://www.citihopper.co.za/) - I use them often for business and for personal transfers. You can book ahead of time online, they will have someone waiting for you at arrivals to take you through to the transfer desk (where you can pay by card), and then they will take you to your shuttle bus which will drop you off right outside the hotel entrance. Cost will be about R400 for 4 people.

A normal "yellow" taxi is also an option. There are airport accredited ones just behind the MyCiti bus terminal. I have not taken one for a while but I should imagine they will cost in the region of R300. I don't think they will take credit card.

Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.
#36
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by Pearl64
We will be in Cape Town before our transatlantic cruise in November 2015. We have been told that it is pointless to go to Victoria Falls as it is the dry season. Is this true? Also from which country will the views be best? I am just in the beginning stages of planning. Our wish list is to see the Big Five, Victoria a Falls, and Nelson Mandela sites. I know we will need flights to accomplish this. Thank you for any information.

Pearl
Good thing you asked! Whoever told you it is pointless is not too clued up! In fact, the dry season is the best time to see the Falls, as during the wet season there is so much water flowing over, and so much spray created, that you can't actually see much of the falls at all! In the dry season, the water volume is much lower, but it is still absolutely spectacular, and you can see so much more of it!

Both Zambia and Zimbabwe have decent view and different perspectives, but Zimbabwe does probably have the best views. That said, if you prefer to stay on the Zambia side you can walk across the bridge and get a temporary visa to visit the falls from the Zim side for the day. Alternatively, the best view of the Falls is by air - the "flight of the angels" by helicopter is a must!

Running out of time now, but we try be back in the next couple of days to provide some more thoughts and advice on the rest of your trip.
#37
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by CruzinNoony
We will be arriving in Cape Town in May and cruising up to Dover. I am still in a quandary about taking malaria pills and would love to hear a Capetownian's opinion. Yellow fever shot is mandatory, but that is all. We are not doing a Kruger type safari.
Absolutely no need to take malaria pills if you are staying in Cape Town and further surrounds. Even going in safari in some parks along the West or East coasts are malaria-free and do not require pills. Typically only if you move towards the north of the country (Kruger park and bordering with Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique) would you need to take malaria precautions. This map is a good indication.



Having said all of this, if you cruise has stopovers in African ports above South Africa, it may be wise to take precautions.
#38
84 Posts
Joined May 2013
Originally posted by dabear
We're thinking about taking a cruise that departs from Capetown in November & has a precruise short safari from near Port Elizabeth. Do you know had bad the misquetoes are that time of year at these game preserves as my dw is allergic to misquetoes? thanks
Unfortunately mosquitoes are a reality most of the year around in the bush here. Although, having said that, their numbers should not be too bad at that time of year coming out of winter. If you are staying at Shamwari game reserve, then most of the lodges have mosquito nets, fans and air conditioning which will keep the bugs away. In addition, you can take some repellent spray/lotion and wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts/blouses which work well.

Unless your wife is severely allergic, I would not let it deter you from taking what would be an awesome trip. It is easily possible, taking the above precautions, to go unbitten.

As an aside, in case it is concerning you, Port Elizabeth is malaria-free.
#39
Upstate South Carolina
1,055 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Thank you so much, Zimbo. I really want to see Victoria Falls. We saw Iguazu this past December and they were fantastic. I have been searching for safari companies that will either depart from Cape Town where our cruise begins or Johannesburg and we will just take an independent flight to Cape Town. We don't want to break the bank but we don't want totally rustic. I know it is Africa! Which animal reserves do you recommend? Also, can you give us a time frame? We are looking at a week or so. Is that doable?

Again, thank you so much for your help.

Pearl
#40
BC, Canada
828 Posts
Joined May 2011
Originally posted by Zimbo
Apologies for my delayed response! Have been very busy the last few months, hardly room to breathe! Hopefully I am not too late with my advice.

In my opinion, I would do the Chobe and Victoria Falls package. Chobe is excellent for wildlife, probably as much so as Kapama. And then there the Victoria Falls, which is an absolutely magnificant sight and should be on everybody's bucket list. Because of this, it shouldn't be a difficult decision!
Thanks for your advice.