We (Em and El) are wanting to visit Africa for 3 weeks around the end of July but we have absolutely no idea where to go and because it is probably the only time we will ever get to Africa we want to make it the best trip we can!!
We want to see lots and lots wild life and are quite keen on Self driving and camping - preferably with the tent already set up, but we cannot afford to do the fancy safari camps except for maybe a couple of nights to celebrate our 50th birthdays.
Any advice at all would be appreciated...
Which park at that time of year?
Will it be really crowded and if so where might be better?
Who is good to hire a car from?
Which camps are recommended? Rough is fine, we just want to see animals!
Which luxury camp or lodge would you recommend for a mini splurge?
Any itinerary plans would be great.
thanks in advance to all of you Africa experts, New Zealand is a long way away from Africa and way off the beaten track for us - SO EXCITED!
South Africa is very big and diverse. Cape Town is pretty and it offers a great deal to overseas and local tourists. It has the Winelands, two nature reserve areas controlled by SanParks, Robben Island, some fabulous indigenous theatre at the Fugard and Baxter theatres as well as being historically interesting. When I plan an itinerary for people who will probably only visit Africa once I plan a week to ten days in the Western Cape. It is off-season (except for school holidays) in July in the Western Cape because it is a winter rainfall area. A Winelands Tour, Robben Island, Cape Point, Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town Gardens, theatres, restaurants, the aquarium and some other touristy places that may suit your own interests will keep you busy for as long as you are there, regardless of the weather.
The other place I plan for visitors is the Kruger National Park, mainly because it is one of the most famous parks in the world ... oh, and because I love it. You've had - and will probably get more - advice about the KNP. July is an excellent time to be in the Park because it is not too hot then. It can get chilly at night so plan to take layers of clothes. It is the dry season in the KNP.
Basically, and this is just my opinion, I wouldn't bother with luxury camps at all for a birthday treat, but use the money instead to have tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, and to do other "little" luxury things that you fancy as you go along. A bush braai is one of the other little luxuries that I would splurge on - I hear they are fabulous! All the camps are comfortable enough if you are using the camp beds. An investment in units with their own bathroom (and their own kitchen if you are self-catering) is luxury enough.
If you choose to spend a few days in Johannesburg, there is also lots to see and do, for example a visit to the Cradle of Humankind, to the Origins Museum where you can get your DNA tested for all kinds of ancestry stuff if that tickles your fancy. They have a lot of information about the San Bushmen. Once again, the theatre will be full of interesting South African pieces. The National Arts Festival takes place in Grahamstown from 1-13 July and thereafter a lot of the works will be showing in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The Market Theatre is world famous as an institution which used "struggle theatre" to raise awareness in South Africans of the evils of apartheid.
As you make decisions about general areas you want to visit, people can help with more specific information.