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South Africa suggestions

Hello,
My next dream travel destination is Africa, I've had to narrow it down to South Africa at this point. I would love to hear from anyone in the Rick Steves community who has been there/is from there. I am particularly interested in hearing about tour companies that offer a Stevesque experience. My top priority (after being healthy and safe of course) is to include a visit to Robben Island, followed by hiking opportunities.
Best,
Kelly

Posted by
24 posts

We went to South Africa 3 years ago, and would love to go back. This part off the trip was an add on extension after a safari trip arranged by REI to Botswana. The name of the tour company is Active Africa, and they did an excellent job. Our tour guide was Michael, and he was a wealth of knowledge. I highly recommend them.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for! And now I am trying to figure out if I can swing going to Botswana too.

Posted by
5696 posts

I did a 4.5 week holiday there a few years ago, but we organised it ourselves - flight, car hire, online research for accommodation etc. It was easy.

If you want to stay in the National Parks (a far better experience than staying outside, as you can take early and nighttime safaris when the park gates are closed), but pre Covid, these needed to be booked a year in advance.

Our route was Kruger NP - Ithala Game Reserve for rhino - St Lucia - Richards Bay - Jeffrey’s Bay - Knysa - Stellenbosch - Cape Town.

We visited Robben Island as a day trip from Cape Town and took the guided bus tour. Unfortunately, it was windy for the 3 full days we had in Cape Town and therefore the cable cars up Table Mountain weren’t running. We visited the Botanical Gardens and drove down to the Cape of Good Hope. We did some walks but no organised hikes.

Posted by
187 posts

You will love Africa. I highly recommend including a couple of the safari camps in Botswana. We have been to Cape Town and the wine lands of South Africa - a wonderful experience and easy to reach from Jo'burg. Flying to Maun, Botswana from there is easy and then small commuter planes to the camps. We have stayed at the various camps run by Wilderness Safaris. You can view the camps on the internet. We typically have stayed at the mid-level camps. We have been RS travelers for years (15 tours) but have also done seven safaris (3 in Botswana). We have a travel advisor in B'ham who has put together our trips but think you might try contacting them directly. Wilderness also has a commuter air service linking camps to Maun. Safaris are wonderful! We just returned from 4 weeks in Tanzania! We have not actually done safari camps in South Africa so I cannot comment on those experiences. Botswana is wonderful!! Our other safaris have been to Namibia, Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. Safaris are a little different in that we did not really travel as a "group" but Wilderness planned our stay once we picked the camps and then arranged to move us from camp to camp. You 2will be amazed at the efficiency of the planning and moving you around!

Posted by
4 posts

This is great information, thank you so much. I am glad to hear Robben Island is quite doable as a day trip from Cape Town. I have contacted Active Africa for some more detailed information.

Posted by
1850 posts

We went with Odysseys Unlimited and did the tour extension to Cape Town. It was a wonderful tour. I highly recommend it.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you so much. I am in information gathering mode right now. And I can't think of a better rabbit hole to go down than a travel-inspired one.

Posted by
2278 posts

We went to South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe with Imprint Tours, a company owned by Reid Coen, a former Rick Steves guide. He runs his tours like Rick Steves, so it should be what you are looking for. We had a fabulous time.

Posted by
254 posts

Spent fours weeks in South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana on safari. It was one of the best trips ever. Biggest takeaway was to ensure that in the future to choose safari parks that allow off-road trekking to get closer to the wildlife. The most famous of the six camps that I stayed at required the safari vehicles (including trained and licensed guides) to remain on the designated paved or dirt roads. I would not recommend that type of camp. Being able to go off-road allowed for incredibly better viewing of the wildlife.

You may only need a half day for the Robben Island tour. It is an organized almost 4 hour but very worthy event. Type in the following info for current details - robben-island.org.za/tours. For upper deck seating on the ferry arrive very early. The view is especially worth it when returning to Cape Town from the island.

Posted by
2212 posts

We have been to South Africa as independent travelers. Africa Answers arranged our trip and we had a wonderful time. In addition to Robben Island check out District 6. We spent 4 days in Cape Town, 2 nts at Grootbos Nature Reserve and 2 nights in Stellenbosch ( wine country). 3 nts at Kapama Game Reserve, then we flew to Zimbabwe for 3 nts. We fell in love with Africa!

Posted by
28093 posts

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Posted by
1204 posts

Back in 2019 we visited the Cape Town area followed by a safari in the KwaZulu-Natal north of Durban on the other side of the country. For the Cape Town area, you don't need a tour company. We stayed in the Victoria & Albert Waterfront area and loved it. A ride up nearby Table Mountain is worthwhile as is a drive down the coast to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point (great hike to the top). For this part of the trip we overnighted in Simon's Town. Wine country is also fabulous and less than an hour's drive from the airport. We visited beautiful wine estates in the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek areas and stayed in the latter. After Cape Town we flew over to Durban and took a motor coach up to the Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve. It was exciting and one of several safari choices in the region. Once we arrived a Thanda we had a guided/curated experience. Each day you're up early for a 2-3 hour drive through the bush followed by several hours of relaxation at the lodge. Then in late afternoon-early evening you're back out for 2-3 hours - this schedule is because the animals are more active at these times and the lions hunt at night. Because the reserve is fenced they know where the animals are so you will definitely get to see them. You'll enjoy South Africa!

Posted by
5630 posts

We decided to do our safari in Kenya and Tanzania. Also, we are doing it at the best time, late July, easy August during the great migration. East Africa is reputed to have the best safaris.