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Jburg, Capetown or both

perth
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Jburg, Capetown or both

Hi all we will be travelling to SA in mid to late Sept with options of Johannesburg and or Capetown as destinations. Party of 2 adults with around 10-14 days available(we are flexible) we have a couple of (free) tours and 3 nights accommodation in Cape Town otherwise we can do as we please and would like to do some form of safari. Being first-time visitors to SA we have no idea,but have travelled a fair bit in the past.i guess my question is, should we stop and take a look around in Johannesburg or just go to Capetown then do a safari from there and explore that area. We are open to the idea of hiring a car also and would love to know the best safari experience to go to. Thanks in advance for any info!

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1. Re: Jburg, Capetown or both

I just returned from a first trip to Johannesburg and Krueger, and I haven’t been to Cape Town. However, I would personally say to prioritize Cape Town (or really, pretty much anywhere) well above Joberg.

In mynexoerience, Johannesburg seemed to be lower payoff / higher hassle destination than basically anyplace I have been too in the world. I seem to be able to love almost everywhere I have traveled. However, I do not feel the love for Joberg.

(...Krueger was an amazing experience though, if a somewhat culturally isolating experience, when staying in private lodges...)

The closest equivalent to Joberg in some ways that I can think of would be Casablanca, Morocco. Not a great destination in its own right, Hollywood hype notwithstanding. It seemed to be way safer than Johannesburg. But an airport gateway city, so, like Joberg, people often end up spending some time there. Casa was kind of “meh” compared to other Moroccan cities, so TA advice to avoid it was still on target, as it was not an especially memorable highlight of our recent trip there.

Still, though, I would pick Casablanca — along with its sexual harassment, extra aggressive street touts, and the like — over Johannesburg, any day. In any morrocan city, one can get excellent food, and wander streets and markets in most, if not all, neighborhoods pretty safely, and explore independently. In Joberg, to see the city safety requires restriction and containment (I.e. Hop On, Hop Off bus) or great expense (I.e. private cars, drivers, and licensed guides seemingly starting at about $220 USD per day). The nature of what you have to do there is pretty firmly on the tourist track. And the food in South Africa (not Joberg in particularly) isn’t much to write home about more generally (more accurately, they have some great restaurants, of course, but little regional specialization that tourists can order that might make it more memorably unique.)

Other than apartheid era historical sites (and Cape Town and environs have some important ones, too), considering Joberg as a tourism destination feels pretty forced. I hear that Cape Town offers much more. You still have to cast an eye to safety, and plan accordingly, in both places much more carefully than you would to most tourism destinations. But at least the payoff seems higher there, in terms of having much more to do and see, along with natural beauty that is entirely absent in Johannesburg.

To each her/his own though. There are TA forum contributors who are likely to disagree, so you should listen to all views on that matter.

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Boston...
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2. Re: Jburg, Capetown or both

Too add to my previous message:

Others can speak to which safari destinations you should consider. However, should you decide on Krueger, my recommendation, if you are flying into Joberg, would be to try to arrive early, then (with such a large group) rent cars/vans or hire a van to get you straight to Krueger that day (or fly). Go do your safari first, and get that out of your system.

During your safari time, change lodges a couple of times to get a sense of the animals and topography in different parts of the part. Perhaps 2 nights, maybe 3 nights, in each of several different lodges that are spread out. Or self drive, or mix it up between self drive and a few nights starting and/or ending in a private lodge, where you will be more likely to have close up animal sightings.

Then, from there, get to Cape Town. (fly?). But others can better speak to which safari parks would make the most sense. My key recommendation, and what I did on the front end, is to just get straight through to the animals on your first day if you can, and bypass Johannesburg on your way in.

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3. Re: Jburg, Capetown or both

To answer your question. I would spend time in Johannesburg, do a safari from there. The Kruger area is wonderful and you will be just in awe of what you would see. There are no real safari destinations close to Cape Town. You can either self drive or stay in a private reserve in the Kruger area.

Then fly from there to Cape Town.

So I have to disagree somewhat with Travel2gogo, I really enjoy Johannesburg. But it is a big city and was only founded about 140 years ago, due to mineral wealth. So it can’t have lots of history going back a long way. But there are some really interesting sights and museums.

The HOHO bus is a really good way of getting around in a large spread out city. Don’t miss the Apartheid Museum. One of the best museums I’ve been to anywhere. But I have also had a car myself in Joburg and used it to sightsee, and used Uber’s. Public transport is not very good, the Gautrain being the exception.

The food’s not good....what???? Food and wine are one of the reasons that I visit SA so often. There are excellent restaurants in Joburg and I’ve had some very good meals there.

Cape Town, along with the winelands, is up there in my top foodie destinations. Not only is the food of excellent quality and of Michelin star standards in many restaurants but the prices are also very good.

For me Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It has a mountain in the middle and is surrounded by ocean. There’s lots of history in the city, going back to when it was first settled by the Dutch in the 17th century.

So Joburg with a safari in the Kruger area and time in Cape Town would make a wonderful holiday. Lucky you!

Edited: June 08, 2018, 10:05 pm
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Cape Town Central...
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4. Re: Jburg, Capetown or both

Wot Lisa said.

I'd add that for Johannesburg it's worth contacting Coffeebeans Routes to see what they offer, i.e. tours with a difference that show you places and things not seen by most tourists.

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Maine
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5. Re: Jburg, Capetown or both

City for city I would pick Capetown, an incredibly beautiful area, BUT Jburg makes Kruger an option, so if that means some time in Jburg, it's definitely worth it.

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Somerset West
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6. Re: Jburg, Capetown or both

If it is about the cities themselves, Cape Town wins hands down every day of the week and twice on a Sunday.

However, I would suggest flying into Joburg and leaving for Kruger by road immediately. Spend a few days in Kruger (or one of the surrounding game reserves) and then fly to Cape Town either from Nelspruit, Joburg or Lanseria.

The Cape Town area is by far the most beautiful area in South Africa (I may be slightly biased here). It has much more to offer than can be seen in a few days - after 21 years living in the Western Cape I am still discovering new things and places.

Spending any time in Joburg seems like a waste of good holiday time to me.

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7. Re: Jburg, Capetown or both

I am a citizen of South Africa. I'm staying near Johannesburg and planning a trip myself to Cape Town for September. I suggest, why all the flying and driving? South Africa is a vast country and the Cape Town area and surroundings are really mesmerising. There is so much to see and do. I suggest do only Cape Town and come back to South Africa for the other ventures.

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8. Re: Jburg, Capetown or both

I would positively choose time spent in Cape Town over Johannesburg. IMO, the only reason you will be in JNB is at the airport flying to/from to get to a safari lodge or flying in/out on an international flight.

As for the best safari experience, hard to say without knowing your budget. There's so many excellent camps and I would recommend staying 3 nights at 2 different camps. My personal favorite lodge and safari experience is Mala Mala Rattrays. I think it's worth every penny they charge. If that's not in your budget there are many other excellent choices.

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9. Re: Jburg, Capetown or both

As Johnny Clegg put it in that wonderful travel series he hosted a decade or so back, Joburg's pleasures and charm take a while to manifest ... but they do very much exist. Perhaps not too helpful for travellers with only a few days to play with, but the patriotic Gautenger (born and raised - even if we called it the PWV back then) in me felt the need to put it out there.

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10. Re: Jburg, Capetown or both

My opinion comes from my experience in owning (with my husband) a travel company specializing in Southern Africa.

I personally do not like the idea of going straight to the bush AT ALL. For one, you've just come off a hellishly long flight. Then bleary eyed, you either spend one night in Joburg, then get on another flights and then go on four hour games drives?!? No. I like to build on a trip to a destination. Another way to look at it... seeing the Big 5 then going to a city, I don't know...to me, that is like spilling your candy in the lobby.

I'd definitely fly into Cape Town, explore, eat AH-MAZING food and drink wine, get your feet under you, then either explore the Garden Route (since you have the time) then get to the bush. No reason to stay in Joburg, unless you really want to experience it, but while it can be vibey and cool, you have to know it and where to go to see that, if that makes sense? I personally don't like to self drive, but many people do... and that's basically dependent on your budget. I'd would stay at least three nights in the Sabi Sands, then two at Vic Falls, then three to four in Botswana if your budget allows.

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