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Father/daughter safari don't need luxury spa experience

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st Louis
posts: 190
reviews: 1
Father/daughter safari don't need luxury spa experience

I am completely lost. I am the Mom trying to figure out where to send these too. I have been reading so many posts my mind is swimming. Daughter will be spending 2 weeks in Hoedspruit area. doing a study abroad class. Her father is then flying in to meet her for an extra week. I need advice of where to send them. Husband will not enjoy a ultra exclusive place. He will say he is paying for the animal experience not spas and plunge pools, and they certainly don't need any place romantic, lol. Everytime I think I find something it is way more than we want to spend. Are there places that are all inclusvie that are less than $500 a night or am I being unreasonable?

He flys in on May 22, her group is supposed to drive from Hoedspruit to Johannesburg on May 23, Thanks for any assistance.

Kruger National...
posts: 935
reviews: 23
1. Re: Father/daughter safari don't need luxury spa experience

Hi there!

I live right here in Hoedspruit, I will no doubt bump into your daughter at some point - am in contact with a lot of the study abroad programs here often :-).

Anyway - It sounds like a great trip, and do not fear! There are absolutely places that are all inclusive for less than $500 (I am assuming you mean for both - i.e $250 per person per night). There is hope indeed :-)

We often send our clients within this budget to the following lodges (which we have been to personally numerous times on site inspections to ensure standards etc);

- Gomo Gomo Game Lodge (R1720/$193) per person per night - Klaserie Game Reserve

- Africa on Foot (R1895/$212) per person per night - Klaserie Game Reserve

- Elephant Plains (R1770/$198) per person per night - Sabi Sands Game Reserve

- Simbavati River Lodge (R2362/$265) per person per night - Timbavati Game Reserve.

The above are all excellent lodges and are good value for money, providing the traditional safari experience in a clean, comfortable and exciting lodging option. All the staff at each of these are also fantastic - very knowledgeable.

Please note though that the above examples are based on your daughter and husband sharing a room - as many lodges charge extra if there is only one person in a room. All of the above do, bar Africa on Foot who do not charge a single supplement.

I think out of all the above, I would opt for Africa on Foot or Gomo Gomo lodge. Africa on Foot has captured the rustic and 'wild' feeling of a safari; It is very eco friendly, no fences around the camp, no electricity (except via solar/a geyser) and they also offer walking safaris in the morning, where you can view Africa's famous wildlife on foot and up close! Safely of course. In the afternoon the traditional game drive if offered.

The prices I have listed above include;

- All meals daily

- 2 game activities (either 2x game drives at dawn and dusk, or one walking safari in the morning and one game drive in the afternoon)

- Optional walking safaris

- Tea/Coffee

- Snacks on game drives

Are they going to fly back to Hoedspruit together?

There are also more cost effective ways to get to the safari area than flying; There is a really great transfer service that I often use, departing O R Tambo airport and driving all the way up to Hoedspruit, where the lodge the guests are staying at will meet them and transfer to the lodge from there (sometimes free, like Africa on Foot, or sometimes charge extra).

The cost of the transfer from O R Tambo to safari central is R650 ($73) per person each way.

All the best, and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask!

Warm regards,

Jacqui

-Owner-

Lodge Trackers Safari Specialists

Birmingham, United...
posts: 79
reviews: 44
2. Re: Father/daughter safari don't need luxury spa experience

Haven't been here, but believe the game viewing is very good and this camp is also rustic - no electricity . www.pungwe.co.za in the Manyeleti Reserve which is accessible from Hoedspruit. Not sure what their rates are for 2013 but last year they were around R1700/$192 pppn excluding drinks. I think they do charge a single supplement.

Jacqui has given you a lot of valuable info and if you can get into Elephant Plains can highly recommend it from 3 personal visits. Hope you find something suitable and they have a wonderful time.

st Louis
posts: 190
reviews: 1
3. Re: Father/daughter safari don't need luxury spa experience

Thank you so much for all your help. I stumbled upon Elephant plains last night. They have an opening for two nights. Much better than the $800 per person that I had been finding.

One of the questions I have is should my husband rent a car and drive to meet her in Hoedspruit or fly? He is flying into Johannesburg on the 22nd at 5 pm. Her group is driving back to Johannesburg on the 23rd. I was thinking he could get down there to meet her hopefully before they left.

Thank you!

Birmingham, United...
posts: 79
reviews: 44
4. Re: Father/daughter safari don't need luxury spa experience

Hi Taymiss,

It's many years since I drove from Joburg to Hoedspruit, but it's a long drive of about +-6 hours (perhaps Jacqui could give you a more accurate estimate). So if your hubby arrives at 5pm I would NOT recommend he drives all that way at night - on strange roads and on the left hand side (I think you're in the US?). It doesn't look like there are any flights from Joburg to Hoedspruit after 12.15 on the 22nd May. So you husband will need to overnight in Johannesburg perhaps at City Lodge or one of the many B&B's nearby. (I can get some recommendations if that helps).

So on the 23rd your hubby could either take the road transfer suggested by Jacqui which seems very reasonable, and meet up with your daughter in Hoedspruit, (rather than her driving all the way to Joburg and then back to Hoedspruit!!!) Alternatively your husband could fly at 10.15 from Joburg to arrive Hoedspruit at 11.20 (only seats available now at R1845) and meet up with your daughter at the airport (if she could get dropped off there) then the lodge could arrange a transfer from the airport . Alternative flight from Joburg at 12.15 arriving at 13.15 seats available from R1434-1708). Elephant Plains transfer cost from Hoedspruit to Lodge is R665/per person (if 2 people) each way.

Not sure how long your husband and daughter want to spend on safari, but if more than 2 nights and they opt for Elephant Plains, then it might be worth transferring to a nearby lodge like Arathusa who traverse the same area as EP as well as some of the Cheetah Plains/Djuma land, or Cheetah Plains who traverse a different area to EP. Both easy to transfer from EP. Arathusa rate R2500 pp/sharing and Cheetah Plains R2595/pp sharing. It may be feasible to arrange a transfer from EP to Pungwe (the lodge I recommended earlier) so if you fancy them it's worth asking the question. EP/Arathusa and CP all have great game viewing.

Unfortunately I haven't been to Gomo Gomo or Africa on Foot, but they certainly sound lovely from Jacqui's info, (I have made a note for my next visit!!). I was meant to go to Simbavati last year but had to go to a neighbouring lodge because they were flooded and whole camp destroyed, so all very new and I hear good reports of them.

Hope this helps you sort out the quagmire of options, perhaps consider booking through a local SA agent to simplify your life, especially if you want the EP rooms as they get snapped up - perhaps Jacqui could help you or you could try the lady I book through - Tanya at Africadirect.co.za

I have reviewed EP, Arathusa and CP so you're welcome to have a look if that helps with your decisions. I went to CP prior to it being revamped, so am sure its fresher now.

Oh there is another idea, there is a lodge called Umkumbe which is also in Sabi Sands (it seems to be under the same group as Africa on Foot). Their rates are R2050 p/p sharing. Its in a very good location for game viewing. Haven't been there but the reviews on TA look good. Only difficulty is that to get there your husband and daughter would need to go to Kruger (Nelspruit) airport and get a transfer, or perhaps your daughter could be dropped at Nelspruit airpot enroute to Joburg (depends on which route her group is taking back to Joburg though). Sorry to complicate things more!!

Have fun!

st Louis
posts: 190
reviews: 1
5. Re: Father/daughter safari don't need luxury spa experience

Is r o tambo airport the airport in johannesburg? If so the first reply from Jacqui makes more sense to me now. So he can take that transfer service from the johannesburg to hodespruit or he can fly?

Can you rent a car in hodespruit? Is the panoramic hwy/trail or what it is called near where they would drive to get to elephant plains?

I know next to nothing about south africa so my learning curve is steep!!

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Macau, Holiday Travel
posts: 15,894
reviews: 2,865
6. Re: Father/daughter safari don't need luxury spa experience

We've had great experiences at Gomo Gomo over the past two summers. See reviews (w/pictures) if helpful.

Gomo Gomo (June 2012)

tripadvisor.com/…REVIEWS

Gomo Gomo (June 2011)

tripadvisor.com/…REVIEWS

This is another good option, not far from Hoedspruit.

Kruger National...
posts: 935
reviews: 23
7. Re: Father/daughter safari don't need luxury spa experience

Hi there,

So sorry for my late reply - Had a loooooong meeting last night with my rhino organization.

Right, let's take a look at some questions;

1. "should my husband rent a car and drive to meet her in Hoedspruit or fly? He is flying into Johannesburg on the 22nd at 5 pm. Her group is driving back to Johannesburg on the 23rd. I was thinking he could get down there to meet her hopefully before they left."

Based on this, I would not recommend driving as soon as he arrives, as the drive is a good 6 hours to Hoedspruit. Best to sleep over that night at one of the airport hotels (this way he can step right off the plane, through customs and into a hotel), get a good nights rest and head up the next day.

Alternitavely, he can take the shuttle up and rent a car at Hoedspruit (Eastgate) airport. The shuttle stops there, so he can get off and hire a car from there. The shuttle leaves O R TAMBO (Johannesburg airport) at around 5:00am, and arrives in Hoedspruit at around 11:30am.

He can also do the same if he flies (there are two flights daily, one at around 10 and one at around 12) i.e hire a car from Hoedspruit airport.

2. Is the panoramic hwy/trail or what it is called near where they would drive to get to elephant plains?

The Panorama Route is around 1.5 -2 hours drive from Elephant Plains.

However - I would just like to suggest an alternative.

There are many other lodges that are much closer to Hoedspruit than Elephant Plains, such as the above suggested Gomo Gomo (an excellent choice). As an option, I would suggest your daughter staying in Hoedspruit while Dad drives/is driven/takes a flight to meet her in Hoedspruit.

Organize the lodge to pick them both up from Hoedspruit airport, and directly transfer them to the lodge - Don't bother about a rental car yet.

I say this because during their time at the private reserve, the car will not be used at all - Thus effectively wasting money. Instead, hire the car after the safari, from the airport (where the lodge will drop them off).

A lot of lodges/camps don't really advertise availability online, so I would suggest getting in touch with an agent who can sort it all out for them.

All the best, and please don't hesitate to ask if you need any more help,

Jacqui

-Owner-

Lodge Trackers Safari Specialists

Birmingham, United...
posts: 79
reviews: 44
8. Re: Father/daughter safari don't need luxury spa experience

Hi, I agree with all that Jacqui has suggested.

- Yes O T (Oliver Tambo) is Johannesburg airport.

- No point in having a hire car to get to lodges.

- Yes your husband can get the transfer service (shuttle) by road from Johannesburg airport, or fly from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit.

- Would not suggest driving from Panorama route to lodge - too far.

- Suggest they do as Jacqui says, get to Hoedspruit airport, get the transfer by road to the lodge you choose, return to Hoedspruit airport by road transfer then hire a car at Hoedspruit and drive Panorama Route over 2 days. Then drive on to Johannesburg for return flights. Drop off hire car at Johannesburg airport. Car rental company I use and get a good rate www.car-rental.co.za, usually cheaper than through Hertz, Avis or Europcar direct.

Panorama route is well worth doing either before or after lodges. Many lovely B&B's in Graskop, Sabie and White River. Panorama Route is in the Drakensberg Mountains, so overlooks the flat plains known as the Lowveld, where Kruger Park and Private Reserves are i.e. Sabi Sands, Timbavati, Klaserie etc. Things to see on that route are numerous waterfalls, place known as Potholes - which is where river has worn away the rock leaving beautiful formations, God's Window - a stunning view, Pilgrims Rest - where there was gold mining, forests and stunning mountain scenery.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Macau, Holiday Travel
posts: 15,894
reviews: 2,865
9. Re: Father/daughter safari don't need luxury spa experience

Panorama Route is a gem. Definitely recommendable activity while you are in this part of South Africa. See link (w/ reviews, pictures, thoughts and driving route suggestions) if helpful.

Panorama Route – Blyde River Canyon

tripadvisor.com/GoListDetail-i30411-Panorama…

Have a great trip to South Africa.

Dhahran, Saudi...
posts: 75
reviews: 56
10. Re: Father/daughter safari don't need luxury spa experience

You are getting a lot of good advice from those that know. Here's my two cents: we stayed at Elephant Plains as a supplement to a self-drive safari in Kruger and found it to be an excellent experience. If this is a "budget" place then the others must be really over the top. The lodge is very nice,food was great, staff was super, and we saw cats on every outing, the Big Five several times, and even wild dogs. There are a number of room options and we did do an upgrade which was super-nice. The standard rooms looked fine and were the roundavels that are popular in ZA. Probably you won't go wrong with any of the recommendations above, but I wanted to share our EP experience. I would use them again with no hesitation.