Great itinerary... In the initial discussion I discussed doing two different safaris, plus Cape Town, plus wine country. All were checked off... more or less perfectly. Sequence of events (safari, Cape Town, wine country, lux-safari) was ideal... Safaris work well when jet lagged, as you have lots of potential nap time. And psychologically ... it was best to finish with the nicest part of the trip.
Travel company was great... couple nits: would have liked a little more transparency on budgeting upfront... i.e. tradeoff between 3 nights at really nice lodge X... or maybe a few nights longer at lodges Y and Z. We eventually made these tradeoffs by backing out certain costs... but as the itinerary is quoted as a "all-in" price... it is hard to know what levers to pull to keep it within your budget. Some more guidance on stuff to do in Cape Town / Franschhoek outside of private tours (as the budget became a concern for us) would also have been helpful.
Overall very satisfied with our consultant... would happily use her again. The travel planner provided a great trip... and put up with my questions... and (at times) slllllooooowwwww responses.
Sibuya - while a smaller reserve, a great way to ease into the trip. Guide was exceptional. Beautiful scenery... saw a lot of great wildlife, but guide also took time to discuss smaller details of the environments (plants, bugs, stuff)... which was interesting in small doses.
Cape Town - Table Mountain... and the Cape Peninsula. We ended up booking a car for one day self-driving tour of the Cape Peninsula... which was great / safe / easy to do. A greek restaurant there was exceptional... outdoor seating was best ambiance of the trip. Another restaurant was great as well... was able to sit at the bar / watch the sunset without a reservation.
Franschhoek - just walking around the different wineries. Stunning. Wine tram is kind of hokey, but a good way to start the day for a few stops then we turned to Ubers... which allowed for some independence / chance to get off the tourist trail - great day touring this way. The scenery is stunning... couple of really good meals.
Simbavati - extremely relaxing environment. Really appreciated the contrast with Sibuya. Saw some great wildlife, if limited... but felt the drives were a little rushed.
1) I probably would have stretched the trip a few days on the end in Kruger and visited a second safari camp (but would not have wanted to replace Sibuya at beginning). It is difficult to get to this part of the world... and given the the nature of wild animals... we ended up having some lean drives at Simbavati (our airport transfer had more wildlife than either of our last two drives!). Of course we gave the travel consultant restrictions on time / money... but should have just spent a few thousand more.
2) We did not go to Franschhoek prepared for meals... everything required a dinner reservation... and we had trouble getting in... fortunately, our hotel was able to squeeze us in at one place and recommended a tapas bar for the other night.
3) Simbavati was great... but some people who came from Sabi Sands talked of seeing a lot more wildlife. Probably a function of the time of year... but they also noted that the brush was much thicker in Simbavati area. They also stated that their morning game drives were much longer with a longer break... ours were roughly 5:30 to 8:30 at Simbavati with a short coffee break. Simbavati had a beautiful setting... you did wake up to hippos each morning and we saw elephants cross the river outside our room one day... but drives honestly felt a little rushed. We fortunately only had 6 people to a truck on our drives... but they were sending out some cars with 8 people... which seems crazy given the price.
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