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Africa III 2009 South Africa & Swaziland


Dates & Routing (confirmed)

Day 0 - 6 August - Fly out London Heathrow on BA0057 21:15

Orientation & Preparation

All accommodation now confirmed!

Day 1 - 7 August - Arrive JNB airport 09:05 and meet Edmund at arrivals to pick up Land Rover Discovery 3 click. Overnight at Chamonix Guest House, Kempton Park click Free time to rest, maybe local activity.

Day 2 - 8 August - Trip to Sandton City mall to pick up key supplies, other local activity. Overnight at Chamonix Guest House, Kempton Park click 

Safari one

Day 3 - 9 August - Early start and long drive to Kruger (Letaba) with lunch stop en route 

As one of Africa's top three safari destinations, the Kruger National Park offers visitors the iconic African safari - a dramatic production rich in lion prides, elephant herds and thousands of other animals, played out against shifting backdrops of savannah, forest, river and mountain.

>> Naturescapes article on photography in Kruger - very accurate outline click here

>> Kruger rest camp guide click here

Day 4 - 10 August - Kruger (Letaba)

Day 5 - 11 August - Kruger (Satara)

Day 6 - 12 August - Kruger (Satara)

Hope to book Mananga Adventure Trail 4x4 but access strictly limited each day click

Day 7 - 13 August - Kruger (Satara)

Day 8 - 14 August - Kruger (Pretoriuskop)

Drive back north to meet Sue and party at Satara for lunch - 12 noon.

Day 9 - 15 August - Blyde River, Limpopo  (inclusive meals, two bed chalets) - CONFIRMED Otters Den River Lodge 

Relax/recharge, take wildlife walks, or undertake a choice of activities (at extra cost per person)

One reaches the camp by crossing the Blyde River by suspension bridge, symbolising your escape into wilderness. The chalets are combination stone/thatch/canvas structures with timber decks on stilts, overlooking the river. The island is 50ha of forest, veld and wetland and has 2km of river front on the main channel of the river. There are 111 tree species and the list is growing. The bird list tops 220 species, including Fish Eagle, Narina Trogon, African Finfoot and Purplecrested Touraco. Small game like otter, serval, genet, civet, bush pigs, bush babies and small antelope can be spotted if you are patient and observant. Hippo and crocodile are often seen under the bridge. The meals are sumptuous and much use is made of home grown fruit, vegetables and herbs.


Day 10 - 16 August - Blyde River, Limpopo  (inclusive meals, two bed chalets)

Day 11 - 17 August - Blyde River, Limpopo  (inclusive meals, two bed chalets)

Safari two

Day 12 - 18 August - Mlilwane, Swaziland -  Twin Beehive Huts

Apart from abundant bird life and nesting water birds, there are a number of animal species to be seen including hippo, giraffe, crocodile, zebra, blue wildebeest, kudu, nyala, impala, warthog, waterbuck, reedbuck, steenbok, grey duiker, red duiker, klipspringer, blesbok, oribi and suni. Seldom seen, but present in the reserve are the ever-elusive leopard and a variety of smaller mammals like bushbaby, mongoose, aardwolf, genet, porcupine and civet. A variety of bird life can be enjoyed which include the black, crowned and fish eagle as well as the purple-crested lourie and at least 3 species of robin being common sightings in the Rest Camp. Seen along the Machobane trails are common coral trees, common tree ferns, waterberry trees and a number of other indigenous trees and vegetation

Day 13 - 19 August - Mlilwane, Swaziland - Twin Beehive Huts

Day 14 - 20 August - Mlilwane, Swaziland - Twin Beehive Huts


Safari three

Day 15 - 21 August - Hlane Royal National Park, Swaziland - Twin Rondavels 

Meet King Mswati III for lunch 11.00-1.00 (observe dress code!)

In the vast bushveld expanse of eastern Swaziland where the hot, still sun of Africa beats on the dry but life-giving soils as it has for thousands of years, and the rumbling roars of the lions are heard in the cool dusky evenings, lies Swaziland’s largest protected area, Hlane Royal National Park, home to the largest herds of game in the Kingdom. Hlane is also home to elephant and white rhino, with an abundant and diverse bird life, including the highest density of nesting white backed vultures in Africa.

Day 16 - 22 August - Hlane Royal National Park, Swaziland -  Twin Rondavels


Safari four

Day 17 - 23 August - Hluhluwe and Imfolozi Game Reserves - Hilltop Camp four bed chalet 

Set in the heart of Zululand, the oldest game reserve in Africa where Zulu kings such as Dingiswayo and Shaka hunted and put in place the first conservation laws, where today the "big five" of African legend stalk the verdant savannah. Established in 1895, game viewing is the prime attraction. Viewing hides overlook waterholes enabling visitors to see animals at close range.

Click details Hluhluwe and Imfolozi

Day 18 - 24 August - Hluhluwe and Imfolozi Game Reserves - Hilltop Camp four bed chalet

Day 19 - 25 August - Hluhluwe and Imfolozi Game Reserves - CONFIRMED - Hilltop Camp four bed chalet

Wind down for return home

Day 20 - 26 August - Overnight en-route to JNB at Dusk to Dawn Guest Farm click

Day 21 - 27 August - Arrive back late afternoon at JNB airport and fly out

Day 22 - 28 August - Arrive home 

Weather in Kruger

Cool mornings and evenings with a zip up fleece advised, but temperatures and humidity rise during the day and shorts and loose shirt will be most comfortable. More moisture; winds indicate spring is on its way. Yellow hue dominates the bush as sjambok pod and knob thorns begin flowering; mopane is russet-coloured. Good game viewing at waterholes as water is still scarce; particularly in the eastern sweetveld plains on top of basalt. Temperature 12-28 during the day. Could be colder at night so a t-shirt is useful.

Money Matters

Cheap phone calls from UK to South Africa/anywhere here

Cheapest mobile phone calls while away travelling

Currency exchange rates

Costs of the trip

Now is a great time for US and Euro currency holders to invest in this kind of self drive safari because exchange rates are firmly in your favour. For a three week safari covering the wildlife areas we will cover I doubt you will the same opportunity again.

I suggest that you budget £1800 per person, plus your return air-fair to JNB. Current UK flights via BA are averaging around £510 return inclusive. As we are taking just the one vehicle this year I do expect to come in on budget, but there are a number of variables that are dependant on the group, particularly food consumption, and others which are hard to predict, such as fuel prices and currency exchange.

Each member will be liable up to £200 excess in case of windscreen, tyre, chassis damage to the vehicle. This is returnable if no such damage. This is a normal insurance policy condition in South Africa.

Daily group money

We will use a 'kitty system' to pay for group related stuff, as per the previous two trips. Given vehicle and all our accommodation will be paid for well in advance our day to day group cash needs should be modest. Fuel, park entry/conservation fees and food are the largest costs. I expect to pay all group related costs from the money transfered in advance, so no need for you to worry about any of that once we are there. We will work out who's paid for what via a simple spreadsheet (usually I will pay for most things, as above). At the end of the trip we then work out what everyone owes or is owed from the kitty or each other, if anything. Very simple and hassle free.

Your personal spending money

In cities and many smaller towns you can draw cash out from ATM machines using your credit or debit card. Of course, money from ATM's is ONLY available in local currency. Bring a couple of CC's and remember your pin numbers and you should be fine, but bringing a little Rand, say £200 worth, will be useful and convenient to have when you first arrive.

Check the info

When you are there then do make sure you have small bills (notes) and plenty of local coins, as you may use these for tips and misc - also some remote places may not have change. Try and hold onto the small stuff in places where getting change is easy. A wallet helps but keep it secure. Likewise a coins bag is useful to keep all your change in one place.

Prior to leaving advise your credit card company that you are going to be in South Africa and Swaziland. That way if they get any new or strange charges from there, they will not deny it. This could save you a lot of trouble trying to pay for something.

Carefully quiz your bank or credit-card company about what fees come with using their card overseas. Even if your card charged no fees the last time, there's a good chance it does now. Call and ask.

What will come under group costs

Vehicle rental and insurance, but excluding damage to tyres, wheels, underside and glass which has an excess applied; then there is fuel, cross border fees, international driving licences, driver charges related to hire, park day rate, vehicle park entry, accommodation, self-catering food (grocery store), group meals, shared resources (medical kit, spare petrol and water cans, etc), tyre compressor, GPS, maps and anything else that benefits the group and not the individual, by agreement.

How much do I tip people?

Tipping is customary in Southern Africa and many people make their living from tips only. A guideline is: Porters R10, taxis 10%, waiters and waitresses in restaurants 10-15%, vehicle 'guards' R10.

Transport Details

We will use a current model Land Rover Discovery auto/diesel - this gives enhanced comfort and off road ability compared to the Double Cab Ford and Nissan 'bakkies' that I have used on previous trips. We do lose some storage space but we are doing much less self-catering and so on balance it will make little difference. People do need to heed advice of only bringing one 100 ltr or less cargo bag and one 'carry on' standard sized camera bag/case. Cabin space and visibility is also enhanced in these vehicles allowing four rather than three to travel in comfort with their equipment close to hand.

Visa Information

South Africa click here

Zwaziland click here

Useful pre-flying information

Areas we will visit have risk of Malaria. You can find Malaria advice here

You can find more general health advice here and you are advised to note this advice and take any necessary action.

Expected temperatures: this will vary according to area but broadly expect 23-28C daytime and night down to 4-10C.

Check weather trends and current throughout South Africa

Latest UK cabin baggage advice
here - note the actual carrier rules take precedence!

Latest South African Airways baggage advice and general FAQ's

'Road Warrior' style packing and travel advice - Some very useful and some just waffle!

Electrical adaptors and information

Google Maps

Southern Africa Birding Links

Some good Southern African Web Resources for birders links from our ZA pal Matatazela here
SASOL Bird ID Wizard
Avian Demography Unit
SASOL Fieldguide
FatBirders SA Birding Page

PDF lists of species found in SA National Parks, and more

SA Birding

Traveller reports for South Africa birding

Southern Africa Wildlife Books

Here is a collection of recommeded books depending on interests ... tho' would advise against flying with all of them!

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Ian Sinclair; Phil Hockey; Warwick Tarboton

Field guide to insects of South Africa - Author: Alan Weaving; Charles Griffiths; Mike Picker

Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa: Revised Edition - Author: Chris Stuart; Tilde Stuart

Field guide snakes and other reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: Bill Branch

Spiders of Southern Africa - Author: Astri leroy; John Leroy

Frogs and Frogging in Southern Africa - Author: Vincent Carruthers

How to identify trees in Southern Africa - Author: Braam Van Wyk; Piet Van Wyk 

Created by: admin. Last Modification: Thursday 06 of August, 2009 06:17:01 UTC by admin.