Thursday, April 5, 2012

Planning our South Africa Trip

We just got back from a wonderful trip to South Africa, with a bonus stop in Munich, Germany.

A lot of people asked how we decided to go there, and as in most of our trips, I got to choose the destination with some (or very minimal) hesitation from my wonderful husband. :)

Why we chose South Africa
I first got intrigued about South Africa after watching The Bachelor (Brad's season), where they filmed the finale. I was amazed at how beautiful the country was (of course it helped that they only stayed at the top luxurious hotel). I then came across a blog of a couple who went to South Africa, and it truly gave me insight of what our trip could be...and I got really excited. I started planning the trip almost immediately after we got back from our Mediterranean cruise.

Our first safari!

How we planned our trip
I got a couple packages/quotes from a couple South African specialist/travel agents, Lion World Tours and South African Airways vacations, and their prices were decent. However, I decided to just book the travel ourselves since I actually really enjoy planning every single part of the trip. As usual, I relied a lot on Trip Advisors to get recommendations on things such as airport transfer and local tour operators.

First thing I did was to look for airline availability since we are flying using points & miles. We booked round trip business class tickets for 110,000 miles each. This was one of our first points & miles redemption where we felt we got a really great value. For an out of pocket cost of an extra few hundred dollars, we flew business class to South Africa! We both couldn't wait for our long haul trip in a premium cabin. We both said how hard it would be to go back flying economy after this.

Finding award availability can be a bit tricky, but since we were flexible with our dates we got a routing that worked for us. Dan had never been to Germany before, so we spend a 3 night layover in Munich on the way to South Africa.

Booking Hotels
One of the reasons to go to South Africa was to do a safari! I was really shocked when I started to look at the prices for safari since most lodges were very pricey! Looking at the rates, most were pretty all inclusive with game drives, food and drinks. Of course there were cheaper alternatives, but we really wanted to experience a true African safari and not stay in a hotel or do a self drive in a rental car. To keep the cost a little lower, we only did a 3 day safari!

Thankfully, Cape Town hotel prices were pretty "normal", around $100-$200 per night. We used Starwood points and cash redemption for a 4 night stay at the Westin, so our total out of pocket cost for hotel in Cape Town was pretty negligible.

For the Winelands, I wanted to stay at a cozy boutique inn, and after perusing lots of pictures and reviews on Trip Advisor, I booked a cute B&B called Maison d'Ail in Franschhoek.

Our last leg of the trip was a 1 night stay in Johannesburg.  Our flight was scheduled to arrive really late, so I booked the City Lodge OR Tambo Hotel which was actually connected to the airport terminal.

Here's a breakdown of our trip report. Since it's quite long, we broke it down to different parts. Please be patient, it might take a while until we actually complete the whole trip report :)

Part 1: Munich & Salzburg
San Francisco - Munich
Sheraton Munich Arabellapark
Exploring Munich
Food in Munich

Part 2: Port Elizabeth Layover
Munich - Johannesburg - Port Elizabeth
Manor 38
Spa at Radisson Blu Port Elizabeth

Part 3: Kwandwe Safari
Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge
Our First African Safari
Food at Kwandwe

Part 4: Cape Town
Westin Cape Town
Exploring Cape Town
Food in Cape Town

Part 5: Franschhoek (Cape Winelands)
Maison D'Ail Guesthouse
Exploring Franschhoek
Food in Franschhoek

Part 6: Johannesburg
Cape Town - Johannesburg
City Lodge OR Tambo Airport Hotel
Exploring Johannesburg

Part 7: Going Home
Johannesburg - Frankfurt
Frankfurt - San Francisco

Trip Summary


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Hi Marcela! It’s so cool that you got to travel to a lot of wonderful places! Your trip to South Africa looks really cool! I’ve always wanted to go on an African safari because I’m sure it would be an amazing experience to be so close to wild animals.

    Jordan Hood

  3. Hi dear
    It’s so awesome that you got to journey to a lot of amazing places! Your journey to Southern African-American looks really cool! South Africa is often contemplated to be a “world in one country” and there certainly are varied factors that compose the fact why it is one of the most acclaimed countries of the world.

  4. Your trip to South Africa looks so cool

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  10. Nice post. You reminded me of the time that I spend in my last trip to Italy. All these things happened to me before I went there and explored all the wonderful things that were all around me. It was planned after watching an Italy Travel Video that I got from one of my friend. Beautiful monuments, museums, the Colosseum, the churches all the things that I had seen out there was simply amazing.