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South African Accommodation Finder

Table Mountain at Big Bay

 

Big Bay, Cape Town

Planning the perfect trip to South Africa can be a lot of fun for some and quite daunting for others. Where do you start and who to trust can be exhausting! The Internet is a wonderful source and so are sites like Trip Advisor that provides customer feedback on experiencing. There are always very diverse ratings that can be a minefield to interpret. A travel industry professional with years of experience in trip planning for Southern African countries may provide some insight.

Planning a trip to South Africa

The biggest decision is the amount of money and time to allocate. People are very diverse and what is good for me is bad for you. There are loads of accommodation options to choose from.

  1. Booking.com is probably the biggest accommodation portal that is available for research and property selection. This is my favoured tool to quickly establish availability and price.
  2. Air Bnb is great for an ever-increasing segment of consumer and if this is your choice then you are pretty self-sufficient and know your way around the internet.
  3. Self-catering apartments are widely available all over South Africa and perfectly fine to select for sites like Safarinow. A wide variety is available for a wide range of budgets.
  4. A travel professional can make all of this appear to be a walk in the park (at a fee). Some have a load of packages off the shelf and others, like me, prefer to tailor bespoke packages that suits the individual traveler. This is the age of personalisation and anything is possible with the correct description of required travel. I find it is easier to have a proper discussion regarding expectation and budget to avoid a waste of time. There is a load of packages that can be assembled, some wildly expensive and others more moderate priced. Email can create a lot of conusion when people use words like top hotel to describe their desired accommodation. Cape Town literally offer top venues from R8500 per room per night that is pretty expensive for a 5 star venue. There are some very good venues for 2/3 and 1/2 of that in most locations. I think it is best to let your travel advisor know what you plan to spend to eliminate frustration. 

Location

  1. Cape Town offers some of the best accommodation on the continent in a 100km radius and some local knowledge goes a long way to find good deals. The closer you are to the City Bowl and Wineland areas the more expensive it gets. There are often special offers offered by portal sites but there are some pitfalls to avoid. Be careful not to get stuck in the inner City in some parts of Cape Town or Johannesburg. Rather get some proper advice and pay a small fee for this. You will be pleased with the outcome of not having to be cooped up in your hotel room in some areas between events. 
  2.  Johannesburg airport region offers some very cost effective venues for overnight stays while in transit that saves cost, time and provide comfort. 
  3. Sandton and Rosebank, on the Gautrain route from OR Tambo airport, offers great accommodation in the 4 and 5-star category. 
  4. Arriving directly at your preferred location by air cuts so much transit time and saves you a load of money. United Airlines will be starting direct services from Newark to Cape Town on December 15, 2019. This saves 8 hours on the round trip and allows more rest of activities. Similarly with KLM, BA, and Lufthansa from Europe.  
Budget

This can be a sensitive topic to discuss with somebody you find on the internet, for both sides. Most travel professionals want to provide you with the best available package as fast as possible.  Honesty is always the best policy that saves everyone a load of time. Agents do not set out to make a killing and often have limited information to use in setting up a package. Rather provide a guideline of say $200-300 per night for hotel accommodation. Separate transport, accommodation, and touring activities as it is easier to make changes. A good package normally takes 2-3 versions of the planning sheet. 

Transit choices between Johannesburg and Cape Town

Flying long distance to South Africa is expensive and it pays to shop for the best package that may land in Johannesburg. A good way to recover is to take a train that offers a lot more space, good food, great service , and time to see the changing landscape from the higveld to the coast. The Blue train is easily the best lxury train in Africa, and top 3 in the world. Rovos Rail is a close rival in the 5-star market offering a lot more choice in popular destinations  like Victoria Falls. 

Time in country

I would recommend flying direct to your intended desitnation for a 7 day package and 10 days if you are using a transit hub like Johannesburg. Three to four days in Cape Town as a minimum and allow 2 days for transit when using Johannesburg. Twelve to Fourteen days are necessary if you want to visit the coast and go on Safari visiting  Victoria falls , Botswana , or Kruger National Park. 

Conclusion

These couple of travel planning tips can save you a lot of time and money. Everyone has a different approach but it pays to have a systematic approach, a decent brief and good discussion.  I have created some great packages over the years with loads of information – 100+ emails for these type of packages can be the norm. The right partner will not hesitate to put in the right amount of time.

 
 

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