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Come Along With Me To South Africa!

by on January 4, 2013 · 29 comments

in South Africa, Trip Reports

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This post marks this beginning of my South Africa Series. Follow along to read my reviews on several different aspects of my trip. Other posts in this series include: Flight Review: South African Airways Business Class JFK-JNB; Hotel Review: Westin Cape TownTrip Report: Watching African Penguins at Boulders Beach and the Cape of Good Hope; Cape Town Dining; Hotel Review: Hilton Cape Town; 10 Things I Love About South Africa; Hotel Review: 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa Luxury Room; Trekking Up Table Mountain In Cape Town; Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency JohannesburgTrip Report: South Africa Safari at Savanna Lodge in Sabi Sands Private Game ReserveSafari Highlights at Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa.

As I mentioned last week, I’m going to South Africa and today is the big day! The country has been on my bucket list for a while and is part of my plan to make 2013 my year to focus on exploring many of the incredible destinations in the Southern Hemisphere.

I’ve never been before, so I picked up a few guidebooks, and readers had a lot of fantastic suggestions (I’m planning to visit a winery where you can hang out with cheetahs while you have your tasting!).

You can read all about my experience on South African Airways.

You can read all about my experience on South African Airways.

I depart today, so come along with me as I review my experience on South African Airways and tell you about the process of using US Airways miles to book award tickets on the same exact flights for TPG Managing Editor Eric and myself just two weeks before we were to depart.

I’m planning on spending a lot of time in and around Cape Town exploring both the natural beauty of the region in places like Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, visiting rare African penguins at Boulders Bay, exploring the South African wine scene in Franschoek and Stellenbosch, and maybe even cage dive with a great white shark, or two (don’t worry Mom!).

While in Cape Town I plan to head to Boulders Bay to see the African penguins.

While in Cape Town I plan to head to Boulders Bay to see the African penguins.

Most of my stays will be in points properties like the Westin Cape Town (now that I’m an SPG Platinum 100-nighter!), the Hilton Cape Town where I’m hoping to test out my new Hilton Diamond status perks, and the Hyatt Regency in Johannesburg, which cost me just 8,000 points per night instead of $305.

In addition to exploring the region's natural beauty, I plan to visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was a prisoner for nearly 20 years.

In addition to exploring the region’s natural beauty, I plan to visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was a prisoner for nearly 20 years.

I’m also planning to explore the country’s troubled past during visits to Robben Island and possibly a township near Cape Town. Then it’s up to Kruger National Park for a few days of safari with Savannah Lodge in the Sabi Sands where they’ve already been sending me pictures of all the baby animals who have been born recently and are starting to roam on their own now.

I'll be doing this in a couple weeks at Savannah Lodge!

I’ll be doing this in a couple weeks at Savannah Lodge!

I’m very excited about this trip, and it’s just the first of many amazing experiences I hope to have this year, so keep up with me here on The Points Guy to see what I’m up to, and for up-to-date information and photos, follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Tweet you on the other side of the world!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • http://twitter.com/Mileage_Update Mileage Update

    Seems like a great trip. Its still on my list but harder to get to SA for me w children. Maybe later.

  • Kevin

    Great trip! Cape Town will have a million things to do, but if you’re stumped for things to do in Johannesburg, check out the Bowling Club at Zoo Lake (not too far from your hotel), and venture to downtown Joburg (Kitcheners is a cool venue), and Main Street (http://www.mabonengprecinct.com/play/market-on-main) is driving some revitalization downtown. I love Joburg but people often overlook it!

  • Nick

    South Africa is a phenominal place. I lived there for 14 years, and I can honestly say that Cape Town is one of the best cities to visit. The food is outstanding, the people are friendly, and the weather this time of year can not be more perfect. Interested to hear what you have to say about SAA. I have not flown with them for years because Delta has a direct flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg.

  • http://twitter.com/jamucsb Jamison

    can’t wait to see your adventures in Africa!

  • http://www.facebook.com/humble Richard A Steenbergen

    I just came back from there, managed to pick up a LH A380 JNB-FRA in First using miles (75k miles/ea saver fare for JNB-FRA-ORD). These don’t open up until a day or two before the flight, even though the cabin was almost completely empty, but its a lot better than SAA if you can snag it. :)

  • TopGunner

    Am there right now currently in Joburg before heading to Eastern Capemfor some malaria free game viewing. After that it’s bungy jumping at Bloukrans Bridge and then onto Cape Town. Unlike you we are avoiding hotels, guest houses are a better bet in Cape Town and Joburg than the hotels. Only in Knysna are we doing a hotel, 2 nights at the new Hilton managed Conrad Peluza.

  • Monique

    I love South Africa…one of my favorite trips. If you plan to go shark diving there is a Starwood affiliate hotel in Hermanus: Arabella Western Cape Hotel. When I went in 2004, they allowed me to use Starwood points for stays. I would highly recommend a stay there if you are in the area.

  • Daniel

    We had a similar promotion for Hilton Diamond in Germany. Therefore I have booked a couple of upcoming trips in Hiltons (Manhattan East, Doubletree Entrance to Universal Studios, Bentley South Beach), since I expected the perks. However I have talked to the Credit Card Company today and they replied that the Status will be most likely given as late as April. Great Job. Next time I wont give them my business.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506352519 Eric Pease

    we just finished 2 wks in S. Africa. places and things we loved: eat at Burrata (italian) and Chandani (local indian food) in Cape Town. Leave early like 7:30am for Cape of Good Hope and take the Chapman Peak drive south. Cape of Good Hope is a madhouse of tour buses by 11am so good to get ther early when it’s quiet. We loved the penguins at Boulder Beach. And get lovely handmade pottery by locals at the Potters Workshop in Kalk Bay, 6 Rouxville Road. Great crepes at the rustic “Excuse My French” with ocean view in Kalk Bay. Take the Bo Kaap walking tour with Shireen Nackerdien. We enjoyed the art at the S. Africa National Gallery in Cape Town. Hike Lions Head to the very top -exhausting and bring water! Lunch in The Common Room at Le Quartier Francois in Franschoek (best resto in Africa), wine taste at Graf Delaire near Stellenbosch (amazing grounds and building). Lunch at the Tea House in the amazing gardens at Babylonstoren near Stellenbosch.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506352519 Eric Pease

    we just finished 2 wks in S. Africa. places and things we loved: eat at Burrata (italian) and Chandani (local indian food) in Cape Town. Leave early like 7:30am for Cape of Good Hope and take the Chapman Peak drive south. Cape of Good Hope is a madhouse of tour buses by 11am so good to get ther early when it’s quiet. We loved the penguins at Boulder Beach. And get lovely handmade pottery by locals at the Potters Workshop in Kalk Bay, 6 Rouxville Road. Great crepes at the rustic “Excuse My French” with ocean view in Kalk Bay. Take the Bo Kaap walking tour with Shireen Nackerdien. We enjoyed the art at the S. Africa National Gallery in Cape Town. Hike Lions Head to the very top -exhausting and bring water! Lunch in The Common Room at Le Quartier Francois in Franschoek (best resto in Africa), wine taste at Graf Delaire near Stellenbosch (amazing grounds and building). Lunch at the Tea House in the amazing gardens at Babylonstoren near Stellenbosch.

  • Mark Friedman

    I mentioned in comments in your earlier post about south africa, but Eric Pease’s comments remind me, Delaire Graff estate is indeed gorgeous and a relaxing way to sip wine and if you go, Tokara is right across the street, I highly recommend it for the view alone. For Eric Pease…we hit La Colombe and Rust en Vrede, didn’t have time for La Quartier…I take it you loved it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=670724383 Steph Zhang

    Love it! I am thinking about South Africa for the fall too. Looking forward to your posts and photos!
    Steph

  • Beth Poltis

    We’re from CLE & just landed in Joburg today, after 5 days in cape town. We did the shark dive from Gansbaai on 1/5 and it wasn’t any good. The visibility was pretty bad, you could see sharks from in the boat but nothing from the cage.
    What I HIGHLY recommend is the seal dive/snorkel from Hout Bay where at any given time 3-5,000 seals live. One of the top ten things I’ve ever done!! http://www.facebook.com/AnimalOcean/info they are like the dogs of the ocean, so fun to be in the water with. Steve is the guy that runs it, he’s awesome!!!

  • Beth

    Also if you go to Gansbaai for the shark dive Bettys Bay is much better than Boulders for the penguins :)

  • DebraI

    Was just there in October and loved the country. If you are going to Gansbaai for shark cage diving, then Betty’s Bay may be an easier penguin colony for you to check out. Boardwalks traverse the penguin colony, so they run righty underneath you. Very cool (but also kind of stinky, so be prepared!) For anyone that wants to stay inside Kruger (not on an outside reserve), we loved our time at Rhino Post Safari Lodge.

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