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Planning a do-it-yourself South African vacation isn't difficult. The country has a well-developed tourism infrastructure, and English is spoken everywhere, although some local peculiarities take getting used to. (If locals tell you that the "bobotie is lekker," they mean the "curry is delicious.")
A good place to start your research is the South African Tourist Board Web site, southafrica.net. The board also has a New York City office, 212 730-2929.
Round-trip from New York to Johannesburg, the lowest fare currently listed on Orbitz is $1,179 on Northwest and KLM via Amsterdam. A open-jaw ticket with a stop in Cape Town costs about $250 more. Most domestic flights are on South African Airways, which also flies from New York and Atlanta to Johannesburg, with a stop in West Africa.
CAPE TOWN ACCOMMODATIONS
Cape Town has scores of hotels, ranging from simple to 5-star. We opted for a mid-priced hotel:
Holiday Inn Garden Court Cape Town De Waal
Mill Street, Gardens, Cape Town
The hotel, at the base of Table Mountain, is 12 miles from the Cape Town airport and within easy driving distance of major tourist attractions. It has a pleasant garden and swimming pool and a guarded parking lot. The current rate for a double room is $110. All children's meals are free. For more information and booking: www.ichotelsgroup.com.
The Massachusetts-sized game reserve is crisscrossed with roads so that visitors can view wildlife in a natural habitat. There are no fences, so never get out of the car, except in rest camps or other enclosed areas.
For overnight accommodations, there are simple bungalows and campsites in the park's 12 rest camps. Bungalows, including a covered outdoor kitchen and dining table, range from $79 to $140 a night. For each day spent in the park, visitors pay an additional "conservation fee" of $20 per adult and $10 per child. Most camps have restaurants and stores, and some have gas stations and post offices. Ranger stations offer guided walks, films, and other activities. Many camps have swimming pools -- a great place to relax during the midday hours, when it's harder to see wildlife.
For information and booking: www.krugerpark.co.za. The site (it's a bit clunky, so be patient) also includes links to more luxurious private camps in and around Kruger. Expect to pay $250 to $650 per person per day at the private camps, including lodging, meals, and guided wildlife-viewing.
Hertz is offering a rate of $181 a week, including all fees, for an economy car rented at either the Cape Town or Johannesburg airport.