Carolina to Cape Town | Part 2 - Research
Carolina to Cape Town, How We Enjoyed a Month in Africa with Our 3 Year Old
Here is Part 1, How we made the decision to go to South Africa.
Part 2: Now we know we're going, what are we going to do?
Now, the preparations and research. Yes, most would have researched the area and what to do with a kiddo before booking the tickets but I'm of the mentality, jump in feet first and figure it out.
Safari, a must in ZA, right?? It seems like it is but after extensive research we couldn't find any that would take a 3 year old. Most kids have to be 12 or over and the youngest we found was 6 and over if they exhibited good behavior. Also, the safaris in Kruger Park were off limits as a 3yo can't take Malaria medicine. Drat. What to do now?
Move onto lodging and where we want to go. We tried Air B & B and several other booking sites but ran across many places we liked that were either booked or didn't allow kids or were further from the location than we wanted to be. After several days of looking into this, I began researching travel agents. This is not my usual way of travel. Even in Costa Rica with Poppy being 6 months old, we would fly in and not know where we were going each day and find a hotel as needed wherever we ended up. For some reason, South Africa with Poppy seemed like we needed better plans. So we went with Donna at Opulent Africa.
She was amazing. We told her what we enjoyed and didn't enjoy, what we would like out of our accommodations and she made it happen. 1. a place for Poppy to sleep, not in the bed with us and not on the floor. Usually, the floor would be fine but for a whole month, we wanted her to have her own space. 2. a pool. Poppy loves swimming and since we knew the ocean was cold and rough, a pool at as many places as possible would make the trip that much more enjoyable to her. 3. we don't really like cities, we prefer quieter and more quaint atmospheres. 4. we wanted to go on a safari. 5. we didn't want to drive more than 5 hours in one day if we didn't HAVE to. Meaning we didn't want to drive to Jo'burg 6. we didn't want to fly anywhere else once we got there
She sent us itineraries and we revised them 3 times and we had finalized our 30 day trip of South Africa. We'll share them in later blog posts with photos and reviews.
I immediately called our banks and credit card companies to tell them our travel plans and find out the fees associated with using the credit cards and to make sure they didn't put a hold on them thinking it was fraud. The credit card companies charged 3.5% in addition to your purchase and to change the dollar to rand at the banks (not all banks change money, ABSA and FNB were reliable, you do have to have your passport with you and they check profusely for counterfeit money so it takes awhile) was 4%.
We also paid all of our bills/loans a month in advance so there would be no late fees or lights turned off while we were away, however, a critter did get into our duct work and eat through it while we were away. Bad news bears.
To purchase gas only local credit cards were accepted so cash was a must for gas. All water was drinkable except at the Amakahala game lodge where they provided bottled water. They said it wouldn't make you sick but it tasted salty.
Over 30 days, we spend approx. $75/day on food/gas/entrance fees/entertainment/groceries/gifts and any other expenses we encountered while there. This did not include lodging/flights.
And then in November I found out we're having another baby! We checked with our midwife/OBGYN and they assured us all is well and to go and have fun.
We revised it one more time to spend less time in wine country as that is just too tempting and we were all set! She even found a safari we could go on with Poppy, it was more expensive and we had to have our own car/driver but once we arrived everything was taken care of, breakfast, lunch, dinner, "high tea," accommodations, drinks - you name it. She originally booked it for 3 days but to cut costs, we brought it down to 2. In hindsight, we could have done 1 but there is the chance you wouldn't see the animals you wanted on each drive so it was "safer" to take 4 drives (2 per day) in order to make sure you see the animals you wanted.
Poppy requested to see a cricket - here is a grasshopper, close enough, right??
John, a Lemur...
and me a Leopard chasing his prey. Although, I never thought this would actually happen, surprisingly enough, John and Pops did end up seeing this while they were on a safari that I couldn't go on, explained in another blog post but I did get to see a Leopard.
That out of the way, I needed to start packing. Yes, it was 2 months out, but no time like the present to get something done and not have to worry with it as it gets closer.
What to pack for me and a 3 year old for a month in the next blog post...