South Africa 2017 - Final Thoughts

Cousin Orville

Inventor of Air Cooling
Joined
Aug 27, 2000
Good morning from South Africa! [cue the Circle of Life music]. Last we left off, we were getting back from the Northern Italy ABD. This time, it's my oldest son Gavin and me heading off to South Africa. Often on ABD's it's interesting to ask other guests who have done ABD's before what their favorite one was. Typically if they've done South Africa, that get's mentioned as a favorite. So, I've had my eye on it for a few years now. Finally, here it is.



First, some logistics for any future travelers that may be traveling as a solo parent. South Africa is absolutely serious about carrying the approved paperwork for traveling with a child without both parents. I always travel with a notarized letter from my wife in case anyone asked any questions. In all my traveling, I've never been asked for it. For S. Africa, look up what the requirements are. There's a letter on the S. Africa gov't website that must be filled out and notarized. You also have to travel with an original full birth certificate and notarized copy of the other parent's passport. They are not screwing around. They will ask for this, both the airline and S. Africa passport control. Huge thanks to @*WDW*Groupie* for helping me with this. If there's anyway I can pay it forward for future travelers let me know.



Second, when choosing flights, United often flies to S. Africa through Brazil. If flying through Brazil, consider getting a Yellow Fever vaccine. S. Africa requires proof of this if traveling from certain countries. Brazil seems to be the only one some people may fly through that requires this. S. Africa doesn't specify if passengers in transit (just changing planes) need this, but from my research it's a possibility. In light of this, I chose not to fly through Brazil.



That about covers the very important, but not well publicized info. On with the show:





Houston to Cape Town



We flew United/South African Airways from Houston to London to Johannesburg to Cape Town. Because of the evening flights to London and then to J'burg, it basically takes a day and a half to get there. Thankfully we were able to get our tickets on points and move up to business class.

















Gavin as you can tell loved it. It was very comfy. Service was ok, nothing spectacular. You can get a wine flight on United which was pretty cool. But she delivered it while I was helping Gavin with something so I missed which wine was which. Still cool.



We arrived in London in the morning and had a 9 hr layover. We actually just got back from a cruise out of London/Dover a couple of weeks ago, so there wasn't anything particularly pressing we wanted to do in London. However, a friend of mine mentioned how London had the largest Lego store in the world and was the only place where you could have a Lego portrait made. So, that sounded quick and fun. We headed off to Leicester Square on the Piccadilly Line. It was a straight shot from Heathrow and took about 50 minutes. We went to the lego store, then headed over to a Pub for lunch we've eaten at before and it was great. Had the fish and chips. It was huge - we could have shared it, but it was delicious. We headed back early to the airport and lounged for a couple of hours before our Johannesburg flight.





















The flight to Johannesburg was another 10 hours or so. Business Class was nicer here than on United. Better service and S. African wines...










We changed in Johannesburg to get to Cape Town and arrived just after noon. Overall it was a long never-ending day, but the business class, wine, and even the break in London helped. Finally we arrived in Cape Town, but I'll save that for next day.
 
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Jess_S

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 14, 2015
I'm so excited to read about your adventures. Have a wonderful trip! (And if you are taking requests, I'm especially interested to hear about the weather and if it affects your trip at all. I know it's winter in Africa, but I have no idea what winter means in Africa).
 
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*WDW*Groupie*

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 2, 2006
I'm so glad to hear that you got through the airline document check and passport control. They will probably ask you for the docs again when you leave Cape Town (SAA check-in agent) and again when you leave JNB (passport control) as crazy as this sounds!

That Lego portrait is very cool!

I can't wait to see some pics from S. Africa. It is *such* a magical place. I hope you had good weather in Cape Town (you must have left by now?). Since you are in dry season for your safari I am sure you'll stay dry there!
 
  • tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013
    The Lego photo is awesome! I have a nephew who would love that. Can't wait to travel along with you on this journey.
     

    Chirple

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 30, 2009
    I can't wait to read the rest of this trip report. I have been wanting to go to South Africa for many years. My cousin's wife is from there and just returned from visiting family. I loved looking at her photos on FB.
     

    CaliKris

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 24, 2015
    So excited to read your trip report! We have been eyeing the S. Africa ABD for quite some time and I am interested to read your take on it (including Victoria Falls).

    Your recommendations are always spot on. We loved M on the Bund in Shanghai and Miki Tours of Tongli Water Town was fabulous!
     
  • christannj

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 3, 2010
    Now we're talking...I've been waiting for my cousin Orville fix.... Thought that I would get it last month with your cruise....but Nooooo,had to wait till South Africa. Oh well, I will be reading along....another business class with your son....you will never be able to go back to steerage:rotfl:

    Chris
     

    Calfan

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 2009
    Super excited to follow along on your South Africa trip report. A return to Africa is on my near-term travel list. Planning on Tanzania, but South Africa is on my must do list as well.
     

    Cousin Orville

    Inventor of Air Cooling
    Joined
    Aug 27, 2000
    I'm so excited to read about your adventures. Have a wonderful trip! (And if you are taking requests, I'm especially interested to hear about the weather and if it affects your trip at all. I know it's winter in Africa, but I have no idea what winter means in Africa).
    Winter is chilly here in South Africa. It's mostly in the 50's and 60's. I've been wearing a light sweater most days and occasionally a jacket at night. But it's been very welcome from a hot Texas summer. One nice thing is because the days are a little shorter in the winter, game drives start later. We haven't made it up there yet, but I hear they start around 7am. Not sure how early game drives start in the summer.


    I'm so glad to hear that you got through the airline document check and passport control. They will probably ask you for the docs again when you leave Cape Town (SAA check-in agent) and again when you leave JNB (passport control) as crazy as this sounds!

    That Lego portrait is very cool!

    I can't wait to see some pics from S. Africa. It is *such* a magical place. I hope you had good weather in Cape Town (you must have left by now?). Since you are in dry season for your safari I am sure you'll stay dry there!

    Thanks again for the advice with the paperwork. It was a little stressful getting everything in order as the instructions can be a bit ambiguous.

    Weather has been great. It rained a little for one day, but otherwise the days have been gorgeous. And as many have mentioned to me, this is an ideal time of year to see the animals due to the end of the wet season.

    The Lego photo is awesome! I have a nephew who would love that. Can't wait to travel along with you on this journey.
    Yeah the Lego portrait is super cool. There's a machine like a photo booth that analylizes your face and creates a black and white and grey Lego 48x48 map. You get all the pieces and the instructions printed out. Haven't done it yet... haven't had time. But it looks super cool. If you ever do it you have to sign up for an appointment. It was a lot of fun!
     

    hilarys

    Hilary S
    Joined
    Sep 5, 2008
    So glad to follow along. Is Jennae guiding your departure? She has been posting some amazing animal pictures this summer - makes me very intrigued for this adventure.
     
  • MakiraMarlena

    It's a big black fish to you
    Joined
    Mar 28, 2005
    I'm on this trip October 7 (adults only). flying through London, not Brazil. In coach! No points for business class.

    We have a 9 hour layover in London too and my friend has never been to London. We can see some of the tourist stuff and have a pub lunch. How much time should we give to get back to Heathrow on the tube do you think?
     

    acndis

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 6, 2012
    Yay! It would not be summer without a Cousin O trip report. This one is still high on our list but we have had to postpone it a bit (we have Australia coming up and then most likely China) but I can't wait to follow along!
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Finally had a chance to catch up with this report! Looking forward to more! I've been watching Jennae's posts all summer, and it's just been spectacular, so I can hardly wait for yours!

    Sayhello
     

    calypso726

    Escaping reality one Disney vacation at a time
    Joined
    Dec 11, 2006
    Yay!!! So glad to see you are on your South Africa trip and happy to be following along on your trip report. I am torn between South Africa with Victoria Falls for 2019 and Antarctica. I've heard great feedback from people who have done the South Africa trip so I am really looking forward to yours as well since you are a frequent ABD traveler. Thanks for the advice about the Brazil connection. I will focus on connnecting in London if we wind up doing this ABD in 2019. Have fun and look forward to reading more!
     

    pinksand

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 26, 2007
    Looking forward to this trip report! We booked the S. Africa ABD for next year, and we are so excited and eager to hear your tips and follow your adventures!
     

    CaliforniaGirl09

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 4, 2009
    Yay!! A cousin Orville report! I'm so glad you are doing this. South Africa was not on my list at all until a fellow ABDer got me interested. It's still probably a little way down the list for me (I want to do Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia and then hopefully Japan), but maybe this report will move it up a little :)
     

    Cousin Orville

    Inventor of Air Cooling
    Joined
    Aug 27, 2000
    I can't wait to read the rest of this trip report. I have been wanting to go to South Africa for many years. My cousin's wife is from there and just returned from visiting family. I loved looking at her photos on FB.
    South Africa has been wonderful. It will be no surprise very early on that I'm a big fan!

    Looking forward to the rest of this travel report!
    Thanks!

    So excited to read your trip report! We have been eyeing the S. Africa ABD for quite some time and I am interested to read your take on it (including Victoria Falls).

    Your recommendations are always spot on. We loved M on the Bund in Shanghai and Miki Tours of Tongli Water Town was fabulous!
    Glad to hear the Tongli Water Town was fabulous. I'm looking forward to it!

    Now we're talking...I've been waiting for my cousin Orville fix.... Thought that I would get it last month with your cruise....but Nooooo,had to wait till South Africa. Oh well, I will be reading along....another business class with your son....you will never be able to go back to steerage:rotfl:

    Chris
    There are so many DCL trip reports... I have to put my attention towards ABD. Hopefully it will be worth it.

    Super excited to follow along on your South Africa trip report. A return to Africa is on my near-term travel list. Planning on Tanzania, but South Africa is on my must do list as well.
    I'm not sure when we'll get to return to Africa, but I'm sure we will. Tanzania would be awesome I'm sure. The South African ABDs appear to be getting more popular. They are increasing the number of trips next year. Maybe with the increased popularity of Africa, ABD may consider adding Tanzania as well or I've hear Namibia is also amazing. So many options out there. I've looked at the A&K Tanzania family trip.
     

    Cousin Orville

    Inventor of Air Cooling
    Joined
    Aug 27, 2000
    So glad to follow along. Is Jennae guiding your departure? She has been posting some amazing animal pictures this summer - makes me very intrigued for this adventure.
    Yes, she and Craig were our guys. And she does have some great photos on her FB page.

    I'm on this trip October 7 (adults only). flying through London, not Brazil. In coach! No points for business class.

    We have a 9 hour layover in London too and my friend has never been to London. We can see some of the tourist stuff and have a pub lunch. How much time should we give to get back to Heathrow on the tube do you think?
    Getting from Heathrow to Piccadilly Circus or the next stop Leicester Square takes about 50min. We left London after a late lunch around 3:45p and got back around 4:45p. So we still had 4 hrs before our 9pm flight. We could have left another hour later, but Gavin was getting nervous and we did everything we wanted to do in London. Also, keep in mind it can take a while to get through Heathrow passport control.

    Yay! It would not be summer without a Cousin O trip report. This one is still high on our list but we have had to postpone it a bit (we have Australia coming up and then most likely China) but I can't wait to follow along!
    All great trips. I think you'll add South Africa after I finish with this trip report. :)

    Finally had a chance to catch up with this report! Looking forward to more! I've been watching Jennae's posts all summer, and it's just been spectacular, so I can hardly wait for yours!

    Sayhello
    Yeah, it's fun to follow along with Jennae. It was great. I'm looking forward to writing this report, but I'm also looking forward to catching up with your China report!
     

    Cousin Orville

    Inventor of Air Cooling
    Joined
    Aug 27, 2000
    Yay!!! So glad to see you are on your South Africa trip and happy to be following along on your trip report. I am torn between South Africa with Victoria Falls for 2019 and Antarctica. I've heard great feedback from people who have done the South Africa trip so I am really looking forward to yours as well since you are a frequent ABD traveler. Thanks for the advice about the Brazil connection. I will focus on connnecting in London if we wind up doing this ABD in 2019. Have fun and look forward to reading more!
    Yeah the optimal flights would be NY to Johannesburg, ATL to Johannesburg or Emirates IMO. But United from Houston typically goes through Brazil. I was lucky to find the one London flight amongst many Brazil options. When I fly back, I fly through Brazil.

    Looking forward to this trip report! We booked the S. Africa ABD for next year, and we are so excited and eager to hear your tips and follow your adventures!
    It's awesome. Just wait...

    Yay!! A cousin Orville report! I'm so glad you are doing this. South Africa was not on my list at all until a fellow ABDer got me interested. It's still probably a little way down the list for me (I want to do Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia and then hopefully Japan), but maybe this report will move it up a little :)
    Japan is high on my list. I'm not sure whether to do it on our own or wait for ABD with the rumors. I suspect we'll do it on our own. SE Asia was amazing as well. All great options.
     

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