South Africa Elegant Adventure--July 18, 2014

This will be our first trip to South Africa, our first Tauck Tour and our first safari.We are complete newbies! We are New Yorkers and will be flying from Kennedy to Capetown with an hour layover at Heathrow. Return from Johannesburg to Kennedy also has a short layover at Heathrow. We plan to arrive a day early, June 17, and spend an extra day at that spectacularly beautiful Cape Grace Hotel. We're a mom and her 16 year old son who will be on this trip.
I'm hoping to meet fellow travelers from our tour on this site and, perhaps share ideas and questions.

Comments

  • Hello, I am concerned you only have a onr hour layover at Heathrow, it is a huge and very busy airport and you will have to go through security at Heathrow, even though you will be airside. Having said that, the flights sometimes land early, so that will help. Hussle to get through the lines, obey all security regulations, like remove your iPads from your carry on and place on counter separately or you will be put through secondary security. Have on shoes that you can run in.
    Having said all this, it is a wonderful tour, half culture, half safari. For us, we particularly liked the cultural aspects like Robben Island and the Hector Pieterson museum. We went to the hospital museum where Christian Barnard did the first heart transplant from the Cape Grace hotel,the museum sends a car to collect you, there are brochures in the hotel or ask the concierge. Also Kirstenbosch Gardens is beautiful, but mindful of you having a sixteen year old with you, I am not sure about there, but the free hotel limo will take and collect you to it. We did these when we arrived two days before the tour began.
    Great hotel, had the best ever tasting menu meal there, I chose the vegan one with wine pairings. And it was fantastic, no I am not even a vegetarian!
    Morning safaris can start very cold that time of year, take coat hat and gloves then strip off as it gets warmer, the vehicles do provide poncho type blankets and we needed them and we do not usually feel cold compared to some people.
  • We are very interested in this particular trip of Tauck's to Africa. Please do post when you return as to your thoughts - love the blend of culture and safari as well.

    I too am concerned with only one hour at Heathrow - we have found traveling though Munich for example, that that is not enough time often to transfer due to size of airport, late flight arrival, etc. Even though the airlines state 45 minutes, it is really not enough.

    We've traveled on six Tauck trips - all wonderful - you will love their style!
  • Thank you, British, for all the information. Any pointers are most welcome and I'm looking forward to the Gardens and the Christian Barnard hospital museum.
    I looked at my e-tickets and realize it's a 1:15 minute layover at Heathrow both with British Airways. I was hoping to shorten the trip, but now I'm a tad panicked...
    Any further info regarding winter attire, clothing for dinners, camera (neither of us is much of a photographer, but I'm assuming we'll need a good point and shoot with a zoom). If you had any "aha" moments on the trip like "I should have brought___" please let me know.
    As far as currency goes, did you convert money to ZAR before you left? Are USD accepted anywhere or are you best off using a credit card? I just found out today that my card charges 3% foreign transactions.
  • Camera, I'll leave it the experts out there for that one.
    Clothing, some nice things for Capetown and Jo'berg, but do not go crazy, pants and nice top sufficient.
    Clothing on safaris, often don't change for dinner
    We did not take any South African money with us.
    Credit card fee, get a new credit card, especially if you will be doing more foreign travel
    Small pair of binoculars always handy for safaris
  • My husband and I are also on this tour. Look forward to meeting you. What are you doing about malaria pills?
  • Here we go again, the Malaria question. Go to the CDC website and seek advice from your travel Dr, Only you can make the final decision about protecting your health. I know what I do to protect mine when I visit Africa.
  • My husband and I are considering the South Africa trip for November but are a little nervous about spending two days in Johanessburg after seeing videos of it. Has anyone been to this coty? What was the experience like?
  • We did this tour a couple of years ago and one of my husband's colleague's told him not to go without wearing a bullet proof vest. Tauck would not take you somewhere that is not safe, think about it, do they need that kind of publicity. You stay in a hotel in an upscale area of Jo'berg that is attached to a very upscale shopping mall. I did not feel unsafe there at all! This is a wonderful tour! You are part of a tour group with experienced tour guides, I am guessing they don't want to be in an unsafe place either.
  • Cpinstein, what I couldn't get anyone at the CDC or from Tauck to answer is what requirements do we have to meet in order to visit South Africa and Zimbabwe. Then I spoke with a physician who does lots of travel. The real answer is that nothing is required. With that said, I don't have to be concerned that we will be unable to travel.
    That doesn't mean we won't be getting our injections, vaccinations and pills.
    To be safe, this physician recommended I get titers done for MMR, DPT and polio. Already had a flu shot in the fall. The titers are not necessary for my son since his are recent and mine are not. In addition we will each get injections to prevent Hep.A,Typhoid and anti-malaria pills. If we weren't going to Kruger, the anti-malarials would not be as necessary.
    I want us to be safe.
    There are 3 different antimalarials-Mefloquin, Malarone and Doxycycline. I know one makes you kind of spacey and that the doxy makes you very sun sensitive.
    That's all I know about the meds.
  • Should take Malarone starting 2 days before going to Krueger and continue daily until 7 days after trip.( Doxycycline an alternative but not recommend for children and can cause photosensitivity and have to take 4 weeks after trip)
    Have typhoid vaccination. The IM last 2 years and costs more than oral that last 5 years.
    Hepatitis A
    Hepatitis B a series of 3 shots
    Yellow fever vaccination not required for this itinerary..If you have travelled to an area that has yellow fever in previous 12 months and over age 60 get your physician to give you an international immunization card listing contraindication and also provide a letter.If travelling from area with yellow fever than vaccination within 10 years is necessary if less than 60
    Have your physician provide you with a prescription for Cipro 500mg twice a day for 7 days.
    Influenza is transmitted April to September and if available influenza vaccine recommend if no contraindication
    Tetanus Diptheria Pertussis (Tdap) if not boostered in last 10 years.
    Pnumococcal vaccine if over 65.One time vaccination
    Unless a aid worker or traveling off beaten track rabies polio cholera ( not available in US) is not necessary.
    Talk to you regular physician.Be seen by travel clinic and read CDC site
    Prevention of mosquito and tick exposure is important.Keep as much of skin covered.Use permethrin on clothes and apply DEET 30% to exposed skin.
    Hope this helps.have a great trip.
  • I love your posting paddymac. I think that the reason people get confused is the word "required" Meaning that that country does not require it----in this case, South Africa. That does not mean that visitors should not have the vaccines and meds for their own protection. In the USA people are not 'required' to have the flu vaccine, but that does not mean it isn't a sensible idea to get it.
  • Diva, just follow your doctors' (PCP and travel physician) ideas for vaccinations. Just remember, you are traveling in a "Tauck bubble" and they will do their best to make sure you are protected...both in the areas you go to and the food you eat. My travel physician gave me the following four points to follow: 1. Boil it (water in particular if you have to drink something that is not in a sealed bottle), 2. Cook it (particularly veggies.), 3. Peel it (for fruits make sure it is something you peel yourself and the peel didn't have any cracks in it, or 4. Forget it (self explanatory).

    Camera: go to either Nikon or Canon's website and look at their point and shoots. You can't go wrong with either one. Since you are not a photographer one of these will work just fine to give you some memories.

    Credit card: your bank probably has a credit card that does not have a surcharge on it. There will be an annual fee, but you'll have to look at it and see if it is cost effective. It all depends on whether you will be buying a lot, or something expensive, or if you are planning on future trips out of the country.

    Have a save trip!!!
  • Capital One card does not charge any transaction fees and there is no yearly charge for the card.
  • There you go! Problem solved! I use a Chase card with a small fee that gives me reward points. I use the points for my flights to get to my Tauck tours. I can't remember the last time I bought an airline ticket. I guess I paid a little for a first class upgrade from Venice to Africa for my trip in July. Sounds like the Capital One card is a freebie...heck, they may give miles too, for all I know.

    Happy Trails.
  • Don't you think they'd give a "DIVA" a free card and some extra miles...I hope there is a solo traveling Diva on my trip in Tanzania and Kenya. Don't forget to pack a sense of humor!!! Just keep it under 3 oz.
  • ndvb wrote:
    Don't forget to pack a sense of humor!!! Just keep it under 3 oz.

    Excellent advice! I'd also stress not forgetting the U in humour. ;)
  • British wrote:
    I love your posting paddymac. I think that the reason people get confused is the word "required" Meaning that that country does not require it----in this case, South Africa. That does not mean that visitors should not have the vaccines and meds for their own protection. In the USA people are not 'required' to have the flu vaccine, but that does not mean it isn't a sensible idea to get it.

    I have a question, British, that you might be able to answer. I want to know how infected mosquitos know you are over 60 and therefore shouldn't be bitten? I just can't get my head around what I've seen written here many times. I'd really like to know why people would be given the advice not to have Yellow Fever shots if they are over 60?

    Without a Yellow Fever shot and the appropriate WHO documentation, I would not be allowed back into Australia. Which is reason enough for me to get the shots!

    I'm not stirring the pot …. I would really like to know the basis for the 60+ advice. Is it perhaps because US authorities don't want their citizens travelling to certain parts of Africa? Is is just an historical anomaly, perhaps?

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • edited May 2014
    Jan, the CDC does indeed say that people over the age of 60 are at greater risk. But if you go to the NHS 'Fit for Travel' website. For US citizens, that's the National Health Service in the UK, and the WHO websites, it makes no mention of being over 60 as one of the contra- indications for the Yellow fever vaccines. When I have been doing research for travel in the past, I have often used these websites in addition to the CDC and I often speak to friends in England who are Practice nurses about my travels and I have found that the CDC is not as up to date with their advice and research as these other two resources, which I admit is alarming, but then I am not surprised, I have often found that the US is behind in it's warnings and advice about all sorts of things in comparison to other countries. Even more alarming, when I first started to visit more exotic locations and went to US travel clinics, I found that one person was trying to give me a rabies vaccine for Costa Rica, when I pointed out that in reality you hardly see any animals in that country, I'd been before, she seemed clueless. I don't use travel clinics myself any more and in addition because they charge a fortune like a huge amount of money per malarial pill when my family Dr can give me a scrip for my co pay amount So in short, I got my shot before I was 60, I just briefly saw a headline on my research but did not read that a Yellow fever booster not required now-- must find that before I get one.
    As to how a mosquito knows to avoid someone over 60 and an American, I just don't know. It certainly did not work for me yesterday when I was doing a little weeding in the garden, I got bitten in the small area of exposure between my old capris and my socks and on my eyebrow under my hat. Perhaps it 's because I was not born an American and it noticed I had a bit of British blood that it found more tasty. As my husband passed me on the way out to work, while I shamefully am still in bed when I would normally have been about to end my five mile walk by now, but I just had to answer you, I mentioned your question and he says as long as you are warm and emitting carbon dioxide you may get bitten.
    And the final answer about the US gov not wanting Americans to travel to certain countries, well truly, most Americans I speak to are in horror of even leaving their own state never mind the country, and please people reading this, you are the traveling Americans, many more are not like you.
    Jan, I really think I am getting better at responding to your wonderful humor I mean humour
  • The Capital One Quicksilver card does give 1.5% cash back.
  • The side effects from most inoculations and medicines vary greatly- from mild soreness around the injection area to the slightly more severe 'death.' I just love the sometimes-lengthy disclaimers at the end of TV commercials for many of the so-called "wonder drugs," that include a long list of side effects including death. Just one death out of 10 million inoculations is still one death, even though it may not have been definitively traced to the medicine, by law it must be acknowledged. They are attempting to cover their butts.

    The CDC website does recommend that those over 60 not take yellow fever shots, at least before first talking with a doctor. They don't go into a lot of detail but the website states:

    "People aged >60 years may be at increased risk for serious adverse events (serious disease or, very rarely, death) following vaccination, compared with younger persons. This is particularly true if they are receiving their first yellow fever vaccination."

    To me, that says there is a certain group of people who may experience severe side effects from the serum that may be especially severe as you get older, with 60 being an arbitrary, general determination age. Other than those who may react to eggs, chicken proteins, or gelatin, and those having HIV/AIDS or other disease that affects the immune system, weakened immune system as a result of cancer or other medical conditions, transplant, or drug treatment (such as steroids, chemotherapy, or others that affect immune function, Thymus disorder,) Pregnant women, and nursing mothers,
    it is not clear to me whether doctors know for sure who else might be in danger.

    Everyone reacts to Yellow Fever differently, but, according to the CDC, "Roughly 20-50% of people who develop severe illness may die." Since mosquitoes really, really love me in a bad way, and I had no reaction to previous Yellow Fever shots, I plan to use DEET/Permithrin and get a Yellow Fever shot (a booster?) before we go to Tanzania/Kenya next year, even though I am over 60.
  • Alan, I just researched the headline I saw this morning, that a booster for yellow fever is no longer recommend by the WHO. If you go to their website, this new recommendation came into effect May 2013 and was recommended by SAGE who are responsible for world recommendation about anything to do with vaccines, I believe. The research I quickly read seems to be impressive. As a result of this I will probably not get a booster when my ten years is up and I'll have the recommendation and research to back me up.
  • Yellow Fever vaccination is a risk benefit decision.If you are over 60 you are at increased risk of neurological complications.You can always have vaccination and take risk.
  • Paddymac, I have to say that I have met many travelling Americans who are patently over 60 years of age who have been displaying neurological complications. Most of those persons have been within the borders of the USA. Similarly, on the home front … so there's no need to feel slighted. None have been in Africa … and surprisingly, none in the Galapagos. Darwin was such a clever bloke.

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • I took this trip last September, wonderful trip including so many different things. I went a day early and took advantage of the Cape Grace Hotel ride service -- went out to the Botanical Garden -- was good to get out and hike in the outdoors - little early for the wildflowers, but there is still a lot to see and great views of the city. If you are looking for gifts to take home, there is a really outstanding gift shop selling mostly locally made items, with a variety of price points. Reminded me of the National Trust shops in the UK. Had lunch in the small cafe with plenty of choices. I had arranged with the driver when he dropped me off when to pick me up. We couldn't go to Robbin Island due to the weather, so I used the CG driver to drop me off downtown near the Cathedral where Desmond TuTu was the priest. Quite impressive with a memorial to Lord Mountbatten - stained glass windows and a plaque. Then walked through the Company Garden that ends at the Natural History Museum -- Ok museum, but a nice cafe for lunch. Walked back to the Cathedral and took a taxi from there to the hotel --- cost around 12 Rand.

    I thought Lion Sands resort was out of this world!! Could have stayed there for another night. Sabi Sabi Resort is larger and the rooms (actually your own house) not as charming. Lion Sand's houses all face a river, so terrific views with the occasional animal wandering by. Going on Safari is an unforgettable experience. The Victoria Falls hotel is an old colonial --- truly charming and so historic feeling. Large veranda where you can have afternoon tea, with the sounds of the Falls ahead of you. Several of us took the optional helicopter ride and thought it was worth the USD 150, as you see the pre Falls views. As always with Tauck you are totally taken care of with no reason to stress about anything. As they say --"the Tauck bubble"

    Oh yes, and in the literature they send to you it states "no wheeled carry ons" the majority ignored this and they were a real pain getting on and off the buses, wheeled down the aisles as there is no room for them at your seats and then wheeled back down again. And on and off the planes that have the steep steps (remember those?) up and down. And when we moved from Lion Sands to Sabi Sabi they took up space in the Land Rovers. And it was a a nuisance for the staff to deal with them. If you can stick with a tote bag or backpack type carry on.
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred card does not have a foreign transaction fee. If anyone wants one, email me and I will have a link sent. Plus you get 40,000 Ultimate Reward Points, after $3000 spend.

    I have read the CDC stuff, but I understand that July is dry season, and therefore, low risk. So malaria pills might not be necessary. I really don't want an upset stomach from antibiotics. Seems dreadful. See the travel doc Tuesday, so I'll report back.

    Carole
    [email protected]

  • I'd love to hear what your doctor says about Malarisa meds? Will he be the one who treats you if you have symptoms of malaria within the next year? Do you know what the symptoms are to look for up to a year after you return? I have taken Malaria meds, different ones depending on the part of the world I am traveling to and never had a problem. Kruger has risk of Malaria, if you are the only one who contracts it, I guess that's the low risk you mention. I guess I should stop worrying about other people, but I can't.
  • jdurkin wrote:
    I have a question, British, that you might be able to answer. I want to know how infected mosquitos know you are over 60 and therefore shouldn't be bitten? I just can't get my head around what I've seen written here many times. I'd really like to know why people would be given the advice not to have Yellow Fever shots if they are over 60?

    Without a Yellow Fever shot and the appropriate WHO documentation, I would not be allowed back into Australia. Which is reason enough for me to get the shots!

    I'm not stirring the pot …. I would really like to know the basis for the 60+ advice. Is it perhaps because US authorities don't want their citizens travelling to certain parts of Africa? Is is just an historical anomaly, perhaps?

    Cheers,

    Jan


    I think another aspect of the 60+ issue is that the yellow fever vaccine has some possible side effects and the risk for having these side effects rises significantly if you are 60+ and rises even more if you are 65+. So the issue, as in many medical issues, is risk/benefit ratio. Since we are 65+, we wanted an itinerary that would not require a yellow fever vaccine and would still allow us to get to Victoria Falls. By going through Zimbabwe, the vaccine is not required to return to South Africa. If you go through Zambia, then it is required.

    Hope this sheds some light.
  • Risk factors. Quite right. You need to be very precise epidemiologically with this. You need to weigh the risk of infection with an illness resulting in fever, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, headache and weakness, then the toxic stage characterised by visible bleeding, jaundice, kidney and liver failure before death against the very rare side effects of vaccination. Those possible side effects are very particular and peculiar to an individual's medical history, not necessarily or exclusively including their age. On top of that you have to consider the added risk factor of geographically challenged carriers. Your choice. It certainly is.
  • British wrote:
    Camera, I'll leave it the experts out there for that one.
    Clothing, some nice things for Capetown and Jo'berg, but do not go crazy, pants and nice top sufficient.
    Clothing on safaris, often don't change for dinner
    We did not take any South African money with us.
    Credit card fee, get a new credit card, especially if you will be doing more foreign travel
    Small pair of binoculars always handy for safaris

    My husband and I own 1 binocular. Should we buy a second one so we will both have one?

    Debbie
    Please reply to: [email protected]
  • edited July 2014
    Hi Debbie,

    I think British would have left for her African trip by now, so if you will allow me, I'll have a go answering your question.

    I think 1 pair of binoculars will be enough … provided the other person is using a camera with some level of telephoto lens. My experience is that you will be so engrossed in watching, focusing, oohing and aahing that you won't notice the lack of another pair.

    Have a wonderful trip!

    Cheers,

    Jan
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