I’m Taking My Dad On A Surprise Safari!

Filed Under: Travel

I’ve been doing a lot of travel planning over the past week, though there’s one trip that I’m planning in advance that I’m most excited about.

Planning a surprise birthday trip for my dad!

As I wrote about nearly a month ago, my dad has a big birthday coming up later this year. As long time readers may remember, over four years ago I took him on a surprise round the world trip for his “round” birthday. We both had an incredible time.

Not only did he love the entire experience, but he loved that the whole thing was a surprise, so he had no clue what our next destination was until we boarded each individual flight. Similarly, I got a real thrill out of seeing his reactions to things.

I realize I can’t really top the last trip in terms of the airline products we can fly, given that it’s tough to beat the routing we had last time. Furthermore, just flying around the world to various destinations in first class would be predictable, and I really wanted to surprise him.

So I decided that the focus of this trip really had to be the destination, and it had to be something he wouldn’t expect. After putting a lot of thought into it, I figured a safari would be a great option.

I’ve never been on safari (well, assuming the safari at Busch Gardens in Tampa doesn’t count), and neither has my dad. People who have taken a safari almost consistently say that it’s the most incredible trip they’ve ever taken.

My dad is still in good health, and I don’t want to take any opportunity to spend quality time with him while we’re still both in good health for granted. So I’m really splurging, and booked us a safari (he just doesn’t know it yet, and won’t know until we land in Africa).

I asked you guys for tips about what safari we should do, and you guys had many amazing suggestions. There was so much good information that it was overwhelming. I’ve now made some decisions, and wanted to share what I’ve booked so far.

We’re going to South African Singita properties

There were a lot of amazing suggestions, including for going on safari in Botswana, Kenya, etc. Given that my dad isn’t that young anymore, I wanted to make sure I could book a safari that’s not too complicated to get to, and at the same time that we can get to in comfort.

The single most popular suggestions from you guys were to stay at two of the Singita properties in South Africa. Singita has lodges all around Africa, though the two that were most frequently recommended were Singita Boulders and Singita Lebombo, so we’re doing three nights at each of the properties.

I’m paying an arm and a leg to stay there, but they’re all inclusive (accommodation, food, drinks, two daily safaris, etc.). So it’s costing a lot, but based on everything I’ve heard, it’s spectacular and worth it. And I tend to think that if you’re in a position to do something like this for your parents, you’ll never regret it.

The flights…

I have the safari booked, and my plan is for us to spend a few nights in Cape Town at the tail end of the trip (more on that below). Otherwise I’m really flexible.

Now starts the adventure of trying to find the best flights to & from South Africa.

I started by booking the return flights. My logic is that we probably aren’t going to be as “festive” on the return after having an amazing time and being gone for a while, so I booked something awesome, but in business class.

Specifically, I found award space on Qatar Airways from Cape Town to Doha on the A350-900, connecting to a flight from Doha to Dallas on the A350-1000 featuring Qsuites. What an incredible value for just 75,000 AAdvantage miles.

Now starts the adventure of booking the outbound. I guess I could try to wait until the last minute to find something, but I’d also feel less pressure if I booked something now. It’s one thing to find two last minute first class award seats to Europe, but to find them all the way to Johannesburg is more challenging.

I don’t see any Etihad A380 first class award availability to Abu Dhabi. There’s (obviously) nothing in Lufthansa first class in advance. Emirates has some space, but I’d be paying 200,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles per person, which I value at ~$4,000. He has also done that before, not that he’d mind flying Emirates again, since it’s his favorite airline.

So that got me looking at some of the better paid first class fares to South Africa, while getting creative.

I’m not opposed to positioning to Europe and finding a good first class fare from there, or otherwise originating somewhere else in North America. I’d love for my dad to fly Air France first class, though that’s not necessarily all that practical. There’s no way to redeem miles on them without being an elite, and even when you can, the costs are prohibitive.

I was still playing around with some first class fares on Air France, with the outbound in first class and return in economy.

For example, just booking from New York to Johannesburg costs $6,400 per person with the outbound in first class:

Booking the same flights but instead originating in Toronto returns a fare of $4,500:

That’s better, but obviously still a lot. I suppose I could redeem Ultimate Rewards points for that, and it would cost under 300,000 Ultimate Rewards points per person. That’s still a ton, but realistically:

  • A redemption in Emirates first class through Alaska Mileage Plan would cost 200,000 miles, and I value those miles more
  • A redemption in Lufthansa first class through Aeroplan would cost 105,000 Aeroplan miles plus around $700 in fees, and I could only book that at most two weeks in advance, and the chances of seats opening up the whole way through are quite slim

Otherwise we could position to Spain and then I see a ~$3,000 Air France first class fare, but I’m not sure that actually ends up being a better value given the positioning costs.

This isn’t great either, but it would also be cool to try Emirates’ new first class with him, so I see a fare of under $3,200 with the outbound in first class, and with his beloved A380 on the second segment.

So anyway, I’m not sure if anyone has any ideas for great ways to get to South Africa, or any great fares departing either the US or Europe on fun airlines. These options are all a bit pricey, but I figured I’d share what I’ve researched so far, and I’d certainly welcome any good suggestions you guys have, as I’m sure I’m overlooking things.

Cape Town recommendations? 

I figure if we’re going all the way to South Africa we should also spend some time in Cape Town. I’ve only been twice — once when I was a little kid, and once a couple of years ago, when I stayed at the Westin.

My plan is to spend about three days there.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do on the hotel front. The Westin Cape Town was fine, but I’d ideally like to stay somewhere else, since I didn’t love the location.

On the points front, it looks like Marriott has quite a few properties there, though I’m not sure if any of them are actually good.

Virtuoso has some solid hotels there as well, though the prices range hugely. They range from under $250 per night for the Taj Cape Town, to over $1,000 per night for The Cape Grace Hotel or The Silo.

Given how much I’m spending on the safari I’d love to redeem points for our Cape Town hotel, but only if there’s a good option.

If you guys have any tips here, I’d love to hear them!

Bottom line

I’m so excited about this trip. I’ve already told my dad his surprise trip is planned, but he has no clue where we’re actually going, and I can’t wait to see his reaction. For those of you wondering how I can blog about this but keep it a surprise, my dad doesn’t use technology, so he doesn’t read the blog.

I’ve also told him I’m blogging about the trip planning, and he loves that it’s a surprise, so he wouldn’t even be tempted to find out.

I feel like I got the most important things booked, now I just need to figure out an outbound flight and Cape Town hotels…

Thanks again for all the tips!

  1. i’m going to South Africa in March and paid $3,700 roundtrip business class from Washington to Johannesburg on Virgin Atlantic. British Airways had flights for the same amount when I booked, and United/Lufthansa/Swiss were all in the same range. NOw they’re all a bit higher – like $4,100 for the same flights. South African, for their flights, was around $5,200. These flights go Washington to Accra or Dakar then to Johannesburg. There seem to be a lot of good business class paid fares.
    We are then paying separately for flights within South Africa.
    We are staying at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town. It’s in Constantia which is near Table Mountain. Really great hotel. The Silo is beautiful but expensive and not really in a cool part of town.

  2. The Silo is gorgeous and I really enjoyed it, but it is admittedly crazy overpriced. I did get a two or three category upgrade booking through Virtuoso which helped, but of course that’s not guaranteed. But, none of the Marriott properties are anything special at all. The Protea properties are all relatively low-end, and you already know the Westin.

  3. If you originated in BCN for the ~$3,000 La Premiere fare in one direction, couldn’t you position there on a cheap TAP fare? That would give you the chance to review the A330neo. Then again, that’s still not a whole lot cheaper than just originating in YYZ. I would absolutely do AF F if you can stomach the cost; I think your dad would be blown away by the whole experience, especially the transfer at CDG.

    Also, my personal preference here, as I love Taj hotels, but ~$250 for the Taj Cape Town on a Virtuoso rate is a steal.

  4. @Jamie D — or the Rovos Rail, which is supposed to be nicer but which is more expensive. I tried the Blue Train and thought it was very enjoyable, but the level of polish in the service was definitely lacking in some areas.

    But either way, it’s a very cool experience worth looking into, and while there are a few luxury trains around the world, most of them take more days than these, so it’s a good “low commitment” option.

  5. Since you’re going to Sri Lank too you could try an elephant safari. We are doing on in Feb there

  6. Was just in Cape Town and stayed at The One and Only. Great location, much more to walk to then where you stayed before. Very safe area and a lot to do with your dad.

  7. One of the Best high end hotels in Cape Town is the One and Only in the Waterfront. Although that is right near the Westin … did you not like the Waterfront area per se or just the Westin location specifically being outside the Waterfront ? It very much is tourist HQ.

    Alternatives are the 12 Apostles Hotel which is on the Atlantic seaboard side … dinner at the Azure restaurant at 12 Apostles is a must do.

    You can explore some high end guest houses such as Ellerman House where many of the celebs stay.

    Shout if you need any other suggestions – am a local.

    Re safari – you’ve chosen the best! sabi sands is phenomenal …

  8. Taj Cape Town is pretty good 🙂 We are doing the QSuites as well DFW –> DOH –> JNB. Will have to figure out JNB to CPT

  9. Forgive me, but I think I must be missing something here with regards to “positioning flights.” None of the European routes are direct to JNB, and almost all of these routings would require an extra initial flight even before the “positioning” leg (or at least I assume, as I don’t know where your dad lives).

    For the case of home-YYZ-JFK-CDG-JNB, for example, that’s FOUR FLIGHTS for what could instead be just a direct flight from JFK to JNB on South African in business. Are four flights worth it just for a few hours in the AF lounge?

    I’m not questioning the choice of getting somewhere slower in F versus faster in J — everyone’s taste is different. What I don’t understand is how many legs your father, or most of us, will tolerate to get there. For me even the novelty of AF F would be lost if I had to get on two other planes to reach it.

  10. My sister-in-law and her family live in Cape Town. My wife just returned from a visit, for part of the trip she flew Air France, business class, and said the planes were old the seats were not full flat and the service was terrible. The flight crew was terrible, they paid basically no attention to the passengers. I would suggest avoiding them. The other part of the trip was on KLM and she said that was much better. My wife is pretty low maintenance on a flight, so for her to comment it must have been pretty bad. On the plus side she did say the wine and champagne were good! If you are interested and have time, our family down there own a vineyard and I can set you up with a private tour etc. Have fun!!

  11. @lucky Just curious, does your dad not read your blog at all? I mean, not much of a surprise if he can just read about it.

    Also, as amazing as the new Emirates suites look, given how isolated they are, not sure that it would be the best choice for a trip with someone else – wouldn’t it be rather inconvenient to talk to each other?

  12. My wife, daughter, and are off to SA in July for our 15th wedding anniversary. We are flying Qatar from DFW in Business to CPT. Booked the One and Only for 4 nights and then driving to the wine country and staying at the La Residence Villas in the Vineyards for 2 nights – this place gets great reviews.

    We top off the trip with a safari at the Singita Boulders – holy cow, is this expensive. But after reading the trip reports and talking to SFO777, this was a non-negotiable property for me.

    Our return back to the US is through HKG on CX – spending 2 days in HKG with a CX First back to JFK.

  13. How about using Virgin Atlantic miles to book IAD to Accra on South African. Only 25,000 miles each way in Business. You can continue on to JNB for an additional 25,000 miles.

    Another possibility is TAM first class to Brazil, then onto JNB.

  14. Check out AirBNB for the Taj Capetown residences. Great hotel, with nice 2 bedroom apartments with full service from the hotel. We got a 2 bedroom for the price of a basic room during the high season.

  15. Stay away from Protea Cape Castle in Cape Town. My husband and I stayed there and it was awful.

    You should definitely go cage diving with sharks!!! Super easy and super exciting!

  16. Singita properties are such an experience! Totally worth it!!. That’s where we normally book our VIP clients. Enjoy and will wait for your review!

  17. 1) Ellerman House in CapeTown in amazing.

    2) Diving with great white sharks is only a 1-2 hour drive away from CapeTown and is an amazing adventure.

    3) If you’re going to that part of the world, a short flight from CPT will bring you to Victoria Falls — one of the most amazing sites in the wold.

  18. You should try Virgin Atlantic on outbound flight as it is a fun way to fly with onboard bar and dining together with the buddy seat set up. You could fly to the UK on their updated a330s and then fly onwards to Johannesburg on their 787.

  19. @Ismael Given the Cathay first class mistake fare, i doubt there would be much award availability from North America to HKG.

  20. Exactly how expensive are these Singta stays? How much would an average night set you back? Asking because I have no clue.

  21. Elerman house is the way to go. Best by far in Cape Town and very unique.

    Singitas the best btw especially boulders. You should go straight to the game reserve first and Cape Town after and the early morning game drives will be easier with the jet lag.

  22. @Erik – The properties Lucky has chosen at Singita are $2000 per person per day. They include everything except for French champagne. I know people who have been on them, and say they are worth every penny.

  23. Lucky will you share how much you payed for the Singtia properties as would be interested and a key part of reviewing it. Also I would surely think your dads favorite airline would be Lufthansa (or maybe even Condor) not Emirates. Also while you will not take the return in economy one of these days you really should as it would make for a very interesting one off review and it would be good for you to briefly detox from premium cabins and you will appreciate it more

  24. I’m taking my 93 year old mom to Singita boulders in August, for the same reasons.

    Also, I agree with @satya & @brooklynboy: Ellerman House! It’s not the most convenient location but the food, view, and art collection are extraordinary.

    Finally, why not have an extra stop in Nairobi on the way back and stay at Giraffe Manor.

    Actually, even though you’re booked for the outbound, I’d recommend the following order:
    Giraffe Manor (imagine waking up your first morning in Africa and having a giraffe peaking in your window…one of my favorite experiences of all time).

    Then nbo-lvi, a day visit to Victoria Falls, and a drive to the Botswana/Namibia border for two or three nights on the Zambezi Queen (Life on the river — especially the concentration of elephants — will leave you breathless.)

    Then drive back to lvi (about an 1h15m) and fly lvi-mqp and connect to the last federal air shuttle of the day to Singita boulders.

  25. @morgan- I posted it above. Each of the Singita properties is $2000 USD per person per night. It includes everything except French champagne

  26. You’ve made a great choice. The Singita lodges and game drives are top notch.

    In Capetown, I recommend the lovely Mount Nelson hotel, although there are a few others that are also delightful (e.g., One & Only, Table Bay).


  27. It does not make sense to book La Premiere for short red eye JFK-CDG and red eye CDG-JNB. Simply waste of money.

  28. We flew Business Class Virgin Atlantic via London from JFK – JNB and return on DL via ATL using Delta miles a few years ago. Paid First Class RT JNB-CPT on South Africa was fairly reasonable. Virgin Atlantic to JNB was fine.

  29. I’ve learned countless things from your blog over the years, but by far my favorite stuff I’ve ever read was the surprise trip with your dad. Looking forward to hearing about another trip! 🙂

  30. For what it’s worth, and even though you prefer hotels, there are some *insane* AirBNB properties in Cape Town that really don’t cost a whole lot. I’m going I’m March and the one we found looks breathtaking, elevated with views of the mountains and the ocean – and with all the luxuries a high end apartment could have and more.

  31. didn’t see these two of what i believe are musts in cape town. Go see Robbens Island where the guides were prisoners alongside Mandela – so powerful and sad and uplifting.
    Go to the new Africa art museum that has been open a little over a year – amazing art from all over africa in a breathtaking space.

  32. Just to flag that Singita offer inclusive 24-turn around Laundry so you don’t have to over pack. Watch out for the low weight on luggage permitted on the flights to the resorts so daily laundry help.

    My best memory of Lebombo is that that we had to abort our take-off with a sudden brake because a giraffe chose that moment to walk across the runway.

    We also started in Boulders and flew to Lebombo. Boulders will send your mini-bar preferences to Lebombo! That is great service!

  33. I’m going in May. I booked West coast to Amsterdam on BA business using AA points 57K. Have fun in AMS for a few days. Then AMS to JNB (layover in lhr) in BA First for 45K avios back when Amex had the 40% bonus. Then return from JNB to West coast (layover in paris) on Air france business for 85K.

    Going to victoria falls then need to figure out a safari to tour (chobe is likely) and then to cape town.

  34. Rent a car one day and head out to the Cape of Good Hope. It’s where the Indian and Atlantic merge. It’s incredible and I didn’t find it overly touristy. Shark Alley and the Penguins are nearby. It was breathtaking. This was 10 years ago, so hopefully it has retained the amazement and is not too overrun with tourists. What a wonderful trip for you and your dad.

  35. Ben, I had no problem finding IAD-DOH-JNB QR award using AA miles by changing my departure date a few days but the return on Aug 18 was more problematic. Leaving from CPT-AUH-ORD-DCA and since AUH is in another region it is more miles. While it looks like QR is bookable on AA website, it never goes through. Any suggestions?

  36. I have seen reasonable one-way business class fares from the Caribbean (Nassau, Montego Bay) to almost anywhere in Africa — but the airlines aren’t your normal favorites. . .

  37. @debit lately I wait a couple of hours to read a post and go directly to your comment…
    Thank you for your service…!

  38. I don’t know about your parents, but with mine, I’d keep it simple. They’d be perfectly happy with business class. To them, even premium economy is a step up. They aren’t happy about out-of-the-way flights or long connections. My dad just wants to “get there.”

    The JNB flight is wide open in F or J on BA from London. I’d just book the whole way through on the most convenient itinerary possible, suck up the fuel surcharge, and book J so I could reserve the 747 upper deck!

  39. Add a quick side trip to Victoria Falls. If you return on miles star covers LVI – JNB on South African Airways. We picked up SWISS JNB-ZRH-MIA.

  40. @El Jefe
    CPT is a JOON plane with terrible new FAs and an old hard product, while JNB gets full-service and F class. When I traveled with a group to CPT for a UCT program in August everyone who flew the CDG-CPT flight hated it. I flew QR J for 75k AA miles ORD-DOH-CPT which was an incredible experience of course.

    I would second Clem and SonomaWine that AirBNB can offer incredible values, as foreign hotel chains seem to price in Dollars while AirBNB prices in Rand which is of course very weak right now. I paid $60USD per night for an incredible 2500 square foot artist’s loft owned by a famous fashion photographer.

    You probably don’t need to be told this, but do not walk around after dark AT ALL in CPT, take an Uber Black door to door. It is not safe and my group experienced multiple instances of violent crime.

  41. @lucky – I just realized I’d misread the post, and thought you had your outbound booked. Now that I realize it’s the reverse, I would definitely recommend doing the itinerary I laid out above. I’ve done it, and you and your dad will be so very happy. It’s worth the extra time and expense and will start your safari off in a magical way.

  42. I have to agree with my fellow readers that 1. I’m so excited for another “parent surprise” trip where you go all out for them!!
    2. Another vote for Air France first class!! Seems like it will have that similar wow factor as emirates, especially if your dad is down for doing a bunch of positioning flights in service of a great product.

  43. Ben, If you are going to other destinations before you go on safari in South Africa (my favorite type of vacation by far), please give some thought to the time difference between U.S. east coast time and South Africa time. The safari wake up calls are around 5:30 a.m. for the morning drive. The people we met who came straight from the U.S. to South Africa and started their safari right away were so upside down that it was much more difficult for them to enjoy the experience. While you are used to time changes given your constant travel schedule, your dad probably is not. (We are in our 50s/60s, so I’m giving you the perspective of someone who is a bit older than you.) We spent a month on safari in S.Africa and Botswana in June 2014, visiting 8 different lodges, and it is definitely a “working” vacation in terms of schedules for game drives. And, you won’t want to miss a single game drive!! Thankfully, we spent a month in Europe beforehand, so we were already on South Africa time when we started our safari adventure.

    We generally stay at Airbnbs in Cape Town–much better pricing. Hotels in Cape Town tend to charge U.S. pricing, whereas you can get wonderful Airbnbs at a fraction of the cost. But if you are going to splurge, as I suspect you will, check out the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa. The views there are incredible.

  44. Try Kenyan or Ethiopian. You can get pretty reasonable fares in biz and they both go direct to CPT via Nairobi or Addis.

    When you go to the wine country Franschhoek is an easy day trip), make sure you visit Delaire Graaf estate. It’s breathtaking.

  45. Lucky he will love it. We have been to Africa 6 times. We mostly flew Qatar and Emirates out of Melbourne and once BA out of London.

    In Cape Town we stayed at the Harbiur which is a much nicer place to stay. Have a look at the Cape Grace he will feel right at home there. Also behind it on the other side of the Marina is The One and Only which looked great as well.
    Cheers Tim

  46. Qn. Why book Lufthansa using aeromiles with taxes when you can use lifemiles?

    My wife and I flew on klm and Kenyan in business to Nairobi for about $2300 each a year ago so sales exist.

  47. My wife and I are flying Turkish Airlines in Feb. to CPT from Toronto via IST (business class to and economy class from). We are spending a week in Istanbul on our way back; that ought to salve the sting of back to back Y class flights. We got excellent prices from Turkish approx. Cdn. $3500 each and were encouraged by your high praise for the TK soft product. This is a long journey but we look forward to a relaxing stay at the Business Class Lounge in Istanbul although it’s hard to say whether we will fly to Ataturk or the new venue.

    I am sure you will be in the lap of luxury in the Singita properties but unless they are fenceless and open to migration of animals from Sabi Sands you are basically going to an open zoo. The rangers at the property know exactly where the big five are because the animals wear tracking collars. What fun is that? Part of the excitement of watching wildlife is the uncertainty and element of surprise. You might be shocked to come across a pride of lions but the rangers knew the location all along. Artificial entertainment. Compare that to a game drive inside Kruger. A family of rarely seen African Wild Dogs gambolling off a culvert. Giraffes that can go anywhere they want. Cheetahs on the hunt hiding behind your vehicle. Hippos getting wet and dirty. An Aardwolf during a night safari. I’ve heard good things about facilities inside the park, esp. the southern end. More basic but far more authentic and far closer to nature. And, if you are keen on a private game reserve, there are dozens of cheaper alternatives that will be just as memorable. Don’t get taken in by the hype of the luxe purveyors.

    Someone mentioned that you will visit Sri Lanka as well. The finest safaris outside of Africa are here (Ranthambore in India is marvellous as well). The best time to go is July/August when the heat has shrivelled the vegetation and the animals start congregating at waterholes. Elephants galore, beautiful Spotted Deer, several endemic varieties of monkeys, endemic mongooses, and leopards in abundance (Sri Lanka and South Africa have the world’s largest leopards and the endemic Sri Lanka variety is abundant in Yala National Park in the southeast). Yala is crazy crowded and is avoided by locals in the know but there are some nice properties in the area including expensive tented camps. An alternative is to stay in the Anuradhapura area (UGA hotels are great, in my experience) and go to Wilpattu NP, once a leopard stronghold but now not so much but a very pleasant experience, or to some of the reservoirs (tanks) near Sigiriya where, sometimes, 300 – 400 elephants gather in season. If you go to Sri Lanka in Feb./March do not fail to go whale watching. I once saw 16 Blue Whales in 3 hours. About 2000 dolphins surrounded us off Kalpitiya, an astonishing sight. Apparently, according to an expert I know, you can see up to nine species of cetacean off Trincomalee or Mullaitivu on one trip.

    Lots to see, hope you and your Dad have a wonderful trip.

  48. Have you considered SQ. SQ from SFO or LAX non stop to SIN and then SIN to JNB. To very long flights and you might want an overnight at the Crown Plaza at SIN airport. I have done JNB to SIN to AKL a couple of times. Miles required are not great the the SQ business class it great.

  49. The silo is incredible and the location is equally incredible. And if you want the same location but a cheaper cost the Radison Red could be an option?

    Not that you asked but if you’re taking your dad for an African experience you should 100% try the restaurant called ‘Gold’ (in Cape Town) Its not a cliche African experience at all and the food is great and it comes with a show.

  50. United business class fares to South Africa (on partner airlines) cost 80,000 miles per person (160,000 miles total). Luckily, most dates do have these fares available going to Africa from the US. For example, many dates have Ethiopian Airlines award availability for those prices in which you could fly their 777-300 from Dulles which does have flat bed seats – a great review opportunity. Additionally, I do believe that there is award availability on select dates for South African’s A340 flight from New York to Johannesburg and their flight from Dulles to Accra on their new A330. The bottom line is that on many dates, there is excellent award availability on partner airlines for business class to South Africa through United.

  51. Ellerman House is one of the world’s greatest hotels. If you’re tempted, book now! The place only has a few rooms (12 or so) and is very popular.

  52. Check out the African Pride 15 on Orange. It’s a Marriott property and we really enjoyed it. It was one of the coolest decorated hotels I’ve ever stayed at and is in a good location near Long Street. Also, do yourself a favor and get reservations at the Pot Luck Club. Amazing food and an awesome value thanks to the USD vs the Rand.

  53. I highly recommend The Cape Grace – we wouldn’t stay anywhere else in Cape Town. Service is amazing and it’s in a great location at the Waterfront close to restaurants etc.

  54. Why don’t you book two award seats at Lufthansa in Business to have something secured and if anything opens up in First Class you can easily change for paying a moderate 50 USD fee?

  55. That sounds wonderful.

    Indeed wonderful enough that I am traveling with my 80+ parents to JNB and CPT next month in QR C to and from IAD.

    We’ll have Q suites for 3 legs, and I have booked the double bed for them on the overnight IAD-DOH leg.

    As for CPT lodging, we have 7 nights at an air bnb overlooking the ocean with a nice plunge pool. My folks are getting older, so if one day they want only 4 . . . or 0 hours of sightseeing, just sitting out back in the apartment and watching the ocean, while I get my work done, is fine.

  56. There are some awesome AirBnB options in Clifton/Bantry Bay area. I enjoyed those areas much more than the V&A Waterfront. Ubers are cheap, and it’s easy to get other places in Cape Town quickly.

  57. There simply is nothing interesting when it comes to points hotels in Cape Town. The Westin is really only ok, plus getting old, and I agree the location is not great, actually feels downright dangerous to walk back from the Waterfront at night (yes, I do know that walking at night you should not do in Cape Town, period). Ellerman House is a very nice hotel, but ridiculously expensive. As a matter of fact, the hotels in Cape Town (Silo, Mount Nelson, One&Only) are now so overpriced that this has become a less interesting destination for me. And quite honestly, service levels simply do not correspond to the prices these hotels are asking for – especially not the once nice Belmond Mount Nelson. I recommend going near Stellenbosch instead, something like the Delaire Graff Estate, or Lanzerac as a cheaper option.

  58. @Lucky – if you take the Virgin option above out of LHR, you’d finally get to spend time in the Virgin clubhouse!

  59. @JayJay … I agree, hotels very overpriced and service really not up to some Asian hotels which are cheaper .

  60. BA has the advantage of open jaw direct to JNB outbound and direct from CPT return. Saves a connection in JNB on the return (or vice versa if you did CPT first).

    Also, while those lodges are excellent, they are in malarial areas so, depending on time of year, you both might need anti-malarials. And I would be cautious of too exotic a route to South Africa – a transit of over 12h (including delays) in the wrong country (some of which have been suggested in comments) can leave you needing a Yellow Fever vaccination and certificate as an entry requirement for South Africa.

  61. PS if you want the South African coast but aren’t tied to Cape Town, there is the Oyster Box in Durban as an alternative.

  62. I enjoy staying at ocean-side Air BnB properties in Capetown. However, if you are insistent on hotels, here are my recommendations (albeit slightly dated), in order of preference:

    Tintswalo Atlantic (Robben Island or the Luxury Suites are great – gf and I prefer Robben)
    Taj Cape Town (Taj Properties are consistently some of my favorites)
    Ellerman House (Villa No. 2 or the Ellerman House Suite)

  63. Do people not read the whole post? HE SAYS HIS DAD DOESNT READ THE BLOG! hellloooo….geez.

    Regarding points hotels in SA, there arent any too good. Skip the hotel chain and splurge for Cape Grace, The Silo, or One and Only!

    also it amazes me how u have never ending miles……..

  64. How about AA F MIA,JFK,DFW/GRU
    And then GRU/JNB LA or SA J ?
    You could spend a night in Sao Paulo and take your dad to a churrascaria

  65. You have to stay at The Silo, it’s easily one of my favorite hotels in the world, everything about it is just so great, the rooms, the food, the service! And the location is definitely the best in Cape Town!

  66. What an amazing trip you’ve got planned together and what an experience it will be. Memories of a lifetime for you both.

  67. Nice! I travel a lot for my business. I fly Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Air India, Lufthansa, Air France, etc..

    While you travel snap a couple pics, upload them, earn a couple hundred a week. I started doing it a few months ago while traveling….easy extra spending money. I take a lot of pictures anyways as most people do on trips, so I just upload them and earn when someone downloads a pic.
    Real simple and basically free money while your traveling haha http://imsolutionrealm.com/photojobs. Check it out!

    Blue Out

  68. I’ve traveled to SA on many different routes and hands down the direct options are the best. JFK-JNB on SAA or ATL-JNB on Delta is my advice. The Intercontinental at JNB is super convenient for post arrival or departure stays. If you need a car or transfers, Trophy in Hoedspruit is a solid operation, ask for Robyn. Enjoy and safe travels!

  69. There was a return BA fare recently originating out of Amsterdam to CPT or JNB for 1250 euro. I’d check that.

    As others have said – you really should do the train. Rovos (privately owned) much better than blue train (state owned) and Rovos have fabulous specials. Have done both and they’re in the most memorable trips ever. Also took my parents – they just loved it. Last year we did 3 nights on Rovos from Victoria falls (Zimbabwe) to Pretoria with 2 nights thrown in at the elephant camp in Victoria falls. Spectacular. So definitely look at the Rovos specials.

    Cape Town hotels are over priced and in short supply. I go to CPT often and have access to 2 lovely properties in CPT centre if you can private message me… I may be able to help.

  70. @Lucky, how did you search for first on the outbound and economy for the return? Google ITA matrix doesn’t seem to allow searches of mixed classes for the outbound and inbound?

  71. @Lucky, will you be writing a review of this trip and these two Singita properties any time soon?

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