My 23-year-old daughter is going to Cape Town South Africa to do animal volunteer work in October. However, she would like to go a week earlier and do a safari. Do they have wildlife safaris going out of Cape Town for about five days? She is not interested in the wine tours, mainly animals. Also, how safe is it for her to be there on her own? She will definitely stick to the organised tours. While she is volunteering, she gets a day off a week. Are there any organised tours to go to Table Mountain and other sites from Stellenbosch or Somerset West, which are the closest towns to where she is staying?
- Julie Waddell
Tom Hall, Lonely Planet's Travel Editor for Africa, writes:
While Cape Town is South Africa's key tourist destination for food, shopping, scenery and coastline, it is not a jumping off point for safaris.
The wildlife tours that do run from here are rewarding, typically visits to Table Mountain National Park, the Cedarberg Mountains and private game reserves close to the city. You'll see most of the animals that you're craving and there are no shortage of operators in Cape Town. Most tours take either four or seven days and cost $800-$1100.
None of this is a substitute for getting up into the north of the country and exploring the Kruger National Park, part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, one of the best places an animal can hope to find itself living in anywhere on the planet.
As well the abundant Big Five or lion, leopard, wildebeest, elephant and rhino there is wonderful African wilderness to explore, some of which can be trekked well away from the big crowds that occupy the main routes through the park, and a sense of adventure that more than rewards the long journey.
Nelspruit, which will require a flight from Cape Town, is the most common jumping-off point for visiting the park.
Wildlife Safaris are one of many operators that can organise trips to this area of South Africa, which is simply not to be missed. October is a good time of year to be coming - the less clement weather will be long gone and the crowds of high summer will not have arrived yet.
Reaching China's great heights
We are going to Shanghai for the Expo in July and wanting to visit Taishan and Huangshan. From Tai'an, is there a rail service from this town to a town near Huangshan? If one is to stay a night on top of Huangshan (1500-1800m), would a person who has had a heart operation experience breathing difficulty or other health problems? Also, how long a walk is it from the cable car terminal to the nearest hotel?
- Youmin Wu
Lonely Planet's Asia-Pacific Travel Editor Shawn Low writes:
You will be seeing some of China's best and most legendary landscapes at Taishan and Huanghan. Here are some suggestions to tackle the logistics of making it happen. From Tai'an, you will need to head to Anqing in Anhui Province via train or bus. From Anqing, there's a morning bus that will take you to Huangshan.
If you're worried about the physical aspect of the climb, there are shuttle buses from the bottom of the mountain that you can take to the cable car. Get there early as there can be hour-long queues. The walking distance to the hotel depends on which cable car you take. The shortest walk is via the Taiping or Yongu cable-car lines.
While the altitude isn't as troubling owing to Huangshan's relatively low peak, consult your doctor about your condition.
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