South Africa, Namibia and Zambia overland by public transport
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Feb 7, 2013 10:32 AM Last Post By: hlai7233
May 1, 2012 1:56 PM
Below are some notes about travelling overland by public transport in South Africa, Namibia and Zambia. South Africa is amazing - so beautiful, but such a chasm between the rich and poor. Also such hope, based on an amazing history of struggling to change the world. If you're interested, you can see a longer article I wrote about it here: http://anarkismo.net/article/21852
In South Africa I travelled from Johannesburg to Durban and then Cape Town by Greyhound bus. If you can afford it, pay the little bit extra for the nicer bus - the seats have a bit more space and there's a toilet on board etc. But the cheaper bus service (called Citiliner) is also fine, just a bit more basic.
I travelled from Cape Town to Windhoek on Intercape mainliner. The trip was pleasant, the bus was great, and the price was fine. The only downside was the hours of overbearing religious propaganda that were played.
Greyhound and Intercape can be booked online or by phone.
From Windhoek I went to Oshakati (because I was trying to get a visa for Angola - see my separate post on Angola if you're interested). And then travelled to Opuwo (a highlight for me because I met many local Himba people), Khorixas and Swakopmund. These four trips were by local taxi minibus. Travelling by local minibus was great. The people are friendly, and it's often cheaper than a big bus. You just turn up to the appropriate bus station (usually a petrol station) sometime in the morning (between 8am and 10am seems to be a good time) and ask for a bus that's going where you want to go - they go when they're full. Ask a local beforehand where the bus station is, and roughly how much you should pay. Shared cars work the same way, but are usually a bit more comfortable and not as cheap. The road from Oshakati to Opuwo was a bit bumpy, but the others were pretty smooth. Compared to some other countries in Africa, I found the local taxi minibuses in Namibia to be very well organised and comprehensible.
From Swakopmund I took the Intercape mainliner to Livingstone in Zambia. A long journey, but the roads and the bus were fine (apart from the aforementioned propaganda). I strongly recommend Jungle Junction on Bovu Island near Livingstone as a beautiful and relaxing place to stay.
I headed back from Livingstone to Oshakati via Rundu. This took two days and two trips by local minibus and shared car. There is a new paved road between Rundu and Oshakati that is very quick (especially since the taxi driver felt like going at 180km/h!)
From Oshakati I headed into Angola, which you can read about in my separate post.
May 2, 2012 4:43 PM
1hi there, this is Patricio, 26 years old from a problematic country called Argentina... im planning a similar trip like yours... starting from south africa and going north by the west coast. i have one question: you´ve been on the road for roughly three months, how much money have you spent.... im a penny pinchers when talking about travelling, i mean always tried to pay the cheapest acommodation and transport, knowing this, you say is ok to consider to spend less than USD 1000 per month...
May 3, 2012 3:34 PM
2Hi Patricio. I think I'm pretty frugal, but I spent over $2000 per month. But this included expensive countries (ie Angola) and a couple of safaris. You could avoid those things. My main costs were: visas, accommodation, and transport costs. Food, tipping and entertainment were more minor.
Accommodation: I usually stayed in the cheapest places recommended by Lonely planet. These usually ranged from US$20-40 per night I think. In Angola, 'cheap' accommodation is US$60-100! But of course to be in the guidebook, a place usually has running water and basic cleanliness. You can find cheaper, dirtier places for less, but not in the guide book, and so difficult to find. Locals know them, but they don't expect tourists to go there. And most people would find them pretty unpleasant. I stayed in a few places in Cameroon for around US$5, but they were quite gross - ie dirty and only a bucket - no running water. Probably the best tip I can give you is to use couchsurfing.org - this could reduce your accommodation costs to a fraction, and improve your experience! I only used it a couple of times, and wish I had done it more often.
Transport and visas were my other big costs. I probably spent roughly US$60-100 on visas (in most countries) and US$100 on transport in each country I visited. And I visited 2-3 countries each month. I'm not sure if it would be cheaper to drive (motorbike? Campervan?) and camp in a tent? Others would have better info about this than I do. Also, not sure if visas will be cheaper for you?
Hope that helps!
May 4, 2012 1:48 AM
May 4, 2012 8:46 AM
May 13, 2012 5:12 PM
5Great posts, Kjeremy. Thanks for sharing. Nice to know Namibia is possible with public transit.
May 30, 2012 9:02 PM
Feb 7, 2013 10:32 AM
7Great trip report. It's a pity that I can't find - via the Search All Forums box on the right - your other posts apart from the Angola one. Had the moderators wipe them?
Kindly pls direct me to your other posts if you can.
I am more interested in the West african part of the journey.
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