Southern Africa for 2 months on the road
Replies: 2 - Last Post: Sep 3, 2012 3:08 AM Last Post By: Natz777
Aug 30, 2012 7:18 AM
Southern Africa for 2 months on the roadHi all,
At the end of October i'll be leaving to Africa where im planning to spend 2 months! My plan is to start in kenya, then down to tanzania and zanzibar, malawi, zimbawe, bostwana, namibia, south africa and then catch a flight to mauritius where ill be attending a wedding on xmas day!
Im a 23 years old, quiet experienced about travels... Never been in africa yet though!
Im planning to travel on the road by public transports... My first question is: are there actually links between all these countries?
Among all of these countries, id like to pick maybe 3 or 4 safaris: i want to visit the best, but id love to see different environments... Which one i should choose?
Im italian and was wondering if there is any visa i should apply for in advance before arriving or i can get it at the border?
This is a good starting and im looking forward to hearing from you.
Any advice is well accepted!
Sep 1, 2012 10:36 AM
1Traveling around between all these countries on public transport is quite possible. In my opinion 2 months is pretty short, though, to really enjoy it. Getting around in remote areas of southern africa can be very time-consuming in itself. My recommendation would be to pick half of those countries and do those. My favorite on your list is Malawi.
The Okavango delta in Botswana is supposed to be amazing, I didnt get the chance to visit. In Malawi there are some cool places to do safaris that are less expensive / touristy like Zomba for example.
Sep 3, 2012 3:08 AM
2Public transport in Africa is quite variable - keep a close eye on your stuff and be prepared for quite unpleasant conditions at times.
I'm Zimbabwean-born so have a bias there - Zimbabwe is an absolutely exquisite country (naturally - infrastructure is quite poor and very eroded) which is still relatively safe and cheap to visit/safari in. Pathfinder buses in Zimbabwe are good. The train from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls is cheap, though long and very, very basic. Go "first class" - US$12pp, and take food, plenty of water, a torch, something to wipe the cabin down with (dirty) and maybe a bottle for when nature calls as I don't know if the toilets are usable - I didn't give them a try. The trip can take anywhere from 9 to 15 hours. You book and pay on the day - there's no pre-booking. The train stops like a million times en-route, so if you're adventurous you could get off at Hwange station, though I don't know what you would do from there - probably get your lodge to pick you up if staying in Hwange. We enjoyed the scenery and spotting the odd antelope and baboon, as well as listening to bird calls in the early mornings (during stops) and seeing fireflies and thunderstorms on the horizon in Hwange at night. You can do a day or overnight trip relatively cheaply into Botswana (Chobe day trip) from Victoria Falls.
Excellent places to visit in Zim are: Nyanga/Vumba (Eastern Highlands), Great Zimbabwe ruins (Masvingo), Matopos (near Bulawayo), Hwange National Park, Matusadona National Park (Kariba) and Mana Pools (if you have the money they are the stuff of legend and dreams) for wildlife, Chinhoyi Caves (en route from Harare to Kariba - see the exquisite "Sleeping Pool"), Matopos National Park (if you're interested in geology and climbing rocks, as well as amazing lizards at Rhodes' grave). Of course Victoria Falls are one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, so be sure to see them! We did the white water rafting there, and dinner/sundowner cruise on the upper Zambezi, good value for money and a memory that will stay with you forever. To do all of this would take you a long time though, so pick and choose.
Mana is the best for wildlife, and I hear Hwange is still very good. Kariba is much cheaper (try Tamarind Lodges or Charara Anglers Union camp grounds (they have chalets) for budget accommodation) but the wildlife is not as abundant as it once was, though it's still around. The lake itself and fishing are definitely worth it if you have a few days, you can hire a boat and driver for US$100 for the day, and you can hire rods etc, which means you get fishing and water's-edge game-viewing. Local Zimbabweans love Kariba and Nyanga, if you're a "live local" type of tourist. Kariba sunsets can't be beaten, in my opinion. Visas are easy for Zimbabwe, you pay at the border. Get a multiple-entry visa when you first arrive if you want to do short excursions from Victoria Falls into Botswana/Zambia - it will cost you less. Most places in Zimbabwe only accept cash (USD and ZAR), which you can take in with you or draw from ATMs in Harare and Vic Falls, probably also Bulawayo.
Best check when elections are though, if you're going to Zimbabwe, as things get nasty around election time - I'd avoid all but Vic Falls then.
Kruger in South Africa is magnificent, though the paved roads are a bit distracting from the "bush" feeling, as are the many vehicles. On the upside, car hire in SA is cheap and you can easily self-drive to and in Kruger, which cuts costs hugely. There's loads of game, too. Blyde River Canyon near Kruger is worth visiting, but give yourself time and don't try to see it in the early morning - when we went it was totally fogged over and we couldn't see it - we should have gone later in the day.
Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschoek in the Western Cape are beautiful and packed with history, culture and of course the vineyards and gourmet food they are famous for. There may also still be whales around Hermanus (on the Garden Route in the Cape) when you're planning to travel, which you can spot from the shore.
Remember to take binoculars, you'll have much better game/bird viewing, wherever you are. :) Also, plenty of mosquito repellent; "Peaceful Sleep" solid sticks are really good - they don't leak, are lightweight, easy to apply and very effective, and sunblock when you do all-day activities like white water rafting. Always be courteous to police/military personnel, as they can be unpredictable.
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