Safe self drive SA, Namibia, Botswana, Victoria waterfalls
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Mar 24, 2013 8:53 AM Last Post By: Georgi1
Mar 3, 2013 1:44 PM
I am in early stages planing self drive trip trough Namibia, Botswana to Livingstone and back with few days stay at Okavango delta. Proposed date is April 2014 for 3 weeks.
We never been to subsaharan Africa and dont know much where to start from.
My plan is to rent 4x4 in SA and head north.
I was told that driving in SA can be bit dangerous, as they are many cases of daily vehicle hijacking ..
How serious it is? and your advise?
We would like to stay a night in Windhoek in one point and 5 days Okavango Delta for R&R.Can you suggest places to stay in both destinations? Wont mind mini safari too.
Is detour to Swakopmund worth for few days on the beach? I was told if I visit there, para-shooting is must.
Can you suggest any good place to do so?
Do I rent 4x4 at Jo'burg and straight head north or explore for a day SA.
Can you give me heads up on in ternary, where to stop & what to see on the way to Livingstone?
What about health issues? Malaria tablets, mosquito nets, shots before we go?State of the roads? any tolls?Do we need driver or a guied or we can do it ourselfs, which is original plan.
We will be 2 adults travelling.
Mar 4, 2013 4:11 AM
1Many people do the kind of circuit you are proposing ie fly into Jo'berg and pick up a kitted 4x4 (check out Bushlore or Drive South Africa) and head for Botswana. With only three weeks you may want to consider dropping off at Windhoek to save yourselves a long drive back.
Don't worry about security. Car jacking does happen but the chances of it affecting you are extremely small - especially once you leave major cities.
Where to visit ... Are you camping? Do you want to self drive in game parks? There are great opportunities to do so in Botswana and incredible scenery/camping opportunities in Namibia. Swakopmund is not really a beach destination (the Atlantic is COLD and the coast is often foggy). It is great for adventure activities though if that's your thing (dune boarding, kayaking, quad biking etc etc). It would be easier to suggest stops if you said what interested you. We self drive but our main interest is game viewing so we mainly camp in parks.
You will definitely need malaria pills.
April is the end of the wet season so you may get some rain/mud in game parks.
Mar 4, 2013 4:44 PM
2Trank you for reply itchyfeet38.
I love History, arhitecture, and good food/cooking..
Dont mind spending few days Looking at the game/animals. Enjoyed my trip to NP in India Trekking the tigers.
We would love to do self Drive in Botswana NP.
We are usually ppl who want to do things by ourselfsif possiblei read somewhere that i shouldnt take my 4x4 into Zambia, as Insurance wont cover, but from Zimbawe sort of take Taxi to Livingstone, i heard is only 6 Miles from the falls and have very near Museum worth visiting.
Which places yould you suggest in Namibia, instead of Windhoek?
Love to visit out of the way places,and small villages, i know is not Europe and all is different, but would love to take some cooking classes if possible.
Camping in NP sound great.. Can i get Camping Kit somewhere along the way or do i need to organise that beforehand and take it with me from Europe?
I would love bit of Luxury like collonial lodge somewhere along the road. And somewhere along the Okavango Delta where we can relax for few days with a views of the water...small fishing village is more than fine!
I dont have experance of Africa, but i dont mind roughing it, i spent month backpacking India, so i have some experiance with basic needs of travelling.
If April is end of rain Season we can move it eather to mid May or Oct/Nov..
Any advice please?
Edited by: Macedonian
Mar 5, 2013 2:39 PM
3Either mid May or October November are good times to be in Southern Africa and both are better than April. In May things will still be green, weather will be lovely and skies clear blue, by October/November it will be hot, dusty and dry (end of dry season) but excellent for game viewing as many water sources have dried up and it is easier to see game.
Most people visit Botswana purely for game viewing and Namibia primarily or it's scenery but it doesn't seem that that is your primary aim? As regards the self driving in game parks you can easily hire a fully equipped car with roof tent and everything you need. Many people do this. You would have to plan to camp quite a bit though to make it worthwhile.
Also not sure how experienced you are off road. Self driving in game parks can sometimes be tough (deep mud/sand, water crossings etc). Also campsites are basic - sometimes just bush toilets and bucket showers, sometimes nothing. But they are unfenced so thrilling to be around a fire in the bush listening to lions roar. If you are not experienced at being self sufficient then maybe just a few days some where like Nxai Pan? Or drive up to Kasane and do some self drives into Chobe (or take a game viewing vehicle from your lodge/campsite if you prefer).
You can visit the falls on a day trip from Kasane. It is much easier than trying to cross into Zambia with a car.
I can't think of much to satisfy your history interest. There are some cultural activities that may interest you though. For example google Planet Baobab. You can stay in traditional huts and eat traditional food, visit schools etc. They also do nice trips out onto the saltpans (you can sleep out and watch the sunrise - it's very beautiful).
Also consider visiting Tsodilo Hills which is an ancient San site and full of very famous rock art (Laurens Van der Post went there). You can camp there - it's very atmospheric and some of the paintings are amazing.
In Namibia you could visit Kolmanskop which is a ghost town where a diamond mining operation once took place. They were a very rich community who had their own miniature railway, a primitive form of air conditioning and lots of other interesting things. The desert is slowly consuming the buildings again.
This area doesn't tend to be big on architecture. The towns are pretty much one or two story modern African sprawls I'm afraid.
There are lots of camps along the panhandle where you can get a chalet on the water. Or you can fly into a luxury camp in the delta but these will be much more upmarket (I've never been to one).
On the good food front there are some nice seafood restaurants in Namibia (the Tug in Swakop and the Raft in Walvis are a couple). Of course if you are camping you can buy and cook your own food. They sell great meat there and you will be able to try a lot of game meat you may not have tried eg kudu, eland, springbok.
Hope that gives you a few ideas.
Mar 7, 2013 4:01 PM
4Thank you Itchyfeet38!
I am looking now into a possible route..
Somebody today had presentation at work for 3 weeks in Namibia, actually it was all about photography, but I will be having word with this person.. Once I have proposed route I will be back with more questions.
Again thank you for taking time to answer all my Q
Mar 8, 2013 1:05 AM
I'm actually in the middle of a very similar trip (except I'm hitchhiking the whole way, and started in Cape Town).
It really depends on your budget, I think. But if you can fly in one place, and out of another i would recommend it (I'm flying out if Joburg).
If you start in Joburg and drive up to Botswana, you'd probably have to stop in Gaborone for the night (unless you don't mind driving through the night, which I wouldn't recommend). In Botswana, the villages are really spread very far apart (I hitchhiked from Windhoek to Maun, and there was only one gas station that I passed in Botswana - over 500km in Botswana alone. Then Gaborone to Maun is about a seven hour drive. Maun is good for the Okavango delta (that's why I'm here, too). There are really only three good places to stay here, I'm at Old Bridge Backpackers, which is fun, but not luxury at all (outdoors showers and toilets). Island Safari Lodge is a bit closer to the Okavango Delta, and quite nice. They have horseback riding for very cheap (250pula for a three hour ride, and you can do galloping and river swims). You can also rent kayaks and the like. I did a Mokoro trip, but honestly I didn't care for it (I'm more adventurous and prefer to do the paddling myself, they paddle for you). I had planned to do an overnight Mokoro trip, camping in the bush, but the camp is only about an hour from where you get on the Mokoro, and then there's a lot of sitting around doing nothing (which would be a lot nicer if I wasn't traveling solo and it was May and cooler).
From Maun, I'd imagine you'd head to the falls. You need to pick a side to see them from (unless you want to see it from both sides, and pay for two visas). I plan to go to Livingstone (which has a lot of activities, white water rafting, overnight canoe trips down the zambezi, bungee jumping, etc). However, if you choose april, know that livingstone island floods and they shut down some if the activities from january to april. So if you only want to see the falls, then the previous post is correct, just to a day trip from Kasane. I don't know how far the falls are from there, but Livingstone is 60km. So you'd have to spend the night in Kasane.
Then you could drive from Kasane to Windhoek. There aren't a lot of roads, but you could go through the Caprivi, I think (not totally sure) and I hear its beautiful. Windhoek is incredibly boring. Just spend the night there (I recommend Cardboard Box backpackers). If you manage to, I hear driving down the skeleton coast in spectacular.
The previous post said Swakopmond isn't for the beach - too true! I did sand boarding there though, and that has been the highlight of my trip thus far! So much fun! Also quad biking on the dunes. There, I'd recommend staying at desert Sky, walking distance to town and to the beach, and very quiet. Swakopmond is usually foggy in the mornings, but while I was there, it was very sunny and warm and ideal for surfing (but if you come in may or October, it'd definitely be too cold). The sand boarding guys were really cool and told me to parachute there too, but I've already done it. However, I hear its quite safe.
I also went to Sossuslvei, the Namibian desert, with the rich red sand dunes, which was really nice. I actually took a tour there because i couldn't find another way of transportation there (but I prefer to do things on my own too). It was quite nice, and actually got to have a cheetah interaction too! I stayed at a luxury lodge called Desert Camp, 6km outside of the park. it had a pool that opened to the valley and was gorgeous. The only downside is that if you aren't camping in the park, you won't see the sunrise or sunset sitting on the dunes.
Honestly, from there, Id drop off the car back in Windhoek and fly to Cape Town and spend a few days there (it's very nice, and they have a pretty beach but way too cold to swim in, but still lots to do in CT). Then maybe pick up a new car and drive the Garden Route (along the coast line), and stop in Durban (there it's warm enough for swimming, kiteboarding, scuba, etc) and then drive back Joburg, if you want to fly in and out of the same place.
Joburg is really very large, and quite frankly, there are some places that you actually don't want to go to, so I don't know about staying there for very long (the apartheid museum and the cradle of mankind are supposedly excellent though, especially if you like history).
As for the camp gear, I brought my own, but I imagine if you start in Joburg you will be able to find a store that sells it. I know malaria pills are expensive in Europe, but I brought mine in advance, better safe than sorry! However, all the places I have mentioned don't have malaria, so you needed not bring any malaria pills. However, should you decide to go to Lesotho, Swaziland or a NP (the Okavango doesn't have malaria, though) that might be different.
You need a yellow fever vaccine before you come. Tuberculosis is probably not a bad idea, but if its expensive, don't get it.
It depends which roads you travel, but a 4x4 is definitely the way to go regardless, not many except the main routes are paved. As for a guide, I think it's really up to you, but proving you're not so lazy, I'm sure you'll be capable on your own.
I know you didn't actually say you'd by flying in to Joburg and renting the vehicle there, so on the chance that you're actually flying into Cape Town, heads up that it is a 21 hour bus ride to Windhoek, in case you plan on that (I don't know how long it would take if you were driving but I'd imagine 19 or so, best to fly).
Mar 8, 2013 5:41 AM
Mar 9, 2013 12:43 PM
7Thank you Nbill003, that is such a detailed answer & i appriciated.
We were thinking flying in & out of J'burg, and after Doping the 4x4' maybe hit Krüger NP?
We are not Lazy and love to walk... We have been to India, Middle East. Eastern med.. This trip will be our first exosure to subsaharan africa, and we are avare that the roads and all the infrastructure is but sparce & undeveloped. Not that is Bad thing, just we want to be prepared about any eventuality.
We will be definatelly renting car.but dont mind staying at few places with soft bad, the toproof tents on the Cars look safe but not particulary confy..
So thank you for accomodattion tips, very much appriciated.
I will hit Travel clinic and find out what vaccinations i need, and i will take Malaria tablets, better save than sorry...
Thank you again, so much!
Mar 24, 2013 8:53 AM
8Hi Macedonian, I´ve been to Namibia twice, I really love Svakop, because it´s a lovely town with old houses like toys, and I highly recommend you to see the Namib desert and the Spitzkop mountains, which have bizarre forms. There is a lovely campsite in the middle, run by Damara people, and you experience the total freedom apart from a gorgeous nature. Besides, if you are interested in Bushmen, please visit Tsumque, where there is the San Joansie community, they are earning their living from showing tourists around, super-friendly people and very worth supporting! so far for Namibia, if you like more infos about my preferred destinations, do ask me!
Greetings, Georgina (Georgi1)
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