I am thinking of doing the following in April:
The Gambia, Ivory Coast, maybe Ghana, Namibia, Tanzania, Malawi, maybe South Africa, Ethiopia perhaps, maybe Madagascar and Seychelles.
I've traveled to 75 countries, typically more than once, and typically alone. Due to the vast distances between places and possible safety in numbers, might be up for buddies this time around.
Make sure you consider the weather in some of the countries you plan to visit. For example, it's the end of the dry season and the beginning of the wet in much of West Africa. Road travel will be much more difficult during the wet season as many of the roads aren't paved. Drainage is a problem, ruining roads. Some of the national parks in the region also are closed during the wet season as the weather can be severe and damaging. Even some accommodations are closed. I'm planning a trip to Ghana and Ivory Coast for 2016; but haven't set the dates yet. I already have a proposed itinerary. Over the past three years, I've visited many of the countries you've listed, using a mix of public and private transportation, traveling solo and with others.
Thanks Bob, yes I was thinking April as end of the wet season, and better temperatures. Aware roads/bridges would be affected and could impact journeys (hopefully better than in the actual wet).
How much/how long did journey take on the parts of the route I mentioned and how comfortable/how often did transport breakdown/delay and/or held up (by baddies)?
I visited Ethiopia for a month in April 2014; and went in May to Madagascar and South Africa. You can track my Africa itineraries for 2013, 2014 and 2015 by looking at my travel maps for those years on Travellerspoint.
If this is your first trip to Africa, I suggest joining an "adventure" tour as a good introduction. That way, you'll see how the roads are like; and have some insight as to crossing borders and public transportation. Tour costs are reasonable. For my first trip to Africa, I booked an accommodated tour with Cape Town-based Nomad, going from Cape Town to Victoria Falls. It was an eye-opener. I used information gleaned on that trip to travel independently to several countries, including Ethiopia and Rwanda.
Travel in South Africa and Namibia is a piece of cake. Many visitors rent cars; and public transportation is excellent.
Travel in Africa isn't as inexpensive as travel in Asia. And it isn't as easy to get around. You also have to be flexible, as many forms of transportation don't leave on a set schedule. They leave when they're full (often overcrowded). Accommodations run the gamut. In some places, you just have to grin and bear it because there's no other choice.
I hired a driver for a month each of the two times I visited Ethiopia. On one trip, we had three flat tires. We had engine trouble on another. Roads can be really bad, with large holes, ruts, etc. There's a lot of dust. I'm now on my way home from a trip to Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau; and my bags still have some dust and sand.
Before traveling to Africa, I had fears. But I've overcome those fears. As in any other place, you have to be careful and vigilant. But people on the whole are friendly. And I'm now comfortable traveling there. You'll have an amazing experience.