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Planning a road trip from UK to South Africa

Travel Forums Africa and The Middle East Planning a road trip from UK to South Africa

1. Posted by tonywell (Budding Member 3 posts) 36w

Hi there I went to maps and asked for a route from the UK to SA. It gave me one as follows:

Get on M5 from B3212
18 min (10.0 mi)
Take A30, A303, M3, London Orbital Motorway/M25 and M20 to Vehicle Departure Rd in Kent. Take exit 11A from M20
3 h 56 min (234 mi)
Follow Vehicle Departure Rd to Channel Tunnel
8 min (1.2 mi)
Take the Channel Tunnel train to Fréthun
Entering France
56 min (33.7 mi)
Get on A16 in Calais from Avenue de France
4 min (1.9 mi)
Take A26/E15, A1, A10, A71, ... and E-15 to N-340a in Andalucía, España. Take exit 438 from E-15/A-7
18 h 51 min (1,314 mi)
Continue on N-340a. Take Calle de Coches to Almería,ES - Ghazaouet,DZ/Ghazaouet,DZ -Almería,ES
5 min (1.4 mi)
Take the Almería,ES - Ghazaouet,DZ/Ghazaouet,DZ -Almería,ES ferry to الغزوات
Toll road
Entering Algeria
9 h 3 min (127 mi)
Slight right
3 min (0.5 mi)
Drive from A1, N109, N6A, N107, ... and A 3 to Borno, Nigeria
57 h (2,591 mi)
Drive along Rann Rd
56 min (29.3 mi)
Take the ferry
Entering Cameroon
21 min (0.2 mi)
Continue straight
5 min (3.3 mi)
Drive from Djamena-Moundou and Pont de Balimba to Bangassou, République centrafricaine
20 h 40 min (971 mi)
Drive
4 min (0.7 mi)
Take the ferry
21 min (0.3 mi)
Continue to Bondo
3 h 42 min (125 mi)
Take the N4 ferry
21 min (0.1 mi)
Continue on N4. Drive from N 3, N3 and N5 to Katanga
30 h (1,276 mi)
Take the ferry
21 min (0.1 mi)
Continue on N5. Take N1, T3, T2 and T1 to M10 in Livingstone, Zambia
19 h 55 min (930 mi)
Follow M10 to Kazungula
46 min (41.3 mi)
Take the ferry
Entering Botswana
21 min (0.3 mi)
Continue straight onto A33
3 h 31 min (187 mi)
Continue on A3 to your destination in Gauteng, South Africa. Take exit 172 from N1
8 h 17 min (493 mi)
Follow Murrayhill Rd, Ou Warmbadpad Rd/R101 and Rooiwalpad Rd/M39 to Bultfonteinpad Rd
15 min (10.9 mi)
Pretoria Rural

https://www.google.co.za/maps/dir/Exeter,+Devon+EX6+7EE,+UK/Pretoria+Rural,+South+Africa/@10.1431691,-26.614671,3z/am=t/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x486da95fe2d78b15:0xb827ec8a73b93d14!2m2!1d-3.6896878!2d50.6836245!1m5!1m1!1s0x1ebfc55e8f15e7a7:0xaff1195700f608fa!2m2!1d28.1824793!2d-25.5408572?hl=en-GB

Is this really viable? Would one need a 4x4? how dangerous is this route?

Any advice would be great, thanks

[ Edit: Edited on 22-Mar-2016, at 11:12 by tonywell ]

2. Posted by Borisborough (Respected Member 458 posts) 36w

Having not driven through Africa, I can't say conclusively but we were on a truck from Livingstone through Botswana to Johannesburg (same route as Pretoria) in January 2016 and it seemed that it was all sealed roads and easily passable without a 4x4. And I'm convinced you can get from Exeter to the channel tunnel without a 4x4 too!!:)

I'd be a little more cautious about driving through Nigeria, Algeria and Cameroon though but that's all based on heresay, not on experience.

Enjoy your planning and it'd be interesting to hear how you get on.

3. Posted by OldPro (Respected Member 279 posts) 36w

You are talking about driving across a continent where a great many things are in flux at any given time. I don't think anyone can actually say a route is viable at any given point in the future.

No doubt thousands of people have driven across Africa from north to south in all kinds of vehicles. In some areas there is no question that a 4 wheel drive vehicle might be an advantage. On the other hand, I have had personal experience of crossing the Sahara in a VW Campervan which made it through. At the same time a group of 3 brand new Land Rovers fully outfitted for desert travel that we 'leap-frogged' back and forth with had several break downs covering the same route. It only shows that luck does play a part I guess.

During our trip (in 1970s) we got to a couple of borders only to discover we could not get permission to cross and so had to change plans accordingly. For a description of that trip you can read here:
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/gap-year-round-the-world-travel/topics/unplanned-travel

You will find the part about Africa starting around the 6th paragraph. I do not suggest that it is a description of a 'typical' trip of that kind but it does illustrate I think, that you do need to be flexible and expect the unexpected.

As for road conditions, I would expect anything and everything. Look at the pictures here:

https://www.google.ca/search?q=africa+road+conditions+pictures&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjXlcXDndfLAhVksIMKHTPuBO0QsAQIGw&biw=1093&bih=521

As you will see, everything from modern motorways to absolutely horrendous conditons with mud and wheel grooves cut so deep you can end up 'high centred' with all 4 wheels off the ground!

You can find plenty of info on such a trip with a simple Google search:
https://www.google.ca/search?q=africa+road+conditions+pictures&ie=&oe=#q=crossing+africa+by+car

4. Posted by berner256 (Travel Guru 528 posts) 35w

See my previous posts on travel in West Africa. I plan to return there later this year.

My guide and expert on travel in the region, Alberto Nicheli, who is based in Lome, Togo, advises against travel in Algeria. I've traveled by road throughout the continent; and if you're new to this, you should read the Facebook posts of Torbjorn Pedersen.

Travel in much of Africa isn't like travel in Europe. The drive times you've posted aren't realistic. You haven't taken into account a variety of factors, including road check points, diversions, weather (many roads in West Africa are impassable during the wet season), lack of fuel, etc. There are other factors discussed in my previous posts.

Also, many of the countries you plan to visit require visas. They aren't cheap; and visa policies and procedures can and do change. Some are quite strict. Then there's the "process" of crossing borders, including some that are notorious.

Having said this, I've met people on the road throughout Africa. Last October, there was a father-daughter duo from Slovenia on separate motorcycles traveling through Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal. I've seen others on bicycle in Ethiopia and other countries. Much of what you read online is outdated. Suggest you go through some of the recent posts on TripAdvisor, or on some of the other forums. But read the exploits of Torbjorn Pedersen to get a flavor of what travel in Africa can be like. They are similar to my experiences, too.

5. Posted by tonywell (Budding Member 3 posts) 35w

Quoting Borisborough

Having not driven through Africa, I can't say conclusively but we were on a truck from Livingstone through Botswana to Johannesburg (same route as Pretoria) in January 2016 and it seemed that it was all sealed roads and easily passable without a 4x4. And I'm convinced you can get from Exeter to the channel tunnel without a 4x4 too!!:)

I'd be a little more cautious about driving through Nigeria, Algeria and Cameroon though but that's all based on heresay, not on experience.

Enjoy your planning and it'd be interesting to hear how you get on.

Cheers very helpfull

Tony

Post 6 was removed by a moderator
7. Posted by coochycool (Budding Member 6 posts) 34w

I think you'd encounter no end of problems attempting your suggested route, not least of which is the security situation. Visas and corrupt officials are other ideas which come to mind. I think the only practical route for you would be Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa. I just completed 6 months overland from Nairobi to Cape Town using public transport, taking in these countries and a few others. Due to the Chinese presence most of the roads are now in surprisingly good condition, just the distances are still of course enormous. Also bear in mind its too dangerous to drive at night, almost nobody does and some places its illegal. But certainly from Zambia onwards you'd be surprised how good the general standards are. They now have air-con shopping malls and proper supermarkets. I met a French-Irish duo who had hired a car in South Africa and were permitted to take it into 8 countries, even Mozambique which surprised me. Hope this helps.

8. Posted by tonywell (Budding Member 3 posts) 34w

Quoting coochycool

I think you'd encounter no end of problems attempting your suggested route, not least of which is the security situation. Visas and corrupt officials are other ideas which come to mind. I think the only practical route for you would be Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa. I just completed 6 months overland from Nairobi to Cape Town using public transport, taking in these countries and a few others. Due to the Chinese presence most of the roads are now in surprisingly good condition, just the distances are still of course enormous. Also bear in mind its too dangerous to drive at night, almost nobody does and some places its illegal. But certainly from Zambia onwards you'd be surprised how good the general standards are. They now have air-con shopping malls and proper supermarkets. I met a French-Irish duo who had hired a car in South Africa and were permitted to take it into 8 countries, even Mozambique which surprised me. Hope this helps.

Now that makes sence

The Eastern side of Africa would probably be speaking English whilst the Western side would be mostly French

Thank you:)

9. Posted by coochycool (Budding Member 6 posts) 34w

Thats it, the classic Cairo to the Cape route. Its generally safe with the occasional exception ie. the Ethiopia-Kenya border. Never done it but many others have, at most you may be forced to drive it in convoy with an escort. And yes, English all the way once in Kenya.

Your other obvious dilemna is how to get overland to Egypt, well basically because of the Syria situ you cant. The Tunisia - Libya route is too dodgy and probably not permissible. Not sure they still run, but there used to be the ferries from Greece to Cyprus then Cyprus to Israel. But even if this is do-able you'd probably then face a problem entering Sudan with an Israeli stamp.

Of course you can always ship a vehicle privately but this holds an obvious drawback ($$$$).

Happy travels!