I've never been to Africa before and i've heard that most people like to do South Africa to Tanzania as a first trip. This sounds like an amazing journey and my first thoughts were to go via Zimbabwe and Malawi.
Has anyone done this trip and could they give me any tips, ideas etc?
My backpacking experience is limited to tourist trails such as Europe, South East Asia and Australia, how would a trip like this compare? I did spend two months backpacking in India which was rough and ready but ultimately far more satisfying than the easier tourist trails.
p.s. I haven't booked anything yet, so any advice would be great.
I haven't travelled that route, but as far as I know, Zimbabwe is probably the least safe and the most expensive country in that area. Maybe a better route would be Malawi-Zambia-Botswana/Namibia. Or Malawi-Mozambique.
You could cross Zambia (Livingston - Lusaka - Mpulungu) and from there get a ferry into Tanzania. Just googled and found some mentioning of the ferry there.
Livingston to Lusaka takes about 6 hours by Bus and Lusaka to Mpulungu takes 16 hours. The bus connection are no problem although they tend to leave very early in the morning.
Thinking about that now, sounds like some potential project for myself in the future...
When I was heading north I did South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and got the Tanzar train to Dar es Salaam from there.
I started in Kenyan and went South first including Zimbabwe in the trip South. That was in 2002-3 and I imagine Zim is getting worse rather than better and would suggest you skip it, or move through quickly, staying to the south of the country as much as you can.
Always nice to have people venturing out and living life nd there is no better way to travel than by backpack. I did it for 12 months down the coast of Mozambique! You trip sounds interesting, however, backpacking through Zimbabwe is a bit risky at the moment, I was there last month and I wouldn't suggest it to a novice (no offense). I would suggest you start in Cape TOwn, go up the Garden Route to durban, inland to the drakensberg, to Northern Natal, cross over to swaziland and throught to Kruger. From here you have 2 choice go the rustic hard route through Mozambique or the far easier route through to Jo'burg and on to Botswana. Mozambique will be difficult because of the lack of public transport but if you are willing to rough it go through to Maputo, from there to Beira and on to Pemba, from Pemba you can cross into Tanzania. The easier route would be through jo'burg to Gaborone and on to Maun from there to Vic Falls, into Zambia to Livingstone and on to Malawi etc...
Public transport is good in SA and Botswana, however it starts to get a bit rough as you head out of these regions.
My advice is for you not to do this trip alone, try get a few mates involved. I am not saying it is dangerous but it always nice to have few mates with you, to bounce off one another for ideas and support.
You can PM me for any further advice