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Planning trip to Southern Africa next year

Travel Forums Africa and The Middle East Planning trip to Southern Africa next year

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1. Posted by travelbug_ (Respected Member 110 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

My hubby and I are planning a trip next year to Southern Africa. After a lot of thinking we decided a route like this:

South Africa - Lesotho - Swaziland - Mozambique - Malawi - Zimbabwe - Botswana - Namibia - South Africa

We think 12-15 weeks is sufficient for this???

Also although we are trying to really do this on budget , from what I have read it's best to travel by car?? If this is the case is it possible to hire a rental car to cross into most of these countries? Does anyone know any cheap reputable car rental places?

Approx how much money is needed for such a trip (planning to camp as much as possible and/or stay in hostels) ?

Thanks for any advice/tips

[ Edit: Edited on Sep 5, 2007, at 8:04 AM by mimihops ]

2. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5656 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

When renting a car in South Africa (cheapest country to hire the car) it usually is possible to take it to neighbouring countries, so Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Namibia are definetaly possible, just as long as you mention it then you will get a permit and maybe pay a small fee. Other countries usually are not allowed, althought maybe the route to Maputo in Mozambique might be allowed as well.
I think it would be advisable to start for example in Cape Town, drive north into Namibia and then make a loop into Botswana (visit the Victoria Falls by public transport from Kasane) and then go south again to Johannesburg, visiting Lesotho and Swaziland as well.
Safety records in Zimbabwe are low these days, not to say it is very dangerous to travel there or even impossible. Personally, I would choose afterwards to travel by public transport in Mozambique and Malawi and take a flight back from Blantyre to Johannesburg.

It is perfectly ok to rent the cheapest car (usually a Volkswagen Chico...the old Golf from the seventies here in Europe) as roads are very good, even the gravel roads. If you rent for more than a month, prices are lower and I think you might find a Chico for around 25 euros or even a bit less, including all insurances. I would not go for the option of very cheap rental agencies when travelling outside South Africa, but that is my opinion of course. So I guess if you cook your own food and camp, you might get along for about 60 euros a day travelling together, so 30 euros a person. But when you want to visit Okavango and Chobe national parks, you really need either a 4WD or take a guided tour, which are expensive to very very expensive, even when camping, as sometimes you need to fly in.

Have fun! Michael

3. Posted by baluba (Respected Member 407 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I have sent you a very belated PM too. Sorry!
I agree with Michael as to suggested itinerary, however I can also add that Zimbabwe is no problem at all. I drove up there from SA in April and some friends of mine did the same route just a few weeks back. Just steer clear of Harare or anywhere anything political may be going on. The people and the police are the friendliest people you will ever meet. The roads are good, albeit long and a little tedious!
The route we took was Jo'burg, North through Zimbabwe to Vic Falls, then over the border to Botswana to Chobe then south back to SA. I have also driven to Swaziland a couple of times (last weekend), easy peasy, but you have to pay R50 for car tax.
I also know some people who successfully drove a VW Golf from Jo'burg, through the Kalihari to Namibia then south to SA.
If you def want to go to Zim, I can recommend great accomodation, food etc plus advise on money, petrol etc. Its gone a little bit crazy there but it is still doable and I would highly recommend it!
Mozambique is also easy to get into from SA, but if you want to go I shall give you some advice about the border crossing, it is chaotic to say the least. Just let me know your planned final itinerary and I will give you as much advice as I can.
Not sure about Malawi, didnt drive myself there, but you shouldn't have any problems.
Oh, another thing. Chobe is not that expensive and I can recommend a campsite that can organise pretty cheap tours for you, damned good too. But do be careful of elephants, they are everywhere and night driving can be treacherous!
You lucky lucky people, can I come with you???!!!

4. Posted by travelbug_ (Respected Member 110 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Thanks baluba & utrect for the info.

Anything you can reccomend will be much appreciated :) . Just trying to gather all the info before finalising.

Also have to find inexpensive plane tickets (seems to be cheaper to fly from UK than Austria) . Ifanyone could recommend good places to get a good fare please do so.

Thanks again for all your help

5. Posted by baluba (Respected Member 407 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Trailfinders or

6. Posted by travelbug_ (Respected Member 110 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Been thinking so much about route my head is startingto hurt lol.

What do you think about this :

Flying into Johannesburg then going by public transport to Malawi and Mozambique - pick up car in Johannesburg and then drive to Swaziland - Lesotho - Cape Town - Namibia - Botswana - fly out from Zimbabwe ?

Do you think that would be good?

7. Posted by soupatrvlr (Respected Member 385 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

How about something like this: pick up the car in the Joburg and start out with the kruger Park. Then work your way into Swaziland through Jeppes Reef. Check out Swaziland and then finish down at a border crossing into Zululand. Loads of great game reserves down there: tembe, ndumu, mkuzi, hluhluwe/umfolizi and St. Lucia biosphere. From zululand go down to Durban and then work your way up towards Lesotho. You could see Royal Natal and Golden Gate parks there as well. Then across SA down to the Garden Route to Cape Town.

From Cape Town to cedarburg and then North into Namibia. Check out Fish River Canyon, up to Sossosvlie, into Swakop and up to Etosha (via windhoek). Then back down to Windhoek and over to cross into Bots. Go to Maun and find a mokoro trip into the delta. Then drive up to Chobe Nat'l Park and do some boat safaris.

Drive over through Kazangulo Ferry into Livingstone, Zambia and then if you want to do Zim, over to Vic Falls and then down through Zim to Joburg via Messina. Otherwise, back into Botswana and down through to the Nata Pans. Then from Joburg, return the car and work your way up through Mozambique and then over to Malawi. I'm not sure, but I don't think you can really make it much North of Beira without great effort. You might have to make your way to Malawi through Zimbabwe. Go from Beira to Chimio through Mutari border post. Then go through the tet corridor up to Malawi.

f.y.i. make sure you have two spare tires and very accurate maps. what look like tar roads on the map are often dirt. Hope that helps! Good luck planning and Happy Travels! :)

8. Posted by baluba (Respected Member 407 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I agree with Holly, thats a good plan. However, if you want to save some time, from St Lucia, head down the coast to Durban then continue along through the wild coast, wilderness, garden route, via Stellenbosch to Capetown then up to Namibia. If you decide to come through Zim, take time to visit Gweru and take a walk with the lions, an awesome experience, then to Matopos NP to see the rhino, amazing scenery and fab cave paintings, maybe even the Zimbabwe ruins.
In Swaziland, Mlilwane is an excellent place to stay, they have cheap dorms with herds of impala and nyalas outside your bedroom window, along with warthogs, ostriches and guinea fowl, not to mention the vervet monkeys who will use your car as target practice..park away from the dorm block!
Namibia has the most spectacular places, the dunes, Spitzkoppen, crazy sports in Swakopmund, Etosha is awesome.
From Vic falls, nip over the border and do a zambezi river cruise in Zambia, see the falls from both sides and if you are feeling brave, jump off the bridge.
Dump the car in Jo'burg and fly home from Malawi or Mozambique.
Out of interest, what sort of things are you looking for most, wildlife, scenery, history or cuilture or just everything?

9. Posted by travelbug_ (Respected Member 110 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Thanks again for all your valuable info.

Claire, my hubby and I are interested in photography so wildlife, nature and scenery. We are also interested in the local culture too.

10. Posted by luangwablo (Budding Member 7 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Look into buying an inexpensive 4x4 for the duration. Then at the end of the trip, sell it. Plan on low price to sell to move it quickly. I have bought 5 series landrovers in the past and kitted them out for overland travel starting in Joburg. Always sold the landies within a couple days to fellow travelers by advertising in the autotrader at a very good price. Saved alot on rental fees this way.

With a 4x4, you can go to all the great parks and not be limited because you got the wrong vehicle.

There is also a company in SA that has a buy back program. Not sure which one that is.