The Great Journey across Southern Africa

Southern Africa Map

21 Aug The Great Journey across Southern Africa

Alright so where to begin, with a title like that, who am I kidding. I am nervous. As of today, I am embarking on a solo two month backpacking trip through seven new countries, with no real knowledge of the local languages, cultures, food, history, dangers, or adventure activities. I plan on using this blog to share my stories of life on the road and highlight the best of what this trip has to offer. I have wanted to backpack Southern Africa for a couple of years now, and I am truly stoked about the challenges and experiences that lay in my very near future. So here is the plan.

From Dar es Salam, I am going to travel by train some 800km through southern Tanzania grasslands, game reserves, and farmlands, to the far western town of Mbeya. From Mbeya I plan to travel by bus almost directly south into Malawi, I would like to go diving in Lake Malawi and spend a few days at some lake side towns before making my to the capital,  Lilongwe. From Malawi, I will again head west for Zambia and its capital, Lusaka. I have no real idea what I am going to do around Lusaka. So, from Lusaka I plan to head directly south (again) crossing into Zimbabwe. I will make my way through north western Zimbabwe eventually moving again west and into Botswana. There are a couple of things I am really looking forward to in Botswana, one being a visit to a local farm to hang with the parents of a South African friend, the other being my eventual border crossing through Chobe National Park into Namibia. However, I am thinking I will cross back into Zimbabwe and Zambia before coming full circle back into Botswana and then….finally, Namibia. I am crisscrossing countries here because conveniently in the Victoria Falls area, Zam, Bot, Namib, and Zim, are all very close to one another.

Victoria Falls will mark sort of a centre point of my intended journey. The idea here is to visit the Zimbabwe side first, checking the possibilities of White Water Rafting the Zambezi river, of course followed by Bungee Jumping off a bridge (sorry for this dual combo again Mom, Uganda wasn’t enough of a rush). Depending on what I hear from others who have done this trip, I may put more time and money into Livingstone (Zambian side of the falls). So if you have been there, comment on this post. I could use the insight. I have heard that Livingstone is a great party town and a great meeting spot for people backpacking similar routes, but I have also heard the Zimbabwe side of the falls is not to be missed. Guess I’ll leave this topic up for discussion throughout the trip.

From Vic Falls I will head back into Botswana and hopefully, with the help of my buddies parents, figure out the best way to get across Chobe National Park in northern Bot and into Namibia. Once into Namibia some real fun begins.  To keep the list short, I am hoping to go sky diving, visit the skeleton coast, seek out a ship wreck apparently found miraculously hundreds of meters into the desert half buried in sand, check out Fish River Canyon, and visit the famed Etosha National Park in northern Namibia (near the border of Angola) bringing the title of this blog to justice. I will then make my way to the central coast of Namibia and the town of Swakopmund. Say that ten times fast. Once in Swakopmund I am going  to figure out my route down into South Africa and eventually Cape Town. Oh, but before I forget, also in Swakopmund there is the apparent opportunity to go sand-wakeboarding on a snowboard while being pulled by a dune buggy across the Namib Desert dunes. Yup, definitely going to have to check that shit out!

I should arrive in Cape Town by the second week of October. Unfortunately this will most likely be the only part of South Africa I will get to visit. Fortunately however, I have a couple of friends in Cape Town and I am really stoked about seeing them again.  In Cape Town I am planning to go cage diving with Great White Sharks, possibly sky diving again (depending on cash flow) and for sure a hike to the top of Table Mountain. I am sure there will be a few good pub nights mixed in there with the possibility of a couple winery tours as well. Cape Town is meant to be an incredible city and I am excited about ending my trip there.

I know this is a shit load of info and ideas, and honestly, I only have eight weeks to fit it all in. I am hoping it is not too ambitious. We’ll see. My budget as stands is $4,800 USD. That divided by 60 days comes to 80 dollars a day not including activities, park entry fees, any visas needed, food, accommodation, transportation, and beer. I do believe though that this trip is more than possible with the money I have and I can work with the budgeted amount. I am even hoping to come out of the trip with a couple hundred to spare for the return to Buneos Aires.

Please send me any tips or advice you have. I know a number of you who read this have done similar trips to many of the same places and you are all travellers.  What are some of your backpacking tricks? Remember that trip of a lifetime that changed the way you perceive the world? How did you do it? Where did you go? What was it like? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

The road is long and hard but its rewards are endless and fruitful beyond that of which these words try merely to describe. This journey is another chance for me to see firsthand a part of our beautiful world and the people who call it home. Peace.

Southern Africa Map

Southern Africa Map

Greg Snell
greg@snellmedia.com
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