East African Trip Advice???





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  1. #1
    Rhett Guest

    Question East African Trip Advice???

    Hi
    I am planning a 60 day overland trip and was wondering if anyone has any tips or advice on the route.
    I currently have the following basic route in mind.

    JHB to Maun (2-3 days)
    3 days in the Okavango Delta (any recommended campsites?)
    Chobe (4 days)
    Chobe to Livingstone (1 day?)
    Livingstone to South Luangwa National Park (1 day drive?)
    South Luangwa National Park (3 days - any recommeded campsites?)
    South Luanwga National Park to Lilongwe (1 day drive?)
    Drive up the lake from Lilongwe to the border of Tanzania (3 days? Not sure how long we should be spending on lake Malawi - any suggestions?)
    Kyela - Malawi/Tanzania border to Iringa (2 days?)
    Iringa to Dodoma (1 day?)
    Dodoma to Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater (1 day trip) approx 4 days in each park
    Serengeti & Ngorogoro Crater to Kilimanjaro (1 day trip) and approx 2 days at Kilimanjaro
    1 day drive to Dar es Salaam and then to Zanzibar. (Can we take our vehicle over and camp there?) Stay in Zanzibar for 3 days.
    1 day drive to Mtwara?
    Cross the Tanz/Moz border post at Mwambo
    Approximately a week to get back to JHB via Pemba, Quelimane, Beira, Bazaruto, Inhambane.

    This will be our first overland trip so any comments, advice or suggestions on the route, campsites or activities will be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks
    Rhett

  2. #2
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    [quote=Rhett;157944]Hi
    I am planning a 60 day overland trip and was wondering if anyone has any tips or advice on the route.
    I currently have the following basic route in mind.

    Hi Rhett,

    This is a pretty ambitious schedule for three months, and doesn't leave a helluva lot of rest time. But some pointers:

    Livingstone to South Luangwa National Park (1 day drive?)

    This is too ambitious. You need two days. Overnight in Lusaka - Eureka Camp as you enter Lusaka on the right is a good stopover.

    South Luangwa National Park (3 days - any recommeded campsites?)

    Flatdogs is a great camp site, very sociable. The Wildlife Society camp is also good.

    South Luanwga National Park to Lilongwe (1 day drive?)

    Perfectly doable.

    Drive up the lake from Lilongwe to the border of Tanzania (3 days? Not sure how long we should be spending on lake Malawi - any suggestions?)

    Lake Malawi is stunning. A great place to chill out. Cape Maclear is good, and if you have any time to spare, the Nyika Plateau is stunning.

    Kyela - Malawi/Tanzania border to Iringa (2 days?)

    No problem.

    Iringa to Dodoma (1 day?)

    Not sure if the road has been upgraded, but conventional wisdom used to be that it was far better to go via Dar es Salaam than Dodoma. Perhaps someone else with more up to date info can advise.

    Dodoma to Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater (1 day trip) approx 4 days in each park

    Depending on whether or not they've graded the road after the rains, this is a very slow journey after Arusha. It is worth spending a day and night at Lake Manyara. Stunning forests and birding.

    Serengeti & Ngorogoro Crater to Kilimanjaro (1 day trip) and approx 2 days at Kilimanjaro

    Unless you're climbing Kili or hiking the foothills, there's not a helluva lot to do at the base.

    1 day drive to Dar es Salaam and then to Zanzibar. (Can we take our vehicle over and camp there?) Stay in Zanzibar for 3 days.

    There's no point in taking a vehicle to Zanzibar even if you can arrange it (remember that it is a separate country with its own customs to go through so the paperwork is a nightmare). Stone Town is all done on foot, and there are very good, reasonably priced guest houses. The East Coast is worth a visit if you have time.

    1 day drive to Mtwara?

    Forget it. At least two days and you must check whether or not the ferry across the Rufiji Delta is working. It often cannot operate if there has been heavy rain. We had to ship our vehicle from Mtwara to Dar because the ferry was out. Mtwara doesn't have a lot going for it, but just south of it, on the border, is Msimbati, which is idyllic. If it has been raining, this road is often impassable for days on end.

    Cross the Tanz/Moz border post at Mwambo

    Very dodgy border to get across, and be very careful not to take any side tracks on the Moz side: this area is still littered with landmines. This quote from a newish Moz website: "The only border crossing from Tanzania that can be used by vehicles is at Namuiranga/ Mwambo where you cross the Rovuma River on a ferry. This border post is open from 06h00 - 18h00 and the ferry can only take a maximum of 10 tonnes at high tide.
    Please note that, although officially the ferry is meant to run every day ,this is not always the case. During the dry season from August to December it can only operate at high tide when there is sufficient depth of water. This means that at neap tides it does not have enough water to do the crossing. The Captain is not always on hand and has to be sent for, using one of the locals, this is normally when the water is too shallow to operate the ferry. If you are planning a trip which involves this crossing, then plan your arrival to coincide with, preferably high spring tides. During the rainy season the ferry is much more regular but the roads to the ferry can sometimes be impassable.The ferry will also not run when the Rovuma is in flood."

    Hope that is of some help. Please post a trip report on your return,
    Tony Weaver

    1991 Land Rover 110 Hi-Line S/W 3.5l V8 carburettor
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    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

  3. #3
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    My suggestions:

    Livingstone to South Luangwa National Park

    2 days
    Eureka Camp in Lusaka or Bridge camp on the Luangwa River
    SLNP via the new Msoro Track
    South Luangwa National Park (3 days - any recommeded campsites?)

    Wildlife/Flatdogs/Track and Trail/ Croc Valley= depends on you
    South Luanwga National Park to Lilongwe (1 day drive?)

    No! I would leave Malawi for another time and give more time in
    Tanz. Besides it is a bit out of the way and at the speed you are
    taking it, makes no Sense.
    Mwanya Camp
    Chikfunda Camp
    Traverse North Luangwa NP to the Great North Rd
    Kapishya Hot Springs/Shiwa Ngandu
    Mbeya-Tanz
    to Iringa
    Iringa to Dodoma (1 day?)

    OK
    Dodoma to Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater (1 day trip) approx 4 days in each park

    Dodoma to Arusha – or Manyara – long day any way you look at it.
    It is a ridiculously lousy road up to Babiti
    Serengeti & Ngorogoro Crater to Kilimanjaro (1 day trip) and approx 2 days at Kilimanjaro

    Allow 1 short day – Ngorongoro to Moshi area
    1 day drive to Dar es Salaam and then to Zanzibar. (Can we take our vehicle over and camp there?) NO! Stay in Zanzibar for 3 days.

    Its about 8 hours Arusha to Dar. Camp at Kipepeo’s just south of Dar on the Ocean. Leave the vehicle there while in Zanzibar- it’s the norm. To get to Ferry from there, call a taxi to the ferry- cross as pedesdrians to Dar side and grab another taxi. No worries. Easy. You will have taken this route already to get to Kipepepo’s.
    1 day drive to Mtwara?
    No! Kiliwa 1 day
    Mtwara 1 day-- take 3 days
    Cross the Tanz/Moz border post at Mwambo

    Whatever they call the ferry crossing. Look at the tide
    charts to nail it down.

  4. #4
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    Hi again Rhett,

    I see Luangwablonde has answered the Dodomo question, consider going via Dar. One other point: the road from Mtwara to Songea (if you decide to go that way instead of crossing into Mozambique) is hellish in the rainy season. It took us five days and a couple of broken springs to do 350km (and that was going downhill - the uphill run would be a lot worse). In the dry, it is likely to be very rutted.
    Tony Weaver

    1991 Land Rover 110 Hi-Line S/W 3.5l V8 carburettor
    Cooper Discoverer STT tyres, four sleeper Echo rooftop tent
    2012 Mitsubishi Outlander.

    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

  5. #5
    Rhett Guest

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    Hi Tony and Luangwablondes

    Thanks very much for your suggestions! I appreciate them.. I'll reconsider the route and timing of my stops.
    Any suggestions on the best way to come back from Dar to JHB? If we wanted to take less time in Mozambqiue on the way back, what would be the quickest route home? We planned on using the major road in Moz but is there a better way to get back?

    Thanks

  6. #6
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    Hi Rhett,

    Apologies for the length of this reply, but there's a fair amount of info in it:

    The quickest and most direct route (and also the most boring) from Dar to Jo'burg would be to go Dar - Mbeya - Mpika - Lusaka - Livingstone - Francistown - Jo'burg. My advice is not to over-plan your route. Keep it as organic as possible. For example, if you are into birding, there is a great side trip you can make off the Dar to Moshi route, which is to spend a day or two in the Usambara mountains looking for specials like the Usambara Alethe. You can camp on the lawns of the local government guest house. The drive up into the mountains is spectacular.

    Here's an extract from an article I wrote about them: "The forests of the Usambaras are a treasure-house of biological diversity. Forming part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, they are a continental Galapagos, an island of relict flora and fauna whose closest relatives are found in West Africa, the sort of place where one day they may find a cure for Aids or cancer. The forests of the Usambaras have the highest level of species endemicism of any forest in East and Central Africa, with 680 of the recorded 2 000 plant species occurring nowhere else in the world. Covering 24 000ha, there are 250 recorded species of forest trees, around 60 of which are found nowhere else."

    If you have enough time on your hands, I wouldn't rule out the route you were looking at down the coast and into northern Mozambique. North of Mtwara is a lovely little beach and lagoon at Sudi Bay - you will have to negotiate camping with the village committee. Msimbati, as I mentioned, is a gem, and if the river crossing is OK, then northern Mozambique is also evidently wonderful (I haven't been north of the Zambezi but it is on my wish list).

    If I'm not mistaken, Kingsley Holgate wrote about the Rio Rovuma and the crossing in his latest book. If not, I've pasted below a column I wrote about that trip after I'd been with him on Lake Victoria:

    It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry at the news that Mozambique and Tanzania are to build a bridge across the Rio Rovuma, the remote river that separates the two countries. And when I say remote, I mean that in the remotest sense of the word - you don't get much more remote than the Rio Rovuma.

    It is a long, meandering, landmine-strewn, crocodile- and hippo-infested, mean swine of a river. In May last year, my old mate, the mad explorer Kingsley Holgate, traversed the entire length of the river by boat, with a land party following him on the rough tracks that vaguely follow the watercourse.

    He said then that little had changed since David Livingstone first explored the Rio Rovuma - the river was still infested with crocodiles, the local Makonde people were still hostile to travellers and malaria was still rampant. But one thing had changed - landmines.

    "Just before we left to go on to the Rovuma, Chris Boshoff, who works for the demining NGO, the Halo Trust, said to us there was no way he was letting the land party drive up there alone," Holgate said. "The area was still rotten with mines and so Chris went ahead, with our expedition Land Rovers following, and if they wanted to talk to each other, or have a pee, they had to climb out of the cabs, on to the roof, and crawl across - that's how many mines there still are."

    Anyway, earlier this month, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza and Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa laid the foundation stones for a bridge across the Rio Rovuma, linking what an Associated Press report optimistically called "the border towns of Mtambaswala, on the Tanzanian side, and Negomane, on the Mozambican side". That's like calling Sutherland or Pofadder "cities".

    The "towns" are literally a collection of huts baking in the tsetse fly-ridden bush. There are no roads to speak of linking them. To get to Negomane you have to cross hundreds of kilometres of what the old colonials used to call mamoba - miles and miles of bloody Africa.

    Even my most detailed maps of the region show the tracks linking Negomane to the nearest vaguely decent road as being nothing more than tiny sand and treacherous mud tracks in the rainy season. I have driven many of the more "major" roads in northern Mozambique and many of them exist only as lines on the map. Even the main Estrada Nacional 1, or EN1, linking Beira with the main ferry crossing over the Zambezi and then on to Nampula, took myself and Holgate three days to cover 200km in the rainy season.

    On the Tanzanian side of the border, the situation is even more dire. From Mtambaswala to Masasi, the only settlement of any size, it's 96km. But that's 96km of nothing. And then, when you get to Masasi, it's a case of all dressed up with nowhere to go. The nearest two major towns are Mtwara on the coast and Songea in the highlands.

    The road from Songea to Masasi is 470km of hell. When we travelled it last, it took us five days and major damage to our Land Rover to cover. It took us another two days to cover the 140-odd kilometres to Mtwara.

    According to the Associated Press report, the building of the bridge is to cost $33 million. The bridge is to be 600 metres long, 10m wide and have a height of 10m. The report added that the bridge, a dream hatched 30 years ago by the then-presidents Samora Machel of Mozambique and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, would be funded out of the national budgets of the two countries because no foreign donors were interested in the venture.

    Why should we be surprised? Here's a bridge being built in one of the most remote and least populated parts of Africa, an area that is a paradise for wildlife - the Niassa National Park is on one side of the border in Mozambique and the Selous Game Reserve on the other in Tanzania - and an area that simply has no major centres or economic activities anywhere nearby. It is a grand folly, a crazy notion - a folly, I would venture to predict, that is doomed to failure.

    And my love of wilderness and wild places grieves that one of the most beautiful places on our continent and one of the last untouched great wilderness areas will be irrevocably sullied by some strange notion that all progress is good. And that's without even beginning to contemplate the destruction that will be wrought by the road and bridge construction crews on the magnificent gallery forests of the area, and on the wildlife, as the crews hunt the game for bush meat.

    This is truly a bridge too far.
    Last edited by Tony Weaver; 2008/03/10 at 02:57 PM.
    Tony Weaver

    1991 Land Rover 110 Hi-Line S/W 3.5l V8 carburettor
    Cooper Discoverer STT tyres, four sleeper Echo rooftop tent
    2012 Mitsubishi Outlander.

    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

  7. #7
    Rhett Guest

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    Tony, thanks a lot for your advice and suggestions. I'll keep the route as flexible as possible but its great to have some idea of which parts are tough and which stretches will be easier.

    Cheers
    Rhett

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    Rett
    When are you going? We're leaving for a bit shorter trip on 6 August and also got great advise from the guys here.
    Cheers
    Rampie
    Rampie
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  9. #9
    Rhett Guest

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    Hi Rampie

    We're leaving at the end of May and will be coming back at the end of July.

    Cheers

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    Great have fun! Will you please let us know when you're back, I may just learn something from your experience.
    Thanks
    Rampie
    Rampie
    No Land Rover - Soon to change though

  11. #11
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    I too am in several minds about bridges and dams, and cities etc in Africa but hey it's our fault (the White colonial intruders I mean) and when 'they' emulate our proclivity towards rape, pillage and plunder, who am I to blow against the bulldozer?

    Note that the Rovuma bridge is due for completion in October THIS YEAR see: http://www.macauhub.com.mo/en/news.php?ID=1817

    A couple of years back I went up to Negomano (Tanz side is called Mtambaswala) to see progress on the bridge. The road to Negomano from MUEDA was busy being upgraded and in the dry season it was quite a pleasant and very scenic drive. Did not encounter any Tsetse at Negomano, just two policeman who refused to move from the shade on the pation in front of the ruined homestead they had occupied. The road crosses a lot of small (and quite big) channels which would be a problem in the wet but bridges were under construction.

    On our way to the Rovuma we stopped in a village and asked them to organize a Mapico (masked) dance which we could view on the return legg. They were waiting for us and put on a good show although quite clearly the tourist version of what is quite a bizarre ceremony amongst the Muedans - still considered to be one of the last 'untamed' tribes of Africa.

    For more see: http://www.mozguide.com/pdf/09.%20Pemba%20and%20the%20Region%20North%20to%20th e%20Rio%20Rovuma%20and%20Tanzania.pdf

    and http://www.leisurewheels.com/modules_fe/layout1/displayFullNews.asp?newsID=158

    Mike
    Last edited by mozguide; 2008/03/16 at 10:03 AM.

  12. #12
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    sorry that should have read "the road from Mueda" - OK saw I could change it and have done so.

    Mike
    Last edited by mozguide; 2008/03/16 at 10:04 AM.

  13. #13
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    and also forgot to mention that the Chinese were already busy building the bridge from the Tanz side in July 2006

    Mike

  14. #14
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    I have seen photos of Portuguese troops crossing a wooden pole bridge over the Rovuma - not dated but I think it was during WW I. Bridge looked very temporary.

    Mike

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