Trip Report- Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi





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  1. #1
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    Default Trip Report- Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi

    This is a brief trip report in order to share details while they are still fresh. The focus is on details of camp sites and Parks etc, rather than a description on all the wonderful sights we saw or our enriching experiences, which were may.
    My wife and I travelling alone in our Landcruiser 4,2D Pickup Camper [ 2003 model done 286,000kms including a Cape to Cairo and two other Kenya trips, with previous owners] set out from our home in Knysna on the 16th Jan. Our main goal was the Migration/Calving on the Short Grass Plains of the Serengeti/Ngorongoro, hence the “green season” timing.
    Our route up was; Knysna to Johannesburg [to spend a few days with our kids], Martins Drift[ border crossing] Chobe, Kazangula[border crossing], Livingston, Lusaka, Kapishaya Hot Springs/Shiwa Ngandu, Tunduma [ border crossing], Iringa, Dodoma, Karatu. The roads were generally fine, the Great North Road was in good condition and even the Iringa- Dondoma – Babati road was fine, it is very scenic and a good break from the speed bumps, speed cops and killer trucks/buses on the A7 freeway to Dar.Apart from the National Park roads, which were often very wet and required 4x4, we could have done the trip in a Polo.
    On the way up we camped at the following camp sites; Woodlands outside Francistown, always good-5/5; Chobe Safari Lodge- always full, ok- 3/5; The Moorings, Monze [Zam.] only campers, great- 5/5; Fringilla Farm, 50kms north of Lusaka, butchery and meat is good, camping fine- 4/5; Kapishaya Hot Springs, nice spot- 5/5 enjoyed a visit to The Africa House-Shiwa Ngandu; Kings Highway, Kalunga, about 53 kms from Tunduma border post very nice camp, great ablutions, run by SA church group- 5/5;You need strength for the Tunduma border post, worst in the whole trip!!;Kisolanza Old Farmhouse, nice camp, good restaurant- 5/5, 50kms south of Iringa; In Dondoma we stayed in a self catering chalet at the airport run by MAF [Mission Aviation Foundation], was clean and had aircon 4/5;At Karatu we camped at Kudu Lodge, which was ok, nice bar/pool 4/5; We paid between US$ 6 to 12 per person per night for camping, at an average of $10, you can budget on this pppn. Camp sites were generally empty at this time of the year, we did not book anything in advance, we just arrived and always got a nice site, a big advantage of the off season.
    While in Karatu I went up to the Lodoare Gate, the main entrance into the NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA [NCA] and after talking to the officials, I was able to book a private camp site in the NDUTU area of the NCA for 3 nights at a cost. [Park costs = Entry pp for 24hrs= $50; Foreign vehicle = $40 for 24 hrs; Camping- special camp site =$50pppn, so for 2 adults it cost us $240 per night] A Special Camp Site has no facilities at all, so you are totally alone in the bush, which was fantastic and made the experience so much more special. Serengeti accept credit cards but for NCA must deposit money into a bank in Karatu or Arusha.
    We saw the Migration and the calving, which was a mind blowing experience and worth the $ 240 pd, it was a once in a life time experience, it is difficult to describe 360 degree Wildbeest! Camping alone in the bush with no facilities, and having all sorts of animals wandering through our camp, was also a great experience. It rained a lot while we were in Ndutu [ mainly at night] so we were slipping around in 4x4 but never got stuck, we did have a puncture and have to change a tyre in the middle of the Park. We spent a night up at Seronera in the Serengeti NP and on the way out, at Numbi Gate, we organised another night at a Special Camp Site at Ndutu but on the Serengeti side of Lake Ndutu, this was great, as the Wildebeest herd was moving up to the Naabi Plains and was all around our camp, plus the Lions, Hyenas etc following the herd. Again we organised this Special Camp Site at the Naabi Gate, the Warden at the gate was very helpfull and even arrived at our camp in the evening to check if we had found it and had not got stuck on the very muddy tracks. We spent our last night in the NCA, at Simba A camp on the Crater Rim, it was terrible and at $30pppn a complete rip off. The camp was full of overland trucks, with tourists going down the Crater and the ablutions’ were terrible- 0/5. We did not go down the Crater , as have done it before as part of an organised tour and they wanted an extra $200 Crater entry fee and you must take a guide, so we gave it a miss, we rather used the money on an extra night at Ndutu and the Migration.
    After 6 nights in Serengeti/NCA we headed for Arusha and camped at Maasi Camp, it was fine and we could service the Cruiser at the camp garage [had done over 6,000kms] and wash the mud out of everything – 4/5; Next we headed for Kilimanjaro and spent the night at the Marangu Hotel, camp site was not great, we took a room at $150 dinner bed and breakfast for us both, it was fine and we got a brief glimpse of Kili in the early morning. Next stop was Peponi Beach near Tanga, what a great spot, we spent a very relaxing 5 days at Peponi camped right on the beach -5/5.Enjoyed the snorkelling and the Dhow trip to Sand Island and the sea food in the bar/restaurant. Next stop was Tan Swiss on the main road just outside the Mikumi NP, a good overnight stop, nice restaurant -4/5. We then spent 3 nights at Ruaha NP, which is a very beautiful piece of African bush but it rained most of the time during our stay, so we did not see a lot of game. The camping was typical Tanzanian Parks, facilities poorly maintained but great outlook onto the Ruaha River [Costs = $30pp for 24hrs entry fee, $40 vehicle, camping $30 pppn = $160 for 2 people for 24hrs, not cheap in Rands??]
    Our next stop was Lake Malawi, we entered Malawi from Tanzania near Karonga and as we arrived at Karonga in the dark, we took a chalet at Club Marina, it was ok and had an air conditioner ,which helped with the humidity -3/5; Next stop was Kings Highway Camp on the Lake near Livingstonia, nice camp site right on the beach- 4/5; We then spent 4 nights at Makuzi Beach Lodge south of Nkhata Bay, a great place to relax and enjoy the beach and bar. It rained a lot during our visit but we had a great site, right on the beach- 5/5; Next stop was 1 night at Steps Campsite at Senga Bay, camped right on the beach- 4/5; We then headed for Cape Mc Clear, we camped at Chemba Eagles Nest which was great, we were the only campers and right on the beach- 5/5; We decided to spoil ourselves and take a break from camping and spent 2 nights on Mumbo Island, run by Kayak Africa. This was one of the highlights of our trip, what a piece of paradise, we swam, snorkelled, walked and kayaked at this 5 star lodge. It was a great break after some tough camping.
    We loved Malawi, we found the people friendly and we enjoyed the Lake. Despite what Zuma says, the roads are better than Joburg! Our next destination was South Luangwa NP in Zambia. We considered coming home via Moz but were advised against it, as we would have to join the Tete/Save convoy and we did not hear good stories about this experience, with drunk soldiers etc, so like many we gave Moz a miss, pity but South Luangwa is a great park, even in the rainy season. We camped at Track& Trail just outside a Park, a nice spot right on the river, with a nice camp and great pool and bar overlooking the Luangwa River- 5/5.
    Park entry for 2 adults in our own vehicle was about R 750 for the day. Some roads in the Park were closed because of the rain but we enjoyed the game drives. We did a night drive offered by Track & Trail and this was very productive, saw wild dogs, a leopard hunting and spotted hyena. Would like to go back to Luangwa in the dry season, when the grass is shorter and all the roads are passable.
    After South Luangwa it was time to head home and we stayed at the following camps on the way home; Mama Rula, Chipata- 4/5; Pioneer Lodge, Lusaka- 3/5 allow a good few hours to get through the Lusaka traffic ;Kubu Chalets part of Nkwazi on the Zambezi between Livingston and Kazungula, a great little camp right on the river, with spotless facilities, a bit more expensive at about R200 pppn camping but it is a lovely spot-6/5.After the chaotic Kazungula border post, it was Woodlands Resort and then back into RSA.
    We did 13,500 kms and diesel cost us R 29,000, the major cost of our trip, at an average of R 15,11 per litre [ RSA=R 14,32;Bots = R 11,83; Zambia = R 17,35; Tanzania = R 14,50; Malawi = R 21,33]The 4,2D Cruiser did about 7,2 kms per litre, on average, this included 4x4 driving in the mud at Ndutu in Serengeti. We stocked up at Shoprite/Spar in most major centres or the local market for veg. Meat was not great in Tanzania or Malawi but you can get almost everything you need in Africa, no need to take the kitchen sink! Camping cost us around US$ 10 pppn. Other than some very wet and muddy National Park roads, we travelled on tar with the odd pot hole but no worse than SA.
    Highlights of the trip, so many but, some great camp sites and Overlanders from all around the world we meet along the way, the Migration, snorkelling off Peponi Beach and Lake Malawi, South Luangwa, friendly locals all along the way and always feeling safe among them and admiring how hard life is for the average person and how hard they work just to survive, no handouts like SA! Just getting to know Africa, as most of SA is not real Africa.
    The border crossings are chaotic but we just took our time and did not hire helpers, don’t be in a rush or get flustered. We had no problems at police stops/road blocks, the JUMBO on the front of our vehicle helped, as did the Swahili greetings. We got one speeding fine in Tanzania, in a 50 zone through a village. We never paid any bribes and found all officials helpful and friendly.
    Two quotes from Peter Matthiessen, from his wonderful book, “An African Trilogy” – “Here in Africa, where whole landscapes seem alert, a sense of purity and danger is reawakened, of origins and time and mystery, as if some marvellous childhood faculty has been restored” and “The longing for Africa, once contracted, is an incurable condition which, like malaria, recurs again and again” We are already dreaming of our next trip, just need to save up for the fuel bill and the $ Park fees!!
    Thanks to Forum members for the help and advice in putting our trip together, I hope the above is of some small help to somebody planning a trip?
    I have lots of photos but not sure how to post them, will post in a seperate thread, once I have sorted out the how??

    Brian Smith
    Landcruiser 79 Camper
    Willys -CJ 2A
    BMW 650 Dakar
    Harley Dyna Super Glide
    Amarok TDI Bi-turbo Doublecab

  2. #2
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    Thumbs up Great

    Thanks, looking forward to the pic's.

    Regards

  3. #3
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    Thanks Brian, great trip, great report.
    Tony

  4. #4
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    Sounds like you had a great trip. Thanks for taking the trouble to feed back. Would love to see some photos...

  5. #5
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    Many thanks for this very useful report!
    How long was the whole trip?
    Pierre
    -------------------------------------------------------------

  6. #6
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    We were away from our home in Knysna on the coast for 9 weeks, from Johannesburg we were on the road for 8 weeks.
    Landcruiser 79 Camper
    Willys -CJ 2A
    BMW 650 Dakar
    Harley Dyna Super Glide
    Amarok TDI Bi-turbo Doublecab

  7. #7
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    Excellent report - jam packed with useful info.
    Thanks for posting.

    “Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same." - Ernest Hemingway

  8. #8
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    Thanks Social, the information you provided is extremely useful.Look forward to your images.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Social View Post
    We were away from our home in Knysna on the coast for 9 weeks, from Johannesburg we were on the road for 8 weeks.
    Thanks!
    Pierre
    -------------------------------------------------------------

  10. #10
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    Default Tanzania, Zambia , Malawi

    Quote Originally Posted by Social View Post
    This is a brief trip report in order to share details while they are still fresh. The focus is on details of camp sites and Parks etc, rather than a description on all the wonderful sights we saw or our enriching experiences, which were may.
    My wife and I travelling alone in our Landcruiser 4,2D Pickup Camper [ 2003 model done 286,000kms including a Cape to Cairo and two other Kenya trips, with previous owners] set out from our home in Knysna on the 16th Jan.
    Brian Smith
    Thanks for your report, Brian.
    I take it you went up in February / March ? Please confirm.
    I have also visited that part of the world a few times, but not in the wet season. I used to have a LandCruiser Trooper which I Imported from Australia in 2003, equiped with mud tyres. Nowadays I use a VW Transporter Crew Bus 4Motion with Seikel suspension. I do not know how capable the vehicle will be in mud. I equiped it inside with a bed, cuboards and drawer system. Got it in June '13 and have been through 9 countries already. Has done 30 000 km to date.
    Considering doing Serengetti again in February '15.
    Go well
    Ritchie Maree
    Pretoria

  11. #11
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    Yes, we left Knysna on the 16th Jan and were in NCA/Serengeti in early Feb. Had some heavy rain while in the Park but with 4x4 high range it was fine, never used low range or diff lock.I had a VW Crew Bus with 4motion and off road suspension, was a great vehicle, very good in sand,as weight is well distributed[ never tried it in mud] I am sure it will have no problems in Serengeti in the rainy season. Seeing the migration on the short grass plains around Ndutu is special, as is the calving, worth the cost.

    If you contact Tan. Parks or NCA they will tell you the Special Camp Sites[SCS] at Ndutu are full but if you talk to the Supervisor at either the NCA Gate or at the Serengeti Gate at Naabi Hill, if you are luckey, they will have a spot. Have SCS on both the NCA and Serengeti side of Lake Ndutu.
    Landcruiser 79 Camper
    Willys -CJ 2A
    BMW 650 Dakar
    Harley Dyna Super Glide
    Amarok TDI Bi-turbo Doublecab

  12. #12
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    Wow what a trip Social.
    Must post some pics for everyone to see.
    We travelled as far as South Luangwa in Feb 2012 staying at Track and Trail, nice place, back via malawi and we were one of only a few campers on the Lake. One day we want to go further into Tanzania, price has put us of but your experience is making us think we will have to do it.
    Thanks

    Living in Spain, dreaming of Africa
    Overland U.K. to Cape Town 2011/12
    Nam/Bots/S.Africa Sep/Dec 2013
    S.Africa feb 2015
    Namibia Sep/Oct 2015
    Defender TD5 csw 2006
    Defender 300tdi csw 1994

  13. #13
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    Smile Serengeti

    Hi Brian
    Thanks for an awesome trip report , especially the invaluable detail of places you stayed at.
    We are two couples in Landcruiser Bakkies (AHA Canopies) who have been dreaming of this ultimate self-drive trip to the Serengeti. We are planning to do this during May/June 2015, and are hoping that Moz will be safer for a return that way. The timing of your report with such detail could not have been better. It is virtually a carbon copy of our initial plan which we are meeting around for the first time this Friday .
    Do you by any chance have co-ordinates of the accommodation, which you could forward? Don't worry about the better known places like Shiwa Ngandu.

    Kind regards

    Heinrich

  14. #14
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    Default Trip Report- Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi

    Dear Brian,
    just read your trip report [almost 2yrs later!] (I joined the community about a month ago). My wife and I are planning a similr trip to strt on March 1st -- we did TZ and northern MW last November (beatiful and problems whatsoever).
    Now my questions about border crossings: a) you said that the Tunduma border post, worst in the whole trip... well, we will be using that one to cros from TZ into ZAM. Why was the worst? (b) also for the Kuzungula, as we will go from Harare to southern MW via Tete in MZ. In spite of the 2 yrs in between, any tips will be greatly appreciated. Norberto

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