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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Somerset West
    Thanked: 124

    Default Help with some planning an east Africa trip 2021

    So where to get started? A piece of string is as long as a piece of string needs to be, so here goes.

    As some of you know, our trip has been a few years in the making, but now it is round the corner.
    In summary we are taking our daughter (who will be 10) out of school from about April 2021 - Oct 2021, so 6 months. Our current loose plan is to travel from Cape Town, through Botswana to Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania on the more Western Side, into Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, South Ethiopia, Kenya and then into the eastern side of Tanzania. We have traveled Nambia, Botswana and western Zambia and hence they are not really on the agenda.

    We are wanting to end our trip in Tanzania and want to put our car on a boat at Dar es Salaam to send it home to Cape Town. And we will fly home. Our thinking for this is Mozambique is unstable and crossing Malawi to get into Zim does not make sense as we will be able to visit Zim on another trip, possibly during normal South African school holidays.

    As a family, we enjoy both the outdoor life, but also experiencing new cultures. We like landscapes, parks, and wildlife unique to the areas we visit. Seeing Africa's ecosystems is something we are really looking forward to. (I will confess to being a beginner twitcher and the article in Birding SA on Birding Spots of Uganda got me all hot under the ummmm collar). But in the same space going into local village markets and just sharing local foods is also incredible as other people always have something to impart into your life.

    Our daughter has Asperger's so we cannot venture too far off the beaten track. However, we do want to explore within a relatively safe space. As many before us have said, why drive over it when you can drive round it?

    While we are doing our own research, it is always good to hear from people who have been on the roads less traveled.

    Based on the list of countries, what would you say are the best places to see? Are these different from best/unique places to stay ? Obviously we cannot stay in parks all the time, but there must be so many other magic hidden gems in these countries that are not parks. While just driving and exploring is part of the fun, knowing more or less what destination you are heading to does provide some form of security (remember our daughter has Asperger's).

    In no real order, these are the places in the countries we would like to visit (I did not know about Mutinondo in Zambia, we have been to Kasanka, report to follow soon).

    The hot springs, North and South Luanga, Bangweulu, Lower Zambezi National Park

    Malawi :
    The lake?

    Lake Rukwa looks interesting, as does Mahale Mountain National Park

    We are still looking

    Very much want to see the genocide museum as I have such vivid memories of TV footage.
    Not sure about the Chimps and gorilla's. We will leave that open for when we are there.

    Queen Elizabeth Park (need to see Lake Edward), then Lake Albert, also Murchison for the start of the Nile. And all the spots for birding.

    Lake Turkana to possibly cross into Ethiopia (Bale Mountains to, hopefully, see an Ethiopian wolf)
    Other than the big parks of Kenya (Tsavo, Mount Kenya etc) we are still looking.

    Obviously the big parks, but also Sealous Game Reserve just to see the swamps and Tarangire NP because my supervisor did his fire research project in the park.
    But any other suggestions?

    And even against all this - we are open to the advice of those that have done this before. Are we biting off to much ?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Thanked: 1375

    Default Re: Help with some planning an east Africa trip 2021


    I am glad to hear that the planning for your great adventure is coming together. You will all have a great time.

    The main thing, I would say, is to be reasonably flexible, but also have top priorities of what you want to see and do in each country. If you don’t see them all, then so be it.

    If I were you, I would be be very flexible as to whether you get to Ethiopia. The Lake Turkana route to Ethiopia needs to be planned very carefully - not only because of getting Ethiopian visas in Nairobi (or you might have to send your passports back to your home country in order to get the visas), but also the logging out of Kenyan immigration and customs in Nairobi before heading up to Lake Turkana as there are no border controls on this remote route. Also, it would very much depend on the weather as to whether this intrepid route would be safe or viable at the time. But you could go up the main road to Moyale (beautiful new tarmac) and cross into Ethiopia that way with pre arranged visas.

    Here is my top list of places to see in each country you mentioned (in no particular order):

    Liuwa Plain National Park
    Victoria Falls (of course!)
    Kafue National Park
    Lower Zambezi NP (although we haven’t been)
    South Luangwa NP
    North Luangwa NP
    Bangweulu Wetlands
    Mutinondo Wilderness
    Kapishya Hot Springs and Shiwa Ngandu (Africa House)
    Some of the waterfalls in northern Zambia
    Kalambo Waterfall (the longest free drop in Africa)

    So much to do and see in Tanzania! I am not sure that Lake Rukwa is worth the journey...

    Lake Tanganyika
    Mahale Mountains NP (no roads in)
    Gombe Stream NP
    Katavi NP
    Ruaha NP
    Selous Game Reserve
    Udzungwa NP
    Lake Victoria
    Serengeti NP
    Ngorongoro Crater
    Tarangire NP
    Lake Manyara NP
    East Usambara Mountains
    West Usambara Mountains
    Mt Meru
    The beautiful coast especially south of Tanga
    Kilwa Kisiwani

    I will continue with the other countries in a separate post.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2020/02/13 at 03:10 PM.

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  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Thanked: 1375

    Default Re: Help with some planning an east Africa trip 2021

    Continued... (in no particular order)

    There is quite a lot of political turmoil and instability in Burundi. I am not sure that it is a particularly safe country to visit at the moment. From my understanding, there is very little tourism infrastructure, although I am told that Bujumbura is a lovely city because of its location on Lake Tanganyika.

    Lake Kivu
    Virunga volcanoes, gorillas and Volcanoes NP
    The Nile-Congo watershed
    Nyungwe forest and NP
    The very clean Kigali
    Genocide memorials and museums
    Akagera NP (although lovely there are many better savannah parks in the other East African countries)

    Uganda is a wonderful country with very friendly people and incredible variety of scenery.

    Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and NP, mountain gorillas
    Lake Bunyonyi
    The Rwenzori Mountains (the “Mountains of the Moon”)
    Queen Elizabeth NP and lakes Edward and George
    Kibale Forest NP - chimpanzees
    The crater lakes near Fort Portal
    Semuliki NP
    Semliki Game Reserve
    Murchison Falls NP and Lake Albert
    Kidepo Valley NP
    The Source of the Nile, Jinja
    Camping on the Nile at The Haven north of Jinja
    Sipi Falls
    Sisyi Falls
    Mount Elgon NP

    I will post separately on Kenya.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2020/02/13 at 07:33 PM.

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Thanked: 149

    Default Re: Help with some planning an east Africa trip 2021


  7. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Thanked: 1375

    Default Re: Help with some planning an east Africa trip 2021

    Continued ...

    So many lovely places to visit. From the glaciers of Mt Kenya to the white beaches of the Indian Ocean. Here are some of the highlights in no particular order.

    Maasai Mara National Reserve (particularly the western side known as the Mara Triangle)
    Kakamega Forest (rainforest and endemic birds)
    Tea plantations near Nandi Hills and Kericho
    Mt Elgon NP
    Saiwa Swamp N (sitatunga and birds)
    Cherangani Hills
    The Rift Valley escarpment (particularly the view from near Iten looking down the Elgeyo escarpment)
    Lake Baringo
    Lake Bogoria
    Lake Nakuru NP
    Lake Naivasha
    Aberdare National Park (forest and Afro-montane moorlands)
    Mt Kenya
    The Laikipia Plateau (and the private game conservancies)
    Meru National Park
    Kora NP
    Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves
    Shaba National Reserve
    Mt Marsabit and Marsabit NP
    Lake Turkana
    The Northern Rangelandís Trustís community conservancies in northern Kenya
    Tsavo East NP
    Tsavo West NP
    Amboseli NP
    The beautiful coast (particularly Watamu south of Malindi or Diani south of Mombasa)
    Mombasa old town and Fort Jesus
    Lamu (fly in only)
    Nairobi National Park

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  9. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Thanked: 11

    Default must go to places

    wow - lucky you -sounds like an awesome trip --We took our girls out of school for a term (10 and 9) and did the same thing but for only 3 months - I regret that we didnt just continue for another 3 months and see more of what the northern countries had to offer but sadly work constraints -

    this was our route from Durban - north

    Vic Falls
    House boat on Kariba
    Lusaka - just to visit friends and restock
    South Luangwa - awesome
    took a very untravelled route between south and north Luangwa across 2 rivers with no bridges - really wild terrain and bush camped on the escarpment
    Kapisha Hot Springs
    Benguelu swamps - - this was beautiful and loved the mokoro rides and seeing the Shoebill
    up north via Ngola to very small border crossing at bottom of lake Tanganikya - in fact there was no official in sight so we continued with the knowledge that we would have to go get our passports stamped somewhere -
    Isanga Bay - heaven on earth but a shocker of a road getting there - in fact we had to chop trees down and load rocks into crevices to be able to even drive it - while we were here we caught some lake taxis to border post at Mpulungu to get passports stamped - Isanga stunning place and lovely walk to Kalambo Falls -
    Kipili - next stop - on lake and stunning spot - beautiful old delerelict missionary churches around --- one regret is that we didnt take a lake taxi to Mahale Mountains to see the Chimps - we should have
    A couple of hard days travelling up north through Mpanda, Tabora,(had to bush camp 2 nights ) through to Kitave Nat Park - truely the most spectacular amazing park we have ever been to - amazing terrain, game and totally untouched by humans - lots of treelions and so much game
    then we headed north through tarrime and into Kenya - to Massai Mara - the most amazing camping spot at top gate overlooking plains - seeing the crossings was definately the highlight and we spent a week there - really did not want to leave
    via Nairobi
    Amboseli - incredible park - never got to see the tip of Kilamanjaro
    Lake Natron - spectacular
    Arusha -Moshi - up mountains - missed
    and towards coast -
    Pangani - feels like you are in Zanzibar - great camp site right on beach
    Ruaha Nat park - also fantastic
    Top of malawi - Livingstonia - Makuze Beach Lodge (camping )
    Cape maclear - very overpopulated - recommend Mumbo island
    via Zomba and on to
    Mozam - via Mulanje
    headed south - Morrongulo
    Pomene (stunning)
    Inhambane - Zavora - xaixai
    through swaziland and home

    Very shortened version - but really - didnt plan anything - as we stopped and talked to locals we made our next move - shopped at roadside and local markets - stopped whenever we saw anything unusual and made friendly chatter -if you dont do this you wil miss out the best of your experiences -- The people are so nice and friendly and added to our incredible experience - definately the road less travelled - nothing touristy - and the best experience of all of our lives - we all learnt to enjoy the small things and pay interest in everything and everyone around us - we stopped to look at cultural weddings and experience roadside cuisine etc etc - Tracks for Africa was essential

    i would do it again in a heartbeat

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