So it’s 2 weeks (ahhh!) until I head to one of the most controversial continents on the planet and I’m guessing you’re going to want to know what I plan on getting up to and want to keep track of me even when I’m on the road?
Well then, look no further; here’s my itinerary (unless of course we get hit by random floods or get held up for all my chocolate biscuits in which case it might alter slightly *ahem*!)…
Before the tour actually starts I have two days by myself. The first in which I hope to go up Table Mountain if it’s open and on the second day I plan on going cage diving! woooo! So there will be no sleep for the first couple of days; just adrenaline
DAY 1 of the official tour; Cape Town – Western Cape – Gariep River Our overland safari begins in cosmopolitan Cape Town, overlooked by Table Mountain and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. From here we head north through South Africa’s western and northern Cape provinces, a fertile area of winelands and wild flowers in the south that gradually turns drier and rockier as we head north towards the Namibian border. We camp in the western Cape area overnight on the way to the Gariep River.
DAY 2 – 5 Fish River Canyon – Namib Naukluft Park We enter Namibia and arrive at the awesome Fish River Canyon. One of the natural wonders of Africa, some 500m deep and over 160km long, this is the second largest canyon in the world (after the Grand Canyon, USA). After a night near the canyon we continue north until we reach the Namib Naukluft Park, containing the world’s oldest desert and the highest sand dunes. Some of Sossusvlei’s dunes are over 300m high and a popular activity here is to trek to the top of one of them in time to watch the sun rise over the open desert. A spectacular sight but be warned, it’s an energy sapping climb to the top! Another well worthwhile option is to continue deeper into the park for a nature walk across the saltpans and valley floor, amidst the dunes – a real glimpse of Namibia’s unspoilt natural environment. (Expect lots of photos of me looking like a burnt Ribena berry)
DAY 6 – 7 Swakopmund Continuing on, we drive out of the desert and hit the Atlantic coast at Swakopmund, a small town redolent of Namibia’s colonial past but with modern adventure oriented attractions for the visitor. Swakopmund is Namibia’s main seaside resort, sandwiched neatly between the desert and the ocean, and is a delightful coastal oasis. (Swakopmund aka Adrenaline Junkie heaven with everything from sandboarding to skydiving!!!)
DAY 8 Cape Cross Seal Colony – Spitzkoppe We leave Swakopmund and continue north, stopping briefly at Cape Cross which is home to some 80,000 seals, the largest seal colony along this stretch of coast-line. It’s an impressive sight, if not just for the number of seals but also for the immense noise and smell! Leaving the Cape we turn inland to the beautiful Damaraland region and stop at Spitzkoppe to admire ancient bushman paintings still visible on the peculiar rock formations. (I wonder if there is a ‘scratch and sniff’ option for blogs these days…got a feel the seals are going to burn off a few nostril hairs with their smell)
DAY 9 – 11 Etosha National Park – Windhoek We make our way north to Etosha National Park, a vast reserve of over 20,000 sq km surrounding a central salt depression or ‘pan.’ The pan is seasonally full of water but specially managed waterholes sustain some 114 mammal and 340 bird species. We spend two nights here, usually making camp near a floodlit waterhole. Observers frequently see a range of night visitors including elephant, giraffe, zebra, even lion and hyena, making it one of the most memorable wildlife encounters in Namibia. After two nights we leave Etosha and turn south to the Windhoek, the capital, a city steeped in German architecture and atmosphere. (let’s hope that the Germans also left another precious item in Africa – alcohol!)
DAY 12 – 17 Ghanzi – Okavango Delta – Chobe National Park Leaving Windhoek we travel west into the Kalahari region and cross into Botswana. Our first stop is at the town of Ghanzi. Here we meet the Bushman and have a guided bush walk for a glimpse of this ancient people’s way of life. We stay the night nearby before continuing north to Maun for our next national park – the Okavango Delta. The Okavango is a natural wetland spreading over some 1,600,000ha of northern Botswana. The Okavango River allows us to explore amongst the giant lily pads, tall grasses and labyrinthine channels in search of hippo, crocodile and a variety of birds. We travel on foot and by mokoro (dugout canoe) and camp for a night on one of the river islands. After our return to Maun we make our way to the northern corner of Botswana to Chobe National Park, home to elephant, lion, buffalo, hippo and abundant birdlife, including the famous African fish eagle. Rising early we take a game drive, we rest during in the heat of the day and then in the late afternoon, we take a cruise on the Chobe River. (I think this is about the time my camera has an orgasm!)
DAY 18 – 19 Livingstone – Victoria Falls Moving on from Chobe we take the ferry across the Zambezi River to Zambia and drive the short distance to the small town of Livingstone. We set up camp at the Waterfront campsite on the banks of the Zambezi, just a few kilometres from the Victoria Falls. At various times of year the spray from the Falls can be seen from up to 20 or 30 kilometres away, hence the local name ‘Mosi au Tunya’ – the ‘smoke that thunders’. (this is about the time I pass out from sheer happiness at seeing such a wonder of nature especially if I get to sit in Devil’s Pool)
DAY 22 – 28 Kafue River – Malawi From Livingstone, we head north-east into Zambia and stop at the Kafue River to take a short journey by boat on the river to a community camp on the river banks. We spend the night here and have the opportunity to visit the neighbouring village and meet the local people who live here. The following morning we continue our journey through Lusaka to Malawi – the ‘warm heart’ of Africa. We descend to Lake Malawi which covers almost a fifth of the country providing a source of livelihood for many of the Malawi people. Fishermen, fish traders, canoe and net makers all ply their trade, and a common sight is that of a fisherman in his bwato, (dugout canoe made from a hollowed out tree trunk) fishing on the still lake at the break of day. (let’s hope I don’t tip the bwato over when I attempt to get out of it…attempt being the operative word!)
DAY 29 – 34 Dar es Salaam – Zanzibar Leaving Malawi we climb into the hills and cross the border into Tanzania. We continue northeast towards the Indian Ocean coast and the port city of Dar es Salaam. On the way we take the road that runs straight through small Mikumi National Park and with luck, may spot forest elephant or giraffe feeding near the side of the road. ‘Dar’ is Tanzania’s hub of commerce and industry – a hot, humid and bustling city. We set up camp at our campsite near the beach just outside of the city centre with time to browse one of the nearby curio markets best. This is also our ‘leaping off’ point for our excursion to Zanzibar. Evocative and exotic, Zanzibar conjures up images of idyllic, sandy, palm fringed beaches, romantic winding cobbled alleys and lush tropical forests. The Arab influence is evident in the architecture and diverse street stall offerings of the capital, Stone Town. But if it’s white sand, sparkling ocean and hot sun you prefer – head for the northern beaches and enjoy the Indian Ocean at its best. After three nights we cross back by ferry to the African mainland and Dar es Salaam. (pure white beaches and tropical turquoise beaches = heavenly diving and recuperation time!)
DAY 35 – 37 River Camp – Arusha We continue the journey northward and inland to the great game parks of East Africa. We may take a night beside the scenic Pangani River on the way north, and a little further on if the weather is clear we gain a view of the magnificent snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak (at 5895m). We drive past the town of Moshi and eventually reach Arusha, a city situated exactly mid way between Cape Town and Cairo. With time to explore town we head out to our camp just outside of the city on the edge of the Masai plains. More importantly, it is from here that we prepare for our two night/three day excursion to the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.
DAY 38 – 40 Serengeti National Park – Olduvai Gorge – Ngorongoro Crater Stopping to see the Olduvai Gorge, made famous by Drs Louis and Mary Leakey for their explorations into early man we descend onto the open plains and wide horizons of the Serengeti. Flatter and larger than the Masai Mara the Serengeti is simply huge – indeed the name ‘derives from the Masai word Siringitu – ‘the place where the land moves on forever’. Game viewing here can be superb and camping out in an unfenced campsite where lion and hyena roam nearby is an unforgettable experience. The following day we drive out of the plains and ascend the outer wall of the Ngorogoro Crater. We spend the night camping on the rim. At 326 square kilometres in area the Ngorongoro is Africa’s largest intact caldera and is a World Heritage Site. If the view from the rim (2400 metres above sea level) is spectacular, the site from the Crater floor (some 600 metres below the rim) is equally enjoyable. All the major mammals are present, except giraffe (which cannot manage the steep slopes leading down one to the Crater floor). We descend the steep access road for a morning of excellent game driving in this dramatic location. (seriously can’t wait for this…talk about sensory overload!)
DAY 41 Nairobi After a last night at camp, we make our way across the Masai steppe to the Kenyan frontier at Namanga. Completing formalities we drive the last afternoon to Kenya’s burgeoning capital, Nairobi, where our tour sadly ends. (thankfully I have another full day by myself before my flight leaves so who knows what I’ll get up to?!)
T minus 16 days and counting! woooppeeeee
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