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Driving through Southern Africa.?

JohnM

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I most certainly wouldn't drive in Zim (even if you could take a rental car in), especially solo. The regular police stops would almost certainly result in a shakedown each time. They will look for the slightest 'fault' on your vehicle or driving 'infringement'.
 

Cessna 180

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Thanks for the replies so far. It is all fantastic and interesting and gave me some reading to do on a quiet NY day. I have now finalised my flights returning in F thanks to points.
Yes, perhaps I wasnt clear enough at the start, but the prime reasons for this trip are: to fly on the 747 via Antarctica (hopefully!), to see The Vic Falls and just have a quick look at another continent.

I have had a brief look at PNG, (around Lae, POM and Kiunga) so 'different' sort of culture is not completely foreign to me. Some may argue that the NW of Aus, where I spend a lot of time is different, but that is another story...

I have my flight booked early in Feb so I am starting to think that perhaps I should just fly up to LVI commercially for a few days from JNB and then return and go for a drive from there to see some parks with the big cats.

I hadn't really thought about parking gaurds. haha. I certainly have a bit to look into on quiet days over the next few weeks.
 

JohnM

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I have my flight booked early in Feb so I am starting to think that perhaps I should just fly up to LVI commercially for a few days from JNB and then return and go for a drive from there to see some parks with the big cats.
Way to go IMO. Rent a car in JNB and drive out to Kruger. Superb freeway all the way. Get something decent if you want to keep up with the Mercs doing 140+ ;). (Merc has a factory in S Africa - and I think you'll find that C200 series Mercs sold in Australia come out of there.) Make sure to stop for a coffee or lunch at Milly's at the trout farm about half way.

JV has posted the SANParks link for very economical accommodation in Kruger. Bear in mind that Feb is wet season, so wildlife may be harder to spot if it's been raining and they have dispersed.

Also bear in mind that in the wet season it is better to view Vic Falls from the Zambia side. If the falls are cranking, all you'll see from the Zim side is spray and mist. The Zambian side is much more interesting and exciting in the wet season - the opportunity to sit in, and look over the edge, from Devil's Pool can't be met on the Zim side: JohnM's E Africa aerial safari

Make sure to do a sunset cruise on the Zambezi - all styles and price points are catered for: Meandering in Madagascar & a little more ambling in Africa…via the Hunter Valley
 

JohnM

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Some may argue that the NW of Aus, where I spend a lot of time is different, but that is another story...
You may be able to give me some tips for this upcoming trip 5-12 March ;):

Map.JPG

I'm hoping for a couple of cyclones between now and then. I want to see Mitchell falls flowing at a couple of SydHarbs*/day ;).

*Commonly recognised basic unit of water flow in the Kimberley in the Wet: 1 SydHarb = 1 Sydney Harbour full of water :cool::eek::D.
 

Cessna 180

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You may be able to give me some tips for this upcoming trip 5-12 March ;):

View attachment 148855

I'm hoping for a couple of cyclones between now and then. I want to see Mitchell falls flowing at a couple of SydHarbs*/day ;).

*Commonly recognised basic unit of water flow in the Kimberley in the Wet: 1 SydHarb = 1 Sydney Harbour full of water :cool::eek::D.
That looks quite the trip John. Sadly I probably wont be here then.

Sadly the wet has been non existent so far this year, bar a few isolated storms. Constant 40+ with no respite!
In my opinion the Mitchell falls are better when there is less water, but the King George, the more the better!

I am absolutely happy to discuss The Kimberley at length any time
Also, Shoal Air in Kununurra can help you with any tips or tours you may wish to look into.
 

JohnM

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That looks quite the trip John. Sadly I probably wont be here then.

Sadly the wet has been non existent so far this year, bar a few isolated storms. Constant 40+ with no respite!
In my opinion the Mitchell falls are better when there is less water, but the King George, the more the better!

I am absolutely happy to discuss The Kimberley at length any time
Also, Shoal Air in Kununurra can help you with any tips or tours you may wish to look into.
Interesting about Mitchell Falls. I've flown over them but never landed there and I've been under King George Falls on a Broome-Wyndham boat trip in April when they were in diminishing flow a few years ago.

The tour is a full package with Outback Spirit from and back to DRW. I held out until March in the hope of some cyclonic activity in Jan-Feb.

Anyway, can't control the weather, but just being up there in the summer will be a new experience. Hoping for lightning cracking overhead at the very least ;):):
 

vetrade

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I am in 1A in the old cabin at this stage, a little bit excited about this, but I guess there is a good chance the plane will change..
1. FWIW 2A or 3A are better seats. I know the story about the shape of the cabin giving a better view from 1A but having tried it I think it's inferior to either 2A or 3A where there's more space and a view which is just as good. You'll get sick of looking at the bulkhead if you're in 1A. Usually 2A and 3A are booked long before 1A so obviously the "regulars" prefer them. I guess you know that the LHS seats are better for seeing icebergs.
2. If hiring a vehicle I would suggest an SUV or 4WD. Sedans are fine on the highways but if you go into a place like Kruger (Sabi Sands is better) you will appreciate the higher ground clearance.
3. If you decide to drive between JNB and Kruger it's an easy self-drive but it's a bit boring to take the hwy both ways. Maybe consider a detour to see the Panorama Route which is west of Kruger - go to Blyde Canyon, God's Window, the Three Rondawels, Bourke's Luck Potholes etc. It's worth a stay overnight in a place like Graskop to give yourself enough time to do this as the scenery is unique. You could then enter Kruger from the west (I think it's via the Gowrie Gate) rather than entering from the south
4. As others have said, don't even think about driving through Zimbabwe to Vic Falls. Just fly into LIV or VFA to get the most out of your time. Vic falls isn't very big so you will find the bridge and falls are within easy walking distance.
 

Cessna 180

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1. FWIW 2A or 3A are better seats. I know the story about the shape of the cabin giving a better view from 1A but having tried it I think it's inferior to either 2A or 3A where there's more space and a view which is just as good. You'll get sick of looking at the bulkhead if you're in 1A. Usually 2A and 3A are booked long before 1A so obviously the "regulars" prefer them. I guess you know that the LHS seats are better for seeing icebergs.
2. If hiring a vehicle I would suggest an SUV or 4WD. Sedans are fine on the highways but if you go into a place like Kruger (Sabi Sands is better) you will appreciate the higher ground clearance.
3. If you decide to drive between JNB and Kruger it's an easy self-drive but it's a bit boring to take the hwy both ways. Maybe consider a detour to see the Panorama Route which is west of Kruger - go to Blyde Canyon, God's Window, the Three Rondawels, Bourke's Luck Potholes etc. It's worth a stay overnight in a place like Graskop to give yourself enough time to do this as the scenery is unique. You could then enter Kruger from the west (I think it's via the Gowrie Gate) rather than entering from the south
4. As others have said, don't even think about driving through Zimbabwe to Vic Falls. Just fly into LIV or VFA to get the most out of your time. Vic falls isn't very big so you will find the bridge and falls are within easy walking distance.
Oh thankyou for this. Normally I would not pick row 1 but i had read that on this plane config 1a was pretty good.

I just had a look and 2 is available and 3 and 4 are taken, four weeks out from departure.
If the plane changes to the more popular configuration would you still reccoment 2a?

Hopefully I will get back into the rest of the planning soon, work has taken over again the last few days and reading more trip reports!
 
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vetrade

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...............I just had a look and 2 is available and 3 and 4 are taken, four weeks out from departure.
If the plane changes to the more popular configuration would you still reccoment 2a?.............
Personally I'd grab 2A while you can and stick with 2A on either version
 

John Voller

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We spent three weeks in Zimbabwe in late September this year. Driving in Zimbabwe is possible but we used Local transfer companies for all of our transfers up to the Botswana border form Victoria Falls and back, and down to our lodges, and they were all excellent. on time, clean vehicles and safe drivers. The roads that we travelled from Victoria Falls to the Kazangula border Botswana, and down to Dete(about 180km from Vic Falls) were all in excellent shape and driving would be easy. The situation with the police has settled down since the change of government and we only went through one roadbloack just outside Victoria Falls and were waved straight through in our tour vehicle. There is regular commentary on the TripAdvisor forum re driving in Zimbabwe including crossing the border from South Africa. One of the main issues at the moment is availability of petrol/diesel which could make things difficult whilst in Zimbabwe.

We stayed on the Zim side of Vic Falls and walked down to Falls from our hotel, and then spent time at a lodge (which was very reasonable cost wise and included a river safari on the upper Zambezi and morning and night safaris) near the Botswana border but on the Zimbabwe side. We were able to go into Botswana for a day and do a day tour of Chobe national park and a cruise on the Chobe river which were extremely good, but busy. We spent three days up at the lodge near the border then headed down to Hwange and spent 6 days in Hwange national park at two seperate lodges. The lodges were deep inside Hwange but we also saw some self drivers working their way through Hwange. The roads are horrendous inside Hwange, but well marked out and you could navigate Hwange quite easily.

From what we saw, it would definitely be possible to drive in Zimbabwe. Our family including my seven year old daughter and elderly parents all felt safer in Zimbabwe than Cape Town and South Africa.
 
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casanovawa

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in 2011 I flew to Joburg and a couple of days later flew up to Victoria Falls and stayed up there for 5-6 days including a 2 day/1 night quick safari into Chobe National Park in Botswana and that went pretty well...

A few years back i flew into Joburg and immediately hired a car and drove out to Kruger National Park and stayed outside the park for 2-3 days and each day I would drive into the park and explore the local area and saw lots of wildlife before driving back and stopping at a few sites to Joburg airport and straight onto a plane to Cape Town...

I doubt the security situation in South Africa is getting much better so for me personally that's how I'd do it with maybe a trip or two to some privately owned nature reserves if you hadn't seen enough wild life or maybe some wineries... Namibia I guess doesn't sound to bad for doing a bit of driving around...

Back in 2015 i did an organised safari tour through central Africa, about the only tour I've ever bought but having no real experience of what some of those countries like Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania were like I felt much safer on a local tour company at least the first time than trying to hire a car or take public transport etc... That also worked out pretty well - saw mountain gorillas, the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater and ended up over on Zanzibar Island for a few days...
 

Cessna 180

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You may be able to give me some tips for this upcoming trip 5-12 March ;):

View attachment 148855

I'm hoping for a couple of cyclones between now and then. I want to see Mitchell falls flowing at a couple of SydHarbs*/day ;).

*Commonly recognised basic unit of water flow in the Kimberley in the Wet: 1 SydHarb = 1 Sydney Harbour full of water :cool::eek::D.
MIP.jpg

This was on Friday JohnM. Hopefully more rain before you get here in March.
...Back to Africa planning... I have had a very busy week.. :)

I note visa is not required fro SA, Botswana or Namibia, but are visas on arrival available for Zim and Zambia would you know?
 

John Voller

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Yes visa on arrival is available for Zimbabwe and Zambia. If you are travelling between the two countries you might want to check out a KAZA Univisa which allows you to travel between the two countries as much as you like. I am pretty sure it also allows you to leave Zimbabwe to visit Botswana for the day (but you will also require a Botswana visa on arrival as well). Sometimes they run out of the stickers but if you want to move between the two countries ask the immigration officer at your port of entry if the KAZA Univisa is available.

We did not enter Zambia although as we were going to Botswana for the day we got a double entry Zimbabwe visa on arrival which was $USD 70 per person. Try and have the correct money as the immigration officer didn’t have any change and he had to ask around for some change.

Zimbabwe immigration at Victoria Falls can be slow as all of the visas are hand written and receipts have to be written for each visa. The closer to the front of the plane, the better. We were through immigration in about 20 minutes, but have heard of some people taking 1.5 hours to enter through Victoria Falls.
 

JohnM

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View attachment 150106

This was on Friday JohnM. Hopefully more rain before you get here in March.
...Back to Africa planning... I have had a very busy week.. :)

I note visa is not required fro SA, Botswana or Namibia, but are visas on arrival available for Zim and Zambia would you know?
I did see your post of this on the other thread. Dang! I'll be watching the northern weather intently over the next few weeks.
 

Cessna 180

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Well, thanks everyone for some good tips and info.
Tomorrow I am on my way! 3 hr drive to MEL, then fly to SYD and then 14 hr to JNB. I think the longest flight I have ever been on was about eight hrs to Hong Kong. That seemed long enough...
I have booked in at VFA for a few days after a night at JNB airport. I will work the rest out after this.
So many different options.

If anyone is on the flight I can guest 1 in to the SYD F lounge.

Ta
 

Cessna 180

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Thanks to everyone for their input here. I have a arrived back safe and had a good time.
I saw the falls and drove around in both Botswana and S A without incident.

Vic Falls were amazing.

Never did I feel in danger or anything. People were good, friendly and helpful.

Both the 747 flight over and the SAA flight back were amazing. Absolutely nothing wrong with business class in either of these old machines. Not as flash perhaps as the newer style on the 330 but absolutely amazing comfort and service for a long flight.

I have been slowly writing a trip report which hopefully I can attach here soon!
 

JohnM

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Are you going back up N soon?

If so, any chance you may be landing at Mitchell Falls on Friday 8 March or Monday 11 March? I'll be in the Spirit Aviation Grand Caravan.
 

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