SOUTH AFRICA, BOTSWANA & ZAMBIA
24 june - 12 july 2005

 

Kruger Park photos Victoria Falls photos
Chobe Park photos Cape Town photos
Travelogue & Info

 

Since many years I desired to visit South Africa and despite many problems before the departure I finally succeeded to put my foot for the first time in African land.

Considering that I traveled alone I decided to join 2 tours, the first one to visit the Kruger Park in 4 days and the second of 1 week to visit the area of the Victoria Falls in Zambia and the Chobe park in Botswana.

The Kruger park is organized very well with structures for all the tastes and pockets, can be visited by yourself even if to move with a guide that knows the places give the possibility to fully enjoy the natural beauties; we lodged in tent inside the Maroela camp near the Orpen Gate. Once so much is the man to be in cage in fact all the camp present inside the park are fenced with boned thread and electrified and are closed from the sunset to the dawn.
We have seen practically all sorts of animals present in the park (to exception of the rhinos), the good moments for the sightings are early morning and the evening, the guided tours with the rangers are usually effected with open jeep and therefore it is worthwhile to cover well facing the icy air. We have also made a nighttime safari that doesn't have me particularly impressed and a walking tour in the bush with the rangers (armed), this last was very interesting giving us the possibility to have a most direct contact with the nature even if we have not sighted animals. I have liked a lot the giraffes with their funny way to move and to drink and above all the cheetah, that besides we have been very lucky to sight considering that the rangers told us that inside the park they are only about seventy cheetah.
Exciting to dine in front of the fire under a super starry sky with the hyenas to some meter of distance and in background the noises of the savanna.

Returned to Johannesburg where I have only slept I immediately left again toward Botswana and Zambia, the best moment of the tour has been the visit of the Victoria Falls that are absolutely spectacular, you can see/hear the noise and the aqueous vapor that create from many kilometers of distance. Besides the visit of the falls the area is famous to be the biggest adventurous activities center, in fact the buggy jumping can be done on the bridge in front of the falls, fly over with: air balloon airplane and helicopter, to make rafting on the Zambesi river.

Besides the nature I have very appreciated the people of the Zambia, always available and smiling, the exchange is very practiced and it always feels to offer something in exchange for garments or “fashion articles”. Livingstone (the town in the proximities of the falls) also being rather small is enough animated, in the weekend we have passed some beautiful evenings in the bar around the village.

In Botswana we have visited the park Chobe, to not lose the sunset cruise on the river.

I spent the last days of the trip to Cape Town, I liked a lot the atmosphere and the scenography (is said that the bays of Cape Town, Hong Kong, Rio and Sydney are the most beautiful of the world), for logistic and safety reasons I have chosen to lodge in the city center, surely not to miss the ascent to the Table Mountain from where a spectacular sight is enjoyed (it is worthwhile to phone to verify that the cable car is open), the visit to the Park of Good Hope and the jail island of Robben Island. I tried the cage dive to see the big white sharks, really it is a very tourist experience to the course of everybody as you remain on the top level of the water and the tank are not used, however to see to arrive such a big fish of 4 or more meters makes a certain impression.

Surely the aspect that I have appreciated more in this trip has been the contact with the wild nature and certainly I wants to return from those place to visit the Namibia parks.

 

 

 

INFOS ABOUT THE TRIP

   

ITINERARY

Date

Itinerary

Transport

Time

23/06/2005

Milan - Johannesburg

airplane

15 hours

24/06/2005

Johannesburg - Nelspruit

minibus

6 hours

25/06/2005

Kruger park

minibus

 

26/06/2005

Kruger park

minibus

 

27/06/2005

Kruger park - Johannesburg

minibus

 

28/06/2005

Johannesburg - Nata (Botswana)

minibus

10 hours

29/06/2005

Nata - Victoria Falls (Zambia)

minibus

4 hours

30/06/2005

Victoria Falls

 

 

01/07/2005

Victoria Falls

 

 

02/07/2005

Victoria Falls - Paradise Island

minibus - canoe

1 hour

03/07/2005

Paradise Island - Chobe park (Botswana)

minibus

3 hours

04/07/2005

Chobe park - Nata

minibus

8 hours

05/07/2005

Nata - Johannesburg

minibus

8 hours

06/07/2005

Johannesburg – Cape Town

airplane

2 hours

07/07/2005

Cape Town

 

 

08/07/2005

Cape Town

 

 

09/07/2005

Cape Town

 

 

10/07/2005

Cape Town

 

 

11/07/2005

Cape Town – Johannesburg - Milan

airplane

18 hours

 

TRANSPORTS
South Africa
The transports are capillary, the buses and minibus connect practically all the places, for the backpackers the Baz Bus connect directly the principal place along the route Johannesburg – Durban - Cape Town; there are also some low cost airlines, to Cape Town  I have flown with Kulula. The taxis are quite cheap, in Cape Town  the rikkis are very diffused: small buses that work as collective taxi with very low price (bookings: 423.48.88).
Botswana - Zambia

I have not used the public transports, for what results me they are not very efficient instead the roads are quite good.

WEATHER
The southern winter is the ideal season to visit the parks since the low vegetation and the shortage of water give increased possibilities of sighting of the animals. There is a notable thermal excursion between day and night, during the day I have always found sunny and pleasant days, quite freezing nights instead.
 

FOOD
South Africa
Cuisine doesn't have me particularly thrilled, very similar to the English one, the meat is of good quality but is cooked with sauces that ruin the taste, in Cape Town I had the possibility to taste particular meats like the wart-hog and crocodile.
Botswana - Zambia
Unfortunately I have not had the possibility to taste the local cuisine.

 

Dangers & annoyances 
South Africa
Crime in the cities is unfortunately very diffused, in Johannesburg people live practically barricade in houses surrounded from tall walls with thread boned electrified. In Cape Town I lodged in Long Street (city center) that is considered safe as the presence of police and guards 24 hours a day; the center after 5 p.m. empties, a day I delayed an instant the reentry and I almost have been attacked!!!
In the parks is always necessary to pay a lot of attention to the animals and to never go down from the car; every year in the country are verified around 1000 died by attacks of hippos!!!
Botswana - Zambia
Absolutely safe for my experience apart the possible dangers of the nature.
 

 

COSTS
South Africa
It's an economic destination in comparison to the European countries, the money-changers are found in the tourist place but they generally apply elevated commission, the ATMs are diffused, are also found in the petrol stations.
Average costs
(1€ ~ 7,5 Rand):
lunch or dinner in the restaurant = 120 Rand
McDonald's men¨= 30 Rand
dormitory bed in the hostel = 75 Rand
city journey with taxi = 80 Rand
Botswana
For what I have seen the costs are comparable to ours, probably also because the currency is quite strong.
Zambia
The tourists pay almost all in US$, as possible it is worth the punishment to use the local currency for the small expenses and/or in the markets; it uses exclusively cash, the varied activities near the Victoria Falls can also be paid with credit card but 5% commission is generally applied.
 

Lodgings
I have primarily lodged in camping that I have always found in good conditions and well equipped and in the hostels:

Johannesburg  
Airport North South: hostel in the proximities of the airport, if it books they offer the free transfer from the airport; dormitory bed with breakfast, 80 Rand.
Diamond Digger: hostel situated in the outskirts next to the airport and commercial centers, with gym and sauna, from the office there is a beautiful sight on the city-skyline; dormitory bed, 70 Rand.

Cape Town
Long Street Backpackers: it finds in the city center along one of the main streets of the city, very good position to reach the main destinations and always animated; dormitory bed, 70 Rand.

 

LINKS

http://www.adventuretravelafrica.com/

Travel agency and hostel in Pretoria

http://www.bazbus.com/

Drop on-off bus service

http://www.coastingafrica.com/

Very good site with a lot infos for backpackers

http://www.go2africa.com

Various infos about the south Africa countries

http://www.intercape.co.za/ Main bus company in South Africa
http://www.livingstonetrails.co.za/ The travel agency I traveled with for the Kruger tour
http://www.wagontrails.co.za/ The travel agency I traveled with for tour to Botswana & Zambia
http://www.africanroutes.co.za/ Travel agency with adventurous travel across Africa
http://www.kalahari-adventures.co.za/ Kalahari specialized travel agency
https://www.kulula.com Low cost airline
http://www.sanparks.org/ South Africa parks official site
http://www.northsouthbackpackers.com/ Travel agency and hostel in Pretoria/Johannesburg
http://www.backpackerbus.co.za/ Shuttle service between the hotels, Cape Town, the airport and  Stellenbosch

 

 

 

 

Copyright ę 2005 Giuseppe Ruperto. All rights reserved.