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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 29 Dec 2011
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Nairobi to Cape Town

We (me and wife) have been thinking about this trip for several moths. We both have 6 weeks off work in May/June and plan to fly our bikes to Nairobi then ride South to Cape Town via Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. The bikes will be shipped or flown back from CT.

The distance looks to be around 5,000 miles depending on exact route and I think most of it can be done on sealed roads. Is 5-6 weeks enough time for this?

I am sure it is if we went non stop 12 hours+ per day, but we want to visit a couple of game reserves, have a day off from riding every 4-5 days, take interesting diversions, see the main sights, and so on. There needs to be an element of leisure in the trip as well all the exitement and adventure of riding in Africa. Am I being ambitious with time/mileage?

We are planning to go in early May. I have never organised a trip like this so is the next four months enough time to get Visas, vaccinations, Carnet, flights, shipping, etc sorted?

The bikes (XT660R) are nearly new to us but both low mileage newish bikes which are in the process of being prep'd and should be ready and shook down in good time - least of my worries. Its the other logistics that bother me.

I will ask about places to stay, visit, and route options in another thread on another day.

Thanks.

Austin
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  #2  
Old 29 Dec 2011
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Hi Austin,

In terms of timing, anything is possible. I met a guy riding a KTM that left the UK and made it to Cape Town in 6 weeks. He didn't see much though. It's about what you want to get out of the trip. If 6 weeks is all you have, then you can make it work.

A few things to consider:-
1) flying a bike into Africa and then out again for 6 weeks is kind of expensive, not sure if you looked into this already. Chris at Jungle Junction in Nairobi can find a suitable bike to purchase and arrange all the paperwork for you.

2) another possibility would be fly to SA, buy a bike (exchange is all in your favour) and try and sell to another rider going in the opposite direction when you are done. Again Chris is fantastic at helping overlanders with these things as well.

3) renting a bike is another possibility - you just have to compare the costs though.

4) most NP's won't let you ride into the park so you would have to stay at camp sites or lodges outside and take a tour in.

And yes, everything can be done on paved roads with the exception of Namibia if you want to see the attractions. Planning is half the fun so don't stress too much about it.
Daryll
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  #3  
Old 29 Dec 2011
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Hi,

Its easy going and can be done all on tar. From Nairobi to Capetown you have choosen the nicest and easyest Part of Africa and 6 Weeks will be all right. To get a carned takes 4 weeks and the visa for Kenia, Tansania, Malawi, Mosambik, Lesotho and Southafrica you will get at the boarders (if you are from europa) so no problem.

Places to stay are Tivi Beach (Twiga Lodge) in Kenia, Mayoka Village in Malawi and Krueger Park in Southafrica.

Transafrika - Experdition from europa to southafrica part 2

LG, Tobi
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  #4  
Old 29 Dec 2011
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Originally Posted by BlackBeast View Post
Hi Austin,

In terms of timing, anything is possible. I met a guy riding a KTM that left the UK and made it to Cape Town in 6 weeks. He didn't see much though. It's about what you want to get out of the trip. If 6 weeks is all you have, then you can make it work.

A few things to consider:-
1) flying a bike into Africa and then out again for 6 weeks is kind of expensive, not sure if you looked into this already. Chris at Jungle Junction in Nairobi can find a suitable bike to purchase and arrange all the paperwork for you.

2) another possibility would be fly to SA, buy a bike (exchange is all in your favour) and try and sell to another rider going in the opposite direction when you are done. Again Chris is fantastic at helping overlanders with these things as well.

3) renting a bike is another possibility - you just have to compare the costs though.

4) most NP's won't let you ride into the park so you would have to stay at camp sites or lodges outside and take a tour in.

And yes, everything can be done on paved roads with the exception of Namibia if you want to see the attractions. Planning is half the fun so don't stress too much about it.
Daryll
Thanks Daryl, I have looked into shipping costs and yes its lots of dosh, as is renting 2 bikes for 6 weeks and also limits route optiions. To me riding my own bike in Africa is priceless so that's what we are doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ta-rider View Post
Hi,

Its easy going and can be done all on tar. From Nairobi to Capetown you have choosen the nicest and easyest Part of Africa and 6 Weeks will be all right. To get a carned takes 4 weeks and the visa for Kenia, Tansania, Malawi, Mosambik, Lesotho and Southafrica you will get at the boarders (if you are from europa) so no problem.

Places to stay are Tivi Beach (Twiga Lodge) in Kenia, Mayoka Village in Malawi and Krueger Park in Southafrica.

Transafrika - Experdition from europa to southafrica part 2

LG, Tobi
Also Thanks Tobi, its not the total distance that bothers us, we have done many trips in Europe covering 2-3000miles in a 2 weeks, its doing it on roads and in countries we really dont understand (yet anyway) and at a relaxed enough pace to really enjoy it and not feel pressurised to put in big days.

Visas at borders is good news but had thought if we had enough time it would save any hassle at the border if we had the visa in advance.

Any tips on motor insurance. I know in South Africa and I think Namibia basic third party (persons) insurance is added to the cost of petrol. Do I have to buy insurance at the borders or can I buy it once in say Kenya to cover us for all the countries?
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  #5  
Old 29 Dec 2011
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Hi,

The visa at the boarder for a german like me where so easy it didnt even take 5 Minutes to get them. The prices where 2009 50US$ for Kenia (i heared its reduced now to 25), 50US$ for Tansania, Free for Malawi, 25 Euro fur Mosambik and free for Southafrica.
Insurance can be bought in Nairobi. Its cales Comesa Yellowcard and covers lots of countrys. Or bring any document wich looks like a insurance

Have fun, Tobi
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  #6  
Old 30 Dec 2011
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Quote:
Also Thanks Tobi, its not the total distance that bothers us, we have done many trips in Europe covering 2-3000miles in a 2 weeks, its doing it on roads and in countries we really dont understand (yet anyway) and at a relaxed enough pace to really enjoy it and not feel pressurised to put in big days.
Dunno about the riding in some of the more northerly countries you mention, in my fairly limited experience Bots, Namibia and SA are really easy. Very low traffic densities, good, often immaculately surfaced roads and courteous drivers make for easy riding apart from some potholed stretches in some areas. The dirt roads in Namibia are a joy. Ran into a couple of German guys at the Namibian/SA Vioolsdrift border a couple of years back who did your proposed route in three weeks and they reckoned "no problems".

There's plenty to see- we passed several elephants by the side of main (trunk? arf!) roads in Botswana, huge numbers of Kudu, springboks, Zebra etc etc in Namibia and loony ostriches too- but as has been mentioned before some NPs won't let you in- eg we visited Balule Reserve in Kruger and dumped the bike for a couple of days and rented a 4x4, but you could stop at Kasane in Botswana (Chobe NP and easy access to Vic Falls) and see all the animals you want by taking excursions- most people there seem to fly in so don't have their own vehicles. If you stay at lodges near the major attractions you'll ahve no problems getting tours to see whatever you like.

We rarely arrived anywhere later than about 4 or 5pm even on long days (get up early!) partly cos I'm shit scared of riding after dark in that part of the world- animals everywhere, pissed up drivers etc etc.

I'm hardly a hardened overlander (4 fly rides to southern Africa so far), but if you want some info on basically easy African adventuring and if you are thinking of staying in lodges rather than rough camping maybe have a look at a couple of my RRs Noob in Namibia - ADVrider

and this one:A Quick Lap of Botswana (and a bit of Namibia and Zim) - ADVrider

PS you are planning exactly the trip I want to do...
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  #7  
Old 31 Dec 2011
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Hi Austin,
we did Mombasa to Lilongwe in 5 weeks incl. 1 week Zanzibar and some days at Malawi lake. So 6 weeks is tough, but feasible.
We (Germans) got all Visas at the borders, plan 2 hours for each border.

Vaccinations and Shipping seems to be the critical issue!
We left our bike for some months in Lilongwe and came back to ride from there to windhoek. In May/June 2012 we ride back to Nairobi, maybe we will meet somewhere?

Btw: Malawi has still problems getting fuel, have a look to Malawi Fuel Watch on facebook for details

Walter
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  #8  
Old 2 Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by reggie3cl View Post
Dunno about the riding in some of the more northerly countries you mention, in my fairly limited experience Bots, Namibia and SA are really easy. Very low traffic densities, good, often immaculately surfaced roads and courteous drivers make for easy riding apart from some potholed stretches in some areas. The dirt roads in Namibia are a joy. Ran into a couple of German guys at the Namibian/SA Vioolsdrift border a couple of years back who did your proposed route in three weeks and they reckoned "no problems".

There's plenty to see- we passed several elephants by the side of main (trunk? arf!) roads in Botswana, huge numbers of Kudu, springboks, Zebra etc etc in Namibia and loony ostriches too- but as has been mentioned before some NPs won't let you in- eg we visited Balule Reserve in Kruger and dumped the bike for a couple of days and rented a 4x4, but you could stop at Kasane in Botswana (Chobe NP and easy access to Vic Falls) and see all the animals you want by taking excursions- most people there seem to fly in so don't have their own vehicles. If you stay at lodges near the major attractions you'll ahve no problems getting tours to see whatever you like.

We rarely arrived anywhere later than about 4 or 5pm even on long days (get up early!) partly cos I'm shit scared of riding after dark in that part of the world- animals everywhere, pissed up drivers etc etc.

I'm hardly a hardened overlander (4 fly rides to southern Africa so far), but if you want some info on basically easy African adventuring and if you are thinking of staying in lodges rather than rough camping maybe have a look at a couple of my RRs Noob in Namibia - ADVrider

and this one:A Quick Lap of Botswana (and a bit of Namibia and Zim) - ADVrider

PS you are planning exactly the trip I want to do...
Thanks for the tips and links to your RRs - loving them!!! BUT now you have set the cat amongst the pigeons!! I had always thought I would do trips like these independently but that Tour company you used certainly seems to be reasonably priced and doing it in style. Very tempting. I am now even more uncertain what to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by waszu View Post
Hi Austin,
we did Mombasa to Lilongwe in 5 weeks incl. 1 week Zanzibar and some days at Malawi lake. So 6 weeks is tough, but feasible.
We (Germans) got all Visas at the borders, plan 2 hours for each border.

Vaccinations and Shipping seems to be the critical issue!
We left our bike for some months in Lilongwe and came back to ride from there to windhoek. In May/June 2012 we ride back to Nairobi, maybe we will meet somewhere?

Btw: Malawi has still problems getting fuel, have a look to Malawi Fuel Watch on facebook for details

Walter
Thanks Walter, agree with the shipping thing - very expensive and will have a long think about hiring now I have seen Reggie's posts on ADV. My wife is a nurse and used to do travel vaccinations so we are well up on that and hopefully access to discounted vaccinations. The outline route I am planning from Nairobi to Cape Town is about 7,000km so at less 1500km a week on what is reported to be good roads it seems OK to me, even with delays at borders, and a few rests and sightseeing days included.
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  #9  
Old 5 Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by Austin View Post
Thanks Daryl, I have looked into shipping costs and yes its lots of dosh, as is renting 2 bikes for 6 weeks and also limits route optiions. To me riding my own bike in Africa is priceless so that's what we are doing.
I have just worked out I do have a price after all. Flights, Carnet, various taxes, duties, insurance and allowing a small sum for contingencies added up to nearly £5000 per bike. Hiring two XT660 in Cape Town for 5 weeks looks like being in the region of £3500 and that's what we will be doing and a shorter trip to Namibia and Botswana.
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Old 5 Jan 2012
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Hi,

Namibia and the Ocavango Delta with the big Victoria Falls are very nice as well. Your 3500 Punds took me all the way through africa

Travel save, Tobi
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  #11  
Old 5 Jan 2012
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Thanks for the tips and links to your RRs - loving them!!! BUT now you have set the cat amongst the pigeons!! I had always thought I would do trips like these independently but that Tour company you used certainly seems to be reasonably priced and doing it in style. Very tempting. I am now even more uncertain what to do.
We only rented the bike from SAMA (twice now).They do group tours of course ('our' bike was heading straight out again after we returned it on some huge, and I suspect, rather damp tour up north) but we book our own accommodation.

For our Namibia trip we rented the bike only from the somewhat prickly Jurgen at Karoo biking and before that for our first trip from the very helpful Tony France at SAMT in Constantia. For the first one Tony booked the accommodation cos we were a bit wet behind the ears, but we soon realised we didn't need this service.

Have you thought about flying in to Jozie and then looping up, over and down to Capetown (or vice versa) One or two of the rental companies allow you to do this IIRC (Moto Berlin?) although you may need to pay for the bike to be returned to base.
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  #12  
Old 6 Jan 2012
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Nairobberry = Cape Town

Austin,
My advice is try and extend the duration, even if you have to postpone it for a year to add another 4 weeks, My wife and I have ridden down from Cairo (bikes are currently at Jungle Junction now) we originally had planned 3-4 mths to do Cairo to Cape Town, however we have spent a total of 8 months & still only 1/2 way. We are back in Nairobi on the 9th Aug. & will only arrive in Cape town for Xmas. You said it was a once in a lifetime trip so why hurry ? I have met plenty of riders on the way down the difference from what I could see the ones that go fast are 100% bikers who use travel as an excuse to go for a ride, the others are travellers who take there time and experience more of the culture & environment & use the bike has the best way to do this. Both ways are 100% OK as we have all different passions, we just have to work out who we are and what we really want to get out of such a trip.
As for the planning you get all visa's at the border (it's shit easy) don't plan the rest, just head south ! Tracks4Africa will take care of you, & it's an adventure !
Cheers
Paul
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  #13  
Old 6 Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by reggie3cl View Post
We only rented the bike from SAMA (twice now).They do group tours of course ('our' bike was heading straight out again after we returned it on some huge, and I suspect, rather damp tour up north) but we book our own accommodation.

For our Namibia trip we rented the bike only from the somewhat prickly Jurgen at Karoo biking and before that for our first trip from the very helpful Tony France at SAMT in Constantia. For the first one Tony booked the accommodation cos we were a bit wet behind the ears, but we soon realised we didn't need this service.

Have you thought about flying in to Jozie and then looping up, over and down to Capetown (or vice versa) One or two of the rental companies allow you to do this IIRC (Moto Berlin?) although you may need to pay for the bike to be returned to base.
MotorbikeHire in Cape Town is looking very promising - 2 xXT660's at an attractive and very competitive rate and much cheaper than renting the equivalent BMW F650GS from Karoo and others. I will be talking to them later about options like different pick up/drop off points. We will probably just find our own way taking on board advice from here, WildDog Adventure Riding and others but MotorbikeHire do offer route and accomodation suggestions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulD View Post
Austin,
My advice is try and extend the duration, even if you have to postpone it for a year to add another 4 weeks, My wife and I have ridden down from Cairo (bikes are currently at Jungle Junction now) we originally had planned 3-4 mths to do Cairo to Cape Town, however we have spent a total of 8 months & still only 1/2 way. We are back in Nairobi on the 9th Aug. & will only arrive in Cape town for Xmas. You said it was a once in a lifetime trip so why hurry ? I have met plenty of riders on the way down the difference from what I could see the ones that go fast are 100% bikers who use travel as an excuse to go for a ride, the others are travellers who take there time and experience more of the culture & environment & use the bike has the best way to do this. Both ways are 100% OK as we have all different passions, we just have to work out who we are and what we really want to get out of such a trip.
As for the planning you get all visa's at the border (it's shit easy) don't plan the rest, just head south ! Tracks4Africa will take care of you, & it's an adventure !
Cheers
Paul
The deal we both have with our employers is 1 x 5 week unpaid leave a year. My request was for 2 x 5 week breaks and do exactly what you suggested and go RTW in lots of small chunks, but they wouldn't agree to that. I even tried to get made redundant but I am indispensible it would seem (sadly a lot of other people did get made redundant who didnt really want to go).

There is a 3rd type of travel - an extended holiday, which I think is what my wife really wants to do and is really what this trip is - my wife was really taken by Reggie's ride reports. The laid back travelling mode will develop with each trip. Our "travelling" plan is to try and do a 4-5000 mile trip on one or continent or another each year.
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Old 6 Jan 2012
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Not much to add but I did this south to north earlier this year. 6,000 miles from Cape Town to Nairobi (met up with Daryll who posted here). As he said, all paved except for Namibian gravel. EXCEPT you'll have to go off road on sand at the end of each day to reach the campgrounds.

Details on my blog. If you have other questions left just email/PM me.

Dom
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