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sub-Saharan AfricaTopics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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Any suggestions on scenic roads south part of Africa?
I'm off for a 10-week bike roundtrip through S.A., Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and back to Capetown, starting oct 7.
Already did some research but I like to know if you guys (and girls) have any suggestions on the best scenic roads on roughly that route? Either tarmac or offroad.
Any other suggestions are most welcome too, like nice campsites, things to see, dangers&annoyances etc.
Are you starting in Cape Town? If so then travel northwards through the Cederberg then cross into Namibia over the Orange river, turn westwards following the river (good camping here at Amanzi) then go northwards to Ais Ais and Fish River Canyon. Continue northwards to Solitaire then west to the coast at Swakopmond. Follow the coast along the salt road to Torra Bay the travel inland to Damaraland and Kaokland.Continue eastward to the Caprivi then into Botswana at Ngoma bridge to visit Chobe. You can then cross the Zambezi into Zambia to continue your journey north west. After visiting Zambia Malawi etc (where we have unfortunately not travelled) you can return via Zimbabwe into Botswana then back into South Africa and return to Cape Town through the Karoo and the Wine growing areas.
For help with planning you could do worse than get the T4a maps (both digital and paper) for these respective countries which give a fantastic amount of information of roads, distances, timings and camping sites etc.
If I can be of more specific help please contact me but you are hoping to do an awful lot in 10 weeks!.
Hi there Margaret! I will indeed start and finish in Capetown. Think about following the east coast of SA first and then cross through Sani Pass/Lesotho, head west and entering Namibia in the south east corner. Your suggested itinerary through Namibia looks very interesting. Maybe I'll cross into Botswana from Caprivi to visit the Okavanga delta, then head for the Zambezi border and make up my mind from there.
I'm starting to realize that 10 weeks might be a bit short to do everything on my wishlist. We'll see how far I get. The goal is to enjoy the ride.
Thanks a lot for your suggestions!
Search the Wild Dogs adventure forum, that's probably the most active SA local forum, and will likely get you a lot more recommendations than here.
Back in the 80s and 90s I traveled South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe very extensively, and also covered parts of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and a few other countries.
Obviously you need to check current conditions, conditions especially north of South Africa change quite quickly from year to year.
For a totally different view of South Africa to the route detailed above, have a look at the east coast.
If you are starting or ending in Cape Town, you'd want to do all the usual tourist stuff like Table Mountain, the Wine region (quite extensions varied), Groom Constantia, the Cedarberg, Cape Aghulas and plenty more.
From CT going east, there is a range of mountains running north / south, called variously the Outeniquas, Amatolas, Hogsback, and the southern and northern Drakensberg. There are many passes through the mountains, paved and unpaved that allow access east / west to areas like the Karoo, as well as running north / south through the mountains themselves.
I also recommend Lesotho, the route across from the south east to the capital Maseru in the west, and then back across to Sani Pass in the north east has some incredible mountain riding.
To the east of this range, you get coastal areas like the Garden Route east of George), the Wild Coast, and the lowveld in the north, which also includes a lot of the game areas.
I don't know what conditions are like in Zimbabwe now, but the less (international) touristy area of the Eastern Highlands from south of Mutare (there is a park that allowed hikes to the Mozambique border escarpment) through to Inyanga National park is very pleasant and varies from dry bushveld to temperate rain forest to something almost resembling the Scottish Highlands.
If you come in from the south via Beit Bridge to Masvingo, be sure to visit the Zimbabwe Ruins. There are other similar (but smaller a day less well maintained) ruins elsewhere in the country that are hardly known, but these will give you a good idea.
In the north, my favorite areas used to include Mana Pools national park on the banks of the Zambesi (fishing rod recommended but not sure if accessible by bike). You used to be able to walk around the park years ago, all you needed was a robust vehicle to get in and sign in registration details.
The Kariba Dam area was also worth a visit. Back when, spending a few days on a houseboat fishing and game viewing was quite popular.
There is a road that we used to take south of the Kariba dam west from the main Harare road all the way to Victoria Falls via Hwange, that allowed you to access some of the parks on the southern banks of Kariba and the Zambesi river, like Matusadona.
At the time it was unpaved and ran through tribal areas, probably not much has changed.
The western route as detailed in the post above up through Namibia and then the Kaokaland / Caprivi area is very different to the east, and also worth while. Just be sure that you enjoy arid / desert conditions...
My perspective on reading multiple ride reports here and on AdvRider is that there seems to be an overland route developing in this region, which IMHO ignores many of the best parts, although it does offer a 'different' experience to folks making a short trip from Europe or the USA.
I updated it a bit. From what I've been reading, check conditions in Malawi (fuel availability), Mozambique (insurgency issues with Renamo) and Zimbabwe (recent elections and government changes) prior to entry.
If you're doing Lesotho, and have a bike worthy of rough dirt roads (rocks, mud, ledges, and so on in places), I did the route from Quacha's Nek to the Sethlabathebe Park and then across the country to Maseru years ago in a 4WD pickup. You could also run up the east/central side of Lesotho through the mountains north to Sani Pass instead of heading west towards Maseru or Buthe Buthe.
At least one of the passes is more challenging than Sani, but then Sani can be done in a normal car with reasonable clearance from the west.
Don't underestimate the time or conditions though, we ended up wild camping on the roadside for one night.
Beautiful part of the world, I spent quite a bit of time hiking, backpacking, fishing (trout) and pony trekking as well as riding and driving through that area from the Amatolas (Katberg, Hogsback and the rest) to the southern Drakensberg (Rhodes and other places), Lesotho and the Drakensberg north east of Lesotho (Underberg and north all the way to Tugela Falls and Royal Natal National Park) .
At least back then, you could backpack from the SA Drakensberg over to Sethlabathebe (Lesotho) in the south and to Sani / Thabana Ntelyana (highest mountain in Southern Africa / Lesotho).
Hi, come and see us in Umtentweni and I will show you show you some great gravel roads locally.
My wife is the manager of this place www.spotbackpackers.com, secure parking and a lively bar,when you arrive in RSA call us and give us your phone number.
plenty of pics of the back routes on Bruce & Pete Round The World just look for the photo link and the africa pics
Pete n Brucella
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