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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA



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  • 2 Post By Vaufi
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  #1  
Old 29 Jan 2020
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South-Eastern African Circuit (Somewhere between 2022-24)

I'm getting the Africa itch again, after my living situation in Tanzania fell through in 2018 due to various work visa issues before I could locally purchase a bike and ride the continent, and this time I'd like to get there on slightly more even terms as a long-term mototraveler.

So, with that in mind, my goals are:
- To get to South Africa starting wherever air freighting a bike in will be cheapest, so most likely in Gauteng (Jo'burg, Pretoria)
- See some family friends and my old school in Tanzania (where I studied as a kid 2006-07 and taught for four months in 2018)
- See some of Kenya and/or Uganda, and potentially attempt a circuit of Lake Victoria
- See Victoria Falls
- Tour Botswana and Namibia
- Ride as much of the Southern and Eastern Cape as possible

Time frame would hopefully be within the next four years (two would be awesome), and a length of 3-6 months. Length depends on how much money I can pool, especially considering that
a) I plan on shipping my own bike if I cannot requisition a good one locally for cheaper,
b) I'd have to quit a job for this to happen so I'll need a little extra saved at the end for re-acclimating at home, and
c) I need to save up and plan for at least two years unless I get really lucky with my cashflow. Realistically, three or four years may be necessary to Selling my car and a few other things will help. I'm not a rich man by any means, just a 26 year old with big ambitions and minimal debt to pay off.

I'd certainly love to use my own CRF250L Rally, as my Honda is deadbolt reliable and capable at any and all posted highway speeds I've ever seen on that continent.

My current budget lines include:
- Round-trip air ticket
- Round-trip bike shipping or local bike purchase
- Visas, especially for the countries that really see Americans as walking dollar-signs
- Per diem costs, including gas, food, and local campsites or backpacker hostels (aiming for about $30-35/day average, will obviously be more expensive in some countries and less expensive in others)
- Tourism one-offs like park entries or guided tours (I don't plan to do too many, especially in countries like TZ where prices are mind-blowing, but as a lifelong wildlife biologist type I do really love my safaris and bushwalks) (big question: how many parks outside TZ allow two-wheeled vehicles?)

If anyone's got recent experience with a similar tour (I've already read through the Piki Piki Overland blog and insta, and their ride report on ADVRider) let me know! I've also watched a couple of SA-based moto touring shows for inspiration.
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Old 30 Jan 2020
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G'day mate,
great idea I'm living in Europe for many years now as South African expat, but have been travelling the southern continent for weeks and months whenever time permitted ;o)


First of all: Africa is budget compared to Europe. The climate is ideal for riding. The cheapest way is definitely camping and the campsites in southern Africa are mostly in good condition and far cheaper than a room, although, in rural areas you do come across room prices between 10 - 15 Euros.
Fuel is half the price of mid-Europe. Food is far cheaper than here.


Then the landscape: This region offers a great variety. Lots of good roads and loads of off-road pistes, usually quite easy to ride.

Currently I'm on the road, but as soon as I'm back home I'll collect some suggestions for the five southernmost countries and post them on the HUBB. You're absolutely right if you intend to visit the Eastern & Western Cape. Add Lesotho, and you've got the most interesting biking region in SA. Botswana isn't quite the hit for bikers being rather flat and sandy. Very little variety, but reknown game reserves. Namibia is quite different and definitely a very interesting bike spot, albeit not always easy regarding sand. Lodging is very expensive in Namibia, but the campsites are just as well equipped as in SA.


As for entry fees - all government parks in SA & NAM have a 3-level price system. The locals pay the lowest prices, citizens from other African states pay a bit more, the oversea tourists several times as much as the locals


A 250cc bike is probably fun on rough terrain - I reckon the best compromise would be something like the 400cc DR-Z. You could also check the local market: https://www.gumtree.co.za/s-motorcyc...ters/v1c9027p1
As in Europe, the best prices are in autumn/winter , that is May - July.
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Old 1 Feb 2020
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Glad to hear! I've been to northern Limpopo in SA, the southern Cape, and much of Tanzania, and even those small slices of the continent have had such incredible variety in terrain, plant life, and animals. One of my big inspirations for this trip, all the way back in 2015, was a poster on the wall of a biology building office in Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, showcasing the different ecological landscapes of Southern Africa in their incredible variety

Also, used bike prices on Gumtree seem to be pretty reasonable. Will have to eventually sit down and see how shipping costs compare to purchasing/registering a bike as a tourist. Seems like even DR-Z prices in SA aren't too bad!
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Old 3 Feb 2020
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South Africa and Lesotho

Here is the first section:


Hidden Gems of Southern Africa
The below listed places can all be found on Google Maps. Except for the first two suggestions the routes are totally off the beaten track.
The game reserves in Southern Africa are practically out of bounds for motorcyclists. In order to visit these reserves a solution would be to stay in a town in the vicinity and book a game drive into the parks with local safari tours (or rent a car).
Beginning in Johannesburg, travelling anti-clockwise:
  • Mpumalanga Province
    Between Phalaborwa and Hazyview several private game reserves are directly connected to the big Kruger National Park with lodges and campsites. They offer game drives and bush hikes to watch the wildlife.
  • KwaZulu Natal Province (KZN)
    The St. Lucia Wetlands are a world heritage site. From here daily safaris can be booked to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. The Mpila Camp in the southern parts of the reserve offers bush hikes including overnight stays.
  • KZN – Lesotho
    A fairly rough, but stunning ride is from Phuthaditjhaba across the border into the mountain kingdom of Lesotho at Ha Keletso (S28.57587 E28.65260) and ride along the “Roof of Africa” to Sani Top (S29.58436 E29.28818) and down the Sani Pass back into KZN. En route several Passes > 3,000m asl.
  • KZN – Lesotho – Eastern Cape (EC)
    Another stunning route through Lesotho, which even most South Africans don't know is from the little town of Matatiel to the LES border post “Ramatsediso's Gate” (S30.04950 E28.93301) to Quachas Nek, Njamotse Pass (S30.31697 E28.10189), Devils Staircase (S30.23139 E27.96212) and exit LES at Telle Bridge Border Post to EC.
  • Eastern Cape (EC)
    South of Lesotho the EC offers a whole bunch of magnificent mountain passes and brilliant landscapes. From east to west:
    - Naude's Nek Pass (S30.73227 E28.13697)
    - Carlislehoek Pass (S30.69550 E27.97110)
    - Volunteershoek Pass (S30.68428 E27.86854)
    - Lundins Nek Pass (S30.64629 E27.74130)
    - Jouberts Pass (S30.70987 E27.27317)

    To explore that region a highly recommended place to stay is at the “Tsitsa Falls Backpackers” (S31.01480 E28.48360), another is the campsite or the Walkerbout Inn in the little town of Rhodes, or, last not least, the Mountain View Inn in Lady Grey.
    It is advisable to contact Tsitsa Falls in advance: http://www.tsitsafalls.co.za
  • EC southern parts
    - Addo Elephant Park. Absolutely recommendable. Game drives are offered at the Entrance Gate & Ticket office.

    - Zuurberg Pass (S33.33900 E25.76008), a campsite at the southern drops of the pass at the Zuurberg Manor Inn.

    - A ride through the Baviaanskloof Wilderness (S33.64520 E24.45007). Not for the faint hearted, and a real challenge for big enduros.
  • Western Cape (WC)
    - Seven Passes Road between Knysna and George, running parallel to the Garden Route.

    - A definite must-ride is from the coast through the Swartberg Nature Reserve, going north through the Meiringspoort Canyon (S33.41657 E22.54985) to the Karoo town of Prince Albert with its quaint old architecture. From there south across the Swartberg Pass (S33.35381 E22.05068). Just before the summit a tiny piste turns westwards signed “Gambka Kloof” (S33.33962 E22.03789), leading into a remote valley with magnificent views all along the way. There is a kiosk and several campsites. Definitely worthwhile!

    - To carry on to the southernmost point of Africa take a small piste from Calitzdorp through lonely farm land across the Rooiberg Pass (S33.65005 E21.64292), cut across to the Breede River, take the man-hauled ferry (S34.30224 E20.58949) an head for Cape Agulhas.

    - From Cape Agulhas it's a nice ride along the coast, then into the back-country again via the Franschhoek Pass (S33.91625 E19.15831) to the university town of Stellenbosch. Lots of old Cape-Dutch architecture. This is also wine farming area, famous for the tasty South African wines.

    - Cape Town & surroundings: In the city centre budget accommodation can be found at the “Cat & Moose Backpackers”. Visit the V&A Waterfront, hike onto Table Mountain either on the Platteklip Gorge or the Pipe Track from the west and south-west, or the Skeleton Gorge from the east (Kirstenbosch), ride the circuit to Cape Point & Cape of Good Hope via Camps Bay, Chapmans Peak drive and return to CT via Boulder (penguin colony!). Don't expect to be alone at the Cape of Good Hope ;o)

    - Ride north to Paternoster (fantastic lobsters!), cut across to Tulbagh (more Cape-Dutch architecture) and travel north via the Grootrivierhoogte Pass (S32.60707 E19.36755), Eselsbank to the old mission station Wupperthal.
  • Northern Cape (NC)
    Now you're right inside the arid Karoo. If it's Spring and it has rained (seldom), you're lucky because the desert will bloom.

    Interesting places in the Karoo:
    - Tankwa Nature Reserve and the Gannaga Pass (S32.12824 E20.11496), the large salt pans, eg. Verneuk Pan (S32.12824 E20.11496).

    - Lots of little mountain passes north of Clanwilliam → Check this enjoyable ride report: Tankwa Trek (16 - 30 Sept 2019): Oh I don't know where I'm going

    - The Augrabies Falls Nature Reserve on the Orange River near Kakamas.

    - The beautiful and remote piste from Vioolsdrif along the Orange River via Eksteenfontein to Sendelingsdrif. The latter is the entrance to the Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. This nature reserve is a must-see for nature lovers, offering brilliant landscapes and fantastic 4x4 trails. Unfortunately bikes are not permitted.
    At Sendelingsdrif a tiny ferry crosses the Orange River to Namibia. From here travel east, then north to the great Fish River Canyon. Another must-see.
To be continued.
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  #5  
Old 3 Feb 2020
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Thank you!

Another quick q: the last time I was in SA I was mostly in touristy areas, and found English quite easy to use everywhere. Do other languages become more necessary once you get further off the beaten path? Fortunately, I tend to pick up languages (or at least useful phrases and slang) quickly
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Old 3 Feb 2020
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I managed most of Southern and East Africa with just English, I got by even in rural Mozambique albeit with some sign language and my few words of Spanish, yes I know they speak Portugese there but it was the best I could do. There are many languages in Africa but with English in the South and East, French in the West and Arabic in the North are the most commonly spoken.
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Old 4 Feb 2020
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamamelis View Post
Thank you!

Another quick q: the last time I was in SA I was mostly in touristy areas, and found English quite easy to use everywhere. Do other languages become more necessary once you get further off the beaten path? Fortunately, I tend to pick up languages (or at least useful phrases and slang) quickly

No worries In southern Africa most people speak English. Although - I once checked in at a bush lodge in the Caprivi strip and the two (black) receptionists spoke Afrikaans. When I joked about that they were using the language of the "Apartheid-People" they explained the situation: One was a Herero and the other was a Damara. Neither could understand the tribal language of the other - the only common language was Afrikaans
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Old 4 Feb 2020
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If nothing else I can always work on my Afrikaans place/people/food names pronunciation - I have one Boerie friend, Hough, whose name I can barely pronounce to the point where I called him the Anglicized "Hugh" like a total rooinek for months
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  #9  
Old 6 Feb 2020
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Lesotho

Lesotho isn't big, but very rugged, esp. in the east. Not many roads are tarred, mostly of course around Maseru, the capital. The road from Maseru directly east goes over several 3,000m passes to Thaba Tseka, from there it's gravel up to the road from Mokhotlong to Sani Pass. The road north goes to Butha-Buthe, where a turn-off goes to the beautiful Katse dam over a high pass.



Driving south from Maseru is quite uneventful, but a detour to Semonkong might be of interest, to one of the highest waterfalls in Lesotho.
A fairly new tarred road connects Telle Bridge and Quacha's Nek, but, as noted above, there are much more beautiful dirt roads running parallel (Devils Staircase).


One of the toughest pistes (or rather mule tracks) is from Ramatseliso's Gate past Sehlabathebe Nature Reserve north-west to Thaba Tseka. Turn-off is at S29.89864 E29.05022 over the Matebeng Pass (S29.87678 E28.97118). Some bikers have done it, but they battled. I was fortunate enough to be in a rugged 4x4 with a proper low-range gearing ;o)
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Old 6 Feb 2020
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Namibia

  • Fish River Canyon
    The easiest Route from SA into NAM is probably via Vioolsdrif across the Orange River. But by far the more rewarding route is, as listed above, from Vioolsdrif via Eksteenfontein to Sendelingsdrif, crossing the Orange with the local ferry boat. Then turn east along the northern side of the Orange and turn north on a small dirt road (S28.32790 E17.38848) to get to Ai-Ais, a hot spring resort with campsite and petrol station. From there take the C37 north to Seeheim and make sure you don't miss the viewpoints of the great canyon at Hobas. Awe inspiring!
  • Luederitz
    From Seeheim directly west take the road (tarmac) to Luederitz, the first German settlement. The town once thrived upon diamond finds. A relict of those days is the ghost town Kolmans Kop.
    The more adventurous could instead take the first turn-off going south after crossing the Fish River on their way to Luederitz. About 90 kms down the sandy track you can turn off to the signed out Fish River Lodge, situated right on the rim of the canyon. Absolutely brilliant! Very expensive, but fortunately with an affordable campsite as well ;o)
  • Sossus Vlei and Sesriem Camyon
    Returning from Luederitz turn north at Aus in the direction to Helmeringhausen. Take the western route to Sesriem, sporting a nice campsite with international flair. Tourists en masse. But the only entrance gate to the red dunes of Sossus Vlei. There are some of the highest dunes in the world. At the end of the road make sure to hike to “Dead Vlei” - a fantastic spot, very unreal....
  • Solitair and Kuiseb Canyon
    On the way north the next stop is the petrol station at Solitair with its tiny shop selling home-made bread and cookies.
  • Swakopmund
    This is town still has a lot of German flair. German architecture, German street names etc. No need to visit Windhoek ;o)
    Directly north is the road to the Skeleton Coast, which derives its name from the many shipwrecks.
  • Spitzkoppe
    North-east of Swakopmund visit the Spitzkoppe mountains. There is a basic campsite (S21.84187 E15.20609) and restaurant.
  • Brandberg Nature Reserve
    Further north is the Brandberg Nature Reserve. There is an entry point (S21.09356 E14.67767) where a hike begins to the ancient bushmen paintings showing the so-called “White Lady”. Well worth the hike. A few kms north from there is the Brandberg Lodge with campsite and restaurant.
  • Twyfelfontein (S20.59657 E14.37848)
    Here is a very interesting historical site with bushman rock engravings. A must-see.
    Nearby is an interesting rock formation, the Vinger Klip (S20.382828 E15.433915)
  • Kunene Region
    Still further north begins the Kaokoveld populated by the Himba tribe.
    C43 to Opuwo: At S18.6600 E13.71600 turn off to Camp Aussicht. Crazy guy living there. Camping facilities but only self-catering.
    Opuwo is the last petrol station when travelling north to the Kunene River.
    Epupa Falls (S17.00246 E13.24505) → definitely worth a visit. From Epupa a very sandy track goes eastwards for about 100 kms connecting to Cunene, a border post to Angola. Depending on the weather conditions it is either deep sand or deep mud.
  • Kaokoveld
    A very remote area in the north-western corner of NAM. These pistes shouldn't be travelled alone. Beginning with the Van Zyl's Pass (S17.642739 E12.703755), a steep, rocky slope that doesn't allow for ANY mistakes. Further on, the trails are often deeply corrugated and sandy. When pitching a camp keep the fire burning to keep elephants and lions at bay.
    Best to be done in a group with two or three hard-core 4x4's. The exit is via Purros to Sesfontein. Probably the best GPS maps of this area are from “Tracks4Africa”.
  • Etosha Game Reserve
    Only by car.
  • Waterberg Mountains
    Interesting hikes. Watch out for poisonous snakes.
  • Caprivi Strip
    Enjoyable ride to Katima Mulilo (Lodge) and border crossing to Botswana at Ngoma Bridge.
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Old 6 Feb 2020
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Botswana

When entering BOT at Ngome Bridge I travelled east to Kasane, which meant riding through the Chobe Game Reserve. Quite a frightening experience. It was early in the morning and the elephants had spent the night on the open tarmac road leading through the dense bush. I didn't see any, but passed their droppings – about the size of my riding boots ;o)
IMHO Botswana is best done with a good 4x4 plus roof tent. There are lots of game reserves, many pists are deep sand. The big difference to South African and Namibian game reserves is that the campsites in these reserves are not fenced in, meaning that the wild animals often walk right through the camp. In SA and NAM the campsites are securely fenced in. So, if your pitch a tent there make sure the zippers are closed completely as a safety measure, because the wild animals view the tent as a whole and respect it. Whereas an open flap might arouse their curiosity and peep inside. Mmmh, a good bite inside!
I won't present any further suggestions for BOT, because I believe travel guide is more useful.
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Old 22 Jul 2020
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Hey HUBB - been a while since my last log in, but I'm still alive and still hoping to commit to this trip - thankfully, I knew it was going to take me several years to save up necessary funds (I don't make a ton of money, just living modestly and saving what I can!), so in light of CoVID delaying Americans' access to international travel a hopeful date of 2023 now actually seems practical rather than giving me FOMO! Also gives me some time to save up for a carnet deposit, since I've decided I will be best off with one of those for the countries on my route (especially Kenya) and added that lump sum to my savings budget accordingly
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I've used a bike around Zimbabwe and Botswana and the experience was great, however it was a long time ago. I would now go for something like a Teneré 660 - not too heavy and good for most conditions.

Our most recent trip was Nairobi to Nairobi via Cape Town, 45,000 Km in 10 months, with a Montero. So, not directly relevant, however in terms of ideas for your trip, have a look at our blog at Un “ocho” en Africa / An “eight” in Africa . The posts are nearly all in both English and Spanish.

re carnet, you could look at ADAC to see whether it would be cheaper than Boomerang. We're fortunate that ACC's carnets here are not that expensive. We've also obtained a carnet from CARS and it wasn't too expensive. However I think you have to be resident in the relevant countries to qualify for either of these two. You don't have to be resident in Germany to get one from ADAC.

re visas; assuming you have a USA passport you should have little difficulty (for us it's a nightmare) - some are VOA, others e-visa. For Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya get the EATV online.

Border crossing are no problem, although budget a couple of hours. Some are now "integrated: - i.e., all in one building, so easy to do everything. Kazungula is not (!), it's the only place I would suggest getting help from a local, just to know where to go for each step in the process.

re budget, some parks are really expensive (e.g., Tanzania) - RSA is inexpensive, and Botswana and Namibia are not bad. Zambia's inexpensive and has some great parks. I don't know how many allow bikes.

At Victoria Falls, make sure you see both sides - either by crossing the border to explore both countries, or just by walking across one day.

The roads: RSA - good, although some of the parks are more challenging (e.g., Richtersveld NP) and a few roads are badly corrugated (e.g., road from the south to Sendelingsdrif); Botswana - a few good but some are now badly deteriorated/potholed, Namibia - excellent, Zimbabwe - not bad, Zambia - generally good although poor in some areas; Malawi - good although with high population density so slow, Tanzania - some fine, others (e.g., Babati to Mbeya via Rungwa, last 100 Km of the road into Rwanda) are terrible in parts. Rwanda - excellent, Uganda - generally good, Kenya - very variable - some very good, others (e.g., North to Lake Turkana on the western route) terrible.

Get a GPS with Tracks4Africa.

Have a look at the blog and see if it gives you any good ideas.
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Old 23 Jul 2020
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Just stumbled across this Ride Report: To the Lungs of the Earth


Which goes to show that you don't need a big bike to do a big journey. Of course a bike with more grunt is more fun, but a cheap 250 cc does the job as well
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Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events all over the world with the help of volunteers; we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, or ask questions on the HUBB. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.




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