Overland to Botswana?
November 16, 2005 4:15 PM   Subscribe

I will be traveling in south africa next january-february (2006) and am considering one the overland tours available from Jo'burg to Botswana/Victoria Falls and/or Kruger. Does anyone have experience with these, tour recomendations, etc?
posted by btosch to Travel & Transportation around Botswana (7 answers total)
I wouldnot go to Victoria Falls on the Zimbabe side -- it isn't overly safe there at this time.

I spent a few days at Sabi Sabi a few years ago. I definitely recommend Earth Lodge there.

South Africa is one of my favorite places in the world. I'm sure you will love it as much as I did.
posted by hummus at 5:02 PM on November 16, 2005

In 1996 I traveled overland with a SA national up from Joburg, through Zimbabwe to Victoria Falls, then up through central Zambia, briefly to Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Orphanage and then East to the Luangwa valley.

I can't speak to the safety of Zimbabwe or Victoria Falls at this point. Back then, the town of Victoria Falls (on the Zim side) was hopping, and the town of Livingstone (on the Zam side) was utterly dead. The falls were beautiful from either side, but I was more impressed by the Zam side, which very tourists were seeing back in the day.

I went on a wonderful canoe safari on the Zim side. And I bunji jumped off the bridge, which was incredible, especially if you don't go for those sorts of things.

I'd also highly recommend Chimfunshi and the Luangwa national park. Both were extremely remote, not overly traveled, and had tremendous wildlife.

The people on the overland tours that we saw throughout looked like they were having a very fun time. But I did not take that route, as I was traveling in my g'friends VW beetle.

Good luck, and have a great great time.
posted by alms at 6:01 PM on November 16, 2005

I think we'd be staying in livingstone on the zambia side of vic falls. If you have any current info that that area is not so safe it would be good to know. Thanks.
posted by btosch at 6:41 PM on November 16, 2005

I used to live in SA. I totally agree that Sabi Sabi is an excellent park experience, maybe the best - I spent three days there once and saw everything that one could hope to see (including a lion kill, which is pretty rare). The facilities are top notch, and the jeep tours are excellent.

St. Lucia Park is another amazing trip. You'll only want to spend one day, but you'll see tons of hippo and crocs up close from a flat boat. Sometimes they are too close, in fact. It's a very real experience. No cages or safety guarantees.

Haven't been to Vic Falls, but have heard good things.

I don't know if this is relevant, but I drove the length of Swaziland once and wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I felt as if I were taking my life in my hands more than once while I was there.

I lived in Durban and of all places in the country I would recommend seeing that city (and Cape Town). Jo'burg is OK, but the coast is absolutely amazing. I used to sit on my porch overlooking the ocean and eat dinner while watching dolphins play in the surf. Truly an incredible place. Have fun.
posted by crapples at 7:08 PM on November 16, 2005

We are trying to keep things on a fairly low budget (at least by game park standards). The tours we are looking at are generally less than 100USD/day including food and most activities.

We are planning as little time in Jo'burg as possible. The idea is to due this safari type tour and then fly to capetown and drive the garden route and see how far towards Durban we get in our allotted time.

Thanks for the notes, any feedback is appreciated.
posted by btosch at 8:29 PM on November 16, 2005

I'm living in South Africa now, and planning such a trip (early stages). Zambia side is getting built up now. The Zimbabwe side is not said to be of any great concern. They depend on tourist income.

We were in Kruger a couple months ago. It is both interesting and boring. How many impalas do you really need to see? Lions are not so easy to see on your own, and once you seem them, then what? We did game drives from our VERY over-priced, falsely-claimed '5 star' lodge (Tinga. Fabulous quarters but very poor service). The drives were great, we even got to see a leopard.

There were a lot of fires in the southern parts of Kruger Park. They do allow sections to burn according to a schedule. We arrived 2 days after many of them started due to a very violent electrical storm. This made some things easier to see. It may have made things more ugly, but we went in dry season (less mosquito problems, less heat) and dry season is more brown than green anyway.

South Africa is a beautiful country, but it isn't entirely civilized. Take security issues seriously! A cell phone is pretty much required for possible emergencies.

Feel free to write for more specifics. My other half does our trip planning as planning trips bores me to death. He knows the details of Victoria Falls possibilities.
posted by Goofyy at 12:19 AM on November 17, 2005

As followup, we did the trip, had a great time. The Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls was just fine although they are a bit desparate for hard currency.

We did a 16 day tour of kruger, okavango, chobe, and vic falls with livingstone tours. Getting the diverse environments was really great.

We also drove from cape town to port elizabeth in south africa exploring through wine country and the garden route.
posted by btosch at 9:38 PM on March 14, 2006

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