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Help with selfdrive itinerary, any ideas for 3 weeks in Southern Africa


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I am planning a selfdrive trip in july 2016. I will be travelling with my wife and 2 boys, aged 6 and 10 now. We have selfdrive 4 times before, also with the kids.

We did 5 weeks in Namibia/Botswana in 2011 and 6 weeks in South Africa this year. We really liked it, but since the boys are getting older we would like to do more of the wilderness camping, like staying in unfenced campsites. We did this a few times on each trip and I think it really gives the camping experience a new dimension :)

We would propably start in Johannesburg (we used Bushlore last time and they were good) rent a 4x4 with camping equipment and just go from there.


I was thinking about either Botswana, Zambia (will fly to Lusaka instead) or Zimbabwe.


In Botswana I was thinking of the usual suspects Moremi, Chobe, Savuti ( the problem with this is elephants, we had some close Falls over the years in Namibia, Tanzania,Nepal and Thailand, so my wife is a little bit reluctant about this itinerary, she seems to be a magnet for crazy elephants ).


Another option could be Central Kalahari and Kgalagadi(I guess that would be pretty cold in july).


A complete different would be Zimbabwe, maybe drive to Kruger, then cross into Zim and up to Hwange and Mana Pools, but I guess that will include some long drives.


And again another option would be Zambia, It is the only place in Southern Africa we haven't been to, but I am unsure if it is a good selfdrive country( even if people do it).


I think i am leaning towards the Botswana option, but I am really having a hard time trying to figure it out.


Any input or thought would be great :)

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Zambia is a totally awesome self drive destination. You could do a fantastic trip here. Ideas:


- start in Livingstone, up the Zambezi to Liuwa Plains. Along to us lot in the Kafue

- Lusdaka, re-stock.

- South Luangwa then '05 road' up the escarpment and then Mutinondo, Kasanka etc

- Back to Lusaka


With your experience it will be no bother at all. Yes, a lot of people self drive here... it is kind of the 'next step' for a lot of people after SA, Nam, Bots,


4x4community.co.za is an absolute mine of Zambian self drive knowledge.

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Depending on your rate of travel, you could do a loop that would be very interesting. Lots of wildlife and variety. A route up the Great North Rd to Shiwa Ngandu. Into North Luangwa NP with a stop at Buffalo Camp. To Nsefu at Zikomo Safari Camp, SLNP Mfuwe bridge area- Wildlife Camp, the Old Petuake track - if Malma Umoyo is open or on to Island Bush Camp, back to Lusaka(or bypass and go through LZNP) and on to Mana Pools. If your timing is right, hop the ferry to Mlibizi out of Kariba and to Vic Falls. From there to Kafue and back to Lusaka. That would encompass opportunities for different activities, great wildlife viewing, and off the beaten path. The drawback is some advance planning is needed. Also timing departures/arrivals between camps is essential to enhance and optimize each day.

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All options you mention are great. If you are really intent on seeing the game if you go the Zambia, Zimbabwe & the drier areas of Botswana (CKGR or KTP) it is best if you allow yourselves plenty of time at each camp. Rushing through does not work too well there with the exception of South Luangwa where the animals are seen very easily.


With 3 weeks I would think these combinations would be best (in order of preference)


1) Mana Pools & South Luangwa


(Could also combine Mana Pools with Hwange but if the rainy season has been abundant you might struggle to find sightings in July in Hwange)


2) Moremi, Savute, Chobe + a bit of the CKGR or Magkgadikgadi/Nxai Pan.


3) KTP and CKGR - no elephants there whatsoever in that season ;-) And yes it is going to be very very cold at night. Make sure you have proper warm clothes and a sleeping bag that is comfortable till at least -10C (we once had -12C in 2008 but that was kind of a fluke)



Check out a couple of my self driving trip reports in case they help:



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BTW: expect very close encounters with elephants in Mana Pools, South Luangwa & Hwange.

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Here's what I would do, if I could:


First night or two at Marakele NR (Bontle camp is unfenced and regularly has rhino wandering through)

Then two nights at Makuya Park (borders on Levhuvu River (northern KNP), unfenced camps with great views and solitude).

Then I would spend a few nights in the northern KNP before exiting SA into Moz at Pafuri. Then follow the Limpopo before crossing at Mapai/Ngala (no bridge, only possible at this time of year) and on to Gonarhezou NP. Here one could easily spend a week and slowly meander back, or carry on to Mana Pools.

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Thanks for the inputs, I will check all the suggestions further, I just with I had 3 months instead of 3 weeks, so many places

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