Looking to do the same Southern African Road Trip? This guide is our comprehensive self-driving driving guide from Cape town to Johannesburg passing through Nambia, Zambia and Botswana (with a pit stop in Zimbabwe for bungee jumping). Note that this guide is our live updates and advice from our trip and personal experience. Feel free to add your two cents in the comment section. We will update this regularly until we arrive in Johannesburg!
This guide is our day to day blogging about our African Road Trip but it is also filled with key information like a complete travel guide. You can use it to plan your trip and to calculate the timings you can extend at each location based on the time you have in your hands. Let us know in the comment section if there is anything we should know!
Get prepared for the road trip
- Food: Snacks, water, red bulls and other caffeinated drinks for the early morning or late night stretches.
- Accommodation: Mostly if you travel during high season, you need to book your stopover accommodation in advance if you don’t have a tent in your car or don’t plan to sleep in the car. Actually, if you even want a campsite, you might need to book in advance. We came to Sesriem, Namibia with camps being all full but managed to camp anyway besides the internet cafe!
- Planning: Try to stick to a driving schedule, which means to plan driving at safe hours between sunrise and sunset. If you are starting your trip late in Cape Town on the N7, no worries as it’s pretty much simple and flat.
- Border documentations: Prepare the needed documents you need for border controls like passports, driver’s licence, vehicle registration and cash to pay the fees at the border crossings.
Part 1 – Driving to the Namibian Border
If driven with the wind in your sails, you actually can get to Namibia from Cape Town, South Africa in just about eight hours if you don’t stop at all. If you have time to explore, you can use the N7 as the skeleton of your route to branch out to some places before the border with Namibia. If no time, like us, just go north on the N7. Best time for this trip is during the winter. Going mid-April, end of April like us is ideal as you go before the high season and the weather is just the perfect mix.
Day 1 | Cape Town to Springbok
We did the most road we could during our first day considering we left Cape Town around 1 PM. We did not stop anywhere along the way. Who knew the speed would be limited to 40,60,80 all the time after the city, it was an annoying slow start for the road trip. At around 4 PM we stopped at a gas station to refill and buy some water supplies. It cost around 530 RND for gas filling up half a tank of our huge Toyota HILUX. At about 4:40 PM we were driving through the Knersvlakte nature reserve which was a wonderful road to be on. It was about 30 minutes after that we entered the Northern Cape State of South Africa. We had until 6:15 pm for sunset and tried to go as fast as we can towards Springbok to finally camp, have dinner and sleep around 8 PM.
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Sleep: We stayed at the Springbok Caravan Park at 100 RND per person. (Less than 8$US)
Fees to drive your car in Namibia: To enter Namibia you need to pay around N$259/20$US road fee and you should keep the slip not far till you exit the country. Police may ask for it at roadblocks, so you want to have it near for quick access. In our experience, we never got stopped once.
Border crossing to Namibia: We took the Vioolsdrift Border Post in South Africa. This border post is open 24 hours. It is also called the Noordoewer border (Namibia) is open 24 hours. If you continue on the B1, it is a Namibian National road so it is nicely tarred but if you take the alternative route that is more scenic through the Aussenkehr Nature Reserve and Ai Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, it will be gravel and you won’t be rolling more than 100 km/h.
Quick facts for your road trip in Namibia:
- Campsites in Namibia are generally great and we noticed bathroom facilities even at petrol stations are so clean!
- Of course, food (apart from meat) is more expensive in Namibia than in South Africa. If you are really on a budget and every dollar counts, then stock up in SA. Honestly, though, you won’t even really notice a difference but the country is very spread apart so there are not many pit stops for food so pack up!
- After crossing you will find two petrol stations, one with a shop and a Wimpy fast food (both take cards). It is recommended to fill up your tank there.
- The next tanking opportunity is 118KM away at Ai-Ais, which takes cash only. Unless you take an alternated route closer to the coast to skip Ai-Ais to go directly to Aus.
Sights from Cape town to the Namibian border
There is a lot to see in South Africa and the road trip from Cape Town to Namibia covers really beautiful and underrated towns along the N7. As for us, we aimed to be in Namibia the earliest we can to see things there. Here are some recommended places by locals and many travellers of places where you can potentially stop for your drive from Cape Town to the Namibian border.
- Piketberg: Around 115 km north of Cape Town, is this town amongst the Piketberg mountains surrounded by rock formations. You can check out the NG church, the mission villages of Moravia, Goedverwacht and Genadenberg, and the wetlands of Verlorenvlei.
- Citrusdal: Over the Piekenierskloof Pass, you can stop by this citrus producing town surrounded by farms. Only go there if you want to see its historical Baths fed by hot mineral springs. There is a hiking trail into the Cederberg, rooibos tea tours, Flower Route, hikes, mountain biking, rock climbing activities in the surrounding mountains, the Piekenierskloof zipline, Die Sandveldhuisie and the Old Village on Modderfontein Farm.
- Paternoster: A lovely small fishing village with a very long beautiful beach but not for swimming. There are a couple of nice restaurants if you like fish and seafood. Cool stop if you have time.
- Cederberg: If you are into hiking, walking, biking, this stop is for you.
- Hondeklip Bay, Dog Stone Bay: If you do take a longer time in SA, pass by this mystical coastal village to feast on a whole lot seafood but then, how many seafood stops do you really need to do on this trip? haha.
- Namaqua National Park: Stay near Kamieskroon at the National park if you have a few days to get to Namibia on the South African side. Be equipped if you plan to stop here with a compressor, tools, hitches, tyre gauge and a tow rope just in case! Be equipped in general for this trip, we will talk about it later on things you must bring.
- Springbok: It’s through the Namaqua of the Northern Cape where the months of spring transform the desert into TONS of coloured flowers. A lot of travellers come just to see the flowers but they are there only at specific times of the year. This is also the place we camped on Night one before the Namibian border around 1 hour away.
- Kamieskroon: You can drive along the Caracal Eco Trail, from mountain to sea and see the nice desert landscape.
- Vioolsdrift: This is another place well closer to the border thanks Springbok and you can enjoy the views of the Orange River from South Africa. It is about a 10-minute drive to the border of Namibia.
Day 2 | Springbok, South Africa to Luderitz, Namibia
Waking up at a normal time, Mitch packed our tent, we brushed our teeth and then head over straight to the border which took us less than an hour (for both sides). Once we arrived, we left the South African border after 10 minutes and it took around an extra 10 to 15 minutes at the Namibian border. The process was very easy, we only had to fill up a form, give our passport and pay 20$US for our car for the road fees.
We then stopped at the first petrol station, Shell, to get two MTC SIM cards and filled up the tank. A piece of advice is to always fill up your tank when you can. We then drove through the Fish Canyon National Park. It is 80 km of a gravel road, so it is highly recommended that you lower your tires down just a little bit, to make sure you don’t get a flat tire and wait for a while.
Halfway we pass by a camping area and a kayaking zone. When we passed that road it was around 160km until Aus. Aus Is a very cute small township where you should find the petrol station and go shop for everything you need in that store, they also sell delicious braai meat right in front. That food pit stop really made us happy and it was terrifically good. Bun and butter are for free you only pay for the meat.
We then drove an extra hour to arrive at Luderitz. The town was empty because of Easter Monday. We went to Shark Island as it is a campsite to park our big car but the wind was too strong and the price was too steep (N$500 for two and our car) for a simple parking spot to camp. We have read some recommendations on iOverlander and ended up at the Backpacker’s house, where the owner was absolutely nice and welcoming. There we had safe parking a whole big room with private bathroom for only N$350. It was 120pp to camp but for a few dollars more it was a better idea to get a room and avoid the wind and we were right as the others that stayed outside said it was very windy.
For dinner, we had a salad and Mitch got some sandwiches from the food we have stocked up a few days earlier. Mitch was able to do some of his assignment and me some work. He went to sleep around 8:45 PM and myself at 11:50 PM-ish.
- From Luderitz, the next petrol stop will be in Aus, 130km after.
- Then you will have Betta’s camping to refill which is 205km after. Small groceries shop is located there.
- Sesriem: 138km after the previous stop is another petrol station. There are two petrol stations in Sesriem including one that repair tires so make sure to check your tires there.
- Luderitz: Luderitz is a little township that looks like it has been stuck in the 20th century feel to it. It has a lot of colourful colonial art nouveau architecture and has a cute little port. You can drive all the way to Shark Island to have a nice view of the ocean, where a campsite is situated. Shark Island used to be called back in the day, Shark Island Concentration Camp or “Death Island”. It was one of the five Namibian concentration camps used by the German empire during the Herero and Namaqua genocide of 1904–1908. We recommend you to learn more about this genocide by watching this BBC documentary.
- Aus: A sleepy lite township where we recommend you to stop at this gas station/shop/braai stop. They have everything you need in terms of supplies for the car and yourself.
- Aus: There is accommodation in this little quiet township and also a campsite owned by the same owners of the shop. It is one hour away from Kolmanskop, the main attraction around so you might want to consider where you want to base yourself. As self-drive, we would recommend staying in Luderitz.
- Kolmanskop: There is no accommodation and camping here is not allowed. Camp close to here at your own risks.
- Luderitz: There is a lot of options for places to stay. Many like to go on Shark Island and there is also a campsite there. It is quite expensive at around N$500 to camp there, which is not worth it considering it is VERY windy. You must know that you are also camping over a concentration camp which happened a long time ago in the 1900s. If you don’t like ghosts, might want to skip this spot! If you are looking for a cheaper campsite, the backpacker hotel has safe parking in the back of their place for N$120pp. We recommend to might as well get a room for two at the price of N$350 which we did.
- In between Aus and Luderitz: There is nothing so if you want to wild camp, it is really in the open and you will see cars passing by. There is no place to hide!
Day 3 | Visiting Kolmanskopp | Driving Luderitz-Aus-Sesriem
We woke up around 7:30 AM to head over to Kolmannskuppe aka Kolmanskop, a ghost town and popular attraction for anyone coming to Namibia. It is also a photographer’s paradise and you can buy a special permit to stay before and after opening hours. So in the morning of our third day, we made sure to be at the gate of Kolmanskopp at 8 AM, the opening time. We spent 1:30 hours discovering abandoned houses before catching the tour included in your ticket price of N$80 per person. Note that the place is only open from 8 AM to 1 PM, and like we said before if you want to be there for sunset or sunrise, you need to get the Photographers Pass which is more expensive. Also, drone as strictly not allowed to be flown in the area, the signage is pretty clear at the entrance of Kolmaskop.
- Kolmanskop: Kolmanskop is a must if you are in Namibia. It is a ghost town formerly a diamond mining town that by 1956 was completed deserted and left to the Namib sands taking over its houses’ walls. It is a photographer’s dream spot and you can spend hours exploring these houses invaded by sand dunes.
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Day 4 | Visiting Sossusvlei | Driving Sesriem-Windhoek
Around 6 AM we made sure to be awake and start packing up the tent. Mitch was taking care of that hard work alone whilst I went to buy us sandwiches and coffees for the day. Coffee was a cheap N$20 and the sandwich N$30. We were then ready to hit the road an go to the gate of the Sossusvlei National Park. To our surprise, the line up was long and we were car number 23 waiting in line. Gates are meant to open around 7-7:15 and of course this day it opened at 7:15 AM. All the cars then rushed towards the Dune 45 whilst Mitch and I headed over directly to Deadvlei and that was a wise decision considering we have seen enough dunes in our lives living in the Middle East! Many people like to climb the Dune 45 to be up there and watch the sunrise, which we can totally see the appeal but we chose not to camp inside the national park because the price is quite steep. If you never have been on dunes in your life, then you maybe should consider the option of camping inside to be able to head over earlier for sunrise.
To see Deadvlei, you simply continue until the beautifully paved road ends. You then park your car and decide whether you want to leave it there or deflate your tyres and drive on the soft sand towards the other parking lot for Deadvlei. We didn’t want to hassle at all so took 2 shuttle tickets round trip at the price of N$350 for the both of us. It was a long 2km of bumpy sands and we did see two other cars being stuck. It would just be unfortunate to be stuck and ruin your day at Sossusvlei so paying for that shuttle was worth every dollar.
Shooting some photos at Deadvlei was fantastic. We were to get many breathtaking shots of the landscape with no other humans even though around 30 people were around visiting while a couple of dozens were on the dune looking down at us in the Deadvlei spot. All of our photos would look amazing printed as a canvas for home decoration We can’t wait to one day have a home and be long enough there to print all of our great photography. Shooting Deadvlei is even better if you have a zoom lens as we did with the Nikkor 70-200mm. Why? Because if you shoot with the zoom lens, you are able to get the trees under the beautiful dune but if you shoot with a normal lens like a 24-70mm, you have to be closer to the trees for your photo, which makes you not able to capture nicely the white floor with the dune and the tree.
After spending a good amount of time shooting Deadvlei, we headed back to the petrol station in Sesriem to stock up on energy drinks and another sandwich before hitting the road towards Windhoek. We arrived in Windhoek around 4 PM but actually lost an hour and without even noticing it was suddenly 6 PM by the time we got cosy in our hotel room at the Avani Windhoek. We headed to dinner around 7 PM at Stratos, the tallest floor of all Windhoek and the popular happy hour and dinner spot in all of Windhoek in the Avani itself. Dinner was great and we surely needed that before hitting the hay.
- Sossusvlei National park: Sunrise of Dune 45 is what a lot of people do but you will have to stay at the national park’s campsite for around $N200/15$US per person. The national park opens at 7-7:15 AM and the dune is 45km (around 50 minutes drive on beautifully paved roads at 60km/h) away of the drive from the entrance, plus you need around 15 minutes to climb up the dune, so if you don’t stay there you will miss the sunrise. Deadvlei is THE real attraction in our opinion. Dunes don’t really impress us much anymore considering we live in Dubai.
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Day 5 | Windhoek Tour
Slept in and went to breakfast around 8:30 AM. Went back to the room to do some work until our tour at 10 AM with Walter. We embarked in his car to drive out of the city a little bit to see this place called Penduka. It is empowered by women encouraging recycling and using recycled materials to create amazing products out of it. The place is very eco and beautiful, a perfect place to bring travellers to encourage the local initiative.
We then drove through the less fortunate areas of Windhoek to see more of the way of life and the way their homes are built. It wasn’t easy to see that but learn a lot about real life. We then went to the Oshetu Community Market to try the best Kapana, which is amazing braai meat (BBQ meat). It was interesting to see all the local merchants all selling different things to support each other for those who come for a meal. Some sell only meat, others only sauce, other drinks, others pap, and that’s how each of them makes your perfect meal of the day. You HAVE to come here for a meal, the real local experience and totally not enhanced at all for travellers/foreigners.
We then headed to the main church of the city before spending a good hour at the museum learning about the whole history of Namibia. it was so important for us to learn about the history and the sad genocide that happened during colonial times in the early 1900s. We encourage you to learn more about it through this very comprehensive documentary. This is really a part of history that is not many history books and hasn’t been taught to many people around the world.
We returned around 1 PM to go straight to the Avani to grab a delicious lunch at Dunes restaurant. We spent all afternoon working on our laptops and leveraging the good internet before heading over again to dinners at Dunes to then crash into bed for a good rest as the upcoming days are going to be in the tent!
Day 6 | Windhoek > Spitzkoppe > Walvis Bay
We woke up around 7:30 AM, went to have a light breakfast and about 8:30 AM we were on our way to Spitzkoppe. We arrived around 11:40 AM and by the time we found where to climb, it was almost 1 PM. We around for 50 minutes before heading towards another set of rock formations for some more drone action. Mitch then had the brilliant to crash the drone into a tree, which clearly is now suffering from one motor default.
We tried to fly it again but one motor was clearly struggling and we were not able to take off again. It’s a pity because we had a whole lot to shoot with the drone in Namibia and the rest of the trip. The sadness is real! Around 3 PM we took off towards Walvis Bay to shoot the Pink Lake and saw many flamingoes. Unfortunately, there was a HUGE cloud over us, not even exaggerating on how bit it was an still hasn’t rained for a year in Namibia. After shooting, we felt the weather was too cold for camping. The reasoning was why pay around N$150 minimum per person for a campsite, might as well spend over N$300 for a good bed. So we jumped on Booking.com to book Eddy’s great huge house in Swakopmund for only about N$500 which is around 35$US. Here is his spot, Tranquilo Guest House Swakopmund, if you are interested.
Day 7 | Spitzkoppe > Cape Cross > Shipwreck
We woke up at a normal time to then head over to town and grab some KFC for breakfast. We then drove up north to go see the shipwreck and the seal colony. Took about 40 minutes to get to the Shipwreck from Swakopmund. There is nothing much to see you basically drive close to the ship as much as you can take a few photos and get out of there. Mitch then drove about 15 minutes from the shipwreck to get to the seal colony, when you arrive you need to pay for a permit which cost N$80 per person (foreigners) and N$10 for a car. At first, we were not too sure if they would be seals because we were scared that maybe we were not there at the right season but as we come in the parking lot they were all over the place literally in the parking lot. There were about 10 000 seals around. Lying around, sleeping, swimming in the sea and breastfeeding kiddos! We had so much fun just walking around among them and being so impressed at the number of seals that were there. This one even decided he would go on our path and block the way!
After spending a good hour and a half there, we jumped on the same road driving towards the C36 to drive towards a town not far from it Etosha National Park which is Outjo.
On our way to Outjo, we stopped in this tiny tiny village called Uis to get petrol. From there driving to the final town we needed to be. You will find many little huts with locals dressed in their traditional dresses or indigenous outfits so tourists can stop at their shops to buy stuff and sneak in a few photos. We personally did not stop along the way as we wanted to find a campsite before sunset. Using iOverlander, we opted to stay at Base Campsite. Turned out great with the facilities we needed and we were also the only ones there. It cost N$140 (about 20$US) per person to camp there.
After we’ve set up camp, we cooked our spaghetti and spread our bread with delicious cream cheese. We went to bed at around 8:30 PM for a heavy sleep until 10:30 PM the rain woke me up. It was quite strong but the first rain for the whole rainy season in the area which is great for the crops!
Not to forget, before going to bed, we did some amazing star photography. Here is the result.
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Day 8 | Outjo to Etosha
We woke up around 8:30 AM packed up all of our things and headed over into town to go shopping for groceries at OkFoods for the next two days. We then went to fill up around half tank at Total for the price of N$380 for diesel.
At the gate of Etosha National Park, after 100km of driving for about an hour, they registered our car and did our receipt for the 2 days and nights in the park. It is N$80 per day per person and an N$10 fee per day for the car (N$340 total). We then had to drive 17km into the park at the Okaukejo NRW tourist office to pay the fees. At the same place, you are able to book your accommodation but unfortunately for us the place was full, so was Halali camp 74km away, deeper in the middle of the park.
There are lodging options out of the park if you are in the same situation as us. We decided to not worry about it and go driving a safari by ourselves following our instincts.
We first headed to the western side of the lake in the map, as in real life, it is quite dry. already at noon, we spotted a deer, 15 minutes later giraffes, zebras, Oryx, springboks, etc. When then headed to the recommended waterhole Aus, where we were treated to around 50 elephants, a family of four giraffes and many other animals. On our way back to Okaukejo we stopped at Gemsbokvlakte waterhole to find another family of giraffes that ended crossing the road right on the front of us. From this point on, every single place we went, there were herds of zebras following us along the journey. By 5:30 PM we were back to Okaukejo at their waterhole to watch the sunset. We had our cameras ready until 9 PM to shoot animals walking by. We saw elephants, a giraffe and even five rhinos. By the time we finished, we got locked in Okaukejo so had no choice to camp in their overflow of guests area.
Day 9 | Etosha National Park Day 2
After a rough night of sleeping in the car, we got up at the sunrise (when the gates open in all the national parks, to make sure we were one of the first people out the gates. We wanted to head out to Aus waterhole, the place we had so much success the day before. Getting out nice and early is the best way to catch some animals and avoid African heat. We got to the waterhole after passing plenty of wildlife, from giraffe, elephants in the distance, zebras and oryx. We got to the waterhole and then we shock that there were no animals at all. So Sad. We moved on quickly and went solo, going around waterholes, trying to find as many animals as possible. Every path off the main road, we went and tried to find more animals. We were nearly ready to give up and we saw a few cars parked. We nearly drove past them and they called us over. It was a cheetah!! So lucky to see a wild one. Very rare. We continued down the path to see the waterhole and we were even more luck! How good is this? A waterhole (Kalkheuwel) just down the road and we saw 15 elephants, zebras and we even saw a rhino, in the middle of the day, talk about being in the right place in the right time! We headed back off to the furtherest east point in Etosha national park, Namutoni. With some 3G available at Namutoni Campsite, we were able to cook up our braai, enjoy some off road time before we left the park (with an inspection for raw meats) and got on the road to go as far down the road as possible. After a few hours of driving, we found a lodge we wanted to stay at.
After a failed attempt to stay at a lodge, we were moved down the road to Kalkfontein Guestfarm. They greeted us with open arms and they had some huge surprises. They had dogs, cheetahs, monkeys and so many other animals, we were in the right place to sleep.
We are still alive, just spotting cheetahs, tons of giraffes, rhinos, elephants, just no lions this time, ah well, we’ve seen them before in Kenya! Etosha In Namibia in a huge must.
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Day 10 | Mudumu National Park to Katima Mulilo, Check-in Protea Zambezi River
We woke up early to go see and feed Nandi at around 7:30 AM. It was amazing as usual to see her run back and forth with the doggies and she obviously loved my scratches a lot with her loud purring. Inside the gate, with her owner, we fed her and took some additional photos. I really wanted to take some photos of her with her cheetah because it is such a beautiful bond to witness. We then went to get some coffee and tons more of work done at her farm before heading out for a crazy long drive of around 650 km from Kalkfontein Guestfarm to the Mudumu National Park.
It was a long straight drive, but the road was in great condition.
As we passed the gate of the National Park, we arrived really near our campsite noticing we did not see any office to get our permits. The police around that take care of anti-poaching operations in the park hoped in our car to guide us to the right place to get our permits. We drove right to pass it as the sign was really not well marked and the national park’s ranger office was tucked in a side-road. The entry of Mudumu National Park is only N$40 per person and N$10 for the car (price per day for both fees). There are 3 campsites at the national park and we went to set camp at the campsite number 1, with a wonderful view of the river. We quickly realized we were sharing the area with hippos which put Mitch quickly on edge. As we opened our beers and started to get prepared to cook some food, we started to hear lions only 100m away which made us reconsider cooking and having a low key canned spaghetti bog without making too much noise. As I wrapped up my sunset timelapse, the lion and hippo noises were getting louder and also closer. At about 8 PM we already have climbed in our tents and lay down with our heads poking out of the tent to stare at the beautiful stars and listen to the very loud sounds of the hippos strolling in the water and lions roaring.
All night we heard the lions quite loudly and woke up a few 2-3 times. They clearly were less than 200 meters from us and it was a great experience to be able to be so connected to nature like that. We thought not many people would like to be in that edgy situation like we did. As much as it could be dangerous, we absolutely loved being on edge and camping in the wild like that. Sometimes you could hear the generator but it didn’t last too long so we could enjoy the sounds of nature.
Day 11 | Marriott Protea Zambezi River Stay
We woke up quite early around 6 AM to zip the tent up and enjoy the sounds of nature. We were still hearing the sounds of lions roaring around us at less than 400 meters from where we camped. It was so wonderful to wake up to birds chirping, hippos making funny noises and lions roaring. We packed up our tent and things quite quickly and by 7:30 AM we drove around the Mudumu National Park, starting by going to see how is the campsite number 2 and didn’t risk driving through the sandy path towards campsite 3.
We then drove the complete other way of the park to try spotting the tons of elephants and lions around. We only saw tons of warthogs, beautiful zebras, springboks, some kudus, hippos and for sure heard many lions roaming less than 200 meters from our campsite. We were just not able to spot them during the light time. We feel like even during our drive, the lions were quite close as we saw a heard of zebras and springboks all running for their lives pass 200 meters by our car to clearly get away from a threat.
We highly recommend staying at the Mudumu National Park considering it is real wild camping around wild animals with no fences for protection. We absolutely loved it. You have to bring your own fire and camping equipment, there is basically nothing than a trash bin. For N$40 per person for the entry of the national park and N$10 for the car. The actual camping is free and it is one of the best experiences we have had.
We then drove for an hour and a half after our self-drive safari towards the Marriott Protea Hotel Zambezi river lodge, where we will be staying two nights to refresh, work and catch up on life with good internet. We did some work in the lobby before moving on to our room to a well-deserved shower. Until dinner, we stained ourselves around the hotel to get as much work as we could and get some late lunch at the restaurant. Surprised to be able to order some snails, chicken liver and chicken schnitzel. A really productive day finished up with a great sunset and some peace and quiet.
Day 12 | Night 2 at the Marriott Protea Zambezi
On that day, we only got some work done by the beautiful Zambezi River. We spent our time in the reception area where the internet worked well, ok more like semi speed internet. Literally, a chill day with no excursions or activities as we were on the laptops for 15 hours. It was important to have this downtime to organize the rest of the trip.
Day 13 | Check-out and drive to Zambia – AVANI Vic Falls Night 1
Waking up early from the Protea to have some breakfast and jump on the road as quick as we could. We were staying 5 minutes away from the border so we were expecting a painless jump over the border. But this is Africa, it was never going to happen fast as we planned it to be.
Crossing by car from Namibia to Zambia
Getting through the Namibian side was easy. Just show our car documents and passport stamps then get out. But the Zambians, man what a hassle border to go through. There were cars everywhere, trucks and people trying to exchange money. The process was completely disorganised. There were 6 different stations we had to go to, of course, no one was telling us where to go from the beginning. The bank stopped exchanging dollars so we had to withdraw cash which we didn’t want to do. After 2 hours of back and forth, we eventually got out of there and on the road.
Doing the same? You must read Namibia-Zambia Border Crossing By Car: Everything You Need To Know
Road conditions in Zambia driving to Livingstone
And guess what, of course, the road was bad, really bad. It was the M10 and was by far the shortest path the Livingstone, Victoria Falls. It was 200km of potholes and rough roads. So what we did is we spent half the road time on the side of the road, halfway in the bush going faster than all the cars trying to weave their way through the potholes. It was certainly a memorable experience as it was one of the hardest roadsides we have ever driven on other than Uzbekistan. We arrived in Livingstone and headed to AVANI Victoria Falls, our home for the next few days. We had heard that there were animals around the property. The first thing we did was walk down to the falls and experience it firsthand. It was mighty, so much water that going near it ensures you will be soaked. We got settled in and had dinner at Teddy’s, the main restaurant and buffet. The pool is the most central part of the hotel and it is the preferred place to grab lunch or late afternoon snacks dipping in and out of the pool if you feel like it!
Day 13 | AVANI Victoria Falls – Night 2
One of our favourite days of there trip. Waking up nice and early (a worrying trend) at the AVANI, we wanted to go and explore the national park we were staying in. We headed straight to the Victoria Falls from the hotel. It is so conveniently close to go and see it. They have their very own walkway and entrance so you can go anytime and free of charge. We came back quickly so we could enjoy our spa experience along the Zambezi River at the Anantara Spa. This was over at the Royal Livingstone by Anantara property. So we walked over there to try and find some animals on our way and boy we were in luck! We found four giraffes and so many zebras roaming the grounds, all waiting for food. It was a great site and needless to say we took thousands of pics. Our spa experience was up to our expectations for an Anantara Spa treatment. The therapy rooms are in huts along the river. We were quite relaxed after it considering all the driving we have done so far. It is always a must do experience while staying at any of the two Minor Hotels properties.
Cooking classes at the AVANI Victoria Falls
We didn’t have any time to ourselves after the spa, literally went to change to move on to our cooking class experience with Chef Victor. The experience was a great way for us to get in touch with the local Zambian culture. For lunch, we all made up a local dish of crocodile, kudu, nshima and sauce. All this was done with zebras watching us and were a little curious.
In the afternoon at around 3:30 PM, we got picked up from the Activity Centre for our Zambezi River Safari Cruise. After being dropped off, we got on the boat and had a drink in our hand. Our driver, Given, was really good at spotting animals and giving us information on them and Zambian history. We saw hippos, plenty of birds and enjoyed being on the river. We stopped for some snacks and enjoyed the sunset on an island in the between Zambia and Zimbabwe. We then made it back on time to the hotel to catch sundowners. For our last night dinner at the AVANI, we ate at Teddy’s and ate as much as we could of the delicious local meat. More crocodile, oxtail, impala and so on. After dinner, we walked around trying to spot the animals and we were greeted right away by zebras around the main grounds of the AVANI. It was the perfect good night we needed.
Day 14 | Bungee Jumping – The Royal Livingstone by Anantara Check-in
We woke up early again to enjoy being around the animals around the property before heading over to Teddy’s for light breakfast and go back to the room. This is because of the fact that around 10 AM, we are going to go Bungee jumping at the famous Victoria Falls Bridge. We ended up leaving earlier at around 9:45 AM, walking from the AVANI to the border control of Zambia to exit the country. We didn’t need to go through the usual passport control as we were only doing the bridge and not crossing furthermore to the inner land of Zimbabwe. We still had to bring our passports just in case.
Ziplining at Victoria Falls from Zambia to Zimbabwe
Not long after the immigration office, we arrived at Shearwater bungee’s office where we proceeded to share our shoe size, weight, and other briefings. We were surprised by the Shearwater team to a slide experience (Ziplining experience) from Zambian to Zimbabwe and a tandem swing from the bridge in addition to our bungee jump. We were shocked but at the same time quite happy that we were able to warm up by doing the slide. Just like that, we were invited to proceed to the slide video briefing after having our harness on. Quickly, just like that, Mitch slid right before me as I followed right after. Upon arrival, we both technically just step foot on Zimbabwe and together casually cross back on the bridge towards Zambia but stopping this time right at the middle where the swing and bungee magic were to happen.
Swing Experience at Victoria Falls
We both get strapped carefully and briefed on how to walk into the nothing, literally, off the edge for the swing. Just like that, holding on to each other with one hand behind holding on to the other’s hip strap and the other hand holding on to the strap in front of our faces, we walked into the nothing and freefall for about 50 meters to then swinging back and forth enjoying the 360 sights of the rocks, greens and water. It was terrifying but at the same time so satisfying and enjoyable as the view is hard to beat. We both do the same drill again, walking under the bridge setting foot in Zimbabwe and walking back for our bungee jump.
Bungee Jumping at Victoria Falls
I decided I would do the famous Victoria Falls Bungee Jump before Mitch that was completely nervous. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I look at the edge like an idiot and legit had thoughts about backing out. For a slight second, I thought why would I do this and then I thought about Mitch and how hard he had tried going and doing this. This encouraged me to do it, so I made sure my GoPro was on and well strapped the jumped as far as I could forward and head first! Mitch was next and the Shearwater team took my GoPro to bring it up so Mitch could wear it. And just like that, in an instant, as I watched right under him, he jumped! For the first time ever after an extreme activity, I still had stress butterflies post-jump! We both felt a bit weird afterwards, our bodies still probably in a bit of shock that he had defied everything our body was saying to not jump. We then returned to the AVANI for the check-out. In our initial plan, literally a day before, we were supposed to get our car and get on the road to drive to Botswana but we felt like we had to extend our wonderful stay in Zambia to enjoy more of its delicious food, hospitality and amazing sights. We checked-in The Royal Livingstone by Anantara and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and recovering from a hectic and incredible day full of experiences.
Day 15 | The Royal Livingstone by Anantara Night 2
Early morning at Victoria Falls
We woke up early to be at around 7:30 AM at the Victoria Falls. This time, we walked the photography trail on the left side of the park, which has a few viewpoints over the bridge we crossed on the other trail and the Victoria Falls famous bridge connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe. At about 8:20 AM, we were already walking back towards The Royal Livingstone. We wanted to do the fitness trail within the AVANI yard but unfortunately, the water sprinklers were on and we were not able to do it. Still was great to be able to power walk a good 3.5 KM there and back to start the day.
We then went to breakfast which is a great selection of pastries (lots), healthy corner with a lot of choices, the classic egg station and a whole lot of other choices. The buffet breakfast is so extensive, no À la carte is required. After breakfast, we went to work in the room before heading over to take advance of the beautiful pool overlooking the Zambezi river. A well-needed tan but the water slightly still too cold for us we decided just to tan and walk in the pool up to our thighs. Had a late lunch at the Traveller’s Bar, bruschetta for myself and a panini sandwich for Mitch. We then returned to our room, to the comfort of our outside chilling area to do some more work. At about 4:30 PM we went back to the fall to be able to enjoy the Victoria Falls once again. We have no idea when we will come here again, so might as well go see this natural beauty for another time! We had dinner with a great couple, Geoff and Marie, who was from Montreal, so we had great chats to them and had some incredible dinner.
Day 16 | Driving to Botswana from Zambia – Night in Kasane
We got up at a decent hour and slowly packed our things to make our way to the car for the first time in a few days. We knew we had to do a border crossing in addition to going over the river by pontoon, a type of ferry used to cross from Zambia to Botswana.
Read more about the border crossing from Zambia to Botswana via Kazangula.
We left at midday to avoid the ferry chaos of the morning due to many day trips from Victoria Falls to Chobe National Park. After 45 minutes drive, we arrived at the border after passing a few kilometres of trucks waiting for their turn to cross over to Botswana. We got through customs with the car and headed down closest to the coast where we would embark our pontoon. Of course, we lined up and as soon as we got there, the pontoon was not operating as it was broken. Yep, in all our luck, the Zambia ferry had bloody stopped working. Broken down, So we were stuck. So we had to wait until the Botswana ferry to get to our side and get a few cars in. So we were waiting until the ferry came for another round. Then we found out that the Botswana ferry will not cross until the broken one was moved. What luck we had! So after 2 hours of waiting, we finally got on a ferry, paid 200 Rand for it.
Botswana border crossing process
It was easy and straight forward, with way fewer counters to go see than in Zambia. All we had to do was to sign in our car on the registry and get the passport stamped. You then need to get the insurance for driving locally and it cost not much. After this, we hopped back in the car and guess what? There was a presidential motorcade and we had to sit more and wait. Can you believe it? After another 15 minutes of waiting, and cleaning our shoes for animal diseases, we finally got on the road to the main town of Kasane. This is the launching point of Chobe National Park. We found a campsite 220 pula each a night, 440 Pula total which is about 44$US. We got a campsite next to the river and as we were getting our sleeping spot ready, we could already hear the Hippos. There was a really cute stray dog too who was with us all night. It was a great place to stay, but there was a Nando’s near, which was certainly unusual. We booked a game drive safari for the morning which left at around 6 AM.
Day 17 | Chobe National Park Safari – Elephant Sands
Waking up at 5:15 AM, we got up for a Game drive, organised by the place we were staying. After freezing for the first part of it, we got to Chobe National park and headed in. The first part of the drive was quite slow, not seeing a bunch of animals other than hippos. We slowly started seeing more and more. We saw; Hippos, buffalos, kudu, giraffes and springbok. Right at the end of our safari, we were quite disappointed that we had not seen much than our expectations. All of a sudden we slammed on the brakes as we were face to face with a massive herd of elephants, like 15 or more of them just eating and crossing right in between safari vehicles. So we stopped for a while and captured some great photos. After heading back, we had a quick feed and got back on the road.
Compared to the other driving we have been doing, it was a short 250km drive down the road. We used the iOverlander app to find a place called Elephants Sands. We drove to the exit where it was and turned down the sandy road, not sure what to find. The place has a waterhole designed on purpose to welcome so many wild elephants that knew they could get good fresh water at that specific post. One of my most magical experiences in Africa so far. We spent the rest of the day watching them march through the campsite and drink water. We really enjoyed the view.
Day 18 | Elephant Sands – Driving towards Gaborone
A lasting memory in my brain was the waking up and looking out of the tent to see a massive elephant outside our camper as the sun came up. It was a fantastic view. After having a quick bite to eat and finishing our meat, as we were not allowed to bring them a certain place south. After leaving elephants sands early, we made a choice to try and get down all the way to the capital, in order to give us more time down there. Gaborone was calling us. But it was 600km away and we had to try and get there before sunset, as we heard that the place where we wanted to go closes. We literally had no stops in the drive, we stopped only 10 mins for petrol and pee break and the rest of the time was driving as fast as we were allowed. We pushed so hard and did not make it in time. The 5pm time passed as we were stuck in traffic. Got there at 515pm and feared that we had missed, but as Thuymi ran in, they were still there, so we got a spot. We stayed at the Lion Park Resort, which was actually a theme park. We stayed in the back next to the roller coaster. The theme park was empty and it felt like a horror movie. Suddenly we heard a roar, there were bloody lions in the park. So we grabbed the cameras and found them, and on the other side of the cage were 5 lions roaring and walking around the complex, a truly incredible site to see.
Getting up early in the theme park and getting across the border real quick. Thuymi idea to get up and get the border done early was a stroke of genius as we would need every minute. The border we aimed for was 55km from where we were staying, Pioneer Post. The actual border was extremely pleasant. 10 mins only for the Botswana side, signed out the car and stamped. South Africa side was just a stamp, two minutes. This was as easy as the day got. In less than half and hour we were in South Africa and planning to stay the night in Rustenberg. We filled up with petrol and got meat pies, sandwiches, caramel latte, all stocked op. So things got harder. We decided to push closer to the airport so we can get some wifi, well that was a bad idea haha. We got caught in so much traffic, going through all sorts of Johannesburg ruins and derelict areas. We went to so many wrong places. We were seriously getting worried that we were not going to find where we wanted to go. We even had to go to the airport to find the right road. Dam no internet had killed us. Eventually, after 8 hours of driving, we eventually got to the place we were staying. Even better, after the long day, there were 4 dogs there waiting for us. We had no camping areas so we just threw the camper up, way too easy. Wifi and hot food and drinks, a great last night with the car.
Waking up early, as usual from a very cold night in the car. It was the last night in the car and we were a little sad to say goodbye to it. Mitch got up early to watch the NBA finals, like 430am and 5 degrees outside! His team won so he was happy. We had a quick basic breakfast, packed the car and then headed to Four Seasons Johannesburg. It was a half hour drive and we stocked up on fuel and biltong.
The pickup driver was already there as we arrived so we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to our faithful car for the last 3 weeks. It is quite a sad feeling really to see it go. Nevertheless, we got an early check in and headed to our room, 930. We got a deluxe view with balcony room and the bathroom area was massive! It has a great view of the surrounding area. We headed straight to the spa facilities where we went to the sauna and steam room to detox as much as possible. We enjoyed a relaxing day watching YouTube videos on how to be abetted photographer and did our own work. A good productive day all around. We had some sandwiches for lunch and then we got more work done as we chose to skip dinner and have a bath and a gym session instead.
Let us know in the comments below how was your journey if you did a similar trip. Let us know if we’ve missed anything. Safe trip!