Full-length Self Drive Safari Itinerary
Week 1: Serengeti National Park and Lake Manyara National Park
Our 4×4 guided self drive from the Serengeti to Cape Town begins in Arusha, the heart of Tanzania’s safari country. After a brief meet-and-greet, we are introduced to our Land Rovers and travelling companions for the next few weeks before climbing behind the drivers seat for an unforgettable safari to two of Tanzania’s most prized game parks, Lake Manyara National Park and the World renowned Serengeti National Park.
Lake Manyara National Park is famous for tree climbing lions, large herds of elephant and amazing birdlife; the Serengeti National Park needs no introduction. Teeming with wildlife across the plains, it promises to not disappoint. Driving yourself means you decide whether you want to sit by a watering hole waiting for animals to come for a drink or explore the many narrow tracks in search of your favourite animals.
Week 2: Masai Culture and Zanzibar
We return to Arusha where we experience the Masai culture and maybe shop for some Tanzanite before making our way to the historic island of Zanzibar. Stonetown is a town full of history and worth a few hours wandering through the narrow cobble stoned streets stopping to explore the old slave market, museum, colourful shops and vibrant nightly fish market.
Zanzibar is a paradise island offering crystal blue waters and perfect sandy beaches; it boasts incredible reefs and a variety of activities to keep you entertained. While on Zanzibar we explore the spice plantations and enjoy a local Zanzibarian lunch.
Week 3: Lake Malawi and South Luangwa National Park
Returning to the mainland we rejoin our Land Rovers and continue on our self drive safari through the highlands of Tanzania driving through rich agricultural lands as we make our way toward Malawi. As our African overland adventure enters Malawi we really begin to understand why Malawians have a reputation for being the friendliest, most laid back welcoming people in Africa, as we are greeted with huge smiles and enthusiastic waves from school kids and pedestrians alike.
Our first stop is on the shores of Lake Malawi at a small village called Chitimba. From here we drive the steep winding track up the highlands to the village of Livingstonia, a town dedicated to David Livingstone and his commitment to education and health care. Livingstonia boasts a few quirky additions like a mushroom farm with a small restaurant and some unique gift and craft shops. We continue our journey along the shores of Lake Malawi, stopping to explore villages, meet the locals, watch skilful craftsman make furniture and souvenirs out of wood and generally absorb ourselves in the culture. Driving through Malawi, you will be in awe of the Malawian people’s warmth and welcoming.
Leaving the shores of Lake Malawi we cross into Zambia and back into safari country. South Luangwa National Park is one of Zambia’s most famous game parks, hidden away in the interior of the country with its only water source being the Luangwa River. The Luangwa River provides ample amounts of water to ensure wildlife not only survive but thrive in this semi-arid region. Here we will experience early morning and night game drives. Game driving at night gives a whole different perspective with the possibility of spotting unusual animals like aardvark, bush baby, African wild dog, serval cats and caracal.
Week 4: Victoria Falls
We make our way across Zambia toward Livingstone and the home of Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world, with masses of water converging over the cliff and dramatically falling into the narrow gorge below. Livingstone also boasts a historic museum paying tribute to Dr David Livingstone’s life with original letters, diaries and documents on display, a few hours meandering through the museum is like stepping back in time. There are a range of activities on offer including sunset cruise along the Zambezi river, microlighting and a walking safari to spot rare and endangered Rhino. We spend a few days on our African overland adventure in Livingstone before continuing to Botswana.
Week 5: Chobe National Park and Northern Namibia
Chobe National Park in Botswana is one of the premium parks in southern Africa, as well as a game drive through the park we take a leisurely late afternoon boat safari. Chobe National Park is most famous for large elephant herds, big cats and an abundance of birdlife around the banks of the Chobe river. On our boat cruise we will be privileged to witness herds of elephants and big cats come to the rivers edge to drink while hippos laze in the cool gentle waters and birds hover overhead waiting for their chance to catch small fish.
WHAT OUR CUSTOMERS SAY…
Wow what an amazing time we had, the longer we have been home the more it has sunk in just what an amazing experience the whole thing was… So big, big thanks!!!!
Our 4WD safari takes us across the border to Namibia and the very northern tip of the Okavango region, where we explore the area around the Kavanga river home to a rich diversity of birdlife and aquatic animals. Again we take to the water in a motorised platform to explore this rich unique biodiverse ecosystem.
We stop to visit the little unknown but quite significant world’s biggest meteorite before continuing to Etosha National Park.
Week 6: Etosha National Park, Cape Cross and Swakopmund
Etosha National Park is our final game park on this African overland adventure. Etosha, like the Serengeti National Park, needs no introduction with well situated watering holes to water the resident wildlife you never have to drive too far to spot African animals like Rhino, lions, giraffe, buffalo, hyena, zebra and oryx. At each campsite there are watering holes, the perfect place to sit back and relax, maybe with a sundowner in hand, and watch animals come to drink in the late afternoon.
Taking mostly dirt roads through the desert of Namibia, our self drive safari stops enroute to visit early stone age rock art at the ancient historic and World Heritage site of Twyfelfontein; a Petrified Forest formed from flooding over 200 million years ago, and then on to see the Southern Hemisphere’s largest seal colony at Cape Cross.
We drive down the Skeleton Coast; one of the most treacherous stretches of water for ships in the World, the shipwrecks littering the coastline is a vast reminder of the plights of sailors in days gone by. We follow the coastline to the former German colonial town of Swakopmund.
Swakopmund is unique in its own right, a rare blend of German architecture mixed with African color and vibrancy. It’s a small coastal town surrounded by sand dunes offering a range of activities from cultural township tours, desert ecosystem tours, dune bugging to deep sea fishing. The Germanic influence is still very strong in Swakopmund with restaurants serving traditional German food alongside traditional local dishes and fresh seafood. Swakopmund is also a great place to try game meat like Oryx steak, Kudu schnitzel and springbok goulash.
Four-wheel driving back into the desert we visit Dune 45 in Sesrium National Park. Dune 45 is reported to be the largest free standing sand dune in the World and we have the opportunity to climb it if we so wish!
Week 7: Kolmanskop, Fish River Canyon and Cape Town
As we near the end of our 4×4 self drive tour, we visit the ghost town of Kohlmanskop, for a taste of what life was like in this affluent diamond mining town in former years, and then on to Fish River Canyon. Fish River Canyon is the Grand Canyon of Africa, an astounding 160kms long and up to 27kms wide it is an incredible example of nature at its best. We explore the Canyon from the cliff top. Sitting on the edge feels like we are alone in the World.
We bid farewell to Namibia and enter South Africa, our final country. As we drive from north to south, we travel through dry, arid wheat farming country to the rich citrus and fruit growing region of Citrusdale before reaching our final destination of Cape Town.
Parking our Land Rovers at our hotel at the Waterfront in Cape Town, we enjoy a day out in the wine region of Stellenbosch with a local guide and driver. Today is the day to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery while tasting some of South Africa’s finest wines and cheeses.
We enjoy a final meal together in Cape Town before saying our farewells, but not before we spend a few hours eating and chatting about our incredible experiences, paying tribute to the colourful characters we met along the way, our amusing driving tales, and of course our new found friendships.
Book any guided self drive tour for travel in 2017 and you go into the draw to win a Hot Air Ballooning safari for 2 people valued at USD$1000 to enjoy while on your trip. Offer valid until 31 December 2016.
Note: The closest international airport to Arusha is Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or domestic airport Arusha (ARK) connecting international flights through Dar es Salaam.
This expedition can also be started in Cape Town and finish in the Serengeti. Email Debs at firstname.lastname@example.org for the full itinerary.