Cape Town to Zanzibar 2011

ollie created the topic: Cape Town to Zanzibar 2011

  • ollie
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Hi everyone, my friend(18) and I(19) will be backpacking from Cape Town to Zanzibar between 29th January and about May 15th. Whilst planning our trip, this forum has provided some great ideas and pieces of information. For example, we need to get from Durban to Maputo and were struggling to think of the best way to go without going via Jo'burg. Fortunately someone wrote on here that there is a bus run by TCO that does this route 3 times a week so we'll be using that.

Anyway, I thought I'd write our itinerary up here and then a trip report when we return. Any suggestions that anyone has are very welcome; we haven't set many plans in stone as we want to be open to any suggestions that people have whilst we are en route.
So here is the itinerary:
29th January: Leave London Gatwick at 13.40
30th January: Arrive in Dubai 00:25
Leave Dubai at 08:50 and arrive in Cape Town at 16.25
(We aren't crackers to go this route.. it was £220 cheaper to go via Dubai than go straight to Cape Town!)
30th January - 4th February, we will be staying in Cape Town at this hostel:
www.backpackers.co.za/ it seems to get great reviews and have a lively atmosphere... perfect.
We have both been to Cape Town before and absolutely loved it. During these 5 days, we intend on visiting Robben Island, relaxing on the V&A waterfront and hiking up and around Table Mountain. Someone at work told me about this: www.cape-xtreme.com/adventure-tours/biking/
He was in Cape Town for 10 days and it was fully booked so he didn't get a chance to do it but I'm hoping we will.

From February 5th to 15th, we will be hiring a car. It was a bit of a nightmare trying to find a company that would provide a hire car for an 18 and 19 year old but it has been booked with these guys:
www.driveafrica.co.za/car-rental/current-specials.html
I have had emails back and forth and they seem extremely accommodating for young backpackers like ourselves.
So, how do we intend on spending the 10 days with our hire car? Well we will spend one day driving down to the Cape of Good Hope and back, via Chapman’s Peak Drive. Another day will be spent at Boulders Bay in the morning and then the winelands in the afternoon (which will probably end up being an overnight stay and another full day!) We will also be visiting the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for half a day and another half day will be spent at the Rhodes Memorial. I’m not sure how well known the Rhodes Memorial is but I went there last time and it was very quiet (in December). It offers a superb panoramic view over Cape Town; we’re looking forward to having a few beers whilst watching the sun go down.
OK so after those activities, we will be heading east along the Garden Route stopping off at Hermanus, visiting friends in George, stopping off in Knysna and Plettenburg Bay. Hopefully we will have time to do the Bloukrans Bungee jump too:
www.faceadrenalin.com/
It used to be the world’s highest bungee jump but they haven’t updated the website!
There are a few bits and pieces I have missed out such as diving in a cage with sharks.

The only unfortunate catch with the hire car is that we have to drop it back off in Cape Town. Not that we’re complaining – any excuse to spend an extra few days there!
After another night in Cape Town, we are looking into spending a few days doing this www.felixunite.com/river_trips/orange_river/orange_6_day_trip
It looks like good fun and isn’t too expensive for 6 days.
After that, the plan is to get to Durban either by flying of getting a bus from Cape Town. Now I know that flying isn’t really in the spirit of backpacking but on previous holidays, we have travelled as far as Port Elizabeth and didn’t think much of it.
We aim to be in Durban by about February 23rd or 24th and spend a few days surfing and exploring the nightlife...
Then, it’ll be time to get the aforementioned TCO bus from Durban to Maputo! To give a timescale, we will probably be getting this bus on Wednesday 2nd March. We will spend a couple of days wandering around Maputo. I have a guidebook which give suggestions as to museums to visit and that the nightlife is good.
***Does anyone have any must visit suggestions for Maputo? And does anyone have experience of where to stay on a budget?***
We will then make our way up to coast to Xai-Xai for about 3 days relaxation. (we intend on getting here by bus from Maputo) Snorkelling, eating seafood, relaxing on the beach etc.
It will then be time to head up the coast again to Tofo. We will be going diving here and my friend has organised for us to dive with a company called Diversity scuba. In all, we will have dives on 4 days starting on the 11th March. And we will then spend an extra night relaxing (again! What’s the rush?)
The next leg of our journey is going to last 15 days and we are not quite sure of the best way to spend it. So we would like any help/experiences that people have had on this stretch Basically, we need to get from Tofo to the Southern tip of Malawi in these 15 days. By southern tip, I mean the complete Southern tip. From google maps, we would like to enter Malawi at the “town” of Marka.
***Does anyone know how well trodden this border crossing is?***
The other twist to this leg is that my friend and I intend on CYCLING the whole length of Malawi. We fancy setting ourselves a bit of a challenge so why not?
The logistics of obtaining a bike + crossing the border brings up a few more questions that I am hoping all of your collective experiences will be able to answer:
1. We need to buy a bike(x2). Where is the closest town to the Moz/Malawi border on the Moz side that we could each buy a bike(x2)?
2. Is it doable to get from Tofo to this border crossing in 15 days?
3. How much more sensible would it be to just travel into Malawi by bus and then purchase bikes within Malawi? (as close to the south of the country as possible.. we want to cycle the WHOLE length)
4. Which route would you recommend to get from Tofo to the Malawi border in 15 days, whilst taking in the best sites?

I will outline the last couple of months of the journey very briefly as we will only be able to give an interesting day by day account of it as it happens. Basically, we intend to cycle along the road on the western shore of Lake Nyassa all the way until the border with Tanzania. We intend on going kayaking at Cape Maclear (how original) and doing a few other things along the way. Again, any suggestions as to what is a DO NOT MISS are very welcome.

So, with that leg taking us 3 weeks, it will now be about April 15th. We will do the cycle from the Malawi/Tanz border to Mbeya in a day.We intend on getting rid of the bikes in Mbeya. From there, we will take the train to Dar es Salaam. We will spend a couple of nights in Dar and then catch a ferry over to Zanzibar where we will stay for the last couple of weeks.

As you can see, South Africa has been planned in great detail as has Southern Moz. However, the gaping hole from Tofo to Malawi is a slight issue but I’m helping with your help, this can be resolved! We will take everyday in Malawi as it comes. As for Tanzania, I know there are hundreds of things to do such as trekking in the highlands but I should mention that our flight home is on 8th May from Zanzibar to London and we have our hearts set on staying on Zanzibar for a week at least.

Ollie.

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mozman replied the topic: Cape Town to Zanzibar 2011

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Hi

lots to think about and I will respond in more detail later. First thought is that you will be hitting the summer rains right in the teeth and this could scupper your plans to get to the southern tip of Malawi - roads often flooded in this area.

More later

Mike

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