Africa, a place where Time doesn’t equal Distance over Speed

“It may be the Swiss who invented the watch, but it is Africa who owns the time.”

This well-known saying pulled me back into the reality of when the naïve or perhaps even arrogant command of simple maths is forced to give yield to reality.

Such has been our experience during a 9500 km journey with an approximate total of 160 hours on the road, earlier in 2018 from South Africa through Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania & Malawi. The aim was to experience as much of these foreign countries and cultures as possible with the first prize of spotting a Gnu or 2 dodging crocodiles whilst attempting a river crossing in the Serengeti, Northern Tanzania. 

After 20 months of painstaking planning we set out on our trip. Being a party of 8 adults and 11 children with ages from 4 – 12, we tried to leave our schedule organic enough to allow for incidental changes.

Armed with said planning and close to 20 years of overland travel experience we are surely not inexperienced, nor are we naive, plus being a banker, I have a decent command of math and a critical understanding and respect of the absolute of time equals distance over speed.  Or so I thought…

Eventual route, travelling days: –

Elephant Sands, Botswana 900 km 12 hours on the road
Kwalape Lodge, Botswana 260 km 3 hours on the road
Maramba River Lodge,
90 km 5 hours on the road
Fringilla Lodge, Zambia 530 km 11 hours on the road
Kapishya Hot Springs,
725 km 9 hours on the road
Isanga Bay, Zambia 340 km 9 painstaking hours!
Utengule Coffee Estate,
300 km 16 painstaking hours!
Iringa old Farm Kisolanza,
300 km 5 hours on the road
Nsya Lodge, Mto Wa Mbu,
700 km 12 hours on the road
Simba A, Ngorongoro
Crater Rim, Tanzania
70 km 6-hour game drive
Serengeti Dik-Dik Camp,
150 km 6-hour game drive
Serengeti Lobo Camp,
75 km 6-hour game drive
World View Campsite
Lake Natron, Tanzania
200 km 11 painstaking hours!
Amarula Camp, Tanzania 300 km 12 painstaking hours!
Utengule Coffee Estate,
800 km 13 painstaking hours!
Makuze Beach Lodge,
Lake Malawi
500 km 13 painstaking hours!
Chembe Eagles Nest,
Cape Maclear, Lake Malawi
400 km 7 hours on the road
Mama Rulas, Zambia 400 km 8 hours on the road
The Moorings, Zambia 750 km 12 hours on the road
Chobe Big 5, Botswana 400 km 8 hours on the road
Home Sweet Home,
Pretoria South Africa
1200 km 13 hours on the road
The end of the day, but still 4 hours until we reach our destination.

Having last travelled through Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi some 14 years ago we were amazed at how road traffic has picked up and development in and around towns, villages and major cities expanded. 

Road conditions were much improved across all countries but with said higher volumes of road traffic and extensive off-road driving our progress was impeded to an actual rolling average speed of around 50km/h leading to a couple of days in which we spent more than 12 hours travelling and arriving at our destination after dark.  

Making roads where there are none.

A further factor that at times lead to frustration was spending 2 hours or more crossing border posts in spite of the convoy reaching posts at quieter times, it is unbelievable how red-tape and inefficient process flow can impact on a seemingly simple task of stamping travel documents.

The Kazungula Ferry transporting vehicles between Botswana and Zambia

Saviour of sanity was the rest days that we built in by spending multiple days at worthy or interesting sites. Should we attempt such a journey of exploration again we will include an even more significant uncertainty factor into the maths to reduce the impact of time spent in the vehicle. Though our maths did disappoint there remains magic in spending 4 weeks as a household in close quarters whilst immersing oneself into foreign lands, cultures, sounds and sights.

Masai playing with the children, World View Campsite

Until next time #noneedforcruisecontrol