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,|
|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|
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.
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.
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.
Until next time #noneedforcruisecontrol