Western Africa Safari

Best time to visit:
from March to November

Vaccines
Recommended Antitific, Prophylaxis Antimalarial (chloroquine-resistant)

In a word: 
Dumela (hi in Tswana)

Essential experiences:
Admire the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, live among elephants at Elephant Sands, meet the Himba in Namibia and conquer the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa

Truck adventure from Zimbabwe to South Africa

Great Safari Adventure with trucks from Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) to Cape Town (South Africa) through Botswana, Angola, Namibia along the Okawango, the Kalahari, the Skeleton Coast, the Namib Desert to the Cape of Good Hope.

On this great adventure we rented a 4 × 4 truck in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and after admiring the mighty waterfalls, we slowly began the crossing to the south, towards the Cape of Good Hope, crossing boundless landscapes, deserts, savannahs, rivers up to the impact with the industrial and modern Cape Town, in South Africa. We will sleep almost every night in tents, we will cook using our camping kitchen.

Our suggested itinerary (30 days)

two days:

Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)

five days:

Kasane, Chobe NP, Nata, Elephant Sands, Maun (overflight on the Okavango delta), Rundu (Botswana)

one week:

Halali, Etosha NP, Onankali, Epupa Falls (Himba tribe visit)

one week:

Palmwag, Spitzkoppe, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Sesriem (passage over the Tropic of Capricorn), Seeheim (Namibia)

one week:Springbok, Cape Town (excursion to Robben Island and Cape of Good Hope), Simon's Bay (South Africa)

19 November Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)

The sun is shining high in the sky, it is very hot but, having loaded the backpacks on our two trucks, we head straight for the Camp that will host us tonight ...

20 November Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)

The Victoria Falls, despite the dry season, offer us the first great natural show of this African adventure!

21 November Kasane (Botswana)

We enter Bostwana along a long strip of black asphalt at the edge of which occasionally you come across some zebra or elephant ... how strange to read the warning sign: "Prohibition to enter the bush due to the presence of ferocious animals.

We set up the tents and, on board of an old boat, we begin the slow navigation on the Chobe river; we see: hippos, crocodiles, elephants, buffaloes, impalas and many colorful birds.

Zimbabwe and Botswana in 2 minutes (Video)

22 November Kasane (Botswana)

We leave at dawn to discover Chobe National Park.

It's very cold on these open off-road vehicles; like any game drive, we immediately immerse ourselves in the savannah's wild life. The river Chobe flows smoothly providing hospitality, shelter and livelihood to the numerous herds of animals.

Some wild dogs, in packs, approach menacingly towards a small group of ugly marabou, (it certainly cannot be said that it is a good-looking animal!), A dozen elephants, in single file, follows the head of the family who calls them back with a powerful trump card; some crocodiles bask in the sun along the river embankment ...

It's all very exciting and natural, sometimes a zebra comes out, then a giraffe, some oryxes and gazelles from Thomson, two springbok, a lioness ...

23 November Nata (Botswana)

After a full day of trucks we stop at Nata and more precisely, for the night, at Elephant Sands.
There is a large puddle of water that attracts so many elephants ... fifteen male specimens soon come to drink, (they explained to us that during the day the males go and in the evening the females with the chicks).

In fact, the evening is magical! Three elephants of a few months look for the mother's trunk, its protection, two large males collide hard and the thud of their fangs resound loudly in the night.

During the night we make sure we don't keep any food inside our tents because for days a lion has been wandering in the field and often it gets a little too close to the tents!

24 November Maun (Botswana)

Planet Baobab. A small resort that cures marvelous ancient baobabs ... there is one really majestic that they say is 2500 years old! It is impressive, it intimidates you, it seems an old sage who observes you severely ...

Finally we come to Maun accompanied by big gray clouds!
We take the opportunity to immediately mount the field and run at the airport before the weather conditions become prohibitive!

We take off with a Cessna just when it starts to rain but, after a brief turn to the left, we are immediately on this enormous flat expanse that surrounds the Okavango river. We spot many animals, some elephants, groups of antelopes, hippos, gazelles ... It is very exciting because you have a vision of life in the savannah from a privileged point of view ...

I felt like one of those old missionaries who moved from one remote village to another aboard these small planes ... flight to discover the Okavango delta... the river that does not flow into the sea and it does not even flow into another river but disperses into a swamp in an area of the desert of Kalahari note as: Okavango delta.

It starts to rain more intensely ... we return to the River Lodge Chair under a deluge, a downpour that in these places looks even more disastrous ... we give up cooking and take refuge in the bad restaurant of our lodge ...

25 November Maun (Botswana)

At dawn we are all awake ... we did not rest very well because of the rain but the curtains held up the blow! We look out from the porthole, the sun is shining! Thank god!

By jeep we reach a Okavango roadstead and on the mokoro (a sort of pirogue made from a large trunk) we set off to discover this magnificent river, slowly gliding over its waters, almost gently caressing it!

My watch marks 45 °, the sun is very strong and we repair ourselves as we can ... suddenly our polers stop, they confabulate worried ... a big hippopotamus pops out of the gloomy seabed, little would be enough to make us sink ... after all this is the animal that reaps most victims ever in Africa ...

We observe the frightened scene but soon after it goes away… escaped the danger we continue our silent and slow navigation ...

We penetrate among large canes while antelopes and gazelles graze and wander undisturbed ... we decide to descend from the mokoro and follow our guide into the bush amid age-old termite mounds, threatening bushes and a herd of zebras watching us in amazement!

Angola and Namibia in 2 minutes (Video)

26 November Rundu (Namibia)

Wake up at dawn and, after a few hours of travel, we are at the border with Namibia.
The background suddenly changes: the green prairies of Botswana are replaced by villages of straw huts on the red earth; naked children who flock to see this strange medium greeting us with huge and sincere smiles ... our destination is Rundu, a village on Okavango in front of Angola...

Mark contracted to have a boat, we quickly set up the tents and, shortly after, we are again on the waters of this mythical river!

It is late afternoon, the clouds turn yellow, then orange, purple, red ... along the river bank we see scenes of local daily life, small groups of women doing laundry, children diving and swimming regardless of the danger of the crocodiles, two men relax completely soaped ...

... on the Angolan bank, half a dozen girls sing us a religious song ...

.. let's go down from the boat, Calai, in Angola, and admire this sunset so special!

27 November Halali (Namibia)

After replenishing the galley, we head towards the Etosha National Park...
We spend several hours wandering inside the park in search of animals ... we see herds of zebras, impalas, wildebeests, oryxes , giraffes, gazelles, jackals and even three rhinos ...

Before the sun sets we have already assembled the entire field ... there are those who prepare dinner, those who assemble chairs, those who write the diary, those who light the fire, those who fill the bottles with water, those who coordinate with the drivers l itinerary the following day ... there is great harmony and you can hear it in the air!

With a starry sky that seems to fall on you ... we return to our tents to rest, tomorrow we will have another departure at dawn ... like every day!

28 November Onankali (Namibia)

We spend the whole morning exploring Etosha NP aboard our two trucks; we arrive up to the Etosha Pan, a saline depression of 5000 square kilometers created 12 million years ago; reminds me a lot of the Bolivian Salares. 
The temperature is almost 44 ° and the heat is really hot ... we see few animals, with these temperatures seek shelter as they can ...

In the late afternoon we begin the long crossing that will take us to Epupa Falls ... The sun is almost setting when we stop in Onankali, a small village in the middle of nowhere, we see an old sign with the word "lodge" but even the shadow of structures , only a small courtyard with 4 mud walls ...

We agree the price with Mrs Pauline and we assemble our tents ... but the lady is keen to specify that we can only use a bathroom inside the huts ... after seeing it we decide to do it outdoors!

There is a small bar next to our "lodge" (Africans sometimes use high-sounding big words!) ... at least we can drink something fresh tonight!

29 November Epupa Falls (Namibia)

“Now that man has crossed the threshold of 2000 and conquered new space destinations, the dream of visiting new worlds is no longer so remote. But until a vacation on Mars does not become a reality, it is comforting to know that on the Earth there are places that offer the same emotions as space exploration. Venture into the unknown: visit Namibia"!

What a great slogan the Lonely Planet uses to advertise this place!

Here there are places where the look embraces long coastal stretches and not even a blade of grass interrupts the indistinct grayness; roads on which you can walk for hours with the sky as the only roof ... expanses of dunes on the borders with the realm of fantasy ... plains of rocks burned by the sun ...

The stifling heat is almost unnerving, this is the realm of the Himba, this picturesque population that has pushed us so far, on the river Kunene, again before Angola.

30 November Epupa Falls (Namibia)

We are at Epupa Falls, a fence of intertwined branches in a semi-desert area ... around only a few skeletal bushes ...

Some naked children appear on the door of this fence and watch us amused and curious ... our guide enters, asks if we can visit them offering oil, flour and salt just bought for them

Three women with impressive braids kneaded in ocher, long and drooping earthy red breasts, many jewels on the ankles, at the wrists, a kind of brownish fur around the neck, a belt of dark leather along the waist, an ocher sculpture on the head ... they smile at us and welcome us to their ancient language ....

The children joke, chase each other, laugh, want to play with us ... some are beautiful, elegant, they take care of the younger brothers with so much love ... in a hut there is a woman with a baby a few days old, it is full of dust , flies, earth ...

In another: an old lady asks us for medicines because she is not well, she tells us that any medicine is good for her ... a child without a hand plays with a balloon, another chews a paper ball as if it were chewing gum ...

... the men are out with the pastures ... we spend several hours observing their daily life, surprising us, as always, with how varied and sometimes hard our world is.

Back at our camp we decide to take a dip in a puddle along the Kunene River following some local kids, just a few meters from the waterfall!

01 December Palmwag (Namibia)

We travel for about 9 hours ... around us only arid land burned by the sun, again skeletal trees, bushes without leaves that continue to be taken by assault by the many goats that graze observed by a himba in a skirt and with a stick in his hands ...

In the late afternoon we stop in Palmwag, just to break this long transfer.
We're back in the middle of nowhere, it's already lucky to have water here ... let's mount the camp inside a lovely campsite!

A starry sky will be the roof of our evening ... we decide to sleep without covering the tent so as to enjoy even more this umpteenth show offered by Mother Nature in Southern Africa!

02 December Spitzkoppe (Namibia)

It is still dark outside when the alarm goes off ... it is chilly ... illuminated by the light of the frontal torch we dismantle our tents and leave again ... there is still a long way to go today!

The landscape is lunar, not a tree, nor a bit of green if not for small " welwitschia mirabilis ", succulent plants present only here, on the Skeleton Coast!

This is one of the most desolate stretches in all of Africa.

Finally we arrive at Cape Cross. A large cross stands in the middle of the bay; the stench is strong, in the distance we see a dark spot moving disorderly ... there is a colony of thousands of cape seals with their young, this is the time of birth ...

I've seen so many puppies dead or abandoned along the beach, big sea lions fight violently, some sleep on the shore, others swim in the waves ... in the distance some jackal patiently watches the scene, they wait for the right moment to approach ...

There were small groups of puppies massed because their mothers had gone fishing and, on their return, they found them thanks only to their sense of smell! The smell, the cries of thousands of specimens came into you.

I thought to myself that the law of Nature is this ... as fascinating as it is raw!

In the afternoon we arrive in an absolutely magical place: majestic boulders all around us in a desert landscape ... Spitzkoppe.

Tonight we will plant our tents right here, in the middle of nowhere ... there is no electricity, no water: nothing! And this "nothing" makes this place magical! "

All the guys are working hard because we have to rely only on our supplies, let's sip our water!

The evening at the foot of Spitzkoppe (1736 meters, called the Cervino of Africa) is truly magical ... these immense blocks of ageless red rock they surround us and protect us ... it's just us, our tents, our trucks and an infinite starry sky ...

03 December Swakopmund (Namibia)

To make the place even more mystical contribute to the numerous rock paintings that we are going to visit following some paths with our guide ... we climb up a huge rock, we slip into a hollow of the boulder and here are these timeless drawings ... after thousands of years before our astonished eyes ... who knows who had made them, who knows how many over the years they had admired them, who knows who had lived in that place and who knows for how long ... who knows ... how many who knows ... here is one of those things that makes you understand how much we are small ...

In late morning we reach Swakopmund ... a town completely out of place in this background!

It's quite cold! Neat and clean streets, almost only whites around that seem to come from an American 80s sitcom!

A few black tramps at the exit of the well-stocked Spar who asks for alms, blonde children running around barefoot, so many white houses that wave German flags and are protected by barbed wire on the walls, various pubs with white men who drink jugs of frozen beer, coffee shops that sell strudel, a long pier that takes you to the endless ocean ...

04 December Sesriem (Namibia)

Walvis Bay. A town not far from Swakopmund with a bay that houses an impressive colony of pink flamingos. They are beautiful, it's a pleasure to photograph them!

We leave again, we have a long way to go, all dusty dirt road and with a strong temperature range, in a short time we reach 40 ° as we approach the Namib desert...

We pass the sign of the Tropic of Capricorn and shortly after we arrive at Solitaire... the name fits perfectly ... it looks like a ghost village abandoned in Far West... some rusty carcass of old cars while we stop at the famous " Desert Baker ", a real desert oasis famous for the apple pie!

05 December Seeheim (Namibia)

At 04.30 we are already back in our truck headed to the base of the most majestic dune: dune 45 (365 meters). We climb it easily while the sun shyly begins to rise high in the sky ... in twenty minutes we reach the top, the red sand is soft and it is pleasant to walk barefoot, we sit along the ridge to admire this umpteenth show!

The sun rises: a new day begins here in Africa!

We spend most of the day traveling to Seeheim, the last Namibian stop; it's very hot and a very hot wind blows, as if we are struggling to set up the tents ...

06 December Springbok (South Africa)

Fish River Canyon. The second largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon.

We walk a couple of kilometers along the ridge and we remain enchanted and amazed before such great majesty. It really seems to see the bones of the Planet Earth...

Not far away we stop at Noordewer, the border between these two nations; bureaucratic practices are slow, but once they enter the country of Mandela, the landscape changes considerably. Instead of arid rocks and desert spaces there are now green vineyards and cultivated fields, even the road is no longer a dusty dirt road but a clean tongue of asphalt.

In Springbok we set up our camp and our beloved tents for the last time ... we already miss them ... we celebrate with one of the best dinners of the entire trip based on wraps and beans ...

Sud Africa in 2 minutes (Video)

07 December Città del Capo (South Africa)

Slowly we approach the dusty city with our tired and dusty trucks. Its outskirts is a sea of sheet metal slums where the police can't access them. It is a world apart and makes an impression and sadness. Fannie says that people from almost all of Africa of central and southern Italy live here.

Here we are in Cape Town. We stay at the "Dale Court Guesthouse", excellent accommodation a few steps from the Waterfront, the most touristic area.

We immediately lose ourselves among the crowd of tourists, we feel almost lost we who come from Namibia, the least inhabited nation of Africa, we are not used to seeing so many people.

Our trucks clash in the rush hour traffic of Cape Town, our safari look is almost out of place when we mix with well-dressed and perfumed tourists!

There is a huge Christmas tree in the center of Waterfront, many illuminated Malls, pubs, nice restaurants, lights, colors, music, street artists ... a party everywhere!

08 December Cape Town (South Africa)

Cheetah Outreach. Non lontano da Cape Town, a Somerset West, sono accolti, curati e, a volte, rimessi in libertà vari felini: ghepardi in primis! 

For the first time we meet a cheetah up close, they even make us caress it, it has a bristly and hard coat, a beautiful speckled! And to think that this is the fastest animal in the world!

Unfortunately the sea is very rough so skip the boat tour in search of whales, we decide to go then to Robben Island, famous for the prison where many political prisoners were detained including Nelson Mandela.

Colonialism and apartheid have played a very important role in the history of this country, so many people have suffered and some of them, due to their ideas of equality, have even paid with their freedom by spending several years behind bars!

09 December Cape Town (South Africa)

Cape of Good Hope!
Exciting also the only sign, seen many times in documentaries on TV ...
We decide to "climb" the mountain by taking an hour's walk, the scenarios are spectacular, overhangs against the green ocean, then turquoise, then intense blue!

This impressive and extremely perfect nature has captivated my soul!

In the afternoon we reach Simon’s Bay and its chief penguins.

Here they are all stiff and immobile: these funny and round birds, someone sometimes dives into the water, someone else walks with the classic awkward pendulum gait, others relax in the sun ... the little ones, with that soft fur that looks like cotton full of ash they look around confused ...

10 December Cape Town (South Africa)

Today we visit the Nazareth House, an orphanage in a Victorian-style building from the end of the 19th century, home to abandoned babies, maladjusted children and the elderly ...

It strikes me a lot to see so many black babies, some are only two months old, they are all very calm and pampered by the many "mami" who work there. It was a very touching moment for everyone ...

A little further on there were children suffering from handicaps ... thank goodness there are realities like this that manage to give a bit of hope and dignity to such unfortunate people ... 

Our visit ends with the retirement home ... everything changes here, it seemed like a scene of " The pages of our life ", so many old people, all white this time, well dressed, cared for and pampered who spent the last pieces of their lives there ...

We meet Angelina Damiani, an 82-year-old from Naples, a guest of Nazareth House. He speaks a broken Italian and tells us that he had been there for three months or since his poor husband had passed away (the same man who had taken her to Africa for "business" about 60 years before) ... it makes me so tender, tells me that the children are good because every so often they went to find it ... we all do a little company before leaving ...

The sister of Zimbabwe who accompanies us on this visit tells me that Mrs Damiani had been there for 10 years and that no one had ever come to visit her ... a thrill ...
Same house ... black children are born ... white elders go out ...

We leave all the bags full of clothes and toys that we brought from Italy just for this occasion and sadly we go away ...

Last day of travel! We wander aimlessly between the city center and Waterfront trying to get lost and enjoy every little piece of this huge city to the end!

We return home with a baggage of real life and increasingly heavy experiences. Thanks Africa.

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