Plan your trip

Getaway (South Africa) - - ROAD TRIP KENYA TO CAPE -

GET­TING THERE

SAA and Kenya Air­ways fly from Joburg or Cape Town to Nairobi, from around R6 300 pp. SAA trans­ports bikes free.

WHEN TO GO

They chose the end of the rainy sea­son from late Fe­bru­ary to the end of April; there is still some rain about but the tem­per­a­tures are milder, around (25°C).

NEED TO KNOW

Reg­is­ter with Warmshow­ers.org, a hos­pi­tal­ity ex­change net­work for bike tourists. You’ll meet lovely peo­ple who’ll of­fer a bed and a warm shower.

Nav­i­gate us­ing Maps.me, a free app used by cy­cle tourists who book­mark ho­tels, hos­tels and shops so trav­ellers can find them eas­ily. Use it on flight mode to save bat­tery power.

Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate goat­head thorns; they’re sharp and they’re every­where, so use ro­bust tyres. Guard against heat stroke by drink­ing lots of liq­uid. And check your wa­ter bot­tles reg­u­larly for mould.

Methy­lated spir­its can be bought in most towns so an al­co­hol stove is good; a wood stove is also bril­liant as wood is abun­dant.

Namibia is a fan­tas­tic place to cy­cle tour; camp at the truck rest ar­eas where there are pic­nic ta­bles, here and in Botswana (but use your dis­cre­tion re­gard­ing safety).

It’s easy to buy data top-ups in each coun­try. Carry ex­tra bis­cuits and tea bags as gifts for peo­ple you meet.

STAY HERE

In ad­di­tion to mostly wild camp­ing, these are rec­om­mended spots:

Tan­za­nia A ba­sic room/bath­room just be­fore the Mtera hy­dro­elec­tric dam was the only place for miles around.

Malawi The Beach Cham­ber Mo­tel in Karonga is a great set­ting (on Lake Malawi) and it has cold beer. Find it on Face­book. You can also camp on many beaches along the shore of Lake Malawi.

Zam­bia Liv­ing­stone Back­pack­ers is a good, chilled base for vis­it­ing Vic­to­ria Falls, and close to all ameni­ties. There’s a pool, com­mu­nal kitchen and laun­dry fa­cil­i­ties. liv­ing­stoneback­pack­ers.com

Botswana Panda Rest is the first camp­site on the Ele­phant High­way, in a great set­ting with a bar where food is served. Camp or stay in a ron­davel. stay-botswana.com

Namibia Only camp in the Namib Desert if you are well pre­pared – and leave no trace. In Wind­hoek, go to Chameleon Back­pack­ers and Guest­house. chameleon­back­pack­ers.com

South Africa Thorn­bay Ac­com­mo­da­tion in Dor­ing­baai on the West Coast has a beau­ti­ful set­ting, good rates and is self­ca­ter­ing. dor­ing­baai-ac­com­mo­da­tion.co.za

EAT AND DRINK

Stock up on sup­plies in towns as vil­lage shops of­ten sell only bis­cuits, fizzy drinks and (usu­ally) wa­ter. Buy un­sweet­ened dough­nuts (vetkoek) at the side of the road in Tan­za­nia and Malawi. ‘Chips mayai’ (an omelette with chips in­side) is mag­nif­i­cent and found through­out Tan­za­nia.

Most Spar su­per­mar­kets have a wa­ter ma­chine that re­cy­cles waste wa­ter – it’s cheaper to fill up from these than buy­ing bot­tled wa­ter (it’s safe to drink and also en­vi­ron­men­tally friend­lier). Or fill up at taps in ser­vice sta­tions. They took wa­ter pu­rifi­ca­tion tablets but never used them, pre­fer­ring to use com­mon sense.

Ask lo­cal peo­ple where to get food; of­ten they’ll take you to some­one who will cook a meal for you. This will cost around R25 to R90 in ru­ral ar­eas, more in towns but un­der R150 a meal. Maps.me is also great for find­ing food stops.

WHAT IT COST

Their av­er­age daily bud­get was R130 each (less some days or more when they stayed in guest houses due to rain or need­ing a rest). The en­tire trip cost R13 000 each, ex­clud­ing flights.

ABOVE The grounds of a church made for a good ‘wild’ camp near Karonga in Malawi.

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