Souther Africa Safety questions


Dec 21st, 2004, 01:22 PM
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Souther Africa Safety questions

We are planning a trip that includes Capetown and the Garden Route, Victoria Falls and Chobe, Botswana.

1. How safe is it to drive in the Capetown/ Winelands region and along the Garden Route?

2. If we don't do an organized safari and instead book a lodge/hotel in Victoria Falls and then a game lodge in Chobe, it is difficult to get from one location to the other? Most safaris seem to be very door to door - is that just for convenience or is safety an issue?

As you can probably tell, I'm preparing for my first trip to Africa.
jasullivan74 is offline  
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Dec 21st, 2004, 02:20 PM
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At last, a question I can answer.

I have just returned and can address #2. For political reasons, I chose to stay on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls, known as Livingstone. I will be responding based on that combination.

The distance between Victoria Falls (Zambia side) and Kasane (where Chobe is located) is about an hour and a half and many companies can organize a transfer for you from one side to the other, regardless of whether you are part of a safari. A popular one is called Bushtracks. They will pick you up at one place, drop you onto their boat and gather you from the second place. This would be the option if you are comfortable getting in and out of boats, have little luggage, and don't mind some minor discomfort of heat.

There is no safety issue with this, and if you are young, have very little luggage, and lots of time, you could probably take a bus to the ferry on one side, wait about 45 minutes or so and then get a taxi on the other side.

Depending on where you stay in Zambia, or Chobe, your lodging may have a company they work with, ask them and compare rates. For me, Bushtracks offered door to door and was cheapest for where I was going.

The ferry is full of people and seems very safe.

You may opt for self-drive, which would mean taking the road all the way (and not the lengthy wait for the vehicle ferry- you have to get over the water somehow) either through Namibia or Zimbabwe, where there are actual bridges.

You will need to organize a visa for Zimbabwe, and will need one for Zambia as well. I am not sure about Namibia's procedures.

As for the big picture, if you have an interest in a range of game, you may want to investigate the possibility of a safari in South Africa in a private reserve, or in Kruger Park. The variety of game is limited in Chobe and you may be disappointed.

My knowledge is very limited, but there are many actual experts on this board to help.
kerikeri is offline  
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Dec 21st, 2004, 02:31 PM
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>>>>>>Most safaris seem to be very door to door - is that just for convenience or is safety an issue?<<<<<<

I have not been on safari in Botswana, but I think kerikeri's explanation implied a response to your question. It's a matter or convenience (and in some cases not just convenience, but outright feasibility). There are some game reserves in Africa that just are not accessible on a self-drive basis (great distances between them, poor roads, sometimes no roads, etc.). Sometimes one has to get from one game lodge to another by plane or, as in the situation that kerikeri described, by boat.

From what I've read here, Zambian safaris pretty much necessitate some flying.

In South Africa, which is the country in which I do have experience, there tend to be more options. One can fly to one's safari destination, but usually it's feasible to drive there as well (often on a self-drive basis if one chooses).

The rationale for self-drive tends to evaporate if one is going to stay at a private game lodge. In that case the vehicle in which one drives to the game lodge will remain parked and unused for the duration of one's stay there. One will be paying rental for a vehicle to be parked 24/7. At the private game lodges one goes for morning and evening game drives in an open 4x4, off-road vehicle that is provided by the lodge. There are 6 passengers maximum, plus the driver /guide.

The private lodges that operate on that basis are pricey. If one has budget constraints, one can travel through South Africa's national parks on a self-drive basis and stay in accommodation that mostly is self-catering.

I hope that helps you to visualize the set up a bit better.

Oh yes, you asked about safety in the Cape. The winelands and the Garden Route are fine. Places in and around Cape Town that a tourist would visit are fine during the day. Essentially downtown Cape Town, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, and the suburbs along the Atlantic (western) seaboard are suitable areas in which to find accommodation.

When it comes to your safety, you need to be alert and to exercise common sense. You need to be especially careful in Cape Town at night. Unless you are going to dine in a restaurant that is nextdoor to your hotel, you need to catch a cab in Cape Town at night.

I don't know what your nationality is, but Americans sometimes come here and ask what the public sentiment is towards Americans. The answer to that is that South Africans don't have "issues" with the U.S.A. The crime that exists in South Africa is not especially directed towards tourists in general or Americans in particular.

Hope that helps.
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