Southern Africa should be fun. The roads are generally pretty good, and
empty - if you do come across someone going slower than you, you can
usually see that it is clear to pass as far as the next horizon.
However, when there is a lot of traffic, or the weather is bad, or there
are goats wandering out into the road just as that combi decides to pull
out in front of you - then it can be as nerve-wracking as anywhere in
Images - 1) - empty road &
blatantly full of goats
|For suggestions about how to
responsibly in National Parks and wildlife reserves go here,
or for some ideas about outfitting for a proper off-road expedition, go
If you stick exclusively to tar roads you will be missing out
on some of the most incredible scenery Namibia has to offer. Some roads
are only passable to high-clearance vehicles, or require 4x4; there are
also a number of gravity-defying mountain passes. You are advised to
check locally for up-to-date information on conditions before getting
too far off the beaten track. For suggestions about outfitting for
a proper off-road expedition, go here.
South Africa's road network is fantastic,
and most people will never have to leave tar behind until they go round
Kruger, and even then many stick to paved roads.
National (N) Roads are South Africa's
motorways. Some of them (most of the better ones) are now toll
roads - as a result, nearly all of the Johannesburg-Durban road
which used to be a complete bottleneck is now four lane and relatively
free-flowing. In some rural areas
you take your life in your own hands whenever you go off the more beaten
track; to get to farmhouse B&Bs you may have to scrape your way
slowly up a deeply rutted track.
(As it is currently almost impossible to buy fuel in Zimbabwe, this
irrelevant). Be aware that the roads are in a mess, and it is hugely
difficult to get any form of practical support. And the politics cannot
be escaped from - by going to Zim, your money will find its way back to
Mugabe and the stats of foreign tourists used to justify his policies.
If you do choose to go, be aware that Mugabe's supporters - and others
driven to desperation - may well report any political statements made.
But by showing commonsense, being prepared to leave the tourist
hot-spots, and having an awareness of the past 30 years, Zim could once
again become an incredible destination.