There is a good reason that most people touring Africa go there on pre-arranged Safaris. Planning is complicated, infrastructure in many places is minimal, the distances are huge and the languages many.
The first decision we made was which countries we wanted to visit – you’ll see that list elsewhere on the website. Africa is a huge continent and you could never see it all no matter how much time you allotted. We hope our plan to visit 9 countries over 4 months is realistic but only time will tell. Our plan does not include trying to visit the chimpanzee or gorilla parks, a huge loss, but that just gives us a good reason to go back. I also wanted to climb Kilimanjaro and that was another adventure that just did not fit in easily with everything else.
Next you have to figure out what time of year to go. Sub Saharan Africa is below the equator so their seasons are the opposite of North America, but more important than summer or winter is the rainy or dry season. During the rains many roads in Africa simply become impassable and large chunks of the continent are inaccessible. Another huge draw is timing your trip to catch the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti and across the Mara River. To complicate matters more the rains don’t come to each country at the same time so compromise is inevitable. In the end you juggle logistics to get the best of the weather, animal viewing, distances, your time frame and of course your budget.
Our trip is scheduled to start in So. Africa mid April of 2014 drive north as far as Tanzania and return to So. Africa four months later by mid August 2014. It will likely be well over 10,000 miles total.
The tools we used most to plan were the Lonely Planet guides for Southern and East Africa, a Michelin map of Southern and Central Africa, the excellent tracks4africa maps for computer which can be uploaded to a Garmin GPS and of course copious amounts of internet research.
The following is our packing list:
- Computers and Ipads- with ability to charge via 12 volt cigarette lighter plug and also AC adaptors to 220 volts for using with a 220 volt inverter. All documents, web pages, camera manuals, etc. are loaded on both Mac and Ipad and to cloud. The computer has the tracks4africa planning maps.
- Small solar charger that can charge anything with a USB or 12volt plug
- Binoculars- 2 pair. 1 pr. 8x and 1pr. 8-18x zoom
- Kindles – a little known advantage is that a Kindle can act as a smart phone giving you world wide free internet access.
- Cameras- including one long lens and a monopod to steady the long lens
- Satellite Phone for emergencies
- Unlocked mobile phone that can be used overseas with the purchase of an inexpensive local SIM card
- Spare SD cards for cameras and GoPro
- Garmin GPS with tracks4africa maps loaded
- SPOT GPS tracker
- Three-way 12 volt cigarette lighter charger
- 1 million candle power hand spot light – rechargeable
- Taser and pepper spray for personal protection
- Night vision scope
- Hand compass
- Kathadyn hand pump water filter
- Steripen ultraviolet water purifier
- FRS walkie-talkies
- Electric meter and misc. tools
- Zip lock baggies to keep electronics dust free
- 2 sleeping bags and foam pads
- 1 dome tent
- 2 daypacks
- Backpacking stove and pots and pan
- 2 headlamps and 2 small flashlights
- 2 water bottles
- 2 pee bottles
- Numerous small stuff sacks to organize gear
Our personal clothing is being kept to a minimum- Safari style long sleeve shirts and long pants in neutral colors- easily washed. Several pile layers. Goretex outer jacket Shirts, pants and socks treated with Permethrin to discourage insects.
- Hiking boots, tennis shoes, sandals, slippers
- Mosquito head nets
- Spare glasses and sunglasses
- Baseball hat and wide brimmed hat
- Fleece hat and light gloves
- Sewing kit
- Two Leatherman multi tools
- Pens, pencils, soccer balls for gifts
- Passports and immunization cards
- International drivers license
- Two dozen spare passport photos
- Extensive 1st Aid kit – see the health tab for details