So with the flights books and with the aid of countless travel guides borrowed from the library, the internet and the scantiest of information from the few African countries tourist offices in Australia we plotted our route.
We gave ourselves 111 days to travel overland from J’burg to Dar es Salaam, see what we wanted to see and spend only an average US$100 a day, not each, but in total! We would stay in backpackers, youth hostels, cheap hotels and where possible camp. The latter was made a little difficult on account of the fact that we weren’t taking any camping equipment but as they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat!
The only things we booked here in Perth were our first nights’ accommodation and ten days car hire in J’burg. There was a very important reason for pre booking both of these. Safety! J’burg is infamous for violent crime; the last thing we wanted to be doing when we arrived was wondering the streets looking for somewhere to stay or looking for a hire car. No, we just wanted to stay one night near the airport, pick up a car and get the hell out of there!
We booked the car through our travel agent and the accommodation through the Internet. Maybe it’s because of time constraints, security or lack of knowledge but it’s interesting that so many people still use travel agents. We found a cheap motel in the right location for half the cost of what our travel agent quoted.
An elephant strolling through the scurb at sunset in Etosha national Park, Namibia
Early this century at the ripe old age of just over 45 we backpacked around South and East Africa on our way to an extended stay in Europe.
The ‘plan’ was to travel from Johannesburg (J’burg) by land as far as maybe Kenya or Tanzania and fly on to London from there, allowing time for the TAB factor. TAB stands for “That’s Africa Baby” a common shrug used in times when a plan falls apart due to the many variables that are lacking in the African infrastructure or bureaucracy. For example a bus or even a plane failing to turn up (we had experienced an Air Zimbabwe flight being cancelled at the last minute on our previous visit due to one politician that needed to go shopping in London) or even a hotel being closed, you know the type of thing. So we were well aware of the potential for this factor to change our timing from time to time.
After several visits later to see Tina our travel agent we finally came up with the ideal flight. We could fly Perth to J’burg and then Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania to London via Paris by Air France. Wow! Paris was high up on the list of places to visit and the ideal place to start our proposed exploration of Europe. However we made one vital mistake, we didn’t book it there and then. When we went to book a few months later that flight had been stopped and we ended up booking the equivalent Qantas/British Airways flights that didn’t stop in Paris. But we did get a free internal flight in South Africa so the gods hadn’t completely deserted us.
An elephant shows us his rear end by the edge of Chobe lake in Botswana