Overview of our Southern Africa trip (South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana)

Our main goal for this trip to Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland) was to do some self-drive safari. But after 4 weeks and 7000km of discovering this part of the world, we can assure you that there is much more than just wild animals; there are extremely friendly people, breathtaking nature and delicious food. If you want to know about our best memories from this trip, read this post: Best of our Southern Africa trip. For more advices on salf drive safari, check this post, and for comparison of the safari parks, click here.

This review is made of day-by-day experiences, where we stopped, where we slept, how much we spent ... Please note that we were paying in local currencies all the time, but for clarity of the overview, the prices are calculated in euros, according to the exchange rates at that time.

On this trip we traveled with two other friends, so all together, we were a group of 4, rented a car together for the duration of the whole trip and we camped all the time.

You can see our route around Southern Africa on the map (click for enlargement)

1st day, 27.9.2016:
Departure! Early morning we were picked up at Ljubljana bus statino by GoOpti budget shuttle and off we were towards Milan Malpensa Airport. Then we flew with Saudia Airlines to Jeddah Airport in Saudi Arabia, where we had a long, 8-hour layover.
2nd day, 28.9.2016:
Early morning flight Jeddah -  Johannesburg, South Africa. After landing we spend quite some time (too much time) at the airport: 2h waiting in the line for passport control and 3h waiting for getting our rental car from Thrifty Car Rental Agency. After that we had to go shopping - to stock up for next days in the dessert. Finally we drove off towards west, to small town Kuruman.
Distance: 570km
Accommodation: Red Sands Country Lodge - camping, price 6,33€ per person

Close up from the map above - first part of our trip: Kgalagadi park and Riemvasmaak
3rd day, 29.9.2016:
We continuoed towards Twee Riviern, the entrance to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Within the park we did our fist safari and drove to Mata Mata camp
A few words regarding the entrance fees: we bought Wild Card, annual pass for South African and Swaziland's parks online, before departure. Price 98€ per person.
Distance: 530km
Accommodation:  Mata Mata rest camp - camping, price 6,72 per person
4th day, 30.9.2016:
Morning and late afternoon safari in Kgalagadi park (around Mata Mata). In the mean time we rested in the camp, along the pool and walked over the border to Namibian farmers market, where we bought meat for our dinner.
Distance: 30km within the park
Accommodation:  Mata Mata rest camp
Lion from Kgalagadi

5th day, 1.10.2016:
Still in Kgalagadi park, we left Mata Mata and continued towards Nossob. Looking for wild animals and admiring the dry riverbeds and red dunes.
Distance: 220km within the park
Accommodation:  Nossob rest camp - camping, price 6,72€ per person

6th day, 2.10.2016:
In Kgalagadi park we drove from Nossob further over the dunes to Botswana and then along the dry riverbed to Two Rivers camp.
Distance: 230km within the park
Accommodation:  Two Rivers rest camp - camping, price 2,5€ per person and 2,8€ for entrance fee for Botswana part of the park.

7th day, 3.10.2016:
Morning safari to Rooipust and back and then we left Kgalagadi, entered again South Africa and headed towards south, past Uppington, where we stopped at solar power plant and then further towards west to hot springs in Riemvasmaak, where we spoiled ourselves for the rest of the day.
Our initial plan was to visit Augrabies falls, but since it's dry season the falls were almost dry (according to locals), so we skipped them.
Distance: 450km
Accommodation: camp near hot springs in Riemvasmaak (coordinates: -28,463973; 20,286675), price: 3,3€ per person

8th day, 4.10.2016:
Another quick morning soak in hot springs and then we were off on the long road to Malealea village in Lesotho. We did a stop in Kimberly - enough for a short walk, to stretch our legs :)
Distance: 910km
Accommodation: Malealea lodge - camping, 7,2€ per person

Map of the second part of our trip - Lesotho
9th day, 5.10.2016
We just survived the coldest night out in the tents, but woke up to a warm and sunny morning. First we had to do our laundry - no washing machines in Lesotho, only water, soap and our hands! :) After that we hiked to Piseng gorge, accompanied by local kids, which turned out to be really cool experience. In the evening we were able to attend a concert of a local chorus - most melodic music ever heard!
Distance: 0km
Accommodation: Malealea lodge

10th day, 6.10.2016:
From Malealea village we drove towards Semonkong village. But out navigation decided that we need some entertainment, so it showed us a "shortcut", full of ups and downs, on gravel roads, with occasional river crossings ... but we were rewarded with beautiful scenery and meetings with local people. In the end we reached our destination of the day: Maletsunyane waterfall.
Typical Lesotho: small round house and hilly scenery
Distance: 160km
Accommodation: Semonkong lodge - camping, 5,5€ per person (with 20% discount)

11th day, 7.10.2016:
The road from Semonkong village to Maseru, capital of Lesotho was newly tarred and we reached our destination quickly. As we arrived just in time for lunch, we headed to Mama's Takeaway and tried some typical food: pap. We continued our drive further east to Ts'ehlanyane Distance: 300km
Accommodation: Ts'ehlanyane national park - camping, 3,5€ per person and 2,7€ entrance fee.

12th day, 8.10.2016:
A hike in Ts'ehlanyane park and afternoon drive on Roof of Africa road: very steep and windy road that stays above 2000m all the time and reaches some passes above 3000m of elevation. We wanted to visit Letseng Diamond mine on the way, but couldn't enter without the permit. In the evening we arrived in Molumong village.
Distance: 220km
Accommodation: St. James lodge - room for 5 persons with en-suite bathroom and shared kitchen. After long negotiations the price was 30,8€ for the whole room.

13th day, 9.10.2016:
Attended sunday service in local church in Molumong village and then continued our drive along the  Roof of Africa till Sani Pass (2895). From there we climbed two mountains (both above 3000m( and then sadly left Lesotho and descended the scariest road down Sani Pass! After entering into South Africa again, we went to Hermit's Woods campsite in Garden Castle park and spent a night there.
Distance: 150km
Accommodation: Hermit's Wood campsite, 2€ per person

Rhino Horn Peak in morning sun
14th day, 10.10.2016
Woke up a bit too late, but the wather was so beautiful, that we decided to start climbing the famous mountain Rhino Horn Peak, one of the most famous hikes in Drakensberg mountains. After successful climb up and down we drove further to St. Lucia.
Distance: 490km
Accommodation: Sugarloaf campsite, 6,6€ per person

Third part of our trip - KwaZulu Natal province and Swaziland

15th day, 11.10.2016
It was time for another safari in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi park. We entered at Memorial Gate and drove along the whole park and exited at Cengeni Gate. This park was very different than Kgalagadi park, but also very nice! On our way back, our navigation chose a shortcut again and we spent 3 hours driving very narrow gravel roads in total 100km.
Distance: 380km
Accommodation: Sugarloaf campsite

16th day, 12.10.2016:
Morning boat safari was dedicated to searching for hippos and crocodiles in St. Lucia estuary. Price for this 2-hours-long safari was 14,3€ per person. In the afternoon we headed towards Mabibi beach, where we had some time off.
Distance: 230km
Accommodation: Mabibi beach camp, discounted price was 5,3€ per person plus 3,3€ entrance fee (Mabibi beach is part of iSmangaliso Wetland park).
Vervet monkey, our only neighbor in
Mabibi Beach camp

17th day, 13.10.2016:
Chilling on Mabibi beach: sleep, swim, sunbath, eat ... repeat :)
Distance: 0km
Accommodation: Mabibi beach camp

18th day, 14.10.2016:
Another lazy day on Mabibi beach.
Distance 0km
Accommodation: Mabibi beach camp

19th day, 15.10.2016:
We left Mabibi and full of energy drove into small country of Swaziland. Our destination of the day was Hlane national park and evening safari there.
Distance: 320km
Accommodation: Ndlovu campsite, 6,6€ per person

20th day, 16.10.2016:
We started a day with morning walking safari with a ranger in Hlane park (price was 13€ per person), drove further to Mantenga Cultural Village, where we learnd about Swazi craft and art, had delicious lunch in best restaurant ever - eDlandleni  and awaited for sunset in beautiful Malolotja national park. In the evening we left the country, entered in South Arica and drove towards Kruger park.
Distance: 310km
Accommodation: Marloth Park campsite, free of charge

21st day, 17.10.2016:
Safari in Kruger park, where we finally saw a cheetah (Katarina's wish came true:)) We entered the park at Crocodile Bridge camp, drove the S28 road to Lower Sabie camp, and further to Skukuza camp. After lunch we left the park at Paul Kruger Gate. It was time to head back to Johannesburg, where we met with a friend in typical Jo-burg pub Jolly Roger, ate a dinner and returned to the airport.
Distance: 640km
Accommodation: airport ground, free of charge

Close up of Cape Town and surroundings
22nd day, 18.10.2016:
Morning flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town. After arrival we picked up our rental car (Toyota Etios) from First Car Rental and started exploring the city:V&A Waterfront, where we visited Food Market and ate some of the best wraps and smoothies ever! Further we went to Bo Kaap district and then through vine region Constantia to Simon's Town, where we summed up the day together with African penguins.
Distance: 100km
Accommodation: Oatlands campsite, 6,15€ per person

23rd day, 19.10.2016:
Started the day with a hike from Cape of Good Hope to Cape Point and then back to Boulders Beach, where we made pancakes on the beach and swam in the ocean. Our plan for the evening was to take a cable car to Table Mountain and watch a sunset from there. But due to a terrible traffic jam, we missed the last cable car ... so we drove to Camps Bay and watched the sunset from there. Then we went also to Signal Hill and enjoyed the views of the mountain, city and ocean. We celebrated Rok's birthday in restaurant Mama Africa on Long Street in the city center.
Distance 160km
Accommodation: Oatlands campsite

24th day, 20.10.2016:
We left Cape Town and drove to Gansbaai, where boys went shark diving while girls enjoyed some sun on Franskraal beach. In the evening we drove back to Hermanus - whale watching capital of the world.
Distance: 270km
Accommodation: Onrus camp, 4€ per person

A view from the path between Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point
25th day, 21.10.2016:
Whale watching from the shore in Hermanus, then drive to wine-region: in Franschhoek village we went to GlenWood Wine Estate for wine-tasting (4€ per person), drove further (yes, we were sober:)) to Stellenbosch, where we met our friend and had dinner together. In the evening we headed back to the airport and flew to Johannesburg. But the day was not over yet - in Johannesburg a friend met us at the airport and we went to his place in Pretoria.
Distance: 190km
Accommodation: at our friend's place in Pretoria, free of charge

26th day, 22.10.2016:
Spent the morning with our friend and his family in Pretoria. Then headed back to the airport in Johannesburg and this is where our trip came to an end. We boarded Sauida airlines plane and flew to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and again spent 8 hours at the airport there.

27th day, 23.10.2016:
Flight Jeddah - Milan and then drove back to Ljubljana with GoOpti shuttle.

All our expenses together

Costs for the whole group:
  • Rent a car (Ford Ranger 4x4) for 20 days through Drive South Africa, actual rental agency was Thrifty: 1357,46€
  • Rent a car (Toyota Etios) for 4 days through Billiger Mietwagen, actual agency was First Car Rental: 92€
  • Diesel and gasoline for the whole trip (7000km): 470€ (average diesel price was 0,75€/L, average unleaded gasoline price: 0,85€)
  • Tolls: 32,1€
  • Parking fees and tipping: 6€
  • All food and all drinks: 500€ 

Costs per person:
  • Return flight tickets (Milan - Johannesburg and Johannesburg - Cape Town): 442,79€
  • GoOpti return shuttle Ljubljana - Milan:  74,66€ 
  • Costs of visa fees and sending the documents to the embassies: 93€ + 12€
  • Park entrance fees: 110,5€
  • Activities (eg boat safari, walking safari): 31,3€ and 115,5€ for shark diving
  • Accommodation: 117,4€



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