I’ve been writing this blog for three years this month, and have accumulated many partially written blogs that remain unpublished. I may as well just publish them as is, and if I ever feel inspired to finish any, do so later.
March 3rd, 2014
This trip has fallen through – it was supposed to be in September 2014.
Apart from North Africa, I haven’t seen any of the continent. But it’s not easy, or so safe, so I started to work out some parameters on where I would consider visiting. Parameters such as : diseases, location, crime, safety, visa cost, railway travel possibility, flight availability.
Firstly I decided to eliminate any country with a Yellow Fever risk. Actually, that eliminates a vast swathe of Africa. In north Africa that leaves basically Morocco, as I have visited Egypt and Tunisia. And in southern Africa, Madagascar, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique.
Next, I looked at the homicide statistics:
The statistics show everywhere is so dangerous, one should stay at home. The UK, Australia, and most of Western Europe are about 1 person per 100,000 of population. Malaysia is 2.3, Thailand 4.8. But South Africa 31.8! Zimbabwe 14.3. Morocco is 1.4, so about the safest of the lot.
OK, so I can’t use this statistic and still travel. As for road accident deaths:
Namibia is the worst in the world. 53.4 deaths per 100,000 of population. UK is 4.8, Australia is 6.8: Malaysia at 34.5 is pretty bad. Morocco is 19.3.
So, as far as possible travel by train or first world airline, but I still have the same list of countries.
Then I read the Lonely Planet guide, Seat 61
and Trip Advisor
, with a view to crime against tourists in each country. It seems muggings and robbery are common in most, with walking in daytime dangerous in some, even. The police in Mozambique are depicted as thugs in uniforms, and an extra danger, on top of the muggers and robbers. This leads me to eliminate Mozambique, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Johannesburg can’t be eliminated as it is the travel hub I’ll have to use, but one must be very careful.
Madagascar is not so easy for me to get to, and Botswana would take up too much time, so they are off the list, due to location.
Now, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe are the only countries left in the south, and Morocco in the north. This looks like two separate trips, so I will leave Morocco out of the planning for now.
In these three countries one can do some, but not all, travel by train. Flights on first world airlines are also available. Many of the eliminated countries charge outrageously for visas, but they are free except for Zimbabwe in the remaining ones.
So, that deals with my parameters, and eliminates as many of the risks as I could.
Next I have to decide how to get there from Malaysia, what to see, and then what route to take. This will depend in part on where trains run. I will use the aforementioned guide and sites initially.
So, I have to decide how to get there from Malaysia, what to see, and then what route to take.
These are airlines I can use that fly to Africa:
SA.-SOUTH AFRICAN A W
KL.-ROYAL DUTCH AIR
I will choose later, but initially CX PEN – HKG – JNB seems easiest from Penang.
What my friend and I want to do is the following: catch some trains, see some wildlife in the wild, do some walks, see some wineries, and see some of the South African Coast – particularly Cape Town.
Before I meet my friend, I am thinking of a side trip to Namibia, where I would fly into Windhoek, and then catch the night train down to Swakopmund, a German beach town. Then catch the train back to Windhoek. Then either fly from Windhoek back to JNB and on to Victoria Falls, or catch the bus to Victoria falls. The (dis)advantage of the latter is that one passes though Zambia, so can see Victoria Falls from that side too, but then one officially requires a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate – which is not often checked on entering South Africa, but it could be.
So, the current plan is to meet up in Victoria Falls, and after a couple of days there, go to Huange National Park for some wildlife viewing. Then catch the train to Bulawayo, where there is a nice train museum, I read. From Bulawayo catch the bus, or bus and train, down to Jo’burg. Then the night train down to Capetown, where we see the wineries and explore some of the coast.
This seems reasonable so far, so next is to find out the finer details.