africa travel guide

Africa travels

We have travelled extensively throughout Southern Africa in 4×4 vehicles, over many years.  The data we have collected is gathered here. However, some is quite dated and others up-to-date, so if you are using it for your research, I suggest verifying critical data from more up-to-date sources.

BotswanaNamibiaMozambiqueZambiaLesotho

Botswana Travel Advisory
Geographically, Botswana has been described as a shallow, sand-filled basin. To the east the endless plain gives rise to low ranges of hills facing the Limpopo drainage system. The ‘basin’ slopes towards the north-east while the Makgadikgadi Pans form the lowest part of the country. The land again rises gradually to the west reaching towards the higher areas of Namibia. The arid Kalahari covers roughly two-thirds of the country consisting of vast flat sand plains which, in places, give way to huge dunefields of various types, most of which have been stabilised by vegetation.

The most remarkable geographic feature of Botswana is the Okavango Delta in the Northwest. This immense inland drainage system is formed by the Okavango River, which carries the rain waters from the Angolan highlands through the 80-kilometre panhandle in the north, fanning out into a 15 000 square-kilometre delta. To the east the Delta is connected to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans by the Boteti River. The pans are the remnants of a giant lake which once covered most of northern Botswana.

The climate over much of the country can be described as semi-arid owing to the long periods of heat and low rainfall. The Kalahari has three seasons – the cool, dry winter from May to September, the hot dry spring of October and November, and the wet summer from the end of November to May. Winters are very pleasant with few really miserable days but the nights can be cold with temperatures dropping to below freezing. Daytime summer temperatures average 32°C although the hottest time of the year is late spring.

Driving through much of Botswana, one is struck by the apparent uniformity of the vegetation as nine-tenths of the country is covered with savannah grasslands intermingled with either bush or trees. In the extreme north-east, in the Chobe Reserve, the country is dominated by thick deciduous forest. Huge areas of mopane forest occur in much of north-eastern and north-western Botswana. It is, however, in the Okavango Delta that the real diversity of plant life becomes apparent. Water lilies, papyrus, water figs, reeds and grasses all blend to create a lush paradise.

Fauna and Flora

Botswana is blessed with a fascinating array of animal species ranging from the glamorous ‘big five’ to small nocturnal creeping things. It is certainly a game-viewer’s paradise with approximately 17% of the country demarcated as wildlife areas. Part of the attraction of visiting Botswana, especially the northern reserves, is that the game roams fairly freely and it is not unusual to see antelope or elephant well outside of the reserves.

Wildlife in Botswana competes heavily with cattle and it is unfortunate that the need to protect the cattle industry from foot and mouth disease has resulted in so much of the country being carved up by cattle fences. These fences have in many instances cut off the traditional migratory routes which the antelope and their predators have followed. Botswana has been severely criticized by many conservationists for this policy which has resulted in the loss of incalculable numbers of animals. It must, however, be remembered that Botswana was one of the first African countries to proclaim wildlife areas and to institute any kind of protective measures for its game.

The reserves and bushveld areas of Botswana are not only an animal Eden but are also home to some of the most wonderful bird species.

Roads

The Botswana road network consists of good quality tar, fast firm gravel or calcrete and slow thick sand, the latter being the case whenever the track leads to remote areas. Well used gravel roads are often badly corrugated.

Currency

The pula is the unit of currency in Botswana. Mastercard, American Express, Visa, and Diners Club credit cards are accepted in the main centres and in most lodges and hotels. Cash is required for fuel purchases. Banks open at 08h15 and close at 12h45 on weekdays. On Saturdays they open at 08h15 and close at 10h45.

Health

There are hospitals or clinics in all the main towns and many are manned by aid workers from various international organisations. Standards are reasonable but for complicated illnesses it is advisable to head for a city in South Africa for treatment. Bilharzia exists in many waterways in Botswana, particularly those close to settlements. Malaria is endemic especially in the north and you should consult your doctor regarding appropriate precautions. Bees are found in abundance in the Central Kalahari Reserve so anyone allergic to bee stings must be especially careful in this area. You are unlikely to see tsetse fly owing to the extensive spraying which has taken place in this area over the past decade. The tsetse fly looks very similar to a horse fly and has a painful bite. They often crowd around a vehicle in search of shade and when it is stopped, they emerge and attack the occupants. Being bitten is no guarantee that you will contract sleeping sickness, but should you return home and begin feeling feverish and off-colour be sure to mention being bitten to your doctor so that the possibility of sleeping sickness can be investigated.

Crossing Borders

The opening and closing times of border posts vary, but in most cases major points of entry open at 07h00 and close at 20h00. Border posts on minor routes open at 08h00 and close at 16h00.

Visas are not required for citizens of the Republic of South Africa and other Commonwealth countries. Your local Botswanan consular office will advise you on visa requirements for other passport holders.

Each person entering Botswana from the South African Common Customs Area can legally take in:
<ul>
<li>six cans of carbonated beverage;</li>
<li>one litre of beer or spirits;</li>
<li>one litre of wine;</li>
<li>200 cigarettes.</li>
</ul>
It is important that you declare all new items such as foodstuffs, drinks and cigarettes and, as long as you are within the stated limits, you will not be required to pay duty. Fuel is not taxable if it is carried in auxiliary tanks. Permits to transport meat are no longer required, so transporting meat sufficient for personal consumption is no longer a hassle.

Documents/Essentials

It is your responsibility to prove that the vehicle you are driving is not stolen. The following documents are mandatory:
<ul>
<li>Vehicle registration papers</li>
<li>A valid driver’s license</li>
<li>Vehicle police clearance certificate</li>
</ul>

Arms

Hunting rifles are the only firearms that can be imported into Botswana. They must be accompanied by import permits obtainable from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, PO Box 131, Gaborone, or the Central Arms Registry, PO Box 516, Gaborone.

PARKS, BOOKINGS AND Tourist Information

In the past, when the Botswana Department of Wildlife offered access to their reserves at low prices, South African 4x4s arrived in their hundreds, stripping the landscape of firewood and regrettably leaving behind a serious litter problem. In January 1989 the government raised the prices to figures which, even by world standards, were very high. At first this had the effect of limiting the numbers of foreign visitors in their own vehicles and only the few who could afford it visited the reserves. Now, it seems, everybody in a 4×4 can afford the high prices and the reserves are becoming crowded once again. Another price hike was due in early 2000 to treble the entrance fees to non-residents. At the time of printing (mid 2000) no such increases had been implemented.

Parks and Reserves Reservation Office in Gaborone handles bookings and visitors’ enquiries. Any visitor wishing to be accommodated in the public camping sites in the Kutse Game Reserve, Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Gemsbok National Park (Mabuasehube and Two Rivers) MUST make advanced reservations through:

Parks and Reserves Reservations Office (Gaborone), PO Box 131, Gaborone, Botswana, ­Tel: (267) 318 0774, fax: (267) 318 0775. Maun offices: (267) Tel (267) 686-1265 Fax (267) 686 1264

Email: <a href=”mailto:DWNPBOTS@GLOBAL.BW”>DWNPBOTS@GLOBAL.BW</a> this is a very unreliable service and bookings should be made by telephone and fax.

The office is situated in the Government Enclave of Gaborone, off Khama Crescent, opposite the western end of Queens Road.

This office handles enquiries regarding the northern parks: Chobe, Moremi, Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi. Similarly, the Parks and Reserves Reservations Office in Maun will be able to deal with enquiries for the central and southern parks.

Maps and Books

The best map for use on this trail is InfoMap Botswana 1:1 100 000, samples of which are published in this book. The best book is Mike Main’s Botswana Visitors’ Guide. They are both available from most 4×4 outlets and by mail from the website <a href=”http://www.infomap.co.za/” target=”_blank”>www.infomap.co.za </a>

Maps of Botswana can be obtained from the Automobile Association, while topographical maps are available from the Department of Surveys and Lands, Private Bag 0037, Gaborone. InfoMap make an excellent road map complete with GPS co-ordinates. Tel 021 852 9984 to order.

Recommended books and DVDs include:

Kalahari. Life’s variety in Dune and Delta by Mike Main. Published by Southern.
The Cry of the Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owens. Published by Fontana 1985.
The Lost World of the Kalahari by Laurens Van Der Post. Published by Chatto and Windus Ltd 1988.
Exploring the Kalahari DVD. Andrew S White and Mike Main. Available on this website in the shop.

NAMIBIA

Namibia is divided into three distinct geographical regions each with its own natural wonders and appeal. These regions include a low-lying coastal belt, a central plateau and the Kalahari Desert. The coastal belt comprises the Namib Desert which extends along the entire Atlantic coast and ranges from 100-160km in width. The Namib Desert is a true desert with an annual rainfall of a mere 51mm. Life in the desert relies heavily for its water requirements on the fogs and mists which roll in from the cold Atlantic ocean in the mornings and evenings. The Namib includes the Namib-Naukluft Park, Lüderitz, Swakopmund and the Skeleton Coast Park.

The central plateau lies to the east of the coastal belt and rises abruptly at the Great Escarpment. This is the mountainous part of Namibia and the plateau averages about 1 100 metres but exceeding 1 800 metres in places. This semi-desert central plateau includes the Khomas Hochland, Erongo Mountains, Spitzkoppe – Namibia’s Matterhorn, the Brandburg and Khorixas. Fine rock art is commonly found in these rugged mountains. The annual rainfall on this central plateau ranges from 152mm in the south to about 559mm in the north.

The Kalahari region, found to the east, is a highland area with vast sandy tracts of red, orange and white sands stabilised in places by vegetation.

Namibia is not blessed with abundant surface water and the only permanent rivers are those which form its borders, namely the Orange in the south and the Kunene, Okavango and Zambezi in the north.

The climate is generally hot and dry and, with a mean average rainfall of 270mm, Namibia is considered an arid country. More than 70% of the rainfall is recorded during the summer months from December to March, although both the duration and quantity of rain increases as one moves northwards and inland from the coast. Summer rainfall often comes in the form of afternoon thunderstorms which settles the dust and leaves the landscape ‘washed clean’ with that wonderful rainy smell found only after a thunderstorm in Africa. Summers, except along the coastal areas, are extremely hot with temperatures averaging 35°C. The hottest time of the year is October before the rains when temperatures exceed 40°C in many places. Temperatures along the coast are markedly cooler than the interior due to the presence of the cold Benguela current which sweeps cold air inland. The mists and fogs which result from this influx of colder air, play a vital role in the survival of the fauna and flora which inhabit the desert along the coast. For many months of the year this is the only source of moisture. Berg winds and sandstorms also occur along the coast, especially during May and September.

The dry winter season from May to November is the best time to visit Namibia when the days are pleasantly warm and the nights are cold. Winter temperatures average 26°C during daytime but can drop to well below freezing at night, especially in the desert areas. Therefore it is important to take both warm clothing and a good quality sleeping bag if you intend camping.

Namibia was the first country in the world to include the protection of the environment and the sustainable utilisation of its wildlife resources in its constitution. This conservation philosophy has been put into action with 15.5% of the country having been declared national parks. These parks range from desolate desert areas to big game sanctuaries such as Etosha Pan or Kaudom Game Reserve. Most of the African mammal species are well represented in Namibia. All game-viewing enthusiasts, those who wish to see the Big Five as well as the folk who, like me, prefer the ‘little animals’, will be richly rewarded.

Bird-watching in Namibia is an absolute treat, with species that are endemic to this region alone being found on the spotting list.

The plant-life alone offers a tempting reason to visit Namibia. The harsh climate has created a fascinating and at times bizarre diversity of plants ranging from the almost prehistoric Welwitschia mirabilis to the even more extraordinary looking halfmens tree, the Pachypodium namaquanum. The quiver tree too has become synonymous with Namibia.

These are examples of the more dramatic plant types found in Namibia but in general vegetation is scant in both the Namib and Kalahari deserts where thorn scrub and tough, hardy grasses predominate. The central plateau is covered with a thornbush savannah where the thorn trees flourish amongst the grasses.

It is only in the north-east of the country that true forests are found. The northern portion of the country is also the home of riverine vegetation and palms.

Roads

Namibia is blessed with a magnificent network of roads which dissect much of the country. The main roads range from long stretches of smooth, fast tar to good firm gravel covering very remote areas. The access roads to all the national parks, except for the Namib-Naukluft, are tarred. The roads within the parks are good gravel, making the towing of trailers easy.

Four-wheel drive is needed to get to many of the more remote areas such Damaraland, Kaokoland or the southern Caprivi. The arrival of 4X4 vehicles in large numbers has, however, resulted in some areas, for example parts of Sossusvlei, being closed to off-road drivers. A heavy responsibility therefore rests on us all to make sure that we respect the environment over which we drive to prevent other areas being closed.

Distances between towns are often great and subsidiary roads carry very little traffic. In fact, you can drive all day without seeing another vehicle. It is essential that you are self-sufficient in fuel, vehicle spares, water for drinking andvehicle repair, and spare tyres. Fuel can usually be obtained (including unleaded) throughout Namibia but once in the more remote areas supply can be erratic and it is essential that you fill up all your available tanks and cans before leaving a fuel station.

The general speed limit is 60km in urban areas and 120km on the main roads. It is advisable to travel below these speeds on gravel roads as loose sand can cause fatal accidents. It is also advisable to check the tyre supply in Namibia as some of the latest models of 4×4 vehicles have very specific rim and tyre sizes that could be difficult to obtain.

Trans-Kalahari Highway

Many travellers visiting Namibia will make use of the new trans-Kalahari road through southern Botswana. Fuel (unleaded petrol included) is available all along the route. Between Kang and the border there is no unleaded. The alternative is Ghanzi which has unleaded fuel. The Buitepos border post opens at 06h00 and closes at 16h00. If you arrive too late you can camp at the Buitepos Garage or at the Zelda Guest Farm (PO Box 75 Gobabis, Namibia) 20km outside Buitepos.

Currency

The currency is the Namibian dollar (N$) but the South African rand is also legal tender and has the same value as the Namibian dollar. Credit cards and traveller’s cheques are accepted in most main centres but it is recommended that you carry cash in the remote areas, especially to pay for fuel. The major South African commercial banks are represented in Namibia with branches or agencies in most towns.

Health

No specific vaccinations are required to visit Namibia. There are hospitals or clinics in all the main towns where the standards are generally high. Once in remote areas medical help becomes less accessible although there are clinics and smaller hospitals manned both by local staff and aid workers from all over the world. If you do need to visit a hospital or clinic be prepared to wait for assistance.

Namibia’s dry climate precludes most tropical diseases except in the north where malaria and sleeping sickness are common. In recent years quinine-resistant malaria strains have appeared, so it is essential that you obtain suitable prophylactics from your doctor before visiting northern Namibia. Bilharzia exists in many waterways in the northern regions of Caprivi and Kavango close to towns and settlements thus care must be taken. Water available from the main towns is purified and safe to drink.

Although the remainder of the country is free from tropical diseases, common-sense health practices should be adopted. These include wearing hats and sunblock and avoiding heavy exertion during the heat of the day, as sunstroke is a real threat.

Crossing the Border

As the border posts open at various times we suggest that you consult the latest Automobile Association or ContiMap for the hours of the posts on your route. Bona-fide tourist or business travellers from South Africa and the Commonwealth countries do not require visas to enter Namibia.

Visitors to Namibia will be required to pay general sales tax on all goods imported except used personal items, sports and recreation equipment brought in as part of passenger baggage.

Each person can import the following goods into the country:

  • maximum of 1 litre of wine;
  • maximum of 1 litre of spirits and other alcoholic beverages;
  • 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 250 grams of cigarette or pipe tobacco;
  • other new or used goods to a total value of R500;
  • goods being imported for temporary use in Namibia which will be re-exported
  • all goods in your vehicle must be declared when entering the country.

Documents/Essentials

Vehicle theft is rife in Southern Africa. It is therefore your responsibility to prove that the vehicle you are driving is not stolen. The following documents are mandatory:

  • vehicle registration papers;
  • a valid driver’s licence;
  • vehicle police clearance certificate or proof of ownership.

Arms

Hunting rifles will be allowed into Namibia if the importer is in possession of a valid invitation to hunt in the country. Handguns cannot be imported into the country by tourists or visitors. These weapons will be retained by the customs officials at the point of entry and will only be returned when leaving Namibia.

SUGGESTED READING AND MAPS

The InfoMap is the best map of Namibia. It is highly detailed and includes GPS co-ordinates, accommodation and fuel availability. This map is available via mail order, tel 021 852 9984 and at 4×4 outlets and good bookshops.

http://www.4xforum.co.za or Topographical maps are available from the Surveyor General, Department of Justice, Private Bag 13267, Windhoek, 9000.

Kaokoveld: The last Wilderness, Anthony Hall-Martin, Clive Walker, J du P Bothma.

Getaway Magazine: September and October 1991.

The best travellers map are Nambia 1:1400 000 and Kaokoland 1:620 000 InfoMap Map extracts of which are published in this book. Log onto www.infomap.co.za to order.

Tourist Information

Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Fax no. 092 64 61 22 4900.

Namibian Tourism Office, Johannesburg: 011 784 8024.

MOZAMBIQUE

May 2014. Travel update.
Travel to Mozambique north of Maputo is not advised. Political unrest, rampant crime, extortion, hijackings and rapes have been perpetrated on many tourists north of Maputo. Summer 2013/14 there were dozens of reports and many travellers say that they will never risk Mozambique again. A few did not make it out alive. It appears that travel south of Maputo along the coastal belt is still safe. Air travel directly to the resorts appears much safer.

December 2013. Border post scams
When at the border, double check that ALL your passports have been stamped with a Mozambique entry stamp/visa. Once a border official has determined that you will be returning via the same border crossing, they will pretend to stamp the passport/s, but will not. On your return officials levy heavy fines (US$5000 is not uncommon) for every passport not stamped. They pocket most of the money. Check you passports before entering the country. Once you’ve been past the gates, it’s too late. the occurs at all Mozambique border posts and Ponto do Oro is no exception.

Mozambique’s recent history is one of war and turmoil. Instantly visible remnants of the war lie scattered alongside the roads in the form of smashed military vehicles and deserted villages and towns. More painful and sinister remnants lie hidden; land mines, covered by a shallow layer of earth, are ever-present in the minds of travellers in the remote areas. Generally the roads are not maintained and those that were once tarred are amongst the most frustrating you may ever drive on, for between sections of smooth tar surface are potholes deep enough to break an axle at anything over five kilometres per hour.Researching this trail was tedious and difficult and we learnt a great deal about Mozambique, and more specifically the requirements for tourists. For example, we learnt that entering the country at Ponto do Ouro and continuing up the coast to Maputo is illegal, as vehicle papers issued at all other border posts are not available at Ponto do Ouro. Although the border officials will allow access and even recommend driving on to and collecting the documents in Maputo, travelling without such vehicle documents leads travellers to run the risk of imprisonment, steep fines and the loss of vehicles and equipment.

Crossing the Border

The following documents must be obtained BEFORE entering Mozambique.

DO NOT RELY ON THE AVAILABILITY OF THESE AT BORDER POSTS, EVEN IF THE MOZAMBIQUE AUTHORITIES, FRIENDS ORELATIVES ASSURE YOU THAT THEY ARE. Hundreds of visitors who fall into this trap are turned away from border posts every year.

  • Visa, stamped in passport.
  • Third-party insurance.
  • Road tax certificate.
  • Driver’s licence.
  • Vehicle registration form.
  • Letter from owner should the vehicle not be registered in the driver’s name.

Although the insurance and road tax can be obtained at border posts other than Ponto do Ouro, it is a tedious process as nobody will tell you what is required or from where it must be obtained.
Most border posts are open from 8h00 to 17h00. A vehicle and border tax is charged when entering the country. Always ensure that the border officials provide you with an official stamped receipt to prevent corruption. Visitors to Mozambique from areas where yellow fever is prevalent require inoculations before entering the country and must take a certificate of vaccination with them as proof. Camping gear, cameras and holiday paraphernalia can be taken into the country without problems. We advise buying all your liquor after crossing the border.

Documents/Essentials

Visas are required by all visitors to Mozambique. Initially visas could be bought at either the border post or from the Mozambican Immigration Office in Johannesburg. We have now been advised by the Immigration Office that it is no longer possible to obtain visas at the border posts. We do not find this surprising considering the many horror stories we have heard about people who have fallen prey to corrupt border officials and who have bought worthless pieces of paper at border posts when entering the country. They later ran into difficulty, having been found to have entered the country illegally. Unfortunately the innocent visitor was further penalised by having to pay steep fines. Arrange your visa before entering Mozambique.

This can be done by applying to the Mozambique Immigration Office, 13th Floor, Bosman Building, 99 Eloff Street, Johannesburg. Telephone (011) 29-1819 and fax (011) 29-1991. Two photographs and photostat copies of the first two pages of your passport are needed and you will be required to pay a fee. Expect to wait about 10 days before receiving your visa. If need be, you can organise a visa in a couple of days, but be prepared to pay an ‘urgency fee’ in addition to the normal fee.

Health Precautions

Close to 100 aid organisations are operating in Mozambique and field hospitals are scattered throughout the country. If you become seriously ill, seek out a field hospital or seek medical help in South Africa. Health facilities are very poor and while travelling through Mozambique the thought of having a serious motor accident scared me. A means to filter drinking water should be taken or it must be boiled before it is drunk, unless it is borehole water declared safe by resort management. Bilharzia is rife and swimming must be restricted to salt water. Malaria is also prevalent and a deadly chloroquinine-resistant strain is found here.

SECURITY AND SAFETY

Immigration and vehicle documents
Before you depart from the border post into Mozambique, double check that all passports have been stamped, that you hold insurance and road tax papers for each vehicle and that each person has the section of the yellow and black immigration form for when you leave the country.

Safety

Many visitors are confronted with Mozambique officialdom and problems overcoming legal requirements and corruption. Many of the troops involved in the war on both sides appear to be slow in returning to civilian life so care must be taken at all roadblocks on isolated roads. Much of the country has been booby-trapped by land mines, so it is imperative that you stick to the well-used roads and tracks. Man-made structures such as abandoned vehicles, wells, or pylons are often mined and although clearing operations are underway, do not be tempted to explore off well-used routes.

Roadblocks and Border Posts

We have been assured that no official army roadblocks are being set up and that the only roadblocks still in existence are police-manned. Policemen are dressed in dark blue trousers and white or sometimes light blue shirts. If you see red tape strung across a well-used track with nobody in sight, your best bet is to drive straight through. In the south of the country, ambushes are now a rarity and motorists are fairly safe. If there are people in sight, and they are not wearing police uniforms, then it is unlikely to be an official roadblock. The bad elements causing all the trouble are usually dressed in grubby T-shirts and jeans or military fatigue trousers. They carry automatic weapons. The most effective weapon you have if confronted by what appears to be a bogus roadblock, unscrupulous officials or ill-tempered customs officers, is patience. Do not get angry with officials. Ask to see the regulations and where the amount requested is shown. Insist on an official receipt.

Driving at night

Avoid driving at night at all costs. Motorists do not turn their lights on, even after it gets dark and many vehicles do not have working tail lights. The risk of driving straight into the back of a huge lorry parked on the road for the night is very real. These trucks are almost always filthy with the result that the reflectors do not work. Vehicles stranded on the road often advertise their presence to oncoming motorists by laying clumps of bushes in the middle of the road. Although the carrying of red warning triangles is mandatory, it appears only to apply to visitors. 90% of muggings, hijacks and ambushes take place at night and normally to vehicles travelling alone. If you are forced by predicament to travel at night, as I once was, travel close together and keep speeds below 80kph. The lead vehicle should be the one with the superior driving lights. Navigate well in advance to avoid getting lost.

Vehicle Equipment

Make sure that your vehicle is in perfect roadworthy condition with all the lights and the horn working. A pair of warning triangles are compulsory – if you are caught in a roadblock without them, you will not be permitted to continue and may have to hitchhike to the nearest town to buy some. The wearing of seat belts is also compulsory.

Theft

In Maputo, vehicle theft and pick-pocketing is chronic. Do not leave your vehicle unattended, even to go and have a cup of coffee. In the camping grounds in Maputo and Xai Xai, theft is commonplace. However, in the quiet tourist resorts up and down the coast and away from large towns, security is not a serious problem.

Theft

In Maputo, vehicle theft and pick-pocketing is chronic. Do not leave your vehicle unattended, even to go and have a cup of coffee. In the camping grounds in Maputo and Xai Xai, theft is commonplace. However, in the quiet tourist resorts up and down the coast and away from large towns, security is not a serious problem.

Money

Beware of over-friendly people who offer you excellent foreign currency exchanges. US-dollar travellers cheques are recommended but South African rands are also welcome in most places.

General

The security situation mentioned here does not paint a rosy picture for the prospective visitor to Mozambique, but in reality thousands of visitors travel through unhindered each year. Take care when using your camera as soldiers take offense at being photographed and government buildings, vehicles or structures of strategic importance such as ports and police stations must not be photographed. To be safe, if you see a Mozambique flag keep your camera hidden.

Topography and Climate

A glance at the map will show that Mozambique has an extremely long coastline (2800 kilometres) and has been blessed with several good natural harbours and many off-shore islands which have great potential as tourist destinations.

Geographically, Mozambique is divided into distinct regions, each with its own characteristics. The most dominant feature is the broad coastal lowlands widening from north to south, and covering about 45% of the country. These lowlands stretch from the coast, inland towards the west where the land gradually rises in a series of low hills until reaching a plateau between 500-1000 metres high.

Mozambique experiences three distinct climatic zones. The northern and central areas are wet, while the southern portion of the country is drier. The highlands and western plateau have a cool, rainy climate. In general the climate varies from sub-tropical to tropical. There is a distinct dry winter season that lasts from April to October with temperatures ranging between 18°C and 25°C during the day. The evenings can be cool, so take warm clothing. As a rule, the summer months from November to February are hot with temperatures ranging between 25°C and 35°C, cooling gradually as one travels into the upland areas. The coastal areas are prone to humidity and hurricanes during the summer months. Much of the country receives its main rainfall from November to January, while rainfall is heavier and more frequent throughout the year along the coast and in the north. The best time to visit Mozambique is between May and June.

Fauna and Flora

Mozambique’s vegetation is made up of dense tropical rain forests along the coast and in the river valleys, while a more open woodland-grassland predominates in the drier regions and uplands.

Mozambique is blessed with rich marine life which makes fishing a worthwhile pursuit, but much of the coastline has been over-fished and is still being exploited, largely by South African fishermen with their ski boats and giant freezers.

Currency

The Mozambican currency is the meticais (MT) which is not freely convertible. It has been drastically devalued over the years, bringing it more in line with the current inflation rate in the country. There is now a dual official exchange rate, one for foreigners which is almost on a par with the black market rate, and one for Mozambicans. Banks are open from Monday to Friday from 08h00-11h10. Money may also be changed at some of the larger hotels. Most large hotels, restaurants and airlines demand payment in either dollars or rands – which are also accepted by most street-vendors, shell-sellers and boot cleaners too. It is illegal to import or export Mozambique currency.

Tourist Information & Maps

Everything you need for your trip to Mozambique, including maps, can be obtained from the Mozambique National Tourist Company, 3 Noswal Hall, Cnr. Stiemens and Bertha Streets Braamfontein 2017.
A Mozambique 1:1 800 000 InfoMap highly detailed with GPS co-ordinates is available from the 4xforum.
Tel: 021 852 9984.
http://www.infomap.co.za

ZAMBIA

 

<h3>Zambia travel advisory</h3>
Zambia, covering an area of 752,615 sq km, lies at the lower end of Central Africa and is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. It still remains fairly untouched by commercial tourist development and is a fantastic destination for exploring, birding, game-viewing and challenging off-road driving. Cultural heritage and pride is very important to the Zambian people and traditions have been maintained despite the impact of western ideals. Zambia is home to over nine million people, with seven major ethnic groups and over 73 language dialects, although English is the official language.

Topography and Climate
Zambia is landlocked and sits on a plateau that slopes to the south. The highest point in the country is the Mwanda Peak (2148m) which is found on the Malawian border. The main rivers that run through Zambia are the Zambezi, the Kafue and the Luangwa. There are 19 national parks and 31 game management areas which were created as “buffer-zones” around the parks.
There are three main seasons in Zambia:
• August to October – warm to hot and dry, best time for game-viewing as water is scarce.
• November to March – hot with thunder showers, excellent bird-watching season as migrants come from the north.
• April to July – dry, warm days, cold nights and early mornings, good game-viewing.

Health
Generally the standard of medical care is poor with equipment and medicines in short supply. There are private hospitals for those who can afford it. Visitors must protect themselves with malaria prophylactics. Consult your doctor before leaving as to the best course of medication. A yellow fever certificate is needed if you are travelling from anywhere else in Africa and a tetanus vaccination is advised although immigration officers rarely check health documents. Tap water in the major towns is safe to drink, but boil water before drinking in remote areas.

Crossing the Border
Visas are only necessary for non-Commonwealth visitors except Cyprus, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The exception to this is British citizens who now need a visa. Visa requirements are, however, constantly under review so it is best to check when planning your holiday. Prices of visas vary according to nationality but you can work on paying approximately US$25 for a single entry with a maximum stay of three months.
A lodge or camp site that is a registered Zambian tour operator, may issue guests on a prepaid visit, a ‘tourist manifest’, entitling them to obtain a free visa on entry into Zambia. This can be a considerable saving for visitors holding UK and some other passports.
Most borders are open from 6h00 to 18h00. If you are taking a car into Zambia without a carnet de pasage, a temporary import permit is free. Compulsory third party insurance must be obtained at the border at a relatively small cost.
On departing from Zimbabwe you will need the original or a certified copy of your vehicles papers, and should the vehicle be registered in someone else’s name, such as the bank, you will require a letter from that person entitling you to take the vehicle out of the country. Of late Zimbabwe officials have been asking for a police clearance for vehicles, check before departure.

Currency
The unit of currency is the Kwacha but many of the bigger lodges, hotels, restaurants and shops will accept international credit cards. Many of the lodges prefer to be paid in hard currency or travellers cheques. Money can be changed at Standard Chartered Bank or Barclays and at some hotels and shops. Although there is not much of a black market in Zambia you may be approached to change money, but it is not worth the risk. Foreign Exchange Bureaux in some of the larger towns may offer you a better rate than the banks. Banks are generally open between 8am and 2 or 3pm, Monday to Saturday, except Thursday when they close at noon and Saturday when they close at 11am.

The Roads
Generally the roads out of the main cities are quite poor and there is no AA or breakdown service in Zambia. Make sure you are prepared for any eventuality by carrying a range of tools, spare wheels and tubes and jerry cans with extra fuel and water. Many of the villages along the main routes offer tyre repair services but may not have spare tubes, patches or valves, so take your own.

 

<strong>SOUTH EASTERN GAME RESERVES</strong>
Lower Zambezi and South Luanga National Parks

ROUTE
The trail starts in Kariba, Zimbabwe and heads into Zambia via Lusaka and east to the Lower Zambezi National Park and South Luangwa National Park. From there it returns to Lusaka and exits Zambia via Livingstone at the Victoria Falls.

SUMMARY
Zambia could one day replace Botswana as Southern Africa’s bush playground. It is remote, wild and a destination only suitable for the adventurous traveller. Distances are long and, although the road network is not as developed as Botswana’s, it is easy to follow and reasonably maintained. The people are Zambia’s biggest asset as their sometimes overwhelming friendliness knocked me off my feet.

DIFFICULTY AND EXPERIENCE REQUIRED
Some safari experience is recommended as some of the areas are very remote. Sound driving and recovery techniques will be needed if the trail is tackled in the wet season between November and March.

NUMBER OF VEHICLES
Two vehicles are recommended if the drivers have limited overlanding experience.

MINIMUM TIME REQUIRED
Ten days

INTRODUCTION
This trail serves as an introduction to Zambia and for many who follow this trail it will be the first occasion that they have crossed their vehicles over the Zambezi. The once held notion that Zambia is a foreboding place, unwelcoming to visitors (especially from South Africa) and is a country wracked by years of communist strife just isn’t true. Zambia welcomes visitors with open arms and everyone, including law officers and customs officials, seem concerned for their well-being.
In terms of facilities for low to mid budget travellers, the facilities are similar and often better than their wealthier neighbour Botswana. Tar roads are fair but gravel roads are unkept and rough. In the rainy season many of these roads are so deep in water that they remain impassable to anything but a unimog for months.

The Trail

Kariba
If you have never been to Kariba, the vastness of the lake is astounding as travel writers never quite manage to do justice to this massive volume of water. There are many activities to keep you busy in Kariba such as wilderness safaris, games drives, sundowner or full day cruises, fishing trips, water sports, canoeing adventures and walks. These activities can be arranged through the local lodges and safari companies.
Buffalo Safari Campsite is a great option to spend the night – head towards the dam wall and look out for the Buffalo Safari turning to the left, just after the Lake View Inn. Turn left and follow the signs. This is a posher campsite in that it has a view of the lake and there are also chalets and A-frames for those who don’t want to pitch a tent. It is fairly reasonably priced, but not quite as economical as the alternative Moth or Mopane Bay campsites which, we have been told, are sometimes overcrowded.

Crossing the border
From Buffalo Lodge it is about 21km to the border. Crossing from Zimbabwe into Zambia is usually a fairly simple operation and the people are friendly. After passport control you have to pass through customs who require a vehicle permit. This is acquired free of charge and you will be assisted in filling out the relevant forms as well as the register. South Africans don’t need a visa, but it is recommended that citizens of other Commonwealth countries check their visa status in current travel books. Should you require a visa, it can be obtained at the border without much hassle, but may prove to be a little costly. For example, UK citizens pay US$50, contact the camp you intend visiting in Zambia, and they should be able to issue you with a tourist manifest entitling you to a Free Visa on entry. The last item you must organise is third party insurance. This can also be obtained from a small hut to the right of the customs office. Get your vehicle insurance after passing through passport control. There are frequent road blocks throughout Zambia which will check for seat belts, two triangles, insurance papers and the roadworthiness of your vehicle.

Kariba – LOWER ZAMBEZI
Leaving the border, head in the direction of Lusaka. After approximately 40km you will reach Lusitu. The tar road is narrow with pot-holes in some places, clear and smooth in others as it winds its way through dense bush and lots of baobab trees. About 19km after Lusitu you will reach a T-Junction (GPS: 16 01 39S – 28 41 41E) which is the national road called the T2. Turn right towards Chirundu the other border post. The national road is generally good but there are very bad sections with deep holes that come up quickly, so speed must be kept down and the driver must stay alert. Watch out for oncoming traffic that may also be trying to dodge pot-holes.
There is a Bureau De Change on your right as you approach Chirundu border post where you can safely change your money at reasonable rates.
Heading towards Chirundu, look out for the Gwabi Lodge sign and turn left appox 100M before the border post, this is a short piece of tar road used by the trucks to the commercial clearing. Follow the Mvuu lodge map to The Lower Zambezi, all along the route you will follow the Mvuu Lodge signposts. This 60 km journey from Chirundu to Mvuu Lodge will take appoximately 2.5 hours in the dry season.
On leaving the Lower Zambezi, there a two ways to Luangwa, the more adventurous can go through the Lower Zambezi National Park which takes appoximately eight hours to the T4, or head back to Chirundu and take the tar road via
Lusaka.

Route via the park
Before starting this journey you must ensure that you have sufficient fuel and supplies.
As the journey takes appoximately eight hours, it is important for guests staying at Mvuu lodge to leave early and be at the Chongwe entrance of the Lower Zambezi National Park by 6:00 am, as no camping is allowed in the park, and any person not getting through the park in one day will be fined.
From Chongwe gate travel to Jeki airstrip about one and a half hours drive. After the airstrip the road will fork turn left DO NOT TAKE THE GOOD ROAD TO YOUR RIGHT. You will now be travelling through thick bush, cross the Chakeenga river and travel through Mapani woodland. The road will fork again at a spring (there should be plenty of game here) Turn left DO NOT TAKE THE GRADED RIGHT ROAD. To this point from the airfield it is a one hour drive.
From here to Makumba gate is through the escarpment and will take appox five hours if you do not get stuck.
GPS co-ordinates for Chakwenga T4 Lusaka Luwanga road *15 14 15S – 29 10 02E.

Most Camps in the Lower Zambezi, whether in the Game Management Area bordering the park (there are no fences) or in the park itself offer Game viewing by vehicle or by boat, Not unlike the mokoro in the Okavango, the best way of seeing the Zambezi is by canoe, safaris range from one the five days.
As the Zambezi is home to the famous Tiger Fish visitors must not miss the opportunity of catching the greatest fresh water fighting fish. All lodges practice catch and release.

Luxury camps in the Lower Zambezi include Mvuu Lodge – open February to December offering from fully inclusive to self-catering and exclusive camping. (Tel South Africa 016 987-1837), Chiawa Lodge – open March to Nov (Tel. Lusaka 288 290), Gwabe lodge – open all year (Tel. Lusaka 220 113), Royal Zambezi Lodge – open March to Nov (tel. Lusaka 223 952) and Kingfisher Lodge – open March to Nov (tel. Lusaka 262 456).

Chipata
Chipata is the gateway to the South Luangwa National Park and Malawi. It is a busy town, 559km from Lusaka. Petrol and diesel are available all the way. From Chipata the road to Mfuwe and the entrance to the South Luangwa National Park is 130km of badly maintained gravel. This road is reliable in all but the wettest months. Getting to the park from Chipata takes about three hours when the road is dry. If it is wet, triple this time, make sure you have debogging equipment and preferably travel with a winch-equipped vehicle that must travel behind.
Should you wish to attempt a short cut by taking the Petauke road to the park, be sure to have two or more vehicles and off-roading experience. Do not attempt this route in the wet season.

South Luangwa National Park
The Luangwa valley, one of Africa’s great wildlife sanctuaries, is created by the great rift valley below where it splits and one arm forms Lake Malawi and the other the Luangwa valley. South Luangwa National Park (9050 square km) is Zambia’s premier wildlife destination and may one day become popular with South Africans who are tired of the regular Botswana excursions. Entrance fees are reasonable and the people very friendly. Facilities for campers are basic and for the most part well maintained.
Luangwa is well appointed with camps for the well-heeled traveller but less so for the budget camper and adventure traveller in their own vehicles. Near the entrance to the park is Jake’s Flatdogs (the name reminds me of Oddball’s campsite in the Okavango) which has four comfortable self-catering chalets and a campsite with well-kept ablution facilities, a kitchen with cook, a bar and a take-away restaurant. Jake’s Flatdogs is open all year.
Another campsite, Wild­life Camp, a few kilometres to the west, offers camping, chalets and en-suite chalets, all at reasonable prices. There is a bar which also serves meals. The camp also offers game drives. Payment must be made in US-dollars. Camping out of the designated campsites is not permitted.
The game in Luangwa with its deep oxbow lagoons, open grass plains and thick riverine forest, is as plentiful as anywhere in Africa. There are 59 animal species and over 400 bird species. Big game abounds as well as antelope and wildebeest in their thousands. Unusual antelope include puku and letchwe, especially along the Luangwa River.  South Luangwa is vast and the tracks that take you into the park are for the most part, easy to negotiate and follow courses along the river.

North Luangwa National Park
The North Luangwa National Park is closed to vehicles, there are no facilities whatsoever and it remains a vast unspoilt Eden. Mark and Delia Owens, of ‘Cry of the Kalahari’ fame, set up a camp in the reserve and are studying the effects of poaching. Their book is called: ‘Survivors Song: The Eye of the Elephant’.

Return to Lusaka
The next part of the trail returns to Lusaka on the same road you came out on, then onto Livingstone where the trail ends.
Once back in Lusaka head out of town on the main T2 in a southerly direction towards  Livingstone. About 5km outside of the city there is a castle and the Castle Supermarket on the eastern side of the road is a good place to refuel and stock up on supplies. You will then come to the town of Kafue a little after which you will cross the Kafue Gorge bridge. Keep a look out for the turning to Livingstone, as if you are coming from Lusaka it is not well sign posted (GPS co-ordinates: 15 51 00S – 28 14 57E). The turning is to the right.
If about 68km after taking the turn-off to Livingstone you reach the town of Mazabuka (15 51 30S – 27 45 29E) you are on the right road. Keep on the main road heading in a southerly direction. The road to Monze is quite good, fast tar, but deteriorates rapidly after Monze and becomes very bumpy tar to about Pemba, whereafter the road improves again. There are a number of campsites along this road, just be alert for signposts and turn-offs.
156km out of Mazabuka is the town of Choma which has a craft centre and the Gwembe Safari Campsite just outside of town. To find the campsite, take a right turn and drive for a few kilometres. When the road splits take a left and then at the next split take a right and follow the signs.
Departing from the Gwembe Safari Campsite, it is a 184km stretch to Livingstone. Livingstone has two hotels and camp-sites and petrol and diesel are available. The view of Victoria Falls is less impressive from the Livingstone side, but still spectacular. Entrance to the falls varies with the currency you are paying in, but it is more expensive on the Zimbabwean side. The border crossing back into Zimbabwe is straight forward but you cannot stop to take photographs of the spectacular view from the bridge. On the Zimbabwe side there are large curio markets with very enthusiastic salesmen, as well as a lot of activities such as bungi jumping and river rafting

Organising Your Trail
For more information contact the Zambian National Tourist Board, Lusaka: Century House, Cairo Road, Tel: 260 1 229 087/90 or Johannesburg: 1st floor Finance House, Ernest Oppenheimer Road, Bruma Lake. Tel: 27 11 622 9206/7, 622 7635.
One of the best guide books to Zambia is the  Lonely Planet guide on Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia by David Else.

LESOTHO

About 85 percent of the total 30 000 square kilometres of Lesotho is made up of mountains, so simply pulling over and finding a level camping site can be difficult. Lesotho is also not the ideal destination if you are looking for total isolation as the country has 1,6 million inhabitants and, although most of them are concentrated in the towns, herdsmen and travellers seem to appear around every corner.

Even remote tracks pass numerous small villages with quaint houses built of sandstone and thatch and cultivated fields of mealies, millet and vegetables. You will also notice that many of the houses have either white, yellow or red flags made from fabric, mealie meal sacks or plastic packets planted in the gardens. These flags advertise that locally made beer is available. Red indicates strong, yellow for something milder and a white flag for the quick-brew, ‘close to water’ variety. Useful features at most villages are the signboards announcing the name of the local primary or high school as they also indicate the name of the village. These boards are particularly helpful as many villages tend to look very similar and it is not always possible to identify them on the map.

Lesotho is a worthwhile holiday destination and provides some exciting activities in the mountains apart from four-wheeldriving. Both Lesotho and the Central Drakensberg offer excellent trout fishing whilst hiking is particularly rewarding in the mountains. The Basotho pony’s endurance, patience and placidness is legendary, making for wonderful pony treks along precarious bridle paths. One of the best places in Lesotho for pony trekking is Malealea Lodge located in the south-western region.

HEALTH PRECAUTIONS

Severe weather conditions can produce life-threatening situations for the ill-equipped. Malaria is not found in Lesotho. Beware of drinking water from mountain streams. Remember that Lesotho is a densely populated country and water could easily be contaminated.

On a previous trip into Lesotho we commented on the beauty of the streams and waterfalls and speculated that the crystal clear water was probably safe to drink. Shortly afterwards we stopped in a remote spot to photograph a waterfall. As we drove off I saw a man having a bath in the river imediately above the rapids we had photographed.

RECOMMENDED TIME OF YEAR

Snow has been recorded in every month of the year in the Maluti Mountains, but is most common between April and September. During late September 1987 the Sani Pass was closed for three weeks by a fall of over a metre of snow, resulting in the starvation of 10 herdboys and 40 000 sheep and goats. Snow also occasionally falls in the lowland areas during winter. Less challenging months are between October and March, although heavy rain can create swollen rivers which often block roads.

Lesotho has an extremely high annual rainfall of between 700-800mm, concentrated between October and April. Therefore, the most common summer driving challenge is mud which, even after light rains, can make the roads very slippery. When negotiating steep descents be careful not to slide into the many deep drainage gullies eroded on the inside edge of the roads. This is the most common reason for vehicles becoming stuck. In late summer the wild flowers are at their best and the slopes are splashed with yellow, red, pink, purple and blue flowers of every kind. In April 1984, after a forecast of clear weather, we undertook a trip from Maseru, eastwards across the mountains, over the Blue Mountain Pass and on to Thaba-Tseka. Rain began to fall before we had left the tar, which in that year ended at Bushman Pass. We continued eastwards on very slippery tracks and reached a valley between Mantsonyane and Thaba-Tseka where we spent an uncomfortable night camping, the temperature hovering around 10°C. The following day we continued with the aim of reaching Sani Pass. At about 10am it began snowing and within an hour the temperature plummeted to minus six degrees. We met some fellow travellers in two Land Rovers who had spent the night camping in the picturesque valley at Thaba-Tseka. Being experienced travellers in Lesotho they offered some advice. They assured us that in the wet, the roads ahead were barely passable, but because of the snow they were turning back and heading for Maseru. We took their advice and turned around. Soon afterwards we picked up two hitch-hikers who were in danger of freezing to death. As the snow fell, the tracks became more and more difficult to negotiate. We spent the rest of the day in low ratio and consumed what must be a world fuel record for a Range Rover, 45 litres per 100 kilometres. Days later the television news reported that several hitch-hikers and campers had been trapped in the mountains for four days. Their lives were saved by locals who offered them food and shelter in shepherds’ huts.

We undertook a similar trip in February 1994 and again our attempt to cross Lesotho was thwarted. The drive up Sani Pass was fairly effortless and from Sani Top we headed for Thaba-Tseka. However, because of the extraordinary rainfall during the preceding four weeks, the Koma Koma Bridge Causeway, a vital part of the route, was submerged and impassable. The river was flowing too strongly to allow safe passage anywhere up or downstream.

The lesson to be learnt from these two experiences is that even if your route through Lesotho is well planned, be prepared to spend the night in the mountains if necessary. Take plenty of warm clothing, water, food and fuel and, if travelling in winter, supplies to last at least five days. Do not underestimate the speed with which the weather can change.

Topography and Climate

Lesotho is surrounded by the republic of South Africa. It is dominated by the Maluti range which runs mainly south-west to north-east, culminating in an eastern summit plateau exceeding 3 000 metres. The eastern side of this plateau is the Drakensberg escarpment which forms the natural border with KwaZulu-Natal.

Thabana-Ntlenyana, at 3 482 metres and visible from the top of Sani Pass, is the highest point in Southern Africa.

The western portion of the country is known as the Lowlands. This is a misnomer as these so called ‘Lowlands’ are in effect high plains ranging between 1500-1600 metres above sea level. The Lowlands contain seven of the ten district headquarter towns, consisting of much of the population and the best agricultural land.

As Lesotho lies outside of the tropics, the climate is temperate with well-defined seasons. The Lowland mean temperatures range from 8°C in winter to 24°C in summer. Precipitation averages 500mm per year in the extreme west and 1300mm in the northern mountains. 85 percent of precipitation falls between October and April and often comes in the form of heavy thundershowers.

Fauna and Flora

You are unlikely to see much game in Lesotho. The indigenous game has been hunted out for food and to make way for sheep and angora goats. You may see grey rhebok and mountain reedbuck. Smaller mammals such as hares, spotted genets, meerkats, otters and dassies are also still common.

Lesotho is home to rare bird species found nowhere else on the subcontinent, including the magnificent lammergeier (bearded vulture). Black eagles and cape vultures are also common in the high mountains. During March when the aloes cover the slopes with scarlet and yellow flowers, you may see the beautiful Gurney’s sugarbird. The flora in the mountains varies considerably depending on the altitude, but as a general rule the mountains are mainly grasslands with few trees.

Roads

The main challenge to off-roaders is not so much the state of the tracks or the navigation required to reach the destination, but the unpredictable weather patterns in the mountains. Snow, ice and heavy rains are threats to easy passage and the severity and rapid onset of bad weather should never be underestimated.

There are few stretches of straight road in Lesotho, and in the mountains roads range from narrow tar to even narrower steep, slippery tracks that make for entertaining driving in magnificent scenery. Lesotho has a high population of livestock and unroadworthy vehicles, so extreme care should be taken at all times. When driving in the mountains in winter, it is advisable to carry tyre chains because thick snow drifts can become impassable. Extra food and warm clothing should be carried for this eventuality. During the thunderstorm months flash floods occur in the mountains and river levels can increase dramatically. Because so many river crossings are necessary, crossings should be made with great care and vehicles stuck in river beds should be extricated without delay.

Currency

The Lesotho currency comprises one loti (plural maloti) which is divided into 100 lisente (singular sente). The currency is linked to the South African rand which is also accepted. Mastercard, American Express, Visa, and Diner’s Club credit cards are accepted in the main centres and in most lodges and hotels. Fuel purchases will require cash. Banks open at 09h00 and close at 13h00 on weekdays and at 11h00 on Saturdays.

Health

No special health or vaccination certificates are required unless one has come from a country where yellow fever is endemic. There are hospitals or clinics in all the main towns but standards are not high. Bilharzia is present in all waters which flow close to human settlements.

Crossing the Border

Lesotho is a member of the common customs area and all items for your personal use may be imported from any of these countries without formality. There is no restriction on the amount of consumer goods that may be imported, although eggs, maize and maize products, livestock and its by-products require an import permit and a detailed inventory of the weight and cost of the goods. No alcohol may be imported into Lesotho.

Opening and closing times at border posts do vary, but in most cases major points of entry open at 06h00 and close at 22h00. Border posts on minor routes open at 08h00 and close at 16h00. The ContiMap of Lesotho, detailed later in this chapter, provides details on the opening and closing times of specific border posts. Visas are not required by citizens of South Africa or Commonwealth countries.

Documents/Essentials

Valid South African, Botswanan or Swaziland licences are acceptable, otherwise an international driving licence is required. Each driver must also carry an identity document. Take copies of the vehicle registration papers. The wearing of safety belts is compulsory and high fines for violations of this law are levied which have to be paid in cash and on the spot.

A 50 km/h speed limit applies in urban areas while 80 km/h is the maximum speed that can be maintained on all other roads. Roadblocks may be found on major routes into and out of large towns. The roadworthiness of vehicles will be checked.

Arms

Arms and ammunition may not be imported into Lesotho without a permit which must be obtained in advance from the Commissioner of Police, PO Box 13, Maseru 100. The temporary importation of citizen band radios into Lesotho is illegal.

Maps

The very best map of Lesotho is the ContiMap which includes grids, GPS co-ordinates, fuel and accommodation availability and lots of other useful information. Look for them at 4×4 outlets, bookshops or call 021 852 9984 and have one sent. Topographical maps are available from Department of Lands and Surveys and Topographical Physical Planning : PO Box 867 Maseru 100.

Tourist Information

If you wish to stay longer than 30 days in Lesotho, contact the Director of Immigration, PO Box 363 Maseru 100 and apply for a visa.

CONSERVATION GUIDELINES

Mountain environments are fragile and special care needs to be taken to ensure that they are protected, especially in adverse weather when the risk of erosion is high. Some guidelines you can follow include:

• Stay on the demarcated tracks at all times and avoid driving over vulnerable grasslands which scar easily and take years to recover.
• Drive with care, avoiding wheel spin which accelerates erosion and makes the road more difficult for the next driver.
• Fires, especially in winter, can be devastating, therefore ensure that your camp fire is properly controlled and attended at all times. Extinguish it properly before departing.
• Do not litter. There is a signboard at the top of the Sani Pass which aptly describes the effect of litter on beautiful places.

 



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