Self-driving in Africa through Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe
We landed in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, prepared for everything knowing that we would have 5000 km in front of us and we would cross 3 countries in Southern Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
We rented a 4X4 with rooftop tents for our journey and despite all the trouble we get into with the car, I don’t regret the option, because gives you enormous independence, it’s very versatile, and allows you to travel independently and discover with time these magnificent countries.
Visit these countries is not cheap but you can save the money for the room by camping. There are many campsites and some lodges also have campsites. The price of a 4×4 with rooftop tents depends on the time of the year you travel, and which borders you are going to cross.
Self-driving throughout the wilderness in Africa was one of the most exciting, adventurous and rewarding things I did so far – you just disconnect entirely and emerge yourself into one of the most beautiful natural sceneries on earth.
4×4 self drive adventures
Now you are asking about what kind of troubles I got into.. some are obvious and you are probably guessing it right.. but just to give some excuses first .. 🙂 we did some challenging routes and drove miles and miles through isolated areas 🙂
So here it comes.. during our journey our 4×4 broke down and got stuck a couple of times (sand, mud, water), we got a window broke and some values stolen… and there is more.. one of the tents broke… we got fined and towed twice.. so I can say it it was an eventful journey.
To do a trip like this you need to have a sense of adventure, and be prepared to have busy days and to change your plans constantly.
Angola was my home for 2 years of my life, and I have great memories about that somehow magic and not yet well known county.
Here are few photographs from places I have been so many times, where I spent my days, went shopping, for a walk or to the beach… despite so different from my european reality after leaving there this place is part of my deepest being.
We traveled from Kuala Perlis to Ipho (state capital of Perak) by bus (29RM) and arrived at the terminal Amanjaya at 22pm so there wasn’t any transports (despite the taxi) to take us to Ipoh’s old town. So we stayed for the night at a nearby ‘hotel’. In the next morning we got a bus (2.5RM) and we were instantly surprised with this lovely town, that has definitely some similarities to George Town (in Penang), one of my favourite cities in Malaysia.
We stayed for 2 days what was enough to visit and feel the city but not enough to visit the surrounding areas.
Ipoh has a special vibe, great historic buildings, lots of street art and really great food. So, should be a mandatory stop for any itinerary in Malaysia.
Ipoh old town doesn’t look to have many tourists or even many locals walking around, despite being laid back, it’s also creative, trendy and full of things to see and try, like the famous White Coffee.
Ipoh centre is split in two, the old town on the west and the new town on the east side of the Kinta River .
In the old town you can do the Heritage Trail (4 miles) and the Street Art walk, for both you can grab a free map, and just lose yourself… The street art makes it even more interesting to explore the historical city, and it’s fairly easy to find it. Most of the murals belong to the famous street artist Ernest Zacharevic and some other locals.
You can’t miss the Kong Heng square market, an old building full of vine covered ruins occupied now by modern stalls.
Ipoh’s Little India with it’s colourful shops, spices, music and eateries, and the new town on the East side of the river.
The New Town has the best eateries and some more street art, so make sure you don’t miss the Mural Art Lane, that is completely covered in murals showing the Malaysian culture.
We landed in Kuala Lumpur and went straight away by bus to Melaka what takes approximately 2 hours, and we felt in love with this small appealing and pleasant town.
Melaka was colonised by the the Dutch, Portuguese and British. The city has a rich history and to tells it proudly with it’s 14 museums 🙂 You can say that fusion is a good word to use when talking about Melaka, once you can find in this charming city Christian churches, chinese and hindu temples, mosques and red-brick buildings.
Melaka is a UNESCO world heritage site and an exciting place to discover. You can easily walk to every point of interest, and if you want to go further you can always rent a bike. The city has great views, artistic buildings and streets. Although not to the extent of Penang there is a lot of street art to be found in the side street nearby the River.
The Dutch Square is the tourist centre, it’s buildings are painted red but more surprising than that are the colourful and noisy trishaws decorated with famous cartoon characters.
The Jonker Street, is the main tourist street which can be very crowded. The Ruins of St Paul’s Church are at the top of St Paul’s Hill.
Melaka has a large and thriving Chinatown that deserves a visit. The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is the oldest functioning Chinese temple in Malaysia and a must see.
Melaka is a great place to seat and watch the world go by, either by the river, or at one of the great many eateries. Food was one of my favourite parts of Melaka so if you are interested check out the link – 🍡 🌱a vegan in Melaka 🌱🍡
My journey started at Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) and from there I explored the south of this diverse country. To visit Vietnam you need to apply to your Visa beforehand, there is no possibility to get a Visa once you are at the border or the airport.
Ho Chi Minh City has a pulsate and chaotic energy. The traffic is something beyond explanation, but despite that, it’s full of life and the best way to explore the city is losing yourself in the street.
This is what I recommend to visit:
Jade Emperor Pagoda
Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda
Binh Tay Market
Ben Thanh Market
Cho Lon area
Once in HCMC don’t miss the coffee, it’s a true delight.
Mekong Delta has many places to explore, and it’s incredible beautiful and exotic with its water floating world. You need time to explore all its beauty and it’s innumerable rivers, canals and, streams that cross the landscape.
I need to say that’s possible to visit the Mekong Delta without a tour and is actually quite easy. You just need to ask around and combine different ways of transport, bus, ferry and motorbikes.
You have so many options to choose from, that taking a decision is pretty difficult mostly when you don’t have much time, so I will leave a small list of the best places I visit:
Ben Tre it’s very picturesque and less tourist than My Tho. This area is famous for its keo dua (coconut candy)
Ha Tien – it’s beautiful, has a nice riverside market, lots of caves to visit some of which have been turned into temples. Thach dong cave pagoda deserves a visit.
Tra Vinh – for me is one of the charming towns in the Mekong Delta
Minh Long – has the Cai Be floating market that is always busy, carrying all the characteristics of the locals’ life.
Sam Mountain– has a strong Chinese influence and its full of pagodas and temple the Cavern Pagoda it’s a nice one to visit.
Can Tho – is the largest city in the region you can visit the floating markets, Phong Dien,Cai Rang and take a boat along the canals. Phung Hiep is the biggest and busiest floating market in the Mekong Delta it opens at 4.00 am closes at 11.00 am.
Asian Markets are always my first choice to eat, and Vietnam wasn’t an exception, I especially enjoyed the rice paper wrapped spring rolls, fruit and, smoothies.
We drove from Benguela to Bié stopping in many remote villages and towns. Hope you enjoy the photos, and get to know more about this beautiful and unspoiled country still far away from the tourist routes. I remember to read somewhere that Angola is one of Africa’s last great travel mysteries 🙂
During our trip people where nice but always suspicious, what is perfectly understandable once the country still remains closed off for travellers. I need to say that being a portuguese speaker helped a lot.
Angola’s up-country, is still very unspoiled and rural, outside the big cities houses are made of natural materials like grasses and mud bricks, there is no electricity or sanitation.
Populations live from what the land gives, they lack in access to school and health care. They have big matriarchal families.
Angola’s up-country has an astonishing natural beauty, strong colour, smells and a great warm weather.
Sarawak Borneo will amaze you with its culture and natural beauty. The Island of Borneo has probably one of the most richest and diverse ecosystems I ever seen, but unfortunately many of its forests have been lost for oil palm, putting wildlife and people in danger.
I started my trip in the capital Kuching and I used bus, boat, motorbike, bicycle, and mini vans to travel, this are the places I visited :
🚌 Kuching / Santubong peninsula / Bako National Park / Semenggoh Nature Reserve/ Bau / Kubah National Park
Explore Kuching and it’s old colonial charm by foot, loosing yourself in its magnificent streets from china town, indian neighbourhood and the river front. I highly recommend you to visit the museums they are really good, look up for street art and don’t miss the sunset in the river front.
To visit the other side of the river, get one of the local boats (1RM each side), go for a walk, enjoy the view and try a traditional Kek Lapis (layer cake).
In Kuching you can rent a motor bike in the city for 40RM a day to explore the the small villages around including Santubong Peninsula, a nice quite town with great views and beaches.
I went to the Matang wildlife centre but I don’t recommend it at all, they may do a good job at rescuing and helping the animals but they are all in small cages, I found it quite depressing.
We got the red bus nº1 stopped in front of the open market in Kuching to Bako National Park (3.50RM) the park entry is 20 RM, and the boat 40RM both ways (runs from 8 to 15h). You defenetly need to spend at least a day there and do a couple of trails. The park as beautiful mangrove swamp, luxurious rainforest, streams, waterfalls, and if you’re lucky (like me ) you may see proboscis monkeys in their native habitats. This park has an incredible biodiversity, which includes almost every vegetation type in Borneo.
We went to Semenggoh Nature Reserve to see semi-wild orangutans in their natural habitat for that we got a bus from Kuching (4RM) at 7:20 from the open market stop. Once in the reserve you need to walk to the feeding point, the entry is 10RM. Be aware that you may not be lucky enough to see them. They have 2 hour-long feedings, 9am to 10am and from 3pm to 4pm.
Next stop was Bau, the bus from Kuching takes an hour, the bus is an old one so expect a sweaty journey (4.5RM). Bau is a small clean and organised town, has a good market, food court and a Chinese temple that deserves a visit.
Once in Bau we realised that was difficult to find public transports to take us to the different caves so we started walking and hitch-hiked. Hitchhiking was safe and we meet really nice and interesting people. We visited the fairy cave (5RM), a really nice and impressive open mountain cave, no light needed. then we took another lift to the wind cave Nature reserve (5RM) for this one you need a torch, there is plenty to see and lots and lots of bats.
If you plan to come buck to Kuching by bus, the last one departs at 3:20, but never trust the bus schedules 🙂 they often leave early.
To go from Kuching to Kubah National Park, get the bus K21 (4RM) and its an hour ride.The entry is 20RM. The park is gorgeous with lots of hills, ups and downs, I personally found it quite tiering, so get your legs ready. The park offers several trails from one hour to several hours, you can’t buy food or water in the park, so bring something. I did a couple of trails including the trail to the waterfall where you can get refreshed and visited the frog pond. The last bus the kuching is at 1:30 but if it doesn’t appear you will have mini bus passing and you can ask them to stop (5RM)
Sarawak is not known for its beaches, I went to Damai beach but I don’t recommend it at all.
Sarawak’s food is just amazing, and the only problem you will have being a vegan is not to gain 10kg 🙂
🌱Sin Wei Tong cafe – has a vegetarian stall, great food around 5RM per dish. some dishes have egg but can request without.
🌱Shun son yen – vegetarian restaurant by kilo, with delicious food and fresh juices I paid around 15RM for my meal. Make sure you go early to have all the option still available because the food goes quickly. You can try a bit of everything.
🌱 water front – there are food stalls and restaurants that have great vegan options.
🌱Zhen Xiang Zhai, delicious food and a good place to try the Sarawak laksa, they close at 3pm. A meal with drinks will cost around 15RM you can choose from the buffet or order off their menu.
🌱open marker – lovelly local place to explore.
🌱Food fair, at the time you are visiting Kuching check if they have a food fair, they have all kinds of food, but be prepared for a crowded place.
🌱Bau food court– One of the food stalls serves exclusively great vegan food but other stall still have a few options, have a look and ask around.
Other food in the region
💚Seri Muka – Malaysian sweet with rice with pandas leaves
💚Steamed Buns – easily find any food markets and street stalls. They have vegetarian fillings like – sweet been past, Kaya, Pandan or black sesame paste.
💚Kendal, dessert made with coconut milk, green jelly noodles (rice flour)
💚ABC, made out of shaved ice and a variety of ingredients such as red beans, fruit, sweet corn, grass jelly, etc..
💚Ondeh-Ondeh, glutinous rice flour dumplings filled with ‘gula Melaka’