Highlights of a Kenya to Cape Town Backpacking Trail – Part Two

Highlights of a Kenya to Cape Town Backpacking Trail – Part Two

Africa gets under your skin.

In our previous post, we discovered 5 ways Africa will get under your skin. From sunrise to sunsets, gorilla trekking to whitewater rafting, lakeside living to and from African safaris to captivating cities, there’s so much to do in Africa that will keep you busy no matter how long your trip is.

The backpacking trail from Kenya to South Africa continues with five more experiences that will have you wanting to return to Africa again and again.

Masai Mara Lion Kill
Masai Mara Lion Kill

Masai Mara in Kenya

The Masai Mara is the Kenyan side of the Serengeti National Park located in Tanzania. One of the grandest wildlife spectacles happens here every year, the Great Wildebeest Migration.

The Mara is home to the semi-nomadic Masai warriors, most noted for the bright red blankets they wear, their jumping dance, and their fierce traditions such as killing a lion in order to initiate into manhood.

The Mara lends itself to some extraordinary game life viewing; it is impossible not to see an abundance of all sorts of animals in this park. With the plains full of wildebeest and zebra, the chances of seeing a kill are very high.

After a day safari through the savannah, kick back around the campfire at night at the local Masai village, chat with the warriors that sit with you eager to share stories of their traditional lives, and then allow them to guard your tent from marauding lions and leopards at night.

St Lucia Wetlands
St Lucia Wetlands

The Wildness of St Lucia, South Africa

Have you ever been to a town where hippos roam freely around the streets at night, most commonly spotted nibbling on the neighbor’s plants or walking past the local pub?

How can Africa not get under your skin when you spend time in a truly wild place like St Lucia wetlands? We were fortunate enough to stay in a hostel, where the workers were in love with their town and wanted to take their guests to see everything for free.

We went on walks through the wetlands, past sleeping crocodiles, sneaking up on the biggest hippos you’ve ever seen in a private pool (not so much fun when they see you back and let you know its time to leave), crawling through the lantana- home of the poisonous viper snake-to reach the wild coastline for swimming, and evening volleyball competitions and beach bonfire parties.

Addo Elephants
Addo Elephants

Elephants of Addo

No matter what game park you visit in Africa, you are sure to come across these highly intelligent creatures. However, if you really want an elephant experience on a monumental level, then Addo Elephant Park, in South Africa, is the place to go.

It is here where you will see elephants, not just in their small families, but also in whole tribes bathing and rolling around in their local muddy watering holes.

There were times when our small little hatchback was surrounded by hordes of elephants, mothers moving quickly to bury their babies on the other side of their bellies.

And even though my heart was racing with trepidation, it was also racing with absolute love and gratitude for being so close to my favorite animal, an animal that loves and feels deeply and never forgets.

Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

Out of all the game parks, we visited in Africa, Kruger National Park in South Africa, was definitely the best for game viewing. We saw every animal that you could possibly want to see.

After four months of searching, we finally saw a leopard slinking into the bushes, and one resting high above in its sleeping perch of a tree.

Lions greeted us from the roadside of a morning, hyenas loped past our car window, and rhinos ate the long grass downwind from us on our guided walk through the savannah.

The Kruger is about the size of Wales and there are plenty of campgrounds to stay at. The Lower Sabie area is where had the most animal sightings. Take the time to go on a guided night drive and if you are brave enough a guided walking safari.

Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia

When David Livingstone first walked out of the jungle and stumbled upon the falls he wrote, “On sights as beautiful as this, angels in their flights must have gazed.” 1.7km of gushing waterfall thundering into the deep gorge below is truly a sight worth gazing at.

The falls have been named a Place of Peace and as you walk out of the rainforest environment created at its edge by the spray of the falls, you can see why. Rows of rainbows shoot out over the spray leading you along the path of Mosi-oa-Tunya, the Smoke that Thunders.

And imagine bungee jumping next to Victoria Falls; it’s a thrilling experience!

And so I close this post with a heavy heart of longing for this beautiful and diverse continent. Africa gets under your skin and remains there forever, beckoning you to return again and again.


Destinations on Caz and Craig’s Backpacking Trail.

African Backpacking Trail Map


About the Author:

Caz Makepeace has been living and traveling the globe since 97, both solo and as a couple and now with a three-year-old. They believe life is all about the memories and their travel tips and stories at yTravel blog and their fan page aim to inspire and teach others how to make their life a story to tell.

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43 thoughts on “Highlights of a Kenya to Cape Town Backpacking Trail – Part Two”

    1. Ayng, I agree with you, the wildlife is incredible!! Like you, I’m also curious about costs. I’ve heard backpacking Africa can be expensive, but I guess there are ways of doing it in a budget. Let’s see what Caz and Craig can say about this. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Hi guys, a good option to stay on budget would be to try out a camping option. Especially if your looking to do a Kruger Park Safari. At the end of the day it will be less expensive to book a tour, since it includes everything. Sometimes you might get surprised to see how much a African holiday can cost, not only money wise but also time and effort to find the right combination of experiences you want to have.

    2. Consider a post up and coming! Africa is really cheap to travel. What makes it expensive are the safaris and other adventure activities. You go there to experience this so prepare to save. But we definitely know ways to make it as cheap as possible.

  1. Victoria Falls is beautiful but I like the animal part of this post. Amazing to see some of these animals in the wild but you sure don’t want to tick off a hippo! Those suckers can be mean!

  2. Magda @DestinationWorld

    Africa is on my ‘to do’ list.There is a few overland trips that I always wanted to do and Cairo do South Africa is one of them. Hopefuly one day I can do it ๐Ÿ™‚
    How do you find Africa in terms of cost of travelling?

    1. Africa is also on my to-do list. And that Cairo-South Africa trip, I’ve also been keeping an eye on it. Would love to do that too! I’m going to dedicate a good deal of time to just visit Africa. It truly deserves it!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. I would love to do Cairo to South Africa as well. That would be incredible. I will do up a budget post. Africa is really cheap with day to day travelling. Once you start doing the safaris it gets pretty expensive.

  3. I am really curious about Africa after speaking to friends who have visited and John’s and my love of the animals there. But like Ayngelina would be interested in learning about costs…a friend spent heaps on a tour and safari but said the transport was still really, really uncomfortable for the long distances they travelled. Your posts have pointed out just how much there is to see!

    1. The transport is uncomfortable. We spent most of our time squished in a mini van or sitting in the back of a pick up on sacks of potatoes, rice and the whole village. But that is a part of travel, and when you have the experiences you do in Africa, it is totally worth it.

  4. oops think i erased my comment by mistake- forgive me if i come up twice! loved part 2 as well and agree with others- would love budget info. i’d love to make africa a big part of my rtw! LOVE that you included the map of your route ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Not to sound overly dramatic or hyperbolic, but Africa is in all of us. When you are there, you can feel it. You sense that it is in your DNA.

    Great post.

      1. South Africa and Zambia.

        We visited a family we sponsor in Lusaka, which was a life changing event. On that same trip we took a safari in South Africa, visited Cape Town and drove the Garden Route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.

        Africa was the catalyst for our NVR life.

  6. WOW! What a collection of amazing places and adventures. We’ve never been to Africa, though it’s very high on our ever growing list of places we HAVE to go to. I can’t even imagine the experiences you must have had in all these great wildlife viewing areas. These posts have me dreaming of a trip to Africa and their multitude of game reserves. Love it!!

    1. I know. The experience was incredible and this only really scratches the surface. We have so many amazing photos. Most of them are on slide film so we are yet to make the slow transition over to digital. I am doing it slowly slowly- African time ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Agree with NVR Guys,…it’s in our DNA. I must blog up that pic of ‘Lucy’ at the Ethiopian National Museum. Our earliest hominid ancestor.

    So how come, if we all came from Africa, we need visas and passports to go back?

    1. I too agree with NVR Guys, Caz, and you. Africa is in our DNA, the origins of what we are. I find the history and the facts of Lucy something really interesting too. Is she displayed in Ethiopia?

      Jim, I think you got onto something with the African visas and passports. lol

      Africa for all!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. Hi,
    I’m glad I found your blog.
    I’m planning a trip with my wife to Africa next October.
    I had thought for safety reasons that an
    overland tour like this one…
    http://www.nomadtours.co.za/campingtour/nairobi-to-cape-town-2013/
    would be perfect. It’s 42 days and would cost $5200 for us plus with the optional payments (if we did all) would be around $7200 We also want to do even more expensive stuff like hot air balloon over Serengeti ($660 per person) plus Lion walk $130 per person, swim with dolphins etc etc. Plus this trip does not include Kruger, so I would fly there (Johannesburg) at the end of this trip (from Cape Town, and would want to do a safari there as well.
    I am assuming all costs including visas, med insurance and extras that this will cost easily 10 grand in almost 2 months time. (which is the time we have to travel) The money is not the issue. BUT, given that you paid 7 grand for 5 months of doing it independently, I’m asking, do you think I could (and should mimic this exact trip, but do it solo with my wife? Sacrificing safety and some comfort? We both are not interested in Gorilla treks-thats why they are not on this trip, but I wonder, from your experience, and taking a look at the itinerary (we did not book it yet) How much do you think we could SAVE if we tried to mimic this trip? Thanks, DAVID

    1. Hi David –

      Thanks for your message and sorry for the late reply. This is a guest post written by Caz of http://ytravelblog.com, so I think she could help you if you email her through her website. Still, I did this exact same trip (well, similar) last year, and I spent around $4,500 in two months of travel, going from Uganda to South Africa – passing through Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Botswana. I did Kilimanjaro as well as a few safaris, walking with lions, great white sharks cage diving, and more. My trip was all independent, so I took local buses and trains to keep the costs down, as well as sleeping in hostels. The majority of the money I spent was on activities, since all touristy things in Africa are really expensive. Please, if you have any question, feel free to let me know!

      Norbert

  9. (could you please email me directly with your response?) I meant to email the above huge book of a “comment” ๐Ÿ™‚ -David

  10. I’m positive not many tour companies can compare to your experiences. You site is a beautiful read for anyone considering the 5 ways Africa gets under ones skin.

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