Tourism Without Boundaries

Travelling in KAZA

The KAZA TFCA offers some of Africa’s best game viewing. This huge area, much of which is a vast and beautiful wilderness of deserts, savannas and endless marshes, is a safari connoisseur’s dream destination. Allow yourself sufficient time to explore the region by 4×4, mokoro (traditional canoe) and to relax in superlative accommodation.

In addition to its abundant wildlife and scenic splendour, the region has an incredibly rich cultural heritage, so rich and varied it is difficult to describe. Given the huge diversity of eth- nic groups and sub-groups across the landscape, each with its own particular customs and traditions, culture dominates daily life — influencing the harvesting and use of natural resources, directing the preparation of foods, dictating the types of dwellings and mode of construction, through to shaping dress fashions and styles of music, song and dance.

Culture is reflected in the livelihood strategies of the commu- nities, with some individuals basing their lives around access to large bodies of water for fishing and harvesting aquatic resources, whilst others live in forested areas, and yet others in harsh dry desert with minimal access to water. This rich heritage provides the magical backdrop to the “people” side of the KAZA TFCA.

Cultures have been moulded by history, from the slave trade to colonisation; from recent civil strife to disease and famine. The cultures of the KAZA TFCA represent a vast resource of their own and, it is hoped that this resource will be increasingly celebrated through recognition and promotion of indigenous knowledge, establishment of cultural villages and determination of national heritage sites. More than 3 000 national heritage sites have been identified in Zambia alone.

Over the KAZA TFCA region, rainfall is largely confined to the months from October to March with December, January and February being the wettest.

This varies enormously both in rainfall distribution, period and amount. In some years it may be hot and dry with very little rain and in others it may rain on five days out of seven. Generally the rain is confined to afternoon thundery downpours that cool the air and which are quickly over. These summer months are hot, and very hot in the Zambezi
and Luangwa valleys. Temperatures may reach maxima of 270C to 350C or even more. The winter months are dry and much cooler with maxima falling in the range of 150C to 250C with night-time lows sometimes falling to near freezing. In the winter months there may sometimes be days of overcast and drizzly weather — so come prepared.

Traffic in the TFCA countries drives on the left except in Angola. Driving in the region is safe, provided you are aware, and understand that there are many un-roadworthy vehicles on the roads and that in general, driving discipline and understanding of a highway code is less developed than in Europe or America.

Adhere to speed limits and try to complete your journey in daylight. In many areas people, wildlife and livestock randomly cross the roads and may even lie on the road after dark enjoying the warmth of the road surface.

All of these can be very difficult to see at night. If you must travel after dark, reduce your speed so as to see well within your stopping distance.

Use of seatbelts, front and rear is mandatory, use of cellphones when driving is prohibited, and penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol are severe.

For the most part, the KAZA TFCA is readily accessible to visitors travelling in ordinary two-wheel-drive vehicles, but the more remote areas such as within Moremi and Chobe nature reserves, the Zambezi Valley of Zimbabwe, parts of Namibia, Angola and Zambia require the security of a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Heavy sand, and in the rainy season, mud, river fords and flooded low-level bridges present challenges to the unprepared. When venturing into the less frequented areas we would recommend travelling if possible, with another vehicle as a back-up in case of problems. Ensure you have an inflated spare wheel and the tools to change wheels, always be sure to carry a good supply of drinking water and some food in the event of a breakdown that may leave you stranded for several days.

Four-wheel-drive and two-wheel-drive vehicles suitable for travel in the TFCA, are widely available for hire. These include camper vehicles and trailers for independent travellers. Insurance is essential and we would advise that you shop around and read the fine print in the hire agreement carefully. It is well worthwhile taking out the fully covered insurance as some companies may charge for a new tyre if you have had a puncture.

Major centres are served by scheduled flights. Most lodges in the region have airstrips, and charter flights are readily available for transfers to the more remote lodges. There are direct flights to Maun from O. R. Tambo International in South Africa. Charter flights are essential for travel to lodges in the Okavango Delta.

Public transport exists throughout the region and there are some luxury buses between major centres that are safe, fast, reliable and affordable, however in general, public transport is erratic and may be unsafe. We recommend that you hire your own vehicle to get around.

Whilst the SADC is working towards a common currency for the member states, each of the partner countries still has its own currency.

Angola — Kwanza
Botswana — Pula
Namibia — Namibian Dollar – South African Rands can be used freely in Namibia alongside the the Namibian Dollar.
Zambia — Kwacha
Zimbabwe — In January 2009, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe permitted the use of foreign currency. In April 2009, the Zimbabwe dollar was suspended indefinitely. The government has adopted a multiple currency framework which includes the Australian Dollar, United States Dollar, British Sterling Pound, Euro, South Africa Rand, Indian Rupee, Chinese Yuan and Japanese Yen.

Except in Angola, most towns have ATMs and local currency can generally be drawn from these against a credit or debit card. Most hotels and restaurants in the larger centres and tourist hubs will accept credit cards, although not always American Express or Diners Club. It is important to notify your bank of where you will be travelling so that withdrawals will not be suspected as fraudulent and result in cancellation of your card. Always carry some cash in mixed denomination bills on your person. American dollars are most widely accepted. Some national parks will only accept dollars for entry fees and some airports charge airport fees in US currency. Changing money on the street is ubiquitous but illegal and may result in you being cheated, robbed or arrested.

There is a wide variety of accommodation in each of the partner countries of the region, ranging from campsites to up-market lodges amongst the finest in the world. Prices reflect TRAVELLING this. Botswana’s tourism strategy is focused on a low volume/high yield tourism policy, which can make it a relatively costly destination when compared to the other partner countries. Nevertheless, many of the lower cost lodges offer superlative experiences and a total immersion in the Africa you have come to experience.

Tipping is customary throughout the region if the service is good. This is generally 10% but a larger tip would be appropriate if you are tipping on behalf of a group. Check that your bill has not already included a service charge or you may find you are tipping too much.

Mobile phone access is widespread throughout the region when close to towns. Public landlines in working order may be difficult to find. Most major towns, hotels and lodges offer Internet facilities.