OverlandingTips & Tricks

The MYTH of time, travelling in Southern Africa.


That often misunderstood and under-estimated variable when overlanding.

Having spoken to and watched a couple YouTube videos from some pretty well known overlanding content creators, something that has struck me is the under estimation of time.

Time is an important variable and one that is seriously misunderstood when planning to travel in Southern Africa.

Let me give you an example, and this is just one of a number of times we’ve experienced this.

In 2018, TimTam Overlanding travelled to Zambia and Tanzania and on this particular leg of the trip, we planned to leave Kapishya Hot Springs and make our way to Lake Taganyika, Lake Shore Lodge to be precise.

A distance of 602km.

Not the furthest distance to travel in a day, however, this is where the problems often arise. A distance of 602km in normal travel conditions would usually take about 7/7h30 hours under normal travel conditions. Therefore, you could easily assume that leaving at 06h00 in the morning, then a predicted arrival time of mid afternoon would be reasonable.

However, this particular day took us close on 12/13 hours.

A couple factors influenced this:

  • Exceptionally bad road conditions on the Zambian side of the border. Last 100km we probable averaged about 10-20km/h. The road seemed to be under construction or repair, however, no one was working on it whilst we were on the road.
  • Slow going at the border. We crossed at a smaller border and no officials were on site to help us when we arrived. Took another hour before someone did arrive and then he needed approval to process all aspects of the border crossing.
  • Low speed limits on the Tanzanian side, 80km/h max even on the highway in Tanzania.

Some of these factors are completely out of your control. No amount of research can warn you and prepare you for roads that are in repair, officials who are not where they were meant to be.

Therefore, with everyone we speak to, we always reiterate, be careful of your timing. Unless you have experience, don’t plan for travel days that extend past 6-7hours, you do not want to be traveling in Africa after dark.

Therefore, in closing, plan your trips and try be cognisant of time. Tracks 4 Africa certainly helps, but use your common sense and plan accordingly.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment and we’ll answer as bet as we can.

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