Motorcycle over land touring in Africa Riding a motorcycle from Johannesburg to Vic Falls and back

Riding a motorcycle from Jo’Burg to Vic Falls – FINAL EPISODE – Costs?

There and back just to see how far it is…. 

Words & Pics:  Séan Hendley and friends

How much did it cost?

Well, depending on your financial disposition in life, it was either a lot of money, or it really wasn’t too bad considering the quality of our accommodation, the cost of fuel, toll fees, food, drink, road taxes and et cetera.

Motorcycle over land touring in Africa Riding a motorcycle from Johannesburg to Vic Falls and back

Border fees: Set aside about R2,000.00 for the various fees, insurances, taxes and other duties you have to pay per vehicle at the borders for the return trip to Livingstone in Zambia and back. 

Fuel is about R4.00 per litre cheaper in Botswana than South Africa, Botswana is also about R2.00 per litre cheaper than in Zambia as well. So try to do most of your fueling in Botswana if you can. We filled our bikes in Kasane, before crossing the Kazungula border into Zambia and that was enough for our sightseeing in and around Livingstone and Victoria Falls and the return trip back across the border to Kasane, Botswana where we filled up again. We did 13 refuels on this trip, Bedfordview – Vaalwater – Martin’s Drift – Palapye – Francistown – Nata – Kasane – Kasane – Nata – Francistown – Martin’s Drift – Vaalwater – BelaBela at a total cost of R4,160.00or about R1.60 per kilometre


Accommodation: Our first night in Francistown was a bit of a bugger up and ended up costing us the equivalent of R856.00 per person sharing as opposed to the R674.50 initially quoted ex meals, which were an extra R95.00 per person for a frozen half ladies portion at best. The second night in Kasane was R652.00 per person sharing plus an extra R319,00 per person for a buffet braai meal, so a total of R971.00 sans the beverage bill and breakfast which I didn’t have. The three nights Livingstone worked out at about R1,902.00 per person sharing, sans the beverage bill but did include breakfasts. So, a total of R4,794.00 per person sharing

Sundries: Breakfasts, lunches, suppers, snacks, water, sunset river cruises, park fees at Vic Falls, groceries, curios and that kind of thing does add up very quickly and in small increments most of the time. Two big expenses were the sunset cruise on the Zambezi at $70.00 U.S, about ZAR1,400.00, fine if you earn US dollars, pounds or euros but a bit eye-watering if you’re an average Joe earning ZAR, and then the quite cheeky 460.00, (ZAR414.00), kwacha to see the Vic Falls if you are not a Zambian national who only pay 12.00 kwacha, (ZAR10.80). Lekker for them but shafting international tourists almost forty times more does seem a little bit excessive. Frighteningly, this all worked out to about R5,600.00 more or less in total.

So! A quick calculation and the entire trip, or the route that I was part of weighs in at R16,500.00 and that was without the detour to Kubu Island.

Motorcycle over land touring in Africa Riding a motorcycle from Johannesburg to Vic Falls and back
The Zambian Kwacha is slightly weaker the the ZAR and the Botswana Pula is quite a bit stronger than the ZAR

Well worth the memories. 

Just for interest’s sake I checked on the possibility of flying into Livingstone because Botswana was a bit boring for me and Livingstone and the Falls were what I went for. A return flight directly to Livingstone from OR Tambo will set you back about R8,700.00 all in. Add to that the three nights at Fawlty towers, (R1,900.00), food and beverages whilst in town, (R1,500.00), the sunset river cruise, (R1,400.00) and Victoria Falls and gifts, (R1,000.00), then you would need to catch a taxi or shuttle to the further afield places, lets guesstimate another R1,000.00 maximum which all works out to R15,500.00 theoretically. Quite honestly, for the adventure of riding Africa on an adventure bike with your mates, I will happily pay the extra R1,000.00.

Then I mentioned the informal money changers…. which are rife around the border post, in town and at the falls. ZAR1.00 equals about Kwacha 1.36 officially, and that is what you will get at the  Bureau De Change, meaning ZAR100.00 should buy you Kwacha 136.00, the informal money changers do a straight 1 to 1 exchange, so you lose about 30% or so.

Motorcycle over land touring in Africa Riding a motorcycle from Johannesburg to Vic Falls and back
Informal money changers are rife around the borders, tourists hot spots and in towns, they are quick and easy and safe to deal with , but you do pay a premium dealing with them
Motorcycle over land touring in Africa Riding a motorcycle from Johannesburg to Vic Falls and back
Happy faces all round, a definite bucket list trip and well worth the time and money.

Nata Lodge/Kubu Island detour. 

You’re looking at about R1,400.00 per person to overnight at Nata Lodge, (about two and a half times more than our final night at Fawlty Towers), plus food and beverages and breakfast, so let’s call that R2,000.00 all in depending on your tastes and appetite, (hotels are significantly more expensive on their catering than normal restaurants and far more than self catering). Chuck in a minimum of 2 tanks of fuel, let’s call that R750.00 or so to get to Kubu and then back to Francistown. A couple more hundred bucks for water and snacks along the way and you’re looking at an easy R3,000.00 detour. Most of the expedition elected to overnight in Letlhakane for the fatigue and dehydration recovery rather than push through to Francistown, neither here nor there as far as cost differentials are concerned, but they did choose to break up the trip home with an overnight stop in Ellisras, (by which time the rest of us were all back home in Joburg), which cost extra meals and accommodation, call it another R1,500.00. 

That adds an extra R3,500.00 odd on top of the R16,500.00 bringing you to a nice round sum of R20,000.00 for the trip….. And that is excluding the R3,35 per kilometre AA rate for wear and tear on your vehicle, which work in this case to on a  +/- 2,600km round trip, to a further R8,710.00 per vehicle, which didn’t affect me as I was on a media demo Suzuki DL1050DE from Suzuki SA.

The bike?

Well, you can read about the Suzuki DL1050DE’s road touring performance here as well as the performance of the Givi Trekker Outback 42 lt top box here that Suzuki Motorcycles SA kindly arranged for me to fit to the bike, suffice to say it was an absolute pleasure to fit and to use.

So, what did some of the other guys have to say about the trip?

Marco Libratore – The tour organiser:

“All in all, it was a great trip. The Kubu Island trip was quite tricky, thick sand, thorn trees and bushes, salt pans…. That was about 170 km and it took us about 7 hours to get to Kubu Island. Once we got there it was magnificent to see the islands and discover the area. And then we headed back from Kubu, another 40 kays or so on sand tracks which were quite tricky and quite hectic to get to Letlhakane, where the other other guys decided to overnight and recover.

*Marco, the nut job that he is, decided to push through to Francistown and join up with us as the sun was setting around 17H30 or so. Not the wisest move at dusk with all the free roaming animals, but he managed to ride behind a local bakkie all the way who realised his plight and guided him safely into Francistown, flashing hazard lights every time there was an animal in the road. Almost 3 hours later a shattered Marco joined us at the Spur across from our hotel.

The ever smiling Frenchman, Daniel had this to say, (read with a light friendly french accent):

“It was fantastique, it was great to be with everybody. For me, the fact to go to Kubu Island was fantastique. I did it on a 4×4 previously, never on a motorbike and it was HOT…. VERY HOT. The Vic Falls from…. From…. Erm….. The Zambia side, I think was better than the Zimbabwe side, again, I did it a long time ago. Overall the trip was…. Err…. very good, I really enjoyed it.”

And everybody else pretty much expressed the same sentiments. We all had a fantastic time and all look forward to doing the trip again in the future.

Another very worthwhile contact to have in Zambia is that of Ian Brooks, he resides in Livingstone and is the Chairman of FIM Africa Leisure/Touring Commision. He is also a founding member of the Mad Dogs Off Road and Adventure Riders Zambia and is quite willing to dispense his wealth of riding knowledge as well as who to get to help with most things in Zambia from medical or mechanical help or information on where to ride or stay. You can contact him on or on

Thinking about doing your own adventure up that way?

If you are keen to do this trip or a similar trip, my best advice would be to contact Marco Libratore from Italmoto. He put together a well organised and slick trip for us and we all had a really good time. His company also rents out really great quality bikes at exceptionally good rates. He has all the info for you and is pretty spot on with his knowledge of the borders,the hotels, fuel stop and…. and…. and….

If you ever get the opportunity to ride on our beautiful continent, experience the people and the culture and see our natural wonders and exceptional beauty – TAKE IT!! You won’t be sorry but will kick yourself for the rest of your life if you don’t. 

Personally, I am just an average Joe that absolutely had no way of affording to do a trip like this and would just like to send out a big THANK YOU to a few people:

A lot of us just dream about adventure trips like this, and generally that is where ends…. as a pipe dream. Responsibilities, finances, life in general. I got tired of that and just threw caution to the wind and decided come hell or high water I would be doing this trip come what may. I didn’t have the money, the means or even the time and I did it….. and it all worked out in the end. YES! I did get a little bit of help from the above mentioned sources, they were all completely unsolicited and very welcome – but I footed the lions share of the bill myself mostly on my credit card. I now how life long memories and from the experience I know I can do it again….

 Don’t think about it – JUST GO DO IT!!!

And if you do, take lots of pics and send us a story on

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