May 1, 2016
My April expenses for gas, food and lodging were near the lowest I’ve had, mostly because I camped 23 of the 30 nights. They could have been lower yet, but I had more dinners in restaurants than I should have.
Dining is more expensive in Africa than in Latin America, even at the simple level. A basic meal of chicken and rice with vegetables and a soft drink here runs about five dollars. In most of Latin America I could get the same for under three dollars. Many of the campsites I’ve stayed at in Southern Africa are attached to a lodge where American and European tourists stay to take safari tours. These restaurants cater to the higher-end tourists, and the prices are much higher. A dinner here can run as much as $26 per person (my pasta-in-a-mug, prepared on my tiny gas stove, starts to look really good at these places). Rooms at these lodges tend to be in the $130 to $400 per night range, while camping is generally around $10 per night. The advantage to camping becomes obvious: for what one night in a room costs, I can camp for two weeks or more. That kind of savings quickly extends my travel time. Likewise, the price of food drops considerably once you get away from the typical tourist areas. In some ways, it’s a shame that most tourists come to Africa to stay at a safari lodge at $200+ per night, and ride in a safari truck at $100+ per day, and eat the buffet dinner at $25+ per night, then go home saying they’ve seen Africa. You don’t have to travel very far outside of these places to find the real Africa, but it does generally require your own vehicle to do so. And it isn’t sugar-coated out here: people are incredibly poor and struggling.
But enough of that rant….
Fuel costs vary by country, but in general, fuel is a little more expensive in Africa as well. There is only one grade of gas here (Unleaded, which is marked 95 octane) and two grades of diesel (low sulphur and standard diesel). Most vehicles here run on diesel. Unleaded here in Zambia is 9.78 kwachas per liter, or about US$3.88 per gallon. Diesel is about 50 cents less per gallon. Fortunately my little XT250 has been averaging between 68 and 77 mpg, and the gas station attendants tend to fill the tank all the way to the very top of the neck. I’ve been able to go nearly 300 kilometers (186 miles) on the standard 2.6 gallon fuel tank lately without running out. With my spare 3 gallon Rotopax on the rear rack, that gives me a 400 mile range. Totally unnecessary on the route I chose through Africa; I’ve been able to find a legitimate gas station (there are three or four brands) every 120 to 150 miles lately. That wasn’t the case in Namibia where I spent much more time on sand and gravel back roads and had to dip into my spare can more than once.
My overall expenses for April were still high due to the tours. It’s hard to go to Africa and not experience the tourist side. So the 3-day Etosha tour and the helicopter tour of Victoria Falls added nearly 50% to my monthly expenses.
Miles ridden in April: 3394 miles
Total miles ridden since July 27, 2015: 22,778 mi.
Fuel: $129.13 (Avg $4.30/day)
Food: $404.35 (Avg $13.47/day)
Lodging: $445.26 (Avg $14.84/day)
Bike maintenance: $41.62
Visa/Border Fees/Misc fees: $236.07
Average daily expense for Gas/Food/Lodging: $32.61
May will likely be another very expensive month with more shipping expense, and at least one more African tour (hopefully).