Phase II: Shaping the itinerary of my Africa and Silk Roads trip!

Phase II: Shaping the itinerary of my Africa and Silk Roads trip!

Phase II (7-8 months before the trip): From idea to an itinerary

Even though BoB’s Epic Adventure is still 6 months away, those who’ve been following me know that I’ve been waiting for this trip for quite a while now. And, it’s finally getting close!!

So, this is what I’ve been up to in the past two months. A few weeks ago, I bought the ultimate camping must-haves: a lightweight tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag. Also, I purchased three Lonely Planet e-books: Namibia & Botswana, South Africa and China. Furthermore, -so exciting- I booked my one-way ticket to adventure a.k.a. my first flight from Amsterdam to Johannesburg!! Whoop whoop!


Of course, after I had decided I’ll visit Southern Africa and Central Asia, my itinerary needed a bit more fine-tuning. Hence, I’ve been busy researching where and when exactly to go during my trip.

I looked into weather conditions in the countries I intend to visit and I discovered that it’s best to start in South Africa, in order to avoid the rainy season in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe as much as possible. I’ll probably finish my trip in Indonesia or Sri Lanka, since it’s relatively dry in those countries in August.

Recently I also discovered there is a large Korean adoptee meeting (IKAA) to be held in Seoul in August. Since many of my friends will attend this meeting, I hope to incorporate this in my trip.


To find out more about highlights and cool off-the-beaten path places in each country I’ve been checking out itineraries of tour companies and read many articles online and in books. If I came across a cool place or activity I wrote them down in my notebook. For example, I noted down Yangykala canyon in Turkmenistan, the cave houses of Kandovan in Iran and the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga in South Africa.

I also met up with Jonny ( and his friend, who both traveled the Silk Road a few years ago. Although, I originally planned to skipped Tajikstan, they convinced me to incorporate this remote country in my trip again. It’s suppose to be one of the most beautiful, friendly and adventurous places in the world. I especially look forward to explore Wakhan valley.

Now that I had a rough idea of places and things I’d like to see, I estimated how many days I’d need in each country and this led to this tentative itinerary. Of course, I’ll travel ‘backpack-style’. Nothing (except for a few necessary international flights) will be arranged beforehand, giving me the liberty to stay longer or shorter in a place.

Sri Lanka Bunch of Backpackers-4824

Anyway, without further ado, I proudly present the rough itinerary for Her Greatest Adventure Yet:

15 Feb –  22 Apr (10 weeks) SOUTHERN AFRICA

South Africa (26 days)

Namibia (19 days)

Botswana (10 days)

Zimbabwe (10 days)

22 Apr – 17 Aug (15 weeks) reversed ‘SILK ROAD’

Turkey (23 days)

Iran (21 days)

Turkmenistan (7 days)

Uzbekistan (12 days)

Tajikistan (17 days)

Kyrgyzstan (14 days)

China (Maybe Korea) (23 days)

17 – 31 Aug (2,5 weeks) BALI or SRI LANKA or …*

Chilling, surfing, diving, writing

*Whether I will visit Korea (3-7 August) and Bali/Sri Lanka depends on the duration of the Silk Road countries and the remaining funds.


To estimate my travel costs:

  1. I kept my travel style in mind: I will mainly travel by public transportation, stay in hostels, guesthouses or my own tent.
  2. I looked into costs of must-do activities in both Southern Africa and the Silk Road (such a rafting the Zambezi river (150 USD), a 3-day Sossusvlei  tour (350 USD), ballooning Cappadocia (150 USD) etc.
  3. I took the costs of Turkmenistan in account. I’d interested in spending about a week in this country and this is only allowed if you travel with a tour organization (100+ USD per day).
  4. I researched the average costs of camping and hostels in the different countries
  5. I checked the costs of visa applications and international flights.

Final estimation of the travel costs: 13.000 euro (preferably more though)! Even though I already have some savings, I still need to save-up more money the six coming months! I’m terrible at saving money, but challenge accepted!


As a hospital employee, the first consult at our Travel Clinic is free. Besides the protection I already have, I was advised to take the following vaccinations: typhoid fever, rabies, polio and tick encephalitis. I already had my first tick encephalitis shot (first shot is 6 months in advance) and will get the other shots later. I also checked the recommendations concerning malaria prevention.


The whole Central Asia visa game will be one of the biggest challenges of this trip. Since I’ll be visiting Southern Africa before Central Asia, I’ll have to arrange each Central Asia visa as I go: my Iran visa in Turkey, my Turkmenistan visa in Iran etc. In some cases the embassy can let you wait 10 days (!) and you often need a Letter of Invitation from a tour operator. The Central Asia visa game is definitely going to require a lot of more research and preparation, but more about that later.

Another tricky point are the Central Asia borders. These are often barren ‘No man’s land’ area’s, and if you’re unlucky you may run into a corrupt officer. It will require a bit more research to check which border crossings are safe, easy and open.

Bunch of Backpackers Camping Gear

Latest additions to Her Greatest Adventure Yet collection:
  • Ultra lightweight tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag
  • Three Lonely Planet e-books: Botswana & Namibia, South Africa and China
  • Ticket from Amsterdam to Johannesburg and from Johannesburg to Istanbul
Summary of ‘How to prepare for a RTW-trip 7-8 months before take-off’ tips:
  • Research your destinations!
    • Get an idea of what you’d like to see: read guidebooks, blogs and itineraries of tour companies
    • Read in-depth articles and literature (in my case I read lots about Southern Africa and the Silk Road countries)
    • If you come across an interesting place or event on the internet, always write it down
    • Check out the weather conditions in the different countries to optimize your itinerary
    • Find the tricky points on your trip (border crossing, visa requirements, other regulations etc.)
  • Create your itinerary!
  • Estimate much money you need for your trip based on your itinerary, activities, average daily costs, travel style etc.
  • Start saving up pronto!
  • Check your vaccinations (this can also be done later, although the first shot of tick encephalitis is preferably done 6 months before take-off)

In the coming months I still have more things to arrange including subletting my apartment, visa stuff (this is going to the biggest challenge!!!), get a new backpack etc.

What do you think of this tentative itinerary? Are you as excited as I am ;)? 

NL: Wat vinden jullie van dit voorlopige reisplan? Zijn jullie even enthousiast als ik ;)?

Read Phase V: Saying Goodbye 20’s and Hello BoB’s Epic Adventure

Read Phase IV: Only 2 months until BoB’s Epic Adventure

Read Phase III: My debute as ‘Backpack Expert’ and some challenges that lie ahead!

Read Phase I: Preparing and planning my Silk Roads and Southern Africa adventure 

Read On Work and Wanderlust


  1. Woohoo, so nice that you made it “real” by buying the first tickets. The vaccinations are the most boring part of the preparations but part of the game :-) Have fun with all the reading and good luck with the savings, you have an amazing goal so you will make it work.

  2. Echt gaaf dat je dit gaat ondernemen! Zuid-Afrika, Namibië, Botswana en Zimbabwe staan ook hoog op mijn lijstje om te bezoeken, maar jij neemt er uitgebreid de tijd voor zeg met 10 weken. Ik ben benieuwd naar jouw bevindingen en of je daar echt zo veel tijd nodig hebt (ik heb me er nog niet zo in verdiept als jij :))

    • Hi Alfons, tien weken is aan de ruime kant, maar ik heb in mijn planning rekening gehouden met reistijd, wachttijd (op vervoer of een daytour) en chill dagen. Bovendien geeft dit mij hopelijk de kans om ook meer te zien behalve de toeristische hoogtepunten. Echter, met eigen auto/groepsreis/overlanding company zou je Nam/Bot/Zim geloof ik in 3-4 weken kunnen doen :)! Er staan veel mooie reizen op het internet. Leuk om inspiratie op te doen!

  3. Ja hoor, ik word ter plekke enthousiast van je plannen! Klinkt echt heel gaaf allemaal, maar ook aardig wat voorbereiding. De plekken waar je heen gaat ben ik bijna allemaal nog nooit geweest, dus wat dat betreft weinig tips ;). Het deel van zuid-Afrika wat je gaat doen staat ook hoog op mijn lijstje en ik ben erg benieuwd naar je ervaringen in Centraal-Azië. Ik heb toevallig gisteren ook weer een vaccinatie gehaald; over drie weken naar Ecuador en m’n laatste DTP-prik was alweer meer dan tien jaar geleden. Wat gaat de tijd hard ;)!
    Heel veel plezier nog met de voorpret!

    • Haha ik had niet anders verwacht Linda ;)! Ik had ook weer een DTP-prik nodig. Time flies!! Heel veel plezier in Ecuador. Lijkt mij ook een gave bestemming zeg :)!

  4. Great! Looking forward to reading your posts on Central Asia! Please note that as far as I know they are now only giving out 5-day transit visas for Turkmenistan, unless you are going on a tourist visa.

    • Thanks, yeah I know, I’m still doubting whether to do Turkmenistan short and independently on a transit visa or long and with tour on a tourist visa! Something to think about :)

  5. Hoi Manouk, wat gaaf dat je je ticket hebt geboekt! Je plannen klinken geweldig :) . Je planning voor de Zijderoute ziet er ook goed uit, het is eigenlijk precies wat wij ook doen/hebben gedaan. Wij hadden alleen 19 dagen in Kirgizië en dat vonden we achteraf te lang. Het is een heel mooi land, maar je moet wel elke dag willen wandelen of paardrijden, anders is er niet zo gek veel te doen. Twee weken was voor ons eigenlijk perfect geweest! En wat betreft Tajikistan: super dat je hier toch naartoe gaat! Het reizen is er pittig, maar wat is het daar ongelofelijk mooi. Met als favoriet de Wakhan Valley :) Wij vonden het mooier dan Kirgizië! Heel veel plezier en succes met je voorbereidingen, voor je het weet is het zover!

    • Jaa, I know! Ik heb jullie reis er bij gepakt hoor om het aantal dagen/weken te bekijken in een bestemming. Inderdaad toch Tajikistan erbij :) Ik sprak twee andere mannen die dit ook met shared taxi’s hebben gedaan en zij vonden dit redelijk te doen. Ik geloof dat 3 uur het langste was dat ze moesten wachten op een auto! Ben superbenieuwd naar de Wakhan valley!

  6. Hi Manouk, wat een heeeeerlijke planning! Lekker ruim de tijd om onderweg ook écht even ergens te kunnen zijn. En whoehoe, ticket geboekt! Ik snap je blijdschap :-) Ik ben heel benieuwd naar je Zuidelijk-Afrika deel, dat staat bij ons ook nog hoog op de wensenlijst! Voornamelijk ook omdat mijn vriend hier met zijn Cubaanse paspoort visumvrij naartoe kan. Dus ik blijf je zeker volgen!

    • Hi Edith, oeh dat is natuurlijk wel aantrekkelijk voor jullie! Ik kijk zelf ook erg uit naar Zuidelijk Afrika :) Nog maar 6 maanden! Groetjes, M

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