So you want to see Africa and all the wonderful things the
continent has to offer, but the bank balance doesn’t
quite stretch to that luxury safari! Solution – Overlanding.
You get to experience this beautiful continent in a in a much
more affordable (and fun) way. But, what is it, exactly, and
how does it differ from a regular safari? Every year hundreds
of overland trucks cross Africa between Kenya and Cape (or
vice versa) on what has become one of the most popular and
well established overland routes in the world. Overland trucks
are large, modified vehicles that seat 20 - 30 travellers
and carry all the equipment necessary for camping and cooking
on a trip that can last from one to eight weeks. By using
these vehicles, which are capable of travelling long distances
and by camping, costs are considerably cheaper than a luxury
safari that utilises flights and luxury lodges. The wildlife
experiences you will have in the game parks and reserves are
no different than those you’d have on a luxury safari.
(In fact, with 20 pairs of eyes peeled for a glimpse of the
rare wild dog, you may have a far more rewarding wildlife
experience from the back of an overland truck than on a regular
smaller safari.) Then there is the added excitement of sleeping
under the African sky with the far off roar of the lion. The
beauty is that you can share all these travelling experiences
with like-minded travellers, many of whom will leave as friends.
Camping under the stars, cooking and washing up together,
hiking, diving, abseiling, white-water rafting and sharing
the odd cold beer or ten - it may not be a luxury holiday,
but it’s undoubtedly a lot of fun.
IS OVERLANDING FOR ME?
If you’re the adventurous type who’d rather spend
a night roughing it in a rain forest than luxuriating in a
boutique hotel, then overlanding is for you. With overlanding
you experience Africa first-hand - buying and cooking food
from markets then sharing a drink with villagers in a local
bar. It’s perfect for people travelling as a group of
friends, a couple or alone. Most things are done as a group
and chores are shared, so everyone works and plays together.
If you’re a first-time traveller, joining an overland
tour still gives you that sense of adventure, but a Trip Leader,
Driver and Safari Cook and the companionship of the group,
means you’ll always have backup. Finally thanks to the
purpose built trucks, most trips get well away from the usual
safari circuits and you get to see Africa away from the armies
of pop-up minibuses seen in the more popular game parks. If
you’re looking for a trip which goes beyond a mere holiday
and gives you the opportunity to make a lot of new friends
and see a lot of new places in a relatively short period of
time, then overlanding is for you!
WHAT DOES IT INVOLVE?
Each truck carries everything needed to be completely self-sufficient.
It has a fully equipped kitchen, including food, cutlery,
pots and pans and a gas stove. All the day to day chores
such as cleaning, washing-up, checking security and helping
the Safari Cook shop and prepare meals are shared amongst
all the passengers. But, there’s still plenty of time
for relaxation and sightseeing and itineraries build in
chill out time, wildlife spotting and the various activities
on offer. Along the way there are also opportunities to
upgrade to a room for the night or eat out in a local restaurant
as a treat.
WHAT CONDITIONS CAN I EXPECT?
Where once overland groups would camp in the bush each night,
today there are a wide range of great campsites catering
for overlanders and the vehicles - with activities, bars,
restaurants and good facilities. On the Kenya to Cape route
(or vice versa), it is now possible to stay in a secure
campsite every night and there are few nights when a shower
or a beer are not available - whether they be hot or cold,
respectively, is another matter! Sometimes conditions can
be challenging and if it’s raining you’ve still
got to put up your tent. Africa is a vast continent so some
of the drives can be long and there are a few patches of
bumpy roads. There may be a few hiccups in the itinerary
when a bridge is washed away or there’s a mechanical
emergency. But, none of these will spoil your trip if you
approach them with the right attitude and a sense of humour.
WHERE WILL MY TRIP GO?
The classic Kenya to the Cape route (in either direction)
has become an alluring expedition for many travellers and
it’s the most accessible part of Africa. Beginning
in Nairobi (or Cape Town), this overland route crosses the
mighty continent diagonally through some remarkable scenery
until you reach the coast of South Africa, via Kenya, Uganda,
Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and
South Africa. Highlights include enjoying an audience with
a gentle ape in Uganda’s misty mountains, watching
the Zambezi River tumble over the Victoria Falls, viewing
the shimmering sand dunes and deserts of the ancient Namib,
spotting the Big Five on the endless plains in the national
parks and game reserves, and meeting a variety of diverse
cultures from red-robed Masai warriors to the warm-hearted
people of Malawi. From Lake Victoria to Table Bay, there
are game parks, beaches, deserts and wetlands waiting to
be explored and the best and most affordable way to get
to them is by overlanding.
ACCOMMODATION ON TOUR
Accommodation whilst on tour is camping. Occasionally where
possible you will have the option to upgrade to a dorm bed
or single/double room. Most nights are spent at campsites.
Bear in mind many of the campsites in Africa are very basic
and have a great rustic “under African skies”
feel. The campsites have ablution blocks with hot or cold
showers (sometimes cold only). Some have flush toilets,
some don't. Some of them have electric points, some not,
so you won't always have lights lighting up the campsites
and facilities to charge your camera’s batteries.
We camp at our own campsite in the Masai Mara - Acacia Camp.
Some nights you will bush camp. This means you are camping
without ablution facilities and not at a campsite. This
occurs when in the Okavango Delta on the optional Okavango
Delta Mokoro Excursion, in the Serengeti National Park,
and at Lake Nakuru National Park. The tents we use are two
man dome tents, with mosquito nets over the door and window
areas, a sewn in ground sheet and a separate flysheet. You
share a tent with a fellow traveller. You need to provide
your own sleeping bag and sleeping mat and a small pillow
is always great for extra comfort!
TRANSPORT ON TOUR
Transport is in an overland truck. Our trucks seat between
28 - 30 passengers. They have either all forward facing
seats or a combination of forward and backward facing seats
with little tables between. A few of our trucks have a few
side facing seats right in the front of the truck, but the
rest of the truck has forward facing seats. Keep in mind
bench seating often faces inwards, so you can communicate
with your fellow travellers, but it’s not advantageous
for game viewing and photography. Our trucks have soft cushioned
seats - remember you want a truck that has comfortable cushioned
seats, as you do spend a lot of time in the truck between
points (driving time can be up to 8 hours on long days).