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Africa Overlanding

Updated: 23rd January 2023

Camping at Spitzkoppe in Namibia - Africa - On The Go Tours

What is overlanding?

Every year hundreds of overland trucks make the journey across Africa between Kenya and South Africa on what has become one of the most popular and well-established overland routes in the world. Overland trucks are large, modified vehicles that can seat approximately 16 - 30 travellers (depending on the trip!), plus crew, and carry all the equipment necessary for camping and cooking on a trip that can last from one week to several months. 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 lots of pairs of eyes peeled for a glimpse of an elusive leopard or a camouflaged African wild dog, you may have a far more rewarding wildlife experience from the back of an overland truck than on a 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 camping in the African bush than luxuriating in a boutique hotel, then overlanding is for you. With overlanding you experience Africa first-hand - buying and cooking food from markets and 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 professional safari crew of two or three 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 that 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 time, then overlanding is for you!

What will the group profile be?

The average age on our Overland Camping Safaris is 30 - 50 years, however we welcome any adventurous travellers who are keen to explore with us! You will need to have a reasonable level of fitness, enjoy camping and have a good sense of adventure. Our overland trips attract a varied mix of solo travellers, couples and groups of friends from around the world. The group size is dependent upon season or time of the year and the expedition itself, but is generally around 16. As our Overland Camping Safaris are modular, new travellers will join the group at different points along the way, so there is plenty of opportunity to make new friends!

Given the nature of African safaris, we are unable to accept travellers aged 80 or above. Our overland camping safaris are active so you need to have a reasonable level of fitness and be active to enjoy the trip. For more mature travellers we highly recommend our Lodge Accommodated Safaris which provide a much higher level of comfort than our Overland Camping Safaris.

On our Overland Camping Safaris you will be required to put up & take down your own tent each day, help out with cooking & cleaning duties and you will experience long and often bumpy journeys. You will also need to be able to climb the ladder steps to get on & off the overland trucks. Passengers over 70 years are required to have a medical certificate and complete a Tour Suitability form before the booking can be confirmed.

What does it involve?

Each overland truck is completely self-sufficient, carrying everything you could possibly need during your adventure. The trucks each have a fully equipped kitchen (food, cutlery, pots and pans and a gas stove). Chores such as cleaning, washing up and helping the crew to shop for supplies and prepare food are shared amongst all passengers, so you have to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and muck in.

Despite this, you'll still have plenty of free time to relax and enjoy some sightseeing or wildlife spotting. There are sightseeing activities and game drives included in our itineraries, as well as plenty of free time for you to spend at leisure. In some destinations we'll be able to dine at local restaurants as well, to give us all a night off cooking!

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 excellent facilities, often including a swimming pool. Our trips spend the night in a secure campsite every night (with one or two exceptions). There are a handful of campsites that may not have a shower or a beer available, though most have running water. Sometimes conditions can be challenging – it may be dusty or rainy, it can get exceedingly hot or very cold – so come prepared for the respective season you’re travelling in and you’ll have little to worry about. You can find information about the campsites and accommodation we use on each tour page.

Africa is a vast continent and distances between the highlights we visit can be big. Some of the drives will be long and there are a few patches where the roads range from lightly bumpy to almost impassable. Long driving distances usually require an early start, so expect to marvel at an array of breathtaking African sunrises during your journey. 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 flexible attitude and a good sense of humour.

ATC Roll mat and tents

Camping

On our trips we use two man dome tents with mosquito nets over the door and window areas, a sewn in ground sheet and a separate flysheet, which you share with a fellow traveller. If you’re a camping novice, rest assured, the tents are very easy to put up and your trip leader will give you a demonstration. You will have to provide your own sleeping bag and remember a small pillow is always great for extra comfort. There is also the option to camp under the stars instead of in your tent on some occasions, just check with your Trip Leader to see when it is possible to do so.

Tents have a rain cover that is designed to aid the flow of rain water from the tent sides to the ground. These are really effective, but please keep in mind that when camping in the rain one can still expect some dampness and the occasional leak. Our tents are maintained regularly to avoid leaks and each vehicle is equipped with a couple of spares to swap out any tents that may be damaged.

We camp in set campsites along our routes that specifically cater for overland passengers. Bear in mind many of the campsites in Africa can be very basic and have a great rustic “under African skies” feel. Campsites in Southern Africa generally have better facilities than their East African counterparts and almost all campsites have a facility to wash some laundry (hand washing). Some have flush toilets, some don't. Some have a vibey bar, some don’t. Most have electricity points to charge your phone and camera batteries. Some nights we may bush camp - this means you are camping without ablution facilities and not at a built up campsite, but being out under the African skies surrounded by her sounds makes this all worthwhile.

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