Southern and Eastern Africa are simply amazing and you will find more than you expect. A modern and developed southern and a authentic african eastern. Incredible sceneries, exotic animals, lush and diverse nature and friendly people. Dunes, canyons, desert, rivers, lakes, ocean, savannah, trees, mountains, islands … All accompanied by all the wild animals to make it even more interesting.
But what to do with just one month for the whole region? We found the solution. We made an overland tour in a truck with 22 other people, leaving from Cape Town, in South Africa, to finish at Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania, passing through Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Malawi. Just amazing and one of the best experiences we’ve had so far.
On the way we saw the best each country could offer, we appreciated all the exotic animals passing by the road and we enjoyed a lot the safaris. After seeing the wild animals in the nature you will never want to step into a zoo again!
The most interesting countries: Namibia for its natural beauty, Botswana by the immense opportunity to admire the wildlife, South Africa by the diversity of things to see and do.
What we wanted to do but we didn’t: Further explore Tanzania with its exotic island of Zanzibar, the dramatic safaris (Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti migration) and it`s giant Mount Kilimanjaro, the safaris in Kenya and its beaches unexplored and Uganda and its incredible gorillas reserve.
A few tips:
- MONEY: Traveling in Africa is much more expensive than most people think, but this will vary greatly from one region to another and also if you will travel independently, renting car, camping, etc… Research before planning your trip and your budget.
- WHAT IS AN OVERLAND TOUR?: It is a tour organized by specialized agencies where all the displacement in the itinerary is done on a customized truck for such type of travel, with seats, table, lockers for luggage and all camping equipment. The accommodation is in campsites with tent for two people and along the path all the passengers help with daily duties, such as cooking, cleaning, pitching camp and washing the dishes. A good opportunity for easy travel and also to interact with other people. The tour usually visits the major highlights of each country and they offer several itineraries, ranging from south to north of Africa. But the most popular are the southern and eastern Africa. This type of tour has a focus on youth, but there are also options with more comfort where you sleep in rooms and the group has a cooker, which focus on older people.
- COST OF AN OVERLAND TOUR: Consider an average of 100 USD per person per day, including all (sleeping in tents, 3 meals a day, drinks and tours and safaris described in the tour). Extra activities for adventure (parachute, quad, sanboarding …) are not included on this cost. For itineraries that include the gorillas in Uganda, consider spending more, because it is very expensive! How is the cost of an overland divided? In general there are three basic costs: 1 – cost of the tour (this is the basic cost you will pay in advance to guarantee your booking and it is related to the fix costs of the tour and agency); 2 – basic local payment (this is a mandatory cost you have to pay in cash on the first day of the tour and it is related to the variable costs during the trip with food, fuel and camping/border fees the guide should manage); and 3 – flexible local payment (this is the cost that refers to the activities proposed in the tour, it should also be payed in cash and you can choose whether you want to do or not). In these 3 costs above it is not included spendings with drinks (because it only includes water, so if you drink too much alcohol forecast a higher average) and meals in large cities (in these cases they specify in the tour and they prefer to do so because people prefer to dine in restaurants), but our average-day of 100 USD already includes the standard 3 cost + extra costs with drinks + extra restaurants.
- OVERLAND TOUR COMPANIES: We did with Acacia and was a good experience, but there are numerous specialized companies. Here’s a list to help in your search: Nomad, Dragoman, Intrepid, Oasis, Absolute Africa, Kumuka. The service is generally similar and they often go through the same places, but there are several different tour options, some exploring more each country and some other more in a rush.
- INDEPENDENT TRAVEL: We did not do anything independently, but we met people who did it. It’s super possible, but you need more time, because going around is not always easy and the distances are long. From what we understood is much easier to travel by public transport in East Africa than in the south. Generally in the south you will find many people traveling by rented car, but that is much more expensive. Maybe a good option is to mix, traveling the south on an overland tour and doing independently the east, where you can save more money.
- BEST PERIOD: The best time to visit this region of Africa is during the winter because the heat is not so intense during the day, the vegetation is drier, allowing greater visibility of the wildlife in the roads and safaris and it is an important migration period for the animals and if you are going to Tanzania between July and October you can have an amazing experience in the Serengeti. But be aware, the winter is also very cold at night, reaching 5 degrees Celsius, so you need to be prepared with appropriate clothing and a good sleeping bag if camping.
- COMMUNICATION: Incredibly all the countries we visited speak perfect English. So communication is not a problem. Moreover, in most places the people are friendly and helpful.
Our itinerary (36 days)
We flew from Hong Kong to Johannesburg, where we made a connection to Cape Town. We spent four days visiting the city before starting our Overland Tour. Our tours left from Cape Town and the first two days we went through northern South Africa, passing in the Orange River, to cross the border with Namibia. Then we crossed the whole country, through the Fish River Canyon, Sossusvlei dunes, the adventure town of Swakopmund, the exotic landscape of Spitzkoppe, Etosha National Park and the capital Windhoek. Then we crossed to Botswana, going through Ghanzi, the beautiful Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park and the small Kasane. Crossing to Zambia, we started with the famous Victoria Falls in Livingstone and then heading to Malawi, we stopped at the Kafue River, Lusaka and Chipata. In Malawi we spent the whole time enjoying the beaches of Lake Malawi at Kande Beach and Chitimba. And finally we crossed to Tanzania to finish our tour in Dar es Salaam, where we spent two days at the beach waiting for our flight to London.
The best of the country
- 200,00 US$ for the couple for an overland tour
- The awesome Sossusvlei dunes (Dune 45 and Dead Vlei) – Namibia
- Spitzkoppe to admire its immense orange rocky visual at sunset – Namibia
- Etosha National Park and its fantastic waterhole for the animals – Namibia
- Chobe National Park for a high quality safari in a lush landscape – Botswana
- The powerful Victoria Falls – Zambia or Zimbabwe
- Lake Malawi and its waves that look more like the sea – Malawi
- Sky diving in the Namib Desert
- Spend hours admiring the hundreds of animals drinking water from the waterhole in the camping of Etosha National Park – Namibia li>
- To do a safari and a boat cruise to enjoy the wildlife in the beautiful Chobe National Park – Botswana
- Quad biking in the dunes of Swakopmund at sunset – Namibia
- Runing down the dune 45 of Sossusvlei – Namibia
- Admire the penquins in Boulders Beach – South Africa