Overland travel, or ‘overlanding’, is not only a fantastic way to experience Africa, but can also work out to be a good way to travel in this continent on a budget. Traveling Africa by truck is an hands-on experience; thrown into hectic markets to shop for dinner, cooking in groups, bush camping and fire building, digging the truck out of sand/mud… overlanding feels like you are on a proper adventure, and you are able to get involved with your trip, although the real problems are left to your driver and leader. This way of travel allows you to cross a great deal of land, with magnificent views of the ever-changing African horizon, whilst leaving the the logistics of border crossings and park permits to others.
Africa has always been a classic destination to do overland- the terrain lends itself to travel by truck, and such transportation allows you to cover ground much more efficiently than local transport. Cape to Cairo remains a popular route that takes in a huge variety of cultures, climates and countries, but there are options to see smaller areas, or even tackle a 30+ week trip around the whole continent. Whilst the majority of travelers stick to East Africa, Dragoman offers extensive routes in West Africa, from short trips to a 15 week exploration.
Overland travel can work out to be surprisingly cheap, and becomes more cost-effective when you commit for a longer time – a 23 day trip with Oasis Overland from Victoria Falls to Cape Town costs around £650, and an 8 week trip (Nairobi to Cape Town) will set you back around £1300. Whilst spending money, visas and optional extras are going to add up, trip prices include all transport, accommodation (a mixture of camping and hostels/hotels) and, generally, two meals a day. In comparison to other tours in Africa, overlanding is astoundingly good value, and by traveling on a truck, you will be able to reach areas of Africa with ease, that can be difficult/expensive/dangerous to get to on your own.
The growing number of overland operators operating in Africa allows you to shop around. The 10 leading UK operators are: Dragoman, Oasis, African Trails, Acacia, Tucan, Kumuka, Intrepid, Absolute Africa, On the Go and GAP Adventures, most of which offer purpose-built trucks with (relatively) comfortable seating, bag storage, books, music and games on board. These companies charge differing rates, which tends to be more dependent on who their target traveler is rather than what they offer, and by researching into different operators (most are more than happy to chat to you on the phone) you will not only find the trip that suits you, but that offers you great value for money. Most trips have a range of nationalities and age groups on board, brought together by their common interest in adventure.
Additionally there are normally special offers for those who book ahead of time, or repeat customers, as well as a number of late deals across these companies – by waiting close to departure times you can save yourself anything from 10 to 50% on trip prices.For example, Absolute Africa is currently offering 20% off selected safari trips departing October to December 09, when booked by the end of August, and Acacia is running an ‘End of Year Clearance Sale’ with up to 50% off certain trips departing before Christmas.