What Is Overland Travel?
By Tara Jenneker
Overlanding can be described as adventure travel to remote destinations where your journey is as much of a goal as any particular sights you may visit along the way.
Typically, but not exclusively, accommodated by an off-highway capable transport and often crossing international boundaries — while an expedition can be defined as a journey with a purpose, overlanding sees the journey as the purpose itself.
Our adventure overland tours take in many of their destination's cultural, scenic and wildlife highlights — often travelling through several countries to give you a truly in-depth experience. However, travelling overland also allows you the opportunity to experience many more remote and less visited places well off the normal tourist routes. This mix is what makes these trips really special.
Most of our overland tours in Africa form part of a route starting in Cape Town in South Africa, and travelling all way up to Nairobi in Kenya (or vice versa). This is then broken up into sections with several fixed start and finish points along the way so that you can join for just a portion of the route (though as one vehicle may spend several months covering the entire distance, you can combine trips to do the whole route if you wish). We also have some tours just focussing on Southern Africa, and the highlights of South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
BE READY FOR AN ADVENTURE!
On an overland tour, you're more than just a passenger — you're part of an adventure! This means there will be challenges along the way, whether these be navigating unfamiliar fruit and veg while shopping for food, helping push the truck out of a muddy rutted track, or being patient with delays at a border crossing. Things like this are all part of the experience, and you should always join with an open mind and a flexible attitude.
In addition, our tour leaders and drivers always try to keep the trips fresh by tweaking the routes very slightly, trying new camping spots, stopping in new towns or villages or visiting new sights along the way. This means that no two overland trips are ever exactly the same.
MAKE LIFELONG FRIENDS
Enjoying an overland tour is all about sharing a great experience with like-minded people — your travel comrades are as much part of the adventure as the areas you are travelling through.
Our groups often have people of many different ages, nationalities, and a broad-minded attitude to the world around them. The challenges, adventures and experiences you'll enjoy on the way, especially on our longer trips, helps to forge what can be life-long friendships. This type of travel also works extremely well for solo travellers.
Our tours are definitely not only for the young and bold; they are suitable travellers of all ages who's willing to travel with an open mind — if you have a 'can-do' attitude and are fairly mobile (able to climb what can be a few steep steps in and out of the vehicle without problems), you'll be just fine.
We keep the maximum number of people on each tour relatively low, compared to some other overland operators, normally with a maximum of 20 people per trip. This helps ensure everyone gets a good view out of the vehicle and feels part of the group.
Trips are led by two or sometimes three experienced crew who will do the driving, act as tour leaders, and do most of the cooking for you during the tour.
CAMPING OR ACCOMOMDATED?
We offer our overland tours in two different ways — either Camping based, or 'Accommodated.'
Camping is the lower budget option, and we provide tents and camping mats/camp beds while you will need to bring your own sleeping bag. Some nights will still be spent in simple hotels or lodges particularly in bigger towns or cities. You should epxect to share a tent or room with another traveller of the same sex — single supplements are available but would only cover the nights not under canvas — there isn't space for us to bring a tent for everyone on the trip to have their own. In many places you can also pay to upgrade locally if you wish to stay in a room.
Accommodated trips provide a higher level of comfort, with your nights spent in a range of different hotels, lodges, and tented camps (with proper beds). Rooms are nearly always en-suite — please see the tour itinerary for more information. Solo travellers should expect to pay the single room supplement.
On most of our trips and dates, both Accommodated and Camping options are available and run together, meaning that if you are camping you can often choose to pay locally and upgrade some nights to a room while you are en-route (subject to availability)
RUGGED EXPEDITION VEHICLES
On an overland adventure tour, you can expect to travel in comfortable, fully equipped and specially designed expedition vehicles with large, high windows providing a great vantage point to enjoy the incredible scenery and wildlife around you.
Our vehicles (and these are not buses!) are based on a commercial truck chassis, with a customised back with coach seats facing both forward and inward. We carry all the equipment, food, water and spare parts we need to be semi-independent on the road. There are also seatbelts and charging points on board for your comfort and safety.
Overall, our overland adventure tours offer great value for money whilst giving you the comfort and security of an organised trip.
An overland adventure is a great opportunity to create lasting memories, which will leave you wanting to return for more. If you have any questions about how our trips work, or combining different tours to make a longer trip, please contact us for more information.
First published on Encounters Travel 1 June 2022.
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