Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
Got questions? If you can’t find the answer in the FAQs below, please feel free to contact us.


About overlanding

What is overlanding? Adventure touring in Africa, aka overlanding, is a great way to experience the very best of the continent within a set time frame and budget, with like-minded travellers.

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Money & budgeting

What’s the best currency to bring? The best exchange rate is usually given for US dollars cash, irrespective of local currency. Try to bring a mix of smaller and larger bills, and be aware that US$100 bills may not be accepted, owing to forgery.

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Meals & accommodation

What’s the deal with meals? Hearty, balanced meals are provided three times per day unless otherwise specified. These are cooked on a fire or camp stove using mostly local ingredients, on a rotating roster basis.

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Health & safety

What are the health considerations?You need to be in good health to join an overland tour. Should you have a specific medical condition, you will need to advise us of this before your trip begins.

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Insurance & documentation

Do I need travel insurance?Yes! Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and in order to book you will need to supply proof of your policy. Please ensure that air-evacuation is included, in case of a medical emergency.

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Out of trip travelling

When should I arrive and leave?It’s strongly advised that you plan to arrive in your departure city at least one day before your tour departs; or earlier if there is a pre-departure meeting. It’s also best to plan your departure no earlier than one day after your tour …

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Packing

What should I bring?One soft duffle-type bag, weighing no more than 12kg, is the best luggage to have for overlanding. Hard case luggage takes up more than the space you have, and wheels will only get damaged.

read more


Weather considerations

How will the weather be?Weather varies widely between Southern and East Africa, and it’s worth researching the countries you intend to visit. Winter in Southern Africa is from June to August and it can be very chilly at night.

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While travelling

There are many wonderful scenic photographic opportunities and your crew will stop at the best sites for you. You are also welcome to request a stop if you spot something special.

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Travelling with children

All children entering or exiting South Africa are required to travel with an unabridged birth certificate, containing particulars of both biological parents. This applies even when both parents are travelling, and to all nationalities. When only one parent or a guardian is present, additional documentation is required.

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What is overlanding?Adventure touring in Africa, aka overlanding, is a great way to experience the very best of the continent within a set time frame and budget, with like-minded travellers.

Your ‘home on wheels’ will be an overland vehicle, ready for rough-roading and kitted out with camping equipment. Buses these are not! – but they do feature some creature comforts such as coach-style forward-facing seats; large windows for game viewing; ample locker space; a fridge for catering and a cooler box for snacks and drinks. Some of the vehicles have docks for MP3 players and/or CDs.

The trucks are safe and well-maintained, but breakdowns do happen on Africa’s dusty, bumpy roads. Your crew will do their best to get you up and going again, and your patience will be a great help. It’s all hands on deck should the truck get bogged or a tyre need changing, and in that case, the brightest smile can win the day!

Your crew will include a qualified driver and a tour leader, whose job it is to facilitate the trip. These crew, while suitably trained, are not tour guides, but they will be happy to answer questions and share nuggets of knowledge with you. The addition of a cook on some trips is an added bonus, but do be aware that participation is part of the adventure.

Accommodation is either in tents or rooms, depending on the tour type you’ve chosen. Further information can be found in the tour types under camping- and accommodated tours.

Are you ready to rough it?

The basic rule of thumb is, if you are young – or young at heart! and relish the thought of roughing it, camping is a budget-savvy option. Otherwise you might consider the accommodated option, for that extra bit of comfort.

Southern Africa is more established and in general, has better tourist facilities. East Africa is more rustic but it more than compensates with exceptional wildlife, welcoming people and beautiful scenery. Toilets en-route are usually a bush so be prepared for this!

Weather conditions vary from cold and wet to very hot and humid, depending on the country and the season. Roads can be long and bumpy, and some re-routing may be necessary, due to heavy rainfall and other external conditions. In this case, your crew will do their best to find an alternative route that is just as good, and often even more interesting.

Be ready for doing most things in community; travelling, eating, cooking, packing, sharing in the adventure and doing activities. Layover days offer the chance to do your own thing, but in general overlanding is very much a group vibe.

What group sizes apply?

Group size tends to vary between 12 – 25 passengers on an overland safari, though some trucks can seat up to 30 passengers, and in season (June – October) they do tend to reach full capacity.

Accommodated safaris are usually restricted to 18 passengers, whatever the vehicle capacity. Small group safaris guarantee a maximum of 12 passengers, while exclusive tours work on a maximum of 16.

What are the activities?

Overland tours are built to include as many highlights as can be had in the time and for the budget. Whether interacting with locals and learning about new cultures, spotting lion, rhino, elephants, or a myriad other creatures, rating on the Zambezi or scuba diving in Mozambique, as much as can be done will be offered, either as part of your package or optionally.

A rotating roster will ensure fairly shared duties, such as cooking, cleaning and packing. Arrivals at dusk and arising at dawn are part of the experience – though seeing the sun rise and set over breath taking scenery is more than worth it!

What are the age limitations?

Overlanding does require a certain amount of vigour, so good general health and age limitations are necessary. There is a general age limit of 55 years for the camping trips, and 65 years for accommodated trips; though attitude overrides age in some cases! Travellers aged over 65 years will require a physician-endorsed “fit for travel” certificate before joining a trip.

The minimum age for a standard overland trip is 18 years, though younger passengers can be included on selected trips with guardian consent. Family trip age begins at 3 years, though 6 years of age is a minimum when travelling in malaria areas. Some family trips require a minimum age of 8, 12 or 16 years depending on area and/or activities.

How is safety managed?

The crew are trained in safety procedures, and are the final authority on all decisions affecting the trip. The safety and enjoyment of the group as a whole is their first priority. Should you experience problems with a fellow passenger, do try at first to sort it out with them. Obnoxious behaviour or unsafe actions will not be tolerated and should be reported to the tour leader immediately.

In the unlikely event that you experience a problem with the crew, please report it to us at the next available opportunity. We will then contact the supplier who will investigate.

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What’s the best currency to bring?The best exchange rate is usually given for US dollars cash, irrespective of local currency. Try to bring a mix of smaller and larger bills, and be aware that US$100 bills may not be accepted, owing to forgery. Travellers’ cheques and credit cards can be used but there are limited opportunities – if at all in some countries – and exchange rates vary widely.

What is the local payment fee?

Some tours include a local payment fee. Where it applies, the local payment is used to pay for group expenses such as food, highlights such as national park entry, accommodation and the like. This must be paid in cash when you embark on your trip; or if applicable at the pre-departure meeting. Please note that this payment may increase. If this is the case we will advise you before your trip.

How do I go about budgeting?

Be sure to budget for the optional activities that you wish to participate in, e.g. bungee jumping, quad biking, dolphin cruises, and the like. An estimated pricing is shown in the detailed trip itinerary.
As a basic guide, US$20 is recommended as a daily allowance for snacks, alcohol and bottled drinks. Tips are expected; in general you can work on US$1 for e.g. a guest house worker or waitron, and upwards depending on the service given.
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What’s the deal with meals?Hearty, balanced meals are provided three times per day unless otherwise specified. These are cooked on a fire or camp stove using mostly local ingredients, on a rotating roster basis. Vegetarians are catered for with relative ease provided this is specified at the time of booking, along with any other special dietary needs.

Snacks and bottled drinks are for your own account and can be purchased in most places the group stops for food shopping.

Who does the cooking and other camp duties?

In short, you! Sharing in chores around the camp can add to the adventure. On camping tours you will learn how to put up a two-man tent, prepare a meal for a group with fewer ingredients and kitchen resources than you may have imagined possible, and other aspects of camp life both varied and interesting.

On accommodated tours the duties tend to be lighter as there are fewer camp-based duties. Duties are also lighter on exclusive tours.

How will I be accommodated?

Accommodation depends on the tour type you have chosen. Whether camping or accommodated, the standard option is two persons sharing; except in East Africa where up to four guests may be required to share a room.

In Southern Africa some tours offer a single supplement option, meaning that a set number of passengers (usually four) can pay in extra for their own tent or room. In East Africa private arrangements can be made at some of the establishments, but these cannot be made in advance, nor are they guaranteed.
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What are the health considerations?You need to be in good health to join an overland tour. Should you have a specific medical condition, you will need to advise us of this before your trip begins.

Be sure to pack in more than adequate supplies of any prescription medication you are taking, as medical facilities are few and far between. Should your medicine require cold storage, please let us know in advance. Overland trucks are equipped with a first aid kit; however you will need to replace whatever you take. Be sure to bring plasters, anti-nausea, anti -diarrhoea and headache tablets, antibacterial ointment, water purification tablets, anti-histamines, eye drops, rehydration salts and sterile wipes.

If you become ill on tour please advise your guides. While it can take time to adjust to a new climate and environment, even a mild illness can be a sign of something more serious so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Is malaria a risk?

Malaria is rampant in most African countries. Avoid getting bitten by covering up with clothing especially after dusk, by using a good mosquito repellent, and keeping your tent zipped. It is a condition of participation that you use an effective anti-malarial medication, prescribed by your doctor or a travel clinic. These can be taken daily or weekly and some are better than others for the countries visited, so do take your itinerary to the travel clinic.

Which vaccinations will I need?

Check with your local travel clinic as to which vaccinations are required for the countries you will be visiting, and allow plenty of time as some vaccinations, e.g. Yellow Fever, need to be ordered in. Some countries will require your vaccination certificate before you can gain entry, so be sure to carry this with you. Typhoid, Meningitis, Tetanus, Diphtheria and Hepatitis A & B are rampant in some parts of the continent, and while vaccinations may not be compulsory, they are well advised. Your travel clinic will provide the best advice if you give them a list of the countries you will be visiting.

What about AIDS & HIV?

AIDS and HIV are at epidemic proportions in sub-Saharan Africa. The known infection rate is almost two-thirds of the population up to 45 years of age. While it is safest to abstain, condoms are easy to find and cheap. Please also exercise caution when interacting with children with cuts and abrasions, as many are very sadly affected at the time of their birth, and due to rejection from their homes or being orphaned, are forced into begging.
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Do I need travel insurance?Yes! Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and in order to book you will need to supply proof of your policy. Please ensure that air-evacuation is included, in case of a medical emergency. Please note that the free insurance provided by credit card companies is usually not sufficient. World Nomads is a popular travel insurance choice, see worldnomads.com/

Your insurance should cover as a minimum, the following:

Trip cancellation, interruption and delay
Baggage loss, theft or damage; and delay
Medical emergencies, and emergency transportation, including airlift where needed
Special cover for adrenaline activities that you intend to undertake is highly recommended; and you are advised to buy your travel insurance on confirmation of your booking.

Divers please note: You will be required to take out a DAN insurance policy: see diversalertnetwork.org/insurance/

Which visas will I need?

The visas required depend on the countries you will be visiting and your nationality. Some visas can be arranged at the border, however you will need to check with the relevant embassies well before your trip is scheduled to leave. Also check your itinerary for multiple entries into a specific country, as a multiple entry visa may be needed. Allow plenty of time for visa processing as this can be a lengthy procedure.

Please also ensure that you have an onward ticket from the country in which your tour ends; or proof of sufficient funds to purchase one. You may otherwise encounter problems on your attempt to enter the country.

What are the passport requirements?

Check that your passport is valid for a full six months from the date that your trip finishes, and try to have one full page available per country that you are visiting (minimum three blank pages). Don’t travel on more than one passport as this may cause problems on exit or entry.

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How can I hire a car? A good search engine to use is aroundaboutcars.comWhere can I book a flight? A good place to book flights is travelstart.co.za

When should I arrive and leave?

It’s strongly advised that you plan to arrive in your departure city at least one day before your tour departs; or earlier if there is a pre-departure meeting. It’s also best to plan your departure no earlier than one day after your tour is scheduled to end, in case of unexpected delays.

Pre- and post-tour accommodation can be arranged for you. If you would like us to help you with this, please let us know at the time of placing your booking.

IMPORTANT NEWS FOR TRAVELLING CHILDREN
As of 1 October 2014, all parents entering or exiting South Africa with children will be required to provide an unabridged birth certificate, containing particulars of both biological parents, for all travelling children. This applies even when both parents are travelling, and to all nationalities. When only one parent or a guardian is present, additional documentation is required. For full details please refer to the Department of Home Affairs statement.

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What should I bring?One soft duffle-type bag, weighing no more than 12kg, is the best luggage to have for overlanding. Hard case luggage takes up more than the space you have, and wheels will only get damaged.

Items to bring:

Warm jacket or thick polar fleece
Two pairs of long pants
One pair of rugged sandals
One pair of trainers and/or hiking boots
Two pairs of shorts/skirts
Sarong
Four t-shirts
Two long-sleeved tops
Swimming costume
Underwear and socks
Hat
Light rain coat
Toiletries, insect repellent and sun cream
Anti-malarials and other medications
Small first aid kit (see Health & Safety)
Water bottle
Torch
Washing powder (biodegradable), pegs and clothes line
Wet wipes
Day pack
Money belt
Lip balm
Extras to take if camping:

Sleeping bag
Mattress
A small pillow (if desired)
A small towel
Optional extras:

Binoculars
Camera
Universal charger adaptor
What should I leave behind?

Your watch, laptop, work mode and time-sensitivity! Your level of enjoyment will be directly related to your ability to relax, so plan to do this liberally!

 

How will the weather be?Weather varies widely between Southern and East Africa, and it’s worth researching the countries you intend to visit. Winter in Southern Africa is from June to August and it can be very chilly at night. Winter is dry season which generally offers better game viewing opportunities as the animals tend to gather around the water holes, so bear this in mind when planning. Even during dry season, rainfall can be unpredictable so do be sure to pack in a rain coat.

A good weather summation of Africa is given on Wikipedia, including a precipitation map.

 

What are the guidelines for photography?There are many wonderful scenic photographic opportunities and your crew will stop at the best sites for you. You are also welcome to request a stop if you spot something special.

When photographing people, ALWAYS respect their privacy and ask first. Some will ask for money and it’s up to you as to whether you feel the photograph is worth it.

Be sure to pack extra memory cards and batteries, as these are not available in many of the countries.

Should I support begging?

Begging for money and sweets has become a problem in many of the rural areas. Pens, tennis balls and the like are more responsible gifts which can be given in exchange, e.g. for singing, taking a photo, or assistance with directions. Sweets cause cavities and dentists are out of the reach of village families, both financially and in terms of availability. Also be aware that in some areas these gifts should be given to schools and orphanages rather than individual children to curb bullying.