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Beginning

I, decided to take a trip of a lifetime in 2018. I took several months off work to travel the world and I decided to explore Eastern and Southern Africa while on my world tour. Since Africa is not fully developed in terms of transportation compared to Asia or Europe, overlanding was the best option available to complete the trip.

Overlanding is a way of travelling long distances in a truck which is fully equipped with camp gear, cooking utensils and equipment, water, storage space for luggage and it also serves as a truck. The truck is basically a house on wheels.

I selected Acacia Africa as my tour company for this trip because their trips consist of 25 people or less within a specific age group. The fact that the age gap between the group is not too far apart helps everyone in the group get along better. I selected the 52-day tour which starts from Nairobi, Kenya and travels through Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa.

What to pack

This is a very essential part of enjoying the overlanding experience because a lot of the basic necessities are not readily available in supermarkets across the parts we travelled through. If they are available, they are sometimes overprices compared to what could have been paid in the supermarkets abroad.

I had a lot of things in my luggage because I started my 3 month trip around the world prior to starting my travels with Acacia Africa. I had the necessities which applied to travel to Asia where I was coming from but I did not have the necessities for travelling in Eastern and Southern Africa. From my experience, here are the necessities for an overland tour:

  • Yellow fever card- needed before entry to most countries
  • Bug spray- Probably the most important.
  • Hat
  • Several light long sleeve shirts
  • Hiking boots
  • Dark coloured clothes to wear on the safaris
  • Dark coloured gym shoes because they get dirty quickly
  • Jeans
  • Towel
  • Short Sleeve Shirts
  • Sweaters and a light jacket because some parts of get very cold

Staff

The truck is accompanied by 2 members of the Acacia Africa team. The first member is the driver- Maasai and the second member is the group leader and tour guide- Elton. Maasai was responsible for the driving from the start of the tour in Nairobi, Kenya till the end in Cape Town, South Africa. Maasai was well appreciated by every member of the tour because we are very aware that his role is very difficult. Driving through Eastern and Southern Africa is no joke because of the road conditions and the dust. Some days, we would drive 15 hours from one location to another and the task was always completed seamlessly.

Elton was the cook and the tour leader. He was responsible for making our meals with the help of other members of the group and responsible for overseeing the day to day activities for the group. He gave us information and briefing on what is to be expected for the next day, the time the truck is expected to leave the accommodation the next morning and assigning chores for members of the tour. Elton was also responsible for shopping for food supplies for the group and he was with the group for the duration of the tour. I can attest to the fact that Elton was an amazing cook and I always looked forward to his meals each day.

Camping vs Accommodated Option

The tour has several options. The tours are as short as 9 days or 52 days depending on how much time is permitted for the member of the tour group. I selected 52 days because I was a full-time traveller and I had the luxury of time.

The tour has the option of a camping or accommodated option. The camping option is cheaper because the tour member sets up a tent on a campground each night. Acacia provides mattresses, but the bed bag and pillows are not provided. The accommodated option, however, involves sleeping in a room every night. It is more expensive, but it is also a more comfortable option. The accommodated option involves mandatory camping in some locations because rooms are not available on the campgrounds. The locations are Maasai Mara, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Spitzkoppe, Namibia and Okavango Delta, Botswana.

I chose the accommodated option for comfort, and I did not like the idea of setting up a camp every night and breaking it down every morning. I had never camped before prior to taking this tour so I did not know what to expect. As a result of this, choosing the accommodated option was a personal preference, other members of the team completed this task with no complaints. There is an option for campers to upgrade to a room every night which I felt was great in case campers wanted to treat themselves. It was up to them to make that choice when we arrive at the accommodation/campgrounds and the tour leader always tells the group members the cost of upgrading to a room.

Here is the price breakdown for the camping vs accommodation option for various days from the Acacia Africa website:

46 Day Camping Tour

Countries visited: South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya

Starting at $4,188
46 Day Accommodated Tour

Countries visited: South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya

Starting at $6,556
56 Day Camping Tour

Countries visited: South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya

Starting at $5,028
56 Day Accommodated Tour

Countries visited: South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya

Starting at $8,869

Food and Chores

The food is included in the tour prices and the tour leader oversees buying groceries. The tour leader oversees making a list of chores and assigning group members to the chores. The chore list includes washing dishes, bus cleaning, cooking and packing up the cooking equipment and tables unloaded from the truck at the end of the day. The chores are assigned on a rotational basis between members of the group and it is usually a team effort.

At the beginning of the tour, I disliked the chores because I did not think it was necessary considering the price of the tours, but I eventually warmed up to the idea. I came to understand the fact that the chores are necessary for the trip to continue smoothly. It is not possible for the tour leader and the driver to complete all the chores on their own.

Visas

Each country visited has different requirements for visas. The tour visited a total of 8 countries and I will list the visa requirements below for a US Passport holder:

Kenya and Uganda: East Africa Tourist visa which can be paid for on arrival at each of the member countries. The visa cost $100 and it allows multiple entries into the East African member nations. Yellow fever card required.

Tanzania: Visa on arrival. Visa cost $100 for US passport holders but $50 for all other passport holders. Yellow fever card required.

Malawi: Visa on arrival. The visa cost $50 for US passport holders

Zambia: Visa on arrival. The visa cost $100 on arrival or $50 if applied in advance online.

Botswana: Visa on arrival. Visa cost $50.

Namibia and South Africa: Visa-free, the passport is stamped upon entry and exit.

Activities

Each country visited has a different option for activities.  Some activities are already paid for before the tour starts, and this is called a mandatory adventure pass. The price of this adventure pass depends on the duration of the tour and it includes game drives through the national parks, some cruises and other activities decided on by Acacia Africa. Other activities like helicopter rides, sky diving, quad biking, village walks are optional and can be paid for at the location of the activity.

Spending money

I was careful with money because I did not want to spend too much. I spent a few bucks on souvenirs, fast food and snacks because the truck stops at supermarkets often. I will advise a budget of $10 – $15 a day but about $20 – $25 if you spend money on alcohol and souvenirs. I did not spend much on either, so my budget was perfect for me. Keep in mind that food is already provided on the tour.

Overall experience

Overall, this experience was unforgettable, and I had the time of my life. The adventure, the people I met along the way and the connections I made are everlasting. I will never forget feeling lost when I just started the tour and meeting some amazing people along the way. As usual with a group of people, everyone will not agree with each other at several points in the tour but finding my ground and making the tour work to my advantage was the key to the success of my experience.

Will I go on a trip with Acacia Africa again? Absolutely and I will continue to document every bit of the trip on my Instagram and my blog because I enjoyed this experience travelling through Eastern and Southern Africa that much!

Blog and Images by Victoria Alao, The Stylish Trotter