Featured Africa Overland Tour:
The Cape Town to Victoria Falls Overland route is one of my favourite African Overland Tour routes and the perfect introduction to Africa and overlanding for first time visitors; it will (should) completely banish any and all myths associated with the “Dark Continent”.
There are just so many highlights on this route, and it encompasses such varying landscapes; but let us start at the beginning, Cape Town.
The tour will usually depart from the City Centre at 08:00 am, but we recommend that travellers fly into the city a few days before departure as there are just so much to see and do in this beautiful city. The claim to fame is most certainly Table Mountain (recently voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature), which host one of the richest (yet smallest) floral kingdoms on the planet. Accommodation options are aplenty and will suit any type of budget.
The route follows the N7 northwards up the West-Coast of South Africa, and if you happen to travel this road from August through September be prepared to be blown away by the flower spectacle on show. Flower enthusiasts head towards Namaqualand (which you will travel through on the tour – overnight stop 2 on the itinerary), but even an hour or two outside Cape Town you are rewarded with some of the most beautiful displays next to the road.
The first overnight en-route will be in the Cedarberg mountain region approximately 250km north of Cape Town with its boulder strewn sandstone rock formations often reddish in colour which just makes them glow at sunset; a photographers dream. The clear skies and low light pollution makes the night skies absolutely amazing, but something you will grow accustomed too on this Cape Town to Victoria Falls route.
As you travel towards Namibia the rainfall decrease and the vegetation gets sparser – but with that the “wide open sky” feeling increases; you really start to feel like you are travelling into no-mans land.
The Gariep (Orange) River is the longest river in South Africa (springing from the highlands of Lesotho some 2200 km away) and is the natural boundary to Namibia. There is the opportunity of a half day canoe trip on the river on day 3; after which you enter Namibia with its stark landscapes and beautiful scenery – the first visit of which is the Fish River Canyon where the third evening on tour is spent.
Setting out early on day 4 you drive to Namib-Naukluft National Park and set up camp before taking a short hike into the Sesriem Canyon; but the real gem of the region is awaiting tomorrow; the Sossusvlei Dunes. It will be your earliest morning on tour as the goal is to hike up Dune 45 and enjoy a spectacular sunrise over the Namib. You also get the opportunity to join a local expert on a guided hike and learn more about this extremely unique desert ecosystem and how the San (bushmen) survived in such harsh desert conditions.
Driving further north you cross the Tropic of Capricorn onwards to Swakopmund; located on Namibia’s Atlantic coast and the adventure capital of country! The most popular of the optional activities on offer has to be the quad biking and skydiving, a real adrenaline rush.
Day 7 is set aside to relax and explore this unique little town, or further partake in one of the many activities if your adrenaline rush has not been satisfied yet. Dinner out in town with your friends on tour to sample some of the unique Namibian cuisine is a must as the next stop on the itinerary is very far away from any shops – Spitzkoppe!
Leaving the coast we drive through what is quintessentially Namibian landscapes; stark, arid and captivating. The enormous granite monoliths of Spitzkoppe Mountain dominate the otherwise flat landscape and you set up camp in the wild plain at the base. It has become quite the rock-climbers paradise and this afternoon your guide will take you on a guided walk to explore the unique rock formations.
Day 9 makes for a cultural interaction with the Himba Tribes of northern Namibia in the Kamanjab region. The ancient tribe of pastoral people has drawn photographers from around the world to this barren region and the women are famous for their use of “otjize”, a paste of fat, butter and red ochre which they apply to their hair and skin giving them a distinctive red hue.
There is something very special about how the Himba describe the colour they see that makes them truly unique. It is rather technical, but to them the sky is seen as black and water white (translated back into English); reason for this is that they only have half the amount of words to describe various colour groups:
Zoozu – most dark colours and includes reds, greens, blues and purples
Vapa – mainly white but includes some yellows
Borou – which includes some greens and blues
Dumbu – which includes different greens but also reds and browns
Leaving the Himba in peace we head further north to Namibia’s most famous National Park; Etosha, where you will spend the day 10 and 11. The sparse grasslands allow great opportunities to see animals (especially in the dry winter months) normally hidden in dense vegetation.
A last game drive is taken before heading south to Windhoek on the morning of day 12 where we will conduct a short city tour before setting you free to explore the capital of Namibia.
Day 13 sees and early start from Windhoek in an easterly direction for the border of Botswana and the town of Ghanzi! On arrival you will get the camp setup before another cultural experience; a meeting with a local San (Bushman) community.
From Ghanzi it is onwards towards the town of Maun which is regarded as the gateway to the wild Okavango Delta and one of the many truly special places in Africa! This afternoon preparation takes place for your excursion into this wilderness for days 15 and 16 where you will do bush camping. There is nothing quite like being deep inside the wild untouched African bush, the wild surrounding you and being woken by hippo grunts early in the morning.
From Maun it is on to Gweta on day 17 where we spend the evening at Planet Baobab. The camp is set amongst many of these stately huge old trees. These old gnarly giants will make you realise why the baobab is steeped in mystery and superstition. It is a tree that has provided shelter, water, food and relief from sickness for thousands of years on the continent. The main stem of larger baobab trees, like many of the specimens around Planet Baobab, may reach enormous proportions of up to 28 m in girth and seldomly exceedingly 23 m in height which must have led to the African tale on how God planted the tree upside down.
The next stop on your African overland journey is the world famous Chobe National Park in the north of Botswana where you will enjoy a hugely popular sunset river cruise on the Chobe River. The park is well known for its huge elephant population; an estimated 50 thousand which arguably makes it the biggest concentration of elephants on the continent. You can also spot huge herds of buffalo coming to drink from the river edge, especially during the dry winter months of June through to September / October when the summer rains start to fall.
On day 19 we do our last leg of this legendary adventure tour, crossing the border into Zimbabwe and ending at the town of Victoria Falls; “the smoke that thunders”! With so many adventure activities to partake in it is clear why it is commonly known as the adventure capital of Africa. White water rafting is a clear favourite and is generally followed by elephant back safaris and walking with lions (a lion encounter). The tour officially ends the morning of day 20 after breakfast, and it marks the end of your African adventure! You are free to stay on a few days at Victoria Falls, or you can head either south or north to continue your overland adventure.