Ah, Southern Africa! Home to the world’s best city, iconic safari destinations, pristine beaches, colorful cultures and African Overland Tours expert guide, Elroy!
Planning on traveling to Southern Africa? Then an overland tour in the hands of an expect, local guide is the best way to go!
We can write novels about how amazing an experience like this is. However, the best way to actually find out is by… you know… going on that Overland Adventure!!
But, if you’re wondering what life on the road is like, here’s the inside scoop on overlanding in Southern Africa from one of our guides turned travel consultant extraordinaire.
Elroy, tell us about yourself. How did you come to be an African overland guide?
I am Elroy also known as Eleroony. It all started with our family trips, when I was a child we always used to go camping in and around South Africa and that is where I found my passion.
What is the best part of your job?
I love that I get to meet new people and share my passion for Southern Africa while on the road. Those moments where I’m standing in front of the open-air stove making family recipes for the groups are especially my favourite.
Can you describe your very first overland experience? Where did you travel and what were the highlights and downfalls?
My very first trip was a South African Tour from Cape Town to Johannesburg as a camp assistant, It was a total different experience. I got to meet incredible people and explore the best of Southern Africa by going on safaris and exploring lesser known places.
The downfall on this tour was saying goodbye. We were like a big family at the end of the trip, so saying goodbye was tough (I might have shed a tear) but we still keep in touch and have amazing shared memories. This is what overloading is all about.
I’ve been told that you’re the Southern Africa overland expert. Why would you recommend traveling in Southern Africa?
Yes, that’s because I love what I do! Many people will tell you that an overland trip is the best way to see the “real” Africa. When you’re on the road, you get to see parts of countries that you would have never seen by hopping between the big cities and tourist hot spots.
Southern Africa is so diverse with amazing cultures, wildlife and the best beaches. An overloading tour just feels like a real adventure.
The region has a pretty bad rep when it comes to safety. Would you say that overlanding in South Africa is any more or less safe than going on a usual tour?
I would say that it is more safe. When you’re on an overloading tour, you’re with people who know the lay of the land extremely well and who are trained to show you the best of Southern Africa while keeping you safe.
How would you describe an overland tour guide?
The African Overland Tour guides are wildlife spotters, braai masters (BBQ), master co-ordinators and great road trip companions. We’re qualified guides that love this continent and what we do and just want to share our passion with others.
Can you describe what a typical overlanding day in South Africa is like?
Wake up – shower – breakfast – pack up – hit the road and explore!
Days on an overland trip tend to start really early. There are plenty of pit stops along the way and enough small towns in Southern Africa that we usually stop at places where you can pick up snacks and drinks or go to the bathroom.
Once you arrive at the campsite setting up is the first order of business and everyone pitches in to help. Afterward, there is lunch, relaxing, and possibly an optional activity.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that everyone would love to spend the rest of their lives traveling but for those of us who can’t, how long should an overland tour be?
I would say 3 weeks. That is just enough to give you a taste of the region and you will definitely be back again.
What kind of vehicles do you overland in and how long is an average driving session?
Our overloading tours are done in purpose-built trucks that are made to both handle the African roads and to carry everything you need. There’s plenty of space for everyone to be comfortable and an average driving session is about 2 hours.
How do passengers keep themselves occupied during the barren strips of road? Do you have an ultimate road trip playlist?
I do have my playlist that is filled with amazing tracks from African artists, like Miriam Makeba’s Click Song A.K.A. Qongqthwane. We also have board games, cards and a guitar (what good road trip doesn’t come with a guitar).
Listen to Oliver Mtukudzi: Todii
My favorite part is when I get to sit at the back with the clients and share stories or give as much information about the region as possible.
Can you name a few of your favorite places/sights in South Africa?
There are so many beautiful places here that it is hard to pick just a few. But I would say that Knysna (Heart of the Garden Route), Tsitskamma Hiking trail, Kruger National Park and Cape Town are my personal highlights.
When is the best time to go on an overland tour through South Africa?
October – I love the weather!
Can you list 5 things you can’t go on an overland trip through Africa without?
Personally, I always make sure to have my
- music playlist,
- an umbrella,
- warm clothing and
- my trusty cape (You’ll have to come on an overland tour with me to see this) :)
For guests, I would definitely recommend bringing layers of clothing (it does get cold in Africa), mosquito repellent, and a quick dry towel. Also be sure to only pack what’s necessary, if you’re not sure then check out our guide: what to pack for an overland adventure.
What advice do you have for people who are going on their first South African overland adventure?
Sit back and see the beauty Africa has to offer.
Now that you know when to go overlanding in Southern Africa, how it’s done and that you’ll be in the best hands, it’s time to get packing! There is no time for adventure like the present, so what are you waiting for?