How to have the best time on your African overlanding safari

May 4, 2016
Documentary filmmaker/ travel writer/ photographer -

So you’ve decided that you’re going to do an overlanding safari in Africa but you’re not quite sure what to expect? Here’s our guide to tips and tricks on how to have the best time on your African overlanding safari.

Pack well

Optimal packing for an African overlanding safari will really help you have the best trip. It’s all about packing light and packing well to be prepared. You want to take as little as possible, as you’ll be lugging your bag in and out of the truck and fitting it into your locker and tent, but you don’t want to miss out on packing the essentials – walking shoes, comfortable hiking trousers and lightweight long sleeve shirts (for protection against sun and mosquitoes), a fleece jacket for cold nights around the campfire and the indispensable sarong or big scarf, which can be used in a number of different ways. Be sure to leave high heels and smart clothes at home – you definitely won’t be needing them. Check out our blog for a full list of what to pack for an African overlanding safari.

Go for as many optional activities as you can

On all of our African overlanding safaris there are optional activities which are not included in the price of the tour, including hot air ballooning over the Serengeti, scuba diving in Zanzibar, swimming with dolphins, walking in the bush, bungee jumping and doing helicopter flights over Victoria Falls, white water rafting, boat safaris, sky diving in the Namibian desert, quad biking over sand dunes and rafting down the Nile River. While some of these can be pricey – for example gorilla tracking permits cost hundreds of dollars – these activities often end up being the highlights of your trip. Try and fit in as many as you can afford!

Do your research

Reading up on the countries you’ll be visiting and the national parks and reserves you’ll be exploring is a good way to prepare before your trip. It’s great to have some historical and social background to a country before you get there. It’s good to have an idea of what kinds of animals and vegetation you’ll be seeing in the different parks – it’s always a nice thrill when you spot an animal you’ve read up about rather than just learning about it for the first time from your guide when you see it. It’s a great idea to learn a few words of local languages – hello, goodbye, thank you, please – even if you can’t speak many words, just making the effort to say a few things goes a long way to engaging with local people.

Pack snacks

While you aren’t going to go hungry on any of our overlanding African safaris as you’ll be getting three hearty meals a day, it’s a good idea to bring snacks along with you – with early starts and long days on the road it can be awhile between meals. Take snacks that will last and won’t go off in the heat or the sun – nuts, dried fruit, crackers, energy bars, protein bars and biscuits are great.

Take lots of African reading material

There’s a lot of free time on an overlanding safari to kick back and relax with a book – and there also many hours on the road in the truck to fill with reading. Your best bet is to take along a Kindle or e-book and fill it up with books set in Africa, so while you travel you’ll be reading about the places you’re in. Read our blog post on fantastic reading material to take with you.

Be flexible and manage your expectations

Experienced travellers have learned that the key thing with travelling is to always be flexible, adaptable, patient and manage your expectations of the experiences you want to have. If you have some specific expectations in mind, and things don’t go according to plan (as they often don’t when you’re travelling in Africa) then you’re just going to be disappointed. Instead, just stay open minded, easy going and try to be as flexible as possible – then you’ll find travelling by overland safari a breeze. Things can sometimes go wrong – there can be flat tyres, or complications at the border, or bad weather than forces you to reroute – but instead of looking at these as annoying hindrances, if you look at them as part of the adventure you’ll enjoy the trip more. Travelling in Africa is not without its challenges, but it does come with a lot of rewards!

Back up your photos

taking photos in africa

There’s nothing worse than shooting hundreds of amazing photos to record the memories from your trip and then losing your memory card somehow. Our pro tip is to pack more memory cards than you think you need, and to back up your photos whenever possible. If you’re travelling with a laptop, then back up your photos on your computer and on an external hard drive. If you’re not travelling with a laptop then load your photos onto the computers of the accommodation places you stay at, and then back them up to the cloud (for example, Google Drive has 15GB of free storage space).


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