A Day in the life on an African Trails Overland Tour
Life on the Road
The Africa Overland day normally starts around 7am; dawn is at 6 am normally in the tropics. While the cook group sorts out the breakfast, everyone takes down their tent, rolls up their sleeping bag and stows their bags on the truck. After breakfast, normally tea, coffee, cereal and the occasional cooked breakfast or pancakes, we wash up and pack up and try to be on the road by 8am. Of course there are days where we hit the road earlier, and others with a lie in.
Our days on the road can vary from 100km to 600km. We aim to have one long drive day and then a few short ones; there are days where we don’t go anywhere; such as Zanzibar, Lake Malawi, Victoria Falls and Swakopmund. Lunch is normally at noon where we visit small eating houses so that you can try the local food, if there is nothing available on the road we eat off the truck.
Each day’s different, that’s half the beauty of overlanding. Much depends on where you are – you could be spending an afternoon by Lake Malawi, or you could be driving along a dusty road complete with bumps and pot holes trying to read a book but not able to keep it still for long enough.
However you spend your day, evening falls quickly in Africa, sun sets at 6 pm and its dark in 30 minutes, so it’s always best to you can set up camp well before dark. Then you stretch, stop gazing at the view (or put the book down you’ve been trying to read) and jump out of the overland truck. If you aren’t cooking that night (as a group, you take it in turns to cook, so that you will probably cook once a week) you would start scouting around for a good place to set up your tent. Tents are roomy 2 person size dome type and easy to erect. The sleeping mats we provide on our East African tours are far superior to the camping mat variety and are, by all accounts, very comfortable. Though our trips are camping, there are many places where you can upgrade to a room if you would like a night off from your tent. Now’s a good time to put your long pants and shirts on and spray yourself with mossie repellent.
Most nights are spent at campsites; some have cold showers and others with loads of hot water. In most places you can charge your equipment, wash clothes, and have a cold drink at the bar. Meanwhile, the cooks of the day are having their tent put up by someone nice, and are busy getting hand washing bowls out, lighting the fire, opening up the kitchen and so on.
Then you get down to – and really appreciate – your freshly cooked dinner put together from the stores on board with ingredients purchased in a local market. You will very likely sit around chatting, update your diary – there are lights in the truck to allow writing and reading – or studying the stunning night sky
Then the kitchen is packed up and night draws on, toothbrushes are brought out, and the rest we leave to your imagination – chances are though you’ll have sweet dreams.
Trans Africa and Nile Expedition trips
Our Expedition trips are different from our other departures and other holidays you may have taken – we go through areas where no tourists go, the roads can be bad, food can be limited to what we have stocked on the truck, campsites are few and basic, visas can be hard to get and communication to the outside world limited or unavailable at times. We guarantee; we’ll break down, that we will have to wait some where we don’t really want to be for visas spare parts or just for someone to open a closed road and we’ll have to dig the truck out of mud and sand.
The trip might overrun so finish late; the route can change due to rains, closed roads visa issues, breakdowns and politics. It’s best not to book your return flights home until you finish the trip.
To join this trip you need to be prepared to work as part of a team and to share with the others on the trip. Some of the things you’ll never forget are the satisfaction of getting a 16 ton truck unstuck, cooking over open fires after collecting the firewood, pitching a tent and getting it right even when it rains, going to sleep when its dark and waking at dawn and wanting to get out of your sleeping bag to start another day in which you have no idea of what will happen, washing in rivers, not washing and not caring that your dirty, living out side for months, seeing more than you have ever before, trying to learn French Arabic or Swahili and having people understand what you say, finding out just how far places are away from where you started and how different places can be and how unaffected out of the way places are from the world we normally live in. Most people who do an expedition find it a lot of fun though of course hard at times.
See you out here!