56

25 Things that WILL Happen on your Africa Overland Tour

Overlanding is my favourite. Overlanding in Africa, even better. It’s unbelievably fun and rewarding but also massively challenging. Surprises and adventure lie around every corner, and until you go, you won’t know what to expect. Or will you?

Every trip is different, but there are some things that WILL happen on your Africa overland tour. So you’ll need to prepare yourself ‘physically and phychologically’ as my friend Moses would say…

1. You’ll just love the toilets – not.

Oh the joys! African toilets range from super posh, to a self-dug hole in the ground – and I’ve gone between the two in less than 24 hours. The diversity of the African loo is legendary, mostly they’re western style or long drops, the quality of them varies and I definitely think boys have the easier deal here (and everywhere else).

Long drop, Africa, smelly

These toilets smell soooo nice.

Some of the are luxurious, some are really stinky and will make you heave. If you think I’m being a wimp, come back to me after you’ve spent an afternoon vomiting into an almost full long drop up Kilimanjaro. Then we’ll talk. I’d much rather pee al fresco, which might be your only choice if you’re in the middle of nowhere or camping wild in the bush, so making your peace with it early is something I’d suggest you do. When I was in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, all we had was a hole and a shovel.

There are no words…

The toilet situation in Africa can take a bit of getting used to, but once you do, it’s quite liberating really. Before you know it, you’ll be handling the long drops like a pro and squatting down in a line, next to your mates, chatting as you pee in perfect harmony. I never did that… honest!

2. You’ll get the shits.

Being exposed to all manner of different things than you’re used to is both a pleasure and a pain when travelling in Africa. It was about five months into my first Africa trip when it happened to me. I got sick the night we crossed over into South Africa. The week before, one by one the group had started to drop. Turns out it was giardia, a pretty unpleasant parasite infection that apparently causes much bonding over vomiting and diarrhoea. I didn’t get ill at first, which I put down to my strong constitution, and my ‘theory’.

Don't try this at home folks!

You know how they say “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well, my theory about travel is that “a bottle of Coca Cola a day keeps the doctor away” (hmm… doctor maybe, perhaps not the dentist). Despite my pevention techniques it got me in the end. My advice – take all the precautions you can against illness, it can be avoided for the most part but inevitably, you will at some point and find yourself getting very acquainted with the nearest bathroom. Which leads me nicely on to my next point…

3. You’ll need a wee in the middle of the night when it’s most inconvenient.

I never ever wake up in the middle of the night needing a wee at home. Never. However, I always seem to need one when I am in a tent. Maybe it’s because of the extra water consumption, or the dramatic drops in temperature at night, or because it’s noisier or it’s just psychological! I’ve no idea. But it’s never at a normal campsite, it’s always when yu’re in a national park, where the loos are a trek and you have been given a lecture on safety from your guide – “there are wild animals about, so if for any reason you need to leave your tent in the middle of the night, shine your torch around first to look for eyes…” WHAAAAAAT???

Last time it happened to me, in Malawi. It was still dark, I was alone. I sat up, but as I did, I could hear the snapping and munching of branches just behind me. The unmistakable sounds of a grazing elephant. I waited, and waited and waited. This dude was taking his time and I really needed to go now. Thankfully he finally sauntered off so I could do the obligatory torch test and leg it to the bathroom.

4. You’ll find it appropriate to discuss your toilet habits with everyone you meet.

Do you ever talk to complete strangers about your toilet habits? Nope? Me neither.

So what is it about travel (especially Africa travel) that makes you feel the need to discuss every single bowel movement with everybody within a five mile radius? Including the opposite sex. How anyone ever scores on the Africa backpacking trail, I will never know!

Toilets

Well, this is cosy.

But alas, I give it a day before you and your travel companions know the inner workings of each other’s digestive systems. Mind you, when you put together points 1, 2 and 3 you might need to talk about these things. I like to think of it as group therapy.

5. You’ll wish you’d invested in that sports bra they told you to bring.

Good roads are few and far between in many parts of Africa. Pot holes are the norm. Animals in the road are common. There’s hardly any street lights, so driving in the dark is not a great idea, especially in rural areas. The road signs are crap. Rain makes many roads impassable. But the worst thing… your boobs, ow your boobs (you too fellas). ALWAYS wear your seatbelt when available and ladies pack your sports bra. You’re in for a bumpy ride.

6. Everything you own will be ruined.

Africa is dusty, like really dusty. Dust is small. It gets into things. It clogs up things. Like your camera. I went through three cameras when I was there for 6 months, three. Dust also gets on things, like your clothes and when you mix orange dust, with limited washing facilities, without a washing machine, the dust gets harder and harder to remove. That lovely white top, will be a beautiful shade of orangey-brown before you know it!

7. You will look feral.

Africa travel is not particularly glamorous, especially when you’re living in a tent. I gotta admit, I barely look in the mirror when I’m on the road. Au natural, that’s me!

Your feet will be the worst, followed by your finger nails, your clothes (see point 6), your hair, your skin… you’ll shower and look clean for 5 minutes, sure. But it won’t be long before you return to your feral ways.

Feral Women

Wild women.

No-one gives two craps about what you look like when you’re overlanding. Embrace the freedom it brings!

8. Your fashion faux pas will reach an all-time low.

I’m not a particularly fashion conscious person. But, you know, I generally try and look relatively decent. That all goes out the window when I’m travelling.

There was the time I got my hair braided and everyone laughed at me…

Hair Braiding

Everyone LOVED the hair braids.

The time(s) I wore socks and flip flops (we all did that)…

Socks and Flip Flops

Socks and Flip Flops

The time I decided this was acceptable…

Fashion Faux Pas

Looking mighty fine!

Enough said.

9. You’ll find having no internet is liberating and annoying.

There is something totally amazing about being cut off from the world. To just be. Without distractions, just living, in the moment. It makes you feel alive, to be at one with nature. Having no internet and limited electricity is brilliant. The wifi is generally pretty poor, and internet cafes are usually a take turns basis but you’ll love the freedom it brings you. Until you need to send an email home, or do some work. Then it sucks. And even when you do find internet, there’ll probably be a power cut half way through.

10. There’ll be an annoying person in your group.

There’s always gotta be one hasn’t there? The beauty of travel is that, you can usually bin them off after a few days. Not on an overland, then you’re stuck with them. Most people will be awesome, but there could be the odd one that you’d be happy to never see again. Everything they do will kind of annoy you.

Are you kidding me?

My best advice, is to take it with a pinch of salt, and find the comedy in the situation. I promise you, you will look back with a smile at that arrogant guy who thought he was God’s gift to women, or that couple who couldn’t keep their hands of each other (tents are pretty thin ya know) or that person who just didn’t pull their weight, or the one who kept stealing the plate that you brought or the dude who talked and talked at you when you were trying to have a little doze on the truck…

You’ll probably be best friends once you get used to them. And if not, consider it part of your tolerance level development.

11. Fridge politics will be the ultimate cause of contention.

Most overland trucks have a fridge. They aren’t massive, can only be turned on when the engine is running and with the aforementioned bumpy roads (and peoples inability to place the tops back on things properly) there’s likely to be spillages and people leave stuff in them for waaay too long. Basically, the fridge will be minging. This is all part of the fun. But what you need is the fridge police. My mate Bec was awesome at this and kept us all in check. You’ll thank me for this piece of advice.

12. You’d consider selling an organ for a hot shower.

Finding a hot shower at an East African campsite is a rare treasure… and likelihood is that you’ll be last in and the hot water is all gone. I remember the happy feeling, arriving back from the Serengeti, to find our car was the first back. We hadn’t showered in three days. We knew the other cars weren’t far behind, so my friend Lucia and I did the only sensible thing. Grab our bags and run in to claim the showers. You’ve never seen two people move faster. (Mu ha ha ha). Was it wrong to feel a little smug when everyone else was complaining about their cold showers, when we’d both had lovely hot ones… ah, who cares. They were sooooooo toasty!

Cold shower Africa, Uganda, overland truck tour

Great view, but where’s the hot tap?

13. You’ll have some quiet days.

Not every day is filled with sight-seeing, safari or adrenaline fuelled fun. There’s always something to see, but you could be driving for most of the day or camping somewhere without much entertainment. There are always a way to amuse yourself, however. Games on the truck. Reading a book. Or when we decided to do this in the Okavango Delta…

Orange Peel Teeth Okavango Delta

Crying with laughter.

I swear I have NEVER laughed so much in my life. Who knew an orange could be so entertaining?

14. Someone will buy a one hundred trillion dollar note at Victoria Falls.

Absolutely worthless, a complete waste of money, but someone will still buy one and then all find it hilarious to say ‘One Hundred Trillion Dollars’ – Dr Evil style. Don’t even pretend you didn’t or wouldn’t do it!

15. You will play these 3 songs many, many times.

There’ll always be a song or ten that reminds you of your time in Africa. I can guarantee that one of them will be Africa by Toto. The other two definites will be Hakuna Matata and Circle of Life from The Lion King. Then forever more, when you hear any of these songs on the radio you’ll feel the need to message all your Africa friends and tell them how much you miss them (or is that just me?)

It’s the Circle of Liiiiiiiiiifffffe!

16. You will develop a hatred for mosquitoes.  

Just as you’re nodding off, you hear that familiar high pitched buzz in your ear and it fills you with the fear of God. I like to think I’m a caring kind of person, but mosquitos can bore off! Horrible little, parasite carrying assholes, that’s what they are. No matter how much DEET you slather on, those little horrors will find that one spot you missed and leave you with an itchy, red reminder.

But, good news is, on most overlands you’ll be staying in a tent. Hardley any bugs in a tent, including mosquitoes, unless you leave your tent open, then you’re asking for trouble. If that happens, just get yourself a nice can of DOOM! Works a treat!

17. Your truck will break down.

Like I said, Africa roads are generally bad and those trucks go through a lot. So it’s no surprise that they break down, with relative frequency. Luckily, the drivers are all super-duper mechanics so you’ll be back on the road before you know it. Breaking down is also a great time to take in the local cultural spots or you could just go to the pub and order a Tusker!

African Pub

Oh dear, we’ll have o go to the pub then!

18. You will see the best and the worst of the world.

If you’re a regular reader of mine, you will have heard me wax lyrical many times about how wonderful Africa travel is and I suppose Helen in Wonderlust is kind of a living testament to just how much I enjoy travelling there. It’s exciting, rewarding, poignant, intriguing… I could go on.

Wow, more cool stuff!

Wow, more cool stuff!

But Africa isn’t all National Geographic worthy landscapes filled with the cast of the Lion King – ok, well it kind of is – but there’s a lot more to it than that. Africa is a challenging, frustrating and even upsetting place to travel at times and it’s highly likely you’ll experience a few low points on the journey…

But nevertheless, it will leave you in absolute wonderment. Especially when you see an elephant in the wild for the very first time. That’s pretty magical.

19. You won’t believe how much stuff you seem to have accumulated.

I spent two and a half months on my first overland, and just couldn’t help picking up a few souvenirs here and there, just a few – or so I thought. Turns out I bought bracelets in Kenya, paintings in Tanzania and Uganda, scarves in Zanzibar and fabric in Zambia, I even bought a chair in Malawi, and actual chair. But being on the truck means you can store them away without a second thought. Until the end of the trip, when you have to carry it all again.

My friends and I pretty much exploded in our hostel room in Cape Town. Luckily we had it to ourselves and after an entire day spent sorting it all had to ship it all home. You have been warned.

20. You’ll wish they had Stoney Ginger Beer and Still Fanta where you come from.

Africa has awesome soft drinks I swear and Stoney Ginger Beer and Still Fanta are the best. They even make questionable alcoholic beverages like Konyagi taste ‘ok’!

Cheese Africa

Cheese!

Other favourite food and beverage products to look out for are; Milo, Cadbury’s Top Deck, Mrs H.S. Balls Chutney, “Yum Yum” Caramel Crunch Peanut Butter, Parmalat Cheese and Yoghurt, Savanna Cider and Tusker or Mosi beer! My, my Africa diet sure sounds healthy.

21. Your truck will be the best, obviously.

Along the African travel trail you’ll come across lots of different trucks, full of other travellers just like you, all following the same route. You’ll see them at the campsite, pass them on the road and maybe even share a drink or two at the bar. You’ll smile and chat, but all the while, there will be a bit of rivalry between you. Your group will hold many discussions about the other trucks and you will come to the conclusion that yours is the best and that your group are definitely the most fun.

22. You’ll regret falling asleep on the truck.

And your mates will take pictures to blackmail you with later. Assholes. 🙂

Asleep on the Truck

23. You will see that the sunsets are every bit as spectacular as they say.

Kenya Sunset

African sunsets – wow!

24. You will feel more alive than you’ve ever felt.

This is really hard to describe. The best way I can describe it for me, is that I feel like I’ve come home. My whole demeanor changes. I relax 1000%. I see myself differently, better. And that is reflected in the way others see me. I feel happy. At peace. Free.

Lake Malawi

Happiness is… being in Africa

25. You’ll make some of the best friends you’ll ever have.

Helen in Wonderlust

My Sun and Stars.

One of the best things about Africa travel…

I miss these two so much.

…is the friendships you make. People from all different backgrounds, ages and nationalities. These days, I’m separated by thousands of miles from many of them, yet are bonds are still as strong as ever.

Me and Momo

One of the coolest guys you’ll ever meet!

Many parts of Africa are not as well set up for tourism as the rest of the world, so experiencing the ups, downs and heartbreaks of Africa creates the perfect environment for making true friends.

Crossing the Equator Uganda

Two ridiculous peas in a pod. Standard behaviour.

I went to Africa alone. I came away with soul mates.This post is dedicated to the Pumba crew. I love and miss you all. x

If you want to read some more about my overlanding experience in Africa, you can find them here.

Have you been on an African overland? Any of these sound familiar?


Want to go on an Epic African Adventure?

Want to go somewhere amazing with an awesome group of likeminded travellers??

Then join one of my 2018 Rock My Adventure small group tours to Kenya, Tanzania & Zanzibar, Uganda, Rwanda & the DRC, Zambia & Malawi and Morocco! More destinations coming soon!

Rock My Adventure tours are experiential and culturally immersive adventures, but without the hassle of having to find accommodation, working out how to get from A to B and booking all your own activities. They are laid-back and fun, kind of like an independent  backpacking trip (with the occasional bit of luxury) and a group of friends built in – the best of both worlds!

To find your perfect Rock My Adventure tour, click here!

Rock My Adventure Tours

If you can’t make it this time and would like to be the first to know of any future tours, you can sign up to the mailing HERE!

You Might Also Like

56 Comments

  • Reply
    Toni
    June 20, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    I both laughed and bawled my eyes out reading this post hun – takes me right back to my Africa days1 The socks with flipflops, the peeing in the middle of the night (with the resident bull elephant), the songs (dear God Hakuna Matata never seemed to get old! haha).
    I hate that you’re going back there and I have to see your photos…take me with you?! 🙂
    Toni recently posted…#100happydays Week 7My Profile

    • Reply
      Helen
      June 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Ha ha, glad you enjoyed it!!!! The next trip is to somewhere completely new, so who knows what it will be like… But you’re going to Australia!!! So excited for you!!! I loved Australia and you are going there for much longer than I am so I will be very jealous of your pics too. Call it evens? 🙂 x

    • Reply
      Lauren
      January 15, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      Considering travelling to Africa.
      Decided to have a google. Came across your blog.
      It was lovely to read. Has given me many tip and ideas.
      Much appreciated

      • Reply
        Helen
        January 15, 2017 at 9:43 pm

        Glad it helped! Thanks for reading Lauren and have a great trip to Africa!!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Siobhan Keep
    June 20, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    I LOVE this!!! Was so lucky and privileged to have experienced all of this with you and very relieved to see that a photo of me doesn’t feature in number 22 – something I did all too often! :p xx

    • Reply
      Helen
      June 20, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      I’m so glad I got to share this with you. And a million more memories we’ve made since then.

      And, I must admit, I did contmplate putting a picture of you up. I have quite a few of those in my collection of ‘SiobhanSleeping’ photos. But I decided to spare you this time! I may do a photo essay though… 🙂 Love you babe. x

  • Reply
    Robert Plane
    June 20, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I agree with absolutely all, even number 5 the “African massage” as they call the bumpy roads in Africa made even my moobs ache !!!

    • Reply
      Helen
      June 20, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      Ha ha Rob!!! African massage! I wish you’d been on my overland, that would have been fun! Although I fear you would have caused me some kind of drinking injury.

  • Reply
    Charlotte
    June 20, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    My fave post yet! I literally pissed myself laughing through most of this and shed a tear reliving the memories. You are a very talented storywriter and I am so blessed to have met you and the others and made some life long friendships that have shaped me into (I hope) a better person!!!!!! I love you x

    • Reply
      Helen
      June 20, 2014 at 7:54 pm

      I love you too Charlotte! Glad you like it, this post was for you and the rest of the gang. Love and miss you all. xxxxxxxxxx

  • Reply
    Caroline Achieng Otieno
    June 20, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Pretty cool analysis, really miss home (Kenya)…would love to do a solo travel, over many countries in Africa…thanks to your posts, you’ve given me the courage to do so…:-)
    Caroline Achieng Otieno recently posted…Did I meet a paedophile?My Profile

    • Reply
      Helen
      June 20, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      I have many friends in Knya, love it there! I’m so glad I’ve given you the courage. It’s my favourite place to travel and my aim is to encourage people to do so! 🙂

      Thank you for the lovely comment!

  • Reply
    Bec
    June 20, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Wow!! Puts me right back there… Oh the toilets, the sunsets the food the friends all so amazing… Fridge.. I had forgot about that one, glad you thought I had it all sorted :). My faviourite was just how relaxed and at home this is the place you find yourself. Africa gets in your soul.. HELEN you are amazing at telling the story and I love your passion. X

    • Reply
      Helen
      June 21, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Thank you so much Bec, from you that means an awful lot! Was so lovely to share the whole entire trip with you, Ali, Denise, Csilla and Kaarel. The long haulers!

      ha, you were good with the fridge. Nathan was pretty good too! You guys kept us safe! 🙂

      Miss you! x

  • Reply
    rebecca
    June 21, 2014 at 2:32 am

    Love your writing! This certainly makes me want to take a trip…. terrible toilets and all!
    rebecca recently posted…Creative Nomad Reviews Travel Blogger’s RedesignsMy Profile

    • Reply
      Helen
      June 21, 2014 at 9:23 am

      Thank you Rebecca! You so should take the trip! You get used to the toilets I promise! And they’re not all that bad! 🙂

  • Reply
    Andrew Walton
    June 25, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Loved the article!

    Just have some others : Learn the effectiveness of fanning a plate to dry it; peeing on the side of the road (behind the smallest of shrubs) 🙂 ; Learn to barter old clothing for a carving.

    So happy you felt the same passion about this continent. It’s awesome 🙂

    Andrew

    • Reply
      Helen
      June 25, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      Hey Andrew! Oh my goodness, I forgot about flapping my plates dry! I miss that! 🙂 I used to use it as exercise. We had all kinds of flapping… disco flapping etc! I once traded in my sunglasses for a Bob Marley t-shirt, and a wind up radio in part exchange for a Malawi chair!

      I love Africa sooooooooooooooo much too!

  • Reply
    Sarah Sanchez
    June 25, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I loved this article! I recently came off a 2 month overland trip through Africa and I could not agree with you more. I met some amazing people and together we went through some amazing and extraordinary experiences. Best time of my life! Thank you for helping me relive that experience!

    • Reply
      Helen
      June 29, 2014 at 11:20 am

      So great that you had a good time, and that you agree!!! I love overlanding!!! Can’t wait to do my next one! 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda
    July 22, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    I would TOTALLY buy a one hundred trillion dollar note!
    Amanda recently posted…When Their Dream is Not Your DreamMy Profile

    • Reply
      Helen
      July 22, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      You have to don’t you! 🙂

  • Reply
    Becky @ RunFunDone
    September 20, 2014 at 5:02 am

    I’m doing my first overland Africa tour in…6 months. I’m so excited! I’m really looking forward to making friends on my tour…and also worried I’ll be annoyed or lonely, and even worried that others might think that I’m the annoying one!

    Thanks for all your information!

    • Reply
      Helen
      September 20, 2014 at 10:44 am

      Hi Becky, You’ll have such a great time! Don’t worry, I’m sure you won’t be the annoying one! If you pitch in you’ll be fine! And you won’t be lonely! 🙂 Let me know how it goes!

  • Reply
    Gabriella Kakama
    November 3, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing with the world your travel experience-lovely and inspiring.

    • Reply
      Helen
      November 30, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      Thank you Gabriella! 🙂 xxx

  • Reply
    Garry Taylor
    March 3, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Hi
    we are organising a overland trip for January 2016 , travelling from Reykjavik Iceland Via west and central Africa to Capetown with 14 passengers ….. anyone interested to join

    we will be doing it real old school with a ex army truck…open sides ( eg cheap aircon) basic tents and lots of mud and sweat
    http://www.vikingsacrossafrica.com

    • Reply
      Helen
      March 5, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      Sounds like a great trip – wish I could go! 🙂

  • Reply
    annie hine
    September 28, 2015 at 10:26 am

    I did the Nairobi to Cape Town with Absolute Africa about 7 years ago and this brought back SO many funny and amazing memories! I also went back to Zambia and worked with the Book Bus for a month which is great if anyone is tempted. In fact i’m tempted to do it all again!! Thanks for sharing all this x

    • Reply
      Helen
      September 28, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Hi Annie! Are we living parallel lives? 🙂 I volunteered on the Book Bus in 2009 and worked for them in 2012! Did you do the one in Livingstone? I guess you know my good friend Kelly then 🙂

      Who was your Absolute Africa guide? I would love to do it all again! I miss it so much!!! xx

  • Reply
    Sabrina
    October 25, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Hi Helen,

    I loved reading this! Can I ask which overland company you went with? I am planning a trip to Africa in January 2016 and would love to book one.

    Thanks!

    • Reply
      Helen
      October 25, 2015 at 6:24 pm

      Hi Sabrina,

      I went with Absolute Africa and I would definitely recommend them. I travelled with the in 2009 and 2014 – great both times! Let me know if you book with them and have an AMAZING time!!!

      Helen x

  • Reply
    Sabrina
    October 31, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Thank you Helen! I have learned so much from your blog. Super helpful!!! 🙂

    • Reply
      Helen
      November 2, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      Thanks Sabrina! Hope you have a wonderful trip! Beautiful photography btw! 🙂

  • Reply
    Natalija
    November 6, 2015 at 3:17 am

    Hi Helen, thank you for a great post! I would very much like to go on an overland trip in Kenya (although it would be significantly shorter than yours) and am researching it now. The only really big hesitation I have is motion sickness. It might sound trivial but I am very prone to motion sickness. I get it on winding switchback drives, turbulent flights, and even on a cruise ship in choppy waters. If I were motion sick in the overland vehicle the entire trip it would really ruin things for me. How bad were the roads in your experience and were the seats in the truck facing forward and high enough to be able to put your head back comfortably? Thanks in advance for any feedback!

    • Reply
      Helen
      November 30, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      Hi Natalija,

      I think you could potentially suffer from motion sickness, the roads are really really bumpy. The truck usually have forward facing seats and are really high off the ground, so you’d be able to see out, which always me feel better! The seats on our truck were relatively comfy. Is there any good medication for your motion sickness! I hope it doesn’t stop you as it is a wonderful experience!!

      Helen x

  • Reply
    Robin
    September 19, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Hi Helen, nice one. I went in 1989 and it seems not much has changed. We always joked that when meeting other overlanders the first 3 topics were: Where have you been, Where are you going and Have you had the shits yet?
    We didn’t have the lion king or Toto’s Africa back then so we Joe Satrianied and Tracy Chapmaned the entire continent. A few things I could add: Jiggers, The first 3 day shits from getting used to Primus beer, the crazy strong green stuff and Goat rolls – Yum and be prepared to be a changed person when you return and the frustration of people switching off when starting a sentence with ‘When I was in Africa’, they just don’t get it.
    Love and respect, Robin

    • Reply
      Helen
      September 19, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Ha ha Robin!

      Luckily no-one on our trip got jiggers and I’ve no idea what the strong green stuff is or what goat rolls are? 🙂 But I often start my sentences with ‘When I was in Africa’! And I can so imagine Tracy Chapman being the soundtrack to your trip! And the shits are always inevitable! Usually when you leave civilization for wild camping in the Okavango Delta! :/

  • Reply
    Sean
    September 20, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Hi Helen! Planning a trip early next year to Kenya/Uganda!

    What’s the best way to avoid eating food that’s potentially going to make me sick? I’ve read a bit up on a lot of food born parasites haha and then I see you had trouble with toilets when you became ill! How do you go with that on the bus/truck?

    • Reply
      Helen
      September 20, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Hi Sean,

      I’d love to say that getting ill is totally avoidable, but it’s tricky as you are exposed to different germs than at home. I have only been quite ill once, when I got giardia in Botswana/Namibia.

      However to try and prevent it you can do these things – keep drinking water – bottled water. Don’t drink the tap water (I often brush my teeth with it which may be why I get the odd upset tummy), always wash your hands before you put them near food or your mouth/eyes, carry wips and santitser, avoid undercooked meat and salads, don’t swim in bilharzia risk areas. If you get ill, it’s usually solved by a quick trip to the docs and anti-biotics. I also swear by drinking Coca Cola, as I think it kills the germs in your stomach but I think medical professionals and dentists might disagree! 🙂

      If you do get ill, just keep drinking water and maybe take some Immodium on long journeys. The toilets aren’t that bad! 🙂 You generally get used to long drops and there are often western toilets too. You can ask the truck to stop if you need the loo. If you need to go in a bush, you’ll go in a bush. You get over the toilet situation pretty quickly!

      Hopefully you won’t get ill!! Good luck!

      • Reply
        Sean
        September 21, 2016 at 9:56 pm

        Thanks for the reply Helen! Very helpful! ? Looking into doing Nairobi to the bwindi national park on a gorilla/safari trek. Have you ever done this sort of tour? It’s through a TopDeck tour

        • Reply
          Helen
          September 22, 2016 at 6:49 am

          Hi Sean,

          I’ve not heard of Topdeck, but I looked them up and looks cool. Are you doing the 14-day one with Lake Bunyoni? That looks beautiful! 🙂 Is your gorilla permit included? As the price seems really cheap!

          I did a gorilla trek through my overland with Absolute Africa, but that was in Rwanda, passing through Uganda. It’s awesome seeing them in the wild!!

          Helen

          • Sean
            September 22, 2016 at 7:48 am

            Hi Helen, gorilla permit is around another $1000aud. The trip starts in Nairobi and ends back there traveling through Kampala and west to queen Elizabeth NP

  • Reply
    Sean
    September 23, 2016 at 6:56 am

    The topdeck tour starts in Nairobi and finishes there also but travels west to Uganda, stopping at Kampala then the queen Elizabeth NP, then into the bwindi NP, the gorilla permit is a further $1000aud on top of the trip price,

    • Reply
      Helen
      September 24, 2016 at 10:37 am

      I thought it was cheap if it included the gorilla pass! Still sounds relatively cheap though for 2 weeks including gorillas! 🙂

  • Reply
    Lynn
    January 20, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Hahahahaa, that is one of the best posts on a travel blog I´ve ever read 😀 And most of the points really remind me of my own overlanding experiences. Especially the part with the wee. For some reason I always (and I mean with every single night on my whole trip!!!!) I have to visit the loo. I don’t now what the reason for that is….

    So thank you for that and greetings from an Africa missing German.
    Lynn

  • Reply
    Amber de Kloet
    February 18, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Hi Helen! hahaha amazing, love this article! I’m doing a 6 month internship in Cape Town, starting at the beginning of september. I want to go to Africa early so that i can travel first. Preferably I would like to do the Victoria Falls to Cape Town overland tour. The thing is that I’m just 19 years old and the people in those groups are quite a bit older i guess. Do you think this will be a problem for me? In terms of things like safety and making friends at the tour?
    Thanks in advance for any advice! 🙂

    • Reply
      Helen
      February 18, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Hi Amber,

      I think 19 is fine. The youngest on our trip was 18!I’d say the average was about 27. In terms of safety, this is probably the safest way to travel as you will have a lot of friends and no I don’t think making friends will be a problem! 🙂

      • Reply
        Amber de Kloet
        February 21, 2017 at 7:08 pm

        Thanks for your replay! happy to hear that i shouldn’t worry that much haha 🙂

  • Reply
    Connor
    March 24, 2017 at 4:04 am

    Hey Helen! Great post. Could you comment on something?
    What is truck time vs off truck time like? I am considering one of these tours, but am worried I want to spend more time in villages with locals, or spending a little extra time at that amazing view. Did you ever feel like you were enjoying something and were interrupted to get back on the truck? Would you consider a private overland tour (money aside)?

    • Reply
      Helen
      March 24, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      Hey Connor,

      That’s a good question!!! But a hard one to answer. With any kind of tour, you kind of have to sacrifice some things. However, you tend to see more because it’s organised for you and transport is easy (which, if you are travelling solo, can be a pain at times).

      Sure, there were times when I would have liked to have stayed longer at a certain viewpoint or in a certain place. I could stay a month in a lot of places easily. I felt the balance of on and off the truck was ok. There were some long drive days, but that’s Africa!

      I run my own tours which I attempt to counter-balance this issue – if you are interested? https://www.heleninwonderlust.co.uk/uganda-rwanda-drc-adventure-2017/

  • Reply
    Monica Puccetti
    March 31, 2017 at 5:54 am

    I’ve been wanting to do a proper overland trip through Eastern Africa for so long and this post just makes me want to go even more, but I did have one question, are there often couples on these overland trips or are they more for the solo traveler? I met my boyfriend in Guatemala (he’s Australian and I’m American) so he obviously loves to travel as well and I couldn’t imagine traveling Africa without him, but I do worry that a long term (possibly married by the time we get around to Africa) couple wouldn’t really fit in on an overland trip. Thoughts?
    Monica Puccetti recently posted…How to Stay Fit While TravelingMy Profile

    • Reply
      Helen
      March 31, 2017 at 8:35 am

      Hi Monica,

      There were 7 couples on my first overland tour! There were less on the second one I did, maybe like 3! But they all seemed to have a great time and everyone just blended in! I think you’ll be fine! 🙂

  • Reply
    Robert Handley - Packham
    April 13, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    Mixed memories of my Africa overland experience some 44 years ago. Though the memories are all as sharp today as the the day they happened and for good or bad they have remained with me . Such was the intensity of the experience. It is with a asmile and a happiness that I read that such trips are still possible as some of the places I went are full of terrorists and great unrest these days. Thinking back and I have many other experiences to think about since then but the trip was outstanding.

    • Reply
      Helen
      April 15, 2017 at 8:52 am

      Wow, I bet it was different 44 years ago. Even when I go now, it’s a lot different than 8 years ago. So many more tourists.

      Would you ever think of going again?

  • Reply
    Isobel
    August 15, 2017 at 4:27 am

    Hey Helen-

    I am about 1 month into planning my overland trip (2 months with Absolute Africa- Nairobi to Cape Town) and have become obsessed with your blog! each time I read something of yours I get simultaneously excited and terrified. I am a gal who loves fashion and usually spend my week in corporate clothing so I am nervous about packing correctly (thanks for your blog on that one 😉 ) but also worried 2 months camping is a bit too ambitious for a first overland. Any packing tips to keep me feeling like a girl when I am on the road, and any tricks for staying sane which arent already on your blog?

    Thanks again- you have definitely inspired and reassured me about Africa travel solo as a female !

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge