Solo Travel in Africa vs. Taking a Group Tour

Solo Travel vs Taking a Group Tour in Africa - Which is Right for Me?

“Should I travel solo in Africa or take a group tour?”

This is probably one of the first things you’ll start thinking about when you first start researching your trip backpacking through Africa.

The problem is, there is a lot of conflicting information online which can be confusing, so trying to figure out what is the best can be a little overwhelming.

But don’t worry – I’m here to help!

There are a number of ways to travel around Africa and all have their pros and cons. These include backpacking around using public transport, self-driving or taking a tour – of which there are many different types to choose from.

Safety is often a primary concern. I guess the first thing to say is that ‘safe’ is a relative term and as long as you exercise common sense when travelling in Africa, you will generally be very safe.

Africa is a huge continent with 54 separate countries. As with anywhere else in the world, there are some places that are considered pretty ‘safe’ and some that aren’t, so you should always do your research before going anywhere.

But deciding between a tour and solo travel isn’t just about safety.

There are many other factors to consider, like the logistics of getting around, cost, whether you want to plan and organise everything yourself and your own personality/travel style.Tropic of Capricorn Sign - Things To Do in Namibia

There are lots of great places in Africa for solo travellers.

For instance, countries like Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda are pretty easy to travel through independently. Ok, ‘easy’ might not be the correct word, they are challenging at times, but they are generally regarded as ‘safe’ and the public transport is pretty frequent and easy to find. You might not always be able to get to the most remote places, but you can always join tours for short sections of your trip if you need to.

Then there are countries like Namibia, where public transport is more scarce and will only get you to the main cities or towns, which usually aren’t the places you want to go to, so the best options are to either self-drive or join a tour.

So today I’m going to help you look at your options. I’ve only done a couple of self-drive trips through Africa,  in South Africa and Botswana, so I’m going to leave that for another time (especially as that usually requires a whole different mindset) and I’m not going to include the high-end tours, as they tend to be for small private groups anyway.

But for those who want to travel Africa, within a relatively low budget but who are debating the pros and cons of solo travel in Africa vs. taking a group tour, this post is for you!

Hopefully, this will give you an insight into both options and help you decide which is right for you.

To take a tour or not to take a tour? That is the question!

Solo Travel in Africa vs. Taking a Group Tour

Okavango Delta Botswana - Rock My Adventure Tours

Solo Travel in Africa

There is a vicious rumour going around that you need to take a tour if you want to travel in Africa. This is not true. It is very possible to backpack through most African countries by yourself – with varying levels of ease.

And I am telling you this as someone who runs their own tour company.

What do you mean by solo travel in Africa?

When I’m talking about backpacking Africa solo or independently, I mean predominantly using public transport to get around. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a solo traveller. You could be travelling with a friend or partner, just not primarily on an organised tour (which I’ll talk about below).

But even if you travel around Africa independently, it’s likely that you will need to take tours for some parts of the trip – especially if you don’t have your own transport.

For instance, if you backpack around Tanzania, you’re probably going to want to take a tour to the Serengeti – this could either be a private tour or you could try and join a group departure. You can also hire a car and drive yourself, but I wouldn’t recommend it because it’s huge and you’ll probably get lost and also the guides know what they are looking for. When you add in all the costs it probably isn’t that much cheaper either and a lot more hassle.

Or in Namibia, it’s almost impossible to get to some of the best places in Namibia (ie. Sossusvlei) without your own transport, so a tour might be the only option. Or you could try and hitch a ride with some other travellers.

READ MORE: My Top Africa Travel Tips (After 10 Years of Travelling the Continent)

Helen in Wonderlust Rock My Adventure Tours

Pros of Solo Travel in Africa

Independent travel gives you the one thing we all want as a backpacker – freeeeeeeedom! Being able to go where you want, do what you want and when you want, is the dream. If you love a place, you can just stay there. If you hate it, you can leave.

Travelling alone can be extremely rewarding and you’ll often find yourself in the most random situations, that never would have been possible if you were on an overland tour. Like the time me and my friend Melissa ended up staying in Livingstonia, Malawi for an extra day because we got invited to a dowry celebration for the daughter of the local Chief. It was one of my favourite travel days ever and I didn’t stop smiling.

Or there was the time we heard the Ilala Ferry was in town, so we completely scrapped what we were going to do and took that instead.The Ilala Ferry

Whilst it can be daunting, after a week or two (often less) of solo travel, most people get into the swing of things and in the long run it will be an incredible confidence builder as it pushes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to use your initiative. The first few days are always the hardest.

The Africa backpacker scene tends to be very friendly and there’s a big sense of a ‘we’re all in this together’ kind of camaraderie. There aren’t as many hostels as in other parts of the world, so the backpacker crowd tend to stay in the same places and pretty much every good hostel has a bar or social space and there’s usually always someone to chat to. You also tend to meet a lot of cool people when travelling around Africa on your own, either on safaris, in hostels or just out and about.

Like my friend Tracy, who I met in Malawi, who has pretty much cycled the whole of Southern Africa. Had I been in a big overland tour group, I may not have had the chance to speak to her.

Meeting local people is also a lot easier, because you have more opportunities to meet them, at the markets, local bars, restaurants and whilst organising activities because you are not restricted by other people or a strict schedule.

And if you don’t like the people you meet, you don’t have to travel with them!Festivals in Africa

It’s also a small world, so you often see the same people again and again and end up having mini reunions all over the continent. Melissa and I met tons of cool people on our trip through Malawi at various points. We didn’t travel with them as such, but hung out at various places for a few days at a time. Then we heard about a festival happening right near the end of our trip and through the power of social media, we all arranged to meet everyone there. We changed our plans because we could.

Despite what people think, Africa can be a cheap place to travel (especially is you don’t do safaris). Public transport is pretty reasonable and if you eat local foods or cook for yourself you can keep costs low. Hostels aren’t as cheap as places like Southeast Asia, but they’re not crazy expensive and if you really want to travel cheap you can consider bringing your own tent and camping or maybe homestays or couchsurfing.

READ MORE: My 6-Month Africa Travel Budget

Lake Manyara Safari

Cons of Solo Travel in Africa

Travelling independently in Africa isn’t as difficult or dangerous as people think or as the media portrays. But it’s a bit more ‘work’ than taking a group tour. It can be exhausting, it takes effort and a bit of planning. It’s the type of travel that challenges you. And I like a challenge… most of the time.

I wrote a post about how to plan a trip to Africa, but it can be a bit daunting when you first start thinking about it and I cannot even tell you how many emails I’ve had from people going ‘please help, I’m lost, I don’t know where to start, where shall I go, what should I do, what company shall I use’.

I plan itineraries all the time but it can still be confusing, even for me. Of course, you can wing a lot of things and you can sort a lot out on the ground, but you can’t wing everything. Some things need advance planning, like some visas or gorilla permits.

When you travel independently, you are always thinking about your next move. You are the decision-maker, you are in charge – which can be a blessing or a burden. You are at the mercy of public transport. Navigating bus stations and haggling with taxis will test your patience. Sometimes I enjoy it and sometimes I want to scream.

Or you guys, like this one below, who was drunk and would not leave me and Melissa alone at a Malawi bus station. He insisted we take a picture with him.

Malawi Bus Station

Without a tour, it can sometimes be a bit of a pain getting to the exact place you want to go. Tours take you door to door and you don’t need to worry about getting taxis. Public transport takes you to the bus station and then you still need to make your way to your accommodation from there, but that can be part of the fun.

I’ve known some people stay longer in a place because they love it and some stay longer simply because they couldn’t be bothered to move.

Then there are the costs. Africa can be a cheap place to travel but it’s the activities that make it expensive. Especially if you are travelling alone. A taxi for 1 or 2 is more expensive than a taxi for 4. A safari for 1 or 2 is going to be a lot more expensive than a safari for 4 or 6.

You can find group safaris, but it sometimes takes a bit of time and effort. Either contacting companies before you go or asking around when you get there – which is probably the easiest option. The downside to this is that you might spend a day or two waiting for a space on a group trip so if you’re short on time, it’s not ideal.

Travelling Africa solo can be lonely at times. You will most likely meet great people and sometimes you may even travel with them for a few days or even weeks, but then you will have days when you will be alone (usually when travelling between locations), as everyone is likely to have their own agenda and timeframe. So if you don’t enjoy having some time to yourself, then you may want to consider whether solo travel is right for you. But like I say, the first few days are the hardest and you get used to it pretty quickly.Solo Kilimanjaro Trek

Let me tell you a little story, if I may”¦

As a solo traveller, I took a tour to South Luangwa in Zambia from Lilongwe in Malawi. I managed to find a last-minute group departure joining a family of 5 and another solo traveller. We all got on great and I had a nice time!

To get there, it was 7 hours in a comfortable safari jeep with water and snacks provided. However, I needed to be back in Lilongwe for a flight, so I had to leave the tour a day early and travel back by public transport.

What can only be described as a ”˜disco bus’ picked me up whilst it was still dark at 5.30am (as arranged by the barman at the camp). I had a baby on my knee for part of the journey, whilst loud techno music blasted through the cramped minibus ”“ the whole God damn way. The bus dropped me off at a bus station near to the border, the driver pointed towards a jumble of cars and said it was the taxi rank. Ok”¦ I crammed in with 6 others (a lady was sat on my knee) and we drove to the border. Passport stamped, I walked across, found another taxi (equally as cramped) which dropped me off at the minibus station on the Malawi side.

Once I’d managed to find the right bus and waited for it to fill up, we were off (thankfully no disco this time). At every police checkpoint, they made me get off (just me, no-one else ”“ I was the only foreigner on the bus), had a quick (friendly) look through my bags, smiled and waved us on ”“ confident I wasn’t running drugs. 12 hours after leaving, I found myself back in Lilongwe.

See the difference?

READ MORE: 39 Things You Need to Know Before Backpacking Africa

Kenya Group Tour - Rock My Adventure Tours

Group Tours

In this article, I’ll be primarily looking at the two main types of tours on offer in Africa – overland tours and small group tours. You can also take private tours, but they’re very different.

African Overland Tours

If you are new to the African continent, the ones that you probably think of are the fancy safari tours that you see in the movies, in magazines or on Instagram. These tours are usually private tours and they can be expensive.

Believe it or not, this is not how most people travel.

But if you’re a backpacker or googling ‘budget Africa tours’ the type of tour you’ll usually come across first is an overland tour.

An African overland tour, or ‘overland’ for short, usually consists of a group (usually of between 10 and 30 people), travelling around Africa together (overland, obviously) in a large, self-contained and purpose-built truck. Most trucks will have a guide as well as a driver and some will also have a chef.

Overland Tour in Afrca

Overland tours are usually participatory, meaning that you will help with things like the shopping, cooking (if you have a chef you may not get involved in the cooking), washing up and cleaning the truck. They vary in price, depending on the type of accommodation, how much participation is required and what is included in terms of activities.

Most overlands are camping tours too (but not all), so you will sleep in safari tents (sleeping two to a tent) and you put the tents up yourselves. But even if they are predominantly camping trips, you sometimes have the option to upgrade to a room (at an extra cost) if the place you are staying has them and they are available.

On my very first trip to Africa, I spent two and a half months of my six month trip on an overland with Absolute Africa, travelling from Nairobi to Cape Town, which is the ‘classic’ overland route that most companies follow on at least one of their tours, but there are other routes too in different parts of Africa.

Many also have standalone shorter tours or options where you can join part of a longer tour. Tours usually last between 1 and 12 weeks, but you can do some that are much longer.African Overland Tour

Pros of Taking an Overland Tour

Overland Africa is a great introduction to the continent, especially if you are unsure of what to expect or how you’ll cope travelling alone and they allow you to see many of the main highlights in a short space of time. Plus, you’ll have a new group of friends along for the ride.

If you don’t have your own car, tours will allow you to go to some places that might otherwise be difficult to get to, especially in countries (like Namibia) where public transport is few and far between and overland tours tend to be a pretty economical way to get around too.

When I joined my overland, I’d already spent three months in Africa, not really backpacking as such, but doing 2 separate volunteering stints in Zambia and Tanzania, climbing Kilimanjaro (with guides but without a group) and travelling solo on the Tazara Train between the two countries.

By this point, I was pretty confident travelling by myself, but I had already booked my overland months before I left home. Back then there wasn’t as much info on backpacking Africa independently as there is now so doing an overland seemed the best choice.Weighing up the Pros and Cons of Travelling Africa Independently v's Taking an Organised Tour.

Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed my overland tour. I met some of my best friends on that trip and made some great memories. I don’t regret a second of it. Solo travel in Africa can be lonely at times, but on an overland, you have a built-in group of friends to share the experience with.

All overland tours generally include safaris too, so you get the benefit of being able to share the costs that might have been super expensive on your own and it was nice not to have to think about the logistics of how to get from one place to the next.

You also don’t have to worry about much as you have the support of a tour leader and everything is done for you – yeah you have to help out sometimes, but you know where your next meal is coming from, you don’t have to navigate busy bus stations and you don’t have to negotiate with taxi drivers, or work out how on earth you’re going to get to the next place or find a place to stay. Accommodation, transport and food is all taken care of.

You only have to worry about what optional activities you’re going to add on and your guide usually books those for you anyway!

Plus, you get a lot of pre-trip support as they will send you a pre-departure pack with pretty much everything you need to know to help you prepare for your trip. These dossiers are super useful and save a lot of time and research.Weighing up the Pros and Cons of Travelling Africa Independently v's Taking an Organised Tour.

Cons of Taking an Overland Tour

Looking back, I ticked off a lot of my Africa bucket list and hit many of the major highlights in East and Southern Africa in those two-and-a-half months, but I now realise that I didn’t really see much of the ‘real’ Africa on that trip and you are very conspicuous. For there record, there’s nothing wrong with travelling this way and I had an amazing time, but let me explain a little more about what I mean.

At that time, an overland suited me. I was younger, Africa was new to me, I had a limited budget and I just wanted to see as much as I could in the time I had. Since then, I’ve done a lot more solo travel around Africa, so my travel style has changed.

Overland tours, in general, don’t give you as much freedom or downtime as you would get travelling solo.  If you like somewhere and want to stay, you’ll have to leave the trip and lose your money, unless you re-join up with the group later on.

Often we’d spend all day driving – now this is true of a lot of Africa trips, as the ‘main highlights’ are few and far between. But when you travel independently, you realise it’s not all about the main highlights. Overlands tend to move pretty quickly so driving is a big part of the tour. Occasionally we’d spend 3 or even 4 nights at a place, but usually, it is 1 or 2 tops. Add into that your daily activities and ‘chores’ and it doesn’t leave you with a lot of time to get to know the places you go to.

African Overland Tour

Sometimes we’d venture out, but it wasn’t always practical as we were often in the middle of nowhere, so most nights you end up staying at the camp and only really mingling with the others on your trip.

But you can get around that. I’d already had a taste of local life whilst I was volunteering in Tanzania and missed that side of travelling on the overland, so on occasions, I would forfeit the bigger activities so I could go wandering around the local village. On one of our free days in Dar es Salaam, I took some of my new pals on a magical mystery tour to Bagamoyo, a town two hours north by dala dala (minibus) to visit the kids I’d been volunteering with.

On my first overland, I was on the truck for the duration of the trip. When we started in Nairobi there were 21 of us, after a couple of weeks another 7 joined, but by the time we got to Cape Town, there were only 11 of us, but of that 11, only 6 of us had come all the way from Nairobi. So people were joining and leaving at various points of the trip. There were 28 of us for a big chunk of the trip, so you barely had time to get to know the group, let alone anyone else.Weighing up the Pros and Cons of Travelling Africa Independently v's Taking an Organised Tour.

But I was lucky. My group were awesome and we all got on (most of the time). I’m also pretty laid-back and find it easy to get on with most people, so I didn’t find travelling this way difficult. But if you aren’t the most tolerant person or like a lot of alone time, you may find the big groups a bit annoying/overwhelming and I’ve known people to leave the overland trips mid-way through as it just wasn’t for them.

The age of the group can also play a part too. In my group, we were aged between 20 and 42. With the majority of people in their late-twenties and early-thirties. I was 29 so this suited me just fine. But I’ve met up with some groups where the oldest person was 24. So if you have certain expectations, then it may be worth checking before you go.

I know a few overland guides and I have heard stories about some awful groups. I’ve also had friends who’ve been on overlands and their groups have been quite cliquey. And if you’re an independent traveller staying at the same place as an overland group, it can be annoying. When I was volunteering in Livingstone, we used to dread the overlanders rocking up to our lovely, quiet, campsite – being loud, insular, taking over the bar, hogging the bathrooms – then I became an overlander and it wasn’t so bad.

My group were ‘different’, obviously. 😉Absolute Africa Overland - South Africa

It can also be sad when your friends leave the trip (above was the final group that arrived in Cape Town), but not every overland has people leaving, I was on for a long time remember, some trips are shorter, and when you travel you have to get used to saying goodbye anyway.

A few years later, I joined for part of an overland tour. I got on the truck in Nairobi expecting a load of friendly faces, who would be interested to find out who I was and welcome me with open arms. But what I got was a bunch of people who barely spoke to me for the entire journey to Arusha because they were all hungover and tired from the night before and some were leaving the tour that evening, so they weren’t really interested in making new friends. But once we got to Arusha, a couple more people joined and we all got chatting properly over dinner and the rest of the trip was lovely. So don’t worry if it takes a little time to integrate, just give it time and be yourself!

This next point could be seen as a pro or as a con… depending on your preference. Most of the meals we ate were those we’d cooked ourselves, so they were pretty much what I’d eat at home. Occasionally we’d go to a local restaurant, but most nights we ate things that were easy to cook for a group of 28 people – pasta, chilli, curry… I don’t remember much about the local foods from that trip, although having lived on chapati, bananas, rice and beans for a month previously, I was quite happy to eat whatever I was given.Weighing up the Pros and Cons of Travelling Africa Independently v's Taking an Organised Tour.

The last downside is the hidden costs. Whilst most overland tours include some activities, usually, they don’t include all. Luckily, most overland companies give you a list of the optional activities before you sign up – so before you decide which company you go with, it’s worth doing a cost comparison and working out how much extra you might have to spend when you are there on any activities you want to do and well as any additional meals you need to buy.

A reader contacted me the other day to say she was debating whether to go on one of my tours or an overland safari tour she’d seen – both for the same length of time, but with different itineraries. She said the overland was much cheaper than my tour. I asked to take a look and said that I would give her an honest opinion, based on what she said she was looking for.

When I had a look, the two tours were very different. The other tour was a completely safari based camping tour, with little cultural interaction. The pre-paid cost of the other tour was cheaper. However, it also had a local payment (this is a payment you pay when you arrive, as well as the cost of the tour which you pay before you go). She hadn’t spotted this, but the local payment was almost the same price as the tour itself, so when you added the two together – the other tour was actually more expensive than mine. So just be aware of the extra costs before you book!

READ MORE: How to Plan Your Dream Trip to Africa (in 18 Easy Steps)

Rock My Kenya & Tanzania Adventure

Small-Group Africa Tours (ie. Rock My Adventure)

Knowing that big overland tours aren’t for everyone and that not everyone wants to travel solo (especially if travelling for the first time or on a short trip), I wanted to offer an ‘alternative’.

So in 2016, I created Rock My Adventure. We offer small group African adventure tours that incorporate the best elements of solo travel, with the best elements of more traditional group tours, bringing together individuals for fun, laid-back flashpacking* trips but without the stress of planning and booking everything yourself.

* Flashpacking means trips with the adventurous style of backpacking but with much more comfort.

Our aim is to literally rock your adventure and make sure you have an amazing experience on your trip to Africa by organising an epic and culturally immersive itinerary, at an affordable price, plus you get comprehensive pre-departure information and a ready-made group of travel buddies!

Our trips currently take place in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, the DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Benin & Togo, with new destinations being added as we grow.Small Group Botswana Adventure Tour

Pros of Travelling on a Small-Group Tour

Probably the biggest bonus of going on a small group tour is the convenience. Almost everything is done for you. All you really have to do is show up and have a wonderful time.

They’re great for busy people, who have limited vacation but who want to maximise their time. And if you don’t have your own transport, sometimes it just makes more sense to join a group tour in some countries, like Namibia, Sierra Leone or Benin.

A lot of group tours include a lot in the price. For instance, we include all accommodation, most in-country transport (except for optional activities), most meals and a ton of activities. Plus you have a group of built-in friends to share the experience with.

We take care of things like booking gorilla permits, which can be a right pain if you try and do it by yourself.

Travelling in a group also allows us to take private transport. On our trips, we occasionally. But the beauty of a group is economies of scale. For instance, on our Tanzania trips, we take a private bus from Moshi to Bagamoyo. It’s a similar style to public transport, but with a lot more room to stretch out and as many pee breaks as we want!Tanzania Group Tour

Travelling on your own in Africa can be very rewarding, it can also be very daunting and lonely. So by going on a group tour, you know you’re always going to have people to share the memories with. Plus, you will get to meet some awesome people. Most people who join small group tours are solo travellers so everyone is in the same boat.

You will also have people to look out for you. Travelling solo is pretty safe too, but having a group to travel with means you always have people to watch your back.

You will also have a knowledgeable and friendly tour leader (sometimes me) who will help you every step of the way, plus being in a small group means you get a lot more attention than you would in a larger group.

You tour leaders and guides will give you lots of practical info (ie. where to exchange money, give help with border crossings etc) and they also have the local lowdown and know all the best local spots (bars, restaurants, street food vendors,  shops, markets, tailors).

Plus, you can often go off-the-beaten-path a bit more than you would on a regular tour. Rock My Adventure tours are highly bespoke. You will be able to get to the heart of a place, like you would if you backpacked longer term, but on a shorter timescale.Malawi Group Tour

On my Sierra Leone trip, I took my group to the Turtle Islands, one of the most remote places in West Africa. I don’t know of many tour companies that would do that. Plus, it’s very expensive to go on your own, so going with a small group is the best option.

I also like to introduce my groups to all my local friends and on my last tour to Kenya & Tanzania, we went to a 21st birthday party in a Maasai village and spent the night dancing under the stars. How many tour groups get to do that?

When you book with a tour company, they have already done the research into the best local companies. For instance, I have spent years building up relationships and finding the best locally run businesses to show you the Africa I know and love to ensure you have a unique, magical, once in a lifetime adventure. If you travel independently, it’s a lot harder to separate the good companies from the not so good.

Small group tours tend to be a bit more laid-back. Rock My Adventure tours are somewhere between an independent backpacking trip and a tour, with lots of cultural interaction, a great mix of activities, free time to explore and do your own thing, a group of friends built-in and a group leader to support you throughout your trip, so you get the best of both worlds!Weighing up the Pros and Cons of Travelling Africa Independently v's Taking an Organised Tour.

Last year, a couple contacted me saying that they were thinking about coming on one of my tours and the dates aligned perfectly with their pre-booked flights. We had a great Skype session and I hoped that they would come. In the end, they decided they wanted to do their own thing.

Randomly, we ended up bumping into each other near the beginning of the trip. They hung out with us that night over dinner and we all got on really well, so decided to meet up again in Zanzibar, as we had one night in the same place. They ended up coming with us on one of our daytime excursions and partying with us that night.

They said that they regretted not joining the trip as things had been difficult on their own and they loved the group!

Want to read what our clients say about the tours, you can visit our Testimonials page here.Weighing up the Pros and Cons of Travelling Africa Independently v's Taking an Organised Tour.


Probably the major con of a small-group tour, is that they’re always going to be more expensive than an overland tour or an independent backpacking trip (especially if staying in dorms or taking public transport), because we are a small group, we stay in nicer places and it’s a very personal, bespoke experience.

But, they are usually much cheaper than a private tour.

Say for instance, on my tours, we don’t camp most of the time (although sometimes we do if it makes sense), we usually stay in eco-lodges, hotels, guesthouses and lodges most of the time. Where possible, I try to find lovely, unique places to stay. And even if we do camp, I try to make it so that we don’t have to put up the tents ourselves.

On the Rock My Botswana & Victoria Falls Adventure, we do ‘comfortable, luxury camping’. What is comfortable, luxury camping, I hear you ask?

Whilst on safari, we stay in mobile bush camps, deep in the heart of Botswana. We have a guide, cook and support crew. The trip is non-participatory, so the tents and camp will be set up by our crew. There are two people to a tent and they sleep on cot beds with mattresses. Bedding & towels are provided. The tents have an ensuite bathroom with a pit toilet and a warm bucket shower every evening. The group eats together in a ”˜mess’ tent and all meals will be provided by the crew (the food is amazing, with homemade fresh bread most days).

Plus, we include lots of little luxuries along the way, such as meals in top restaurants, hiring private transport or having bespoke tours created just for us.Things To Do in Namibia

As with all tours, small group tours are generally much less flexible than backpacking by yourself. You have a schedule and by and large, you will stick to that schedule. However, for Rock My Adventure, as a small company, we are flexible and if it serves the needs of the groups better or we get invited to something awesome (like a 21st birthday party in a Maasai village) sometimes we change things.

Each of our trips is limited to 8 ”“ 12 people to provide you with an intimate and authentic backpacking/flashpacking travel experience. Keeping numbers low ensures that the trips don’t feel too ”˜tour’ like and allows us to get to know each other properly and make new friends as we go too!

Saying that, even as a group of 8, we generally stand out. All tour groups stand out. This is kind of unavoidable. But we try our best not to look like a group of ‘tourists’. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you know what I mean. There are no flags and we try to keep things as relaxed as possible.

One downside to being a small group is that if you don’t get on with someone on the trip, it’s going to be harder to avoid them than it would if you were travelling in a bigger group, or even better, travelling by yourself where you could just ditch them altogether.

It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally you get the odd people who butt heads. Which is why I aim my tours at the more relaxed, adventure traveller. If you’re the type of person who gets along with most people or, you’ll love a group tour. But if you’re not the tolerant type, then group tours may not be for you.

Group tours are no places for ‘Negative Normans’ or ‘Sulky Suzies’.The Rock Restaurant, Zanzibar

Saying that it’s rare that we have people who don’t get along and usually the groups form an incredible bond that lasts long after the tour. I’ve just seen on Facebook that a group of girls from my Rock My Kenya Adventure in 2017 are all going to Ireland together in the Autumn of 2020 – that’s amazing!

It makes me happy to know that I brought them together! And they’ve been on lots of other trips together too.

Being on a group tour means relinquishing a bit of control. The company decides on many aspects of the tour (although at Rock My Adventure, we like to leave some free time too, so you can go visit that restaurant or visit the African Button Museum if that’s what you’re into – there is no African Button Museum that I know of, but you get my drift) so you may not love every single thing about your trip.

But then again, you generally know what you’re signing up for, so if you want everything ‘your’ way and you love to moan, then no group tour will ever be for you and you’d be best booking a private tour or travelling independently.

Each type of travel has pros and cons, so it’s all about working out which is right for you!

Whatever route you decide to go down, I hope you have a fantastic trip to Africa! And if you have any questions – just ask!

Do you have any other points to add? Any questions? Please leave them in the comments below!

Plan Your Trip to Africa

Getting There: I always search for flights on Skyscanner.

Travel Insurance: This is Africa and medical care is not free. If you get injured or fall sick, you will have to pay for your medical care which could be very expensive, so make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance that will cover you for all aspects of your trip. I recommend World Nomads, Outbacker, or InsureandGo.

Resources: I’m a big fan of Lonely Planet and Bradt guidebooks.

Tours: Want to experience Africa the way I do? Come on one of my Rock My Adventure small group African adventure tours.

What To Pack: See my comprehensive Africa Packing List.

See all Africa posts here.

Please Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. Affiliate sales help with the running costs of this site, so thank you for your support!

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  1. wow.. this was super detailed…
    Now I want to tour Africa even though I am in Africa..
    Cant wait for you to visit West Africa!!

    1. It depends really!

      Cleaning the truck didn’t take too long. Cooking probably took the longest, but was generally quite fun. We did have one day where it took hours though and people were bringing us alcohol whilst we cooked. that may or may not have slowed the process. Washing up was the worst! We were on a rota, so 1 day cleaning, 1 day, cooking, 1 day washing up, 1 day off then start again.

  2. Interesting to read a debate like this about a continent I know so well. I lived, worked and explored all over the continent and now, reading this, feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunities I’ve had. I adore the continent and can’t wait to go back.

    1. It’s the best continent!!! 🙂 It’s changed a lot over the years, some good, some bad. But it’s still incredible!

  3. I travelled independently and mostly solo for 14 months in Africa and loved it. I felt sorry for the people I’d see on the overland trucks feeling that they were missing out on so much. But then I have a friend who always goes on overland tours and loves them and makes great friends she keeps up with afterwards. So I guess both ways are good, you just have to really know your own travel style before you decide!

    1. Hey Anne,

      Yeah, it’s all about personal travel style. I’ve done both and loved both. I’ve also travelled same countries independently and on overlands, and both are great – just different. That’s why I wanted to start my tours, to offer a bit of an alternative! 🙂

  4. I have never travelled solo, but would like to. Just to see how it feels like to. I am sure to follow your tips and insights, when I do. An awesome post, once again, Helen!

  5. Helen that is a fantastic article. I have recently returned from an Overland Tour in Kenya. It was my first time in Africa and my first Overland experience.

    I am normally a confident traveller, and have been through South America and parts of Asia with no problems. But for some reason I was scared of travelling independently to Africa. So the Overland was perfect for me. I submitted an article about my experience to try and help people understand what the experience was like. Not sure that I captured the social side (I wasn’t sure whether it was normal, or whether it was just our group … clearly it’s normal).

    I look forward to reading your future posts.

  6. This is insightful and well-written, Helen. Thank you. I’m a big fan of travel in Africa (I want to visit all 54 countries!) and have been fortunate to visit several countries in recent years but there are places I dread visiting/ that are not as high on bucket list because I read that it is expensive, difficult and/or dangerous to travel there independently (and alone) as a woman. So now I’m considering joining an overland tour on an upcoming trip to East or Southern Africa. That said, I’m introverted. Also, I’m more interested in beach, adventure and culture than animals and safari. Should I travel independently or on a tour in your opinion? Somewhat related – what countries would you advise me to check out (on a trip of 10-15 days).

  7. Helen
    In your independence travel, you said that you would run in the same people time after time, do you know if that holds true for people traveling solo by bike?

    1. Yes definitely! When I was in Malawi, I hung out a lot with a girl called Tracy who was cycling across Africa. She never went too far in a day, she left early on her travel days and always stopped by 12 midday. We met up in a few different places.

  8. Thank you for the very informative post. My partner and I are in the early stages of planning a trip to Africa. Many of the overland trips seem to be geared to younger travellers. Are you aware of any resources that carter to a more middle aged crowd? We are in our early 50s, but we do better with the 30 somethings than the retired set. Looking for multi-country, 3 month+ travel experience. Perhaps the independent travel option is better for us, but I like the idea that the planning and itinerary are taken care of with an overlanding tour.

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