WRITTEN BY KRISTA BEAUVAIS
There are many ways to go ‘on safari.’ But there is nothing quite like the raw, hot, dusty adventure of an ‘overlanding’ safari! See what it’s like to do a three-week overlanding safari through the wilds of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.
This experience was not about making one of my dreams come true; it was about making one of Erik’s come true. Not only do I want to live the life I want, it’s also important to support those I love to live the lives they want! And so, I swallowed my fear and set off on an adventure I will NEVER forget!
Erik did the research for this trip and so he knew better than I did what we were in for. I’d previously been on a three-night camping safari in Kenya and on many self-drive safaris through Addo Elephant Park and Kruger National Park in South Africa, but I’d never been on an ‘overlanding safari’ before.
I’d never even heard of an overlanding safari! Erik however, being South African, knew what it was all about and that’s why we ended up going.
For years, Erik has been wanting to see Etosha and the Highest Dunes in the World in Namibia, the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park in Botswana, and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Despite living so close for most of his life, the cost is just prohibitive and the distances to travel are simply too vast! The best way to see it all really is to do an overlanding safari.
Speaking of which, what exactly is that? Well, basically, you get driven overland from place to place. You can do this the plush way and stay in hotels, or you can do it the way we could afford to do it: in a tent!
We had considered doing it ourselves, thinking that would be cheaper still, but that’s just not the case! These are very remote locations and very expensive and difficult to get to on your own. It’s also rather dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t have the right gear to cope with the harshness you’ll encounter.
After weeks of researching the possible companies who do overlanding safaris to the areas we wanted to visit, we chose a company called Overlanding Africa who were offering the best price we could find for the itinerary we wanted.
From that moment on, I started getting sick in the pit of my stomach, particularly when I discovered that we would be doing bush camping without any protection between us an the wild animals! Not even a simple electric fence! Nothing!
The reality of the trip turned out to be vastly different from what I expected. I had been prepared to seriously ‘rough it’ for three weeks. I was prepared to be hijacked and have all of our valuables stolen (so we didn’t take computers or jewellery with us). I was prepared to starve for three weeks.
And I was, I suppose, even prepared to die – since, honestly, I figured the likelihood of this happening was extremely high! But sometimes you’ve just got to take a few risks in order to accomplish your goals…
We did not get eaten alive. We did not get hijacked or mugged. Nor did we starve. But we did have some seriously scary encounters with some large wild animals who thought our campsite should also be their campsite!
We lived in the tent we were given and we fell asleep under clear star-filled African skies each night. We fell asleep to the sound of animals all around us and we got very good at squatting over long-drops and rudimentary holes in the ground to do our business.
We met some incredible people, saw the most magnificent animals, and visited some of the most awe-inspiring, life-changing places on Earth!
We had a driver, a guide and a cook to look after us. Breakfast each morning was pretty basic fare and we ended up settling on bread with peanut butter and jam most mornings as we weren’t keen on the alternatives (tip: take your own muesli or whatever you like if you’re not keen on bread or cereal). Lunch was always sandwiches! This got very boring very quickly! But dinners were great and filling! We even got to try some of the local meat over a braai.
Our camps ranged from serious bush camping in the middle of the wild bush teaming with every sort of African animal (no fence protection of any sort!) to places with swimming pools to enjoy at the end of the day.
Without fail, each day was dusty and bumpy! We were on the budget overlanding safari, so our truck, called ‘Big Mamma,’ had no air-con, meaning we drove each day on largely dirt roads with the windows down. In some strange way, that’s one of the things that made the whole experience all feel so alive and authentic.
If you want an air-con experience, you should check out Nomad. They do a similar kind of trip but their vehicles are air-con, they provide sleeping rolls (we had to supply our own), their tents are a little larger, they stay in slightly better campsites, and they eat slightly better food.
We did consider their tour, but we just couldn’t justify the additional expense. When we kept running into their vehicles on the road, we were pleased to see that they were all doing just what we were doing, but they were paying at least double what we paid!
Speaking of payment, the cost is broken into two portions: what you pay in advance in Rand (South Africa’s currency), and then what you pay in USD at your pre-departure meeting (which happens the night before you leave at the accommodation they arrange for you), called the ‘local payment.’
The whole three weeks, including all transport, accommodation and almost all meals, cost us about £1,000 each. This is a ridiculously good price and it’s probably one of the best-value experiences we’ve EVER had in ANY country!
I encourage you to check out our blog of this trip to see exactly what craziness happened each and every day! It also details our exact route through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.
By helping Erik realise his dream, I lived out a dream that I hadn’t even realised existed. These three weeks showed me just how simply one can live – and just how happy one can be without the encumbrances of our ‘things.’ I would do this again in a heartbeat!
For three full weeks you are invigorated, challenged on many levels, and inspired to view our world differently. There are even times when you just can’t get connected AT ALL to the rest of the world. What did I discover then? That I LOVED it! I had some painful culture shock when I had to check email again.
This trip will likely change you in unimaginable ways. We’re still in touch with some of the wonderful people we lived with for these three weeks – and we probably always will.
KRISTA HAS ALSO SHARED
- See her profile page for the full list
- Written, formatted and edited by: Krista Beauvais
- Trip Date: November 2012
- See the blog of their day-to-day activities on this trip
- Photos: all photos are courtesy of Krista Beauvais
- Wodara Contact Form
- Email: krista [at] wodara [dot] org