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How to fall in love (with Africa) - my first overland adventure
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|How to fall in love (with Africa) - my first overland adventure by Kenyans247(1): Tue 12, May, 2020 07:19am|
It is hard to believe that my first Africa Overland Tour was almost two decades ago!
Weirdly, it feels like just the other day. Perhaps it is because African tours are part of my daily work now. I recall the places and experiences of my overland travels every day. While corresponding with travellers about their first African trip, I remember what a place looks like, if that campsite has electricity or whether it rains there in February and so on. Knowing what a fantastic adventure awaits visitors, I often feel envious that they are going on a trip while I ‘armchair’ travel…
Lion with truck -
African Overland Tours initially came up on my radar (before this I had absolutely no idea they existed), because I really, really wanted to see Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
Being just 21 years old at the time, with no fixed income, I had no budget to get to Zimbabwe on a holiday trip. A friend mentioned the overland tours travelling from Cape Town to Vic Falls. To me, this offered a means of getting there and ticking Victoria Falls off my bucket list. So, off I went for an interview at an overland Africa tour company, hoping to get hired as crew on one of their trips. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and honestly did not give it a second thought. All I was thinking was that this trip was going to get me to Vic Falls! Oh, the joys of being young and carefree - not thinking about the future further than a couple of weeks.
Ingrids africa travels -
My First Africa Overland Tour – August 2001
Lucky for me, my timing was good. It was the middle of peak tourist season and the overland company needed crew members. A week after my interview I was standing in front of a hotel in Cape Town about to meet my first tour group.
There was a vague mention of cooking for 24 people - breakfast, lunch and dinner for 21 days. But this didn’t hit home until the operations manager sent me off to the supermarket to buy groceries…… “and by the way Ingrid, the next town with a proper shop is Swakopmund”. Frantically looking at my trip notes, I saw that we reached Swakopmund on day 7 of the itinerary. That first shop was certainly an interesting experience. Trying to figure out how many packets of pasta and rice I needed to buy to feed 24 people. And what on earth I was going to make for dinner - mince and spaghetti on the first night, chicken with vegetables on the second, but then what?
Elephant in camp -
Although the cooking was a big challenge at first, it is not what stuck in my memories of that first trip, or any trip after that really.
The things I remember from my Overland Africa Tours
Seeheim Hotel - hidden down a gravel road. Full of character with a feeling of being in an old western movie, but in a good way.
The dry river beds that I could not imagine ever having water. Only to pass through a few months later and see the rivers in full flow. Along with the pure excitement of navigating a huge overland truck through the waters.
In Southern Namibia; driving for many kilometres without seeing any another car, or any people or trees. We would stop for a toilet break and, seemingly out of nowhere, a guy with his donkey cart would come past.
Namibia overland truck -
Camping in the Okavango Delta and waking up at night to a munching sound. Peeping through the mosquito net window half-asleep to see a hippo grazing. From then on I made sure not to drink any water before going to sleep.
Okavango delta mekoro -
*A few silly things I recall from the road
African road trip -
How extremely cold it was in the desert at night. And breaking 50 eggs for breakfast with frozen fingers, which is quite painful.
That sleeping on the roof of the overland truck was much better than pitching a tent each night.
To wear shoes – always. Acacia trees have very long and hard thorns capable of going right through your foot when stepped on.
Some of my favourite places in Africa
I’ve always been drawn to forest-mountain-and-sea locations. Cape Town and the Garden Route, for example, give me happy vibes and sense of contentment. That said, I absolutely fell in love with Namibia’s arid landscapes. In particular Sesriem campsite and Damaraland.
Ingrid namib desert -
Later on, when I had gained more experience, I was able to do longer overland tours into East Africa. Then South Luangwa in Zambia was also added to my list of “favourite places”. And, of course, Victoria Falls (my first bucket-list destination) is one of my all-time favourites.
Before becoming an Africa overland tour cook, I did not have many expectations of what lay between the Cape and Vic Falls. As mentioned, my sole goal was to visit Vic Falls. What a complete and utter surprise it was to ‘discover’ so many incredible places along the way! A new world opened up to me and with that came a new passion. A passion for the landscapes, seasonal changes, the smell of the hot soil when it starts to rain, the call of the African Fish Eagle, and the most incredible African sunsets. And most importantly, the people of Africa, with their diverse cultures and big smiles.
African locals -
To this day, it is my hope that every traveller coming to Africa has a special moment where they feel Africa touch their soul. And fall in love with Africa.
Because that is what happened to me on my first African trip. Something magical. And it still fuels me every day to keep bringing travellers to Africa.
Group on truck -
Feel free to send me a mail for advice and help planning your Africa overland trip, or choosing a budget tour. Alternatively, contact the team of travel experts at African Budget Safaris.
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