This is Part 2 of our long overdue travel update. You can see Part 1 here, which recaps the last few months of what has now become a 2.5 year trip around the globe. But let’s move on to the question that we’ve been getting a lot lately…
Where in the World Are We Roaming Around Next?
During these past 2.5 years of travel, there’s been one experience that has been on the top of our bucket list. Over the past years we’ve noticed what really gets us excited to travel is adventure and wildlife, and the place we’re now going to should deliver that in spades.
It’s been a destination that we’ve always dreamt of but we never could find a way to work it into our route or into our budget. Well, we have finally figured out a way to make it happen and we are beyond excited to announce that…
(Drum roll, please.)
We’re Going to Africa!!!
Not only are we going to Mama Africa, but we’ll be exploring the continent for three very full months!
Our journey begins in Nairobi, Kenya. We’re going to spend our first few days exploring Kenya on our own. But by the end of this month we’re going to join adventure travel operator, Oasis Overland, on a 56-day Coast-to-Coast safari across all of southern Africa! We’ll be riding along in one of their big trucks traveling completely overland across nine countries, all the way from Nairobi to Cape Town.
To make things even more interesting, we’re going to be camping each night along the entire way. So we will be spending August and September on a two-month camping trip across the continent of Africa. This makes us so excited and a little nervous at the same time. Sometimes we wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into, but the excitement we’re overcome with tends to override that.
It’s going to be a long ride across the continent. In total, we’ll be traveling overland for about 6,000 miles (9,650 kilometers)! For perspective, that would be like driving from New York City to Los Angeles and then back to New York City! But that US trip would be over nice, smooth highways. We’re expecting to have some of those, but we’ll also be navigating our way over rugged terrain and through the bush, with one eye on the lookout for lions! It’s all going to be quite the adventure and we can’t wait!
If you’ve been following us for a while then you know that we’ve technically touched down in Africa before. In fact, we’ve actually traveled there each of our first two years of world travel, first exploring Morocco for an entire month in 2014. And last year we had an interesting experience during our two-week Egypt itinerary in the heat of the summer. But those countries and their cultures feel more like extensions of the Middle East, even though they lie on the African continent.
We’ve crossed a portion of the Sahara Desert but have never made it to the other side to witness those Serengeti scenes you see on the Discovery Channel. That’s the quintessential Africa experience we crave and that’s exactly what we’re now going to be doing. We want to see elephants, rhinos, hippos, lions, zebras, leopards, and giraffes out on the wild plains!
It turns out that we’re arriving into Kenya right around a critical part of the Great Migration. Often this is the time that wildebeests build up at the river crossings before crossing in groups. Between crocodiles and land predators, often dramatic scenes unfold. But when dealing with wildlife, you never know what animals may or may not make an appearance. So we’re keeping our fingers crossed that plenty of animal friends pay us a visit during the journey!
The 6,000 Mile Journey That Lies Ahead
First we’ll be taking a few days to explore Kenya on our own. To break us in to Africa, we’re going to start off on a 3-day safari to the Masai Mara, an extension of the Serengeti that is renown for its abundance of wildlife including all of the “Big 5” gang, which is composed of the motley crew of Cape Buffalo, Black Rhinos, African Elephants, Lions, and Leopards.
Upon returning to Nairobi, our 56-Day safari begins! There’s so much involved during this two-month event, so I’ll just briefly touch upon some of the highlights.
Upon leaving Kenya, we’ll be making a beeline south into Tanzania. During two weeks in this country, we’ll be roaming around a handful of National Parks, taking a beach break on the exotic island of Zanzibar, and hiking up to Kilimanjaro base camp.
Country #3 brings us to Malawi, where we’ll be camping along Lake Malawi, going Scuba Diving in the lake, and mingling with the notoriously friendly locals of the area. From there we’ll spend a day crossing Mozambique, which brings us to our 5th country of the journey.
That’s Zimbabwe, where we’ll be stopping along some villages and National Parks. We’re particularly interested in hiking through the mountain wilderness of the country’s Eastern Highlands.
Then we travel to what will surely be a highlight: Victoria Falls! We’ll straddle the Zimbabwe-Zambia border trying to catch the best views and perhaps pursue some adrenaline-pumping activities while in this adventure hub.
Eventually we’ll carry on into the 7th country of this grand escapade: Botswana. Here we have hopes of more rendezvous with wildlife, this time in Motobe National Park. But we’re also curious about the Okavango Delta, one of the world’s largest inland waterways.
Then we get to a country that has been on our radar for years now: Namibia. We’ve heard that it has some of the best wildlife experiences, a great travel infrastructure, and incredible landscapes. We’re expecting sand dunes, canyons, and beaches all rolled into the same country. Yup, we’re pretty stoked about finally making it to Namibia.
The ninth and final country of this 6,000-mile adventure is South Africa. The journey ends in Cape Town. Here we’ll say goodbye to the tent we’ll have been living in for the past two months and enjoy a more sturdy structure in this metropolitan city. Well, hopefully we’ll make it there if the lions haven’t gotten us first and we survive the elephant stampeed. 😉
Once we get to Cape Town, we have an entire month left on the African continent to explore on our own. We’re still working out our itinerary and haven’t booked anything yet. But we’re tentatively planning to spend the bulk of our time in South Africa and potentially dip into Lesotho.
Finding An Affordable Way to Explore Africa: Oasis Overland
We’ve always wanted to take a grand Africa safari but noticed such huge price tags associated with them. It’s not unusual for a weeklong safari to be priced at $5,000 (and much much higher). Such a price is completely out of our budget and if traveling all the way down to Africa, we wanted more time than a week to roam around.
We started looking into ways of attempting independent travel through Africa. We quickly found out that public transportation to many places in Africa is nonexistent. We looked into renting a car and self-driving, but that not only proved very cost prohibitive but also troublesome. The use of a one-way rental across many borders, made a rental difficult and virtually impossible. Another possibility was to actually buy a vehicle and sell it back. But that seemed like a headache in itself and we have zero mechanical skills which is apparently a prerequisite for those embarking on such a plan through Africa. Car problems are frequent and there’s no AAA to come tow you out of the mud and fix your engine.
We thought that we’d certainly be priced out of any safari. That’s when we stumbled across an adventure travel company – Oasis Overland. It’s a fairly budget experience and we’ll be camping nearly every night for two month’s straight. This isn’t one of those glamping safaris you see in Travel & Leisure magazine. Instead, we’ll be setting up our own tents each night and we’ll work together with our travel mates to cook meals, clean dishes, and keep a fire going. We’re actually kinda looking forward to this component of the experience. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’m able to be join the cooking squad, so I can perfect my culinary skills using African ingredients!
During the journey we’ll often be using proper campsites with flushing toilets and even hot water if we’re really lucky. But another attribute that makes Oasis Overland such a unique experience is how they include a few nights of bush camping along the route. They make a point to spend a few nights camping out in the middle of nowhere, under a blanket of stars. This raises our excitement levels up another notch.
That’s all great. But we’d be lying to you if we didn’t mention what really attracted us to Oasis Overland. We simply couldn’t resist the incredible value of this 2-month trip. The cost of the entire 56-day safari comes out to only about $2,400 USD per person! There’s a £1,295 (~$1,675) payment in advance and then another $725 once you arrive in Kenya which contributes directly to local expenses such as food. What’s covered is transport all across Africa, 60% of meals, the camping, and many entrances & excursions along the way, such as a river cruise in Chobe National Park. Some additional activities are optional, and at our own expense, which we’re definitely planning to splurge on a few big-ticket excursions (white-water rafting, Scuba diving, separate small-group safaris).
Those excursions, other meals, drinks, and visas will all add a bit more to the total cost. Still, the value here is undeniable for those who are okay with roughing it for two months. We found this to be the best affordable and hassle-free option to travel around Africa for an extended period of time.
If you’ve ever thought about going to Africa or are curious to know more about this trip, check out all the details directly on the Oasis Overland website. They also run shorter segments of this journey and there are actually longer versions where you can go entirely across the continent from Cape Town to Egypt! Two months seemed like plenty for us.
Making Our Final Preparations!
We like to think that we’ve become experienced travelers, having visited 50+ countries now. But we’ve discovered that there is a whole ‘nother level of planning and preparations to make for a trip like this to Africa.
We literally pulled the trigger to pursue Africa a little more than a month ago. Actually, we finalized our decision exactly one day before departing from the US, back in late May. We came to this realization quite literally when we were packing for our repositioning cruise to Europe, where we are now. (Yeah, we’re a little nutty.)
This late call changed everything, had us repacking, and scrambling for supplies we’ll surely need for a two-month camping trip. We managed to pull most everything together pretty quickly, but kept discovering more errands, like additional vaccinations. After arriving to Panama for our cruise, we spent an afternoon seeking out a vaccination clinic on the outskirts of Panama City.
Ever since arriving to Europe we’ve been continuing to finalize all of our plans, for the entire three month adventure that lies ahead. And there’s still a lot on our to-do list before departing later this month. We still need to find a Spanish pharmacy who will sell us anti-malarials. We also need some camping gear like the ever-so-important sleeping bag. We’re hoping to buy such gear at Sporting Goods store in Madrid, since we didn’t want to lug such gear with us all around Spain and Portugal for the past month. Thankfully, Oasis Overland provides the tents and cooking gear, so we need not have to get those supplies.
See Ya Across the Sahara!
The countdown is on. This new chapter begins in less than two weeks from now! We look forward to showing you much of this glorious continent as we attempt to uncover what are some of the more worthwhile experiences. “Roaming around Africa” begins soon!
We’ll be sure to keep you all posted to let you know how our Africa experience ultimately goes. For the latest, be sure to join us virtually for this epic safari on our Facebook Page and on our Instagram, where we’ll do our best to post updates whenever we have a good enough wifi connection. Until then, our anticipation will continue to grow with each day that gets closer to arriving on the continent. Hakuna matata!
Wow! Sounds like an amazing adventure! You’ll find a number of places that, I’m sure, you’d like to come back to an explore independently. (You mention public transportation being an issue but I have found, in my year+ around African countries, that there is *always* a way from A to B.)
Heather Widmer says
Hi Melanie, thanks for the comment and sharing your experience! I have no doubt that we’ll be visiting a few places and wishing for future trips before even departing 🙂
Anita @ No Particular Place To Go says
I hear hoofbeats and drums! Africa has long been on our radar and a safari has been a pipe dream since … forever! Can’t wait to read about your experiences and travel along virtually. What an amazing opportunity – go for it and ENJOY! P.S. And if you ever get to Portugal again, stop by for a few days and take a break!
Heather Widmer says
Hi Anita! Well put and a perfect summary of our excitement 🙂 We’re really looking forward to the safari experience as it’s been on the travel radar for a very long time. We really enjoyed our short time Portugal and hope to get back again in the near future to explore more of that beautiful country.
Sounds like an exciting trip! I’ve never been to Africa, so I look forward to your posts on the trip!
Heather Widmer says
Hi Laura, thanks for the comment! We are extremely excited and can’t wait to share our adventures 🙂
Wow! Sounds like you have an awesome few months ahead of you! Looks amazing. Best of luck in your trip and enjoy.
John Widmer says
Thank you! We’re hoping it’ll be as awesome as we’re envisioning. Will soon find out! 🙂
Vicky and Buddy says
OMG!! I’m so excited for you guys!! It’s going to be such an awesome trip. I’ve been to Cape Town and I know you’re going to love it. And I’m a little jealous that you’re going to Victoria Falls, but mostly just excited for you. 😉
John Widmer says
Thanks Vicky! Yeah, we’ve heard such good things about Cape Town and your endorsement pushes our excitement even further. I just started planning for that leg of our trip yesterday and have been amazed with all there is to do in that Western Cape area. We’re looking forward to Victoria Falls too – will keep ya posted!
RaW | Ramble and Wander says
Oh my! I’m sooo green with envy! Not only you’re going to catch the Great Migration but you’re also going to be travelling across 9 countries over a 2-month period! I must say that I’m surprised by the price tag of this Oasis Overland safari! Looking forward to reading about your experience doing the safari! In the meantime, have a great one!
John Widmer says
Thanks so much! We’re really looking forward to the entire Oasis Overland experience! Two months is such a long time but we’re just afraid it’s going to just fly by. We’re looking forward to having you along for the ride virtually – thanks for joining our adventure!
56 days of safari? Oh, I’m so jealous! 🙂 I only did four days in Tanzania and it was an amazing experience!
John Widmer says
It is a long time for a safari and we’re so excited for it! Ah, you been to Tanzania! Our first several days will be spent there and we’re really looking forward to time on the Serengeti.
Hi, This is sounds like an wesome adventure! South of Africa must be really thriling. It’s rather unexplored continent, so I bet it’s gonna be really amazing! Enjoy especially the safaris and nature, I am sure it’s gonna be great.
Vicki Louise says
Ahh I’m so excited for you! We are also just about the head to Africa at the start of August for a two month trip – missing the top part of your trip and starting from Vic Falls across Botswana, Namibia and down the coast of South Africa to Cape Town and then along the Garden route to Johannesburg. I am super excited so I can completely understand why you are too! Maybe catch you in Africa!
John Widmer says
No way! Maybe we’ll see ya down there! We get to Victoria Falls at the end of August and will be going down that same route. Once we get to Cape Town, we’re planning to head up the Garden Route to J-burg too! It sounds like your itinerary may be just a few steps ahead of us, but if our paths cross, would love to meet up!
Mar Pages says
How exciting! Africa is incredible, everywhere you turn is a sight to behold. You got a fantastic deal too, 2,400 for two months is amazing!
John Widmer says
Oh, we can’t wait! Africa is the stuff our travel dreams have been made of. Yup, we thought the price was a crazy good value!
Jennifer Melroy says
I loved my overland safari in Africa which was camping most nights. It was amazing sleeping in the tents and hearing things like Hippos coming through the camp.
John Widmer says
That sounds amazing! Hippos coming through camp? You’re giving me chills!
Oh wow sounds like you’ve got some exciting plans ahead of you. Can’t wait to read more about your adventures!
John Widmer says
We are extremely excited. The countdown is on and the adventures will begin in about a week and a half now!
Arnie Jacobsen says
Wow! That is quite an adventure you have planned! Hopefully you won’t have any auto, or any other kind, mishaps.
John Widmer says
It should be quite the adventure indeed! We’re not too worried about auto mishaps – those trucks are pretty sturdy and thankfully the drivers also know some mechanics. But, with us, there’s bound to be some sort of mishaps that happen. Hopefully the lions don’t get us! 😉