If there is a lost treasure of West Africa, then Benin is it.
Benin is probably must famous for voodoo culture, an annual celebration of the tradition is marked with prayers, libations and sacrifices. The country is host to some amazing market stalls, which sell animal heads and skins, which shows how passionate the country is about the Voodoo religion.
A country full of traditional culture, Tata Somba mudhuts, built by the local Somba people, still stand tall today, with thousands of people living in these.
Benin is not only a country of culture, but full of history too. The Route d'Esclaves is found in Ouidah, which was the last walk on African soil for slaves on their way to Brazil and the Caribbean. Some of Benin's amazing history, can be found in the museums in the capital of Porto Novo.
The food in Benin is diverse. In the northern part of the country, yam is a primary meal whereas in the south, rice and corn is the main part of a meal.
If you’re heading to West Africa to unearth lost treasure, look no further than Benin.
Cameroon is a much-underestimated destination and not one to be found in many tour brochures. However, with beautiful rain forests, beaches, wildlife, stunning scenery ranging from tropical to virtual deserts and some of Africa's most scenic mountains, it is definitely a place to visit if you intend going to West Africa. It is a country of transition, climatically, topographically and culturally. The south is deeply Christian and the north Islamic. The people vary from forest Pygmies in the south through to the Fulani, semi-nomadic cattle herders of the Sahel and semi-deserts in the north.
Mount Cameroon can take you to the highest point in West Africa, where you can see some of the most inspiring views of the country.
The rainforest of Cameroon is high in bio diversity and is also home to the Pygmy people. It has also become one of the legendary routes of the overland map, a challenge for even the most hardy overland driver to get the truck out of the infamous 'mud holes'.
Culture is important in Cameroon, and in the east of the region, visitors are greeted by local Baka dancers, which shows how warm a reception can be. The capital, Yaoundé has a vibrant history, having grown rich of the back of the ivory trade.
The national dish Ndolé, consists of a wonderful stew of vegetables, nuts, and fish or goats meat. One taste of this is all you need to make you realise what a glorious country Cameroon is.
Ghana was the first African country to gain independence from Britain, today it is a proud and friendly place. It has had a chequered post colonial history, but certainly now appears to be forging ahead both economically and politically. It is a very friendly country, which surprisingly has close ties to its French speaking northern neighbour, Burkina Faso. Its beaches are the envy of all West African nations, its Ashanti culture is fascinating and it has one or two excellent national parks. Internationally Ghana is acclaimed for its music, with Ghanaian artists such as Kofi Ghanaba giving concerts across the western world.
The capital of Ghana is Accra, and is on the coast. It is home to some of the most amazing museums in the country and is the place to learn about Ghana from the prehistoric times to the present day.
The music is ever present in Ghana, with many of the regions have their own personal sound. All over Ghana, the local communities want people to hear their sounds, and love welcoming visitors to join in their celebrations. Dance is the same. If there is a chance to dance, then the Ghanaians will dance. From celebrations, to funerals and even storytelling. Ghana is a country to try new experiences. The food has to be experienced and each region like to give dishes their own personal touch. The variety of flavours all over the country, make the range of dishes so diverse. Many dishes are usually served with a stew or a soup and a lot are rice based. With many exotic tastes available, it is clear to see Ghanaians like to express their culture through food.
The textiles in Ghana are extremely important as cloths are used to make different clothes. The different colours and patterns have different meanings and are usually worn for important social and religious occasions. A written language and history is represented through the beautiful Kente cloth. This is yet another area in which the Ghanaians are very proud of.
Ghana has a welcoming feeling, and with the chances to join in with the amazing culture, it is the country to visit if you want to experience West African hospitality.
Nigeria is one of the most colourful countries in West Africa. It is full of life and perfect for discovering the many treasures it has to offer. Nigeria grew rich very quickly in the oil boom of the seventies. Hospitals, schools, public buildings and excellent roads were built all over the country. Although it's not on most people's travel list, it's a fantastic for overlanding for that very reason.
There are many national parks and forests across the country and these are home to some of the amazing wildlife of Nigeria. Most gather at the Gaji river and these range from elephants and lions to buffaloes and baboons. In the Yankari National Park has large herds of elephant, as well as giraffe, ostrich, lion, hippo and antelope so there is certainly a chance of sighting some of these. The main draw here is the Wiki Warm Springs. With a beautiful temperature of around 30 degrees, these glistening clear waters are an experience not to miss out on.
Night life is Nigeria is lively and not to be missed on a visit. You can discover all types of music in the bars and clubs. Music is important in Nigeria and with over 250 ethnicity's, there is always different sounds to discover. The folk music played can bring communities together and playing instruments together is a popular factor of the music. Drum beats are well known across the ethnic groups, but the styles which are played are quite diverse. Nigeria is also one of the places where the xylophone is originally from. Music festivals are popular in Nigeria and are a chance to hear music from all over the country.
Nigerian food is typical of West Africa. There ar many dishes to choose from, whether it contains rice, beans, meat, there is delicacies available all over the country. The popular meal of Suya is a kebab style meat that is barbecued, infused with spices from across the nation and skewered.
Nigeria offers a new challenge everyday, and it is a chance to experience the animated life of West Africa.
Tucked between Ghana and Benin, Togo is one of the most vibrant countries in West Africa and home to the voodoo religion. Towards the south of the country is the coast and the capital, Lomé. With sneaking boulevards and a rural landscape, Founded in the 18th century, Lomé has an age-old feel to it.
Ganvie is inhabited by more than 10,000 people even though it is built entirely on stilts in the middle of a lagoon and can only be reached by pirogue (dug out canoe). The ancestors of the Toffinu people used the lake as a refuge from the slave traders, and the Toffinu have lived on the lagoons ever since.
Feel drum beats and you will know a celebration is about. Across the country, drums are used to celebrate key events in peoples lives. They are popular too at music festivals. These bring the country together and traditional folk music can be heard. The sounds of flutes and bows can accompany many different dances which are an important part in Togolese culture.
The food in Togo is simple, yet delightful. Maize based dishes are infused with different sauces and spices to create many different tastes. One popular dish consists of smoked fish in a vegetable stew. The maize is the base and when mixed with these ingredients, it begins to create a true taste of Togo.
Border information: If you are starting at Accra, enter Ghana at Accra Airport.
Today there will be a group meeting at 10.00 hrs. The rest of the day will be free to explore the beautiful coastal city of
Kojo Thompson Road
P.O. Box 4079
Explore the capital city of Accra
Accra, Ghana's sprawlingcapital, is a bustling coastal city with a whole load of beaches that would please even the most discerning sun worshipper. Some of the beaches are more touristy than others and they can all get very busy on Saturdays and Sundays; and whenever you go you should expect to be entertained by an endless stream of musicians and acrobats and pursued by souvenir sellers. Away from the beach, the Perpetual Flame at the Cenotaph in Revolution Square is worth a look, plus the National Museum houses one of the best collections in all of West Africa. Next to the museum you will also find a good craft market, perfect for a bit of souvenir shopping. In the evening you can sample Accra's lively nightlife, heading out to one of the many bars and restaurants that can be found all over this surprising city.
A 200kms morning drive brings us to the beach at Keta
Relax on the beach at Keta
|Included in tour|
Keta is part of the Volta estuary region, comprising several small islands and a complex of lagoons. The area is abundant with bird, fish and butterfly species and also the endangered waterbuck.
The Keta Lagoon Complex is the largest wetlands site in Ghana covering 1,200 sq. km. from the eastern shores of the Volta River to the international border with the Republic of Togo.
We drive some 250kms drive north
Visit Akosombo Dam
Lake Volta in Ghana spreads over a massive 3275 square miles and runs for over 320 miles from the most northern point, to the most southern point. The White Volta River and The Black Volta River combine to form the Volta River which eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean. There are tropical temperatures most the year round, which has created the opportunity to find many local fisheries.
Full day 350kms drive brings us to the spectacular Mt Klouto, crossing the border into
Border information: Exit Ghana at Denu, enter Togo at Clouto.
Discover voodoo, a religion firmly embedded in local culture, amongst the jungle-clad hills of Mount Klouto
|Included in tour|
Day's guided butterfly walking safari through forests of Mont Klouto
Hidden away in mountains of Togo, Mont Klouto is a couple of hours north of Lome, a welcome relief from the heat of the coast. The mountains here are covered in dense forest, punctuated by gently cascading streams and waterfalls. A nature reserve has been established in the area because Klouto is an important habitat for butterflies, over five hundred different species can be found here, many of them incredibly beautiful. It's an ideal place for hiking and you can take a guided walking butterfly safari through the forests with a local naturalist guide.
150kms drive to Agbodrafo, a quiet small town on the shores of
R&R and watersports on the stunning lagoon of Lac Togo at Agbodrafo
|Included in tour|
In the morning we take a pirogue trip to Togoville, the centre of the voodoo culture. We have a guided city tour and church visit, returning to Agbodrafo for the night.
Local pirogue dugout trip across Lac Togo to Togoville
|Included in tour|
Guided city tour of the voodoo centre of Togoville
|Included in tour|
Togoville is a small town on the shores of Lake Togo, renowned as the historic centre of voodoo culture. Many practitioners of voodoo were taken from here to Haiti as slaves, which is why there is also a strong voodoo culture in Haiti even though it's thousands of miles away. There are still a few voodoo shrines and fetishes around the area today. Interestingly, there is also a German church here, dating back to 1910. Chief Mlapa III signed a treaty with German explorer Nachtigal in 1884, giving Germany the rights over all of Togoland. The church sits on a large terrace, dominating the lake with the village spread out in a semi-circle below, decorated with painting of African Saints and a statue of Our Lady of Lake Togo.
A short 100kms drive takes us to the beach at Grand Popo, crossing the border into
Border information: Exit Togo at Hilla-Condji, enter Benin at Hilla-Condji.
2 nights to relax on Benin's Grand Popo Atlantic beaches, meeting the local fishermen
|Included in tour|
Grand Popo, located in south west Benin is a great place for a bit of rest and relaxation on the beach, West African style. The town originally was great as a port servicing the slave trade, although coastal erosion has destroyed most of the old buildings. The Finno-African culture centre Villa Karo has been situated in Grand-Popo since 1999. The town is now a centre for voodoo and home to a Finnish – African cultural centre, Villa Karo. The town's main industry is fishing.
Today is free for you to enjoy time at the beach at Grand Popo. We spend a second night camping
We drive 120kms via
Discover the history of slavery at the Ouidah 'Route des Esclaves'
Visit Ouidah's museums
'Snake' your way round the Temple des Serpents in Ouidah
Benin is a country that takes Voodoo very seriously, so much so that it is recognised as an official religion and is practiced by over 60% of the population. It all centres around the small town of Ouidah, which is the centre of voodoo, culture in Benin; voodoo is part of everyday life here and Ouidah hosts many voodoo festivals and celebrations throughout the year.
The Musée d'histoire d'Ouidah gives an interesting insight into voodoo history and culture in the area.
The town also has a fascinating and colourful history having been an important centre during the slave trade. . The Slave Route or "Route des Escalves" the 4 km road between the Ouidah Museum of History and the beach is probably the same road thousands of slaves travelled along on their way to board the slaving ships for the New World.
The Portuguese, English and French all constructed forts here to protect their trading interests, one of which now houses a museum that gives you a unique glimpse into the terror and destruction that the slave trade wreaked on this part of the world.
The Temple of the Python.
The serpent deity Dangbé has been revered in the Ouidah area for centuries. The temple is maintained by the priests of Dangbé, and dozens of the sacred python are housed within.
The Maison de Brasil, also known as the Casa do Brazil, is a museum displaying works showcasing Vodun culture and the African diaspora. The house was the former residence of the Brazilian governor and is located near the civil prison.
In the morning there will be a visit to a Fetish market then in the afternoon we drive 70kms before jumping aboard pirogues to Ganvie, a town built entirely on stilts in the middle of a lagoon. We will stay in the village overnight
Afternoon visit to Ganvie, where fishermen live in stilt houses on a marine lagoon
|Included in tour|
A short morning drive leads us to Abomey, the ancient capital of the Dan Homey kingdom. We stay in a campsite for the next 2 nights with free time in Abomey and a guided tour of the palace and museum
2 nights in Abomey, capital of the Dahomey Kingdom with guided tour of Palace and Museum
|Included in tour|
Abomey is the ancient capital of the Dahomey kingdom, once one of the most powerful empires in Africa.You can still see some of the original Dahomeyan palaces and temples here, and the Musée Historique d’Abomey is a good place to learn about the history of the region. The palace is full of gold, silver, thrones, tapestries of bloody battles, testament to the proidigous wealth of this once great kingdom.
A full day 170kms drive takes us across the border into
Border crossing: Exit Benin at Ketou, enter Nigeria at Meko.
We will cover 640kms over the next 3 days, visiting
We head 270kms towards Jos where there is an optional guided visit of the museum. We will find somewhere secure and bush camp for the night.
240kms drive to the remote Yankari Game Reserve where we camp at a lodge. We enjoy game drives and a visit to the hot springs.
Big game safari in Yankari National Park, Nigeria's best wildlife reserve. Stay at the beautiful hot springs
|Included in tour|
Yankari is home to one of Nigeria's finest national parks. The Yankari Game Reserve is quite remote and rarely visited; but those who make the journey here are more than rewarded by the incredible wildlife and beautiful landscape. The area is home to more than 50 different species of mammal, including buffaloes, waterbucks, bushbucks and baboons. There are also large herds of elephant, as well as giraffe, ostrich, lion, hippo and antelope here; so there is certainly a chance of seeing some big game. Amazing though the wildlife is, most people's favourite memory of a trip to Yankari is a visit to the Wikki Warm Springs. These crystal clear hot springs are a constant 31 degrees Celsius, which makes them the perfect place to relax after a day of safari - or you may prefer to spend the entire day immersed in the warm waters.
Today is a full day 600kms drive day en route to the Afi Mountains. We will find somewhere safe to bush camp
The Afi Mountains in Nigeria are an important habitat for wildlife, particularly primates. There is a fantastic wildlife sanctuary heres that protects a number of threatened and endangered species, including the rare Cross River Gorilla and Drill Monkey. A number of NGO's are working here in conjunction with the local communities to protect these unique animals, for example protection patrols and educational initiatives have been established to discourage shooting and trapping by local hunters. 17 local communities are involved in total, the first time a common interest group like this has been formed; and all of the communities are now benefitting from the income that eco-tourism is beginning to generate through the work of the wildlife sanctuary. As well as it's conservation work, the project also provides a home to 22 rescued chimpanzees. Visitors to Afi can walk in the forest and may even be able to participate in some conservation work.
For further information on the Afi Mountain Wildlife sanctuary please visit http://www.pandrillus.org/projects/afi-mountain-wildlife-sanctuary/
We drive 180kms enabling us to spend two or three days at the Afi Moutain sanctuary home of a project to help the highly endangered drill monkeys, either walking in the forests or helping around the sanctuary. This is a beautiful place to stay. We may on the final night head to stay in Calabar in order to obtain our visas for Cameroon.
3 night stay at the Drill Ranch Monkey Conservation Project in the Afi Mountains
|Included in tour|
We cross the border into
Border crossing: Exit Nigeria on the first day at Mfum, enter Cameroon at Ekok.
Overland through some of the continent's most challenging roads in the jungles of Cameroon.
|Included in tour|
150kms driving brings us to a campsite and the chance for some R&R on the beautiful black sand beaches of Limbe.
Time for some R&R on the black sand of the Atlantic beaches at Limbe
|Included in tour|
Visit the Limbe wildlife centre to see the Drill monkeys and gorillas
Limbe is a small, scenic seaside town in Cameroon, it's black sand beaches sandwiched between the nearby mountains and the Atlantic ocean. It's a good place to kick-back and relax on the beach and sample the local seafood.
A 300kms drive brings us to the yellow sands of
More R&R on the white sands of Kribi Beach
|Included in tour|
160 km drive to the lively and cosmopolitan Douala, arriving late in the afternoon. We stay in a comfortable hotel with a pool.
Explore Douala, Cameroon's most lively city.
|Included in tour|
Douala is the largest city in Cameroon and the capital of Littoral Province. The town lies on the banks of the Wouri River and has a bustling, tropical ambiance. Leafy, colonial decay rubs shoulders with the modern, marble facades of banks, five-star hotels and business houses. It's a lively and cosmopolitan city with a brilliant nightlife, so despite the hot and sticky climate, it makes for an interesting stop.
The trip ends this morning and no accommodation is provided.
Border information: If you are leaving in Douala, exit Cameroon at Douala airport.
We intend following the planned route but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, often in areas without western infrastructure. You should expect that some these areas do not adhere to western safety standards.
You may already be aware that the British Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO) are currently advising against all but essential travel to certain regions in
Please visit http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/nigeria for full advice on
Instead the itinerary will visit Pendjari National Park and the surrounding region in North Western Benin, known for its wildlife and is home to some of the last populations of big game like elephants, West African lions, hippopotamuses, buffalo and various antelopes in West Africa. The Park is also famous for its richness in birds.
If however in the meantime if the FCO advice changes its advice to all clear on travel to this region our itinerary will of course follow the scheduled route.
Roads in these parts of Africa can be very rough which makes for long travel days. You may be travelling across deserts, through Jungles and through wild Africa savannah lands. . It is however all worth it for the spectacular scenery and for travelling through regions that very few other westerners go (OK, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman perhaps, but we were there first)! Where there are public camp sites the bathroom facilities can be very basic and may be non existent in the case of many of the bush camps on this itinerary. There is never toilet paper provided and shower facilities, if existing are often a hose pipe spurting out cold water. Once again, the spectacular serenity and chance to sleep so close to nature makes a little inconvenience all worthwhile and part of the African overlanding experience. Note that not all campsites are as basic as this description; it's just to make sure there are no surprises for you. There will be plenty of nice surprises along the way! Lastly, the step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down at least 8-10 times a day, as can the constant setting and packing up of camp.
Most countries we visit on our travels will require visas. Some are best obtained before you leave home and others can be obtained en-route. Whilst the ultimate responsibility for obtaining visas is yours, we will endeavour to assist you wherever possible.
The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. The information provided is given in good faith and we do try to keep the visa information as up to date as possible. Please be aware though that rules do change, often without prior warning, which is why it is important that you check for yourself.
For visas that are needed in advance you can choose to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy /consulate. However our recommendation is that you use a visa agent to assist you with your applications. While this does increase the cost it will make the process much easier for you. Dragoman have teamed up with ‘The Visa Machine’ to create a safe, secure, hassle-free way of obtaining visas and visa advice. Our unique link within their website is designed to make the visa process as straightforward as possible. Simply go to https://dragoman.thevisamachine.com and click on your region of travel followed by your trip route and ‘The Visa Machine’ will advise you about not only the required visas but also the dates by which you should apply. ‘The Visa Machine’ can then assist you in the actual visa application thus taking all the worry and hassle out of the process. This should apply for ALL nationalities and countries of residence.
As you will need to submit your passport together with your applications, we recommend that you avoid making any travel plans in the weeks leading up to your departure. However if you do need to travel in this period please let us know as soon as possible so that we can help you work out the options for your visa application process.
We recommend you ontain your visa in advance. These allow for a stay of up to 60 days and can be a single or multiple entries.
You may be asked to provide references for your visa application of which you can use the following:-
The Stumble Inn
Aubrey Malcolm Green
Sabre Trust Project
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Ghana.
If you flying into Ghana you can only obtain a single entry visa on arrival in Ghana if you have received pre-approval from the director of Ghana immigration at least 48 hours beforehand. You must hold a letter of pre-approval, which should contain the visa number and passport number to check in for your flight. If you don't hold a visa or pre-approval, you will not be allowed on your flight. The visa costs USD100 on arrival and you will need to present your return flight tickets.
Visa will be obtained en route at the border. You must have 3 passport photos and the visa costs approx. $200USD.
Until September 2011 visas were obtained en route at the border however recent rules surrounding the issuance of Nigerian visas means that this visa must now be obtained in Advance.
However if you have already obtained your Nigerian visa without already having to obtain the Benin visa then you can obtain your Benin visa in Accra. To be able to do this you must arrive before your trips starts to go to allow time to go the embassy. The process takes 1-2 days.
The visa needs to be obtained in advance.
The Nigerian Tourist visa needs to be obtained in advance.
For all Overland trip you must have already obtained your Cameroon and Benin visa before you can apply for the Nigerian visa.
Nigerian tourist visas for most nationalities can now be applied for on-line at www.immigration.gov.ng OR British Nationals can go to Travcour (UK) http://www.travcour.com
You must provide the following:-
1 passport photograph(s)
Travel invoice confirming booked travel & accommodation paid in full or copy of tickets
Bank statement or $60 for each day of stay in traveller's cheques
Letter from employer confirming employment & return
Copy of the vehicle carnet.
You MUST KEEP the receipt as you will need to also show this at the border on entry.
PLEASE NOTE:- For some nationalities you may be asked to provide a letter of invitation and letter from host from a company in Nigeria. These are not required for Tourist visa applications. In this instance it may be required that you apply for the visa in person at the embassy or consulate where you are applying. Please check this before commencing the application process and make sure you allow plenty of time for any delays that may occur.
Please organise your Cameroon visa before arrival.
The procedure and cost will vary depending on your nationality but it is common to require quite a lot of paperwork for this visa. This may well include a copy of our vehicle carnet (licence to travel through Cameroon in our truck), guarantee letter with full itinerary and a reservation letter from a hotel in Cameroon confirming your first nights' accommodation and stamped by the local police of which we can provide for you.
Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on this trip, we recommend you allow between a minimum of US$10 and a maximum of US$20 per day.
This will covers expenses such as your optional activities, drinks, meals whilst out and also when staying in hotels, souvenirs, tips and personal permits.
Euros not Dollars - In North and West Africa (Morocco, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo & The DRC) we use Euros and not US Dollars. Please note that although we do quote kitties, personal spending and other items in US Dollars (because we operate globally), for trips passing through these countries, you will want to use Euros and NOT dollars for the kitty, tipping and for personal spending. As the exchange rate is variable, the trip leader will confirm the exact exchange rate between Dollar and Euros to be used for the kitty at the pre departure meeting.
In term of local money it is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel. Do also bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!
For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, but in West Africa travellers cheques are almost impossible to change so for that reason we recommend a mix of cash and ATM cards. Please note that most ATMs only take Visa cards NOT Mastercard.
You should take a mixture of denomination notes. Banks and moneychangers in most countries will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are dated from 2003 or later. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Cash machines are readily available in most areas but are not always reliable therefore we recommend that you do not rely on them as your only source of cash. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most commonly accepted, but be prepared for very high commission charges. Please do not rely on cards for daily use, as they are not always accepted outside of larger towns and cities. Please bring a mixture of small and large denominations as in more remote areas it can be hard to change amounts over $50.
At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of your joining or finishing point cities, why not book additional accommodation to extend your stay. Dragoman can take away the hassle of time zones and language barriers by making the booking for you. This accommodation is only available at the joining or finishing city of your trip, immediately before or after the trip you are travelling on.
While Dragoman is happy to assist with booking your pre and post trip accommodation, it is important that you understand you may be able to book your own room at a cheaper rate directly through the hotel or on the internet. Our additional accommodation prices are based on the hotel’s rate plus an administration fee. Please note our rates do not reflect last minute walk in rates or internet specials.
We can also book arrival airport transfers for you as long as we have your flight arrival details. These are normally payable in cash upon arrival, however we do have pre paid transfers in a few destinations.
Please contact our reservations team for details of the accommodation and transfers that we can offer as not all hotels offer this service.
Dragoman overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip, in accommodation ranging from twin to multi-share. The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. We will also arrange as many village or local homestays as possible, allowing us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.
The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location, however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16.
Please note that there is an overlap of 2 trips in
Our passengers come from around the world and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split, males to females and between solo travellers, couples and small groups of friends. We believe that overlanding should be open to as many people as possible and so although we have a minimum age limit of 18, as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the beauties of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way and as well as the variety of people that you will meet.
At any time before or after you book you can join our community - Dragoland. This is a great place to ask questions before you travel and catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories You can also download a selection of free travel apps. See the home page to sign in, it's free and easy.
We also have a Facebook page where travellers regularly swap info with each other - you can join here
Our crew are passionate about travel and always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all overland companies, spending 10 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK and then up to six months on the road as a trainee. On all Dragoman overlanding trips two western crew who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation will accompany you. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. In East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people.
(If travelling in East & Southern Africa, also please see the note about our code-share crew)
Your tour leader has a duty of care to all of their passengers and therefore they have the authority to ask passengers to leave the trip if they require medical assistance, are behaving in an anti-social manner or refuse to comply with local laws and customs. In all matters relating to the trip, the leader's decision will be final and we appreciate your respect of this.
We ask all of our passengers to declare any pre-existing medical conditions and in some cases you will be asked to complete one of our medical questionnaires. For trips that travel to areas of high altitude we also require all passengers to complete an altitude questionnaire. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases passengers should be prepared for some long driving days and possible limited facilities. We are always happy to give extra advice if you have additional concerns.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to region and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest advice on the region(s) you are planning to travel in. It is essential that you check with either your doctor or a travel clinic in good time before you travel.
In the UK we have been working with Nomad Travel for many years and their website has comprehensive, up to date vaccination and health information. Dragoman customers will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.
A good source of up to date information is the World Health Organisation - http://www.who.int/en/
Get expert advice before travelling about types of malaria pills and take them as instructed. Recommended types do change from time to time and from area to area. Consult your vaccination centre for the most up-to-date requirements
The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wear long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light coloured and buttoned at the wrists can help. Do not sleep without closing windows, tent doors or, if sleeping out, use a mosquito net. Wear repellent applied directly to the skin or soaked into clothing.
Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores. Mosquito coils are useful on still nights, in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.
On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger, you’re part of the crew, pitching in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. We operate a rota system, dividing the group into smaller units of 5 or 6 people, so that these duties are shared equally amongst the group. These jobs will include things like collecting water and firewood, loading the back locker, supervising the kitty and food stores etc. While camping on overland journeys, all meals will be included in the kitty and this means that you will be working as a group to prepare meals and cook for your group. (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck, however you will still be required to help prepare meals). If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. A typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, cereal and something hot such as eggs or pancakes as well as tea and coffee. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto, pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.
Dragoman is committed to ensuring that we have a positive impact on local communities and that we implement policies to minimise any negative impact on the local environment. We are dedicated to making sure that we adopt a responsible attitude to the areas through which we travel and believe that our trips should benefit the local people and their environment. Dragoman recognises that we are guests of local communities and strive to make these communities our partners, so that they benefit directly from our visit.
You can find full details of Dragoman’s responsible tourism policy linked from the home page. All passengers are required to obey all laws of the countries through which we pass. This particularly applies to the smuggling of contraband and possession of narcotic drugs, firearms, antiquities and ivory. Any passenger found contravening such laws or customs may be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.
One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise passengers to leave any valuable jewellery, watches etc at home. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on hand to offer advice.
Please note: Any personal effects that are left on the truck, even if they are stored in the safe, are left at your own risk and Dragoman cannot be held responsible for any damage or theft that may occur.
The safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a major priority of Dragoman. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice
Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers
Leaders reports from off the road
Local contacts we have built up over 29 years of experience
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. You should always make yourself aware of the travel advice before you book and again before you travel. Below are links to some of the websites
New Zealand. http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/
United States. http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html
Dragoman has comprehensive passenger liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £3,000,000 and £10,000,000 respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.
We have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in theses trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.
Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564.
It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.
Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel. As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding and that the 24 Hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries – for example they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. Please double check if you have annual travel and/or credit card policies to ensure they have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas. We recommend that any policy has the following minimum levels of cover: Medical (incl. repatriation) £5,000,000 Personal Liability £5,000,000 Cancellation and Curtailment £5,000 Loss of Baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice.
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of the trip - this is important as some countries WILL refuse entry to anyone whose passport is due to expire. A temporary or "visitor's” passport is not valid on our trips. You will need to provide us with your passport details prior to departing for you trip. If you change your passport please remember to inform us.
Although you will not have to carry your main bag long distances you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the back locker so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use.
The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different-sized lockers however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is maximum 20kg. Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.
Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats (except on routes between Nairobi and Cape Town where ground mats are provided).
The clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in, which will vary depending on which part of the world you're heading to. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats*, so you'll need to bring those with you. Think about the climate and altitude of the areas you'll be travelling to, there's nothing worse than being cold at night so it's worth investing in a decent sleeping bag if it's likely to get cold. And remember even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.
*Ground mats are provided on our non "in-depth" overland trips that run in South and East Africa, between Nairobi and Cape Town.
For a general idea of what you need this list provides a guide:
For a comprehensive kit lists take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel have created. Dragoman customers will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists www.nomadtravel.co.uk/kitlist/overlanders-kit-list
The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 liters of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your Overland vehicle. You are free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like. You are helping the environment and your hip pocket!
All of our trucks have a fully stocked medical kit onboard for use in emergency situations only. Therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit. In the UK we have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores and Clinics to produce the Dragoman Travel Medical Kit. It has been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contains everything you would need for any minor accidents. For more details please visit their website:
Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt socket so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12 volt adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adaptor for your specific charger.
The Kitty is a group fund paid separately from the trip price at the start of your trip which covers all things that the whole group does, such as:
It is an amount that each passenger puts into a central fund and is monitored by the Dragoman crew. It’s payable in full at the start of your trip, and in instalments at the start of each individual trip on combination trips
The kitty system is very unique to over landing as it allows us to have flexibility on the road. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally.
The kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Local inflation and costs vary throughout the year and so we review kitties on a monthly basis. Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount.
Your kitty can be paid in a mixture of US Dollar cash and local currency and most of our travellers choose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.
Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.
Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you should be prepared to contribute towards the costs and therefore we ask you to bring along a 'Contingency Fund' of USD400. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you take along an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies usually only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.
Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it. On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD10 to USD15 per person.