Namibia and Botswana Family Overland (FNB)

Windhoek to Victoria Falls 19 days, departing 07 Jul 2013

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Ratings for this trip

Comfort Zone: Moderate

Moderate Comfort Level. These trips allow you to get off the beaten track with a few of your home comforts. On OVERLAND TRIPS expect there may be some wild camps, but with a predominance of campsites with good facilities (often with upgrades to rooms available) or staying in small hotels. Hotels will range from basic up to reasonably comfortable. Sharing will be on a 2, 3 or 4 person basis. On ADVENTURE HOLIDAYS we will have standard style accommodation, usually budget or tourist-class (2-3 star) accommodation with private facilities. Some accommodation may be on a multi-share basis. Transport will be a mixture of local and privately hired.

Physical Challenge: Everyday Activities

EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES: Suitable for most fitness levels. Your itinerary may include easy-paced walks or bike rides, horse riding and other non-strenuous activities. On overland trips you will be camping at least some of the time.

Countries Visited

Botswana

Botswana is one of the finest safari destinations in Africa. With 17% of the country covered by national parks, the wildlife is diverse. There are over 85 species of mammals and well over 1000 types of birds that reside in the country's national parks. Chobe, probably best know for its elephant population, is Botswana's premier national park.

The sand of the Kalahari Desert covers most of Botswana. With very little rainfall, the desert is a habitat for some of Botswana's amazing wildlife. In the northwest  of the country is the Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta in the world which incorporates the The Moremi Game Reserve.

Although the nation where many branded products are produced, Botswana is rich in its own cuisine.  Many meats, vegetables and peanuts produced locally make up for the small amount they have to import. Traditional dishes across the country are sometimes only eaten on special occasions. Botswana is a welcoming country, where chicken cooked for guests shows a sign of kind and welcoming hospitality. Ginger beer is a favourite non alcoholic drink brewed in Botswana.

Namibia

Deep in the corner of Southern Africa lies the wonderful country of Namibia. It has a massively diverse mix of cultures a seemingly infinite range of landscapes from wild seascapes, rugged mountains, lonely deserts, stunning wildlife and colonial cities.

A perfect place for trekking, the giant sand dunes in Sossusvlei and Sesriem are part of one of the many National Parks in the country, and exploration is a must. The burning red colour of the dunes makes them some of the most fascinating sites in Africa. The breathtaking views of the amazing Fish River Canyon plummet to a depth of over 500 metres and has a landscape that grips the horizon.

Surrounded by the massive dune fields of the Namib Desert on three sides and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Swakopmund is an example of the extraordinary German culture that is found in all major settlements in Namibia.. It is also the perfect place for many pulse raising activities. From quad biking through the dunes, surfing the waves in the ocean or exploring Namibia from the air in an adrenaline fuelled parachute jump.

There are many festivals that join the country together and it is a chance to hear some of the cultural music Namibia has to offer. The sound of folk music can be the start of an amazing story in which people can join in traditional dances. It's not only folk music that has captured the country's music scene. Influenced by Europeans, the sound of the popular Afrikaans music is created.

A country full of wildlife, Namibia is home to some of the rarest animals in the world. The black rhino and the puku antelope roam not only in the national parks, but all across the country.

Namibia is one of the least demanding African countries to travel in but certainly one of the most rewarding.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is landlocked between Zambia, South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique and is very much part of the Southern African safari circuit, with Matobo National Park and Hwange National Park amongst the best in the region.

Here you can see black and white rhinos, elephants, lions and a vast array of birdlife. There is also the opportunity to know the Ndebele people with our expert local guide.

Sadly, it’s impossible to describe Zimbabwe without mentioning the problems the country has faced due to Robert Mugabe’s policy of land re-distribution. Whether this policy was correct or not will be a matter for the historians, but all we know is that it triggered a decade of violence, and economic ruin.

Happily today the country is getting back on its feet and tourism is playing a vital part in that recovery.

Zimbabwe is perfect for nature lovers and for all travellers who want to experience Africa at its purist. Leave your preconceptions and enjoy the ancient ruins, abundance of wildlife and of course the mighty Victoria Falls.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Windhoek

Sun 07 Jul 2013

Halo! Welcome to Namibia.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 10am on Day 1.

You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

For those of you who arrive early, there's plenty to see and do in and around Windhoek. Take a stroll around the town and visit some of its museums or perhaps take a township tour.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

 

Hotel for the night: Arebbusch Travel Lodge

Arebbusch Travel Lodge

Golf Street

Olympia

Windhoek

+264 61 251 670

Windhoek

The old German colonial town of Windhoek has been blended into a modern city. The German architecture of the older buildings lends the town a historic atmosphere. Good examples of this German architecture can be seen in a number of buildings but the best are the Tintenpalast (Ink Palace), the Christuskirche (church), the gymnasium and the Genossenschaftshaus.

 

Day 2: Sesriem & Soussusvlei, Namib Desert

Mon 08 Jul 2013

Travel to Sesriem in the Namib Desert (300 km, approx 5 hrs).

Venture into the heart of the Namib where there's an opportunity to explore the dunes on foot, enjoying a fascinating desert walk around the scenic sandy desert surroundings.

Also visit the renowned Dead vlei and Sossusvlei ancient lakebeds in the middle of the desert with scattered skeleton camel thorn trees dating back over 1,000 years.

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)

Activity Approximate Cost

Dawn trek up the Namib Deserts star Dune 45

Included in Kitty

Visit to the famous Sossusvlei salt pan

Included in Kitty

Sesriem & Soussusvlei

The most famous part of the Namib Desert is its vast dune fields, the most spectacular of which are found near the Sesriem Canyon. This canyon through the mountains, was formed when the Tsauchab River carved a gorge 30m deep into the gravel deposits, about 15 million years ago. It is thought that this river once flowed to the Atlantic Ocean but its course was blocked by the encroaching sand dunes. Now the river flows out to the dune fields that stretch for hundreds of miles up the coast, and dries up in a clay pan at Soussusvlei.

The dunes are stunning, with magnificent red/orange tones from the brightly coloured sands. They are in fact the highest in the world and are home to a plethora of animal life. The sight of the graceful oryx wandering along the base of these massive dunes is beautiful to see.


Filled with the highest sand dunes on earth, the Namib-Naukluft National Park holds some amazing sights. It's also the oldest desert in the world and we get the chance to appreciate it in all its glory on a sunrise climb to the top of one of its sand dunes.

Dune 45 is a star dune in the Sossusvlei area of the Namib Desert in Namibia. Its name comes from the fact that it is at the 45th kilometre of the road that connects the Sesriem gate and Sossusvlei. Standing over 170m, it is composed of 5 million year old sand that is detritus accumulated by the Orange River from the Kalahari Desert and then blown here

Namib Desert

The Namib Desert stretches for about 2000 km from Southern Angola to Olifants River in South Africa. It is squeezed into an area less than 200 kms wide between the South Atlantic Ocean and the Great Western Escarpment.

The desert has some stunning flora and fauna. Probably the most famous is the wonder plant, Welwitschia mirabilis, which is endemic to the Namib. Many of these horizontal trees are over 1000 years old. This plant, which is part of the pine tree family, only has two leaves, but these leaves are vital as they allow the plant to take up fog water. In fact, the incessant fog, which comes in from the Atlantic in the mornings, is the reason that the Namib has such prolific flora and fauna, providing just enough moisture for life to carry on. Both plants and animals have adapted to utilising the small amount of moisture that is available.

Due to the fog and the winds off the Atlantic, the temperature here can drop very quickly, then soaring up to over 40ºC later in the day as the sun burns through the fog and the winds change to a hot dry easterly breeze. These extremes of temperature make the area inhospitable and yet the desert is home to extraordinary wildlife, including herds of elephant, Zebra, Oryx and other big game.

Day 3 to 4: Swakopmund

Tue 09 Jul to Wed 10 Jul 2013

Continue on to the town of Swakopmund (360 km, approx 9 hrs drive).

We have a free day here for you to explore the area, go to the beach, shop or participate in some of Swakopmund's adrenalin activities. For these nights we stay in permanent A frame dwellings in a bungalow setting.

Accommodation

Chalet (2 nts)

Activity Approximate Cost

2 night stay in Swakopmund, Namibia's adrenaline city

Included in Kitty

Tandem Skydive, Swakopmund

NAD 2100

Sand boarding, Swakopmund

NAD 400

Dolphin Cruise, Swakopmund

NAD 500

Quad Biking, Swakopmund

NAD 550

Fishing Trip, Swakopmund

NAD 1200

Horse Riding, Swakopmund

NAD 570

Swakopmund

Surrounded by the massive dune fields of the Namib Desert on three sides, and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Swakopmund is an example of the extraordinary German culture that's found in all major settlements inNamibia. It's worth wandering around the town to admire the beauty of the Germanic architecture and take advantage of some excellent souvenir shopping.

Swakopmund has become the adventure capital of the region. This is a place for the adrenaline junky as there are some excellent adventure activities that you could try. Some of the most popular include sandboarding, quad biking across the beautiful dunes and tandem skydiving over the desert. 

Day 5 to 6: Spitzkoppe

Thu 11 Jul to Fri 12 Jul 2013

Travel to Spitzkoppe (290 km, approx 6 hrs).

Stop en route to visit the amazing Cape Cross seal colony.

Travel to the sparsely populated country of Spitzkoppe (360 km, approx 5-6 hrs). We wild camp in the midst of this remote region and witness the landscapes take on remarkable oranges and reds during the breathtaking sunsets and sunrises (for those who can manage to get up at 5.30am).

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nts)

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights to explore and hike in the stunning landscape of Spitzkoppe

Included in Kitty

Walk to bush paintings in Spitzkoppe nature reserve

USD 5

Spitzkoppe

The wild lands around the mountain of Spitzkoppe are known as 'the Matterhorn of Namibia'. The mountain, which is 700 million years old, is 1987 metres (5857 feet) high. Although you should not attempt climbing to the top, there are some excellent hikes throughout the area, which is rich in plant life, such as the Myrothamnus flabellifolius, Boscia foetida and the Kleinia longiflora. This is a great place to get away from it all and to appreciate the stunning harsh beauty of this sparsely populated country. One amazing sight to witness here are the breathtaking sunsets and sunrises as the colour of the landscape takes on a series of remarkable orange and red hues.

Day 7: Palmwag Desert Oasis

Sat 13 Jul 2013

Travel to Palmwag Desert Oasis (350 km, approx 8 hrs).

The Palmwag area is home to the desert elephant. Travelling through this area you will have the opportunity to search for this elusive creature.  Set up camp in the oasis tonight.

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)

 

 

 

Day 8 to 9: Etosha National Park

Sun 14 Jul to Mon 15 Jul 2013

Head towards Etosha National Park (335 km, approx 5-6 hrs).

Etosha is one of the world's most pre-eminent wildlife areas with good chance to see the big five. We will stay in the park for a couple of days giving us plenty of opportunity for game drives. 

We will stay in the campsites of Namutoni and Okaukejo, both of which have excellent facilities and watering holes for viewing wildlife

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)

 

 

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights camping in Etosha National Park with game driving

Included in Kitty

Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa's most important game reserves, home to a huge range of wildlife including all the big carnivores as well as five rare/endangered species: the Black Rhino, Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, Black Faced Impala, Roan Antelope and the tiny Damara Dik Dik - and because Namibia has protected its game reserves against poaching, there are large herds of elephant, antelope and other herbivores.

Etosha means "Great White Place" in the local language, describing the massive mineral pan that dominates the park's landscape.

The wildlife here is prolific and Etosha has every right to proclaim itself as one of the world's most pre-eminent wildlife reserves. Game viewing in the park is superb due to the man-made water holes and the large sparsely vegetated pans, which make it easier to get good sightings of many of the animals. The bushland surrounding the pans is more difficult to see through but there are enough clearings, pans and waterholes to make most visits well worthwhile.

On our overland tours we stay in Etosha for a couple of days giving us plenty of opportunity for game drives. We stay at two different campsites within the park, one of which, Okaukuejo, is particularly spectacular as it overlooks a floodlit waterhole visited by many different species throughout the day and night.

Day 10 to 11: Grootfontein & Bushmanland

Tue 16 Jul to Wed 17 Jul 2013

Travel to Grootfontein and spend the night near a Bushmen homestead (315 km, approx 6 hrs).

In Grootfontein we will go out tracking and gathering with the Bushmen and listen to the stories and songs of these fascinating people

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nts)

 

 

Activity Approximate Cost

Bushwalking, tracking and food gathering with Bushmen

Included in Kitty

Grootfontein & Bushmanland

Grootfontein is a pleasant market town with limestone buildings and tree-lined streets.

It is from here that you can visit the local bushman community.  This gives us the opportunity to go out tracking and gathering with the Bushmen and listen to the stories and songs of these fascinating people. The Bushmen are the oldest ethnic group in Namibia having inhabited Southern Africa for an estimated 20,000 years.

Around 30,000 Bushmen still live in Namibia, but only 2,000 of them continue to follow a traditional way of life. The Bushmen have a deep understanding of nature and the ecology, living in harmony with their environment.

Taking part in their everyday lives, you can help the men track animals and watch the women gather and prepare seeds and plants.

Day 12: Rundu

Thu 18 Jul 2013

Head north on a straight drive to the town of Rundu (285 km, approx 5 hrs) where we camp the night at the beautiful N’Kwazi Lodge.

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)

 

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight at the beautiful Nkwazi Lodge on the Angolan border

Included in Kitty

Rundu

The drive along the Caprivi Strip can contain some marvellous sites, but it also has some fantastic places to relax and Rundu is one of them.  

Rundu is the capital of the Kavango region of Namibia, on the border with Angola. A centre of activity for Namibia's growing Angolan community this is a great place to explore.  Whether it is to try the regional taste of Paw Paws or to see what the wood carvings on sale at the market look like, Rundu is the place for it. 

Day 13 to 14: Okavango Delta

Fri 19 Jul to Sat 20 Jul 2013

From Rundu, we drive along the pan handle of the Caprivi strip and then south into Botswana to Sepupa, where we leave our vehicle and board boats out into the swamps.

Transfer by boat to Mokoba Island where we'll meet our mokoro team. We'll board these small dugout-style canoes and be poled out into the reed beds of the delta. Each canoe takes two people and is poled through the meandering waterways by a local tribesman. Reeds and lily pads line the streams, and birds startled by the mokoros rise out of the long grasses. Punting along, the peace may be shattered by the deep grunting of hippos.

You'll be in the middle of a wilderness area but we'll stay in a permanent camp complete with a bar and facilities. All food will be provided by our local hosts and on the first night out you will camp out on an island away from civilisation.

The next day after a morning briefing we step out and explore the island on foot followed by another mokoro trip to a different island for more game walks, lunch and then mokoro back to camp. We stay overnight on the island.

Accommodation

Wild camp (no facilities) (2 nts)

 

 

Activity Approximate Cost

2 night guided safari deep into the Okavango Delta on Mokoros and bushwalking

Included in Kitty

Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta in Botswana is home to one of the world's most fascinating eco-systems. The Delta is essentially a large swamp plain created where the Okavango River flows out into a basin on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. The river has no outlet from the desert and the water spreads out into thousands of small streams to form a maze of wetlands - a totally unqiue and unspoilt habitat which is home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna. The Delta is a magical wilderness of meandering clear waterways, green islands, lush plains and prolific wildlife including hippo, crocodile, elephant, and many big cats.

Despite it's amazing wildlife, spotting game game is no always easy in the Delta, but exploring the Okavango is not just about the animals and birdlife, exploring this unique landscape is an experience in itself. Imagine drifting along in a dugout canoe, poling out into the reed beds of the Delta. Each canoe is poled along by a local tribesman who have been travelling this way for centuries, slowly gliding through the meandering waterways. Reeds and lily pads line the streams and birds startled by the mokoros rise out of the long grasses. Punting along, the peace of the Delta is only shattered by the occasional deep grunting of hippos and other animal sounds.

 

Day 15: Bagani

Sun 21 Jul 2013

Today we depart the Okavango Delta, reunite with our truck and cross the border back into Namibia.

In the late afternoon we reach our campsite at Bagani which is situated in the unspoiled upper reaches of the Okavango Panhandle on Namibia's Caprivi Strip.

The camp is set on an island under amazing trees with river frontage and surrounded by seasonally flooded swamps. The area is a paradise of flooded plains and swamps, teeming with wildlife, and nestled between Mahango National Park and Bwabwata National Park. There are lots to see and do, such as swimming in the unique 'floating swimming' pool in the river, mokoro safaris, boat cruises, fishing or bird/village walks. 

If you want to upgrade from a tent, try out a tree house or a bush hut.

It is from this camp located in the Namibian Caprivi Strip that we organise our visit to the Okavango Delta in Botswana.  In Bagani we stay at a well equipped camp site.

Accommodation

Camping (facilities) (1 nt)

 

 

Bagani

The town of Bagani is located in the Namibian Caprivi Strip. This is a land of fertile floodplains surrounded by perennial rivers, making for some beautiful scenery. The narrowest part of the Caprivi strip is also a game reserve, and the main road we travel on runs right through the middle of the reserve.

The Strip is a classic example of how the former colonial powers shaped the boundaries of modern Africa. At 500km long, with the game reserve only 32 kms wide, the Strip opens up to almost 100kms wide at the eastern end, before narrowing to a point on the Zambezi River - and this is where the boundaries of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana meet. During the struggle for independence the Caprivi region was home to the South African Army and Police, and from the early 1960s until 1990, the region was in a constant state of war.

Most Caprivians make a living from farming and fishing. In the wet season, waters from the Zambezi and Kavango Rivers flood much of the area. During these months the local people travel through the region using the mokoro canoes similar to those that you see in the Okavango Delta.

Day 16: Chobe National Park, Kasane

Mon 22 Jul 2013

Crossing the border into Botswana, we have a short drive to Kasane on the edge of Chobe National Park (300 km, approx 4-5 hrs).

During our visit to the park, we remain in the north near the Chobe River and take a boat trip along the river to see how many animals we can spot. If you would prefer, you can substitute an open-top jeep safari for the boat trip. Both the boat and jeep trips provide ample opportunity to take stunning wildlife photographs and have intimate experiences without disturbing the fauna.  We stay in a well equipped campsite in Kasane.

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)

Activity Approximate Cost

Wildlife boat safari on Chobe River

Included in Kitty

View Chobe's profilic wildlife by Jeep

USD 20

Chobe National Park

Together with the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park is arguably one of Botswana's top two wildlife destinations. Whilst it's not the country's largest wildlife reserve, it's reputation is justifiably deserved, as it's home to some of the most diverse and abundant flora and fauna in the whole of Africa. Chobe is probably best known for its elephants, being home to some 120,000 of them, migrating hundreds of kilometres from the saltpans in the south of the park to the banks of the Chobe and Linyati between the wet and dry seasons.

Inhabiting the park alongside the elephants are giraffe, oribi, roan and sable antelope, waterbuck, hippo and lion. Bird life along the river is also incredibly diverse and includes fish eagle, harrier hawk, guinea fowl and carmine bee-eaters.

On our visits to Chobe we tend to explore the north of the park, basing ourselves in the River Front region of the Chobe River. Here we enjoy an early morning game drive and get up close to the wildlife, followed by a cruise down the Chobe River- in many ways being on the river itself is the best way to experience the park. Keep an eye out for swimming elephants, a huge variety of bird life as well as hippos wallowing and crocs sunning themselves by the water's edge.

Kasane

Kasane is the gateway to the Chobe National Park. The wonderful stretch of the river side creates a lovely scene for the small town. It's a great base for exploring the national park and finding out about the wildlife of Botswana.

Day 17 to 19: Victoria Falls

Tue 23 Jul to Thu 25 Jul 2013

Travel on to Victoria Falls, crossing the border into Zimbabwe in time to have lunch on the banks of the Zambezi (115 km, approx 3 hrs).

Our campground is centrally located in the town of Victoria Falls, the perfect place to use as a There are various optional activities and excursions available - either on the water, on land or high above it all.  As well as the optional activities on offer your stay in Victoria Falls will include a visit to the Magnificent falls themselves.

Our campground is centrally located in the town of Victoria Falls, the perfect place to use as a base. Upgraded accommodation is on offer subject to availability; please ask at reception or your tour leader for further information.

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart our accommodation at any time.

If you would like to stay longer in Victoria Falls you can book post tour accommodation in advance of your tour.  Please speak to one of our sales consultants about this.

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to the incredible Victoria Falls

Included in Kitty

White water rafting on the Zambezi

USD 150

2 night stay at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

Included in Kitty

Bungee jumping, Victoria Falls

USD 115

Sunset Cruise, Victoria Falls

USD 55

Victoria Falls

When you arrive in Victoria Falls you will have arrived in one of the friendliest places in Zimbabwe. This lively town is located right on the border with Zambia and is the gateway to the magnificent Victoria Falls, situated just a short distance further up-river.

The falls themselves are an enormous curtain of water about a mile wide, falling 108m into a narrow chasm below. In the wet season, the spray created can rise an incredible 400m, the falls create an impressive raging torrent and the spray can be seen from miles away. The locals call the falls "Mosi oa Tunya" which means "smoke that thunders", a good description of this magnificent sight. In the dry season the view of the falls is less obstructed by spray and it's also possible to see the little islets in the river below. If you have time, it is also possible to jet boat down the gorges and rapids under the falls. Or take an adventurous plunge and dive down the waters on a bungee jump.

As well as enjoying the falls, the is a whole host of other activities you can do here, so if you are starting or finishing a trip at Victoria Falls it is well worth allowing a bit of extra time here. Options to choose from include white water rafting, canoeing, horse-riding, abseiling or gorge swinging. You could also cross over to Livingstone and visit the Livingstone Museum, which contains a few of explorer David Livingstone's possessions, or explore the life size model village of an African village and maps dating back to the late 17th century.

Responsible travel note:

During your visit to the Victoria Falls area you may notice businesses offering an optional "Walk with the Lions" experience.  We recommend that travellers bypass this activity as it is contrary to our Responsible Travel ethos.  Professional wildlife conservation organisations, including Born Free and the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA) advise that habituating lions to humans can shorten their life and may result in lion-human conflict issues. Whilst there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards lion research, we feel that the negative impacts on the lions' rehabilitation far outweigh this.

Visa Information:

Take your tribe to explore the wilds of Southern Africa. From the roaring Victoria Falls to German inspired Windhoek, journey through Namibia and Botswana searching out new cultures, vast deserts and Africa's Big Five. This thrilling adventure will remain a firm family favourite for years to come!

 

Important Notes

The routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only.

 

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.

Physical Preparation

Physical preparation for the North, East & South Africa and Middle East Itineraries

Travelling in North, East & South Africa or Middle East can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions and basic campsites all provide a challenge. The conditions in the North can be more challenging than in the East or South, where public camp sites and bathroom facilities can be very basic and may be non existent in the case of bush camps. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. 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 the step at least 8-10 times a day. There are some long days driving on rough roads on all itineraries. 

 

Visa Information

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 or 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. 

Botswana

Citizens of Australia, UK, and USA do not need visas to visit Botswana as a tourist for up to 3 months. Citizens of other countries, including most EU or Commonwealth countries, should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required.

For nationalities that do require a visa, there is an single-entry visa fee is 500 Pula (equivalent to approximately USD70). This fee can only be paid in Pula and not in any other currency.

Namibia

Currently visas are not required for most nationalities to enter Namibia. Please check with the relevant visa office before departure to make sure that there has been no change.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean visas are required by most nationalities, including those from the UK, EU, USA and Australia. All nationalities should check with their nearest Zimbabwean Embassy for more information. For most nationalities, Zimbabwean visas are available at the point of entry. If you plan to purchase your visa on arrival you will need US dollars cash. 

At the time of writing (2013), the cost of a single-entry visa is USD55 for UK and Irish passport holders, and USD30 for most other nationalities.

Zimbabwean authorities are planning to introduce a new airport tax in the country to be used for the upgrading of all airports. The tax will be charged at USD30 and comes into affect for all air bookings ticketed as from April 2011.

TYPHOID:
It is recommended that if you are travelling to Harare you make sure that your Typhoid vaccinations are up to date. There has been an outbreak of typhoid in parts of Harare, with over 1500 cases reported since October 2011. For more information speak to your doctor and see the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

Personal Spending

Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on this trip, we recommend you allow between a minimum of USD10 and a maximum of USD20 per day.

This will cover individual expenses such as drinks, meals whilst out (when staying in cities), souvenirs, tips and personal permits.

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 2006 or later. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on.

What else you need to know

Family trips with Dragoman

Our Family Adventures are designed specifically for the spirited family. We understand that travelling with kids sometimes requires a slightly different perspective. Keeping this in mind, we travel at a slower speed - recognising that showing your family around our exotic destinations can take time. By travelling at a relaxed pace, while still offering plenty of optional activities along the way, we're providing your family with the ultimate travel experience together.

We limit travel times so that you're usually not on transport for more than seven hours or travelling too long after dark. We also try - where possible - to ensure you have at least two nights in each destination so you are not constantly having to unpack those bags.

Best of all, we find trips with children are so successful because kids have such a special ability to break down barriers with their natural curiosity, and because delighted locals always greet them with much affection. For all these reasons and more, you'll discover that Dragoman Family Adventures are an amazing experience for all.

 

Who travels with Dragoman?

Our passengers come from around the world and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages (Minimum age of 7 years old).  One of the beauties of family 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.

 

Pre and post trip accommodation and connecting flights

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 walkin 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.

 

Accommodation on tour

Accommodation is chosen carefully to ensure your family gets the best of both worlds, with some of the creature comforts of home as well as experiencing accommodation unique to the region you are travelling through. Wherever possible you will stay in hotels with small comforts to make your stay more enjoyable - such as restaurants nearby, or accommodation with a pool.  The campsites will range from 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.

 

Group size?

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.

Our Community

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 and guides

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.

Medical conditions

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.

Vaccinations

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/

Malaria

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.

Meals and group participation

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 for it.

Responsible tourism & code of conduct

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.

Overland travel and security

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.

In East Africa we use our specially designed soft sided safari overland truck. This is far more sociable than the traditional “bus” type Dragoman overland vehicle and is ideal for families. Both the working directors have taken their families and friends on these vehicles and know from experience that they add another dimension to the trip. 

The vehicles have security cages for your belongings but have the real advantage of allowing passengers to feel that they are not secluded from the environment. This is a more authentic experience.

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

Britain. http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country

Australia. http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

New Zealand. http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

United States. http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

Canada. http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/menu-eng.asp

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.

Emergency contact

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.

Insurance

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.

Issues on the trip

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 customer_relations@dragoman.co.uk. 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.

Passports

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.

Luggage & Kit List

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 all of our 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

Water

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!

Personal medical kit

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:

nomadtravel.co.uk/catalog/view/dragoman-medical-kit

Electrical equipment

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.

Contingency emergency fund

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

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.

Currencies & Cash

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, a sensible mix of cash and cash passports such as TravelEx cards and ATM cards is best. However, most of our past passengers have said they wished they had been told to bring more cash. Apart from the convenience of being able to change money in many more places, you will sometimes get a much better exchange rate for cash. 

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 2006 or later. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Please bring the majority of the money you intend to change in large denominations (USD/EUR100 and 50 bills) as the exchange rate is often significantly worse if you try to change smaller bills; however, it is also a good idea to have some smaller bills as well, as in more remote areas it can be hard to change amounts over USD50.

Cash machines are readily available in most of East and Southern Africa but are not always reliable therefore we recommend that you do not rely on them as your only source of cash. Please note that there are no cash machines in Sudan. Please note that most ATMs only take Visa cards NOT Mastercard. Please also do not not plan to take out large amounts of USD from the ATMs in Zimbabwe for use on the rest of the trip - the cash in Zimbabwe is often old, dirty and falling apart and will not be accepted anywhere else in the world. 

Credit cards such as Visa 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.