What Does an Africa Overland Trip Really Cost?

How much does it cost to overland in Africa?

Oasis Overland’s Coast to Coast Trip: 56 days from Nairobi to Cape Town

The goal for our RTW trip is to keep spending to under $100 USD/day.

Now, spending $100 USD per day is a general goal, however, we knew overlanding in Africa was going to be one of the more expensive parts of our RTW (round-the-world) trip. While you might assume driving and camping in Africa for 56 days would be cheaper than flying around Asia and staying in guesthouses, that simply is not the case. So, our $100 goal was pretty much out the window before we even set foot in Africa.

After all was said and done, we tallied up our spending for our 59 days (including 3 nights in Nairobi, Kenya prior to the trip officially starting) in Africa and it put us at  $170.35 USD/day for 2 people. We’re going to call this a WIN because we figured it would be well over $200 a day.

This might seem like a high per day figure (which it sort of is), but considering the alternative options to see Africa, this was by far the cheapest route to go. Plus, we were able to experience Africa in ways many trips don’t allow. We did our best to cut costs, like using credit card points to fly to Africa from Asia, but in some instances the cost was the cost. All right, on to the details!

Here we go…

Spending Breakdown

Oasis Overland Coast to Coast Trip: $3,284.20 USD (This is paid in advance to the tour company.)

Oasis Overland LP (Local Payment): $1,250.00 USD (Local payment is paid in cash upon arrival to the tour leader. It is used to cover camp site fees, an average of two meals per day and any excursions included in the trip. The excursions are noted in Oasis pre-trip literature, so this is known in advance of departure.)

Visas: $514.00 USD (Visa costs vary based on the country you’re entering and where your passport is issued. As citizens of the U.S., our visa costs tended to be on the high end in comparison to most countries.)

Pre-Trip Gear: $209.02 USD (We purchased sleeping bags, sleeping mats, pillows, a travel towel and other necessities like peanut butter, toiletries and sunscreen before leaving Bangkok. Plus, we bought a huge duffel bag to put it in.)

Camping gear for Africa

Alana holding our ‘beds’ for our Africa trip

Lodging: $120.00 USD (This is the cost of staying three nights at Karen Camp in Nairobi prior to our trip starting.)

Upgrades: $319.16 USD (While camping is included in the cost of the trip, upgrading to hotel style rooms is not. We upgraded three times for a total of seven nights (Marangu, Kande Beach and Antelope Park) when we needed a break from the tent and sleeping on the ground.)

Upgrade at Antelope Park

Alana enjoying the last few minutes of our upgrade at Antelope Park.

Transportation: $16.33 USD (The only cost we incurred was a small amount for Alana’s flight. We both used credit card points from our Chase cards to fly from Bangkok to Nairobi, so flights cost virtually nothing out of pocket. Yes, credit cards CAN equal free flights!

Food: $1,080.39 USD (This was part of the trip we had no idea how to budget for accurately. Our food costs include all food we ate not provided by Oasis in the two meals a day average. We often bought our own lunch or an additional snack to go along with a lunch provided by the truck. Unfortunately, the lunches provided were never enough food. Breakfast was almost always provided, but it was cereal and milk, so we generally had a snack before lunch. Our food costs also include all drinks we consumed (not counting truck water), which probably averaged out to one cold drink a day. After a long day on the road a cold beer, cider or wine really hit the spot with dinner! Lastly, it was hot in most places, so we enjoyed a good (borderline excessive) amount of Magnum ice cream bars.)

Optional Excursions: $2266.74 USD (This amount does not include our four nights on Zanzibar. Going on an overland trip provides you the opportunity to take part in a variety of optional excursions, so it is really up to the individual to decide where and how to spend extra money. The following are most of the activities we participated in during our trip: Serengeti Safari, Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara, activities at Antelope Park, visits to local villages, bungee jumping in Victoria Falls, Victoria Falls National Park, sand-boarding in Swakopmund, Cheetah Park, Tracking the Rhino in the bush and the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.)

Animals in Ngorongoro Crater

Just a taste of the wildlife we came across in the Ngorongoro Crater!

Zanzibar: $547.71 USD (We spent four nights on Zanzibar. Nothing on Zanzibar was included in the price of our overland trip, so this cost reflects taxis, visas, three nights lodging at Nungwi Beach, one night lodging in Stone Town, food, drinks and laundry.)

Nungwi Beach Zanzibar

Zanzibar! The bluest water and whitest sand we have ever seen!

Souvenirs: $130.15 USD (We purchased several hand made items in Malawi, including a table which is pretty awesome!)

Laundry: $27.13 USD (We mostly hand-washed our clothes, but we did take advantage of laundry services when there was an opportunity.)

Wi-Fi: $10.32 USD (When available, wi-fi was usually free but we did need to purchase wi-fi vouchers from time to time. And for the most part, wi-fi was pretty rough and spotty.)

Toiletries: $75.16 USD (We restocked everything at one point during the trip. This includes sunscreen and insect repellent, which can be extremely expensive in comparison to the U.S.)

Tips: $161.13 USD (Tips for driver, tour leader and entertainment during local dinners.)

Other: $39.20 USD (Paying for toilets, buying new malaria medicine for Alana, money exchange fees and replacing a long sleeve shirt after Matt’s flew out the truck window never to be found again.)

Total Cost: $10,050.64 USD

Other stats from our time in Africa

# of beds slept in: 7 or 8 if you count our tent!

# airports slept in: 0

# trains/buses/airplanes slept in: 1 (forgettable) train from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls

Favorite Activity/Location: (Alana) The safari in the Serengeti! We saw the Big 5 and tons of other animals! (Matt) Easy. Bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls bridge!

Favorite Campsite: (Alana) Definitely Ngepi Camp in Namibia. I think the pictures can do the explaining. (Matt) Bush camping at Spitzkoppe in Namibia. It was a beautiful location and I was able to cook oryx steaks and my mom’s tin foil potato packets for the truck. Perfect!

Bathroom and toilets at Ngepi Camp in Namibia

The bathroom facilities. Not quite bush camp, but close!

Ngepi Camp Swimming Pool

(Left) The pool which is actually fully enclosed underwater. Keeps the crocs and hippos out. (Right) A funny sign aimed at Alana.

Spitzkoppe Bush Camp in Nambia

Spitzkoppe Bush Camp

Favorite Food: (Alana) I think my favorite meal was a simple toasted cheese and vegetable sandwich and chips (french fries) at Shearwater Cafe in Victoria Falls. After over a month of campfire food and bags of potato chips this was a pleasant change. (Matt) The oryx steaks we had while bush camping at Spitzkoppe were great. A local game meat can’t be beat!

Favorite Beer: (Alana) I didn’t really care for any of the beer until we got to Botswana and our campsite had Windhoek Draught on tap. Prior to discovering it, I preferred to drink Savanna Cider. (Matt) Most African beer had a similar taste, but I also enjoyed the Windhoek Draught. It was my go-to beer each evening around the camp fire.

Worst Experience: (Alana) The overnight train from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. What was marketed as a wonderful way to experience the Zimbabwe countryside, turned into 17 hours of pure boredom. We were sardined six to a cabin, which at night was filled with mosquitoes and by day was really frickin’ hot. (Matt) Agreed. While the ride might be really beautiful, you aren’t seeing anything out the windows at night anyway. The ride made us appreciate the overnight train we took from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, and we thought that was bad.

Overnight train from Bulawayo to Zimbabwe

Stacked three high! Our sleeper car was so tight, this was the best picture of Matt’s side we could get.

Could we do it again? We definitely could and probably will do an overland trip again. However, 30 to 40 days is more to our liking for length of time.

How do you think we did?! Did you think the daily average would be higher?

About Matt

Matt is one-half of Great Big Globe. He loves the Green Bay Packers, chips and salsa, a strong Americano and knows an incredible amount of useless sports trivia.

9 comments

  1. I did 7 months Dover to Zimbabwe and back up to Kenya for £1000 + £100 food kitty with the long defunct Longhaul Expeditions in 1986-7. I guess prices have gone up! If you Google image the above you will find a page of adverts similar to what you would find in the Kiwi/Aussie free papers that we had down Earls Court in London. Dont know how many of these companies still exist. I was on the LH October trip.

    • Forgot to mention favourite beer was bottled Guiness that we found in Togo along with endless military roadblocks after an attempted coup.
      Enjoy the world kids,
      it wont be around forever!

  2. Hi Matt,

    Cool read! Magnum bars there too, huh? We had one too many during our Thailand stay. Not for lack of awesome food but for paying like 1 buck or so for a premium ice cream snack.

    Those dollar amounts sound about right. As for trains we had a few solid rides through Vietnam although a 17 hour ride from HCMC to Danang was a bit maddening LOL. We paid for the sleeper after that because one can’t get too comfy in a normal seat, at least not over 17 hours 😉

    Ryan

    • Thanks for the feedback Ryan – Yes, the magnum bars were everywhere and I made it a goal to try every flavor available. I didn’t quite reach the goal, but I sure had fun trying. 🙂

      The train was not something I would do again, at least not this particular one. It was in terrible shape and there were no real positives to take from the experience unfortunately. However, other trains in Asia and certainly Europe have been pretty nice and a mode of transportation we rather enjoy using. We’ll definitely be using trains again and we will be sure to keep it in mind when we head to Vietnam. Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*