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…
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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 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!
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.
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?