This guest post is from David L., who visited Nairobi, Kenya in Africa earlier this year, on a dime. He’s decided to share his experience and talk about how he was able to travel on a budget.
Africa: the “Dark Continent” holds a mysterious pull for even the most worldly of travelers. But how do you see all that Africa has to offer without breaking the bank, arriving back on familiar shores with only a backpack to your name? Traveling overland is the way forward (and across, and through and up and down…)
Once the realm of the true adventure-seeker, the overland route is now one of the most cost-effective ways to see all the sought-after destinations Africa has to offer. And it was something I tried out myself when I decided to visit Africa some months ago.
My African Safari Tour: Travel Africa On A Budget
With great distances and sometimes hard-to-reach destinations, getting around Africa can be a huge expense. But I did my research and I found out that there were ways to get by on a slim budget. I decided to work with a budget overland operator called African Trails, which runs trucks all over Africa on trips ranging from 6 to 43 weeks. When you deal with these economical travel operators — the longer the trip you sign up for, the more cost effective it becomes. And, once you are there, you’re already covered for the usual big ticket travel items (transport, accommodation and most meals) so you can sit back and enjoy the journey knowing that your basic costs are covered.
From my experience, a “budget” price-tag for an overland trip doesn’t mean less value. Overland routes cover most “must-see” destinations; they gave me the flexibility to choose from a range of optional activities, giving me the freedom to pick and choose what I spent my dollars on.
Traveling overland is about the journey, not just the destination. I was able to immerse myself in the sights, sounds and smells, without spending a fortune every step of the way. Along the way I discovered that some of the best things in Africa cost absolutely nothing! I enjoyed spotting shooting stars, the colours of an African sunset, lush rainforests, bone-dry deserts, and the endless savannah plains. By traveling overland, I was able to experience million dollar views without a million dollar price tag. I’m surprised that not more people try this out! Well the next point may give us a hint why.
What About Creature Comforts?
Some people are worried about giving up their creature comforts, but overlanding doesn’t mean discomfort. The trucks I rode on were equipped with all the necessities for traveling Africa overland, and provided ample storage for me and all my gear. They were designed to give me a premium view of the road ahead, no matter where I was seated. And while bush camping, building fires, haggling at a local market for dinner, or digging out the truck aren’t the realm of a 4-star traveler, they are experiences money can’t buy, and you’ll find (as I have) that they are also some of the most rewarding. Sometimes, a little adjustment of the mindset means a lot less adjustment to the bank balance.
The other great thing about overlanding is that I was able to share my adventure with other like-minded people. I was able to make life-long friends from all over the world, who also enjoyed traveling light and on a lean budget.
So whether it’s splitting shillings or divvying up dollars, sharing costs with your fellow travelers can be a great way to keep within your budget. You’d be surprised by how much the power of group bargaining can save you. This was one of many benefits I certainly enjoyed during my trip.
Another great cost-saver is meeting the locals. Not only did I get to absorb the real culture of a place I visited, but I was also able to receive rewarding and memorable moments that I felt made me richer for the experience. It may sound cheesy but this was something I was glad I experienced during my travels. You’ll also find that the generosity of the people you meet means that you might find yourself offered a meal or a place to stay for free, and all it cost you is a little of your time.
So if you’re budget-bound and want to see Africa for all its worth, travel overland!