Overland safari expeditions offer the perfect way to travel from A to B experiencing vast distances, numerous countries and locations as well as safaris and other activities. Travel through Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda on our East African safaris, visit all the great game parks of southern Africa travelling from Victoria Falls to Cape Town or go the whole way from South to East Africa on our longest overland expeditions.
So what’s it all about? Discover why you should book an overland safari with Imaginative Traveller then read a personal account of an overland experience.
There are many more inclusions in our trips. Our safaris offer the best value for the number of game drives included - with some companies it is an optional extra to go to somewhere as iconic as the Masai Mara. And there are no hidden costs in regards to Day 1 – many other companies start at 7 am meaning clients must pay for an extra night.
More room on the vehicle
We take 24 passengers in a 28 seater truck. Other companies may take less passengers but actually fill their trucks. We have four spare seats thus allowing for a more roomy travel experience.
Only put up the tent - no dishes!
On Imaginative Traveller overland expeditions you only need to help put up your tent (and down again). With many other companies there is a roster and passengers do the shopping, cooking and cleaning of the truck. Plus the dishes!
Less driving days
Driving days are less than many other companies. Often other trips start and finish in the same town so you must double back which adds days and time when there is no real value added to the trip.
Pre-purchased gorilla permits
Imaginative Traveller pre-purchase gorilla permits. Many other companies hold very limited, if any, permits for trekking so they have to wait several days in Kigali to see if permits will become available. On an Imaginative Traveller gorilla safari your permit is guaranteed.
The group meeting the first evening took place in Nairobi’s joining hotel. I got the intense feeling that I should soak up the comfort while here as I knew it wouldn't last for long! Our guide, 'Christopher', gave us an overview of our trip, the time we'd usually be expected to be ready to leave each destination and what would happen over the following days. He answered our questions carefully and methodically, as if he had never been asked them numerous times before. Briefed, we were ready for the off early the next morning.
The Overland Vehicle
The vehicle that would be carrying us for the next 14 days was MASSIVE. It was around 25 feet long, bright orange, and had large, clear windows covering every side. Much like a coach, our luggage, tents and cooking equipment was all neatly stored in a space below where we all sat. We climbed up deep steps to enter the truck. We later discovered it was set at this height so as to allow maximum opportunity to spot wildlife whilst on safari. The windows all opened to provide plenty of fresh air, as well as preventing a glare when we took photos from the vehicle. It was an ideal vehicle to comfortably travel over long distances whilst taking photos from many different heights and angles. We were able to put this theory to the test as soon as we reached the Masai Mara National Reserve as the truck allowed us to get very close to much of the incredible wildlife.
There were soft, forward-facing seats numbering 28 in all. We had a metal closet at the back to store gear, and a very inconspicuously placed double-padlocked safe on board to hold money, passports, and other valuables. We also had two tables, which were useful when reading, playing cards and changing lenses. The vehicle was large enough not to feel too stifled, and was very modern without ever distancing you from the wonderful people and places passing you by outside. What could have been real agony actually became a truly successful way for us all to experience the incredible culture whilst immersing ourselves within the wonderful group dynamics.
Travelling long distances
The massive number of destinations and activities included in the itinerary inevitably means a lot of travelling. In order to arrive at a reasonable hour we would, on many days, need to cover over 200 miles. Being a very active person, I wasn't too keen at the thought of spending such long journeys in a truck and I can't deny that at times I did want to stretch my legs more often, or stop more frequently to have a look around. Our tour leader wasn't unreceptive to our needs as travellers to a foreign land however, and was always happy to accommodate us when we needed to have a bathroom break, wanted to visit one of the local markets or just top up on snacks, drinks or withdraw money from the nearest cashpoint. In fact, his local knowledge proved invaluable in making sure all of this was possible around our sometimes quite busy schedule. He knew exactly how long each day's journey should take which is why on certain days an early start of 6am or earlier was required. This meant we would beat the worst traffic and almost always arrive at our next stop with plenty of daylight to spare.
Tents and other camping equipment
I had been a little concerned about the prospect of erecting and taking down our tents every other day. While I was confident that whoever I'd be sharing with would be happy to 'muck in' and help, I just wasn't very confident in my own skills. Thankfully my concerns were never realised. The modern dome-style tents provided were actually just one large single layer with heavy duty flexible metal poles which just hooked onto the thick outer canvas. They came with an in-built mosquito net on each of the two windows and across the door. Designed as a 3-man tent, they were considerably large enough to accommodate the two of us as well as our luggage.
The process of putting up the tent could not have been easier. With two of us working together we went from 20 minutes to managing it in just over 5!
Foam mattresses were provided plus a folding chair and I brought my own sleeping-bag and pillow. All communal camping equipment is carried on board together with on-board cool boxes and reference books.
Very little was denied us during our time on this incredible journey. When we arrived at Bujagali Falls camp grounds in Uganda, after erecting our tents, we relaxed with a wonderful bar-side view of the Nile River, and contemplated the next day's activities – white-water rafting the Nile, bunjee-jumping and an incredible visit to the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. These are the moments that make it all worth it! I flew home with the most amazing memories. Like the rest of my group I plan to return again someday soon.
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