Taking an overland tour is one of the most popular ways to travel around Africa but just because someone else does the driving doesnt mean its going to be easy.
With long days on the road tents to put up and take down most days and rapidly changing weather conditions to contend with overlanding in Africa is much more of an adventure than a holiday. As an overlanding veteran I guarantee these accessories will make your trip easier
Photo by Damien Raggatt
No matter which Africa overland route you take there will be dust. Lots of dust. And it gets everywhere. Keep your camera healthy by investing in a dust blower lens cloth lens cleaning fluid and plasticfree ear buds and change your lenses indoors where possible. A tripod is essential if you want to capture some of Africas exquisite night skies and a monopod can be handy for game drives.
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A personal stash of toilet paper is a must for overland Africa trips which include many bush toilet stops. Recycled toilet paper is much kinder to the environment than wet wipes which have wreaked so much havoc in the UK alone its government has vowed to ban them but if you must use the latter ensure they are biodegradable. Keep a ziplock sandwich bag or a sanitary bag from a hotel in your pocket to store used paper until you can dispose of it properly. In drier areas of Africa even toilet paper can take decades to break down.
Photo by Allison McCarthy
Most Africa overland tour camps do not have wifi data plans for local sim cards can be expensive and difficult to set up and portable wifi routers dont work in a lot of countries. Avoid boredom on the long drives by loading up your device of choice with tunes podcasts Netflix series and ebooks before you go. A noisecancelling app can also come in handy if youre sharing a tent with a snorer. For those who prefer regular books be aware that bookswaps are difficult to come by in overland campsites these days.
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Sleeping mats are provided on Intrepids Africa overland tours but if you have a bad back like to sleep on your side or simply prefer a bit of extra padding you might want to consider investing in a goodquality sleeping mat a selfinflating version will make your life easier. Lay it on top of the supplied mat for extra comfort and dont forget to bring a pillow there are some great inflatable options available these days.
Photo by Sarah Reid
Africa conjures up images of hot and dusty plains but it can get really cold in some places. The whole country of Lesotho for example sits above 1000 metres and zooming through game parks anywhere in an opensided vehicle can chill you to the bone. Be prepared by packing warm clothes a beanie a buff and a good quality sleeping bag. My Kathmandu sleeping bag has a comfort level of 9C which was perfect for my last trip from Zanzibar to Cape Town during winter.
Sharing an overland Africa vehicle with around 20 other travellers is the perfect environment for sharing germs. Keep bugs at bay by making hand sanitiser your best friend and keep some cold and flu meds onhand. You might also want to consider packing some probiotics andor vitamins to help boost your immunity as these arent always easy to find at pharmacies along the way.
Photo by David Nagle
Most overland vehicles are fitted with power sockets but these can typically only be used when the truck is running. Avoid being caught out at night or on an activity by bringing a rechargeable power pack to juice your devices on the go. Bonus points for staying off the grid by opting for a solarpowered power pack.
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All good overland tour providers including Intrepid provide clean drinking water but the taste can be a little harsh due to the water purification tablets used to purify the local tap water. If youre not a fan of the taste consider investing in a reusable drink bottle with an inbuilt filtration device that removes the taste of the chemicals Im a big fan of the Grayl bottle. You can also use water enhancers to mask the taste though be aware many brands contain additives like caffeine.
Photo by Damien Raggatt
Any batteries you can avoid using on your trip is a win for the environment. Consider investing in a USBrechargeable head torch and perhaps a solar light to hang in your tent. Reusable cutlery will come in handy when you visit street food markets and a reusable coffee cup will be useful if youre planning to spend any time in South Africa which has a good coffee scene. A reusable drink bottle is an absolute essential and Intrepid supplies reusable carry bags on all their overland trips to help you avoid using plastic bags.
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If you dont fancy paying the standard rate of around US10 per bag to have your laundry done for you along the way bring your own supplies. I travel with a Scrubba bag which is like a little portable washing machine that packs down to nothing. A portable clothesline is also convenient for airing out your towel on the bus and in the campground.
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Feature image by Sarah Reid.