Jason's Southern African Journey 2005 travel blog

One of our more remote campsites (Namibia)

The campsite at the Great Zim ruins

Our cook, Wycliffe, getting ready to create another masterpiece

Taking a break to play cricket on the "freeway" while repairing the...

Our little homes

Hi everyone,

Before I get rolling with specific activities I wanted to take a minute to explain exactly the type of trip I'm embarking on as it is not widely recognized by most of us in the good ol' USA. Overland trips in this part of the world are designed to be an inexpensive way to cover a lot of ground and see a lot of different things in a set period of time. My particular trip is a 32 day trip from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Cape Town, SA, via Victoria Falls. This is a fairly common route and there are approximately 20 or so different companies offering itineraries similar to what I am doing. These trips are very popular with Australians and Kiwis (New Zealanders) as well as Brits and other Europeans although you do find people from all over the world taking part. Basically, these trips are conducted in large trucks that look as though they may have been military personnel carriers. They're large and boxy with lots of space to store food and luggage underneath and are kitted with long distance fuel tanks and a large tank for fresh water. To board it, you have to climb up a small ladder and the interior is basically similar to that of a Greyhound with comfortable seats and a couple of tables ideal for playing cards. There's also a stereo for the mandatory tunes needed for the long drives.

Regarding accommodation, these trips are 90% camping with the opportunity to upgrade to a room/dorm at certain stops (usually for a small amount). Most of the camp sites have at least decent toilet and shower facilities and many even have a bar and/or game room so life isn't really that tough. The crew for the trip I am on consists of a tour leader, driver and cook. Included in the price are all meals (with only a couple of exceptions) and camping fees along the way. It also includes the entrance fees to nearly all of the national parks and major attractions en route.

The cost? I paid approximately $1,700 USD. That's just over $50/day. For basically everything. I know what you're thinking, "What do they feed you? White bread and water?" I thought the same thing but the reality is that the food was excellent. Breakfast always consists of toast and cereal and usually either eggs or french toast (except on days when we have to be up especially early to get on the road). Lunch is always sandwiches (usually bologna) with chopped onions/tomato/cucumber and cheese with some sort of pasta/egg salad. Not extravagant but it gets the job done. Dinner is always good and always something different. Sometimes something like chicken and rice with other veggies, sometimes pasta and meat sauce, sometimes steak. On a couple of occassions we were even able to purchase game meat. Plus, 90% of the time there's plenty left over for seconds so no one ever goes hungry. There wasn't a person in my group that was not very impressed with the food considering the cost.

To keep everything running smoothly, we each had daily chores to conduct. The tour leader splits the group into 3 smaller groups and each day these groups rotate responsibilities. One day you would have cook's help where you would help chop vegetables and do anything else the cook needed help with preparing lunch and dinner. The next day you would have cleaning duty where you would be responsible for washing the pots, pans and anything else used in making the meals (everyone washes their individual plates, bowls and utensils). Finally, there was security duty where you would have to take the tables off the truck, set up the stools, put up the cook's tent and take turns watching the truck if you made any stops in a town for supplies. These were hardly daunting tasks and everyone was happy enough to pitch in and do their part.

OK, for those of you whose eyes are glazing over, I will stop and get on with the trip already. Feel free to get back to me with any other questions you may have.

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