Imagine travelling overland from Morocco to Egypt. It would be quite an adventure in itself, but think what happens when we slip in the term ‘via South Africa’. Suddenly the whole scope of the adventure changes dramatically. It now becomes a vast cross continental journey taking in dozens of countries, cultures, languages and incredible sights – making the very most of Africa overland holidays.
Heading from Morocco down to South Africa and back up again to Egypt will see you pass through many amazing countries. Africa is an incredible continent of vast and varied landscapes, immense natural beauty and some of the friendliest people on earth. It is a trip that passes through some less travelled areas and comes with a certain element of risk, but it’s the risk that makes it all the more of an adventure.
Taking on such a challenge by yourself would be an immense task. It is do-able but with so many variables to consider it would be tough for even a seasoned adventurer who has travelled in Africa before. Going with an overland tour provider, like Oasis Overland, takes away much of the hassle and some of the risk, but still leaves you with an epic adventure.
Here we’ve tried to outline some of the highlights of the journey and create a brief guide to the sights you simply shouldn’t miss if you want to make the most of Africa overland holidays. You might want to get ready because there is a lot to take in.
Morocco and Mauritania
Arriving in Africa from Gibraltar, your African adventure will start in majestic Morocco. One of the most tourist-friendly countries in Africa, this is great way to ease into your experience. The mountainous deserts of Morocco are stunning and you’ll gain a real insight into North African culture and lifestyles while you’re here. Don’t miss the incredible Todra Gorge in the High Atlas Mountains. Visit the Roman city of Volubillis and fortress city of Fes too.
Head down into the heart of the Sahara through Western Sahara and Mauritania, hugging the Atlantic coast as much as possible for some relief from the sweltering heat of the world’s largest desert.
Senegal and Guinea
The endless stretches of sand give way to the Sahel in Senegal and greenery and jungle in Guinea as you enter Africa’s equatorial region. West Africa’s vibrant and colourful culture bursts into life, completely distinct from the North African desert culture you’ve left behind. Visit St Louis before arriving in lively Dakar to experience some African nightlife.
Guinea is known as one of ‘Africa’s best kept secrets’. A lack of international flights mean the spectacular waterfalls and tropical forests are devoid of tourists. Although it’s one of the poorest countries in Africa, the people are some of the nicest on the planet. Get involved and chat to locals to make the most of Africa overland holidays
Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast
Having recovered from its disastrous civil war Sierra Leone is now relatively safe, although some of the atrocious roads might not make you feel that way. The palm-lined beaches and remote camping opportunities create a magical feel. Anywhere else in the world and this kind of beauty would have been spoiled with hotels and resorts.
Pass on into the Cote D’Ivoire and the city of Yamoussoukro. A vanity project of former dictator Boigny, huge six lane highways seem to lead to nowhere and colossal European architecture adds to the surreal experience. The tropical beaches like Grand Bassam give you a chance to relax and process what you’ve seen.
Ghana, Togo and Benin
With English as a main language and relative stability, Ghana often feels more familiar to overlanders than much of what has gone before. But the sensational Mole national park in northern Ghana, with its elephants and other wildlife, soon make you remember exactly where you are. Kakum national park and the castles of Cape Coast are also highlights.
The smaller countries of Togo and Benin don’t take long to cross but you will get to learn about the religion of voodoo and its beliefs in the powers of the dead.
Nigeria and Cameroon
The most populated country in Africa and one of its emerging powerhouses, Nigeria is big in every sense of the word. The capital Abuja throngs with people, but the urban sprawl soon gives way to more lush jungle as head towards Cameroon.
Some of the worst roads in Africa guard the stunning Mount Cameroon, which is well worth trekking. You can also get up close and personal at a chimpanzee sanctuary or simply kick back on some more sublime tropical beaches. Get your breath back in Yaounde and prepare for the road ahead. To make the most of Africa overland holidays you have to have some time to reflect on what you’ve seen.
Gabon, Congo and Angola
The beautiful Lope national park is home to elephants, buffalo and monkeys. The whole region is dominated by the mighty Congo river. Stop at Brazzaville and cross the bridge to Kinshasa, the world’s two closest capitals. This can be dangerous territory but speaking to the amazing locals you wouldn’t know it.
It will be strange to hear Portuguese but the former colony of Angola is also recovering from two decades of civil war. The country is rebuilding but get ready to be astonished at the prices in the capital Luanda, one of the most expensive places on earth.
Namibia and South Africa
The Etosha national park is a great place to spot rhino, elephants and giraffes. Head west into the Kaokoveld and the remote coastline of the Skeleton Coast. The country is still home to tribal peoples, many of whom have shunned the modern world and still live traditional lifestyles. You can also visit the Cheetah Park and Fish River Canyon while in Namibia.
South Africa is the end of the your southern journey and the start point for your northern overland experience. While here you must visit Cape Agulhas and Cape Town. To make the most of Africa overland holidays it’s worth spending some time in SA and really exploring before setting off again.
Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Madagascar
Venture into the huge Okavango delta with your local guide navigating the waterways. It’s a huge oasis in a country dominated by desert. Head up towards the Kalahari and Chobe national park before crossing into Zimbabwe.
Victoria Falls and Mosi oa Tunya are definite highlights of any Africa overland adventure, standing out even from most of the other incredible highlights. Go whitewater rafting on the Zambezi or take on the highest bungee jump in the world.
Pass into the mountains of Mozambique and follow the coast of Lake Malawi. Here you can even try your hand at scuba diving and windsurfing, or simply relax on some of the most beautiful beaches imaginable. Head to the coast and and hop over to Madagascar, a unique land of endemic wildlife.
Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda
Safari in the Mikumi national park, relax on an Indian Ocean beach or catch a ferry out to the island of Zanzibar to explore its old markets. Swim with dolphins and catch a glimpse of the mighty Kilimanjaro from the legendary Serengeti. Tanzania is an incredibly diverse and action packed destination.
In Kenya you can meet the Maasai people before heading to one of Africa’s most hectic cities, Nairobi. Head north through the amazing Great Rift Valley and mountain bike in the Hells Gate national park.
Uganda is the place to marvel at Lake Victoria and even travel into the mountains to hang out with gorillas. There might even be time to take a trip to nearby Rwanda – it’s always worth making the most of Africa overland holidays.
Ethiopia and Sudan
Sample some of the world’s best coffee in the capital Addis Ababa and wander through massive open air markets. Head to the Bahir Dar to view the beautiful Blue Nile gorge and falls, and monasteries almost 1,000 years old.
Sudanese hospitality is legendary despite many problems in the country. Don’t be surprised if you are invited in for a glass of tea. You can visit the spot the Blue and White Nile converge and also the ancient capital at Khartoum.
Egypt and journey’s end
Drive up through the Nubian desert and cross into Egypt. Visit the Valley of Kings at Luxor and all of Egypt’s other phenomenal treasures. It’s a fitting place to end a journey of lifetime, the place where one of the world’s greatest civilisations rose and fell. In case it hadn’t already become clear, you can’t escape the realisation that this is ultimately where we all came from.
This extraordinary continent has to be explored fully to be appreciated especially as the above highlights only represent a tiny portion of what you will see and experience. A journey of this size is really making the most of Africa overland holidays, it will leave you with plenty of stories to tell and memories to put a smile on your face for the rest of your life.
Doing this trip independently could take years to organise, so why not let the experts do the hard work. Oasis Overland have been planning trips like this for years and run a 39 week Trans Africa overland adventure that take in all of the above and plenty more besides. You can find out more by visiting: www.oasisoverland.co.uk or by giving them a call on +44 (0)1963 363 400.