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Overlanding travel guide

Many overlanders take more than one trip, some become addicts and most of the others have the trip of a lifetime that leaves them with indelible memories

Wilbur Smith, in his book Elephant Song, really had it in for overlanding. ‘The overland safari meant amoebic dysentery and punctures, five thousand miles of potholes and army roadblocks. Once was enough to last a lifetime...

Oh dear. But though he was potentially right about the potholes, he was wrong on his overall sentiment.

Overlanding is the perfect choice if you want to explore a region or a continent, including off-the-beaten-track places, but in the company of like-minded people. You’ll get to places you could never have reached under your own steam, and with the security of your ‘home’ and your new ‘family’ going with you.

You can do anything from a short African safari leg to a whole London to South Africa traverse, or you could follow the Silk Road, circumnavigate South America or do a classic Istanbul to Cairo odyssey.

Trips most often have a crew of two, usually a driver and a tour leader. Accommodation is commonly in two-person tents for most of the trip, although some nights may be spent in budget hotels. More than half of the group are usually travelling solo, and will share a tent/room with someone of the same sex. Campsites might be anything from an organised site with facilities through to a bit of flat ground deep in the bush. Finding each night’s camping spot can be part of the adventure.

Overlanding is not necessarily for everyone. Teamwork and flexibility are the order of the day. It can be intense – a bit like an On the Road soap opera. But it’s affordable, it’s fun and it’s safe. You’ll cover more ground than you could have covered on your own, and get to places that would be near-impossible to access without a truck. You may find yourself making lifelong friends: sharing the highs and lows, the shopping and cooking, the breakdowns and route changes, all create an amazing bond. Whatever else it is, overlanding is certainly never less than an adventure.

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