The Ultimate Overland Budget Southern African Safari

Overland Budget African Safari budget safari

I’m going to put it out there. I think an African Safari is one of the top 5 things to do on an adventure traveler’s bucket list. And it has certainly been at the top of mine for as long as I can remember. Budget Safari

Daydreaming about luxury lodges with balcony’s overlooking game reserves;  private game drives at sunset where sundowners are served as the wildlife walks by and guaranteed sightings of ‘the big 5’ (thats the Buffalo, Rhino, Lion, Leopard & Elephant if you weren’t sure)  I always thought I would have to wait until I was earning mega-bucks before my dream would become a reality. Then I found another way. Overlanding. It’s the ever growing, ‘get involved & get dusty, live on a converted truck, camp under the stars and cook your own meals’ budget safari that is allowing more and more people the opportunity to visit this incredible continent.

Let me tell you all about it as I travel through 5 Countries in 6 Weeks. It’s Safari Time Baby!

Budget Overland Safari Africa

Overland Budget African Safari

the overland companies budget African safari

There are several companies that offer Overland adventures, with the majority following the same routes. The difference between them boils down to cost and – in some cases – level of comfort. We booked with Absolute Africa. They hit all the major spots in Southern Africa and offered exceptional value for money (read: they were the cheapest!). Along with a fantastic African guide and driver(s), well equipped truck and quality camp gear (tents and sleeping mats provided) the company has years of experience in Africa. After moving their head office from London to Arusha (Tanzania), they can proudly say they all ‘all African’. If you are looking to experience the real Africa I cannot recommend them highly enough.

(NOTE: I am not in any way affiliated with Absolute Africa, I was (and still am) thoroughly impressed with the company and cannot wait to see more of Africa with them)

The Cost

For our 31 day tour we paid less than £1000GBP/$1650AUD/$1250USD plus a $650USD local payment (per person). This covered life on the truck: breakfasts, dinners, camp equipment along with a driver and a guide. Some activities  listed below were included, others were an additional cost and we bought lunch everyday. We also added additional days to the beginning and end of the tour to make up the 6 weeks. Nothing short of a Bargain!

 

Life on the Truck overland budget African safari

Overland Budget African Safari

This is one of the ‘Absolute Africa’ big yellow trucks – the lower lockable compartments store the bags, the food, cooking equipment, tents and roll mats. The group of travelers sit on a raised platform above the lockers in ‘coach-style’ seating. Thee driver and guide sit in the cabin. All members of the group are split into equal teams – dependent on the number on board – who take turns to cook, do dishes, clean the truck and make sure the truck is secure and locked each time we exit. Each group has 1 day off in every 5, and everyone is responsible for putting up and taking down their own tent.

The cooks are each day responsible for shopping (with the group kitty money – kept by the guide) and preparing the evening meal, with breakfast stuffs (toast, cereal, eggs, fruit etc) purchased for the truck and prepared individually each morning. Lunch is the only meal you are required to purchase yourself each day. There is a fridge/freezer on board the truck and this stores the group and individual food – and can get extremely full if buying for a three day stretch!

If the above sounds a bit too much like ‘roughing it’ – other companies offer options which include an on-board chef and/or staff to put up/take down the tents for you, some of which are also fully catered. If this sounds more like what you are looking for check out Intrepid, Nomad, G Adventures – and for those who need a child friendly route – Dragoman. (Tour Radar offer all these tours and more. If you’re ready to book, scroll to the bottom and claim your 5% discount. Valid on any tour – not just Safari’s!)

Related: Packing for a safari can be daunting – head on over to my Ultimate Overland Safari Packing List to make  sure you’ve got everything!

The Route

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Southern Africa Safari

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Victoria Falls: -17.931805, 25.825558
Kasane: -17.795231, 25.171130
Maun: -19.995262, 23.418077
Chobe National Park: -18.666667, 24.500000
Okavango Delta: -19.228979, 23.048854
Rundu: -17.925330, 19.753215
Etosha National Park: -18.855591, 16.329320
Hoba Meteorite: -19.592562, 17.933679
Cheetah Farm: -19.606330, 15.069690
Spitzkoppe: -21.824722, 15.194167
Swakopmund: -22.674847, 14.537659
Himba Village: -19.668800, 15.022520
Sossusvlei: -24.735007, 15.324827
Deadvlei: -24.747233, 15.287899
Dune 45: -24.720719, 15.475598
Fish River Canyon: -27.704694, 17.586761
Ais-Ais: -27.918091, 17.489019
Orange River: -28.686291, 17.558110
Highlanders : -31.900820, 18.651193
Stellenbosch: -33.932105, 18.860152
Cape Town: -33.924869, 18.424055
Gansbaai Shark Alley: -34.483354, 19.254913
Hermanus: -34.417673, 19.245987
Cape of Good Hope: -34.356842, 18.473988
Knysna: -34.035086, 23.046469
Mossel Bay: -34.186246, 22.135391
Safari Ostrich Farm: -33.600723, 22.202635
Cango Caves: -33.392300, 22.214900
Jeffreys Bay: -34.050671, 24.910154
Addo Elephant National Park: -33.483333, 25.750000
Tsitsikamma National Park: -33.974897, 23.888553
Victoria Falls (Zambia Side): -17.924353, 25.855894
Mountain Zebra National Park: -32.250000, 25.450000
Bloemfontein: -29.085214, 26.159576
Johnnesburg: -26.204103, 28.047305
Hazyview: -25.051912, 31.136672
Kruger National Park: -23.988385, 31.554740

 

Days 1 – 6 : Zimbabwe & Zambia Africa safari

Overland Budget African Safari

If you’re struggling to decide which side of the falls to stay, read my post about which side of the falls is best – zimbabwe or zambia?

Highlights

Can’t wait for the details? Read all about these activities in Top Adventure Activities in Victoria Falls! And Once you’ve worked up an appetite you’ll want to make sure you know  Where are the Best Places to Eat In Victoria Falls

 

Days: 7 – 12 : Botswana

Overland Budget African Safari

Walking Safari in the Okavango Delta

Highlights

Overland Budget African Safari

Sunset Mokoro Safari in the Okavango Delta

 

Days 13 – 26 : Namibia budget safari

Overland Budget African Safari

Climbing Dune 45 to watch the sun rise

Highlights

  • Cheetah Sanctuary
  • Hoba Meteorite
  • Etosha National Park
  • Visit Himba Tribe
  • Fish River Canyon
  • Spitzkoppe
  • Sossuvlei (Dune 45) & Deadvlei
  • Swakopmund
    • Sandoarding
    • Quad Biking
    • Horseriding
    • Skydiving
Overland Budget African Safari

Feeding Time @ the Cheetah Sanctuary

 

Days 27 – 42: South Africa

Overland Budget African Safari

Watching the Hot Air Balloons taking off at sunrise

Highlights Budget Safari

related: ready to know more about Kruger? Read Cory’s guide to Kruger National Park!
Overland Budget African Safari

You can climb into a cage in the water meters from a great white shark!

ready to book? Tour Radar have a full range of tours in Africa & Beyond – Click this link to get 5% off

 

Do you want to know more? Budget safari

So there you have it. The ultimate overland budget African safari route and just a taster of the activities on offer in each country. If I have piqued your interest, you’re in luck! Over the next few weeks I will be posting detailed articles about each and every aspect of the tour and activities including cost breakdowns and budgeting tips.

Fell like you need to stay in the loop? Hit subscribe, Follow us on Facebook or Pin this article and check back next week for the next installment!

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Overland Budget African Safari Overland Budget African Safari

Overland Budget African Safari

Overland Budget African Safari

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96 thoughts on “The Ultimate Overland Budget Southern African Safari

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Bryanna! I’m very excited to start sharing my passion for Africa – and glad you could make use of the family travel link. We met up with the Dragoman truck at quiet a few spots and they had nothing but good things to say about the experience!

      View Comment
  1. noel says:

    What an amazing experience for over a month and soooo cheap with a little group collaborative effort. I think this is the new way to see Africa on a budget but with some nice perks tossed into the mix.

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  2. Sheena says:

    I did a similar overland trip from Joburg to Nairobi with African Trails a few years ago – I agree that while there’s a ton of driving involved, it really is the best & most economical way to go in terms of covering all the main sights in a short period of time. Absolute Africa sounds like a great company too, I’ll keep it in mind for my next safari in the region, thanks

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  3. Danielle says:

    I am seriously amazed by how cheap a MONTH was for you with this company; I’ve wanted to travel to Africa for years, but always thought it would be crazy expensive. Even the bus sounds nice (you’d think going with a cheaper company the bus would be just painful, but sounds like it wasn’t!) Definitely bookmarking this for when I finally make it over there!

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    • Vicki says:

      Thank Danielle – the truck certainly isn’t luxury, and there is a lot of driving – but it is certainly the most economical way to see Africa. I hope you are able to get over there soon!

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  4. Leslie, Director at The Real Uganda says:

    I run a non-profit in a small town in Uganda that lies on the main highway – we LOVE seeing these trucks pass through with all the “mzungus” (foreigners) in it. The kids love to wave and shout! I didn’t realize how affordable they were. I’ll have to check out Absolute Africa when I finally make it to southern African!

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  5. Soraya says:

    First of all….. HOW AFFORDABLE!!!!!! I always thought Safari trips in Africa would be SO expensive. I went on a safari trip in Tanzania with my family years ago, and I remember it costing us something like $5-6k per person for 10 days. Granted it was more ‘glamping’ and lux lodges, but still expensive. So this is why I never planned to do another safari trip because I always thought it was so expensive. Wow, I would LOVE to do an overland safari trip. Your itinerary sounds incredible and your photos… amazing. It sounds like you’ve had an amazing experience and selected the right company to take you on the journey.

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Soraya – I can easily see how safaris can blow out to 5-6k per person but I do bet your lodges were lovely!
      If you are going to go back to Africa, overlanding is the way to go – and Absolute are an amazing company to go with!

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  6. Emily says:

    That’s amazing! I can’t believe that you can do this so cheaply. Since having kids it’s all about the budget options. Have saved this post for future reference – and I’ll be checking out Dragoman!

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  7. Megan Jerrard says:

    Close to 2 grand for 31 days is a bargain, and you saw so much of Africa! I spent a little more than that on just a 7 day trip through Tanzania, though as you said, it’s usually the comfort that costs more and we did ave a number of inclusions in our GAdventures tour.

    Thanks for the overview and proving it can be done on a budget. Glad you had a fab time in Africa!

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  8. christina says:

    You got me with the first sentence. I love Africa and I agree with you that an African safari is a bucket list item. I try to get to Africa every other year and still have lots of the continent to visit. I’ll bookmark this and take a closer look as I think it’s time for me to go to Africa again soon…

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  9. Maddy says:

    £1000 for 31 days?? I cannot get over this! I am so ridiculously excited and seriously contemplating doing this (if I can get the time off work!!). Your adventure sounds epic- bungee jumps, wine tours and skydiving… my idea of heaven!

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Maja – we took an extra $2500USD per person with us for lunches/souvenirs & activities and came home with change! I’ll be doing a post on activities and costs later in the series if you want a detailed breakdown 🙂

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  10. Sia says:

    I’ve never heard of overlanding safari! Sounds like an amazing journey that you had! #1 days sounds a lot but from everything you mentioned and listed maybe it wasn’t even enough. And it is so cheap for a whole month, great for budget travel indeed.

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  11. Danielle says:

    HOW BLOODY AFFORDABLE IS THIS?! I can’t believe I’ve not come across Absolute Africa before! This route looks incredible – I have some serious Southern Africa wanderlust right now. Victoria Falls looks absolutely unreal! Thanks for sharing, I’ve saved this post as I know it will come in handy later!

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  12. Nancy says:

    Yes – an African safari is on my list! I am dreaming the same dream – luxury lodges, sundowners, and ‘the big 5’. Overlanding sounds like a fabulous experience. I am excited to hear more about your adventures over the next few weeks!

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  13. Carrick | Along for the Trip says:

    This is really inspiring Vicki! I didn’t realize this was even an option, and like you, I figured safaris would have to wait. I’m not sure I could talk my wife into it (she’s more of a glamper and that’s exaggerating somewhat), but it’s such a bargain. Ironically, shark diving in South Africa is a bucket-lister so it was cool that you highlighted it as an optional activity. That may help persuade her! Great post!

    -Carrick

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks so much Carrick! To be totally honest with you – I am not a camper. It’s just not me – but knowing this was the only way I would be able to afford to see so much of Africa, it was a case of “suck it up princess” (literally!). I actually sat in the hostel the night before we were due to leave and had a very big ‘I don’t actually know if I can do this’ moment but it really wasn’t as bad as I was anticipating in the end. And wine was available everywhere – which really helped!

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  14. Bethany Dickey says:

    I love this so much! I did a 5 night budget safari in Tanzania this year; I hadn’t camped in 12 years and was really nervous and I can’t even explain how unbelievably amazing it was. Doing a longer overland trip went right up to the top of my bucket list after that!

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    • Vicki says:

      Thank you Bethany! I was nervous about camping too but it turned out to be amazing! I really need to go back and do the Nairobi to Vic Falls section of East Africa – hopefully in 2018!

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  15. Mags says:

    This looks like such an incredible trip! I just got back from South Africa and I absolutely fell in love. I would love to head back and check out other parts of Africa too. Your photos are amazing.

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  16. Amy says:

    I love this so much! Africa is absolutely no.1 on my list. This is such a fantastic option that I had never heard of. Do you know the minimum age requirement or if they have family friendly adventures? It looks like your trip was epic, to say the least and my wander-envy is in full swing with this post!

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    • Vicki says:

      We were exactly the same Angela – it’s the first organised tour I have done in 9 years! But, for our first time in Africa it made perfect sense – and it was a great experience!

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  17. anto says:

    Wow that is a very reasonable price and you get to see and do so much for that! In all honesty I’d prefer a bit more slower travel but then again, I’ve never done a tour such as this before so maybe I’d love it. I can’t wait to go to Africa some day 🙂

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Anto – and I understand what you mean about slower travel. Overlanding is great because you pack a lot into the destination days, but a lot of time is spent driving. There is so much land to cover in Africa and sometimes you can drive for 9 hours and only be halfway to where you are going, and you barely pass through another village – let alone any hotels/campsites!

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  18. Eric Gamble says:

    I was considering an Overland Tour from some group called 360 that went from Egypt down to where you were! I love the idea because it seems like you are travelling like a local. Plus the cost. Your starting costs were $50 – $75/day that is amazing!
    How often did you have to pay extra for activities not included? Are there a lot of people that you were grouped with for the 40days?

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Eric – there were activities almost every day – i’d say 80% of which you paid for. The tour covered some game parks/drives but a lot were optional activities. But even then – its still super cheap!

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  19. Corinne says:

    Vicki, We are trying to book a budget safari more north in Uganda. We’ve done the southern portion before, and as amazing as it is, want to see something new. Budget Africa are two words that don’t seem to go together well, do they?

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    • Vicki says:

      They don’t go well together – but it’s wonderful when it works! Happy planning – and I hope you find what you are looking for. I highly recommend Absolute Africa if you’re looking for super cheap!

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