Skip Navigation

Overland travel advice - Johannesburg to Nairobi

Travel Forums Africa and The Middle East Overland travel advice - Johannesburg to Nairobi

1. Posted by katakism (Budding Member 4 posts) 7y

Hi all,
Want some advice as to what to expect, what to bring, I've just booked myself on an intrepid trip to south africa.
This isn't my first o/s trip, but it is still very new to me!
We are travelling for 33 days, which include 26NIGHTS camping! (which my mum hates me for!)
Can anyone suggest something light and easy to carry on the planes etc?
btw- home country = australia.
thanks so much (new to the forum so be kind!) :)

2. Posted by Ofelia (Respected Member 142 posts) 7y

Quoting katakism

We are travelling for 33 days, which include 26NIGHTS camping! (which my mum hates me for!)
Can anyone suggest something light and easy to carry on the planes etc?

I'm not sure what you are referring to here- light and easy to carry tent? Sleeping bag? Backpack? General stuff? I didn't go on an overland tour, but we did see a whole lot of overland tours in almost every country, and they all seem to be pretty well organised. I think the tents are included? Check with them, but I'm almost sure they are, or otherwise every backpacker on an overland has the exact same tent :) They might even provide the sleeping mattresses and sleeping bags, and generally seem so well stocked they are like little villages on wheels ;)
Other useful stuff you might want to bring along is mozzie repellant and sun screen, both which are expensive in Africa and sometimes out of date. The distances are long, so a bunch of books is a good idea (since you won't really have to carry them!) and definately bring a torch (including spare batteries or a battery charger)- the nights are pitch black!

[ Edit: Edited on 17-Sep-2009, at 17:31 by Ofelia ]

3. Posted by soupatrvlr (Respected Member 385 posts) 7y

On the overland trips that I did in south/east africa, pretty much less = more! A lightweight rucksack and lighter daypack. i brought along (and was happy to have it) a thermarest for sleeping...but they did suppy a more durable, and less comfortable, sleeping pad. Mine had a little "chair" kit which came in handy as well. I used my fleece stuffed with some clothes for a pillow. a lightweight sleeping bag, although on one trip i only used a sleeping bag liner and used my sarongs as blankets. It will really depend on what time of year you'll be traveling.

You won't need too many clothes, just the basics and you'll be happier for not carrying too much around. You will probably end up picking up a t-shirt or two along the take one or two less. One pair of sandals/river shoes and one pair of boots/shoes. A hat to keep the sun off. remember that you don't have to go out and buy a whole new things with special hi-tech fabrics etc...that just screams tourist and you'll get hit up in the markets ten times worse than if you're in your old jeans and holey tee!

A torch is a HUGE must. Most of the books we all read went around the truck a couple of times. Everybody shared them. A good pair of binoculars, don't skimp. Raincoat (lightweight), used mine tons on both trips. Music/ipod (i can't live without it!) Camera/memory sticks plus charging converter. You can easily pick up toiletries in joburg before you leave...probably cheaper as well as bug spray. But if you don't have a day before your trip and hit the ground running, definitely bring your own. Oh zip-lock bags/trash bag or two for wet clothes, so everything in your pack doesn't get all musty and you can keep your dirty clothes from the clean ones. oh and bring your favorite headache pills. sometimes, the further north you go, you can only get that powder kind and it tastes soooo gross! hope that helps!

4. Posted by Ofelia (Respected Member 142 posts) 7y

I agree with soupatrvlr that you can certainly pick up toiletries in South Africa, and they'll probably be cheaper than back home. North from South Africa, though, you might find things a bit expensive, and items which are not commonly used by locals (such as sunscreen) might be old or otherwise out of date.

I do, however, slightly disagree with bringing stuff- for an overland trip, I would actually chuck in a few extra t-shirts or baseball caps. After all, your bag will be in a truck the whole time, and don't need to really lug around much stuff, right? These items can be used for trading stuff, especially around Livingstone and Victoria Falls (I'm assuming you're going there). I swapped an extra t-shirt I was carrying in case I got wet at the Falls for a beautiful carved bowl. The t-shirt was a basic black one, a £1 bargain from a cheapy store back home. I only had one hairband, but I could have easily swapped it for a necklace or a carved hippo. All sorts of hats were popular swapping items as well.

If you do end up with too many tops and flip-flops, there are also a lot of charities, projects etc to whom you can donate your stuff at the end of your trip. I gave away my sleeping bag and mattress; I finished in Uganda where I donated quite a bit of my clothes to a women's AIDS programme, and they were very pleased to get them- they were still perfectly good, but after 9 months of wearing the same stuff I never wanted to see them again

5. Posted by zaksame (Respected Member 571 posts) 7y

What ever you bring with you, think about giving them away before you leave... There are lots of people in Africa who'll be delighted with your hand-me-downs. Enjoy the trip, wish it was me.

6. Posted by samburu (Budding Member 2 posts) 7y

Hello After the trip hope you will spend two or more days here in Kenya, Johnson

7. Posted by katakism (Budding Member 4 posts) 7y

hi all,
Thanks for the great advice!
Binoculars! But of course!
I'm getting my new SLR soon (& hopefully have a chance to work out the buttons!)
and went to a camping shop and bought a self-inflating mattress..
and torches!
I have very sensitive skin, so will need to take my toiletries (and I'm very pale skinned too! so don't necissarily trust all sun-screens!)
Tents and water apparently we don't have to worry about (but I've got one of those filter things in the water bottle as well as a hard tin bottle). And there are 'camping mattresses', but to be honest, i want to be comfortable!
But we do have a day either side of our trip in which to go shopping for bits of things.
Thanks for the great advice, I will keep checking on this right up until Nov!
I want to go now :P
Another quick one - what about camping chairs?
The itinerary we have been given is not all that specific actually..

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Sep-2009, at 02:03 by katakism ]

8. Posted by soupatrvlr (Respected Member 385 posts) 7y

Pretty much all overland companies provide camp chairs for their clients. You can always send a note to intrepid to ask, but every outfit I've ever encountered had chairs. Totally agree with other posters about taking older clothes to give away or to trade. This also opens up space in your pack for the curios you'll pick up along the way! We also traded toothpaste/toiletries as well. Some people brought a couple extra tubes for this purpose.

The tour operator you travel with, will determine how much you lug your bag around too. One company I went with provided lockers in the back of the truck, so we only packed them in/out when we stayed in lodges. The other company packed them away in a separate compartment of the truck. So we had to get into them every time we set up camp. Whatever you're comfortable with, is what will work for you.

Also, you'll find bottled water pretty much everywhere you go. The trucks also have huge water tanks on them, although it might not taste ideal, it should be safe.

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Sep-2009, at 14:56 by soupatrvlr ]