The Ultimate Guide to the Best Overland Tour in Africa (Updated 2024)

Choosing the best overland tour in Africa can be tricky. With so many tour operators and so many trips, I find that backpackers are often overwhelmed. I worked as an overland tour leader for two different companies. I also encountered every other company on the road and got to know exactly what does (and does not) make for the best overland tour in Africa. Let’s take a look at some of the best options available. Please know, I will only recommend options with a particular tour operator because I know they are consistent in terms of vehicles, staff and travel itinerary.

Quick Answer: The Best Overland Tour in Africa

Overall Best Overland Tour – Serengeti, Falls & Cape Town Adventure (40 Days)

Best Value Overland Tour – Serengeti to Victoria Falls Adventure (20 Days)

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania – East Africa Overland Tour (19 Days)

Less than 2 Weeks – Classic Serengeti & Zanzibar (13 Days)

Less than 10 Days – Nairobi to Zanzibar (10 Days)

*Scroll down to see a closer look at each of the above overland tours

How to Choose the Best Overland Tour in Africa

I want you to feel comfortable with your decision and know that you have picked the best tour operator. However, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to choosing the best overland tour in Africa. I don’t know if you have two weeks or two months to explore. It could be the case that you really, really want to see Victoria Falls in full flow or maybe you just want to experience a cultural or more primitive part of East Africa. Either way, I will try to help you make a decision by outlining what I believe to be the best overland tours in Africa that you should consider.

About Choosing the Best Overland Tour Company

Firstly, and I say this honestly, there is no such thing as a bad overland company. However, the quality of your trip will still depend on certain aspects relating to these operators.

1. The Crew (Driver, Tour Leader & Cook)
2. Equipment and Organization
3. Your Attitude
4. The Group

I list these in the order of importance. Your attitude and the attitude of your group will play an important role. These attitudes are also managed by the crew and I say this because I worked as an overland tour leader for many years. If you have excellent crew, you can be sure that this will translate as a happy group and an unforgettable trip. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with overland tours in Africa and you can easily join an unhappy group with an incompetent crew.

About the Crew

Having worked for two different overland operators, I have encountered every tour company on the road. These companies have the right intentions but the crew are often a disappointment. Some crew are more interested in making commissions, others pay little attention to individuals and many more are simply focused on getting drunk at the bar every night. Sad, but true.

But how can you know that you will have awesome crew? Simple – you pick an overland tour operator who carefully selects and manages their crew members. The company I recommend in this post have a rigorous interview process and they monitor performance like clockwork!

About the Trucks & Equipment

You want a company who takes care of their equipment. Some of the overland trucks in Africa are falling apart. There was a huge accident with a large tour operator a few years ago and this accident was down to the state of the truck. You may not get the same crew members on every trip but you can pick a company that uses solid transport options.

Who Goes on an Overland Tour in Africa?

Most passengers on an overland tour in Africa are aged between 18 – 35. That being said, there is usually a nice mix and people from all walks of life. In my experience, the group always benefits from having people with life experience in the group rather than a merry band of twenty somethings. Also, there are always couples who bring a nice balance to any overland tour!

How Much Time do you have for your Overland Safari?

Your destination for an overland tour in Africa will depend on the time you have available. For example, if you have an unlimited amount of time (60 Days/2 Months) – the first thing I will say is to stop procrastinating and book this tour from Nairobi to Cape Town. But not everyone has this sort of time available which so you might need to consider the options below.

The Best Place for an Africa Overland Tour

What an incredibly broad question – “Where should I go on an Africa overland tour?”

I always recommend that people take their first overland tour in East Africa. This offers an experience which is likely closer to the ‘Africa of your mind’. Also, while places like Cape Town are beautiful, I don’t think you should decide the route of an overland tour in Africa based on one destination. By the way, my advice is not only based on first-hand experience but also feedback from hundreds of people whom I have guided on the best overland tours in Africa.

Kenya – Wildlife, culture, and variety of experiences.

Tanzania – Wildlife, Kilimanjaro, and beaches.

Uganda – Gorilla Trekking, white water rafting, and local experiences.

*Namibia – Landscapes, camping in the desert and sunsets.

Botswana – Okavango Delta and lion country.

Malawi – Primitive life, friendly faces, great opportunities to meet locals.

*Namibia is one of my favourite places in Africa. But if this is your first time to the continent, I genuinely believe that East Africa is a much more exciting trip. You can visit Namibia another time and you will come back to Africa, trust me.

Most Impressive Attractions on an Overland Tour in Africa

Something that strikes you on a long distance overland tour, is the incredible number of experiences. One day you might be mountain gorilla trekking in a jungle, while the next you would be standing with a hill tribe in Lake Bunyoni. Roll on a few days, you might be on Zanzibar or watching a pride of lion staring hungrily into your safari vehicle. Here are some of the most recommended attractions/experiences according to my guests:

  • Wildlife in the Masai Mara
  • Cycling in Hells Gate National Park (Lake Naivasha)
  • Taking a Serengeti / Ngorongoro Crater Safari
  • Trekking Mountain Gorillas in Uganda
  • Relaxing on the north beaches in Zanzibar
  • Visiting Stone Town in Zanzibar
  • Meeting the locals in Malawi
  • White water rafting the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls
  • Wildlife and landscapes in Etosha National Park
  • Camping at Spitzkoppe in Namibia
  • Desert Landscapes in Namibia
  • Attractions in Cape Town

Africa Overland Tour

When to Book an Overland Tour in Africa?

If you want to travel during high season or between May and September – book in December or early January. Although if you know the dates, book it right now as these tours fill up fast. Anyway, why wait – get it done so that you can look forward to the adventure!

Which Tour Do I Recommend for your First Overland Tour?

Well, if you want me to be even more specific, here are the Africa overland tours that I recommend to friends and family:

Best Overland Tour in Africa – Serengeti, Falls & Cape Town Adventure (40 Days)

Nairobi to Cape Town

Route – Nairobi to Cape Town

Days – 40 Days

Highlights – Serengeti, Zanzibar, Lake Malawi, Vic Falls, Okavango Delta, Etosha NP, Swakopmund, Cape Town

Seriously, just book it. Nairobi to Cape Town is the most magical and memorable travel experience you will ever have in Africa. This trip can be broken into sections. However, when my passengers were leaving at the end of a section, it was heartbreaking to say goodbye and to know that the rest of the group would continue without them. It is the absolute best overland tour in Africa. If you can make it happen, choose this epic adventure and look forward to an incredible journey with a bunch of new friends who will soon become your truck family.

Check Out More Information About this Tour

Best Value Overland Tour – Serengeti to Victoria Falls Adventures (20 Days)

Nairobi to Vic Falls Overland Tour

Route – Nairobi to Victoria Falls

Days – 20 Days

Highlights – Serengeti, Zanzibar, Lake Malawi, Vic Falls

Pick this option if the previous tour is not possible and you do not have enough time for Nairobi to Vic Falls. You get to experience Kenya and Tanzania which I believe is the core of the best overland tour in Africa. There are  too many attractions and highlights to mention so go check them out on the link below and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!

Check Out More Information About this Tour

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania – East Africa Overland Tour (19 Days)

Kampala to Zanzibar Overland Tour

Route – Kampala to Zanzibar

Days – 19 Days

Highlights – Serengeti, Zanzibar, Mountain Gorillas, Jinja.

Travelling around East Africa is the most culture orientated part of an overland tour in Africa. You can enjoy local experiences and a primitive side of life that is not so common later on. To be honest, this could easily be second place and I find it hard to choose between them. I guess it depends on how much you want to see the mountain gorillas or Uganda.

Check Out More Information About this Tour

Important Word About Travel Insurance

As a tour leader, I have witnessed enough accidents and incidents to turn me into a full blown advocate for travel insurance. Seriously, even though overland companies insist that you have travel insurance for Africa before joining a trip, you should have it anyway. My pick is always World Nomads as they have come through for so many of my guests. In my own experience, their support team is also second to none and they guided me through some pretty awful situations. Travel insurance from World Nomads is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

About Booking Your Africa Overland Tour

I am not a travel agent and I provide this information for free. However, at no extra cost to you, if you click through to the operator using one of the links in this post, I receive a small kickback for sending you their way. I wish you the best of luck on this adventure of a lifetime!

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your tour or insurance, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that I value the trust of my readers and will never endorse something I do not personally support. Namaste 😉

Derek Cullen
Derek Cullen
Derek Cullen is an experienced overland tour leader in Africa. He is best known for cycling across Africa and writing about travel in Africa for many online media publications. If you would like advice or information for your trip to Africa, you can speak with him directly through the LiveChat box!

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The Author - Derek Cullen

I worked as an overland tour leader in Africa for many years. I now want to help you book the trip of a lifetime and find out everything you need to know about taking an overland tour in Africa.

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