Overland Tour in Africa Vs. Backpacking Solo: Which One is Best for You?

I have spent more than five years travelling around Africa. Two of these years involved backpacking Africa solo and the rest working as an overland tour leader. While the greatest period of personal growth happened on my solo trips, the overland tours were undoubtedly more enjoyable. I also say this because you still get time alone on a tour and encounter many of the same places or experience that you might find when backpacking Africa alone.

You can still take time to get away from the group on a tour

Meeting People is Easy on Tour

You will meet lots of locals no matter which way you decide
to travel. However, it is rather difficult to meet fellow backpackers when you
travel around Africa. This is largely because most people decide to join
overland tours and the fact that Africa is not as well travelled as the likes
of Southeast Asia. I think you should know that backpacking Africa solo will be
quite lonesome at times, and you will definitely miss out on the camaraderie
that you will find on an organised tour.

Cost of Independent Travel versus Joining a Tour

If you opt to travel independently, you can perhaps expect
cheap bus tickets and cheap local meals. However, you will need to find your
own way and the lack of tourist infrastructure means this isn’t always straight
forward. It’s true that an organized tour in Africa will add to the cost of
your trip but much of the transport and meals are included and some travel expenses
are shared among the group. Unless you are adamant about backpacking Africa solo,
I highly suggest joining a tour.

Think About the Importance of Comfort

I’m used to sleeping in very lackluster places, but I would say my tolerance levels for discomfort is extremely high compared to most people. This simply means a lot of accommodation in Africa is not as clean or comfortable as you might like. Organized tours will ensure you stay at decent accommodation and get value for whatever you pay.


You might pay more for an overland tour but if your time is
limited, I highly recommend taking a tour instead of travelling alone. You will
feel safer and more comfortable and not have to spend your time trying to get
from one place to another. Meeting fellow travellers is also something to
consider and another reason I believe an overland tour in Africa is a better
option than backpacking on your own.

PS. Make sure to check out this post in order to pick up the
right insurance for your trip.

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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