The Africa travel experts at Bench have put together a simple guide to steer you in the right direction and to help you in making the decision that is right for you when choosing your safari.
Make sure you know what you are booking before booking it. Here at Bench we sell both touring options so you can speak to us about either but here are the main differences between overlanding and small group tours.
As part of a larger itinerary, the driver is a destination expert. That means how to get from place to place, where the toilets are, how to avoid traffic. They aren’t safari guides, more of a host for the group.
In addition to everything that the overland guides do the local driver/guides are highly trained safari guides. This means they know the territories and behaviours of the animals as well as being able to talk about the details of all the animals, big and small. There is less luck involved in animal spotting.
Overland camping involves participatory camping, setting up a tent each night and taking part in the cooking and cleaning. Most camping takes place in campgrounds on the outskirts of towns. Not all meals are included. Toilets are as part of a toilet block, usually a long drop.
Accommodation takes place in a range of lodges and tented camps in wild areas, meaning that you are surrounded by the African experience and animals at all times. All meals are included.
An overland truck is designed for continental travel with up to 24 seats in the back. They have storage for baggage underneath but are large trucks built for African conditions. They have a high view but being noisy and big can scare away animals.
A safari vehicle is a smaller 4x4 with a maximum of 7 seats and a pop-top roof meaning no battling for a view. Smaller vehicles enable a closer viewing, as well as being more maneuverable, which can be handy when you're trying to get a better view.
Depending on the company the itinerary can be tailored to the best of the destination or tailored to providing the best marketing price. These two things don’t go together. Days of non stop driving are common.
Always tailored to the best of the destination and to keeping the driving hours at a minimum for the comfort of the guest. As there is no larger itinerary that it has to conform to it is able to best service the area the guest is visiting.
On an overland trip there are more opportunities for adding on additional activities, and this ends up costing quite a lot more when you're on the ground.
No additional payments are required on most small group tours, as they are often all-inclusive. And actually, the price can often be similar between an overland journey and a 3 star small group tour, once all additional costs are added back in
In summary, overland is great for those who are looking for a sweeping overview of vast areas, and where the basic accommodation and vehicle is all just part of the overall experience. Small group journeys enable you to delve into those areas in more detail and with more creature comforts. And that means more animals!