Overland travel time budget

Often we are asked how much time do I need to travel Africa? Our answer is always the same: AS long as you can afford! Because time is the most important issue in Africa. Distances are far, roads are terrible, for certain roads you need 12 hours only to cover 100 kilometers.

You must consider that the longer you are on the road the more like something unforseen can happen. Most common reasons why it takes longer than expected:

  1. Road conditions

Most common mistake is to sit at the map and plan your trip without considering road condition. In Africa you unlikely will make more then 200 km per day. This we consider already the fastest possible, except for some routes n South Africa. Most likely will be 70 km per day. Why?

Overland travel time budget
You know what I mean

In the morning you must get up early and pack your things, this takes time no matter if traveling per tent, per 4×4, or backpacking.

Roads are terrible in general so your speed is something between 30 and 60 km/h. You do not want to crash into every pothole, you do not want to overrun every donkey or elephant and you for sure do not want to overrun any children or grown ups. You have frequent road bumps which slow you down drastically as you after the bump need to gain speed again. You might have police traffic controls which take some time and negotiations. You need to stop for toilet, to eat or to drink or just to get out of the vehicle to get some rest. Believe us 200 km per day is great!!!

2. Border crossings

For crossing a border you must calculate at worst a whole day. First you must find the border and the necessary buildings. Always first is immigration where you show your passports and get your stamps and papers. And there is always a queue. Next step is customs. If you are unlucky they search your car. If you are lucky they just stamp your car papers or stamp out a temporary import paper. If you travel with a dog you must go to the vet. Some borders you must show your vaccination passport and go through health control, like fever check. That was the procedure for exit a country. And as you probably already have thought, the same procedure starts when you enter the country. So plan a day.

3. Distances

As already mentioned distances are not relevant but the time you need. If you ask a local how far it is to xy city, you never will get a miles answer but a time answer. How far to Dar Es Salaam? 4 hours.

The best we ever heard from a guy from Europe, obviously never travelled abroad was: “I plan to fly to Nairobi, rent a car and then travel to Uganda, make a round trip there, go back to Kenya and visit 5 National Parks and later go to Axum in Ethiopia and back to Narobi anf fly back” I asked how long he had time. The answer came immediately: “10 days”.

I had a good laugh because what he planned would take realistically about 2 month.

4. Means of transport

It also matters considering time budget with what time budget you start your trip. Fastest will for sure be to book an overland tour with one of the known companies. Slowest mot likely to make a trip with bicycle.

Overland travel time budget before for preparing the trip. Some considerations:

Planning an overland journey through Africa is an exciting and complex endeavor that requires careful consideration and preparation. The amount of time you need to plan such a trip can vary widely depending on several factors, including your destination, the route you plan to take, the duration of your journey, and your level of experience and comfort with long-term travel. In this guide, we will explore the various aspects of planning an overland trip through Africa and offer recommendations on how much time to allocate for each stage of the planning process.

Destination and Route Selection (1-3 Months):

The first step in planning your overland journey through Africa is deciding on your destination(s) and the route you want to take. Africa is a vast and diverse continent with a wide range of countries and landscapes to explore. Depending on your interests and objectives, you may choose to focus on a specific region, such as East Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa, or even attempt a transcontinental journey.

This initial stage of planning can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months or more, as it involves extensive research into the countries and regions you intend to visit. You will need to consider factors such as visa requirements, political stability, safety, and accessibility. Additionally, you may want to consult travel forums and guidebooks to gather insights and recommendations from fellow travelers who have explored the region.

Visa and Documentation Preparation (2-6 Months):

Securing the necessary visas and travel documentation is a crucial part of your overland travel planning. Visa requirements can vary widely between African countries, and the application process may involve gathering supporting documents, completing forms, and attending interviews at embassies or consulates.

It is advisable to start the visa application process at least 2 to 6 months before your planned departure date, depending on the complexity of the visa requirements for the countries on your itinerary. Some visas can be obtained relatively quickly, while others may take more time due to processing delays or additional requirements.

Health Preparations (2-4 Months):

Maintaining good health while traveling through Africa is of utmost importance. Visit a travel clinic or your healthcare provider to discuss and receive the necessary vaccinations and medications for your journey. Depending on your specific itinerary and any preexisting health conditions, this process can take 2 to 4 months or longer.

Certain vaccinations require multiple doses, administered over a period of weeks or months, to provide full immunity. Additionally, it is essential to allow time for potential side effects or adverse reactions to subside before embarking on your journey.

Budgeting and Financial Planning (3-6 Months):

Establishing a realistic budget for your overland trip through Africa is a crucial aspect of planning. Consider all anticipated expenses, including transportation, accommodation, food, activities, travel insurance, visas, vaccinations, and emergency funds. Determine how much money you will need to save to cover these costs.

Depending on your financial situation and your ability to save, budgeting and financial planning may take 3 to 6 months or more. It is essential to have a clear understanding of your financial resources and to make any necessary adjustments to your spending habits to meet your savings goals.

Itinerary Planning (2-4 Months):

Creating a comprehensive itinerary for your overland journey is a time-consuming process that can take 2 to 4 months or longer, depending on the complexity of your trip. Your itinerary should include details such as the specific destinations you plan to visit, the duration of your stay in each location, the routes you will take between them, and any activities or excursions you want to undertake.

Researching and planning your itinerary requires a thorough understanding of the geography, transportation options, and attractions of the regions you intend to explore. It is essential to strike a balance between having a structured plan and allowing for flexibility to adapt to unforeseen circumstances or opportunities.

Accommodation and Transportation Bookings (1-3 Months):

Securing accommodation and transportation arrangements for your journey is another critical step in the planning process. Depending on the regions you plan to visit, it may be necessary to book accommodation in advance, especially in popular tourist destinations or during peak travel seasons.

Transportation arrangements can vary widely, from booking domestic flights to reserving seats on long-distance buses or trains. The time needed for these bookings can range from 1 to 3 months, depending on your route and the availability of transportation options.

Equipment and Gear Acquisition (2-4 Months):

If your overland journey through Africa requires specialized equipment or gear, such as camping gear, a motorcycle, or a 4×4 vehicle, you will need to allocate time for acquisition and preparation. This process can take 2 to 4 months or more, depending on the complexity of your equipment needs.

Be sure to thoroughly test and become familiar with your equipment before setting out on your journey. This includes practicing setting up and breaking down camping gear, maintaining your vehicle or motorcycle, and ensuring that all equipment is in good working order.

Travel Document Updates (1-2 Months):

Review and update your essential travel documents, including your passport. Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned return date. If your passport is due for renewal, allow 1 to 2 months for the renewal process.

Additionally, make photocopies or digital scans of important travel documents, such as your passport, visas, travel insurance policies, and vaccination records. Store these copies separately from the originals and consider uploading digital copies to a secure cloud storage account for easy access during your journey.

Language and Cultural Preparation (2-3 Months):

If you are traveling to regions where languages other than your native tongue are spoken, consider dedicating time to language preparation. Learning basic phrases and greetings in the local languages can greatly enhance your travel experience and facilitate communication with locals.

Cultural preparation involves researching and understanding the customs, traditions, and etiquette of the regions you will visit. This cultural awareness can help you navigate social interactions and show respect for local norms.

Emergency Planning (1-2 Months):

Develop a comprehensive plan for handling emergencies during your overland journey. This includes identifying local emergency contact numbers, knowing the locations of embassies or consulates, and having a clear understanding of how to access medical assistance if needed.

Ensure that you have a well-stocked first aid kit and any necessary prescription medications for the duration of your trip. Share your travel itinerary and emergency contact information with a trusted friend or family member who can assist in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Communication and Connectivity Setup (1-2 Months):

Arrange for a reliable means of communication while traveling through Africa. This may involve purchasing a local SIM card, a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, or a satellite phone, depending on the regions you plan to visit.

Set up any necessary travel apps or tools for navigation, language translation, or communication with fellow travelers. Test these communication methods to ensure they work effectively before departing.

Final Preparations and Packing (1-2 Weeks):

In the weeks leading up to your departure, focus on final preparations and packing. Gather all necessary documents, confirm accommodation and transportation bookings, and review your itinerary.

Pack your luggage or backpack, making sure to include essential items such as clothing, toiletries, travel adapters, and any specialized gear. Pay attention to packing lists and recommendations for your specific type of travel, whether it’s backpacking, motorcycle touring, or overlanding in a vehicle.

Enjoy the Journey:

Once you have completed the extensive planning process, it’s time to embark on your overland

Overland Travel Tips for Africa

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