4.5 Star Review of Africa Overland Tours - Africa Travel Co (Leah, Noah, Gita) - Nairobi to Cape Town (42 days) - July 2019 - BEST VALUE ON THE MARKET for budget Camping trips Note: if you don’t have time to read this in detail you can just jump to my “quick recommendations” at the end of my write up. About me: travelled the world and worked 7 years conducting all aspects of group travel arrangements to South East Asia for school groups. First time ever personally being a participant on a group trip and not as a leader. I thought I would do as I normally do and just do a bit of research, find out the must-see activities I wanted to tick off and book my flight, then see where my path takes me. But for some reason I decided to ask Africa Overland Tours (www.africanoverlandtours.com) a question through their web portal and wow was their response prompt. Before I go into my experience with them though let me explain for those of you that don’t know the difference between what a tour company is and what a booking agent is and why both a necessary. The tour company owns the vehicle, employs the crew, sets the route/activities/itinerary and deals with the day to day on ground operations. These companies for individual group travel tours in Africa include: 1. Acacia Africa 2. Nomads 3. Drifters 4. G-Adventures 5. Intrepid 6. Dragoman And of course, Africa Travel Co who I experienced 42 days with. I’ll go into detail about my experience with them below. Basically, all these companies follow the same routes, have basically the same tent and upgrade options and do the same activities. Do check the included and the optional activities though before confirming your trip that can affect the costing. The booking agents help you find the best trip for you and have different price schedules for the different markets around the world that they sell to I.E if your reading this in Europe or China you might find the cost of your trip is different to that of someone in Canada or Australia. Some of these companies are: 1. Moja 2. Detour 3. Africa Budget Safaris 4. On The Go Tours 5. Africa Create 6. Escape 4 Africa (That I found the best deal with) On top of that these companies have shell companies /brands that they use to sell through. I bought through www.africanoverlandtours.com that’s owned by Escape 4 Africa I think? The reason they have these is because they want the flexibility to promote their products to different markets at different prices to maximise their profits, which is understandable. If you find the right deal through these, you won’t be able to go to the tour company and expect they will beat it. There is strategy behind having the companies and the agents. I did a bit of research into the different routes not all the agents say they are booking you onto a Africa Travel Co tour but Africaoverlandtours were up front and for the days I had planned the companies that were most suited to my time free and experiences I wanted to have were G-Adventures, Nomads, Acacia, Intrepid, Drifters and Africa Travel Co. I saw one Drifters vehicle and no Dragoman so I will not comment further on them. Let’s look into some differences between their set ups. If you are camping, I would only be considering two companies G-Adventures (premium option) & Africa Travel Co (budget option). There is one true premium camping option on the market and that is G-Adventures. And you will pay a premium price for this adventure. The differences between them and the budget option was not enough to convince me though. They all have the same tents, routes and similar stops. The other kind of premium camping trip is Intrepid, but do not consider if your looking at paying the same as G-Adventures. G-Adventures are newer to the market and want to build their brand and reputation here. They operate in a type of luxury coach that would not look out of place in Europe. The rest all operate out of a converted truck (which personally I liked because of the table we could play cards around). Their food budget is great ($18 usd per day), includes nibbles, sundowners (wines & beers), money handed out sometimes in cafes instead of eating beside the truck I.e Outjo’s Café in Namibia. They don’t end up spending their budget and all food is purchased using their cards given. Which in the travel industry means no blank receipts can be written out for items never really bought. This auditing is very important especially for companies like ATC, Nomads and Acacia that don’t have the bigger food budgets. At the moment the wifi is hit and miss on G-Adventures though, they will be upgrading in January 2020 so that should not be such a problem if your reading this now. What I Cannot believe is that Nomads are offering trips at the same price as G-Adventures, their food budget is less than ATC’s I was informed by a G-Adventures guide, which is roughly $7 USD a day. Saying that, that budget is fine for a budget camping trip, especially because ATC travel with 3 crew including a chef! Nomads though only travel with two crew like intrepid and G-Adventures (guide & driver). At the end of the day this is what got me over the line in deciding to go with ATC. What you get for $7 USD a day is basic drinks throughout the day I.E tea, coffee, milo. Breakfasts include: sausage, eggs, french toast, bake beans, cereals, which is more than sufficient! Speaking with another ATC truck in Tanzania though I believe their chef was a bit more creative with his food. Lunches were sandwich’s every day, with the cheapest of white bread, which got to me and a few others on the trip. We ended up buying our own bread. I mean a good German brotchen role in Namibia only costed 0.11 cents (usd). Dinners were really tasty and included a soup most nights, we only had 3 steaks throughout the 57 days though which I can kind of understand due to budgeting restraints. But overall, I would not say the full $7 was spent on us each day. In summary the food was sufficient for the price of the trip. I will though send a follow up email to their operations team regarding creating some minimum dish requirements on certain dishes (fish at least once, especially in Namibia where it’s super cheap) and asking questions as to their auditing processes. It is because of this I deducted half a star. In terms of clientele we were lucky no matter who you travel with it will be a mixed bunch. We travelled from Nairobi to Zanzibar with 17 (50 plus except the three of a)from there to Vic falls with 11 and from there to ape town with 21 (mainly 22-35 with 3 others being 50 plus) So we never had a full, full truck. I was told by African Overland Tours that ATC trucks guarantee that they run no matter what the number of participants, so you can be lucky, and this could happen. The Intrepid and G-Adventures were full when I saw them, but they have 4-8 less seats. Another thing to consider is that ATC are doing many Chinese charters. I have heard stories of sometimes there being a mix of western and Chinese and that is not great for group dynamic, they do try and filter the groups though. G-Adventures and their fancy coaches will no doubt target that market eventually. Another thing to consider and very important to the trip is the quality of guide. G-Adventures and Intrepid is where most of the guides who are the best and worked already a while for the other companies (Acacia, ATC, Nomads, Absolute) will end up. So, you will have the best chance of travel with a great guide if you travel these companies. Reason being are that their benefits are awesome, and pay is substantially better than that the other companies. I spoke to one guide that when he was recruited to G-Adventure he was up against 500+ applicants. You need experience to work for them! Saying this you can be lucky, we definitely were having Leah as our guide. BEST guide in Africa!!! She I would hope would one day consider jumping across companies, being only 3 years new to the industry she still has a bit to learn about the destinations she is travelling to, as it was her first-time past Vic Falls. Fantastic recruiting by ATC and if that is the quality of all your new guides, that is a big thumbs up from me, made for an amazing adventure. There were a few people that came with us from Nairobi with us and after Vic Falls took a different truck with a new guide through to Johannesburg. He had been with ATC 10+ years and after having Leah for 21 days were less impressed from the conversations I had with them. At the end of the day it is luck of the draw. Finally, there was a change in our itinerary mid adventure (taking out our second visit to Chobe National Park) that myself and the others that were affected were less than impressed by. This was initiated by ATC and the communication follow of information internally within the organisation was not great. I will say though that when I pushed, their operations team resolved the issues and we were more than happy with the outcome. Thank you for this! QUICK RECOMMENDATIONS (for camping not accommodated overland tours): 1. Firstly, DO IT, with whichever company you choose, just do it. It is just an awesome experience and is for all ages. 2. If your looking at any particular itinerary through a website contact www.africanoverlandtours.com and at least ask them the question as to what they can do price wise. Their service when we had an issue arise on tour was second to none. 3. ATC being African based and one of the longest running overland companies were awesome and based off my experience I would say at least consider them as your value option! 4. Word of warning: Don’t go with NOMADS. They cost more than ATC and are not worth the extra money in my opinion. They have a very bad reputation when it comes to paying their staff and suppliers (camps). Got some inside word on them a few times during the journey from camps and ex guides. 5. If you have just finished school and are 18-22 and you want to pay extra just to be with some people your age, go with Acacia. But really, having a mixed group of people that we had (20-68) was awesome. If you’re in this age range of 18-22, your probably budget conscious, so save the dollars and just go ATC. 6. If you want to pay extra few thousand for the premium option and travel in a European styled coach instead of a truck. I would recommend G-Adventures over Intrepid at this price bracket. 7. You always hear about Kenya/Tanzania. But the VIC Falls to Cape Town route (21 days) was my personal favourite of the journey. The Delta, Chobe, Etosha, Fish River Canyon, Cape Town and just Namibia in general blew me away! 8. Have an awesome trip, just say yes and get out there and do it. Africa is an amazing continent and these overland companies really have nailed the East/Southern Africa route.
Review by Bambibabes Asakura3 months ago
George offered excellent customer service! Extremely helpful and professional!
Review by Madubuike3 months ago
overall it was good since the trip itself was amazing with great staffs of a tour leader and a driver. I was also very lucky to have small group of intelligent people to travel with. Booking experience was not entirely perfect. There were few mistakes on the documents - wrong dates, wrong names --- those details make customers skeptical, who're already nervous enough with going on a trip far away to Africa. Also the agent didn't come back to my question after all even thou he said he would.
Review by MarcelB Masrol4 months ago
I am about to travel next week for my Kruger:Victoria Falls Safari. I have been working with Elroy for the past 4 months planning this trip of a life time for myself and can not thank him enough! He has responded to every question and email that I have sent and they have been many. ;) Looking forward to my trip and will update my review at the end of it!
Review by Brjánn Treacy4 months ago
Thanks a lot to you to be so kindly with me, Chemone Carpenter helps me and give all information we need to book the tour with Drifters to Kenya and Tanzania. Thank you very much!
Review by Deenagh4 months ago
My experience with Nicky from African Overland Tours has been amazing. She was patient, informative, friendly and very helpful, going above and beyond. We are really looking forward to our tour in January.
Review by Guljan4 months ago
This is the second time I book a trip with African Overland Tours, as I had a great experience selecting my desire trip in 2016 with help of Nicky Lotz!! I’m glad to find her again, as she always respond every email on time with full details and great recommendations. The service provided on my first trip, 21-day from Nairobi to Vic Falls was excellent! Now on my way to the second experience!
Review by Printwise5 months ago
We had a GREAT adventure via African Overland tours! The information given by Tamlyn was really helpfull. I had neven heard from AOT (and this was also my first African trip) and because of this I was a little sceptical. Tamlyn answered all my questions (and I had a lot) and helped me out every step of the way with her information, excitement and customer service! The tour was really great!! I am also recommending this tour to my family and friends! The variation of this trip was amazing! Wild life, gorgeous landscapes, Parks, beaches, snorkeling, markets, it was really one of the best experiences of my life!
Review by Koyin Drall5 months ago
In relation to the reservation process, I can say that it was very efficient and timely. Chemone was very kind, answered all our doubts and guided us throughout the process. We hope the trip is just as good !!
Review by Hannar Kannen5 months ago
Elroy was great
Review by Opsy5 months ago
The customer service and kindness I have received from Nicky at AOT has been absolutely phenomenal. Not only does she provide prompt, thorough, organized, and detailed answers to my overabundance of questions, but she does so with such kindness and the feeling that she truly cares. Many other tour companies are simply out for your money - AOT understands that people are giving a lot of time and money for a trip, and work incredibly hard to alleviate any hesitations you might have, and to make sure you're set up for the trip of a lifetime. They are transparent, willing to accommodate any needs or issues you may have, and are so patient throughout the process. I am SO excited for my trip from Cape Town to Vic Falls this June, and it's because this travel company cares about its customers. I do just want to note, the reviews on this page are for the planning and arranging of the trip. Separate reviews exist for the trip itself, and for the other companies that actually run the trips (such as the Africa Travel Company). Anyway, a huge thank you to African Overland Tours, and especially to Nicky, for helping make this all possible! You're the MVP's!
Review by BangalorePassion6 months ago
Thank you very much Huntley. After many iterations of planning advice on the right safari with a tight timeline and budget we are truly looking forward to our first African dream safari in December. Many thanks again AOT. Felix & Cheryl
Review by Lvn6 months ago
We were very happy to connect with African Overland Tours as we began our search for a trip to Namibia. We knew a few things we wanted and a few we did not. While it took a bit longer than expected to get our trip organized, Tammy found a perfect compromise with our desires and pocketbooks. The on line process was simple and we received prompt information about this. We can’t wait to finally experience Namibia.
Review by MarkoW Gelatt6 months ago
I would have given 5 stars last Saturday while booking my 3tous with Stefan, but since I paid in full for my 3 tours I have not heard a word even though I requested a receipt and confirmation of the tours I just pay d for. I have emailed and called and have no response. I am worried about my tours and am freaking out that I have heard no confirmations. I hope I will be able to change to 5 stars when I experience 3 great tours in South Africa, etc. worried at the moment.....
Review by Santhan6 months ago
Simple booking process,easy.
Review by ArkaNoe Lightz6 months ago
Always book my African travels through African Overland Tours as they are incredibly friendly and helpful, they always get back to you quickly, staff are knowledgeable, they use local people which I think is very important and offer great value for money.
Review by Naelah Vencloviene6 months ago
I like prompt reply from your company and give me very clear information
Review by Mashia6 months ago
We are first time travellers to southern Africa. We consulted AOT who were able to offer us a variety of tours to choose from within our budget and time parameters. There was no hard selling whatsoever and they were excellent at answering all our questions promptly. This helped us to make our decision. The support has continued throughout, with nothing being too much trouble. Our tour commences on 30/01/2019. Based on our experience we are very happy to recommend AOT.
Review by Mamahana6 months ago
Haven't gone on a trip yet and am now being asked to review my trip Does not in still confidence .. Got a reply to this saying it was in fact a "review" of the initial contact with the CS rep. Funny that as it said "finished your trip" I have paid a deposit 4 days ago and not heard back, not even a thank you. Seems to be a theme with this company. All over you until you pay, Then all goes very quiet. Some retraining on comms needed methinks
Review by Nizamiye6 months ago
Stefan from AOT was the most helpful tourist agent I have ever dealt with. Awesome!
Review by Abram Wasenda6 months ago
Thank you so much, we are really happy and exciting to travel with Drifters again! Your help me a lot!!!!
Review by Tsvetoslav7 months ago
We have been in contact with Nicky at African Overland Tours for a few months. Nicky has been absolutely fantastic in helping us plan our first ever group tour! Super quick responses and super detailed with lots of information. I feel the service was above and beyond what is usually expected. Nicky not only gave us some great information on tours but also gave lots of advice on our independent section of travel in Africa. It took us a while to decide on which tour is best for us, due to timing and flights and other travel before and after the Africa tour but we finally managed to nail down the perfect tour for us with the help of Nicky. Overall, we are very pleased with the customer service at African Overland Tours. We will update a review after our tour from Cape Town to Victoria Falls in June. 10/10 for customer service!
Review by Thyss Meriwether7 months ago
Friendly staff, quick answers, omplimentary transfers and night in JNB.
Review by Bafford7 months ago
Friendly, prompt and efficient. Website worked well
Review by Tedmyatt7 months ago
Wonderful responsive and timely service Nicky was amazing and very helpful Excited about our upcoming trip