There is so much more to Africa than wildlife safaris (although visiting the Masai Mara and Serengeti is a breath-taking experience in itself.) Reservations Manager, Steve Burke recently came back from our Zanzibar to Zambezi adventure and couldn’t wait to share his experience! Read his interview below to get an insider’s knowledge of travelling through Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia on a group tour.
What attracted you to this tour?
I had long wanted to visit Zanzibar, but also take in a road less travelled in Africa. I far prefer to overland and camp as, even though it can mean long travel days and some early starts, with a good group of people I find it a very rewarding experience. The opportunity to finish up at Victoria Falls was also another major travel box ticked!
2) What were some of the highlights? Anything underrated that people should explore?
My favourite part of the tour was actually Kande Beach, Malawi. While it is mostly just one overland resort by a lakeside beach, the variety of things we did there, along with an overland oasis style atmosphere, made it the best part of the trip for me.
We had a ridiculous dress up party and kept going all night in the amazing bar, took a very enlightening village walk with a local guide that was refreshingly authentic, hired a boat to go fishing and swimming on a rock island, went for a village dinner and saw the village kids sing and dance, and some went horse riding. Coupled with some chill out beach time, it was a terrific variety.
Victoria Falls also has a wealth of activities and the Zambezi Waterfront where we stay has a fun night time atmosphere in the bar. The white water rafting was an incredible white-knuckle experience, jaw dropping scenery but an experience most definitely not for the faint of heart!
3) Do you have any tips for people visiting Africa? What to bring, what optional excursions to book?
Don’t forget that some nights can be very cold! I completely forgot to bring a warm sweater which meant I needed to wrap up massively on what was an extremely cold night’s camping in Tanzania.
It is an overdone phrase, but you also will be well served with a good sense of humour and patience. Don’t expect things to always go as planned, and keep some wet wipes handy!
There will be times in tourist areas when you feel like a walking cash machine, so don’t forget to make some time for wandering away from the group too. It was nice one day to go in to Livingstone for an afternoon without the group and have some lunch where all the locals were eating (always go where the locals eat) and feel a little like a local for a couple of hours. Learning a couple of greetings in the local language is also essential.
And for peat’s sake, bring anti-sickness medication for the afternoon Zanzibar ferry crossing!
4) What was the food like?
A great many meals were made by our group and they ranged from basic but functional to absolutely amazing! It’s incredible what you can do with a little planning. The meals I had in restaurants mostly varied from delicious, to mega-delicious. A good rule is that the more foreign/western a dish is, the greater the chance you will be disappointed by it, so stick to things that have a local flavor and so will always be prepared well.
5) Would you recommend a group tour for visiting this region of Africa?
Definitely, to do what we did with local transport only would massively add to the time it took, and the stress involved. Not only that but a good group of people adds immeasurably to the journey.
Yes, there were times that we felt like we stuck out a bit in our big yellow truck, but the alternative would have required so much more time and discomfort!