Oasis Overland: Grand Adventurer Nairobi to Cape Town – A Review

Between September and December 2012, I spent 75 days on an Oasis Overland truck travelling from Nairobi, Kenya to Cape Town, South Africa. It’s time for a review!

Most of you will know just how far in advance I started to plan my travels; this blog alone started in February 2011 but the idea had hatched before that. One of the first things I did back then was chat to a friend of my sister’s who had travelled a fair bit and she was the one to recommend Oasis Overland. Their website is really well set up and they sent me a free brochure with details of all the trips they offer. I was in touch with them over a year before my trip was due to start and even then they were incredibly helpful, answering my queries promptly over Skype and email. I did have a wee look at some of the other overlanding companies which offer trips in Africa, but to be honest I was so impressed with what I had already seen on the Oasis site, plus the fact that a friend’s recommendation means a lot to me, that I decided to stick with them and book my trip.

Booking the trip was incredibly easy – I made an account with them through their site, paid a deposit using my card online, and then put more money towards the balance whenever I wanted. Once you have an account you are able to easily view all the details of your trip and also get in touch with your truck mates-to-be, provided they have chosen to make their details visible.

The Staff

As I mentioned before, my experience of communicating with the company online was fantastic. My only other contact with the staff would be with our guide Alun and driver Pete. I can’t praise these two enough for everything they did for us throughout the trip. They really went over and beyond everything they needed to do and they weren’t just staff, they were friends. This really did turn the trip from a great one to an outstanding one. I’m not sure how we would have wrapped our heads around all those different currencies if it wasn’t for Alun … and someone had to show us where to get the cheapest gin 😉

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Alun and Pete join our Twiga Party at Camp Muko, Uganda. Can’t have all work and no play!

The Truck (not a bus!)

Ah, Twiga (meaning giraffe in Swahili). It’s a love/hate relationship when you spend this much time in one vehicle. We met a few trucks along the way and most had different set-ups to ours. The Oasis trucks have seats lined up against the sides of the truck, facing inwards. Some other companies’ are set up like a standard bus, others have seats in groups of four round a table. I can’t speak for those arrangements but I actually really liked facing inwards; we had plenty of leg room and it also meant we interacted more as a group. There was a beach area at the front of the truck where we could sunbathe, nurse a hangover or get a 360 degree view of the area. The only thing I didn’t think the truck was suited for was game drives, but then we only did the one in it. There was plenty of space to store our luggage, as well as a handy overhead shelf so that we didn’t have to go under the seats for the stuff we used often. There was also room for two cool boxes (cold beer, woo!) and a safe, which meant we never had to worry about having our passports and other valuables on us.

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The group and Twiga <3

The Itinerary

Kenya – Uganda – Rwanda – Uganda – Kenya – Tanzania – Malawi – Mozambique – Zimbabwe – Botswana – Namibia – South Africa

There are a number of options available for trips through Africa so you can pick and choose depending on the areas you want to visit and how long you plan to travel. I based my decision on the amount of time I wanted to be in Africa – I thought 75 days would be a pretty good introduction to the continent. Having met other overlanders along the way and discussed it with them, I am really pleased that our route went from Kenya down to South Africa, rather than vice versa. At the start of the trip we were all fresh and ready to deal with East Africa, which can sometimes be quite difficult. As time went by, we entered the more westernised countries and could appreciate the perks they came with. We visited some fantastic spots and packed so much into the two and a half months we were on the road. There are plenty of optional extras along the way. Be prepared! You are more than likely going to end up doing as many as you can, no matter how much you want to watch your budget. Can you really say no to a three-day safari in the Serengeti? Mmmm I thought not.

Overlanding as a Group

This is not relevant to the company but to overlanding itself. It is not a walk in the park. Being in such a small space with so many people (at one point the truck was full – 24 people) can drive you batty at times, especially on those 14-hour drive days. Tents can be uncomfortable and sometimes the last thing you want to do is cook for the entire group. That said, the friendships you make along the way make it all worth it, and if you are unsure about travelling by yourself then this setting will give you some security. Overlanding can be dirty, sweaty work and sometimes nothing greets you at the end of the day but a cold shower, but it’s all part of the experience. And it’s what makes it fun! I personally loved it and would definitely do it again. The main thing to remember is that you have to work as a group; if you are usually selfish, whiny or incredibly messy, then you definitely need to leave those traits at home to make life easy for everyone else.

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All squeezed in at the back of the truck – weigh-bridge time!

The best memories of my 6-month trip are on the Oasis Overland truck with these amazing people. Somehow we managed to turn the ‘annoying’ points of overland travel into good fun. Waking up at 5am? No problem, we’ll plan a Christmas party while we’re doing it. Putting up a tent after a long drive-day? Let’s turn it into a race and get it done in (I shit you not) two minutes. High five on that one, Simone 🙂 A day behind thanks to being stuck in Lilongwe and making up for it by driving into the night? Sing-along party in the back of the truck it is then! The more I think about it, the more I can’t wait to get back on a truck again.

Thank you Oasis Overland for helping me make some memories which are going to last me a lifetime 🙂

camp muko uganda

And some fantastic friendships too 🙂

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13 Responses

  1. Stacey says:

    Great review Han! Makes me miss it 🙁

  2. Simmy says:

    Great review! I already had an idea from your previous posts and pictures but the trip sounds amazing. I read the itinerary for this trip and for the price is sounds brilliant. Think I’ll definitely consider this for next year :))

    • Hannah says:

      It really was all kinds of amazing and I miss it so much! You should definitely choose one of their trips. They’re one of the better value ones, mainly because you cook your own dinner and put up your own tent, and a lot of the activities are optional so it’s up to you whether you pay for them or not. A lot of the others have all the activities included, plus an extra hand to cook for everyone in the evening and pitch the tents! Those are the fancy ones haha. Do be aware though that you’ll probably end up doing most of the activities so add the price of all those up in advance. I’m so envious of your year-long trip even though I’ve only just come back!

  3. simonssista says:

    So glad you loved it. I’ve just finished doing some overlanding in Africa as well (no reviews yet as I only got home yesterday) and also loved it. It’s interesting reading/hearing/seeing the different trucks and companies. I did Cape Town to Dar with Dragoman (loved it, have used them for overlanding before in Central Asia though so I knew what to expect) and then did Kenya, Uganda & Rwanda with Acacia (not so hot on them). It’s true for all though isn’t it, the trip is what you make it. So many of my favourite moments were the unexpected ones on the truck, like dance parties and the like. Like you, I can’t wait to do more overlanding when the budget allows.

    • Hannah says:

      We met a few Dragoman trucks along the way, Acacia too 🙂 It’s definitely what you make it and you have to up for a bit of rough living too, as you no doubt know!

  4. Sally says:

    Hi……Your adventures sound amazing! I’m planning the Coast to Coast trip from Kenya to S.A in October. Just wanted to ask about the people though…..what sort of ages and nationalities were on you overland trip? Also, is it a ‘party bus’? I love having a drink but I’m there for the place rather than a party if you know what I mean.

    Also, the bus looks ace, but you say the seating arrangement isn’t great for game drives – was this a big problem? For the other game drives/safaris…..what transport was used instead?

    Thanks!

    Sal
    x

    • Hannah says:

      Hi Sal!

      The crowd can change from one truck group to the next but in general I think Oasis customers are on the younger side (twenties and thirties). The youngest in our group was 18 and the oldest 56!

      Nationalities were various… Majority of British, with a good few NZers and Ozzies, as well as Dutch, Canadian, Danish and even Chinese.

      As I mentioned, the atmosphere will be different depending on the group you end up with. On our trip we were all there to see and experience Africa BUT it just so happened we all liked a good party too 😉 There were some who weren’t into that and it wasn’t a problem – they simply went to bed when they’d had enough.

      The only game drive we did in the truck wa in Etosha National Park. The truck is big and loud and I’m pretty sure that contributed to how little wildlife we saw there. Also, to look out the window you had to kneel up on the seat which became quite uncomfortable after just 30 minutes.

      All other game drives were in jeeps or vans with open tops. Smaller groups, more comfortable and a quieter vehicle.

      Hope this helps and let me know if there’s anything else I can help with 🙂

      Enjoy your trip!

      Hannah

  5. Laura says:

    Hello Hannah,

    Your trip sounds amazing! Out of interest, how much do you think you spent on extras on top of the tour and local fees (if you don’t mind me asking)? I want to go asap but think I need to do a bit more saving first!

    Thanks!

    Laura

    • Hannah says:

      Hi Laura, I kept track of what I spent but didn’t keep the add-on expenses separate from my other expenses (i.e general spending money) so I can only tell you the total altogether – just under €7000. Looking at that figure it seems a lot but that includes a 3-day safari in the Serengeti ($500), trekking to see the gorillas in Rwanda (the permit was €460 then; it’s even more now), skydiving, diving with sharks, etc. I pretty much opted in for all the add-ons, which you don’t have to if you don’t want to. That said, you don’t want to spend 3 months in Africa and have to watch every penny you spend. I’m glad I had a bit of a blowout and did everything 🙂 South Africa will be the most expensive part of your trip.

      • Laura says:

        That’s really helpful, thanks Hannah! I definitely want to try everything and make the most of the trip like you did!
        Laura

  6. Heather says:

    Hi
    Thanks for the review, I am doing this trip over the Christmas period, any recommendations or tips on things to take…

    Cheers 🙂

  1. June 27, 2013

    […] experience. I covered nine countries (11 really, but two of them were for only a day each) in my 75-day overland trip from Nairobi to Cape Town with Oasis Overland last year and the itinerary was jam-packed with activities. Looking back […]

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