Overland Africa Safari with G Adventures
20-day Nairobi to Livingstone with G Adventures
We’ve always wanted to take an African adventure and given we had just received approval for a one-year leave of absence from work, this was the perfect opportunity. Deciding to GO was one major decision down. Who to go WITH was a much tougher decision and unfortunately, we were unable to find an abundance of resources online to help! We are hoping that this review will help those who find themselves trying to decide which company to go with. In the end we chose G Adventures and couldn’t be happier with our decision. (Note: all points made below are based on the experience of finelinetravels only).
How to Choose a Safari Company
There are quite a few tour companies operating in Africa these days. Having said that, there are only a handful operating the main tourist routes, particularly through East Africa, and in the end, we decided to go with G Adventures.
We decided to go with G Adventures for a few reasons:
- Met our travel goals – This should be first and foremost for anyone. For such a big (and expensive) trip, make sure you see what YOU want to see. G offers a variety of tours and tour combinations. When booking, this package included all our ‘must see’ items.
- Familiarity with G – G is a Canadian company and we’d had some friends travel with them. I’d read about CEO Bruce Poon Tip and found his story interesting.
- Website is outstanding – G’s website was the best we’d visited. Detailed route maps and day-to-day activities, a breakdown of inclusions, visa information, what to bring, etc.
- Price was competitive – The price was right there with the other companies and pricing for optional activities were listed in detail. In fact, I believe our tour was the cheapest of the options we looked at.
Our Trip – Nairobi to Livingstone (20 Days)
Our trip of choice was G’s “Victoria Falls & Serengeti Adventure“, 20 days, Nairobi to Livingstone.
Note: you can chose a ‘reverse itinerary’ for many G tours.
Chief Experience Office – The Deal Breaker
One thing we did read prior to our trip was that your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will play a major role in your adventure and can make or break your experience; hence the ‘CEO’ title I guess! Having completed our tour, we can say that this is in fact true and can also say that we hit the jackpot with our CEO, Chris Zietsman.
During the first few days of the trip we were wondering how we could get a job like Chris. Travelling through countries you love, visiting some of the most famous national parks on earth and meeting hundreds of new friends while getting paid to do it. As the trip went on, however, we realized it is actually a really tough job. You have to be on your game 24/7, cooking, cleaning, answering questions, dealing with difficult clients (not the case with our group fortunately!), etc. It was amazing really, to see his unrelenting enthusiasm, even at 3:30 AM when packing the truck for a 13 hour day of driving.
Food on our Overland Safari Trip
Overall, the food was amazing considering we were living out of a truck for 20 days. In fact, some nights, meals were better than what we would make at home and catered to the vegetarians and gluten-intolerant among us. Every meal had an option for all types of eaters with tons of veggies and protein in every meal. Breakfast was standard most days, with coffee/tea/hot chocolate, cereal and granola. Some days we had bacon, eggs and french toast.
Gluten Free Travel with G Adventures
Jessica is gluten intolerant, so we came prepared with some extra food just in case. She packed two loaves of GF bread, muesli and crackers that we picked up in Istanbul before our flight to Nairobi. She also picked up a bunch of gluten-free protein bars in Nairobi (See our “One day in Nairobi” for where to find GF food). If you have special dietary restrictions, we would suggest coming prepared. Chris, our CEO, did an amazing job making sure Jessica had options at every meal, he even baked her gluten-free bread on the BBQ one night. For long driving days where we packed sandwiches, gluten-free bread and protein bars were a blessing. Jess also carried around a container of good ol’ American peanut butter.
Travelling in an Overland Truck
We definitely underestimated the amount of time spent on the truck. Maybe it just felt longer because the roads weren’t in the best condition, but travel times are well documented on G’s website, so this shouldn’t have been a surprise. Our truck for the trip was Pumba. Pumba wasn’t the newest and did not have A/C. You won’t have reclining leather seats or wi-fi on board either (and hopefully you never will). For us, this made our journey more authentic. We were sweaty and uncomfortable at times, but it wouldn’t have been an African adventure without this. Honestly, I think we would have all gotten sick if Pumba had A/C; with the constant change in temperature from cool inside the truck to the African heat outside the truck.
Travel tip: If you are prone to car sickness, take seats in the second row. We took the first row, and while it was less bumpy than seats in the back, the sun beamed in through the front windows and the side. The second row doesn’t have the hot sun beaming in quite as much.
Travel for the entire trip is pre-arranged by your CEO. This includes the Serengeti and Ngorongoro trips (read about our trip here: Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater) as well as to and around the island of Zanzibar (read about our trip here: Zanzibar). The Zanzibar ferry can be extremely bumpy at times so take your seasick medication, but rest assured, the ferry is modern and safe.
Safety in East Africa
Only twice during our trip did we feel a little on edge. The first was before we even started the tour in Nairobi. The second was sleeping in a tent in the Serengeti with wild animals all around us. The first had nothing to do with G Adventures and the second was part of the adventure and experience. Who can say they slept in a tent with lions and elephants wandering past you during the night? Some even stopping for a sniff.
Our seasoned driver (about 20 years!) Dixon was with the truck and our belongings almost 24/7 so our gear was perfectly safe locked in the compartment of the truck. By the way, there’s plenty of room in the luggage compartment. We brought three 45L backpacks with no issues at all. Do not worry about your personal documents (i.e, passports, vaccination certificates) either as they stored securely by your CEO (he or she will provide further details on this) so there’s no worries when partaking in adventure activities.
Out of our 19 nights, 13 nights were basic camping, two full service camping, and four were hotel stays. We often saw other safari companies at the same campsites, but to be honest, our team always seemed to be more fun!
Basic camping – Your tent is a two person tent which by day two we could set up in five minutes. Very easy after Chris demonstrated on day one. All campgrounds had showers, only one was cool, yes, but not freezing. The cool shower was a welcome treat after baking in the African sun all day.
Full service camping – Here, your tents are already set up and waiting for you, as is your meal. Glamping, I believe it’s called.
Hotel – Hotel Boulevard in Nairobi, Amaan Beach Bungalows, Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar and Mazsons Hotel in Stone Town.
How Much Did Our Africa Safari Cost?
Note: all prices are in Canadian Dollars at the time of booking
We paid $2899 p.p., which included a $200 off promotion at time of booking. G Adventures often has good promotions and we actually missed out on a larger discount by waiting to book.
We also booked an airport transfer through G Adventures, to avoid confusion at the airport. This cost $50 and when we arrived, a G rep was waiting for us with a sign. This is comforting when arriving in Nairobi for the first time!
We arrived in Nairobi a night early, and to avoid having to change accommodations, we booked at the same hotel as our first night on the tour, Hotel Boulevard. This was pricey, at $135/night, but worth it for the convenience.
As for spending money during the trip, come prepared with US cash for all visas required at border crossings, as well as additional for optional activities and snacks along the way. If you don’t take enough, not to worry. There are plenty of stops along the way to withdraw cash in local currency, as well as currency exchange offices. Our debit card wasn’t always accepted at bank machines, but we had no trouble using our Visa card to withdraw cash. Come prepared with a back-up card just in case, one person in our group consistently had issues using her MasterCard and debit card.
Areas for Improvement
Although they were minor and never created any inconveniences for us, we felt it was important to include a couple of areas where we feel improvement is warranted.
- Slow to respond to inquiries – We had e-mailed with some questions prior to the trip and waited three weeks for a response. We also notified them of dietary restrictions, but that information didn’t make it to our CEO. Luckily, he was prepared and accommodating from day one
- Watering Hole – G’s online forum that allows clients/travellers to connect prior to joining tours. This is a great idea; however, it gets a 2/10 on our usability scale. We did manage to connect with others, but there is room for improvement.
- Accommodations in Stone Town, Zanzibar – We just spent one short night at Mazsons Hotel so don’t let it be a deal breaker, but the hotel could use some TLC. We only make this point given the cost of the trip and the other hotel options available in Stone Town. I’ll also note that the stay at Mazsons followed two nights in beautiful bungalows on Nungwi beach!
Overall, we are extremely pleased with our decision to go with G Adventures and would highly recommend you book with them. For us, memories were created that will last a lifetime, as well as friendships with Chris our CEO and Dixon our driver, plus everyone else on our tour. Again, we’ve only toured Africa with G Adventures and at this point we’d have no reason to tour with anyone else. It’s only a matter of time before we book our next African adventure. With upcoming plans to visit Bolivia and its famous salt flats, we will definitely be looking to G!
jess + trickett
If you have any other questions about our trip, please reach out as we would be happy to help.
We are also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/finelinetravels), Twitter (@finelinetravels) and Instagram (finelinetravels)
Many thanks for your excellent photo review, you really helped me in choosing!
Hi, I’m booked onto the Nairobi to Cape Town tour this summer. Thanks so much for writing this article, it was a great read and answered so many questions!!
Happy to hear that! You will have an amazing time, we still want to go back and do Zambia – Cape Town! Let us know if you have any other questions. 😊
This blog has been so helpful! I’m booked for 27 days from Nairobi to Johannesburg in June – can’t wait 🙂 Just two questions: how was the laundry situation? Did you mostly use sinks or do you feel it’s worth buying a camping laundry bag thing. Also, sounds like you went in their summer, but I’m going in their winter… not sure if you heard anything about weather? Curious from people that have gone vs the internet! Thanks again!
Glad you’ve stumbled upon our post! As for laundry, we had a laundry bag in our backpack because we were travelling long term, but if I remember right, the hotel in Zanzibar offered laundry service and so did one of the campsites in Malawi. We washed out own in Malawi no problem. There was one other campsite where we washed out laundry in the sink and had time to hang it out to dry (pack a long shoestring or something to use as a makeshift clothesline!). As for the weather, I don’t really know about the winter months but I am sure it will be fantastic either way! Pack warm layers for early mornings – it was even chilly in the summer when we had 4am wake up calls. 🙂 Let us know if you have any other questions! Have a great time!!
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We did 43 days overland last May and we are heading back to Africa in 20 days for another 70 day overland. We go with Acacia Africa and love them. Can’t wait to get back
70 days?! Wow, good for you guys. We would have loved to come on that tour with you guys – gorilla trekking is so high on our list! Can’t wait to see pictures. 🙂
Thanks for your blog! I am doing the Serengeti, Falls to Cape Town tour in September!
I am gluten intolerant, however not sensitive. I wasn’t sure whether I should let them know as I don’t like being “difficult” in a group but you’ve put me at ease so maybe I will.
I did come prepared with bars and granola (and bread) but our tour guide was extremely accommodating! Have fun – you will love it!
Hi Guys, I am going to do Tanzania and Kenya Overland in August. How do you charge the battery for the camera? Are you doing the Game Drive with the truck or with the small jeep you show in one of your picture? Do I need a sleeping bag or everything is provided? Thank you
Glen, our overland truck was equipped with power points where we were able to charge our devices while driving. In the Serengeti however, you will want to make sure you have adequate power as we did not have access to outlets. We were in Serengeti National Park for 24 hours and were fine with two camera batteries. Also for the Serengeti night, were just brought overnight bags with sleeping bag, toiletries, and a warm jacket as the temp dips in the park at night. Would love to be back there now! Enjoy it. Oh and the game drive in the park is in the small pop-top jeeps, not the overland truck.
Fantastic! Thanks for sharing! We are doing a overland Africa trip with them this October. Your experience with them has got me even more excited 🙂
Thanks for reading Bonnie. You are going to have an amazing trip! We did the tour in October of last year, so the time of year should be great. HAVE FUN! 🙂
Great, wonderful review. It helped me a LOT!!! Short question here:
I went over the itinerary you made on gadventures webpage. Isn’t there too much time on the truck? In the 10 hour rides, are there any interesting stops? Otherwise, it seems like main attractions in 20 days are Serengeti, Victoria Falls, Malawi lake and Zanzibar. I am missing something? Thanks!!!
There are a couple of lengthy days on the truck.. they are hot, sweaty and bumpy rides but for us, we got the opportunity to get to know our new friends from all over the world. No doubt Serengeti, Vic Falls, Zanzibar were all the top sites, but we had a blast with our group camping every night and stopping to visit random villages along the way. Unless you want to fly between the sites, the overland truck rides are your only option. Plus, G offers a bunch of additional activities (hot air balloon ride, hikes, etc.)
Thanks for this!! My boyfriend and I (we’re Canadian too!) are headed on a 41 day overland tour of Africa with G Adventures this November. We’re so excited and even more excited after reading your review. Wondering if you have any suggestions for optionals, especially in Vic Falls.
Hi Katie! You guys are going to have an amazing time – we only did the Nairobi to Vic Falls but have heard from some friends who continued on to Cape Town that the rest was amazing too! As for Vic Falls, we did the Devils pool and it was definitely a highlight for us. We also did a lion walk when we got to Livingstone but really regret doing it. Not only was it crazy expensive, but we didn’t start to think about the impact on the animals until after we left. I know the white water rafting is also supposed to be pretty fun, but its just not my thing. Let us know if you have any other questions!
Hi Jess and Trickett! Fellow Canadian here and I’m so glad I found your blog – I’m looking at doing the exact same trip and you’ve supplied me with so much great info! Great to hear that your dietary needs were looked after, but I’m still a bit worried as I’m vegetarian and I know African cuisine is heavy on meat. Do you have any thoughts on this? Or were there any vegetarians in your group? Thanks so much!
Glad you found our post helpful! You are going to have an amazing time. We were there this same time last year and would do it all over again in a heartbeat! As for eating as a vegetarian, you shouldn’t have any issues. We had three ppl on our tour who were vegetarian and they had no issues at all! Our tour guide was awesome – I was gluten-free and dairy free and we had three vegetarians and he always made sure there was lots of variety. Peanut butter was my saving grace when we had long driving days and had to eat on the truck.
Ah, that’s amazing. Great to hear – thanks so much! I may be back to ask you more questions once I get closer to my departure, if you don’t mind! 😀
Hello! You post was really helpful! 🙂
I’m 24 and planning my first trip in May 2016. I’m looking at doing a tour for a couple of weeks and also spend time volunteering at an animal orphanage.
Was there any other sole travellers in your group? Or was everyone mainly in couples?