This is part of a series of interviews with inspiring travelers. Today’s interview comes from Cali about her ultimate African adventure tour. See more about tours and traveling with purpose here. All photos are by Cali except Pinterest image.
Tell us about yourself and your travel experience.
My name is Cali and I write my own travel blog, Cali O on the Go. In the summer of 2015 I quit my job as an engineer in exchange for a life of full time travel. I had previously gone on short trips due to the limited vacation time we receive in the United States, but my travel history has changed dramatically since leaving my job. I have gone from a timid vacationer to a confident traveler who is continually learning and growing, while having explored six continents and over 60 countries.
Where did you go on your tour and how long was it?
I went on a 46 day overland tour through Eastern and Southern Africa, including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
What tour company did you use and why?
I ultimately chose Acacia Africa as my tour provider. I had first heard of them from several travel blogs. Aside from the positive reviews Acacia has collected over the years, I chose them because their departure date fit my needs, all camping equipment was provided (including sleeping mats), the personal lockers were at the back of the truck which sounded like an ideal location (as opposed to underneath), and there were a reasonable number of included activities with the choice for lots of optional activities. Acacia also had a sale going on at my time of booking which helped me save a small percentage of the cost.
Why did you choose a tour instead of traveling independently?
To be honest, I was a little bit intimidated to travel to Africa, especially alone. I felt much more at ease knowing I would be led from destination to destination by an individual with experience in that part of the world. Although I was traveling alone, I did not want to be alone. Group tours are a very easy way to make lifelong friends.
Additionally, Africa is HUGE. Booking this type of tour is a great way to actually save money. Transportation between cities and destinations can become very expensive.
Accommodation costs can add up very quickly along with purchasing meals from restaurants. On the tour we camped nearly every night and cooked over a gas stove or fire. Had I not been on the tour, I would not have had the guts to camp or cook on my own, forcing me to shell out for hostels and restaurants.
Lastly, safaris are expensive. By being part of a group, you can split the cost of a safari vehicle as opposed to having to rent one for yourself.
What did you like about the Ultimate African Adventure tour? What was your favorite part?
I literally liked EVERYTHING. One of my favorite parts of overland travel are the moments spent driving and looking out the window. The children were incredibly friendly and excited to see tourists. They came running toward the truck while screaming and waving as we passed. Beautiful moments like this never get old and would be something I would have missed had I opted to fly.
All the safaris were nothing short of amazing. We went on so many game drives in four different countries. Each game drive was as exciting as the last as you never knew what you may see. My trip was during the annual migration of the wildebeest and zebras, where millions of these animals walk, essentially in a line, from the Serengeti back to the Masai Mara.
African sunsets are to die for. I loved camping out in the fresh air every night, living simply, not worrying about physical appearance, and just appreciating each moment.
I loved visiting the thundering Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Since it was the dry season, the waterfalls were lacking in the water portion, but it allowed us the opportunity to visit “Devil’s Pool” and sit on the edge of the falls. Devil’s Pool is too dangerous to enter during the rainy season.
Honestly the list goes on, but I will refrain!
What was the most memorable or eventful part of your trip to Africa?
The whole trip was filled with highlights, but if I had to choose one, it would be Gorilla Trekking in Uganda. I thought I had participated in some adventurous, adrenaline pumping activities in my life, but they truly did not compare to this hike. Seeing such enormous, rare, agile animals up close and personal was truly magical.
Was there anything you didn’t like about the Ultimate African Adventure tour?
I am honestly trying to come up with something here…I had the most amazing time. I got stung by a couple of African black wasps. I didn’t like that, but we surely can’t go blaming the tour!
Did you eat anything amazing on your trip?
Since this was a budget trip, we did most of the cooking and we didn’t always have local dishes. My guide was a wiz at making delicious food with minimal resources. For instance, we had fabulous lasagna a couple of times, cooked over a campfire! I was super impressed.
We also experienced a local dish called chakalaka which I love for its name (and because it is delicious). It is essentially a vegetable stew. We also sampled Pap, which has about a dozen different names depending in which part of Africa you are in. It is a very dense maize porridge that really sticks to the ribs.
What inspired you to travel to Africa?
I am so intrigued by atypical destinations. I truly love traveling to places that are a completely a different world than my own. Eastern and Southern Africa is filled with incredible animals, culture, and people. It was a step outside of my comfort zone and I was rewarded immediately with the never ending beauty.
Would you recommend the Ultimate African Adventure tour? Would you change anything about it?
I cannot recommend this tour enough. While I loved everything about the tour, there was a slightly longer trip that I would have preferred; however, the dates did not work for my schedule. This trip would have gone through Botswana and Namibia while leaving out Zimbabwe. I ended up traveling to Namibia on my own once my trip wrapped up in Johannesburg, but I am still dying to visit Botswana.
Do you think this tour would be good for a new traveler? Why or why not?
This tour is perfect for a new traveler! In fact, I was a fairly new traveler myself. An overland tour is the perfect way to meet friends (especially when traveling solo), experience new places, and have the security of being with a knowledgeable guide and driver for the duration of your trip. It also allows you to relax a bit more because you don’t have to worry about any planning or logistics which is stressful, especially as a new traveler.
Or check out more tours in Africa on G Adventures or Intrepid.
Author bio: Cali quit her job as an engineer in the summer of 2015 in exchange for a life of full time travel. She has explored six continents and over 60 countries. Follow her travel blog at Cali O on the Go or on Instagram and Pinterest.
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- Serengeti and Zanzibar: Tanzania Safari Tour Review
- Mongolia Gobi Desert Tour Review
- Intrepid Northern India Tour Review
- Or check out more tour reviews on Travel Made Simple