Has anyone travelled with Absolute Africa overland tour?
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Nov 17, 2012 5:34 AM Last Post By: hajis
Feb 26, 2012 10:53 AM
Has anyone travelled with Absolute Africa overland tour?My girlfriend and I are travelling to East Africa this summer and we are currently looking into different overlanding tour companies. We’re very interested in Absolute Africa’s “East Africa Encounter” trip, but before we book with them, we wanted to get some feedback from other people who have travelled with them. Most of the reviews we’ve seen have been positive, but we had a couple of concerns: In particular, we noticed that they were cheaper than the other companies and since I’m a firm believer of the philosophy that “you get what you pay for,” I have some reservations about this. Is there a reason they are cheaper than the other companies, such as Acacia or Dragoman? We want to see Africa and do it the right way, and while we aren’t trying to take out a 2nd mortgage on this trip, we don’t want to skip out on a good experience just to save a couple of dollars.
Also, I read that the average age for groups with Absolute Africa tend to be mid to late 20’s. My girlfriend and I are in our early to mid 30’s. Age doesn’t matter to us, but we do NOT want to travel around Africa on a “party bus.” Don’t get me wrong, we like to relax and drink too, but I’m not looking for a mardi gras-type atmosphere.
Finally, I truly believe that the right guide makes or breaks a trip. What the guides like with Absolute Africa? Are they knowledgeable and friendly? I know this varies with each individual, but I wanted to find out if the company tends to hire people who are both knowledgeable and professional.
If anyone could provide any information, we would really appreciate it. Thanks.
Feb 26, 2012 10:29 PM
1If you want to do Africa the right way then do yourself a favor and save around 75% of your money and do it independently. Overland tours are expensive meat wagons that usually stop for a few hours in an interesting location before moving to a party spot and annoying every just about other traveller they come into contact with. If you travel independently you can cater your trip to what you want to see and where you want to stay and the people you will meet on the way will give you any information you need in order to figure out how to do this in your own time and on your own budget.
Feb 26, 2012 11:18 PM
2Most overland trucks stop at the same few campsites. They are pretty much all party sites. This is the one aspect I hated about overlanding and is why I will never, ever do it again. You're on a Continent more than three times the size of the USA and you're stuck with a truck full of drunks!
If you don't have much time, and you're in East Africa to cover a lot of ground and tick off a lot of sites (Serengeti, Zanzibar, Kili, Gorillas etc.), it's probably the most cost effective way of doing it.
I have overlanded (five months) and travelled independently in Africa (5 months) and independent travel is far better. But its tricker to get to out-of-the-way places and to organize safaris as groups etc. Its your call. I would also argue its not much cheaper going independently in East Africa... by the time I spend extra nights in accommodation trying to get to where I want + meals etc, I can't say it made much difference to my budget.
Back to your question: I have met a lot of Absolute Africa trucks around and the passengers seemed happy with what they had.
Edited by: havebootswilltrek
Feb 26, 2012 11:22 PM
Feb 27, 2012 12:55 AM
4If your budget is using a truck you better go ahead with Absolute Africa, but if you want a comfortable way of traveling to Africa in particular Tanzania and Kenya you can try the 4 x 4 Land Cruiser. This is the best way especially in rain season. By the way myself I prefer paying a local tour operators in Arusha so that the profit remain in Africa. I want these guys to grow up financially. Paying European tour operators the profit remains in Europe. Have been using World Tours And Safaris Tanzania and I think have been giving them a very good tough. We should be fair sometimes. Life in Africa is difficult compared to Europe. Don't care about the price. Look for the best service always.
Mar 10, 2012 8:36 AM
5I travelled with Absolute from Nairobi to Cape Town last July to Octobefm & then picked up their Garden route tour to j'burg after a month solo in CT. Although most of the group were 18-30, I'm 50 & we even had a 60+ lady who had more energy than the rest of us out together. Only 7 of us did the complete trip, with others joining & leaving along the way. The busiest being 27 in Uganda (gorillas) & the fewest being Zanzibar to Vic Falls (12). It was very basic but loads of fun. Our guide & drivers were mainly Kenyan but one driver was Ugandan. Absolutes vehicles are Maintained in their workshop in Arusha. All the tour companies follow roughly the same route & we often met up at the same camp sites but Absolute are the only one to go all the way round Lake Victoria. Some trucks are open sided with drop down vinyl sides. Much better for game viewing but not so good on the road when it's windy & chilly. Everyone got on great & there few tensions. I didn't feel the odd one out cos I was older. The guides on both trips were knowledgeable & supportive & the advantage is that they know about life there, the history & the culture. I work on the basis that it's the best way to see & learn the most in the time allotted. They know the best places to see game, where to get the best deal on activities & I enjoyed the company of my fellow travel companions ( who, incidentally, did not get pissed most nights). If I got the chance to go back I would go independently but that's because I now have prior knowledge of what I would want & where to go. In the meantime there's still a lot of world to see.
Talking to the guides, most of whom circulate around the different companies, they are all pretty much the same, the difference being the activities included & the food budget. Absolute has the lowest food budget, but we all ate well (local guides can negotiate the best prices in the market) did our own shopping & cooking. No one starved & most days there were seconds for all!
I did all the activities I wanted, including Grade 5 white water rafting on the Nile & a skydive in Namibia. If you want to get a feel for it you can read my blog at www.whatvickididnext.com. hope this helps your decision making.
Apr 14, 2012 9:39 AM
6Hiya I travelled with absolute africa a few years ago and did the nairobi to zanzibar tour. I reccomend them very highly!!
The age range on my trip to be honest was late 20's to mid 30's with some young like me (19 at the time) and some older 40. It really didnt matter though and definately wasnt a party bus.
Compared to tours like acacia africa- we sometimes went to the same campsites as these and our overland truck was alott bigger and better equiped- to be honest i remember thinking i was really lucky to have picked absolute africa as from speaking to people on other tours- altohugh they had paid a bit more I think we definately had got the better deal. Everything was first class from the absolute africa team, our tour guides- an english lady and swahili driver were amazing and so knowledgable, it was like one big family.
Definately book with them, you wont be dissapointed, if you want to know any other info let me know!
Nov 12, 2012 11:33 AM
7I am a single girl in my mid-twenties and just spent almost 5 months in Africa, I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro with Absolute Africa, worked in a school in Kenya with African Impact which Absolute Africa arranged for me, and I did a 83-day overland (The Absolute Safari and The Garden Route).
After reading spaceturkeys comment I felt the urge to reply as I was shocked and didn’t actually believe it what was written.
My overland group was made up of English, Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Americans and Europeans. We had a mixture of boys and girls, couples and singles, friends and family, aged from 18-49. We had from 6 people on the truck to 28 people on the truck, with people coming and going depending on the lengths of their overland trips. Everyone from all parts of the worlds and all different backgrounds got along so well, I think that’s because people travelling to Africa are very similar minded.
Our tour leader was amazing. He was very cultured and very knowledgable and gave us amazing information. He was also a very hard worker, cooking breakfast and dinner for us, packing and unpacking the truck, advising us on safety, and being fun and energetic.
I was also afraid of travelling alone in Africa, however Absolute Africa seem to have a number one priority of safety. We were always told where to go and not where to go.
It clearly states when booking a tour that you pay the upfront cost in Pounds, plus the local payment on the first day of the overland tour to the tour guide in US dollars, plus having to spend extra money on optional excursions, activities, lunches, etc. Every excursion was optional and not everyone did everything.
I loved being with the same people every day as we really turned into a family and I have now got the best friends worldwide who I will forever stay in touch with. Everyone loved when new people joined us and were sad when people left us, saying goodbyes was bad however the memories I have of these people and the knowledge that they are friends for life is amazing.
Vegetarians were well looked after on the trip, as were people with allergies. Myself - I am not a vegetarian and do not have any known allergies. I found every meal to be very versatile and different from night to night, including meat most nights, vegetables, salads, authentic African style food, etc. The best part about this was how us clients were able to choose the meal depending on the budget. This was an amazing cultured experience to have to cook within your groups and also it was good to get to know people and learn how to do good meals over a campfire. We were allowed to be very flexible with what we cooked and everyone had a say.
My trip was from Nairobi - Cape Town (via Namibia) then up to Johannesburg. I was lucky enough to visit 10 countries in 83 days and during this I had many cultural experiences and really felt like I got to know Africa, and appreciate the differences between each country. On the truck driving days there is really not much to do or experience from A - B, but it is nice to sit on the truck and look out the window at the landscapes and small villages. At the campsites there was locals working there and communicating with them taught you a lot about them. I was so lucky to do this trip without spending a fortune and feeling safe at all times.
I went to many villages throughout many different countries in East and South Africa and loved getting to know their different cultures; interacting with them and seeing how they live. I was never forced to buy anything, but often did as they had amazing items such as pieces of jewellery and other souvenirs. The children loved having their photos taken and I have actually posted some of the families a few photos of their children. From talking to the adult locals they love having tourists visit them, and the children were so happy and friendly when we played games as them such as kicking a football, or dancing and singing with them.
I contacted the Absolute Africa’s office in London and always got a reply, my replies were generally the same day if not the next day. Even after my trip I had to contact them as I injured myself in Africa and spent time in hospital, so I needed them to assist me with insurance claims after I left Africa. Whilst I was in hospital my tour guide and the Absolute Africa owner and the Absolute Africa office were all contacting me several times a day to check on my wellbeing, even though all I had done was hurt my foot.
I would like to say that my trip to Africa was amazing. My fellow travellers all commented on how they’ve done so many trips both solo and groups worldwide, and they all said that the trip I was lucky enough to do was the best trip they’ve done anywhere in the world. I would sincerely like to thank Absolute Africa for being amazing. It was the safest, cheapest, funnest and best way to travel in Africa and I can’t wait to go back.
Nov 17, 2012 5:34 AM
8Absolute Africa must be cheaper because they are using big tracks while the other company are using 4 x 4 Land Cruiser and TDI Land Rover's.
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