Southern Africa has adapted to its visitors needs and most who are involved in the tourism industry put a lot of effort into ensuring that guests have an incredible all-round experience while visiting. You will find most of your home comforts here and be very surprised at how easy it is to find your way around – especially with English being widely spoken throughout all Southern African countries. The infrastructure is sound and traveling in these areas is “comfortable”.
Both crew members are trained and qualiﬁed guides, but only one may be tour leader (either the driver or the courier/cook). Although our guides are qualified for the work they do, please remember they are human too. Adventure tours place enormous demands on our guides due to the nature and duration of the tours. Working 18 hours a day, week after week would place a strain on anyone so please don’t be quick to judge them and rather have a quiet conversation with them if you feel that there is an issue. Guides do this job because they love Africa and want to share it with our guests so please treat them with respect and decency and you will get the same in return.
It should also be noted that guests often hold guides responsible for things that are out of their control, so please be fair to them, the guides are not personal servants, butlers or maids and may be handling a lot more than you are aware of.
Sometimes our tour leaders and drivers have to make a decision with regards to health, safety, security and circumstances beyond their control. This may not always be a popular decision but as far as possible, your guide will take into account the wishes of the group as a whole, but your understanding and patience at these times will be much appreciated. Sometimes both crew members will need to discuss the matter together, this means that you’ll not always have someone in the back of the vehicle to answer questions and remark on certain locations. For anything that you would like to know or have explained, please ask the guides so they may assist.
In terms of the information that is provided on tour, some guests prefer more information, others prefer less so if you feel that you’re not receiving enough information, or that you’re receiving too much, please let the guides know so that they can do something about it. It is always easier to sort this out on tour than to complain about it afterwards.
The Tour Leader has complete authority on tour and his/her decision is final however you do have our emergency contact number if you feel that you’d like to speak to someone in the office too.
On some of our tour departures we have German translators who are there to help guests who are not confident in speaking English. Please keep in mind that these translators are often foreign students and are sometimes not acquainted with the tour. They are not guides and are only there to help along with the communication between the guides and guests. They are not specialized in tour guiding nor are they professional interpreters. They will do line by line translations directly from the guide to the guest.
In Africa tipping is not compulsory. Tipping in restaurants is usually 10% for good service and more if you feel that you received exceptional service. You do not normally tip taxi’s and we provide specific information with regards to tipping certain groups. This information is in your tour dossier under “Optional Activities” or under “Tipping on Tour”.
Our guides do work hard, but they are also paid industry standards for this work. Our Crew can be tipped if you feel that they have done a good job and/or gone above and beyond the call of duty.
If you feel pressured by a crew member to tip please do not hesitate to report this to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use this address for any other feedback you have from your tour with us. At the end of the tour you will be provided with a confidential feedback form where you are encouraged to rate the tour, service, and experience with Nomad. We use this feedback extensively in our efforts to improve our tours and we really do appreciate receiving this information from you at the end of the tour. You’re more than welcome to email it to us if you’d prefer not to hand it to your guide, however please do let them know that you’ll be emailing it if you intend on doing this.
Travelling in a group offers many advantages and allows you to share the experience with like-minded fun-seekers! It’s also a cheaper and more secure way to explore an unfamiliar continent. Making friends with your fellow travellers will certainly help you make the most of your tour and an open mind may sometimes be necessary as we have a range of cultures and nationalities on our trucks.
The guides are there to ensure that the tour runs smoothly and this includes the group dynamic. If you feel that someone is behaving in an unsociable way the mature thing to do would be to mention this in a non-confrontational way to the individual. If you do not feel comfortable with this please speak to our crew.
You are travelling in a truck together and the best way to avoid petty conflict is to follow the Guide’s schedule with regards to keeping the truck and environment clean and tidy at all times, the fastest way to lose friends on tour is to leave your smelly hiking boots all over the place.
In all honesty, it is very rare that we have passenger conflict on tour and we feel very lucky that the Nomad guests have always been like-minded and considerate people and we hear far more stories about people making friends for life (as well as meeting future husbands and wives) than we do about the very rare unsociable passenger problem.
An average day on tour
The days usually start early and end late, although a lot of time is spent travelling, we do cram a lot into every day. Expect some frustrations, you are in Africa and things don’t work that well sometimes. Coming on tour with an open mind, flexible attitude and realistic expectations will ensure you have a great time.
An average day on tour begins around 6am and departure is after breakfast at around 7am. There are some mornings that need a very early start to reach our next destination, or to photograph a spectacular African sunrise – it’s all part of the adventure. Prepare yourself for the worst, especially in winter when days are shorter. We lose approximately 5 hours of daylight in Winter so it may happen that you’re setting up your tent in the dark or that some optional activities are not available then.
We usually take a lunch-break en-route and depending on the distance to be covered, afternoons are often spent relaxing or exploring the lay of the land. Usually every few days, we will spend a couple of nights at one venue to break the travel routine.
Travelling in our purpose built Trucks
The transportation on tour is a major component of all adventure tours. These tours are road trips and incorporate long drives, bumpy roads and possible mechanical problems, also, digging your truck out of mud is sometimes a considered a highlight. These setbacks are what you make of them so please be prepared and note that we have trucks and not buses. Your Crew will be very unhappy if you call them bus-drivers.
Nomad vehicles are amongst some of the finest on the road however do not forget the nature of an adventure tour, it is not a city to city coach liner trip and there is no airconditioning or toilets on the truck. We also don’t provide up-market tours, our tours are still budget tours aimed at the adventurous traveller.
No bus or other vehicle is designed out the box to operate under the conditions in which our trucks run and this is why we build them ourselves. We run a strict maintenance program and all of the trucks are on a permanent rotation schedule. Unfortunately break-downs are not uncommon so if a problem occurs, please be patient as it can take time to resolve mechanical problems in Africa so make the best of the situation. I can guarantee you that your guides and our operations team will have any situation like this as their top priority and will do all in their power to ensure that you get back on the road as soon as possible.
Distances and road conditions
All of our tours cover long distances on the roads of Africa as our passion is to show you the magnificent sights of this continent. This means that there will be many hours spent driving which cannot be rushed for the following reasons:
You are in a truck and not a sports car so expect average speeds of approximately 80kph, however there are roads where we are forced to reduce to speeds of 30kph due to bad roads conditions or safety concerns. The guides will always have your safety as their first concern.
Distances between highlights are often on a bigger scale than those at home. Often there is absolutely nothing between focal points except vast open deserts. Most tours average approximately 350 km per day however there can be stretches of up to 650km in a single day and that’s a long way in a truck so be prepared.
We will be travelling along winding dirt roads and your safety is of paramount importance, please keep this in mind when you are tired, hot and irritable.
An enjoyable trip depends heavily on open and honest communication between yourself, the guides and your fellow passengers. Many problems have their root in a lack of communication, misjudgements and assumptions. Essentially, you have people from all over the world, taken out of their comfort zone, put in a box in the middle of Africa, shaken around and then expected to all get along.. it requires a positive attitude because essentially, you are all there for the same reason!
When on tour be sure to keep the communication channels open with your fellow passengers and the guides. This is the key to a successful trip. If you are unhappy, please discuss it because problems cannot be resolved if no one knows that there is a problem. Feel free to approach your guides at any time because the smallest problems can turn into big ones very quickly!
How others can reach you
The easiest option to keep in touch with your loved ones at home is to buy a SIM card of the respective country you are travelling in. Usually you can get sim cards rather easily in major cities and in some instances vendors might even sell them at border posts. The cost for a sim card is usually rather low (often between ZAR 20 and ZAR 30). Please keep in mind though that this is an adventure tour and that there still might not be reception in a lot of the areas we travel through.
Although you may not be able to contact the outside world easily while you’re on tour, we track you constantly and are always able to find you. Feel free to provide your family with our contact details and should there be an emergency of any kind at home we will be able to contact you almost anywhere. Please bear in mind that in certain instances there may be a charge for this (in some areas there are not even radio facilities) should we have to physically send someone by boat, road or air to your camp site, the person we send will expect to be compensated. Please inform your families that although we can find you – it must be a real emergency – as we will not be sending one of our local contacts 500km over terrible roads to remind you to change your underwear regularly!
In an emergency your family can contact us on email@example.com or by calling our offices on +27 21 845 7400 and if the call is outside of office hours the emergency contact number is +27 82 578 2199.
We advise that you should also contact family and friends before leaving and tell them that you are on an adventure tour and that you will probably be out of contact for that time.
There are telephones in some places but do not count on these being all that reliable! E-mail facilities can be found in major towns and city centres, but it is often very slow and expensive.
Climate and weather conditions
Please ensure that you are familiar with the exact weather conditions to be expected on your particular tour and be prepared because the weather in Africa can be extreme. In the rainy season, prepare to get wet and in the dry season, prepare to bake, the weather is part of an African adventure but it can be a tough taskmaster.
The African sun is fierce and we suggest a factor 50 sunscreen and that you wear a hat. From October until April you can experience extremely hot temperatures and during the winter months the nights can be extremely cold, even dropping down to below zero, but the days are generally warm to hot.
In Southern Africa, the short rains are from October to December, but the main rainy season begins in February and can last until April, Cape Town on the other hand experiences a cold winter with lots of rainfall from April to September.
Please note that this is only a general indication and the weather is not within our control and sometimes the rains start earlier or finish later, or don’t come at all. Local conditions also prevail, for example if your accommodation is on the rim of a crater or close to the seaside, conditions can be affected by the geography of the area so prepare for all seasons.
Included on your tour are three meals a day (unless otherwise specified in your tour dossier). We are able to cater for specific dietary requirements to a degree, however please keep in mind that you are traveling with a group and the guides generally prepare meals on two gas burners so it may not always be possible for them to prepare regular, gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant and vegetarian meals all at the same time.
If you are vegan, the guides will provide you with salads, vegetables, fruits, rice, beans, pasta, cereals and breads however their budget and time does not allow them to shop for quinoa, seeds, nuts, tofu, soy milk and other protein substitutes. Please keep this in mind when going to the supermarket so that you can supplement these foods for yourself, it will be at your own expense, the guides will however store it for you in their fridge.
Please also discuss your dietary requirements with your guides and let them know if you’re not getting the correct food as everyone has different requirements and levels of intolerance. Our guides can produce miracles on a camp-stove however in today’s environment there are more of our guests who have specific requirements when it comes to their dietary concerns so please do help us with this where possible. In East Africa it is more difficult to cater to certain requirements as there is not always accessibility to a large variety of food types.
When traveling through Africa, the guides are briefed to shop at supermarkets as far as possible, as shopping at street vendors could be a health risk to the guests as there is no indication as to where or how the vendors grow, harvest and transport their produce. Guides have to be responsible and ensure that their produce comes from reliable sources and this can generally only be done by shopping at the supermarkets. The prevalence of street vendors also means that there is thieving from local farms who support the local industry, and this in turn means that the farms become unsustainable, leaving the community in a worse off position.
As breakfast is served very early in the morning (if there is driving or activities to be done) it is a simple but filling breakfast: Tea and coffee, breads and spreads, cereals, yogurts, fruits and on occasion, when there is time for a later breakfast, guides will serve a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, porridge, bacon or beans. when staying in hotel accommodation the breakfast will be taken in the hotel.
Lunch is generally served at a picnic spot next to the road en route to a destination. As the guides only have approximately 45 minutes to get everyone off the truck, prepare lunch and then get everyone back on the truck again, lunches consist of sandwiches and salads (rice salad, pasta salad, tuna salad or green salad) which are quick and easy to prepare but which are quite filling. They do have meal plans which they should stick to, to ensure that there is variety on a day to day basis.
This is when the guides get time to prepare a delicious meal and they focus on a substantial protein, vegetable and carbohydrate dinner. We serve traditional cuisine consisting of braais (BBQ), potjie (stew), bobotie (mince), spaghetti and fish and chicken dishes.
All meals (on both accommodated and camping tours) that are included as per the dossier are prepared at the full service adventure truck. This is a unique adventure in itself where you get to dine under the stars with your new found friends and experience the real sights and sounds of Africa!
Most evenings are spent at camp talking about Africa. Your tour dossier will have details of where you will be each night and the prices of meals if we are spending an evening at leisure in a city or town.
After or during dinner, guides will do briefings, please use this opportunity to discuss things with them.
Standards of food in East Africa are not as high as they are in Southern Africa as there is much less time for preparation (the days on the road are longer in East Africa), food is a lot more expensive and there is not as much variety available.
For more information please contact our firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or chat with us via our website chat !!!