Category Archives: 4WDING AFRICA

Here you will find everything to do with 4WDing, from overlanding in Africa to vehicle preparation.

Why I love travelling and working in Africa

Amanda, one of our tour leaders talks about why she loves Africa and her job with Africa Expedition Support.

A cheese platter and sundowners looking out over the beautiful scenic view of the Great Rift Valley with a spectacular sunset on the horizon… what more can one ask for? I just realise how much I love living in Africa!!

My love affair with Africa started when I grew up on a game farm not very far from the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Being a very young girl my dad took me to work with him on the farm and taught me animal and bird names and to have a respect for nature. There was no doubt in my mind that I would never be living in a city.

Now, so many years later I still do what I love and that is travelling through some of Africa’s beautiful countries and passionately share it with our groups on our guided 4×4 self drive safaris with Africa Expedition Support.

When I think of what it is that made me so passionate about travelling in Africa it will be the diversity of each country we visit, friendly African people, lots of sunny days, breathtaking landscapes and the privilege to experience the most amazing game viewings you can think off! Nights around the campfire telling stories and looking up to the starry skies while listening to animal sounds in the background.

Amanda with a new found friend in Malawi

Amanda with a new found friend in Malawi

One of my favourite experiences is game driving after a good thunderstorm. Smelling the clean washed, fresh field and seeing gazelles running around, all silly with renewed energy. Elephants drinking from the water puddles and a beautiful rainbow in the sky. Rain in these countries is a glorious blessing since water is scarce in a lot of regents and regarded very precious. Animals migrate and people travel great distances after water sources.

Another unique experience is driving through villages and looking at the different styles in which each African tribe build their houses, set up their businesses and go about their daily living. Goats, sheep, cattle and other livestock casually walking through these villages are a very common scene and makes driving days much more interesting. Shop names can also be very funny. Anything from “God Bless You Barber Shop” to “ 2 Missed Calls Enterprises” can be found here and they are very proud of their businesses.

On our overland trips we have quite a few border crossings and here you learn that patience and humour is a virtue… Africa has its own time and to go with the flow is one thing I learned very early on my travels.

Meeting the people of each country with their different cultures and beliefs is so interesting and I have learned a lot from them. Some of these countries we visit are of the poorest in Africa but these people are living their lives to the fullest and are some of the most helpful and friendly human beings you will ever encounter.

There is nothing better for me than preparing for the next trip with such excitement of the idea of sharing my passionate love for Africa with a new group!!! My heart will always be in Africa!!

For more information about our safaris peruse Africa Expedition Support


Grey Nomad, Silver Nomad …. Where travel goes beyond a cruise to Tahiti

Whether you describe yourself as a Grey Nomad or Silver Nomad is not important.  What is important, is now is the time to pack the bags and take off on that holiday adventure you have dreamt about for years. The kids have flown the coop (well, mostly), the mortgage is paid off and for the first time you can invest in yourself.

These days there are so many options for Grey and Silver nomad travel, gone are the days when you went to the travel agent and all they could recommend was a cruise to Tahiti or a “grey” bus around Europe. The travel industry has recognised that Grey and Silver Nomads are not the dotty oldies hanging off a Zimmer frame but are young at heart, fit, healthy, and adventurous and want some excitement beyond a 14 day cruise playing croquet on the deck!

Our guided self drive Africa adventures are very popular with retired or semi retired Grey and Silver nomads who love the great outdoors, are adventurous, and are, in short, living their dream! These types of trips appeal to people of all ages, but the retired or semi retired Grey and Silver Nomads have time on their hands, and figure it is best to spend several weeks really taking in a Continent rather than coming back several times.

Meeting the vehicles and crew and other members of the group in Cape Town, South Africa.  Photo courtesy of Judith Africa Discovered 2015

Meeting the vehicles and crew and other members of the group in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo courtesy of Judith Africa Discovered 2015

Having had several conversations with clients who have expressed a number of reasons why they book a guided self drive expedition with us rather than a package holiday. I think this one sums it up nicely “We may be retired but we are not old, this is something we have always dreamt of but the thought of shipping our own vehicle [to Africa], or rather the hassle of getting it back into Australia was just too much to bear; planning a trip like this to do on our own just seems so daunting, sure we could spend weeks trawling though blogs to get ideas from other travellers but at our age we love the idea that we book a trip and everything is taken care of, including the vehicle, meals, accommodation, paperwork and activities. At our age it is not about the money, or time, we have plenty of that; but the convenience”

Another client expressed “travelling in a small group gives us safety and security but without being overwhelmed by too many people on the same tour. My thing was that I did not have to cook, while I love camping I do find the shopping and cooking simply takes up too much of my holiday time, to have someone who carries that stress for me is well worth it! My husband’s big thing was he would never do this kind of trip with a driver, he loves driving and would not travel any other way. Every overseas holiday we have taken we hire a vehicle and do our own thing, this works well in Europe or America but Africa is another story; this was a good compromise, we get to drive one of your vehicles, still maintain some independence and flexibility; and everything is taken care of. We always wanted to travel Africa but never found a good fit. This was a great fit!”

Having the flexibility to game drive in a national park by yourself is an added bonus to a guided self drive expedition.     Photo courtesy of Judith Africa Discovered 2015

Having the flexibility to game drive in a national park by yourself is an added bonus to a guided self drive expedition. Photo courtesy of Judith Africa Discovered 2015

It does not matter if you describe yourself as a grey nomad or a silver nomad it is great to know that your travel needs are being recognised and there are a variety of options out there. Our guided self drive expeditions offer you a different kind of adventure holiday; sure they may not be for everyone but at least you have choices. Africa Expedition Support offer a number of guided self drive expeditions and safaris throughout East and Southern Africa ranging from 7 days to 10 weeks.

For more information or email Debs

For those who prefer a little more luxury and don’t want to 4WD across Africa then maybe a flying safari is more your cup of tea

Flying Safari or Overland? That is the question in choosing the right holiday in Africa.

Choosing the right holiday in Africa can be a little daunting. Very daunting! Do you want to travel overland or would you prefer a flying safari or even a guided 4WD self drive safari? The options are endless and there are multiple choices of tour packages out there. So here, I am going to offer my years of experience in travelling and leading safaris and expeditions across Africa to help you along.

Obviously what you ultimately decide will depend on your budget and the amount of time you have. Here are some of the pros and cons of each style of travel.

Flying Safari

If you have limited time and want to see and do as much as possible on your holiday in Africa then this may be the best option. A flying safari cuts out or greatly reduces travel days meaning there is more time to enjoy the highlights. This is particularly popular when visiting national parks and game reserves which often take a full days drive to access.

Another benefit of flying safaris means you can cover more ground in a limited amount of time, meaning you are not restricted to just one country on your 2 week holiday but can include highlights in 2 or 3 countries. For some people this is the perfect solution as they know they will visit Africa only once and therefore can tick off highlights on their bucket list in one swoop.

Although this option may appear to be expensive, in reality, if you only have 2 weeks to visit the Continent of your dreams and by opting to fly, means you cover more ground, see and do more than you ever expected; than in my opinion it is well worth the investment. It can be difficult to find a tour package that covers more than 1 country however they are out there

The downside is you may risk missing out on the local experience of travelling by road through villages and towns, stopping at local markets to explore and interacting with local people.


Whether you have 2 weeks or 2 months overland travel is the only way to travel in some people’s opinion; there are those who believe Africa can only be experienced from the ground level. By travelling overland means you have the opportunity to be closer to local communities, have a more authentic experience and see the real Africa.

Advent overlanders will argue that there is no other way to truly experience a country. While travelling overland means you see how real people live, travel on the same roads as locals, drive through villages, see and smell the environment.

The downside to overlanding is if you only have a couple of weeks for your holiday then you are restricted to the distance you can cover during this time. A fair amount of your time is allocated to getting from one destination to another, this is not necessary a bad thing, after all it is also about the journey not just the destination!

Guided 4WD Self Drive Safari

Now this is for those who are after a real adventure, it is definitely not your average holiday package found in brochures and large travel websites. Guided 4WD self drive safaris and expeditions are specialized and therefore only available through experienced on the ground operators. We are not talking about standard car hire in South Africa but a multi-country overland experience where you are driving yourself with backup support from a lead vehicle and support crew.

Guided 4WD self drive safaris are not for the faint hearted, not only do you need to be a confident driver but you also need to be open minded and excited to experience the real Africa like a local. Negotiating road blocks and border crossings puts a completely different perspective to travelling overland; while you have a lead vehicle with crew to guide you along, your the one driving.

The benefits to this type of travel is the satisfaction of meeting the challenge of driving across Africa, something many people dream of, but seldom few have. There is also an element of independent travel thrown in, while your expedition is fully supported (accommodation, meals, vehicle maintenance, international paperwork etc), you still have the flexibility to game drive in National Parks at your own pace, rather than share this with many others. This is a huge bonus, you decide how long to stay by that pride of lions or at the Mara River crossing waiting for the wildebeest to cross.

Another benefit is your vehicle is your home for your overland adventure with just you and your partner and/or family sharing the vehicle; no one else.

Of course this is just a brief overview of the pros and cons to each style of travel and I could write pages about the topic, but you would probably fall asleep long before finishing the article!

If you are having trouble deciding which style of travel or tour package to choose then please contact me and I will be more than happy to assist.

Debs from Africa Expedition Support has over 15 years experience in leading safaris and expeditions in Africa, South American and the Middle East.  Contacts Debs on or via

10 Random Facts You May Not Know About East Africa

East Africa is more than just about animals, land rovers, beaches, luxury safari tents and 5pm sundowners. Here are 10 interesting facts you may not know about East Africa.

1. Freddy Mercury, from the rock band Queen, was born Farokh Bulsara on 5 September 1946 on the spice island of Zanzibar, Tanzania. His father was a civil servant for the British Government. When Freddy was 8 years old he left Zanzibar to attend school in India returning in 1962 where he stayed until he migrated with his parents to England in 1964.

2. A common misconception is Lake Victoria is the source of Victoria Falls. Lake Victoria is one of the Great African Lakes mainly in Tanzania and Uganda but also bordering Kenya. It is the source of the White Nile. The lake was named after Queen Victoria by John Speke, the great explorer, who was the first known European to discover it in 1858.

Victoria Falls borders Zimbabwe and Zambia discovered by Dr David Livingstone in November 1855, its source is the Zambezi River. He was so overwhelmed by the falls he said “It has never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so wonderful must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”. He named the falls Victoria Falls after Queen Victoria.

Victoria Falls

Lake Victoria borders Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya

Lake Victoria borders Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya

3. East Africa is home to 4 of the 5 fastest land animals; the cheetah, the wildebeest, the lion and the Thomson’s gazelle. The none African top 5 fastest land animal is the Pronghorn which is native to North America.

Lions can run at great speeds but only for short distances

Lions can run at great speeds but only for short distances

4. The Kanga is a large cotton cloth worn by both men and women across East and Central Africa. The patterns and colours are often bright and elaborate with the most stunning Kangas along with matching head pieces being worn at weddings and other festivities. They originated in the 19th century in Zanzibar and Mombasa.


5. On February 6, 1952, Princess Elizabeth was staying at Treetops Hotel in Kenya when she learned about the news of her father, King George VI, death ascending her to the thrown as Queen Elizabeth.

6. In 1967 Ali Juuyawatu, a Masai warrior stumbled across a cluster of blue crystals in Northern Tanzania and showed them to Manuel De Souza who quickly applied for mining rights. These blue crystals were later called Tanzanite by Tiffany & Company who became the main distributor. Tanzanite is only found in Tanzania and is now seen as one of the most precious stones in the world .

Tanzanite is now one of the most sort after gems

Tanzanite is now one of the most sort after gems

7. Carissa, also known as the Natal Plum, is a wild berry growing all over East Africa. The small berries (the size of a large grape) are packed with vitamin C. The Masai have eaten these berries for centuries and the reason they do not suffer from scurvy despite their staple diet of meat, cow blood and milk.   It is not uncommon to see kids on their way home from school stop at a Carissa bush and pick the fruit as a snack hence Carissa is also known as the “Masai sweet”. They also make sensational jelly to accompany roast meat!

Carissa is found all over East Africa, the berries are poisonous until they turn dark purple when they make great eating!

Carissa is found all over East Africa, the berries are poisonous until they turn dark purple when they make great eating!

8. In colonial years Kenya was known as British East Africa, Tanzania was German East Africa, Malawi was Nyasaland, Zambia was Northern Rhodesia and Zimbabwe was Southern Rhodesia.

9. Lake Malawi has more fresh water fish than any other lake in the World including about 100 species of cichlids.


10. Lake Malawi is also known as “Lake of Stars” as nicknamed by David Livingstone. He thought the light coming from the fishermens lanterns on their boats at night resembled stars in the sky.

Our heads are full of random anecdotes to entertain our clients, young and old,  on our safaris and guided self drive expeditions!

For details about our overland truck safaris and guided self drive expeditions contact Debs or peruse our website

Packing for your safari

So now your trip is booked, flights sorted, and jabs done it is time to think about what to pack. The biggest mistake most people make is to over pack – everything barring the kitchen sink ends up in the luggage. How many times have you been on holiday only to return home with over half your clothes untouched?

It is easy to fall into the trap of “just in case I had better take this and this and that”. At the end of the day the more you take the more you have to carry.

The key to successful packing is not brain surgery.

Keep it simple, pack what you feel comfortable wearing from your wardrobe. There is no need to run out and buy an entire new “travel” wardrobe – unless your wardrobe is full of business clothes and suits and lacks any casual wear.

Over the years I have heard people say never take jeans – they are heavy and take too long to dry. I personally always travel with jeans – they are comfortable, warm and don’t need to wash them as often as lighter clothing.   This is just my personal preference.

There are plenty of products on the market, quick dry, light material, durable, made for trekking …. And the list goes on. I personally don’t see the point in spending a fortune on “travel” clothes. I have several faithful pairs of shorts, 3/4 s and long trousers all purchased from Kmart, Target or Mr Price – cheap and cheerful. They are nothing special, but they are presentable, comfortable, don’t take that long to dry and if they are lost or destroyed I don’t care.

I have put my washing into the hotel reception or campsite only to see them a couple of hours later being bashed against rocks in between dipping and scrubbing in lakes or rivers. You definitely don’t want your $100 designer T shirt being put through this torture ……..

The only thing I did splash out on was a warm durable jacket – preferably something that is spray proof on the outside and fleece on the inside. For years I have travelled with the same faithful jacket and it was worth the investment over and over again.

So now you have decided to go through the wardrobe and take stock of what you have. How many T shirts, shorts and long trousers etc to pack?

This is personal preference and will depend on where and how long you are travelling. If you are travelling to conservative countries (East Africa for example) then packing hot pants and tank tops may not be the most appropriate clothing. You may decide to pack more long trousers rather than shorts and more long sleeve shirts rather than T shirts.

No matter whether I am leading a safari for 2 or 8 weeks or travelling back to Australia to see family and clients I always travel light. A couple of pairs of jeans, a couple pairs of shorts, 3-4 T shirts, 1-2 long sleeve shirts, 6 pairs of socks, a warm fleece and couple of changes of good clothing that can be mixed and matched for the odd dinner out or when dealing with government officials.

In terms of shoes, for years and years I have only ever travelled with 2 pairs; my trusty blundy’s (pull on work boots) and flip flops. Underwear is something I do pack a healthy supply (10-14 pairs) bearing in mind in some cultures it is not appropriate to hand in underwear for washing at hotels/campsites so I can get away with hand washing them myself every 10 days or so.

Then there is my camera, extra batteries and memory cards, laptop (this is for work purposes), mozzie spray, moisturiser, sunscreen, cap, swimmers, head torch and basic toiletries (toothpaste, brush, shampoo etc), sleeping bag, appropriate power adaptors, yellow fever certificate, passport and a basic medical kit with antibiotics, pain killers etc.

The one item I do suggest and something that is not often in the laundry cupboard is a quick dry travel towel. Actually, I travel with 2 – 1 large and 1 small for my long hair. These are invaluable as there is nothing worse than packing away a wet towel!

My advice is to keep it small and simple and if you feel comfortable in something don’t let other people tell you not to pack it. Not only do you want to have a great time on safari you also want to be comfortable.

Happy Packing

Feel free to drop Debs an email for more specific information depending on when and where you are travelling in Africa. 

Why do Hippos yawn?

I love stories from different African countries, there are so many of them. One of my all-time favourites is the story about why hippos yawn. Thousands of years ago Hippos were land dwelling animals but the hot African sun meant they were subject to sunburn on their delicate pink ears. So they called a meeting with God.

At the meeting they asked God if they could spend their days in the cool water of rivers and ponds so they could cool their hot bodies and prevent their delicate pink ears from sunburn. God, at first, was not sure about this. He was worried that the Hippos wanted to feast on the numerous fish in the rivers and ponds. The hippos protested at this assumption.

So they decided to make a deal with God. If he would let them spend their days in the cool water they would several times a day open their mouths toward the heavens and show God they did not have any fish in their mouths.

God thought about this proposal, after some time he agreed. So the hippos entered the water and several times a day opened their mouths to show God that they did not have any fish in their mouths. And all this time you thought hippos were yawning!

Deborah Thiele                                                                                                                                          

Masai Mara – more than just game viewing

There are not many people who have not heard of the Masai Mara Game Reserve for its incredible game viewing, abundance of wildlife, large lion populations and the Great Wildebeest Migration, after all it was just voted again as Africa’s premium game park.

However not many know, the Masai Mara Game Reserve hosts a number of vital research projects that are contributing to the conservation of several species globally. Some of the well-known research projects include hyena, lion, cheetah and elephant. The research is not just about the life span, reproductive cycles and behaviour of the species but also looks at human-wildlife interaction, impact of agricultural and grazing as well the impact of tourism on specific species.

This research is vital to understanding how we as humans impact on a species. The more we understand the better we can manage and act to protect species. This recognises the importance of finding ways for humans, who often impact negatively on a species or several species, to co-habitat in a way which protects and supports resident wildlife.

So next time you are game driving and stop to watch a pride of lions hunting, cheetahs sunning themselves in the warm winter sun, hyenas roaming the savannah or elephants taking a mud bath, stop to think that out there, somewhere, vital information is being gathered ensuring these animals are around for generations to come.

Check out or email for more information.