Tag Archives: guided self drive

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 http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com/4x4guided or email Debs info@africaexpeditionsupport.com

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 http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com/multi-country-flying-safaris


The Good Old Days

I was recently asked by 4WD Touring Australia to write a short article about how I left Australia and ending up living and running a tourism business in Kenya. While I was trying to put fingers to the keyboard I spent more time reminiscing over the past then I did writing about it. Over the years, Thiemo and I,  have had some incredible experiences both together and separately. Our most memorable experience was being bogged in the Sahara desert for 3 days in thick wet clay in 2013.

I still remember the sinking feeling (literally) I felt as I watched Tim, who was driving Medusa the MAN, break the crust of the salt pan and start to slow down. He thought he had a blocked fuel filter, until he looked in the side mirrors and saw the rear sinking.

What started out as a “oh well this is overlanding, this is what it is all about” soon turned into a mission. The more we dug, the more we sank. Medusa was heavy. So we needed to lose weight, off came the beer (that made a considerable difference!), the luggage, spare tyres, kitchen and everything that could be removed. Still sinking …..

sand driving tips

my greatest memory and achievement in overlanding


Sand mats simply had no grip and although we had 28 people to push and me trying to pull Medusa out with Betty, our support truck, it was not enough to get us out of the clay. We were still sinking ….

On day 2 we stopped digging and as Tim wrapped steel cables around the tyres the rest of us walked off into the distance to collect soft volcanic rocks from about 700m away. We filled the tracks with rocks and tried to get them under the tyres as much as possible. Finally by the middle of the 3rd day we were ready to try again.

I hooked Medusa to the back of Betty, Tim climbed into the cab of Medusa and 28 people were at the back ready to push.   I gave a shunt and effortlessly Medusa drove out of her hole much to our relief.

Thinking back now it was one of the most stressful times of my overlanding career. As road crew our number 1 responsibility is for the safety and well-being of our clients. While we knew we had more than enough food and water to last us days (and we had passed a fresh water hole only a few kilometres before being bogged), we still had to ensure we kept level headed and confident.

We always knew we would get out …….. Eventually

Although we still drive overland trucks, the routes we take through East Africa are a little less isolated.  Sure there may be a random dirt road somewhere along the way where we may slide to the side and get bogged but nothing like our Trans Africa days (UK to Cape overland). And with our land rovers on our guided self drive expeditions …. well …. They are pretty hard to get bogged!

Go Green, Go Solar ……. Napenda Solar Community

For the past few months our focus has not always been on our overland safaris and guided self drive expeditions but on Napenda Solar Community.

What is that I hear you ask?  For those who have been on a safari or expedition with Africa Expedition Support and have met Thiemo or I probably recall at least one conversation about solar power with us.  Yes, solar power, this is not a misprint.  This is a topic we are pretty passionate about, we believe in it and proved that it works time and time again.  After all we could not run our workshop or office without solar power.  You see we are based only 1 hour from Nairobi, Kenya yet we don’t have any mains power – so for us to run our business we rely on the sun – solar power.

In addition to our guided self drive expeditions we also run a number of, what are called, “service trips” for school, university and teen groups.  These are tailored trips with all the usual Africa bells and whistles (game parks, beaches etc) with service projects – projects where students have the opportunity to give something back to less fortunate communities while learning about their culture and experiencing their lives.  It is not uncommon for families and couples to also want to participate in a community service project.

Our area is pretty underdeveloped in every way, there are very few schools, dirt roads that are lucky to see a grader once a year, no electricity, no clean water and the list goes on.  Hence Napenda Solar Community is a way to bring solar power to our local community by involving students and tour groups in solar power workshops that result in solar power systems being installed by the students and tour groups in poor rural homes, schools and clinics.

teens hard at work building a solar power system

teens hard at work building a solar power system

A clear win win for all.  Let’s face it, with the depleting world resources, there is a strong focus on clean renewable energies.  Throughout the USA, Australia, UK and Europe there is a push to go green – the recent People’s Climate March was testimony to this.  In Africa there is no choice, with very limited infrastructure and high cost of mains power the most economical way to go is solar power.  Although not expensive the costs of setting up solar power even in a small home are  prohibitive especially for those living on less than USD$2 per day.

Napenda Solar Community heavily subsidise these costs enabling communities to get connected to power.  A way for tourists and student groups to experience and learn from a local Masai community, go back home with greater understanding and appreciation of renewable energies; and valuable skills to set up their own solar power system if they choose to.

Who would have thought you could come to Kenya to learn amazing new skills?

For more information on our solar power workshops check out


If you would like to add a solar power workshop to your safari or expedition email me, Debs, at info@africaexpeditionsupport.com or Anne at solar@africaexpeditionsupport.com

Don’t forget to like us on http://www.facebook.com/napendasolarcommunity (tell your friends to like us also!) The more who know about Napenda Solar Community the more poor rural communities in Kenya will benefit!

On The Move

The Great Migration

This photo was sent to me from some clients from Victoria, Australia from their recent guided self drive Kenya safari with us.  As they say a picture says a thousand words – so instead of talking about the photo I will leave you to enjoy it in peace!

For your next adventure how about a guided self drive safari or expedition in East Africa?

Livingstonia – Off the beaten track

No I have not made a spelling mistake – Livingstonia is not the town of Livingstone where Victoria Falls are located in Zambia but a little town hidden in the highlands of Malawi overlooking Lake Malawi.

This is just one the little gems off the beaten track we travel to on our guided self drive expeditions. Most people have never heard of Livingstonia, which is a pity as it is an incredibly beautiful place with a rich history. High up on the escarpment overlooking Lake Malawi it is not an easy location to get to but it is worth the effort. The road is a narrow dirt track winding its way up to the little town; although passable all year round (in the right vehicle) it can be a little tricky in the rain.

The road to Livingstonia is every 4x4ers dream, dirt road, switchbacks, and steep ascents

The road to Livingstonia is every 4x4ers dream, dirt road, switchbacks, and steep ascents

Known as “little Scotland”; originally a Mission built in 1894 by the Scottish doctor, clergyman, academic and explorer Dr Robert Laws. However this is not the original Mission. The Free Church of Scotland originally built the Mission near Cape Maclear in 1875. However it was found the area was too malarial so it was moved to Bandawe; after which it was decided to move it to its now location.
The Mission is named after Dr Livingstone as a tribute to his work throughout Central Africa. Most people only know of Dr Livingstone the explorer, but his true passion was the Church and Missions. Dr Livingstone opened up Central Africa to missionaries and initiated education and health care to local communities. He was instrumental in the abolishment of the slave trade and at times a thorn in the side of the British government. Dr Livingstone was very respected and held in high esteem by many African chiefs. It is understandable this place was named in his honour.

Dr Robert Laws

Dr Robert Laws

Dr Robert Laws shared many of Dr Livingstone’s passions. His dream was to establish not only a Mission but to introduce Malawians to university education, high standard of health care and technical training. He believed university education was essential to develop a self-sufficient Malawian population with well-educated ethical leaders. Although he led the Mission for 52 years and established one of the best schools and colleges in all of Central Africa he was unable to see through his dream for a university. It was not until 2003 that Dr Laws dream became a reality with the establishment of Livingstonia University.

However during Dr Laws time he transformed the Mission into a small town, overseeing the establishment of schools, hospitals, houses, post office and workshops. The David Gordon Memorial Hospital opened in 1911, at the time it was the biggest and most well equipped hospital in Central Africa, today it still serves a catchment of 60,000 people.

David Gordon Memorial Hospital

David Gordon Memorial Hospital

While Livingstonia is still today an education hub of Central Africa it is also a living museum and worth at least half a day exploring the little town. The Museum is an obvious first stop, the exhibit tells the story of early European exploration and missionary work in Malawi. There are still original artefacts belonging to Dr Livingstone on display. Near the Museum is the church dating back to 1894, with a stunning stained glass window of Dr Livingstone and his two companions Guze and Juma; nearby is the very English looking secondary school, the post office (now a small bookshop), clock tower, the Khondowe Craft Shop selling carvings and clothing made locally and David Gordon Memorial Hospital.

A full day can be spent wandering around the town and exploring the little shops and historic sites, there is also Manchewe Falls approximately 4kms away which is well worth the walk, a spectacular waterfall 50m high with a cave behind it where local people used to hide from slave traders.

For some locally grown and brewed coffee, light refreshments or hearty lunch head to the Mushroom Farm or Lukwe organic restaurant.

Jan, one of our drivers, standing next to the Livingstonia Synod

Jan, one of our drivers, standing next to the Livingstonia Synod

We visit Livingstonia on our Dr Livingstone 4 week and Africa Discovered 8 week guided self drive expeditions. For more information contact Debs info@africaexpeditionsupport.com or peruse our website http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com

Tag Along Africa ……

A guided self drive tag along expedition through Africa is the only way to travel.  Watch this video to see why.  Check out http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com or email Debs info@africaexpeditionsupport.com to choose your ideal African Adventure.