For this post I’m going to detail a day on the road of an Overland Tour. Road days always start early and generally follow the same pattern. Obviously free days differ in how your day plays out dependent on any optional activities you have booked on to or independent plans you have with or without your tour friends.
Again, this post is based on my tour with Oasis Overland through Africa.
05:45 – Cook group wakes to prepare breakfast. Boil water for hot drinks, fill washing up bowls and sets out bread, cereal and condiments. Not forgetting to make up the powdered milk.
06.30 – Everyone else should be up by now and busy taking down and packing away tents. Then help yourself to breakfast. Everyone generally should lend a hand to pack away breakfast stuff.
07:15 – Truck departure should have been at 07:00 but the usual suspect keeps you all waiting. All on board, quick briefing by tour leader, head count and off you go with one side of the flaps rolled up for some fresh air.
07:15 – 09:00 – On the road. Passengers use the first two hours to nap. You will find two or three up on the beach, two or three spread out on the floor and the rest trying to tag two seats to lie down. At 09:00 the truck pulls off the road away from any buildings and hopefully somewhere with a nice dense clump of trees and bushes. It’s time for our first bush pee of the day! It’s easier than you think ladies.
09:00 – 11:00 – Climb back on board, roll up the flaps on the other side and you’ll ask how long until lunch. Your tour leader will say about 11:00. Then the stereo goes on, some folk will drag a cool box out and play card games across the central aisle. Up front, our driver is carefully speeding his or her way towards our lunch destination… your hoping, without much hope, for a town with a Shoprite.
11:00 – Ring the bell for another pee stop. Ask your tour leader how much longer until lunch. Another 45 minutes? Ok. Pull out some salted crackers from your stash for a quick snack to keep any hanger at bay.
11:30 – Climb onto your seat and watch as you drive past villages after villages that will definitely not have a Shoprite.
12:15 – The truck pulls off at a disused gas station. You’re hank marvin’ and just want to sink your teeth into a chicken leg. No shops in sight. Your tour leader points you in the direction of the local market so you and 20 others descend on the busy stalls. Some of your truck mates pick up bananas, mangoes and an un-ripe avocado for under $3. You however, go looking for something more substantial.
12:30 – You meet some locals hanging around outside what looks like a shop. You buy a bottle of coke from them that went out of date last month. It’s cold so you drink it anyway. One of them offers to show you where you can get chips. You and your friend follow him to a vendor cooking up Chips Mayai. Basically, a chip omelette. He wants to charge you $3 for it. You say $1. He settles on $2.
12:45 – Three others from the truck join you and order the same. They are sent off to pick up plates and cutlery from the truck since the vendor only has two plates. You eat your chip omelette with a toothpick and thank the vendor for your lunch. The local man who showed you the way asks for a tip. You give him the equivalent of $2.
13:00 – It’s departure time for the truck, however when you got back from your Chips Mayai adventure some of your truck mates decide they want some too, so off they go laden with a plate and fork each.
13:15 – Everyone is back on the truck and asking the tour leader for a pee stop. Head count and off we go, 15 minutes late.
13:30 – Truck pulls off the road away from the town for the third bush pee of the day. I promise it gets easier every time.
13:45 – Suns out so we ding the bell to roll up the sun roof over the beach. The Sun Goddesses move like lightning to get onto the beach. Tops off, sunscreen on.
14:00 – Some passengers will put in their earphones and glue themselves to their phone screen to watch a couple episodes of whatever they have downloaded. Black Mirror and Peaky Blinders were talked about a lot. You read a little of your book or climb back up on your seat to gaze out the windows.
14:15 – Drive into rain. Truck stops to roll up the sun roof.
14:30 – It starts lashing down and water is running onto the headrests. Truck stops again to roll down the flaps. It gets a big sticky inside without the natural air con.
15:00 – After just thirty minutes we get to the other side, suns out. Truck stops again to roll up the sun roof and window flaps, and some jump out for a bush pee.
15:00 – 17:00 – In the back of the truck the mood is getting low. You’ve listened to the same persons music for the last four hours but nobody pipes up to get it changed. The sun goddesses have been up on the beach for nearly three hours but again, nobody wants to pipe up to swap around. You start a game of two truths one lie and things get a bit morbid when someone mentions suicide and graveyards. Another bush pee stop at 17:00.
17:30- Truck pulls off the road. There’s a few stalls on the other side selling fresh fruit and vegetables. Your tour leader tells cook group to go buy what they need for dinner tonight. He hands you the cash. You and your three cook group mates have planned spaghetti bolognaise, but there’s no meat seller in sight. Time for the unplanned Plan B. Your male cook buddy is swarmed by all the vendors while you and your two female buddies end up to one side. You go and choose two watermelons to make breakfast a little more exciting and hope the others manage to get tomatoes, green peppers and onions in all the madness. Our African Cook Group staples.
17:40 – Shopping complete we pack it all onto the trucks outer lockers, climb in and it’s pedal to the metal to get to camp before dark. From experience you know it’s best to get dinner started at 18:00 so your more likely to eat before 20:00.
18:30 – You finally arrive at camp and jump out straight into setting up the kitchen and getting dinner on. You tell your tent buddy you’ll do the tent when the chopping’s done. It’s dark already and it takes 45 minutes to chop all the vegetables, the onions are the worst because their tiny and need peeling!
19:30 – All the vegetables are in the pot with tinned tomatoes, dried garlic granules, stock cubes and a bunch of random herbs and spices. Three of you go and get tents done while one watches the pot. The Slap-Dash Chef is in your group and decides to pop some chick peas and kidney beans into the pot. You lament the fact you had a vision for a bean free dinner that night.
20:00 – Dinner is ready! Everyone serves themselves and cook group eat last. Chow down on something hot that fills your belly, improves your mood and listen to your tour leaders briefing for the following day. After dinner get stuck into cleaning up, safe in the knowledge you won’t have to do the cook group thing again for at least another five days.
21:00 – Cleaning done and the following days truck lunch is semi prepared. Leftover pasta and salad, standard fare. You can now go and join your truck mates at the campsite bar, get a shower, steal a wifi code from your friend or just get straight to bed for your 06:30 departure the next day. It’s a border crossing day so you know it will be another long one.
I wish you all safe and happy travels future Overlanders.