Africa's Wild World

With tour operator Drifters, your clients don’t have to be experts in order to camp in Africa.

By: Terra Judge

“You know you’re in Africa when you look out the window of your shower and see an elephant strolling past,” said a fellow traveler on an adventure tour through southern Africa. City-slickers that have never popped a tent, slept on a bedroll or carried a flashlight with them to the restroom but have always wanted to can experience Africa in its wildest form with Drifters, a tour operator that offers guided camping trips.

Wilderness newcomers and experienced campers will find it fun and easy to help set up camp, make dinner and sit around a campfire while listening to the roaring and huffing of far-off lions. And of course, the tremendous mega-fauna that stroll through campsites regularly adds to the excitement.

The southern Africa-owned and -based tour operator, part of Premier Tours, has been specializing in affordable, activity-packed vacations since 1983. Drifters owns game reserves, bush camps, inns, boats, canoes, adventure equipment and other resources that allow the company to offer clients the best of Africa’s activities without added expense. In addition, clients can be assured that Drifters has a base in every country they operate in, offering both added security to clients and jobs to local people.

Travelers journey through their itineraries on a massive green custom Mercedes Benz 4X4 with 13 passenger seats. Windows extend from the ceiling to the floor for maximum game viewing. Personal luggage is stowed in individual lockers. Make sure to tell clients to bring a compact sleeping bag (if not renting one directly from Drifters) and a long, thin bag to better fit in the lockers. A small overnight bag is also useful to avoid the annoying haul of luggage to and from the truck and tent every night.

Drifters covers most meals and guides use local foods to create mouth-watering dishes no camp food here! Chairs, tents and sleeping mats are also provided, and if inns or bungalows are available in a given location those too are included in the price. Those who have never camped before need not worry everyone is given a tent tutorial and guides offer as much, or as little, help with basics as necessary. This offers a tour made for a wide range of experience levels those who wish to can truly rough it while those needing a helping hand will find ample assistance.

Itineraries are varied and cover a variety of locations. Clients can choose to stick to one country such as Botswana, Namibia or South Africa or simply a destination such as Kruger Park. For a larger view of the continent, urge clients to take the Southern Circle, including South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique in 24 days. Trips like these allow first-time Africa travelers to sample a great part of the continent and experience many different aspects. However, prepare clients for long truck rides, as huge distances must be covered to see as much as possible. Most tours are roundtrip from Johannesburg.

A highlight and an often overlooked destination is Mozambique, included in multi-country itineraries and the 17-day Mozambique Transfrontier. Thatched huts located directly on the beach are used for accommodations, and the startlingly empty beaches of sugary sand stretch for miles. Clients even have the opportunity to snorkel with whale sharks, the world’s largest fish in an unspoiled environment that may not always be so pure.

Other activity options include the chances to bungee jump, take a jet boat to Victoria Falls, canoe and cruise the Zambezi River, ride on an elephant during safari, walk with lions, take a horseback ride, snorkel in Lake Malawi, whitewater raft and the must-do night drive to spot the elusive leopard. Multiple game drives are also included.