In 2016, we flew to South Africa with no plans, ended up buying a truck and overlanding across the African continent for a year. We had little to no idea what we were doing then, but to this day it remains are biggest adventure. We frequently continue to get asked for more details from the trip, and in particular our route and where we stayed.
So after three years of sitting on this massive post I have decided to finish it with the hopes that it will help future overlanders route their Africa overland trip. Here is every single detail about our accommodation from South Africa to Kenya and back some. I could have just give you a straight route, but I figured by sharing our accommodation every night it is sharing our routing and reasoning across Southern and Eastern Africa.
If you want the full no questions asked story of trip, check out our entire Africa story here. If you want the video version see below, and watch out for the embedded map at the bottom of this post.
Watch the journey first
Some things to note about our accommodation across Africa:
- I started this blog post in 2016 when we were on the ground in Africa. I forgot about it and put it to the side till 2020.
- As I wrote the short blurbs I tried to track what the charges were along the way, but that didn’t always happen. You’ll see that some of the campsites have the charges, while some do not. That is because I cannot remember three years later what we were charged. If it has a price, that is because I noted it at the time.
- Some of the pricing may have changed since we visited.
- Accommodation ranges on this list from camping, to en-suite budget rooms, to downright luxury properties. Because of our work as travel bloggers and media we were invited and hosted at many luxury properties across Africa and that is why you’ll see so many of those noted here. They are noted as *hosted, meaning we were guests and received complimentary accommodation. The complimentary safaris that we were fortunate enough to go on helped make this blog the Africa safari database that it is today, and is how we can provide so much free information to readers.
- We didn’t buy our camping equipment and truck until we left South Africa after three months of traveling around in a rental. So you won’t find any African campsites mentioned until Namibia.
- When we were actually on the ground completing this Africa journey, I had no intention to write about and detail every place we stayed. Especially the campsites and basic hotels where there was nothing of note, so you’ll notice some of these accommodations have no photo attached, unfortunately.
- Many African accommodations don’t work like you may be used to. You can’t book many of them online. The more rural they are the harder it will be to book in advance yourself. If you’re looking for campsites the best bet is to call them beforehand, email them directly, or just rock up and hope for the best (this is what we did). For safari lodges, you may need to go through a safari tour operator. We try to link to booking sites when they are available.
- Most of the camping sites we stayed at are small lodges too and have en suite rooms available if you don’t want to camp.
- This long post took me literally years to finish and bring to life. From gathering the information into one place, finding old photos, and looking up all the details for prices or some places. I hope you enjoy it and it’s useful to you in doing a similar trip.
Our Accommodation and Routing across Southern and Eastern Africa
Where We Stayed in South Africa
An Airbnb near Sandton
We stayed at a cute Airbnb when we first arrived in Johannesburg. It was right outside Sandton area and could easily be reached with an Uber. Although we didn’t stay long in Jo-Burg this Airbnb let us get all that we needed to get done while in the city.
Our next stop was Kruger National Park for our first ever safari! We stayed outside the park in Guernsey Private Game Reserve at a small eco-camp called Cheetah Paw. We didn’t know it at the time, but this place is seriously great value in Africa. Great food, comfortable rooms, and wonderful lodge managers. *hosted
Friends Accommodation in Swaziland
We stayed in Swaziland for one week and stayed with a few family friends while we explored the country near the capital. For anyone visiting I would highly recommend staying at Malandela’s B & B. It’s where we would have stayed if we didn’t have friends in the country.
To date, Anvil Bay remains one of my favorite accommodations ever. Located in the Maputo Elephant Reserve and seriously off the beaten track (we never saw anyone else while there), Anvil Bay is a wilderness beach chic paradise. It’s seriously the perfect place to take in all the beauty that Mozambique has to offer. Only accessible by 4×4 or helicopter. *hosted
Blue Anchor Inn
Just outside of Maputo heading north Blue Anchor Inn is a transit lodge where travellers come to break up their travel days. The basic lodge has serious character with many South Africans stopping over while traveling the coast of Mozambique. They have some of the best shrimp curry we have ever tasted. Well worth a stop! (I’m not sure if this is open anymore as I can’t find any info on the place since 2017).
Travessia Beach Lodge
Another great place to stay just north of Inhambane. Travessia Beach Lodge is a small family-run lodge in another secluded spot on the coast. They are set far away from modern civilization, but they are surrounded by friendly local villages whose residents are happy to have a chat with you. Travessia is another place which is great value for money in Mozambique and I could not recommend them enough. The owners of the place even helped us buy our car in South Africa! *hosted
Baobab Beach Backpackers
We knew we had to make it to Vilankulos to see the beautiful Bazaruto Archipelago so we decided to stay at a backpackers right on the shores. While the location and vibe are wonderful the place definitely needs some upkeep.
MozamBeat Hotel is a backpackers paradise in Tofo Beach. They have hostel dorm bed rooms, but we decided to get a private en suite room for only $30 here. This place has something happening every night and has excellent food. We searched around Tofo for a good place to stay and we were very happy with Mozambeats.
Blue Anchor Inn
Heading back to South Africa we had to make a stop at Blue Anchor again to break up our drive and for some shrimp curry! (Still drooling).
Fortis Hotel Malaga
We stopped at this hotel solely to relax and chill out with internet for a few days on our way to Clarens. It was comfortable and had a big open outdoor area for enjoying the sunshine.
Eddies in Clarens
The artsy town of Clarens was one of my favorites in South Africa. It’s a bohemian town in South Africa fit with coffee shops, boutique hotels, breweries, and mountains! We stayed at Eddys for a few days which was a cozy family run guesthouse with fireplaces in every room.
Protea Hotel Clarens
Full Disclosure: We got heavy discounts at Protea Hotels because we had a family member that worked there, so you will probably see them pop up quite a bit on this list.
We really like staying at them throughout Africa because they are chain hotel so you know exactly what you are getting. A comfy bed, hot shower, and even a TV! We stayed at this one for a few days which is a good getaway if you want some time in the mountains it was right down the street from Eddys since they were booked up. Centrally located, comfy beds and hot showers while we drove into Lesotho to go snowboarding and hike up the Drakensberg Amphitheatre.
Montusi Mountain Lodge
We moved to Montusi Mountain Lodge which was on the other side of the Amphitheatre and chilled for a few days here. We were able to go hiking, horseback riding in the Drakensberg, and relax in the fresh mountain air. I loved our afternoons and nights spent here relaxing next to our indoor fireplace. We also were able to enjoy a horseback safari with them at sunset. *hosted
Blue Crane B&B
We decided we had to go back into the Mountain Kingdom to see Maletsunyane Falls. Blue Crane B&B is a locally owned guesthouse run by a very sweet Basotho woman who even cooked us some traditional food. The guesthouse is basic, but it’s safe and I remember it having pretty decent WiFi (a surprise at the time).
Airbnb in Knysna
We wanted to drive along the Garden Route so we made our way to Knysna to enjoy bungee jumping and eating fresh oysters. We stayed at a fully equipped Airbnb while here which was wonderful value for money. Unforunately, the deal was done off of Airbnb to save money so I can’t find the information on this place, but wanted to mention that we stopped in Knysna because it was amazing.
Gondwana Game Lodge
We were invited to check out the new Tented Eco Camp at Gondwana Game Reserve outside Mossel Bay. It’s here we spent the week with the rangers monitoring lion behavior, assessing water pools, and learning about environmentally safe practices in the beautiful fynbos. Gondwana is a great place to come if you want to go on safari, and based nearby in the Western Cape. Their tented eco camp is great for families and very affordable. *hosted
Protea Hotel by Marriott Stellenbosch
Another Protea – this time set along some of the vineyards in Stellenbosch. Out of all the Protea Hotels we stayed at in Africa, I think this one tops them all. It’s a good place to stay if you want a comfortable standard hotel in the Winelands.
Oude Werf Hotel is located right on Church Street in Stellenbosch and has stunning rooms that overlook the garden. You will need to stretch your budget to stay here, but it’s a perfect boutique hotel with a great location. *hosted
We moved to Rozendal to continue our wine tasting extravaganza while in the Winelands. Rozendal is a family-run farm and they even make their own vinegar. It’s a farm stay with a good mix up from Oude Werf, located in the countryside away from the liveliness of downtown Stellenbosch. *hosted
The Capital Mirage
At this point we were two months into constantly traveling around Southern Africa and couldn’t wait to get to Cape Town to settle in the city for a few months. We started our stay with four nights at the Capital Mirage, a new business hotel with Fiber internet in the heart of the Downtown area right near Bo-Kaap. This is a great place to stay in Cape Town for business travelers. *hosted
We were a bit tired from traveling around (we had been in Europe constantly traveling for 10 months straight before arriving in Africa) and wanted to just stay put for a bit. We chose an Airbnb right in the heart of old District 6. I just like to call it Fred’s Place after the nice owner of the apartment. We had a great stay in this completely modern two-story apartment for the month. However, you will need your own transport to stay here as it’s not located in the city. If you don’t have your own transport, Uber is super cheap in Cape Town.
Remember Travessia Beach Lodge in Mozambique? Well, the owners lived in Cape Town so they let us move into their basement apartment for a few weeks. We loved the vibe of their fully equipped apartment. It was located in a cute neighborhood called Vredhoek and was convenient to just about anything we could need.
Airbnb in Muizenberg
We wanted to check out Muizenberg a bit more so we chose a cute apartment rental near Muizenberg. It was great value for the area and the apartment was newly remodeled! Staying near Muizenberg and exploring this area of Cape Town was refreshing for a for a few days. And if you’re in Cape Town for longer than a week I highly recommend jumping around to different areas.
After almost two months in Cape Town we were invited to stay at one of the most luxurious lodges in Cape Town for a weekend getaway. The Tintswalo is located right along Chapmans Peak and has absolutely stunning views of Hout Bay. Forget staying around the V&A Waterfront near all the other hotels, this is the perfect honeymoon vacation spot in Cape Town! *hosted
We had been in crisis mode trying to figure out how to buy our car in South Africa with all their bureaucratic rules so we bounced back and forth from Angela’s place a bit more. Did we mention that our car application got denied and Angela and her husband, Heye, actually helped us sign for the car!
Protea Hotel in Stellenbosch
Still bouncing around trying to get the car sorted out. We were going into high season in Cape Town and couldn’t find anything within our budget near the city so we went back to Stellenbosch while we waited to purchase our car.
Airbnb near Cape Town
We finally had our car and had three days to completely outfit it with camping gear and other essentials. We chose this Airbnb to get sorted at. On the day we finally left South Africa we departed this Airbnb at 6am and made our way to Namibia.
Where We Stayed in Namibia
Gondwana Canyon Roadhouse
After a grueling day driving from Cape Town to Namibia, we finally reached Gondwana Roadhouse Canyon camp near Fish River Canyon at 10:00pm. The staff were great and provided us with a hot meal and a comfortable double room to finally relax in. This would be our first Gondwana property to stay at out of many. The Gondwana Collection is one of the largest employers in the tourism industry in Namibia and does a fantastic job in their communities, bringing Namibians in and giving them proper training to work their way up. I highly recommend staying at any of their lodges or campsites while in Namibia. *hosted
Gondwana Canyon Village
We had reservations at Gondwana’s Canyon Village near the Fish River Canyon next. Canyon Village is a bit fancier than the other lodges in the area and has an idyllic swimming pool to cool off in under the scorching Namibian sun. *hosted
Hansa Haus Guesthouse
We rolled into Luderitz with no booking at all and were surprised to find that almost everything was booked up. We managed to find a small guesthouse in the center of town and negotiated the rental down to $50/night. We had friends stay at the backpackers just down the street for a significantly less amount. And even though I have stayed in hostels for years, I just don’t have the energy for them anymore. So we spent more on the private room instead.
Desert Horse Campsite
We just had to see the unique wild horses of Garub right outside of Aus and managed to spend sunset with them. Then we moved onto Gondwana’s Aus campsite which was a well-run campground with water at every campsite and clean showers. The campsite costs N$160 per person.
Gondwana’s Kalahari Anib Lodge
We wanted to see the red sand of the Kalahari so made way for Gondwana’s Kalahari Anib Lodge. The lodge was absolutely beautiful, modern, and had great buffet food. There was also a campsite run by Gondwana just steps away which was in great shape. *hosted
Gondwana’s Kalahari Farmhouse
We were not on any sort of timeline in Namibia so we checked out Gondwana’s Kalahari Farmhouse after the Anib Lodge. This place is “farmhouse chic” and is great for families around the Kalahari. *hosted
If I had the most perfect Namibia dream it would definitely include Wolwedans in it. Wolwedans is an eco-friendly and well-maintained lodge in the middle of the freaking Namib desert. If you want to splurge on a Namibian holiday Wolwedans is the perfect place to do so. We stayed at all four of their camps. Wolwedans Dune Lodge, Wolwedans Private Camp, Wolwedans Boulder Camp, and Wolwedans Dune Camp (pictured above). My favorite was the Dune Lodge. *hosted
Sossusvlei Sesriem Campsite
We wanted to see Sossusvlei at sunrise so we had to stay inside the Sossusvlei park. One of the only campsites to stay at is at the Sesriem campsite, which we’ve heard from other people is nice but we had the opposite experience. We were put in the “overflow” camping which costs the same as regular camping but on the drysuit rockiest earth in the country away from all the amenities of a campsite. We had to walk quite far to access everything. Don’t let them put you here. This was probably our worst campsite throughout all of Africa – but at least we spent sunrise on the dunes!
Walvis Bay Airbnb
We wanted to spend some time in Swakopmund but struggled to find decent accommodation in our price range. We instead chose this Airbnb in Walvis Bay which to our surprise was part of a beautiful home right across the freaking street from thousands of flamingos. If you have a car I would definitely recommend staying here and making the 30-minute drive into Swakop.
Gondwana’s Etosha Safari Camp
Time to see Etosha! We went to Gondwana’s Etosha Camp and settled in for two days here. There is a nice pool, an awesome “corruption” bar, and good buffet style food here. The whole vibe here is laid back and the perfect place to stay after a day on safari. A good place to stay for going into Etosha National Park for a day. *hosted
Gondwana’s Etosha Lodge
Etosha Lodge is right next to Etosha Camp and is the nicer and newer version of the two. It’s modern, with a big pool overlooking the barren land. It’s more expensive than the Etosha Camp but still affordable for international standards. *hosted
Onguma Tamboti Campsite
After four days we STILL weren’t done with exploring Etosha National Park so we moved to Onguma campsite across the park. I have to give Onguma Campsite the best campsite in Africa award. Each campground has private showers, cooking facilities, and firepit. There is WiFi in the main lounge and a refreshing swimming pool to hangout with people at all for the low cost of 80 Namibian Dollars per person.
Gondwana’s Hakusembe River Lodge
It was finally time to leave the dry desert part of Namibia and continue north through the Caprivi Strip. Hakusembe campsite and lodge is right across from Angola. We were literally waving at Angolans from Namibia! *hosted
Gondwana’s Namushasha River Lodge
About a four-hour drive from Hakusembe was Namushaha. We got caught up at the mechanics all day in Rundu getting our Land Cruiser fixed and arrived at Namashsha in the middle of the night to a warm plate of food waiting for us and an upgrade into their largest family room. This was my favorite lodge out of the entire Gondwana collection in Namibia. Namushasha was perfectly set along the Okavango River and provided complete relaxation. If you’re overlading from Namibia to Botswana via the Caprivi Strip make sure to stop here. *hosted
Where We Stayed in Botswana
Chobe Water Villas
After a month in Namibia, we finally made it to Botswana. Our first stay was at Chobe Water Villas along the great Chobe River. This was the most modern lodge we stayed at in all of Africa, and this was not a bad thing. Great food, great views, surprisingly fast WiFi and great staff made up this brand new lodge! *hosted
We moved to the Zambezi Queen to celebrate Cameron’s Birthday on the Queen. A moving luxury houseboat that moves up and down the Chobe River. Zambezi Queen provides a good atmosphere for those looking to meet other travelers. *hosted
Chobe Princess also moves up and down the Chobe River, but is much smaller than the queen and can moor in smaller spots. Our mooring station on the Chobe River was right across from where the elephants take their baths! *hosted
Camping at Nata Lodge
On our way to the Okavango Delta, we stopped at Nata Campsite which we wish we could have stayed longer at. These campgrounds are massive, but comfortable with hot showers, good security, and plenty of shade! There is even a giant pool and bar which campers can easily use. 80 Botswana Pula per person.
Old Bridge Backpackers
I couldn’t recommend anywhere else in Maun besides the Old Bridge Backpackers. The vibe here is just great with expats and locals gathering to hang out. It gets busy here so I would advise booking a campsite ahead in the busy season (although we had no problem just rolling up the day of in the shoulder season). 80 Botswana Pula per person.
Xobega Island Camp
Xobega Bush Camp is a good mid-range place in the middle of the delta to lay your head for a few nights. They are eco friendly and have good food with nice bush tents. We didn’t have the best experience with their lodge management here, but I hope they have changed or improved since we were there. *hosted
Tuskers Bush Camp
We moved to Tuskers Bush Camp after Xobega to continue our Delta experience and did not have an enjoyable time. Despite charging guests almost $800 a night there was absolutely nothing to do here and no game viewer to explore the concession in. We spent two days baking in the hot African sun here dreaming about air conditioning. We were here as media guests along with other writers, and none of us were treated super well. *hosted
Old Bridge Backpackers
At this point in our overland journey our car broke down and we had to wait for three days to get it fixed. So we drove back to Old Bridge for some partying at the cheap bar with the locals and expats!
Nata Camping Site
When you love something you just have to return. Back to Nata campsite as we made our way to Zambia!
Where we Stayed in Zambia
After a grueling time at the Kazungula Ferry crossing, we settled into one of the best lodges in all of Africa. Tongabezi is a luxurious place to stay and explore the Zambian side of Vic Falls with. The owners even started their own school for the local kids which now has over 200 students! We only stayed here for three nights while making our way to Vic Falls because we knew we would be returning to Zambia later. *hosted
Where we Stayed in Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls River Lodge
Vic Falls River Lodge is in the middle of the Zambezi Park along the Zambezi River. We checked out the Zimbabwean side of Vic Falls from here and spent many evenings cruising along the Zambezi with the hippos. The Victoria Falls River Lodge staff took us to Victoria Falls and also many safaris in the unknown Zambezi Park. *hosted
Victoria Falls Backpackers
We had a few days to kill and decided to catch up on work in Vic Falls. This campsite is basic, but there is a nice swimming pool and decent WiFi.
Masumu River Lodge Camping
We spent hours driving around trying to find a campsite between Vic Falls and our destination of Musango Safari Lodge and finally found Masumu River Lodge hidden deep in the woods near Binga. There was not a soul in sight, but plenty of staff to let us in when we finally got to the gate. I wish we could have camped longer here as each campsite was perfectly placed right along Lake Kariba with piping hot showers.
Musango Island Camp
Christmas on safari is never a bad idea. We drove all around Lake Kariba so that we could spend Christmas in the bush with one of the best safari guides in the industry. Read all about that experience here. *hosted
This is the cheapest campsite we stayed in Africa. $5 per person got us a nice even plot of land and hot showers along Lake Kariba right near the Zimbabwe/Zambian border.
It’s been a while since we stayed in a Protea (and yes we still had a family member discount) so we stayed in the modern and nice hotel through New Years so that we could experience a party in an African capital city!
A good no-frills place to stop in Zambia as you head north in the country. A nice bar and well-maintained campsite with hot showers for 70 Zambian Kwacha a person.
We really enjoyed our time in Kasanka National Park at Wasa Camp. We never saw a single other person in our two days here in the complete wilderness besides our campsite attendant who built us a fire at night and provided us with water. We ventured here to see the world’s largest mammal migration of bats but found out we missed the migration by just a few days. The other problem we had here was that you had to pay $15 per person to camp and $15 a person in park fees plus $10 a day in vehicle fees. Oh and that is per day not per 24 hours! Quite expensive for camping, but we paid and enjoyed our time anyway.
We decided to stay in Mutinando Wilderness camp after we realized we made a huge routing mistake and could no longer get to South Luangwa in the rainy season. The campsites here are private and each have their own cooking platforms. There are great views and countless hiking trails around as well! $15 USD per person camping
Kapishya Hot Springs Campsite
Kapishya Hot Springs Lodge is somewhat of an institution in Zambia. We spent two days here soaking in the natural hot springs. We would have stayed longer but we were out of food and other camping supplies and their restaurant and bar charged too high of prices for our measly budget. $15 per person camping.
Where We Stayed in Malawi
This was one of the longest days we had in Africa. We left Kapishya Hot Springs Lodge at 5 am and pulled into Nkhata Bay in Malawi at 9pm. However, we were just so happy to be in Malawi and to spend some time on Lake Malawi. We settled into Njaya after they offered us a deal for a private ensuite room. This place seemed like it used to be the best place to stay in Malawi, but now we felt it needed some general upkeep to get it back to that state. It still provided stunning views over Lake Malawi and had a friendly staff. $30 for an en-suite room.
We moved to Mayoka because we liked the younger vibe there better and the food they served was fresh and inspiring, they also had a really fun bar staff! Mayoka is run by two British expats who now run a slew of projects in Malawi. If you’re going to stay in Nkhata Bay I would recommend this place over all others. $25 for an en-suite room.
Hakuna Matata Campsite
A basic no thrills campsite Hakuna Matata had extremely affordable camping along the lake. The only downside is they are right next to another campsite where all the overlanders hangout and party all night, but their lodge manager is very friendly and helpful in the bush. 3500 Malawian Kwacha for camping.
We needed some exercise so hiked up to Livingstonia and stayed at Lukwe for a night. This place is so beautiful, lush, and all around healthy we wish we could have stayed longer. Unfortunately we were completely out of cash and Malawi is pretty much a cash-only country. Needless to say, we had enough to stay only one night with a wonderful dinner meal. 20,000 Malawian Kwacha for a beautiful room.
Where We Stayed in Tanzania
Utengule Coffee Farm Campsite
We started our hike down from Livingstonia at 6am and pulled into Utengule Coffee Farm in Tanzania at 9 pm. The border had been brutal and driving through Mbeya, Tanzania unexpectedly at nighttime was less than comforting. The Utengele Coffee Farm is a lodge, but they let us camp in their gardens for $11.50 USD per person.
We decided that we wanted to make our way from Malawi to Zanzibar as we were in search of white sand beaches. To do that would take a few days crossing Tanzania. Kisolanza is a good well run campsite with power, hot showers, and a friendly owner. Not much more we could ask for on our way to Dar Es Salaam. $9 camping
Tan Swiss Lodge
We camped here for a few days to catch up on work. It’s a good base for people to venture into Mikumi National Park. However, Africa was getting expensive for us by this point so we opted out of the ridiculously priced Tanzania park fees and skipped out. The campsite is basic – wouldn’t say it is a “must stay.”
We only drove to Bagamoyo because it was recommended we come here and take a boat straight from here to Zanzibar and bypass Dar Es Salaam. This was bad advice as there is no official boat, just a local dhow that could be unsafe so coming here before Zanzibar from where we were at was a real waste of time I wouldn’t recommend it. I really enjoyed our time in Bagamoyo, but I think this was where Cameron and I both had the worst sleep of our lives. Firefly campsite and hostel is chill with nice healthy Swahili food. They have indoor rooms and also a place to set up a tent, however, evenings on the Tanzanian coast are brutally hot and humid for campers, and I would have preferred an indoor room with a fan for a little more money.
Hong Kong Hotel
We hauled ass from Bagamoyo to Dar Es Salaam in hopes to catch the last ferry to Zanzibar, but ended up missing the ferry to Zanzibar and getting stuck in Dar Es Salaam for a night. We hopped on Booking.com and found a double room for $30 in the city (a bargain in Africa). Hong Kong Hotel is Chinese run and I found the rooms to be comfortable and clean for a one night stay. There is a Chinese restaurant inside the hotel with excellent authentic food – SCORE!
The Zanzibar Residence
This place has the most beautiful pool I have ever seen. Great for vacationers on Zanzibar who want complete seclusion in an upscale resort. *hosted
A basic barefoot establishment on Paje Beach in Zanzibar. We spent a few days here exploring the area and watching the Kite Surfers from our loungers. The rooms were basic and a nice spot to hang out right on the beach, but the food was sadly the worst we had on Zanzibar.
Emerson Spice Hurumzi
A Beautiful BEAUTIFUL timeless hotel in the center of Stone Town. Great Value for a bit of “luxury” in Africa. I highly recommend reserving a table at their Tea House restaurant. *hosted
The sister property to Emerson Spice on Hurumzi this hotel is equally as beautiful. You really can’t go wrong with either in Stone Town. *hosted
Park Hyatt Zanzibar
Right along the Stone Town Beach, I have to say this is one stunning property. All the class and charm of a Park Hyatt mixed with the Swahili flair of Zanzibar. *hosted
Al Minar Hotel
We had forgotten to book a few nights in Zanzibar in advance so we hopped on Booking.com and within an hour shower up at Al Minar in Stone Town. Wouldn’t say it is a great hotel, but for the price, I suppose it is okay.
We moved to Nungwi and spent a night at the locally owned Highland Bungalows, that we booked last minute. The owner here has that genuine Tanzanian friendliness going for him and although we weren’t expecting much we had a fantastic stay here.
Kilindi is one of the most relaxing lodges in Africa that we have ever stayed at. Kilindi isn’t cheap, but if you can splurge for a special occasion on Zanzibar then this is the place to stay. Everything is just so darn effortless. See the full review here. *hosted
Essque is one of the more affordable resorts to stay at on Zanzibar, however, it comes with sheer size and less of a boutique and intimate feel like some of the other hotels we stayed in Zanzibar. From the pool to the foyer, to even the wonderful jetty everything is humongous. We had a good time here relaxing at on the jetty reading a book! *hosted
Tulia Beach Resort
Tulia is an all-inclusive resort on the beautiful Pongwe Beach. They have a great bar with well-trained bartenders and an inspiring pool to hang out at. *hosted
Hong Kong Hotel
Sadly we had to return to Dar Es Salaam after a wonderful time on Zanzibar. Of course, we wanted Chinese food so went back to the Hong Kong Hotel!
Up the coast and back to Firefly. Since we were heading up this should have been our first time at Firefly if we hadn’t gotten bad advice from before.
The Tides Lodge
Ushongo Beach was a nice change up from touristy Zanzibar. The beaches weren’t as spoiled and there were hardly any other people around. We stayed at The Tides Lodge right on the beach. *hosted
The owners at Tides Lodge invited us to try out the private Mawimbi Villa for a few days since it was pretty new. This is a two-story massive mansion about a 39-minute walk away from the Tides, with virtually no other people around. Read the full review of the two properties here. *hosted
Irente Farm Lodge
We wanted to check out the Usambara Mountains and Lushoto was calling our name. Irente Farm Lodge had great camping with hot showers and healthy food. We went hiking here and checked out beautiful views over Tanzania.
Kilimanjaro View Lodge
Want to camp at the base of Kilimanjaro? You’ll need a 4×4 but the camping at Kilimanjaro View Lodge is heavenly. There was no power when we arrived and not a soul in sight, but we woke up at sunrise for a glimpse of Africa’s tallest peak and all was well.
Meserani Snake Park
Did we mention we lived through a flash flood? Yep, that was at the Meserani Snake Park outside of Arusha. We were only going to stay a night here on our way to the Serengeti but after getting hit with massive rains and floods we had no choice but to stay. This place is another one of those African institutions especially for overlanders and has a cool bar and good food. Ma and BJ are the owners are quite possibly some of the nicest people we have met. They ended up fixing our car for free after the flood and provided us with free food, accommodation, and even dry clothes!
Wanting to go into the Serengeti we went to the Simba Portfolio Collection in Tanzania. The portfolio contains three lodges: Simba Karatu, Simba Serengeti, and Simba Tarangire. We had a job with them to film a promotional video for their company and ended up staying nine nights. None of them are actually located in the actual national parks, but instead are right on the outskirts. We especially loved the location of their Serengeti lodge as they are right in the Wildlife Management Area and hyena calls and lion roars can be heard while falling asleep. *hosted
Meserani Snake Park
Back to pick up our car and continue on with the road trip!
Aqua Vitae Resort
This place was perhaps the most interesting we stopped in throughout our trip. We spent some time in the Tanzanian city of Singida looking for a comfortable place to lay our head for the night on our way to Rwanda. We landed on Aqua Vitae Resort because of the rather large um…dinosaur statues roaming the grounds. This place is stuck in the ’80s, or the African early 2000’s if you would rather. However, rooms are incredibly affordable at 30,000 Tanzanian Shilling for a double room. Skip the food…
Where We Stayed in Rwanda
Umbrella Pine Guesthouse
After 16 hours of driving we finally crossed over the Tanzanian-Rwandan border at 7 pm. It was dark and we were tired from such a long drive. We just wanted to camp at the Umbrella Pine Guesthouse…which was very much a local Rwandan guesthouse. Their campsite was a large open field surrounded by drunk locals. There were no toilets or facilities so we bought a room for the night to be able to shower, but after seeing it we decided we would rather stay in our own tent. We ended up not even using the bathroom we purchased because sometimes it’s just better to go outside if you know what I’m saying. 🤮 However, the staff were very friendly here!
Airbnb in Kigali
By the time we got to Kigali we couldn’t wait for a comfortable place to stay. We landed on this Airbnb for $30 a night. This place was clean and comfortable, but only those with a car can easily get here.
One of the only places to camp if you want to go chimp trekking in Nyungwe Forest and it is a beautiful place. Camping here costs $30 per tent, not per person and has a firepit and ablutions. The drive from here to the Chimp Trekking sight will take at least one hour in the early morning.
Home Saint Jean on Lake Kivu
Pulling up to Home Saint-Jean was a pleasant surprise. This guesthouse has the perfect location overlooking beautiful Lake Kivu. Rooms and food were very reasonable and the place had a nice social atmosphere filled with both locals and foreigners.
We decided to camp here off the recommendations of some overlanders on Facebook and really like the feel of the main lodge. Paradis Malahide is a locally run lodge on the shores of Lake Kivu. They have double rooms and will also let people camp here for 10,000 Rwandan Francs. Their food is good and the staff are absolutely delightful.
Where We Stayed in Uganda
Bunyonyi View Gorilla Packers
Pulled in here after another border crossing day. Bunyonyi View had decent rooms at an okay price and a good location overlooking Lake Bunyonyi nearby.
Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge
If you’re wanting to splurge on your Gorilla Trek in Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest then Bwindi Lodge is your place. We loved the location of this lodge so much we wrote a whole review on it. *hosted
@ The River Ishasha
It started pouring cats and dogs while we were driving along Queen Elizabeth National Park so we chose to stop at @ The River. The place is a foreign-run campsite with some locally built chalets on a river. We were charged $100 for ensuite room and breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it was pouring and we didn’t want to camp because of this and decided to pay it. I felt the chalets and food were overpriced here and would definitely stick with camping with your own food or avoiding the police altogether. The owner here was rude, disgusting, and treated his local staff poorly.
Rwenzori View Guesthouse
A cute little guesthouse run by an older Dutch couple. We enjoyed a few quiet nights here while we hung out in Fort Portal. Shared bathrooms rooms are a pretty decent price and the breakfast is wonderful. Every night there is a family-style dinner served in the main area for 30,000 Ugandan Shillings.
This was one of my favorite Proteas we stayed at. Clean, comfortable, and right on Lake Victoria. We enjoyed a few nights here hanging out in Entebbe, watching movies, going to the coffee shop, and eating Thai Food. They also have an amazing breakfast right on Lake Victoria. It’s also where we sold our car later on (photo above!)
The Haven wins my award for the second best campsite we stayed at. The Haven has rooms, but we wanted to camp while overlooking the famous Nile River. We enjoyed a few Gin and Tonics by our fire here. The campsite even has WiFi, power points, a sink, and clean bathrooms.
The perfect place to stay for chimp trekking in Kibale Forest. The Primate Lodge has super comfortable rooms with delicious food all around. I wish we could have spent more time here relaxing with the primates. The lodge is also steps away from the starting point for the chimp trekking. *hosted
Nile River Explorers
We drove to Jinja again because we were trying to sell our vehicle and people in the Jinja wanted to check out the car. Yea, that’s the way it works in Uganda when car shopping and buying…the seller actually drives to the potential buyer. One of the people interested works at Nile River Explorers camp so we decided to just camp here for the night. A good place to stay if you’re looking to party in Jinja.
We finally managed to sell our car in Uganda! After that was sold we were stranded without our transport for a few days so I was happy to call the Protea Entebbe home until we had our flight to Kenya.
This marks the end of our camping journey. When we sold the car, we let go of our tent, and other camping supplies as we flew to Nairobi.
Where We Stayed in Kenya
Tune Hotel Nairobi
We were back and forth into Nairobi four times, and most of those times we went to the Tune Hotel. It’s in a central neighborhood and has clean, modern, and comfortable (albeit small) rooms. Plus their breakfast is included and amazing!
The amazing Hemingways Collection agreed to host us for three two amazing nights at their beautiful Hemingways Nairobi property before we set out to the Masai Mara with them. Seriously this is the best hotel in all of Nairobi and if you can swing the cash I would highly recommend it. The grounds, the rooms, the pool, the breakfast – all impeccable. *hosted
Hemingways Ol Seki Mara Camp
This is another Hemingways property and is nice to visit in conjunction with their Nairobi location. Located on the award-winning Naboisho Conservancy, Hemingway’s Ol Seki offers guest an amazing wildlife experience. The camp is intimate with ten tents perched on an escarpment. Tents are massive and modern with canvas all around including two massive family tents. The bathrooms and luggage area are large and we always had hot water. *hosted
Radisson Blue Nairobi
When we were visiting Nairobi the Radisson Blue hadn’t even opened yet, but they were accepting media to cover the opening. We were invited to stay here for a few days and were pretty much the only guests in the entire hotel! The Radisson Blue has a beautiful outdoor bar and pool overlooking the entire city.
Governors Camp Masai Mara
We were heading back to the Masai Mara, but a completely different area of it with Governors Camp.
Nearly a century ago in an exceptional part of the Mara the governors of colonial Kenya had their exclusive camp along the banks of the Mara River. The spot was world-renowned for its exceptional game and beauty and was the camp Teddy Roosevelt used on his safaris.
That very spot is now home to Governor’s Camp, the first tented camp in the Masai Mara. Over the years the operation has expanded and it is the largest we have stayed in with nearly 37 tents. It has the prime spot in the Mara and it was here that we had one of our best safaris in all of Africa. *hosted
We had on more stop in the Masai Mara. At Cottar’s 1920s Camp guests are transported back in time to the essence of the original safari. The guide on this journey is Calvin Cottar. The Cottar family has been guiding guests around Kenya since those early colonial days. They are the “safari family,” and have guided a long list of celebrities, royalty, and aristocrats over a century of operating in Kenya. This camp is perfect and the epitome of a timeless safari. Tents, food, activities are all perfect here – BUT it is outside of the actual Masai Mara park and we didn’t see as many animals here as we did at Governors Camp. *hosted
The Sands at Nomad
After the Masai Mara we made our way to the Kenyan Coast for some beach time. Beach time is crucial after safari! The Sands at Nomad is located on one of the main stretches of Diani Beach amongst much of the local life in the area. This resort is a medium-sized property good for getting to know people but retains some intimacy in their 26 acres of forest.
*Here we found a beautiful white sand beach or the pool, both are perfect for hot days. We found the staff, amenities, and location of The Sands at Nomad to all be ideal, but the real award goes to their restaurant. Nomad Restaurant is right on the resort property just steps away from all rooms and was some of the best food we had in Diani Beach. *hosted
The Sands at Chale Island
Chale Island is literally 600m walk from the mainland – yes you can walk to this island filled with magnificent birdlife, monkeys, and crystal clear swimming water. The Sands at Chale Island is the sister property to The Sands at Nomad. Chale Island operates completely independent from its mainland counterpart above. Half of the island is a resort and the other half is a sacred protected forest.
The beaches here aren’t littered with beach touts or hunks of seaweed. Instead, they are idyllic for swimming in a warm Indian Ocean paradise and are often frequented by sea turtles. Besides lounging on the beautiful beaches here guests can walk around the entire island at low tide, kayak, and wander among the mangroves. Another great thing to do here is sit in your private beach chairs and listen to the island birds while watching the cheeky colobus monkeys eat berries in front of you. *hosted
Kinondo Kwetu is a barefoot boutique paradise and was one of our favorite stays in all of Africa. Here you’ll find healthy food, a gym, large lap pool, quiet beach, and an inviting atmosphere. Our time spent at Kinondo Kwetu was strictly no shoes (our own rules). The beach lodge is situated away from the busy strip of hotels on Diani Beach, instead it is just south of what is Kinondo Beach.
The Bohemian lodge has received various accolades for its work in environmental sustainability and community development. That scores big for us as we’re always in search of to reduce our footprint through eco friendly products and businesses. This is driven by a young Swedish family who moved to Kenya over a decade ago to set up their lodge. Since then it has grown from a handful of cottages to a secret escape for families and honeymooners on the Kenyan coast. *hosted
If there is a mega resort on Diani Beach – Swahili Beach is it and we spent our last few days on the Kenyan Coast here. At Swahili Beach, bigger is better, and that’s exactly how you feel when you first walk through the large Arabic style doors. Located right off the main road in Diani Beach, Swahili Beach was built with Arabic and Swahili architecture in mind. The decor and furnishings at Swahili Beach make you instantly feel as if you are in a Sultan’s palace centuries ago.
Unfortunately it rained more than we would have wanted during our time here, but still an amazing place to chill out for a few days in Diani Beach. *hosted
Ololo Safari Lodge
Sadly, our time in Kenya was coming to an end, so we flew back to Nairobi for one more night before heading to Zambia. Our last stop was Nairobi National Park. We arrived at Ololo Lodge not knowing what to expect. The location of the quaint country lodge is on the Southern border of Nairobi National Park. The lodge is owned and operated by a lovely Australian couple who were crazy enough to give African lodge management a stab.
They have taken everything they know from their two backgrounds – farming and furniture design – to build Ololo Lodge. The lodge used to be a traditional farmhouse that was restored into comfortable stable rooms, Safari tents, and even a tower suite that all compliment the old countryside theme.
They strive to grow as much as their food as they can from a large organic garden on the property. Which means they serve up some delicious farm to table cuisine. Even if you are not staying at Ololo you can swing by for a meal on their beautiful property. I would recommend staying here whil in Nairobi, but if that’s not possible at least stop by for a farm to table lunch! *hosted
This next part marks us embarking on a work trip with select safari operators that brought us back to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania for safari coverage. It was essentially a month-long safari work trip. The rest of these accommodations are hosted.
Where We Stayed in Zambia
Latitude 15 Degrees
We flew from Nairobi back down to Lusaka to start an epic safari through Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. Our first stop was Lusaka where we would fly to South Luangwa National Park. We nedded a place to rest our head fo rth enight and the Boutique Hotel Lusaka is one of the nicest boutique hotels in the capital. Highly recomend visiting this little oasis in the capital. They have delicious food as well as a spa.
Operated by an amazing safari company, Norman Carr Safaris, Chinzombo is easily the most luxurious safari lodge in Zambia. We were supposed to be here six months prior before we drove 1200 km in the wrong direction in January, but had to cancel our reservation. Thankfully we were returning now. Chinzombo lodge blends between modernity and bush with grace. As each villa has a private pool, air conditioned bed canopy, WiFi, bathtub, shower, lounge, and outdoor patio.
We were never uncomfortable in our villa with eco-friendly toiletries, coffee table books to pass the time, and staff happy to deliver us whatever we need. On one evening we were delighted to return to our room to find a candlelit dinner for two. That night we had a romantic three-course meal while hippos joined us munching on the riverbank grass.
The views over the Luangwa River, a wildlife hotspot, are fantastic and it was difficult to want to leave our villa. Animals frequent the camp with lions, elephants, and various antelope being regular visitors. It’s easily the best lodge in South Luangwa, but definitely the most expensive too.
Luangwa River Camp
Luangwa River Camp lies within an ebony grove on the banks of the Luangwa River directly across from the game rich area known as the Luangwa Wafwa. We transferred here after Chinzombo. It’s a nice mid range and more affordable safari option in South Luangwa compared to Chinzombo. The camp is private with only five villas so time spent in camp is relaxing and intimate.
Suites are rustic and spacious featuring a massive sunken bathtub. All of your needs are provided for in the room with a full laundry service and lounge. Rooms sit at ground level and sleeping in the rooms at night feel allowed us to draw a connection to the bush.
Ila Safari Lodge
After South Luangwa, we flew to Kafue National Park and stayed at Ila Safari Lodge. This is a beautifl eco lodge that sits on the banks of the Kafue River with a large semi-circle main lodge. The thatched structure offers an infinity pool, elevated dining area, coffee station, full bar, and sun deck with a fire pit. After sundowners on the river, we enjoyed sitting around the fire and listening to the sounds of the Kafue while drinking our Irish whiskeys from their nightcap bar.
Our meals at the lodge were great and they did a wonderful job at crafting two unique experiences. The first being a lunch floating down the river and the other a bush breakfast cooked over a fire. These are signature dining experiences for anyone visiting the lodge!
Another camp that is located far away from the modern world, but still on the banks of the Zambezi is Anabezi on the lower end Lower Zambezi National Park, where we flew to after Kafue.
The name comes from the Ana Tree, which can be found all along the property. Anabezi is one of the largest camps in the Lower Zambezi but is easily one of the most luxurious. The camp caters to the modern traveler who still wants to get lost in the Zambian Bush.
There are 12 spacious tents at Anabezi, two main lodges and bars, and two main pools. We were in for a surprise when we stepped into our tent at Anabezi as this is perhaps one of the biggest tents we have stayed in Africa. Each tent features two twin or double beds, an indoor and outdoor bathroom, indoor and outdoor lounge area, as well as a plunge pool on a raised deck overlooking the Mushika River flood plain. Unfortunately we were running low on time in Zambia and only had one night at Anabezi.
Chiawa and Old Mondoro
Chiawa and Old Mondoro are owned and operated by the same family in the Lower Zambezi National Park. I would suggest anyone traveling to Lower Zambezi to try out both camps.
Chiawa is the larger of the two and in some ways slightly more luxurious. The tents are all large and comfortable with an outdoor shower and indoor bathtub and shower. The main lounge area is fit to handle at least twenty guests and features a bar, upstairs lookout, pool, and even a fitness center.
Old Mondoro is the smaller of the two and much more “back to Africa” feeling, I loved Old Mondoro more than Chiawa as it felt more “Africa.” At Old Mondoro guests are truly in the heart of the African wilderness – no WiFi, no unnecessary structures, and completely open. Both camps offer excellent guiding, food, and activities in the Lower Zambezi.
Where We Stayed in Zimbabwe
After Zambia we were due to head back to Zimbabwe. We had quite the trip planned through Zim. Our first stop was Mana Pools National Park, but to get there from Zambia to Zimbabwe we re actually going to canoe for four days down the Zambezi River. Our canoe safari was run by Natureways, a local Zimbabwean company with excellent guides. We spent three nights camping in the middle of the Zambezi with hippos roaming all around. This is truly the adventurous way to travel Africa.
It was only five minutes after we walked into our room that three elephants walked only meters away from our tent at Little Ruckomechi. Little Ruckomechi, or “Little Ruck” is the sister camp to Ruckomechi Camp in Wilderness Safari’s own private concession in Mana Pools.
Little Ruck has four tents and can only accommodate eight people at camp. This makes the whole feeling of being in Mana Pools much more intimate and relaxed. Mana Pools is already far removed from the madding crowds of busier parks so to stay in such an intimate camp feels wild and unique.
Ruckomechi consists of 10 large spacious safari tents and is the big sister to Little Ruck. We moved here after a glorious one night stay at Little Ruck. Each room here is stylishly decorated and has a large bedroom area. The en-suite bathroom has an amazing shower that opens up to the Zambezi via a tent flap allowing you to choose indoors or outdoors, we choose outdoors.
A unique experience at Ruckomechi is a bath on the banks of the Zambezi River, where guests can soak in a bubble bath. We, of course, had to take full advantage of this enjoyed a romantic bubble bath together while listening to the sounds of the wild.
We had high expectations for our first Wilderness Safaris camps and we were not let down in Mapa Pools
Since we loved our time at Wilderness Safaris in Mana Pools National Park we were more than excited to experience their Little Makalolo camp while in Hwange. Little Makalolo is special as it was one a few private camps located within Hwange National Park.
Little Makalolo, or “Little Mack” is a small camp with only six tents and a private waterhole with an above ground hide. The six tents are connected via a teak walkway. On the two nights we stayed we saw a side-striped jackal and a hyena on the path, and felt reassured to have guides walking with us at night.
We stayed at two separate lodges with Imvelo Safaris. They have a private concession just outside Hwange National Park and two famous lions referred to as the Bomani Brothers like to hang around the region. They’re a beautiful pair and they are likely the offspring of the famous Cecil the Lion (Cecil and his brother both mated with the mother).
Imvelo Safaris also operates Stofies Hide which is an exceptional place to get photos. The hide is one of the only ones of its stature in Zimbabwe. Imvelo Safaris is responsible for managing the pan as well as many other in the park. They pay to run the pumps and it’s a crucial element in the conservation of the park.
Bomani Tented Lodge
Bomani Tented Lodge is more in line with a traditional safari camp with large tents on a pan. The camp lies in the private Bomani concession near Hwange National Park. The area is surrounded by large plains that and the camp often sees massive buffalo and elephant herds at the watering hole.
The main lodge sits on the Bomani pan and consists of a dining room, lounge, and bar, built on a raised viewing platform. Not far from the pan’s edge lies the camps fire pit the perfect place to relax after sundown. The Bomani camp staff were wonderful in preparing us a special candlelit dinner outside our room while listening to the sounds of hyena in the distance.
Our last stop in Zimbabwe was Gorges Lodge back near Victoria Falls. Built on the edge of Batoka Gorge, every room at Gorges Lodge has one of the best views we’ve ever seen. The lodges main highlight is its proximity to Victoria Falls. With only a 30 minute drive to the Vic Falls entrance, this is an ideal place to stay when viewing the magnificent falls.
Where We Stayed in Tanzania
Sand Rivers Selous
Our very last stop in Africa was Tanzania. Yep, we were heading back to Tanzania for a second time an were so excited! Tanzania is one of the best countries in the world to go on safari, and I’m not just talking about traveling to the Serengeti. Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest game reserves in the world and one of the least visited. We enjoyed a four day Selous safari with Nomad Tanzania.
The eight thatched guest bandas, are set on raised wooden platforms that overlook the river. The rooms are open-fronted, low-key and permit the wilderness to drift into the villas. The sounds of the babbling Rufiji river are ever present while hippos grunt happily along the riverbanks.
Sand Rivers Selous also offers guests the chance to go on game drives, fishing, boat cruises, walking safaris, and fly camping. Fly camping is their signature experience which we recommend for anyone that wants to go camping in Africa in comfort.
Kigelia Ruaha Camp
Kigelia Camp, like Old Mondoro in Zambia, is another African camp that is back to basics in Ruaha National Park – our last safari destination in Africa. Located along the dry riverbeds in Ruaha National Park this embodies the classic safari camp.
This was our last stop in Africa and it couldn’t have been more fitting. Falling asleep to the sounds of lions grunting and waking up to the sounds of fish eagles calling is exactly what we want out of an African safari.
Here is a map of our Africa accommodation + route
There you have it – our entire accommodation and itinerary while overlanding Africa. I hope it helps you with your African overland routing. Many of these campsites were hard for us to find a few years ago, so hopefully this makes it easier for others. Our route, though far from perfect, was a pretty ideal one through Southern and Eastern Africa. We planned it all ourselves with absolutely no help from books, guides, or the internet. We ventured out last minute and many times only planned our route just days in advance, while others may take years to route this. So whether you’re camping, or on a safari, if this route and accommodation guide is useful to you it has served its purpose. As mentioned earlier, if you want the entire Africa story you can read that here.
- What we learned from overlanding Africa
- How we drove across Africa for
- Buying a car in South Africa
- The best movies about Africa that will inspire you to go
- How to plan an African safari
- Why is traveling Africa so expensive?
- Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to travel Africa
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