Overland Truck Laws In Africa

Overland Truck Funnies

When in Africa, many travellers use an Overland Truck to get from Point A to Point B.  There are well defined routes throughout eastern and southwestern Africa that are becoming ever more popular.

Overland Trucks visit Africa icons such as the Serengeti (Tanzania), Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe) and the Okavango Delta (Botswana).

Basically, there are only a couple of options for transport in Africa. Firstly, you could hire or buy a car (or I’d recommend a 4 wheel drive because the roads can be rather crap), but this can be quite expensive.

You could try public transport, which includes the back of miscellaneous goods trucks, but this is usually unreliable and is subject to the laws of ‘Africa Time’ – which means your transport might leave in four minutes, four hours, four weeks, or possibly four months!

I wrote an earlier piece called ‘The Worst Drivers In The World’ which highlighted the joys of travelling in suicidal minibus taxis in southern Africa.

You can read more about travelling Africa overland here!

But the Overland Trucks are another alternative – and it’s fairly reliable!

Since most people only have a finite time for their holiday, the Overland Truck is a viable option because there is a reasonable chance that you might make your destination and your flight home in time.

Overland Trucks are not especially luxurious – actually they’re pretty unpretentious and are designed to get you there in one piece.  They are usually a modified truck that has had a large, metal box welded on the back with a few rows of seats bolted in.  This box also houses the tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks of its occupants. They’re solid, but not spectacular.  I’ve included a photo below:

Overland Truck Inside

Truck journeys are subject to their own laws, of which I’ve observed quite a few times on a couple of trips to Africa.

Overland Truck Laws

Here they are – my 10 Laws of Overland Trucks in Africa:

  • Suspension toughness always takes priority over passenger comfort.
  • Air-conditioning consists of the Overland Truck travelling at 80 kilometres per hour, with all of the windows open.
  • There is always at least one Overland Truck romance.  This romance usually ceases at the end of the Overland Truck journey.
  • Related to the Overland Truck Law above – the original occupants of the Overland Truck tents will drastically change between the start and the end of the trip.
  • There will always be at least one flat tyre.  This will usually be the inside tyre of a set of dual wheels.  See photo below:

Overland Truck Fixing a Tyre

  • Overland Trucks are trained to find the world’s biggest potholes.  See photo below showing evidence of this:

Overland Truck Potholes

  • Overland Trucks are a magnet for a wide range of hawkers wanting to sell everything from beads to potato chips.
  • You will definitely come across at least one of these Travel Personalities. Most likely the Pisshead, the Root Rat, or even a combination of these.
  • Maintenance tools for the Overland Truck include stones, blocks of wood and kicking with steel cap boots.
  • You will most likely eat things like Warthog Pie, and drink the Springbok as part of my 52 Travel Tips for Weird Food and Drink.

What about you? What other Overland Truck laws can you think of?

You can read more Overland Truck adventures in this book, titled ‘African Adventures on an Overland Truck’.

Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Other things to do in Africa – visit the ‘Sand!’ sign or use an Outdoor Toilet.


About Anthony The Travel Tart

The Travel Tart writes about the funny, offbeat and weird aspects of world travel today. Travel wasn’t meant to be taken too seriously! Check out ways to say hi below or sign up for his silly newsletter!

Other Silly Posts!


  1. September 20, 2009    

    See site for some interesting travel photos. Africa and more.
    .-= Dennis Warner´s last blog ..Warner’s World Website =-.

  2. train horns train horns
    November 10, 2009    

    I get what you mean by african time. When I was in Tonga it was exactly the same; reliability=0!

    • November 10, 2009    

      I love and hate African time at the same time! Westerners could learn a bit more in terms of being a bit less enslaved by a timetable!

  3. November 11, 2009    

    Loved this article… I’m just got an old 1989 Hilux d/c 4×4 which I’m planning to use in some surrounding South African terrain… Should be fun!


    • November 11, 2009    

      Excellent Alon! You’ll have a blast. I was offered a spot in a Kombi van through Africa in 2002, but had to go to Europe instead! Would have loved to have done the trip!

  4. December 1, 2009    

    Ah, now you got me hankering for an overland truck romance! The mind boggles!

    Fantastic piece, call me an interweb nurd but I loves me my lists.

    Just one complaint, where is the obsequious picture of the whole truck? How so ever will I find one of these ships of the asphalt desert without proper identifying photos?

  5. February 18, 2010    

    Haha! Thee Overland Truck looks fairly decent … and given the practical considerations, like getting there on time, actually seems ideal. How about another law – “If a small child is going to spew, it will be at a time designed to give passengers the most smell exposure before a rest stop”. r

  6. February 27, 2010    

    Ha ha – that’s fantastic – it really takes me back – annoying at the time but great to reflect on.

  7. car hire in lanzarote car hire in lanzarote
    March 12, 2010    

    Gosh… I love it, specially the photo where everyone seems soooo tired. Very cool. A bit hot for sure… but that’s the whole idea. The Adventure!
    .-= car hire in lanzarote´s last blog ..Affordable rates for car hire in Lanzarote =-.

  8. April 4, 2010    

    hey that was interesting. thanks for sharing your info over land truck law in Africa

  9. April 14, 2010    

    Hehehe. Funny list. Those people look comfy even with the harsh roads. Or they might just be too exhausted to care. Those potholes are enormous! They’re more like meteorite holes! Hopefully the trucks are made to resist these hazards.

  10. May 9, 2010    

    That’s a great post, really reminds me of my old days travelling around the world with a few bucks in my pocket but having one of the best times in my entire life. Keep discovering the world and learn…

  11. May 11, 2010    

    Is there no centralised form of transport apart from the back of pickup trucks?

    That’s kind of cool, but like you say, unreliable. What’s the best way to ensure that you can get from Point A to B on time?

    Cheers, great blog.
    .-= Laura Annerley´s last undefined ..Response cached until Wed 12 @ 1:45 GMT (Refreshes in 23.39 Hours) =-.

  12. May 25, 2010    

    this is a little worrying. what are the chances of the truck being stopped by bandits? seriously though. highway robbers and stuff?

    • May 25, 2010    

      I’ve been on a few overland truck trips – and had no problems at all! It’s a lot of fun too!

  13. September 8, 2010    

    Definitely, I am the kind of person not born for traveling in trucks! I do not know in what moment I hated that much traveling on bus that I prefer spending all my money in a plane than going on bus. I cannot imagine myself traveling in this trucks on the plains of Africa. Just look those pictures! I thing I cannot even fit on those seats. Either way, the trip could be fantastic!

  14. November 21, 2010    

    too funny! Can you imagine the headache associated with having to sit in a truck through the blistering heat – not fun at all if you ask me!

  15. May 4, 2011    

    Great reading about you all ,am a driver of the so called overland trucks in Africa ,i have enjoyed doing safaris for over 7 years and still loving it ,i love adventure, a safari in africa is always an adventure,talk about the hawkers ,the inner tyre ,the pot holes . its all true ,but when the safari is all done we all get together and cry together when we flash back and realise what a wonderful time we just had and now its all over,.log on to http://www.overlandersafaris.com and book your next adventure with me . cheers

  16. May 23, 2011    

    By the look of the people in the bus all being asleep, either they are too stuffed to worry about the potholes or the truck is withstanding them well. If you are taking this type of holiday then I think you just go with the flow and enjoy the “Africa Time” as part of the experience.

  17. January 19, 2012    

    Some good observations there. I ran overland trips for many years throughout the world and saw some of those points! But I loved it so much I decided to set up my own overland company with another driver.
    It is worth noting that that the overland routes in East and Southern Africa are very popular, there are large numbers of trucks plying the Nairobi-Cape Town run.
    We have decided to focus our attention upon the other side of Africa, West Africa, the side that few others get to experience. Countries like Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Cameroon Check us out at http://www.overlandingwestafrica.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Say Hi! Social Media Profiles!

The Travel Tart Newsletter

I’m a member of the:

The Travel Tart Amazon Shop!

Travel Products

Build a Better Travel Blog 125 x 125