Nomad Adventure Tours: Cape Town to Vic Falls Tour Review

by Melissa on September 18, 2012 · 17 comments

After spending the last two months reliving my time traveling through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe with Nomad Adventure Tours in my day-by-day series, I think it is only fair to my readers that I give you my thoughts about the company itself.

I have made no attempt to hide the fact that I was contacted by Nomad Adventure Tours to partake in their Cape Town to Victoria Falls twenty-day camping tour.  In August 2011, after mentioning on Twitter, as well as on my blog in my Big Announcement post, I had expressed interest in doing an overland tour in Africa.  Within days of the post going live, Jess, Nomad’s amazing social media guru, contacted me to let me know about the company she works for, Nomad Adventure Tours.  After discussions with her and my travel partner, we decided to take their offer of a discounted tour in return for blogging about my experience.  All experiences, thoughts and opinions of my time touring around Africa have remained my own and were in no way swayed by any discounts that I received.
Nomad Adventure Tours

The following post contains my thoughts about the company.

PRE DEPARTURE

Between Jess, Reshma, Claire and Leoni I felt that I was fully taken care of.  Initially, I did not have a particular date picked out, and with the commencement of my round-the-world trip, the last thing on my mind was to be getting into the nitty-gritty details of booking an overland tour in Africa over half a year away.  These ladies were beyond patient with my travel partner and me; always following up every month or so to see if we were ready to commence our booking process; and always promptly answering our questions – no matter how stupid they may have been.   Once a date was picked, we were quickly booked on.  This date ended up not working out for the tour company and they quickly let us know that they did not get the minimum numbers required to run a tour – they offered us two different dates and we ended up going with the May 13th departure.

Despite the very professional and knowledgeable sales agents and various contacts at Nomad Adventure Tours – I have one complaint regarding pre-departure, and that is ease of payment.  I was told that I could either pay via direct deposit, credit card (no AMEX or Diner’s Club) or cash.  Initially I would have chosen the credit card option – however, it was going to be subject to a 5% fee – which given my discount of the tour price, I didn’t feel it was worth paying with that method.  I opted for the direct deposit option – and had my travel partner pay for the both of us from her bank.  When we made our deposit to secure our spots we realized that Nomad Adventure Tours’ bank details that had initially been given to us were wrong, and the payment did not go through.  We tried again with new details for the company and it was accepted, however we were also charged a hefty bank fee on our end to conduct the direct deposit.  This same issue of the money not being received happened again when we made our direct deposit on the remaining money owed- and again we incurred a hefty bank fee on our end to make the direct deposit.  Had I known it was going to be such a hassle, I would have simply paid by credit card and taken the 5% hit.  Oh well – live and learn.  I would suggest that the company also makes PayPal an option for those travelers who use the Internet to make their bookings.

The pre-departure information package that was sent to us upon the company receiving our deposit was very thorough and contained tons of useful information. Kudos to whoever put it together, I felt it was very well written and completely prepared me for my overland journey.

ON TOUR

The lead guide and driver were both seasoned veterans and despite doing the same route numerous times were still able to make it feel fresh and new and were able to get the guests excited about activities and locations.  The trainee guide seemed to have been thrown onto the tour with very little prior training, and it was as if he was more of an assistant to the guide and driver and/or a fellow guest.  He will make a great guide one day, but I feel that he needed a bit more tour specific training prior to going out on tour with us.

nomad adventure tours

The truck was in very good shape and we didn’t encounter any issues such as flat tires or breakdowns –something I had been warned is not unusual to happen to overland trucks traveling throughout Africa.  The design of the truck’s interior was great. The lockers at the back of the truck were spacious enough to fit my 85L backpack and fairly big daypack and still leave a little bit of room.  The four front inward-facing seats were a nice change to the other twenty front-facing seats – although when sitting in those inward facing seats, it makes watching the scenery a bit more difficult.  There were sufficient power points in the truck, which were made available for us to use to charge up electronics once we hit a powered campsite (most were).  The only recommendation I can make for the truck is that perhaps some sort of strap system can be used to keep the sleeping mats from falling into the aisle (or on guests heads) from the overhead area.

nomad adventure tours

The camping equipment was in fairly good shape – there were a few issues here or there with poles and zippers on the tents, but overall I felt the camping gear was in good shape considering how much they get used.  We had two large metal camping tables that we used at mealtimes, which even came with tablecloths – this was a surprising and helpful bonus.  The camping chairs were in good shape and there were more than enough for my group of 18.

nomad adventure tours

The campsites chosen were all very nice – giving travelers a variety of different types of campsites.  They all seemed safe and facilities (when applicable) were clean and despite the large group, I didn’t ever experience a freezing cold shower.  We did stay at a few places that we were warned to lock up our valuables in our lockers and that the truck would also be locked at night – so that was a bit of peace of mind for the travelers to know that the guides were taking every precaution to ensure none of us had anything stolen.

nomad adventure tours
The included activities such as climbing Dune 45, the sunset dinner on the ridge of Fish River Canyon, the visit to the Ghanzi bushpeople, as well as the game drives in Etosha National Park and river cruise in Chobe National Park were very well conducted.  There were a wide variety of included activities that gave travelers an authentic and unforgettable African experience allowing them to encounter people, view wildlife and experience the ever-changing African landscape along the Cape Town to Victoria Falls route.

nomad adventure tours
The optional activities were always made available and we were encouraged to partake, if it fit into our budgets.  There were various bush walks that were made available for a small fee – all of which I participated in, were very informative, entertaining and interesting.  I also partook in optional game drives where I got to see even more African wildlife – including large congregations of elephant, some buffalo, and other various wildlife species.  The options were endless, everything from horse riding to skydiving to township visits to relaxing at a spa – the available activities catered to every type of traveler.

nomad adventure tours
The activities included in the optional ‘Activity Package’ included the unforgettable bush camping excursion into the Okavango Delta, the Himba tribe visit and the Victoria Falls National Park entry were good value for money.  I felt that these experiences were some of the top ones of the tour- and I highly encourage people to purchase the Activity Package for this tour.

nomad adventure tours

Mealtime was always a treat – Shingie was a very talented cook and nobody went hungry.  There were often times enough for people to go for seconds.  Breakfast was basic, most of the time – bread and cereal with an array of different spreads.  We did occasionally get treated with some eggs, beans and bacon for our morning meals- very unexpected but quite a nice touch.  Lunches became monotonous – consisting of sandwiches and salad (and occasionally a pasta or potato salad if there were leftovers from the previous night’s meal).  This is pretty standard of most tour companies – and I wasn’t expecting anything different.  Shingie made sure to give us a wide variety of sandwich meat options throughout the duration of our tour.  Dinners were always lovely – no complaints, they were delicious and hit the spot after our jam-packed days.
nomad adventure tours

THE FINAL WORD

I cannot speak highly enough about my experience I had with Nomad Adventure Tours.  Between the enthusiasm of the staff (both on tour and those I was in contact with prior to my departure), getting to see the amazing sights on the well-thought-out itinerary and having received enough prior information to properly prepare myself for my trip to Africa– I am very happy that I went with Nomad.  I can easily say they truly gave me the ultimate African experience and I cannot wait to return to travel around Africa some more with them.

**If you would like more information about Nomad Adventure Tours and their products – contact me!**

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne September 18, 2012 at 3:10 am

Glad your trip was a positive one. I wouldn’t have any hesitations in booking a trip with Nomad.

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Melissa September 19, 2012 at 8:36 am

I’m glad to hear – maybe one day you can do one of their Accommodated tours – I think it would be a little bit more your pace 🙂

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John September 18, 2012 at 9:59 am

Despite the odd glitch, it sounds like Nomad was accommodating and professional, and made your trip one you will always remember — what more could one ask? Certainly all of your previous posts attest to this.

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Melissa September 19, 2012 at 8:39 am

Even the odd glitches were very minor and nit-picky. But some people look at the little things and completely blow it out of proportion. Unfortunately for the company, the majority of people who will review a company on very public websites (BootsNAll or TripAdvisor or the like) are the ones who had unrealistic expectations of the trip and were sorely disappointed when they were not met – sometimes there is just no pleasing people.

That said, I really enjoyed my time traveling and partnering with them. Cannot wait to partner up again next year 🙂

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Jess September 18, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Mel, you have outdone yourself!

Thank you so much for all of your amazing blog posts and for letting us all live the Cape to Vic Falls tour vicariously through you! Your words and your photos took me on the trip with you and I even had a couple of teary moments when you were talking about your love affair with Africa. I’m truly so inspired that I live in a place where these kinds of experiences and emotions can be lived and felt, made even more real by the beautiful people, unique animals and spectacular scenery that we witness throughout.

Your points above are all well thought out and extremely relevant and we will certainly look into this carefully to ensure that we address our shortcomings and give praise where due.

Can’t wait to have you back on tour with us next year!!

xx Jess

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Melissa September 20, 2012 at 1:41 am

Jess, like I said before – I have only you to thank you this incredible opportunity that I was given. Thank you for contacting me back in August 2011 – it’s been an incredible journey since then.

I have had such a fun time re-living the memories through my blog posts. And as I look back, I remember little things here and there that I may have forgotten. Blogging using the day-by-day format has been a really good way of me keeping a ‘diary’ of my time in Africa. I look forward to doing the East Africa and Gorillas tour next year and getting to do all this (and possibly more?) again. And I hope that you can come out on tour!

You’re lucky to live in such an incredible and inspirational place 🙂 Next time I’m in Cape Town we have to go for half price sushi and cocktails again 😉 mmmmmmm!!!!

Love ya!
Mel xx

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Henk September 19, 2012 at 12:01 am

Hi Melissa

Thank you very much for your feedback, and for pointing out points for improvement. We take all feedback seriously, and as far as possible implement suggested changes.

I am very happy that you had a great time with us, and that our team lived up to the expectations that we set. I am very blessed working with such an amazing team!

I have really enjoyed reading your blog, and I must say since we started reading it I have received numerous requests for employees wanting to go on tour!! Myself included! You have managed to share some of the magic that Africa has to offer, and for that I thank you personally. Whether it is through Nomad or not, this is one place that MUST be on every single person’s bucket list!

I wish you well with all your further travels. We look forward to having you back with us next year to experience East Africa and the Gorillas!!

See you on the road

Henk

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Melissa September 20, 2012 at 9:04 am

Hi Henk

Like I said before, the areas of improvement are very minor – it was very difficult for me to find ‘negative’ things about my tour.

Thanks for having me act as the blogger on tour! I had a blast. Also, thank you for reading along with my adventure – and I’m glad that I was able to get people (even people who are from there) excited about exploring and traveling through Africa.

I very much look forward to returning next year for the East Africa & Gorillas and documenting my journey with you guys again!

ALL THE BEST!
Melissa

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Kyle Goes Global September 20, 2012 at 4:25 am

This is great and loved the optional activities! I’m looking to overland Africa, but it won’t be for a few years – have to do my Latin America extended travel stint first! I’ll definitely look into Nomad Adventures though. Great post Melissa!

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Melissa September 20, 2012 at 9:01 am

Hey Kyle,

Thanks! Glad you liked the review. If you do consider Nomad – please contact them directly (I could give you my contact there) and mention my name/blog, they may be able to work you out a deal.

I look forward to reading all about you Latin America journeys 🙂

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visitourchina October 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Cool,Thanks for your sharing. I love your pictures.I want to have a trip like this.

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Melissa November 5, 2012 at 10:48 pm

I hope you can make it there one day 🙂

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rita March 11, 2013 at 6:02 pm

I just returned from Nomad adventure tour -cape town to victoria falls. There are not enough words to express how great this experience was. The scenic beauty, wild life, cultural experience and treatment by our driver and guide/cook was excellent. our guide/cook made extra efforts to provide us with delicious vegetarian meals with smile on her face. It was so obvious they loved their job and did everything in their power to make us feel comfortable.

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Melissa March 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Thank you so much for this lovely comment, Rita. I’m so glad to hear that you also had an amazing experience with Nomad. They truly do go the extra mile to make their guests happy on tour.

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Partha April 22, 2013 at 2:06 am

I am planning to go onthe tour between Cape Town and Dar. Excited! Are these tours usually packed? I understand that fewer people sign up for these tours? Is that correct?

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Melissa April 22, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Hi Partha, I’m not 100% on this, but as far as I know the Cape Town to Dar Es Salaam tour would actually be 2 tours back-to-back. The Cape Town-Vic Falls portion, followed immediately by the Vic Falls-Nairobi (but you would leave the tour in Dar Es Salaam). If what I think to be true is the case, I’ve been told the Cape Town- Vic Falls route is their busiest route, so that portion may be a bit busier than the other half. It also depends what time of year you are going- some months tend to be busier than others.

If you have any more questions please feel free to email me at: melissa[at]themellybooproject[dot]com.

Also – I’m not sure if you have contacted Nomad and completed your booking, but if you could mention my blog to your sales representative (if booking directly through Nomad), that would be absolutely awesome as Nomad likes to keep track of how many people are reading my blog posts about them.

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Jon Aitken September 5, 2013 at 5:09 am

Hey really great to read your review and I’m looking forward to reading a bit more about your trip too and catching up on some pictures! I travelled on that tour with Nomad in 2010, and it’s good to read that Shingi is still out there, his food and preparation (and inventiveness!) were fantastic – still remember him cooking fried eggs after dune 45 which was a real treat!

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