What you need to know to manage your expectations

It is very important to separate situations that you control from situations which Nomad controls. It is unreasonable to hold Nomad responsible for things beyond our control. Understanding this will help you get some perspective and to have realistic expectations. This is an adventure tour and we do our best to take you into remote areas and by definition we are attempting to remove ourselves from the world as you know it.

The Guides

Both crew members have extensive experience in what they do, but only one may be tour leader (either the driver or the courier/cook). Although our guides are equipped for the work they do, please remember they are human too. Adventure tours place enormous demands on our guides due to the nature and duration of the tours.  If you are unhappy or have any concerns we ask that you have a quiet conversation with your guide to address these matters. Guides do this job because they love Africa and want to share it with our guests, we request that they are treated with respect as this is how they treat their guests.  It should also be noted that guests should not hold guides responsible for things that are out of their control.

On occasion the tour leader and driver will need to make a decision with regards to health, safety, security and circumstances beyond their control. This may not always be a popular decision but as far as possible, your guide will take into account the wishes of the group as a whole, your understanding and patience at these times will be much appreciated. Sometimes both crew members will need to discuss the matter together, this means that you’ll not always have someone in the back of the vehicle to answer questions and remark on certain locations. For anything that you would like to know or have explained, please ask the guides so they may assist.

In terms of the information that is provided on tour, some guests prefer more information, others prefer less, if you feel that you’re not receiving enough information, or that you’re receiving too much, please let the guides know so that they can do something about it. It is always easier to sort this out on tour than to complain about it afterwards.  The Tour Leader has complete authority on tour and his/her decision is final however you are free to contact the Nomad office on the emergency contact number if you feel that you’d like to speak to one of our representatives.

 

Translators / Foreign Language Tours

Camping & accommodated Tours:  On some of our tour departures we have German or Italian translators who are there to assist guests who are not confident in speaking English. Please keep in mind that these translators are often foreign students and are sometimes not acquainted with the tour. They are not guides and are only there to assist with the communication between the guides and guests. They are not specialized in tour guiding nor are they professional interpreters. They will not do line by line translations directly from the guide to the guest unless requested to do so by the guests.  These tours are still conducted in English by an English speaking guide, however the translator is there to assist with the general translations. 

Small Group Tours:  On selected departure dates we offer German Guided tours which have a qualified German Guide on board the truck.  These tours are different from the German Translated tours as these tours are for guests who don’t speak English.   

Tipping

In general tipping in restaurants is expected and is around 10% for good service, more if you have received exceptional service, and, feel free not to tip at all if you received poor service. Tipping taxi drivers etc is really at your own discretion and not always expected. If in doubt please ask your guides. It is expected to tip porters and car guards. Ask your guides how much is appropriate in local currency. 

Our crew can be tipped if you feel that they have done a good job and/or gone above and beyond the call of duty. The best way to arrange tips is to elect one person in the group to collect the money. We recommend USD2-3 per day per person, per guide as a fair tip. So if you have 3-crew on a tour, we would recommend that 3 envelopes are used and each crew member’s name written on one. 

Place what you feel is fair into each envelope and the elected person can give these to the crew at the end of the tour. If you do not feel that the crew deserves a tip, please, do not tip them. Please remember that tipping is only for exceptional service and is not at all compulsory or expected. 

The Group

Travelling in a group offers many advantages and allows you to share the experience with like-minded fun-seekers!  It’s also a more affordable and more secure way to explore an unfamiliar continent. Making friends with your fellow travellers will certainly help you make the most of your tour and an open mind may sometimes be necessary as we have a range of cultures and nationalities on our trucks.

The guides are there to ensure that the tour runs smoothly and this includes the group dynamic. If you feel that someone is behaving in an unsociable way the right thing to do would be to mention this in a non-confrontational way to the individual. If you do not feel comfortable with this please speak to our crew.  You are travelling in a truck together and the best way to avoid petty conflict is to follow the Guide’s schedule with regards to keeping the truck and environment clean and tidy at all times, the fastest way to lose friends on tour is to leave your smelly hiking boots all over the place.

In all honesty, it is very rare that we have passenger conflict on tour and we feel very lucky that the Nomad guests have always been like-minded and considerate people and we hear far more stories about people making friends for life (as well as meeting future husbands and wives) than we do about the very rare unsociable passenger problem.

An average day on tour

The days usually start early and end late, although a lot of time is spent travelling, we do include a lot into every day. Expect some frustrations, you are in Africa and things don’t work that well sometimes. Coming on tour with an open mind, flexible attitude and realistic expectations will ensure you have a great time.

An average day on tour begins around 6am and departure is after breakfast at around 7am. There are some mornings that need a very early start to reach our next destination, or to photograph a spectacular African sunrise – it’s all part of the adventure. Prepare yourself for the worst, especially in winter when days are shorter. We lose approximately 5 hours of daylight in winter so it may happen that you’re setting up your tent in the dark or that some optional activities are not available then.

Travellers will often request that a guide stops during the day for a bathroom break, shopping stop or photo stop.  This means that every couple of hours the guides will stop somewhere for the guests to do this.  Often they will choose a shopping mall or a fuel station to do this as these have a good selection of items for people to purchase and they also usually have the best ablution facilities.  We usually take a lunch-break en route and depending on the distance to be covered, afternoons are often spent relaxing or exploring the lay of the land. Usually every few days, we will spend a couple of nights at one venue to break the travel routine.

Travelling in our purpose built Nomad Trucks

The transportation on tour is a major component of all our tours. These tours are road trips and incorporate long drives, bumpy roads and possible mechanical problems, also, digging your truck out of mud is sometimes a considered a highlight. These setbacks are what you make of them so please be prepared and note that we have trucks and not buses. Your crew will be very unhappy if you call them bus-drivers.

No bus or other vehicle is designed out the box to operate under the conditions in which our trucks run and this is why we build them ourselves. We run a strict maintenance program and all of the trucks are on a permanent rotation schedule. Unfortunately break-downs are not uncommon so if a problem occurs, please be patient as it can take time to resolve mechanical problems in Africa so make the best of the situation. 

The suspension system on adventure trucks is a spring pack system.  These packs balance the weight of the truck and assist with lessening the impact of bumps in the road.  This does feel different to your standard coach air shock system as it is a little harder, however the air shocks are not able to handle the conditions of the roads that we travel in these trucks.  If an air shock fails, it prevents the truck from moving at all, the spring packs do not have this effect and would be able to get the truck to a place where it can be mended if there is a failure. I can guarantee you that your guides and our operations team will have any situation like this as their top priority and will do all in their power to ensure that you get back on the road as soon as possible.

Camping & Accommodated Tours: Nomad has the newest and most modern fleet around. Our vehicles are custom built in our workshop and conform to the highest safety standards. All our designs are approved by the South African safety regulator (NRCS) and built according to strict standards. While there are similarities between our vehicles, our camping/accommodated trucks have 24 seats and additional packing space for camping equipment. Ideal for small or large groups, we also have a club area, ideal for playing cards or socialising. We encourage seat rotation so that we can all get to know each other better. Please see the features below. Our camping and accommodated tours are not city to city coach liner trip and there is no air-conditioning or toilets on these trucks.

Small Group Tours: Our small group trucks have been designed with the more discerned traveller in mind. We offer ample leg room with air-conditioning and an on-board toilet as some of the features. These vehicles are for maximum 12 clients, but makes for easy travelling even when full. Please see the features below.

During our peak season (traditionally July to end October), your tour might be operated on a subcontracted truck and / or vehicle.  These subcontracted vehicles will be of a similar standard to the Nomad truck. 

Participation and Interaction, what’s expected of you

Although we do most of the work, the nature of these tours is not that of a beach holiday. A little assistance from the group can make a real difference as it means that the guides have more time for you and more time to make the tour amazing so getting involved definitely enhances the tour experience. This is an adventure, not a holiday.

All Nomad camping & accommodated tours are limited participation tours and what we would like your assistance with is:

  • Assist with washing up duties
  • Offer your help with the food preparation if time is pressing
  • Loading and unloading the truck
  • Loading and unloading your own bag
  • Help keeping the truck and cooler box clean (it is your home after all for the next days and weeks)
  • Help setting up camp
  • Putting up and taking down your tent. The first time is a challenge, thereafter it’s a breeze!

Your tent and camping equipment and kitchen utensils are provided on your tour so please take care of our equipment, as anything broken or lost on tour cannot be easily replaced.  Our guides do all the cooking, however you are welcome to ask the guides if you are keen to share your culinary skills with the group. The more you get involved, the better the group experience and not doing your dishes is not a great way to make friends.

On our Small Group Tours, loading and unloading your own bag is required, however our crew will offer assistance to ensure the safe storage of all baggage inside the truck.  

Communication

An enjoyable trip depends heavily on open and honest communication between yourself, the guides and your fellow passengers. Many problems have their root in a lack of communication, misjudgments and assumptions. Essentially, you have people from all over the world, taken out of their comfort zone, put in a box in the middle of Africa, shaken around and then expected to all get along. Not easy, so it does require a positive attitude because essentially, you are all there for the same reason!

On Tour

When on tour be sure to keep the communication channels open with your fellow passengers and the guides. This is the key to a successful trip. If you are unhappy, please discuss it because problems cannot be resolved if no one knows that there is a problem. Feel free to approach your guides at any time because the smallest problems can turn into big ones very quickly!

How others can reach you

The easiest option to keep in touch with your loved ones at home is to buy a SIM card of the respective country you are travelling in. Usually you can get sim cards rather easily in major cities and in some instances vendors might even sell them at border posts. Please keep in mind though that there might not be reception in a lot of the areas we travel through.

Although you may not be able to contact the outside world easily while you’re on tour, we track you constantly and are always able to find you. Feel free to provide your family with our contact details and should there be an emergency of any kind at home we will be able to contact you almost anywhere. Please bear in mind that in certain instances there may be a charge for this (in some areas there are not even radio facilities) should we have to physically send someone by boat, road or air to your camp site, the person we send will expect to be compensated. Please inform your families that although we can find you – it must be a real emergency – as we will not be sending one of our local contacts 500km over terrible roads to remind you to change your underwear regularly!

In an emergency your family can contact us on nomad@nomadtours.co.za or by calling our offices on +27 21 845 7400 and if the call is outside of office hours the emergency contact number is +27 (0)82 578 2199.

We advise that you should also contact family and friends before leaving and tell them that you are on an adventure tour and that you will probably be out of contact for that time.  There are telephones in some places but do not count on these being all that reliable!  In East Africa you can expect to pay up to USD 3 per minute for a phone call. E-mail facilities can be found in major towns and city centres, but it is often very slow and expensive.

Photography

Please ask the guide to stop if you would like to take photos at any time as everyone’s photo requirements are different. Please stock up on memory cards and spare camera batteries before departure as these can be difficult to find en route and there are not always charging facilities available. If you are going on a tour to the Serengeti National Park or Kruger National Park you may find that you take a lot of pictures trying to get that perfect shot. 2GB is minimum and if you are interested in photography we would highly recommend more. Please take care of your photographic equipment in the dusty areas we pass through. At some camp sites power points to recharge batteries for video/digital cameras are available, but you will have to provide the necessary connections and adaptors.

Please refrain from taking pictures at border crossings, government buildings, and military installations and avoid photographing army, police or anywhere else if your guide advises against it.

Please remember we are guests in the countries we visit and respect local customs and feelings. Certain tribes in Southern and Central Africa do not allow their picture taken so please ask your guides before photographing whether it is permissible or not. You may also have to pay a nominal fee to take photos of some local people (especially Masai).