My husband and I started our overland journey through Southern Africa in January 2019.
During this time we drove more than 23 000 kilometers navigating our way through 6 countries while living in our Land Rover Defender named @mkulu_the_landy. We camped at more than 60 campsites, visited multiple wildlife reserves and national parks, where sometimes campsites were very remote and far from civilization.
For the most part of our trip, we had limited cellphone coverage and internet access. On the days we did, we’d set out time to catch up on admin, connect with family and friends and do some trip planning.
Whether online or offline we relied on some very nifty apps to help us through our journey. These are our must-have apps for Overlanding Africa:
The first app you need for overlanding Africa is, iOverlander.
Before we started our overland trip we only had a handful of accommodation booked. We pre-booked camps in the South African National Parks like Kruger and Kgalagadi only because spots get sold out a year in advance. As for the rest of the trip we knew in what direction we wanted to go but we didn’t book places to stay because we didn’t want to tie ourselves down. We wanted the freedom to stay longer if we liked a place or leave early if we didn’t.
iOverlander made it possible for us to find accommodation on a whim, without having to connect to the internet.
This must-have app uses GPS technology to track your location and shows you a range of campsites available in that area. Each listing displays important information for campers such as whether the campsite has electricity or potable water. The credible and user reviews give a good indication of what the current condition of the campsite is like and whether or not it’s worth a visit.
iOverlander also lists the location of other services such as laundromats, gas refills, and restaurants.
We used iOverlander on a daily basis and it helped us make our journey carefree and convenient.
No overlanding trip is complete without driving off the beaten track. Traveling to remote places such as the Hoanib river in northern Namibia or navigating our way through the Moremi in the Okavango Delta was only made possible using Tracks4Africa. This GPS enabled mapping application, helps you find your way in places where Google Maps don’t go. You also don’t need an internet connection in order to use it.
Tracks4Africa also lists restaurants, accommodation, and fuel stations but we found iOverlander to be more user-friendly in this regard.
Of course, we had to document our overland journey using the gram. This app allowed us to share our experience and the places we visited with our family, friends, and followers. We shared special moments and activities via Instagram stories and posted photos on our feed. Instagram is not only a great place to share images, but it’s become an awesome platform to connect with like-minded travelers and a safe space where one can ask people in the know for advice on specific travel topics such as accommodation, vehicle issues or road conditions. We found Instagram to be a great app for inspiration and expression.
Robert’s Birds App
Having spent more than 150 days camping, you get to spend a lot of time outdoors and it’s hard to ignore all the animal life that surrounds you, especially the variety of birds.
Roberts Birds App helped us identify birds on the go. This comprehensive app allows you to search for birds by location, habitat, shape, plumage, sounds and even their nests. The bird guide includes a full bird list of 962 species and individual bird pages for each bird. Robert’s Bird’s truly aided us in identifying more than 140 bird species, which is quite impressive for amateurs like us.
You don’t have to be a birder to enjoy it, but it would be a shame to overland through Africa and not appreciate all the wildlife on offer.
Pocket previously known as Read it Later, is a reading app that allows you to save webpages to read later when you are offline. Whenever we had access to the internet, we would save the webpages and then when we wanted to read it again at places and times with no connection, whether in the middle of the Moremi or Namib Desert we could, thanks to Pocket.
My husband used Pocket to save webpages with mechanical manuals for the Landy, and I did it with interesting articles or recipes I wanted to access.
Overlanding Africa offers one of the best experiences for stargazing. With all the unspoiled landscapes in Africa, you will get ample opportunity to appreciate the night sky. Photopills is a must-have app if you are into astrophotography because it allows you to plan your shots ahead of time. Capture the milky way or the moon at the right place at the right time. The app shows you when and where the sun will set and the moon will rise. We also used Photopills whenever we had to set up camp. It was a great tool to show us where the sun will rise and set so that we can strategically park our Landy in such a way that it will give us the most shade, and also get maximum charge on our solar panel which was fitted on the roof.
Staying connected while overlanding Africa involves a lot of sim swaps and free wifi scouting. Connecting to numerous wifi hotspots at hotels and cafes can put you at risk. Without a VPN these less secure networks can snoop passwords, photos, emails, and bank data. ExpressVPN protects your online traffic by encrypting this sensitive data.
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So many more…
These weren’t the only apps we used during our trip. Other apps included Lightroom to edit photos, Deezer to listen to music and banking apps to do finances. These are all nice to have apps however, the apps listed above we used on a regular basis and truly made our journey easier that’s why we chose them as our must-have apps for Overlanding Africa.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I won’t recommend products if I haven’t used & loved myself.
*Prices correct at time of publishing.