All posts by Jonathan

Jonathan has sailed yachts, flown paragliders and paramotors, and driven through snow, mud and sand in various places around the world. He started out by bungy jumping dressed as a pantomime horse. All this to show being vegan doesn't limit your potential?

Weekly Charter

Introducing: Overland Yacht Voyages

Vegan Without Frontiers has put together the concepts of Overland Expeditions, Luxury Motorhomes and Ocean-Going Yachts to bring you the Overland Yacht: A self-contained, comfortable but go-anywhere base for up to 6 guests. Unique, and all-vegan. No worries about catering, and not tied to fixed locations and infrastructure.

Available to charter (with crew) for your personal adventure.

What can I see in a week?

From our experiences, we’ve put together some suggested itineraries that can be achieved in around a week. Depending on your preferences, these can be adapted. The all-inclusive cost of the whole Overland Yacht with crew, food and drink, and National Park fees for a group of up to 6 ( though we recommend a maximum of 4 for best comfort ) should be estimated at between £950 and £1250 a day. We plan to circulate around Namibia, Botswana and Zambia in 2022 – but if there’s somewhere else you’d like to see, this hotel has wheels!

Here’s the first 4 suggestions. Another is on the way to take us back to Walvis Bay via the Caprivi Strip (including a second pass through Etosha).

All the photographs here have been taken by us on the suggested routes – not borrowed from the internet, so give you an idea of what you should see.


About a week in Northern Namibia…

There are three main segments to a week or so in Northern Namibia from a visitor point of view: The Skeleton Coast, The wild North West Kaokoland wilderness, and Etosha national Park.

Starting from the capital, Windhoek, the first night at the foot of the Brandberg mountain is straight into the wild. Brandberg Mountain is located in the northwestern Namib Desert. The name Brandberg is Afrikaans, Dutch and German for Burning Mountain, which comes from its glowing colour which is sometimes seen in the setting sun. From there, the Skeleton coast is a short drive. The Bushmen of the Namibian interior called the region “The Land God Made in Anger”. Portuguese sailors once referred to it as “The Gates of Hell”. On the coast, the upwelling of the cold Benguela current gives rise to dense ocean fogs for much of the year. The winds blow from land to sea, rainfall rarely exceeds 10 millimetres annually and the climate is highly inhospitable. There is a constant, heavy surf on the beaches. In the days before engine-powered ships and boats, it was possible to get ashore through the surf but impossible to launch from the shore.

The far North West of Namibia is remote and populated only by semi-nomadic Himba people. Wide grasslands separated by jagged ridges of mountains make a dramatic backdrop. Crocodiles patrol the Kunene River on the border with Angola. Leaving this region to the East, the Etosha National Park provides the opportunity to see all the big African Wildlife you could wish for.

Link to Google route map:

A week in Northern Namibia
Northern Namibia
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About a week in Southern Namibia…

From Swakopmund and Walvis Bay the Namib Naukluft National Park is on the doorstep, where herds of various antelope and zebra can be followed across the plains. This is a desert landscape, ranging from rocky outcrops, gravel and grassy plains to huge sand dunes near the sea. Taking the time to absorb the vast landscapes and rugged beauty is well worth a few days. Further South, the giant red dunes around Sossusvlei are a globally renowned and much photographed site, though being there cannot be replaced by seeing images! This goes equally for the Fish River Canyon; and for sheer juxtaposition of heat and cold, the crossing of the Namib Desert to the Atlantic at Luderitz takes some beating. This can all be seen in a week, though a few extra days for more detailed local excursions might be advisable. Spending a week travelling through Southern Namibia to or from South Africa is a nice option too!

Southern Namibia
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Link to Google route map:

A week in Southern Namibia

About a week from Windhoek to Maun…

This is all about the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and a transit from Namibia to Botswana.

This is a route we did before in the reverse direction. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a vast area of largely unpopulated and inaccessible scrub forest. Underneath are the sands of the Kalahari Desert and a single sandy track runs from the North and West gates to the South. In the North there are more tourists, and a wider variety of habitats accessible for viewing wildlife. But the speciality of this park from our point of view is the completely isolated campsites in the South of the reserve. If you want to experience wild, semi-arid Africa without tourist or agricultural development, this is where to go. Katana wrote up our trip through the park here.

Windhoek to Maun
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About a week from Maun to the Victoria Falls…

There are various options here – to explore some of the less-travelled bits of Botswana as well as the famous Chobe National Park, before heading up to Livingstone on the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls.

Maun is the centre of Botswana’s Wildlife Tourism – small planes fly guests to luxury camps out in the wilderness of the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve and other national Parks surrounding the town. Day-trips and scenic flights also set off from Maun. We however suggest taking our Overland Yacht to discover the less touristy parts of the region. The limestone caves at Gwichaba are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Camping in the bush – out there away from tended waterholes where wildlife sightings are frequent but not guaranteed.

Then to the East of Maun are the Makgadikgadi Pans – a landscape of mostly dry salt pans and open grasslands, with scrub forest and the occasional Baobab tree. Before crossing into Zambia at the confluence of the Chobe and Zambezi rivers, a night in the area of Kasane allows for a stay at some very nice lodges near the Chobe National Park.

In the area of the Victoria Falls, we like to stay at the Maramba River Lodge outside Livingstone. It has a really nice camping area as well as a bar and restaurant that serve vegan options overlooking a creek full of crocodiles, hippos and elephants. Just be careful not to leave food lying around camp as the baboons will have it in no time!

Maun to the Victoria Falls
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    Overland Safari charter?

    Charter our Overland Yacht for Your Own Private Adventure

    In these strange times we have to adapt, but adaptation can sometimes throw up interesting possibilities – in this case, the opportunity to offer an even more unique experience!

    The Vegan Without Frontiers Overland Yacht and its crew will take you wherever you want to go in comfort and style, in your own Covid-Bubble. Rather than jump aboard where we happen to be, you can choose your own landscapes to wake up to – from the Namib Desert to Victoria Falls, from Cape Town to the Serengeti…or if you prefer, maybe a Whisky Tour of the Scottish Islands!?

    How about taking this opportunity for that adventure of a lifetime for your family or friends?

    Contact us and lets talk dreams…

    Trucking Across Europe

    Last month we went on a road trip across Europe – not quite what we’re used to, but the idea was to be in Poznan for the new truck to be moved from the truck factory to the fitting-out shop. It also happened to coincide with Vegan Summerfest in Berlin, the 47th IVU Vegfest, and having guests to try out the whole overland concept on – albeit in Vanya (my rather old Mercedes Sprinter campervan) rather than Katy, the new truck. So here’s what happened when Me, Mikey, Vanya and Charley went East…

    The Road to Poznan

    We set out from the South of France in the rain…so there’s no photos of our drive through the Massif Central. There were some beautiful views, if only we could have seen them. The teenagers played distracting word games which I soon opted out of to avoid driving into the back of trucks. It rained. They got to choose the music – from the collection of CDs I provided 😉 We drove through clouds and Vanya passed 170,000 miles on the clock – with a working turbo since I got the actuator replaced a couple of days before we headed off, which was nice, and made hills possible. We stopped at a boulangerie and got soaked crossing the road with a surprisingly dense loaf of bread. But in the evening we passed Chamonix and crossed out of France into Switzerland and headed for the campsite we stopped at on night 2 of our first Cape Town adventure. Then we went to one that actually had food nearby and ate some good pizza before sleep. It was a bit nicer in the morning, so we took a train trip with Vanya under the Furka Pass.

    I always like driving through the alps, though Vanya’s power steering was making clicking noises and getting a bit heavy on the hairpins, so in some ways it was a relief when we hit the autobahns and began a long afternoon of driving til I’d had enough in the general direction of Leipzig. We didn’t get there, but did find a nice random bit of picturesque Germany to camp in in time for beer, chips and salad – that old time vegan fallback! It was even prettier in the morning.

    The original plan had been to take another day before getting to Poznan, but a saga involving a pizza oven not being delivered from Portugal because apparently French logistics companies can’t dial non-French mobile phone numbers (while their Portuguese office has no such trouble) intervened. This has nothing to do with the truck – sorry, we are not having a pizza oven on board! 😀 Anyway, we were going to go via Prague but were delayed by non-delivery of oven, so headed straight to the truck factory in Poznan. The original plan was that the box would be done and the truck would be at the outfitters. The plan by the time we arrived was that the box would be done, mounted on the truck and I could have a look around it and get some cool photos. As you can see…things turned out to be not so advanced, and it took some persuasion for me to be allowed to even see the box. But at least Mikey got to play truck driver…

    We did get some photos of the box, and since then they have finished it, added the rear-wheel carrier and put it all together, but I am glad we still had Berlin to visit or it would have been a very, very long pointless journey. As I write, the truck is due to be moved to the aircon guy to have the mechanicals fitted to the engine, so its still not at the fitting out stage.

    Anyway, after an hour or so at Plandex we were free to do whatever we wanted so headed towards Berlin on the lookout for a campsite. More vegan pizza ensued, followed by a visit to a micro-brewery with no beer – and no customers. These things could be connected, but the campsite by the lake also had a bar so I was OK. Next morning we headed to Berlin for Vegan Summerfest / IVU Vegfest!

    Vegfest / Vegan Summerfest Berlin

    I’ve been to Berlin once before – in 1990, by coach from London just after the wall came down for ‘The Wall’ concert staged on the site of the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate. That was also the last time I knowingly ate meat (everything was closed and only one place would serve us anything, which was their lunchtime leftovers). It was good to be back then, visiting one of Europe’s biggest vegan events and seeing the huge growth of vegan choices. It was also great to eat all sorts of things that weren’t pizza, chips and salad for a few days! Oh and of course being in Germany the beer was good, and vegan! Vegan Summerfest took over Alexanderplatz for the weekend and was well attended (too well in some cases as the queues for the food stalls were very long!).

    Before leaving Berlin, we took a vegan tour of the city organised by our hosts ProVeg International. For me, visiting the old Stasi remand prison was a little creepy, bringing my 2 visits to the city full circle – history is not that old. Or maybe I am! 🙂

    It was great to meet up with some old friends and make new ones (this was my second IVU Vegfest after Nairobi last year). We also had some good conversations with people from vegan organisations around the world. Fingers crossed we’ll have some news soon about a launch event for the Vegan Without Frontiers first Expedition!

    Steve’s Veg Safari – Zambia & Botswana

    Steve Cox has joined me on a few little trips before, by way of the Dangerless Sports Club’s bungy jumping jaunts around Europe. This was a bit different though, and I was very happy to have his company, and even more so since he happily and wholeheartedly joined in with the vegan theme. We had a great time travelling around Zambia and Botswana…and he lived to tell the tale…despite some occasionally experimental and less successful cooking!
    Over to Steve…
    After 24 hours travel I arrived at Victoria Falls international airport, got my visa and picked up my bag.  Like a bottle of natural spring water I was looking for a sign with my name on which I was told would be there for my connection to meet Jon.  Instead I got an introduction into how things work in Africa, there was no sign and there was not going to be a sign so it was time to head to Maramba River Lodge.  The journey was relatively uneventful – I got my Zambian visa, then across the bridge by the falls and into the taxi on the other side of the border.  The taxi was genuinely terrifying, I was convinced it would burst into flames or fall apart at any moment and the lack of working seatbelts in the back made me automatically feel much better about the whole situation. #RoadSafetyMatters

    Camping at Maramba
    Camping at Maramba


    At the lodge I have to say it was a good camp site, hot showers and good facilities.  Quickly we headed out to Victoria Falls and Jon and Agne did the jump whilst Leo and I watched on with great interest.  First night there Jon and Agne and myself had an adventerous vegan meal (their own words) lots of new and exciting things were tried, many of them turned out to be orange in colour which was good because I like the colour orange.  Not sure who knocked over the bag of Wasabi coated nuts I guess some things are best left a mystery but I hope the monkeys liked them – I am sure they were a surprise.  Agne then headed off to get ready for her return flight and I was getting tired so it was time to get some sleep to the sound of Hippos doing whatever it is Hippos do at 8pm.  I slept great that night, from what I can gather Jon also had a good nights sleep, no noise apart from the Hippos*.
    * I take it this is a veiled reference to the snoring? 😉
    Next day I saw my first Elephants just outside the lodge as we went into Livingstone to get some essentials and take Agne to the Airport.

    The local gang own the road...
    The local gang own the road…

    We waved goodbye to Agne who had a bit of a crappy journey back by all accounts with flight cancellations, d’oh. >.<

    Changeover day.
    Changeover day.


    Sunday I went to Victoria Falls and got some good pics.  Victoria Falls.  Very Big.  Very Wet.  Much Funs.

    Victoria Falls
    Victoria Falls


    Got back just in time to head off to Botswana and set off down the road.  I say road and this time I mean an actual road, you know with actual tarmac and stuff – something of a rarity on the holiday I later came to realise.  One of the nicest things about crossing borders in Africa is the number of people willing to help you get through the organised chaos that is the border, that and the people with the machine guns.  After negotiating our way to Botswana, not drowning on the ferry and just about scraping over the line with fees for the car and visa it was onward to our next destination, another nice place where I can happily report I had no problems lowering the tone of with my presence.  The beware of the crocodile signs right by our spot right next to the gentle slope down to the river proved to be a highlight worthy of remembrance.

    After not being eaten by the crocodiles it was off into the wilds for some 4×4 action and even if I do say so myself, some exceptional map reading and navigations skills exhibited by yours truly.  Saw some giraffes on the way, zebra, warthogs and went over some very bumpy sand, some smooth sand, some slidey sand and even some hiding holes in the sand sand. There were probably more types of sand we encountered but there is only so much I can remember about sand in a day.  That night we stayed at this place with a bucket shower just outside one of the national parks and had a close encounter with an elephant eating a tree in the dark.  I kid you not it was actually eating the whole tree.  Think Jurassic World when the troopers are looking for the giant escaped dinosaur and you see the tree and then you realise the dinosaur is in fact the whole damn tree, it was a bit like that…Largest. Elephant. Ever.  I won’t deny it – I bravely hid behind the van trying to cast Dispersing Orb.

    Before the Elephant Came to Dinner.
    Before the Elephant Came to Dinner.


    Over the next few days we saw a fair few new types of sand, experienced new definitions of the word road that I didn’t even know existed and saw plenty from the antelope family, all of the big 5 (including the fearsome African Donkey) but no Lions.  We did have an interesting spin round a circuit with a water feature trying to get to a road we wanted to use.  Some lake / pond / river thing had inconveniently appeared right where the road was and had swallowed it up, so we went into the water and had a bit of a dip whilst some water buffalo looked on. Oh and we also did a bit of rallying on a large piece of mostly solid road with lots of sand on it which allowed us to get up a bit of speed on the way to Maun. Colin McCray would be proud.

    Pan Driving.
    Pan Driving.


    Eventually we hit the Nwetwe and Sua Pans and stayed at Kubu Island camp.  This place was literally in the middle of no-where but the pans were awesome to see, a desolate dry huge lake bed for miles in every direction, worth taking a snap or two of that one.  At night it was pretty impressive although I think Jon got the better view as he did some paramotoring there so it probably looked pretty awesome from up there.

    A little bit of Kubu Island
    A little bit of Kubu Island

    If you do ever go to Kubu Island and find a blue towel hanging up somewhere at one of the camps please let Jon know it’s probably his.*

    * Yes, and also about 5 pairs of shorts/swimming trunks at various stops down Africa!
    Kubu Island out of the way we headed ever onwards and looked around the area, more pans some more camp sites which looked pretty good but it was too early in the day to stop so it was onwards to the next location.  En-route we had a new passenger, one of the rangers in the parks who control the entry and exit points from various places, he got a lift to the town and we had a chat to him about his job and how things were going in Botswana.  Dropped him off at Nata and then headed down to a camp site that had an artificial river and a lot of elephant activity at night.  Stayed up and once it got a bit dark there were elephants all over the place, herds of elephants coming to the river to get the fresh water all hustling and bustling, bathing and interacting with each other.

    We then headed back north toward Chobe and stayed at this place with an amazing view across the Chobe river, stunning it was. I took one of the paid safari tours through Chobe National Park for the late afternoon / evening tour and got to see loads of animals.  There was lots of everything but the highlight was the lions, we saw them waking up from their day napping in the sun and after a bit of yawning and saying hello to each other they all got up and headed off to catch their dinner.

    The journey back to Zambia was much faster as we passed through the same border point again – as we had an idea of how it worked!

    We paid the ferryman...before he got us to the other side.
    We paid the ferryman…before he got us to the other side.

    With one last night at Maramba River Lodge I hired out a Doom Tent (maybe they meant dome tent, I don’t really know) to stay for my last night which had a fold up bed.  A bed.  AN ACTUAL BED!  So shower and real bed that day felt good and a beer where I met somebody who lives not 20 miles down the road from me.  Small world.

    The Tents of Doom.
    The Tents of Doom.


    So last day arrived, an uneventful journey back to Victoria Falls airport just some walking in the sun dodging the guy trying to get me to sit on his bike with him so he can pedal me to the other side of the border and charge me whatever it was he wanted to charge.  After a long journey I was finally back home and that 5L mini-keg of black cherry beer which had been waiting so patiently for me got my full attention.

    Overall I had a great time on the trip and hopefully Jon enjoyed the company a little bit too.  I wasn’t even bothered by the vegan diet.  Although I will confess to missing milk with my coffee in the morning but aside from that it wasn’t really that bad once I got into the swing of it, didn’t really notice much of a difference.  That’s not to say knowing it was only going to last for two weeks wasn’t a factor. 🙂

    Thank you Steve! Glad you had a good time – thank you for your company and masterful navigationing, and for getting into the spirit of it all! Where to next?

    Morocco to Senegal

    Join the Adventure!

    Atlas Mountains, Atlantic Coast and the Sahara Desert

    Our new Overland Yacht will be departing on her maiden voyage in 2022 – hitting the Sahara while Europe heads into midwinter, and following the sunshine South – you can join for a stay aboard!

    December and January will be spent in Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania – with a little extension into Senegal to complete the old Paris – Dakar rally route. These places, especially Morocco, are (usually!) really easy for you to get to so ideal to come and try out life aboard the Vegan Overland Yacht as we venture into Africa. Of course if you REALLY want to get away, how about taking some months off and joining in the whole expedition?

    Morocco

    Leaving Europe we will explore Morocco, winding South from the Mediterranean through the Atlas Mountains, exploring the Sahara Desert and the Atlantic Coast. We will be climbing through the high folds of the Atlas mountains, and down through the spectacular gorges cut into them. Spending nights out under the stars in the desert. Making our way across the dunes of Erg Chegaga on the old route of the Paris-Dakar Rally. Staying at a trail-side auberge for some traditional Moroccan off-truck dining and hospitality.

    As well as the grand landscapes, we will visit the historic cities of Fez, Casablanca and Marrakech – with time to become immersed in the ancient medinas, and stock up on spices from market stalls for our on-board kitchen. There will even be a visit to a vegan restaurant or two!

    To the South we follow the Atlantic coast – literally on the beach for a 30km stretch of wet sand at low tide, between the dry dunes and the roaring ocean. Stopping over at a luxury camp with a swimming pool near a ruined fort, after walking under the cliffs and sea arches at Legzira.

    Western Sahara

    Then we head into Western Sahara and the long, empty expanse of desert and sea towards Dakhla. The desert has flattened into a wide plain here, ending as cliffs drop into the Atlantic, cut through by the occasional dry valley filled with dunes.

    A stopover by a dry salt lake on the way provides a quiet break from the journey before we reach Dakhla Lagoon – a kite-surfer’s paradise of smooth water, sheltered from the Atlantic to the West. Beyond Dakhla the road is even quieter as we head for Mauritania.

    Mauritania

    Ironically given our choice of name, Overland travel in Africa is sometimes all about borders. Each is an experience of its own, and the crossing from Western Sahara into Mauritania will no doubt be memorable and probably take most of the day. After negotiating the formalities, we’ll head into Nouadhibou to prepare for the next little adventure. Nouadhibou is the end of the line for one of the world’s more extreme railways. Every day 2km long trains of iron ore cross the desert from Zouerat to the coast, also carrying passengers. By all accounts the best way to take the trip is sitting on top of the loaded ore wagons, rather than the passenger coach tagged onto the train. The word ‘comfortable’ has not been used in relation to either option. Keeping the rail line to our North, we will be heading into 400km of desert on sandy tracks to make the crossing to Atar – passing by Mauritania’s answer to Uluru: Ben Amera.

    After exploring the Adrar region’s oases, this time we will head back to the coast to explore the Banc d’Arguin National Park on our way to Nouakchott – a last goodbye to the Sahara. If anyone is particularly adventurous, needs a break from the truck, or is keen on extreme trains, the ore-wagons are of course an option! Check out this blog post from the 2016 trip for more on this section of the route.

    Senegal

    Crossing into Senegal on the last leg towards Dakar, we’ll stop over in St Louis before heading down the coast to Africa’s most Westerly point and the end of our Poznan-Dakar rally. A short hop, but there’s lots more to experience, and some vegan friends to catch up with.

    Pickup and Dropoff Schedule

    We plan to be in the following places where it will be easiest to join or leave us for your stay on board. The schedule is of course subject to change – sometimes routes through the mountains are closed in winter even in Morocco, and if we have no guests to rendezvous with a little flexibility to detour can enhance the adventure. But we will make particular effort to stick to dates and places where guests have connecting travel. On the upside, budget and national airlines fly to lots of these places so there are many options.

    • 1st October – 15th November :  UK / South of France / Spain / Morocco free-range (VERY Special Prices!).
    • 26th-28th November – Fez
    • 3rd -4th December: Casablanca
    • 10th-11th December – Marrakesh
    • 17th December: Agadir
    • 30th December – 1st January: Dakhla Lagoon
    • 2nd January: Nouadhibou
    • 7th-10th January: Atar
    • 14th January: Nouakchott
    • 16th January: St Louis
    • 20th – 22nd January: Dakar / Lac Rose
    • 23rd – 30th January: Senegalese Coast
    • 30th January – 28th February:  – TBC – Gambia/Guinea/Sierra Leone/Mali?

    Special Launch Deals Available Now!

    Be part of this new venture  – want to try out the Overland Yacht concept? Try it out on the maiden voyage and help us with trials for a reduced rate. Or check the schedule for where we plan to be, and book your stay aboard. There’s 2 parts to the deal – 1. You pay in Advance for your Accommodation (dates are freely changeable subject to availability) and become a member of Vegan Without Frontiers – this gives you the voting rights on which charities we support. 2. You agree to pay the specified daily charge to cover your costs in-country, and to donate any local surplus to local projects.

    Or a taste of the Paris-Dakar Route?

    EXAMPLE: Joining for 2 weeks in Marrakesh and leaving in Dakhla would give you a taste of the historic city, the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara Desert and Atlantic Coast (including a drive along the wet sand of La Plage Blanche at low tide), and ending in the kite-surfers’ paradise of Dakhla Lagoon. Pretty much the same experience as Yury captured in this video, though this time staying in comfort aboard our exclusive Overland Yacht!

    Booking

    Our contractor for building the ‘Overland Yacht’ at the last minute discovered they had vastly overspent the contracted budget, leaving us with an unfinished truck and no cash to finish the job.  Despite a contract being in place, we have little hope of recouping their overcharging without a lot of legal fees we can’t afford. However, we are working to finish the project and be ready for adventure next year.

    Use the contact form to get in touch?

    Costs & Causes

    Vegan Without Frontiers is run on a not-for-profit basis – guest payments go directly to paying the costs of expeditions. All surplus income is directed to supported charities and projects. Nobody is paid a salary, and the company has no owners or shareholders to pay.