African travel with a purpose

African travel with a purpose

Following the Zambezi River for an extended overland expedition leaves travellers in awe of one of the mightiest rivers in Africa.

By Leon Louw, owner of WhyAfrica and Director of Endorphin Expeditions    

The Zambezi River is the fourth longest river in Africa. Its drainage basin covers 1,390,000 km2, slightly less than half of the Nile’s. The river rises in Zambia and flows through eastern Angola, along the north-eastern border of Namibia and the northern border of Botswana, then along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe to Mozambique, where it crosses the country to empty into the Indian Ocean.

Overland with Endorphin Expeditions 

Travel planning company and tour operator Endorphin Expeditions’ Lakes, Oceans and Rivers overland expedition covers a large chunk of the Zambezi Basin. This multi-day road trip provides participants with an ideal opportunity to discover the magic of this great African river by boat, canoe and by camping on the banks of the 2,574km long colossus.

Endorphin Expeditions is a unique tour operator that not only specialises in surreal landscapes, national parks, wildlife, and natural resources along the river, but the company also looks at environmental and social challenges on the routes they travel and focusses on the management of natural resources in the areas they visit.

Travellers are encouraged to participate and ask questions during site visits and presentations by experts in national parks, wildlife areas, local community villages, mining operations, agricultural projects, and energy and infrastructure projects.

The aim of these expeditions is to give group members a broad overview of what is really happening on the ground in Africa in terms of development, biodiversity conservation, environmental management, and more insight into the project sites they visit. Typical expedition members include investors, trade delegations, students, scientists, journalists, and travellers with a passion for Africa. A few companies have used the opportunity as a team building exercise.

Back to the Zambezi 

The Zambezi River traverses areas where the human population is scant as in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, for example. This area protects large parts of the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, south-east Angola, south-west Zambia, the northern parts of Botswana and western Zambia. The basin also drains the Cameia National Park in Angola which covers a surface area of about 14,450km2 where the human population is relatively low.

This massive river basin and drainage area is an extremely important supplier of fresh water, electricity, and fish, not only to the local communities living within the basin, but to the entire southern African region.

The Zambezi Basin is home to immense plains and wetlands and regulates the climate and rich ecosystems of the savannas and humid forests that surround it. In addition, two major sub-basins in the Zambezi basin are interconnected with other major African systems namely the Lake Malawi/Nyassa/Shire River sub-basin) and the perennial river bifurcation in the Selinda Spillway (or Magwegana River) in the Cuando River sub-basin, which connects the Zambezi Basin to the Kalahari Basin.

Apart from its importance to the region’s communities and ecosystems the area also boasts spectacular geology, extremely fertile soils, and attractions with huge tourism potential. Extensions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC’s) and Zambian Copperbelts (copper and cobalt are now recognised as “critical” minerals) reach far into the heart of the Zambezi Basin, while rare and critical metals and minerals of global significance have been discovered in the highlands, lowlands, wetlands, and savannas of the basin and its sub-basins.

Thus, the Zambezi Basin is critical not only to the region, but to the whole world. There is no doubt that development will benefit some of the poorest communities in Africa. It will provide employment and result in the development of critical infrastructure with immense knock-on effects. The question is how will we balance development, conservation, and tourism, and how will all this affect sensitive ecosystems and local communities living in an area where extreme weather events have already made an impact?

These are the types of questions and challenges the groups travelling with Endorphin Expeditions look at, dissect, and analyse during and after the trip. But its not all work. There is a lot of play, and in the end, the aim is to have fun and head back home with a different view of Africa, its environment, and its people.

What does Endorphin Expeditions do? 

Endorphin Expeditions is a travel consultancy, travel planning company and tour operator that specialises in Southern, East and Central Africa. 

In other words, they make African adventures.

Endorphin Expeditions has 25 years’ experience of travelling through Africa and has no shame in admitting that they are absolutely addicted to African travel. The good news is that they love sharing their addiction with their fellow travellers.

If you are relatively adventurous with a passion for hiking, running, and overlanding, then you already have some Endorphin DNA embedded within you.

Moreover, if you are curious about Africa’s endemic wildlife, its vibrant cities and intriguing history, its abundant natural resources and diverse cultures, there is no doubt that you are part of the Endorphin family.

If Africa has always been on your bucket list, why not join Endorphin Expeditions in their quest to discover more secrets about the most mysterious continent on earth?

Why travel overland with Endorphin Expeditions? 

  • They have years of on-the-ground travel experience in Africa.
  • If you lack the confidence of travelling alone in Africa, it’s easier, safer, and more enjoyable to join the Endorphin groups and local guides to show you around.
  • Endorphin’s local guides are knowledgeable and passionate about Africa, and enthusiastic to share their knowledge with you.
  • You do not have to stress about planning your trip, safety, getting food or rushing from one attraction to the next, they do it all for you at a relaxed pace.
  • With a maximum of eight people group sizes is ideal to not affect the quality of your experience.
  • Endorphin Expedition’s focus is on special interest tours, so whichever road trip you choose to do, it is an amazing educational experience.
  • Nothing beats sitting around the campfire with the Endorphin group at night, watching the stars and discussing the day’s events.
  • On Endorphin Expeditions tours, age does not matter.

Travel planning 

  • Endorphin consults and gives you on the ground, practical advice about travelling in Africa.
  • They plan special interest tours according to your needs and custom design your itinerary according to your own unique special interests (geology, natural resources, natural history, mining history, wildlife, birding, political history, environmental management, anthropology, archaeology, and culture, amongst others).
  • Endorphin plans and puts together self-drive overland tours (camping and accommodated) and 4×4 adventures through Southern, Central and East Africa (the Endorphin Expeditions team develops the itinerary (again according to your needs) hires a vehicle, provides you with on the ground practical advice and shares with you our network of contacts across Africa
  • Once a year Endorphin can organise that you join certain stages of their parent company, WhyAfrica’s annual Road Trip through Africa
  • They will also book your seat on Endorphin Expeditions’ own guided overland road trips, the first of which will depart in the African winter of 2025.
  • Endorphin publishes and shares tourism news to keep you informed about developments in the African tourism sector.

Our own overland road trips 

  • Endorphin Expeditions operates four overland road trips across southern Africa each with its own unique focus and special interest.
  • They travel in small groups with a maximum of eight people. The more people in the group, the less you pay. (If you book a trip for family or friends of eight, you’ll get a substantial discount).
  • The length of the adventures varies from seven to 28 days and takes place in the southern hemisphere’s winter months. All trips have a strong focus on sustainability, environmental management, climate change, natural resources, and interaction with local communities.
  • Endorphin provides you with a single driver/guide for the entire trip and use local guides for all special interest visits, during city walks and runs and on hikes and drives in National Parks and wilderness areas.
  • Accommodation range widely from very basic to luxurious, with a good mixture between camping, hotels, guest houses, lodges, and self-catering facilities (they provide small 2-man tents and matrasses for the nights that you camp).
  • When camping and staying over in self-catering accommodation, Endorphin gives you breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In hotels, guest houses and lodges, they do not provide any meals. Self-drive tours do not include any catering.
  • Endorphin Expeditions do not book flights and flights are generally not included except when you fly from Johannesburg to Maun on the South Africa and Botswana wildlife safari.

Endorphin Expeditions’ own overland road trips 

For a detailed itinerary, dates and prices contact the Endorphin team on: +27 71 448 3496 

Starting in June 2025 Endorphin Expeditions will operate the following expeditions:            

  1. Coastal Explorer (South Africa and Mozambique)
  2. Roof of Africa (South Africa and Swaziland)
  3. Diamonds and Dust (South Africa and Namibia)
  4. Untamed Kavango (Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia)
  5. Lakes, oceans, and rivers (South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi)
  6. Wildlife Safari (South Africa and Botswana)

Johannesburg City tour (South Africa)

African travel with a purpose

African travel with a purpose
Book with Endorphin Expeditions. We create African adventures.
Share this article