Overland from Cape Town to Kenya in 46 days.

  A WhichWay adventurer walking on the wild side.

The motivation...

What inspires one to want to undertake a journey through Africa with twenty-odd complete strangers for 46 days, cooped up in a truck when travelling, sleeping in tents in largely dusty campsites, taking cold showers at six in the morning, and more. Surely there are better ways of spending one's holidays. I thought that I should reflect on this.........

Even though I was born in Cape Town, South Africa, I had always felt some sense of affiliation towards a European culture. After all, my father had been born in the England, my grandmother was of Scottish origin and my grandfather had served in the British Army for twenty-five years. On my mother's side, more distant French and probably Dutch connections exist. At an age where I understood the significance of these roots, I would spend time reading through my grandfather's memoirs, which contained short, humorous anecdotes of time spent in India and present-day Pakistan at the turn of the century. I would simultaneously gaze through the remnants of an old photograph album - a snapshot of history, a bygone era. While engaged in my engineering studies, this European cultural link evolved even further when I studied German as an extra subject, which afforded me the opportunity of gaining vocational employment overseas. A while later I was able to add a smattering of French to my repertoire. I had felt extremely comfortable there and constantly yearned for more of Europe. Indeed, subsequent journeys took me into parts of Eastern Europe. A part of me, though, felt that there is still no place like home. Was it rugby? Heavens, no! Sunny skies? Undoubtedly! A bit of Johnny Clegg and Savuka (née Juluka), perhaps? Cape Town and walks up Table Mountain? Yeah!!! It is simply a case of inherently remaining South African in spirit.

Significant political changes in South Africa have undoubtedly opened new doors which has made exploration into Africa possible. Countries further to the north have, until more recent times, been viewed with a sense of mystery and suspicion, emphasised by the fact that these were largely forbidden territories for most white South Africans, at least. This allied to the fact that it was extremely dangerous as well, owing to the conflict that existed previously.

It took a glance at a number of brochures advertising budget tours given me by a visitor to South Africa, to make me realise how accessible other parts of Africa were, to South Africans in particular. The more I thought about it, the more appealing the thought of spending evenings around campsite fires, rafting down rivers, viewing wildlife in their natural environment etc., became. Afrika, mon! I needed no second invitation! There is a little bit in every one of us that yearns for an adventure beyond the trappings and routine of suburbia, which requires a swift kick up the proverbial posterior in order to provide the impetus, to undertake such a trip to shake off the lethargy, as it were. Besides, apart from Johnny Clegg there was.....Youssou 'n Dour, Mory Kanté, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, and so forth. And so began the journey into previously uncharted territory.

The departure...

The date of departure was set for the 9th August, 1996. We had been instructed at a pre-departure meeting held a week earlier by our budget tour operator, WhichWay Adventures, to meet outside the Victoria and Alfred Hotel at the Waterfront, Cape Town. The overland tour would culminate in a climb of the great Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, which I had organised separately through the Marangu Hotel in Moshi. I had acquired the necessary vaccinations and medication, as per the recommendation of the organisers. The group consisted of Aussies, South Africans, New Zealanders, Danes, Israelis, Americans and Dutch, the first three making up the bulk of the tour group. Ages ranged from early 20's to one over 50, with an average of probably late 20 to early thirty. In charge were the driver, Werner and courier, Marcelle. Great excitement prevailed as we pulled out of Cape Town and headed north up the West Coast on the Malmesbury Road.

The route...

Our route was as follows: Cape Town via Springbok, first camp; we crossed at the border post of Noordover into Namibia. Two nights were spent at Hobas Camp whilst exploring the Fish River Canyon. Travelled from the Fish River Canyon to Sesriem. Left camp before dawn to watch the sunrise over the Sossusvlei dunes. Climbed to the top of the Sossusvlei dunes. Returned to camp. Travelled from Sesriem to Swakopmund through the magnificent Namib-Naukluft National Park. Stopped overnight at Langstrand campsite. Travelled along the coast to Cape Cross and on up the Skeleton Coast to camp at Mile 108. Left the Skeleton Coast, travelled to Burnt Mountain and Twyfelfontein. Stopped overnight at Aba-Huab campsite. Three nights were spent in Etosha National Park, commencing with Okakuejo. Departed Namutoni and travelled to Rundu. Overnight stop at Kayengona Lodge on the Okavango river. Headed for Katima Mulilo on Zambezi River. Crossed into Botswana through Chobe National Park (current WhichWay tours have been extended to 50 days to include the Okavango Delta). Travelled through to Zimbabwe to arrive at Victoria Falls in late afternoon, where two nights were spent at Victoria Falls Municipal campsite. From Vic Falls travelled south of Lake Kariba via Hwange to Mlibizi. On to Karoi for overnight stop. Then spent a night at Kariba. Crossed into Zambia and after spending much of the day in Lusaka, experienced the first bush camp en route to the Malawian border. On to Lilongwe, where two nights were spent at the golf club campsite. Took a scenic drive to the southern shores of Lake Malawi, staying for three nights at Cape Maclear. Drove to Senga Bay passing by the many curio markets heaped with basketwork and wooden handicrafts. Spent two nights at Kande Bay. Travelled north along the mountain pass leading to Chiweta, crossed the border into Tanzania and headed for Tukuya. Foregoing the opportunity of another bush camp, we travelled a horrendous distance for some 18 hours towards Dar-es-Salaam. Overnight at Silversands campsite. Caught the ferry to Zanzibar, where four days were spent at leisure exploring the Spice Island. Returned to Dar by ferry. Travelled towards Moshi via Mt. Kilimanjaro, overnighting at Arusha Snake Park campsite. Left on a 4-day/3-night excursion into Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. Returned to Arusha. Entered Kenya at Namanga and stayed overnight at the Upper hill campsite, before travelling north to Lake Naivasha near Nairobi, where two nights were spent, whereafter the tour finally came to an end.

An overland tour is a budget tour by design.  Don't expect to be waited upon, if you are accustomed to operating in the comfort zone, as it were - it requires the full participation of all concerned. The foolishness of one individual can spoil it for the rest. Also, its success relies heavily on good organisation and management, which ought never to be underestimated. I have to say, in all honesty, that our guides excelled themselves (I have no shares in WhichWay Adventures and I am not being paid to say this)!  The ultimate goal is to have fun but to do it with consideration for those around you. That includes your fellow traveller as well as the local population. For the record, I wish to state the personal account of the tour as described on this website does not constitute the opinions of the organisers in any way.

It invariably always helps to prepare for the trip by acquiring some background information on the countries to be visited.  It makes for a much more meaningful experience. A backpacker's manual was made available on the Whichway tour.  "East and Southern Africa - The Backpacker's Manual" by Philip Briggs, published by Bradt Publications UK, however, proved an invaluable reference source for this website. It is available from the Amazon Internet Bookstore. I also purchased a detailed map such as the one published by Michelin, "Africa, Central and South", number 955, for the trip.  Make notes and keep a diary for later reading.



Zambia Malawi Tanzania

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Zanzibar Kenya


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