Our Trans Africa trip took a southbound route on the western side from Morocco to South Africa and then up the eastern side to Egypt. It took 40 weeks and we visited 30 countries along the way.
Trans Africa Route: Nov 2010 – Aug 2011
1 December ’10: North Africa continues to impress. After spending one month in lovely Algeria, we linked up with our TransAfrica group in Gibraltar, hopped the ferry over to Cueta, and have spent the past few weeks in Morocco, visiting Chefchouan, Fes, Rabat, Casablanca, Todra Gorge, Ait Benhaddou, Marrakesh, Essouria, and the western Sahara. Our group of 23 is a diverse but fun bunch, and we are enjoying the overlanding experience so far. While we’d like to think that we’ll be able to make periodic updates on the road, access to internet will be dodgy, expensive and unpredictable. So, our plan is to post what we can when we can to the website, coupled with updates and photos on facebook. For more details on the trip, visit: www.oasisoverland.com (search for the 40 week Africa trip). A map of our tentative route is above so check it out. Drop us a note when you can…we’d love to hear from you, but keep in mind, it may take us a long time to respond.
20 December ’10: The past few weeks have been quite busy, and we have escaped the cold of Morocco for the heat of Mauritania (Nouadhibou and Nouakchott) and Senegal (St-Louis and Dakar). All of us now feel as if we are in Africa proper. We are currently in Bamako, Mali and hopefully will spend Christmas in Mali and New Years in Burkina Faso. Since our sand rolling adventures in the western Sahara, we’ve managed a few dips in the Atlantic Ocean, river bathing in the Niger River (we only read about the dangers of hippos and bilharzia after the fact!), market shopping at the local “grand marches” where we have to buy sufficient food to make breakfast, lunch and dinner for 25 people on a budget of about 25 Euros (it can be done and we are eating well), several bush campings (where we have all become extremely proficient at the art of erecting and tearing down our tents in mere minutes), and had two highly successful truck parties resulting in quite a few members of our group in earning their new nicknames. We’ve really been enjoying everything about overlanding so far, and feel really lucky to have a great group to travel with. We’ll update again when we can, so until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Years from balmy Bamako!
12 January ’11: We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Years like we did. Christmas was spent at Burkina Faso’s fantastic Karfiguela waterfalls near Banfora where we pitched our tents, roasted Jemimah the pig over a spit, danced with the locals, soaked in the refreshing waterfalls, and stole secret Santa presents from each other. Overall a great day in a beautiful setting, making for one of our best Christmases in recent years. New Years was equally as rowdy, spent in a bushcamp in Ghana where we could be as loud and crazy as we wanted without disturbing the locals with our partying. The day after New Years was a rough one, but overall, what a way to ring in 2011! We are currently in English speaking Ghana, making it the first time in two months that we have heard English as the predominant language…all of us non-French speakers are rejoicing as we can now understand everyone perfectly without getting anything lost in translation! Ghana has proved to be a phenomenal country, with tons to see and do such as elephant sighting at Mole National Park, visiting UNESCO world heritage forts along the coast (Cape Coast Castle, Elmina Fort, Fort Amsterdam and Ussher Fort), getting lost in the Asante city of Kumasi which has west Africa’s largest and liveliest open air market, and catching some waves at Kokrobite Beach (near Accra). Next up are Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon, where our current plan is to hike Africa’s third highest mountain (Mt Cameroon). We can’t believe that 2 months are down and we have 8 more to go…time is flying by! Next update to come soon.
14 February ’11: Happy Valentines Day! Its been a busy couple of weeks with some of the most dismal internet conditions of the trip to date. Let’s just say getting online has been slow, expensive and very frustrating! It’ll probably get worse before getting better as we still have Gabon, Congo, DRC and Angola to look forward to. Just to recap our adventures these past few weeks: in Togo’s vibrant capital of Lomé, we got to experience west Africa’s largest fetish market and a bit of voodoo magic. From Togo, we headed to Benin where we stayed in Ouidah and walked the 4 km “Route of Slaves” where they boarded the slave ships from the “door of no return”. We also visited Ganvie, Africa’s largest stilt village. After leaving Benin, we headed to Nigeria where all of us were astounded to discover the friendliest people in the world live here. We love Nigeria, it absolutely shattered all of our stereotypes of this amazing country. Highlights of Nigeria include the Afi Drill Ranch where Becky celebrated her birthday in style with drill monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas. We are now in Cameroon and have successfully climbed Mt Cameroon! Not sure what the next few weeks will bring but we’ll update when we can.
16 March ’11: We have finally made it to the “Promise Land” (aka Namibia). Whoopee! The toughest section of the TransAfrica trip is behind us. We had a few blissful days in Gabon, which got our vote for prettiest country in Africa until we crossed over into Congo, which wins hands down for the most drop dead gorgeous country in Africa…the vistas were mind blowing and we all sat mesmerized at the fantastic scenery that unfolded before our eyes. These past few weeks, we’ve managed to survive the rigors of travel through Congo, Angola (the Cabinda enclave up north), Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as Zaire), Angola again where we had a mad dash against time as we were issued a 5 day transit visa to cross a horribly long and arduous section of terrain. Bush camping these past few weeks has been fun though despite the long hours and days. All of us agreed that some of our toughest days (getting bogged down in mud holes in the Congo) were the best, as we all pitched in and helped to free our vehicle. Most surreal moment goes to our stern faced Angolan guards who watched us with AK47s at one of our bush camps, only to break out in toothy grins as they sheepishly asked to pose with us for photos. Overall, its been quite an adventure and Namibia has a lot to live up to! We should have good internet connectivity for a few weeks so we’ll update from Cape Town.
19 April ’11: The past few weeks have absolutely flown by! We fell in love with pretty Namibia and South Africa, where we have had a blast seeking thrills through the numerous adrenaline rush activities (quad biking, sand boarding, skydiving, bungee jumping) while taking time out to do a bit of exploration and sightseeing. Since we last wrote, we have stalked wildlife at Etosha National Park, visited a Himba tribal village, wandered around the ghost town of Kolmanskop, seen 6000 year old petroglyphs at Twyfelfontein, hiked Spitzkoppe, reached the southernmost point of Africa at Cape Agulhas, squeezed our way through Cango Caves, hopped a ferry to Robben Island, admired the vistas of Table Mountain, and enjoyed the beauty of Cape Town. Its been a fantastic couple of weeks and we are now headed back up to Namibia and onward to Botswana. Until next time!
11 May ’11: Time keeps flying by! Since we last updated with our adventures, we’ve enjoyed Stellenbosch on a wine tour, hiked and enjoyed the views from Fish River Canyon (second largest in the world), rolled down Dune 45 in Sossusvlei, had cheetahs lick us at Otjitotongwe Cheetah Park, enjoyed a mokoro ride in the Okavango Delta, stalked elephants, hippos, water buffalo, crocodiles, monitor lizards and fish eagles on a Chobe River cruise, and are now official adrenaline junkies after having survived the thrill sports of flying fox, rappeling, gorge swinging, bungee jumping, and microlighting over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia. We are having a great time and cannot believe that we only have 3 months left on this trip. Next update to come somewhere on the east coast of Africa!
13 June ’11: The past few weeks have been a blur as our trip appears to be going at warp speed. We can barely catch our breath in any one place long enough as it seems like we are always on the go. Some of the highlights since we last updated include seeing the rare black rhinoceros at Matobo National Park, wandering the Great Zimbabwe Ruins which are sub Saharan Africa’s best archaeological site, and bird gazing at Harare’s Kuimba bird park. After bidding Zimbabwe farewell, it was a mad dash across Mozambique (we were gutted our itinerary didn’t include more of this amazing country), and we entered pretty Malawi where chilling on Lake Malawi and celebrating Day 200 together was unforgettable. After buying some lovely souvenirs (Malawi is famous for its woodwork) and swimming in the crystal clear waters of the lake, it was time to say goodbye to Malawi and we headed for Tanzania, where we have been having a blast. Zanzibar lives up to all its legendary hype as an oasis in the middle of the Indian Ocean where getting lost in the labyrinth of Stone Town and chowing down on bountiful amounts of fresh seafood was a highlight. From Zanzibar, we zipped up to Arusha which served as the gateway to the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti Plains. Undoubtedly, the Ngorongoro crater is one of our all time favorites in all of Africa, a not to be missed sight! From here, we will head up to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda as our trip draws to a rapid close. Until next time!
17 July ’11: Drum roll please! We are down to our final month remaining on the Trans. It is unbelievable how fast time has flown by. Since we last updated you, our travels have taken us to Kenya where Lake Nakuru was an unexpected highlight along with the island of Lamu which we long to call home. From Kenya we hopped over the border to Uganda where we spent some time in Kampala, Lake Bunyonyi and Jinja. Rwanda was just over the border from Uganda and we paid tribute to the victims of the genocide at the museum in Kigali before trekking with mountain gorillas (visiting the Ugenda Family). We are currently in Ethiopia and have escaped the capital of Addis Ababa for the incredible city of Harar (Islam’s 4th most holy city) where we were charmed by its friendly inhabitants and amazed at the century old tradition of feeding hyenas nightly just outside the city gates. We have most recently been astounded by the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela which were absolutely phenomenal and definitely a highlight to any visit to Ethiopia. From here, we will be heading north to see a few more Ethiopian highlights before entering Sudan and then onward to Egypt where our long trip will end.
13 Aug ’11: All good things must come to an end. Our Africa adventure drew to a rapid close and we are in the chaotic city of Cairo recuperating from many months on the go. Since our last update, our Ethiopia activities included a visit of the centuries old churches of Lake Tana followed by an exploration of Gondar, the “Camelot of Africa”. A quick detour to Axum where the ark of the covenant supposedly resides and a hike up the Simien Mountains to view the gelada monkey concluded our trip to Ethiopia. We entered Sudan at the border crossing of Gallabat and drove directly to its capital city of Khartoum. Here, we were astounded at the friendliness of the Sudanese who were extremely warm and inviting. Highlights of Khartoum included a visit to the Omdurman Souq, Sudan National Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, Mahdi’s Tomb and Khalifa’s House. The Pyramids of Meroe in the region of Nubia were next on our agenda, followed by several days of intensive bush camps through a sand storm and searing heat (54.6 degrees Celsius or 130 degrees Fahrenheit was the record high). From the sleepy town of Wadi Halfa, we crossed Lake Nasser on a ferry to reach Aswan, Egypt…that epic 24 hour journey will never be forgotten! Aswan served as our base to visit Abu Simbel (amazing) and a felucca ride to a Nubian Village. Next up were Edfu and Kom Ombo and Luxor’s Temple of Karnak, followed by the obligatory visit to the Valley of the Kings. The highlight in Luxor was a hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings, and from Luxor, we headed over to Hurghada for a bit of SCUBA diving the red sea before finally making our way to Cairo. This was definitely the trip of a lifetime and we are so grateful for the many memories. Our fellow trans passengers will be missed!