We’ve been in Africa now for just short of six months of this past year. We spent almost two months in Cape Town preparing and prepping for our overland journey across Africa. We have routed our itinerary, bought our supplies, and even purchased Charlie, our 1989 Toyota Landcruiser. We are as prepared and mentally fit as we will ever be to drive ourselves across Africa. Needless to say, this will be the most ambitious adventure we have ever taken. We are quickly finding out that travel in Europe, Asia, and Australia are a walk in the park compared to self-driving Africa.
We have been informing family, friends, and strangers of our plans. The responses go one of two ways.
“Wow, that’s amazing! You guys will have the time of your lives.”
“You two are flippin nutters”
Many of the Africans have no idea why we would want to travel Africa when all they want to do is travel to the US. Then there are the others who think we will spend the whole time paying bribes, hitchhiking, and taking freezing cold bucket showers…or in other words it’s their idea of hell. Many people just want to know why we are doing a self-drive through Africa. So here is my best attempt to answer why I want to travel Africa.
Why I’m Set on Traveling Africa
Africa has always been a dream
You know when the Lion King came out and your childhood was changed forever? Well, mine was too. Then there were the other movies like Out of Africa, I Dreamed of Africa, and The First Grader that I would watch (and still watch) and I just knew I had to get Africa for myself. Traveling Africa has always been a dream of ours and there doesn’t seem like any better time than the present to pursue a dream.
I love Italy, Thailand, and Greece. They are wonderful places that we know we will be back to. You know who else loves them? Everyone. It’s time for me to give the beautiful continent of Africa a chance and bring it more to light to the western market.
We’re independent travelers
Many people want to travel Africa, but safari companies and articles like this try and convince you that you simply cannot do it on your own. While I must admit the logistics involved in traveling most of these developing countries are indeed very difficult, they aren’t impossible. We tend to shy away from tours and love traveling independently so there is no better way for us to take our time and get ourselves across Africa than in our own car.
When I see photos of the beautiful African woman in bright clothes or photos of the Maasai men in all of their stark red cloth I am awestruck. We just have to see these different cultures and experience them first hand.
To feel badass
We are just going to feel a tad bit badass when we are finished traversing through some of the worst roads on the planet in our 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser . I think Cameron would agree. Now, I just have to properly learn how to drive a massive 4×4 on the opposite side of the road in Africa…
To be good grandparents
I don’t want to be a grandparent to my hypothetical grandchildren telling boring stories. I want them to sit down and relish my stories of watching the sunset over the Namib desert, or coming face to face with a real wild lion and hopefully inspire them to live a life full of adventure!
To escape the bubble
I’m not really sure how to put this bluntly, but most Americans live in a giant bubble. And I’m not just ragging on Americans, because most Europeans, Canadians, Aussies, and other developed western nations live in the bubble too. We know nothing of what’s going on in the world unless it is on our “news” station. We b*tch about stupid crap that doesn’t matter in the West (Cameron and I aren’t saints either, I am constantly frustrated about WiFi). We’re traveling to Africa to see the other side of the world and open our eyes just a little bit wider.
For the COFFEE
We both love coffee! So it makes sense for us to travel to some of the countries that produce the best in the world. We can’t wait to stock up on all the beans while traveling through Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia! We’re taking orders if anyone wants some beans. 🙂
And the smiles
What’s better – traveling around New York or London where everyone will want you to get out of their way and stop asking where bloody Times Square is, or being surrounded by people curious about you and flashing million dollar smiles? People don’t smile like they used to, and if they do we just think they must be a serial killer or some other weirdo. We actually find that those with less have the biggest hearts and smiles. People just seem so happy despite some of their less than ideal circumstances. I think more of that needs to be radiated back on us.
To get away from some typical travelers
Anyone who has traveled abroad knows that person. THAT guy who thinks you are totally “traveling Prague the wrong way man.” The girl who just says you HAVE to go to Mykonos if you want to party the night away and experience Greece. The person who has traveled to every single country in the world and no matter what story you tell – theirs is better. It gets pretty annoying and repetitive after awhile. We are hoping to meet some different travelers while in Africa. The kind that have been chased by elephants, lived in the local villages, or the ones that will just chat with you all night in front of a fire instead of staring at their phone.
To be a better tourist
Many people head straight to Africa to volunteer with an organization for a week or two and then head home to their cushiony lives. Not only should this kind of voluntourism be thought twice about, but can you really say you gave back to the local economy? We believe that by traveling through Africa our money will be spent in the right places. Yes, we will be spending our money on a couple coffees and other unnecessary items for ourselves, but at least our money will be going right back to local business owners and help stimulate the economy. We believe that to understand some of the problems in Africa you must at least travel and spend time there first. This is not to say that volunteering is a bad thing because we do have plans to volunteer and work at a few places that do good along the way. We just have a problem with the short-term volunteer brought in by big companies that are for profit. More on that issue to come after we’ve traveled the continent and talked with more NGO’s.
To prove everyone wrong
Isn’t Africa dangerous? Won’t people be racist towards you? What if you get Malaria? Well, whilst I do believe Africa can be dangerous, that there is some racism towards white people, and that malaria is a serious issue I certainly am not going to let that deter me from traveling the continent. Actually, the main thing I’m scared of is camping in open areas with lions and hyenas. The connotations about traveling Africa are so strong that many people just head to Europe or Southeast Asia and never experience the beauty here. Through our blog, we want to highlight and show the beauty that is Africa by doing a self-drive tour through the continent. We promise to shed light on the dangerous and annoying side of things as well! We’ll definitely be taking advantage of the hashtag #theafricathemedianevershowsyou on Instagram, so follow us here!
To break out of my comfort zone
We are going to be taking bucket showers, camping in our vehicle, and probably eating some less than desirable food. I can’t say that any of these are things that I dream of doing. I’ve never been much for camping or taking a bucket shower, but it’s time to experience more things outside the comfortable American lifestyle many of us are so used to.
I’ll never be able to look at a zoo or aquarium the same after this journey through Africa. We have already been on some pretty awesome safaris and swam with some amazing creatures. A huge reason we are traveling Africa is to act like Nat Geo photographers and get our own Planet Earth footage! We even took up birding last month…yea we’re getting serious.
For the adventure
Forget the bungee jumping, dune sandboarding, and zip lining. What’s really going to get our adrenaline pumping? The sheer thought of two American’s driving our newly purchased 4×4 on some of these African roads and living to tell about it. (Assuming we live).
Because my mom thinks it’s dangerous
Nothing really phases my parents anymore when it comes to my life. “Hey mom, I’m moving to New York City!” “Hey mom, I’m flying to Ecuador TOMORROW!” “Hey mom, I just was face to face with a Great White Shark!” Almost anything I say usually gets a nod and a “that’s nice hunny.”But when I actually get a nervous reaction when I tell the rents we are buying a car to drive through Africa. Well, that’s just like a double dog dare.
Because it’s luxurious
Full disclosure, we have a few plans to stay at some pretty incredible African lodges while here. The Westin and Hilton are like a Tesco plastic playhouse compared to these properties in Africa. Our hope is to shine light on the culture, the wildlife, the people, and the stunning lodges and get more people spending their tourist dollars here.
I can think clearly
I can’t think of any place better to read a book, have a thought, or just drown out the world than in the middle of the Okavango Delta or on a secluded beach in Mozambique. We’ve come to Africa to step away from the computer from time to time, disconnect from the world, and go back in time for a bit.
I’m not gonna say we are traveling Africa because it’s affordable or because of the amazing food, or because I want to save all the orphans and fight AIDS. Quite frankly – traveling Africa is anything but affordable, the food is for the most part pretty unimaginative, and of course I want to save everyone – but I know that I cannot. I am traveling Africa to live, to be free, and for the adventure.
Plan Your Trip to Africa
- Travel Insurance: We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Travel Waterbottle: When we’re uncertain about the water supply we use our Grayl Purifier. It’s come in exceptionally handy around Africa.
- Camera Gear: Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. We love the Sony RX100V for a pocket-size camera and the Fujifilm XT-4 for a professional camera. Check out our favorite cameras for Africa.
- Safari Clothes: Lightweight, beige, and moisture-wicking clothing are great for traveling Africa. See our favorite safari clothing here.
- Safari Hat: A good hat is both stylish and functional.
- Safari Bag: A durable bag is ideal for traveling around Africa.
- Safari Pants: We recommend neutral-colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors.
- Safari Shirt: Shirts like these are lightweight and keep the bugs away!
- Boots: While you don’t need to wear sturdy shoes every day, at least one pair of safari boots will make your trip nicer!
- Travel Adapter: You’ll need a special travel adapter for traveling Africa. Get one before you get there so you don’t pay a premium on the ground.