Village in Arusha Region, Tanzania (taken 2009)
I have been thinking about travelling through Africa for a little while. However, for months I declared it impossible: for financial but mostly for security reasons. But then it became clear that career-wise I was stuck somewhere between a rock and a hard place, and taking an indefinite time-out seemed the only sensible way out.
So there I was: back at the point where I wanted to figure out how with a limited budget I could make a journey through Africa happen after all. While I quickly determined that – also thanks to the TaZaRa – the East should be comparatively easy to travel as single-white-female-on-a-budget, the West was giving me headaches. I knew I could get to Morocco and through Senegal and through Ghana. And I was feeling fairly certain about Namibia as well. But how to get from one to the other?
Flying just doesn’t seem to do a timeout trip justice. After all I want to see as much of the continent and life on it as possible. Plus: Flying in Africa can be prohibitively expensive with a flight between two neighboring countries costing more than crossing the Atlantic.
- Freighter travel
Believe it or not: there is quite a community of freighter travelers out there. And I could picture myself going on a freighter journey myself once my purse has recovered from this trip – it’s not that expensive, it’s relaxed (no on board entertainment crew chasing you…), it takes you places you might otherwise never go. However, there is unfortunately no operator that would go from Morocco to Senegal to Ghana to Namibia.
- Join an organised tour
After all: you know in advance you’ll get to where you want to get. Downside here is that even though I have found a surprising number of operators none of them is doing tours exactly from where I want to start to where I want to stop and continue on my own.
- Hoping for the best
I could always try to go as far as I can. And whenever I get stuck, hope someone will take me along for the next bit of the journey (yacht owners, tour operators, expeditions…) – there should be at least some advantage to being single white female…
However, reasonable as I am (and with my parents in my ears): after pondering my options with hours of research on the web it did come down to the following rationale:
|Hope for the best
- greatest possible freedom – stay for longer at places you love, make a detour when you come across an impossible-to-miss-out-on offer, move on when you don’t like the place
- visiting development projects could be more easily integrated when travelling at my own speed
- possibly cheaper, no need to invest a large sum up front – pay as you go along your route
- see lots of ordinary day-to-day life by using busses/trains locals are using, too
- relatively secure
- travel countries you might (for security reasons) not travel on your own
- co-travellers might possibly be convinced to take detours to where you want to visit (and you don’t have to worry about how to find a ride to somewhere in the middle of nowhere)
- food, accommodation, transport, visa taken care off – less need to plan and research options
Though I somehow still wish I was naive enough to have decided to simply start somewhere and hope for the best I did opt for an organised tour with African Trails that will take me all the way from Gibraltar to Cape Town in 22 weeks. Stay tuned for a break-down of the stops.
Until then: Click on the map below to get redirected to the African Trails website where you’ll find a browsable version.
First part of the journey: Gibraltar to Cape Town with African Trails