African Trails - London to Cape Town map (2011-08)

Down West: Why I’m Traveling Overland With African Trails


The tour is booked! Here’s my thought process on why in the end I decided to go with African Trails Overlanding.

I have been thinking about traveling through Africa for a little while. However, for months I declared it impossible: for financial but mostly for security reasons. When it became apparent that career-wise I was stuck somewhere between a rock and a hard place taking indefinite time off from my career 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 train line – 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 Ghana. And I was feeling fairly confident about Namibia as well. But how to get from one to the other?

  1. Flying

    Flying just doesn’t seem to do a gap-year 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Join an organized tour

    After all: you know in advance you’ll get to where you want to get. The 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.

  4. 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 bestOrganized Tour
  • 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 traveling at my 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 buses/trains locals are using, too
  • relatively secure
  • travel countries you might (for security reasons) not go on your own
  • co-travelers might 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, visas are taken care off – less need to plan and research options

Read all about my thought process organizing a tour through West Africa as a female solo traveler and why I decided to go with African Trails Overlanding.Why African Trails?

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 organized tour with African Trails. that will take me all the way from Gibraltar to Cape Town in 22 weeks.

I chose them because first of all there are less than a handful of companies offering a long trek that will take me all the way through West Africa. We will go from Gibraltar to Cape Town in 22 weeks, passing countries like Mali, Togo, Nigeria, both Congos, and Angola.

Africa Trails is simply the cheapest option: I will pay a grand total of 4,500 GBP (the company is British) for all transport and accommodation, roughly a third of my meals, and even some sightseeing (safaris in Ethosha National Park, for example, are included). That’s roughly 50 USD per day.

Click on the map below to get redirected to the African Trails website where you’ll find a browsable version.

journey gibraltar to cape town on the map

First part of the journey: Gibraltar to Cape Town with African Trails


  • TravelAdd1cted

    and let me say – i envy you

    • thank you! – but the list i see on your travel blog does look quite impressive as well! i mean, you went to malawi in the 90s – few people would have considered that back then…

  • TravelAdd1cted

    unfortunately i don’t have digital pics from some of my trips so the list on my blog is not complete 🙁
    Malawi was great despite poverty was really big

  • Cristina G

    Your blog is hands down the most interesting one I’ve come across to. I originally came across your blog because I’m in Israel and you provide great information about how to get around here.
    But your Africa journey is what really caught my eye.
    Keep up the adventures and great writing!

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