What route are we taking?
Click on the map below to get some sense of the true scale of Africa by superimposing The USA, China, France Germany, India, etc onto the African continent…. (map opens in new tab)
Due to the political situation in Western Africa (Mali terrorism / bombings, Nigerian unrest, Angola not issuing Transit Visas, etc) and the recent troubles in Egypt, we’ve had so many variations on route that we’ve dropped the principle of giving our plans letters (A,B,C) and have moved onto the Binary System. I think we’re currently on Plan 101101.
Initially we headed to the South of France, got a ferry to Corsica, then on to Sardinia. From Sardinia to Naples, then round southern Italy. A ferry across to Greece, toured a bit in Greece, then another boat to western Turkey, round to the east, before finding a cargo boat over to a family wedding in Cyprus.
That’s where things went a bit pear-shaped. After Cyprus, we had planned to go back to either Greece or Turkey and then arrange to ship the car / get any available boat into Egypt. The situation in Syria still makes it impractical to try an overland route into Egypt – a shame since by all accounts Syria is wonderful.
Egypt has never been an easy way into Africa, since boats / ports / customs & bureaucracy costs entering Egypt by sea are legendary! But it has been the only real gateway to the Eastern Route to South Africa.
However, whilst at the Cyprus wedding in 2013, the Egyptian political / civil situation deteriorated into turmoil following the anniversary of Morsi’s appointment and Mubarak’s removal. In only 2 months thousands of people were killed, many more injured, curfews imposed and Embassies closed. That made travelling through the country a significant risk and wandering in rural / remote areas impossible. Ferries and cargo boat services into Port Said and Damietta were suspended.
One of our (many) alternate plans was to get a boat to Israel, drive through Jordan and cross into Egypt via the Sinai Peninsular. However, following many deaths, in early October 2013, 4×4 vehicles were barred from entering the country at this point since a number have been hijacked for use by terrorists.
That pretty much put Egypt out of the question and we were left with little choice other than to look into shipping the car in a container into either Port Sudan, Mombassa, Dar es Salaam, Cape Town or Walvis Bay Namibia.
Visas for Port Sudan would have meant flying back to the UK and waiting 6 weeks while we applied in London before we could even book the car for shipping. Mombassa and Dar are notoriously corrupt and difficult ports (they say pirates used to operate on the oceans, but these days it’s simpler for them to just run ports in Africa).
Walvis bay has a good reputation as a relatively civilised port but we chose Cape Town since the transit time is shorter and we found a highly recommended shipping agent there who could help us get the car out of customs etc.
So, after all the months we spent planning for a North-South route, entered Africa from the south and have been meandering our way South-North via Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Tht turned all our planning on its head and meant that we spent much of our first 5 months avoiding the wet season (where possible).
At some point we’ll have to make some big decisions about how we get out: back to Cape Town; ship home from Sudan / Dar es Salaam; drive up the West Coast; ship to India / South America; etc.
I guess more Binary-tagged plans will be required for all the frustrations those options will pose in the future.
We’ll cross those bridges when we come to them.
In the meantime, while in Africa we will periodically return to Uganda in order to spend time with the AmahaWe Uganda team with whom Helene has been working for a number of years.
You can find out where we are, where we’ve been, & where we’re heading by checking our Blog on the Home page (or occasionally our Facebook page).
When we can get reliable internet access, we also post up-to-date information on our Blog page and the Overlanders page for other travellers regarding borders, visas, travel conditions, etc.