One thing you should realise when travelling in Africa by road is that it’s a HUGE continent. It takes time to get from one sight to the next. Many people come not having thought much about this. They are shocked by the long days we spend driving to the next point of interest. To me, the distance travelling Africa by road is what it’s all about. The driving is part of your whole experience. Without that you’d have to fly from point to point. Although I am sure that that experience in itself would be fantastic, you wouldn’t really get a feel for the place. The people, the scenery or the distances, so much of this makes the continent.
It’s not just about the main points of interest. The drive days when travelling Africa by road give you a real insight into what Africa is really like for the millions of Africans who call this continent home. You’ll pass through their towns and villages. You will be able to observe daily life, watch adults and young children often walking many miles to collect water. You will see ladies balancing heavy loads on their heads (more often than not with a baby on their back). Locals washing their clothes and themselves in streams. People carrying huge loads on their bikes; whether it be bags of coal, firewood, building materials or the whole family.
You’ll see the differences from town to town, village to village. You’ll experience the cities, the hustle and bustle, the trading of goods at the local markets. Escaping the cities, see the pop up market stalls roadside…..All of this you will miss out on if you fall asleep and wait to get to the next destination, so embrace the ‘drive days’ see them as time to relax and reflect on the experiences you have enjoyed so far, a time to recharge and suck in the culture and scenery you’ll enjoy along the way, as without the travelling in between you will never arrive at your destination.
As we drive along, especially in East Africa we often stop to buy fruit, veggies and home-made charcoal along the way. It’s a great way to interact with the locals and not only helps the locals with some much needed income into the smaller villages, but keeps our costs down for the tour.
The roads in Africa present many challenges but that’s all part of the big adventure, so embrace the challenge; when faced with a sand-bogged vehicle or a flat tyre and get stuck in to get the problem solved. That way you really become part of the Journey which makes up your memorable travels in Africa and will have many interesting stories to take home…remember, it’s about the journey and not just the destination.
About the Author:
Nikki Self is a self-diagnosed travel addict and has travelled extensively around the world, tour leading in Europe and Africa with Tucan Travell.