“Bro, I think we should go conservative with this trip” ~ Eugene
From a man who planned on circumnavigating South America by bus in 3 months, I thought ‘conservative’ was a good motto to follow while planning our African Adventure. Conservative and realistic are two adjectives seldom used to describe our past travels but given the difficulty in African travel, I thought it was a prudent choice.
The genesis of our African Odyssey began with our desire to climb Kilimanjaro. Since Eugene got himself a volunteer consultant position with Technoserve in Tanzania, we felt it was as good a time as any to check climbing Kilimanjaro off our bucket list. Our one month itinerary of Kilimanjaro and East African Safaris gradually evolved into a two month East African road trip to neighbouring Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Malawi. Not quite what I had in mind when I was thinking ‘conservative’, but at the same time it seemed perfectly reasonable.
Several weeks later, Eugene called me and said, “Brah, I just decided with Christine that I’m going to buy a car, and drive from Cape Town to Cairo.”
Then I realized he was serious.
As an ignorant foreigner, the only thing I knew about Africa prior to planning this trip was that it exists. Based on the information I gathered from movies, the Discovery Channel, and news articles, my idea of Africa was an amalgamation of impoverished countries filled with warlords, corrupt governments, bandits, malaria, AIDS, and Lions chasing wildebeests and gazelles. I wasn’t even sure there were roads that could get me from Cape Town to Cairo.
Before I even had a chance to stew on the idea of Cape to Cairo, he called back and said we should continue past Cairo, through the Middle East, and make Istanbul our final destination. After all, we had an entire year to spend on the road travelling.
Isn’t Syria at war?
At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
After finding other tour companies offering overland trips from London, through central Asia, to Australia, Eugene and Christine decided to make Kathmandu our ultimate destination and registered the domain capetokathmandu.com. I call it the route that broke Google Maps. By its estimate, our route is ~35,000km, and will require ~500 hours of driving time.
We have 1 year, a modest amount of money, a 1998 Toyota Prado, and hmm… a lot of common sense? We don’t have the survival skills of Bear Grylls, nor have we diligently planned our every move (in fact, one might argue the only planning we have done is looking at a map and saying we want to go there). Realistically, we probably won’t make it to Kathmandu. I am not even sure what the odds are of us making it to Istanbul or Cairo, but it is going to be fun to find out.
Given our lack of survival skills and preparation, and the difficulty of travelling in these remote and at times dangerous destinations, our plans are at best ambitious and at worst idiotic. However, no one has ever uttered, “I had such an awesome time staying home and making responsible decisions.” Empires were not built by being conservative; anyone that did anything worthwhile took a leap of faith at some point. In that sense ‘conservative’ is probably the wrong adjective. For the remainder of our trip, plans should be made with controlled aggression.