Africa: Overland from Nairobi to Cape Town

Posted by on Mar 10, 2013 in Africa, Summaries | 2 comments


The first time the seed of overland Africa was incepted in my head was when I was traveling through Kenya and Ethiopia in 2009. I spent a month there in total, and my friend was reading Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux. I borrowed the book and quickly wanted to repeat his adventure of going from Cairo to Cape Town overland.
I am not as adventurous as the intrepid author so I would never do the journey on my own, but I realized there are many companies that organize similar trips. Because of the political instability in Egypt and Sudan, that portion of the continent is a bit dicey to say the least. So when choosing our African adventure, Yus and I decided Nairobi to Cape Town would fit the bill more efficiently in terms of safety and time. I had been to Nairobi and the Maasai Mara before and he has spent some time in Cape Town, but both of us were fine with repeating those portions of the trip.

The journey will take 43 days, with 3 extra in Cape Town at the end. We will travel overland in a tricked out truck called Shengani, named after a river that runs through Zimbabwe. With lockers onboard, and anything and everything one would require for camping stowed below main cabin, Shengani is a sweet ride. It isn’t entirely rain proof, which we discovered when water was leaking in, but that is manageable.

We are crossing Kenya (Maasai Mara), Tanzania (Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater and Zanzibar), Malawi, Zambia (Livingstone) with an optional day trip into Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls, Botswana, Namibia (Game Meats and Game Drives and Deserts and Dunes), and South Africa (Orange River and Cederberg, Cape Town, and Wine Tasting). Our guide Emily and driver Paul definitely know their way around Africa. These roads and “roads” are not for amateurs, same goes with border crossings, weight stations and just generally having a sense of direction. Google maps isn’t exactly the most useful tool around here.

The trip is mostly camping, with some optional upgrades. This means camp fires, helping cook and clean, starry nights, extra DEET, peeing into the wind, and getting used to being covered in dust. Thus far Yus and I are pleasantly surprised with the tents. After the coffin-sized tent we shared in Patagonia, the Acacia one feels like a luxury. Same with the mats provided. I also splurged and bought a pillow so I am snug as a bug in a rug.

And the meals have been extraordinary and put having any fully stocked kitchen to shame. Let’s hope our pants still fit in April.

Away we go! Hakuna Matata!


  1. you guys are amazeballs

    • I’ll second that

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