If you have sufficient time and budget you can travel anywhere you like on the continent – trouble-spots and closed borders permitting – but the last fifty years have seen the evolution of several arteries across the continent, which now offer the main, and in some parts the only, viable routes. Only these main arteries are shown on the route maps below – most roads are not included. Full details of these routes are included in the book on p.40–49.
Also covered in Chapter 1: Ramadan Maps and GPS Culture shock Cruises Travelling alone Voluntourism
The Atlantic Route runs south along the West African coast from Morocco to Senegal, and then inland across West Africa, with various alternatives along the way, to Cameroon. Once you’re in Cameroon, you can fly to East Africa or try to pick your way overland south towards the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola (a few overland operators are now doing this). Very few travellers are currently heading east towards the Central African Republic and the northern region of DRC as the area is deeply insecure.
The Nile Route between Egypt and East Africa was the classic African overland route of the 1960s and 1970s – before civil war erupted in Sudan. It’s once again feasible, and links directly with the route from East Africa to Cape Town. The soon-to-be-independent state of South Sudan is an adventurous alternative to travelling south through Ethiopia. Either way, you’ll end up (or start from) Uganda or Kenya.
Lastly, the Cape Route is the most important overland traveller’s artery in Africa. Safe, reasonably predictable and peppered with attractions along the way, from gorillas and game parks in the north, past giant lakes and beaches, further wildlife parks in southern Africa and the cosmopolitan delights of South Africa itself, it’s a very popular three-to-six week journey on an overland truck tour (depending on how much of the route is covered and how many stops are made). It’s equally feasible to drive this route in your own vehicle or use public transport.
This page last edited 9 June 2011 © Richard Trillo and Emma Gregg