Adventurer's Bucket List: Cairo to Cape Town
Gerry Moffatt: My preference is to recommend an overland route, and Cairo to Cape Town is an absolute classic. It's the type of trip that makes for a great old-fashioned adventure. Something you can plan but that remains totally unpredictable in terms of the outcome. Overland routes, be they by motorcycle, vehicle or train — even a combination of all three — present significant challenges en route. The end result is a series of experiences beyond one's wildest dreams.
How can one make this adventure happen?
Cairo to Cape Town is a trip that conjures images of Africa's golden age and early expeditions. Nowadays there a variety of ways you can do it, from hiring a professional touring company like Safari Drive out of the UK to take care of all the details, to simply showing up in Cairo, buying a motorcycle and pointing it south.
Three months is the minimum amount of time you want to spend on the route.
There are a few different routes, but all have to endure multiple desert, mountain and river crossings. Time wise, three months is the minimum amount of time you want to spend on the route, but there are so many amazing beaches, lakes, wildlife parks and towns as you make your way from Egypt's Pyramids through Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya to Uganda's Gorilla Forests and on down through Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia before South Africa. It sounds like a huge mission, and it is, but it's a lot more accessible and doable than many people think.
Here are some resources to jump-start your planning:
- Moffatt suggests reading "Dark Star Safari" by Paul Theroux.
- As mentioned above, Safari Drive can plan your entire trip.
- A UK company called Oasis Overland offers a 17-week trip from Cairo to Cape Town.
- Dragomon, another UK outfitter, offers a Nile Route trip from Cairo to Cape Town overland that takes 142 days (more or less).
- There's also a 10-week fully guided but self-driving trip that Africa Expedition Support offers.
- The blog One Step 4ward has a good entry and discussion about the journey and basic costs.
- CNN Travel has a Cairo to Cape Town article with lots of useful information.
- Drive South Africa rents land cruisers and similar vehicles for long overland trips in Africa.