Here begins an account of one of the great adventures of my lifetime – a six month overland trip across west and central Africa. I embarked on this journey in 1996, and ended up in London in 1997. What follows was written many years ago, and some references may be a bit dated but I have kept them as-is so as to retain authenticity.
Overland travel across various continents (or all of them!) is becoming a more popular way to travel. It is not unusual for someone to quit their job or take a year off to traverse a few continents. Even a few years ago, when I began planning my trip, it was considered a grand venture. To set off in a converted truck with 20 strangers for 6 months is a risk, and a challenge. ‘What if’ was the favourite question of family and friends. What if you don’t like each other? What if you want to do your own thing? What if you get sick half way through?
There were just too many ‘what-ifs’ for me to stay at home and wonder about it like everyone else. I needed little encouragement to quit my job, sell my car and motorbike, relegate my considerable belongings (mainly books) to boxes, and take off for a few years. For me, the 6-month overland journey across Africa was just the start. I left the other end open, not knowing how my life would change and how much money I would have at the end.
I found that after a few months I began to suffer from ‘journal fatigue’. It was no longer exciting to write about sitting in a truck all day. At some stages of the trip conditions were the same for weeks and weeks. But in between these periods were some spectacular and unique experiences. Some of what I write about fits into the category of ‘you had to be there!’. It will never have the same meaning to someone who wasn’t there or who hasn’t been there and done that before. Some of this may seem boring or irrelevant to some readers. But it is an honest account of how I experienced the trip.