Thursday, January 7, 2010

Choosing an overland route

Which route is best for a Trans-Africa trip?  Is it West Africa, East Africa or perhaps a combination of both? In this article I outline the primary route options.  These options are available regardless if your preferred option is North to South or visa versa.


I am in no way a guru on the finer details of the various routes, however, through The Africa Overland Network site, I have come to recognize the most common routes people have travelled.

Heading South or Heading North?

Majority of overlanders tend to head South from Europe rather than North from Southern Africa.  Either way, there are two major route options.



West or East Africa


East Africa
The quick route from EU is to ferry across to Tunisia, enter Libya, and into Egypt.
The hardest part about this route is the expensive Carnet requirements for taking a vehicle into Egypt.  The second element of this route is the ferry into Sudan, which currently only takes six vehicles.  I won’t go into detail on Carnet or ferry crossing but to say that both those topics are covered extensively on the web.
Sudan – I have not had the chance to visit this country but every blog I read, talks highly of the people, the country and the friendliness.  Well worth visiting!
Heading South after Sudan the journey becomes considerably easier.  After Ethiopia, East Africa beckons with its fantastic people, animals and tar roads.  At this point the journey South becomes easier especially if the main roads are followed.



West Africa
If you can speak French, then this route is a good option but don’t be put off by this. 
This route offers a combination of enjoying three languages onroute – French, Portuguese and English. The route South from Europe involves a short ferry and then gently eases you into Africa after your first border crossing in Morocco.
The route can be divided into two sections – first section finishing in Ghana and the second section starting after Ghana and ending in Namibia.
A shipping option is available from Ghana to Southern Africa.

In my opinion, this route is the most enjoyable, albeit the longest Trans-Africa route, and slightly cheaper than heading via East Africa.


Alternative routes 
There are a number of alternative routes available but unfortunately they are currently closed to the average overlander.  Only the brave are venturing on these routes via Central Africa.  See blog post Lost Routes for more information.

Summary
Route planning is exciting.  The amount of information available on the web, in books and word-of-mouth often make it confusing.  Here’s my thoughts on this:

  • Stuck for time – Head East
  • Stuck for money but lots of time – Head West
  • Hunger for Adventure – Head West
  • Looking for campsites – Head East
  • Like game parks – Head East
  • Like unrestricted driving – Head West
  • Love mud – Head West in rainy season







I could go on but I will leave the choice up to you.  Enjoy your planning and have a good trip.