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Africa Route Planning - West or East?

We got the route figured out! Wait, do we, like really?

Here is how we probably imagined this whole route-planning thing to go down: “Hey, which way are we going?” “Well, there are two options, either going down the west coast or alternatively the east coast…” “How about the west coast? Looks like we can tick off more countries.” “Sure, let’s do that!” So, off we go: heading down to Spain, taking a ferry to Morocco, letting the fun begin!

Well, actually, it’s not that smooth.

I don’t know if you knew it and I think we kind of did but then it sort of hit us by surprise: there are rain seasons in Africa! Ok, fine, as every person, who was raised by German parents  knows: You are not made of sugar (for the non-Germans: that means, we won’t liquify when we’re being rained upon or in other words: don’t be such a wimp.)! BUT, often the streets in Africa are made of mud and that actually will liquify when the rain season kicks in, with the result that you might be (sometimes literally) stuck in places for days or even weeks.

So, one rainy day in Cologne we decided it couldn’t hurt to look at the climate charts of the various countries we’d be driving through (and had already been doing research on visa, routes, things to do etc.) and it turned out: going down the west coast starting in July was a semi-good idea. Maybe even not good. Or bad. I spare you the details, let’s just say within two hours we ditched our plans and got used to the idea of exploring the east (your boss might call you impulsive or inconsiderate, but on your resumé you’ll write spontaneous and flexible!). Oh, and also: we won’t limit ourselves by only going down one way. Nope, we’ll also cross over to the west coast, going back up again. Yep, that’s how we roll, or at least one of us – the other one is not so sure about getting it done in 7 months.

Once we had changed our plans, we found out that going east is the trickier way. After some research it became clear that the easy way – taking a ferry from northern Italy to Alexandria – was no longer possible, at least not via RoRo. So, let’s get some nerd talk in: RoRo is short for roll on roll off and stands for the process of accompanying your car instead of shipping it and travelling by plane on another ship. We learned that the only way to go with the car is booking a spot on a freight cruiser that takes a route starting in northern Italy, going down the Adriatic Sea via Croatia and Greece, then taking you up the Aegean Sea via Turkey and ending in Israel. That’s where you get off (not easily, but by paying a lot of money), drive down to the Israeli-Egyptian border and hopefully, again with a lot of money and the help of a so-called fixer, cross into Egypt. After having landed on some sketchy and highly unprofessional looking websites (that did turn out to be the real ones) we learned that this service is provided by only one freight cruising company. We also managed to find an agency to take care of the booking process for us since you aren’t able do that as a private individual. Becoming active participants in Africa Overland Facebook groups helped tremendously with the entire research. For instance, we also found out that we will need two passports, since we might be having trouble with entering Muslim countries, having a seal from the Israeli-Egyptian border.

So finally, everything is in place, we’ve got it all figured out and are good to go!

And then shit hit the fan when we went out to buy toilet paper.

Boarders are being closed, social distancing has become a thing and countries keep their people in home quarantine. Well, who knew that a global pandemic would be fucking with our plans. 


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