Cape Town to Cairo: The ultimate African road trip

Megan Wilkins


A true spirit of adventure is needed to tackle one of the most daunting and revered road trips in the world. The Cape to Cairo trip is a thrilling, unpredictable journey of over 6,200 miles and it is not for the faint of heart. From road troubles to the political plight, those who brave this journey will leave the continent a true child of the soil. From breathtaking sights to local culture, Africa is the heartbeat of the world, and anyone lucky enough to spend time here is sure to be changed forever. Here are some things to know before setting off on your travels.

Plotting your journey

As with any kind of road trip, the first place to start is by plotting out your journey. However, with the nature of this road trip, you need to plan for unexpected surprises. Your starting point and destination are easy, but the in-between can be a bit unpredictable. One of the reasons that many want to take on this epic journey is the fact that it is fraught with challenges and obstacles, but it is precisely the detours themselves that make for such special memories.It would be a good idea to have a plan for which paths you intend on taking, but also highlight the various paths that you can take should the need arise. Mark out “safe zones” for yourself so that you know where to go in case of an emergency. And make sure to have the contact details of any pre-booked accommodation along the way. Bring an old-school physical map, just in case technology fails you or you need a local to show you directions. Plus, it will make a wonderful keepsake for afterwards.  

Absolute must-haves

It may seem fairly obvious, but your first must-have is a reliable car. Not just any car will work for this road trip, so make sure to choose one that is sturdy, safe, and easily fixable if anything should go wrong. Once you’ve chosen your noble steed, you should pack it with the essentials. Camping gear, should you need it, enough drinking water, solar or battery-operated torches, and a satellite phone for emergencies.

You will need to keep your travel documents with you at all times, especially your passport and any visa information you may need for when you cross borders. It’s a good idea to keep some spare cash hidden in the car, just in case. In terms of medicine, you will more than likely need to take anti-malaria tablets, but you should also keep insect repellent, mild painkillers, and sunblock on hand. The number one must-have for your journey is a spirit of adventure. Africa is a one-of-a-kind place, and a good sense of humour and a willingness to go with the flow will take you a long way. 

Absolute must-do's

This journey is destined to be unlike anything you’ve ever undertaken, so you should absolutely see and do as much as you can along the way. The first must-do is research. Do as much research as you can about the various countries you are visiting, their local culture and customs, and maybe write down a few handy phrases in whichever language they speak. Connecting with local people will help in an emergency, but will also enrich your life by making new friends and finding joy in different life experiencesDefinitely do budget in time for detours, and not only of the unhappy kind. While you may find yourself stuck waiting for a herd of elephants to cross the road, you may also find something along the way that will take you from your path. These detours are vital, as they will not only provide you with unforgettable memories, but they are sure to make the journey that much more special. .

Absolute must-sees

Simply put, there is so much to see in Africa that you may feel overwhelmed. It is important to remember that the journey makes the destination, so you should take each day as it comes. Try to get away from the bigger cities where you can and visit more of the smaller villages and rural areas. The African people are known for being hospitable and friendly, and it is always good to take in new cultures.Apart from connecting with the local people, you should see as much of the wildlife and nature as you can. Each country in Africa has a very unique ecosystem, teeming with flora and fauna unlike anywhere else in the world. Try to find local tour guides to show you around, as they will know the best spots to see. The ultimate must-see on your trip happens every night - sunset. Watching the sun go down over Africa is an experience that cannot be described in words. If you are able, take a quiet moment each evening, sip on a glass of something cold, and watch the light of the day fade into dark.  

Returning Home

Something that is seldom spoken about by adventure travellers is the process of coming home. Spending so long on the road can lead to difficulties when you try to return back to your normal life, as you will have experienced so much on your travels. Thankfully, there is a simple solution to this: keep the adventurous spirit you had on your journey alive for as long as possible!

Fill your home with art you’ve collected along the way, or have your photographs printed and framed. Most importantly, keep the ethos of the people you met alive and well in your daily dealings. So, no matter where you go, Africa will always be waiting to welcome you home. 

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