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Jan 17 2013

A letter of encouragement

To Anne, Vic, Jackie, Phil, Elize and anyone else contemplating an adventure

As you are preparing for your own adventures – however they look – we thought we’d send a few words of encouragement to you.

We have been on the road for a little over 3 months now, and to be honest, it is very different from what we expected.  But then every adventure is unlike those adventures gone before, and those still to come.

It is so easy to look at other people’s blogs and websites and see where they have been, what they have done, who they have met and how long they have been on the road for.  And it becomes very easy to think that this is the “standard” that you should also adhere to.

You “have to”:

- wild camp

- travel to remote areas

- travel for a year

A word of advice – you don’t!

While we have met relatively few – OK, almost no – people who are embarking on a grand tour of Africa, we have met rather a lot more people who are travelling parts of Africa for a length of time they are comfortable with – 3 or 4 months sometimes.

There are many Europeans who return to Morocco each year for 2-3 months in favour of the warmer winter temperatures.  A lot of them travel in camping cars with no need for 4×4 and huge off-road experiences.  It works for them.

There are some Europeans who venture through Morocco and Western Sahara, dash through Mauritania and spend 1-2 months exploring Senegal and The Gambia.  And they return to do it again and again.

We have even been fortunate to meet a few travellers who venture into Mali (in the good ol’ days), Guinea, Burkina Faso and then return to Europe afterwards.  They have given us a wealth of information – and many positive words of encouragement.

The key really is – do what you are comfortable with.

We have been tweaking our way of travelling as we go.  We are in awe of other travellers who are currently on the road in West Africa – they have ventured into Sierre Leone and Liberia for goodness sake!!!  Yikes!  I thought we were adventurous when we decided to explore Senegal and The Gambia for more than 2 weeks.  We have discovered that we quite like to spend more than a mere few days in a country – but rather take the time to see what we can.  Of course, we may find we start running out of time … but we’ll deal with that eventuality when we reach it.

So if the idea of a year-long journey through Africa is daunting, I’d encourage you to start with something smaller and more accessible.  Try Morocco.  If you’re up for it, head down to Senegal.  Try it on a timescale that works for you – whether that is 1 month, 3 months, or longer.

But do get out there and see this beautiful planet we live on.

Good luck!

8 comments

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  1. andy cook

    Just booked a trip to Morocco this autumn.
    we only have 3 weeks available and that includes getting there. so have booked on a 2 week trip with Atlas Overland. we had thought about going solo, but with limited time decided to go on a group led trip.
    also heading to the alps again in the landcruiser in July

    really enjoying these blogs and the photos – fantastic!

  2. Margaret (gemini)

    Your last post is music to my ears !!!!!!

    It is so good to read of your journey – one we couldn’t make unfortunately, but what we did do was spend the time travelling and seeing and meeting. One trip is often not enough as we found and hope eventually to do again some day.

    Keep well you two and enjoy your experiences.

  3. Vic

    Yup, you confirm what I’ve been thinking recently.. To go to Morocco and experience some of what we will in a later trip. The time lines are more appropriate at the moment. You guys are the vanguard! Keep up the great work, if you can call it that!!!

  4. Arno & Elize van der Merwe

    Thank you so much for the letter of encouragement!! We are in the last stages of planning and buying the last few items. Our emotions though play yo-yo between excitement and despair of what we are planning. So…..thank you again. We just yesterday, between buying mosquito nets and a regulator for the solar panels, decided that we are not going to pressure onwards but to rather enjoy the ride for so long as we want and wherever it takes us.

    We love your blog:-)

    Kind regards,
    Arno & Elize

  5. Anne (TrundlingJenny)

    Love the encouragement Sheelagh, as you know we have decided to do at least a year as we want to explore each country like you and not rush through each one.

    I’ve been catching up on your adventure to date it’s chucking snow down outside here ! Flippin Cold too ! Rather be struggling with potholes !

    By the way did you try the Piccalilli yet ? Thought of you last week when I made 5 Kilo’s of Seville Marmalade, how I wish I could magic you a couple of jars.

    I bought Ian a new Garmin for Christmas and Tracks4Africa, so we are still gathering our equipment.

    Travel Safely
    Love
    Anne & Ian

    1. African GirlChild

      Anne – your chutney was amazing, your Seville marmalade delicious, and we are about to finish your elderberry jelly (yum!). Then we’ll give the piccalilli a try ;)

      Garmin and Tracks4Africa have been essential for us! So much information tucked away in there. We’ll make sure to send you some additional waypoints before you depart.

  6. Team Indlovu

    Hey guys, keep it up! Sierra Leone and Liberia aren’t as scary as they may first seem. Well-worth it for going off the beaten track and they absolutely love tourists. They are the friendliest countries we have been to :)

    Anton (team Indlovu)

    1. African GirlChild

      Hi Anton!
      Thanks for your words of encouragement! We’ll give it some thought – but seems a bit frightening to me ;)
      rgds

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