35 days, 2822 miles through 9 states at a cost of $252.51 ($7.21 per day). George 'the Cyclist' Christensen spends a good part of each year bicycling through a different country and wild camping in places like Iceland, Turkey, China, the foot of Mt Fuji and around Lake Victoria; And writing about his travels on his blog from libraries and internet cafés. For the past eight years, too, he has also followed the Tour de France after first watching upwards of 70 films [in 12 days] at the Cannes Film Festival.
Ewart Scott Grogan was a British-born figure of controversial sorts, the kind of fellow who would either end up buried in Westminster Abbey-or hanging from a yard-arm. After he survived as soldier in the Second Matabele War, he went on to be the first European to traverse the distance of the African continent from the South in Cape Town to Cairo in the North to win the hand of his bride-to-be from a skeptical father. He started the trek with the uncle of his bride-to-be in February 1898. Two years later, Grogan returned to London, a lone hero (the uncle turned back part way through). In 2007, MeFite Julian Smith retraced Grogan's path, "in part to dispel [his] own pre-wedding jitters," and wrote a book about Grogan's journey, and his own. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
Democratic Republic of Congo: Lubumbashi to Kinshasa. We made the decision to tackle this part of Democratic Republic of Congo when we were in Egypt. It would take us about 4 months to drive from Cairo down to the Zambia/DRC border. We immediately started our quest for information. It would soon become clear that very little information was available. We did not know of a single traveler that did this in the last 20 years. We knew of two who tried (both on motorbikes) in recent years. One crashed after a few days and got evacuated. The other got arrested and deported. Both didn't get very far. So we had to be creative and think of other sources of information. If there is one thing you can find anywhere in the world it is Coca-Cola. They should know how to get their goods in the country. We had no response via email, so we called them up. Their answer was pretty short: They do not have a distribution network outside the major cities in Congo. And it proved to be true, Congo is the first country we have visited were Coca-cola is hard to get once you leave the major cities. The moral of the story was: nobody knew anything about the road conditions.
Motorcycle modification means something entirely different across the developing world. You can deliver cold drinks, cargo, one person, three or even more with a special sidecar. You can cook hot food and sell it. Or critically, you can quickly transport someone in need of emergency medical care when roads are bad and facilities remote. They're supported by roadside repair shops, tyre shacks, petrol pumps and more. Bonus FTW
"Don’t stop. Keep right on going.... Go someplace you’ve heard about, where you can fish or hunt or collect rocks or just look up at the sky. Find out what’s at the end of some country road. Go see what’s over the next hill, and the one after that, and the one after that." In 1959 Airstream founder Wally Byam - taking his own advice to heart - led a convoy of 36 of his company's trailers - together with over 100 American adults, children and pets - on a journey from Cape town to Cairo. They stayed in remote villages, negotiated rough roads, saw upteen tribal dancers, met up with Haile Selassie and finally ended up at the pyramids of Cairo. Here is the original film account of the expedition (complete with its own theme song). Next year, on the 50th anniversary, there is a plan to do the trip again - this time there and back again. Wanna go?
How to write about Africa. Always use the word 'Africa' or 'Darkness' or 'Safari' in your title. Most travel books about Africa open with the author alone, carried along by some vehicle, looking down over some landscape and feeling anxious. Always end your book with Nelson Mandela saying something about rainbows or renaissances. Because you care.
Photos by Martin - a gem of a site for vicarious travelers, it features wonderful, charming photos and fascinating stories from a guy who quit his job three years ago to travel the world. He credits global photojournalist Steve McCurry as an influence. I am such a fan of these photo travel narratives, professional and amateur alike - has anyone else discivered some special favorites?