Airstreaming from Cape Town to Cairo
July 16, 2008 9:42 AM   Subscribe

"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?
posted by rongorongo (12 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
There was also a National Geographic documentary entitled "Cape Town to Cairo" by a filmmaker named Mick Davies. I believe it aired around 1999. He originally did it for Australian TV but it aired in the United States. Pretty interesting.
posted by billysumday at 9:51 AM on July 16, 2008

Paul Theroux wrote about his adventures of traveling from Cairo to Cape Town in Dark Star Safari. It's definitely worth reading.
posted by NoMich at 11:10 AM on July 16, 2008

As an ex-resident of Africa I'd love to do this. If I had the money. And a car, and trailer. However, it reminds me of a tragic story. /slight derail

My father, now retired, worked as a diplomat for SIDA. When we lived in Zambia our closest neighbors were Norwegian diplomats, or at least the husband was. There was also a wife, a son, and a daughter. I never met them, but the 'rents had some interaction with them.

This was the husband's last mission and since he was retiring they wanted to end it with something extraordinary; namely drive back to Norway. They made it as far as Yemen without problems, but it was there that their 4x4 broke down. They shacked up in a hotel, handed in the car to a garage, and waited for it to get fixed.

The day it was ready, the husband and son went to retrieve it. On the way back to the hotel, they got carjacked by a gang of armed thieves. The gang force the husband and son to stay in the car as hostages. They started driving towards the outskirts of the city when they ran into a police roadblock. Here's where my memory gets fuzzy; either the bandits started shooting first, or the cops did. Either way, the husband got caught in the crossfire and received multiple shots to the chest. The son witnessed his father die, but survived.
posted by pyrex at 11:28 AM on July 16, 2008

posted by Michael Roberts at 12:02 PM on July 16, 2008

Sorry about your neighbours pyrex. NoMich: I was thinking of mentioning Dark Star Safari too. In that book Paul Theroux describes how the truck he was travelling in got in a gun battle with carjackers in northern Kenya. I am interested in the contrast between the rather Dsneyfied tone of the film from the original expedition and today's reality of parts of the route where people will kill you for your shoes. I wish them the best of luck however.
posted by rongorongo at 12:41 PM on July 16, 2008

Every time I think if Airstreams, I get that Vandals song stuck in my head.

"Airstream! Airstream! Airstream! Get out of my lane!"
posted by jabberjaw at 1:11 PM on July 16, 2008

I wonder if an Airstream requires reinforcement to mount a 30mm cannon on top of it.
posted by oats at 2:52 PM on July 16, 2008

If I had a time machine, I would totally be on board for the one before I was born. But now? Methinks a slow-moving caravan of overindulged rich Americans is a pretty tempting target. The veldt is pretty well known for taking down the slow and the tasty.
posted by dejah420 at 4:52 PM on July 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by hortense at 10:06 PM on July 16, 2008

Oh man. This is like my dream trip. Too bad about that $20K.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:02 AM on July 17, 2008

Dejah420 has her hat on straight. I might consider Cape Town to Johannesburg Bloemfontein, maybe.
posted by Goofyy at 8:55 AM on July 17, 2008

I forwarded this to my wife; we haven't done any really insane travel for a long time.

My daughter is contacting the embassies already. I think I may have created a monster.
posted by Michael Roberts at 1:25 PM on July 25, 2008

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