19 countries, 7 months, only 1 flight. Cape Town to Cairo mission complete!
Traveling overland, Cape town to Cairo, across the entire continent of Africa is traveling in its truest form. After traveling from Japan almost all the way to Australia with no flights, it was time to cut my teeth on something a little more hardcore. Africa was calling.
I had been working in my only ever corporate job in my life in Australia, on a working holiday visa, and it was during that spell in an office that I knew the ‘real world’ wasn’t from me. I needed to be true to be myself, I needed to live a different kind of lifestyle, I need excitement, to feel alive. So I quit and flew one way to Zimbabwe.
I didn’t know what my plan was other than I would go south to Cape Town in South Africa, and then head north as far as I could with no flight. I made it all the way to Aleppo, Syria (just before the war started), and the only flight I took on the entire trip was a flight from Nairobi, Kenya to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia due to a visa blockade. They wouldn’t issue visas by land, so I had no choice. A little hiccup, but an epic trip nonetheless.
WHAT WAS YOUR ROUTE?
I’ve just rehashed my trip on google maps, it wouldn’t allow it all on one map so I’ve divided into Part 1 and Part 2
My Route (Part 1):
MY ROUTE (part 2)
How Long Did it Take?
I quit my job in Australia in May, and flew to Zimbabwe via France. I ended up in Aleppo, Syria just before Christmas. So that’s 7 months in total. If we discount Lebanon, Jordan and Syria to workout just the Cape Town to Cairo section, I’d say about 6 months and that was moving pretty fast. I’m really excited to visit my journey to every country in the world so I can go back and hit up the hotspots I missed the first time around!
What were the highlights?
South and East Africa hold so many highlights it’s difficult to list them all without dominating the article! Let me have a try though, these are somethings you CANNOT miss if you take on the Cape Town to Cairo mission:
- Cage diving with great white sharks near Cape Town, South Africa
- Safaris in the Serengeti and Masai Mara (also Kruger, but it’s a distant 3rd compared to the others). Try your best to catch the wildebeest migration in Kenya and Tanzania
- Fullmoon parties in Zanzibar
- Climbing Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
- Bungee jumping at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
- Learning to surf in Togo, Mozambique
- Lake Malawi! All of it, especially Monkey Bay.
- Climbing Africa’s highest peak, all 5895m of it, Kilimanjaro
- Trekking with the mountain gorillas in Rwanda
- White water rafting at the source of the Nile in Jinja, Uganda
- Feeding wild hyenas mouth-to-mouth in Harar, Ethopia
- Being one of the handful of tourist to reach Somalia, but the ‘safe’ part of Somaliland in the north
- The churches dug into the ground in Lalibela, Ethiopia – this should be a world wonder
- The pyramids of Meroe, Sudan that the world seem to ignore. You’ll have it to ourself
- Riding the ferry from Sudan to Egypt as the Call to Prayer wakes you up at 5am, sailing past the Egyptian monuments on the side of the Nile at Abu Simbel. Unreal.
- The Pyramids of Egypt. Obviously.
- Mount Sinai in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. A sunrise like no other.
- I went on through Jordan, Lebabon and Syria with a host of other amazing things to see but I’ll save that for another blog post.
How Much Did It Cost?
I did my Cape Town to Cairo trip before I started making all this money online, so I was a broke backpacker, watching every penny. Also, it’s a long, long way – I can vouch for that. Lots of people drive their own motorbikes/cars or go on organized, expensive overlanding tours, as an advocate of independent travel I recommend planning nothing and going for it freestyle. Much more of an adventure, much more unpredictable and hey, if you want to truly experience Africa, it’s the only way to truly feel it.
Africa though is not a continent for backpackers on a seriously restrictive budget, better to save some extra cash and hold off the trip for a year or two as opposed to rushing in and missing out. I would say that the trip from Cape Town to Cairo could be done, in 6 months, for around $6,000 at the very, very bottom end of the scale. That would mean missing out on a lot of the more expensive activities. The final price could easily shoot to $15k if you want to do every activity available, stay in decent places and avoid the (often less than delicious) Sub-Saharan African cuisine. Personally, I spent about $10,000.
It’s tough to break down the cost precisely, but here are a few of my heavier expenses, of course they are ‘optional’ (this is in inverted commas because although they seem optional when you’re planning your trip, when you’re actually there you’re almost definitely going to want to do them all).
- One-Way Flight to Cape Town/Cairo: from Europe $500, from North America $1000
- VISAS: around $600
- Shark diving with great whites: $200
- Car-rental/local flights/long distance buses in South Africa: $200 (minimum)
- Climbing Kilimanjaro: $1000+
- Scuba in Mozambique/Kenya/Tanzania/Sudan/Egypt: $100
- White water rafting the source of the Nile in Uganda/Zambezi at Victoria falls: $150
- Bungee (various locations): $120
- Trekking with wild mountain Gorillas in Uganda/Rwanda: $750
- Safari in Tanzania/South Africa/Kenya/Zambia: 3 or 4 days costs around $400 for a budget option
Ok guys, so these external costs can mount up to $3k or $4k alone – then you have to think about food, transport, accommodation and entrance fees on top of that. If you think you’ll be traveling for around 6 or 7 months, that’s approximately 200 days – if you’re good on a budget maybe $20 can do you = $4k, plus the $4k in fees = $8k. But $20/$30 a day is tough in most of Africa (Malawi aside). I probably spend the best part of $10k in my trip, including flights and a ticket to the World Cup Final in Johannesburg – a lot of money for sure, but worth every penny! If you have any questions about things to do on the journey, just drop me an email on Johnny@onestep4ward.com or leave a comment, I’d be more than happy to help…