Inside the Great African Road Trip

Whether you’re travelling the continent’s highways or byways, exploring Africa overland brings a sense of adventure and independence. It’s why the dream of the great African road trip is so persistent – and we’ve got routes to get you started. By Magriet Kruger

As a Tracks4Africa user, you probably dream about road trips more than the average person. But no one will blame you if, under lockdown conditions, you started fantasising about hitting the open road more often than usual.

Iconic routes

An overlanding trip in Africa is a grand adventure. These are some of the popular routes:

But exploring the continent on an extended road trip isn’t just about the route and the destinations you choose. It’s as much about the act of taking to the road and what it means to you.

The appeal of overlanding

In literature and song lyrics, on TV and the big screen, the road trip is celebrated as one of life’s quintessential experiences. It’s an adventure that is all about seeing what lies around the next corner, dealing with unexpected detours and roadblocks, and having meaningful moments with your travel companion – or yourself. It’s a journey that transcends the end destination and instead puts the focus on the experiences gained along the way.

The type of epic journey that we associate with a great African road trip goes back to before there were any real roads to speak of. Think of the caravans that crossed the Sahara Desert, the trade routes that converged on Timbuktu or the early explorers that charted the continent. It’s that feeling of discovery and of attaining a goal that fires our imagination. It’s the reason why we dream of setting off across Africa and keeping moving.

Your point of departure

There are as many reasons for embarking on a road trip as there are people overlanding Africa. It could be an opportunity to mark a milestone: graduation, marriage or retirement. A bonding experience between parent and child, siblings or friends. A sabbatical from the rat race or a chance to live as a digital nomad. Right now, many of us are planning road trips as a way to keep cabin fever at bay.

Whatever your way station in life, overlanding offers plenty of opportunities for contemplation. That’s even more true in Africa where you can travel for miles without passing another vehicle or coming across signs of life. And if you’re in need of a change of perspective, the view through the windshield may be just what you need.

Also read: The 10 commandments of overlanding

Where are you headed?

Africa is mind-boggling in its scope, from the diversity of landscapes to the rich variety of cultures. Not to mention the distances! When you consider the abundance of options – and the limitations on your time – you may find yourself stopped in your tracks, not knowing where to start.

To help you plot your own great African road trip, we’ve focused on some of our favourite overlanding routes: Cape to Cairo, Namibia & Botswana Grand Tour, Victoria Falls Circuit and Southern Desert Tracks. They put a spotlight on some of the continent’s most memorable sights and experiences and provide suggested itineraries with destinations, distances and travel time. Then it’s over to you to make your overlanding dream come true.

Like our suggested routes? You can find more in our Self-drive Guides. In addition to detailed itineraries, these guides offer useful advice for trip planning, vehicle preparation, off-road navigation and more. Each country-specific guide features detailed descriptions of the various regions and towns of interest, along with lodge and campsite listings. During the lockdown, get our guide books at half price – shop now.

Let us know about your experience