The Long Way Round

Herbie accomplished the long way round Africa! While most overlanders “just” travel along the east coast, the Love Bug included the western side of the continent as well. We’ve driven 30,000 kilometers (or 18,650 miles), exploring 21 African countries! Tomorrow we’ll hopefully get on board a ferry to Turkey, from where we’ll be driving back home.

On the entire Africa trip, Herbie “broke down” only once, when we meant to go swimming in Congo. In Angola we also tried to teach him how to fly. And in Cameroon and Kenya, he had to face the most horrible battles against mud – dry as well as splashy. (Just click on the words written in blue to find out more about Herbie’s biggest challenges!)


Finish: Overland Africa!

Herbie made it! Again! The same applies also to all the others, who we’ve met on our long way around, touring across this huge continent. It was really a challenging “Safari”!

Yesterday we got to know Geoff Biermann and Terence Tracey (right), who’ve driven their “Hillman Imp” from 1964 all the way up, coming from Johannesburg, South Africa. Check out their blog! They will still travel all across Turkey and Europe towards the UK.

And we met Slobodan Vukojevic from Serbia, who’s been traveling the world on a “Suzuki” motorbike since 2010. He managed to enter Egypt without a “Carnet de Passages”, going now south, heading towards South Africa. His website is called “Ride the World”.

And of course our lovely friend from Spain, Monserrate Espinosa, who’s been exploring the world in a “Toyota 4Runner” since 2009. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a webpage anymore. We’re hanging out with him since we met him for the first time in Sudan.

The Exodus from Egypt

Port Said – we are waiting for our ship to come. Tomorrow or on the day after we’ll go aboard a ferry to Iskenderun, Turkey, from where we’re going to travel back to Europe.

Yesterday we arrived at the Atlantic shore, after spending some time in Cairo. It has its shady sides, but we enjoyed hanging out there, visiting family and strolling around.

We love the diversity of Egyptian nature. The Nile as well as the Sahara Desert and its wonderful oasis are more than worth a visit. In 2009 we traveled all over the country.

Egyptian traffic is real crazy! This was the first time on Herbie’s World Tour we were a bit unlucky: The camper got hit! Egyptian drivers are always very “touchy”. No wonder!

When we entered the city limits of Port Said, we had to stop at a speed bump. In this moment, an Egyptian pick-up, carrying horse and donkey “smashed” into our tail light.

Meanwhile, Herbie and the caravan, QEK, are parked inside the port in order to finish customs duties. We already gave our temporary Egyptian license plates back.

In Cairo we stayed at the “Dahab Hostel” – it’s a simple but also very nice place to stay. The only pity is that they aren’t offering any parking (they are on the seventh floor).

Before we traveled across the desert in order to reach Cairo and eventually Port Said, we visited the Valley of the Kings, near Luxor. Simply magnificent to see these tombs!

Visiting our Egyptian Family

Yesterday we visited family members of Zainab, who are living here in Cairo.

On the picture above you can see Zainab’s cousins Mona, Hoda, Mahmoud and Mohamed (from left to right) as well as Hoda’s husband, Ahmed (right). But we also met their mother, Zainab’s aunt, their father and another brother, named Ahmed. We really enjoyed spending time with these lovely people. Last time we saw them exactly four years ago. Thanks so much for your warm hospitality! We’re so looking forward to visiting you someday again!

Herbie at the Pyramids

After a long drive across the Egyptian Sahara Desert, we eventually reached Cairo and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: The Pyramids of Giza.

Herbie made it again! Pretty strong head winds and the heat of the Sahara Desert couldn’t stop Herbie from touring our last African country to visit: Egypt.

In Cairo, we met again Monserrate Espinosa, the Spanish overlander. He stays at the same hostel, in the heart of Cairo, just a few hundred meters from Tahrir Square.

Egyptian traffic ranked among the most chaotic, dangerous and challenging in the world. We drove through the streets of Cairo already in 2009, but not towing a caravan.

This time we are here, pulling our house along these completely packed city roads. And we even drove right into the center of Cairo, trying to find a suitable parking spot.

We’re staying at the Dahab Hostel, which we got recommended by the German travelers from “Remember the Birds”, who we’ve met in Wadi Halfa, Sudan, last week.

After visiting family and friends, we’ll be back on the road, heading to Port Said at the Mediterranean Sea, from where we want to take a ferry to Iskenderun, Turkey.

Herbie’s in Egypt!

Our Love Bug safely arrived in Aswan, Egypt. Herbie was shipped from Sudan across the Lake Nasser together with just one other car, as those barges are really small.

Monserrate Espinosa, a Spanish fellow traveler, put his four-wheel drive Toyota on the boat. He is also on his way back to Europe, after traveling Africa for a couple months.

We met Monserrate, who’s also traveling the world by car since 2009, when we went on board the passenger ferry in Wadi Halfa. Since then our paths crossed quite often.

Herbie’s Nile Cruise

We just received an email from Mazar Mahir, our “fixer” in Wadi Halfa, who was so kind to drive Herbie and the camper on the barge. As you see, he even sent us some pics of it.

Our beloved Herbie set-up is now on its way cruising the Nile across Lake Nasser (or Nuba), crossing the border totally uncrewed. Have a safe and wonderful journey, Herbie!

We’re now hoping to be able to leave Aswan including our beloved Volkswagen and the camper, QEK, on the weekend, after we’ll have finished all the customs paper work.

Across the Lake Nasser

It was again such a sad moment, we had to experience on Herbie’s World Tour, when we said “good bye” to our Love Bug in Wadi Halfa, Sudan. They divided us, because Herbie had to go on a barge, after we went on the passenger ferry to Aswan, Egypt.

There is only one passenger ferry with about 550 people on board and one barge carrying cargo and a couple cars connecting Sudan with Egypt once a week.

As usually happens, Zainab got to know a bunch of kids, who admired her Arabian appearance and charisma. They were originally from Bahrain, Sudan and Egypt.

Both flags, the Sudanese as well as the Egyptian, were ran up in the air, as the ship crosses the border somewhere in the middle of Lake Nasser (or Nuba).

And we got to know a fellow overlanding traveler from Alicante, Spain (above right), who has been touring the world in a Toyota four by four since 2009.

Every ferry going north and south is working to capacity, as there is no other official way to cross the frontier between these two countries – except by air, of course.

Also a lot of young guys are taking their chance going to Egypt in order to find a kind of work, earning a better living than in their home country, Sudan.

As we reached Aswan about 18 hours after our departure in Wadi Halfa, we could see all the luxurious river cruise ships, going up and downstream the Nile.

In Aswan, we’re waiting now for the arrival of Herbie’s boat, before we can start the process of temporarily importing the Love Bug to Egypt – our last African country to visit.

Remember the Birds!

While we were waiting in Wadi Halfa for our ship going across Lake Nuba (or Nasser) to Aswan, Egypt, we got to know the folks from “Remember the Birds” – two German couples in our age, traveling Africa in an air-cooled vintage expedition truck.

The fellow “snowbirds”, Johnny, Pasco, Miri and Kerstin (from left to right) are one of those privileged tourist groups, who were able to enter Sudan by land instead of dealing with that pretty complicated and quite costly ferry-barge option.

As mentioned before, there already exist two paved roads on each side of the Nile, but none of them are officially approved yet. But these German “overlanders” applied for a special permission and actually made it from Abu Simbel to Wadi Halfa!

For the next several months the two lovely couples will travel Africa on its Eastern side all the way to South Africa in their “Magirus Deutz” truck from 1977, named “Rotkehlchen”. Hopefully we’ll meet them again, when they return to Europe!

PS: The two girls and the woman (to the right) are the mother as well as the nieces of Mazar Mahir, who we were staying with in Wadi Halfa. We had a good time there, hanging out at his family home, meeting other “overlanders”. Many, many thanks!

Stop in Wadi Halfa!

There we are, right in front of our last African country to visit: Egypt! This is also Zainab’s fatherland, where she was raised at one stage of her childhood. The Lake Nuba (or Nasser) makes it still impossible to travel across by land, although there are already two fully paved roads on each side of the lake.

As we hit the harbor of Wadi Halfa to ask when the next ship for Herbie, the camper and us will be going, the port security officers called a guy named Mazar Mahir. He was very kind, invited us to his home and introduced us to his lovely family. He also helps us now to deal with the shipping procedure.

We were told that there are two different kinds of boats going to Aswan: Barges that are carrying cargo as wells as vehicles and passenger ferries. The barges are leaving Wadi Halfa going north on Monday. The passenger ferry leaves on Tuesday. We’ll have to pay the double price, because we’re towing our camper “QEK”.

During the day we’re hanging out at Mazar’s place, having “chai” with dried dates while chatting with members of the family. The night we’re spending outside in our own little house, which is parked just in front of Mazar’s house and a Land Cruiser which is tucked away by South African “overlanders”.

The Nubian Desert

We had to cross the Bayuda as well as the Nubian Desert in order to reach the town of Wadi Halfa at Lake Nuba (or Lake Nasser) – the “gateway” to Egypt.

As the desert winds blew south in Sudan, we were driving only 65 km/h (or 40 mph) in third gear for hundreds and hundreds of miles across this huge country.

In the deserts you cannot find any life except really tough creatures like camels. And sometimes you even notice some people who make their living along the highway.

After crossing deserts and following the Nile downstream, we arrived in the Northern most town of Sudan, Wadi Halfa. From here we want to go to Egypt next.

The Ancient Sudan

Yesterday we visited the ancient Royal Cemetery of Meroe and the Pyramids of Jebel Barkal. These are two of numerous archeological sites along the Nile in Sudan.

As we followed the Nile from Khartoum downstream, we passed a town called Shendi. Just a couple miles further up north we reached Meroe’s Royal City (or rather “Cemetery”) on the right hand side. Later on we crossed the Bayuda Desert heading west and reached Karima as well as the Pyramids of Jebel Barkal.

Crossing Ethiopia

If you’re driving on the highway noticing somebody screaming “You!” or even “You! You! You! You! You! …”, then you know, that you are in Ethiopia. Right after we crossed the border, we got to listen to kids and adults shouting stuff like that for our entire stay.

We entered Ethiopia by crossing the border at Moyale, coming from the Kenyan “Trans-East-African Highway”. The curiosity of Ethiopians can be really tiring, because they are literally everywhere. It reminded us of traveling through India.

It is weird, but interesting, that borders apparently still have such a strong influence on people’s behavior, because right after we crossed over to Sudan, we stopped on the highway for lunch and kids were passing by, just politely greeting us.

We toured across the fertile South, got our way through the chaotic capital Addis Ababa, climbed the high elevated mountain areas and eventually reached the dry North. At Metema or Gallabat we crossed the border to Sudan.

The most impressive pieces of nature in Ethiopia were probably those huge canyons. But also the green and fertile South was very nice to see. There we stocked up fruits and veg for our ongoing trip across the Sudanese desert.

The Trans-East-African Highway

On our way up north we had to manage the so-called Trans-East-African Highway which connects Kenya with Ethiopia. We definitely had to face a lot of nerve wrecking challenges. On a stretch of hundreds of miles we found every kind of road condition, you can imagine. Our destination was Moyale, the border town of Ethiopia.

A lot of paradox things were said about this so-called “highway” and many stories were told, but only some of them are true, we believe. In fact, the Trans-East-African Highway is one of the most dangerous “streets” on the Eastern side of Africa, because of bandits and other suspicious human beings.

Furthermore it is for sure the toughest road along the main route across East Africa. But it should be manageable for all kinds of cars as long as you drive there during the dry season. Unluckily we hit the rainy season, which is normally only two months of the year – somewhere between March and May.

We had to literally shovel our way through, although we were already using snow chains. At this point we want to say thanks to Domi’s dad for the shovel and Friedrich, our friend and “Beetle Doctor” back home, for the snow chains! Also countless rocks as well as bushes had to be removed in order to pass.

Especially the road north of Marsabit offered one challenge after the other. It took us 24 hours of “driving” (or rather “digging”) to manage this stretch. We drove all through the night, because we were afraid that it could rain even more, as we already felt like we were in a “muddy battlefield”, not knowing if we can make it or not.

We tried to hurry, as rain would have meant to wait days until the track would dry again. Of course it was never dry at all, but Herbie conquered all the horrifying obstacles we faced. Sadly, against all odds and everything which was said, we were facing the problem of water, everywhere we went.

Along the way, huge trucks and even four-wheel drive vehicles (just as Land Cruisers) got stuck in the mud. One truck for example stuck for already four days, when we met the drivers who tried to unload it while the road was starting to dry out again. Almost every lorry we passed, had to be towed out of the mud.

In front of every impassable looking obstacle, we had to step out of the car, searching for a little path to pass and prepare it the way Herbie could make it while pulling an anchor, our camper, through it. Unfortunately we only got pictures of those challenges while driving by day, as the more difficult ones were facing us in the night.

One car made it without any help of towing: Herbie! But only one tiny mistake could have led us to get stuck. What a triumph that this little car without “4×4” made it through this horrible road – and all that with a trailer in tow. Kenya joins Congo and Cameroon regarding our toughest African road experiences.

We met no single “overlander” (means a tourist traveling by car across Africa) on our way towards Moyale. But we met cyclists from Great Britain, South Africa, Ireland, China and Japan. Most of them were heading south while the Love Bug was heading back home towards Europe.

Before we were hitting the “unpaved” section of the Trans-East-African Highway, we passed the equator again, after we left Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, where we met a guy named Chris from the UK “overlanding” by a BMW car and Anton from South Africa, who travels Africa on his motorbike.

In Marsabit we spent the night at “Camp Henry”, fearing possible showers during the night, making road conditions even worse. But we were lucky, there was only a bit of rain in the morning, just before we started continuing the Trans-East-African Highway across Kenya’s vast and remote North.

Visiting the Kitatu Family

From the Kenyan coast we headed inland towards Nairobi, after passing through Mombasa via the Likoni ferry. Just a couple miles off the main highway we got to Kajire Village, where we visited the family of our dear friend Micah Mbogho Kitatu aka “Mike”.

We spent the entire Saturday afternoon and evening as well as Sunday morning sitting together with Mike, his lovely wife Loyce as well as their kids, Brenda, Jane and Benjamin (from left to right), chatting and looking through photo albums.

Domi got to know “Mike” on a vacation at Kenya’s Diani Beach in 2002. Before Herbie’s World Tour, in winter 2008, Domi invited him to Austria. Together with our families we celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Eve with our friend from Africa.

Since Domi got to know “Mike”, he has always been trying to support him. Thanks to Domi’s family, Micah owns now a little tractor, which helps him to make a living for the entire family. We’re still looking forward to welcoming Micah in Austria again!

Below you can see some pictures of Micah’s three weeks stay in Austria in 2008/09. There he also got to know snow for his very first time, even though he saw it already on the Kilimanjaro from a very far distance at his house in Kajire Village.

Yesterday we arrived in Nairobi, where we stayed at “Jungle Junction” (or “J-J’s”) for the night – a famous place for backpacker’s and overlander’s. Today we’ll head further up north, passing Mount Kenya and hitting the so-called “Trans-East-African Highway”, known to be the most dangerous and challenging stretch of “road” in East Africa and only connecting route to Ethiopia with hundreds of unpaved miles.