HELLO + WELCOME as we drive from Sydney to London across Africa.
Today brings a very special post as we write the story of crossing Africa by car!
It’s Kirsty writing today – with Gareth chiming in.
After nine months driving the length of Africa we were about to drive to the port to board our ship off the continent. We had tracked our ship online and were very excited to read it had “arrived”.
We drove to the port and collected Troopy from his tin shed. To our huge relief a vicious guard dog had kept him safe. Everything was still in place on the Troopy and we felt pretty chuffed to be about to cross the continent without having a single belonging pilfered.
A chase began as we followed our fixers car. For some reason he turned his lights off – so we followed the glow of his burning cigarette. We darted around a maze of containers and hit the brakes when forkflifts came into view. It was eerily dark. Shadows of people moved about. And then we saw it…
The good ship CENK-Y! A sight to behold in the glowy darkness.
It was an incredible feeling to be standing within metres of crossing the continent and accomplishing the challenge we set for ourselves.
The Troopy just needed to make it twenty more metres and we were done.
:: One last excited photo in the piss room before heading to the port.
:: We packed our valuables and some essentials not knowing if we would be sleeping on the deck of the truck ship for a few days or if we would have seats.
:: Collecting Troopy from the storage unit at the port. He had to get stored away once his carnet was stamped out of Egypt in preparation for shipping.
:: This shot is blurry as a gigantic dog on a chain had just charged G! We are absolute dog lovers so it felt kinda ‘right’ that Troopy had been kept safe by one of our furry friends.
:: Once we got back in the Troopy a chase began as we followed our fixers car. For some reason he turned his lights off – so we followed the glow of his burning cigarette.
:: Setting sight on our ship CENK Y.
:: Waiting for the 50 to 60 trucks to roll off before embarking.
As we park off by a tower of shipping containers a glance at my watch reveals it’s 9PM.
Lots of local men stand about the place, including sixty-odd Turkish truck drivers with a plume of smoke wafting from their general direction. All of the trucks on the ship need to be driven off and replaced with these drivers lorries.
An entrepreneurial father and son team fetch us beers. And an Egyptian gives us 1 Egyptian pound – pointing out the pyramid and Sphinx on the back – as a momento. One last offering of kindness from the continent, as if Egypt was saying ‘Hey, we aren’t that bad after all’.
We say our goodbyes to Eslam. Who, despite a few ‘moments’, has come through and we are grateful.
:: Inshallah, Eslam!
:: Pretty bloody stoked to be twenty metres from crossing Africa by car and achieving our dream.
At 2AM we fall asleep sitting up. Well… I fall asleep but Gareth has one eye open with a window half closed to deter a suss police officer. And then the loud words come “OK, GO!”… ”Go! Go! Go!”
The ramp to the ship stretches out to us. It’s our turn to board.
‘Whoooo! Oh my God! This is it!’ And just like that we drive up the ship’s ramp, all three of us, and we cross the length of Africa.
:: Driving up the ramp of the ship.
:: Last seconds on African soil!
:: And we did it! (No apologies for the crappy photo. Too busy savouring the moment.)
:: The moment we cross Africa.
I’m not eloquent enough to capture those moments in words. Nor how profound they felt. But perhaps I can attempt to describe the experience?
Our hands were shaking. Our faces were smiling, laughing, cheering. Our hearts were thumping in the dark of the night with a blaze of lamps lighting the steep ramp.
Tears streamed down both of our faces.
Crossing Africa was the most satisfying moment.
The Turkish boat crew tied down the Troopy. Walking away I glanced back and the man tying the back wheels looked baffled by our presence.
We found the upper deck and raised a Stella beer to the morning sky. It was a stellar moment.
:: Troopy gets shackled down and we are stoked he is protected undercover from the sun and ocean spray. We were the first and only passenger car who boarded (the sedan in the foreground had come from Turkey).
:: Well done Troopy! Job done.
:: A very happy man.
:: The view from the upper deck where we watch the first of sixty trucks boarding.
:: We raised a Stella beer to the morning sky.
A few hours later, dawn broke and the remainder of the trucks looked just about loaded. I walked out onto the deck of the ship and noticed a tugboat by the side of CENK Y and a few people moving about. I rustled Gareth to see the sight of us pulling away from Africa.
We are moving. We are stirred. That glorious bastard of a tug boat is pulling this great big ship away from Port Said.
The motors of CENK Y begin and just like that we have left Africa.
We are elated and take photos from the upper decks with the trucks looming in the background. We send pics to friends and family who have supported us along the way.
We then post to our Facebook page – a huge cheer of responses are immediate. Then the internet drops out, leaving us to lap up the moment by ourselves. Quite perfect really.
In my journal that night I wrote: I decided I wanted to do this 6 years ago. And today I accomplished my dream of driving across Africa in my own car with the man I love. This life is what you choose to accomplish. We did it.
:: Dawn broke and the remainder of the trucks looked just about loaded. I walked out onto the deck of the ship and noticed a tugboat by the side of CENK Y.
:: That glorious bastard of a tug boat is pulling this great big ship away from Port Said.
:: Pulling away from Africa after nine months.
:: Our last few images of Africa.
:: Our last few images of Africa.
:: Our last few images of Africa.
:: So happy and so satisfied.
Recollection From Gareth…
If someone had said to me “One day you will drive your car across the entire African Continent” I probably would have laughed.
Turns out, that on the 29th day of August 2014 I did it. I did it with my future wife. My best friend. My lover. It was the most exhilarating, joyful, emotional experience of my life.
To achieve something that took years of planning, countless hours of work building an overland rig and a fair amount of hard earned coin really made it all worthwhile when we crossed African soil.
But what was even more enjoyable was the months we had spent travelling through Africa prior to disembarking. This is something I find hard to explain to you in enough descriptive words. Because to me, there isn’t a well enough rounded adjective that describes the feeling I felt that day. I had achieved a dream. My dream.
What makes Africa so special to me? I had people say to me before we left “Africa is dangerous”, “You must be mad”, “Why don’t you just go on a tour”, “I’ve seen it on the internet. People get killed for nothing over there”… and the final words from my brother before we boarded the plane to South Africa nine months ago “Don’t get killed”.
Why did we want to drive our car across Africa? We wanted more of a challenge. We wanted the freedom and solitude of having our own vehicle to travel in. To set our own itinerary. To write our own story. We wanted to do it our way.
For example – Nothing in my eyes can beat the felling of waking up in a bush camp in an African National Park surrounded by the honking wildebeests of the Great Migration. Or parking up on the hot sand, in the middle of the Sudanese desert with NO one around. Setting up camp and sleeping under the darkest sky you could ever imagine. We drove past Rhinos the size of our car, within an arms length of our rig, and watched them stop to check us out and sniff the air. They were so close we could count the flies on their back.
We did this.
:: Pulling out into the Mediterranean sea…
:: If someone had said to me “One day you will drive your car across the entire African Continent” I probably would have laughed.
:: Turns out, that on the 29th day of August 2014 I did it. I did it with my future wife. My best friend. My lover. It was the most exhilarating, joyful, emotional experience of my life.
:: Write your own story.
Thanks for being here and sharing the story with us.
We have loved sharing our experience of overlanding through Africa with you.
In the next post we’ll give a wrap up of our stats across the continent.
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