I cannot trace back when we first initiated to plan our joint trans-African adventure. The fact is, my father, has been serious about road trips across Africa from the time I was little. Countless family dinners were subject to conversations sometimes leading to intense discussions about his hopes and dreams of a long-term family road trip to experience the sheer vastness, overwhelming diversity and beauty that Africa provides. None of us could or wanted to take him seriously for so long until he followed through his own plans, purchased an old fire truck, converted the fire truck into a supreme 4×4 offroad vehicle, and set off by himself. Hamburg, Germany via Gibraltar along the African coast all the way to Ghana in what must have been a long but enriching six months journey.
It certainly convinced me to join in on his next significant adventure of a trans-African road trip from Namibia to Germany. My father has taken us on family vacations to southern Africa before and so his proposal to build upon those incredible experiences was almost reason enough. Furthermore, the timing just seemed right. I finally submitted my PhD after four years of intense academia. Before I embarked on another binding project I decided to take some time off to experience this magnificent planet that we inhabit like never before. Watching those marvellously narrated documentaries by David Attenborough just didn’t seem enough and so I signed up for this trip.
As seen from the map below we will be departing from the coastal desert sands of the ancient Namib Desert at the Atlantic Ocean. Hereon, we will at first venture east-northeast via Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania. From coast to coast before driving north towards through Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel before embarking onto a ferry to Italy. A road trip through the unbearable humidity of the rain season, wide open savannah, relentless beating of the sun in the dry desert, via giant mountain passes in Ethiopia and deep water-cut canyons until we reach Hamburg, Germany.
Final preparations began a couple of weeks back in Würzburg, Germany, where our 4×4 truck, our one and only means of transportation within Africa was being overhauled. This monster truck served well under my dad’s first trans-African trip. Only a number of minor adjustments and repairs had to be completed. My dad and I joined the team of hard working mechanics for the final two days to clean up and organise our interior.
Our vehicle is a multi-purpose all-wheel drive – a Unimog built by Mercedes-Benz. 6 cylinders, 6.0l TurboDiesel with about 300 PS, which sounds awfully little considering its heavy weight. However, considering its torque of 2000 Nm, large sand dunes really become a child’s play.
After our brief visit to Würzburg we left with our truck and headed west for the Port of Antwerpen in Belgium. In Antwerpen, we parked the car in the general cargo area of the harbour where eventually the truck would be loaded onto a cargo ship heading to Walvis Bay, Namibia. This four-week journey was ideal for us to return home for a couple of weeks, to plan the trip as best as possible, celebrate Christmas and New Years with the family before our flight to Namibia to pick up the truck.