Traversing Africa is one of the most adventurous journeys in the world either as a solo or group traveller. The Cape to Cairo Road or Pan-African Highway also known as the Great North Road is one of the best routes used to cut across Africa from North to South.
The road is approximately 10,300 km, starting from Alexandria Port on the Mediterranean Sea then Cairo, Sudan, Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia and finally South Africa. The actual route is not complete therefore connecting countries may vary to suit one’s’ itinerary.
The road trip needs a powerful SUV or a well-serviced motorcycle, overland truck or by public transport. To cover the basics, ensure you have your passport, visas, vaccines and enough money (Visa and Mastercard are available in major cities of the transit route).
Top places to visit in a Nine weeks’ travel
Week oneHitting the road from the land of Pharaoh and Pyramids-Egypt. Pyramids of Giza, one of the seven wonders of the world. The pyramids and the Sphinx at the base of the Giza plateau are the iconic images of Egypt built over the span of three generations.
Dahshur, home to the oldest and best-preserved pyramids in the country namely; the Bent and the Red Pyramid
Dahab, where the Red Sea and the Sinai Desert merge. The combination makes Dahab a great destination for windsurfing, scuba & freediving, rock climbing and desert trekking.
Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city and a port and transport hub. Historic sites include Alexandria The Great library, Temple of Taposiris Magna.
Egypt is home to Millennia-old monuments including Giza’s colossal Pyramids and Great Sphinx as well as Luxor’s hieroglyph-lined Karnak Temple and Valley of the King’s tombs.
Do not forget to visit River Nile, the longest river in Africa. This is the major river that supports life in the county including the production of hydropower and irrigation.
Week twoThe next stopover is in Khartoum, Sudan. The country has the longest part of the highway, though it is not as smooth as expected. This is because of the political instability that has been hitting the country severally which has discouraged repairs.
The Nile cuts across Sudan, which can be one of the fascinating sceneries to capture memories.
The most difficult section in the whole Cape to Cairo journey is across the Nubian Desert in northern Sudan between Atbara and Wadi Halfa.
With love for off-road driving, Sudan gives the best! You can enjoy driving in the deserts on rocks and deep sands for the adrenaline rush feeling.
Week ThreeDrive South to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The city borders the Great Rift valley. Addis Ababa has the burial place of the 20th-century emperor Haile Selassie, copper-domed Holy Trinity Cathedral, which is a neo-baroque architectural landmark.
The route is mainly tarmacked but some sections may have deteriorated severely. Don’t forget to have a taste of the country’s local food.
Week FourDriving from Addis Ababa to Kenya is another adventurous journey. In Northern Kenya, the section has been hazardous due to the activities of armed bandits. However, the section still has some promising areas to have a look. This includes the Marsabit National Park and Marsabit National Reserve.
Arriving in Nairobi, the only city in the world that has a national park means you will enjoy a variety of wildlife including the Big Five.
With the rich Matatu culture in the busy city, enjoying a ride wraps it all.
Week FiveTanzania is the next country to drive through. Tanzania is on the countries with united citizens with minimal political hitches. This means the country is always safe. The land of Bongo is best known for its rich wildlife including the 8th wonder of the world, the wild beasts immigration at Serengeti National Park which is a few kilometres from the main Great North Road.
However, remember to plan your trip at the right time to witness this wonder.
Drive through Dodoma which was the former capital city. With Tanzania being one of the largest countries in Africa, you will enjoy several stopovers
Week SixConsider driving to Zambia which is among the countries with the longest stretch of the Great North Road.
The Great North Road is a major route in the country, running north from Lusaka through Kabwe, Kapiri Mposhi
Zambia is rich with rugged terrain and which make it fun to drive through.
For the love of adrenaline rush, this is the place to test your engines. On its border with Zimbabwe is famed Victoria Falls plunging a misty 108m into narrow Batoka Gorge. Traversing the Zambezi River just below the falls is Victoria Falls Bridge, a magnificent viewpoint.
This view is enough for the country, you got more coming on your way.
Week SevenThe road from Zambia borders with Zimbabwe at Chirundu. Zimbabwe has the shortest stretch on the highway. Driving southern through the country means an encounter with wildlife including the Big Five. This means you have to be safe.
To ensure your week is utilised in the country, there are various game parks and resorts to visit, which are situated a few kilometres from the highway.
Week EightThis trip to Botswana is full of diversity while travelling through the incredible Great North Road route.
A ensure to south on the country, you will visit various National parks including Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park which are best known to be home to thousands of animal species.
On this trip to Botswana through Gaborone, you will experience some of Africa’s most perfect forest areas best for camping and taking rests with your family and friends. Another part of your road trip adventure takes you to the Savuti, where a blend of swamps, hills and rivers make it one of the best game drives in a wildlife-rich territory.
Week NineAnd finally you are in the last country and last miles of the road trip, The Great North Road in South Africa is smooth and well maintained. The Cairo-Cape Town Highway passes through Mahikeng, Warrenton, Kimberley and Beaufort West to end in the vicinity of Cape Town.
The best highlight is to reach Cape Town and enjoy the success of your road trip by having some good time at the beach. Through this country, you will encounter marvellous nature worth making memories.
Always remember you use your map and drive safely.
Some History: The first successful journey was Court Treatt expedition of 1924 led by Major Chaplin Court Treatt and described by his wife Stella Court Treatt in Cape to Cairo (1927), which drove two Crossley light trucks leaving Cape Town on 23 September 1924 and arriving in Cairo on 24 January 1926.
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