Joe tells us about preparing to tour lead our Trans Africa Expedition…
Way back in March I received an email from the good folks at Oasis Overland HQ offering me the gig tour leading the trip of trips, the biggest baddest of them all, the Trans Africa Expedition. Two years ago when I started with Oasis I would never have even dreamed of doing this trip. In fact, whenever I was asked about it I usually replied with “No way, that trip is a bit too much for me”.
But Africa is one of those places that gets under your skin and even just the smallest of hits can leave you with an enduring lifelong habit. Even if you never return there will be that ever present itch to give way to the voices in your head and go back for more. Not unlike those who get their kicks through less fulfilling sources than travel.
So there I was sitting in a bar by the River Nile in Uganda with a fully fledged Africa addiction. Like a lot of addicts I was beginning to find the kick not as potent after a little over 12 months treading the familiar trail through East Africa and down to Cape Town and a short jaunt backpacking Kenya and Ethiopia. I needed to find a way to get that original feeling back and there it was on my iPhone. The next level of Africa. West Africa…
I took my time deciding to do it. I spoke to a few overlanding buddies who had run this particular trip themselves and they all more or less said the same thing, “It the hardest trip you will ever do but its the best. It makes you work but the rewards are worth it.” After a few weeks of devouring all the information I could about West Africa I took the gig. I couldn’t focus too much on it though. I had a job to do. Another seven months doing the East and Southern Africa run.
Fast forward to September. I bid farewell to my last Grand Adventurer crowd and headed back to Sydney for a three week break. This is when the work for me began in earnest. Applying for passports and visas, beginning to formulate an itinerary and working out just how to get around Ebola affected areas (turns out we are going quite literally, around them, through Mali). With all that and some R&R time with the family it was time to head to Oasis HQ in the UK where the real prep would take place.
I have done my fair share of trip preparation after completing five Grand Adventurers but the scale of preparation that goes into this trip dwarfs all others. It had begun months before I arrived with Natalie, Chris and the rest of the Oasis HQ team leaving no stone unturned. I joined the melee of emailing, photocopying and planning and it became evident there was a lot left to do. Things to clean, two trucks to fill with food, itineraries to finalise, visas to sort and more information to consume than one could possibly imagine. The days are running out and the jobs are gradually being ticked off. The shopping is done, our very flexible itinerary completed and my desk covered in a pile of paper that is slowly finding order.
Ever wondered what a van full of canned goods looks like… I now know. Let’s get this show on the road.
Our 39 week Trans Africa Expedition starts on 4th November. Contact us if you’d like to join – we still have places left but you’ll need to be quick as there is limited time to make visa applications.