In 1982, Kae and Evan Lewis set off from Europe to travel the length of Africa in their 1974 VW campervan with 2WD. This blog contains the photos we took and excerpts from travel diaries and letters we wrote at the time. We left London in early January 1982 and reached a beach near Capetown in South Africa nine months later, averaging about 10-20 km/hr and seldom out of first gear.
Why choose to publish a blog now, so long afterwards? Much of the route we took, through the Sahara Desert, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic and the Congo (called Zaire in 1982) and on to Uganda and Kenya, is closed off to overlanders these days due to rebel groups and ISIS insurgencies with its associated terrorism, kidnappings and wars, the terrifying increase in Ebola and Cholera in the Congo, and finally, the road through Central Africa being now more impassable than it ever was, having reverted to the jungle it came from only a few years after we passed that way.
In 1982, there was no web, no google searches for up-to-date information, no blogs, no cellphones and no GPS. Once we left Europe, our family and friends had no idea where we were for months on end. Also, without GPS or even large scale maps, we ourselves often did not know where we were. We navigated by degrees of latitude and longitude, calculated when we arrived at a city large enough to appear on the wall map of the entire continent of Africa that we had. There were few, if any signposts, and most of the locals we asked had very little idea of which direction you had to go to reach another town, even one only 20 or 40 kms away. We were on our own.
“I still have fond memories of that time: the free life and self-dependance, together with the fact that we never knew today what tomorrow would bring. It had an attraction of its own that can only be fully understood by those who have had similar experiences.”
From “Looking for Gold” by John McCombie (Thames Star, New Zealand 3 May 1902)