The best investment you can make with your money is to travel. This is a paraphrase of “Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten,” which sometimes has been attributed to Ed Sabol, others to Aldo Gucci. This wise saying can be applied to other areas, like fashion, food, and travel.
I’ll prove it to you. Do you remember the last plane you took to discover a new place? Remember how much it cost you?
You pretty much only remember the memories. The flavor of a new dish that transports you to instant ecstasy. The look of a ravishing new beauty walking down the street. The sense of amazement you feel while admiring a red sunset, or that tender feeling that takes hold of you when kids are playing in the sand, absorbed by their reality.
These all have in common the much needed feeling of novelty. Our lives are routines, because we engage in the same activities day after day, to such an extent that it is essential to stop and leave for a while for our mental wellbeing. The trip can be short or long, but you won’t be the same when coming back.
Steve Lorimer and Roxy Harvey are young professionals like you and me. They work hard and play harder, they dreamed of taking a sabbatical and explore the beautiful world we live in.
The only difference is that they actually did it.
Towards the end of 2008, Steve, a software engineer, and Roxy, an organisational change consultant, living in London, decided to take a career break and explore Africa, the continent they both come from, for they grew up in South Africa.
What did they do?
The couple travelled for 19 months, circumnavigated Africa, which entailed approximately 25,000km overland. They went off the beaten path to some of the most remote and beautiful areas in the world. Their means of transportation was ‘Songololo’, a converted 4×4 ex-army truck that they’d bought and set up as a camper van.
How did they do it?
Steve shared his thoughts and experiences with us. “For a very long time I wanted to explore Africa (…) I worked and saved for 6 years before I felt like I had enough to be able to realize my dream. It was a big step, and most of my friends thought I was crazy blowing my entire life’s savings on a crazy adventure, but I knew I needed to do this.”
Steve’s friends were probably right to doubt, as the total cost of the trip was almost US$88,000, and even during the trip they ran out of money and had to borrow some from Roxy’s mom.
They were able to quickly pay her back when they sold the truck, and as an added bonus they were able to fund their wedding. They got engaged in Africa, since after all, it may have been the best investment of their lives.
“The planning stages took 18 months (…) buying a suitable vehicle, kitting it out, doing a wilderness first aid course, 4×4 driving course, mechanics course and getting my truck driving license, route planning, visa research, malaria and other disease research, etc etc. It was a long list!”
“In the end it was an incredible adventure that was at times incredibly difficult, stressful, scary and at times awe-inspiring, beautiful and filled with incredible experiences exploring new cultures, meeting amazing people and visiting beautiful places.”
“Our characters grew so much as we were forced to face adversity, think outside of the box to get through unforeseen problems, and experience such a life-changing event.”
“We were able to camp in the desert next to a small river that had started flowing after some rains. Epically beautiful!”
Where did they go?
Steve and Roxy started their African journey in Morocco and drove all the way down to South Africa, then up again until reaching Egypt. They visited Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo (Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic), Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt. Apart from setting foot in Jordan, Siria, Turkey, the Greek Islands, Venice in Italy, and Spain en route to Africa and back from it. Quite an impressive trip! You can admire their exhaustive journey on their blog.
As you can imagine, it wasn’t always a bed of roses. Any journey has its bumps, but you know you have to patiently wait for the storm to pass. Steve and Roxy had at least three car breakdowns. As Steve explains:
Then once again in northern Angola they broke down in the middle of nowhere. No fuel stations. Stuck for three days. Thankfully, they were traveling in a convoy, as it is more secure, with another couple, and they drove to the closest village, which was a few hours away. The last time was while crossing a dry river beds, and they swiftly discovered these weren’t so dry after all. “It took 2 days and the help of a nearby village to dig us out.”
They found paradise on earth in Mozambique and discovered Fantasia in Maghreb. It is a traditional exhibition of horsemanship performed during cultural festivals.
They stopped by Togo and Benin, the home of Voodoo magic.
As they stepped into borders of Namibia, Steve describes the gorgeous moment, “an incredibly stunning country, with the most beautiful contrasts, from lush vegetation to seemingly lifeless deserts.”Related
The Inspiring Life Of The First African American In Major League Baseball
In South Africa, halfway through their expedition, Steve and Roxy visited family and friends, attended a wedding, and gave their ‘Songololo’ a much needed technician TLC.
In Malawi, they enjoyed the incredible Nyasa lake and the playfulness of the kids
Tanzania turned out to be another paradise, surrounded by crystal clear waters and wildlife.
There was always time for new friendships:
How Many Roads Have I Walked All Alone?
In Uganda they were in awe of meeting face to face with the mountain gorilla.
In their journey they inevitably encountered moments of contrast, like when they met a displaced Pygmy tribe. They were originally from the Congolese jungle but had to flee because of the conflict. Now they live in Uganda subsisting with farming.
In Kenya they travelled in a convoy for some time, as the north of the country can be very dangerous.
The absolute beauty of the country made it all worth it.
In Ethiopia, Steve and Roxy admired the Lalibela monolithic rock-cut churches. The population of Lalibela, a town in the northern part of the country, was one of the earliest to adopt Christianity in the first half of the fourth century. The churches were constructed between the seventh and thirtieth century.
Where are they now?
After this life changing journey, Steve and Roxy went home and tried to reintegrate back into their common life, which meant finding jobs, a new apartment, selling the truck, and planning their wedding. Nowadays, this adventurous couple is actually living in the Cayman Islands. Steve’s company asked him to move there and he said yes. “When someone asks you to move to a tropical island in the Caribbean… you say yes,” he shares. He is now working for a small trading firm, and Roxy works in the Cayman office of a global consulting business. This couple is a good example of what happens when you dare to follow your intuition and dreams.
You can visit their blog here: OverAfrica
Get inspired and go explore.