. . . AFRICA 1999
Africa 1999

The Team

1. The Start
2. Southern Arrival
3. Cape Town Comfort
4. Namibian Sand
5. Africa Wins Again
6. Into the Margin
7. Kwaheri Kilimanjaro
8. Ugandan Abandon
9. A Turn into War
10. To Congo and the Worst Road in Africa
11. Mozambique Madness
12. Malawi to Zambia
13. Revisiting the South

Around-the-World 2001/02
Panamerican 2003
Various Trips
Planning an Expedition


Kensington Tours can help you plan your own expedition anywhere in the world.




This was my first expedition and in many ways changed my life in the years to come. It was the first time in my life where I did exactly what I wanted to do, in exactly the place I wanted to do it - despite advice that I was crazy to leave behind a company I had co-founded.

There were some really smart moves like buying and selling a Land Rover in South Africa - I sold it for the same as I paid. There were some really stupid moves, like inadvertently driving through a mine field in Burundi, going into eastern Tanzania with no US cash, running out of money halfway through the trip and pawning my sat phone to continue ... the list is long. But if I hadn't done this trip, I never would have taken on the Around-the-World trip and future expeditions. In many ways this remains the most memorable and astonishing trip I've ever done.

I flew into Johannesburg and bought a Land Rover, drove it through 14 countries in southern and east Africa, and returned to South Africa and sold the vehicle. Some journals you may find particularly interesting include; climbing Kilimanjaro (journal 7), a dash through a war zone (journal 9) and a transit down the abandoned eastern Lake Tanganika road (journal 10).

A very special thanks to Tim & Amy Mechem who put up half the money for the Land Rover, and whose time with me on the road was the most memorable of all.

Expedition Team
Writer/Photographer/Driver: Jeff Willner - jeffwillner@yahoo.com
Crew: Andy Wolford (Johannesburg - Victoria Falls), Carola Bazle (Cape Town - Victoria Falls)
         John Hiscock (Dar Es Salaam - Nairobi), Alex Semple (Dar Es Salaam - Kampala),
         Kevin Temple (Nairobi - Victoria Falls)
         Tim & Amy Mechem (Lilongwe - Cape Town)
         Gregg Lowden (Web Support)

Distance: 24,000km, 12 countries
Vehicle: Land Rover 110, V8, County with modifications
Trip Summary


The Start

Background.jpg (105778 bytes)

#1 - The Start
"Boys,” Dad said, “that kid has killed – and he’s looking for a reason to do it again.”  That memory and others swirl around in my head as I prepare for the trip. The plan for the six months is pretty aggressive; buy a Land Rover in Johannesburg and zigzag from Southern Africa to East Africa and back through 14 countries, see how the people and the land have changed in the past 15 years, as an entrepreneur determine if economic investment in East Africa makes sense yet."


South Africa

j2_gear.jpg (27781 bytes) #2 - Southern Arrival
"Expecting a culture shock beyond the Boeing door - I was surprised at the modern infrastructure. Highways, malls, and rush-hour traffic form a modern theater with a skyscraper backdrop."


South Africa

j3_karoo.jpg (16052 bytes) #3 - Cape Town Comfort
"Finally in Cape Town, the end of the first leg of our trip and the memory of it is a mix of adrenaline, breathtaking scenery, and smashed windows."



j4_giraffes.jpg (37468 bytes) #4 - Namibian Sand
"The drive north into Namibia is long and sandy. Known as the Skeleton coast, it has terrified sailors for centuries - if you get shipwrecked here you die."



j5_whitewater.jpg (47664 bytes) #5 - Africa Wins Again
"There is an expression that I learned shortly after arriving here – AWA (Africa Wins Again). It seems to gain credibility according to latitude. The further north you travel in Africa the more times you find yourself shaking your head muttering, "AWA". We exercised the phrase early…" 



j6_kids.jpg (16035 bytes) #6 - Into the Margin
"Sleeping inside a Land Rover in the middle of the jungle can be unsafe. Doing it next to a town of unemployed desperados is a stupid risk..."



j7_kilitop.jpg (14229 bytes) #7 - Kwaheri Kilimanjaro
"Kilimanjaro Day Five - tea and digestible cookies are delivered to the hut at midnight - time for the final ascent in the black hours of the morning. We've had no real sleep for two days, almost everything is wet, we are bone tired - everyone in the bunkhouse is quietly frightened of the mountain."



j8_baringo.jpg (24475 bytes) #8 - Ugandan Abandon
"I think there is a recessive gene that controls driving. Maybe it mutated from the chariot driving gene, or the gene that compelled Vikings to carve cool looking heads on the front of their ships. Fortunately for most people the gene doesn’t cause any mischief. But ever since my brother beat me in the Volkswagen Bug Championship of Our Front Yard, I’ve felt the need to find the line. The line. That sweet poetry of speed and curve that defines the essence of every corner. Outside, inside, outside, and accelerate smoothly through. A sane person encountering Nairobi traffic clenches the wheel and sweats through the anarchy. But for we few, the gene fires off tiny reverberations of pure pleasure to the cerebral cortex – traffic anarchy, no rules – “thank my lucky stars, today I drive the line”.  Pity us."



j9_masai.jpg (28451 bytes) #9 - A Turn into War
"Time slipped out of gear and everything seemed to happen in slow motion. I stamped on the gas instantly, Kevin pitched down, the soldiers whirled and brought their guns level, the leader rocketed into a run drawing his pistol.  I saw the leader's eyes lock mine for an instant and he aimed his pistol pivoting with our movement, I tensed for the shot…"



j11_landrover.jpg (42373 bytes) #10 - To Congo and the Worst Road in Africa
"The congregation beamed applause and laughter and joy and life - and I thought, how will the first world achieve the satisfaction and joy of this place? Africa the paradox.."



j12_sunship.gif (67636 bytes) #11 - Mozambique Madness
"The long civil war, a recent famine, and a closed economy has left Beira in shabby form. Formerly a seaside resort town, the superb hotels and sweeping boulevards of grand houses have been reduced to weed strewn shells with black-eyed windows. It waits for new money and new life. "



j13_lusaka.jpg (18610 bytes)  #12 - Malawi to Zambia
"We’d driven over 1100km in one day and were only fifty kilometres out of Lusaka, cruising, almost midnight.  Suddenly, BANG, the windshield shattered. Uncomprehendingly I saw a little hole in the windshield, right in front of Tim. We’d been shot!?… No, there was the rock nestled on the left windshield washer. Two guys had heaved a 2” rock into the windshield as we sped past. If it had been any larger it would certainly have gone through and wounded or killed."


South Africa

j14_flat.jpg (25213 bytes)

#14 - Revisiting the South
"The left side went soft and loose again, please let it not be the tire, I thought.  It was. We were in the middle of the desert with no spares..."



Copyright January 1999-2011
All rights reserved - Jeff Willner
Contact: jeffwillner@yahoo.com