What the Tropic of Capricorn looks like in Mozambique

This was coconut country, and it was pretty. On either side of the road, tall slender trees launched into the sky and exploded into bursts of bright green foliage. Dry and crunchy palm fronds were littered all along the ground, dessicating in the midday sun.

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Zambia’s insane potholes: a survival guide

What are the roads like in Zambia? The short answer – terrible. And it’s the potholes that do it. They come in all shapes and sizes – miniature, jagged edge pockmarks; surprise road-width trenches that sneak up on you, corrugated fill-in jobs. Driving on a Zambia highway is therefore absolutely unpredictable.

Here is a guide to some of the most terrifying potholes in Zambia you should watch out for.

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Staying overnight in a tiny African village

Zambia was zooming past at great speed as we crossed it’s great arterial highway. Golden brown scrubland, dry skeletal trees, yellow-tinged earth, low rolling hills. Small villages clustered by the highway, clusters of tiny thatch huts with people and livestock standing around, sweeping leaves or carrying bales of wood. Tomato sellers and potters had stalls set up to sell to passers-by, their wares lined up in their hundreds alongside the tarmac.

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Driving on a highway with a herd of elephants

Stop! Elephants! We missed them at first, and drove straight past. Then we saw the herd in the rear-view mirror. A handful were eating by the side of the highway. Another car pulled up and told us to go back the way we came; and sure enough, a few hundred metres away was the rest of the herd, at least forty of the biggest land animals on earth.

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Camping in the deserts of Namibia

Southern Namibia was so vast and empty, it felt like we were driving across the moon. The arrow-straight gravel highway touched the horizon with a pinprick, and the sky was a vast pastel blue, which seemed a hundred times larger than usual. We felt extra excited now; our uncle Jan in Cape Town, the nearest person who might bail us out of a crisis, was now in another country, adding an element of independence to our road trip.

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Preparing for a road trip in Africa

A road trip through Africa first seemed possible to us after watching Long Way Down, a travel documentary by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. They embarked on an epic motorcycle journey from the northernmost tip of Scotland, south through the UK, France and Italy, crossing into Tunisia by ferry. From Tunisia, they continued riding south through the entirety of Africa, ending in Cape Town after three months on the road. It looked like the perfect adventure, and we wanted to emulate exactly that!

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