Trans Africa Overland routes

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Trans Africa Overland routes

Some of the longest and more traditional overland routes are in Africa. The Cairo to Cape Town and vice versa route covers more than 10,000km and currently usually follows the Nile River through Egypt and Sudan, continuing to Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia along the way. In 1959 the pioneering American trailer manufacturer Wally Byam and a caravan of trailers travelled the route from Cape Town to Cairo via Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe and Zambia), Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo), Uganda and north from Kenya.

From the mid 1980s, the non-operation of the Aswan to Wadi Halfa ferry between Egypt and Sudan as well instability in Sudan, northern Uganda and Ethiopia, made the journey impossible. In recent years however, the Cape to Cairo and Cairo to Cape Town route has again become possible and increasingly popular both with commercial overland trucks carrying groups of 20 or so paying passengers as well as independent travelers on motorbikes or with 4WD (four wheel drive) vehicles.

The traditional Trans Africa route is from London to Nairobi, Kenya and Cape Town, South Africa. The route started in the 1970s and became very popular with small companies using old Bedford 4WD trucks carrying about 24 people each, plus lots of independents, normally run by groups of friends in 4x4 Land Rovers heading out of London from November to March every year. The usual route was from Morocco to Algeria with a Sahara desert crossing into Niger in West Africa, continuing to Nigeria.

This route has changed dramatically due to border closures and political instability creating no-go zones. The route has reversed itself somewhat over the last few years, with trucks now crossing from the north to the south of Africa, closely following the west coast all the way from Morocco to Cape Town with the biggest change in the route being made possible by the opening of Angola to tourism. The journey then continues through Southern and East Africa from Cape Town to Nairobi and on to Cairo.

The longest overland expedition of any kind is run by African Trails their London-Capetown-Istanbul journey (43 weeks) remains the classic overland expedition for die-hard travelers. Though the longest combination of trips is 50.5 weeks run by Dragoman from Helsinki, Finland to Cape Town, South Africa via Russia, China, Middle East, following the Nile and to Kenya and on to southern Africa.

Other overland routes

In Africa, commercial overland travel began with the Trans Africa and Cape to Cairo described above. From the mid 1980s East and Southern Africa became more sought after by tourists and Nairobi to Cape Town is now the most travelled overland route in Africa. As more tourists look for adventure trips that fit in to their annual holiday, shorter sections of overland routes have become available such as two to three week round trip from Nairobi taking in Kenya and Uganda.

Istanbul to Cairo, via Syria and Jordan, is a classic overland route. It is a route that has been travelled for centuries, particularly during the Ottoman Empire. Historically it overlapped with the Hajj, with many people covering all or part of the route as part of their pilgrimage to Mecca. Backpackers discovered it in the '70s and '80s, with hippies searching for spiritual peace who departed to Jerusalem from Istanbul instead of going to India via Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. After the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, onward travel from Jerusalem to Cairo became a possibility. It is now well travelled by backpackers and overland companies alike although the amount of travelers journeying the route can be affected by any unrest in neighboring countries.

Pop-culture tourism is the act of traveling to locations featured in literature, film, music, or any other form of popular entertainment.

Popular destinations include:

· Los Angeles, California film studios;

· New Zealand after The Lord of the Rings was filmed there;

· Japan for japanophiles or lovers of Japanese pop-culture;

· North Bend, Washington and in particular Twede's Cafe where much of the television show Twin Peaks was shot;

· Tunisia, location of the filming of the Star Wars movies;

· Burkittsville, Maryland, where tourists re-create the most gruesome scenes from The Blair Witch Project.

Pop-culture tourism is in some respects akin to pilgrimage, with its modern equivalents of places of pilgrimage, such as Elvis Presley's Graceland and the grave of Jim Morrison in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Poverty tourism or poorism, also known as township tourism or slumming is a type of tourism, in which tourists travel to less developed places to observe people living in poverty. Poorism travel tours are popular in places like India, Ethiopia, and even places that have had natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis. After Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana became a big poorism site.

Slumming (derived from slum) originally referred to a practice, fashionable among certain segments of the middle class in many Western countries, whereby one deliberately patronizes areas or establishments which are populated by, or intended for, people well below one's own socio-economic level, motivated by curiosity or a desire for adventure. Most often these establishments take the form of bars or restaurants in low-income areas.

Recreational slumming was popular in Victorian London, where omnibus rides through Whitechapel were in vogue. Similarly, slumming tours were documented through the Five Points slums in Manhattan during the 1840s.

It's also associated with the middle 1980s, as an outgrowth of the yuppie subculture. The sense that upper-class establishments were phony, overpriced, and affected made it fashionable among middle-class professionals to frequent "dives", due to their supposed authenticity and local color.

"Slumming" (also known as "class tourism") has come to refer to many activities that involve interaction with the less fortunate, especially when motivated by curiosity, adventure, laziness, boredom, and even outright greed and miserliness.

Township tourism is a term used to describe a form of tourism that emerged in post-apartheid South Africa and Namibia. South African settlements are still visibly divided into wealthy, historically white suburbs and poor, historically black townships, because of the effects of apartheid and racial segregation. Before 1994 it was rare for tourists to visit townships. Increasingly the established South African tourism industry sees the townships as a resource for attracting tourism revenue. Smaller operations, including many emerging black tourism operators, see township tourism as a means of empowerment and of bolstering the self-esteem of people in these historically marginalized communities. Although township tours vary in form, they often differ from other tourism experiences in being interactive, socially minded, and potentially empowering for the communities involved. However they have also courted controversy, because of fears that they misrepresent South African culture.

Religious Tourism

Religious tourism, also commonly referred to as faith tourism, is a form of tourism whereby people of faith travel individually or in groups for pilgrimage, missionary, or leisure (fellowship) purposes.

Tourism Segments

Religious tourism comprises many facets of the travel industry including:

· pilgrimages;

· missionary travel;

· leisure (fellowship) vacations;

· faith-based cruising;

· crusades, conventions and rallies;

· retreats;

· monastery visits and guest-stays;

· faith-based camps;

· religious tourist attractions.


Although no definitive study has been completed on worldwide religious tourism, some segments of the industry have been measured:

Ø According to the World Tourism Organization, an estimated 300 to 330 million pilgrims visit the world's key religious sites every year.

Ø According to the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, Americans traveling overseas for "religious or pilgrimage" purposes has increased from 491,000 travelers in 2002 to 633,000 travelers in 2005 (30% increase). North American religious tourists comprise an estimated $10 billion of this industry.

Ø According to the Religious Conference Management Association, in 2006 more than 14.7 million people attended religious meetings (RCMA members), an increase of more than 10 million from 1994 with 4.4 million attendees.

Christian tourism is a subcategory of religious tourism. As one of the largest branches of religious tourism, it is estimated that seven percent of the world's Christians - about 150 million people - are "on the move as pilgrims" each year.

Christian tourism refers to the entire industry of Christian travel, tourism, and hospitality. In recent years it has grown to include not only Christians embarking individually or in groups on pilgrimages and missionary travel, but also on religion-based cruises, leisure (fellowship) vacations, crusades, rallies, retreats, monastery visits/guest-stays and Christian camps, as well as visiting Christian tourist attractions.


Although no definitive study has been completed on Christian tourism, some segments of the industry have been measured:

Ø The Christian Camp and Conference Association states that more than eight million people are involved in CCCA member camps and conferences, including more than 120,000 churches.

Ø Short-term missions draw 1.6 million participants annually.

Ø Christian attractions including Sight & Sound Theatre attracts 800,000 visitors a year while the Holy Land Experience and Focus on the Family welcome center each receives about 250,000 guests annually. Recently launched Christian attractions include the Creation Museum and Billy Graham Library, both of which are expected to receive about 250,000 visitors each year as well.

Ø 50,000 churches in the United States possess a travel program or travel ministry.


In religion and spirituality, a pilgrimage is a long journey or search of great moral significance. Sometimes, it is a journey or shrine of importance to a person's beliefs and faith. Members of many major religions participate in pilgrimages. A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim.

Effects on trade

Pilgrims contributed an important element to long-distance trade before the modern era, and brought prosperity to successful pilgrimage sites, an economic phenomenon unequaled until the tourist trade of the 20th century. Encouraging pilgrims was a motivation for assembling (and sometimes fabricating) relics and for writing hagiographies of local saints, filled with inspiring accounts of miracle cures. Lourdes and other modern pilgrimage sites keep this spirit alive.

Christian pilgrimage was first made to sites connected with the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Surviving descriptions of Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land date from the 4th century, when pilgrimage was encouraged by church fathers like Saint Jerome. Pilgrimages also began to be made to Rome and other sites associated with the Apostles, Saints and Christian martyrs, as well as to places where there have been apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

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