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The Book

When Craig Harrison spent a year traveling on a shoestring within the fabric of African societies in 1971-1972, he and his lifelong friend Dave Graber avoided safe, well-trodden routes. Instead, they depended on decrepit trains, cargo trucks, rattletrap buses, jammed bush taxis, dugout canoes, and ferries. They lived out of backpacks and were eager to experience the land and people of Africa up close.


Barriers to travel were rising then, and they knew they would face dangers. Yet they were confident they could overcome obstacles and, besides, possessed the sense of invincibility common to twenty-two-year-olds.


Arriving in Spanish Sahara on a cargo ship from the Canary Islands, Craig and Dave trekked through Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Upper Volta, and Ghana. From Accra, they took a freighter to the Congo and journeyed overland to East Africa. Dave then returned home. Craig explored Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania for five months before returning to Europe via Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt.


During the journey, Craig dealt with delays and dismaying circumstances, enjoying colorful encounters with ordinary Africans and fellow adventurers. He also met obnoxious public officials and faced hurdles that would have sent most others home.


When they started out for Africa, Craig and Dave had no idea that they were in a narrow window of time when journeying overland was relatively easy—notwithstanding the illnesses and aggravations. Africa has been in an enormous flux since then, and much has changed permanently—often not for the better. Today, many places on the journey are too dangerous for a rational person to visit.


Craig was mesmerized by the continent’s beauty and its wildlife, and came to appreciate Africa’s struggles, history, and injustices. This account of a grand adventure delivers the unvarnished truth in the tradition of travel writers such as Paul Theroux, Shiva Naipaul, Peter Matthiessen, and V. S. Naipaul.


Join Craig as he shares his insightful and beautifully illustrated panorama of a transitional, post-colonial Africa that has mostly vanished.