Location: Southern and Eastern Africa: South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Kenya
Publication date: 2016
I applaud Walls for making the journey overland through many countries that some travelers would never consider as top travel destinations, but wanted more from this book. It is, in many ways humorous travel narrative that gives some insight to some of the off-the-beaten track places in southern and eastern Africa. But I was hoping for less breadth and more depth—a hard task, I understand, when the book covers five months and 13 countries.
Occasionally Walls is insightful, thoughtful, and downright hilarious. The section on African handshakes in the Tanzania chapter was by far my favorite. But too often, especially in the beginning of the book, the writing feels less like narrative about place or journey and more like a travel blog, which the book is based of off. A blog can have great writing, interesting background, and entertaining stories, but to me, that is different than a narrative that is tied together as a book. Walls falls back too often to reciting his trip just as that—a trip. Though the descriptions of the trip become less touristy as they go on (less about beer runs, swimming, and needing to find a place to stay), in travel books I wanted to be taken on a journey and have more narrative and story.
This book would still be beneficial to someone who has never traveled to Africa as it does provide some good anecdotes and commentary and background (they attend the Kuomboka ceremony in Zambia and Walls gives great background on the Rwandan genocide, for example.) There is also a nice section in the back with some practical advice. But unfortunately I felt this book needed to be pared down and provide more than it did.
Lastly, try to read this book in color if you can. Walls includes photographs from throughout the trip which are exquisite and tell the story well. Though the book wasn’t my favorite, it will well suit readers who prefer a more casual reading experience, and the words and photos could still inspire the travel bug in many of us.
I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.