Everybody knows this situation: you have been planning something for a long time and you are really looking forward to fulfill that plan ... and then, bang!, something happens and you can start all over again! This exactly is the situation we are in at the moment: the Ebola virus outbreak in parts of Western Africa has cancelled our West Africa plans for next year ...
This leads to the general topic of overlanding and planning:
The most important thing actually is to find somebody you can plan with. We are really lucky that both of us have been enjoying travelling for a long time now. Additionally, both of us share the dream of travelling to remote regions and love to meet people wherever we go. This certainly is a wonderful basis to start with.
Planning an overland trip - if you can call it such, as you can't really "plan" or rather should not plan an overland trip in too detailed a way - involves reading a lot of maps and visa regulations, taking climate diagrams into account, contacting tourism authorities and embassies, finding out in blogs and forums what other travellers experienced or suggest, and many aspects more! In the process you'll find out that you're almost never the first person who had a certain idea or stood before a problem looking quite unsolvable. There always are ways!
And then, you can be sure that as soon as you are "on the road", all former plans are subject to change anyway, as the weather, political situations, the infrastructural situation et cetera can immediately change any plan. Also, thinking of a positive side to change, local information can lead to a lot of new plans as well. So far, we have experienced that especially inhabitants of countries with a "bad" reputation in the Western World, intensively try to make your stay in their country an unforgettable one and help immensely when planning on where to go next. They do this in the hope that when back home, you recommend their country to other travellers. Also, fellow overlanders you meet on the road also might lead to more or less drastic changes to your trip. That's why we have never booked a pre-planned overland-trip and are not going to do that in the future! Also, we have decided not to plan trips together with other people. It's great if you meet somebody on the road and go on so well with each other that you hit the road together for some time, but for us it's very important that both parties always can go their own way as soon as they feel it's time for it.
A few days ago, when we got home from Romania, we started the planning phase for our gap year / sabbatical all over again and very openly looked at regions or continents that could be possible destinations for next year. As Africa had been on the schedule for a long time, Southern and South-Eastern Africa could, of course, be one possible destination. It's an impressive region with wonderful nature (just think of the "big five", the Seringeti ...) and also wonderful people and cultures. But, concerning Africa, we hope for the future that in five or six years' time it will again be possible to do a transafrica trip either on the Eastern or the Western Route and we might just wait a bit and keep that plan for our next gap year. Our children will be older by then which also will simplify things immensely.
Then, there also has always been the Panamerican Highway ... We could start the trip in the USA, go up to Alaska and then drive down to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. This would not be "slow travel" at all, it actually would be rushing through a lot of places and our plan is to experience countries, cultures and people in depth rather than being able to just say, "We've been there, there and there."! So, it looks like we are going to go to South America only. It's also great that it is not necessary to take a malaria prophylaxis in nearly all parts of that region. Travelling with young children, we are very happy to be able to avoid that. And we do have people we could visit in South America as well: Mischa's cousin is married to an Equadorian and Juliane has friends in Colombia.
So, it seems that the current plan is to ship the car from Europe to Manta in Ecuador (a new RoRo-connection by Grimaldi), travel through Ecuador, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Brasil and ship the Landy back to Europe from Montevideo in Uruguay. Unfortunately, this will involve extra costs, as - apart from shipping and the flights - Juliane insists on installing an engine-independent air-heating system for the Andes!
We'll keep you updated!