An Inefficient African Journey
But don't you know? It's faster to fly. Header image.
A book by Liam Walls
Faster to fly - award winner image


  • Do you like the taste of delicious food?
  • Do your eyes hurt when you look directly at the sun?
  • Do you dislike it when someone close to you dies?
 
Then congratulations! You're human.
And guess what? That makes you uniquely qualified to read this book.
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About The Book

My original intention was to spend  six months travelling in Asia and Europe but a chance meeting in Laos with an American woman on her way to Africa knocked me off course. And that is how I came to find myself zigzagging through Africa. Hitchhiking with her and another new friend, our route was dictated not by a set itinerary but by the people who stopped to pick us up, and any other random encounters along the way. Over five months we weaved our way from Cape Town to Nairobi. Thirteen countries and 17,500 kilometres later, I have a story to tell that baffles most people, in many cases directly contradicting their popular media driven ideas of this wonderful continent. As an outsider, I feel that my perspective on the continent is a refreshing one; untainted by negative preconceptions, our experience was at the same time exhilarating and hugely rewarding.
 
Befriended by a princess, we met a Losi king and participated, as red-bereted rowers, in the grand aquatic Kuomboka Ceremony in Zambia. An unfortunate car accident left us hanging upside-down — but luckily uninjured — from our seat belts on the side of a road in Mozambique. We camped in no-man’s-land between Zambia and Zimbabwe. An unexpected flood stranded us in Namibia's desert. In Tanzania, an argument over the price of a boiled egg led to a punch-up. We mastered the complex art of the African handshake, devised a solar-heated shower for an isolated Peace Corps volunteer, and discovered that a pair of underpants doubles as a pretty decent coffee filter.
 
This isn’t just a book for off-the-beaten-path backpackers. It’s for all those people who, when I told them about the trip, said “But isn’t Africa dangerous?” (almost everybody). The aim of this book is to entertain the reader while giving an unusual perspective on an under-travelled continent. With any luck, the reader will come away inspired to explore it for themselves. It was the best trip of my life, so it seems a shame not to share it.
Faster to fly travel book - Rwandan woman
Faster to fly travel book - Kuomboka ceremony Zambia
Faster to fly travel book - Zanzibar heavy rain flood girl
The Photography
Within the pages of this book is a huge array of my photography, taken throughout Africa.
Below is a small selection of these images.
Faster to fly travel book - Rwandan girl with basket
Faster to fly travel book - Rwandan kids at a window.
Faster to fly travel book - Kuomboka ceremony zambia sunset
Faster to fly travel book - Malawi mount mulanje hike
Faster to fly travel book - Leopard in Namibia Quiver Tree Forest
Faster to fly travel book - Zambia Kuomboka Ceremony Man  portrait
Faster to fly travel book - quiver tree forest namibia sunset beautiful africa
Faster to fly travel book - Malawi Liwonde national park beautiful africa
Faster to fly travel book - beautiful africa Lesotho katse dam valley river
What's Inside?
Below are a couple of brief snippets to give you a small taste of the 480-pages of content.
On The Okavango Delta:
The Okavango is the world’s largest inland delta. Every year, about eleven cubic kilometres (11,000,000,000,000 litres) of water floods in, bringing with it an abundance of life. Approximately sixty percent is consumed through transpiration by plants (evaporation from leaves), and thirty-six percent by direct evaporation (leaving just two percent for the underwater aquifer system and another two percent for nearby Lake Ngami). The delta covers a gigantic area of 15,000,000,000 square metres, but that’s just a big number. What does it really mean? To put it in perspective, I’ve come up with some more numbers to help clarify things:
 
For the sports fans: That’s over two million football/soccer pitches!
 
For the astronomically-inclined sports fans: Two million football pitches stacked on top of each other (assuming one inch / two and a half centimetres of turf), would be fifty kilometres high, touching the boundary between the Stratosphere and the Mesosphere (otherwise known as the Stratopause. See the highly descriptive Figure)
 
For the hunters: Let’s say you want to make a bearskin rug that could cover the delta for some reason. Perhaps you are a swinging gentleman who intends to make some serious moves on many sexy ladies at once (or maybe one very large sexy lady)… next to a gigantic fireplace? You would need to gather up all of the American black bears, the brown bears, Asian black bears and polar bears and slaughter the lot (one point five million of them according to most recent estimates), skin them, and sew the skins together. When you were finished, you would have to transport the rug on some kind of specialised vessel from China (where it was presumably assembled) to southern Africa and carefully drape it into position. But guess what? Your effort would have been wasted because assuming each skin is about four square metres in size (overestimate alert!), your rug would still only cover up less than half of one percent of the entire delta! So despite having pointlessly wiped out the world’s entire bear (family: Ursidae) populations, you would have still massively failed to achieve your goal. So yeah — don’t do that. You’re not impressing anyone, killer.
Faster to fly travel book - beautiful africa size of okavango delta
On Trekking Across Mt Kenya:
The afternoon’s threatening clouds came to fruition as we approached the camp, so we surveyed our surroundings from the shelter of the hut: dominating the view, a vast valley carved out the rocky landscape, gigantic guttering that wound upwards, disappearing into soggy grey. A little later the clouds took their miasma elsewhere, painting the sky blue as they went and, for the first time, revealed the mountain’s highest point. Only a single vapour plume remained, clinging to the summit like torn cloth. We followed a path up the slope for a closer look and the valley-carving culprit came into view: a huge glacier, snugly slotted between two of the highest craggy peaks.
 
We knew Mt Kenya had glaciers (eleven of them, to be exact), but this was far bigger than I had pictured. It still fills me with wonder to imagine how glaciers survive in this environment. Bang on the equator, here, just one minute separates the year’s longest and shortest days. The sun beats down relentlessly for twelve hours a day, 365 days a year… and yet somehow Mt Kenya’s endangered ice monsters continue to cling on.
 
The pleasant weather ended as clouds returned, advancing over the mountain ridge towards us, poised for attack. We retreated to the safety of the cabin. Outside the sun slowly lowered, taking the temperature with it. James, our guide, made us hot tea while little birds pecked at the trickle of water draining from the kitchen sink. As clouds darkened, drizzle turned to sleet and then snow, accumulating on the ground around the busy birds and melting in their drinking water. The temporary winter weather was over in minutes, though; the sun slotted its amber rays horizontally between the mountaintop and its grey blanket, rapidly sending the newly fallen ice through two consecutive phase changes. Steam rose around us and, bathed in a soft ethereal glow for the final moments of daylight, the valley echoed silence. 
Faster to fly travel book - beautiful africa mount kenya peak hiking
The Charity
Fifty percent of all profits from this book will be donated to a carefully selected charity, TOCI, a charity started and run by a local Ugandan man and his wife.
 
Their families ravaged by HIV/AIDS, there are many young children in Uganda (often as young as eleven years old) who have taken on the role of head of the family, and who struggle to provide for their siblings.
 
Micheal (he spells it this way) and his wife saw this problem and took it upon themselves to help, and have since expanded to a fully fledged charity. This is a wonderful, admirable goal, and I am honoured to help out in any way I can.
The Twerwaneho Orphans Community Initiative (TOCI) 
The Twerwaneho Orphans Community Initiative (TOCI) is a small locally run community initiative that focuses on helping HIV/AIDS affected orphans, child headed households and children with disabilities and special needs to live healthy, sustainable and successful lives.
 
TOCI (pronounced "tow-chi") is a non-governmental and politically and religiously neutral non-profit organization that addresses the challenges of vulnerable children in the community. TOCI is focused in the Kiguma and Karago parishes which are rural areas located off the Bundibugyo road and about 8km from Fort Portal town in the western region. TOCI is run by local community members including both working professionals and the guardians of the children and aims to support disabled children and child lead households through life skills training and empowerment. 
Click to find out more
Faster to fly travel book - beautiful africa TOCI twerwaneho orphans community initiative
Photo taken from the TOCI website
The Author
Faster to fly travel book - africa Liam Walls
Liam Walls
Engineer by day, amateur actor, photographer and writer by night, Liam has been published in Travel Zambia magazine, and was shortlisted for the Bradt travel writing competition in 2013. He has been working on this book for more than six years and is thrilled to finally see his efforts bear fruit.
Photo by Paul Aylin
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