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Don’t Take this Road – but You Might Want to Take this Book – to El-Karama

Do NOT Take This Road to El-KaramaTired of the African tales of misery with which we find ourselves bombarded every day, new author Chris Harvie sets out to find the good news on an epic 28 000-kilometre journey between his home outside the Kruger National Park and the Nile River in Uganda, traversing eight African countries: Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Zanzibar, Malawi and Namibia.

The result is the delightfully entertaining travelogue, Do NOT Take this Road to El-Karama.

With his tongue firmly in his cheek, Harvie chronicles his trek through African countries that all (arguably bar one) share a British colonial past – looking at their post-independence histories through the sceptical yet fresh eye of one born at the time that many of them achieved independence. His personal views are supplemented by those of the locals and ex-pats, missionaries and mechanics, backpackers, oddballs and rascals he encounters along the way.

Galvanizingly opinionated, brimming with interesting facts, questionable comment and dubious speculations, Do NOT Take this Road to El-Karama is essential reading for both armchair and actual travellers. A blend of discovery and discomfort, it breathes new life into the travelogue genre with an original take on the style and presentation of a journey, and leaves the reader enthusiastic, refreshed, and reaching for a tent and the keys to the bakkie.

Book excerpt

One Sunday I went for a haircut, walking the length of Diani’s beach road and understanding for the first time what a horrible place this was for the majority who travelled on foot. Taxis screamed past far too close, hooting and berating the pedestrians. I felt as if I’d walked a tightrope by the time I reached the far end of town and found an operating hairdresser. The boss was out, but Beryl (who told me that she was ‘obviously a Luo from Eldoret’) was in position and ready to cut. She stood back and assessed the sight in the mirror. What would I like done?

My father was bald by the age of twenty-five and my brother by thirty and although I have a fairly severe shortage right on top of my head, I have always been secretly follicle-proud of having held on to as much as I have until the age of forty-plus. Beryl, who was evidently less impressed, was therefore looking at the three months’ worth of side-growth that tended to stick up like the devil’s horns.

  • Read on (pdf download)
  • Please visit for: a photo album of the journey * an index of place and other names * a glossary of terms * general advice for independent travellers in Africa * an inventory of equipment to take along * contact details of the places Chris stayed.

About the Author

Chris Harvie was born in England in 1964 but has been living in South Africa since 1983, where he claims to have arrived by mistake when the Falklands War put paid to his plans to explore Argentina. After two visits to South Africa, he abandoned his roots and his studies in French and Russian to manage a small Lowveld country hotel and eventually to build his own lodge in Mpumalanga.

In the winter of 2006, together with some travelling companions, he set off on the road trip which would become the subject of Do NOT Take this Road to El-Karama. The book was written in a historical Graaff-Reinet house which he bought and restored upon his return. Besides fulfilling his duties as hotelier, Harvie writes on food and travel on a freelance basis for the Sunday Times.

Book Details


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