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Capetown to Cairo: An Airstream Caravan Takes On Africa

Although many have come to recognize the Airstream as an icon for the American nomad, few realize just how far these trailers have reached beyond our borders. Back in the 1950’s the company’s founder, Wally Byam, was on a mission to inspire fellow trailerites to see the world, and he began by planning a trip from Texas to Nicaragua along the Pan-American highway. Although it began as a small group of friends, an article by the Los Angeles Times had soon drummed up so much interest that Wally had 63 trailers following his lead. The trip ended up being a rough one, and despite break-downs, primitive dirt roads, and tough obstacles, about half of the original group made the full journey to Central America. These determined folks had relished the adventure, and it wasn’t long before shining caravans of trailers were setting out for destinations around the globe.

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Of all his journeys, Wally’s last was his most ambitious. A three month trek across Africa from Capetown to Cairo through some of the continent’s most remote locations. All told it took the group seven months to reach their destination, more than twice what they had expected, but I doubt a single one of them would have done it any differently. At the bottom of this page is the first in a series of videos containing the original 1950s footage from the trip. It’s cheesy in places, and the commentators introduction is priceless, but I guarantee you’ll be itching to watch the next one by the end. Luckily for us, the other parts are all published on Youtube. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

 

WARNING: These videos were recorded in the late 50’s when traditional African dress was still worn. Please be advised that some nudity may occur.

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Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Chris didn’t receive a real taste of the outdoors until moving to Prescott, Arizona, for college in 2009. While working on his business degree in the Embry-Riddle undergraduate program, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. He fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, which led him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. Chris was immediately hooked by the concept of overlanding, which combines the excitement and adventure of flying with his affection for cars and trucks. After receiving his degree, Chris did a summer internship with Overland International before accepting a full-time position on our team.