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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.



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, in 2009. While working on his business degree, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. It was there that he fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, eventually leading him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. After several years of honing his skills in writing, photography, and off-road driving, Chris now works for the company full time as Expedition Portal's Senior Editor while living full-time on the road.