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Traversa: A Solo Walk Across Africa, from the Skeleton Coast to the Indian Ocean Paperback – 3 Jul 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth (3 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715637673
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715637678
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 180,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A classical account of one man's struggle to test himself against Nature --Daily Telegraph

Sandham is a likeable and self-deprecating narrator, and I found myself increasingly gripped --The Observer

High above the vast pile of African-adventure travelogues --New York Times

About the Author

Fran Sandham was an editor at "Rough Guides", and worked as a bookseller and in the voluntary sector before that. He has travelled in over 40 countries. He lives in Brighton and London.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M Pullen on 5 Nov. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Reading Traversa takes you on a great journey into the realms of adventure, into which we often wish or dream of heading but leave to others. Fran Sandham is the best guide to follow, taking the reader on a difficult and challenging trek.

Key distinguishing points of Traversa are the fact that Fran Sandham took the decision to go it truly alone, with no corporate (or other) sponsorship, and chose to ensure that his route did not follow that of any previous explorer.

Humour adds to the description from the first page and Fran Sandham has effectively interwoven elements of historical fact and local culture.

For seasoned and armchair travellers alike, Traversa is a highly entertaining read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By F. Kellagher on 22 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Having spent a significant amount of time in Namibia and travelled up to Zambia, much of what Fran Sandham was writing about was familiar, which made it even better to read as I had my own experiences to compare and contrast with. However, even if you haven't spent any time in the places he describes, this is a funny, insightful and fascinating read about the countries, the people and the animals that he encounters, as well as African history and interesting references to the explorers who went before - Livingstone, Stanley, Hahn et al.
All the trials of trekking are there, from avoiding death by lions to coping with blisters and training misbehaving donkeys, all recounted without losing the sense of frustration but without wallowing in self-pity. But also all the highs of such an adventure - scenery, people, and the sense of adventure and achievement.
All in all this is a really fascinating and addictive book and one that makes you want to pack in the job and go join Fran on road!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alex Swallow on 3 July 2008
Format: Paperback
There are many things to admire about Mr. Sandham's book: the fact that he underwent great hardship at times in order to write it; the way in which he has unveiled some little-known parts of Africa to a wider audience; or his eloquent turn of phrase and sometimes biting self-deprecating humour. But what stands out for me is in the way which he stuck to his task and wasn't seduced by the touristic, bombastic way to travel through a country. I don't mean that he didn't occasionally stay in a hostel,(after hundreds of kilometres across lion country you might too), or that he didn't occasionally eat Western-style foods in souless supermarkets. What I mean is that he stuck to the task at hand and didn't go to see something or attempt to do something just because a guidebook said he should. It is extremely hard sometimes to resist the pull of the mass-market. I myself have been to countries where I thought I had been to every 'must-see' site in an area and then found that to my disappointment there was one I had missed. But those were not the real experiences and stories which will stay with me. Real meaning can be found in the tapestry of human interactions and the beat of a way of life different to your own. In an era of travel being accessible to so many more people, how refreshing to hear an account of someone who decided to tread a more personal path.

Mr. Sandham did things 'his way' and I am sure his mentors Messrs. Livingstone, Stanley et al, would be proud. You deserve to read this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. Mcalea on 22 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
A witty account of Fran Sandham's fantastic and slightly barmy journey by foot across Africa. In a market saturated with travel writing, this lively and funny narrative stands out, revealing Africa to the reader through the authors own journey and his ruminations on the flawed glories of past epic treks by the likes of Livingstone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. taylor on 3 July 2008
Format: Paperback
Traversa is Fran Sandham's record of his epic walk across Africa in the footsteps of the Victorian explorers. To say his journey was eventful would be an understatement - the book is peppered with hilarious mishaps as well as encounters with memorably bizarre characters. At the same time, he gives an fascinating insight into the history of the great Victorian explorers of the 'Dark Continent' - who range from praiseworthy to heroically stupid - and shows a keen understanding of the challenges of Africa today. I'd thoroughly recommend this to anyone who enjoys the books of Bill Bryson or Redmond O'Hanlon'
PETER TAYLOR
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ms. D. R. Moorhouse on 21 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to read many travel books without a sense of 'Why? Why are you putting yourself through all this?' and Traversa is no exception. Those who sit at home may not understand what drives some people to these lengths, but that doesn't stop us lapping it up and asking for more.

In this enthralling book, Sandham brings his solo walk from the aptly-named Skeleton Coast to the Indian Ocean to life. He comes across, variously, as courageous, determined, bloody-minded, and completely insane. By the end of the book, it's easy to feel, as he does, that he has earned his right to be in Africa, even among people so poor that a man who has scrimped, saved and given up chocolate biscuits to be there, is immeasurably rich.

Throughout, Sandham places his experiences in a historical context, evoking the horror of being preserved from shipwreck only to die of thirst, the shame and waste of the slave trade, and butchery in wars over territory that match anything Europe has achieved in that line. As his traversa progresses, he moves from a theoretical understanding of Africa to a genuine affection for the place and its people.

The book is filled with dry self-deprecation and humour--there's a disastrous donkey, and we can only imagine Sandham's problems with his mule, as he declines to go into details--and some of the characters he meets are portrayed as so much larger than life that there's a temptation to believe they're imaginary. Perhaps the best example of the man's courage is when, having invested time, effort and money in a donkey (diseased), a donkey-cart (beautifully painted), and a mule (disobedient), he's able to walk away from all three. Many people would have persisted even in the face of so much discouragement, but Sandham knows when to cut his losses.
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