Struggling with the End of Africa

Looking back at things now, there’s no doubt in my mind that Africa is the best thing that ever happened to me.  But like most good things, I had no idea at the time.

When I arrived in Cape Town I was relieved.  Sure, I struggled with the whole finality of it all.  I questioned whether another adventure could live up to it.  I wondered if all other trips I made would seem dull and uninspired. I started to worry that in the search of that next thrill I’d do something that would kill me.  I have become an adventure addict, but in Cape Town I wasn’t sad to give up Anne Murray, I was relieved.

End of Africa, kudu

In fact, I even seriously considered giving it all up. I’d find an apartment somewhere and work from “home.”  Maybe I’d take a proper job even, and earn some money to start paying off some student loan debt.  Perhaps, instead of living outside the box of convention while travelling the world I’ve instead created my own new box.  Maybe living a stable life would be me “getting out of my shell”.  Have I been hiding from life through travel? Is it really just time to finally grow up?

Coast in St. Lucia, South Africa

Coast in St. Lucia, South Africa

Well spending a month cruising around South Africa in a rental car, I told myself that I wasn’t going to think about the future until I left Africa.  I wanted to enjoy my last month on this continent that I’ve loved, hated, and soaked into my blood.  But after leaving Swaziland, and coasting through St. Lucia, I arrived in Durban a couple days before I was meant to fly home, and I no matter how beautiful the landscapes, wondrous the coastlines, or exciting the wildlife, I couldn’t muster up the energy to even take more than a couple photos.

"I'm confused"

“I’m confused”

You see, this trip throughout Africa has been as hard on me as it has been rewarding.  I missed the birth of my niece and nephew, along with the first 9 months of their lives.  I was away from my family and friends for 14 month, and in St. Lucia, I was basically as far away from home as one could ever get.  Usually when I come home from a trip I feel like my life has changed, and everyone else’s has stayed the same, this time it’s the opposite.  I struggled in Africa, too.  I fought with malaria, I was broke almost the entire time, and I’ve never been so lonely in my life.  After Cape Town, home was the only place that I wanted to be.

Kid looking into aquarium

Though inspiring and beautiful, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t putting on a brave face for much of South Africa.  For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t where I wanted to be.  I wanted to be home.  I wanted to see family, drink with friends, and maybe even just spend a couple days doing absolutely nothing travel related.

In Durban, I sat in my hostel room almost the entire time like an enslaved worker waiting for his holiday.  I forced myself to visit the waterfront, aquarium, and the town center.  And well beautiful, my heart had long left Africa.

Maybe there is a time I’ll return.  Maybe someday I’ll buy another scooter and drive up the east side.  Maybe I’ll live there someday.  Maybe I’ll never travel to another country in my life.  The only thing I know, is right now it’s time to go home.

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. Welcome home my prodical son!

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  2. I somehow stumbled across your website and was immediately captivated by your feelings and reactions as you travelled through the various countries. I had just visited Kenya and Tanzania in the fall of 2012 on a 3 week guided tour which was so different from your unknown adventure everyday, but your wonder at the beautiful countries, the people and wildlife resonated within me. It is somehow so magical and yet a reality check at the same time. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

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    • It’s actually a great and helpful piece of info.
      I’m happy that you shared this helpful information with us.
      Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Your article appears to be full of many truths and realizations of your previous experiences. My question for you now is “Are you where you believe you should be at this stage of your journey? Are you avoiding something, someone? Do you know what season of life you are in?” You do not need to write a response to these questions as they are just food for thought and also questions I ask my self on occasion. — With love always, Lori

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  4. I always love going back home when I have been on the road for a while. There is nothing like a home cooked meal from your mum. However, after a few weeks I usually get itchy feet again and the “ordinary” life bores me. Enjoy your time back home and enjoy the comforts of the developed world.

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  5. South Africa is a very popular and great travelling destination because of wildlife centuries as well as National parks which are situated at there.

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  6. I can only imagine what it really must have been like driving through Africa. I have been living in Phuket, Thailand for the last 2 years. And it was an easy life, not as hard as you’ve had it in Africa. But I’ve been thinking (and worrying) a lot about “reality” too – I’ve never really had a proper job in my life, and it’s time that I go earn some proper money – I’ll be flying out with my 2 Thai dogs back to Namibia, Africa in 6 days. THAT reality hasn’t strike me yet, as I will be leaving paradise, for a life in Africa again, to try out the ‘normal’ life…. Good luck to you, and I’m sure you will not stop traveling!!!

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