#Cork2CapeTown – Why Our Trip Is Finished

Egypt travel itinerary

I write this with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart. As of today, our #Cork2CapeTown adventure is over. As with everything in life, the reasons for this are complicated. I’ll try to explain. I know many people will be disappointed to hear this news, and I feel the reason I’m most upset is that I feel I have failed my readers, my friends, my family. I’m also devastated that a trip I planned for so long, the trip of a lifetime, one that I was hoping I would never forget, has come to an abrupt and early end.

What happened?

To start with, anyone who follows my adventures on Facebook will know if the insane visa problems Ian and I experienced over the past 2 weeks in Cairo. There was so much red tape you could probably use it to decorate the Christmas tree in time square. We spent day after day trekking to various embassies trying to secure a visa for Sudan and Ethiopia.

We landed in Egypt at a time when the government is trying to curb the uncontrollable rise of the US dollar on the black market. A time when 6 banks refused to give us US dollars, the only currency the embassies will accept.

Even when we eventually got our hands on these precious dollars we were again turned away by the Ethiopian Embassy, who told us they can not issue visas in Cairo if you are travelling overland.

The stress levels continued to rise.

Two days ago my travel buddy, Ian, told me that he plans to cut the trip short and fly home. This was about 20 minutes after I got my hands on the US dollars. I went from a total high to feeling like my heart had just been ripped out. I guess the real shock was that I had no idea he was feeling like this. I had no idea he was so homesick, how much he longed to be home for the holidays.

While travelling through Africa is difficult beyond words, I’ve always loved every minute of it. I also assumed that anyone travelling with me would view the continent in the same romanticised way that I view it. The truth of the matter is, he was very much missing his younger Brother and Sister, as well as his Mum and Grandmother. This is the longest he has ever been away from home, and I guess the stress of getting visas (along with Christmas and Thanksgiving fast approaching) just pushed him to a breaking point.

You have to be in the right mindset to travel Africa, it’s bloody tough work, and Ian just isn’t there right now. That’s not to say that he won’t do it in the future, and no doubt will love it as much as I do. 

I had some tough decisions to make. I talked to my friends, close family members and even some of my closest blogger friends. Should I continue on solo through Sudan and Ethiopia? I don’t admit this much, always trying to stay brave and pretend nothing in Africa phases me, but I was shit scared. The thought of backpacking Sudan and Ethiopia by myself was not filling me with excitement as it should be. The thought of it actually brought me close to tears.

What’s the problem with Sudan and Ethiopia?

For the past few months, Sudan has always been my biggest worry. From internal conflict and instability to crazy and complicated visa procedures, I always knew it would be the biggest obstacle. It’s also the only country on the route that I had  NOT been to before. I was excited to “tick another country off” and to spend time in a nation so few people go to. But….alone? Not so much.

On to Ethiopia. This came as much as a surprise to me than it will to you, but essentially the shit is hitting the fan in Ethiopia right now. There is widespread civil unrest, government warnings to stay away from all borders and a million other parts of the country, and two sets of tourists have been killed there in the last few weeks. On top of that, as if that’s not bad enough, the government has cut off all access to 3G internet to stop people from organizing protests through social media. 

I work as a digital nomad, and write for many clients each month. Not having access to internet, besides being a little scary, would cut off all my sources on income. I don’t think I need to explain why that was a big factor in helping me make my next decision.

While Ian has his heart set on going home in time for Christmas, he told me that did not automatically mean he wanted to leave straight away. It’s beyond complicated but essentially he is happy to hang out for another few weeks, but that is not enough time to get us 4,000 km across Sudan and Ethiopia. 

Without my travel buddy, who I’ve spent every day with for the past 3 months and 3 days, the trip just would not be the same. It’s been the most incredible journey, and while it most certainly did not go to plan in more ways than one, it’s an experience and adventure I will never forget. An experience I hope neither of us will ever forget. We’ve traversed 14 countries over the past 3 months, had some hilarious adventures and I’ve made a lifelong friend. He has been the best travel buddy I could ever have asked for, and I guess that’s why it makes it all the more difficult to admit it’s all over.

Travelling is tough guys. So unbelievably tough. It’s time consuming and stressful, tiring and frustrating. It’s just never as easy as you initially think, and no matter how well you *think* things are going, there’s always an obstacle around the corner.

I’m admitting I was scared. I’m admitting I’m still scared. I don’t know what lies ahead, I don’t know what will happen now, all I know is I need some time out to regroup my thoughts, find my happy place and make a new plan. 

What now?

We are off to Luxor today for 5 days. Our Egyptian adventure is not over yet and we are keen to see as much of this incredible country as possible. I can’t wait to share this place with you, it has honestly won a special place in my heart. 

From here, we are both going to Cape Town. That’s right, both of us.  We want to end this adventure on a high note and what better way to do that than in beautiful South Africa. In a weird way, we will indeed have travelled from Cork to Cape Town, just not quite the way we had planned!!

We will travel around for two or three weeks and then Ian will fly back to New York in time for Christmas. As for me? Adventure awaits, I’m just not sure where.

Want to avoid a travel disaster? Don’t walk in my footsteps and get prepared with this ultimate travel check list.

  • Rowland Newenham
    November 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    I’m sad for you, but you have made a balanced and thoughtful decision, and now you must move on. For every door you close, another one will open. We’ll still follow your journey (through life!).

  • Victoria Yore
    November 23, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Oh my gosh girl!! The struggle is real and I truly feel for you! The disappointment must be something fierce and I’m sorry people in this world can’t get along enough to not kill tourists! I’m glad you are trying to make the best of it!

  • Nick Dariece
    November 23, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Sorry to hear about the trip ending, especially due to homesickness… but shit happens and you just have to go with the flow. You said it – travelling independently, overland in Africa is BLOODY difficult! Trust me, we know! Here’s to many more new adventures :) Enjoy Egypt and South Africa.

    All the best.

  • Your Next Big Trip
    November 23, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Janet I’ve loved following your adventures and reading posts by another Irish person that loves travelling in Africa as much as I do. Sometimes things don’t work out and I definitely think youre making the right decision given the 2 countries you need to get to. I like to think of myself as fearless but I definitely wouldnt be heading there on my own either. You’re still seeing places that most people have barely heard of! I have no doubt that your adventure will continue and I can’t wait to see where it takes you.

  • Rachel
    November 23, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    I can kind of relate to your pain. We too had visa struggles on the continent, 4 years ago when we were trying to go from Mozambique to Tanzania overland. When we learned that crossing overland in northern Moz was not recommended and the crossing was all too often impassable, we changed courses for Malawi not knowing the country was in dire economic crisis at the time, (no petrol, little food, it was bad) with no USD in the banks except on the the black market. We did the same thing, went from bank to bank until we finally caved and paid $2 for $1 on the street. We had to scrap our plans for Tanzania though because we couldn’t afford to essentially pay twice the visa cost since we paid $2 for $1. We went to Zambia instead because the visas were half the cost. I was crushed at the time because I wanted nothing more than to see the Serengeti and mt Kilamanjaro. I’d been looking forward to it the most out of our year long trip and had been waiting 5 months for it to come along. Malawi was a rough patch in our trip for many reasons but we powered through and persevered. We ended up loving Zambia and our stay in South Luangwa national park was wonderful. Now we have a reason to go back someday and relish what that I’ve been waiting so long to have.

    As you well know though, it’s the journey not the destination and you should be proud of yourself for having come this far. Backpacking in Africa is TOUGH and not for the faint hearted. It can be extremely challenging and discouraging even for the expert traveler. Don’t be too hard on yourself and enjoy the rest of the time you have while you have it!


  • Omara Moses
    November 23, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    So sad to hear that, I believe you can have enjoyable trip to Uganda too,try it you will not regret

  • Nelly
    November 23, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Hi Janet,
    I am sorry to hear about all your troubles. Visas and dealing with administrative stuff is not easy for anyone!
    As for traveling in countries who are not considered as “safe” timing is everything. I think you took the right decision for now and hopefully you will be able to explore Sudan and Ethiopia some other times!

    Thank you for sharing all of this with us, it is good for all of us to remember that traveling can be hard sometimes..

    I wish you all the best for your next weeks in Egypt and South Africa!

  • nomadicfoot
    November 23, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    sad to read how many problems you faced but its part of our life as a travel blogger and show the people how to survive in these kind of conditions. You have shown us that courage to live in this situation. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Rachel Brown
    November 23, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Just enjoy what you can, you obviously weren’t meant to go there by land. The universe is telling you something. Enjoy Cape Town and rest for the holidays. Best of luck

  • aliceteacake
    November 23, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    Janet, you are a goddamn trooper. Travel is indeed a total whirlwind – that’s the thrill of it and also the downside to it. You never know what’s round the corner. What’s awesome about it all is that every experience has something to give us – we learn from the good and we learn from the bad. I salute you for heading to Cape Town regardless and I’m sending out a ton of love to you and Ian. Keep on rocking.

  • AdventurerDeb
    November 23, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Sending you hugs. I, too, had a lifelong dream that family and friends had fully and financlialy supported me to get to, and I also ended up cancelling and leaving much earlier than scheduled. It is heartbreaking, but not an easy decision and people will be very supportive! As a reader, I know you have made the best decision for you and I am
    Happy to hear you will be safe!!! Breathe and enjoy the time left and please know that I, and I am sure many others, fully support you in your decision!!

  • LisaLDN
    November 23, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    All hail, Janet! This can’t have been an easy choice, but I’m confident you made the right one :) Your readers will follow along on the next adventure, no worries there :)

  • Danik The Explorer
    November 23, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Janet, dont be disappointed. Its not a failure, its a learning curb and to be honest, the journey can continue with a break. Come back to Egypt and start again from Luxor in a few years time. The journey isn’t finished for you yet and I know you will finish it. Maybe Ian as well. You had a lot of obstacles ahead of you but Sudan was the issue, especially South Sudan if you went that way. Claire and I were talking to the guys from Sudan at WTM and there are a lot of issue and cival unrest we were told about in Sudan and surrounding countries. To travel alone or in a small group without a local would have been dangerous. Great for your CV if you survived it mind you.

    But seriously Janet, the journey isn’t finish but for now, I am happy you made this decision on the basis of health and safety. And if you do return, Ian must go as well! Its a learning curve as well for him and his got this far. All credit to him.

    This is not a failure! This is not the end of the beginning of the capetown/cork adventure…. its just a break. Sending you the love and positive vibes…..CAPE TOWN AWAITS! Pride! Passion! Ambition!

  • Jamie
    November 23, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Oh my gosh, Janet! Thank you for writing this. It really resonates with me. I tried balancing an office job with traveling somewhere once a month and blogging and it took its toll on my health! You are right. Traveling is tough! I have really enjoyed following all of your adventures, and will definitely continue to do so. As a reader and fellow blogger, I am so proud of you! Don’t feel that you disappointed anyone. The fact that you even attempted this journey overland to Capetown is amazing. Something I would not have the guts to attempt. And now , based on your experience I don’t think I would try unless this world gets its shit together haha!

  • Jo
    November 23, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    So sorry that this adventure didn’t work out the way you hoped. Still you have shared some incredible stories, introduced your readers to the delightful Ian and as you say the adventure is not over yet- it just took a detour. I hope what is left of your adventure rocks to the very end!

  • Katie
    November 23, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    There will be plenty more adventures. what an experience it has been. Look forward to seeing you when you get home.

  • Derek
    November 23, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Travel is indeed not easy and living on the road, as you are, is so much harder. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you can always do it another time – enjoy cape town :)

  • Jonesy
    November 23, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    Keep your hear up Janet! :-) You’ve gone on an incredible journey, and have shared it with so many people! I’ve loved following this adventure you guys are on. I completely understand Ian’s wants to go home for the holidays, but it is still frustrating when you have a plan and things fall apart. I’m sure you will make it back to Egypt, with plenty of USD in hand, and be ready to finish this journey another time. Sending hugs from Australia!

  • Allison
    November 23, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    I think it takes just as much guts to admit defeat and change up your plans when things just aren’t going to work out. Especially when your physical safety and mental wellbeing come into play. You’re right, traveling is rough, traveling is stressful, and we have to take care of ourselves so travel can continue to be the enjoyable and life-changing experience it can be :) You have many more adventures ahead of you – and you’ll have an amazing time in Cape Town :D Can’t wait to see your adventures there!! <3

  • Lina @ Divergent Travelers
    November 23, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    Hang in there girl! Ethiopia is a tough place to travel, let alone alone and Sudan, well, you may not have gotten a visa anyways. We tried for a month to get a visa to Sudan in Addis Ababa, traveling North from Cape Town to Cairo but they flat out refused to issue us visas because we are Americans. It was unreal. Ended up flying over Sudan to Egypt. All things happen for a reason, it wasn’t the right time. Keep your chin up and keep loving life! :) Ps: Happy Turkey Day!

  • Aisling
    November 23, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    Janet, I have followed your blog for what seems like an age and feel like I have been through all your stories. Everything you write seems so incredible and unbelievable, I am almost happy you can share these stories with us to.

    As a reader who looks up to you as a role model (trainee journalist and aspiring traveller) you have shown me so much about travel and all the highs and lows.

    Your adventure has been so amazing and wondeful so far this isn’t a loss, just another path along your road to victory.

    Congrats on how far you’ve gotten.

    And I can also feel your pain of “well I don’t care if the government tells people to stay away, i’ll still go and concur it! ” i’d feel the same.

  • Hannah
    November 24, 2016 at 1:23 am

    You are in no way a failure! You are a bad ass adventurer who is smart enough to recognize what makes you comfortable and uncomfortable and have put your safely and security above all else. For that I have the utmost respect for you. enjoy the rest of your time in Egypt and in South Africa- I am still very jealous ;)
    Lots of love xox

  • Sandi Buckley
    November 24, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Proud of both of you for making safe and sensible decisions & congrats on a HUGE achievement, what a challenge and an adventure you are on xx x much love

  • Christine | The Traveloguer
    November 24, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Aw I’m so sorry you’ve had this upset to your plans Janet, that’s the downside to travel unfortunately. It sounds like the trip will still be amazing though, and as you said, you are still doing Cork to Capetown!

    There’s nothing wrong with altering your plans to adjust to circumstances, and definitely no point forcing yourself to travel solo to places that you don’t feel are safe. You and your own experiences are more important than keeping readers happy, so don’t feel that you’ve failed anyone. Have a ball for the rest of the trip, and sure you can always tackle Ethiopia and Sudan again! xx

  • Lerato Bambo
    November 24, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    So sorry to hear about this. Would’ve loved to meet you If I was home in SA. If you need any assistance with anything, just let me know.

  • Laura Patton
    November 24, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    It’s a pity things haven’t worked out the way you hoped but on the positive side you’ll always have peace of mind that you tried your best. No doubt, no wondering what if. It takes courage to make that decision and for Ian too.

    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better :)

  • Nana
    November 24, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    Hi Janet, thanks for sharing your personal story!
    I had been through some similar, I was planning 6 months in Mexico with my (at that time) boyfriend and we had ideas of staying in Mexico and live. It was a secret for everybody and during 6 months we sold much of our stuff and saved up money. 5 weeks after in Mexico we ended the relationship. 7 weeks after we were on the flight back home. When we decided to end the relationship and the trip I was heartbroken! I felt like a big dream just broke and I felt I had nothing to come home to. I felt like a failure. But coming home friends and family welcomed me with open arms. I felt missed and loved. I learned a lot from that trip. I closed so many doors but afterwards other doors opened. Now, 6 months later I live in Chile. Life is funny somehow and I believe that things happen for a reason. I wish you the best! Hugs, Nana

  • Natascha
    November 25, 2016 at 11:48 am

    I have been following your blog for a while now and this must have been an incredibly hard decision to make! But probably a wise one. Me and my partner are just back from five weeks overland in Egypt and Sudan and met some (very few) people coming from Ethiopia, who told us about the unstable situation there. As for Sudan, I can assure you, that the north is perfectly safe, even for woman/ women on their own. We just traveled there for two weeks independently (got the visa easily in Assuan). Just in case you are planing to go back some day in the future….

  • Stéphanie Langlet
    November 25, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Well, I’m sure you know you took the best decision. Even whith Ian, it wouldn’t have been so safe to travel accross Sudan and Ethiopia.
    Luxor is a wonderful place. I really enjoyed hiking around. And going to Abu Simbel with a local bus has been a wonderful experience.

  • Green Leafy Gael
    November 26, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    That’s really unfortunate Janet – well done for getting that far anyway and enjoy Cape Town! :D

  • Els Mahieu
    November 28, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Oh, so sorry for you, Janet! But yes, it looks like the right decision. Sudan on your own might be too much of a risk indeed. I’m sure a next adventure will be awaiting you soon! Hug!

  • stevensheehy1
    November 30, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Great post Janet! Nice to hear about the realitys of travel and not just the upsides all the time! Enjoy the rest of the trip

  • mysuitcasediaries
    December 4, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing an insight into the realities of travel. Things aren’t always glossy and your very real portrayal of what can and does go wrong is refreshing. I’m disappointed for you because I loved following your adventures on instagram but I do think you made the right decision not to travel Sudan and Ethiopia, alone. Africa has a magical appeal and I completely get the powerful grip it can take of your heart and soul but we, your readers and obvs family and friends, want you to be safe so we can live vicariously through your future adventures! Here’s to the next wander