All pictures © Alice Bensi

The African continent deserves to be taken in slowly. Too magnificent and solemn, to be rushed through.
You must take Africa slow, as it is.

Slow and inevitable as the tides, as the ever changing shades of turquoise over a Zanzibar reef. Like Stone Town wakening to a spotless sunrise – seemingly unaware of its past as the queen of all spice and slave trades in the world. Slow, like a ferry, sliding over glassy waters.
If you are planning to travel through Africa, you better take it easy. If you don’t, Africa will slow you down, one way or another.
Keep your plans very lose, your mind flexible and your heart opened. Travel on a train and watch the landscape change, breathe it in, observe its calm perfection, flow with it. Leave behind all previous assumptions. Be patient and brave.
Slow down, get over yourself, mix with people very different from you. If they have much less than you have, they won’t necessarily try to take from you, they will eventually teach you something about being content.

Enjoy the ride.
Africa will always surprise you.

You will get to places where going slow is actually not enough, you will also need to stop and look as deep and as far as you can. Lean over the edge, dive into the wild. Africa is as thick as it gets. If you’ll make your way to a wonder like the Victoria Falls, you’ll have to stop and feel the weight of the sky over thundering waters, your feet walking on some of the Planet’s most ancient scars.
You are standing on landmarks where millions of years ago, apes started to look more like us. Where nature is so powerful and generous, has allowed us to evolve. Let these thoughts sink slowly. In this same areas, today, endangered species can survive the slaughter only by being constantly watched by an armed man. Move slowly, respectfully, if you get yourself in their space: this fantastical creatures have been owning the place long before you were born.

Enjoy the ride.
Africa will always surprise you.

It will be hard to let a bus take you away, to be back on the road. Still, it won’t be as shocking as an airport experience, you’ll have time to take your soul with you. I won’t have to remind you that you need to take it slow. African roads will. And you will be grateful for the chance you’ll have, of observing how an ecosystem turns into another, lush Zambezi gradually changing into a strikingly beautiful Namibian desert…

Namibia is an otherworldly place, where you can find crystals emerging from the ground and plants as ancient as life on earth growing from the most unforgiving land. Slow down. There is something for me exceptionally exciting about arriving in a place I love and I have been before, where people are waiting for me, where someone will pick me up.

Arriving on a bus, after a 23 hours ride, after having avidly looked for the familiar landmarks appearing and proliferate while – slowly – cruising towards destination, can stretch and deepen that excitement to unbearable levels. If you find yourself in this situation, take a deep, slow breath and remember: every destination is only a leg of the bigger journey.