Slow Journey South: Walking to Africa by Paula Constant: book review

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ December 10th, 2012. Published in: Travel blog » Reviews.

Slow Journey South by Paula Constant

One woman’s dream to walk across the Sahara

The very first thing I have to write about this book is that it’s the first of two/three books – as the journey is not over yet. I got this book from someone else who didn’t know this and was disappointed after reading it. The biggest disappointment was that there’s no desert crossing. I also read a few reviews saying it was a bit of a long-winded read about a woman who smokes and drinks too much with an ever suffering husband.

I read the book and disagree with the negativity.

I really and truly enjoyed it. It’s my type of book. Read on and find out more about a woman’s dream to break out of the monotony of life and do something different.

What is A Slow Journey South: Walking to Africa about?

Paula Constant and her husband Gary were a fairly typical couple in England. Both had 9-5  jobs, came home, ate, had a few drinks and went to bed tired. Paula knew this was not what she wanted with her life and through reading and admiration for great travelers came up with the idea of walking the Sahara.

A quick visit to Morocco with a friend and she was sold on the idea. Along with her husband Gary they began the slow process of working, selling up and planning their journey. The biggest feat of which would be to go from sedentary to camping all day walkers. Why? Because they planned to walk from London, through Europe, down through Morocco where they’d hire some camels from a guide she’d met and walk across Africa via the Sahara desert.

We then follow them from London, down into France and along the Camino de Santiago in Spain and on south. Along the way there’s camping, trekking, drinking, eating, struggling, financial issues, changes in planning and a slew of real life problems to overcome before Africa.

Slow Journey South Back Cover

Walking from London to Africa with Paula Constant

My review of Slow Journey South

I’ll be honest and say I did not think I’d enjoy this book from the start. I took it for something else based on other reviews. I was wrong as it’s a very real book about an ordinary couple trying to take on an extraordinary task.

There’s no glossy easy tour bookings here. This is the story of a generally unfit woman who smoked and drank quite a bit. She knew little about travel other than having a big dream and powering ahead to accomplish it.

I was also waiting for a really gung-ho “I’m a woman and I can do this” style of writing to kick in. But it never did. This was a “I know that I need to get fit for this journey, stop drinking and save money but I’ll take it as it comes.” style of writing.

From starting a website, buying camping gear, fitness regimes, financial planning and journey planning half of this book takes place over the years before the journey even takes place.

However, it is the planning and the sacrifices of an everyday couple that I enjoyed the most here.

It’s a very real look at a big goal oriented journey with everything from writing for magazines to selling photos, writing online and selling their house coming into play to finance it.

It’s a very real look at an ordinary couple trying to make this journey happen before it’s even started.

Then as they both take off on their walk we get a look at what works and what doesn’t. From carrying too much gear to the struggle of making ends meet. Paula and Gary battle a cold winter, a hot summer, meet wonderful people, spend too much money and question the journey on many an occasion.

Throughout this I saw Paula change. She became a stronger person. More focused. She cherished her relationship with Gary and through their struggles rarely had a bad word to say though there was some questioning to make you wonder a little more.

In the end, there’s a very different Paula Constant writing than the one that started the book. That’s a great thing. What’s more Paula continues this change as we move into Africa at the end of her first book.

This is not a romantic, dreamy book of exotic adventures. It’s a story of a very real person and the day-to-day practical side of taking on the dream of a big travel adventure.

A book for the realist traveler

I think if you are inclined to enjoy inspirational traveling though someone else then perhaps you should veer towards a more light-hearted read.

On the other hand if you prefer to see how a real person tends to plan, make mistakes, worry and accomplish leaving a 9-5 and take on a huge quest then this is certainly for you.

I started out unsure about this book. I left wanting to get straight into the sequel. There’s only a handful of travel related books that make me feel that way. I wish there were more!


Purchase options:

If you’d like to buy this book, please consider purchasing it through my Amazon affiliate stores below: I get a tiny, tiny commission of about USD$00.14. Maybe enough to one day save up and buy a Kindle so I can keep these books with me as I travel.

Check the price of: Slow Journey South: Walking To Africa-A Year in Footsteps (Amazon USA) or (Kindle USA)
Check the price of: Slow Journey South: Walking To Africa- A Year in Footsteps (Amazon UK) or (Kindle UK)

Due to Amazon’s system I can only realistically offer the .com and .co.uk distributors. To readers outside of these two Amazon zones please try your local listings!

If you’d like to read some more travel reviews on books, movies and guides I’ve read then please visit my travel book review section.

 This is an additional travel book review based on books I’ve read throughout my journey

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13 Great responses to Slow Journey South: Walking to Africa by Paula Constant: book review

  1. Kristina says:

    I love books like this and think it sounds great. Looks like the second book is out already. Are you going to read it too?

  2. Emma says:

    Not heard of this book before. Sounds like an interesting read and story.

  3. Jan says:

    After Emilio it’s great to see a woman featured. It’s really rare I get to see a physical travel story like this about a woman taking on such a challenge! Looking forward to reading it.

  4. Keith says:

    I wonder why she split the books in two?

    • I imagine everything from publishers rules on word counts, to the sheer size of the whole story in on book. If I remember correctly Paula actually writes about writing this book and mentions it was meant to help fun part of the journey. I guess the next book was to fund the later half etc

  5. Malcom says:

    Very glad you wrote that it wasn’t an all in all girls book. Always a bit dubious about books where it’s one “woman” against the whole world, but shes a woman, and she’s doing it for all womanhood. Might give this a shot if you think it passes this test

  6. Tira says:

    Thanks for this, just the type of thing that might inspire my cousin!

  7. Nicolas says:

    Hi,this is the best blog travel I have ever seen. Really complete, photos, articles that a travel want to know.
    Thanks!

    Regards,

    Nicolas (Argentina)