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Kleines Dorf am Kongo, Bild: Fabian Plock /shutterstock

Crossing Africa – Interview with Ilona Hupe

Travel across Africa in a van. A dream that many people interested in travel will not experience in the near future due to the difficult political situation in some African countries.

Ilona Hupe, owner of the Hupe publishing house from Munich, made this adventurous tour in 1989
with his own VW bus. On 224 entertaining pages – filled with many interesting pictures – Mrs. Hupe and her partner Manfred Vachal take us on a wonderful journey to the second largest continent.

We are pleased that Ms. Hupe was available for an interview about her book.

About the book:

Crossing Africa
224 pages
Hupe, I (Publisher)
978-3-932084-92-8 (ISBN)

Ilona Hupe and Manfred Vachal met in Kenya in 1989, when they crossed the African continent independently of each other in their own VW bus.

This exciting contemporary document describes the almost parallel journeys, the greatest challenges of which were the crossing of the Sahara and the Congolese jungle. The two authors alternately tell dramatic, funny, open and self-critical stories from different perspectives and situations.

Looking back, both describe this experience, which was extreme in many respects, as the “trip of a lifetime”.

At the same time, this was the beginning of a great love and paved the way for a joint professional career, which is still very closely linked to Africa today.

For 25 years, they have been publishing travel guides for individual trips to seven African countries. This is the great adventure that started it all.


Lifetime Achievement Award:
Ilona Hupe Verlag was awarded the ITB Lifetime Award 2022 for this book on the company’s anniversary.

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Ms. Hupe, in 1989 you and your partner crossed the African continent independently of each other in a VW bus. An adventurous journey that would probably no longer be feasible today due to the political situation.

You have now published the book “Afrika Durchquerung – Sahara-Sand und die Schlammschlacht am Congo” (Africa Crossing – Sahara Sand and the Mud Battle on the Congo) about your experiences in your publishing house. An entertaining story with many fascinating pictures, as you rarely find them in classic travel guides.

What fascinates you most about Africa?
For me, there are many reasons to travel to Africa again and again, but the strongest aspects are Africa’s nature and wildlife. Nothing touches me as intensely as the wilderness of African national parks.

If you travel to Africa today. How does your trip work?
That depends a little on the destination country. In southern Africa, we have stationed our own four-wheel drive vehicles for decades, so that we can go on tour there within a few days completely self-sufficient with a roof tent, refrigerator, cooking facilities and an appropriate food and water supply. Mauritius and Gambia , on the other hand, are traveled from permanent accommodation.

South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Elephants in the South Luangwa National Park, Image: paula french / shutterstock


Which country would you recommend to someone interested in Africa if they want to spend their holidays away from the more touristically frequented destinations (South Africa, Namibia)?

First and foremost, Zambia. This large country has a peaceful and cheerful population and unique natural spaces such as the Luangwa Valley and the Bangweulu Wetlands. Alternatively, of course, Botswana with its natural highlights Okavango Delta and Kalahari.

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When you think about your own vacation planning: Which countries do you like to travel to – and where have you always wanted to go?
My heart beats for southern Africa, especially for my second home Zambia. Otherwise, I am very lucky to have traveled to around 80 countries on all continents in my life. But there are still numerous destinations that I dream of; Costa Rica, Uzbekistan, Tasmania and Armenia , for example.

Her publishing house “Ilona Hupe Verlag” was awarded the ITB LifetimeAward 2022. What other publications are planned for the near future?When travel in “our countries” will be possible again without any problems after the pandemic, thorough and extensive research on site will first be necessary in order to publish current new editions for our existing travel guides.