Inspirational Women Travellers We Met in Africa

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Imagine stepping into a world where the road less travelled isn’t just a choice but a calling. Meet the women adventurers we’ve met who redefine what it means to explore.

With International Women’s Day just around the corner, I’m excited to share stories of inspirational female adventurers in Africa we’ve met on our travels.

These aren’t just any tales; they’re about breaking barriers in overlanding adventures traditionally dominated by men and showcasing the incredible resilience and spirit of women adventurers.

Picture this: vast African landscapes, the kind of places where your phone’s not going to save you. Now, throw in a few fearless women who’ve turned these wild spaces into their playgrounds. That’s what I want to chat about today.

These amazing ladies – Anna, Christine, and Lilli – all over 50 – didn’t just take on some of the most rugged terrains out there; they made these journeys their own, each in her unique way.

They’ve inspired us to look at travel differently, to see it as more than just ticking off destinations but as a way to connect, to challenge ourselves, and to embrace the sheer joy of discovery.

So, stick around whether you’re here for inspiration for your next big adventure or love a good story about extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.

These women’s journeys remind us that the wild calls to all of us, no matter who you are.

Let’s dive in and celebrate the spirit of adventure and the women who show us how it’s done.

Lilli and Latrs and Shelley stood by an orange toyota
Lilli and us sharing safari stories in Botswana

The Shift in Overlanding

You know, there’s been this old-school thought that overlanding was mostly a guys’ game.

But, let me tell you, the adventures we’ve had and the incredible people we’ve met along the way paint a whole different picture. The world of overlanding has shifted, becoming this beautifully diverse and welcoming community.

Take Lilli, for instance – Lilli-to-go, as she’s known on instagram. Here she is, cruising through Africa in her vintage orange Toyota Land Cruiser and in her late 60s!

With a following of 6.9k on Instagram, it’s clear she’s striking a chord with a lot of folks. And it’s not just about where she’s been, but how she’s inspiring people of all ages to think, “Yeah, I can do that too.”

Then there’s Anna Ruegg, pedalling her way from Cape Town to Rwanda, and Christine Aquilina – MyBeastAndI – who’s been tackling solo journeys in her 4×4, with roof top tent, exploring all corners of the globe.

These ladies are out there, not just travelling but trailblazing, showing that adventure really doesn’t care how old you are or whether you’re a man or a woman.

These shifts aren’t just happening; they’re being driven by adventurers like Anna, Christine, and Lilli.

Essential Gear for Your Africa Adventures

Thinking of taking a trip to Africa? Here’s some of the essentials we use:


🧣 Cooling towels: Vital for staying cool in the intense desert heat.
🔦 Safari spotlight/torch and headlamp: Navigate safely during early mornings or late evenings.
👒 Safari hat: Essential for sun protection while exploring.
🥤 Water-To-Go and Lifestraw Go filter bottle: Ensure access to safe drinking water.
🔋 Portable power bank: Keep your devices charged on your adventure.

👕 Men’s Safari Shirt and Women’s Safari Shirt Choose lightweight and breathable fabric for comfort.
👖 Men’s convertible pants and women’s convertible safari pants: Stay adaptable to changing temperatures.
👀Nikon 10 x 42 Binoculars: Get up close with distant landscapes and wildlife.

📷 Camera Gear: Don’t miss capturing the stunning dunes and desert landscapes.
🎒 Backpack: Carry all your essentials for a day trip comfortably.

For more detailed information on what to pack for a safari adventure, check out our Comprehensive Safari Accessories Guide.

Three Inspiring Women

Alright, let’s dive into the heart of our adventure tales.

We’ve met some pretty incredible folks on the road, but three women, in particular, have stories that stand apart.

Anna, Christine, and Lilli have not just travelled—they’ve each carved their own paths in ways that’ll surprise and inspire you.

So, let’s roll into their world, where every turn is a story and every story, a lesson in courage and curiosity.

Anna’s Pedal-Powered Journey

Shelley and Anna stood in camp by Annas bike and you can see her small green tent in the background
Anna and me at Planet Baobab Campsite in Botswana

So, let me tell you about Anna first.

Picture this: a woman and her bike against the backdrop of Africa’s breathtaking landscapes. But Anna wasn’t just taking a leisurely ride through the park. She was on a mission, cycling from Cape Town to Rwanda!

Anna in Rwanda with her bike parked by a fence and green plants along the road
Anna in Rwanda – the final leg of her Cape Town to Rwanda bike ride ©Anna Ruegg

We met Anna while we were camping in Botswana, her headband as vibrant as the African stories she could tell.

She laughed about a recent encounter with elephants on the road, highlighting her journey’s unexpected and sometimes scary aspects.

Elephant crossing the main road in Botswana
In Botswana – elephants cross the main freeway! ©Lifejourney4two

Can you imagine?

171 days on two wheels through some of the most stunning yet challenging terrains out there. 

What struck me about Anna wasn’t just her stamina or her bravery (though, honestly, both are pretty out of this world). It was her philosophy that the true joy of travel comes from the people you meet along the way.

She believed;

The most fun in travel is meeting people.”

Anna Ruegg
Anna with a bicycle helpmet on beside a smiling dark skinned woman wiuth a pink headscarf, lon earings and several teeth missing
Anna’s enjoyment of travel is the people she meets along the way ©AnnaRuegg

This outlook on travel intrigued me.

For us, the allure of Africa has always been its wildlife, the thrill of spotting a lion in the wild or watching a herd of elephants at a watering hole.

The idea that someone could cycle through these lands with a focus not so much on the animals but on the people she meets was both surprising and deeply inspiring.

This realisation was an eye-opener for us, prompting the question: What truly draws you to travel?

Anna-by-a-map-of-Africa-hanging from a tree
Anna in Senegal ©Anna Ruegg

It’s a vivid reminder that we all travel for different reasons and in different ways. There are no right or wrong paths—just the road you choose to take. Anna’s choice, while different from ours, is one we hold in the highest regard.

Anna says, “When you travel by bike, you like it or hate it, but if you like it, you become an addict … you want more and more.”

Anna’s adventures didn’t stop there; she recently completed a solo trip from the Camino Santiago in Spain to Senegal, West Africa.  So far, she’s cycled across 46 countries, a total of 36,000 km.

Anna's journeys so far. drawn on a world map in red pen
Anna’s journeys so far…

Her goal? To cycle through 100 countries.

Anna’s ability to dive into new experiences and embrace every part of the journey is truly remarkable. It leaves us eagerly waiting to see where her adventurous spirit will take her next.

Follow Anna on Instagram here and Polar Steps here.

Learning from Christine

Lars, Shelley and Christine sat at a coffee shop
Lars, me and Christine meeting up over coffee in South Africa

Next up is Christine, or as she’s known on social media, MyBeastAndI.

Christine, 64, hailing from Malta has had a life filled with travel. However, it wasn’t until age 59 that she embarked on her overlanding saga.

With no prior experience driving a 4×4 or camping, she boldly hired an equipped 4×4 with a rooftop tent, driving from Cape Town to Namibia.

This gutsy move began her adventures across 10 countries in Southern and Eastern Africa, inspired by no other than Lilli – another fearless nomad who’s story we delve into below.

Christine returned to Africa, bought her ‘Beast’ and hasn’t looked back.

a 4x4 with roof top tent on sand at night
Christine’s beloved Beast ©Christine Aquilina

Christine was the first female solo traveller we met in Africa, and let me tell you, her energy was infectious. With her sun-kissed smile, Christine greeted us at a cafe in Hoedspruit, South Africa, near Klaserie Private Reserve and Kruger National Park. 

Over coffee, Christine shared not just her invaluable advice on preparing for the bush in Southern Africa, emphasizing the importance of carrying emergency meds for malaria but also her golden nuggets of wisdom for overland travellers.

From the significance of professional 4×4 training to the critical role of trusting your gut and asking locals for advice for safe navigation, her stories were a treasure trove of practical tips.

Christine-at-Baines-Baobabs stood on the sidestep of her 4x4 with a baobab tree in the background
Christine and her ‘Beast’ at Baines Baobabs in Botswana ©Christine Aquilina

Christine’s recommendation that we use Polar Steps, also revolutionised how we track our travels offline, offering us a way to document our journey thoughtfully.

Her knack for bargaining with campsite owners for fair value, a practical skill that she’s honed over her travels, added a new dimension to our travel toolkit.

It underscored the importance of self-advocacy on the road, a lesson that resonates with her broader message to fellow female adventurers.

I would like to inspire females of all ages to take hold of their lives and have the freedom to live their lives as they wish and dream,’

Christine Aquilina ( GuideMeMalta.com)

This philosophy, advocating for both independence and boldness in exploration, mirrors the essence of her advice to us.

Got any travel hacks of your own? We’re always looking for new tips to share with our community.

Christines-Car-in-daylight parked up with roof top tent up and boot down
Christine’s set up in her 4×4 ©Christine Aquilina

Christine is currently adventuring through Morocco, and every update from her is a reminder that age is just a number when it comes to exploring the world.

Unsurprisingly, Christine’s pholosophy is:

Go out and live your life, tomorrow is too late.’

An idea that resonates deeply with our own spirit of adventure, reminding us to seize the day and cherish the beauty of the now.

 Follow Christine on her journey on Facebook here and Polar Steps here.

Lilli’s Ageless Adventure

Lilli and us full length photo by her Toyota
Lilli is such an inspiration ©Lifejourney4two

And then there’s Lilli – oh, Lilli.

Imagine pulling into a campsite and seeing this vibrant lady next to you, with her iconic 30-year-old orange Toyota Land Cruiser. That’s how we met Lilli, or as the internet knows her, Lilli-to-go.

Following her on social media was one thing, but listening to her fascinating stories by the campfire? That’s the kind of stuff you remember for a lifetime.

Lilli’s story of her initial hesitance about solo travel and her resolve to follow her dreams despite adversities like car troubles was incredibly inspiring.

Her determination showed us that age and challenges are but minor obstacles on the path to fulfilling one’s dreams.

an orange Toyota driving on a dirt road
Lilli’s ‘Toyo’ – as she affectionately calls her orange Toyota taken at Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe ©️ Chris Collyer Wildlife Photography

Think about a challenge you’re facing. Could embracing Lilli’s ‘somehow, someway’ attitude help you overcome it?

Lilli’s embrace of slow travel and making genuine connections has encouraged us to adopt a similar mindset, reminding us that the journey is as significant as the destination

Lilli’s been on the road for over 800+ days, exploring Africa with a wisdom and zest that puts most of us to shame. Her passion and love of Africa’s wildlife formed an immediate connection with us.

Her story is a beautiful reminder that adventure is accessible to all, regardless of age or the latest gear.

Lilli with long grey/blonde hair sat holding a cup of coffee on a chair with a red cushion and her orange toyota in the background
Lilli in Chimoio Mozambique ©Lilli-to-go.com

Her journey can be followed on:

Planning a Trip to Africa?

Redefining the Road Less Travelled

You know, there used to be this old cliché that overlanding was mostly a guy’s game. But let me tell you, the times are a-changing.

Meeting Anna, Christine, and Lilli was like a breath of fresh air—proof that the wild, untamed paths of adventure are for everyone.

Seeing their bravery, how they tackle every bump and curve on their journeys with such grace and grit, really got us thinking. It smashed that outdated idea of overlanding being just for the rugged and tough.

These women, with their unyielding perseverance and fiery passion, have not only inspired us to push our own boundaries but also to dream a bit (or a lot) bigger.

And it’s a powerful nudge, reminding us that the adventure community is as wonderfully diverse as the landscapes we explore.

So, I’m curious – have you ever bumped into a stereotype on your travels? How did you flip it on its head?

Let’s swap tales and celebrate the incredible variety of adventurers out there. Because, honestly, it’s the different perspectives and stories that make this whole exploring the world so rich and vibrant.

Women travellers in Africa pinterest pin
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Inspirational Women Over 50 Travelling Africa … That’s a Wrap

And just like that, we’re at the end of our journey through the stories of these incredible women. But this doesn’t have to be the end of the conversation.

What about you?

Ever stumbled upon someone during your travels who opened your eyes to a whole new world? Or maybe you’ve tackled a challenge you thought was way beyond your reach?

These stories are a testament to the fact that adventure doesn’t recognize age or gender – it’s all about the heart and the hunger to explore.

Now it’s your turn. We’d love to hear your tales of adventure, the unexpected heroes you’ve met, or the mountains (literal or metaphorical) you’ve climbed.

Drop your stories in the comments below and let’s keep the spirit of adventure alive together. Because, as we’ve seen, it’s never, ever too late to pursue those wild dreams.

Share your stories and inspirations in the comments below. 👇

PLANNING YOUR TRAVELS?

These are the travel resources we recommend and use when planning our trips.

For a more thorough list visit our Travel Resources page here.

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Shelley

Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

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