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Ubuntu: One Woman's Motorcycle Odyssey Across Africa

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  313 ratings  ·  33 reviews
As you travel Africa, you will find the way of ubuntu – the universal bond that connects all of humanity as one.

At the age of twenty-eight, while sitting in a friend’s backyard in the remote mining township of Jabiru, Heather Ellis has a light-bulb moment: she is going to ride a motorcycle across Africa. The idea just feels right – no matter that she’s never done any long-
Kindle Edition, 392 pages
Published April 18th 2016 by Nero
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4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  313 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Laura Scribner
Jun 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
What a disappointing book. I’m not sure how the author managed to make what sounds like (and I’m sure was) such an exciting trip seem so... dull, uneventful, boring.... There was barely a speck of emotion to this book, and what little there was was directly told to us. Ie: “I felt concern.”

It seemed more like a running list of what happened with small, insignificant, emotionless conversations added to spice things up. Definitely would not suggest.
Heather Ellis's memoir of her 15 months motorcycle (mostly solo) ride across Africa in the late 1990s makes Cheryl Stray's walk in the wilderness look very pedestrian. But where Stray went looking for the meaning of life and had an epiphany or two, Ellis was on an adventure. And an adventure she had. travelling through countries at war, corrupt officials, pot-holed and sand-ridden roads, heat, rain, mud, hunger, thirst and crashes.
She did find that most people are good people, there was always s
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
I had high expectations and was disappointed and frustrated by this book. Not enough detail about the lives of the African people she met and too much repetition about the universe and fate working out etc. Such a treasure trove of material that just wasn’t explored.
Bernadette Weston
Jun 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
I must begin by saying I am not a devotee to the travelogue. This book may well be grand. A disappointment to me personally. The most awe inspiring destinations were visited without a moments’ description. I never felt I was along for the adventure.
Penny Thurston
Jun 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-for-me
I just couldn't get into this book. Part I believe is the writing. I did not care for and will not finish it.
Bülent Esin
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is an incredible achievement that a young and beautiful woman traveled about twenty-five years ago in Africa with a motorcycle and almost no technological possibilities on her own. Heather Ellis, while sharing this adventure with us, created a wonderful novel using a simple and fluent language.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
While I thought the journey was interesting, there was something off putting about this book. I don’t know if it was the writing, but this just wasn’t the book for me.
Brenda Kittelty
Great story of an epic journey, but I couldn't get past how this was a kind of holier-than-thou African version of Eat, Pray, Love. Clearly I need to look inside myself to understand why I was so intensely irritated by this woman.
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. Definitely recommended

An incredible journey and a mind blowing adventure. A proof of Africa's outstanding humanity. It's also quite a fun read.
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lee Belbin
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book. As you will see from my reads, I grab any adventure travel book and boy, I have reads some unbelievable ones. Walking around Australia (With Every Step) was a hard act to follow but Heather's ride across Africa was even more epic on many dimensions. I cannot imagine myself doing it (and I have ridden a motorbike for 50 years), let alone a 30 year old woman. Truly awesome. I valued Heather's honestly shared feelings along the journey. My neck almost got sore from shaking my head ...more
Cheryl Boigegrain
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I went to Africa recently and I was excited to read this book. I enjoyed the descriptions of the
land and people but I became tired of worrying about her. Her behavior was very careless.
Who travels alone in dangerous areas and gets drunk and smokes weed around people that
she knows might take advantage of her? Also, who thinks having malaria several times
in a year is ok? She admitted to not taking the required meds like she should.
I was upset most of the time while reading because of her lack of
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australia
I really enjoyed this book and I am waiting for the next one. I love travel journeys written female travelers. Isabella Birds books are amongst my favourites. It is great to read about what amazing things women can achieve and I also about how amazing Africa is. I loved the picture that Heather painted about Africa. In this book Africa is the place to be, in total contrast what the news make people believe.
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stunning journey . Thanks for writing this.

More then just a trip. Well written and informative. Lots of adventure and empathy for others in the world . Seeing Africa through the authors eyes gives you a point of view you may not expect because of the news out of Africa now and twenty years ago. The insightful look at her life and struggles is inspiring. The "gut feelings" are worth paying attention to.

Venetia Green
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a lovely book - it makes me want to dream big and go on a wild adventure, just like the author. Heather Ellis rode a motorbike from South Africa to the eastern Sahara, and discovered 'ubuntu' - the human generosity and interconnectedness - along the way. This book relates her travels in a simple, engaging manner and is very easy to read.
Richard Beamish
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Good Read

Good read whether your a cyclist or not
Heather does a great job of integrating her trials, difficulties, with an indomitable spirit.
Great descriptions of the people she meets. In addition, one should read this as an approach to life with all its situations.....both bad and good.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Opowieść o dzikiej Afryce i dzikości kobiecego serca. To książka o tym, że każda z nas ma prawo popełniać błędy a jednocześnie każda z nas ma obowiązek się na nich uczyć. Miejscami niestety nudna, ale i tak myślę, że warto wyruszyć w tę podróż razem z autorką.

Jan 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I honestly thought I would enjoy this book, but I couldn't even finish it. Emotionless yet full of purple prose, I expected the pacing to pick up but it never did. In the small pile of books I will never finish.
Ruth Forbes
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely could not put it down. I'm an old world traveller and Heather's adventure was awesome.
Melissa Crain
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Incredible journey

What an amazing journey Heather undertook. Her bravery in travelling Africa is inspiring. What an enjoyable book, I could hardly put it down.
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Heather takes you on one hell of a journey. Part of me wishes I had the guts to do what she did, but I know I'd never be able to take the kind of journey that she travelled.
Ann Akova
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This isn’t really about a motorcycle ride across Africa. For me it's about a small, stubborn woman on a bike deemed too big for her, accomplishing all she put her mind to by trusting her instincts, her faith in humanity and fate itself. The deep sense of spirituality in this book extends to everyone and everything around Heather, yet she isn’t religious (Look up the meaning of ‘UBUNTU’ to get an insight into what this story might mean to you). I was hooked immediately, and found my reading slowe ...more
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was initially attracted to this book by the motorcycle connection but soon found there was a lot more to Heather's story. This is a journal of a great adventure of almost 25 years ago of a young woman, somewhat naively perhaps, trying to satisfy an inner restlessness. Heather's writing took me from the outback of Australia to the vastness of Africa, I truly felt like I was there on the entire 42,000 kilometre journey. Soaring temperatures, isolation, searching for food and water, desperation a ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amongst the many motorcycle traveller's books I have been reading over the years -- of which regrettably only a few have really inspired me, in fact - Ubuntu is an outstanding book to me. Having travelled Southern Africa by motorbike myself for many months, it has been very exciting to read about the universe of Heather's travelling experience. She has not only achieved to put on paper her story (many have the desire but only a few actually do it!) but managed to carve out in a well-written styl ...more
Wendy Jackson
The book describes a fascinating journey along a very challenging route: more often than not, the author picked the road less traveled. Her descriptions of the interactions she had with locals were also well-written - her respect and interest in the people are clear. However, the 'ubuntu' theme - although relevant - felt pushed at times. At times, I felt the bar was quite low - i.e., "I did not die, therefore it was ubuntu at work!". Nonetheless, and as someone who spent a few years living in di ...more
Liz Keily
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A very powerful story echoing so many travellers experiences of the world. Heather's journey becomes more than just an exploration of Africa by motorcycle, but a spiritual journey into her own heart.
Heather wrote the first draft of this story 25 years ago, but she didn't have the courage to share it until now. The well crafted story is so much more poignant because Heather has had the time to reflect and make sense of this journey that she embarked upon in her late 20s.
The final pages of the b
Ted Hessler
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book but fades a bit

Started out a great adventure book but faded just a bit at the end? This woman showed great nerve and perseverance. I wonder how tough a similar trip in 2017 would be.
A story of a dream that became fact, of courage, of strength, of compassion, of friendship and of adventure. A beautiful, emotional, uplifting and brave memoir of Heather's travels through Africa. I couldn't put it down.
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Telling one women's victory over a world so different to her own. Emotional and charged with the real day to day experience of doing the near impossible. This true record of an enormous adventure. I really enjoyed it and was in fact sorry to finish it.
Kylie Young
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Wow! I had tears in my eyes finishing this book. It's empowering and spiritual. My new favourite book. Amazingly beautiful adventure story. Thank you for taking me on a ride through Africa with you.
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Ubuntu: One Woman’s Motorcycle Odyssey Across Africa is my first book (Black Inc. 2016). Ubuntu is a travel memoir based on my solo motorcycle journey through Africa from 1993 to 1994 over 15 months and 19 countries riding 42,000 kilometres. It is as much about Africa’s most remote, beautiful and dangerous places as it is about having the courage to do it alone. It is about a life-changing adventu ...more