Melissa Shales

We were lucky to have Melissa Shales as a Guest at Chanters Lodge recently, and there’s the picture of us together in the garden at the lodge.

Melissa’s an award-winning travel writer, editor and photographer, and has worked with many of the world’s best-known guidebook publishers, including Michelin, Fodors, the AA, Frommers, Dorling Kindersley, Berlitz and Insight Guides, winning three best guidebook awards! In addition to her freelance work, Melissa’s a director of l & L Media, a contract publishing company producing high quality books, magazines and newsletters for consumers and the trade. She’s currently Chairman of the British Guild of Travel Writers.

Melissa’s on a Steel Safari through Africa researching the history of the Cape to Cairo rail routes, though her quest to travel from Lusaka to Livingstone by rail failed – that service has deteriorated ever since, and perhaps because, my shoes were stolen in the night in about May 1998, when Chanters Lodge was a start-up and we frequently used the service!

Ms Shales writes “with the British firmly ensconced at either end of the African continent, Cecil Rhodes, great visionary or megalomaniac, depending on your point of view, dreamed of colouring the map of Africa red and of running a railway line the length of the continent, through British territory the whole way – from Cairo to Cape Town. He didn’t quite succeed, although he annexed half of Africa in the attempt, but with the creation of the Tazara railway in the 1970s, the route was almost completed. The story however is not that simple…”

“The main route south from Cairo to Cape Town leads through Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Each of the main lines along the route was built by different people, at a different time and for a different purpose. Together, these lines were an extraordinary achievement for the builders, but also represent a staggering feat of social engineering that opened up a continent to the modern world.”

We wish Melissa all the best with her project and thank her for choosing Chanters Lodge.