Guilherme Canever, searching for invisible destinations

Guilherme Canever, a forestry engineer, has been fascinated by Africa since he was very young when he saw photographs from his grandfather’s trips there. Now when he is 42 years old, and he is publishing his book “Invisible Destinations – A New Adventure through Africa,” a book that tells some of his latest experiences throughout the African continent. He is a natural adventurer; he customarily shares his adventures from all over the world in printed literature and also on the Internet. He tells about his travels to 130 countries all over the world registered in his four books. 

The first book on the African continent was, “From Cape Town to Muscat – An Adventure through Africa”, published ten years ago. After that, he perceived the need to publish new work on the adventures he experienced during the past years. One cannot expect to read about conventional destinations on the pages of his book, easy routes, nor easily found in travel guidebooks routinely being sold. The term “invisible destinations” is capable of summarizing Guilherme’s verve adventures.

To ATLANTICO, he tells a little about these places, the most-noteworthy experiences and what will be his next destination.

ATLANTICO – You have visited 18 countries and traveled 20 thousand kilometers. How long did that journey take?

Guilherme Canever – The name of the book is “A New Adventure through Africa” as I published that book exactly ten years after my first trip to Africa. In 2009 I took a trip from South Africa to Djibouti that took six months. On that first trip I visited 15 countries and shared my experience in a book. I published other travel books, but I always wanted to return to Africa. At the end of my first book, I spoke about my dream to travel through the western part of the continent. But I could not take that trip as previously. At that time, I took a sabbatical year so that I could visit the destinations calmly. Now, I am married and have three kids. Thus, I wrote that second in several phases. There were six different trips from 2015 to 2018. And in each one of them, I visited two to five countries.

I think that Africa is not publicized enough. There is a very Eurocentric view in Brazil, and that is absurd.

ATLANTICO – Then it is a collection telling the story of your trips. What places on your trips caught your eye? 

Guilherme Canever – I liked especially one trip, and that was to Algeria, and I would almost not consider that as an “invisible destination” as it is quite touristy.  But even so, I thought I must include it in my book. I like to document my trips as much as possible to the African continent because I consider that everything is very undervalued and underreported. I also included Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe, as I had not gone to those countries in my previous journeys… 

ATLANTICO – The title “Invisible Destinations,” what is it based on?

Guilherme Canever – I think that Africa is not publicized enough. There is a very Eurocentric view in Brazil, and that is absurd. Although we were colonized by Portuguese and diverse other European nations, African influence in Brazil is gigantic, and that is even forgotten in history books. I named them as invisible destinations mainly regarding the subject of tourism. Many of these countries I have gone to are visited by fewer than 50 thousand tourists each year. So, there are very few tourists visit there. It is an invisible Africa for the tourist industry that has grown absurdly. Thus, I did not just want to satisfy my curiosity by visiting them, but I wanted to publicize what I saw and what I learned from going there.

+ “A trip through inexistent countries” and “From Istanbul to New Delhi: An adventure through the Silk Route” are other books written by Guilherme.

ATLANTICO – Basically you are an adventurer and not just a typical tourist. 

Guilherme Canever – I go somewhere on a trip so I can emphasize learning and interact with the location. So, my trips diverge from traditional tourism. In some of these countries, it is possible to go on more typical tourism outings, but I ended up choosing not to do that. So then, I start my adventure. In some cases, it is difficult to look for the attractions in each country. You need to discover them. I, for example, stayed with people who I had met during my travels and thereby I visited some different places, and that facilitated my discoveries.

ATLANTICO – So, you are creating tour guidebooks for other people to follow. What other places have you discovered distinct from other guidebooks? 

Guilherme Canever – For example, they told me that in Burkina-Faso, there was nothing interesting to see. And I considered it to be a fantastic country!  The city of Tiebele, the buildings are completely painted in unique patterns and very interesting to see. There is the mosque in Bobo-Dioulasso. There are other mosques in Bani, as well as within the Sahel, the region of Banfora, the mountain peaks of Sindou. This country features diverse kinds of people, languages, and different customs. I discovered the city of Agadez, in Niger. You are right there beside the Tuareg nomadic people, and you can see them arriving… it is incredible. There is also the busy market place on Monday, inDjenné, in Mali…

+ In 2015, Guilherme traveled through 16 countries unrecognized by the UN, such as South Ossetia, Transnistria, Somaliland, Abkhazia, and Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Book Invisible Destinations – A New Adventure Trough the Africa is available in Portuguese on Amazon.

ATLANTICO – What do people need to know about contemporary Africa? 

Guilherme Canever – Africa is still considered as impoverished. But, in my first book, I wrote about surprising places, such as Addis-Abeba and Nairobi. Ethiopia and Kenya have been growing since 2009. Acra and Dakkar are also big cities where many things are happening. But this is not publicized very much, and it remains stereotyped. Here in Brazil, we speak about “Africa” and we neglect to learn about the peculiarity of each place. All this happens due to unfamiliarity. There is so much talk related to safety and security issues, due to some localized wars. I went to 35 countries. There are some reports in places where there are conflicts, just like Brazil. The infrastructure outside of capital cities also ends up making the tourists’ experience less enjoyable frequently. But, it is the same in Brazil, as it is necessary to pay high prices for quality services. This subject of cost also ends up interfering with our enjoyment. 

The infrastructure outside of capital cities also ends up making the tourists’ experience less enjoyable frequently

ATLANTICO – Where will you go on your next journeys? What will it be like now that you have children? Will you take them along? 

Guilherme Canever – Our entire family will go to Cape Verde for the New Year’s Eve celebration. It will be their first trip to the African continent. My son is already four years old, and my daughter will be nine months old by the time we travel.

ATLANTICO – You are enthralled by Africa. How did that fascination come about?

Guilherme Canever – My grandfather was a researcher and a university professor who took many trips to Africa in the 1960s and ’70s. I mentioned him in my two books. He was a geologist, and then he studied the entire coastal region of western Africa for petroleum prospection, dune movement, and continental drift. Those trips took place before I was born. But I remember when I was very young he showed some slides from those trips. He spoke very passionately and showed all the curiosities that took place during the course of his surveying studies. That made a big impression on me. So, I got to learn about Africa very early in my life.