Chasing Africa

Fear Won’t Find Me Here — A Memoir

By (author): Lisa Duncan
ISBN 9781771605816
Softcover | Publication Date: November 1, 2022
Book Dimensions: 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
320 Pages

About the Book

Chasing Africa delicately explores the loss of identity, the gift of health and adventure, and the courage to put oneself first despite guilt, fear, and the pull of family.

As a teenager, Lisa couldn’t wait to escape suburbia and travel the world. Years later, as a healthy young climber, she was confronted with the depressing realities of her dad’s and her brother’s neurological diseases: Parkinson’s and progressive multiple sclerosis. In 1996, after watching her dad’s and brother’s bodies fail for five years, she was determined to push fear, worry, and guilt aside to reclaim her adventurous identity the only way she knew how: travel to Africa on her own.

Without Google Maps or the internet, Lisa relied on herself, fellow adventurers, and the kindness of locals while navigating unknown territory. She ascended the magical dunes of Namibia in sole-sizzling heat, paddled the Zambezi River among crocs and hippos, went hiking alone in the Chimanimani mountains, and attended a witchcraft healing ceremony on the remote island of Likoma. Lisa’s unpredictable adventures and serendipitous setbacks taught her that wonderful things happen when she lets go of guilt and fear. Despite her solitary nature, Lisa discovered that being brave doesn’t mean she has to do it alone. For over two decades, these lessons stayed with her as she grappled with her dad’s and her brother’s lengthy illnesses and witnessed the toll it took on her mom as their caregiver.

About the Author(s)

Lisa Duncan’s outdoor pursuits have taken her all over the world. After years climbing in Squamish, Skaha, Smith Rock, Red Rocks, Joshua Tree, and the Bugaboos, she got hooked on road cycling and mountain biking. Lisa and her husband have travelled to Maui, Tenerife, Portugal, and Spain to push the limits of their cycling legs, and with their mountain bikes and border collie/pit bull in tow, they drove from Vancouver to Cape Breton across the American Midwest in their VW van. Since the birth of her daughter in 2014, their family adventures have included backcountry camping, sailing along the Sunshine Coast and in Desolation Sound, and trips to Maui, Haida Gwaii, Yosemite, the Rocky Mountains, and Costa Rica. Lisa has been an educator for over two decades, teaching Japanese as a second language and visual art for most of her career. She holds a BA in art history and an MA in environmental education and communication. When she isn’t teaching, writing, or travelling, she spends her time hiking, running, and biking the trails near her home in Squamish, British Columbia.


“Lisa Duncan’s memoir Chasing Africa is as expansive as Africa itself. She dreamt of this trip, longed for these travels. And yet, in the years leading up to her departure, her father and brother fall ill with neurological diseases and her mother becomes a full time caregiver. As Lisa decides between following her dream or staying home, the reader feels her strength and cheers for her as she makes the decision to go. Through her beautifully rendered and interlaced descriptions, readers will experience the landscape and place that is Africa, and come to understand both Lisa’s curiosity about and fascination with this place, and the strength of character she possesses that drives her forward.” —Stella Harvey, author of the novels Nicolai’s Daughters, The Brink of Freedom, and Finding Callidora; founder of the Whistler Writers Festival

Chasing Africa is a beautifully constructed memoir that puts life into perspective. Skilfully interwoven with Lisa Duncan’s story of her once-in-a-lifetime African odyssey are candid personal accounts of her home life. The frank vulnerability in this writing is inspiringly thought-provoking and aligns with the subtitle of the book, “Fear Won’t Find Me Here.” —Angela deJong, author of Be Free and co-author of Polepole: A Training Guide for Kilimanjaro and Other Long-Distance Mountain Treks

“Lisa Duncan’s vivid descriptions of her travels left me feeling as though I’d been picked up and plunked into the middle of Africa. Not simply a travel memoir, Chasing Africa captures the all-too-common struggle to balance our obligations toward family with our yearning for freedom, travel and self-growth. This book is a graceful warp and weft of internal conflict and worldly adventure.” —Jan Redford, author of End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage and Motherhood

“Lisa Duncan’s story is a journey of healing and redemption, ranking high up there with the best of travelogues such as Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. Ultimately this book is about a strong, independent woman finding her home in the world, and most importantly in herself. Highest of recommendations for this extraordinarily well-written and well-told story. A must-read for lovers of travel literature!” —Kagan Goh, author of Surviving Samsara: A Memoir of Breakdowns, Breakthroughs, and Mental Illness

“Lisa Duncan writes like a painter and brings her trained eye to every landscape, whether looking down from her airplane window at the Zambezi River gleaming far below or up at the red dunes of Namibia in the early morning sun.” —Caroline Woodward, author of Light Years: Memoir of a Modern Lighthouse Keeper

“It wasn’t commonplace for a young woman to travel solo in 1996, let alone to explore the wilds of Africa. It took guts and determination for the author to go, and her positive attitude and sincere interest in experiencing Africa first-hand make her memoir an enjoyable and absorbing read. The writing is confident and energetic, and her travel stories exude youthful excitement, gratitude, and an admirable yen for long hikes, steep climbs, and cold swims. If you’ve ever wanted to travel to Africa, Chasing Africa is your second-hand, vicarious chance to go, and Lisa Duncan is a charming and upbeat travel companion.” —Wanda Baxter, The Miramichi Reader