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Do we over-egg our vehicles for Trans-Africa trips?


New Member
Mar 5, 2010
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I say this based on the recent exploits of the Oranje Trophy Convoy. A group of 22 vehicles with Netherlands supporters took 10 weeks to make the trip from Amsterdam to Cape town for the World Cup.
Some of the vehicles were pretty simple - the idea of doing the trip in a VW Beetle are interesting!!
I read a book about 2 brothers from the Midlands who drove some shitty old £80 Sierra to Vladivostock, very pretty interesting. Can't for the life of me remember the title but I've still got the book at home.
Also found a website a few days ago (that I now can't find) where some guys drove a rubbishy old £105 Renault eBay Edition all around West Africa.

Oh and another book I've break is 'My Mercedes is not for sale' about a Dutch guy who drove is old Mercedes W123 all over Africa, very interesting.

In reality I'm sure most cars would make most journeys nowadays but I prefer doing any long distance travel in a reliable capable vehicle. I've never done (apart from a trip to Nordkapp) a long drive/adventure in a 4x4. Most of my journeys are to Eastern/Southern Europe and more often than not it's been in a German saloon car numerous MB S-class, Audi A8, etc. Never once given me any trouble, I wonder if the same could be said if I had been driving a Citroen C5? I'm sure the French car would have made the same journey but probably would have given more trouble.
Hello ToAfrica,

I share your thoughts entirly.
From many threads I read, I tend to feel many overlanders just take too much of most things.
Be it additional kit for recovery, spares, or vehicle consumables.
Any way, it all adds up the weight, and then we find we need 'beefed up suspension'
Just my thoughts, that lighter is better.

If you can have a look at how Tom Sheppard sets up his truck, simplicity personified. He has developed his systems over 40 years of desert exploration
Merc G Wagon commercial spec, 4 jerry cans behind the 2 seats, plastic boxes behind them, fold down kitchen on the back door and a camp bed.
No roof rack, no draw units, no fridge.
I guess this is OK when you are on your own, might need to take a bit more if you are traveling with your wife :lol:
I like to travel as light as possible, but it does depend on how much time you have to travel, I'm always trying to fit in as much as I can into 4 weeks, so carrying lots of food and water saves the time and distance of finding places to buy.

This is a good site of what you can do without spending loads of money on gear.
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Andy is that you? We used to know a "to Africa" only he disappeared! Good to have you back if it is and if it isn't, what have you done with him? Are you still in that blue 90?


Hi there Chris, it sure is - I did sort of fall off the planet for a bit - I have a 10 month old baby now and she is quite time-consuming!! :)
I still have the blue 90, not done anything to it except to put the seats back in and take the storage system out. I need to get the storage system cut short so the back seats can stay in.

James - I am one of those persons that took a banger to West Africa - it was in 2007 on the Plymouth-Bamako charity rally. It was good fun, but to take 3 weeks to get from the UK to Bamako (Mali) is hard work - no real time for sightseeing. If you are bored here is our website of the trip - .

Our plan of a trans-africa may be reshaped, and we are looking to possibly buy a cruiser in SA, do a loop from SA up in central Africa via East coast, and the come back down the West, do it in about 6 months, and then flog the cruiser again. Lose plan but you have to aim for something don't you...
my mate (yes also from Holland) and his sister drove this across Africa.. in one of them charity rallies..





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Hi Guys!

If you want anything done or taken across this planet, without any how, or even with what?,... .... just ask a Dutchman! You are still talking about it and they have already packed and are ready to go!.... and out the door they go!
You don't need a specialized vehicle to cross Africa,..... Make sure that whatever you drive is mechanically sound and always pack light. The overland vehicles are basically for the guys that wants to do more extreme off roading,
tougher challenges and different routes thats all. Know a Dutchman that took his wife on a trip thru the' whole' of Europe for months on end, winter, summer and so on with only 2 bags and a Renault 5 1981 and they did it with ease! Another Dutchman that went thru Africa, from Amsterdam all the way down to Kenya with a 1938 Austin 12/6. No 'lift kits' or' winches' to fit those and the trips was a great success! Done several trips myself and lived in most parts of the lower part of Africa (From the Rep of the Congo all the way to Cape Town, SA) for many years. Africa is hard on the vehicles and their owners that is a fact, but you can find alternative routes that will provide you with
breath taking views and will deliver you an unforgetfull experience! If you are serious to do the harder parts there is only one vehicle that will take you thru her terrains and with the greatest ease deliver you to
your destination and even back home..... Toyota Land Cruiser..... it is and always has been ....."King in Africa" If you are very serious to run the "African Mile" I would advise you to give your truck serious 'muscle', high lift kits,
winches, bigger tyres, lots of water and fuel to carry and so on... for I have seen that her toughest terrains will brake about anything down.

For the guys that has done the "African Mile" will tell you...... 'We carry scars and our cruisers carry scars for she (Africa) has no mercy!' That's why when you drive thru Africa you may pass ones that carries the sign saying...
"Scars are Tattoo's with better stories"..... they have done what every overlander has ever dreamt about!

Enjoy!!! ;) ;) ;)

African Drifter
jeezzzz that post just made me soo proud to be Dutch for the first time.... hahahahahahaha
Andy, you weren't up near Berwick on Tweed today were you? Could have sworn it was your blue 90 with white 8 spokes on coming the other way!

Hi Chris,

It wasn't me, I don't even know where Berwick is :?

Sorry I missed the last meeting by the way - I assume fun was had by all - did Blue pick up any more injuries?
did Blue pick up any more injuries?

Better ask Tony. Have a look at the recent thread on repairing the cv / driveshaft. I don't own Lil Blue any more.

Another Plymouth Banjuler here, via the Atlantic Route to the Gambia

First year in this Volvo 240, it was superb & we only got stuck once, in the campsite in Senegal


2nd year in this Mercedes 500 SEL !! it got stuck everywhere but made it there fine, the cruise control stopped working though!

I'm thinking of a winter trip along the same lines in my 80 but will definately be keeping it as simple as possible.


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We have a philosophy that if we don't use something on a trip, we leave it behind next time.

We do at least a 1 week trip, every 3 months.

I have just bought a 1HDFTE Troopie and will be kitting it out, totally.

The aim is to be able to set up camp in 5min and break camp in 10min. Then you have an effective setup.
Keeping it light has to be the way forward, I am learning from my mistakes...
Marius De Kock said:
I found the following article in the June 2010 publication of SA 4x4 magazine very informative. Caron and I will be following guidelines in this article for our year long trip in Africa. 4x4 March 2010 Everything but the kitchen sink.pdf

Thanks for reading.


Interesting article, but not sure I agree with everything. I used a roof tent for 18 months in Africa and never found anywhere too windy to use it. Also he says a ground tent is just as quick to put up. Maybe some brands are, but I doubt it for the majority. And with a ground tent you've still got to unpack your bedding whereas it's ready and waiting in your roof tent. A big advantage with a roof tent is when it's torrential rain and the campsite floods you're out of the way. I really think it's worth getting a professionally made awning too. I'm sure if the author of the article is camping somewhere he feels it's too windy for a roof tent then his tarp tied onto the roofrack is never going to last. And using jerry cans as seats? ok for an emergency if you have extra guests around the campfire, but after a hard day driving I prefer a comfy camping chair. His comments about suspension lifts I agree with though. Running standard hight on an overland trip isn't going to stop you reaching everywhere you want to go.
I agree with some things on there but not all. Having slightly oversize 285 tyres and a 50mm lift on an 80 would not cause any of the issues he described, certainly no broken halfshafts regardless of tyre type... What I would recommend is you get quality HD suspension, not a cheap Ironman B coil set up.

Winch, well not essential but if you have the right ground anchor all should be capable in self recovery in all conditions, but I do agree that all the kit needed to accompany a winch weighs a huge amount so you could go without one.

Chairs are extremely light so I cant see why you would want not take one and who needs a table? Thats what the tailgate is for...

If I were to do another big trip I would take fewer spare parts and tools and I would ensure I have some sort of packing system, not draws but boxes etc. Makes things much easier. I would also change the suspension for OME HD coils and shocks. We did well to keep the weight down on our trip last year (apart from the winch, but at least if was used once) but when you start to help bikers out by taking some of their gear so they can limp halfway across a country and give backpackers lifts then weight becomes an issue.