The AFRICA 4X4 FUNDI: Guide to buying, selling, hiring a 4x4 in Africa.
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Kenya Warning: Revision of PIN numbers/Alien registration August 2011
24.10.2011 : Since the Immigration Act was revised in August 2011, one now requires an Alien Registration to acquire a PIN. One can only acquire Alien Registration once you have been in the country for 90 days (and then Alien Registration will inevitably take at least a week or two if not considerably more).
I know this because a contact tried to transfer the ownership of a new car (bought last week in Nairobi) on Friday. I am yet to work out how, if it is possible, to get round this. If you have any suggestions they would be very gratefully received. I shall let you know if I discover a solution.
Zimbabwe Warning: Stricter vehicle regulations in Zimbabwe from December 2010
According to a Statutory Instrument published in the Zimbabwe Government Gazette recently, no person shall drive a vehicle in Zimbabwe unless it is considered roadworthy, equipped with a fire extinguisher, 2 x red warning triangles, a serviceable spare wheel, an efficient jack and a wheel spanner capable of undoing the vehicle’s wheel nuts.
Here are some details from the published guidelines:
Breakdown Triangles: Two reflective breakdown triangles per vehicle and with serial numbers, name of manufacturer and year of manufacture and conforming to Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) standards will be mandatory. A pair is also required for each trailer. These must be placed one in front and one at the rear of a vehicle (30 to 50m) when it is stationery on any road at a place not designated for stopping.
Fire Extinguishers: All vehicles to carry an appropriate and SAZ approved fire extinguisher in the CAB of the vehicle – Light vehicles (750g) and heavy vehicles (1,5kg). Every fire extinguisher shall be of a type and make approved by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe, which approval shall be visibly marked on the fire extinguisher, and secured at an easily accessible and visible position within the cab of such vehicle.”
Reflectors: White reflectors in front, red reflectors at the rear.
Motorists should be aware that police may be checking for these items after the 1st December 2010 which is when the regulations come into force.
However, the new regulations are controversial particularly because of the very specific requirements with regard to serial numbers, SAZ stamps etc. Representatives of the motor industry in Zimbabwe are currently seeking clarification from the authorities. They have also expressed concern that supply of such items as red triangles and fire extinguishers will be unable to keep up with the demand required before the due deadline date.
I've tried to detail some of the most important paperwork here but it's not really organised yet, so you'll just have to scroll through cherry
picking what you fancy:
1) CARNET (Carnet de Passages et Douane):
Is an internationally recognized Customs document entitling the holder to temporarily import a vehicle, duty free into countries which normally require a deposit against import charges. The Carnet has up to 25 pages and needs to be stamped on entry and exit. You can go into a country more than once but you need to go through the stamping procedure again. The RAC or AA are responsible for the Carnet so you need to pay them or provide security via either a bank guarantee, an insurance indemnity with RL Davison or a cash deposit. The indemnity is 10% of the Carnet. 50% is refundable on safe completion of document. It takes minimum 1 week to issue. The cost depends on where you are going and rates of custom duty and tax in each country. Custom rates are a percentage of the vehicle so most of Africa is 200% of the vehicle value but for Egypt it is 500%. For very helpful and friendly advice contact Paul Gowen or go to the RAC website Carnet page.
The Carnet is a booklet with either 10 or 25 pages, each page just like the other. Each page has three separate parts:
Top: The piece you retain- at each border post you have to ensure that upon entering you must get the copy stamped as well as exiting the country. Once you return home, you have to send to booklet back with each copy containing an import stamp and export stamp.
Bottom: The piece you surrender on entering a country - At the point of entry, the custom officer will tear this part off and send it to a centralised office (sometimes you will wonder whether they actually do it if you see the state of the border crossing office). S/he will stamp it and it is your responsibility to ensure that they stamp it, stamp your copy and take their copy.
Middle: This piece you surrender on leaving a country - Once you leave the country, the officer at the departure side of the border control post will stamp this part as well as your copy and tear the export copy out and it is their duty to send it back to this centralised office. Once more it is your responsibility to ensure they stamp your copy and tear out the export copy. What they do with theirs is not your concern, because you have your copy with both stamps. If a dispute arises, then you will have the proof. No need to tell you therefore that this document is even more important and valuable than your passport.
The following quotation came from the RAC in 2003:
Approx. value: 5000GBP25 page carnet 75.00 stg (member) or 90.00 stg (non-member)Security required 200% of vehicle value. Which means either a full cash deposit or bank guarantee for the sum of 10,000 stg or an insurance premium which will be 10% of the security figure e.g. 1,000 plus 5% ins. premium tax of 50.00 stg.
50% of this is refunded by the brokers on return of the correctly discharged carnet to RAC.
Total: GBP 1000 + 90 + 50 = 1140
2) TIP (Temporary Import Permit):
If you don't have a Carnet de Passage then when you pass into another country, customs will issue you with a TIP - Temporary Import Permit - this allows you to bring your vehicle into a country without paying a huge deposit (in case you sell the car and bugger off without paying duty). You'll buy it for about 50USD and it'll last 1, 3 or 6 months months usually so this is you "signing in" your vehicle. Sometimes there is a bit of paper to put in the window - sometimes not - just hang onto the receipt. When you leave the country you'll "sign out" and "sign in" at the next customs office. No problem really.
3) COMESA Yellow Card (International 3rd Party Insurance):
What is COMESA?
COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) insurance, commonly known as the “Yellow Card”, relates to motor vehicle Third Party liability insurance. This insurance covers a vehicle in terms of the legislation, relating to compulsory Third Party liabilities in the country to which the vehicle is travelling.
The only insurance that is legally required in most African countries is 3rd party, but if you pay 50USD at every border for it, your costs will start to dramatically mount up, so an easier/cheaper option is to buy the COMESA yellow card insurance. The Comesa Yellow Card (CYC) is an international 3rd party policy so you no longer need to buy 3rd party insurance at the border of any member country. It is quite often asked for by name by various African police forces and so there is no quibbling over its validity.
NB: The CYC is valid in: ANG; BOT; BUR; DRC; DJI; EGT; ERI; ETH; KEN; LES; MAL; MOZ; NAM; RSA; RWA; SOM; SUD; SWA; TAN; UGA; ZAM; ZIM.
The CYC is not valid in the country in which you buy it. Therefore you will have to buy LOCAL 3rd party insurance first – usually for the length of time that you’ll be travelling in that country – then you’ll buy the CYC as an EXTENSION to your existing local 3rd party insurance policy.
I buy mine at Jupiter Insurance in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe or through the AA in Kenya.
My only contact for information though is in Kenya: Ring the AA in Nairobi - contact me for details - tell them how long you want it to last and when you want it to start, no. of people travelling etc, and they'll advise you.
4) IDP (International Driving Permit):
An International Driving Permit (IDP) allows you to drive a private motor vehicle overseas when accompanied by a valid UK driving licence. IDPs are valid for 12 months from the date of issue. There are two IDPs available, a 1926 and a 1949. Most countries require a 1949 Convention IDP but for certain African countries, ie: Burundi & Somalia, a 1926 Convention IDP is necessary, but, even if you are not travelling to either of these countries, get both.
Both 1949 and 1926 Convention IDPs can be issued to people aged 18 and over who hold a valid full UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) driving licence, or can obtain such licences on the basis of pass certificates (within the last two years). IDPs cannot be issued to holders of UK provisional licences without the pass certificates.
When a policeman asks for your driving licence then give them one of these - do not give them your actual licence unless specifically asked for - they never do. In Kenya you are legally required to hold an IDP otherwise you could be legally liable for a fine - I don't know which other countries require the IDP but you do not want to lay yourself open to extortion/bribery.
In case the policeman wants a bribe and is therefore hanging onto your IDP - you can safely drive away and leave him to rot in hell. You can also get multiple IDP's - in the three months before you leave: buy two in month three, two in month two and two just before you depart - that gives you six "get out of jail free" cards.
Also "lose" your actual licence before you leave - 2 or 3 times - this gives you plenty of spares.
NB: You do not need an IDP to drive in SA (however rental companies may have their own requirements):
The NATIONAL ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATIONS, 1999 for the National Road Traffic Act, 1996 (Act No. 93 of 1996) says:
"110. (1) Subject to subregulation (3), a driving licence referred to in section 23(1)(a) of the Act, issued while the holder of it was not permanently or ordinarily resident in the Republic, shall, for the period for, and subject to the conditions under which it was issued, be deemed to be a valid licence for the purposes of Chapter IV of the Act, if:
(a)(i) the licence has been issued in an official language of the Republic; or
(a)(ii) a certificate of authenticity or validity relating to the licence issued in an official language of the Republic by a competent authority, or a translation of that licence in such official language, is attached to it; and
(b) such licence contains or has attached to it, a photograph and the signature of the licence holder."
So if your driver's licence has your photo, and it is in one of South Africa's 11 official languages (one of which is English), then that's OK.
Even if it was in (say) German, then the holder could carry a translation.
The AFRICA 4X4 CAFE - genuine questions asked by potential overlanders:
1) If I buy a UK reg'd car in SA can I swop the carnet?
If you are looking at the option of buying a UK registered vehicle in South Africa (or any other African country) then you will have to buy a new carnet. This will require a fresh carnet application to be made in your home country (with the appropriate security to cover the risk/passport copy etc). You will have to accompany the old owner to the border & they will get their Carnet stamped out & then you will enter the next country on your new carnet. The seller can then return his completed Carnet to the UK and this will release their 50% premium/£350 deposit, etc.
I you have any queries please contact Paul Gowen at the RAC (UK).
2) Are there any problems for a foreigner in buying a car (in either SA or Kenya)?
Complete an application form at your nearest traffic office. Bring the following documents:
Proof of ownership of the vehicle
Roadworthy certificate (if the vehicle is used).
A traffic register number (TRN) is issued to foreign citizens who are not in possession of a South African Identity Document and serves the purpose of an acceptable identification number used for road traffic transactions.
Steps to get a TRN (2009):
Visit your nearest registering authority or driving licence testing centre.
Complete form ANR (Application and Notice in respect of Traffic Register Number).
Submit the following documents:
- a certified copy of a passport or temporary residence permit
- an ID document issued by a recognised authority.
NB: "I was able to get my TRN with 2 photos, proof of address, and a notarized copy of the passport. "
Steps to get a TRN (2010):
Here's the Govt website that says you can buy a car in SA....I strongly suggest you take a printout of that with you.
Despite what it says - you may have to show:
- Certified copy of passport
- Proof of residence. A letter from a friend is not enough. It had to be an affidavit stamped and signed by the police.
- A copy of your friend's ID - preferably certified
- A utility or rates bill
- 2 passport photos
- Your visa/permit.
- (They also made a fuss that the box describing purpose of trip hadn't been ticked by immigration)
When registering the vehicle you will need the original of the current registration certificate as well as the transfer document completed and signed by both the transferor and the transferee. This form is available at any vehicle registration office.
Registration and Licencing
Information on the registration procedure and how to transfer ownership details after the sale of a car.
Registering a Vehicle as a Foreigner
It is necessary to have either a foreign identification document or a traffic registration number in order to register a vehicle as a foreigner in South Africa. To apply for a traffic registration number a valid passport is needed, as well as documentation proving legal residence in South Africa. Tourists may also register vehicles in South Africa and are required to provide proof of an address where they are residing.
To register the vehicle it is necessary to go to the nearest traffic registering authority or driving licence testing centre with the following documents:
- A completed Application and Notice in respect of Traffic Register Number (ANR) form
- Passport copy or copy of residence permit
- Foreign identity document
- Two black and white ID photographs
- Application forms may take up to six weeks to process
Licencing a Motor Vehicle
All vehicles must be licenced in order to be driven on public roads in South Africa. Vehicle licences should be renewed every year before they expire (there is a 21 day grace period). Penalties apply for late renewals and for driving a vehicle without a licence. Licence discs must be displayed on the front windshield of the vehicle.
It is necessary to licence a vehicle at the same registering authority where the vehicle is registered. The following documents are required:
- ID (such as a passport or permanent residence permit)
- Completed application for licencing a motor vehicle form (ALV)
- The licence fee
- Applications are processed on the same day. Fees vary depending on the province.
Changing Ownership Details
When a vehicle changes owner, the Department of Transport should be contacted with the change of address and ownership details. It is the responsibility of the current owner of the vehicle to ensure that their details are correct in the traffic register.
To do this it is necessary to go to the nearest traffic office with the following documents:
- Completed Notice of Change of Particulars form (NCP), which is available at traffic offices
- ID (such as a passport or identity card)
- Proof of the new residential address
- There is no fee for this service.
A roadworthiness certificate is needed in order to register a vehicle. To get a roadworthiness certificate it is necessary to go to the nearest vehicle testing station with the following documents:
- The vehicle's registration certificate
- ID (such as a passport or identity card)
- Completed Application for Roadworthiness Certificate form (ACR)
- Applications are processed on the same day. Fees vary depending on the province.
NB: Registration must be accompanied by a new Road Worthiness Certificate. Get this before you part with the cash - it could throw up some mechanical problems that you may be able to use to bargain the price down.
3) How long does it take to become the owner?
If you have all the correct paperwork, you can take possession of the vehicle straight away, but in Kenya it may take up to 2 weeks for the appropriate paperwork to be completed so that you can take the vehicle out of the country.
4) What fuel do you advise? petrol or diesel? And what's the average price of these in Southeast Africa? And how much range should we minimal have with a car?
Diesel is preferred for long distance overlanding but either fuel will do as long as you don’t start fording too many rivers.
Average price is 1 - 1.5 USD/L.
Full tank plus at least 1, preferably 2 in Zimbabwe, 20L jerrycans of fuel.
5) What brand would you advise?
Toyota's are very strong & dependable and therefore keep their value. Only buy a LandRover if you are a good mechanic and/or the vehicle is still in excellent condition - preferably with 200 or 300 TDi engines.
In secondhand vehicles you can also take a close look at other brands: Mitsubishi Pajero, Isuzu Trooper and Hilux Surf as these are affordable 4x4 vehicles.
6) What's the minimum price for a decent car?
How long is a piece of string? Take a look at what you can get for your money by looking at what past vehicles sold for and what kit they came with. You can get a basic but decent 4x4 for 7000 – 10000 USD. At this end of the market (unless I know the vehicle’s history) I never even start talking about money until I have had the vehicle given a thorough mechanical check by a trusted garage/mechanic, find out how much will be required to spend on the vehicle to get it roadworthy and then use that info to bargain the price down.
An Australian client of mine bought an older Pajero for 7000USD, toured Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia before selling their vehicle for a good price in Moyale, North Kenya. Another client paid 10,000USD for a Toyota Surf that toured Kenya plus Tanzania and Malawi so the message is that you do not need a top of the range 4x4 to get a top of the range experience. However, be prepared to pay double the price that you'd pay in the UK for a similar vehicle.
7) How much will it (a trans africa trip) cost?
This guy did it over 8 months, 43,000km, from Estonia to Namibia, it cost hime around 10,000 Euro in 2007.
8) Should we buy from a private person or a car company?
I have never heard anything good about buying from car dealers in Nairobi and have bought all my vehicles privately – AFTER a thorough mechanical check.
NB: Make particularly sure that the VIN/Engine no.s on the vehicle correspond to those on the paperwork.
9) Is there any form of independent technical inspection, so we can have the car checked before we buy it?
The AA can give you a valuation but I prefer a full mechanical inspection from a trusted garage/mechanic. Pick and choose from these guidelines if you want peace of mind:
Things to ask on the phone:
- VERY IMPORTANT: Check that the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) recorded on page one of the Car Inspection Report is identical to the number recorded on the registration document (V5).
- VERY IMPORTANT: Check when next cam-belt change is due.
- What engine does it have?
- Is it Automatic or Manual transmission?
- What year model is it?
- Is it constant 4wd or 2H/4H/4L selectable?
- Are there any panel damages or mechanical/electrical issues?
- Has it ever been in an accident?
- Were you the original owner and does it have logbooks and service history?
- How much life is left in the tyres?
- How long has it been on the market?
- What is the current mileage (and is this Miles or Kilometres)?
- Is there any rust?
- Things to check at a test drive:
- Rust around water pump - check impeller blades
- Thermostat - potential overheating
- Full steering lock and listen for clunk (steering stops).
- Check all 4WD transmission operations.
- Check for smoky engine.
- Check for rattly engine.
- Check service record for completeness, including recorded mileage at last service.
- Check MOT certificate (UK only).
- Check that the cooling fan switch is working OK - i.e. that the cooling fan comes on automatically when hot.
- Check spare wheel, tyre and tools. If applicable, check if key for locking wheel nuts is present.
- Check radiator for stains or leaks.
- Check rear springs for butt sag.
- Check all electrics especially the electric back window if present.
- Check glowplugs dash light.
- Check tailgate window inc heating element.
- Check for window rattles and operation.
- Check for leaks in sunroof
- Check condition of driveshaft boots - scored? holed?
- Check brake discs for scoring and squeaks.
- Check for any oil leaks.
- Check under/behind chrome bumpers for rust (there almost certainly will be some).
- Check bodywork for corrosion, dents and scratches.
- Operation and fit/alignment of doors/bonnet/boot-lid/tailgate.
- Operation of sunroof (if present).
- Operation of all locks, including child locks in the rear doors.
- Operation of heating/air-conditioning systems and heated glasses.
- Operation of seat-belts/damage to seat-belts.
- Operation of all window lifts.
- Operation of in-car entertainment/trip computer/navigation systems. Ensure details of radio code are passed on to you.
- Operation of seat adjusters.
- All glass for cracks/damage/milkyness (de-lamination).
- All lights, including interior lights, for operation and damage.
- Check carpets and interior for dampness/damage.
- Operation of screen wipers and washers, including intermittent function.
NB: See #44 for servicing guidelines.
10) Are there any special requirements or specifics on the car we would wish to buy?
Good tyres – pref. two complete spares. Good suspension - shocks, all bushes, tortion bars, springs/coils etc; reasonable engine & gear box mountings. Good cooling system – if the vehicle has a tendancy to overheat then don’t even look at it. 4wd if you are heading off road / to national parks.
11) How long does it minimal take to travel from South Africa (say J'burg) to Nairobi and by which route?
You can travel from J’burg to Nairobi in approx 8 days (one driver doing approx. 6-700km per day and then staying in decent accom at night) however I do not recomend this for a novice "African" driver.
We recently completed this route:
Nrb>Arusha (Ngorongoro)>Bagamoyo>Dar>Zanzibar>Dar>Morogoro>Mbeya>Shiwa Ndangu (Mpika area)>Lusaka>Livingstone/Vic Falls>Bulawayo>Jhb>Durban
We did it in 21 days. The majority of this was on good tar roads which make for easy driving at 80/100km/h. This route followed the great north road out of Lusaka but you can also take the great east road which will take you by Luwanga National parks (Flat Dogs Camp etc) and into Malawi via Chipata.
12) How much paperwork is involved in buying a car?
In Kenya you’ll need a PIN no. which you’ll get in one morning. You’ll need your passport (plus copies) & and a local address. In SA you'll need a TRN - see #2.
a) Info on getting a Carnet for an SA registered vehicle.
b) AA (carnet de passage & international drivers licence)
- - issued same day, AA Kyalami
- - R2000.00 fee
- - R500.00 Deposit
- - On returning have to take carnet back, get your deposit back
- - Drivers licences was R110.00 (R35 extra for photos)
13) Is it true that within the southern part of Africa (up to Tanzania) you don't need a carnet to cross the border?
Yes, you’ll just get a TIP at the border (for this you’ll need the original car papers in your name) – but TZ was playing with the idea of enforcing a carnet to try and stem the illegal car trade. Kenya & Egypt definitely require a carnet. Ethiopia officially requires a carnet but Kenyan registered vehicles can just leave their logbooks at the border.
14) Is it possible to get visa on the borders of all these countries? If yes, would you still advise to get these in advance?
Yes – no need to buy in advance, unless you are Zimbabwean, esp. if you decide just to transit some countries: transit visas are less than half the price of normal visas. However you will need a full TZ visa if you also wish to visit Zanzibar.
15) What exactly is TIP (Temporary Import Permit?) And how much do these on average cost?
A temporary import allows the non-permanent importation of your vehicle into a country without paying duty. Most countries will provide TIPs, those that don’t: Kenya, Egypt etc, therefore require a “Carnet de Passage”.
NB: I think TZ’s TIP was free but most countries charge around 50 USD. See #2 in the first section.
17) Are there any other tricky things we should be aware off or prepare in advance?
Obey all traffic rules! Do not expose yourself to possible police corruption especially prevalent on fridays. Carry two warning tringles, at least one fire extinguisher and always wear your seatbelt – If a policeman is looking for some money for the weekend then these are things that I have been asked for. If you can, carry multiple copies of your International Driving Permit & licence and do not give it to a police officer unless specically asked for – always give them a copy first.
NB: Never admit your guilty of a speeding offence until you are sure their equipment is working properly etc.
18) I have read that the major routes in African countries are all concrete and are pretty good, is this true?
Main roads are mainly tar. Off road mainly murram. Some bad stretches are north of Isiolo; Nrb>Mombasa; Tanga>Mombasa; Lusaka>Chipata; the Amboseli road; Narok>Maasai Mara and the Ngorongoro Crater Rim road.
NB: Some roads have very little or no hard shoulder. Some roads (esp. in Kenya) have many potholes and have been undercut by rain run-off - so parking to the side of a road, esp. at night, needs to be done with extreme caution.
19) Are all countries pretty easy to drive around or are there some of which you know we will get stuck in sand or mud?
All countries in East and Sothern Africa have fairly decent primary road systems. Northern Zambia (off road) has a sticky reputation as does N. Luangwa NP in and around the rainy season. The road north of Isiolo and the whole of West Africa are a completely different kettle of fish.
20) How is the safety situation in most countries?
Safety is mainly good but heightened awareness is required in towns. Also try never to leave your vehicle unguarded - it may not get stolen but anything of value in it will.
21) Are National Parks accessible with your own transport or do you have to hire a car with a driver? Or with your own car, is it possible to hire just a guide?
All National Parks are accessible with your own vehicle, and although that Ngorongoro NP did require that we picked up a guide, we actually did without. Do not be fooled that a local NP game scout will know all the best places to see game – they mainly patrol on foot and therefore are allowed offroad (which you are not) in the parks. Plus there are disadvantages: with a fully loaded 4x4 often there is no room for anybody else; they often smell bad and they nearly always carry loaded weapons which they do not make safe inside your vehicle.
22) Since we have to pick up some family in Nairobi, do you know any good place to stay in or around this city?
Jungle Junction on Amboseli Lane, Lavington is a decent backpackers place and usually full of overlanders who can give you up to date advice. Run by Chris – a BMW bike mech.
If you fancy a hotel try the Silver Sands or if you want real quality try The Fairview or if you've really got long bucks - The Stanley.
23) As we are travelling through Africa and the AA is not around, is it advisable to bring jerry-cans with fuel? If yes, how many liters?
Depends on where you are going but I usually carry an extra 20L fuel and 20L water. In Zimbabwe carry enough fuel to get to the next border. Of course travelling in remote areas requires better preparation - for example in some areas of Angola you'll need to doubl, even triple, these amounts.
24) What minimal equipment do we need?
Getting Hi-Lift jack jacking points fitted (and of course buying a genuine Hi-lift) are relatively cheap and really do take the strain out of tyre changing. A good compressor is very handy (vair seem ok). You don’t need an electric winch or a massive bullbar – extra spotlights on the roof are handy but not essential. I would never have a raised air intake, or bullbar, fitted if the vehicle I was buying did not already them..
Basic toolkit would be handy – metric spanners, duck tape and cable ties are usually essential.
NB: Good quality spare light bulbs for Police shakedowns.
25) Do we need extra lamps on our car? We do not plan to travel a lot in the dark.
Travelling at night is not recommended for the African newbie, however out of necessity (to reach a lodge that we've booked etc) we always do. Roof lights are essential for night driving but every bit of light helps especially at dusk – lots of cows, goats and kids live/play alongside the roads. Me? I like driving at night: the car engine runs better due to the cool and traffic is usually less but then again, I've got a great set of 130W IPF spots on the roof of my vehicle!
26) Do we need to bring a long/high-lift jack?
If you're comfortable using one, yes, but make sure you add Jacking points (about 10,000 K Sh from Fast Eddies in Nairobi)
27) Anything else you would say: this you definitely have to take?
Buy a compressor (Vair if you're coming from Europe but if you're stuck, Truck Air are available in Nairobi and I’ve been using mine for years – it’s slow but fairly cheap) Tyre pressure management is essential off road.
If you run tubeless tyres then plugs and a plugging tool are necessary.
Even if you are tubeless carry good quality tubes as a back up.
28) How safe is camping in the wild? Or would you advise camping grounds?
I would advise camping sites/ lodge car parks etc. Wild camping only seems to really work if you are truly “in the middle of nowhere” as towns folk can be a cause for concern.
29) How much water do we need to bring along while travelling? And how easy is it to get good drinking water? Or should we get a water filter?
Water is generally available everywhere – a water filter such a Katadyn is good “just in case” but not essential. Buy a 20L water butt at Nakumat and get a small hand pump designed for use with the former. Cheap and effective.
30) What kind of stove do you advise? On butane or benzine?
Buy a 2 plate gas stove (or single gas burner) in Nakumatt and change the regulator if necessary (if necessary in another country), buy gas at most fuel stations and large supermarkets.
31) Light, should we bring a 12 volt light (connectable to the car), gaslamp or oil lamp?
12v fluorescent lights were the best but now you can buy those high intensity LEDs in large clusters.
32) Would you advise a normal tent or a roof tent?
RTTs are great, but expensive and there are not many RTTs available in East Africa, plenty in SA though. A normal tent is A LOT cheaper if not as convenient. If you put roof bars and a large piece of plywood on your roof and park under a tree (for hanging a mosi net) you can get by with sleeping on a thin mattress on the roof of the car (during the dry season).
Rooftents also require roofracks – good for storing light items but can easily be overloaded and lead to a roll-over – this is especially true of people with little experience of driving fully loaded 4x4’s.
33) Do you know any good shops in Nairobi where to buy (used) camping equipment?
Ask Chris at Jungle Junction, Eddy at Fast Eddies on Ngong Rd, or buy new from Nakumatt. Extreme Outdoors in the YaYa Centre also has good, but expensive, imported camping kit but also have there own cheaper local brand – looks OK.
34) We (2) are looking preferably for a Defender 110 or Land Cruiser in a good mechanical condition for a budget of up to 15000 USD.
15000USD is just about 1million shillings - you can expect a '93/'94 Landcruiser Prado to go for at least 1.5 mill. All other Landcruisers such as the 75, 76 or 78 series are working cruisers and therefore build quality is better but they hold their price well - usually in excess of 2/2.5 million.
Same with the 80 series VX's and GX's - they are expensive to buy in EA. Used LandRovers are available but tend to be the later electronically managed models more aimed at the luxury market. Older Defenders and series LandRovers are available but frankly, after test driving a few, I wouldn't touch them with a bargepole or unless I was a mechanical genius.
A good Mitsubishi Pajero, Toyota Hilux or Isuzu Trooper is more affordable. It’s always a good idea to give it a full service/mechanical check before you take it on safari (whatever the seller says) - this will give good peace of mind plus potential problems can be identified. I can recommend a decent garages in Nairobi and Bulawayo.
If you have a vehicle budget of 15000USD then do not buy up to your limit - allow yourself a minimum of 2000 for contingencies and running repairs (the condition of EA’s roads is generally fair, however the bad bits ARE bad and WILL damage your car somewhere or somehow) or extra’s like a hi-lift jack and jacking points.
35) Practicality to register the vehicle under my name?
Easily done with the assistance of the AA in Kenya (see no. 2 for info on SA) and essential if you want to take the vehicle out of the country. You’ll need a PIN no. (easy to get) and an address in Kenya – this is a good reason to join the Kenyan AA as they can help facillitate this whole process.
36) We would be coming from the UK, so would it make more sense for us to buy the car here?
If you are planning the big trans-Africa thing then yes - it'll get you used to the foibles of your vehicle and will give you something to do on those dark winter nights. Vehicles are cheaper in the UK and are usually in a better condition than Africa, however if you have the time take a look at buying from Dubai, Singapore or Japan - these vehicles usually are low mileage and with some of the extras you will want.
However, it seems the market has leveled off a bit and you can get decent 4x4s here in the UK. What you want to look for is an older LC80, GX or VX, now branded the Amazon I think. These vehicles are near enough perfect overlanders with enough grunt to get you out of trouble and a sufficiently solid chassis/suspension to take the battering of Africa's worst roads. Of course this means these vehicles don't come cheap but they are what you want.
Approaching these are Hilux twin cabs, single cabs, raiders, surfs/4runners etc - they are a lot cheaper but a bit more cramped for space - perfect for two adults though. Of course the choice of vehicle is up to you and people have done a trans Africa in much less robust vehicles but this is just a guide of what you should aim for.
Selling in SA could be difficult: old Landrovers, and other lesser vehicles, are usually thrashed by the time they get to Cape Town and usually don't sell well or at all. A good cruiser can sell, problem is the Duty anybody buying it will have to pay but that is the same for most countries, however there are plenty of good cruisers in SA, that is why you may get more for your money elsewhere .
37) Is there a particular time of year that would be better or worse, both for the drive and for selling a car?
If you are travelling North to South then you'll want to avoid the Sahara in the summer. In West Africa you'll want to avoid the rainy season.
38a) Buying in Africa
A traffic register number is issued to foreign citizens who are not in possession of a South African identity (ID) document or foreign ID document, and serves the purpose of an acceptable identification number used for road traffic transactions. The traffic register number is required when a foreigner wants to register a motor vehicle in South Africa.
To apply for registration of a used vehicle you will need the following:
- A duly completed application form (form MVR1A or RLV).
- Your RSA identity document (if you are a local resident) or an identity document issued by a foreign country (if you are a person not permanently resident in the Republic) or a traffic register number certificate.
- If the motor vehicle is registered in South Africa, the registration certificate concerned.
- If the tare has changed due to any reason, a mass measuring certificate.
- If the vehicle has a new engine or if the VIN/chassis number has changed, a South African Police Service clearance of the motor vehicle,
- Required by the registering authority, proof of the right to be registered as title holder of the motor vehicle concerned. Such proof may be an invoice, a sales agreement, etc. It is advised that you phone your nearest call centre or registering authority to establish whether they accept or require any other document as proof.e
Please note the following:
In order to obtain a mass measuring certificate it is advised that you contact your local registering authority for the contact details of a facility that offers this service.
A South African Police Service clearance will only be issued after your registering authority has issued you with a referral. After the referral has been issued the registration certificate of the vehicle has to be presented to the SAPS in order for the process to be initiated.
The registering authority will perform an assessment on you application and you will pay the fees as prescribed by your province.
38b) Selling in Africa
See #2. for advice on buying.
No real problems selling anything in Africa given a little patience. However South Africans do have problems receiving bank payments - they have a very tight tax department.
39) What is it like to drive in urban Africa and in particular Nairobi? (If you are planning to move to Nairobi the read: KARIBU KENYA.
Found this piece that epitomizes life/driving in Nairobi from a Kenyan blogger:
There’s been a lot in the press recently, both local where people are furious, and even the international press, where people are probably just amazed really, about the traffic situation in Nairobi.
If you read anyone’s experiences of travel by road in Nairobi, I doubt you’ll find one of them that doesn’t mention the unbelievable traffic experience, the shocking state of the roads and the ridiculous drivers that we have to endure on them daily!
Sadly, our country has gone through various degrees of corruption and one of the offshoots of this state of affairs is that half the people on the road have probably never taken a driving test and although they hold licences, these have been bought for a small price off some dealer in River Road somewhere. Then there are the hundreds of unroadworthy vehicles that block the lanes all passing through the traffic police with a quick backhander or (a favourite with the hundreds of matatu drivers) just slow down through the road block and throw the money out the window! This means that all those marvellous vehicles just keep on going - no brake lights, bald tyres and that’s probably just for starters.
Finally we have the roads themselves. Well it turns out that we are gaily running along on a road system that was put into effect through a plan approved for Nairobi by the colonials back in 1948. Since then it seems that apart from the widening of a few roads and one new ‘Processional Way’ (to create a short cut from State House to town - very useful i might add…) that has been built in the last one year, we have not built a single road since independence in 1963.
That’s good news all round considering the number of new cars estimated to be put onto Kenyan roads every month is around 5000. You could basically say ‘We are well and truly stuffed!’
What this all means for the traffic is that of course you need to find ever more ingenious ways to get through it.
The matatus have a great plan. They zoom up the inside on the dirt on the side of the road where all innocent pedestrians get wildly hooted at and have to keep jumping into the ditch in order to survive. Then of course when they get to the junctions and back to single lane traffic, they just charge into you at full speed hoping you’ll dive out of the way to save your own car, which of course you generally do at all costs, … and they win!
This daily survival course is played out every morning on our way to school. I have taken to using a driver as i can’t be doing with the stress of it all. What amuses me is that if you dare to take on these matatus (which my driver will as he’s so much braver than me - and of course won’t have to pay the bill if he loses the battle!!) the drivers of these vehicles give you the most filthy looks and then hang out of their windows and start shouting at you for not allowing them in! ….
We had a great discussion the other day on what car you should be driving in order to survive (or not), and what it says about you. It was summed up as follows:
1. Range Rover/Land Rover or some other large sturdy 4×4 with the biggest ‘f… off’ bull bar you can find.
* This says ‘Don’t mess with me. I’m not afraid to use it! I can hit you harder!’
* This comes with a status tag and will generally gain you some respect on the road as generally all ‘WaBenzies’ (as those who drive them are known) will not allow you to even touch the paintwork without calling the cops and making you waste half your day standing on the side of the road waiting for them to show up.
3. Toyota Corolla
* Generally only driven by those with a death wish or keen on a seriously exciting, although sometimes lethal, game of dodgems of a morning. Matatu drivers have absolutely no shame about driving one of those straight off the road and into the nearest ditch, or, if you get caught on the wrong side, straight into the oncoming traffic. And seeing as almost half the cars on the road are Toyota corollas - it is incredibly tricky surviving in one.
So, my advice to anyone about to buy themselves a car in Kenya. First of all, new is not recommended. If it has a few scratches on the side before you buy it, so much the better as then you won’t feel so bad when you have your first ding - because you will have one no matter how safe a driver you think you are. It’s not about you darlin’, it’s about the other mad b………s on the road. For god’s sake, do not, whatever you do, buy yourself a Corolla as you’ll be lucky if you last a week without getting side swipped. The best recommendation is to invest in a whopping great 4×4 - the older the better - and fit the biggest and most solid bull bar you can find on the front, put your aggressive hat on and take to the road. - You’ll feel just like ‘Moses’ when the traffic parts ahead of you!
40) Buy-Back - not a good idea, but if you are pushed for time be aware:
Example vehicle 1995 Toyota Hilux DC (2007 prices):
Vehicle Initial Purchase: R72,000
Vehicle Buyback, after 2.5 months: R55,000
Camping Equipment Initial Purchase: R10,500
Camping Equipment Buyback: R5,250
5 Page Carnet Initial Purchase R4,500
Carnet Buyback R2,000
Insurance (R600/month) R1800
Total Initial Outlay: R88,800 (8,880 USD at 10:1 the US:R rate is really low at the moment)
Total expenditure: R26,550 (2,650 USD) Not inc. food, fuel, servicing it every 10,000km and paying for running repairs of any kind after week 1.
NB: If you require the vehicle returned to base, eg: Nairobi to Capetown: R 18,500 plus extended rental and insurance: R9,000: R27,500 (2,750 USD)
41) When is a good time to go?
Sun and Rain
43) Ten tips on how to sell a car in West Africa:
From Jeroen van Bergeijk's book: My Mercedes Is Not for Sale!
1. Buy My Mercedes Is Not for Sale! If everything goes wrong, you’ll at least have something entertaining to read.
2. Spend a few hours on the forum of Sahara Overland. That should answer most of your practical questions about crossing the desert by car. Another good source of information are the German Wüstenschiff (www.wustenschiff.de) and Swiss Desert-info (www.desert-info.ch).
3. Your destination dictates the car you should buy. If you’re going to Mali or Mauritania, you should have a diesel. In Benin, however, they love gas-powered cars. Whatever you do, don’t buy an American or a Scandinavian model (unless you’re going to Nigeria, where they’re crazy about Volvos). French cars are passé; Japanese, always okay. If you just have to travel by SUV, Toyota Land Cruisers are far more popular than Land Rovers. A safe—and I think the best—choice is a four-cylinder Mercedes 190 D from the late eighties. Recent four-cylinder 200 Ds also sell well.
4. But then those Benzes are hard to come by, at least at a reasonable price. You can pick up an old jalopy for € 1200, but figure on about € 1750 instead. And you better make up your mind fast, or someone will beat you to it.
5. Okay, you’ve bought a car, and now you’re off to Africa. At the moment (march 2008), there really isn’t a safe route anymore. If you need these tips and are driving a passenger car, the so-called Atlantic Route is the best option – although there is a real concern about Al Qaeda activity in Mauritania. The Atlantic Route follows the recently completed Trans-Sahara Highway through Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, and Senegal. Nowadays, if you want to drive from Holland to Gambia—and that’s a great destination and a terrific place to sell your car—you hardly have to leave the blacktop anymore.
6. In the border area between Western Sahara and Mauritania, however, you do have to drive through sand, and there are still land mines there. Take a guide or hook up with someone who knows what he’s doing.
7. The biggest problem – apart from the security issue - you’ll face is getting into Senegal. Senegal doesn’t admit any car more than seven years old. You can buy a carnet de passage, a sort of passport for your car (counterfeit carnets are sometimes also offered on Sahara Overland), but that makes for headaches if you want to sell your car. Unless you’re adept at talking and haggling, you’re probably going to have to pay a lot for an official escort through Senegal. Then you’ll drive across the country in a day or two and be released again at the following border.
8. Take enough cash: cash machines are extremely rare in West Africa. The only credit card that’s accepted is Visa.
9. You’ll have to decide for yourself what all you want to take. Water is important. And if you can do some of your own repairs, so much the better, but it’s really not necessary. There’s always a bush mechanic nearby.
10. Well, and then you’ve got to unload that moving wreck: discretely spread the word that your car’s for sale, promise a commission (and pay it, too) if someone brings you a buyer, accept only cash and preferably euros. If you bought a good model, you’ll sell it in a minute; if you show up with seconds, it’ll take forever. And remember this: the first offer is usually the best.
44a) Baseline service for a "new" secondhand 4x4 (from Julian Voelcker - ELCO):
OK for a baseline service where you don't have any history on your new purchase, I would recommend the following:
- Change the engine oil and filter.
- Change air filter and fuel filter.
- If an auto drain as much gearboox oil and replenish with what you managed to drain out - usually 4-7 litres
- If a manual just change the oil.
- Strip down the front knuckles to inspect CVs, wheel bearings and swivel bearings and then repack with new grease (moly based for CV, lithium only based for wheel bearings) - be prepared to replace bearings/CVs on the way - no point putting knackered ones back in although they can take a hell of a lot of hammering, even when worn. Also bear in mind dealers don't touch these during regular services. Ideally you should doo the strip down, check and repack of the CVs and all wheel bearings every 20-30k miles - if you do this they should last 100k miles +.
- Also strip down the rear wheel bearings and repack as above. Change the diff oils during the above.
- Probably change the brake pads at the same time - well check them at the same time as above - you can also check the condition of the disks and calipers.
- Flush through the brake fluid.
- Flush the radiator and refill with Toyota red coolant. You may want to use a chemical flush
- Remove the prop shafts, check the UJs and regrease, clean the grease from the splined shaft and reapply by hand as opposed to via the grease nipple.
- When draining any of the oils above it gives you a good opportunity to inspect the oils, checking for deposits on the drain plugs (where magnetic ones are fitted) as well as checking the colour and smell.
- You may see things like sludge coming out of the diffs where there has been water ingress or grease from the CVs (more common), with autos if the gearbox oil isn't changed regularly enough it may smell burnt from overheating.
- Personally unless there is history to the contrary, if prepping a new car for a long overlanding trip I would change the CVs and all wheel and swivel bearings purely for peace of mind.
- Having said that I have seen 80s clock up several thousand miles with no grease in the CVs or wheel bearings, collapsed swivel bearings, clicking CVs, etc - they are extremely strong parts.
- Also, if you have a 12 valve 80 series with 100,000 miles + on it I would change out the Big End Bearings. The various threads around on this recommend changing them every 100,000 miles. Having done some on 80s around the 150,000-200,000 miles mark they have all had quite serious pitting on at least two sets of bearings. OK it is difficult to know how long the pitting had been there and how much longer the engines would have lasted, however you need to bear in mind when they do go, they go with a bang.
- Also on the engine front I would be inclined to check the valve gaps as well as possibly get the injectors and fuel injection pump tested/serviced - ideally the valves should be checked every 30k miles and the IP side of things checked every 100k miles. Fortunately I have found a good firm in Swindon who can do it very reasonably.
44b) Tools List (from Julian Voelcker - ELCO)
Below is a basic list of tools that we would recommend that you take on the trip. If you are a competent mechanic you may want to take more tools with you, which is fine, but do consider whether you will actually need everything you take - I have found in the past that I have taken far too many tools, which is all excess weight.
- Socket Set As a basic starting block, aim for a standard metric 1/2" (the size of the connection with the sockets) Flank Drive or Wall-Drive (they grip the walls od the nuts/bolts as opposed to the corners and work better with rusty or awkward nuts/bolts) socket set that includes extension bars, ratchet, etc. Aim for a set that provides sockets ranging from 8mm through to 32mm if possible. I actually prefer using a combination of a 3/8" set and 1/4" because they are lighter and more comfortable to use, but would only recommend these ranges if you are getting top quallity professional tools from the likes of Snap-On or Sealey. A good compromise is a combination set that contains all three sizes.
- Torque Wrench It is essential that you don't over or under tighten bolts when working on your truck so get a Torque wrench. Aim for a reasonable quality 1/2" one with a range of 0-150Ft-lbs - this should cover you for most requirements.
- Breaker Bar Occasionally you will come across a really stubborn nut or bolt or a situation where you need some gentle pressure - aim for a 1/2" breaker that is at least 2 foot long.
- Spanners Aim for a set of ring/open ended metric spanners extending from 6 or 8mm through to 19mm. It is also worth additionally getting a 22mm, 24mm, and 27mm spanners for some of the suspension arms. Halfords do a great set or spanners with flexible ratchets on the end - these are great tools, but aren't cheap and I wouldn't take them on their own, some times the flexi head can be more of a hinderence than a help.
- Screwdrivers You can usually get sets of around half a dozen assorted flat blade and phillips screwdrivers that will do most jobs. If they aren't in the kit, make sure you get a large heavy duty flat blade screwdriver that can double as a lever.
- Pliers/wire cutters Again you can often get sets of these - aim for a set with at least standard pliers, long nosed pliers and some wire cutters.
- Allen Keys You can pickup standard sets of metric allen keys - don't aim for cheap ones that might break or bend easily.
- Punches/Cold Chisel You can usually pick up a set containing several punches and a couple of cold chisels - aim for the best quality you can.
- Hammers One of the most useful tools I use is a copper faced mallet/hammer - with one of these you seldom need another hammer. The only downside is that you will need to get these from a Motor Factors or online.
- 54mm Hub Socket Most bush mechanics won't use these, preferring to use a hammer and cold chisel, however if you want the job done properly you really need to get one of these. Currently the best source of these is Snap-On here and then you can modify it with an angle grinder so that it will also fit the rear hub nuts.
- Head Torch Head torches are invaluable whilst overlanding anyway, but also pretty useful when working under your truck or in poor light. So far I have had the best success with the Energiser range of LED based head torches.
- Electrical Crimp Kit You are highly unlikey to get many electrical problems that can't be solved with a bit of insulating tape, but if you are inclined get youself one of the small crimp connector kits, with the crimp tool and some spare connectors
- Stanley Knife It's always handy to have either a very sharp ppenknife or a stanley knife. Don't forget a set of spare blades
- Wire Brushes It's always worth having at least one wire brush for cleaning bolts and other components.
- Gas Soldering Iron Possibly a little overboard for most people a small gas soldering iron with solder and spare gas is always handy for electrical joints and heat shrinking.
- Heavy Duty Jump Leads
A decent set of heavy duty jump leads are one of those essential pieces of kit you shouldn't do without, howevr be warned they are heavy!
- Files Get yourself at least one hand file, or a set of different shaped ones, younever know when you will need it.
- Seal Puller If you have the space, get yourself a seal puller, it's very handy for pulling out the Inner Axle Seals or stubborn hub seals.
- Snap Ring Pliers Only really available from Motor Factors, these are pretty usefull if you have to work on the wheel bearings, like tightening them up.
- Grease Gun Essential for regularly greasing the Universal Joints on the prop shafts. Ideally aim for one with a flexible end and a decent quality connector on the end for getting at awkward nipples. Oh, and don't forget to get some grease for it.
- Multi-Meter These are essential for diagnosing electrical problems. You can pick one up from most places for not much money. If you can, get one that is also clamp meter which is useful for tracing odd battery drain issues and the condition of the alternator.
- Workshop Manual Probably one of the most essential things to have is a half decent manual. If you look hard enough you can probably download most of the factory manuals from the web in PDF format. But if you can't the Haynes manuals are good enough to get you out of most situations - you can order these either direct from the Haynes website (http://www.haynes.co.uk/) or via eBay.
- A bit of old Carpet A few people have questioned me about this, however if you have to work on your truck in a muddy field, in the desert or beside a rocky track, laying down a carpet first will give you a bit oof comfort under your knees as well a surface to put down the bits of the car you take off without getting them covered in dirt or lost in the sand.
- Hacksaw It is always worth taking along a normal sized hacksaw and also what is generally termed a 'junior' hacksaw and don't forget to take some spare blades with you.
44c) Consumables (from Julian Voelcker - ELCO)
As well as the tools you should also carry a number of consumables to cover most eventualities.
- WD40 Always useful for light lubrication and spraying on seized nuts and bolts.
- Coppereaze When re-assembling items on the body and chassis, I always put a blob of coppereaze on the threads to eaze re-assembly and it also helps with dis-assembly in the future. It can also be useful when you have dry joints on things like battery earth wires.
- Silicone based Dry Lube This is invaluable for a wide range of uses from easing squeaky joints, squeaks on internal body panels through to zips on tents. Aim for the 'Dry Lube' style of spray so that it doesn't attract dust.
- Spare Fuses Get an assorted pack of spare blade fuses
- 30amp wire Get a small roll of 30amp rates wire, it will always come in handy for something
- Spare Bulbs In several European contries it is actually a legal requirement to carry a set of spare bulbs, which is why places like Halfords will be able to provide you with a spare bulb pack containing the most common bulbs.
- Gasket Sealant Hopefully you won't need it often, but worth getting a small tube of high temperature gasket sealant
- Exhaust Sealant It's always worth carrying a small tin of something like Gun Gum exhaust paste as well as one of their exhaust bandage packages for patching any holes.
- Hand Cleaner There is nothing worse than oily hands and more often than not washing up liquid won't do so do get a small tub of hand cleaner, preferably some with grit or an abraisive texture to give a thorough clean. My personal favourite is a product called Manista which you can get in a handy tube.
- Rubber Gloves Not necessarily as an alternative to the above, but always useful, get a box of powdered, preferably nitrile based workshop gloves. I specify nitrile because unlike most other types of gloves they won't dissolve in diesel
- Blue Workshop Rags Most Motor Factors sell rolls of blue tissue, a bit like Kitchen roll, but more suited to workshop use. This is well worth getting and can be used for anything from cleaning up components, wiping off headlights through to mopping up spills.
- Cable Ties Buy pack of assorted length and width cable ties, you will find them invaluable.
- Tank Tape Tank or Duct tape stick just about anything and is really handy for patches to tents, and generally holding your car together.
- Electrical Tape A decent sized roll of electrical tape is always handy if you have to do any emergency electrical repairs on route.
45) Nairobi for beginners:
Welcome to Nairobi!
Buy an AtoZ map book of Nairobi, buy a local SIM card from Nakumatt to help with any breakdowns etc. Also bring compass that works inside a car. Go to a chemist back home and buy a safe needle kit. Look up the Kenyan Flying doctor service on the internet and buy temporary membership of Kenyan Flying Doctor evacuation service for the period you are out in Kenya. Join the Kenyan Automobile Association breakdown service for additional protection.
The first weeks here are not always easy, but many people think it is a wonderful place to live. Here are some of the bureaucratic hurdles you have to overcome - and tips from people who were successful. Primarily this is for foriegn journalists, however most work permits follow a similar procedure.
46) Ethiopia for beginners:
We got a visa at the embassy in Nairobi, which required international drivers license and either carnet or log book (we were able to use our Kenyan log book, but needed to leave the original at the border).
We then drove from Nairobi to Isiolo on the first day. Isiolo to Marsabit on the second day, and Marsabit to Moyale on the third day. Reasonably long days (dawn till dusk), really crap roads, very corrugated, etc. Got really badly bogged in a sandy flow (up to the door handles!) in Moyale town, just 10 meters from the gates of the KWA. Half the town turned out to watch/help.
Border crossing was pretty routine, the eithiopians were reasonably officious, including attempting to check that the engine numbers matched, but really no trouble.
They give you a temporary import permit that got checked at few checkpoints as we moved north.
47) Namibia Self Drive- Trip report- Observations and tips
Driving is not as hard as it might initially sound especially if you stay on the main routes and take it easy with speed. However a 4x4 is certainly recommended. Its sturdier, you got less chance to get flat tires (I had none) and there are a few places that you can’t do without (like the route D1930 from Spitzkope to UIS where the sandy riverbed was not passable by 2x4). The roads are well maintained, thoroughly signposted and accurate maps are commonly available.
Car Hire Company : Advanced Car Hire:
Positive experience. The pick us up from the airport and returned us there even though we had returned the car two days prior to our flight. Their service was good and straightforward. Did not have any emergencies or breakdowns to see how they would cope but they promise to cover any breakdown in 24 hours. Their full insurance was the most extensive I found on the market (covered everything including glass and tyre but excluding under car damage and clutch damage).They even agreed to modify the number of booked days due to a last minute change in our plans. My only concern was that the car was not new (reg 2005). Although the car itself coped very well on the road, the tent and the camping gear showed signs of degradation.
Travel Agency: The Cardboard Box
I contacted them in order to arrange accommodation for us especially with NWR which I found very difficult to reach. They did a great job booking all accommodation in the busy and popular places (Sesriem campsite, Ethosa campsites) and costing us nothing (the prices they charged where exactly the same we would have booked ourselves and they charged no commission). They even prepared a small package with an excellent information booklet, a road map of Namibia and our booking vouchers and send it to the hotel we spend the first night. Fast to respond and reliable. They seem to know what they are doing. Highly recommended.
Hotels and Campsites
Rivendell, Windhoek: Excellent. Felt more like a home rather than a hotel. Safety can be a concern outside the hotel. According to a taxi driver lots of tourists have been targeted in the past close to this hotel. Apparently the problem is now “solved” with increased police patrols.
- Naukluft Campsite: Nice and not crowded.
- Sesriem Campsite: Really expensive but definitely one of the best we stayed
- Hotel Pension Rapmund-Swakopmund: Excellent little hotel
- Spitzkoppe Community campsite: Absolutely recommended. Not really a campsite (come prepared) but the location is stunning and the locals are friendly
- Aba Huab Campsite: Nice campsite- friendly people
- Palwag Campiste: along with Sossusvlei and Waterberg the best campsites we stayed. The staff was excellent.
- Okaukuejo: Avoid campsites 4 and 5. They got no shadow! We got allocated no 4 and got roasted during the day. The waterhole is crowded with people but also crowded with animals. The elephants provided a guaranteed show both days. Rhinos were also punctual to the rendez vous both nights around 8 pm. Even though I found it to be the worst camp in Etosha its waterhole is amazing.
- Halali: the LP guide says its waterhole is the best viewing venue on the park. We might have been unlucky but in 3 x 1 hour visits (2 day + 1 night) we show 2 impalas and one elephant in total
- Namutomi: the waterhole is void of animals save for the frogs and the various birds. The campsite is probably the best in the park.
- Waterberg: Great place and campsite.
During the dry period there are tons of animals in Etosha and its very easy to spot them. Predators on the other hand are quite tricky. We marveled at a pack of lions in Etosha but somehow felt this was a very lucky incident. Cheetahs are like searching for a pin in a haystack.
I strongly recommend one of the guided hikes in Palmwag. You see fewer animals than the driving tours but the feeling of been there on foot is unbeatable.
Outside cities I never felt any kind of concern regarding our safety. We didn’t stay long enough inside towns to have a definite view but got a bad vibe in general. Seems like hire car with roof tents are a magnet for all kinds of strange people. Got the same situation in Otjo, Okinjima and Odjiwarongo. A pleasant exception was Tsumeb which felt surprisingly relaxed.
Weirdest encounter: We were once flagged down by a teenager a few km outside . He asked for some water and then he asked me “if I can step out of the vehicle”(!!!).No wonder I left immediately but I am still wondering what would be the alternative ending of this incident (there was noone else evidently around).
48a) WEST AFRICA: Visa Touristique Entente - Available in Ouagadougou (Andy)
I wanted to confirm that the VTE, or Visa des Pays de L'Entente, can be obtained at the Direction du Controle de la Migration for 25.000 CFA. I dropped mine off in the morning, and it was ready the next day at 16h30. I asked several public servants there regarding the validity of this visa throughout the countries it is supposed to cover (Burkina, Niger, Benin, Togo, Cote d'Ivoire) and was told by all that it is valid for each one of the 5. I even asked specifically whether Niger accepts it, even after the coup in February 2010, and was told that Niger does .. However, based on my experience traveling throughout West Africa, I would take this confirmation with a grain of salt, as everything depends on the border and the mood of the border official on the day you want to cross.
In my experience I always walked to the Direction (there's a lot of construction happening around it so I just walked there instead of taking a taxi). From the Round Point des Nations (with the World Globe Statue), you can walk through the Grand Marché on Rue du l'Hotel Ville, past Place du Cinéaste Africain, Place du 2 Octobre, and keep going until you see the OiLibya station and the CBC building at a roundabout. The construction starts here and Ave Kadiogo is closed off, so you need to go around the CBC on Rue Poedogo, pass the Petrofa station and Fespaco office and continue until you get to Boulangerie de Gounghin where you need to take a left at Rue Gandin. The entrance to the complex is on your right, you go right when you enter, walk all around the building and until you see another building behind it with a chainlink fence / cage like structure on the inside.. If you get lost you can always ask someone around the area exactly how to get there.
48b) WEST AFRICA: for beginners (the situation in Senegal may have changed recently):
The difference between Ghana and Senegal is huge. Senegal no longer allows vehicles in (permanently) which are more than 5 years old, and what it DOES allow in, they charge a 100% duty on, unless you already have paid the right people to have a Senegalese corporation to avoid the taxes. Bringing a vehicle in through the Gambia and paying a Coronet to allow use in the WA countries, this would be smarter. Vehicles already in WA are often badly beat already, from the roads, etc., Vehicles in Senegal are way overpriced, owing to the taxes, etc. Even Guinea Conakry might be a better port to import, and that place is about as corrupt as anywhere in the world.
There's one guy I know, Mamadou Sy... I'll have to find his phone number, assuming it hasn't changed. He has some sort of deal selling Americans' SUVs on a car lot he owns. If you can't be persuaded to buy a car in the States and ship it in, then that's the only other idea I have. What's bought in WA stays in WA, btw. Europe won't accept WA country's paperwork as legit ownership, so you can't bring them back out of Africa once they've been registered in Africa.
Selling in West Africa - A success story
49) Tom and Jana's experience of crossing the SA/Botswana border in a rental car
Yom and Jana: Approaching the border at Martin's Drift
Here is the Groblersbrug/Martin's Drift border procedure, as best I recall:
- On the South Africa side (Groblersbrug/Grobler's Bridge), park your vehicle and go to the main building in the middle of the parking lot.
- Go to the customs window first. They'll want to see your Letter of Authority from the rental place and certificate of registration. Get a gate pass.
- Go to the immigration window. They'll stamp your passport and your gate pass.
- Get back in your car and drive on.
- Another officer will stop you and take your gate pass. He also opened our hood and looked at the certificate of registration's chassis number and checked under our hood, I guess looking for chopped car parts.
- You are now leaving South Africa.
- On the Botswana side (Martin's Drift), park your vehicle and enter the main building, which looks like an elementary school.
- Get some condoms. They are free at Botswana border crossings and national park entrances. (One in four adult citizens of Botswana is infected with HIV.) Supposedly, the free-condom packages used to be decorated with the Botswana flag, but they were just plain and boring when we got ours.
- Go to the immigration window first. They'll give you a form. Fill it out and go back to the window. They'll stamp your passport and have the driver sign a vehicle register book found on the counter. The officer will ask for the vehicle registration number, write it on a gate pass and stamp it. Take this with you.
- If you've nothing to declare, the passenger is done and can wait for the driver outside. (I stayed with Tom, but I saw some other passengers get kicked out.)
- Get customs to stamp your gate pass.
- The driver goes to the cashier's window, just past customs. This is where you pay a tax to get a road permit for the vehicle. We could not buy pula, Botswana's currency, before crossing the border, yet Botswana asks for the road tax in pula. They allowed us to pay in rand. It was 60 pula or 80 rand. They will give you a "Department of Customs and Excise Official Receipt."
- I've read elsewhere about the necessity of buying a road disc for your vehicle from the cashier. This is no longer done.
- We asked the cashier about getting a double-entry permit since we'd be leaving Botswana in a few days to go to Zambia and then returning, but she wouldn't do it and said we had to pay each time.
- Get back in your vehicle and proceed to the gate. The officer will take the gate pass and look at the road permit. Get the road permit back. That is yours to keep as a nice souvenir.
- Welcome to Botswana!
And back again...
- At 9:30 we stopped at the filling station in Sherwood, where we topped off with gas and had a burger and fries at a fast-food restaurant called Barcelos connected to the gas station, using up the rest of our pula.
- By this point I was a border paperwork pro. The procedure to cross from Botswana to South Africa at Martin's Drift/Groblersbrug is as follows:
- On the Botswana side, park at the main building, which looks like an elementary school.
- Go inside to the customs window. The driver signs a book and gets a gate pass.
- Go next to the immigration window. They'll give you a form to fill out. Fill out the form, return to the window, and they'll stamp both your passport and the gate pass.
- Get back in your vehicle and proceed to the gate, where they will collect your gate pass and let you through.
- On the South Africa side, park your vehicle and walk up to the main building in the middle of the parking lot.
- Go first to the immigration window, where they'll stamp your passport and give you a gate pass.
- Next go to the customs window, where they'll stamp the gate pass.
- Return to your vehicle and proceed to the gate, where they will collect your gate pass, hopefully not notice your missing taillight, and let you through.
Yeah, we were worried about crossing back into South Africa with our missing taillight. If we were going to get hassled about it anywhere, this was gonna be it. We hoped since the truck was registered in South Africa, they'd let us in anyway. Our worries were for nothing. Thankfully, no one noticed. What a relief! At 10:30 we were back in South Africa and driving like mad again.
50) Tom and Jana's experience of the Kazungula Ferry:
On the Zambian side of the river, all was a mass of confusion. There is no real parking area, and you just have to abandon your vehicle wherever it will fit while you visit the ill-marked jumble of bureaucratic buildings to get your paperwork in order and pay the various required fees. Columbus and one of his friends guided Tom and me through the maze of administration. Sometimes we were together, and at other times we separated to save time in visiting all the different offices. They got us through in about 30 minutes what would have otherwise taken us most of the day and caused endless frustration.
Here, in as excruciating of detail as I can muster, are the steps necessary to cross from Botswana to Zambia at Kazungula with a vehicle:
- On approaching the border on the Botswana side, bypass the huge line of trucks, park, and proceed to immigration. Fill in the forms supplied. The immigration officer will stamp your passport and give you a gate pass.
- At customs, the driver is to sign a book, and the officer will put an additional stamp on the gate pass.
- With the gate pass, get back in your vehicle and proceed. Give the gate pass to the officer at the gate. He will keep it. You have now officially left Botswana and are in no-man's-land until you fulfill all the requirements on the other side of the border.
- Squeeze your way around more trucks and pedestrians until you reach the river. If there are other cars there waiting to board, get close behind them, but be sure they're actually waiting to board the ferry and not just there waiting to pick up foot passengers. If there are no other cars waiting to board, position your vehicle as closely as possible to the landing, leaving barely enough room for the vehicles on the ferry to exit.
- When the incoming ferry has emptied, drive on board. There won't necessarily be anyone to tell you to proceed, but if they aren't ready for you, presumably, they'll stop you. One car, or possibly two cars side by side, will drive on, then a cargo truck, then possibly one or two more cars. Car passengers must get out and board by foot; only the driver is permitted in the vehicle when loading onto the ferry.
- Once on board, the driver exits the vehicle and signs a book. Then you make the grand voyage of 400 meters across the river before getting back in the vehicle.
- On the Zambia side, any vehicle passengers exit on foot. The driver gets back in the vehicle, drives off, and parks anywhere he can, trying to leave room for others to get by, if possible. This is pretty tricky, and Tom had to leave immigration once and go move the 4x4 to let a cargo truck by.
- Go first to immigration, where you get your passport stamped and pay for a visa. If you are going only as far as Livingstone to see Victoria Falls, it's possible to get your visa fee waived if you make reservations at a lodge in advance. The lodge must arrange the visa waiver for you. I told the immigration officer we were staying at Maramba Lodge in Livingstone and should have a visa waiver, and he checked a "Maramba Lodge" three-ring binder and found the proper documents, so we got in free. Otherwise, as Americans, it would have cost $100 each to enter Zambia. Sheesh.
- Fill out a CIP (Customs Import Permit) at customs, which is in the same little building as immigration, at the next window. Here you will have to show either ownership papers or, in our case, a Letter of Authority from the rental company saying you have permission to use the vehicle and cross into other countries with it. Pay a "consul levy fee" of 10,000 kwacha ($2.50). (I actually paid them 10 pula, which seems like it should have been 15 pula considering the exchange rate, but that's what they asked for when I proposed paying in pula.) I believe this fee was paid at the customs window, but I'm not certain. Get a receipt.
- In a different building pay for the ferry. The pontoon ferry payment office is reasonably well marked. It was $20 for our vehicle, a Nissan hardbody pickup truck. Tom did this while I was paying the carbon tax. Get a receipt.
- In yet another building, at a somewhat hidden window, pay the carbon tax (Thanks, Al Gore) for your vehicle. The fee is by engine volume. I guessed 3 liter (turns out it was only a tiny 2.3 liter, but it's the same price either way). The fee was 150,000 kwacha ($38, but they wanted kwacha). The officer didn't ask for any paperwork to verify the engine size. Get a receipt.
- Also, Zambia requires third-party motor vehicle insurance, conveniently available for purchase right there at the border. A three-month policy is the minimum available, and we paid 225,000 kwacha ($56, but they wanted kwacha). This "office" was in a shipping container with a spray-painted sign on the side. They need the registration number and chassis number off your paperwork from the rental company or your ownership papers. They gave us a one-page certificate of insurance. There were other shipping-container-based third-party insurance offices as well, so maybe you can shop around and get a better deal.
- Columbus had fronted us the kwacha to pay the carbon tax, so we had to pay him back 150,000 kwacha, plus we needed 225,000 kwacha for the insurance. The currency exchange office at the border was closed, perhaps because it was Saturday, so we had to do a black-market exchange right there in the third-party insurance office. In Livingstone they were giving 4,000 kwacha per $1, but here where we were captive customers, we got only 3,500 kwacha per $1, so the 375,000 kwacha cost us $107. At this point I gave Columbus 30 pula, though he'd asked for only 20 pula. Money well spent.
- All that having been done, in a little phone-booth-sized building next to the officer at the exit gate, I signed a book and filled in vehicle information again, then got back in the 4x4 with Tom, who had pulled up to the gate. Columbus's friend spoke to the officer, and he waved us on through without asking us any questions or looking at any of the multitude of certificates, receipts, and various bits of papers we'd collected.
- This is the end of the border crossing. We made it. Yippee! It cost us $130 in total to cross into Zambia with our vehicle. The four fees were the ferry, consul levy fee, carbon tax, and third-party insurance.
And going back again...
The passage back across the border at Kazungula was much easier traveling this direction, especially since we halfway knew what we were doing this time. The procedure is as follows:
- On the Zambia side, park wherever you can, giving some uninvited volunteer a small tip, if you must, to watch your vehicle.
- Go into the pontoon ferry payment office and pay for ferry passage. It was $20 for our Nissan hardbody pickup truck.
- Proceed to immigration, located in a different building, sign the book, and get your passport stamped.
- Proceed to customs and get a gate pass.
- Get back in your vehicle and drive up to the gate, hand over the gate pass which they will keep.
- Bypass the line of trucks and pull up to the ferry landing and wait.
- A drunk and/or crazy guy tried to "help" us with ferry boarding. At first we gave him some of our paperwork, thinking he was some sort of official. He was not. At least he gave our paperwork back!
- Unlike when we crossed two days ago, this time when the ferry arrived, an official worker directed the vehicles on board. Two pickups drove on side by side, then a big cargo truck, then they managed to squeeze another pickup onboard, and then us. Our truck was precariously perched, but it worked.
- The passenger gets out of the vehicle before the driver loads the truck and boards the ferry with the other foot passengers.
- On board the ferry, the driver must show the receipt where ferry passage has been paid and sign the register.
- On the Botswana side, after the 400-meter ferry crossing is made, the driver unloads the vehicle, and the passenger walks off.
- Park wherever.
- Proceed to immigration, fill out their form, and get your passport stamped. They will give you a gate pass.
- Get customs to stamp your gate pass.
- The driver then goes to the cashier's window, just past customs. Here you pay a tax to get a road permit for the vehicle, 50 pula. We had to pay again even though we'd just paid when entering Botswana nine days before. You get a nice looking, very official permit, and I think they stamped the gate pass here also.
- Get back in your vehicle and proceed to the exit, where an officer will collect your gate pass.
- Drive through the dirty pool of disinfectant on your way out. This is a hoof-and-mouth disease control measure. Also, if they feel like it, officials will confiscate your meat and possibly dairy products for the same reason. No one questioned us about any meat, and we went on our way.
- It was nice to be back in the seeming innocence of Botswana after the rat race of Zim/Zam. As soon as we left Kazungula, a baboon ran across the highway right in front of us. It was like coming home again!
51) JB's experience of the importing a vehicle into SA as a returning resident.
Firstly for returning residents you must be able to proof that you left South Africa with no intention returning ( I came over to the UK in 1998 on a holiday visa and got married, been living in the UK for nearly 12 years.
Secondly when you arrive in South Africa you must proof that you left the other country with no intention of returning.
I was self employed and went through the proper channels of closing down my business I did my self assessment and got a letter from Inland Revenue saying that they do not have any further interest in my business, also stating that I have been removed from the British Tax system.
(Very important as a self assessment in it own is not good enough).
This is so you don't have to pay import duty on the vehicle ( Also to qualify for this you must be able to proof that you have owned the vehicle for more than 12 mths and you will sign an affidavit that you will keep the vehicle for a minimum of 2 years.) If any of these are broken you will pay a 43% duty + 14% Vat on the value of the vehicle.
Thirdly you have to apply for a Import permit from ITAC (International trade Administration Commission of South Africa) Forms available of their website.
Fourthly you have to apply for a Letter of Authority from NRCS (National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications) Forms available of their website.( This will cost you approx £150 and you have to have a address in South Africa for them to send it to they do not post abroad.
The shipping company will refuse to load the vehicle without any of the above.
The two websites are ITAC and NRCS I don't have any of the information to hand, but if you google them you will get the websites.
52) 2CVfred's: The Wadi Halfa Ferry
- Ferry leaves every Monday (except holidays) and every second Friday (this is new as of 2008).
- Barge leaves on the same day as the ferry.
- Ferry takes about 17hours (leaves evening-ish, arrives noon-ish)
- Barge takes 2 days. It does not have a radar and because of that does not sail at night.
- Price for a car is 2452EP
- Price per person 2nd class: 262EP, 1st class (cabin with bunkbeds): 450EP (these are the new prices as of Jan 1 2008)
- Staying on the barge with the car seems to be out of the question. We tried really hard. Only with a special reason you are allowed on (having dogs in the car, needing special medication (you would need proof of that),... ). It used to be easier in the other direction, but this too seems to be no longer allowed
- In Aswan you can stay at Adam’s home: N 24° 10,161 E 32° 51,977. 40EP/car
- In Wadi Halfa the best of the hotels seems to be Deffintoad. N 21° 48,021 E 31° 20,955 per person 7 Sudanese Pound.
- Check with Dragoman (overland company with big trucks) if they are crossing in the same period as you are. They only go a few times a year (in winter) but they rent an entire barge and sub-rent any place available for much better prices then you would get from the ferry company. They also schedule their private barge to leave on a convenient day so that waiting time in Wadi Halfa is kept to a minimum. Schedules on their website Adventure Travel, Adventure Holidays, Overland Travel with Dragoman (or Adventure Travel, Adventure Holidays, Overland Travel with Dragoman ?)
- If not, you will have to book yourself. Best to call in advance to Mr. Saleh. 018-31 60 926. He speaks English and is generally helpful although his moods can change. Try to arrange a spot on a barge and if you want a 1st class cabin, it is best to reserve this in advance too.
- Once you have a date, try to be in Aswan 1 day before the barge leaves to do the paperwork. It does not hurt to go and say hello to Mr. Saleh, this will keep him in a good mood. Passenger tickets are only sold two days in advance. Ticket for the car can only be issued once you have returned your numberplates at the police. Mr Saleh has an office in town: N 24° 05,054 E 32° 54,585 next to the tourist office in a dirty “mall”
- Note on returning the plates: you will effectively drive around Aswan without Egyptian License plates, although illegal this should cause you no problems. But I would not advice you to travel outside Aswan.
- Returning the plates: before the traffic police will accept your plates, you need proof that you did not make any traffic violations (and pay for them if you have). You obtain this from “the court”. N 24° 03,747 E 32° 53,257. Drive south on the Corniche, follow the turn around the Nubian Museum and turn left at the “COOP” (blue sign) petrol station. Follow right and then left. Outside “the court” (just an appartment block like the others) will be a guy selling papers. Ask for “Bara Edzim” (phonetic). He will ask for your car license (the little plastic card) and fill in the form. Pay him 1EP for the form. Across the street you need to copy front and back of your car license (0,50EP for both). Then go inside the building. Second floor on the right and hand in the form, your car license and the copies. This will take a few minutes and they will give you another paper in return. No costs.
- Take this paper to Traffic police together with your number plates. N 24° 05,054 E 32° 54,585 . This building is a bit hectic, with lots of people queueing. Just take a booth without a queue and hand them your plates and the piece of paper. This is where it pays to be a foreigner as you can skip the queues. After a few minutes you get another piece of paper. No costs.
- Take this paper to Mr. Saleh so he can sell you a ticket for the car. Don’t loose the paper, you’ll need it in the port.
- On the day of departure Mr. Saleh will ask you to be there at 8 or 9 AM. This is ridiculously early as the boat will not leave before 5PM. But this being Egypt, customs and immigration only work until noon, so you have to get stamped out before noon.
- In the port you will normally get assistance of Ahmed or one of his collegues. They work for the Nile River Transportation company and do not need to be payed. They will show you to Immigration (get a form, fill it in, buy a stamp 1,5EP) and customs (pay 22EP at a cashier, NOT 25EP as they will demand first, get carnet stamped). They will do a quick check of the chassis number.
- Wait for the barge to be loaded and you to drive on. Try to have your car on the barge last with as little as possible of other stuff after it. This will speed up the unloading in Sudan. Take your Carnet and all other documents with you on the ferry! Also take a passphoto for registration in Sudan.
- Board the ferry... A word on the ferry: First class cabins are small with bunk beds but ok. Toilets for first and second class are seperate and not too great. Second class passengers are not allowed into First class, but westerners seem to be excempt of this rule. You can buy food and drinks in the dining room. Included in your ticket is 1 meal. Meals cost 10EP, Tea 1EP, soft drinks 2EP. They seem to make special efforts for Western passengers. We got a pretty decent meal (macaroni with cheese) which the locals did not get. If you are in second class you can try sleeping in the dining room (warm in winter). We slept on the deck which is crowded but ok. Can be very cold in winter. After you board the ferry you will be asked to fill in a form for Sudanese immigration and hand in your passport. You will get it back the next day.
- You should normally arrive in Wadi Halfa before noon the next day. Once docked, it takes another hour before you can leave the ship as Sudanese immigration is done on the ship. All non-sudanese/egyptian passengers are ‘interviewed’ by a guy from immigration and given the necessary stamps and forms. In the port you pass trough customs (they don’t check) and then you are free. A shared taxi to town should cost 2 Sudanese Pound. You will have to bargain hard to get this price though.
- At this time you will normally also meet Magdi, or Mahid, or one of his cousins/uncles. They do not really ask if they can help you with the paperwork, they just start with it. Negotiate a price first if you want them to help you. 15US$/car is commonly paid, they ask for more at first. They can only do the paperwork (stamping carnet, ...), they have no (or little) influence in the actual unloading process, which is your biggest problem at that moment.
- You should register your passport in Wadi Halfa. You get a sticker. It is no longer required to register again in Khartoum. Fill in 1 form and 1 passphoto. It used to be 34US$, but prices have gone up since they do a “double registration” (no longer required in Khartoum). We paid 50US$, but could not verify if this was the correct amount. One big disadvantage of using a fixer.
- The barge with cars normally arrives the next day around noon. Most common problem is the unloading. They either dock the barge in a way that it is impossible to unload cars. Or they want to unload the rest of the barge first. Etc... In any case, it might take another day just to get your car off. Be insistent but polite to get things moving. If things are not working out, it might help to contact somebody from the Nile River Ferry company (Mr.Saleh?) as they actually pay for the entire unloading proces and want to keep their customers happy. For your information, the port closes at 6PM. It opens around 9AM.
- Once you get the car off, customs is a formality. They stamp the carnet (with the help of a form Mahid/Magdi gives you) and check chassis numbers. You pay 16 Sudanese Pound customs tax and 25 Sudanese pounds port tax for cars up to 2 tons, 30 Sudanese pounds for cars up to 3 tons (and, etc...). A “local tax” does not exist and you should not pay it, nor any other “taxes”!
- Enjoy wonderful Sudan!
- A note on the fixer (Magdi/Mahid, ..) at the Sudanese side: Although they are friendly people, we regret using them. They did a good job indeed on getting the carnet stamped and they did the passport registration for us. But this seems to be nothing we couldn’t have done ourselves. On top, they were very vague about any costs involved. Since you have a day of waiting to do in Wadi Halfa, you might as well do the paperwork yourself. This is ofcourse easy to say for us... we did not do it ourselves ;-)
The only problem you might have is with a “bill of lading” (they do not use this term) that you might(!) need to get your car cleared from the port.
When we had problems with our barge bein docked on the wrong place, they could (and wouldn’t) do anything to solve this (“it is not our job!”).
- I presume going in the opposite direction is pretty much the same. Do note that in that direction the ferry can leave before the barge is fully loaded. And thus you would have to leave your car keys behind for somebody else to drive it on. In this case I would recommend you use the Magdi guy. The ferry and the barge itself will not be as crowded, so you should be more comfortable.
- More of this here: Radio Baobab » Informationsheet per country (click on Egypt)
53) Steve Lorimer's: Kenya to Ethiopia via Lake Turkana
Lake Turkana route from Kenya to Ethiopia
Quite a few people have contacted me having read my blog and seen that I did this route in early 2010. I figured it would be helpful if I put my response on here.
It's quite detailed. Some people think that following in others' footsteps ruins the experience and goes against the spirit of overlanding, and if you're one of those folks, then this isn't for you. However, if you want to have a clear idea of what the route entails, read on.
The road is rough, and the going is slow. You may have issues with punctures if you don't have good quality tyres. Consider taking a couple of spare tyres if you can. Also, seriously consider trying to go in convoy. Not only will it be helpful if you get a puncture, get stuck or whatever, but it's also a lot safer and imo, more enjoyable (provided you have right travel buddies!)
When we went it was the safest route north, and we did in a convoy of 2 trucks and 2 cars. Whilst the road was really rough, it was also probably one of the highlights of the entire trip (which is no mean feat considering we travelled 40000kms over 19 months - so we saw a lot of things!!) and in fact we didn't feel threatened at any time. Once you're north of Maralal it gets really safe anyway.
It took us 7 days to get from Nairobi to the Omo Valley in south west Ethiopia, although one of those nights was spent with one of the trucks stuck in a river bed, so we could have taken 6 days. You could probably do it quicker if you don't have trucks, but it is a helluva rough road so going is slow.
Before you leave Nairobi get your carnet stamped because there is no customs at Illeret. Ask Chris at Jungle Junction to help you. (Please tell him Roxy and Steve say hi!)
Also, if you have any mechanical issues Chris has some awesome mechanics who can fix just about anything.
What you want to do is head north out of Nairobi to Nanyuki. It's good tar road. There's a Nakumatt which you can stock up at, and fill up your fuel tanks and jerry cans. Get a lot of fresh water - this will most likely be the last place you can get good clean water for a long time.
Head west on the C76 (what's locally called the old stock road) towards Rumuruti. It's a good quality dirt road, although there are sections with black cotton, so be careful if it's wet. Also if you're in a truck, be careful of the elephant gates, which are steel cables strung over the road with steel cables hanging down. It prevents elephants from crossing into farmland via the road, but can cause serious damage to higher profile vehicles if you drive through the cables at speed.
South of Maralal be relatively careful of where you camp if you bush camp, it's not that safe - lots of shiftas. Most violence is inter-tribal, but you can fall foul of opportunistic theft if you're exposed. It's much much safer than the Marsabit to Moyale route though.
We camped in the yard of a game farm run by some muzungu's, a white Kenyan Tom, his sister and her English husband Harry. They're all very friendly people, and were happy to let us camp overnight. We also drove past a police compound which I guess we could have camped in if we had asked.
Once you hit Rumuruti turn north onto the C77. This is a really shitty road, going will be slow, the road is really potholed. Head north to Kisima, and north to Maralal.
There is a fuel station at Maralal, but don't count on there being fuel available. If there is, fill your tanks. The road starts to get rocky and rough. Drop your tyre pressure somewhat to allow for some give going over the rocks. Obv. don't drop your pressure too far so that you expose your sidewalls to the rocks.
From Maralal continue north to Baragoi and South Horr. The road gets really rough, some very rocky and steep sections. Take it slowly.
We bush camped on an old abandoned farm about 100m off the road. There is loads of wood around (including old fence posts which are very convenient firewood!) so you can make a good fire. There aren't many people around, so it's safe (although try get far enough away from the road that you can't be seen from the road - no point in advertising your location)
In Baragoi there are another two fuel stations and a booze store - stock up if you can!!
Once you're north of Baragoi you start leaving civilisation behind you, things start to take on a lunar landscape appearance and you arrive at Lake Turkana. Head to Loyangalani, and stay at the Palm Shade campsite. It's one of the few with a bit of shade, and is a great little place. Be careful of scorpions around Lake Turkana. (apparently also be aware of crocs and vipers, although we didn't see any).
Leaving Lake Turkana's shores you head into the Chalbi Desert, a stony desert. The pace picks up. Awesome places to bush camp under Acacia trees in the desert.
You have to go through Sibiloi National Park, which is something like $20 (can't remember exactly) per person. Tell them you're only staying for 1 night, even if you end up staying longer - there is no exit gate. There is a map available but it's horribly out of date - roads on the map no longer exist in the park.
Head to Illiret, on the north side of the park. Find the police station and register your exit from Kenya with the police. They don't have a stamp or anything, but if you ask they will write a letter for you stating they have recorded your exit from Kenya, which you then give to the Ethiopian officials in Omorate when you stamp in.
There is a mission in Illiret with a nice Franciscan monk who will let you camp in their grounds. They are low on fresh water (they rely on rain water), but you may be able to get some from him if you need it.
North of Illiret it's really sandy and the track meanders all over the show, depending on when it last rained. There are a lot of river bed crossings, but it's not too bad. At some point you will cross an invisible line and arrive in Ethiopia! Yay!
You will get to a check point with a little hut. Register with the police if they're there, if not don't worry. You will eventually meet a dirt road going east/west. Turn left and drive to Omorate. There you will find immigration and customs where you will have to check in and get passport and carnet stamped. To get birr (local currency) go further into town and find the hotel. Ask around and you will be able to change dollars on the black market.
Now turn around and head out of Omorate the way you came in and get to Turmi which has a really nice little campsite called Kaesa Mango River Camp. You might be able to buy fuel from barrels if you ask around.
If you can, go to Jinka to see the Mursi people (lip disks). It's all a bit commercialised (you have to pay for a photo, but only like 1 or 2 birr per person) and gets a bit chaotic coz they all want the cash but it's an awesome experience. In Jinka we stayed at the Rock Campsite which is really good. There is a fuel station in Jinka - this is probably your first guaranteed chance of getting fuel since Nanyuki, so a good 600+ kms.
Anyway, I hope that some of it makes sense and that it has given you a taste of what you are letting yourself in for!
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