Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 10 Reasons Your Website Should Go Mobile

A while ago I blogged about the free website tools that your overland site could use. The next phase is the mobile web...

Here's a quick article that I came across:

Top 10 Reasons Your Website Should Go Mobile:
"The mobile web is a fascinating space that is still in its infancy. If the current capabilities of mobile devices are a sign of things to come, I can only imagine what will be possible five years from now."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

LR Series offroad

Spent the day bouncing around at my local 4x4 event.  Plenty of bumps, humps and water ditches.

My vehicle is the 1972 Land Rover Series III (green with beige canvas roof).

Enjoy the following video:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Overland with Kids...

I have been actively following Andrew & Ann as they prepare for their overland trip from the UK to Oz.

There blog updates have been very informative and offer valuable information.  This one, linked kids schooling, with overland travel.  A subject very close to my heart after I became a dad.

We brought a small box containing reading materials, spellings and maths for both Jessica and AJ. We also brought a journal for Jessica to fill. But, what we failed largely in doing was to have was a set daily structure. We did regular reading each night and Jessica’s journal was completed most days but spelling, maths and any special topics and plans were non-existent. Just the daily journal writing with Jessica we found a struggle at times (e.g. to make Jessica concentrate - to make us concentrate!) As parents, we were as bad as the children (or worse!) in terms of preferring the sun, bikes, beach, sight-seeing, lazing or eating - as precedence over any educational need. We know our faults and are now doing some pre-planning and research into home schooling to ensure we have a more consistent and structured approach to daily educational requirements.

Well worth reading the rest of the blog.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Some snow fell last night...

Some snow fell last night in the UK.
Makes me long for the heat and dust of Africa...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Land Rover Experience - East of England

I was invited last week to the Land Rover Experience site in the East of England.  The aim of the half day event is to show the capability of the Land Rover offroad and then to persuade you to buy a new vehicle.

Our guide for the day was the son of the well known Vince Cobley.  Vince is best known for his company Protrax and his tours to Morocco with the Land Rover Adventure club (Photos below of his Defender) Luke Cobley, his son,  is a young guy full of passion for the Land Rover marque.  His knowledge of the Discovery 4 (our chosen vehicle for the day) was perfect and his enthusiasm for offoading meant that we had a fantastic couple of hours exploring the capability of the D4 and pushing it to the limits.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Six Overland Trips - One Land Rover Defender (Called Maggie)

Once a vehicle has been prepared for an Overland expedition, it is often resold and reused for a similiar trip.  Scrolling through previous trips on The Africa Overland Network reveals a number of websites which have used the same vehicle.

Here is one such vehicle - a 1991 Land Rover Defender 200tdi

Here's a quick history of the Land Rover Defender 200tdi called Maggie. She was called Maggie based on her colour blue and the famous statement about Maggie Thatcher that as Prime Minister of Britain, she was 'Not for Turning'.  Hence, Maggie the Land Rover, was not for doing U-Turns and returning home with unfinished business.

Her specifications are:
  • Year: 1991
  • Engine: 200Tdi Diesel (2.5L Turbo Diesel)
  • Current Mileage: 225 000 (roughly)
  • Fuel capacity: 80Ltrs + 40Ltrs extended tank + 2 x 20L Jerry Cans
  • Tyre Compressor mounted inside the engine
  • 40L Engel Fridge with AC/DC cables
  • 2 x gas bottles + 2 ring stove
  • High lift jack + piston jack
  • Eezi Awn Roof tent
  • Portable rear mounted vice on back ladder
  • Garmin GPS with external mounted antennae
  • Brownchurch water filter
  • 3 x 20L water bottles
  • Sand Ladders & Spade
  • Dual Battery system - Optima
  • Internal side mounted cupboards for easy out of the way storage.

The First Trip:

Richard & Jo Hepper - 1998

The Second Trip:
Colin & Wendy Clements - 2000 to 2004

In South Africa, Colin was introduced to a store full of overland and 4x4 equipment.  He quickly made a few changes which included a new Eezi Awn rooftop tent, Hannibal side awning, Engel Fridge and tyre compressor.

The Third Trip:
The biggest change Colin did to the vehicle was a total chassis strip-down and rebuild.  This rebuilt, undertaken in Kenya, modified the 90 into a 110 model.  The only new parts added were the rear tub.  The doors, engine and roofrack remained the same.

The Fourth Trip:
Martin & Debbie Solms - 2004 to 2005
I purchased this vehicle after chatting to Colin about the merits of the Defender 110 compared to my LR Discovery.  Buying a fully kitted vehicle for our trip meant that we only had a few mods to do.  I added sidelockers, and rear cupboards to the interior.  I opted to remain with the tried and tested Michelin XZL tyres.

Trip Four B
Sam Watson - Kenya & Tanzania
Sam borrowed the Land Rover called Maggie for a month of overland travel in August 2005.  His destination was Kenya and Tanzania.

The Firth Trip:
Jamie & Charlene Davies - Dec 2005 to July 2009

As you begin approaching Kubu Island you are unable to see very much as you travel through very tall grass and some trees, but all of a sudden the grass and trees disappear and all you see is another dried up pan with this small (from a distance) cluster of rocks and baobabs in the middle of the pan.

The Sixth Trip
Noel Peries - November 2009 to current
Departed the UK heading South on 5th November 2009.

Meeting the Owners:
The four generations of owners meet up:
From Left to Right: Martin, Jo, Wendy, Charlene, Colin, Jamie and Richard (photo excludes Debbie)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Overlanding then and now -Times Online

Charlie Hopkinson, writing for the Times Online, has written an interesting article on commercial overland trips.

The site has a number of good photos dating back to the 1970s.

Overlanding then and now -Times Online

Here are a few photos from the above article:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Website Creation - Free Tools to get your Overland Trip online

Do you need a website for an overland trip?  What are the benefits that a website and online media offer to the overlander?

In this blog, I outline my thoughts on the matter of creating a website, social media (facebook & Twitter),digital media (video & audio) and concepts like Geotagging and RSS.  In essence, the tools that will enable you to create your expedition website whilst keeping your financial costs low.

New Trip Added... Singapore Dreams

New RTW trip on a motorbike - Singapore Dreams -

Sunday, November 29, 2009

RTT & your dog

From the Expedition Portal Forum website...
RTT & your dog:
"I have thought of taking my Lab camping with me and letting her sleep in the RTT with me. If she was as smart as this dog I wouldn't have to lift her in & out of the tent.

Land Rover Discovery - A reliable Overland Vehicle?

Is the Land Rover Discovery a capable trans-continental overland vehicle?
Throughout decades of overland travel the Land Rover Series and Defender have been successfully crossing continents. In this post, I provide examples of the Land Rover Discovery and its role in Trans-Africa overland trips. I focused specifically on independent overland websites which opted to use a Land Rover Discovery as the preferred vehicle.

  Wikipedia describes the vehicle as:

The Land Rover Discovery is a mid-size SUV, with off-road capabilities, from the British car maker Land Rover; a subsidiary of Tata Motors. There have been three generations of the vehicle, which was first introduced in 1989.

Key Points
In my opinion, gone are the days where the dominant 4x4 vehicle was the Land Rover Series or Defender model, as a result there are a number of key points on why the Discovery is becoming more popular with the independent overlander.   The Discovery offers the following:
  • Superior comfort compared to the Land Rover Defender.  Majority of Discovery's include sunroofs and air conditioning.
  • Similar size to the Defender (physically less rear load space but extra width is beneficial)
  • A raft of overland equipment - roofracks, fuel tanks, bullbars and every other possible modification available
  • In the UK, the Discovery is very affordable compared to the Defender. 
In each of the examples below, the Overlanders have opted for various modifications -  from the standard roofrack and tent, to a fully plumbed in fresh water tanks and long range fuel tanks.  

First introduced in 1989, the Land Rover Discovery launched in a market that was ready for a medium size 4x4. Similar to the Defender, this vehicle offers excellent offroad capability plus the interior offered comfort and airconditioning.

My first Discovery, as pictured below, was a 200tdi (2.5 Turbo Diesel), five door model.  The vehicle had a five speed gearbox, with a central locking diff in either high or low range.  

Here are a few overland prepared examples:

In April 1999, Scott and Renee headed South from Spain en route to South Africa.  The Discovery chosen for the trip was the 200tdi, 3-door edition.  

The additional benefit over the LR Defender was the wide rear door which enabled easy access to rear of the vehicle as seen in this photo.

Prepared to the n'th degree, Andrew and Jacqui spent plenty of time and effort in kitting the perfect vehicle.  The Discovery had access to the rooftop tent (via the front sunroof).  The rear seats were removed and cupboards fitted to contain all the travel equipment.  A long range fuel tank, and two water tanks were fitted.

Additional photos from an afternoon spent at the UK Land Rover Billing show:

Land Rover Discovery 300tdi
Launched in 1994, this Discovery had the new 300tdi engine (2.5L TD), facelift headlights and interior.  Additional changes included a new gearbox and a few extra chassis modifications.

A few examples of trips...

Taniya and Clive are currently heading South from the UK and have a good website with excellent photos and videos.  

A short YouTube video clip shows the vehicle:

Peter Strong bought a fully kitted Camel Trophy Discovery and headed South and eventually North again.
Peter journals:
The Camel. 300TDi Discovery (P244 KAC) that was factory built for the Mongolia Camel Trophy Competition in 1997. I found the Camel in the care of Simon Pitchford in Gibraltar. Simon was gutted to lose one of his favourite toys - I was delighted to find a vehicle that was capable of taking the journey on.

Colin and team headed South from the UK in a Discovery.

Wayne and Tracy write the following about their Discovery 300tdi:
We decided on a Land Rover for our trip and bought a 1998 Land Rover Discovery 300TDi in early 2008.  The Landy was partly modified from a previous trip but we felt that it was not adequately prepared for our needs and still needed a lot of work and TLC to get it ready for our trip.

Launched in 1998, the Discovery II was the first vehicle to use the new 5-cylinder diesel engine (TD5) plus the new 'fly-by-wire' electronics which controlled fuel injection, traction control, and Active Cornering Enhancement (ACE) which prevented body roll. 

Paul and Jacinda headed North in their TD5 - their website offers an excellent vehicle prep page, including updates on equipment used.  

Quote from the website:
The most important accessory in my opinion for a diesel 4wd is a snorkel. Get water in a diesel and given the high compression ratio you can say goodbye to your engine. Apart from keeping water out they do a reasonable job of keeping the dust out and suck cooler air to boot. Combined with a K&N air filter, Truckasaurus breathes at its best.
This Discovery launched with a totally new design, including the innovative Terrain Response system and 6-speed gearbox.

The World Off Road
Akis and Vula have a superbly modified Discovery 3.  They are yet to reach Africa (Nov 09) however as they are currently travelling, I will include them.  As stated above, the criteria to be included is an independent website detailing their Trans-Africa overland trip.

Big Adventure
Jen & Noam are heading around the world in their overland prepared Discovery 3 (2.7 diesel)

Land Rover Discovery 4
Launched in September 2009, this Discovery introduced a new 3.0l twin turbo diesel engine, smoother body lines and new interior trim levels (to match the Range Rover).  This Discovery is still relatively new and attracts a price point that most independent overlanders tend to avoid.

In summary, the first Discovery offers a fantastic overland vehicle - engine reliability, ability to easily modify and the 'Good Look' feel about it.  The benefit this vehicle has is the 2nd hand price point, the expedition kit availability and the lack of electronics.
Moving to the TD5 version introduces the electronics - however, with the right computer, diagnostics will be a breeze.  Additional spares will also need to be carried in advance of any breakdowns as remote areas will probably not have the latest diagnostic equipment.

As time moves on and we look back in ten years, I expect to see more electronics in vehicles and easier diagnostics which should make the newer Disco 3 & 4 available as an overlander.

Additional Reading:

10 Reasons why the Discovery makes a good overlander

Saturday, November 28, 2009

New Overland Trips...

A few trips added today...

Bike Africa 2009
Four Irish lads head South on bicycles -

First Overland - retracing the steps of the 'First Overland' Cambridge & Oxford Overland Trip.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Camel Trophy - Screensaver

After trawling through my archives, I found this old screensaver dating back to 1999.

Click here to download the MS Windows version - CT96 and CT98

Here are a few photos from the file plus a link to the remainder:

Link to Album:

Camel Trophy

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Video clip memories from Mali

I have just finished catching up on the latest YouTube videos which have been posted on Overland Live.  CaT's Itchy Feet are currently in Mali and have posted this video clip:

Mali is a wonderful country and watching the above video clip brought back many memories.
Here are a few photos from the Mali diary pages of BigSky Adventures:

The photo below was taken after we spent an evening in a remote village on the banks of Senegal river.  We wrote the following after the event:

The next morning 'Ne Ne' served us more porridge and invited Debbie & Sameena to join her at the river to see how she washed the maize. This was a daily social gathering of women - first they washed their clothes, then dishes, then the maize, then themselves ... all in the same river. It was lovely to experience their way of life and see how content they are with life.