Friday, August 27, 2010

Bhubesi Pride - TransAfrique 2011

Bhubesi Pride - TransAfrique 2011
A quick plug for Bhubesi Pride's upcoming Trans-Africa trip.

Richard and Co. are heading South from the UK with a Rugby Ball.  Following the East Africa route, the team, all certified Rugby Coaches, will meet with various rugby clubs and schools to share and encourage rugby as a sport.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Expedition Medicine - be prepared!

The importance of understanding the basics of medical treatment cannot and should not be underestimated.
Accidents happen.  Be it in the form of a cut hand, a vehicle accident or in the worst scenarios, serious bodily harm that results in a medical evacuation.
Getting ill on an expedition also occurs.  Understand where you are going and the possible diseases that occur.  Malaria, dysentery, dehydration - to name a few.

The RGS Expedition Medicine book starts chapter 1 with the following:
An expedition is an organised journey with a purpose. 
This purpose can be exploration, acheiving a particular aim such as reaching the summit of a mountain, scientifc research, surveymg for minerals or a test of endurance. 
In the nine-teenth century expeditions consisted of rugged Victorians seeking to map and claim some remote piece of land for their Crown and country. In the twentieth century expeditions increasingly had a scientífìc purpose, but in the populous world of the twenty-first century personal development and cultural exchange are becoming the predominant reasons for travel.
Exploration and adventure travel are now big business. Some groups still raise their own funds for independent travel, large charitable and commercial organisations send thousands of young people overseas each Year. With specialist tour companies now offering vacations to remote places, boundary between an expedition and a leisure is becoming blurred- Americans recognise this and call what we are describing in this book “Wilderness medicine”. Chapter 1, p3
A few interesting chapters that cover majority of overland expeditions include:
  • Malaria and other tropical diseases
  • Medical problems of environmental extremes - deserts, tropical forests (jungles), etc
  • Plus a host of appendices covering rick assessment and medical analysis 

Plan ahead:

Photo: Daphne Overland (See Below)
  1. Training courses: find an organisation that can provide basic medical training.  In the UK the Red Cross offer a one day training course which covers the basics.
  2. Medical Kit: spend time understanding what you have in your medical kit and how to use it.
  3. Vaccinations: See the blog post on this topic which covers the recommended inoculation's for Africa.
  4. Driving course:  find an organisation that can provide an overview of your vehicle, how to use the 4wd and especially the safety elements of offroad driving and recovery. See notes below
Photo Source: Daphne Overland with Adrian & Catherine
See article on Nomad Adventure

Vehicle Training Courses:
I would recommend that team members from any vehicle based expedition attend a training course to familiarise themselves with their vehicle, the equipment they are taking and the basics of 4wd safety.

USA: Graham Jackson from Overland Training
UK: Paul Marsh from Footloose 4x4

Whilst thinking about this topic, and that accidents occur, made me pause to think.  My trans-Africa trip went relatively smoothly with only a few stitches, acute malaria, and the odd sore throat.  We had planned well and attempted to keep ourselves healthy through good diet and cleanliness.  However, I do realize that certain overland expeditions attempt difficult tasks (finding new routes etc) which increase the risk level.  Do a risk assessment prior to undertaking a task - walk the muddy road to find good traction ; carry clean water whilst on safari.  These small trivial tasks go a long way in keeping you safe.
In closing, should an accident occur, make that cuppa tea and assess the situation. Once you have gathered your thoughts, plan the recovery.

Buy the Book:
Amazon UK link (cheapest option)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Africa Overland - security and safety

Africa is fantastic continent for the overlander to travel and explore!   However, the question everyone asks: Is Africa safe for an overland expedition?   The quick and easy answer is absolutely yes!
The UK FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) provides a good overview of various threats related to each country – however, and this is the big point: It is very generic and covers areas that sometimes independent overlanders don’t travel to.

Here’s my thoughts on security and safety in Africa.  

Personal Safety First…

Personal Safety realistically comes down to the roads you are travelling on.  The roads in Africa vary considerably and can often lead to accidents occurring.  Driving, were reasonably possible, should be confined to daylight hours only.  This is not always possible but as the verbal roadbook for Africa states ‘Don’t drive at night’.  Here's a short video clip showing the various roads the BigSky Adventures team drove...

Additional elements of personal safety include the usual anti-malarial advice, health & hygiene and safety when working on vehicle.  Each of the last few points can lead to severe consequences and sometimes in a repatriation service back to your home country for treatment.  Examples of this are severe cases of malaria, dysentery and major injuries related to vehicle accidents.

Security whilst travelling…

Security on an overland trip extends the personal safety element to the next level – being aware of the country you are travelling in and the security risks associated with it.  Africa is a country made up of major cities and many small villages.  The big cities understand the concept that travellers (and esp. the weekly tourists) have money, camera equipment and are easily duped into handing them over – usually via theft related to distraction i.e. one person distracts you, whilst the other thief grabs what he wants.  Overlanders can all relate to how one member of the party stays with the vehicle and whilst the rest of the team are doing chores, someone knocks on the window to distract whilst another person attempts to pinch something via an open window or from the rear of the vehicle.

On the positive side, the more time you spend travelling, the more your in-built security radar will begin to alert you of uneasy situations – i.e. driving through a part of town where you know you don’t want to stop ; buying food in market when people are giving you threatening looks.

Small villages:
In my opinion, human beings are generally friendly and more curious about who you are, where you have come from and where you are going.  As a result, the security element in villages is relatively low, and if an incident occurs, local justice is swift.  In the late 1990’s a friend was travelling and his portable radio was pinched.  The village chief arranged a thorough search – they found the culprit and then gave him a good lashing.  My friend was asked to watch the punishment, which made him feel rather guilty that his radio had caused such harsh punishment.  A tough call to make if something like that is stolen and the culprit caught.

In summary, personal safety and security are two different topics – look after your personal safety in all you do, especially whilst driving.  Accidents occur very quickly and often lead to severe injuries.
Security is different – be aware of your surroundings and be willing to take advice from locals, other overlanders and your inner voice.  I have been actively reading overland websites and can only state a handful of times where overlanders have been harshly treated with violence. 

Look after your safety and tread lightly…

Suggested Reading:
Expedition Medicine

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Goat Butchery & Hotel

Africa has the best road signs in the world...

This is a good example.
Photograph taken by Adam Wolley ( during his London to Cape Town bicycle ride in 2010.
More Links:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Adventuress Wanted - Film Review

Ever thought of doing an Trans-Africa vehicle expedition?  If you have, be sure to watch this unique new film: Adventuress Wanted

Be warned: Africa is Tough!  This is not in the travel brochure!
It starts with an adventurous dream... a red beach buggy in Africa.
Add a travelling companion - not the simple way but through an advert in the local news paper: Adventuress Wanted - apply here!

What a mix you end up with: A beach buggy designed for one purpose - Sunday beach drives ; A New Yorker with an attitude of anything-is-possible ; And one Japanese dive instructor.  This unique trio makes a challenging adventure turn into a daily thriller.

Buggy problems, appendix issues, visa nightmares - just a few of the moments that during the film keep you guessing.  This is a unique roadtrip across Africa.  Forget the backup crew, the two support vehicles - this film is all about independent overland travel down the East coast of Africa.

Adventuress Wanted will motivate the traveller within, inspiring you to dream large and to see your dreams fulfilled.

Enjoy the preview and be sure to buy the DVD!

Additional Links:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Traditional & Digital Media - essential to an overland trip

Two items that should not be forgotten when packing:  Books & an Ipod (MP3 Player).
There are times during an overland trip were you just need to chill.  Picking up a good book, listening to an iPod or simply typing up the next blog is just one of the ways to relax.
There are only so many oil checks you can do on a vehicle before the need to stretch out in your favourite chair :-)

Traditional Media (books & CDs), along with digital media (iPods & laptops) form part of the relaxation process.  Downtime during an overland expedition is important - if in your planning phase consider the following items:

Traditional Media
Picking up a good novel, reading it and then trading it for the next is a simple pleasure.
During my overland trip, I read everything from the Zulu & Boer wars, through to the latest Wilbur Smith novels.
One author I am currently enjoying is Tony Park.  Tony Park writes about Southern Africa and his novels have a good mix between adventure, a bit of love and the African bush. For more information on this author, visit his website or read his blog.

Digital Media
One of the best devices this past decade has to be the mainstream introduction of MP3 and the Apple iPod.  Linking a device like this to you car radio makes for a perfect listening experience.  Enough said on this topic as majority of overland trips already have an iPod or similar device.

One key element of digital media is the ability to expand on your listening pleasure.  Adding to your music collect with a few downloaded audio podcasts, or a few audio books.  Listening to an interview or listening to the 48hours of Harry Potter is a good way to keep the driving from getting boring!

In summary, make sure you have a space for those books and that your iPod can connect to the car stereo.  Buy a good selection of audio books and printed ones.  Scrounge the internet for podcasts you enjoy and download all the back issues.

A few podcasts I enjoy: