Saturday, December 15, 2012

Adventuress Wanted - Download the movie now.

Released a few years ago, the movie 'Adventuress Wanted', was all about Tom's trip South from Norway in his red beach buggy.  I reviewed the film in August 2010 and was lucky to show the film to the Overland Workshop (Yorkshire, UK) in 2011.

The good news is that you can now download the movie for free and if inclined, donate a few dollars to the team.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Anatomy of a Land Rover Defender 110 200Tdi

Anatomy of a Land Rover Defender
Choosing your vehicle for your overland adventure is probably the hardest decision you will make... If you opt for a Land Rover Defender, you will be choosing a vehicle that has completed the majority of Trans-Africa journeys and has every accessory you could possible need (and want).

The 'Anatomy of a overland vehicle' series was started by Nick Bradshaw and detailed the various modifications he did to his Defender 300Tdi before and after his epic Trans-Africa adventure.
Be sure to read his post via the Langebaan Sunset blog. My previous blog entry detailed the anatomy of a 1968 Land Rover Series II 109" which I purchased in 1999 and spent a few months driving around Southern Africa.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Anatomy of a Land Rover Series II

When last did you drive a Land Rover Series?  Did you dream of driving a Series through the African veld, the front air vents fully extended in the hope of getting fresh air into the vehicle?
Did the smell of EP90 gearbox oil make you look at the complex, yet simple, gear lever combinations and wonder if you were leaving an oil stain behind?
Land Rover Series II 109"

My first drive in a Land Rover Series was the day I offered to buy a 1968 Series II 2.286L diesel.  She was named Jaboa (after the previous owners: Jenny and Brian's overland adventure) and was perfectly modified for expedition travel.  Her steering wheel wobbled in my sweaty hands as I drove her North from Johannesburg.  Traffic congested behind me as I double-clutched in an attempt to select the right gear for the smooth but hilly motorway.  The radio, mounted on a wooden roof console, struggled to be heard over the clatter of the diesel engine. The Fairey overdrive required a punching action on the gear lever to get it to engage and would squeal brutally under load.  Equally, the brake pedal required a strong shove to pump enough brake fluid through the pipes to engage the ancient drum brakes.  Sounds tough, but it was a pure pleasure!

I spent the next few months in 1999 driving around Southern Africa, mostly in silence, as it was difficult to keep shouting to my passenger, over the racket of the gearbox and engine!  She was renamed to 'Mrs Golly' for Grand-Old-Lady, as she had a fine presence about her which attracted many admirers, and a few detractors who voiced their opinion about Land Rover.   You can read all about my first overland adventure in this very amateur blog, which I created in 1999 (with very low resolution scanned photos): To Africa & Beyond

I have borrowed the concept of 'The Anatomy of a Land Rover' from Nick at Langebaan-Sunset blog.  His idea of labeling the external and internal features of his Land Rover Defender is a good and practical way for all overlanders to ponder what accessories we considered worthwhile.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Overland Dream

Land Rover 109 - Overland Expedition Prepared
The Overland Dream, for me, needs nurturing and feeding.  The dream needs to grow... it needs to expand... to needs to be fulfilled.  It needs to be kept inspired, kept fresh and sometimes it needs to be shared.

One way I keep my overland dream alive is to admire photos from overland-related websites.  I first started searching independent overland expedition websites in the mid 1990's.  It was an extremely slow process of attemping to search via an internet dial-up connection.  The content was hard to find, and when I did, the photos were generally scanned using a low resolution.  However tedious the process seemed, each new website was inspirational and the photos I viewed made an impression on me.  I liked the grey sketched image (on the left) but have no idea where I found it.

I used the following quote on my first overland website...

The original websites have long vanished from web servers but a few remain... Here is one of my favourite websites:
In and Out of Africa - Derek Tearne

What inspires and keeps your overland dream alive?

21-Nov-12 Postscript:
Thanks to the wonders of the internet and image search features, I found the front of the Land Rover image (above).  The Land Rover turned out to be a Series II.  Unfortunately the person who took the photo is still anonymous.

Monday, November 12, 2012

An infectious dream...

Do you recall the moment when you first had the desire to do an overland adventure?  Can you recall scanning the pages looking for a 4wd vehicle within your budget and dreaming how it would explore those remote roads whilst travelling overland?

An infectious dream...
Some say that the vehicle you drive is simply a means of transport... others say your vehicle is part of you; You give her a name ; you listen to her heartbeat and can tell when joints are creaking; Some say Land Rover's have a soul (link).

I found these photos in my archives which Colin, the owner at the time (1999), took on a  short trip to test the vehicle and equipment -he was in the planning stages and preparing for an 18-month African overland adventure.   The Defender had already completed one full trans-Africa trip and in passing to new owners, inspired new dreams...

Perhaps it's true and testament in this 1991 Land Rover Defender...

Defender fitted with Brownchurch rooftop tent and awning

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why we own a 4wd vehicle...

Do you own a 4wd vehicle?  If you do, why do you own one? 

Andrew S. White from 4xForum offers a fabulous introduction to the reason why we enjoy owning a 4wd vehicle...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Unique vehicle: Mercedes Benz G-Wagen Camper

Wolfram & Iris
When last did you see a Mercedes Benz G-Wagen complete a trans-Africa trip?   It has certainly been years since someone drove South from Europe destined for Cape Town... until this year!

Wolfram & Iris kitted out their G-Wagen with a camper conversation.  A very neat German affair...

Their website, in German, describes the vehicle as follows:
The driving force comes from the car from the familiar 3.0 liter CDI engine class, with a capacity of 135 KW. A 5-speed automatic transmission directs the power through a propeller shaft to the transfer case. Both the transfer case and the rigid axles can be locked by pressing a button to 100%, if the terrain requires. The three differential locks are individually activated in logically predetermined order. The switching can be done while driving, so it is not necessary to stop.
Missing a wheel traction, the force is distributed to the wheels with the best grip. The Professional comes standard with anti-lock brakes (ABS), which turns off when the transfer case lock and electronic brake force distribution (EBD).
You can view the interior of the vehicle directly on their website via

A few additional photos from the website:

More G-Wagen overland trips...

Interested in more Mercedes Benz G-Wagen overland trips... watch this BBC video clip:
Gunther Holtorf
Here is a Mercedes Benz 300D which recently completed a trip:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Morocco... contrasting adverts...

Planning your trip to Morocco?  What vehicle are you opting to use?  If you have plenty of cash available, Land Rover would like you to purchase and take their new Range Rover... 

You will get the luxury of driving in refined comfort as per the video clip below...

or you can take your current Land Rover and head along more unusual pistes as per the DVD created by RoamingYak:


Regardless what vehicle you opt for, I suggest that if you live in Europe, that Morocco must be on your list of countries to visit... start by booking the ferry!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Quad Bikes Overland

There have been a few unusual overland vehicles over the decades of trans-Africa travel.  Added to that, not many have claimed Guinness World Records for the Longest Journey on Quad Bikes... until 2008 and 2011!

I have always thought that a quad bike would make a good choice for an overland adventure.  Slightly safer than a motorcycle (a very debatable point), and very unique looking, quad bikes certainly allow for easier travel.

Introducing two trans-Africa quad bike adventures that are worth reading.  Both trips have claimed Guinness World Records for the longest quad bike journey.

Quads Across Africa - Josh and Anna Hogan
Quads Across Africa

Expedition Quad Squad - Valerio, Jamie & Kristopher
The blog entries, written individually throughout the trip verberate with adventure, the passion for overland travel and the hardships that occur. A fatal accident and the turmoil of continued emotion run high in the final months of the adventure.  A worthwhile read...
Expedition Quad Squad

Interestingly I found out about Expedition Quad Squad via BlackWolf camping catalog.  The team had used 3 BlackWolf Mantis tents during the trip.  A poor quality photo of the two page advert:

Whilst reading Expedition Quad Squad blog, I was reminded again that accidents, caused by vehicles, contribute to the highest overland injuries and fatalities whilst traveling through Africa.  Take time to renew your first aid training, and be sure to carry medical kit with you... 
Read more: Expedition Medicine and Accidents Happen.

Quad Rides Africa - Jörg Schnorr
A quad bike adventure in 2009 - this time with a small trailer.

Additional Reading:
Unusual Overland Vehicles

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vehicle Awnings...

Awning mounted on a LR90
Overland travel is all about living out of your vehicle and being outside... This works very well in a warm climate but not really recommended for an Asia Overland adventure where the cold weather penetrates tents.  Keeping out of the elements is also critical, hence the need for a side awning mounted on your vehicle.

My 1991 Defender was fitted with a free standing Hannibal awning (as per the photo on the right). This awning was fantastic as it allowed me to open and close it in a matter of minutes. It kept us sheltered in the heat of the Mali summer although it did have a major tendency to fill with water in tropical rain conditions as experienced in Nigeria.
Collecting water from the awning
Living in Australia has similar conditions to Africa - hot summer weather with the East coast suffering from huge tropical rainfalls.  The need for a side awning on a vehicle is important - protection from the elements.

In my previous post, I mentioned the dilemma I was in... good quality, made locally, was being outsold by 'Made in China' expedition equipment.  I liked the equipment Hannibal and  Polaris Innovations made, however, my need for a side awning did not justify the price tag.  I don't have a year long expedition planned - I have the need for an awning for a few days a year.  This fact pushed me to the very disposable $120 awning.  The quality mimics the price, as you will see below, but the price means that I can buy four awnings for a single locally made one.  However, if I was equipping for an extended overland expedition, I would not hesitate in buying an awning that would stand up to daily use in extreme weather conditions.

Sydney 4wd & adventure Show

Martin, Kirsty & Gareth
The annual Sydney 4wd & adventure show took place this past weekend.  My main reason for visiting was to meet Gareth & Kirsty, who are in the busy phase of planning their overland adventure across Australia before shipping to Cape Town.  They will then continue North from CT following the East Coast to Europe. Be sure to visit their website and follow their Twitter feed.

My second plan was to buy a few bits 'n bobs for my 1996 Discovery -these included a side awning, and fridge.

Expedition equipment - designed and tested in country but 'Made in China' - would you buy it?

Expedition equipment and the challenge of buying locally made vs Chinese-made imports...
That was what the Syney 4wd & adventure show was all about... Quality vs price!  More on this very sensitive topics later in this post...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Surfboards & Motorbikes

Fancy a trans-Africa trip on a motorbike?  Fancy taking your surfboard and strapping it to your bike as part of the adventure?

GaryUnguided recently posted on The Hubb asking for company for his adventure across Africa with his surfboard.  His posting reminded me of David Visagie's trip back in 2009 when a German, called Martin, headed South from Germany to Cape Town with his surfboard.

David Visagie was driving his modified Land Rover when he met Martin in Cameroon.  The mud was proving pretty difficult, as you can see from the various YouTube screen shots.  Watch the video for more footage.

Good luck to Gary (bugsonmyboard) with his upcoming adventure...
Bugs on my Board
Hopefully he won't be in a position like Martin was:

More surfing overland trips:
Film Review: Thirty Thousand

Thursday, October 4, 2012

aCross Africa

aCross Africa
Just a quick shout out to the team from aCross Africa who are driving a Land Rover 90 and Series II 88" vehicle to the four corners of Africa.

It has been years since overlanders have chosen to use a short-wheel base 4x4 for a trans-Africa trip.  Not only have aCross Africa chosen a Land Rover 90, they have also opted for an old Series II.

Check out their website at

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dust on the Dashboard - a micro-overland adventure

Gibraltar Rocks Fire Trail
Dust on the Dashboard - The phrase I use when the travel conditions have met my craving for a sense of adventure.  This past weekend fulfilled that craving for a micro-overland adventure.

Alastair Humphreys coined the term microadventures, which I think sums up short overland adventures nicely:
They may be small but microadventures can still be challenging and rewarding. Each one is designed to inspire others to set their own challenges, challenges which may be short but which grasp the spirit of adventure.
This is the goal of my microadventures.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Android GPS Apps - Part 3

Mapping, tracking & export features are important for any smartphone GPS app.  Waypoint management should be easy with a quick 'create' button handy the main screen.  In Part 3 of the Android GPS app test, I spent time with Locus Pro, OruxMaps and BackCountry Navigator.
My device was the Google Nexus 7 (4.1) with a wifi connection to a 3G personal wifi device.  All applications relied on a data connection to download the maps.  I did not test the offline capability.
Read the summary of the apps and the first test.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Android GPS Apps - Part 2

GPS Apps on Google Play
Do Android tablet GPS actually work or is it simply better to use a dedicated GPS?  I used time travelling between two cities to experiment with a few of the apps I downloaded and mentioned a few weeks ago - read about the few apps I downloaded.

The apps I randomly tested throughout the day included Maverick, MapMyHike+, My Tracks by Google and Androzic.
My primary test was mapping, tracking and export capability of each application.
My device was the Google Nexus 7 (4.1) with a wifi connection to a 3G personal wifi device.  All applications relied on a data connection to download the maps.  I did not test the offline capability.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Africa Overland in a classic Porsche

Ever considered trans-continental overland travel with a Porsche?
Throughout the decades of overland travel there have been a many unusual overland vehicles which have completed full trans-Africa overland journeys... these unique vehicles include a tractor, Quad bikes, a Rolls Royce, a Smart car and now a classic Porsche.

Ben Coombs, driver and author of his book 'Survival of the Quickest' departed the UK in the autumn of 2008 heading South to Cape Town via the East coast of Africa.

The UK Telegraph magazine published a few photographs of this epic overland journey. The photos are available here: Across Africa in a classic Porsche.
These are a few my favourite photos:

I highly recommend reading his book and to get a feel for his journey watch the video from Northern Kenya:

The AfricanPorsche Expedition - Northern Kenya from Ben Coombs on Vimeo.

Interested in more Porsche content? Read all about Ben's trip via his website or his previous misadventures in a blog called 80breakdowns.
His Flickr stream via Flickr: fivetenben

His book 'Survival of the Quickest' is available on the Kindle via Amazon UK.

Additional reading:
Unusual overland vehicles
Mercedes Benz 300d

Friday, August 24, 2012

Android GPS Apps for Overlanding

Digital Maps
GPS devices have evolved considerably since the introduction of mobile 3G data networks... gone are the days of a dedicated GPS device mounted in your overland prepared vehicle. In certain instances, the trusty GPS device is now being replaced by the smartphone or tablet device powered by iOS, Android and Windows 8.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

eBook: Overlanding Central America & Mexico by LifeRemotely

Life Remotely website
Just a quick shout out to the team from for their free eBook  "OVERLANDING
Mexico & Central America".

The team have published an eBook specifically for overlanding Mexico and Central America with half of the book dedicated to planning and trip preparation and the 2nd half on country specific information.  There are enough nuggets of good advice for all overlanders to fill a Land Rover Defender roofrack! Topics include budgets, travel time, paperwork and staying connected (plus heaps others).

I will leave you to download and read the eBook (available as a PDF and Kindle version) yourself but will quote one essential piece of advice:

Stretch the Timeline
There is never enough time. Never. Even if you give yourself a year to travel,
you will want more. The key is to stretch your schedule as much as possible.
Add extra time that you can use up when you find a perfect place to hang out
for a week.
Consider that you may reach a point where you need to stay in one place for
a while. You can’t hold a steady pace forever. Eventually your car will break
down, you will get sick, have family visit, or just plain get tired of the road. You
don’t want to have to skip a country or go home early because you caught
Guatemalan bird flu or your car needs a new transmission.
 Source: - pg15

Enjoy the read and a big thanks to the team from for the hardwork in writing the book.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Route Planning Tool

How do you plan your itinerary for your upcoming trip?  Do you use Google Maps to calculate the distance and then add it manually into a spreadsheet?

I generally create a spreadsheet which includes date, departure town, arrival town, distance and a notes section.  I have also been using a spreadsheet created by Francois Visagie which allows for multi-currency itinerary planning and budget planning.

My biggest frustration is calculating the distance between two towns... it's easy enough to do with Google Maps but just time consuming when working out an itinerary.

I began to ponder... what if there was a spreadsheet which could do that automatically for me?  A quick search on Google revealed the answer...

 A Google Map distance calculator has been created by Winfred van Kuijk.

The spreadsheet uses Google Docs (Google username required) to link to Google maps and will calculate the distance between two cities.  It allows you to add to a trip log, which you could copy to your favourite tip planning tool.

It has a few limitations which is primarily around the route planning.  It presumes, via Google Maps, that you always want to do the quickest and shortest route, rather than an alternative route.  The work-a-round is to create more 'hops' between the smaller towns.

My tips on using the spreadsheet:
Create a copy of the template to your Google Docs account.
Distance Calculator - Settings
First change the settings for your region i.e. country code and units.
Be very specific of your address i.e. Nata, Botswana

Let me know if you think its useful...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

To Africa & Beyond...

She was my first Land Rover.  A well equipped 1968 Land Rover Series II 109 with an awfully noisy 2.286l diesel and gritty Fairey overdrive.  Her brakes needed pumping, her gear box double-clutching and her radiator topping up with fresh water, but she looked the place in Southern Africa and for me, she was just perfect.

Her downhill speed was 80km/h and her comfortable cruise control was a ample 60km/h (hand throttle engaged). Time was not an issue for me... I had four months to cover Southern Africa before heading North to Europe.  

Her homemade rooftop tent was unique and offered a panoramic view of ones surroundings as you lay under the stars.  

The open roads took time, especially when a head wind blew.  Her tubed 7.50x16 tyres hummed along the gravel and tar roads.  New cars whizzed past, a few hooting a hello.  Conversation between the passengers was limited due to the grinding overdrive and tractor-like engine.  Contemplation of the journey occupied each passenger.

In 1999, my attempt to keep an internet diary was limited due to internet access and a decent photo scanner but the memories are still vivid including the smell of EP90 oil dripping constantly from the gearbox (that smell still makes me shiver!).   Thankfully a few memories were recorded on video camera (which had a dead microphone) so all that remains is me talking about my trip...

You can read more via my very first overland website - excuse the lack of high resolution photos: To Africa and Beyond