Monday, February 18, 2013

Book Review: Trans-Africa by Motorcycle: A Father's Diary

Trans-Africa by Motorcycle
Embarking on any extended overland adventure can be quite daunting... opting to do so with your 17year son adds that extra layer of anxiety.  Opting to use a 16year old 1981 Yamaha XT 500 to do the trip on, makes for one major adventure.

"Trans-Africa by Motorcycle: A Father's Diary" is the story of Lawrence & Gareth Bransby and their overland adventure from South Africa to the United Kingdom.

Overland routes varied considerably in the mid 1990's compared to what we have these days.  Central Africa was an option to transit from West to East, along with the option of shipping from Eritrea to the Middle East and heading North into Europe.  Lawrence and Gareth opted for the latter route.

Lawrence & Gareth Bransby
An extract from the introduction:
We opted for Yamaha XT 500's, 1981 models which we bought cheaply and which are renowned for their robustness and simplicity of design. They have points and coil ignition, easy to repair along the side of the road, easy to find spares for. The engine has about 5 moving parts, the gearbox said to be so over-engineered it could be used to drive a tractor...
We couldn't afford expensive aluminum panniers so made one from galvanised sheeting. We constructed carriers from angle iron for the jerry cans, water bottles and thousand and one other things necessary for the trip. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Without problems, there is no adventure"

Ben Coombs - Mongol Rally
A few months ago I stumbled on the website of Ben Coombs - an adventurer dedicated to driving unusual vehicles across some of the most famous overland routes.  His first epic driving adventure was in a team as part of the Mongol Rally.  His vehicle of choice: an old Mini.

Since then he has undertaken a few more unique trips, one of which he has detailed in his book & ebook and which I previously mentioned blog post: Overland in a classic Porsche

Survival of the Quickest
My reason for mentioning Ben again is to encourage you to read his book. His writing style, frank and open, will keep you entertained as you journey overland with him and his travel companions.  He is not shy to express his anxiety levels as the old Porsche creaks over rutted roads, or the tough team dynamics after a long day and night drive. I was captivated by his words and was silently encouraging him along the journey as the Porsche scraped through another pothole. I found myself longing to be the passenger, and driver on this trip.

Not many overlanders take his approach to an overland adventure:
I wanted the journey to be a challenge.  I wanted it to be uncertain.  A reliable 4x4 just wouldn’t offer the same potential for problems.  Without problems, there is no adventure. 
Ben Coombs

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Land Rover or Toyota: 2012 Trip Statistics

2011 was a unique year.  It was the first year that the preferred vehicle choice for a Trans-Africa overland adventure was a Toyota.  Prior to 2011, Land Rover had been the most dominant vehicle choice for majority of overlanders who opted to list their adventure website on The Africa Overland Network.

Interested in the 2010 and 2011 statistics?  Read them here:

Roll on 2012

A few comments to make on the statistics:
Total trips listed on the website have continued to decline year on year since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) yet 2012 turned out to be a year that people opted to predict that they would travel for longer periods.
The Africa Overland Network - Trans-Africa Trip count
The website Kapp 2 Cape (Oyvind & Sheelah) are heading South from the UK.  In a recent blog (from Senegal) they wrote the following:
We have, since our journey started, wanted to meet up with other overlanders. Both to share information with, and maybe to spend some time on the road with. To our surprise, the roads are otherwise very quiet; there doesn’t seem to be very many overlanders around. And further, most of those we meet are either on their way north, or just staying in one country.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Overland Forum Stats 2013

How many overland and vehicle forums are you registered on? Got a favourite?  Do you create threads and reply to posts?  Or do you simply lurk scanning the huge amounts of content seeking out that fresh piece of information that glues your thoughts together?

In February 2012, I spent time researching the most popular overland and vehicle based forums currently active on the internet.  I recorded the names of the forums, along with the membership, total threads and posts and even the Alexa internet popularity rank. You can read more via: Internet Forums - Love 'em or Hate 'em.

It's now February 2013 and here are the latest statistics on those forums...

Registered Users
The registered users are simply that.  This does not represent the active members on the site.  Essentially the more registered users, the more content there is to read.  Only the forum 'ih8mud' publishes active membership count.
Overland Forums - Registered Users 2013