Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tractor Tractor - the final destination: Antartica

Google Search: Manon Ossevoort
Nine years ago (2005) Manon Ossevoort departed The Netherlands heading South for Africa.
Her mode of transport was not a classic expedition prepared Land Rover or a Land Cruiser Troopy, rather a Tractor!

This vehicle has certainly been one of the most unusual overland vehicles yet to complete a Trans-Africa trip - yet her overland travels were not complete... Manon was aiming for the Antartic.
Africa overland with a tractor!
Finally on December 9th, 2014, she reached her destination driving a Massey-Ferguson tractor.
Manon Ossevoort - Daily Mail UK Photo

Congratulations Manon on achieving a dream and persevering to achieve it!

Additional Reading:
Tractor Tractor

Friday, November 21, 2014

Product Review: LED Flexible Strip Light

Do you hard-wire your LED light solution to your 4wd overland tourer or do you prefer the flexibility to move the LED strip around the vehicle for the optimum brightness in the right places?

I have LED light strips that are static (permanently wired) at the rear of my vehicle but don't have any lighting under the awning or in the roof top tent. I recently had an open discussion with Daniel from Expedition Center to discuss my challenge and attempt to find the right lighting solution, within my budget to meet my needs, which included external vehicle lighting, possible tent interior and brightness controls.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Trip Report: Fraser Island 2014

Known as the worlds largest sand island, Fraser Island, off the coast of Queensland, Australia is one of Australia's iconic 4wd destinations... It's a destination for the whole family with enough activities to keep everyone entertained.
Here's an update on my newbie experience of Fraser Island...
Pajero & Prado at the Maheno Wreck

Thursday, November 13, 2014 arrive home...

After five years of overland adventures, David & Jayne ( have arrived back in England having driven around the world.  Press coverage of their return has been fantastic with a number of newspapers reporting on their arrival home.

Birmingham Mail posted an interesting article with a neat photo album.
Birmingham Mail Article & Photos
BBC Midlands posted the following interview on Facebook:

Be sure to follow Lizzybus on Twitter:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

2014 Sydney 4wd & Adventure Show

Hema Maps Vehicle
The 2014 Sydney 4wd & Adventure Show was held this past weekend. It's been two years since I last attended the show (and got to meet Gareth & Kirsty from Aussie Overlanders)  so I was keen to meet a few more interesting people and to check what the 4wd market was doing.
The popular online magazine 'Unsealed 4x4 - where the adventure begins' were the primary sponsors. I had a quick chat with the new editor Matthew Scott and was encouraged to hear about the growth of the online magazine and the emphasis on good content.

It was tough leaving the car park as it was filled with a few unique vehicles, excellent modifications and many tried&tested overland tourers.
Unimog's always attract attention...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Focus on: Gunther Holtorf

Google Image Search: Gunther Holtorf
It's good to reflect on those anonymous overlanders who silently travels the world without the hype of social media and travelogue updates... one person who has managed to keep under the internet radar is Gunther Holtorf.   Although, a quick Google image search reveals that many magazines and internet websites have published articles on this silent overlander.

His Mercedes Benz G-Wagen 300GD, named 'Otto', has been his faithful companion for the whole journey and will soon be featured in the Guiness book of records.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Contributing to the overland community: Jupiter's Travellers

Google Search: Trans-Continental Travel
When last did you share overland travel stories with like minded travelers?  Did you notice how Overlanders love to share the passion for the journey and the destination.  When I started 'The Africa Overland Network', the aim was to share the passion for overland travel and link past, current and future travelers together - I wanted people to take the bold step and to experience independent trans-continental overland travel and continue to hope that the Overland Network inspires others to do the same.
Websites, forums, Facebook plus many 'overland-related' private companies are all positively contributing to the overland community with a few companies taking a global approach.  One such company is 'Jupiter's Travellers' and another 'Overland International'.

Whilst listening to Sam Manicom's 'Under Asian Skies' audio book, I took the opportunity to revisit his website to catch up on the authors current travels.  I spotted that Sam was an advisor for 'Jupiter's Travellers - The Ted Simon Foundation' and took the time to read a little more the organisation.
Jupiter's Travellers Website (2014)
I liked the caption on the home page:
The Ted Simon Foundation encourages those who adventure into the world to go the extra mile and transform their experiences into something of value for the world to share.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Audio Book Review: "Under Asian Skies" by Sam Manicom

Listening to an audio book is almost as good as meeting the author in person.
A popular adventure motorcyclist author is Sam Manicom.  His first book "Into Africa" (printed and audio book available) highlighted his travels around Africa.  His second book "Under Asian Skies: Australia to Europe by Motocycle" continues the story of his world travels on his BMW GS Motorcyle.

I have recently finished listening to "Under Asian Skies" - all 11h 40m of the book!

The pace of the book is good which meant that I never felt I needed to speed the reading up or that moments in the chapters had little interest, which might have lead me to skipping to the next chapter. There with certainly enough interesting 'talking' points to keep me engaged.  The chapters (and hours) seemed to speed past and before I knew it, I was into the last hour of the book.

Listening to Sam as he reads his adventures outloud had me fascinated with his attention to detail. He briefly mentions writing a journal (as part of his daily routine) and somehow managed to capture huge amounts of detail, mostly around people, places and daily activities. You won't be dulled into a narration of his daily journal, instead you will gleam an insight into the life of a motorcyclist overlander.

The authors voice is amazingly clear and articulate and his tone and mood wonderfully stylish. His writing is organised and in my opinion, entertaining and informative.

I purchased the book through Audible and listened to the book via my phone, mostly linked to my Toyota Prado's radio or on the bus commuting to work meetings.  The only downside of the audio book is the lack of ability to mark an interesting paragraph and re-read.  The Audible app has a bookmark feature but I was never quick enough to get the phone out of my pocket, unlock it and bookmark it, or I was driving and needed to focus on city traffic.  Buzz words or phrases would leap out of Sam's reading like "Into full cruise mode" and "Travel Blind" which would capture the moment in Sam's journey and in my listening.

I would recommend the audio book over the printed book purely because of the way that the author narrates his story.  It was his overland journey, he knows the people and places he reads about it in a way which we can't capture when reading a book, and that counts a lot.  Adding your voice to a printed book misses elements of the travels that potentially the author might have found fascinating.

Time to listen, visit and purchase a copy of the book.  It only costs the equivalent of 3 Australian 'Flat White' coffees!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sydney Overland Meetup 2015 Dates

The Sydney Overland Meetup will be taking place in 2015.
Venue: Expedition Centre, Sydney
Book the following dates in your diary and see the page above to read more about the events:

The following dates have been scheduled:

7th February 2015:  
Guest Speaker to be announced soon
Venue: Expedition Centre
Time: 1pm to 4pm (with option for BBQ afterwards)

13th - 15th March 2015
Overland Workshop and camping weekend
Venue: TBC
Price:  Camping Fees only
Friday:  Informal Meet & Greet and BBQ
Saturday:  Guest speakers, and workshops
Sunday:  Guest Speakers

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kinshasa to Lumbumbashi - August 2014 Update

It took 39 days for Frederick and Josephine to head North from Lubumbashi to Kinshasa. In August 2014, it took 13 days for Elias and Christina (Mad Nomad) traveling on two Honda XR 250s.  Could this become the new primary route South?
Photo: Mad Nomad (DRC August 2014)
We were still trying to realize that we travelled from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi in just 13 days! This is a route which is considered almost impassable and we haven’t met anyone in this country who has tried it. Sure, it was important that we were using two of the most suitable motorcycles for this kind of use and they were properly equipped. However, of course, we faced some mechanical failures in that rough terrain but we were prepared for them and we could fix them. After all, nothing stopped us and we achieved to become one of those few foreigners who have explored one of the most unspoilt African countries. Finally, our trip in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was much more pleasant than expected… - See more at:
Photo: Mad Nomad (DRC August 2014)
Read the full report on the Mad Nomad website:
Photo: Mad Nomad (DRC August 2014)

Additional Reading:

October 2009 - Lost Route (West to East Africa)
October 2010 - Trip Report: Radio Baobab (Lubumbashi to Kinshasa, Congo)
April 2012 - Congo Overland - Kinshasa to Lubumbashi
November 2013 - Don't Miss the Ferry

Personally, I like the fact that overlanders always find a way when borders between countries constantly open and close.  Perhaps this route will become popular again over the next few years.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lurking under the crust... experiences on the Makgadikgadi pans

The track to Kubu Island
A recent blog post by Laws & Hookey, the team from "Where the fook is (laws &) hooke" prompted my memories and experiences on the Makgadikgadi pan and Nxai pans in Botswana.

The Makgadikgadi Pans are situated roughly halfway between Maun and Nata and is a tempting diversion between the two towns...
Makgadikgadi Pans 2005
My first experience of the pans were in 1993 but the real story started in 1994 when I attempted to hitchhike from Pretoria to Maun in Botswana. My experience of hitchhiking was limited to cities and not cross border trips! My backpack was filled with unnecessary equipment and even included a BBQ grid! My travel partner and I were not compatible and hardly a word was spoken between the two of us but the security of a traveling partner outweighed the disadvantage of compatibility!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Notorious Roads: Marsabit to Moyale

East Africa: There is one road that is as notorious as the Nigeria to Cameroon route.
Photo: Mikes Global Adventure - Marsabit to Moyale 
Certainly this road strikes more fear and uncertainty due to the infrequent threat of bandits, the wet season and the dusty dry season. Plus, if heading North, the anxious feeling of another border crossing.

Welcome to the Marsabit to Moyale road in Northern Kenya.
An overlander’s rite of passage: Marsabit to Moyale - Morgan Safari (Nov 2013)
We had heard the horror stories, we had seen photos, but nothing could have prepared us for the treacherous journey into Kenya along one of the most famous roads in Africa - Bristol to Cape Town 
 The ride was very challenging and interesting as it took us through a series of ups and downs, frustrations and amazements. This stretch of 260 km gravel presented to us – rocks (many!), sandy patches, desolate desert scenes, even green valleys with trees, camels, donkeys, a jackal, bushbaby, mud and even some rain -  Crossing Africa 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Africa Overland with a Jeep Wrangler (Lost in HDR)

The website of Kristina & Nerijus (Lost in HDR) might be the first Africa overland trip to use a Jeep Wrangler! Land Rover, Toyota, Quad bikes and even Rolls Royce have completed trans-Africa overland trips but todate, no one has used a Jeep Wrangler and blogged about the experience!

'Lost in HDR' Website
'Lost in HDR' is a vivid visual experience which stimulates, pulls you in and leaves you wanting more!

Photo: Lost in HDR - Morning in Cameroon

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Puff, the Magical Land Rover Series IIA

How many trans-continental overland journeys can one vehicle do in a life time?
Photo by African Snail
Here is a 1971 Land Rover Series IIA which might have completed five or six Africa overland trips...

The 1st trip:1999 - African Edventure by Dennis & Aaron
The 2nd trip: 2004 - African Snail by Murray & Moira
The 3rd trip: 2005 - Gary & Courtney
The 4th trip: 2006 - Rob, Xander & Charlie
The 5th trip: 2007 to 2014. Seven years of unknown travels!
The 6th Trip?  Potentially the current owners Jono & Joss Watkins

On June 2nd 2014, Teresa (Safari Jema) posted a photo on Facebook with another Land Rover and it immediately got my attention.  I knew the vehicle and the previous owners but had thought it had been destined for spare parts rather than more overland adventures!
Photo: Safari Jema (with the white Series III)

The brief overland history of this petrol 1971 Land Rover Series IIA 109"...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

1966 - Karachi to London by Kombi

Frank Arnold & Noel Cantrill
Overland travel in 1966 was very different to current 2014 journeys yet the essence of overland travel remains the same... to explore new countries.
Historical overland journeys often fade into the memories of the travelers and rarely get published.

One trip that has recently reappeared is the 1966 overland travels of Frank Arnold and Noel Cantrill.  The two overlanders traveled from Karachi to London and have recently published an eBook which is currently available via Apple iTunes (as an iBook).

I spotted the article in our local Australian newspaper and was intrigued by the write up and stories of the authors, Frank Arnold and Noel Cantrill.  The iBook highlights the overland journey from Karachi to London in a VW Kombi.  The iBook features photos and a selection of video clips.

Apple iBook: Highly Inflamably
Highly Inflamably

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Spotted: Land Rover Series III Ambulance

Ready for your next overland vehicle?  How about something totally different from the usual modern 4x4?

Spotted on eBay UK:  a neatly converted Land Rover Series III Ambulance fully kitted for overland travel.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Shoutout: Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meetings

Looking for some overland inspiration?  Be sure to check out the many events that Horizons Unlimited (@horizonsUnlimit) will be hosting throughout the year, including a four new events for 2014.
Google Image Search: Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting
Link to the website:
HU Events
I was hoping to be able to attend the inaugural Australian NSW event taking place in November but unfortunately I will be exploring Fraser Island for the first time.  Perhaps next year!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Commercial GPS turns 25 years old!

Twenty-five years ago, the first Magellan GPS unit were shipped to retailers for the average consumer to purchase.  The release of this military grade equipment quickly gained adoption as navigation devices in light aircraft, vehicles and adventure travel.  This single technology, coupled with mobile technology, has impacted overland travel more than any other device.

Mashable highlights a few memorable moments throughout Commercial GPS history:
While GPS proved invaluable to the coalition forces, it could prove equally valuable for the enemy. So the government introduced "selective availability" (SA) — errors added to reduce accuracy in civilian GPS receivers.
President Clinton turned off SA on May 1, 2000, which improved consumer device accuracy to 15 meters, coincidentally around the same time the first handheld units with included city street maps became available, such as the first full-color GPS handheld, the Magellan Meridian Color Handheld GPS Navigator, in 2002.
After the success of the [Magellan] NAV 1000 and the publicity generated by the Gulf War, the GPS floodgates opened. A variety of GPS devices from other companies such as Garmin (1989), TomTom (1991) and Mio (2002), hit the market using maps and navigation software from a variety of suppliers such as Navteq (1987), Navigon (1991), SiRF (1995) and TeleNav (1999).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Africa Overland: The Solo Scooterist (Michael Strauss)

Why take a heavy overland prepped motorcycle when you can complete a Trans-Africa overland adventure on a Vespa!  Introducing Michael Strauss and his Vespa named Victoria.
Michael Strauss - Solo Scooterist

Michael departed Johannesburg on the 1st May 2014 and is heading North.  His website is active with a good mix of content and photos.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Box It: a recommendation for Wolf Boxes

Box it, pack it, store it - how do you pack your overland prepared vehicle to ensure the items are accessible, secure and dust/water proof.   Recently FunRover uploaded a video comparing the Wolf Box vs the Really Useful Box.  The video takes a light-hearted approach to the topic of expedition boxes, durability and capacity but gets the point across on purchasing the right storage solution for overland travel.

I have used Wolf Boxes for over a decade of independent travel, in various types of overland prepped vehicles, and find them very practical, with the right balance of internal storage capacity vs physical dimensions.  The option to use a high-lid or standard-lid enable right-sizing of the packing solution.  They do have limitations, as the FunRover video highlighted: dust and water ingress plus the lid retaining clips have a very bad habit of snapping!
Google Image Sarch: Wolf Box 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Outback - Home Stretch - Day 8

Traffic all day long. The previous five days we had spotted probably 30 vehicles including those in towns and the parked at the various roadhouses.
As we descended on Sydney we merged with traffic and become just another city 4x4!

Whilst stopping for a quick coffee in Bourke, we spotted the Bermach truck of Atte and Marijke.  Unfortunately we did not get to say hello as they were departing town shortly after we arrived.
Atte & Marijke - Bermach Truck

The Outback - 1000km - Day 7

The Outback 2014 trip was coming to an end, which meant that we had two days to travel 2000km from Birdsville to Sydney. A 1000km of empty roads were ahead....

Sunrise on the road to Windorah

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Outback - Poeppel Corner to Birdsville - Day 6

My tent leaked last night!  Dark clouds started rolling in around 7pm and by 11pm, lightening and thunder boomed across the dark desert sky.
Rain pelted down, soaking the red sand and giving the two 4x4s a very good clean.  Our restless minds were buzzing with anxious thoughts on the track condition and especially crossing Lake Poeppel.

Breakfast was rushed as we packed our gear and discussed the option for the day as Doug and Ruth were continuing West across the Simpson Desert whilst Neil and I were doing a u-Turn and heading back to Birdsville.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Outback - Birdsville to Poeppel Corner - Day 5

Map names were becoming real places and waking up in Birdsville was one of those moments overland travel is all about.
Simpson Desert - on top of sand dune known as 'Big Red'
An outback town with a population of 100 people (+/- 7000, as the sign says) is a town used to an influx of city 4wd owners and tourists yet the local town folk do not have this 'harassed by tourists' mentality. I loved the fact that everyone we spoke to had a smile and a willingness to talk and share information on the road conditions and the Simpson Desert.

A special shoutout to Kelly Theobald, author and journalist. In 2012 Kelly and her partner completed a crossing of the Simpson Desest in a VW Beetle.  I managed to spend time with Kelly and hear her story on how she arrived in Birdsville and what life is like in the Australian Outback. Kelly bubbles with enthusiasm causing all around her to smile and dream big. Kelly recently published a childrens book titled "Onslo" named after her Beetle.  
Kelly Theobald & Onslo

The Outback - Haddon Corner - Day 4

Corella birds provided the most natural alarm clock needed. The sun was peeking over the horizon as the gas cooker burst into flame and the kettle started heating the water.
Sunrise at the Burke & Wills Dig Tree

There are four people in our group, split evenly between the Land Cruiser Prado and the Land Cruiser 80-Series. Neil and I, driving the Prado, are using the nimble popup dome tents, which are perfect for good weather camping taking all of 30 seconds to open and peg down. 
Doug and Ruth are using a Howling Moon rooftop tent. It might takes longer to setup than the 3-second dome tents but provides a comfy setup for daily use.

Doug & Ruth - LC 80-Series Camp Setup

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Outback 2014 - Innimincka - Day 3

Sunrises don't get much better than in a desert and waking up in Cameron Corner was no exception.  Beautiful morning rays highlighted low hanging clouds.
Sunrise at Cameron Corner

The Outback 2014 - Cameron Corner - Day 2

Never a dull moment in the Australian Outback...

The Outback 2014 - Back O'Bourke (or not) - Day 1

0530am... my mind was buzzing.  Day 1 of the Australian Outback 2014 trip was starting.
Land Cruiser 80-Series & Land Cruiser Prado

My first stop of the day was to collect a friend and his gear and then we turned North and slowly headed out of Sydney towards the Blue Mountains and Dubbo.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Outback 2014 - planning phase

Nine days to go before I depart for the Australian outback.  In this blog post, I summarise ten activities I do prior to a trip starting.  Preparing for a trans-continental overland travel only involves more preparation than a weekend or work-holiday trip based on the fact that you have to rent out your home and store your furniture.
Planning a route

The same intense preparation is required for the shorter trips.

My trip to the outback has involved hours of planning, route mapping, vehicle checks and equipment lists.
The unique aspect of all preparation is the way different individuals approach the planning phase...

Here's my top10 list on planning:

Monday, March 24, 2014

He owned 8 Land Rovers and then bought a Toyota...

How many times have you heard that a Land Rover owner has changed his or her vehicle and purchased a Toyota? In short, I have now purchased a Toyota after owning eight Land Rovers over the last two decades!
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 120 Series

Vehicle of choice this time is a 2007 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado D-4D (1KD-FTV).
And it was not based on the fact that Toyota owners are quick to explain the lack of tools needed, the reliability of the vehicle or the fact that they a perception to last forever.

Here's my thoughts on why I moved from Land Rover...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book Review: "In Search of Greener Grass" by Graham Field

"In Search of Greener Grass"
Independent overland travel can be as engaging or remote as the traveler wants it to be. Graham Field, the author of 'In Search of Greener Grass', will engage you in more detail than you thought possible and will takes you on a journey from the UK to Mongolia and finally onto Russia. 
Motorbikes are a lifestyle; it’s not just transport, it’s easy to let them become a way of life.
Graham Field's book can certainly be described as the overland life in full. His style of writing - in first person - flows at such a pace that you are left entwined in his thoughts, his conversations and his travels. My mind was buzzing with an overload of information which left me pondering how the author manages to gather and retain all the information! His mind must be buzzing, if mine was buzzing whilst reading the book.
‘Buy time, not equipment’ was one of the single best lines of advice I read during those months.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Book Review: Safari Jema by Teresa O'Kane

Have you ever wondered what it's like to travel overland with an overland truck company?
Teresa O'Kane "Safari Jema'
Have you considered the pace of travel? The group dynamics?  If considering using an overland truck company to explore Africa, then you need to read Teresa O'Kane's book "Safari Jema".