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Offline g1_

Trans-Africa planning
« on: May 05, 2012, 01:36:49 pm »
A few years ago I was quite keen to do a trans Africa trip. I ended up doing a shorter trip through South Africa and Lesotho to get a feel for it before committing to a longer a trip. That trip ended badly with me being in an accident in Lesotho. All in all it was a good experience (lots of stories that can be told) but the result was that I had no money and less of an urgency for organising a longer trip.

Two years later (ie now), I have a partner in crime for a longer trip. We're still deciding on what this trip entails, and how far the budget extends. I'm selling my DRZ in order to get my finances in check for early next year when we'll be heading off.

We're probably taking small DS bikes, maybe Chinese bikes. The route will probably be up the east coast of Africa. Would like to get up to Egypt / Morroco / Isreal (somewhere like that). Maybe even into Asia. Although the budget might not extend.

What are the important things that I need to start thinking about?

- visas:
I have both RSA and GB passport. My gf has just RSA. Which countries do we need visas for? Would I be better off using my RSA passport or my GB passport?

- Carnet:
Which countries do we need Carnets for? I suppose if we sell a bike and buy a new one on route then this could be potentially challenging.

- Insurance:
What kind of insurance do we need for such a trip?

- What else should we be thinking about?

Any suggestions of places to visit (I guess we're more mondo enduro than LWD when it comes to budget).
Any tips on how much we need to budget? I see HUBB suggests 20USD per day in Africa. That seems quite low.

I know these are very vague questions, but I suppose I'm only getting started on my planning.


Offline g1_

Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2012, 01:52:59 pm »
Also I'm a bit of a hobbiest film maker.

If I were to put together monthly video reports (ie. properly edited). Would people be willing to pay a monthly subscription fee for them? These might be ordinary video RR type content, or it might be an interesting blend between documentary and fiction, or it might be documentary not even focused specifically on the travel component but on a topic related to Africa.

Just looking at ways to raise extra cash, whiles on the trip.

Offline Offside

Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2012, 02:37:38 pm »
I am only familiar with the African countries as far north as Uganda.
I don't believe that 20USD per day is anywhere near the mark, in fact in many cases it wont cover the fuel costs for the day.
On our last trip we underestimated the border costs in the form of insurances and temp. import duties.
Using any road that passes through a park also comes at a high price usually about 35 USD for the bike and 30 USD per person.
I hope this info does not dampen your spirit as whatever it costs, I guarantee you wont regret doing it.
To get an idea of costs in East Africa take a look at "Riding the rift 2011" and "To the equator and back in 40 days"
I'm sure you will find them informative.
Good luck.

Offline g1_

Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2012, 02:26:50 pm »
Thanks for the reply offside.

Don't worry you haven't dampened my spirits.

My brother managed to backpack to Zanzibar and back over 6 weeks for about R9k. I'll have to see how much adding bikes into the equation will cost.


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Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2012, 04:36:58 pm »
PM Adventurer, he has assited other like minded riders with info.


Offline SwampDonkey

Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2012, 12:20:18 pm »
I spent 8 years travelling, and one of my trips I rode around India on an old Royal Enfield 350 Bullet from the 70's. Though most of my travels i did without any transport at all. But that trip was definitely one of the highlights.Egypt comes a close second though... loved it! two years ago I was busy with my RTW trip planning but somehow got married instead :patch: and had these same questions to answer for myself. though at the time i would have done a solo trip.

The one thing which will be your single biggest expense is going to be fuel. you will need to try and find out the current prices of fuel for the countries you will be travelling through, and certainly the availability of fuel in some places like Malawi, Tanzania etc. If you are going to spend time going through a country with a fuel shortage, carry extra with you. I rode up to Leh in the Himalayas from Manali, and if it wasn't for the extra 5 litres i was carrying, i would have been stuck up there. So rather carry what you can when you need to, and don't make the mistake of thinking that there will be a petrol station in every town you pass through. But in the same breath i say, don't be anal about it, as getting lost or stuck or running out of fuel is part of the adventure and gives you opportunity to meet new folks.

People ride around the world all the time, from fully kitted GS and KTM adventures to the simplest and cheapest scooters on the market.
I will say that if you are planing on taking a right turn once you get to Egypt and heading off to, say India or Pakistan, hell even the far reaches of Siberia if you fancy. you will at some point need to work to finance your trip if you are on a tight budget. Unless you win the Lotto then you can spend the rest of your days riding the globe in bliss.... :ricky: :pot:

Israel is one place to stop over and work for a while to make money. I funded all my travels into Egypt and the Sinai by working odd jobs in Israel, but be prepared to do absolutely anything at all you will after all be an illegal alien who will be not much more than cheap labour, but every $50 is another day on the road on your bike!!! :deal:

As for travelling on your passports, I cant say for sure as I only have an RSA one. It will sometimes be better to have the GB one and sometimes not. I know that certain visas will be more expensive if you use your GB passport instead of your RSA one. seeing as your missus is on an RSA book, do the same. I remember paying about 10 quid for my visa for India and my squeeze at the time who was Canadian, paid about 80 quid for hers. But talk to other overlanders who have a GB passport and see how they have faired coming through Africa, don't see it as a problem though.

You are going to need a carnet if you go to Egypt. you will either not be allowed in or have to pay a HUGE fee to bring you bike into the country without one. As for the rest of the continent there will be countries where you wont have to have one, but rather have it and not need it, than need it and have to cough up a substantial chunk of your budget to some corrupt official in the middle of nowhere in deepest darkest Africa.

Insurance... take the best you can afford, and definitely one that has repatriation for you and your missus at the very least. I guess it boils down to individual preference, but your health is not something to be neglected just for a few bob.... trust me, i learned this the hard way!

your bike/bikes are going to be your home away from home, so before you ride that first mile, make sure that they are in PERFECT condition and have had at least one test run with all your gear you will take with you. This gives you the confidence in knowing that you have tested your bikes and know that any teething problems have for the most part been sorted before you have left. It gives you one less thing to worry about. As for your test run, if you live in the cape, then kit up and ride to Maputo and back via Lesotho and Swaziland. It will give you a good idea on how comfy your seat is after hours of riding, how your bike handles in all sorts of terrain in all kinds of weather, and if you or your missus are new to dirt road riding then its a perfect introduction to what is out there, without it being too hard to complete. It will also be a test for the two of you as travelling companions. See how compatible you are when the going gets tough. And certainly an idea of what its going to be like to do border crossings with all your precious kit tied to your house on wheels. Do you both leave the bikes and kit and head off to get your paperwork sorted or take it in turns or one of you do all the paperwork while the other stands guard... etc. Mozambique is perfect to start with, especially if its busy coming back into RSA. Many a quick and dodgy hand to lighten your load for you.

there is a heap of stuff to think about for this kind of trip, what to take, what not, what can you absolutely not live without, are prepared to ditch on the side of the road if you have to. All in all it will be different for each of us who do such a trip, you will love it and i will hate it or visa versa. We all have our methods of doing things and some advice you're going to be given, you might think to be a load of bollocks or... gosh, why didn't I think of that in the first place etc!!

On some of the trips i have done, I have always wished that i had a small chair/stool to sit on at the end of a long days ride. Just that small insignificant creature comfort goes a long way to boost morale if its been a testing day in the saddle. I have a two man tent, which has done me proud for years, but its heavy and takes up space, so for my birthday this year i will be treating myself to a stealth camping tent that BOER! has on offer (mark me down for a two man tent if you please BOER!... thanks!) This isnt a sales pitch, but seeing as weight is going to be something you will need to consider, the lighter the gear the better, it will help your bike and your wallet to be able to travel light and still be comfortable at the end of the days ride.
tents for sale are here...


My last 2 cents worth....... Take half the kit and twice the money!!!!! I doubt that $20 per day is going to get you far at all. Its not impossible, but it will mean that you will be limited to about 1 tank of fuel per day and how far that can take you. you then still have to pay for food and camping etc.I would budget at least $50 per day but not more than $100. any more than this and things start to get too expensive to go anywhere.

sorry, I'll shut up now :peepwall:
Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle.


Offline michnus

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Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2012, 03:11:41 pm »
Visas: Tanzania still for now, Kenya at the border. Maybe in few months time not, but can be bought at border. Ethiopia you must get before hand in South Africa depending on time otherwise sit it out in Jungle Junction Nairobi and courier passport back to SA Ethiopian embassy for visa. Sudan, Egypt you buy at border. Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi also at border.

Carne: only for Egypt but make sure it is listed for Egypt with AA in JHB.

There is no meaning full insurance you can get for bike or yourself so leave it.

South Africa, and neighbouring countries are expensive, but up form that you can budget around R200 -R400 per day all inclusive. Obviously wild camping and local eating will help a lot to stretch the money.

On bikes, if you want to stick to tar use Chinese bikes. If you want to do some dirt forget it, you WILL get shit I guarantee you. The bikes are not design for your weight plus luggage. We carry around 20kg -25kg weight max. More than that and you are doing it wrong.
Oil cooled, bikes like the XR's and old XAT's are easy to fix reliable. But if you can not then use whatever you have, a DRZ is actually a good bike to use.

Time is the killer on these trips. If you have a month to do Cp to Cairo leave it you are wasting your time. We kept at around 80km/h -100km/h. One, to save petrol and extend range, you score around 35% more petrol range compared to 120km/h. Secondly for maintenance, the tyres and chain last longer. We are on 27000km and only in Cairo. I am on my second set of tyres and chains. Thirdly if you hit a kid or goat your trip is over or worse in Ethiopia they lock you up and throw the keys away.

You do not need metal panniers! We never had any body slash our bags or even got a thing stolen from the bikes. They are easier to repair and is able to handle crashes. Soft panniers and a duffel on the back is good and you can use the duffel to wash clothes and keep as a cooler for beers in a camp site.

Multi fuel stove and basic cookware is a must. We used a small grill as back up which we in the end used quite a lot.
www.atgear.co.za have a look

On tents. The Boer tent is super cool using it in SA or quick trips in and our SA. When over landing you need space and you use the bike while your tent keeps your stuff in a camp site or where ever. You also some times need to pack your gear inside the tent when sleeping. Get a tent with a removable waterproof cover. It get to 50" in Sudan and you do not want to sleep in a 4 season tent.

We used out stretchers and still use them. On an extended trip a good sleep is a must. We wild camp and mostly then you do not get level ground, the Ribzz can sleep on that. Also many places we never used the tent we just slept on the stretchers.

Buy a sim for cell use in every country it is cheaper than in SA and you can use your phone as modem to do internet. We took with us a small  10" laptop which we still use today.

Leatherman, LED Ledlenser are super quality stuff and used nearly everyday. Other than that pack as little tools as possible.

 I used 1 Capestorm short pants and 2 t-shirts and a pair of plakkies Keen New port. That's it. The material dry quick and last.  Use short pants with zipp pockets. Pick pocketing happens in Nairobi and Addis.

Leave thick tubes at home take normal ones and enough patch and solution and know well how to fix a puncture in 20min flat.

Use a Visa bank card as Mastercard is not used in Africa. There is machines all over and set your limit quite high.

We take a round 700usd to 1000usd with us for unforeseen stuff. We divide it and stash some in the bike and others in our jackets armour. We do not take any jewellery or watches and only keep a few of the countries currency in a wallet. If somebody hold you up it's a not a lot of money. But that said, it never happened in the 9 months of travel up Africa so far.

I have loaded lots of info on our site www.pikipiki.co.za this is a ongoing travel site.

« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 03:54:41 pm by michnus »

Offline g1_

Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2012, 03:55:43 pm »
Charlie / Michnus: Thanks for the info.

Yeah, it sounds like we need to budget for about R10k per month / USD50 a day. We're looking at ways to supplement our savings.  As I mentioned before I might do some documentary work during the trip. I don't want to document the whole trip. Too difficult to do well and detracts from the trip. I've got one or two ideas that I'd like to develop and maybe shoot a pilot for. I might seek a producer and a route to air. Failing that I'll look at releasing monthly content on the web and getting followers to subscribe for a small fee. This would obviously be good quality content, and I'd probably try to build a following from the Amageza video production, which should be airing on TV in the near future (and I have been heavily involved in).

Otherwise we'll find other ways to generate income along the way.

We're looking to take our time. We'd both be resigning for the trip.

I think we'll probably avoid Egypt due to the high Carnet price.

Yeah, it might be a good idea to do a test trip once we have the bikes. I've done some travelling on previous bikes, but my gf has not. I suspect we wont be seeking out difficult terrain, as we would be on cheap bikes and my gf doesn't have off-road experience.

I'd like to go as light as possible. For the Lesotho trip I did, I had far too much stuff. I'm more of a light bike and minimal luggage adventure rider than a fully loaded GSA adventure rider.

Thanks for the Visa info Michnus!

Can you elaborate on your insurance statement?

Offline michnus

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Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2012, 04:48:12 pm »
We got some months on around 6000rand when we really scored as much wild camping as possible. In Ethiopia food and hotels are so cheap you can easily get by on 200 per day for both.
Beers, bottle water and soft drink are loads cheaper than in SA. Eating cooked, grilled or fried food are cheap enough but when you make your own, like pastas and such it is even cheaper. Chapatis and bread with eggs are dirt cheap.

You have to go Egypt. If not you have to ship from Port Sudan to Jeddah Sudan. Problem is your wife are not allowed to ride her own bike. She MUST wear a Burkah and you only get a 3 day transit visa and she is not allowed into certain hotels.

You will not get insurance for bikes. Personal insurance is expensive and thus we decided to leave it. You can always make a plan to get to an airport and fly back to SA for not a lot of money. To store bikes in Africa is cheap and save.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 05:07:53 pm by michnus »

Offline g1_

Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2012, 03:04:42 pm »
hmm quite tempted by taking 2 XR125L's. Any thoughts?
Will bush mechanics have any trouble with these bikes?

Anyone have any contacts into Honda that might be willing to sponsor bikes or get us discounts in return for potential media coverage  :biggrin:

Met with frabans and Mrs frabans last week (they did Cape to Cairo on Moto Mias). Was cool getting some tips from them. Looks like Egypt is more achievable than anticipated. They said that you can get Carnets with bank garentees, rather than actually paying the AA cash.

Offline michnus

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Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2012, 06:12:30 pm »
We got our Carnes with bank guarantees.

They would be able to fix most small bikes no problem.

Offline schalk vd merwe

Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2012, 05:22:57 pm »
Hi G1, My son and I did a 13 350km trip through 7 Africa countries. You can read the RR under >Ride Reports>Long Tours>Africa trip to the Equator and back in 40days. On the last page I have the cost and statistics. If you have any more questions you welcome.
1/The only way to get experience is to get experience-Schalk                
2/Ride Reports>Long Tours>Africa Tour To The Equator And Back In 40 Days
3/A stranger is just a friend you have not met yet
4/Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe in and enthusiastically act upon must come to past-Paul J Mayer
5/Use the rocks in the your way to build stepping stones-Herman Zapp

Offline g1_

Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2012, 10:23:46 am »
Hi Schalk. Thanks for the reply.

Yeah, I was / am subscribed to your thread :)

Offline dc1

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Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2012, 01:23:42 pm »
Whats your dates
Thought about others joining up with you.
What bikes you have in mind?

Offline g1_

Re: Trans-Africa planning
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2012, 09:12:25 am »
Aiming for March, as long as we can get the money together by then. We're thinking about XR125's. We're also thinking about taking as long as it takes (and money lasts). At least 3 months, quite possibly 6 months or longer. Might be up for others joining up for some of the trip, but obviously our approach would be very relaxed and informal. We're not up for keeping a schedule, so others would also need to have this frame of mind.