Mates first time Land Rover trip

Travel Forums Europe Mates first time Land Rover trip

1. Posted by MaybeOneDay (Budding Member 3 posts) 7w Star this if you like it!

Hi all, I made an account a few year ago, but this is my first post. (From Wales, if thats relevant)
My friend and I eventually plan on a long trip around Africa, but first we want to do some "warm up" trips over summer/easter/winter uni holidays.
I currently have an old V8 land rover, which uses too much fuel, so will be sold and replaced with a similar diesel one.
Next winter we plan on going to Iceland, but we want to do something this summer, so we are keen to hear your suggestions for land rover worthy travel destinations (the mechanic hahaha yes how humorous)
To elaborate, we want an adventure, not a holiday. We are healthy young lads who are comfortable with the idea of walking a few hundered miles or so with a couple of backpacks if we breakdown in the middle of nowhere. We speak English and Welsh fluently, and I can dabble with french occasionally (understand a few words). Im a petrolhead, I sort of know my way around a spanner, and we are both physics students. Ive spent countless hours reading/watchng youtube on preparing the car for overlanding, and we've both done plenty of camping etc. We are of course on quite a tight budget, being students, and we havnt got much experience of foreign travel, beyond holidays we had as kids. Ive been driving for a few years, and am rather good offroad, having done many of the toughest greenlanes in my unmodified discovery without any issues at all. Currently, my friend hasnt got a license, but I'll teach him to drive in case of a "worst case scenario" where he has to drive us out if I'm injured etc.
My apologies if the above sounds arrogant, thats really not what I wish to convey, but I predict it will all be said/argued/questioned in the future if its not stated now.
So yes, Im here for suggestions as to places we should look to for adventure! Somewhere that will give us ample stories to tell when we return! Must be relatively close to the UK, (i.e. most of Europe) because of the fuel cost, and ideally not an active warzone (so not Ukraine) and we would prefer to avoid any countries that would be less than advisable to visit on a british passport currently (Russia, Belarus etc) because we want to come back home alive, with the car, without any bullet holes. We would like to see stuff that we dont get here in the UK, interesting wildlife, remoteness, a few days without tarmac etc. (We live in Snowdonia, we have mountains, we like mountains, but since weve got them at home, we arent too bothered about seeking the most mountainous place)
We plan on traveling to Iceland in the winter, because the summer would just be too easy, and we want to see the northern lights. This summer we want some sunshine, but not for the tan. Basically, practice for Africa, somewhere the going gets tough, so to speak. Testing our limits, the car, ourselves, etc. Much rather find out we dont like each other whilst trying to fix the differential in 30 degree heat 100 miles from the nearest town in a country where you wont be executed publicly for handing the officials the wrong passport, if that makes sence.
Currently, the best Ive read about is the Pyrenees, but Idelove to hear more/other suggestions!

2. Posted by GraemeBots (Budding Member 13 posts) 7w Star this if you like it!

Dear Maybeoneday,
I can't help with any suggestions about Europe, but when the time comes I may be able to offer some useful advice on travel with a landrover in parts of Africa. My old V8 LR110 dates from 1987 before the Defender name came along. I had it shipped from New Zealand to Botswana in 2018, and I'm using it to explore this part of the world. A bit ironic really since my day job at present is helping people organise 2x4 holidays around Botswana.

The advice received in 2018 was to avoid Durban and have it shipped to Walvis Bay in Namibia. At the time pilfering of cargo in Durban was said to be at very high levels. However, the extra cost of getting the landrover to Walvis Bay decided the issue and it went by sea to Durban and then by rail to Gaborone and arrived safe and sound.

There are plenty of secure storage facilities so you can leave a vehicle in (say) Zambia, leave the continent by air, and resume your travels later at very modest expense. So this part of Africa at least is entirely doable, and an old machine will let you have years of off-road travel fun.

Good luck with your plans, Graeme

3. Posted by MaybeOneDay (Budding Member 3 posts) 7w Star this if you like it!

Thanks for your response! I dont think shipping the car would be an option due to cost, as well as it being my main way of getting around. Whats the safest route to drive to southern africa? I was thinking UK->France->Italy->Tunisia->Sudan (avoiding the border with south sudan of course) then into Ethiopia, then Kenya (from there I gather its safer, easier and more flexible?

4. Posted by GraemeBots (Budding Member 13 posts) 7w Star this if you like it!

I'm afraid I've never tried going any further north than Tanzania so can't answer your question about the best route to reach Kenya. I should think the practicable routes through northern Africa might be dictated by which countries will issue you a Visa, which are actually fighting or rebelling at the time you want to travel, and perhaps the health situation. These things all seem to change unpredictably so you need to have a few alternative routes in mind. Only a few months ago parts of Uganda were suddenly closed to travellers due to an outbreak of Ebola virus.

But yes, from Tanzania south the traveling is straightforward. If you use the Tanzania/Zambia/ Botswana or Namibia route south you can just relax until you reach South Africa. Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland are no more difficult for self driving than Australia or NZ, and there are plenty of interesting 4x4 routes if you want to leave the main roads. Zambia and Tanzania are straightforward too. Burundi, Malawi and northern Mozambique are all best avoided right now for various reasons, but the situation in these countries will probably change before you come.
Zambia can be a problem in terms of cash. The maximum amount an ATM would dispense when I was there was insufficient to buy a tank of fuel, so we spent a lot of time in ATM queues. Most filling stations couldn't accept a VISA card. But queueing in Zambia is something of a social occasion and you get to chat to all manner of people which is quite fun. So just a minor nuisance.

Once you reach South Africa you have to start worrying about crime, especially if you are driving a car with foreign plates. One of my forensic pathologist friends told me 'if you rearrange to letters in 'Gauteng' it spells 'Get a gun' and that is what you should do before you go there'. Many Batswana will drive across the border, leave their own car in a big locked yard, and carry on in a rental car with South African plates because they know from experience that foreign vehicles are targeted by hijackers. But as a landrover enthusiast you will probably be wanting to avoid the big urban troublespots anyway.

Proper maps of secondary roads and 4x4 tracks for Africa are hard to find, but there are crowdsourced maps produced by the Tracks4Africa 4x4 community, and I have these loaded in my GPS in case I need them.

Good luck - it should be a fascinating trip when the time comes.

5. Posted by MaybeOneDay (Budding Member 3 posts) 7w Star this if you like it!

Thanks, sounds fascinating! Ill plan more carefully when the time comes. But yes, youre correct, no interest in driving into the city, especially if its just going to get us shot. Getting to the interesting bits has always been a challange, north Africa and the middle east are seemingly always at war or in some kind if crisis. Lybia and Sudan are the ones which worry me most.
Anyway, back to the point of this thread, the Pyrenees, anyone got any advice?