Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Really cool stuff!!!!

Most of the stuff on our packing list are pretty much run of the mill, tubes, spares, clean underwear, lonely plant but during our research we have found the following really cool stuff:

The Sheewee:
Make it possible for Ladies to do what only men can... The picture says it all. If it is still not clear then please refer here:


Being South Africa's it would be unacceptable for me to go on a trip of this nature without being adequately equiped to carry out the task of presenting a braai (BBQ to the rest of you). I first bought a conventional grill back in SA but found it difficlut to pack. I then found the following curtousy of

2in1 Lush Shampoo and conditioner bar:

What it says in the tin: 2in1 shampoo conditioner and apparently it's good for 80 washes. No need for heavy bottled conditoner for the Africa sun.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

General Hints and Tips

Due to our own and others recent troubles experienced in prepping and on the road we thought to add in this section which we will add to as and when:
  • The most important thing to do before you head off is to identify who will be your Anchor Man; the person to help you out when you are in trouble and need someone to jump to action and get things sorted back home: Criteria of a good anchor man: Not necessarily your best mate; (some best mates are highly irresponsible); will be staying where they are for at least the duration of your trip; have easy Internet and email access; have enough money to get things bought even though you will be paying them back...for the rest of your life. It would be recommended to also acquire one or two Assistant Anchor men just in case Chief Anchor Man goes on holiday for two weeks to Spain just when you blow a gasket.
  • Get your bank address changed to that of your Anchor Man. Simply because if you loose your card in the back of beyond your bank will NOT post the cards to you directly but will only post them to the last known address which it registered on their system. So when you ask for a new card it will be posted standard post to that address. And please remember to tell the bank to stop sending statements otherwise your mate will keep receiving "junk" mail and who knows what they will get up to with that info.
  • Make sure to tell you bank you are heading off to the back of beyond so that they don't suspend your account on a Saturday afternoon just after you have bought a snack in downtown Khartoum and the banks automated telephone system only comes back on line at 8:29 om Monday morning.
  • Get Visa AND Mastercard credit cards. Most banks can provide both. Some places don't like one or the other.
  • Make contact with a parts supplier of your specific make and model bike and get a name out of them. Someone you can ask for directly when you need THAT part. Also get a direct number to that person and not another automated system "Please press 3 for breakdown cover in Scotland and wales"
  • PAYPAL...did you know you can now pay DHL by PAYPAL. You can also pay must sellers on Ebay with PAYPAL. Enough said.
  • Check, recheck and double check and then check again that the engine and chassis numbers correspond with your bike and all associated paperwork. eg from experience the V5 can have the wrong chassis number; the ICMV from the RAC can have the wrong engine number.
  • Vaccines: Rensche had a few head-bang-against-wall moments when trying to organise our vaccines at the local surgery because of the receptionists' lack of interest in our needs. In the end we phoned MASTA to establish our Official vaccine requirements . The call cost £1/minute but we were provided with a VERY detailed schedule and summary by country including health and security information. With this information in hand we swiftly distracted the nosey receptionists and managed to reach the Travel nurse who was very helpful and she was relieved we came well prepared. AND most of the vaccines were curtousy of the NHS.

Friday, 13 July 2007

The paper trail!!!

Who would have thought it so difficult to get on a bike and ride somewhere. The amount of paper generated by this exercise will fill three London bendy buses. It's not that it's difficult but it's very time consuming. These are a couple that we have/had to organse for our trip:

Passport: After Rensche agreed to marry me she also decided to change her she needed a new passport. My passport was expiring in June 2008 so I also had to renew mine otherwise it would fail the requirement of having 6 months left for entering most Southern Africa countries. So in January we wrote to SA House and they promptly posted us all the required forms. Four of them were straightforward but on of them required a complete set of fingerprints. Well as you do back in SA we popped down to the closest police station; in Poole at the time; and asked to be fingerprinted. The duty officer grinnned as he correctly anticipated our reaction to the news that they could only fingerprint people who had been arrested and were not allowed to fingerprint members of the public or "Walk-in Customers". Something about Human rights or sexual harrasment and assault chargers...bla bla bla. If we wanted to get fingerprints we would have to make an appointment at the Police Fingerprint Bureau at the Police Headquarters. Well after 5 days of trying to explain that we need these prints but aren't going to put in leave to do so the ladies at the Fingerprint Bureau very kindly offered to help us after hours. So after finally getting our prints done we posted off our passport applications and held our breath....and waited...and waited....and waited. We tried a number of times to phone SA House but their lines we eitehr permanently engaged or would just ring and ring so eventually at the end of May I emailed SA House and they said that our passports had just arrived an we could collect them. 5 months to issue a new passport to an existing citizen...what can I say.

LOA: or Letter of Authority which we had to get from the SABS (South African Bureau of Standards) which is required to ensure the bikes are of an exceptable quality standard to be imported. Mr Snyman from SABS was very helpful and it was a very straightforward 3 day exercise.

ITAC Permit: ITAC are the people that give you pemrission to import your bike into the Southern African Trading Zone...or something like that. Again Rene was very helpful and in a few days it was all sorted.

Carnet: Well this is effectvily your "Get out of customs and excise" card. It allows you to pass through borders (of countries that use it) without having to pay up customs duties and then go through the effort of applying for duties returned when exiting the country. Without this document you could, in most countries, simply purchase a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) but in our case Egypt insists on a carnet. The RAC who supplied the Carnet also required a guarantee, surety or cash deposit of 800% of your vehicle value for this document for our route...yes thats a hell of a lot of money. In my case I got a bank guarantee from my bank which was a very easy process although not surprisingly the attendant at the local branch had no clue what I was talking about and had to make some phone calls. Rensche tried to do the same with her bank "Barclays Isle of Mann". They were utterly useless and after chasing them for 2 weeks they said they don't supply guarantees for carnets; this contrary to what everyone else (including barclays UK) was telling us. Well we are now going for the Surety option which will cost us about £350.

V5: This is the UK version of the vehicle registration document. Nothing new here but in the event of an engine failure 5 weeks before your trip and needing to have it updated with a new engine number, then it becomes an issue. And when you phone up the DVLA and they refuse to say anything other than the standard "It will take 2-4 weeks" then it makes you a bit nervous especially when you need the document back to apply for your carnet and carry out your MOT etc.

ICMV (International Certificate of Motor Vehicles): This is simply a document which contains all the information about your vehicle as found in your V5 but presented in various languages which makes life much easier when filling out forms at borders or at police checkpoints. We got ours from the RAC.

Visa's: The ones that matter to us Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia. We will let you know how we get on as we go through these countries and whetehr our approaches worked or not. From Kenya southwards we have no problem as we are travelling on SA passports.

Jordan visa: SIX months visa with same day service for FREE at the Jordanian Embassy. Note the form on their website is wrong. Fill in and submit the latest version of the form there and then at the embassy. Just bring a passport photo.

IDP (International Driving Permit): Well it's exactly that, a document containing all your drivers license information but presented in various languages. We got ours from the RAC.

Travel Insurance: Yes it does cover everything under the sun including medivac and repatriation back to the UK...but which government is going to send one of their choppers out to pick a foolish tourist who thinks he can cross Africa on a motorbike... Unfortunately we can't say "I'm an American!!!" or "I'm British!" and see the cavalry fly in. Hopefully SA being a member of the African Union might swing things our way.

Work in progress....will be back with more

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Which Way?!?

So we have now firmly settled on the blue route: which will take us from London, through southern Europe and along the Adriatic coast around to Turkey. Then across the Middle East and into Egypt and then down the classic Africa Eastern route to Malawi where we hang a right across to Namiba and then down to Cape Town.
We will be getting visa's for Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Ethiopia before we leave; Sudan's we get in Cairo and the rest in Southern Afrcia we get at the border.
We are also getting carnet's from RAC for the bikes and providing bank guarantees.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Riding habit...tally ho!!!

Airoh S4
We ended up going for the Airoh S4 and are very happy with them. Bit noisy and am sure the Arai would be quieter but then we wont be going much over 60mph anyway. Really comfi and the visor seals well enough. The lightest helmet we've felt. Only £100 for the plain colour or £120 for the slightly more colourful one. We got his and hers blue and red ones.

So final verdict:
Airoh S4 - Good value for money and will do the job
Arai Tour X - too expensive for what you get. If I had no option I would rather take my Shoei XR1000 than pay for the Tour X
BMW Enduro - Still not in shops at the time we bougth the snooze you loose.
HJC CL-XS - Good fit but RUBBISH screen

Hein Gericke Taureg Trail jacket. Loads of vents in chest, arms and back. No inner layers or gortex etc.

BMW Summer trousers Khaki with zip-off legs. As per the HG jacket it doesn't have any additonal gotex or thermal layers. Have tried them for a while now and as the material is not very dense they are very well ventilated. We tried out the Hein Gericke Taureg trousers on our Spanish trip and found them uncomfortable and scratchy and too flashy.

Waterproof coveralls:
We got a set of waterproof coverall lining jacket and trousers which you can get at any camping store. These are very light weight and roll up into a small bundle. They have been tested in a decent downpour or two and they do work.

Altberg Hogg lites Original. Fantastically comfortable boots. based on hiking boots but with additional reinforcement in the important places to suite bike riders. Coming up to the lower shin it gives adequate ankle support. With these we can use them for everyday use and only have to take along a pair of flip-flops. We thougth of taking full-on motox boots but this would mean we would have to drag along an extra pair of shoes. The other problem was that with the motox boots the ankle was so stiff that Rensche couldn't point her toes and therefore couldn't get her feet on the ground. They only come in black although we would have preferred brown.

BMW Rallye 2 Gloves. I looked around for a while to find a good pair of hot weather gloves with decent protection. These BMW gloves have leather palms and textile uppers but with a hard knuckle protection. And are cheaper and of better quality that the similar Fox motox gloves. BMW size 6 fits Rensche's small hands perfectly.

Knee Guards:
Both occasions where we came off in the past our knees were the points that got damaged. This mainly due to the knee padding in the trousers moving around and not being in the correct position at impact. We have therefore decided to take stra- on Motocross knee guards and after initial tests have found them very comfortable. They also provide additonal protection to the shin. We went with the EVS Option knee and shin guards.
We have considered taking along full body armour but both feel that it will be the first things we discard even before we reach Africa. Our jackets are well fitted, well padded and well ventilated enough to serve the same function.

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Fact finding mission / Research & Development

During our process of planning for our trip we read the following books and watched the following DVD's:

- Personal accounts:

Lois on the Loose, 2007, Lois Pryce, ISBN 9780099493563: Lois has really done a great job in writing this book starting with her excellent description of the farcical humdrum of office life, which every single one of us can relate to. Then showing how easy it can be to escape and turn your dreams into realities. The rest of the book is a detailed account of her trip across the Americas on her small little 225cc Yamaha Serow. Lois gives excellent insights into her personal thoughts, feelings, frustrations on a dialy basis without being opinionated which makes this book brilliant as you feel she is not holding anything back and she is also not trying to impress you with her skills. This is an honest book and a great inspiration!!!

Into Africa, 2005, Sam Manicom: Starts off well and an interesting read on the perals of crossing the dark continent. He really had a hard time including catching malaria and a horrific accident where he collided with a pedestrain who lost his leg. Then spending a few months on a island building houses. Then another huge accident in Namibia landing him in hospital. In the last few chapters he held a rather strong negative opinion of South Africans which obviously left us generally disappointed in the book having been painted with the same brush. It's unclear when he did his trip as this might have a bearing on his understanding of the politics in Africa. We just felt this is not the kind of book to publish in 2005 when SA is a totally different place and does not need such generalised negative comments. It's not a true reflection of the present-day South Africa.

PS: Please refer to the comment recieved about this posting. Having established that Sam did his trip soon after Namibia's independence and in the middle of South Africa's change-over I would agree that the chapters covering these countries were well measured. It does not detrack from the fact that the book is a good read. Safe roads Sam; look forward to your next book.

Desert Travels, Motorbike Journeys in the Sahara & West Africa, Chris Scott, ISBN 1874472-505: A compilation of stories by Chris giving an interesting, informative and occasional comical view of desert riding.

The Perfect Vehicle, 1997, Melissa Holbrook Pierson, ISBN 1-86207-119-5: A well written book by a biker chick from her time being introduced to bikering up to her travel across Europe. She had a great passion for Moto Guzzi.

Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent, 1993, Blaine Harden, ISBN 0-00-637856-0: The views of a journalist about a number of African countries i.e. Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan, Ghana, Kenya and how they are coping after being dumped by the colonial powers and how they are coping with democracy, dictatorship, tribalism, the extended family, corruption etc. An eye opener for someone like me who grew up on the southern tip of Africa but clearly had no clue about what really made Africa tick. It's a lot more complicated than any UN or IMF advisors or Development Agency can imagine.

Swahili for the broken hearted, 2003, Peter Moore, ISBN 0-553-81452-4, Hillarious stories of recently dumped backpacker crossing Africa by any means to 'get over it'.

Long Way Round: know the rest

- Technical books

Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, Fifth edition 2005, Chris Scott, ISBN 1-873756-80-1: Well if you don't already know, this is the all time classic kickstarter for any person planning a trip to the next town or to the far end of the glode.

Getaway Guide: Cape to Cairo, 2003, Mike Copeland, ISBN 1919938079: Good tips on the various routes from Cape Town to Cairo including info on petrol stops, campsites, food, attactions etc accompanied by GPS co-ords. A handy "back-up" we will be taking along on our trip...just in case.

Africa Overland 4x4-Motorbike-Bicycle-Truck, 4th Edition, Sian Pritchard-Jones & Bob Gibbons, ISBN 1-84162-135-8: Excellent reference book giving advice on each country, route, accomodation based on the auther's experiences and info provided by other travellers. PLENTY detail on paperworks and travel documentation. We will be taking this one along on our trip.

- Travel Guides:

Lonely Planet: Africa on a shoestring, 2004, ISBN 1-74059-462-2: Well it's reputation preceeds it. Handy info on touristy stuff by country with good maps of major centres etc.

Lonely Planet: Middle East, April 2006, 5th edition, ISBN 1-74059-928-4: As above

Lonely Planet: Europe on a shoestring, 3rd edition, ISBN 1-74059-314-6: As above

- Medical:

Travel Medicine for Health Professionals, 2004, Larry I Goodyer, ISBN 0-85369 511 3: A reference book on all the VERY scary nasties out there in the big, dark, infested, swampy, festering, congealed world. You will not believe how many diseases are carried by any flying insects and water. And you thought malaria was your only serious wont sleep if you've ready this book. So to stay alive, under no circumstances are you to get bitten by anything...and don't drink the water...

Immunisation against infectious disease, 2006, DoH UK, ISBN 100-11-322528-8: As above but at least this book lets you know there are injections to cover you. Well..maybe some of them!!!

- DVD's:

Mondo Enduro: An inspiring movie following the Mondo Enduro crew as they cover 44,000miles around the world taking in all the continents in 440 days. Free Plug: Austin is now selling his book by the same title.

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Our developing packing list

Credit card and Cash (Euro and US$) (we are not taking travellers cheques)

Waterproof document wallet
Vehicle Docs: MOT, Tax disc, Insurance 3rd party Interna'l / Yellow card, Green Card (Europe),
Travel Insurance: medica cover, repatriation, liability insurance

Driving license: Card, Counterpart, International
EU Health Card
Ferry booking (UK - Europe)
Passport photos (colour & B&W)
Record of Account numbers
Photo copy of all documents

Guide books: Lonely Planet, Getaway Cape to Cairo, Africa Overland
Emergency contact list
Skype Number
Multilanguage phrase book
Pen / Pencil
Postcards, photos as gifts
Sun glasses
Spare specticals/lenses dark

Sleeping bag
Camping pillow
Length of thin nylon rope (20m)

Washing line (bungee)
Picnic blanket

Stove (petrol fuel) & spares for stove
Tea towel and pan scrubber
Lighters, Waterproof matches and Fire spark maker thingey
Knife Spoon Fork set
Wooden spoon
Pot 2x, frying pan (not taking kettle...use pot)
Soap - Sunlight block
Universal basin plug
Swiss army knife: scissors, tin & bottle opener
Small plastic chopping board
Water containers (4x 1lt ali bottles and 1x 10lt ortlieb bag, 2x 3lt Camelpak)

Battery charger (AA & AAA) and batteries
Mains adaptor
Digital Camera with USB cable and charger 12v, Digital memory card (1Gb) - 1 each
Calculator (solar)
Torch: head, penlight and tent
Memoray stick
Small 10 Band World radio
GPS with Data disk (Mapsource Europe and T4A), 12v power lead, cable, mounting, data card

Small padlocks
Helmet lock cable
Sewing kit

Pair of nylons
Sheep skin
Pack of cards
SA Flag
Money belt

First Aid Kit
Sunblock & Antimozzie all in one
Insect repelent / DEET
Eye ointment
4g tube (Chloramphenicol)
Saline solution
Ciprofloxacin 500mg

Cetirizine 10mg
Doxycycline 100mg
Dioralyte (6 sachettes)
Bactroban cream

Betnovate cream
Gaviscon extra strong & Zantac
Penicilin Co-amoxiclav 625mg
blik Zambuk & klein Vicks
Steristrips&Mepore tape
Phenergan 25mg

Metronidazol 400mg
Prednisolone 5mgTOILETRIES: Combined
Toiletry bag
Nail clippers
Block of soap

Tooth paste 50ml in holder
Toilet paper
Dental floss
Camping towel
Razor blades
Tooth brush
Uvistat lip-ice spf 25

Small Mascara, small pafume,L'Oreal touch up
Sunscreen spf 60 Vichy
Sachets-conditioner etc
Night cream Roc

Hat x1
Flip-flops x1
Undies x5
Thin socks x3
Thick socks x2
Cargo pants (zip off legs) x1
Shorts/cozzy x1
Thermal top x1
Long johns x1
T-shirts x2
Long sleev button shirts x1
Fleece top / Hoodie x1
Serong x1

Same as Charlie plus:

Sports bra

Wet weather coveralls
Gloves motox
Gloves leather
Neck Warmer /scarf /buff

Knee guards EVS
Ear plugs

Bike and parts fitted new before leaving

large petrol tank (Acerbis 22lt)
Handle guards
Handle Bars (Renthal)
Sump guard (White Bros)
Heated grips (Oxford)
Screen (Givi)
Fork boot protectors/gaitors
Lighter socket 12V adaption in topbox
Repair manual & Wiring Diagram (on memory stick)
Alloy fender guard/support
Spare key for bike
Headlight off switch (not standard with our bikes)

Sprocket set (13/42)
Heavy duty o-ring chain
Dual tyres: Front 90/90-21 (with tube)
Dual tyres: Back 120/90-18 (with tube)
Extra Heavy duty inner tubes: Front
Extra Heavy duty inner tubes: Back
K&N Air filter with oil
Oil filter
Spark plugs
Brake pads
Chain swingarm slipper
Wheel bearings
Fork seals
Bike parts taken on trip as spares
Puncture repair kit

Spare bulbs and fuses pack
Grease tube
Gasket mastic
Loctite thread seal
Duct tape
Cable ties (pack of 20)
Jubilee clips (pack assorted)
Electric wire (1m)
Petrol hose (1m)
Front wheel tube normal
Front wheel bearings
Rear wheel bearings
Clutch lever
Brake lever
Clutch cable
Brake cable
Accelerator cable
Spare connecting links for o-ring chain
Fork Seals
Oil filter with o-rings
Spark plugs
Engine oil 1lt
Sump plug
Spare front wheel spokes
Spare back wheel spokes
Chain wax castrol
WD40 small can
Epoxy glue / JB Weld

Bike Luggage and packing
Luggage rack (home made)
Andy Sackz soft luggage pannier set
Daerr topbox
Handlebar pouch
Ortlieb roll bag (tent, stools, thermarests)
Ortlieb drybag stuff stack (sleeping bags, pillows)
Pacsafe (for bike clothing when stopping in towns etc)
Luggage straps
Ziplock bag (small)
Mesh bag (small)
Lock and cable
Spanners set
Allen keys set
2 in 1 screwdriver
Ring spanners
Shifting spanner
Hacksaw & blades
Ratchet and sockets
Small file
Socket for swingarm
Spoke spanner
Feeler guages

Pressure guage
Tyre levers long (Buzzetti)
Small hand pump and 12v car pump

Items we have decided not to take to reduce weight:
Address book, Ground Sheet, Chess/Backgammon board, Nikwax, eye bath, Halls cough drops, keelseer pille, Super C's, Shower gel shampoo 2in1, Hair brush, Aqueous cream tube 100g, Beanie x1, Jeans, Chain 520 pitch 108link cheap roller link, Petrol filter, Chain breaker

Items we dumped on the road (if not used in 2 weeks it gets dumped):