Four Wheels Around - A Road Trip from the UK to South Africa

In February 2009 we are setting off on the trip of a lifetime from Brighton, E-Sussex, UK to South Africa. Furthermore, we are raising money for the British Red Cross along the way. This blog will cover our preparation until we leave and our adventures whilst we are on the road.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Preparing the Landy

The first steps in preparing the vehicle was to ensure it was mechanically sound for a long overland trip. A number of repairs and alterations were carried out before it was deemed ready for an overland trip of this nature. A list of these repairs is included below:

Above: Katie in the Land Rover

Firstly - for the MOT a service was carried out. Welding was done to the rear of the vehicles chassis. Brake lines were changed and new wipers were fitted.

At Deep South Land Rovers:

  1. Brakes: The front discs, pads and oil seals were replaced. The rear drums, shoes, wheel cylinders and two rear brake pipes were replaced.

  2. Cambelt: Cambelt and tensioner were replaced - this included gaskets and anti-freeze.

  3. Suspension: Front and rear shock absorbers, springs and retaining rings needed to be replaced.

  4. Cylinder Head: Cylinder head was removed, checked and valves were lapped in and valve seals replaced. (This included all gaskets).

  5. Exhaust: Entire exhaust system was replaced from front pipe, backwards.

  6. Radiator: Was replaced.

  7. Water pump: A new water pump was installed.

  8. Thermostat:

  9. Lift pump:

  10. Alternator: The alternator was replaced.

  11. Full Service was carried out.
Further repairs:

  • We bought a new battery from a scrapeyard to use to replace the fault leisure battery.

Above: The Landy

Before we leave there are still a number of things that need to be done to the Land Rover. For example it needs a new clutch!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

With thanks...

We wouldn't be going on this trip at all without the help of a number of indivduals and companies.

We would like to thank the following for their advice and contributions to Four Wheels Around adventure.


Deep South Landrovers
Mr. Jonathan Morgan
Unit 1A, Arunside Business Park, Fort Road, LITTLEHAMPTON, West Sussex, BN17 7QU
Tel: 01903 723721

We would have had no chance if it hadn't been for Jonathan's assistance with the landy. We first sought his advice shortly after we purchased the landy. Aside from getting the vehicle ready for an across Africa voyge, Jonathan has consistantly given us sound and solid advice. Furthermore, in the weeks prior to departure Jonathan very kindly let Alex work alongside him to gain some invaluable experience under the bonnet.

For more information on the work that Jonathan carried out to make Carol the Landy suitable for Africa have a look at our preparing the Landy page.

Tropicana Of Littlehampton
Tropicana Fishing and Camping Shop
5-6 Pier Road, Littlehampton, West Sussex BN17 5BA
tel: 01903 715190

Tropicana of Littlehampton are two fantastic side by side fishing and camping stores. We were passing one afternoon and we were overwhelmed with how friendly and helpful the staff were. They went out of their way to help us and seemed really knowledgable and interested in what we were doing. They offer a varied stock at affordable prices. We ended up going back a number of times when we were preparing for our trip.


Firstly, we want to offer our thanks and appreciation to every one that has sponsored us, helping towards our fundraising for the British Red Cross.

Family and Friends:

There is no way we would be going anywhere if it wasn't for the help of our family and friends. Everyone has been incredibly supportive and helpful but especially:

  • Alex's Dad, Ian, who has spent hours slaving away throughout the winter trying to get our Land Rover up to scratch and ready to go. Finding us suitable tools, fixing all the internal lights, fitting the air intake and generally helping us out with anything and everything vehicle related! Thank you!

Ian hard at work.

  • Alex's Mum, Sandra, who has bravely taken on the role of overseeing Alex's business while we are away and who is continuousy full of suggestions and ideas regarding our plans and Alex's business. Thank You!

  • Katie's Mum, Nicky, who has constructed us possibly the most comprehensive first aid kit ever! Nicky has also been involved in roof rack presentation and kindly contributed to our carnet cost. Thank You!

Nicky hard at work!

The Route

This section is broken down into two sections, travel to Africa and travel in Africa.

Travel to Africa: This part of the trip is easier in terms of paperwork. We won't have any issues with visas and carnet de passage. We still need to research into European driving laws and ensure we have an international driving permit before we leave.

Travel in Africa: We are planning to follow the traditional Cairo to Capetown route with a few deviations to countries we are keen to explore which are slightly off the direct route.

When we were planning our route we came across a number of problems which are highlighted below:

Route Planning and Problems!

Travel to Africa:

  1. We originally planned to travel through France and Italy and get a ferry from Naples or Scicily down to Tunis, Tunisia. From Tunisia we planned to travel through Libya to reach Cairo whereby we could begin the traditional Cairo - Capetown route. However travelling through Libya presents us with a number of problems. Namely one big problem. That is that to cross Libya independently, well you can't! For us to drive through Libya we would need a guide to accompany us for the whole time. That is meeting us at one border and basically escorting us to the next border. From internet research and reviewing other people experiences these guides do not seem to come particularly cheap....
  2. The other option that we could pursue involves more of a European/Middle Eastern tour. This involves travelling through much or Europe, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Syria before ending up in Jordan where we can cross over to Egypt. It seems to be quite common place to travel between the Jordanian port of Aqaba across the Gulf of Aqaba to either Taba or Nuweiba in the Sinai province of Egypt where from we could continue to Cairo.
  • To make a decision between these two options we debated mileage and cost. These discussions threw up a number of issues.

  • Cost of diesel with the higher mileage through europe Versus the cost of a guide through Libya. Would the high cost of a guide through Libya mean that despite travelling extra miles through Europe and the Middle East, the revised route would be more economical for Four Wheels Around?

  • A ferry crossing between Southern Italy to Tunisia would take considerably longer and cost more than the ferry between Jordan and Egypt.

  • It was also worth bearing in mind that with the current exchange rate between the pound and the euro, travelling through Europe could be rather expensive.
We have finally decided to travel the following route. Obviously we may decide en route that we want to take a few detours but this is our current plan.
Europe and the Middle East:

Travel in AfriAlign Leftca:
  • The main problems we have encountered when planning our route through Africa centre around the political instability in a number of the Countries on the Cairo to Capetown route. We need to be careful throughout the journey with regards to this. We will monitor the political situations in all the Countries we will travel through prior to crossing the borders to ensure we have uptodate information. If necessary we can try to find an alternative route to our destinations. For example, Southern Sudan is still not deemed safe so instead of travelling through Sudan straight to Kenya we need to detour via Ethiopia to avoid Southern Sudan. Also although the most direct land route to Eygpt is via Israel we are detouring to Jordan as an Israeli stamp or visa in our passport would mean we would be refused entry to Sudan.
  • Weather conditions. We have had to plan our route around the rainy seasons in parts of Africa. The rainy seasons coupled with poor road conditions mean that many roads within Countries we will be travelling through could become impassable during the rainy seasons.
    We have currently decided to travel the following route once we are in Africa:

In Africa:

Provisional route:

Begin: UK,
Czech Republic,
South Africa.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The Landy

We bought a Land Rover 110 a couple of months ago. What attracted us to this vehicle was that it was already set up for an overland expedition. The back is converted in a campervan. The seats turn into a double bed, there are black out curtains all round, a long range fuel tank and a water tank and shower are already installed and there is even a safe. However, the land rover is a C plate 1985, which means it is as old as we are. (That's 23 years old for those of you not good at maths.) Subsequently, we had a number of concerns whilst deciding whether or not to go ahead with the purchase as we were not sure that the vehicle would be mechanically able to get us to Capetown.

The Landy had no MOT or tax but it did have one owner since new and had been used regularly until 18 months ago. We debated a number of pros and cons for the vehicle before purchase.

The Vehicle:

Above: Our Land Rover - October 2008

Quick Stats: Land Rover series 110 - 1985. Diesel. 4WD, Long Wheel Base, 140000 miles.
Top Speed 70mph,
MPG 23-28.

Pros and Cons of the vehicle:


  • Initially cheap to buy.

  • Fully kitted out/modified already. This will save us the time and money

  • Defenders - built to last, reliable vehicles.

  • Easier to repair - these vehicles are frequently used in Africa so people will be familiar with them, no new and complicated electronics.

  • Good off-roader

  • Parts/labour readily available

  • Comes with a full tank of petrol.

  • Good British vehicle.

  • Low mileage (140000) for its age.

  • Cheap insurance.

  • Tried and tested across Africa.
  • Old vehicle - with its age there could be a number of problems. For example:

  • Engine may need replacing.

  • Chassis may need work.

  • No mod cons - no air con, no power steering etc.

  • No MOT or Tax

  • More likely to break down?

  • Difficult to drive/heavy handling

  • Slow - top speed 70mph.

  • Uncomfortable to drive and travel in

  • Low MPG

  • Expensive to maintain after initial investment -Will need a lot of work to make it ready for Africa.

After careful consideration we decided to go for it. We came to the conclusion that after an initial service and MOT if it looked as though the vehicle would not get us to Africa we could always put it up for sale without losing, hopefully, any of our initial investment. Luckily, it got through the MOT with relative ease and although it undoubtedly needed a great deal of work to be suitable for an overland trip to Africa the signs at this stage were promising.

Above: Us in the back of the Land Rover. November 2008