At last, my last post…….South Africa

That’s it finished. My first and last ever blog. It was hard work for someone with little IT knowledge. I know so much more, now I’ve finished but that’s all too late!! 🙂

A huge Thank you to Julia Albu and all her family and friends for their generosity and kindness and for making me so welcome at the end of the most amazing road trip I have ever done, and yes I would do it again tomorrow but would take 6 months rather than 3 .

The world is an amazing place filled with many more good people than bad guys. This trip done with minimal planning and no spares for the car etc was as close to real freedom as I have ever experienced. Yes its a bit scary and yes, you need luck and yes it could go wrong, but you don’t know until you try it. Use your common sense and seek advice from the locals as you travel, unless you are really unlucky or stupid, you will be safe and have the time of your life.

Botswana going into South Africa

Zambia and Botswana

My Hero, above is called Bright. He is a lovely guy and was my fixer at the Zambia/Tanzania border and afterwards assisted when I was detained at a Police Road block about 5 kms away from the border for “evading customs”. I sat with Terry the police officer who detained me, for about 30 minutes waiting for “Interpol officers” to come and interview me but they never arrived so suggested to Terry (who was another lovely guy) that he calls them and that I take him back with me in my car to their office so we can speed thing up. Fortunately on the way I saw Bright in the crowd, which was a bit of a miracle because he still had my passport and had forgotten to hand it over amongst the bundle of papers you collect at borders. He agrees to come with us and to bring his brother along too. So all four of us traipse into their customs office for a young guy to tell me I was in serious trouble. Well I listened for at least 15 minutes before telling him, It wasn’t my fault it must be their fault as they should know what they were doing and I hadn’t a clue so rely on them for guidance. The fact I left with their consent proved that. Bright joined in and told them what happened. About 30 minutes later at a stand off I said, “I’m fed up now so either arrest me or get on with what you need to do” There was a big pause and he said We need to examine your car and that’s what we did before I was released to carry on my journey, dropping Terry, and Bright and his brother off on the way!

Tanzania summary in pictures (there is a description on each photo if you hover over it, it pops up

 

Security, Money and other bits

I have purposely left this until I finished the trip, in case it gave useful information to rob me of everything, although trust me I do not carry a lot. My rule of thumb is don’t take anything that you would be quite upset at losing!

Hopefully it will help others in some way

Kilts:

Whilst I am very proud to be Scottish I always felt wearing a kilt would serve other purposes, and this indeed proved to be the case.

  • Kilts mean you will never be lonely whilst travelling alone
  • Who is going to try and rob a man in a kilt? No pockets for a start 🙂
  • It makes you very identifiable which is a good deterrent to kidnapped.
  • When people cannot stop laughing, its a great ice breaker especially when they cannot speak English !!

Car Keys

If you are like me and lose them all the time, then you need them strung around your neck on a landyard at all times unless they are in the ignition. Thats exactly what I did because without them you will have a big problem that would be a bit of a pain.

Tinted windows: Yes I know I didnt have them in Africa but I felt really safe there 🙂

  • Tinted windows are mainly for security in that they stop people seeing inside the back of the car especially when stationary and they also prevent drivers following you seeing that you are on your own.

Graphics on the car and crime prevention of the car

  • Again graphics on the car deter someone stealing it if its very identifiable rather than a plain looking car. I carried a wheel clamp in Europe and only used it in Greece when I left it for a few months util collectional. I used a steering wheel lock in both cars and always left it secured wheever I left it for more than a few minutes. It’s a good visual deterrent. I also had locking whel nuts fitted on Saxo’s wheels as theft from motor vehicle is much more likely than theft of motor vehicle.

Security safe in boot

  • I had a digital combination locking safe bolted inside the rear boot. My most important load was the vehicle registration document and anything to do with borders eg Insurance, carnet, permissions etc. All this was in the safe along with the least amount of money possible, remember it’s emergency money, not for day to day use

Carrying money

  • Carry as little as possible. Use “best rate” credit cards for all purchases (including accommodation) where possible. Unfortunately in lots of African its cash only. I used Western Union for big money transfers (eg releasing the car from customs) and sent a small payment in UK to test it before I left. Don’t use banks to collect western union cash from, you will wait ages becasue normal bank customers take priority and you wait and wait and wait…..trust me! If you go to a Western Union office, its paid fairly quickly depending on the queue. Cost of Western Union transfer is a little more than my normal route, but reasonable as it saves you carrying large amounts of cash around.

Credit and Debit Cards

Use specific foreign cards with good exchange rates and make sure you have 3 or 4 cards from different accounts all in different places. eg car, rcucksack, money pouch etc I use Revolut and Fair FX but there are many new one’s coming on the market so always check with Martin Lewis’s web site or similar.

Passport

I always carry my passport on me, with copies in two or three other places just in case it gets stolen. The copies are also handy to offer Police “if they seem a bit dodgy”. Doesnt always work but you can say the original is at the hotel etc  I feel more secure carrying it as if its going to be stolen I want to know its gone!

 

You thought I was mad look at these two, cycling from Cairo to Cape Town. Good luck to Alex and Merlin 👍

Two lads on a tandem bike, and from St Andrews University. Couldn’t just drive by without stopping and wishing them well. They have had an amazing journey full of real adventure, unlike mine!! Check their blog out on http://www.arclight-tandemafrica.com

Read their blog on http://www.arclight-tandemafrica.com

With Toyoto, Tracy in the background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenya update as my first post was a little rushed.

I drove from Ethiopia to Nairobi in Kenya about 8ookms and was so fortunate to then spend 3 days with Dan and his wife Catherine. I was amazed to find out that Dan met Julia in Nairobi (on her way to London) and ended up driving Julia through Croatia! Both Dan and Catherine’s hospitality was fantastic, it was 3 days of complete rest and relaxation. They have a beautiful home and I felt as if I was in a five star hotel.

Dan is an engineer and motor car enthusiast, he couldn’t resist checking Tracy over not long after I arrived. I was delighted to have a professional look her over but wasn’t surprised when he said she was in great order. Dan arranged to have her cleaned inside and out and I then spent the few days visiting the local shops with them and an eveing meal at a local Putar

Welcome to Kenya This is an official Police Road block in Tanzania!! and there’s one on the other side of the road too
Lines and lines of petrol tankers at the border with Tanzania most waiting to go to Democratic Republic of Congo. Fortunately by this time I was well versed in just driving passed lines of parked lorries or trucks