The preparations for an overland tour is so exciting if ... you plan everything well in advance. Do you self a favor and don't decide tonight you would leave in two weeks' time. Our dear friend Murphy will always make sure that at the end something will go wrong. Therefore, he who fails to plan plans to fail.
1. Which bike to use?
I used the following criteria: a) Reliability, b) Fuel range, c) Low weight, d) Cost of bike.
At the moment you have such a big choice of bikes, it is entirely up to you. My choice was the Kawasaki KLR 650.
2. Put in enough kilometers!
Never buy a bike two weeks before you leave! Buy it, if possible, at least one year in advance and put enough kilometers on it! I did more than 15 000 km on all sorts of roads and tracks and a lot of sand. I went up to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia and packed the bike as I thought I would use it on my tour. You will soon find out what works and what not.
On the internet there is so much information available from people who have done such overland trips. Read their reports, buy a book or two of those adventurers. Learn from their errors and experiences.
Don't risk your life and health, get all the necessary vaccinations. Some countries don't allow you into the country if you don't have your vaccination pass with you. I visited a Netcare travel clinic and found their service very good.
5. Health check-up:
It speaks for itself: Go and let you doctor and dentist do a thorough examination of you before you leave. Don't leave that for the last day.
6. Travel insurance:
To find an insurance company that was prepared to sell me travel insurance while travelling on a bike across Africa was a headache. One condition was that the bike had to have an engine capacity of less than 200cc. What a joke.
I found a reputable company on the internet that was prepared to insure me. Bets of all it was 40% cheaper than any South African quote I received.
You'll find the company at http://www.worldnomads.com/
How does one spell visa applications? Like this: H E A D A C H E
If you live in or close to Pretoria you can go and do all your visa applications personally. Be relaxed and prepared to face often long queues. I do not live that close to Pretoria so I used the internet to find visa agencies to compare their services. Only one company impressed me, and that company was Swiftline Couriers. A lady with the name of Thuli dealt with my visa applications. What a pleasure! I always knew how far my visa applications were.
Their telephone number: 011 / 327 1322, and their website: http://www.swiftline.co.za/
I've listed all the African Embassies that I dealt with, below.
8. Carnet de Passage:
You will need a Carnet de Passage to travel with your vehicle through Africa. I applied at the AA of South Africa for my Carnet.
My contact person there was Melissa Chegwidden. Her telephone number: 011 / 799 1042.
Here you'll find all the information on a Carnet de Passage:
9. International Drivers' Licenses:
According to the AA one needs two different International Licenses. I got mine from the AA shop in Menlyn Centre, Pretoria. It was quite easy and fast to those two issued.
10. Upgrading of the motorcycle:
There are so many different views on whether one can travel on a dead standard bike across Africa, or not. People have done it before. And there were cases where people didn't manage it ...
As I was going to travel alone across Africa I felt that there were a few changes that I would like to have done on my bike. I went to see Ray Muller of Tours for Africa. His credentials convinced me that he wasn't a good-weather-rider doing the Johannesburg - Durban trip once a year. He has experienced Africa on a motorcycle like you and me only can dream off.
His work is not cheap, but is cheap always the best?
Contact Ray on 011 / 433 8850. Internet: www.toursforafrica.co.za
11. Do you love standing in a queue?
I do not.
At the borderpost Groblersbrug, to Botswana, is a lodge that offers a special service: They would get the road tax documents for you, which could save you hours of standing in a queue. I had to stand there for a few hours last August.
The service does not cost you a cent but please fill up at the filling station there or buy your Pulas from the Bureau de Exchange there. Contact details: www.kwanokeng.com or Clinton@botsnet.bw
If you ever plan to visit Russia you will be surprised what you're going to need to apply for a visa. One of the documents is an invitation in Russian and a confirmation of the invitation, done by some Russian state department. If you can speak German Vostok Reisen in Germany may assist you with the inviation / documentation. www.vostok.de
It is not easy to be a tourist if you plan to visit Libya. You are not allowed to travel alone in or through Libya. You need an agent that has to meet you at the point of entry. He has to travel with you the whole time (on your expense). The same applies to food and accommodation.
Not even the list of agents that I got from the Libyan Embassy was actual. I didn't get any reply of any of those agents.
Overlanders have a bond between them, and from one of them I received the name of an agency in Libya. Voila! Things started to happen.
If you want to visit Libya contact Mr Bilgasem Schlebk, email email@example.com
The travel agency is called Ain Mizrag, www.theguidetolibya.com/discoverlibya.htm
List of Pretoria Embassies of those African countries where I needed a visa:
High Commission of Tanzania
P. O. Box 56572
012 / 342 4371 / 93
012 / 430 4383
822 George Ave
High Commission of the Republic of Kenya
P. O. Box 35954
012 / 362 2249 / 51
012 / 362 2252
302 Brooks Street
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia
P. O. Box 11469
012 / 346 3542 / 2947
012 / 346 3867
47 Charles Street
Embassy of the Republic of Sudan
P. O. Box 25513
012 / 342 4538
012 / 342 4539
1203 Pretorius Street
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
P. O. Box 30025
012 / 343 1590 / 91
012 / 343 1082
270 Bourke Street
Embassy of the People's Bureau of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
P. O. Box 40388
012 / 342 3902
012 / 342 3904
900 Church Street
Embassy of the Republic of Tunisia
P. O. Box 56535
012 / 342 6282 / 83
012 / 342 6284
850 Church Street