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Having completed our trip, we learnt so much along the way. Here are some tips and hints that helped make your trip run smoothly.

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passportsPASSPORTS and VISAS

For Australians, southern and east Africa are pretty easy and Visas are generally available at the border. Once you head north into Ethiopia and Sudan it is harder.

You need to allow two days - at a minimum - in a capital city to get the next country's visa!
American dollars cash is required for Visa transaction in most cases.

We got our Ethiopian Visa easily in Kampala.

We had to get our Egyptian visa in Addis Abba (see below), which for ease of issue sake was only a 30-day visa (from date of issue). It still demanded a bit of stuffing around.

Our Sudan Visa we got in Addis Abba in just two days. It was only a 14-day Transit Visa (from date of issue) but required a bit of work beforehand. We needed:

# A photocopy of our Egyptian Visa for proof of 'onward travel';
# Certified true copy of our passport (from the Australian embassy in Nairobi);
# Letter of verification we were who we were (!) (from the Aust embassy in Nairobi); and,

# Copy of the Vehicle's Carnet.

Our Libyan Visa was going to be a nightmare so we employed Arkno Tours based in Tripoli and who have an office in London to sort out all our visa, carnet, escort (they provide a guide - a must have for Libya) and travel requirements for Libya. They proved to be excellent and we’d recommend them to everyone.
For more details contact: Craig Baguley,
Arkno Tours Information Office, email:, ph: +44 (0)20 8855 6373, and/or check the web at: Arkno Tours are based at 38 Sharia Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakabi, Tripoli, Libya, ph: +218 (0)21 444 1452

Our Tunisia Visa was a stuff up. After filling out a Visitor's Card at the border we were waved thru with a flurry of hands and 'welcome'. When we went to leave the country we were told we needed a Visa. A lot of mucking around and of course a higher price and we had our entry visa - so we could leave!


carnetA Carnet makes it easier for the paperwork wars as you enter and leave each country - even if the country does not recognise a Carnet. They use it as a source of info to fill out there own paperwork.

Entering Egypt is a nightmare. You need an Egyptian driver's licence, your vehicle must be registered in Egypt (after a police inspection) and have Egyptian number plates issued, and you must get Third Party Insurance before that happens. It took us two full days!

Getting out of the country was easier but nearly as expensive as we got shunted from pillar to post!

Libya was made easy by our guide from Arkno Tours who had collected all the paperwork. (See above). Trouble was on leaving Libya we didn't get our Carnet signed which meant a bit of stuffing around in the UK to get it signed off.

Towing a trailer adds costs - in the initial Carnet (which it needs to be covered with) as well as at most borders as you will need to register it, pay more for 3rd party, etc.

3rd Party Insurance - Africa
Most countries in Southern and East Africa if you require 3rd Party Insurance (in South Africa it is covered in the price of the fuel) there will be an insurance office at the entry border.

There's a couple of places where you can but Comesa Yellow Card Insurance (3rd Party for much of Africa) and which covers a number of countries. This may be purchased in Zambia, from:

Zambia State Insurance, Premium House Building, Independence Avenue, Gr. Flr, Lusaka, Tel no. +260 1 229343, contact person is Sylvia Ngulawe (in Lusaka); or:

Zimbabwe, Zimnat Insurance, Cnr Third & Nelson Mandela ave, Harare, Tel no. +263 4 701176, contact person Mr. Sakiya.

We finally bought our Yellow Card from Reliance Insurance Company, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Ph: +255 (0)22 212 0088; email:

Also check out:

Our Yellow Card Insurance made border crossings much easier and was cheaper!

3rd Party Insurance - Europe.
For Europe you'll need Green Card Insurance to cover 3rd Party and this is much more expensive in Europe than in Africa!

We could not get Green Card Insurance from anyone in the UK!

We got ours from Mototouring in Milan, Italy. Check out:; ph: +39 02 2720 1556; attention: Eligio Arturi.

It is also available from: Knopftours ( Email:; attention: Stefan.

Also check out:

Comprehensive Insurance
We gave up on trying to get even half reasonable comprehensive insurance and just drove really carefully! Check out:

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Using Cargo On-Line (; ph: +61 (0)416 182 399) made our shipping as easy as possible.

customsAustralian Customs were quick and we left the vehicles in a shipping company's freight storehouse so they could both be fitted into a 40-foot container.

At Durban it was a bit slower to get the vehicles off the docks. Everybody was friendly enough but there was a lot of waiting around! It took a week. Our friend who had shipped from the USA had his in 4 days, so you need to allow a 4-5 working days!

ferry wadiWadi Halfa Ferry

The ferry is a bit rough and ready and you really should get a 1st Class Air conditioned cabin. Your vehicle travels on another barge which may leave earlier or later than your ferry. Be prepared to stay a day or more in Wadi Halfa – we had to stay 5 days - two nights without our vehicles!!!

mazirMazar Mahir (Mashan Sharti Tours, ph (mob): +249 122 380 740; email: is the local Mr Fix-it when it comes to catching the ferry, shipping out of Wadi Halfa, or anything to do with immigration and custom, either coming or going from Wadi Halfa.

Yes, you could do it all yourself, but this guy has all the contacts and knowledge and can move the paperwork thru the corridors, get the right stamps in the right place and even get decisions changed if required, like he did with us as we got told initially our vehicles couldn't go for another week. He saved us an awful lot of hassles and frustration and is a top bloke!

Mazar's brother, Midhat Mahir, is in Khartoum and has Mashan Sharti for Tourist, ph: +249 912 253 484; email:

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There are a number of ferries running regularly from Tunisia to Europe. We chose to go to Sicily as that was considerably cheaper than going to France and we got to drive thru Sicily and Italy along the way.

Don't try to buy anything on board the ferries unless you have Euros. US dollars aren't accepted and credit card don't work once you are at sea.

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American dollars still hold sway as the most popular currency in Africa. We carried a fair amount of cash with us but needed more as we got into Ethiopia and Sudan.

Travellers cheques (in US dollars) were handy but were difficult at times to cash.

In the 25 years we have been travelling in Africa, ATMs and Eftpos have been one of the biggest changes for travellers. And it is all for the better.

Still in some countries such as Ethiopia and Sudan credit cards are near non-existant and getting cash with them takes a lot of searching to find an outlet and is very time consuming. See our diary entry for details on where we got cash.

Other countries such as Botswana and Zambia seem to have a 'deal' with one credit card provider and only have Visa or MasterCard available - not both!

cirrusvisa plusFor getting cash out of ATM's and the like, we'd suggest you carry both a MasterCard Cirrus (Maestro) and a Visa Plus direct debit cards. Carry one and you will surely get caught out!

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We played it safe everywhere we went. We camped in fenced enclosures most of the time (Overlander Camps); when out shopping one of us stayed with the vehicle or engaged a 'Security Guard' which many shopping centres have on patrol.

tasermaceIn South Africa you can buy a range of deterrents from security stores and even camping shops. These range from sprays to tasers to portable electric fences and more.

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Mobile phones are everywhere in Africa. Ethiopia had the poorest coverage but this was about to change now that they are in their new millennium (they run on a different calendar to us and are in their year 2000).

Sudan had pretty poor coverage only because Telstra doesn't have a roving agreement with them.

Elsewhere we could use them in most major towns and sometimes way out in the scrub. The coverage was unbelievable in some countries!

With International Roaming we called home regularly. We used SMS most of the time.
If we were in a country for 3-4 weeks we bought a local pre-paid sim card and used that for local calls, etc. It was much cheaper.

sat phoneOur sat phone came in handy a few times but we wouldn't buy a separate package again, which cost us a $1000 for 200 minutes of call time. Rather we'd use our Telsta GSM phone sim card (with international roaming) and pay the exorbitant fee/minute you get slugged.

We used hand-held radios (Australian UHF frequencies) for inter-vehicle communications and kept them hidden at border posts and police check points. It was probably illegal but nobody really cares! Only once were they seen at a border post by police and we got questioned about them. We just said they were 'walkie talkies between the two vehicles' and they were happy with that. They were only short range but were very handy.

We tried a hand-held marine radio with International channels but the range from these inside a vehicle cabin was useless.

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The maps for most African countries are pretty poor no matter who makes them. We always found anomalies and sometimes they led us up the garden path!

Still, get maps of each country, a good African Atlas, and a GPS and then use all three to navigate with. Don't take anyone's map info as gospel and compare what you have, ask a local if you have the opportunity and then take an educated guess!

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While Africa has Fords, Nissan Patrols and Toyota Land Cruisers getting parts for your particular model is not as easy as it first seems. Different engines and drivelines compound the problem. The capital cities or a major provincial city are generally your only chance.

The most popular 4WD vehicles over the entire continent were Toyota HiLux and Nissan Navara utes. Some countries were endowered with Isuzu Rodeo, Mitsubishi Triton, as well as Ford Ranger utes, but if I was picking one vehicle that had the best back-up in each of the countries I'd go for the HiLux or the Navara.

Of course Land Rovers were there too, and you could chase up aprts in every capital city, but the Japanese 4x4 outnumbered them everywhere.

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We became great fans of DHL Express. We could get parts from Australia to a capital city in Africa in four days! That was quicker than parts could come from say South Africa to Malawi - we know!

I sent one package back to an editor in Australia from Kampala, in Uganda, the local time being 4pm on Thursday (about 1AM Friday morning, Australian Eastern Standard time). The parcel was on the editor's desk, Monday morning at 9am!

We also tried a cheaper postal courier service from Tunisia but it wasn't as good as DHL.
Yes, DHL is pretty expensive but so is sitting in some foreign country with time slipping away waiting for parts.

DHL have offices in most capital cities around the world. In Africa we found one or saw one in each capital city we visited as well as some of the major cities in a country, such as Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

They often have an office at the country's International airport and our biggest hassle was finding out if our parcel was at the airport or at the main city office. If you have a 'Tracking Number' (every parcel has one) they can find it quickly and you can even track it on the web.
They also have agents in many smaller towns. For more info check out;

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Our water filtration system we used last year through Africa proved to be more than adequate. However we did check the water source carefully before filling our tanks and generally kept to those places where the locals were drinking, a major town water supply and the like. Then we ran it through our filter system to fill the on-board water tank.

The system we have fitted to our expedition Patrol consists of an in-line strainer ($20 and washable) before the 12-volt Flojet water pump ($135). After that comes a 10-inch CDL polypropylene sediment filter ($25 and good for a couple of thousand litres of cleanish water). A 1-micron activated-carbon filter ($65) that’s also good for 1-2 thousand litres of water comes next.

In Australia and most civilized places, that is all you need. However for Africa and for the very best water, where bad bugs are common, I’ve added a Trav-L-Pure purifier ($125) for those times I want to produce water good enough to drink without boiling. These are good for around 600-litres of water.

For sterilizing a small amount of water on the spot, we used a Steripen.


GUIDEBOOKSSee our website:  for more details on any of our books as well as tips and travel information for traveling remote Outback Australia.



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