We bought a Landrover Defender 130 Double Cab

Payment is going through for the LR 130 Chassis Crew Cab and all the paperwork should be with Roger Young Ltd to allow us to be owners of RR02 HAR from 1/3/10. Thanks to Debbie and Anthony at RY – they’ve been a big help and offered great service.

(BTW – Our bank account now looks empty and we are officially, really, full-on, Overland impoverished.)

We will need to arrange to get the base vehicle up to OEC to allow the adaptations to begin (I can’t drive it until hand-controls are fitted – which will be part of the whole build programme).

Good news though; to all intents and purposes we now own both the front and the arse end of an Azalai. We just need Anton et al to put it all together.


Been at work with the calculator tonight to get some top line/ballpark figures. We have tried not to ‘go low’ in order to get some realistic comparisons…

Daily costs (food, accommodation, fuel) for 8/12 between £13000 (@ $80 per day) and £20000 (@ £80 per day)

Visas £700

Shipping £4000 (one way)

Flights £1400 (one way two people)

Travel Insurance £900

Carnet inc Egypt a whopping £128000 to self indemnify!! (800% of vehicle’s listed value based upon £16000)

An Insurance bond (as an alternative) would be 10% = £12800 with 50% refunded on return (not inc 5% insurance tax)

The Carnet and Egypt is a conundrum. Currently it’s the only way through (although there are some reports of people travelling up managing to get a Saudi transit visa – it is doubtful this could be relied upon at this time). If you could avoid Egypt, the Carnet would be nearer 200%of the vehicles value

I.E. £32000 self indemnity – £3200 for indemnity by insurance with 50% refundable. Quite a difference compared with including Egypt on the itinerary I’m sure you’ll agree.

So trip costs (on top of our significant outlay and commitment to date)

1 way shipping (£4000) and Carnet inc Egypt (£13000) +Daily living (£20000 8mths @ £80 day) + Visas (£700) + Travel Ins (£900) + Flights one way £1400) = £40000

1 way shipping (£4000) and Carnet inc Egypt (£13000) +Daily living (£13000 8mths @ $80 day) + Visas (£700) + Travel Ins (£900) + Flights one way £1400) = £33000

2 way shipping (£8000) and Carnet exc Egypt (£3200) +Daily living (£20000 8mths @ £80 per day) + Visas (£600) + Travel Ins (£900) + Flights two way £2800) = £35500

2 way shipping (£8000) and Carnet exc Egypt (£3200) +Daily living (£13000 8mths @ $80 per day) + Visas (£600) + Travel Ins (£900) + Flights two way £2800) = £28550

Drive both ways Carnet inc Egypt =

8mths @ £80 per day = £32400 + £1400 visas + Travel Ins £900= £34700

8mths @ $80 per day = £25900 + £1400 visas + Travel Ins £900= £28200

10mths* @ £80 per day = £ 37333 + £1400 visas + Travel Ins £1000 = £39733

10mths* @ $80 per day = £29100 + £1400 visas + Travel Ins £1000 = £31400

* 10 months allows for extended travel time if necessary [although this would increase costs attributable for us being on sabbatical coupled with maintaining the house in the UK]. NB We have doubled the Visa costs notwithstanding some countries issue double-entry visas – it is quite possible that extra third party insurance will more than outweigh any such ‘saving’.

We haven’t factored in spares and other sundries into these figures.

So to sum-up we need at least £30000 for the trip; additionally we need to cover our ‘domicile costs’ – mortgage etc.

We currently have about half that covered.

It may be we need to delay departure to save the balance and depreciate the vehicle base value for the Carnet.

There may be scope for fundraising and sponsorship. Although this is a challenge in the current clime. EG There is a ‘no cost/some risk’ option if a sponsor could ‘Self Indemnify’ the Carnet Cost on the assumption that we will bring the vehicle back and discharge the Carnet properly (as is our obvious intent!)

I think we need to

Commit to buying the Tracks for Africa (T4A) download to better calculate driving times etc to see whether we can cram more into less – without missing the point by becoming ‘whistle-stop’!

Research current daily spend/budgets of current overland trips (IE from the figures above £53 ($80)/day vs £80/day equates to £7k)

Develop a plan/info as to what we could offer any potential sponsors (on top of the usual logo display on the website and the vehicle etc)

Of course one thing we can be sure of – costs tend to go up – not down! (Inflation and underestimation being the prime villains.)

No one said it was going to be easy.

Carnet De Passage

After being tasked with the job of looking into Carnet costing I thought I had better get cracking straight away. Following on from the really useful info on the gapyear4x4 website I emailed Paul Gowen, ‘Carnet Man’ at the RAC (and now the man of the moment in my eyes). An automated reply came back, basically advising he was a really busy chap and would reply as soon as he was able. This being Friday afternoon I wasn’t hopeful. However a reply did come back later that day advising ‘Paul had looked at our website and to call on Monday to discuss’!

 This I did and had a very informative, useful and extremely pleasant chat regarding: our (tentative) departure date, vehicle (he has had previous dealings with Anton and Liz at OEC and says Hi) and motivation for the trip.

The Carnet will need to assure the vehicle valued at (a guestimate) £15,000; this being the price proffered by Paul after 14 months depreciation on the purchase price. Therefore for Egypt we are looking at £120,000 as the amount that will need to be covered by way of a bond/insurance policy (remember 800% of the value).

Paul has given me the number for LloydsTSB to see what terms they will offer and also explained that it is also possible to only invoke the ‘Egypt Carnet assurance’  for the time spent actually there, which would be a further saving in the quarterly charge(s) that the bank would levy over the whole trip [duration].

Other options were also discussed so I now need to get on with some other calls to see if we can being our Carnet costs down.

Paul also pointed me in the direction of some other websites which maybe of interest plus some organisations that it would be worthwhile contacting.

We are now filed under the 2011 trips along with the figures provided and Paul has generously added our website to his favourites lists (have I mentioned what a nice chap he is?)

We left it that I would certainly be in touch and I hope he enjoyed the 2 rolls that he was going to have for his lunch [when I eventually let him off the phone].

So the good news is that we could, if everything falls in to place, be able to secure the Carnet for an outlay that might be as ‘low’ as £2500 ish – which is MUCH better then we originally thought.  Certainly it’s significant enough to our now being able to aim at 2011 rather than defer to 2012!

A valuable phone call indeed! Great service RAC and Paul in particular.

Tracks For Africa

After the ‘phoney war’ of “yeah we’re planning an Africa trip”, “Oh, when are you going?” – “Uhh, Oh, it depends”…. The hardware is of course now coming together, so we’ve pulled our finger out with regards to logistics planning.

As we’ve mentioned we have a rudimentary schedule of countries and the time of year we’d ideally like to be in each one. So the next step is to put some meat onto those bones. We’ve taken tips from the blogs of others (thanks to due to everyone) and we’ve been poring over the Michelin maps and making lots of “Here there be treasure” type crosses and markings in pencil. Whereas this is essential (to literally get ones bearings) – it is also limited when compared to the benefits offered by GPS technology and the brilliant concept of Tracks for Africa (T4A).

T4A started life as a benevolent project, to use GPS data, recorded by overland travellers, in order to map Africa’s byways. By collating the mass of data submitted over many years and moderating it, to distill out ‘real’ routes and points of interest (POI) – the present offering is very comprehensive indeed. With two updates every year it is pretty current (good as roads and byways can come and go with the weather in Africa). It is a work of genius and its significance in all sorts of applications on the ground cannot be overstated – and like all the best ideas it is a simple one. Check out the link to T4A for more details. Importantly, GPS gives you very accurate handle on distance (and T4A annotate the type and state of roads) – just the detail needed to attribute likely journey times for each leg. Plus you can (relatively) easily explore different options on the computer (let down by Garmin’s limited software functionality). T4A for the whole of (charted) Africa can be downloaded for a very modest ZAR 750 (£68)- a steal when compared to Garmin’s own expensive proprietary maps for Europe.

We already have viable routes for Egypt outlined – and it’s proving to be great fun. certainly putting metaphorical pins in placenames, thinking about times and routes and researching is making things feel very, very real 

We still need to determine the ‘Drive Out-Ship Back vs Ship Out-Drive Back” and the ‘Via’ to/from Cairo/UK (I’m favouring France, Italy <> Greece, Turkey, Syria, Jordan <> Egypt; but my head says that might be too much time for our schedule and something that could be covered in a future trip. IE We might have to be more direct to Egypt – subject to sums and deliberations….) Still, the favourable advice regarding the Carnet means we have little/less need to consider the Ship-in <> Ship-Out option.

Our aim now must be to get a well specified, tangible plan together that could allow for travel as early as next year (prefreable) – and even if we are delayed to have something robust enough to pull of the shelf the year after.

Empty house

Got a chance to talk to the parents about some of the detail the other night. Ahead of the bank holiday I’d nipped to the pub with some friends, and upon coming home, found the Rentals sitting up in their kitchen over a bottle of wine – Thought it opportune to join them.

We got talking about wills and how the house could be split in the event of various parties ‘dropping off twigs etc’. In principle there was pretty much broad agreement about what should happen, but because of the four-way ownership it might be a bit more complicated to write down! Still reassuring that we are all of a similar mind.

We then got onto talking about the costs associated with not working and needing to maintain our end of the mortgage and other fixed house costs. We (Rachel & I) had thought to rent out our end – possibly as a holiday let. Mother was OK with this, but Father much less so. He is not keen on the idea of living next door (literally in the same house) with people he doesn’t know. I have empathy with this and we are pleased that he took this opportunity to state his view. The practical upshot is that we still need to cover the costs though, and that adds another £10-15k to an already unfeasibly expensive project. Realistically it’s another twelve months saving and seems likely to force us to defer to 2012. I was talking to some friends who may find the [2011] timing agreeable with their own needs (and they would be acceptable as neighbours for Pat and Alan) – but it seems a long shot at his stage. Certainly it’s nothing that can be banked upon.

I also will be tapping OEC for a progress report once Easter is done. Reasonably, I think we should be expecting a call to say work has begun about now.

Azalai vehicle build trip

We went over to OEC lunchtime today with Pat and Alan so that they could see a completed Azalai. Whichever way you look at this, they have a stake in the adventure. From the emotional worries about our wellbeing, to the pragmatic realities of our using the house as loan collateral (as they own and live in half of it!). I think it was a worthwhile exercise.

Later in the day, when I came home from work, Mum said that she was reassured after seeing how well the vehicle was equipped and how much thought has gone into its design. Taken at face value this is a good thing, as earlier on Anton had let us into a little secret. Apparently Mum told him, “I’m not worried about Richard as he’s just stubborn, it’s the pressure that he puts on Rachel…..” he sniggered as he confided in us. “I think it’s just Mum being a Mum!” he said. Personally I don’t see it as applying pressure – more as ‘thoughtful and considerate direction’! Dad was equally impressed with the design and how much is crammed into the space. (The dog came along for the ride and he too enjoyed the trip as he found a sandwich crust in the bin.)

We also saw RR02 HAR in the (aluminium) flesh, and learned about some further developments in the water storage (including an ingenious idea to avoid freezing occurring in the tanks). We talked ICE, alarms and seating, but we will need to meet again soon to take some time and cross t‘s and dot i‘s

All in all a pleasant jaunt on a nice, sunny day and everyone at OEC were their normal, helpful selves.

The early build

Last Friday both Rachel and I had the day off, so we took the chance to visit OEC and agree the few loose ends left at this stage. As we arrived we could see that some work had been undertaken on RR02 HAR as it was sporting a snorkel air-intake. It’s also had the roof head-lining stripped out of the back of the cab (to accommodate the lowered roof containing the top bed), the front diff protection added and the wading kit. One chassis frame has been fabricated and gone off for galvanising, the other was being fabricated as we were there. Other, miscellaneous accessories are ordered and at OEC too.

Anton explained that the Ashcroft auto-box conversion kit was due to arrive this week. Once that is completed the hand-controls can be fitted.

The Pods are supposed to arrive from France this week too. (We had it in our heads that they were already on site – but it seems they are taking a more Laissez Faire route). Still at least there is plenty of base vehicle prep that can be completed in the meantime and OEC are on the case. Their, self-expressed ‘optimistic’ estimate for completion (in the unlikely event that there are no further third party (supplier/volcano type) disruptions or delays is late June. What are the chances?!

We agreed that the inverter could be housed in the ‘box’ on to which the rear seats mount (we will be taking out the 60 bit of the 60:40 bench for the trip – but will be reinstating it on return).

The big unknown is still the best way to make the pod accessible. If it is to be by hydraulic lift then that too is probably better plumbed in before the pod goes on. Anton remains confident that once the chaps at OEC apply themselves to the problem a solution will be found. Obviously we’ll post details regarding this as things develop. (I can see a possible build delay inherent in this element of the project)

We forgot to talk about front-seats when we were there. Over the weekend we’ve looked at Exmoor trim catalogues and replacing the vinyl front seats (with Defender Elite in Outlast canvas) will be (another) £1k. We wondered whether just covering them in Melvill & Moon canvas covers (less than £300) would be comfortable enough? Obviously seating is something that must be right, so we don’t want to skimp for the sake of it. With hindsight I think we should have gone for the County spec on the base vehicle.

Whereas retrofitting might give you more choice, it is also much more expensive and I’m not sure there is a sufficient cost benefit (IE LR’s own cloth seats are pretty good as is their immobiliser and their sound system – all included in the County spec for the extra £2k.) We have also budgeted an additional £1300 for security (Immobiliser/Alarm/Tracking/Anti hi-jack) as a max.  

I have bought a head unit for the ICE that seems basic enough.

We will be fitting an Exmoor Trim cubby Loc-box to match whatever trim we end up with. Again all of this work can happen pre-Pod.

We remain in budget but I’m more than happy to squeeze off what we can.


We’ve been leafing through recent (April/May) issues of Land Rover Monthly, and in the Technofile sections, there is a step by step, pictorial article on fitting an Ashcroft  auto-conversion to a 300tdi Defender. If you want to see what’s involved – plus the (again) positive review on the mod’ itself, then it’s worth tracking down a copy. It’s certainly not a quick job! The wiring in could be fiddly. Subsequently Anton advises us,

“The gearbox is going well so far. It is in, bolted up… but as you say we have the wiring and the pipework to do next… it would have been easier if we had built the land rover from chassis up… have taken off all the panels one can think off so far LOL “

Anton de Leeuw OEC International Ltd Broadway Road Kingsteington, Newton Abbot Devon, TQ12 3PJ Mob: +44 (0) 7841 278366 Tel: +44 (0) 1626 356555 Fax: +44 (0) 1626 356066

We’ve also been reflecting that getting the prep’ work done for us, is realistically depriving us of a learning opportunity regarding the mechanics of the vehicle and its mod’s. Realistically it is the right option for us though, given that the base vehicle is new, and we have neither the time nor the garage space to start from scratch – plus RR02 HAR is with OEC for the Azalai conversion itself anyway for a protracted period. Rachel is going to be designated bush-mechanic [lite], and we’ll need to catch-up on service and maintenance skills once the vehicle is commissioned. OEC themselves are open to spot visits and are at great pains to talk through what exactly they have done and indeed how they have done it – which is still an education.

With a little help…

As I briefly mentioned a few posts ago, we have started a ‘Logistics and Fundraising committee’. We have realised that in order to make the trip happen in the time-frame that we are planning, we need some help from others. Quite simply there are not enough hours in the day to accommodate all of the work that needs to be done, and more importantly two people alone do not have grey matter enough to think of all that can be thought.

Luckily we are blessed with the best  friends. It used to said, in the Land of my Fathers, that if you needed a prop [forward], just whistle down the mines and you’ll find plenty. Well metaphorically speaking, our scrum was deficient, so we whistled, and out of the woodwork we have recruited:

Russ Baker – Logistics and support

Trine Baker – Secretariat

Dan Tisdall – Fundraising and Events

Zoe Powell – PR and marketing

Drew Powell – Logistics and support

Paul ‘Swiss Toni’ Bettesworth – Fundraising and Events

Penny Jones – Events

John Jones – Events

Rachel – formally nominated as Treasurer

Others too have said that they will assist, and we will be tapping them for sure, and mentioning them in dispatches in due course. These guys all bring much to the table. The roles as allocated reflect their skills, but they are by no means restrictive as our small team will inevitably have to retain some flexibility in order to succeed.

The email to the chaps read along the lines of:

“……. we were originally hoping to self-support [the trip as purchase as well as the vehicle and equipment costs]  – but realistically if we are to stick to the May 2011 schedule, then quite simply we need the help of others.

That’s where you guys come in. Everyone is telling us that we can get sponsorship, but it is not an insignificant amount to raise. I make no bones about the fact that I am a bit of a numpty when it comes to the business world with its movers and shakers, pressing of the flesh and corporate golf days – and you guys all have pedigree in that arena – so we are now looking to you to provide ideas, footwork and plain old grunt in order to make this project happen.

There is probably nothing in it for you, other than realising what we can do if we pull together. But after all, part of the journey is not being entirely sure where we will eventually end up. We will probably put you on our Christmas card list too. I have attached some guidance from the Royal Geographical Society that is worth considering ahead of our meeting.

If this wasn’t a difficult enough target, I have approached a charity with a view to their piggy-backing the expedition. I have made it clear to them that we need to raise enough money to make the trip happen in the first instance; but those of you that know me will understand that I will not readily undertake such a trip without giving something back (a legacy in kind if you like). Please take some time to read the wealth of content on Motivation’s website – particularly the Africa details and the morbidity stats found in the FAQ section. I think you’ll agree that there is a real congruence here.

The project deadlines are tight, and we should at least be able to answer these prime questions at this stage, ‘Is the target feasible?’ and ‘Can we achieve it? (‘Do we have the right people?’)’. If we agree that it is and that we can, we then pretty quickly need to draft an action plan.

I can quite appreciate that we are unlikely ever to be free at the same time, and that we all have other, unavoidable commitments (we’d all be leading boring lives if we didn’t). Of course Rachel and I will make ourselves available to meet anyone ad-hoc, as needed, in order to enjoy the expertise so generously made available to us. That said, I believe that we need to maintain a series of planned meetings in order to coordinate the agenda and pace. (Otherwise there is a risk that he project will irretrievably drift). Please do feel free to commit to no more than you can actually take -on too! (Even if that includes being unable to commit to a year long programme at this time) The last thing we want is for anyone not to enjoy taking part in this endeavour. From the start we need to be open with each other if we are to succeed.

Our sincerest thanks in advance

Richard & Rachel x”

Anyway, tonight we met (with a few apologies) and got the ball rolling. As you can see we formally adopted www.motivation.org.uk as our chosen charity. Motivation is an international disability and development charity working in low-income countries to enhance the quality of life of people with mobility disabilities. I’ll be writing a bit more on this fantastic organisation in a discreet post – it also deserves a few pages of its own on our site too – so please do check back for those – but in the meantime visit their own pages….

The Worldmade Rough Terrain A three wheel active wheelchair with a large rubber castor wheel and long wheelbase which allows for safe and stable propulsion over uneven ground.

We will post details of our fundraising enterprises on the site and in the blog as well as any other media that we can use. I think that the hard work has just begun. Personally I am thrilled that Motivation have agreed to let us support them.

We also agreed a Project name ” the Indlovu Drive”

NEW Logo Launched for the ‘Indlovu 2011′ Expedition – The wheel links with www.motivation.org.uk, who you now know we are supporting on this trip.

Why the Bull and Cow Elephants?  The Carruthers Guide to ‘The Wildlife of Southern Africa’ says of Loxodonta Africana (Indlovu Zulu) “….Rough grey skin, often coloured by dust or mud.. Complex social life. Drinks daily if possible.” ‘Nuff said – if you Overland you’ll understand.

Isilwane, The Animal Tales and Fables of Africa

by: Credo Mutwa

“Reincarnation of Murdered Gods

African people regard the elephant with a very deep reverence. It is an animal believed to be more than just a beast – it is considered a spiritual entity. The Zulu, Tswana and Tsonga names for the elephant all mean “the forceful one,” “the unstoppable one.” In Zulu the name for elephant is Indlovu, from the verb dlovu, which means, “to crash through,” “to pierce savagely,” to ”act with extreme brute force.”

Russ, you were right, we’ve had our first meeting and it might yet “go down in the ‘anals of history’!

Thanks one and all – from both Rachel and I – you lovely, lovely people. x


As well as staying in touch with the vehicle build, we have been very busy behind the scenes as we plan our fundraising strategy. We are drafting brochures, letters and press releases. These will soon be ready to inflict on the public domain.

As well as taking a fair bit of time (the usual ‘whatever you estimate, times two and add a bit’), this work has been quite cathartic for me. In attempting to get quite a lot into very little space, I’ve had to think long and hard about what it is exactly, that we are trying to achieve as part of the whole exercise. I’m quite sure that I don’t have all of the answer yet – and I am sure it will be multi-faceted and complex even if we do get there – but it has become quite clear that the chance to raise awareness and funds for Motivation has become something of a personal and passionate cause.

I think this is because I have finally acknowledged that without the formal support (health and social care, the RFU Injured Players Fund, Anti-discrim’ legislation, accessible built environments  etc) and informal support (friends, family and other well-wishers) that I have enjoyed since my accident way back in ’86 – my life would probably have ended rather prematurely (or at the very least been a bit shit). Further, I’ve accepted that in this respect, complacency in the virtue of birth and geography is not a sustainable cognition. I have lived with a dissonance caused by ignoring the obvious and inconvenient truth, that for many disabled people in developing countries,  life doesn’t work out as rosy as it did for me.

To that end please take some time to download the linked file regarding Motivations 20th Anniversary campaign ‘Wheels Out of Poverty’ . The target is to raise £500,000 over the next 18 months to help 5,000 people across Africa – many of the projects are in countries that we will be traversing.

“Soon Motivation will celebrate its 20 year anniversary. They have come a long way and, with their wheelchair and empowerment projects, are reaching more people than ever. Wheels out of Poverty will help 5,000 people enjoy happy, healthy and productive lives – away from poverty. £500,000  over 18 months is the target to achieve this.

It costs just £120 to provide a wheelchair

£5,000 can buy tools and materials to set up a wheelchair workshop

£10,000 enables us to establish a wheelchair service and train staff

and technicians to prescribe, build and fit wheelchairs

£25,000 could support a network of wheelchair services throughout Africa

There are thousands more children and adults denied the life changing benefits of a good wheelchair. Early intervention is so important, please help before it’s too late for another young person.”