How easy is it to drive a small 17 year old car from Birmingham to Cape Town? Well I'm going to find out on 25th September when I do just that!
Author: Ged's Magical mystery tour between Birmingham and Cape Town
Retired nearly 13 years ago and since then been privileged to travel all over the world and meet amazing people and cultures. I'm now driving from Birmingham to Cape Town and collecting donations for the British Red Cross where I have been a volunteer for over five years. Please be as generous as you can. Thank you
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.
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
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 !!
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
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.
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!
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
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
Impressive Horns on these cattle
Bright red soil in places
Probably just before I got pulled for another ticket 🙂
On the way to market
The tarmac has melted and moved to the left hand side of the road in waves. Makes driving very dangerous
I received a gift from the French Police last week. A speeding fine for Colin dated 29th September, five days after I left the UK. I was allegedly travelling at 97KPH in a 90KPH. Interesting that its taken 6 months to arrive. In England we have a limitation on proceedings time limit. Initially I thought he couldnt manage 97kph but realised its only 60mph. Then I thought of Brexit, will we exchange driver details the same way or will co-operation reduce? I could chance it and find out next year whilst travelling through France? Knowing my luck they will check for some minor discrepancy and find it not paid and a warrant has been issued for my arrest and costs of 1000 Euros. or similar. That would be a good story for my blog,. Then I thought I am never doing another blog so I paid it, 45 Euros for “early payment”. Quite impressed used an app they supplied on my phone and it all worked….amazing
My apologies for the delay in posting but been really busy since I got back to the UK. I have in fact tried once before and found that I can’t post lots of photos at once due to the image size and upload times. Therefore I have had to reduce them all and that took a while to understand etc. the usual IT stuff. It all convinces me that I will never do another blog, whilst I love recording my journey, the time needed when travelling just isn’t ever a priority until you get somewhere that you think has a decent signal and then you find its still not good enough.!!
Anyway here is a post covering bits of Ethiopia I missed.
The demonstration below was in the Ethiopian town of Bule Hora, an overnight stop whilst on my way to the border with Kenya. There were hundreds of people involved but it was very peaceful but very enthusiastic. They were demonstrating about an incident in the border town of Moyale that occurred early last year when 9 community leaders were killed by government forces and then 5000 people fled over the border into Kenya where they were temporarily housed in tents by the Kenyan Red Cross. A new prime minister was elected in April and whilst he has made massive changes for the better he still had his hands full with tribal differences all over Ethiopia.
Found this short clip below that gives you some idea of how bad the roads were in Ethiopia. I ad 150kms of this before I hit Kenya
The last town of Moyale stretches across Ethiopia and Kenys. It’s had a lot of recent troubles and continues to do so. There were further tribal clashes in December just after I left when more Ethiopians again fled across to Kenya after many had returned from the problems in March last year. Their best hope is the great Prime Minister they have in government. I wish them and Ethiopia peace and security for the future.
There are still lots of photos to put up. I will do my best
Africa was a nightmare to upload photos from. so sorry for the delay Kenya will be next. This is the second time in 2 years I have been to Ethiopia. It’s a great country with spectacular scenery and a great history where apart from a brief period during the 2nd world war when Italy invaded they have never been colonised. Whilst poverty is still in evidence almost everywhere, it has the highest growth rate (GDP) in Africa at present.
This was my camp spot for the night in Metema on the Sudan side of the border with Ethiopia. Its a Police compound and you can see my mosquito tent on the concrete loading deck.
This picture above shows how I had to refill petrol travelling alone. For security reasons I refuelled from the jerry cans (Two 35 litre cans first filled in Eygypt that I had to carry in the back of the car. I never felt comfortable with this as the car always stank of fuel and I was always concerned someone with a cigarette could accidentally ignite us all). I always refuelled in an isolated area as fuel is hard to get and its best not to advertise you have extra!!
The road terrain in Ethiopia is rough at best. I estimate I drove 200 kms on dirt and stone roads. Often you would be down to 5-10kmh because of the pot holes. Google Maps coverage is very poor in Ethiopia so I relied always on Maps ME which apart from the heat problem rechanging the phone was very reliable almost everywhere.
Driving in Ethiopia is an experience you will never forget because there are people and animals everywhere and many have no road sense at all so, you need to be very careful. Then there is the road surface itself and abandoned vehicles, old road accidents and huge pot holes, road subsidence and land slips. It all adds up to a challenging drive. I didn’t use my music at all in Africa as I felt I needed all the senses I had to avoid catastrophe.
The above pictures show some street scenes. In Ethiopia there are always people walking at the road side, cars are rare outside the capital, its mainly lorries and pick up trucks. Its got a huge population of 102 million people. The large picture shows a petrol tanker and trailer that have overturned blocking the road completely. You can see the vehicle track on the grass where we passed the crash. What you cant see is a big line of people with jerry cans on the other side all draining the petrol from the tanker and its trailer!!
The pictures above show some of the recipients of pens pencil and colouring books as well as footballs that Julia Albu wanted distributed on route. I stopped for a pee at the side of the road once where it looked quiet but as usual in Ethiopia, four young lads appeared from nowhere to just stand and stare. This happens a lot no matter what you are doing. They look at you and you look at them and then some sort of communication begins. I had pens etc to give them but you need to be very careful how you distribute things especially on your own as they get excited very quickly and can begin pulling all sorts of things out your car. I always had all the doors locked and the items on the passenger seat covered over and ready to hand out of the drivers window and that seemed to work well.
On one of my stops above I was interested to find in the middle of no where what looked like a Muslim and Christian burial site right next to each other. Another sign of how different things are in some places
The above pictures show a market scene in North Gondor the large picture shows a river being used to wash vans an tuk tuks, whilst on the other side of the road they were doing laundry. The guy with his hand out in a tuk tuk has at least 4 goats inside and was trying to stop others following.
In the highlands Gelada baboons were a road hazard too!
Sunset in Africa is nearly always pretty special
Visited the Ethiopian Red Cross in Addis Ababa and met Abdi who told me some of what they do. They have big plans for a shared office and head quarters in the future
Three photos above show Ethiopian Bank being built by Chinese companies. The Chinese are building bridges, roads and buildings all over Africa.
Ethiopia still has lots of problems one major one for me was finding petrol again. Whilst not as bad as Sudan it wasn’t easily available either. I had a little fuel left on arrival and had tried at least 5 stations on the way into Addis without success. So the next morning I asked my hotel to get me a taxi driver who spoke good English. When he turned up I got him to sit in my passenger seat and asked him to direct me to where there was petrol. It worked a treat he took me to a local station where there was a small queue and then he went to the front of it and filled me up himself as he knew all the staff there.
Lots of signs that life in Addis is getting better and easier for people, and of course they were very friendly too.