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There’s some great advice on here, I like the “Anyway relax for now……..”. There is of course the down side of forums, they can scare you to death! And of course beware of the bias that individuals have for certain makes of vehicle.
From your description you are starting with a blank sheet which can be good. My thoughts would be go along to as many meets/shows as possible and try and match your personalities, spending power, intended destinations and starting knowledge with others who have been there and done it. Probably personality and spending power being the two most important.
For some it’s all about a certain type of vehicle and the off roading. I don’t get that from your initial question so you need to be able to filter that out.
Van’s are all over Africa, held together with string and a prayer. I’m sure given a sympathetic driving style and a good basic van to start with you would be fine, but as others have mentioned you haven’t said what type of route/roads you are planning on. My experience of cheap van's is that they have had a hard life with little care and maintenance. Recent ones, say less than 10 years old tend to be full of electronic engine management. I would suggest you investigate spares availability along your intended routes.
To prepare a vehicle (without throwing money at useless bling) and to keep it going, even by bodging it, it would be useful to have some mechanical knowledge. How about investigating basic mechanic courses at your local college?
match your personalities, spending power, intended destinations and starting knowledge with others who have been there and done it. Probably personality and spending power being the two most important.
it would be useful to have some mechanical knowledge. How about investigating basic mechanic courses at your local college?
Yes, I had some similar thoughts recently about the original post: for me a lot of it comes down to ones' philosophy toward travel.
For instance, "is the destination or the journey of greater importance" and that type of thing.
There are a few threads in the HUBB about this, probably more inclined to the 2 wheel school, including bicycles, rather than 4, or more.
I've got a Mercedes Benz T1 campervan built by Westfalia (James Cook model) and have taken it along many 000s of kms of dirt roads in Aus and throughout Europe with no great problems - stuck once in the Pyrenees. Longest trip has been nine months and you then appreciate that having a hot shower in the morning, turning on the heating, cooking inside with a fridge, etc. etc. We have waffle boards and a Tirfor winch for when I get too stupid and go beyond the capabilities of the tyres.
There are quite a few German campers around that are 4x2s but with a diff lock - which will get you almost as far into trouble as a 4x4.
If you are desperate for a muddy road 4x4 then the Volkswagen 4x4s with a Westfalia conversion are a good buy in Germany.
When you see that the majority of locals dont have 4x4 and are driving down dirt roads all the time you start to wonder whether 4x4 is just an expensive and rarely used luxury - unless you have some very specific locations that really do require 4x4 only. Years ago we used to drive down our local beach in Kombis and Utes - now only 4x4 are allowed by the council.
Just bear in mind that a lot of the posts here aren't talking about traveling in Africa. Of course you can travel the length of Africa without 4x4 but it will limit you. You need a 4x4 to visit most game parks - for many a quintessential part of a trip to Africa. Or if you want to explore some of the desert. Or any number of places just a little off the beaten track whether that be a rough track down to a lakeside or up a mountain.
Hello. You don't have to spend lots of money. You can, but you don't have to!
Like Darrin says, the most important thing is a reliable vehicle. Fitting fancy spot lights could cost £300, or a fitting a gearbox oil seal might cost £30, which is going to get you home?!
And like someone else said, you don't have to have a 4x4. A good estate car would be fine. Or a small van, or even a small car! People have driven around the world in every type of vehicle you can think of.
Cheers, Matt Savage
just come back after 3.5 years away, to me its about what you want to do/go, 4x4 is handy but if you don't want to go to deserts and deep mud jungle roads you don't need it. Two good friends of mine have been the same places as I have been in a 308 merc camper van, no ground clearance, no 4x4. Yea they got stuck on the beach and had to be pulled up to the lake on the Karakorum, but no big deal always someone to help. It was ultra reliable and inexpensive. If you don't want to go off road to those really really remote places you don't need a 4x4 but like I said it is handy .
The merc is easy to get repaired, change the clutch and do the essentials, however you can garuantee the part that breaks is the part you have not got. The best bit 3 bits of advice I got was:
don't spend all your cash on a vehicle that you cant then afford to take anywhere.
In choosing whether to go somewhere don't listen to those that have NOT been there.
And in case of breakdown or disaster put on kettle and calm down its always easier after a cuppa
Good luck you will love it and have the time of your lives, be warned coming back into the real world can be really, really hard.
hope this helps Mark
Thanks so much for your help guys. So I've decided that we would like a van/truck of some description that is kitted out already...or maybe not. Have budgeted £6000. 4x4 is important I think unless theres a fair amount of clearance. We will be going to game parks and desert.
We plan to go for 3-4 years...not to just Africa but ship over to South America, go up to canada and then ship to Asia and head back. we are thinking of taking £50 000 and eating really cheap (think markets, fresh food and cooking ourselves), staying in the car, doing mostly outdoors walks, etc, we aren't into adventure sports. We also plan to work in Europe a bit more on the way to Africa, and then wherever we can really. Is 50 000 enough?
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