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Old 7 Apr 2009
usl usl is offline
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Which Vehicle for Africa?

Hi ;

I used to travel with motorcycle 'til now but my girl friend wants to join and i dont want to ride 2up. Having her at the back seat, makes me feel uneasy.

So we decided to do it with a vehicle.

Our goal is to reach Capetown... Turkey-Syria-Jordan-Sudan etc... I traveled to Jordan couple of years ago, so i now whats its like till Akabe... but for the rest of the route i am totally ignorant.

So...I am trying to find the right the right vehicle for Africa...

I thought of Lada Niva .. its cheap (here), mechanic, its ground clearance is good, tough... high consumption can be overlooked cause of cheap fuel prices, definetly unconfortable...

I really would like get your opions ..

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Old 8 Apr 2009
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good old Niva


there are a couple of Lada Niva threads inthe forum. It is worth to use the search.

I just copy my statement out of one Lada thread

Any experiences with the Lada Niva?
Well my Lada trip is not the latest one (Africa Overland attempt 1991 ended being evacuated by the Belgian army out of former Zaire)

How reliable are they for overlanding?
It is not the most reliable car on earth, but shouldn’t be worse than an old Landy and its mainly simple technique used. Disadvantage is the low payload. You have to travel like a biker or the overloading causes massive problems with the suspension and trailing links. Spare parts are hardly available.

Pros and cons?
It is cheap but you have to find one with low mileage and minimum corrosion (Corrosion is a big problem!). Low payload, restricted space and at least at the petrol engines high fuel consumption (alternatively the rare Peugeot diesel engines tend to crack the gearbox). Except the former USSR allied countries the Niva is at least in Africa not very common and it is even hard to get spares in Europe. Very good off road ability.

Ways to improve it?
There are OME springs available, this should improve the worst disadvantage. Reinforcing the rear trailing links might be worth a thought.

Hopefully we get some pics of our Nivas up on the website the next week.

Best regards

Also think about that fuel is not cheap at all and depending on the route you choose the necessary 4x4 challenge is limited to only 2 or 3 legs. But as a biker you probably can travel just with your bike luggage, than a Niva is not too bad. Alternatively a Patrol or a Trooper are also not as expensive and offer more space.

Have fun
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Old 8 Apr 2009
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I am very biased, i had an amazing trip to Mali in a 20yr old Niva, i'd do it again tomorrow for sure.
I've got to agree with everything Bernd says though, i reckon that covers it very well.
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Good luck, what ever you decide

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Old 30 May 2009
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If you can't afford a Toyota Landcruiser take a look at the Hilux. I've been banging around Africa for a few years in my 4runner (UK badged Hilux Surf).

Even one of CS friends bangs around the Sahara with his - great for two pax with plenty of loadspace.

See the links in my sig for more info.

Go well,
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Old 11 Dec 2009
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You can also go for an old Mercedes, a T modell for example. You don't need 4wd in a lot of cases. Of course, 4wd would be much easier, but making things a bit more difficult is often lots of fun.

I can help you out if you plan to use a 2wd, as I did West Africa in an old W123.

Good luck on your decision making!

http://300td.org - The weblog of a W123 on veggie oil
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Old 15 Mar 2010
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Old 15 Mar 2010
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Originally Posted by coxy View Post
but only if you don't want to stop and see the sites

Iveco Turbo Daily 4x4 40-10
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Old 16 Mar 2010
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It isn't about the vehicle.......the critical issue is local availability of spares, and to a lesser extent, local knowledge. There really are only 2 universal choices in Africa......Landrover or Toyota. If you go for Landrover, you must be a competent mechanic. It will break down. However, they are easy to repair, and the whole of Africa has access to Landrover spares, or dead LRs lying by the side of the road that can be scavenged for parts.

If you go for Toyota, it has to be either one of the older Landcruisers without all the electronics, or a Hilux. Toyota spares are everywhere too...........but more expensive.

I drove a 20 year old HJ60 'cruiser the length of Africa 15 years ago, and the only thing that went wrong on the whole trip was the radiator cap failed. My brother took a series 11A Landrover on the same trip, same age car. Everything that moved on it broke at least once. However, his total repair bills, including rebuilding both the engine and the gearbox, plus all of the suspension times over, and clutches, UJs etc, came to less than it cost me to get a Toyota original radiator cap.

If you go for anything other than those two choices, you risk being stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting weeks for DHL to ship parts in for you. Ask yourself where you would get Lada water-pumps or wheel bearings or half-shafts if you broke down in Ethiopia or Tanzania. Same deal with Mercedes, or even Nissans, Mitsubishis, Isuzus etc.........They may be great cars but they aren't what you want for a trans-Africa. Don't go for anything exotic.

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Old 16 Mar 2010
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I say go in the Lada. If something goes wrong you can fix it. Anything can be repaired. So what if you have to wait a few days for DHL, find a nice hotel with a good restaurant and relax by the swimming pool!

DON'T just look at Land Rovers and Toyota's, they ALL break down! Any car can have a small problem that can cause you a lot of trouble if you're in the wrong place.

Go over the Lada and make sure it's as good as it can be. Replace any parts that are worn and give it a good full service.

That's what I think!

PS, the next person that's starts a Toyota vs Land Rover debate might get a hard stare from me, or even a Vulcan death grip!
Oh, more importantly than all that, you must try a Nature Valley Trail Mix bar, they are really, really nice..
VIAIR - 12 & 24 volt compressors and systems. Tyre levers, Land Rover parts, Sand Tracks, Allisport Intercoolers, Overland Prep, and much more...
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Old 17 Mar 2010
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Why not consider something a little more leftfield, a Toyota Hiace perhaps. Again well supported in respect of spares and pretty robust, and in use across most of the region. Can sleep in the back and keep your storage low(water/fuel etc) to keep the vehicle balanced

Sure they're only 2wd but how much 'hard' off road usage were you thinking about where you'll truly need a 4WD vehicle.

Merc 207 and Hiaces seem to appear in most places so why shouldn't you be able to get them to the same? It's a thought I keep having for a midi RWD van for touring without a 'gin palace' style camper or an under utilised 4wd system.

Good luck either way, whatever you choose!
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Old 17 Mar 2010
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You can do it in anything from a 2CV to a Hummer if you had plenty of time & money, however I would stick to the tried and trusted workhorse of Africa: the Toyota Hilux (that or a Peugot 504!).
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Old 18 Mar 2010
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I think you are on the right track by looking at what is the right vehicle to prepare in Turkey (or wherever home is).

Home is where you will purchase the car, learn about it and otherwise do 90% of your input on it. It might also be where you sell it. So go for what makes sense there - anything robust and simple to work on will do - if that is a Niva then great.
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