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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 4 Jan 2008
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is a 4WD really necessary for east africa?

I see all these people with huge landrovers doing africa overland. Is a 4WD really necessary for east africa??.... or do you think a little, very light car could make it (pushing where needed)???
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  #2  
Old 4 Jan 2008
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Small car might be possible

It is possible to travel extensively through East Africa only on tarmac. On a traditional east coast route (ie Cairo to CapeTown) there are only two sections that may cause problems for a small 2WD:

1. Northern Kenya - Isiolo to Moyale is a dirt track. It can vary from very stony rocks and deep corrugations to red dust. It can be muddy in the rainy season - particularly the stretch between Turbi and Moyale. In the right conditions it would be possible to do this in a small 2WD, however the car would take a heavy battering.

2. Sudan - Dongala to Wadi Halfa - some sandy sections, although mostly corrugated track through the desert. There are no dunes, so it would be possible with a small 2WD, although again the corrugations would be the biggest problem.

I think the principal advantage of a 4WD on this route is it allows you to get slightly off the beaten track, whilst being able to carry plenty of camping gear - both of which would be limited in a small car.

cheers
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  #3  
Old 4 Jan 2008
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I have driven thousands of miles off road in Saudi, similar to Africa, most of it in 2wd but it's the few sections in between that you need 4 wd.
Try pushing a small car along a tarmac road a few times on a trip and then try to imagine that small car stuck up to it's sills in sand or mud.
Cheers
Ian
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  #4  
Old 4 Jan 2008
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Question Snow chains

It's something that I have pondered upon occasionally, not specifically about E Africa but the general idea; if you can get the 4 wheel people on this website to see your thread, you may get more replies.

Anyway, if you search around you will see that there are quite a few people travelling the world in 2WD camper vans; in lots of places it is as much a case of ground clearance as drive traction.

Anyway number 2: one thing I have pondered upon, and never seen mentioned elsewhere, is the possible use of snow chains in muddy conditions on 2WD, or for that matter, for 4WD.

Just my 2 cents of input.
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  #5  
Old 4 Jan 2008
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The best places are the hardest to get to

I drove all over east africa (dry season) and never once engaged 4wd in an old range rover. High ground clearance was important though if you want to get to the more interesting places. Our attittude was to drive the biggest heap of rust and so what if we had realiability problems - we met real nice people who were delighted to do a bush repair for not too much money. The other thing about having a 4wd is the confidence to leave the tarmac in seach of that perfect and private camp spot in the bush.
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  #6  
Old 4 Jan 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richardq View Post
I drove all over east africa (dry season) and never once engaged 4wd in an old range rover. High ground clearance was important though if you want to get to the more interesting places. Our attittude was to drive the biggest heap of rust and so what if we had realiability problems - we met real nice people who were delighted to do a bush repair for not too much money. The other thing about having a 4wd is the confidence to leave the tarmac in seach of that perfect and private camp spot in the bush.

range rovers are all PERMAMENT 4wd though, the only option you have is a center diff lock.
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  #7  
Old 4 Jan 2008
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98% of most trips can be done with a 2WD.

I just did a 3 month trip in Cenral Asia in 2WD lada. It was all dry though. Where it muddy, we would have struggled at times. The key is to keep it light and take it easy (rather dig an hour then ruin the car). 2WD vans can be found with reasonable big wheels and a sturdy body. That helps. The 13inch wheels on the lada didn't do well in deep sand.

Here's me decending a mount Ararat on a dry river bed (coming down was easy):
YouTube - Desending mount ararat

And more pics of the lada in action:
Nadjenka - a photoset on Flickr

And what about this guy:
YouTube - LADA - VAZ samara offroad

Rob
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  #8  
Old 6 Jan 2008
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cheers for all the answers!! so well we've just bought ourselves a ridiculously tiny little car, light enough to push when needed...fingers crossed...and we'll have mountainbikes on the roof for worst case scenarios!!!
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Old 6 Jan 2008
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Congrats!

Cool,

What did you buy?

Sure you want to take 2 mountainbikes? Those things are heavy aren't they?

To save weight, and make your stuff easy accessible, it's a good idea to remove the rear seats, (and all other stuff that weighs, but doesn't add value...)

Enjoy the trip!

Rob
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  #10  
Old 7 Jan 2008
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4wd

Well, there is a couple here in Ethiopia that have driven down the west and side and up the east side in a 2WD van so they would say a 2WD is fine.

Having said that, a lot of the best spots are off the main roads so I would certainly prefer a motorbike as the first option, a 4X4 as the second option, a 2WD truck or van as the third option and a car as the fourth option.

Others can comment on the necessity of the 4WD but I would certainly prefer to have more ground clearance than a tiny car. You will be dragging the bottom of that car over many rocks and high spots and it will take a beating. A skid plate would be something that I would say is necessary. Plus you cant really sleep in it either. The car would really limit you in many respects, for not much more, you can get something bigger *truck or van) with much more versatility. I would be very certain that once you arrived here and saw all the opportunities for exploration, you would be happy to have the vehicle with the additional ground clearance.

Cheers!
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