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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #1  
Old 13 Apr 2008
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Question how much petrol is too much

i plan on traveling from moracco to mauritania,mali ,algieria , niger to nigeria the down the coast to south africa ina 73' vw .is a 50 gal. gas tank and 3 5 gallon jerry cans of petrol too much .i should get about 15 to 20 miles to a gallon. and weight is a concern. also any tips on traveling the sahara (probally solo) in a two wheel drive would be helpful
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  #2  
Old 13 Apr 2008
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It's rare to need more than 500 miles of fuel in the Sahara - elsewhere in Africa much less - Dont know what that is in US gal/mpg.

Are you talking a VW van? I've found they are the most common wrecks in the Sahara (from your van's era). So that means they were popular once but I presume dust and a rear, air-cooled engine slowed some down to a stop. Dont let the air filter fall off on the washboard.

Find a copy of Sahara Handbook (not 'Overland'). It's 20+ years out of date on much stuff but the authors used a VW bus to research the easier pistes. Plenty of advice there including usual repairs we dont seem to have to do anymore.

if you're talking Beetle then we saw one in the dunes once [the nasty section in Desert Driving, fyi] with a portal 181 back end, Jaguar wheels all round and milk crates for storage. Clearly a great set up if you're not in a 181 already.

Ch
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  #3  
Old 13 Apr 2008
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Question

its a beetle it was originally set up to run in baja . right now i,m building a type 4 air cooled 2.5 liter engine with a porsche 911 cooling system w/ external oil cooler the air box (cleaner) will be located in the car. heavy duty 091 bus transmission . double shocks in the rear and about 14 inches of ground clearence and a full bumper to bumper roll cage .going to build a roof rack for storage. do you know what of if any parts for vw's are advailable in africa? what are the conditions from tidjika to nema ?can a two wheel drive make it? where would it be best to find a guide for that run? do you think it might still be possible to get from Goa, Mali and go north to the border at Bordj Moktar then to Reggane in Algeria
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Old 13 Apr 2008
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Hello,

>do you think it might still be possible to get from Goa, Mali and go north to the border at Bordj Moktar then to Reggane in Algeria?

Goa(mali) - Tessalit - Bordj Baji Mokhtar is still possible. But recently clashes between Tuareg and Army had been reported (near Anefis).

Bordj Badji Mokhtar - Reggane is not possible actually, the piste is closed for tourists. But the piste to Tamanrasset is open. An alternative is to take pistes and offroad directly to In Salah. In the Algerian Sahara a guide is required.

Regards, Yves
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Old 13 Apr 2008
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do you know what of if any parts for vw's are advailable in africa?
no but someone else will

what are the conditions from tidjika to nema ?
v sandy at times but I did it in 88 - may be more of a track now

can a two wheel drive make it?
I suppose if you recce ahead and know where/when to gas it - but you'll still get stuck a lot. TBH that route sounds a bit ambitious. Try the railway route to Atar first - if you find that easy then Nema may be OK.

where would it be best to find a guide for that run?
Tidjika I guess. By Tichit it was already v sandy (in 88). Or go with a patient 4WD.

do you think it might still be possible to get from Goa, Mali and go north to the border at Bordj Moktar then to Reggane in Algeria.
Mali has its good periods but I hear that the Reggane route is closed now in Alg - shame as it would be a piece of cake in a VW. BBM to Tam is allowed and is doable in 2WD too.

Ch
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Old 13 Apr 2008
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so it seems that reggane wont be possible .can i get a guide at the border (Bordj Mokhtar) to go to In Salah ?any idea what a guide would cost or where to find one?
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Old 13 Apr 2008
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Hi Marko,
>can i get a guide at the border (Bordj Mokhtar)
well, first you need a visa - do you allready have one? If yes, you will find a guide in Bordj Mokhtar, the police or Gendarmerie will help you.
If not, the usual procedure is to use the services of an travel agency. Minimum cost is about 500 EUR to cross Algeria.
The piste BBM - Tam is easy, even for a 2Wd

Yves
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Old 14 Apr 2008
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hi there! Yves, no i havent got any of my visa,s yet. i not planning to leave til 7/09 but will be getting a few of the visa i need here in the U.S and the rest when i,m there.but ,i have been doing as much planning and research as possible now, no sense in waiting til the last minute i,ve been wanting to do this trip for a long time.what about insurance? would have to get that at the border for each country or is there an insurance that will work for more than one country?i have a feeling its not too different from when i go into mexico. where you purchase the 3rd party insurance at the border. when you hire a guide do you need to use a travel agent in algieria ? thanks for all the information , i really appreciate it marko
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Old 14 Apr 2008
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3rd party insurance at the borders.

Kilometre for kilometre, NDB to Atar to Tidjikja, is probably as tricky as Tidjikja to Nema, If you can get that far then you'll know whether or not to continue or flee for the tarmac. There are guides with Toyotas available in Tidjikja and currently plenty of petrol.

No reliable petrol in Tichitt or Oualata, so you would need to carry it or pay for assistance. There are tracks nearly all the way to Nema, but they can blow over and are easy to lose. Off-piste things get interesting quickly. A lot of sand.

In 2WD it would be an endeavour. People have, but... How light is your VW? Every kilo hurts. Maybe leave the cage, doors etc. at home - or build a bare-boned rail instead ; ) Happy planning - would be nice to see a pic of a Bug at the Elephant rocks!
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Old 15 Apr 2008
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thanks richard, the cage is welded in to the car so got to keep it and the weight of cage equals out with the stock parts that have been remored or changed to fiberglass now,but as far as weight i was planning on having a 50 gal petrol tank. i think thats about 200 liters plus 3/5gal jerry cans petrol and 15 gals water.so thats around 650 lbs.plus everything else,surf board (for Moracco and South Africa),tools camping gear,extra parts and spare tires should be carrying about 1400 lbs fully loaded with my fat butt included. the engine and transmission are being built with the weight in mind and it will have alot of torque. but what it will do when loaded and in the sand i dont know yet.luckily, i live near the Mojave dessert where we have all the conditions i think i will encounter.so this summer i will be testing the car.i guess i could go without the extra 15 gals. of petrol and weight of the jerry cans. am i,m worrying too much about running out of petrol or not being able to find it in a town more than i need to? marko
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Old 15 Apr 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marko View Post
am i,m worrying too much about running out of petrol or not being able to find it in a town more than i need to? marko
200-220 litres total fuel capacity should be more than enough and you will hardly ever have to fill that. To spread your bets you might want to fit a smaller main tank and carry some jerries.

In Morocco petrol is no problem. In Mauritania it is sometimes hard to find, but you can normally rustle it up from somewhere. It is used as fuel for domestic water pumps so if pushed you can get a litre here - a litre there. Mali is moto country - generally everywhere you find people you will find petrol, at least South of Timbuktu. The prices might shock you though.
For Algeria and Niger someone else will be better placed to answer.

If you get a chance post a pic of your VW.
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Old 17 Apr 2008
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hello , here are some pictures of the bug its under construction. but there is a picture of my last engine that i threw a piston rod threw the top of the block and a picture of the engine that is being built now... marko

marko's space
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  #13  
Old 17 Apr 2008
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Just one question Marco,

How in the name of God are you going to carry all that fuel and water !?

Are you trying to do a non-stop run down to CPT ?

I think just a couple of jerry cans as extra would be enough.

Surly the VW can't be that heavy on fuel?
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  #14  
Old 17 Apr 2008
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i was going to have 50 gal fuel cell built. it goes where the back seat was and into the luggage area. right now there is a 24gal tank there .and i was going to have 3/5 gal jerry cans with water and another 3/5gal jerry cans of petrol. i want to go from Tidikja to Nema (probally the longest distance between towns or chance for fuel if there wasnt any in Ticht) and i belive thats 805 kilometers around 600 miles. I,m guessing at 15 mpg thats 40 gals. of petrol . so ,yeah 65 gallons is probally too much, from all the information eveyone from this forum has given me.but if i kept the 24 gal tank and caried 3/5 gal jerry cans it would only give a range of 585 miles.and thats just not quite enough.the car might get better gas mileage but until the engine is finished and i can take it out to the desert here , i,m guessing on the gas mileage and trying to figure out what i will need in fuel capacity cause i dont want to run out but i dont want to have too much extra weight in fuel that i dont need to carry. thanks marko
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Old 17 Apr 2008
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Hi Marko:
Don't count on that route being only 805 km long. Probably you'll do some more, most of all in a 2-wheel drive. A 2.5 petrol engine will suck lots of fuel as you will often have to revv it heavily. I don't think 200 liters is too much, it's better to err on the safe side, although Mauri was full of fuel drums when I was there last February (leftovers from the late Dakar rallye) and I bet you will find it in Tichitt and Oualata. But what if you don't?

And carry a good shovel and lots of patience, it's likely you will need both. As Chris wrote before, if you do well from Nouadibou to Tidjika then go ahead and give it a try, but if you struggle to make it would be more sensible to take the sealed road.

Good luck,
Pedro
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