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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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  #1  
Old 28 Feb 2010
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Fuel in Africa

Hello All,
I'm planning a 3 month trip with my Father from the UK to S.Africa riding down the Eastern side of Africa before skipping over to Namibia in Southern Africa, largely a very similar route to MacGregor and Boorman on the long way down. BBC - Long Way Down - Route Map

I'm trying to figure out how much extra fuel we will need to carry. We plan to ride a std. tanked GS and an oversize acerbis tank on a 650 dominator.

Any advice from anyone who's travelled the route would be very much appreciated. I'm especially interested in undertsanding whether visa's can easily be obtained at borders or whether getting them from UK embassies prior travel is an absolute neccesity.

Thanks
Boomer

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  #2  
Old 28 Feb 2010
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In 2008-2009, all visas for this side of Africa are obtainable at the border EXCEPT Ethiopia and Sudan.

So Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, TZ, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa Mozambique, Swazi, Leshoto....no worries.....indeed for Botswana, Namibia, S Africa, Leshoto, Swazi, and Malawi you dont need a visa if you are on a UK passport.

Get Ethiopia visa FIRST whilst in Cairo, then pop to Sudanese embassy to get the transit visa, no worries.

For fuel, Im not sure on bikes as Im a trucker, but i would think Sudan might be your only concern? All other countries youre never far from fuel. Indeed, Sudan isnt even that bad, just Im not sure on your bike fuel consumption.
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Old 1 Mar 2010
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For some reason I feel compelled to ask whether you're aware that you're planning a very, very fast trip. If so, more power to you and I hope you've got an escape hatch or two built into the schedule. If not, you might want to start by thinking about your time allotment.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Mark

(from Coihaique, on a very different sort of continent)
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  #4  
Old 1 Mar 2010
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We're doing it in 4 months, but only 3 weeks of that is getting to Cairo. It's 3 months and a week for Cairo to Cape Town. But yeah, even with that, we do drive a fair bit. But we still get to stop at certain places for 4 or 5 days, then other days drive all day. It's not really slow paced, but I'd say doing in that time would be about medium pace. I don't really think we are doing it at any rate of knots.
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Old 1 Mar 2010
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Thanks Dave the hat, it would be much more convenient to get visa's on the go,...did it cause much of a hold up at any border? what was your experience of 'fixers'?
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Old 2 Mar 2010
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Boomer

Did the run up from South Africa to Kenya last year on a 650 Dakar and a normal 650 GS.

We only carried an extra 5lt can of fuel and never needed it - although in Zambia we were a bit twitchy at 347kms betwen available fuel stops!

The main worry was the petrol stations either not having any fuel available, or no electricty at that momeent to actually pump up the fuel.

The BM's were wonderful in their economy though. I would carry as little as you can for weight purposes. (Same philisophy from my various freinds who have done the southern part of your route.

Sean
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  #7  
Old 2 Mar 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boomster View Post
Thanks Dave the hat, it would be much more convenient to get visa's on the go,...did it cause much of a hold up at any border? what was your experience of 'fixers'?
The link below may be of interest.
Certainly Ethiopian and Sudanese visas are needed in advance, easily obtainable in Cairo. Sudanese consulate not easy to find, in a different location to that shown on most maps.
But the people at the campsite in Giza (forget the name at present) that most overlanders use know the taxi drivers who can take you there. We looked for it ourselves but wished we'd used the campsite taxi as we lost a day in the process.
Usually, you need a letter from your own consulate to get the Sudanese visa. Again the local taxi driver knows which ones and where they are. Not cheap if you're British.

Our blog below has postings covering entering Syria, Egypt and Sudan that may be of interest. No other visas required in advance other than Sudan and Ethiopia. Not having a visa didn't cause any delay at any border.

But as already said, your trip looks a bit of a rush compared to ours.
5 1/2 months and we've just arrived in Ethiopia from London!

I have a Dominator at home, and with a big tank you'll have no trouble. You find fuel in some pretty unexpected locations in Sudan and Egypt.

Cheers
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Old 2 Mar 2010
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All the borders between all the countires I mention are a breeze, very quick and generally efficient, most are very used to seeing tourists (alot of overlanders).......with the following being exceptions:

1. Egypt into Sudan.....I advise a fixer here, and Midhat and his extended family can help here. If without a vehicle it wll be fine on your own, but trying to figure it all out if you have a vehicle is difficult if you dont speak arabic. Plus the boys dont charge that much, worth using the fixer for this part

2. Ethiopia-Kenya - no worries, here, but might have to kick the boys up the ass to work a bit faster....its a sleepy relaxed border town! Moyale itself has a hustling town but the douane and immigration work at their own pace!

3. Zambia from Botswana - hectic...lots of people, bit of a fight needed if you dont want to waste time. Ferry to contend with to cross between the 2 sides. And dont pay that stupid carbon tax the Zambians insist upon, what a joke...carbon tax in Africa indeed! With fuel as expensive as it is in Zambia they make their tax that way. DO NOT BUY FUEL IN ZAMBIA unless you have too, fill up before. Very expensive in Zambia, nearly 3usd per litre of diesel in Zambia in 2008.

4. Zim to S Africa (Beightbridge border) - BUSY! Lots of trucks and people, bit of a shitfight when busy. No worries, just customs is a bit long winded here.

But no fixer needed anywhere except helping wth the Wadi Halfa barge in my opinion. Most borders you'll be through in 1-2 hours max.
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Old 2 Mar 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave The Hat View Post
3. Zambia from Botswana - hectic...lots of people, bit of a fight needed if you dont want to waste time. Ferry to contend with to cross between the 2 sides. And dont pay that stupid carbon tax the Zambians insist upon, what a joke...carbon tax in Africa indeed! With fuel as expensive as it is in Zambia they make their tax that way. DO NOT BUY FUEL IN ZAMBIA unless you have too, fill up before. Very expensive in Zambia, nearly 3usd per litre of diesel in Zambia in 2008. .
I always suggest going from Zambia to Botswana (or the other way) through Katima Mulilo in the Caprivi (Namibia). They are such a straightforward borders, and the roads are all good in the area. You will get through in no time at all compared with sometimes taking up to a day at the chaotic Kazangula ferry and border crossing directly connecting Zambia and Botswana.

I don't recognise the Zambian fuel price either. The current (Jan 2010) price for unleaded is around 6500 Kw, which is roughly US$1.47 per litre. Don't miss out on Zambia, which is wonderful, because of rumours about the fuel price!

Mike
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Old 2 Mar 2010
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Agreed Mike, do not miss out on Zambia, wonderful country. Really enjoyed it.

No offence but it wasnt a 'rumour' about fuel prices, as I stated it was nearly 3usd a litre of diesel in 2008. I was just making Boomster aware it was expensive when I was there so worth checking. Great news its now a more realistic price.
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Old 2 Mar 2010
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Sorry Dave, "rumours" wasn't meant perjoratively. I mentioned rumours because lots of people still think the fuel price is at the high level you mention.

Mike
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Old 2 Mar 2010
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Many thanks all, very useful indeed. As the planning progresses the more inclined i am to rethink the bike option and swap the big GS for something a little lighter! taking 2 Dominators might be the smart option.

Plan involves a trip through Libya which i believe requires some level of passport translation,...anyone gone through this process?

Boomer
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Old 3 Mar 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuntushi View Post
We're doing it in 4 months, but only 3 weeks of that is getting to Cairo. It's 3 months and a week for Cairo to Cape Town. But yeah, even with that, we do drive a fair bit. But we still get to stop at certain places for 4 or 5 days, then other days drive all day. It's not really slow paced, but I'd say doing in that time would be about medium pace. I don't really think we are doing it at any rate of knots.
Ok, you sound like you´ve a fair idea. Still too fast for me or, I suspect, most people. But your original post said three months UK to SA. That´s quick.

enjoy,

Mark
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Old 3 Mar 2010
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Hi Boomer,

You don't mention which GS you've got, but I believe most have a range of around 320 km before hitting reserve. That will be close a couple of times, mostly depending on the conditions. In the sand in Sudan my R100GS was down to 10 km/L and Audrey's F650GS was down to 18 km/L (usually closer to 30!). We carried a 5 Litre jerry can but only used it to transfer fuel to the F650 (from the 45 gallon drum to the 4 litre oil bottle to the 5 litre jerry can) since it had a spout and could get at the gas cap behind the saddlebag. We didn't run out of fuel in Sudan as there was always a supply somewhere in a village. The F650 came perilously close to running out in Ethiopia though. Lots of filling stations but no gasoline on tap, just Diesel. When we finally found a station with gasoline the bike was running on fumes (we hadn't filled the jerry can because there were lots of gas stations).

Visas were all easy to get on the way. The Sudanese visa took a few days in Cairo and we needed a letter of introduction from the Canadian embassy. We picked up the Ethiopian visa in Khartoum and it was straightforward enough so you don't need to do that in Cairo if you don't want to. We stayed at the Sun Hotel in Cairo and it was only a ten minute walk away from the Sudanese and Canadian embassies.

When we did the trip in 2007/2008 we entered Egypt on December 3 and got to Cape Town on May 2, so five months. We probably spent 3 or 4 weeks not travelling (e.g. Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, Serengeti Safari) so four months wouldn't be a problem and three should be do-able. Plans change though (we decided to slow down our trip) so as mentioned before, have a backup plan in case it takes a bit longer. You'll notice in the Long Way Down (and Long Way Round for that matter) there was a lot of "discussion" about their pace, I think they wen't a bit too quickly to properly enjoy the journey but that's just me.

You can check out our website at Audrey and Ekkes Home Page if you're interested.
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Old 3 Mar 2010
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What's the fuel situation in Malawi and rural Tanzania. I'm planning to take the southern route from the lake to the coast in Tanzania. Also some rural mountain route in Ethiopia so that's an interesting thing about fuel there.

I'm also planning 3 months. Reckon it should be doable. Might be fast for some, but I'm not one to sit around or take tours. Get a bit restless. Also not one to take holidays. Just enjoy the scenery going past.

To me Namibia sounds like it'll be the offroad adventure. Metaljockey over at Adv is really selling it to me. Further into Africa logistics seems to get more difficult to do that sort of riding, so I figured the main routes with some rural stuff thrown in is adventurous enough for me. You can find out where the bitumen starts and end to some degree on Google Earth as well. That way I figure out an average speed. Add to that riding hours/ day, throw in a contingency and some downtime for ferries, visa's, borders, excursions, services, etc and you get the answer.

Why aren't the Egyptian and Sudanese visa's not arranged at home?
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