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Trip Paperwork Covers all documentation, carnets, customs and country requirements, how to deal with insurance etc.
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Old 11 May 2012
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Unhappy East Africa Motorcycle Purchase and Paperwork Logistics

Hey Hubbers,

Long time follower first time poster on the hubb! A friend and I are in the midst of planning an epic road trip from Zimbabwe to Nairobi. Our expected itinerary is: Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda Uganda, and Kenya. We have spent a lot of time combing the boards and googling the question below. We have found conflicting reports on some of our logistics questions and would love to get your input regarding the current on-the-ground situation. Below are a few of our questions we would love your input on:

1. We are looking to purchase or rent (one-way rental?) bikes in South Africa or Zimbabwe. What is a reasonable budget to pick up a decent dual sport, enduro, or dirt bike such as the Honda Baja 250? We are on a tight budget so we are looking to get a low-cost bike that will get us across the finish line in Kenya. Where should we look in Zimbabwe or South Africa for a bike like this?

2. If we buy in South Africa, it looks like we'll need a traffic register number, which is tough to get on a tourist visa. Would it be a viable option to buy the bikes in the name of a family member who lives in SA and already has a register number -- or will crossing borders on bikes owned by someone else cause too many problems? Will a notarized letter be sufficient documentation?

4. Is it feasible to sell a SA or Zimbabwe registered bike in Kenya (or Tanzania or Rwanda)? Does anyone have any info about taxes, paperwork, etc.? If selling isn't feasible, is shipping them back to South Africa (where a friend could sell them) feasible?

4. Is it possible to do this trip without a carnet? From our research it looks like everywhere except Uganda and Kenya should be no problem. Has anyone had success in doing all of east Africa without a carnet? How did you enter Uganda and Kenya? Are temporary import permits costs reasonable in east africa?

5. If we must get a carnet what are the logistics of buying the bike in South Africa and selling the bike in Kenya. Can you sell the bike and carnet to another rider doing the oppisite trip. Can they get the carnet bond back upon delivery and sale in South Africa.

6. Is it possible to ship a bike from Kenya to South Africa at a reasonable cost? Is this is a common procedure for overlanders?

Many thanks in advance for your input.
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Old 11 May 2012
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Join Date: Nov 2006
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Welcome! Lotsa questions there, feel free to search the site more using google (site: horizonsunlimited.com "search words") and you'll get a lot of flavour of the discussions which is quite useful to find out more background info as well as the answers you are seeking.

In general, South Africa is probably the best place to buy or rent from as the largest economy in the region they will have the most selection.

You can look around for how easy it is to sell or drop a bike in Kenya, but in general it isn't that easy and the best/cheapest way is to resell or return in the originating country.

You don't need a carnet to ride an SA bike to Kenya.

It's very easy to buy an SA bike as a foreigner, you just need an address.

One thing you may want to post in the bike wanted section is looking for two SA bikes in Kenya. If you luck out, two travellers have ridden their bikes there and want to sell them to someone who might ride them back to SA.

Happy planning.
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Old 16 May 2012
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Mountain Man,

Thanks for the information. The Hubb has been a great resrouce for use planning our trip. We would love to hear some more suggestions from the Southern Africa contingent. Has anybody recently done the trip?

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Old 20 Apr 2016
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Hi. Bit of a lat reply but maybe can answer a couple of your queries. I bought a bike in Kenya which I ride to Uganda and back.

The bike (Bajaj 150 Boxer) cost 1000 Euros brand new. Huge range due to 120mpg consumption, easy to fix, been a good buy.

Log Book: without a Kenyan PIN the Log Book could not be updated to include my name even though I spent a couple of hours on two occasions down at Kenya Revenue Authority offices. Use a PIN of a friend or family member if you can. If showing documents at border or in Police check I always can show them the receipt for the machine and they accept my explanation about the PIN. Insurance was easy to arrange. I added COMESA insurance document too.

Kenya - Uganda border : This can take between 30 and 90 minutes to clear. 4-stage process; 1. Exit Kenya. 2. Sign papers to export vehicle from Kenya. 3. enter Uganda. 4 Import papers must be obtained from Customs. ( Much friendlier this side than in Kenya).

Crossing at Malaba is more modern and more organised than Busia.

Uganda will grant 2 weeks free riding after that you need to go and pay road tax, this cost me 69.000 Ugandan shillings (£14) recently. Keep all documents handy as these are inspected closely at the border, sorry if that seems obvious but they do go through with a fine-toothed comb.

Look forward to learn of your experiences.
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east africa, logistics, paperwork

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