The original idea for a Trans-Africa trip was dreamed up in late 1996 by Michael Ladden. In the beginning stages it had been unclear whether or not the travels would be on foot or a mobile mounted affair. Michael spent the better part of a year in North, East, and Central Africa in 1992 on foot, and because of this, ultimately decided to make this adventure a mobile one. What better vehicle than a Land Rover! In celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of this legendary marque (1998) it was decided to conquer Africa the old fashioned way, or more appropriately, the Vintage way. All vehicles selected for the special journey were antique (at least 25 years old) and were as close to original specification as possible.
After Vintage Rovers Across Africa had been officially named and an Expedition logo designed, Michael began to work on the most important task of route selection. Africa is a volatile land of constant change, political instability and extreme weather. The final route from North West to East Africa was developed and modified several times to suit both the yearly weather patterns and the political situations of the region. Paul Shumway joined the Expedition team and began to research local custom and acquired a large base of knowledge on both the expedition route and the cultural environment that this group would be encountering. By the middle of 2000 it had become clear that the goal of crossing Africa was daunting. The political situation sadly forced us to modify our route and it was decided to journey from Morocco to Ghana.
In early 2001 the group of 8 men and 4 vintage vehicles successfully completed what has now become Stage I of our epic journey. Along the way they visited the imperial cities of Morocco, battled the sand dunes of Western Sahara and Mauritania and traveled to the famed desert town of Timbuktu in Mali. They then made their way through Niger, Togo, Benin and completed the adventure in Accra Ghana.
FAQ: (As posted prior to trip)
Where are you visiting?
The Trans Africa Expedition is planned to begin in February 2001. We will start our journey in Madrid Spain. The ultimate destination is Abidjan, Cote d Ivoire. On route we will visit a total of 13 countries, including:
Cote d Ivoire
Due to the many variables that can be encountered on a trip of this magnitude it is difficult to definitively set a time schedule. However, we are planning for an adventure of between 8 and 12 weeks.
The Cost: and why...
There are no guarantees about what a trip of this length will cost. The one resolution that we have all made is that it will be as cheap as possible. This will not be a "champagne tour" of Africa. Expect camping and budget hotels (And I use the word"hotel" very loosely). Food, petrol, vehicle repairs, visas, etc etc, all are factors in the cost. Air fare to Morocco is currently about US$500 one way and airfare back from Gabon is about US$1200. Expect about US$2000 to ship a vehicle over and back. Once in Africa, about US$20 a day should be a reasonable average. This puts the total cost at about US$5000 to US$7000 per person. That is a VERY cheap 80 day adventure! Obviously, as previously stated, the cost can and probably will be fluctuate from many unforeseen circumstances.
Is this Expedition sponsored?
The Trans-Africa Expedition 2001 is generously sponsored by several corporations, however, the majority of the funds required to complete this trip are being paid by the participants themselves.
Where will we be sleeping?
Primarily the expedition team will be sleeping on top of their vehicles. It may not sound too comfortable, but actually it isn't too bad. Occasionally, when available, the crew might find a more comfortable nightly residence at a local motel and enjoy a shower if the water is running.
What will the temperature be like?
Africa has a very diverse climate. The beginning of the trip we will encounter dry, hot desert conditions. Mauritania is best known for very hot, windy and dry days almost all year long. Ghana and Niger can be one of the hottest places in the world, sometimes reaching nearly 120 degrees fahrenheit as well as being extremely humid. There probably will be few places that could be considered cool climates.
What modifications will the trucks need for this type of trip?
The vehicles going are all vintage Land Rovers and will remain very close to stock. Certain minor modifications will be required. These include: custom roof racks, upgraded alternators, off road lighting, cloth seating surfaces, built in showers, onboard compressors, refrigerators and winches.
Are there dangers?
Yes, there are several concerns with a trip of this magnitude. Illness, especially Malaria and Hepatitus are common in Central Africa. Accidents are the number one cause of injury and death in Africa. The condition of many roads and the traffic safety situation are horrible. Armed bandits are rare, but not unheard of in several countries we will be visiting. Last, but not least is the weather- always Africa, always unpredictable.
How are we helping people?
Although this expedition is about adventure, education is another key goal. To this end we will be hosting a cultural exchange between children in the USA and children in Africa. The expedition team will be carrying much needed supplies and school books to these children in Africa and will be hosting online chat sessions between kids in the USA and Africa. Our goal is to educate both students and teachers and bring our mission of cultural exchange to the world via the internet.
This will be a vintage Land Rover expedition. All trucks must be a minimum of 25 years old. Currently four trucks will be making the journey, all vintage vehicles ranging in age from a 1965 Series IIA to a 1973 Series III.
Expedition start date: February 3, 2001
Start location: Madrid, Spain
End location: Abidjan, Cote d' Ivoire
Number of vehicles participating: 4
Oldest vehicle: 36 year old-1965 Land Rover Series IIA 88"
Newest vehicle: 28 year old- 1973 Land Rover Series III 88"
Number of participants: 8
Oldest participant: Pat Macomber (Born 3/4/43)
Youngest participant: Paul Shumway (Born 5/22/75)
Average age of participants: 35.6 years old
Participants married: 3
Children left behind: 6
Total Land Rovers owned by the participants: 12
Total non Land Rover vehicles owned by participants: 12
Total number of jerry cans carried by the 4 trucks: 49
Number of rolls of toilet paper: A LOT
Length of trip: approximately 8 weeks
Number of countries to be visited: 13
Miles covered on route: 7800 (12553 K)
Average miles completed per week: 975 (1569 K)
Average miles completed per day: 140 (225 K)
Estimated fuel consumption per vehicle: 610 gallons (2309 L)
Number of vaccinations given to each participant: 11
Drinking water consumption (per day, per person): 3-5 liters
Total water used on expedition: 1696 gallons ( 6420 L)
Languages spoken on route: 34
Languages spoken by team members: 2
Total capacity of onboard ARB refrigerators: 183 quarts (173 L)
Gallons of engine oil used on route: way too many
Total weight of fully loaded expedition vehicles: 9 tons (39600 Kg)
Total weight of expedition team members: 3/4 ton (3300 Kg)
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