Transafrica over the west, with a Land Cruiser


Jan 31, 2013
I just finished an overlanding trip, from switzerland to southafrica, over the west route. There arent much 4x4 reports here - so i will add mine here too ;-)

Here was the route we had planned:


And here is the car - i had choosen - not just for the transafrica - we plan too to do some other extended trips with this car...
It is an land cruiser 200 with european specs - hydraulic suspension with allows to lift and lower the car, to adjust the dampers.
Here the short specs: AHC (Active Hight Control), Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), Crawl, JBL 14-speaker system, Iphone Integration, USB Connection, Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Navigation, Anti-theft system, Sunroof, 14 Airbags, Pre Crash Safety System, Four-zone automatic air-conditioning, Pollen filter / Clean air filter, Active Traction control (A-TRC).

Why such a modern car? Why not? In my experience in laos the locals drive often the never cars than the guys who do the world trips.. Worst case you have to move to the next big capital..

He is equipped now with an additional fuel tank, a winch, difflocks, 33" mud terrain tyres, sand ladders, ground anchor, a well sorted recovery kit, airbag lift, sideawning and an roof rack & thule roof box.



And here is too the complete team:


I dreamed since many years about - to build an overlanding setup, which allows me to stay several days out of civilization, allows to sleep inside - and has everything needed.
I bought the car, and start the buildup without to have an target to travel.. I would like to drive the americas, the silkroad, africa - there are many ideas in my head.

I did some (holiday) trips with rental 4x4`s with a friend, namely in laos and the nothern part of thailand - but with an extended trip - he dont want to join.
So i start planning the trip for me alone - and set the focus to africa.

My Girlfriend watched my plans - and at one day - she told me that she would think about - to come with me. I had never guessed, that she would like to do something like this. Not much comfort, sleeping in the car, bad roads and that for a long time.

I dont had planned about the timeframe of the trip, but - she rised in her career during our planning phase - and - you have to work a while on your new career level - to be able to work after your trip on the same level - right? The car was bought, and the first mods already done - should we wait 2 or more years?
To wait isnt one of my strengths - and i decide to do something - who allows to work and to do the trip now: we start to talk to our employers for a 6 weeks holiday - and extend that each time we talked about - so that there was at the end a commitment for 2 months :D

This way we are able to test our build-setup on an extended trip, see africa - and don't have to look much about the costs - we both are working and earning money.
Afterwards we can plan on an extended (at sample 1 year) trip, can change the setup of the car who wasn't good enough - that was the idea behind. In retrospect, this length was 2 months but pretty perfect – but that we dont know before ^^
Unfortunately the situation in northern africa goes worse and worse, specially mali looks pretty bad - during our planning. But we watched all blogs of peoples who work there, mailed with people in mali - and we decide that we keep our plans up.

----- to be continued -----
(next comes the buildup of the sleeping area (inside), water, board battery, freezer & cooler setup)


Jan 31, 2013
The plan to sleep inside - need all the space the Land Cruiser 200 have.

Here is the car stripped out:


Here Fridge and Freezer gets placed (Engel 15L)..


And some lightweight drawers


A Watertank with 85l also


Water Plug with hot and cold water (heat exchanger in the engine bay)


And here some pictures from our first and only testing night:


Shower installation


The Bed and the Drawer System


There are included so many details, that i can't list all here with pictures. The car comes two cranking batteries - and we add a 3rd battery in the rear, because to run a fridge and a freezer - need some power...

I had done much research what mattress would be the best - and ended with a swiss product which is used by yacht (boat) manufactures worldwide - Fanello inside:

It allows to sleep like at home, has mattress and bed rust included in one product.

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Jan 31, 2013
That reminds me to add one product to the list of these - i have to add here:

The Hella Jet Ventilator:

When you plan to sleep inside of the car, you have to carry a capable fan - for the really hot nights... We used it 10-12 times on our trip - for getting a cold breeze.


I guess the visible mods you have detected (snorkel, Frontbar) on the pictures - here i show some of them - who arent visible.

3rd Battery Setup - National Luna PPP:

We dont think that this is overkill. To run a fridge and an freezer in an hot environment - need some power. And the V8 Diesel comes with 2 Batterys in Stock configuration - i dont want to use them for our stuff...


Difflock`s and Winch Power Switch:

Additional Fueltank Display and Pump Switch:

At next we should look at the electric equipment - before i start our diary

------ to be continued -------


Jan 31, 2013
Ian Bungy;287242 wrote: Yeah Top Stuff and a Great Vehicle, What is the Running Gear, V8, Petrol or Diesel Turbo? Can't wait to see Your Complete Report!.
It is the 4.5l Diesel TwinTurbo V8


The Engine have 286 PS/HP, 210 kw and 650 Nm - a dream to drive!

But back 2 our picture mixed story ;-)

Within this Posting, i want to show some parts of our equipment we had carry with us.

Because of the bad fuel in the most part of africa - because of dirt and water inside of the fuel - we carry an external fuel filter with us - Mr Funnel - a cheap and good investment!
If you choose an diesel for africa - you have to look that your car dont carry an active particle filtre - because of the high sulfur fuel..
The Landcruiser 200 with european 2011 spec has only EURO4 Standard - and an passive DPF. He will "die" in africa - but not cause problems - because he is unmanaged.


To keep the mosquitos out of the car, we bought windows sox - a great - not very well known product. Most people choose the roof tent solution, or a popup roof - and don't try to sleep inside of the car... So not many people search something like this.


And we thought about a Satellite-Phone, bacon or something similar.

After some research i decide me for an satellite Two-Way Messager - which allows you to send and receive short messages over the satellite network.

There are two products, Spot Connect and Delorme Inreach, who both offer nearly the same - basic functionality - and much more if you connect with your Smartphone (Bluetooth). We decide us for the Delorme InReach.


Therefore you don't find Garmin, Navigon or TomTom Mapsource for Westafrica, we choose an Ipad with downloaded Bing-Hybrid - a mixed Street and Satelliteimage-view - as main navigation unit. And an Garmin Device - with Tracks4Africa an semi-comercial product - but with a very poor coverage of westafrica... But this product has also some Hotels, Fuelstations, Campsites - so for Marocco and Namibia & Namibia it is a good buy.

For Photography we choose a good compact cam - and we carry an notebook for writing our diary.

Therefore we had an Freezer and a Fridge, we had planned to cook mostly by ourself - this is also better when you want to wild camp (what you have to, because there will be no hotels, too restaurants will be rare).
So we carry a lot of food with us, rice, noodles, pesto and so on..

I would say - we have finished the equipment stuff now. Shure there was much more we carry, but nothing special.

Ahh - i forget the spares! We carry:

1x Diesel Filtre
1x Air Filtre

An minimal toolset

Not more, no tools.. Just some duct tape. I have two left hands - i cant repair something :( I can change a filtre, an tyre or a fuse - thats it. For more i need help.

Because of this i choose a new car - so i know the history of it. And it was also the reason to choose a Land Cruiser. They just need their scheduled services, right?

A guy like me will never had the relaxed feeling - to know that everything on the car is well maintained. I just hope - my mechanic did it :shifty:

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Jan 31, 2013
What is such a trip, without a farewell party ;-)


Thanks for all who partied with us - it was a beautiful night!

Day 1

Saturday, 10. November 2012

We just have 2 month for our trip - so we both worked till we start - till friday evening - as a normal working day.

Our plan was - to start at saturday early at 8 o clock, but heavy rain don't allow to load the car finally, at friday night.

It was saturday afternoon 2 clock, as the car was finally loaded, the water tanks filled - and we recognized that we still have to buy some stuff. Just insignificant things like binoculars and so on..

It was 7 clock as we finally started - also with fuel topped up - again during heavy rain. We had to reach our ferry in Barcelona at the early afternoon - so we push to Geneve and drove 675km and just passed Nime, as we both got really tired. It was nearly at 2 clock in the morning.
So we left the highway for our first wild camp - unfortunately still in a rainy and wet environment. If you also have done wild camping - you know - not easy to find a spot at night. But at the 2nd try we find a space - a meadow next to the graveyard.

It was a not easy to keep the mud out of the car, but we just cleaned our theeth - and got sleeping.



--------------- to be continued ----------------------


Jan 31, 2013
Day 2

At 5:30am we stand up again, because we have to be in Barcelona at the early afternoon - and have no idea where the port is.

Shure we was very early - and found the right port without problems.

At 12:30 we already was checked in - and had to wait for the entry process.

The departure was on time. But the ferry itself - we are glad that we dont take the ferry from Italy - and have to spend 2 nights..

We had a double cabin with sea view - just ok - not more..

The room was quiet dirty, and used - would say - a bit ****ed up...

During our tour, we discovered that where the wellness and massage section should be - there is a mosque now.

And the pool area was converted to a hookah bar. They dont have relocated the stuff - there is no pool anymore - no wellness section...

But - we don't expect too much - and got a nice meal in the ala card restaurant.





--------------- to be continued ---------------


Jan 31, 2013
Day 3, Morocco

Today we reach tanger. The harbor is far away of the city and we reach them not at 4 clock like our tickets showed - we reach them at 8 o clock, as it was dark.

As we drove from the ferry to the customs, and was standing in a long queue, as a guy with french numberplates rolls backwards. I horn and flash - but he dont break, and boom - it cames to contact.

Good start or? A guy jumped out of the car and starts to be kindly aggressive and seems to thought that i have hit him. Ohhh give me the same drungs please :con:
Therefore i can't speak french, i just inspected my car and let him cry, lucky me - nothing happened. I show him, that i thought that he is a bit silly, and went back into the car.

Other french travelers talk to the guy - and he gets quiet and joined the queue again.

The custom process was ugly - then we dont have our car entry in our passport (we should had got it in the ship) - and the border police has closed - but after some research we got everything - and could start into the night.

There was some police checkpoints, but they don't try to look after us.

After some kilometers the 3rd Battery starts to beep beep beep - the warning that he is discharged and need power. Because they are linked to the alternator - she should have power.

We stopped and start to solve the problem. All cable was fitted correctly, but the led shows - no power. I guess that the there a fuse has blown, and right - 30 amp was not enough. Glad i had a 60 amp fuse in the same xxl size - and after a short break we could drive again.

Because all says - dont drive at it is dark in africa - we looked for a place to stay, during driving - and after 100 kilometers we saw a parked camping mobile on a car park.
It was a kind of campsite, no toilet, no shower, just a place to stay - directly on the beach - with an guard who wants a small fine.

Perfect for the first night - we have everything we need - with us :D



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Jan 31, 2013
Day 4

The night was pretty cold, we are glad that we have an Webasto Parking heater (diesel) who allows to heat the car without to starting the engine.

At the morning we wake up early, and decide to make our breakfast later - when the sun warms the environment a bit more.

At home we both take our breakfast at work, because we arent hungry at the early morning - so that isnt unusual for us.

Like we mentioned bevore, we try to travel to nordafrika in a fast way, to save time for the rest of the trip. We will travel to Marocco and Mauretania again soon - inside of normal holidays.

After a short drive we take an highway and a nice restaurant on a restplace- and get some omletts for breakfast - yummi!.

At 15:40 we arrived in Marrakesh and find an guarded parking.

We walk through the medina, the old part of the city.

Soon we found a very nice sky-bar - and take on of our latest changes for an good mojito. Later we wandered some more about the market, past huge piles of spices, meats and vegetables - and of course lots of souvenirs for tourists. It was loud, but an experience for the senses - with the spices - an exotic flair.

As it gets dark we went for the car, because the parking was only guarded till 6:00.

The car was still there - and we feed our Garmin Device with Tracks4Africa with a POI Campsite.

30 km away there was a campsite, it was very funny to drive at night, because to use the light is optional in africa.

On the way was a big "Carefour" Market inside of a big mall - and we use the change to top up our freezer with meat.

There where the campsite should be (Tracks4Africa) - is now home of karaoke bar and a disco.

We look for a wild camp in a much too crowded area - we saw a hotel with a big parking area, surrounded by a cactus grove. We ask the Guard, if we can camp there - and so we get our first non-wild camp for free


Our basic campsite at the beach in the morning:


The skybar was very lovely!

Marrakesh Medina

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Jan 31, 2013
Day 5

At 7 clock we started again (this is not early - when you go to bed on time) - towards Agadir.

Since there was no good road link - which would have resulted with a long way to Agadir - we went offroad - and followed the Dirtracks corresponded most likely a direct route. What an amazing car setup for drive a fast speed on that bad dirt tracks, also with near 4to!

We arrived in Agadir around noon and drove straight to Toyota - I wanted to buy two diesel filters, just in case..

Since the workshop just had lunch, we enjoyed a delicious meal in a restaurant. Later we auctioned two diesel filters - and drove on towards in direction of Mauritania.

Today we just want to eat some kilometers :)

A beautiful day with beautiful scenery and lush green hills.

After some hours driving, we calls it in german "christmas tree" - the cockpit displays an Error: "Check VRG system", the engine light illuminated on 4LO flashing.

What a luck that we are well prepared. With my Iphone and an Kiwi Wifi ODB2 Connector i was able to read and reset the error.

The car dont runs into the service mode during the error appears, i could drive normally. But i cant enable 4Lo - what isn't funny.

But you can guess how happy my girlfriend was - that we have to do such work so early :hillbill:

I was really annoyed about - but to try to suggest her - that this isnt really a problem...

On the way - as it was on the evening, looking for a wild camp there was a Beach Camping announced - and we ended up on a beautiful beach. I christened it Surfers Paradise - beautiful waves. We also took advantage of the existing washing machine, because we dont know how many chances we have to do it this way.

We built all the equipment for the first time - the awning with sides and cooked us steaks with mashed potatoes on the Coleman, our gasoline stove and treated ourselves to one of the rare bottles of Rioja wine.





Our Beachcamp-Site


Jan 31, 2013
Day 6

Thursday 15. November 2012 - Agadir to Laayun ca 630km

Today we got a new fuel usage record. 13.x liter / 100 km. With mud terrain tyres - roof box - and heavy loaded - a top value. The record we have only managed it because only low speeds are allowed. Mostly we drove 60-100 km / h

The diesel fuel here costs 66 to 90 cents - just our diesel filters brings the guys at the gas station to despair.

It is tedious to refuel so we need for 90 Liters around 20 minutes... But despite now 3 diesel filters on stock - it's just too hot - because to run into problems, especially as the heater was mounted next to the fuel filter, and it will be quite a fumbling, to replace the filter.

Once you have water in the tank, a filter helps also not so much - you have to clean your tanks..

Despite numerous laser checks, it caught us only once - 300 dirhams (about 30 francs) for 13km / h too much. Affordable, but time consuming. As was measured repeatedly, we drove mostly very adapted or could rush behind a local car.

Nevertheless, it caught us again. Oops, I ran over stop sign - this time, 700 dirhams due.

We later learned that this place is famous for it - most overlander overdrives the stop sign here. As foreigner you don’t suspect it at this place.

It was like a bad movie. A police stopped us and asked for the papers. As he did, he went to the other side of the road - to his colleagues who watched the oncomming traffic with a laser radar gun. They had some smalltalk, then they signs me – to come over.

They looked in my Passport see Visas from Laos, Vietnam to Congo and Angola – and means: you are a rich man, because you can travel that much. They want 700 Dirhams as fractions – and shows me too a fine form.

The first time we were faced with bribery. For half of the amount, you would let us go without penalty.

But - I have no problem to pay for the things I did wrong - and I will not encourage corruption. So I was on the full amount and normal buses with a puncture / receipt. They settled much time filling - but it was worth it.

But mostly we were ignored as a tourist, or were just lucky.

Today, the landscape had changed slowly.

You notice that you closer to the desert. Even more of a stone desert as a sandy desert. It is just wonderful to drive through. It is just wonderful to drive through!

It was already dark when we reached the Western Sahara - and we were stopped several times and were able to use our Fiche first time. The fiche is a summary of personal data, as well as the vehicle on a leaf.
Without a fiche – you have to wait till they enter your details in big books – what will use some time.

It was again already dark – as we found due to street signs an campground - with ocean sounds (it is too dark to see anything.)

Tomorrow we will cross the Western Sahara and head to the border of Mauritania - by then there will be at 08:00 at the border crossing ...






Jan 31, 2013
Day 7

Again we wake up early - and prepared us to start. As i was ready to start the engine, i detect a 15cm crank in the windscreen. Nothing what looks to dangerous, we marked the end of the crank - to see if it gets bigger.
The scenery was again incredibly beautiful, but very sparse and a certain monotony - and we saw our first camels.
And the jump works unfortunately - we had taped the spot where he left off - and he grew up with every few KM back a bit more, especially for the smaller offroad parts we had. So we have enabled the home help - to get a new windshield.
This means that my mother phoned the Toyota workshop - for the part number of the windshield - and tried in Mali (Bamoko) or Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou) to organize - such - or a suitable windshield. Why my mom? She is retired - and has time for stuff like this.
Unfortunately in Mali the Phoneline was down in the morning, and at midday my mother detects - that the phonenumber listed at their website is wrong. She try to get the right number with the help of the sleeping camel crew, Toyota internatonal - but had no chance.
She gives us a call, and we decide to head as quick as possible in direction of mauretania, nouakchott - to look what Toyota in the capital of mauretania can do for us. It makes no sense to call them - they cant organice a windscreen on the fly - if they have one ok, otherwise we will try to order one to benin or congo - hoping our windscreen dont crash till there.
In the south of marocco isnt much population and slowly the more stone based desert change to a sand desert. With the less population also the ammount of Police and Radar checkpoints arent that often - nice to drive.
Unfortunately i forget our camera on the frontbar - during a pee break - on a sandtrack in the desert. We noticed after about 15 Kilometers - and decided to go back and
to seek it.
Without GPS Tracking - no chance! Everything looks so equal in the desert... We hoped that the camera is still fallen down on the sand track, and not on the big road. Have i mentioned that we drove on a sandtrack with near 4000kg - and dont sink in?
The camera was still there :) Too bad we recognize that we will reach the boarder now too late for crossing :-(
On the further journey through the barren landscape - we were suddenly surrounded by little yellow birds - the completely uncoordinated as a swarm flew on to us. Before we could slow down it had popped a couple of times - and we realized that we were caught in a swarm of locusts.
The locusts were great, so long approx 8-9cm but looks bigger durring they fly. The phenomenon accompanied us so 2-3km - and we were glad to be able to then go back on the gas.
At dusk so against 5:50 clock we arrived at the Moroccan border - unfortunately the barrier was down and a small queue in front.
We met Christopher and Janine, Janine, we met on the road before.
She travels alone on a motorcycle - with a long-term horizon. Your planned trip will end once in Togo.
Christopher had just sold his car, so really wanted to do in Ghana, but had lost some parts of the car - and had quite a few breakdowns- so he preferred to sell.
He had sold off the car in the middle of nowhere, and wants to hitchhike back the next day to Europe.
It was a social evening, with mutton meat, which were once the shoo fly - before our pieces were cut. But through the grilling, we did not worry. In addition there were chips and salad.
In a retrospect view that was a pretty risk - but our stomach did not complain.
How different our round was. Christopher and Janine negotiated the butcher down extremely - and found the price at the end just "ok" - and did everything they could to save the money - while we pay at the end the round almost alone - 16 francs - peanuts ... Survivalist meets working tourists... It was getting late..
Meanwhile, a huge queue waiting trucks and cars on two tracks on the opening of the border in the morning.
We stood in the queue again - were allowed to join to our original position and just got in - without setting up the awning or so.
It was pretty loud and boisterous. From time to time a big truck get fired up - to heat.
We were extremely pleased that we dont have a rooftent - and to handle that noise. We started the webasto heating device -and got sleeping.


Not the best picture.. But you see some flying locusts:

The beautiful coastline:

We drove some funny offroad stuff - to get a close picture of:

Glad that we found the camera!

--------------------------- to be continued ---------------------------


Jun 28, 2007
Hi 4x4tripping, what marvellous fotos and trip report. Hahahaha, you already got a taste of "baksheesh" didn't you, I suspect the more south you go the worse it will get. You spent a lot of effort and money for preparing for this epic trip. Enjoy your write up very much, keep 'em coming & good luck for the next stages !! Rgds, FR


Jan 31, 2013
Day 8 Samedy 17 November, no Man's Land - Nouakchott

At 6:10 we were awakened by a terrible wrong singing Müzein - grrr - because we have to get used to it.

At 9 clock it really took off with the customs clearance for departure from Morocco. It took 3.5 hrs, a nerve-wracking slow procedure. After all, you came into the conversation with other travelers, about faith and religion. :hillbill: Janine was pretty afraid about Gitte`s relaxed chatting about such a content..
We had been briefed perfect about the - no man's land - but we were so distracted, probably by parked and before moving cars - that we caught not the left lane.. But we saw suddenly the ominous black Mercedes you can read about on read several blogs. Usually the local guys try to mislead you that way that you got stuck - and they help you for pretty much money. I road about 200 USD.
We made it, even though we were almost drowned twice in the deep sand. We don`t had drained the tire pressure, because we had heard that the left lane would be easy to make.
Without the power of the V8, we would probably have to use the first time the sand ladders...
It was the adventure route we drove - and the crank on the windscreen starts to grow and split rapidly.
We did not know if the whole windshield shatters soon - but now the crack dazzled directly where the viewing area extends - depending on the sunlight...
Then we reach the Mauritanian border - and a long long waiting line. A fixer (helpers) promised us that we would get past the long line, when we will use his service...
He kept his word - ran with Gitte a clearance point to the next. One wanted the phone number of her, another guy wants to marry her - she had a funny tour.
And in no time I was waved from the long queue and could drive up. The fixer had excellent contacts - the border guards could hardly see into the car - and hey presto, we were with a small gratuity in Mauritania.
WTF - why there was no fixer for the Morocco checkout ....

(To say it clear - this was the only time a fixer was helpful. Later we mostly was on small borders - there are no helpers. And the 2nd time we use such a service - it was a waste of money and time. It is like russian roulette - if you have a helper with good connections - the border police don't even check the inside of your car and you can proceed fast for a small amount of money- if you got a stupid guy - it just gets expensive! I read all Transafrica blogs from the last 5 years i had found in english/german - and many in italian and french language - thats what i read - what matches our experiences - also when we just use that kind of Service two times.)

We went quickly - through an amazing szenery - giant sand dunes which sometimes starts obtain the streets again, yellow dunes, red dunes and spectacular landscapes - still hoping to be at Toyota at business time.

Mauritania appears to be really poor - we saw small huts and no electricity for miles around. The improved just short before we reach the capital.

Gitte fed the Navi with the coordinates of Toyota - we reached the place so around 17:30 - but it was already closed. One of the guards said, morning 8 clock it will open - on a sunday... And then someone walk by he said working at Toyota - and the windscreen would be in stock. We are curious ..

Now we feed the navigation unit again -with a campsite POI - directly at the beach and drove through the middle of the bustling city. Unlike in Morocco the police here is very relaxed, no speed control or other trouble - they just ask occasionally about our target - or right after the "Fiche"..
Susi, our Garmin Nuvi GPS fitted with Track4Africa - leads us through the middle of - slums were now the wrong term. I would say a mix of luxury houses that were under construction, dilapidated barracks and an XXL garbage dump. A route we was of course, incredibly out of place - where we were admired as one of the wonders of the world.

Apparently everything was built under the water table - because often big areas was under water - and we drive in many death ends..
After we sometime had to head back we reached something like the "beach road" - paved but with holes that required special attention.
We drove to a campsite on the sea. The guards at the entrance were little to inspire confidence - and wanted money for parking. We tried to explain to them that we want camping and could then navigate the terrain without money.

The houses looked pretty decayed, and we spontaneously decided - do not want to stay here. Gitte asked for a toilet - which did not exist anymore - and one of the residents pointed to a row of bushes ... And the show goes on - on the way here, we were passed by a receipt with hotel logo. At the Sabah hotel we asked for camping - and found a nice spot.

Formally, one might say - that as long no one has camped -. The pool was empty and disfigured by a steel skeleton (maybe it was before even a indoor swimming pool), but at least we had the middle of the city a safe parking space - with beach access. When we were still in setting up the camp, a funny guy popped up and offered us fish - we agreed - and a little bit later he came by with three fishes. When he realized our puzzled look - he helped us with the preparation of the fish. An good lesson! When he finished we wrapped the fish in aluminum paper after we had it seasoned with salt and pepper. We cooked rice and Asian sauce and ready was a delicious menu. It was gorgeous!

The evening was crowned with a delicious sundowner - of course with ice - something that we will enjoy from now probably only from our own freezer...
We filter the water when filling the tank - with a three-stage filter system (a coarse filter, activated carbon and a UV Spot) - so we could win drinking water out of a lake or river.
Inside of the water tank provides a silver mesh - that the water is conserved. We don`t want to know what the restaurants and bars do - for get clean water for ice....


A long line of cars on the border

Mines can hurt

Amazing desert

Searching the beach road..


Jan 31, 2013
Day 9

Sunday, November 18 Nouakchott - Bushcamp

After a hearty breakfast we drove first to Toyota. Yes - the Toyota workshop was already open - they work too at sunday..
Unfortunately, there was no good news. A new windshield would not arrive before 60 days by boat and by plane 45 days.
And they told us - that they only would use original Toyota stuff, and not from the "Market".
I persisted immediately, and the guy from the reception said that these were cheap windshield "copy`s" from Taiwan available in the town. But they dont will fit not original stuff.
Not an easy decision..We know that we could possible end with a fully crashed and splattered windshield - when we don't do something. I would prefer a origin spare - but - better a copy than nothing.

Unfortunately it isn't easy to find an "market" when you don't know - what you search exactly. And we can`t talk to the locals, because of our missing french language skill.
So I proposed to address the nearest Toyota driver.. I drove slowly beside a Land Cruiser parked on the roadside, in which a man and a woman sat, and ran down my window.
It took a little bit to the driver ran down the window, we were eyed suspiciously at first. It needs some time to show him - that we want a new windscreen - but not want to go to the toyota workshop.
He pointed us back - in the direction of the toyota workshop.
Then we investigated one of these small workshops on the road and asked for a new windscreen. Several people helps to translate - and at the end we had an offer for replacing the windscreen inside of 3 hours.
After about 4 hours, where I oversaw the dismantling of each screw - we were ready to start again.

For shure - the windscreen copy just fits inside of the Land Cruiser 200.. But there are some cables who aren't used in the african version of this car. There are rain sensors, and some cables for the front heating who hasn't a part to plug in. Anyway - we got too the rainsensors to work ;-)

We decide to restock with fuel - and to drive some kilometers today. We need an half an hour with our "Mr Funnel" pre filter - it looks like the fuel quality is not the best. After that we both need a little break - and we decide spontaneous to go swimming in the sea - before we will start.
It was gorgeous - but an extreme side flow prevented deeper immersion in the water world, even if I was only up to their waists in the water, I had to fight with all my strength not to be aborted.
Then we headed to ride in the last 2-3 hours of sunshine a few KM. Through a really beautiful desert scenery...
At afternoon, short before the sun goes down we saw a track who seems to lead into the desert - and no visible signs of a village - so we decide to search for a wild camp there.

It was a pretty bad idea - it was very deep sand - and also with all difflocks engaged we got stuck soon. We lowered the air pressure - and had to dig the first time of this trip. Soon was able to follow the track further. Maybe 1.5 kilometers after leaving the road - we try to leave the track for setup our camp. We got stuck badly again. After some time we could reach the track again - and follows him some 100m`s again - before we try to break out again.

This time the sand was hard and carry our heavy weight. 50m beside of the track we settle our camp.
Today we cook steak and spaghetti with pesto rosso - yummy! It was hot, it is certainly not easy to sleep, I thought.

We was on the 2nd sundowner at night - inside of this beautiful desert scenery with near fullmoon - as we suddenly saw headlights on the big road.
This happens from time to time - but now - we saw that the lightbeam turns in our direction. Quickly we turn the camplight off - and wonders if we got detected.
The lightbeam gets closer to us - and we starts to hear too the engine. We were not surprised when we heard that this vehicle also gets stuck in the sand. The engine turns off - later too the light. But after 10 minutes - the engine starts again - the light was turned on - and the car comes closer. Again he seems to get stuck - we hear the engine on high revs - and the light who don't move anymore.
We recognize that this car will come closer - and - maybe because of us. We was there for 3 hours without any traffic. That this is a "normal" road where also the locals have to dig- we cant really believe.
If the car will keep on the track - he maybe dont see us - because we are out of the light beam - but - this night was very bright - we can see our own shadow because of the moon.
To make an emergency start - and leave back some of the camping equipment -was also not a good option. Too we know - that we will probably dig in soon again. So we decide to hide us behind the car.
The car passed the deep sand area - and hold maybe 50m before he would see our fresh made track. Then he moves again - and stops as we was there where we left the track. We moves behind the next side of the car and try to hide us. Now they're light don't blind us - we saw a pickup with 3 guys behind - saw silhouettes with turban and guns..

I think we dont have to tell you how we feel. Pure adrenaline ...

Again the car starts to move - 30m (again we keep to hide behind the car) - and then the pickup turns of the track heading directly to us.
Too late to drive away - to late for other options. We turns our flashlights on - point them to ourself - and keep the other hand in the air - and walk into the light beam of the car.
It was military, 5 times handshake for me, with the women they do not. All sides was obvious relief. They ask for a "fiche" (a document containing all the information about us, the destinations and the car).

They told as that it is dangerous to do wild camping currently in this area - and that we should look for locations in the sight distance of military or police.
But it would be ok to stay for the rest of the night.. Good for us, i`m not interested to drive at night - after some sundowners...

Then they drove away, stopped after 200m and called for colleagues. We assume that we was surrounded from some guys - before the car came closer - the guys are clever... I guess we would have been much more relaxed, if we had not been so close to Mali - and know before - that this area isn't really safe.

Then we went to bed - and slept blissfully.

We don't know how they know where we are, how they recognize that we are there. And our language skills don't allows to ask.... The desert is so beautiful! We will revisit Morocco and Mauritania soon - an dedicated desert trip :)


Our Camp at morning, before we start to replace our windscreen

6 guys worked on our car

Do we have mentioned - how beautiful the desert is?


Our camp - we thought a quiet night will start...


Jan 31, 2013
Day 10 Monday, Bush Camp - Bush Camp (Kiffa)

Today we experienced a true magic landscape. Desert, mountains, green grassy hills like we know them from pictures from Mongolia, green oases with palm trees and agricultural areas - and then again a kind of savannah.
The last two days but also had another side. We call it the graveyard route - we have certainly seen more than 100 dead animals on the roadside: goats, donkeys, camels and dogs.
We guessed that the animals gets killed at night - because we see that the locals also try to drive around the animals on the street.
The landscape was too full of butterflies - unfortunately some died here on our car.
We saw again some Police and Customs Stops - but we all experienced positive. Some we have run over - when the uniformed men were not on the road - we are certainly not waiting on the roadside on it.
In Kiffa we tanked again our last mautetanischen toads. The fuel costs here between 1:14 to 1:16 swiss francs a liter. Since Marietania the car have to handle high sulfur diesel.
In Kiffa we chose the direct route to Kayes, Senegal yes we have missed.. We have heard too many criticisms about corruption and patronizing of tourists. That stuff we will probably have soon enough.
We have missed the regular start of the route - at the airport and drove along on a very bad dirt road - and then held on to the general direction of the road.
We found a horrible corrugated road (we named it road because she was pretty wide) - the one you can drive either 25km/h or 90 km / h. Later came a passage where a road currently being built - and we made good progress. And then came the area where the road ended.
Here again were 3 km rolled sand - with deep sandy passages. We came flying at 100, were slowed by the deep sand at 70-60 - and accelerated again. Without our 278 horse power - we got stuck often i guess.
And then there was just a small track. The track divide into some indistict tracks - and after a while these tracks also disappeared.
To drive real "off road" woahh - that was`nt planned at this early part of our trip. We checked our GPS Sources - and we should be near the track. We drive to the area where a track should be - but nothing. Also today we have no idea - if this is a normal experience, or if we got lost. We just know that we should cross Kankossa... But we never see it.
Good that we have enough fuel - we startet with near 280 liter fuel and carry too enough food and water. Without that - and without the GPS Tracker - it would be an bad area for a breakdown..
We discovered a river which we now have to follow. The GPS Sources dont shows us, if we are on the right side.
Our camp we set right on the river - gorgeous idyllic. It began to get dark - and the first swarms of mosquitoes got to work while we were building our camp. We decide to use our full equipment, the awning and also to use the side parts - to build a tent.
Unfortunately, our camp was discovered. Apparently, a small village is near. We looked like we were being watched, from a distance. We read in other africa travel blogs that you should ask the village chief after the permission to camp in order to avoid problems. But - we were already late, want to cook, and don`t wants to get being eaten by mosquitoes.
So we got inside of the tent, i waved them before i enter the tent.
While we were on to cook (inside of the tent), two men walked close by at the tent. I shouted them a "bon soire", but they ignore us. Probably it was rude to retreat into the tent. But we were not more "bothered" - neither the locals nor the mosquitoes ...
This time we had also built the back wall in the Marquee - and a large tarpaulin on the floor - and we mentioned safe from mosquitoes. That's what we were - only small flies and spiders found their way into "tent".
We feel very relaxed. If the residents have a problem with us, they will show us. We do not feel unwell in Mauritania. The people are friendly, but also very curious. During refueling a big crowd was around us. We are glad that here the people are to shy for that. Then we cant speak french - no way to talk.
The night was hot - because the back wall covered a side window. Luckily we had planned a fan - and he rolled around enough air. Not very silent - but the air feels colder.
The mosquitoes spoil the idyll considerably - only in the tent it is safe. Fortunately, we have planned something. So we could use our folding toilet for the first time - inside of the tent.


On the way to Kiffa

The waste is a problem here

And amazing scenery!


Our camp


Jan 31, 2013
Day 11 Tuesday 20 November

Bushcamp (Kiffa) – Bushcamp (Mali) 150km

Today, we were awakened by noises. On the other side of the river a big hord of cows arrives - for drinking. And also on our side of the river a herd of goats followed also by cows starts to surround us.

A beautiful place!

We don't see any people, and enjoy a rich breakfast.
We always have 2 jam, honey, ham, salami, cheese and liverwurst on offer, and later even Nutella. For the tome we cant get fresh bread locally we have packaged pumpernickel bread, which is "fresh" for several months.

Then we try to hit the track again, and hold us in the viewing distance to the river. After a while the river ends - or - went to the other side - and we navigate again just in the direction of mali.
After an hour of driving through an sandy subsoil - mixed with bushes and trees we seems to have found "the track":


Unfortunately everything is here "the track" and after a short while following some traces - we are "lost" again. Sometimes the sand was deeper - but nothing we can't handle. The power of the V8 saved us several times. Still the necessary modicum of power in reserve. We enjoyed it to drive offroad, even though we would prefer that to a subsequent, less sensitive region.
The scenery was still varied and gorgeous. We drove straight through small villages - all smiling faces and friendly wave.
We drove across country and try to follow the singletracks we found. We got lost several times miserably and had to go back longer passages. We switched to the satellite view "Bing hybrid" on our iPad - and try to hold in direction of Mali. Our problem is - we don't have an idea - where there is a border crossing in the middle of nowhere - where we can enter Mali in a legal way.
After a while we found a village with was a bit bigger, and we ask after the correct way. They "think" smaller - and lead us to tracks who was more for bikes than for us - again we had to go back. Again we ask - and he show us the way who has a dead end (for cars). Now we ignore him and try to follow the borderline on the navigation system - and found a track who was really a track.
In the next Village we ask "Mali" and they point us to a house with a small flag. We have found the Mauritian-Border! Compared to our GPS we are miles away. It was easy, we got our stamps and could leave. We ask for the direction, and the border crew told us, that a bike will lead us the way.
After some minutes a guy arrives with his bike, and try to lead us the way. We had to go back several times, because he wants to drive ways where the trees or environment don't had the space for a car. After a funny 5min trip the guy stopped and ask for money. We have used up the the local currency - and decide to try it without his help.
Again it starts to get a little nightmare - because we follow single-tracks who ends in some villages - and had to go back. The locals couldn't help us really, they show us the direction they would walk - not a way who is possible to drive. But they are very friendly - and a bit shy. They live in small straw huts - the villages has mostly only 3-4 of them - they are really small. Here we see a part of africa - who the locals don't have phones, energy, water.. In the bigger villages before - they had solar-modules - and some of the locals walk with earphones around.
Later one of the traces gets better - and in a village we ask again for the direction to mali, and the guy told us, that we had to do our "formalities". Glad that we ask for the way, and not just passed by ;-)
The guy just could talk french, but he was able to show us, that we have to wait. After 15 minutes a guy on a motorbike arrives with civilian clothing. He ask for the papers and we do the paperwork in a small shack.
I want to avoid the use of the carnet in mali, because of safety issues - and so we dont show it. The border crew sold us a temporary import paper. They want CFA - what we dont have. We offer them USD, they ask for Euro :think:
Normally we had to pay 8 Euro - but we just had a 5 Euro note and some coins. The coins they dont want - and they sell us the Paper for 5 Euro. We hope the don't have problems with that afterwards.After a short view inside of the car we could pass.
Unfortunately it was evening in the meantime - mosquito-time- and while they had looked into the car, a lot of Mosquitos was able to enter the car. Unbelievable how many was inside of the car, we killed over 20 of them. Bad timing with our Border crossing, we loosed to much time during the day :(
After the border crossing the "good track" dont lead in the direction we want - and again we follow some better traces. It get dark quickly - and we don't have a place to camp, and we loose the traces several times. The good stuff was - because we drive with light - the mosquito heads to the windshield - and was easy to kill.
Now in the dark, we see many open fires - it appears that we drive in a much more crowded area - we decide to go back, follow our own trace - and to look for a place to camp. Because we don't see much, we park just 20m away from the track. As we get out the mosquitos dont gives us a relaxed time - and we eat inside - and go sleeping. Again we kills a high number of mosquitos - we search them with our flashlight - every night.
We have to setup our camp earlier in the day in the feature! Lesson learned?


Proud to had found an track

Loose again any traces

One of the bigger Villages




Jan 31, 2013
Day 12 Bushcamp (Border) – Bushcamp ca 150km

We started without breakfast - still too many mosquitoes. After the sunrise, you have to wait a while, before the mosquitoes disappeared. It was around half past 9, as we make a break, a quick wash and a small breakfast. We saw again beautiful villages and a szenic environment. Again we got lost a few times, but after we had agreed that we always follow the larger track and neglecting our desired direction, we arrived late in the morning on a tar road and a short time later Kayes - a big city in the west of Mali.
In Mali, you have to watch these Speedbumps in the villages they can break your car and are sometimes difficult to detect. They often start a lot before the village.
In Kayes we investigated for an ATM, then we bugged the tanking-guys with our pre-filter tank. 120Liter Diesel fit into the tank, costing about 1.20 per liter. During refueling, a man came to us and tried to explain something in French. When he saw that it did not, he tried it with bad English. In Djema yesterday were two Frenchmen had been kidnapped and that I should urgently callthe embassy, ​​for the clarification of the security situation.
Later we found this information later too at the Internet: <a href=""http://"http://


Jan 31, 2013
Day 12 Part II

Unfortunately it was dark - and again we had no wildcamp spot. We followed a wide dirt track which was very very dusty. Each vehicle load a lot of dirt on the people who walked or live along the street. We try to make pictures - but - to dusty and with the flashlight you just see nothing on them. We drive Kilometers on Kilometers - try to use tracks who branched off from the road - but anytime there was a field and some hats… So we stopped 2m next to the dirttrack - and try to avoid noise and light. There are still people driving bicycle on the track - better not to get some attention. We eat each a fish tin - and go sleeping.

We are sill near of the potentially risky zone - to far north - but our car was not so visible like you may guess with our 2m distance from the track - so we feel pretty safe.

Mali is a beautiful country - we got some good pictures during the day :)








Jan 31, 2013
Sorry for the break, we was on holidays... :bump:

Day 13 - Mali - the Sleeping Camel

By kidnapping the day before we were perhaps not quite as relaxed as ever otherwise - and quickly decided to head towards Bamako.

The track was pretty bad - 200m asphalt again potholes - then washboard track, which we were able to partially take highway speeds (150 km/h), then 200m asphalt - very alternately.

Generally the AHC suspension could handle weak to medium washboard tracks pretty well, even if we're traveling slower. In heavy washboard tracks helps us only one thing: speed.

But the landscape compensates one for all! Mali's beautiful. In our brief stops we always discover beautiful colorful birds - for ornithologists there are a lot of food.

At one Peage / Roadblock many of my answers were not satisfactory - and the police officer must have thought - he is able to steal some of our money... We had to park the car and go with our papers in a small house - where we were tested for the first time in detail. After a long 15 minutes in a very hot room, the officials came to the insight that there is nothing they could use against us, and we could continue.
They dont ask for money! It was just expected that you give something, we suppose - but we knew that we all need it, had insurance, Passavant (of police stamped & Gendarmerie) - Visa - and would not a second occurred to me - is money in the take hand.

Then we came to the suburban area of ​​Bamako - one of the larger city on our trip - at least in Africa.

They drive quite civilized and relaxed here - no big honking - but they love to push here - what I was also placed in the cradle ...

We fed Susi (our GPS) with the aim of "the sleeping camel" - one of "the" well know location for Overlanders on our route.
Right in town, but on the quieter side of the river lies the diplomatic quarter - and right next to the German embassy, ​​the "Sleeping Camel" located, protected by high walls. The guards waved us - and opened the gates - and we were on a spacious patio.
The Sleeping Camel is a restaurant and hotel - you can camp inside for a small feee. Earlier here, the Overlander were stacked - today we were the only ones.

We negotiated briefly the most important - our pitch - put up our camp and washed first again the laundry because the laundry service today would not have been possible. Then we sat in the restaurant - in a comfortable sofa - for the first beer in Africa - Castell beer.

Quickly found a cozy round - as it turned out, almost all present Journalist, along with some employees of NGOs and UNESCO. Overlander they have seen for some time no more - and the present appreciated the situation in Bamako also very unstalbil. Regular demonstrations there - and the situation between the military and government is also very "fickle".

We also learned that <a href=""http://"http://


Jan 31, 2013
Day 14, Friday, November 23, Sleeping Camel (Mali) to bush camp (Burkina Faso) about 500km

Usually we are at 07:00 clock already wonderfully well rested, because we're leaving early to bed. Today was different, it was late at night a cozy round that has been sitting together. Most of those present were journalists, employees of NGO's or Unesco.
We were very busy with photos and the blog, but we still have something integrated. But no Overlander there. And those present were also the situation in Bamako itself politically unstable - and looked around for options to be able to leave.

We were not unhappy that our travel plan did not provide for longer stay.
The Sleeping Camel let us camp and cook for themselves (we had thawed meat that had to be used) - and the crew was very nice.
Until we had tanked water and were prepared to travel, it was been 10 clock.
We again enjoyed a gas station with the addition of filters - and drove to the border. In Sikasso, we investigated the gendarmerie to stamp our exit, but that was not necessary. We drove to the border and quickly left the country for an entry in the thick book.

On the side of Burkina Faso, the customs officials were friendly, once chased off their own employees, so we had a seat and helped us with the paperwork.
There was a long line of local peoples who wait for crossing the border. We was glad that they gave us a vip handling - but it does not feel right.
Then we went to the gendarmerie, the first time doubted the company car. Because i dont want to use the carnet, i have to use the normal car papers, where my name isnt listet, because it is a company car.

They barely cant speak english, we cant speak french - but the policeman tell us, that we have to wait one hour (in africa this can be everything) for the chief. I thought that he dont know if i can legally drive this car, because my name wasn't listened.
I show him the (multilingual) authorization which was unfortunately signed by myself (my own company). The officer shook his head.
Then i show him the Apostille (it is a international super legalisation) where is noted that i own the company and that i can use that car.
Lesson learned: when you not use your own car it is easier to use the "Carnet de Passage". With the carnet (which anyways is issued to the driver) never want to see additional papers about the car.
That Apostille paper saved us, and we could proceed.

We was happy that we had passed the border, as we see a police checkpoint after 500m from the border, with a stop sign. No policeman was on the road - so we did what we usually did - just passing through.
This time our behavior wasn't a good idea. All people on the road showed us that we has to turn back. As we drove back a angry crying Policeman was waiting on the street.
He was really angry, and shouted to me till i was in the hut what was a small police station.
Again our stuff has to be written in a the thick book, now the third time already - somehow completely pointlessly.
Then they want to give us a fine, because we ignored a stop sign. Not a bribe, they took out they book for writing a ticket. They told me that it will cost 11 USD. That was ok for me, my fault - and i will get a receipt.
But my girlfriend started to discuss that we have not seen the stop sign, and grudged him a pair of eyes spreads her blue eyes.
We could proceed without to pay. Another lesson learned: A pretty blonde co-driver with blue eyes - is helpful here.

Then we drove a few kilometers in Burkina Faso, as we much too late when we turned once again to a wild bush camp.
Here on the border of the villages are close together and it was not as easy as before to find a nice spot.
But we find a spot, quite near the road but not visible - and no locals around.
There we made mashed potatoes with a thick juicy steak - life is sooo beautiful!






Jan 31, 2013
Day 15 Saturday, November 24, Bush Camp - Bush Camp about 550km

Today we have Burkina Faso crosses for the most part. The scenic surroundings was now similar to Mali and not so varied.
The beautiful colorful birds that we have estimated in Mali as we see here not so - but here we were now indeed more onroad. We want to spend two days in a nationalpark here and also toying with the idea to spend a few days with beach holiday in Benin. Therefore we push a bit...
But at first we have to restock our freezer and with meat and so on - therefore we visit the center of Ouagadougou.
We fed Susi (Garin navigation with Tracks4Africa) with the search therm "Market", and let us plumb directly into the city center.
That area was - like in any maincapital - heavily crowded. We see some Parking-Slots, there was also an Guard walking around. We showed him that he should look for our car with special attention.
Some stuff still work without talking :)
After a save parking place was organized, we strolled surrounded by a bunch of people on the market. Two guys accompanied us, which we could not got rid off, at least with my knowledge of French.
Unfortunately, the women on the market far too intrusive to stroll there in peace, and the prices were pretty steep.
I know how such a market feels like, but for my Girlfriend it was to much action. Maybe I should have start with a smaller market for her.
Once you sign up for something interested, this was called loud - and the ladies of the neighboring stands also surround us, and we could negotiate the price. For the buyer, not so bad - you know, the competition lowers prices. I know
Nevertheless, we auctioned after much negotiating two large cauliflower heads.
But it was an impressive amount of different types of vegetables. The exotic stuff was more expensive than in switzerland.

Then we went to the Marina, equivalent to a European department store. There was everything that it is with us. A small glass of Nutella for converted for 10 Swiss-Francs. It really gave everything, but also to violent prices.
We bought wine, Amarula, a bottle of whiskey and a lot of meat for the freezer.
When we left fully packed the store, we were just glad that we had help - the two guys had wait there.
What for a bad feeling to walk the main street relaxed, while two black boys carry all the stuff. Stuff from a shop where the locals dont can buy, because way to expensive.

Anyway, it was way to hot to and to much stuff to carry it by ourself. They were glad for the tip, and we were first out of the city before we stowed the purchases at their destination in the car, and treated ourselves to a break.

Then we drove further out of the suburban area out back and looked for a bush camp.
We found the departure of a single track on an agricultural area - unfortunately, in a good listening position to the road.
We drove from farm field to farm field - the individual regions were separated by bushes - but did not find the optimal coverage was concerned what road noise and visual protection.
During the meal we noticed noise, anything stalked slowly. It was become dark, as we heard a ast crack close by - something "big" was near.

We cleared everything first back into place - there are too many reports where travelers had lost their equipment to some predatory monkeys..

But also after that we dont feel comfortable at these place - and we decide to leave also when it was completely dark now. Hoped for a quieter place to sleep, because the trucks do a significant source of noise when crossing the potholed road

So we found a short time later at night once a good place for a bush camp. We use our thermal night vision camera for driving the last meters, to avoid to show our sleeping spot to others. To be honest - this helps only for to make the spot smaller - where the people know that there is a car. In the night you have no chance to see, how far away the next huts are....





Usually we don't often make pictures from peoples, but we asked this guy if we can do one