The most time consuming task of the trip is the planning. It is suggested that planning is started at least a year before the intended departure date. Our planning started way more than a year ago when Kirk started looking for the ultimate vehicle for the trip.

Vehicle choice and preparations will no doubt take up most of the planning and in fact will cost the most too. But before you start researching the vehicle and modifications, it is worth having a very good idea of the route you plan to take and what you would like to experience while travelling the tens of thousands of miles, both in developed areas and those less visited.

A very good book to start with is Bradt's Africa Overland guide, currently in the 4th edition. We started with the 3rd edition years ago but then purchased the update. This guide is great to get a feel of the more common routes through Africa and caters for 4X4, motorcycle, bicycle and truck adventures. It covers topics from planning to individual countries while on the road. There is a new updated version of this book which went on sale in May 2009.

Paul from Footloose 4X4 is a great source of information as he has done a load of travelling but he is also updated with news and info from overlanders who he helped while they were preparing for their trips. I was also introduced to Tom Sheppard's Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide which is published and distributed by Desert Winds Publishing, owned by Tom. He personally responded to enquiries made and provided the guide at a price which was 20% of the cost of the book sold on Amazon etc. This guide is the bible of overland and expedition preparation so grab a copy from Tom directly and start your planning with a very well written and extensive guide.

Weather conditions in certain countries covered en route and their respective rainy seasons are by far the biggest natural factors which will influence your route. We compiled a schedule which covered the countries and their applicable rain seasons with an expected timeline for our route to ensure we missed the heavy season in central and eastern Africa. Click here for an animated view of Africa's annual rainfall.

Maps and country guides are essential for planning. Lonely Planet's guides are very useful but may lack the detail required specific to overland travel. However, all the regional and country guides give great overviews of key attractions and all the county insights needed by the intrepid traveler. These are all available at Stanfords along with pretty much every other reference material you may need. We picked up the Michelin series of maps for Africa from Stanfords too and a large laminated topographical map of Africa to plan our expected route.

While in South Africa we managed to find a comprehensive Africa Road Atlas and recently released, up to date high scaled maps from Map Studio. Map Studio are one of the major producers and distributors of maps of Africa and specific African countries. Another useful map source is InfoMap or IMAP. These are distributed by 4XForum, a leading South African forum for overland trips. Andrew St.Pierre White is a very well known 4X4 expert in Southern Africa and he started this forum as an education medium. Worth getting hold of his books and DVD's too.

The best source for information is no doubt the web. Sites like for a central repository of web sites compiled by other overland travelers, for detailed Sahara overland travel including Chris Scott's comprehensive book and updates and, which is a motorcycle forum web site but covers many country specific topics useful for all transport types. Researching and reading other travelers' experiences add the most value and keep you up to date. Google Earth is an awesome online tool that now includes Tracks 4 Africa so there is an abundance of road and facility detail. Click on this T4A on Google Earth setup link and follow the instructions.

Medical preparation is very important. We attended the St Johns Ambulance Activity First Aid course which covers adequate first aid. We compiled three first aid kits, one emergency use, the second to store antibiotics and all prescription medical supplies and the third as an every day use and to take on treks and other outings when away from the vehicle.

Visa requirements could add a very large cost to your trip if not planned correctly. We spent a fair bit of time researching visa and consulate/embassy details for every country we are visiting, including calling embassies around the world to make sure we got our facts straight. It was often a laugh as often the employees at the embassies could never understand who in their right minds would want to drive from the UK through Africa all the way to South Africa so it was difficult to maintain a level of seriousness when discussing the requirements. Again, real overlanders' experiences are the best source of info but our visa and consulate/embassy schedule may save a few hours of research.

Fuel is the single largest 'on the road' cost. A useful bit of information is to know the relative fuel costs in each country to capitalise on cheap fuel and the extra 170 liter tank being filled where fuel is cheapest. This fuel schedule helps keep a relative cost of fuel in each country so we will know where to save a few Dollars here and there.


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