Monthly Archives: September 2011

Thanks girls!

Just a quick thank you to Jess and Jamie for choosing our trip and our supported charity Riders for Health, to be presented to their school, Surbiton High.  Good luck girls, let us know how it went!

3 weeks to go!

In exactly 3 weeks time we’ll be boarding the Portsmouth ferry to Santander.

Yes, we are cheating a bit by catching the ferry straight to Spain, by passing France. The ferry works out quite a bit cheaper when you take the costs of the Paige tolls roads into account.

All the trip prep is ticking over smoothly, carnet applications have been submitted and progressing smoothly. We’ve already obtained visa to as far as Ghana. Nigeria to DRC visas are planned for the next 2 weeks. The remaining visas, from Angola onwards, will need to be picked up en route, joy.

The bikes are all sorted, baring one final service. We have a bunch of new kit that we are breaking in and so far all is good.

Watching this space!

Motor Insurance for overland travellers

I classify motor insurance as essential. Not necessarily for your vehicle but the other person, 3rd party cover. Worst-case scenario is you have an accident and another person gets seriously injured. You don’t want an angry mob after you or locked up in a dingy jail without insurance.

Very few of the specialist insurance companies would provide cover for our whole trip. Those that would only offered 3rd party insurance. Many countries still require you to buy local insurance even with pre-arranged insurance meaning a doubling up of costs. However many people report travelling through Africa without requiring local insurance.

Through the International Motor Insurance Card System, it is possible to buy temporary local 3rd party motor insurance. And it is through these card systems that we intend to cover our vehicles.

An arrangement between authorities and insurance organizations of multiple states to ensure that victims of road traffic accidents do not suffer from the fact that injuries were caused by a visiting motorist rather than a motorist resident in the same country.

Wikipedia, 2011

Our routes will take us through 4 different card regions. These 4 regions will cover most of the 26 countries in the trip. There are a few countries that do not fall into these regions; so we plan to buy local 3rd party cover which is normally available at borders and larger towns

Based on our route we plan to get the following cards:

  • Green Card – Primarily European cover, you can pre-organise Green Card cover from a few Insurers in the UK. Our UK policies covered us as far as the EU, but not all but all Green card member countries like Morocco.
  • Brown Card (Carte Brune) – Covers the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); from Senegal and Burkina Faso all the way through to Nigeria. Previous forum posts indicate that costs were around 38,000 CFA/£38 for four months’ third party insurance.
  • Pink Card (Carte Rose) – Covers the Economic Community of Central Africa States (ECCAS); from Cameroon to Congo (Republic of). Reports are that costs are around £40 for 2 months
  • Yellow Card – Covers the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Will cover us from DR Congo, Tanzania and Zimbabwe up to Kenya but goes as far as Ethiopia/Eritrea.

This is plan for now, how it turns out may be a completely different story.

Local Carnets – the “carte” insurance above is not to be to be confused with a Carte Grise (grey card), an international certificate for motor vehicle ownership required in West Africa and other French speaking areas.

Spot 2 Personal Tracker

The SPOT 2 Personal Tracker is a GPS Satellite location device that can be used to notify friends and family of your location and progress via a SMS message or Google Maps. In the event of a life threatening or other critical emergency, you can notify emergency services of your GPS location and that you need assistance.

We were recommended the Spot 2 by our good friend Ela who used one on her solo trip through south America. Hopefully the Spot will only be used to update the site’s “Where are we” map. Having an SOS feature is certainly reassuring – both for us and those back home.

SPOT 2 features include:

  • SOS / 911 – In the event of a life threatening or other critical emergency, notify emergency services of your GPS location and that you need assistance.
  • Help – In the event of a non-life threatening emergency, you can use this function to notify your personal contacts that you need assistance.
  • Check-in / OK – Allows you to let your friends and family know that all is OK with a pre-programmed message along with your GPS location.
  • Track Progress – Send and save your location and allow contacts to track your progress using Google Maps

Satellite coverage is limited, however the areas that we are most concerned about do have coverage.


Essential vaccinations for the African Continent:

  • Yellow Fever – the only one you HAVE to get.
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitus A
  • Hepatitus B (a course of 3 jabs)
  • Diptheria
  • Tetanis
  • Polio
  • Rabies (a course of 3 jabs)
  • Meningitis
  • Anti-malaria tablets – not a vaccine, but essential nonetheless

An International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis will be issued to you, which you will need to present at border crossings and possibly during some visa applications. A Yellow fever certificate is the most commonly requested.

All vaccinations except rabies can be done by the NHS. Costs vary between different NHS clinics, but the only one we needed to pay for was Yellow Fever – currently £50. The NHS will also prescribe the anti-malarial tablets.

Diphtheria, tetanus and polio are given in one shot.

The cheapest rabies vaccines we found are given by 1st Contact Travel Clinic in London. £20 per shot and you need a course for 3 shots over one month. The rabies shot wont stop you getting rabies, but will allow you 24 hours to seek treatment which will prevent you getting the disease.  Worth the expense in our opinion!

Useful links:

Disclaimer – We are not medical experts and this information should be treated as such. Please do you own research as we can’t be held responsible for this information!



Motorcycle tyre repair kit

I use the following tools and kit for plugging punctures on the go. I ride on tubeless tyres mainly so most repairs involve plugging the puncture and then re-inflate, a really simple procedure. I do carry tubes in case the tyre needs to be removed on the roadside and I can’t re-install the tubeless tyre, a more involved job. If you use a tube in a tubeless tyre make sure that the tyre can support this setup!

Stop ‘n Go – Tubeless tyre repair kit
The easiest tyre plugging kit that I have used to date, a punctured tubeless tyre can be plugged in a couple of minutes without removing the wheel.

The Plugging device ‘drives’ the plug into the hole with a turning of the hex wrench. The plug expands under pressure to fill the punctured area. A firm pull on the stem with your pliers’ seats the mushroom head on the inner wall allowing no air to escape.  The re-inflate, simples…

Slime 12v air compressorPortable 12v air compressor
Great little air compressor, weighing only 950g and can inflate a tyre to 37 psi in only 4 minutes. It conveniently powers directly off the bike’s external power socket. An air compressor is handy as you can deflate your tyres if you need more traction on sand etc. and then easily re-inflate the tyres when the surface improves.


2 x 8” tyre levers – Motion Pro
Compact and lightweight. I only carry 2 levers; I improvise a 3rd lever from another similar shaped tool at hand.

Rema Top Tip
Tube puncture repair kit, includes a few spare valve cores.

Spare Tubes
I carry 2 spare tubes, a front and rear, for emergencies or for replacing a tyre and I don’t have access to the right kit for installing the tubeless tyre. If space/weight is a concern, a single front tube as it will work in both wheels.

Temporary 90’ valve adapter
A handy solution for accessing those hard to reach tyre valve stems. Just screw the adaptor onto the valve stem and any air hose or foot pump will fit easily.