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Jan 30 2013

Inside or outside?

Campement Djidjack, Palmarin, Senegal,

We were sitting behind our car, watching the birds at the birdbath, reading, and listening to the sounds of nature. Then, our campsite was not so quiet any longer. In came more overlanders. Not just one couple, but two couples and a guy.

We have, since our journey started, wanted to meet up with other overlanders. Both to share information with, and maybe to spend some time on the road with. Noel and Ping were our travel companions for a week in Morocco, and we had all intentions of spending some time with Jupp and Doro whom we met at Wassadou. To our surprise, the roads are otherwise very quiet; there doesn’t seem to be very many overlanders around. And further, most of those we meet are either on their way north, or just staying in one country.

Also, since our journey started, we have had a good look at what vehicles other people are travelling in. I think this is natural. It is a topic of conversation, and it is a way to learn. From the top of my head, this is what we have seen:

  • In St Jean des Aupes we met a Swiss couple in a Toyota LandCruiser 7-series 2-door stationwagon. They were only travelling Europe, but had the ability to sleep inside the vehicle.
  • In Sale in France we met a Dutch couple in a big truck. They have been all over the world over the last 12 years, and their truck is their home.
  • In Spain we met Noel and Ping in their Iveco van. Kitchen and bed inside, and the ability to hide if needed.
  • At Chefchaouen in Morocco we met a couple of Italian/Swiss guys in an Iveco truck. It is not the big truck version, but it has a box on the back with a pop-up tent.
  • At Chefchaouen we also saw another truck, an Ireland-registered Unimog.
  • In Agadir we met a Dutch couple at the campsite. They had a big truck, complete with everything needed – it looked like an IKEA showroom inside.
  • In Agadir we camped next to a German couple in a Toyota LandCruiser 7-series pick-up with a small box on the back.
  • In Rabat we met a German couple at the Mauritania embassy. They were in a big truck.
  • In Merzouga we met a French couple in a Toyota Landcruiser 100-series, tent on top.
  • In Dakhla we saw an Italian couple come in late on evening. Their vehicle: a big truck.
  • In Dakhla we also saw to other overlanders that had come into the campsite late the last night. They were both in Toyota LandCruiser 7-series pick-up, both with a box on the back. This gave them the ability to sleep inside, and to cook out of the rain and wind.
  • In Mauritania we met two French couples living in Morocco. They were both in Land Rovers with pop-up tents, doing shorter trips into Mauri and Mali.
  • In St Louis we met Wolfgang from Germany. He had a Nissan Navarra one-and-a-quarter cab with a box on the back.
  • At Wassadou we met a French couple in their 7-series Toyota LandCruiser with a box on the back.
  • At Wassadou we met Jupp and Doro in their 35-year old Merc truck. They have been all over the world over the last 8 years.
  • At Wassadou we also met a Dutch couple in their massive Merc truck.
  • On the way to Tamba we met a Belgian registered truck.
  • On the way out of Tamba we saw a French-registered 80/100-series Toyota LandCruiser.
  • Here at Palmarin we are camping with Two Austrian couples. One couple is in a Merc truck with a Russian telecom box on the back. The other couple is in a huge Steyr truck. Their friend is in a Land Rover 110 with an IterCamp pop-up tent.

So, where does this leave us? It certainly seems our vision of old Landies or Cruisers with the Howling Moon or Eezy-Awn fold-out roof-top tents, parked under a Baobab or Acacia in the middle of nowhere is somewhat outdated… Now, it seems travelling is done by truck, or by a vehicle that has a door that can be closed to keep the world out and to create a much more private (and secure?) space inside. Is this a sign of travellers wanting more privacy? Is it an indication of how the world has evolved recently? Or maybe it is both?

6 comments

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  1. tuggy

    yes,,,,,,the thing is how big do you want to go..over 3.5 tons and you need licences and it brings its own problems…im sticking to under 3.5 tons
    next all you need is something you can get out of the weather when its bad and somewhere to cook when its blowing a gale……..well you know what im building so keep watching…..enjoy….

    1. Viking Explorer

      What we saw, just here at the campsite, is that the big trucks have difficulties with access – height, width, turning circle. At Nikolo-Koba the trails were also narrow with overhanging trees, so not possible with a truck – which means you cannot visit the park. Some of the trucks also do not have space for the obligatory guide…
      On the other hand, when you are in need of a place to stay it is easier to just park and stay the night.

  2. Vic

    Great info, guys. Food for thought.. Any news of conditions going south?

  3. trevor

    hey. i over took u guys….. am in Cap skirring in south west senegal…… go to Bissau tomorrow.

    just if u wanna know….

    Sierra leone visa in banjul… normally 3-4 days. i asked nicely. got in 20 mins….. 100US$
    Guinea Bissau visa in Ziguinchor…. 20,000CFA in 8 mins..

    have fun….

  4. Martin

    Interesting insight. It will be interesting to find out from the overlanders you meet if they started with a rooftop tent and then progressed to something with a cabin. Trucks are good but as you stated, limited to certain roads and are expensive to run… but they do look good!

  5. Oddvar Olaussen

    Interesting observations. There will always be compromises. We are rigging a SWB Mercedes G-wagen without extra seat. That means we cannot take a guide inside the car. Even with a long wheel base I am not sure if I would have given the room fo an extra seat. But it is interesting to hear that it may be a problem with axcess to certain areas. That means we have to find other solutions for visiting those areas, like rental car or join a guided tour?
    Please let those tips and observations about travel means and gear keep coming. Way too little insight into this part of the experience/expedition in travel blogs. We need technology reports!!!! Thank you and enjoy your journey!

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