This is travel diary for our 12 month trip from UK to South Africa via Europe and Western Africa. We started May 2010 and finished the May 2011. We covered 48,361km in our 4x4 Land Rover Defender 110, visited 30+ countries and performed a variety of photographic studies along the way. All content & photos are subject to Copyright. Please contact author for re-use rights.
Coldest night – 13’C at the start of the High Atlas Mountains
Warmest days – 44’C on the desert piste on the edge of the Sahara / Algeria
Highest mountain pass travelled – 9479 ft on a mountain track in the High Atlas Mountains
Cheapest fuel – £0.58/l in Morocco
Best food tasted – the syrupy pastries we tasted in the Chefchaouen medina for breaking the fast
Worst meal – Meal at restaurant in Fez medina……subsequently made all in the group ill
Best wild camp – in the desert….amazingly quiet and even better star gazing
Most useful things – a small spray bottle to spray our faces in the desert for some cool relief, sarongs (multi-use as a skirt, towel, ‘blanket’, sunshade etc.) and our hammocks which double as a 3rd or 4th seat around the camp fire
Least useful things – the ignorant/selfish teenage Spanish boys that kept us awake till 5am in Tarifa
1) Visiting Gibraltar to do some admin/banking. A very bizarre place stuck in a 1983 time warp. The thing that is saddening is that it is next to a very poor Spanish town that has crumbling roads and a lot of visible poverty.
2) The legacy of plastic pollution in Morocco as well as the smell of burning refuse. Added to this was seeing the devastation that erosion and flash flooding have on people struggling to make ends meet.
3) Seeing the direct impact of the wrong type of tourism….the type of tourism where people have clearly driven through villages and given handouts like masses of pens, stickers, paper, clothes, toiletries etc. It does leave a bit of a sour taste when you get mobbed by people who just want things from you.
1) Visiting the Alhambra in Granada. This is one fine place to spend a day with hundreds of years of history, art, gardens, architecture, monarchy and religion to marvel over.
2) ‘Hotboxing’ aka one of us sitting in the back of the Landy whilst having our friend Chad travelling with us for a few days….really fab having had Chad spend this time with us….we miss you!!
3) Throwing ourselves into Moroccan life whilst staying in Chefchaouen during part of Ramadan. This little town has an amazing little Medina with most walls painted in amazing blue hues. The buzziest part of the day started about an hour before fast broke and it was fab seeing everybody getting ready by collecting food from the communal bake house, collecting water, buying fruit and all the hustle and bustle around this.
4) Spending 3 days in the desert. Hot and dusty but wow!! All the different landscapes were amazing.
5) Having children run up to us merely to say hello, smile (the biggest smiles ever) and wave. It was an absolute pleasure seeing this in very rural areas. More heartening was when we had whole families greeting us and welcoming us to their village.
6) We slept in our first proper bed since Holland!!! We stayed in a little hotel on day 114 and it was quite strange being in a room instead of the roof tent.
7) Visiting the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. We would recommend this to everybody!!! Really interesting and it’s one of the few mosque’s that non-Muslims may visit and it’s the third largest one in the world (St Peters in Rome easily fits inside)
1) Nick and I got ‘remarried’ with our new €1 wooden wedding rings in Tarifa, Spain
2) I got seasick for the very first time ever on the ferry over to Africa!!
3) We have got better at not being too messy whilst doing oil changes on Dassie. Finding a cardboard box can do wonders at being tidy.
4) Wherever we stopped to wild camp in Morocco regardless of how far away you think you are from villagers we always had two boys come to see us. Some arrived on foot, by donkey or by motorbike. They usually have something to sell too like some goats milk, the strangest thing we were offered was a lizard on a leash!
Countries & Principalities visited – France, Andorra & Spain
Miles travelled – 2066
Sunny days – 27
Coldest night – 7’C in the Spanish Pyrenees
Warmest days – 38’C in the Spanish Pyrenees
Highest mountain pass travelled – 7477 ft track from Llessui in the Pyrennes
Cheapest fuel - €0.93/litre in Andorra
Best meal – Roast chicken & potatoes, thank you Mrs B J
Weirdest place we wild camped – ghost ski resort in the Pyrenees
Most useful things – our warm clothes whilst we were in the mountains, the road atlas & guide for Spain that Fiona & Colin gave us, thank you.
Least useful things – big rectangular plastic storage box…it actually took up too much space so we gave it away & our auxillary battery that died a death.
1) We thought €35 was a lot to be charged for camping but we were yet to be surprised when we got to the Costa Bravo……€55 a night for two people is outrageous! We compounded our shock by trying to sleep in the cab of Dassie which resulted in stiff necks and driving into the mountains at 2am…..we slept very well in a forest car park after this!
2) Nick losing his wedding band….I don’t think it is in the Land Rover but there could be a lucky gypsy in The Camargue that had his day made finding a platinum ring!
1) Spending a great afternoon sailing and swimming with friends.
2) Finding a fabulous campsite in France with a secret beach for snorkelling.
3) Doing some super 4x4 tracks high in the mountains in Andorra & Spain., we spent most of our nights wild camping in the mountains too.
4) Vulture spotting in the Pyrenees.
2) Walking the length of the ancient aqueduct in Segovia and visiting the Mosque/Cathedral in Cordoba.
1) A lady always finds a way to do some shopping…….as some of you will know, Nick occasionally enjoys the occasional cigarette. Although I don’t mind this entirely, I did mind the fact that the cigarette money was coming from our daily/weekly budget. So a compromise deal was reached….I get the value of the cigarettes in a little kitty to spend on whatever I like J
2) We treated ourselves to our first gift and we bought ourselves a snorkel and mask each. We have already spent some great hours swimming and spotting different fish.
3) Spanish road signs can sometimes be a bit sparse (missing, stolen or possibly removed purposefully) so if in doubt drive on a bit further and you will inevitably find another sign to point you in the right direction.
4) The library in Toledo’s Alcazar is really fabulous. A great place to unwind for a little while, they sometimes have some photographic/art exhibitions as well as free wifi.
5) We have helped numerous people in a spot of bother, which started during the 60+ days. Two of these incidents happened at one campsite, different people, different days but one thing in common….as the owner of the campsite said, ”Problemo camping platz number 10!!” We have helped to put smiles on people’s faces and allowed some to go to bed with full tummies.