July 22, 2011

Our medical kit & health on the road

We have just spent 1 year travelling overland in a Land Rover in Africa and wanted to share with you our medical / health care tips.
Hygiene & Basics
Two overriding issues you have to think about are clean drinking water and basic body hygiene.  Bugs love Africa!!!  We used a charcoal / ceramic water filter and filtered all water we consumed orally.  We never got seriously ill and only had a couple episodes of "50:50" number 2 action.  We also washed our hands and tried to have flannel washes when water was low or no showers were handy (that's quite often in Africa).  Bottom line, keep clean and drink clean water and you minimise a lot of problems.  Also, if you cut yourself, clean it and treat it quickly with Savlon or Savlon spray.  Cover up feet, ankles and arms in the evening.  We only used DEET on our clothing and tried to avoid spraying it on our skin.  
We also had all our jabs done well in advance - we had approx' 7 visits to the local clinic in the UK.  Visit your GP and chat with the nurse.  They have access to MASTA and can advise what you need based on your route.  You will need Yellow fever certificate and a list of the jabs you have had, it does get asked for in Africa, esp. Nigeria!!
We took the Lonely Planet pocket health book.....VERY good buy and it helps give you a second opinion if you are a solo traveller.  Its small enough to pack in a bike too.  We looked at this a lot!!

What medical kit did we take?
We have listed the main items we took.  They were packable into 3 small bags (pictured).  We kept a basic kit in the front cab and the smaller medical kits were kept in the shade / cool part of the vehicle.  We kept our malaria pills, text kits in the fridge.  We have tried to indicate the frequency of usage too as a rough guide. 

  • Doxycyclin tablets Malaria prophylaxis - used daily
  • Malarone tablets Malaria treatment   (4 Tablets in one dose for 3 days) - not used
  • Canesten / Clotrimazole cream Topical cream for vaginal / skin fungal infections - used
  • Vagisil cream Treatment for vaginal irritation - not used
  • ASPAR / Hayleve antihistamine tablets Treatments for hay fever & allergies - used
  • Hydrocortisone / Eurax Topical cream for non infected itchy skin rashes - used
  • Mycil / Daktarin cream & Daktarin Powder Anti fungal treatment for athlete’s foot - used
  • Chloramphenicol antibiotic ointment Infected eyes / bacterial conjunctivitis treatment - not used
  • Safyr Bleu Eye irritation liquid drop treatment - used
  • Savlon Pavidone spray Treatment of skin wounds, abrasions - used this a lot!
  • Sodium Chloride solution ampules Washing of small wounds - used
  • Cetrimide / Germolene / Savlon antiseptic creams Treatment of minor cuts - used this a lot
  • Calamine cream Treatment of sunburn & windburn - used
  • Ibuprofen tablets Musculo skeletal pain relief / anti-inflammatory  - used a lot
  • Paracetamol tablets General pain relief / headaches - used
  • Lemsip powders Treatment for flu - used
  • Friars Balsam liquid, Sudafed tablets, Strepsil sweets Treatments of colds / cold decongestion - used the latter
  • Senokot tablets (laxative) Treatment for constipation - not used
  • Normalone / Imodium tablets Antidiarrhoel treatment - used once
  • Electrolade powders sachets Rehydration treatment - used several times
  • Haemorrhoid suppositories Treatment of hemorrhoids / pain relief - used once
  • Bisodol (tablets) Antacid treatment - used
  • Aquatabs tablets Emergency water treatment - not used
  • DEET - used sparingly and generally on clothing
Medical Hardware
  • NOMAD Sterile kits x 3 - used some items from these kits
  • Dental kit x1 - never used
  • Malaria near Patient Test Kits - used once for another person
  • Compeed blister pack x1 - used once
  • Tapes (various) - used Antiseptic wipes (various) - used
  • Latex gloves (various) - used
  • Rehydration spoons x2 - used once
  • Plasters, bandages & burn dressings (Various) - used
  • Wound dressings (various) - used
  • Steri-strip wound closures (various) - not used
  • Tweezers - used Scissors x2 - used
  • Thermometer - used Safety pins - used
  • Emergency foil blankets x2 - not used
  • Emergency glow sticks x2 - not used
  • Blood donor cards - reference only BUT good to know your blood group
What conditions did we get?

On the whole we only had minor complaints that were easily treatable:

Thrush, blisters, sunburn, athletes foot, headaches, dehydration, flu, 1x skin infection from mossie bite, a few boils, 1x hemorrhoid (old age).  We both suffered from sun sensitivity from using Doxycyclin tablets.  This was worse at the equator.

What extra medicine did we need?

We bought some Cyprofloxicin (for treating skin infections) in Mali.  Easily obtainable and good for treating infected bites and boils.

Nick and Vick
Stonehenge to Cape Town 2010/11
48,361km in 366 days

Our budget - 1 Year in Africa, 2x people + 1x4x4


The budget is probably the biggest question you ask after you have solved the “where are we going” and “what vehicle are we taking”.  It’s perhaps the one we spent several months researching.  We found there was a real lack of detail when it came to showing where and how you spend your money on a trip like this so we made a detailed record on the trip and the data is presented below.  We hope you find it useful. 

Overview of spending
The costs below include EVERYTHING we spent on the trip once we started travelling.  It covers fuel, visas, food, tourist stuff, communications, fines, bribes, taxis, eating out etc...etc... BUT excludes all pre-trip costs / vehicle prep which are covered lower down this page.

Fuel was the main expense followed by eating out, accommodation and food shopping.  You could clearly lower the amounts you spend on eating out and accommodation, especially if you wild camp (see below) but to be honest, we found that after a long day of driving, sitting in a bar, eating local food and having a chat means you leave your “overland bubble” and interact with people more.  If you ate out less you would cook more so there is some give and take on this aspect of the spending. 

What kind of accommodation did we have on the trip?

What had we planned to spend Vs what we spent?

From our experience for 2x people and 1x 4x4 you need to be thinking of somewhere between €45-€60 per day for EVERYTHING for a year in Africa, and that includes being able to "relax", have the odd night in a hotel, enjoy a variety of tourist experiences, buy gifts, eat a healthy diet and treat yourself to the odd "blow out".  We had set an original budget of €49 / day and found we were on target for that by the time we reached Northern Namibia.  North, West and Central Africa were relatively cheap.  The charts below give you a feel for the spending we incurred for the whole year.  

Southern Africa is a lot more expensive and if you want to do tourist "stuff" it starts to add up and so we started to deviate away from the planned budget.  This is even more so if you hit the school holidays or want to visit some of the famous / popular parks.  

We ended the trip after 366 days with an average spend of €58 / day.  For people travelling on foot, by bike, motorbike etc...Budgets will vary from ours and will also vary for different regions of the world.  Africa is not as cheap as you might think.
Types of budget 

During the year we met a few overlander folk doing similar trips to ourselves.   It was a lot quieter on the west coast route.  We did hook up with some of them and travelled some sections together but most of the time we were on our own.  We found from these experiences that the people appear to fall into 3 main types of budget (based on 2x people & 1x4x4), you might want to consider this “rough” assessment as a means to measure your own plans Vs what you can expect on the trip. 
1) Minimal Budget <€40 / day
People on this kind of budget have trip that is dominated by juggling an extremely small budget with very little if no contingency.  These people tend to spend most of their time doing things on the cheap and when the cash runs out the trip is over in what ever country they happen to be in.  They tend to be travelling without proper paperwork, a vehicle that needs constant attention or repairing and day-to-day activity seems to focus on finding the cheapest source of food or hanging around back street garages haggling for something to be welded or scrounged.  There is little if no spare cash for gifts or tourist related activity and when you hook up with them you tend to find that you quickly become a surrogate contributor towards the things they don't have (after a while this becomes a real pain and very tiresome).  We also found they tend to be poorly equipped and are not really set up to travel off-road without support.  Sadly, and whilst its not a universal observation, we did note that their budget had a major impact on how they travelled and also (in the case of 3 couples we met) their attitude to other people they came into contact with.  There seemed to be a strange (competitive) focus on who can travel the furthest for the least amount of cash, which in our view, is not what the trip is about. 

2) Realistic Budget €45-€60 / day
This group of people have a budget that has sufficient cover for a range of activity on the trip including site seeing, tourist stuff, gifts and contingency for vehicle repairs / things going wrong etc....  They tend to be well prepared with a reliable vehicle and have sufficient equipment to travel remotely / off the beaten track without support for extended periods of time.  The trip can accommodate some changes along the way and pace of travel is slower and more relaxed.  Accommodation tends to be simple and realistically priced with a focus on camping / bush camping with occasional stays in hotels / eating out as a treat.  The end date is fixed or flexible and the budget will see them through to the end, even if some mechanical work is needed along the way.  
3) Money No Object Budget >€60 / day

This group of people have a massive budget that has sufficient cover for pretty much anything.  They can change their plans at will and can afford to stay in top end campsites / hotels on a more frequent basis.  They can undertake more expensive site seeing / tourist stuff and have a pretty large contingency for vehicle repairs / things going wrong etc....  They tend to be very well prepared with a high-end vehicle and have sufficient equipment to travel remotely / off the beaten track without support for a considerable period of time.  Pace of travel is very relaxed.  Have the ability to eat out regularly and the end date is flexible.

Pre-Trip costs

The day-to-day budget previously discussed is often linked to what you have left over after you have spent your hard earned cash on the vehicle, its preparation and pre-trip spending.  The figures below are good estimates based on getting a sound base vehicle, fitting it out to basic but reliable level with mainly new equipment and the obligatory paperwork / medical kit.  Other costs are included too. Key areas to consider are:
  1. Base vehicle cost in 2006: 10-12 year old Defender 110 with 100k+ miles (unmodified): £3k - £5k.  We note that you can pick up some good deals in the LRO / LRM magazines as people appear to off-loading vehicles at discounted rates at present - so happy shopping!  Take vehicle to a dealer for a 30 minute check over.  For Land Rovers key areas to focus on are oil and water leaks from engine, condition of cooling pipes, leaks from diffs and gearbox.  Clunking noise from UJ wear on drive shaft, play in drive shafts, condition of radiator and alternator, tyres, check shocks for leaks, rock car to check for bearing wear, check for welds on drive member ends, condition of springs (especially rear springs) and service history.  Check for dates and mileage when Cam belt timing chain was changed and also the last time the serpentine belt was changed. 
  2. Mechanical work, service, MOT, misc repairs, labour & VAT: £2k - £3k.  Can’t stress that having this done is key unless you can do it yourself, you learn a lot on the trip!!!
  3. Basic (new) overland vehicle equipment, preparation, labour & VAT: £10 - £12k.  We got new equipment mainly because it lasts and we are glad we did.  The sun and heat kills fabrics and does strange things to plastics.  Kit we used the most includes, gps, tyre compressor, waffle boards, winch, winch accessories, awning, roof tent, water filter, SPOT messenger, jerry cans, extra fuel tank, extra water tank, Engel fridge, fuel sedimentor.  The role cage was an added extra but one we felt was a good investment.  
  4. CARNET depends on the value of your vehicle and where you go - expect paperwork to cost £250 (ish) and depending on the security an extra £300 (ish) to cover this.
  5. Visas, medical, paperwork, misc administration £2k
  6. Other big costs: We sold our house and imported the vehicle into SA when we arrived.  This means we did not need 2 x flights home or shipping costs (this could cost approx £3500). 
  7. Importing a car for a returning South African on a one-way trip like ours costs about £500 (ish). We will post a report on this when complete.
  8. If you rent out your house furnished there will be admin costs etc ....while you are away and additional storage costs if you rent it out unfurnished that could add another £1-3k to your cost base, especially if you have to pay to store items.
As you can see, costs add up quickly, but they are realistic and based on real quotes / research.  Labour and VAT are a big factor if you are getting a lot of new parts and someone to fit them.  One thing we have observed, and many overlanders do comment (retrospectively) that they wish they had spent more £££ upfront and not cut corners or bought a vehicle already prepared with all the gear.   We have heard a couple of accounts where the trip was a nightmare because things went wrong in a big way!!  e.g. $2000 to get a tow for a broken down car in Central Africa, paying $500 for your vehicle NOT to be fixed at a back street garage and on top of that having your laptop nicked while it was in the garage.  It seems expensive at the start BUT finding parts and getting things fixed if there are MAJOR mechanical issues along the way is not easy in remote parts of Africa. So spend money on getting the car fixed up before you go.


Everyone is different and what you spend on your trip will vary from the above based on your mode of travel, location and spending habits.  The overall lesson we learnt is that it does help to SET a budget and TRY and stick to it BUT allow yourself some wiggle room.  Eating bread, drinking water and starving yourself does not really save you that much money in the long run and we found having the odd blow out is a treat worth waiting for.   The flip side to this is you can actually become ill and then you have to spend money on medicines etc...  A year on the road is longer than you think and its takes it toll in more ways than one.  Good hygiene and a good medical kit are areas to focus on and mitigate costs, the water filter was the best buy as we rarely got ill.  The vehicle prep is key and having a basic level of kit is important.  Whilst you can get spares on the way, it takes time and money to find them.  What you spend up front, saves you money in the long run and we would be very sceptical about couples who tell you you can survive in Africa on $25 / per day travelling in a 4x4 to remote locations like we did.  Survival Vs having a good time / exploring are two different things!

We hope you find this article useful and would welcome any feedback on your own budget Vs what you spent Vs where you went Vs duration of the trip.  We would like to compile a summary and share this via Overland Live.  Please email data to me at: nick @


Nick & Vicki
Stonehenge to Cape Town 2010/11

July 21, 2011

366 Days - All good things come to an end :-(((


Countries visited – Mozambique, Lesotho & South Africa

Miles travelled –  3248 miles
Sunny days – 25 days
Coldest night –  -2’C at Sani Top, Lesotho
Warmest day – 32’C in Vilanculos, Mozambique
Cheapest fuel – £0.68, Mozambique 
Best food tasted – The most delicious smoked bacon from a farm in Baardskeerdersbos…this was the real thing!
Easiest Mountain Pass – Sani Pass from Lesotho to South Africa
Most useful things – 
Least useful things – The persistent mozzies we encountered on our last night in Mozambique - DAMN YOU!!


1) The mini ‘high’ season that we bumped into in Mozambique. It was more relaxed and less packed the further North one went which was pleasant.
2) The selfish South African caravaners who packed up camp and then parked their massive caravans and cars blocking the entry/exit point of the campsite as they had showers…how rude!


1) Visiting the Bazaruto Islands to go diving and snorkelling, absolutely spectacular and proper ‘paradise’ beaches. 
2) Going on a snorkel safari which is the craziest thing in it’s own but we got to see some mighty Whale Sharks and Manta Rays.
3) The fantastic views on our drives through Lesotho down the Sani Pass and all the way along the old ‘Transkei’ hills and coast.
4) Visiting the Nelson Mandela museum in Mthatha, Eastern Cape. Very interesting, informative and it’s free to visit. One big block of history well worth visiting.
5) Reaching Cape Agulhas, quite surreal that we had just driven all the way from Morocco but very satisfying.
6) Being able to catch up with friends and family on the way home. Thank you to Dean, Danielle, Athena & ladies, Eddie, Ant, Bronwyn, Jeanne, Graham, Rejeanne, Doekle, Lizzie & Marc. 


1) We passed the Tropic of Capricorn one more time…we crossed this Tropic a whole 6 times on our trip!
2) It’s not comforting passing ‘Hijack Hotspot’ signs in a heavy Land Rover on the outskirts of Joburg. Anybody who owns a Defender will know the acceleration rate is lacking!
3) Finding a campsite that has industrial washing machines and tumble dryers, I couldn’t contain my excitement and had to do a load of washing!! (Hadn’t seen a tumble dryer for over a year.)
4) We left Cape Town on a stormy day in May 2010 and we returned to Cape Town on a stormy day in May 2011 - Karma!
5) One year and one day on the road and way too many memories to list here!!

Thats all folks!

48,361km after we started, we are now living our new life on the Western Cape, South Africa.  It was a strange day when we pulled into the drive and odd to be living in a house again.  But its the start of a new adventure and a new chapter in life.  Some things we missed for sure while we were away but home is home and we are now HOME! 

Viva the people of Africa!
Viva the great continent of Africa!!

Nick & Vicki
Stonehenge to Cape Town 2010/11

330 Days - Things get a little too wild!


Countries visited – Botswana, Zimbabwe & Mozambique

Miles travelled –  3118 miles
Sunny days – 27 days
Coldest night – 9’C near Bulawayo in Zimbabwe 
Warmest day – 39’C we had two days of this temp, one in Maun and one near Nxai Pan
Cheapest fuel – £0.65, Botswana
Best food tasted – Camp dinners in Okavango Delta & the set meal at Elephant Sands, Botswana
Worst meal/food tasted – Mopane worms - Nick says they taste of "wood"....  after all, thats what they eat!!
Best wild camp – In the bush near Moremi & Chobe National Parks, Botswana. Should really be the scariest one as it was certainly wild!  Got invade by 50+ elephants and 3x lions roared under our canopy for 2 hours!!
Most useful things – The mega torch we bought for when we went camping in the bush.
Least useful things – The Swedish Pink Caravan that invaded our camping pitch…Grrrrr… & the advice that all the roads in Mozambique are terribly potholed from when you cross the border…this is rubbish, the roads in Moz were actually surprisingly good, things are moving on.


1) Hearing from other travellers that they refuse to visit Zimbabwe because of politics. This is heart breaking as we have travelled many countries that don’t have ‘ideal’ political situations but by refusing to visit a relatively stable country I feel that one is just boycotting the average person trying to make a living. Sometimes one has to see beyond a countries leader for the sake of travelling and experiencing something amazing.
2) Realising that we are on the homeward stretch and that our adventure will soon be coming to an end.


1) Visiting our friends Sim and Kate who run Elephants for Africa at their base camp for their Okavango research programmes. A real treat for us being able to visit the Delta and even more so being able to spend time with the researchers on some of their daily sample and information gathering. Thanks again EFA, we hope to visit again.
2) Close encounters with wildlife…. This came in the form of wild camping near Moremi & Chobe. We had our scariest night yet camping alone in the bush with curious elephants and roaring lions who got comfy under our awning till the sun came up.

3) Zimbabwe!! The most amazing people yet with some great wonders to visit. Victoria Falls (with a visit to the Vic Falls Hotel for high tea, totally scrummy), Hwange National Park where the staff couldn’t do enough for you & The Great Zimbabwe Ruins amazingly restored and they have enthusiastic & informative guides to show you around. Bearing in mind that tourism has been hard hit in Zim with little money to re-invest in fixing/updating things you will find that staff will always try and ensure that broken things are repaired and that things are as clean as they can be with their resources. Aside from this, if I were to visit Natiional Parks based on service and the welcome, I would choose Zimbabwe over Namibia & Botswana. 


1) We had a near cow pat incident en route in Botswana. Driving with ones windows open opens the potentially high risk of been pat splattered…..luckily the fresh pat that was projected by a car passing us magically only hit our windscreen and the side of Dassie…how we didn’t get splashed is unbelievable!
2) One can buy old Zim dollars in the trillions as souvenirs. In the height of the unstable currency 1 trillion Zim dollars was worth US$32 for one day only.
3) When visiting a Zimbabwean National Park you pay an entrance fee, which is valid for 7 consecutive days as long as you stay in the park, quite good value when comparing to Namibia & Botswana’s Parks.
4) Steele & Amber, a couple from Australia who win the prize for being the lightest travellers we met. You have our admiration guys, well done!
5) We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn another two times.

Nick & Vicks
Stonehenge to Cape Town 2010/11