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Gambling on Gear.

Posted on 22 March 2010 by Amateurs

What gear do you need to backpack Africa?
The answer is we don’t really know yet but this is what we are taking.

Our Gear
The below picture covers our basic medical supplies for the next 4 months.

Along with those we have the following:
– Summer Sleeping Bags – Poncho’s for rain
– A Tent – Towels
– Clothes – Mosquito Net.
– Phrase books – Travel Guides

To ensure our ticket to Hollywood or Nollywood (Nigerian’s answer to Hollywood) we also have
Audio Visual Equipment
– One average waterproof camera. Hopefully practical in monsoons, dust storms and the beaches.

– One low grade camera. Featured above right. Let’s face it, we won’t be winning and photographic competitions with this.
– One pen sized tripod. Terry our most reliable item, being non electrical.
– One Panasonic video camera (not compatible with our laptops – a fact recently discovered so it’s effectively useless). This means our footage will be captured solely using the above two digital cameras.

The Computer side of things:
– 1 Acer notebook which is over a year old.

– 1 Asus Eee PC which has recently had issues with charging meaning it only works every few days. Featured above.
– We’re using Windows XP Movie maker. It’s not ideal and probably one of the most frustrating/limited movie making software programs around. Yet it’s the only one we have.
– 3 cheap mobile phones. None of which actually have network coverage so far in Morocco.

We know our productions are pretty ordinary, but at least you can see our talent isn’t the only factor contributing to our low grade, non existent budget efforts.

More on the Medical
There is a list of all the recommended equipment that we read you should take if you are travelling to Africa. We’d advise you to follow this list over ours, we didn’t want to carry it all and to be honest we were just too tight to buy it. The full list of medical supplies adds up to about 25 – ranging from malaria pills, to headache tablets, to water purification. We have about 13 of the items – who doesn’t like to gamble?

You should see your doctor about Vaccinations as well. You need Yellow fever for entry to some countries but the others are up to you – find a friendly doctor – the needles aren’t cheap.

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On the Eve of Adventure

Posted on 20 March 2010 by Amateurs

On the eve of adventure it’s hard to describe the mood. Probably due to the fact we aren’t prepared and it’s realistically too late to do much about it.

However, during our last minute rush before we go, here are few other things we thought you should know.

How did we actually end up here?
We wanted to go to the World Cup. It happened to be in South Africa. We thought if we were going to go all that way we would see more if we travelled Africa overland. Then we thought it seems like everybody travels overland through the East so let’s travel through the West. Then we thought if we’re going through the West let’s make it interesting. Then we thought if it’s going to be interesting let’s make sure it’s important. Then we thought if it’s going to be important let’s make sure we make a difference.

Which brings us to now – we’re backpacking to break through borders and break down barriers.

With a few hours left, you might be wondering what we are actually looking forward to. So here’s a few things you’ll see in the coming weeks:
– Stowing away on the longest train in the world, Mauritania.
– Soaking up the atmosphere in hectic markets of some of Africa’s busiest metropolis’s.
– The wildlife and possibly wrestling with Gorillas and/or Guerillas.
– Being able to say we have been to Timbuktu, Mali.
– Participating in a Voodoo ceremony in Benin.
– Sharing meals and transport with people from some of the world’s poorest communities throughout West Africa.
– Trying to make a little difference to a few lives along the way and helping out in as many organisations as we can.

What can you do to help us?
You can get involved and show your support by engaging with our website, telling us what you think and passing on the site to others spreading the word of the Amateurs . Basically, we figure the bigger the audience, the greater the resources we can raise at short notice should something go horribly wrong.

In terms of the rush – it’s amateurish. We’ve run out of time for medical supplies, rations and outdoor survival equipment. Tomorrow it’s on. All we could manage was a Chinese buffet with Australians followed by Guinness with a Chilean, Argentine and a German in in an Irish nightclub. Fairly impractical but that’s how we roll.

Africa – we are coming to meet you.

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7 Days – 7 Fears

Posted on 13 March 2010 by Amateurs

With 7 days to go before our arrival in Africa it’s time to acknowledge the past 7 weeks of scare tactics through conversations, travel books and government warnings.

Here are our 7 biggest fears for the next 4 and a half months.

For Harty
1. Getting stuck in a country in the middle of a coup d’etat.
2. Having a trip that was expected to take a few hours end up taking 3 days.
3. Missing our flight from Libreville to Johannesburg.
4. Trying to negotiate ‘facilitation payments’ at various borders with the unpaid guards, along with the language difficulties. (I’m actually secretly looking forward to this challenge)
5. A lack of travellers to meet on the road.
6. Australia losing all 3 World Cup Games.
7. Making it home in one piece.

For Benny
1. That not speaking more then 5 words of French will be problematic.
2. Rabies ridden dogs. Seriously – they’re scary.
3. Requiring hospital attention in a remote African village.
4. Losing a bout of rock, paper, scissors and having to eat roast cat or a similarly unappealing dish.
5. Laughing inappropriately at tense border crossings whilst trying to facilitate some sort of payment with armed guards in French and subsequently being arrested.
6. Arriving at a border crossing on a Friday at 4.30pm when it closes at 4pm. Meaning sleeping in the dirt until the Monday reopening.
7. That we will be unable to find a bar, beers or a nightclub for an extended period of time.

We think that just about covers it. Let the countdown begin.

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The Amateur Advisories

Posted on 09 March 2010 by Amateurs

How not to choose a travel route # 101. Kids don’t try this at home.

Lesson learned – when planning to backpack Africa overland it’s a good idea to do some research. It’s better months, possibly even years before departure as opposed to a leaving it until the last minute. Naturally it’s last minute for us – but hindsight is fantastic.

However, 10 days from arrival on the continent we’ve found some new attractions to keep an eye out for and to spice things up.

When crossing from Western Sahara into Mauritania – features include:
– Fishing Villages
– UNESCO listed natural wonders
– High risk of terrorist attack
– High threat of Western Kidnappings
– Armed smugglers
– Land mines along the Northern border
– High possibility of riots
– Rocky deserts
– Stunning untouched coastline

For Mali and Timbuktu:
– Four UNESCO heritage listed sites
– Supreme Sahara
– Al Qaeda operations
– Banditry and armed groups in the North
– High risk of Western kidnappings by extremists
– Dogon country and it’s uniqueness

From Nigeria we can expect:
– Lagos the biggest city in Africa
– Some of Africa’s most incredible beaches
– High tensions and civil unrest
– Heightened risk of violence
– Unpredictable security situation
– Beach football with locals

We’d list some other countries but that covers the extent of our research to this point. There’s nothing quite like a sense of danger to spice things up. Is there?

For all the details and sensible travel advice please follow the links to the below countries.
Mauritanian advisories
Mali advisories or US travel advice for Mali
Nigeria advisories
For all other African travel advisories, please click here

If you’re heading to Africa we’d strongly advise you not to follow our process and do your research in advance.

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The Preparation Realisations.

Posted on 22 February 2010 by Amateurs

What else would you expect, even before leaving Berlin we’ve encountered and realised numerous problems with our plans.

Problems Encountered.
– Our first Visa the Mauritanian Visa’s application form was illegible and in two foreign languages.
– A 10 Euro doctor visit unexpectedly totalled 160 Euros in vaccinations.
– The Cholera oral vaccination needs to be refrigerated for 1 week which when backpacking will be impossible.
– Emergency medicines and equipment instructions are all in German. It’s unlikely that hospital staff/doctors throughout West Africa will be fluent.
– Our only proper video camera is not compatible with our laptops.
– We are about 1000 Euros each short of target budget.

Future Problems.
In total we need about 15 Visas for various African Countries.
– Many visas require 2 pages.
– We only have between 14 – 18 free pages in our passports.
– We currently only have permission to enter about 6 countries.
– The Australian Government has extreme travel warnings on 2 of our first 4 travel destinations.
– Ironically, the only visa we have is for one of these countries.

– In some search engines our website ranks second, under an amateur pornography site. Please don’t be confused as our topless beach pictures can’t compete because our physiques are anything but desirable.

The best part is – we haven’t even left Europe yet.

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