"The Good Ex Guide"

There are so many things to consider when planning your 'Ex'pedition.

Which companies do I use? What equipment do I need? How do I ship my car? What medications do I need and what books should I read on the subject?

This page will help answer those questions. The other great source of information is other peoples websites (see Home Page).

Don't forget to go and play in the mud with your 4x4. You think you will be ready but then you get to Africa where the unexpected happens. Don't worry as it is likely that you can buy it, fix it or bodge it in Africa.

Everybody has an opinion and not all the 'good ideas' we were given were really required, or accurate.  The 'Tips' section gives a few suggestions based from our experience in Africa.

Jacqui working at Poli Plage, Cote D'Ivoire

As you all know it took quite a while to get this trip together. Two years of research and work has meant that we have come into contact with many people involved in vehicle preparation and in the preparation of extended trips, finances, paperwork etc. The following tables show the people and companies with whom we have been extensively involved. Our thanks to them all.

Car Parts:

COMPANY ADDRESS TEL. CONTACT  
Frogs Island 4x4 Old Didcot Road, Brightwell-cum-sotwell, Wallingford, Oxon OX10 0SW 01491 824020 Eddie,Mark, Christian, Chris Spares, bodywork, welding, servicing, various lessons with the gear. They can repair, rebuild or replace engines, gearboxes etc.  Very good, friendly and reasonably priced.
G.Gibson & son Old forge, West Rasen, Lincs 01673 842891 Geoff, Steve, Andy My local blacksmith in West Rasen. Excellent. Build you anything for a very reasonable price.
Brownchurch Motors Ltd Bickley Road, Leyton, London, E10 7AQ 0181 556 0011 Don, Chris Lots of experience with roof racks. Can also supply spares, water filtration and tent.
Nene 4x4 Kettering, Northampton 01604 781187 Gary He's your man for the tyres and the advice. Thanks for the help in Gib, Gary.
Mantec Expedition Unit 1, The Green, Hartshill, Nuneaton, CV10 0FW 01202 395368 Ian, Sandra Can completely fit out your Landrover for an overland expedition for you. They use,or design, the best gear and have a very high standard of work.  I bought the sill protectors and raised air intake, and in the end bought the shock absorbers they recommended.  Ian and Sandra have been to West Africa so they know the score - very accurate advice.
Slavin’s Borough on Bain, Lincs 01507 313401 Deiter, Chris, Ken High quality outfit that prepare many of the vehicles for the aid organisations. Lots of experience and equipment. Well stocked spares stores.
Foleys Specialist Vehicles Unit 12, Galley Hill Ind. Estate, Waltham Abbey, Essex. EN9 2AG 01992 787343 Stuart, Peter Used to do a lot of the aid agency work and built many of the armoured press Landrovers used in Bosnia. Have done many, many Land Rover exped. conversions and have lots of experience.  Stuart and Peter have now scaled down the operation but still remain at the heart of it. Brother runs Zambia arm of the company. 
Phoenix Services Italstyle Buildings, Cambridge Rd, Old Harlow, Essex. CM20 2HE 01279 413003 Greg Greg and his partners used to work for Foleys and with the scaling down, set up on their own. They don't advertise, which is a shame because I only stumbled across them by accident at the end of my preparations. Greg has already done one trip and is now in the process of building a lorry body for another. Lots of Landrover experience
Beltec Market Rasen, Lincs   Tony, Shirley, Gough If it's a cover you want, they can build it. A wide range of materials and very reasonable prices. They made our roof rack cover out of the military rip-stop canvas and very good it has been too.

 

Insurance:

COMPANY ADDRESS TEL. COVER
Hatchett & Nimmons Ltd Troopers Yard, 23 Bancroft, Hitchen, Herts, SG5 1JW 01462 455123 Car contents (house policy)
Harrison Beaumont Ltd 2 Des Roches Square, Witney, Oxon, OX8 6BE 01993 700200 Medical (not baggage)
Blackmore Diplomat Services 25 Eastcheap, London, EC3M 1LE 0171 283 2525 Car (not 3rd party)

 

Others:

COMPANY ADDRESS TEL REASON
Nomad Adventure Centre Turnpike Lane, London   Books, medical supplies
Enfield Leisure Brimsdown, London 0181 804 5486 Caravan/yachting equipment
RAC Motoring Services Great Park Rd, Bradley Stoke, Bristol, BS32 4QN 01454 20800 x6243 Carnet de Passage
Land Rover Owner’s Club     Off roading days
Natwest Bank     Guaranteeing the carnet.  Thanks for organising it, Kerry

 


Extensive conversations and reading provided the basis for our kit list. Of course we have probably taken too much but we wanted to be prepared for all eventualities. The following items are those we feel are essential or have made life a bit easier. It is by no means a complete kit list. If you would like a detailed inventory then we will be happy to supply one.

On the Car:

EQUIPMENT
COMPANY
Roof rack, awning, sandladders, roof tent, water filtration system (Doulton), high lift jack + adapter Brownchurch
Recovery gear (strops, shackles, kinetic rope),  steering guard, spares kit, side protection bars(Mantec), BRB bull bar, Warn M8000 winch, pre servicing, winching lesson and a great day in the mud Frogs Island 4x4
Washing machine (tub with lid, doubles as water carrier) Mantec
Roof rack cover Beltec
Dual battery system, differential guard (Mantec), jack adaptation for rear of vehicle Foleys
Air conditioning (Standard), spotlights Land Rover
5 * BFGoodrich All-Terrain Tyres Nene 4x4
Detroit Tru-Trac limited slip differentials Foley
2 x 40L tailor made stainless steel water tanks, under seat boxes, metal cubby box Geoff Gibson (Blacksmith)
2 water jerrys, 3 fuel jerrys (inc. one 5l for cooker fuel) Billing show
4 exterior working lights, 2 interior lights  
Spare wheel with tyre + spare tyre  
Mosquito net attaching to awning and doors Jacqui-made
Cuboards in vehicle, car to tent tunnel Andy-made

 

Recovery Gear:

CATEGORY
DETAIL
Jacks High lift jack, bottle jack
Winching kit Winch, gloves, 2 shackles, pulley, 3 entrenching tools
Ropes 2 Tow strops (long & short), kinetic rope
Tyres 3 Tyre levers, battery powered tyre inflator

 

In the Car:

CATEGORY
DETAIL
Water Plumbing to tap & shower on rear door
Power 5 power points at various locations, map light
Security Window grilles (local blacksmith), aluminium lashing rails, curtains (animal print on one side, silver on the other)
Storage Cupboards in back area, waterproof storage areas
Safety 2 Fire extinguishers, oil pressure guage, Garmin III GPS (essential – especially for around Manchester)
Cookers Coleman dualfuel campstove, MSR Whisperlite multifuel stove (as backup), Outback oven
Utensils stainless steel crockery & cutlery, cast iron pan with lid, wok (Taylor & Ng – has removable handle), griddle, big kettle, stainless steel flask (essential), Engel fridge (essential for cold beers), strong plastic airtight containers of various sizes, collapsible basin (Ortleib)
Seating Collapsible aluminium chairs, fold down table on rear door, collapsible table, seat covers (easily washed & shaken)
Clothing T-shirts, shorts, socks, undies (3 pairs of each), "smarts" ie (M&S non-iron shirt), sarong – doubles as scarf, table cloth, ground sheet etc., walking shoes & reefer type sandals, waterproof overgear, warm jumper, fleece
Other First aid kit inc. medications, anti-malarials & IV set; spares box for car (excellent list recommended by Frogs Island 4x4); tool kit & boiler suit; liquids for top up/replacement ie. brake fluid & oil; survival box (small scale items if backup fails); document folder with photocopies, sleeping kit,
Fun Wallace & Gromit mats, nodding dog (Andrew would like to see it fly too), sweeties

 


The following is based on our experience of taking two cars in a 40 foot container from Ghana to Cape Town with P & O Nedlloyd.

The first job is to find a company who can ship your car to wherever you want it to go. There are many shipping companies around, and even more agents. Try to get personal recommendation. Items such as dates of sailing and prices will be involved in the decision as to which company you use.

Once you have established which shipper you are going to use they can help you arrange a freight forwarder to help with the documentation and the process involved in getting your car into a container.

A few days preparation time is required to:

When the car actually goes into the container it will be secured around its axle at four points. Check this procedure and push your door mirrors in as there isn't much spare room to move about the container. Lock the doors (we put the alarm on too - non motion sensitive) then observe the container locking procedure and take a note of the seal number and the container number.

Then you wait. Prepare yourself for a feeling of abandonment and homelessness.

A few days before the ship is due to arrive at its destination it is necessary to set the reclamation procedure in motion. Although it is possible to do all of the work yourself it is often recommended to get a freight clearing and forwarding agent. This person will see that your car is taken to the right place at the right time; will complete all the necessary documentation and see your car through customs.

The costs at the destination are as follows:

Prepare yourself for the delight and relief of getting your car back, albeit in a mouldy state on the inside.


Above all the most important medical aspect is that of arranging medical insurance for repatriation of the sick person and travel companion. There are a number of issues when considering the medical aspects of your trip:

Vaccinations and other personal requirements

It is necessary to consider the vaccinations you will require very early on in your planning. This not only spreads the discomfort but also enables courses to be completed before you leave. Your GP will be able to advise you of the vaccinations required and once you have had them it is a good idea to get a letter from the surgery listing these vaccinations.

We had the usual jabs: Typhoid, Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Diptheria, Meningitis A&C, Yellow Fever (essential - must get certificate). We also had Rabies but there were reported problems with its availability soon after we finished the course. It is also expensive at £90 for the three shots. Cholera is a well discussed subject. We didn't bother and no-one has asked us about it.

Personal medication must be arranged before you leave because there is no guarantee of its availability in Africa. Oral contraceptives should be obtained before departure too, or arrange a depot injection.

The first aid kit

Our first aid kit was extensive and involved two independent sets in case one was confiscated. It didn't happen! Thankfully we only used a few plasters, lots of bite cream and some antiseptic cream. Despite having numerous lotions and potions and dressings that didn't get used I would not have left without them.

Basically all you need is a variety of plasters and small dressings with tape; antiseptic cream; throat lozengers; Tiger Balm; antiseptic wipes and pain killers.

Prescription only medications (poms) can be arranged through your GP but you have to pay for the private prescription and the medications themselves. We took a variety of antibiotics (Ciprofloxacillin, Metronidazole & Amoxycillin) and Chloramphenicol eye drops (for infections from the sand). Also get hold of some Tinidazole which works a treat against giardia.

It is possible to buy these drugs off the shelf in pharmacies around Africa at a fraction of what you would pay in the UK. I wrote on a sheet of paper what all these drugs were for so that if I was sick Andrew (no medical knowledge whatsoever) would be able to quickly read about them.

Anti-malarial medications are a hefty subject and no-one seems to know what is the best course of action. Mostly we took Lariam mainly for the ease of taking a weekly dose. However long term usage is limited and some people suffer bad side effects. Andrew reacted to the Chloroquine/Palludrine combination but I was fine with them. Other options include Doxycycline. If you do get malaria the treatment varies depending upon the prophylactics which you have been taking. We took Fansidar tablets with us. The benefit of being in Africa is that the doctors know how to treat malaria. There is a drug called Artesunate (Artenam) that is a herbal cure for malaria. Reports of its effectiveness have been amazing. It cannot be bought yet in the UK but we found it in Ghana (£3 per course) and Zimbabwe.

The intravenous kit

It is possible to buy such kits from chemists. The importance of them is that you know the contents are sterile (AIDS is rife in Africa). Keep the kit safe and bring it out if you need to have some procedure done, i.e. a blood test.

It is possible to arrange for blood to be delivered to you if necessary or to carry plasma. This is fine if you are somewhere where there is a telephone or if you have someone who can administer the transfusion.


This section is divided into two areas:

Useful References

It is essential to do a bit of reading before leaving but the good news is that there aren't really that many books on the subject. However there are details on the web that can be downloaded which will certainly fill up your time, i.e. Foreign Office advice.

Buy all the books in England as they are either non-existent or very expensive in Africa.

Our book list consisted of the following:

CATEGORY
NAME
Planning Vehicle Dependent Expedition Guide - Tom Sheppard
Africa by Road -
Travellers Health
Travel Guides Lonely Planet & Rough Guides (as many as are relevant)
Language Guides Swahili, Portuguese & French phrasebooks, Learn French books
Personal "Good reads", yoga
Reference Books Animals and birds of Africa, guides to stars/religions, etc.
Extras Small photo album of family (top tip from Jo & Richard Hepper)

Navigation

Navigation is a very important subject and we left home in quite an unprepared state. This turned out to be an advantage generally.

The most essential navigation tool you need is a GPS (Global Positioning System). Don't leave home without one! They are invaluable at the micro level such as around towns where at best the road-signs are absent. Your GPS can get you out of a mess - you don't want to be lost in a Moroccan city for too long! At the larger scale they are useful for confirming your direction. There is a large choice of GPS's available on the market but Garmin seem to be the most popular. It is good to have one with map information (Garmin III or III+) as most signs have been removed and reused for house/car repairs.  The Garmin GPS III series are also portable, you can use it for walking or if you do get stuck somewhere, you can find your way around and back in a taxi.

The basic maps you will need are the Michelin series - nos. 953 (N&W), 954 (NE), 955 (S), 957 (Cote d'Ivoire) & 959 (Morocco) which you can buy at stationers or travel bookshops such as Stanfords in London.

There aren't many roads in West Africa and we got by with the Michelin maps (Morocco, Cote d'Ivoire & West Africa) and the town maps in the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide books. We would have liked more sources of information but not much was available at the time. You will need to buy these maps in your home country as getting them in W. Africa is very difficult. (Morocco refuses to sell map 959 because of a dispute about land borders).

South and East Africa are well travelled and there is an abundance of maps, guides, travel atlases, street maps and brochures available from bookshops and stationers throughout the area. Prices of books tend to be about 20% higher in Africa than in the UK. Buy your books in England but buy your maps in Africa. We found the following places to be good:

The Michelin map (no. 954) was good for general route planning but a selection of maps were used for more intricate planning.We bought everything we needed for S & E Africa from the excellent "Map Studio" in the Gardens area of Cape Town. The "Illustrated Atlas of South, Central and East Africa" from the Map Studio was invaluable. It is comprehensive and covers 22 countries up to The Congo and Ethiopia.(ISBN 1-86809-431-6).

Additional sources of information include:

 


The following section provides tips for Africa based on our findings. It covers things that we couldn't find in books but would have found useful to have known such as which car is the best one to take, or what do I do about 3rd party car insurance? Details for West Africa (WA), South and East Africa (SEA) and Northern Africa (NA) are given.

Choice of car:

WA: With the exception of The Gambia and more so Ghana, Toyota Land Cruisers are more prevalent then Land Rovers. The saying is that Toyota's don't go wrong and that Land Rovers can be fixed. The reality is that Toyota parts are so expensive that if one does go wrong it is left unfixed and we saw quite a few dead Toyotas. Everyone claims to be able to fix a Land Rover but judging by the lack of Landys around I doubt that many people had the opportunity to practice. The sheer number of Toyotas would suggest an African preference but I would go with personal choice.

SEA: There is stiff competition between Land Rover and Toyota (particularly Hilux) in the south although there are a large number of other 4x4 makes such as Isuzu. There tend to be more Landys here than in West Africa, particularly of the series types which keep rocking on. There are Landy garages all over the place and some are very good indeed. Tanzania seems to be the Discovery capital of the world and Uganda uses Landys as their recovery vehicles. Again the choice of car depends upon personal preference as there are facilities for all makes here.

NA: Camels are the vehicle of choice here but either a Landy or a Toyota will do. If you are in Egypt, take a taxi! There are garages for both vehicles everywhere

Engine:

WA: Without doubt a diesel engine is essential. Petrol is twice the price of diesel throughout West Africa. Even though fuel prices are a quarter of that in the UK the number of miles you do can seriously affect the budget. Unleaded petrol is not available south of Morocco. The 200TDi engine is very simple (completely mechanical with no fancy computerised parts) and likely to be the most economical. Despite paying more for the engine in the first place you will recoup some of that cost when selling the car, rather than simply losing money on fuel.

SEA: Without doubt the diesel engine wins again, not because of fuel economy but because of its ability to withstand a bit of water. Petrol is slightly more expensive than diesel. There are a lot of V8 engines around but unleaded petrol is not available outside South Africa. The 200TDi engine is favoured by many overlanders because of its simplicity and economy.

NA: Diesel or petrol - it's all cheap out here.

Insurance:

WA: Obviously get accidental damage, fire and theft cover from a company at home. Try to get 3rd party cover (Green Card) from the same company to cover you for Morocco as 54 for one month purchased on the border is quite steep. Mauritania does its own thing but once in Senegal it is a good idea to buy 3rd party cover for the whole of West Africa. Four or five months cover will set you back around 40 which compares very favourably to many short term covers for single countries. Make sure you have the Carte Brun (brown card) also known as the CEDEAO. In reality the value of this insurance is uncertain but it pacifies the officials.

SEA: Get accidental damage, fire and theft cover from a company at home. Almost all South and East African countries are covered by Yellow Card insurance similar to the brown card insurance in West Africa. However trying to get the yellow card seems very difficult outside Kenya. All other countries had heard of it but none seemed to sell it. We eventually bought it in Kenya for around 35 for three months. It is also necessary to buy local insurance (15) in the country where you buy the yellow card because the cover is based on the policy number of local insurance. As in West Africa the validity of the insurance is uncertain but pacifies the officials. South Africa has automatic partial 3rd party cover in the fuel cost where injuries to the person are taken care of but not damage to the other persons car.

NA:Each country has its own insurance requirements from the 'hardly worth bothering' to the serious rip-offs in Egypt and Israel.

Spares:

WA: Trying to get hold of spares for your car is a hit and miss affair. If you do succeed it will cost you dearly, unless you are in Ghana. Carry as many as you can possibly pack in. Oil & diesel filters (2 or 3), air filter (1), wheel bearings, track rod ends and an inner tube are the things we required. Once they have been changed don't throw them away. An old one is better than none. We have seen a number of oil filters being cleaned out with petrol and reused. Remember that what we would throw away is practically new in Africa.

SEA: Getting spares for your car generally poses no problem. There are scores of Landy garages around in every capital city and elsewhere. There is a chain called CMC who can get you anything and charge you heavily for the privilege. Many other places supply genuine Landy parts at a fraction of the cost and non-Landy parts will cost even less. The prices here vary tremendously with Tanzania being the most expensive. Generally the prices are twice that of the UK because all the parts have to be imported. As in West Africa carry as many spares as you can possibly pack in and don't throw away the used ones as they always have some life left in them.

NA: They are around all over but at a price.

Cooker:

WA: Before we left we were informed that gas was unavailable and that most of the cooking is likely to be done on an open fire. We bought a dual fuel burner, both fuels of which were unavailable after Morocco! The cooker didn't complain too much when we used leaded fuel and required a weekly clean. The reality is that gas can be found everywhere and so can the cookers. The connections may change from country to country but a bit of tweeking should sort out that job. Gas is clean and controllable and a canister (approx. 10 inches high) apparently lasts 4-6 weeks. We only saw the locals cooking on open fires after they had spent a day searching for firewood.

SEA: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe expect people to braai (bbq) so provide braai pits and wood at almost all camp sites. Otherwise gas (cadac) is very popular and is available everywhere. The South Africans particularly love their gas because they can run scottles and lights off it. Our Coleman dual fuel burner was great in South Africa where we could buy unleaded fuel but outside that country unleaded fuel is unavailable. We use leaded petrol and suffer the weekly inconvenience of cleaning the cooker. However it is probably one of the most convenient and compact options available.

NA: Still no unleaded here but the leaded fuel seems to be good enough to run an unleaded cooker on with no problems.

Food:

WA: I would take lots of packets of dried sauces and cup-a-soups. They don't weigh much and enable you to be very versatile with very few vegetables. Forget anything to do with meat as buying meat is a dangerous business - too much of a health hazard. Fresh fish is good though in coastal resorts. Most of the food is bought at roadside markets which are great fun. The availability of food depends upon your location but generally there is plentiful fruit and vegetables the further you go towards the equator. An African or Caribbean vegetarian cookbook would be a good idea.

SEA: There are supermarkets everywhere (absolutely fantastic in South Africa with a very large range of chocolate bars) and tons of fresh fruit and vegetables available at markets. The quality of meat is very good too. Fresh fish is available near the coast and lakes. It is not necessary to carry food for more than a few days as you can get provisions in even the remotest of places. Even Marmite is available everywhere. There are tons of very cheap eateries too selling very tasty food. The standards of hygiene seems much better here than in the west. A braai cookbook would be a good idea.

NA: Sudan has one meal - Fuul and if you don't like beans then don't bother going. Any country north of there has a range of Lebanese style foods and many delicious street food options.

Documentation:

WA: An International Certificate for Motor Vehicles (ICMV) is a good idea. The officials don't notice that it is not valid for most of West Africa but it saves handing out the registration document. It is known as the "carte gris" (grey card). International Drivers Licenses are good as they have your photo in. Get lots of them as you can reduce driving offences by handing in the license and doing a runner before paying the fine. The Carnet de Passage is a useful document as it makes taking the car in and out of a country very quick. However, most officials have never seen a carnet and need to be shown what to do with it (can be quite tricky because they don't like to admit that they haven't a clue what they are doing). It is possible to buy a temporary import certificate on every border (except Guinee where it must be bought beforehand from the embassy in Dakar) and the cost will amount to about the same as the payment for the carnet. Buying temporary import certificates is more of a hassle but avoids the need to stump up a big indemnity fee (unless you have a smashing bank manager!) necessary to issue a carnet. Two passports are handy if you get one stolen but is more of a source of questioning if you don't have a journey profile.

SEA: An International Certificate for Motor Vehicles (ICMV) and International Drivers Licenses are a good idea although they are rarely looked at. The Carnet de Passage is useful as it makes taking the car in and out of a country very quick. Customs officials are very familiar with it and know what to write and where to stamp. It is possible to buy temporary import certificates on the borders but they tend to be a long-winded bit of bother as there are many declarations to make. Road tax certificates are bought on most borders. Yellow fever certificates are necessary.

NA: Although Carnets are required you are also required to purchase temporary import permits in some of the countries - for a fee, of course.

Money:

WA: West Africa does not really recognise the US dollar. Most of West Africa's currency is linked directly with France and French francs in cash or travellers cheques are more useful than any other currency. Away from big cities there aren't that many banks and West Africa only has about 20 ATM's, mostly in The Gambia and Ghana. Credit cards are practically unheard of in most places and if you do bring one then Visa is more useful than Mastercard. M/C cash advances are almost a no-no. Bank transfers will take ages and banks are most likely to be closed when you need one. Fortunately most of the West African countries take the same currency - the CFA, so one large transaction is all that is needed.

SEA: The money situation in the south and east is much better than in West Africa. The South African Rand can be used in Namibia and Lesotho and is readily exchanged in Botswana and Zimbabwe. US Dollars are also widely accepted. There are ATM's all over SA which allow credit and debit card (ie. Switch) withdrawals. Branches of Barclays are found in most countries so visa withdrawals are easy. Withdrawing cash from ATM's is easy in SA, Zim and Kenya. Botswana only has about three machines which if they work will only take visa. Namibia is also limited on ATM facilities. Banks offer bureau de change facilities (against credit cards) but usually at horrendous commission rates. It is a good idea to take US Dollars in cash in high and low value notes. Use the high value ones to change money as you get a rubbish rate for anything less than a $20 note. The small notes can be used to pay for things directly. Tanzania is one of the worst place to obtain money as no banks offer card advances but travellers cheques are reasonably useful. A lot of places will not accept them because of fraud and you tend to get a bad exchange rate where you can use them.

NA: US dollars are the currency of choice in Sudan but once north of there you can use your credit and debit cards at ATM's all over the place.

Officials:

WA: Sometimes it is useful to play dumb and pretend you don't know much French. Other times we felt frustrated at not being able to speak the language well enough for a good argument. Generally the officials like to have a go at acquiring a gift. They will certainly ask for one but have no means of forcing you to give them one. You just say no and leave them in their grumpy state. As long as you have time, and they know it, they won't keep you long. Occasionally some will have guns, but they cannot afford bullets. Others have cars but they don't drive them because they cannot afford fuel. Corruption is rife but it is in no way threatening. There is a bit of mental wrangling but nothing physical. People regularly ask for your address ( for use as a correspondence address and  reference when they apply for a UK visa). Spin them a line by saying that you had to sell everything, including your house, to pay for the trip.

SEA: Dealing with officials is generally an absolute delight in the south. They are efficient and knowledgeable and have little if any interest in corruption. People told us of worsening corruption in the East, particularly in Kenya but we found no evidence of it, certainly nothing tat we would class as really suspect. Of course there are "overtime fees" which generally amount to little and you are given a receipt. Be prepared to wait to get the official business done because these people are on 'African-time'. Only occasionally have we been asked for gifts from officials. As in West Africa people regularly ask for your address so give them the usual story of selling everything....

NA: Those of Sudan, Israel and Jordan are an absolute delight but beware of the Egyptians.

Gifts:

WA: We were advised to take small gifts for people such as pens and pencils for the children; cigarettes for officials. Wherever we went there were always demands for gifts. We hope that people will follow us and give nothing so that the demands will reduce and children will return to school instead of bunking off in the hope that they may acquire 5p. If you don't have anything to give then there will be no guilt felt and no potential difficulties if faced with an unlikely car search.

SEA: Gifts: As in West Africa, give nothing as it only sets up expectations and future travellers will be hassled. Poverty is very obvious in the East and sometimes it is really difficult to refuse people a little something.

NA: Give nowt to those who ask but be generous with time and smiles.