OK, after being back in civilisation I get a few raised eyebrows when the trip is mentioned this has prompted some more questions, so will try to summarise:
1. What, they don’t have cars there? Having a vehicle you can trust is paramount. The people that say ‘breaking down is all part of the experience’ are those with time and money to waste. I have neither: I’m there to enjoy my adventure, not spend it waiting for a mechanic. Having broken down in a Land Rover Defender every week for a year from London to Sydney, my soul yearned for something that just works. Not only do you need complete faith in the vehicle, you know how to fix the small things if problems occur. There are less surprises with a vehicle you’ve spent a lot of time with. Buying a vehicle overseas carried too much risk for me, let alone the complications around fixing it and importing it to my end-country of the United States. Incidentally, in most places you need paperwork when buying a vehicle which takes time and sometimes a lawyer, or in Argentina’s case if you buy a vehicle as a foreigner you cannot leave the country with it. We did run into people without the necessary paperwork at the Bolivian-Peru border, and they looked like they were going nowhere. We saw them two days later though in Arequipa, so they got through somehow (bribery, I would guess).
2. Overlanding – is it for you? Perhaps before launching into a full-scale three-year adventure, sample the lifestyle first! Rent a camper for a week and trek off into the wilderness. Get a feel for what works and what doesn’t, and what you can do without. My other half is a princess, and I have always known this. To that extent, it would be unfair to expect that to entirely change and her to enjoy overlanding the way I do. However, I know that if we rented a comfortable large camper with shower, proper stove, fridge, comfortable bedding, perhaps a television or some books if you’re rained in, she would enjoy it immensely. Be conscious that your idea of outdoor life may not suit everyone . . . which brings me to . . .
3.Toilet? No, don’t do it! Whilst it sounds like a good idea, it literally does not sound or smell like a good idea. No matter how close you are as a couple, there are certain things I have no wish to share and my bathroom habits are one of them. Hell, sometimes even I don’t share in the experience with me. There are plenty of toilets about in gas stations, restaurants etc and if you need to go in a rush, you’ll find somewhere or make-do with the countryside. Just clean up after yourself!
4. Can I take my partner and kids? Of course! There are many countries where women want good husbands, sell your man and make some profit! OK maybe don’t do that. On my travels I’ve always been amazed at the amount off couples bringing their babies, young children, dogs, woolly sheep or elderly parents. The order of that is not any reflection of importance, by the way! In my mind I’d curtail some of the more dangerous areas of the world to ensure the safety of my family, but perhaps I’m being overly protectionist. Then again that’s the same reason why I insisted on my girlfriend buying gear before riding a motorbike – if an accident did happen and I hadn’t taken the proper precautions, I’d never forgive myself
5. Best vehicle? Unfortunately, it’s the same answer as that of ‘the best camera’ – it’s the one that you can afford to have with you at the time. This topic alone though could be huge, so may break into another post! I plumbed for a Toyota Landcruiser because the are extremely reliable, found everywhere in the world and I could buy it easily in Australia. Well, easily once I found one that was of the right age, without rust, been treated well etc There are many different types of overlanding though, and if you’re sticking to bitumen 95% of the time, then you probably don’t need a 4x4. The shipping costs weren’t welcome but were a pay-off for peace of mind in a vehicle I could trust.
The blog will be a record of everything - from idea conception to old age in making this adventure happen
You can find the excellent 2006 Antipodean Adventure blog by Dwyer Rooney here