A man with a van needs a plan

At the time of writing, my plan of action goes something like this:

Receive the truck in Dubai by late October and possibly / probably spend an inordinate amount of time trying to register it. Obviously it’s a bit of an odd-ball vehicle, unique to the region, so “this could be complicated”. Over the following few months I’ll finish equipping it with spare parts, recovery equipment, cookware, linen etc and learn the fundamentals of the various on board systems, electrics, water, heating etc.

I will take the truck for a short shakedown trip to the Musandam peninsula, then a longer one to Oman, probably Salalah via the coastal route, over the winter months, and maybe a trip down to the Rhub Al Khali too. In early 2017, obtain the various visas I’ll need for the first leg of the journey. I’ll finally head out of Dubai in mid March 2017, driving across Saudi Arabia to Jeddah, from where I will catch a ferry to Port Sudan. A transit visa for Saudi is not normally a possibility for overlanders, but because I’m resident in Dubai, I’m hopeful I can obtain one. If not, I will probably have to ship the truck directly from Dubai to Dar Es Salaam.

Assuming I catch the ferry from Jeddah, my route takes me to Sudan, Ethiopia, (possibly Eritrea – we’ll see) Djibouti, back into Ethiopia, into Kenya then Uganda, probably spending about a month in Sudan and Ethiopia, up to a week in Djibouti, then again a month in Kenya and Uganda. At some point I will have to find secure parking in Uganda or Kenya and fly back to Dubai, after some 4 or 5 months away. I will then spend as long as it takes to obtain the next handful of visas, maybe pick up a few provisions more easily obtained in Dubai, deal with any business administration issues, then fly out to the truck and pick up where I left off.

The plan is to repeat this process as I circumnavigate Africa, returning briefly to Dubai every few months, so the whole trip could take me a couple of years I reckon – I’m in no great rush.

Obviously there are several ‘must see’ places and events on my To Do list, but I’m keeping my plans deliberately flexible, so there’s no point going into detail here and now. After all, you all need something to look forward to in my future posts!

More photos of the cabin build

Overview of the cabin design

I received some more photos of my cabin build from KrugXP in Ukraine, which show the structure from all sides, and details of the interior. I plan on visiting the factory again on or around September 8th to take a look at the finished cabin, before it’s moved to Germany for fitting to the chassis. While I’m in Ukraine I’m thinking of visiting the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor melt-down. It’s quite possible to take a safe, professionally organised trip around the site these days, and since I work with X Rays in my ‘day job’ I’ve done my research and have no concerns about visiting the area. But I may be pushed for time so am still looking to see if this can be arranged.

My bedroom has under mattress heating!
My bedroom has under mattress heating! Nice and snug when I reach the Andes.

The bedroom has an access panel above which allows me to get onto the roof from within the cabin. It is hinged at the front, which means it’s impossible for it to open accidentally, even if I foolishly leave it unlatched, when driving. It also provides access the spare tyres which will be mounted at the top of the rear of the cabin (out the way of light fingered passers-by). Its other purpose is to allow me unhindered panoramic photography from the rear of the truck.

The panoramic panel opens fully to suit my photography needs
The panoramic panel opens fully to suit my photography needs

Likewise the large panel which opens next to the seating is designed to give me excellent visibility for photography. It’s also just nice to be able to sit down for a meal and have the hatch wide open, to take in the view. Within the panel there will also be a window. The cut out to the left is for the bathroom window and below it, the access panel for the cassette toilet. Bottom right you can see that access to the lower rear store is from both sides. Also note the exterior lighting near the roof line. This can be strobed to make it difficult for anyone trying to break into the cabin at night, to see clearly, and equally, to draw attention to the incident.

Water tank below, eye wateringly expensive Li-Ion battery above.
Water tank below, eye wateringly expensive Li-Ion battery above.

Inside the store is the water tank (the large white box) with the Li-Ion battery above. These are twice the price of similar capacity AGM cells but can be discharged to around 30 to 40% of their capacity each time, whilst AGMs can only be discharged to around 70%. So in theory I’ve twice the useful capacity for the same nominal capacity. Time will tell how rugged and durable this battery is. If it’s not, I’ve made an expensive error of judgement! To the right are the solar power controller, inverter, and various other elements of electronic wizadry. Don’t ask me to explain – I need the manual….  Planning this cabin build has taken me many years and KrugXP several more weeks in order to pack everything safely into these confined spaces, yet maintain service access where necessary. Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s easy!

In an emergency I'll use this access door to get to the driving seat.
In an emergency I’ll use this access door to get to the driving seat.

This is the front of the cabin – there will be a door which can be accessed from the cabin, to get into the cab, and vice versa. This allows me to drive off in an emergency (and in the pouring rain 🙂 ) without leaving the safety of the (dry) cabin. Above the door, the area where you see the sloping roof line will have a rack fitted which will hold the spare wheel and perhaps an additional secured steel storage cabinet, if I find I need one later. An access ladder will be bolted to the front left hand side of the cabin (the right hand side of this picture). This neatly folds and locks up out of the way, so no-one can climb it and gain access to the spare wheel, or the solar panels on the roof.

Some of the extensive plumbing being installed under the seats
Some of the extensive plumbing being installed under the seats

The plumbing is going from the tank in the rear (on the left) to the bathroom (to the right) via the calorifier or “water heater” to you and me! The seats will be installed above this area. No, that white stool is not one of them…. The tools and cardboard box are seen here on top of the rear wheel arch.

View of the cab access door and to the right, my huge wardrobe :-)
View of the cab access door and to the right, my huge wardrobe. Kitchen cabinets to the right.

Not much room for hanging clothes as you can see, but I suspect I will be living in shorts, jeans and T shirts or wrinkle free specialist travel shirts (no need to iron anything!) most of the time. However I will try to squeeze one decent pair of Chinos and a sports jacket in there. You know, just in case I’m invited to dine at the occasional British Embassy, or lecture at a University from time to time. Ha!