Category Archives: Planning East Africa Overland

Coffee or Tea?

Many people need a cup of good coffee for a good start into the day. In our case, we definitely need tea. Strong and sweet Assam tea! Typical and traditional "Ostfriesentee" (East-Frisian Tea)! Every morning! Boiling water in the camp early in the morning sometimes can be a really annoying task, especially when you've got to set up the stove et cetera first.


The Petromax Feuerkessel fk2 / Fire Kettle


Today, we try a new piece of gear which could simplify this process, the Petromax Feuerkanne fk 2 / Petromax Fire Kettle. Our first impression is that the Fire Kettle is quite big, which actually speaks against adding it to our gear as we need whatever space there is in the Land Rover.

The complete set-up consists of three pieces: the kettle, the fire bowl and an adaptor to add a "normal" kettle or pot on top of the Fire Kettle.


Little more than a handful of wood is needed!


For boiling one litre of water you only need about a handfull of wood. The kettle is double-walled, and so while branches, barks or pine cones burn and crackle in the fire bowl, the heat of the fire goes up through the inside of the kettle and brings the water inside the wall of the Fire Kettle to the boil.


The complete setup in action.


As soon as the water boils, the steam whistle starts whistling. In our case the start temperature of the water is 19.3°Celsius. To bring it to a boil, it takes only 4,5 minutes (our electric water boiler at home needs 3 minutes and 40 seconds). This speed really impresses us! ... At the same time the water in the pot on top of the kettle is heated up to 50°Celsius. If you need the hot water inside the Fire Kettle for making coffee, you can put a pot of milk on top to upgrade the coffee to wonderful latte macchiato.


Vietnamese - Ethiopian Coffee.

Ostfriesentee / East Frisian Tea

Latte Macchiato


Thanks to the three feet at the bottom of the fire bowl, the Fire Kettle leaves almost no traces of the fire behind and is steady whatever the surface. As we did not cut the lawn so far this year, minor damage is done to the vegetation.


The fire bowl.

Some traces left in the vegetation.


To sum up, the Petromax Feuerkanne fk 2 / Petromax Fire Kettle is an absolute winner, which definitely is going to travel with us to Africa in spite of it's size as it is really effective! What we still need, though, is a proper bag to put it in, as the insides of both the kettle and the fire bowl become really sooted.


We also tested the fire bowl to prepare Ethiopian coffee. But this process took longer than our "German patience" allowed us for now (more on the Ethiopian way of making coffee).


Roasting coffee beans.


What a perfume!


Thanks, Fräulein Anker!

On the road to Africa in 80 days – an update!

There are only 80 days to go until we leave, so it's time for an update here ...


3-wheel-nomads in Bielefeld (Anouk wanted to stay with her greatgrandma)

Guidebooks, travel reports and maps - Thank You, Reise Know-How!


Sóley simply loves elephants - so far it's only made of stone!


We intensified our contact with our sponsors and planned our collaboration. Especially in the case with Reise Know-How in Bielefeld, a German guidebook-company, with the workshop of our choice, the Offroad Manufaktur in Hamburg and with Petromax, this really has become a very personal and deep contact by now. We are sure that this is just the beginning of a long friendship and cooperation. We really look forward to that!


Abuu, the fifth nomad - a beauty! Thanks, Offroad Manufaktur in Hamburg!


Concerning legal issues and paperwork, we have asked the administrations to issue international birth and marriage certificates for us which might be of importance concerning visas in some coutries (e.g. for South Africa it is mandatory to have those certificates if you travel with children; otherwise they will not be allowed to enter the country). We also took the chance and had a testament drafted by a notary and also have given each other authority to decide on everything on behalf of each other. In addition to that we have notarized a chief representative who can act on our behalf here in Germany in any possible way if necessary.

At the moment, we are checking all our gear to make sure that everything is in order and to find out whether some things are missing still. One important thing are the mosqutio nets for sleeping inside the Land Rover and for exterior sleeping in the tent, in a hotel or B&B. What we also found are repellent sheets one can put under sleeping bags to avoid being bitten by fleas et cetera.


First Aid kit and medication - where to put all this!? And it's not even complete!


Currently, we are also checking the medication we will take with us. We have several GPs and other medical specialists who check our medication list and give us advice what is still missing. What we did to make sure that when crossing borders there will be no (or less) problems with the customs officials, we have a full list of medicines, which includes the trade name, the active ingredient and the amount we are taking with us. This list is in German and English and put down on clinic paper, stamped by a medical superintendent stating that we need this medication for our journey. We are also checking with our family doctor which malaria protection is the right one for our "route" and which vaccinations are missing. We are not vaccination opponents, so all the four of us are fully vaccinated and at the moment only the vaccination against cholera is missing which we will change within the next two weeks. So far both us and the children did not have any problems with the vaccinations, not even with the yellow fewer vaccination which is said to have side effects with many people.

Camp kitchen training: As we are foodies and really want to eat good and versatile food when on the road also, we try out different recipies on the barbecue and dutch oven (we will soon come up with more of that!). At the moment especially baking good bread and rolls is something we are doing some "research" on.

Then, we try to improve the outdoor skills of our children. This is not only concentrating on how to properly work with fire, but also how to avoid being bitten by snakes, scorpions, how to be out in the bush with wild animals around and what are the dos and no-dos.

For the classes we want to give our children while traveling we are collecting lesson materials which fit the children's interests, our route, the countryside, nature and cultures we are going to visit and experience. It is great that today a lot of books are available as ibooks, ebooks, kindle et cetera so that we don't have to carry along kilograms and kilograms of books and can put that material on an ipad instead.

Whenever we have time, we try to get up-to-date information on possible routes, countries, cultures, overlanding et cetera by reading other people's blogs or travel books.


Well, and then, there is one last thing we are almost constantly doing at the moment:

We listen to friends and family who did not seem to believe that we really want to do the trip through eastern Africa for a long time and who now try to convince us to change our route-plans by stating that it is downright suicidal. I have to think about the good and experienced friend who recently tried to put us off our planned route through Africa. "Northern Africa is far too dangerous! It's a suicide! Think about the long days of driving on roads with no or just a bad surface! Where do you want to sleep anyway? Did you read the foreign ministry's travel warnings?" ... It is certainly well meant, but still I have to get a bit philosophical about this, I am sorry!

His view certainly is one way of looking at the whole thing, but last Saturday, after a very long working day with not enough time for children and family, after the attempt to go out for a beer after that and in spite of that, which actually miserably fails because work catches up with us even there, we ask ourselves what this routine actually does to us day-to-day. The hustle and bustle according to calendar, watch and schedule, fitting the needs of everybody but oneself ... Isn't that committing slow suicide in a "gilded cage"? The life in the grinder without escape always onwards more and even more ... but stating it properly it is "less and less", less real life, less experience ... instead of that everything has been tested, made "safe and secure" (impossible anyway!), charted, chewed for by others, flavoured ... and thereby disguising the actual stench! But it is exactly that stench that we need because that is true and not "Brave New World"! I know, we are living in pure, unrivaled affluence. And I am thankful for that - somehow - but, then, also not (always)! We insure our lives, are third-party, legal protection, car, health insured and whatever else in addition to that ... still all that doesn't make us happier, especially not the false security. Are we unthankful? ...

Why do we want to go traveling? Get out? Away into the bush? Leeding the partner, children and family which we love idolatrously out into the unknown uncertainty? Nomadizing in media-reported real-life jeopardies everybody knows ... only that scarcely anybody has witnessed them personally ... or wants to do that! ...

Well, because, believe it or not, even out there there are people, humans who can - have to - survive without the socially-insured and chemically artificially flavoured safety and have not lost or forgotten their humanity, their Ubuntu even though they are materially poor beyond any comparison. It's a humanity we sometimes miss so very dearly in our "developed world" that they keep in spite of all the hardships they have to endure! There are families out there just like ours. With exactly our problems. With less and even more so! Less of everything! But with an immense wealth of humanity, of grip on reality, history, cordiality, willingness to share ... and help ...! I could go on reciting here, but only those who did and do go out for a while meeting the locals can really understand!

We are looking for reciprocal interest in other people's ideas and thoughts. We are looking forward to sharing stories, thought-sparks around a campfire which jerkily burn out in the night breeze ... but definitively leave deep imprints in people's hearts ...

... But I have heard from Herman Zapp that this inability of many to understand our common wanderlust is part of the process and that he, Cande and their kids have experienced that in exactly the same way. People gave up discussing things with them only after they had published their book!


Open questions still are

How to get to north-eastern Africa: ... no news ... still looking for a way to ship our Land Rover to Egypt ... Grimaldi we have contacted several times and there was absolutely no reply to emails. Phone contacts gave me email addresses and asked me to send my details; still no reply!

Do we need a Sat phone/Sat messenger? We have been thinking of buying an InReach satellite messenger and friends and family members would be super happy if we did carry such a gadget as it would allow us to send short messages home from almost any point of the globe, to receive messages everywhere and track our trip. False security again?! We are not sure really whether we want to have such a gadget. The Zapps have been traveling without one for the last 14 years or so and the 650 Euros we would have to invest are an awful lot of money that on the road is worth much more thinking of eyeryday living costs. The mobile phone network in Africa is way better than that one in Europe, so a basic mobile with local sim cards might be everything we need ...


We will keep you updated! Adventurous greetings,

Juliane, Mischa, Anouk and Sóley

When the journey visits you at home!


Within not even six weeks after our travel to Ethiopia, we are visited by Samuel from Adigrat. We got to know Samuel in Adigrat, more or less just because he invited us for lunch at his home. Samuel and his wife Genet were extremely hospitable and we were integrated by them in no time at all. Only incidentally we found out that Samuel would be in Oldenburg back home in Germany for some weeks because he would be attending a management/leadership training at Oldenburg University. As Oldenburg is more or less just "next doors" to us, we of course invited him to our home.

After a nearly "African" organisation period with the aim to get him to us on the island of Spiekeroog, we finally succeed not realizing what this visit actually means for Samuel. It is his first time at the sea, he boards a ship for the first time, he is invited for the first time to a German household, he is amazed by the nearly African village community here on Spiekeroog ... and his reaction on our dishwasher is just "wow, that's magic!". Things which are taken for granted or normal for us are suddenly viewed from a completely different perspective. Especially touching is the walk along the beach which is accompanied by gripping conversational topics and a very emotional sensitivity on wind, weather and nature. After a "competition" between Samuel and the waves, Samuel's shoes are dripping wet but we have great fun anyway! He collects seashells for his wife and celebrates the 40th anniversary of his party (the "TPLF") re-dressing in the respective jacket and scarf right there at the beach in the freezing easterly wind.


Also, the interactions of Samuel with our two daughters are really touching: Anouk tries to speak English and also tries to teach Samuel some German with the help of her "Ting-pen" and little chatterbox Sóley chatters on in German not minding the fact that Samuel does not speak her language and thus has no clue about what she says. Anouk cries when Samuel finally has to say "goodbye".

Anouk's German lesson

Once again, we experience the warm friendship of someone that just a wing beat of time ago was only a stranger to us. We can give back some hospitality and are immensely enriched, especially because Samuel has a very different perspective on so many things, concepts and topics, because he is so very open and also can word feelings in a better way than it is common for German circumstances.

Contemplating on the bygone weeks ... Ethiopia and her people have really touched us. Touched us so very much that we want to go back.

So, we put on ice all plans for South America, cancel the booked flights to Buenos Aires and plan cempletely anew. Yes, we do plan! Of course we do! We don't plan a "route", though, but health aspects, where and when we will get our visa, which possibilities to ship our Land Rover across the Mediterranean or which overland routes to Ethiopia exist. It may be that we have to take a freight ship from Turkey to Egypt but we also might try the overland route through Turkey, Iran, Oman, United Arab Emirates, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Sudan. In addition to that, we inform ourselves on the situations in the countries we might visit on our way to Ethiopia with the help of travel reports and blogs, embassies and the German foreign ministry. We decide emotionally although reason before made us decide on planning South America (safer but also more touristy) instead of Africa. But, based on our experiences in a "dangerous" country from the European perspective, we have a different perception now. Can we really judge the situation in African countries now? In any case, we balance the pros and cons differently now. Crucial is the openness it seems a lot of people in Africa have, which is very important for us, as it can be one factor in travel safety.

Parallel to our new plans, new contacts evolve and old ones are refreshed: especially Herman Zapp ("Spark your Dream") and Lena and Ulli of "A Journey" deeply effect our decision making process and convince us that following our own personal dream is the most important aspect in deciding on where to head. In addition to them, there are so many other people that contact us via our blog or Facebook, offer support, share experiences and facilitate new contact persons. New offers of support by total strangers spring up like mushrooms.

An important role in our decision making process is the deep connection our children have established with Ethiopia. Why exactly couldn't this have happened somewhere else as well? In South America, the language barrier would not enable us to indulge in so very deep conversation due to the fact that we only speak little Spanish. In Ethiopia, we were convinced how important it is to be able to communicate intensively. It seems we are not ready for South America yet ... Still, this idea is not deleted from our long list of "routes" we want to travel. We simply have to work on the language aspect to be able to experience those intensive encounters there as well! What will we decide when we are in South Africa?

So, we will try to accomplish our "old dream" of Transafrica on the eastern route! At the same time, it is totally vague whether we really will be able to accomplish this dream, but we will definitely try! Maybe, it's also exactly this challenge that is tempting us! Also, it may be the fact that this way, we have the chance to start the trip here in Germany and can by and by adapt to traveling and the destination, always being flexible and open for new countries, routes and people - without any shipping date or flights.

In spite of all the intensive affirmation, also some people seem to see our new plans as far too risky. But every feedback makes us inform ourselves more intensively. Parallel to the planning process, we gather with international fellow travelers who are planning to travel the same route with the overall aim to share our knowledge and maybe join on the more challenging parts of the trip.