Podcast 40: Insights on International Travel
Show Notes for Podcast Episode #40
Insights on International Travel
During Scott Brady’s trip through Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan, he interviewed his travel-mates Stanley Illman and Alex Beccaria about overlanding in Africa, the Mercedes G-Glass, and the essentials of remote overland travel in the developing world.
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Alex Beccaria @mercedesGentdecker
Uganda Kenya Interview
[00:00:00] Scott Brady: Scott Brady here, publisher of Overland journal and expedition portal. And I am at beautiful Lake Baringo in central Kenya. And I'm with two gentlemen that have been overlanding. For literally decades in some of the most harsh environments on the planet. And they've come to the conclusion. What is the ultimate Overlander? And they built it for themselves here with these Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagen Wagon and Entdeckers. I've got Stanley Illman from Front Runner, and I've also got Alex Beccaria from Dimes and these two gentlemen have been traveling together for how long.
Stanely Illman: 30 odd years.
Scott Brady: For 30 years and I'm sure you guys have seen some crazy things in Africa over that period of time. And how long have you been using the Mercedes Gelandewagen?
Stanely Illman: I'll be using it since the first one ever came out.
Scott Brady: Okay. So from the late seventies and you've had many of them, I mean, I've seen a few.
Stanely Illman: I've had about [00:01:00] 10 put together.
Scott Brady: 10 of them altogether. And Alex, how about you? How long have you been using them?
Alex Beccaria: Since the first time Stanley took me on a trip, I was not the hook.
Scott Brady: Yeah.
Alex Beccaria: Then I bought the first one. And then the second one and then the third one.
Scott Brady: Yeah. And what Stanley would you describe is the thing that really draws you to the Gelandewagen Wagon? What makes it the ultimate vehicle for you?
Stanely Illman: To start with, the visibility that one has in the vehicle and also just the space inside the vehicle? The coolness that one feels when driving in the car. Has a vertical wind screen, which helps. Stop the sun getting on you most of the day.
Scott Brady: Absolutely.
Stanely Illman: And the car rides, very safely. We've never had any real serious accidents or anything else really. It just seems to stay on the road.
Scott Brady: Yeah and you have a long history in motor sports as well. So I think you probably expect the vehicle to perform at a level [00:02:00] that maybe some of the other ones can't.
Stanely Illman: I think we drive them a little quicker than one would normally drive them. But you know, we've got to save the vehicle. I think that's the secret and try and cheat it as best you can. Covering distances you've got a cover over the period that it is.
Scott Brady: And Alex, what would you say are some of the things that stand out in your mind? Of why you liked the Gelandewagen Wagon.
Alex Beccaria: I like the fact that it is quite narrow, not wide. And as Stanley said, has very good visibility. It's always very easy to see where the car starts and stops. So to corner it or to go through trees or even the tracks are on. When you're traveling on tracks, you are really on the tracks and not the danger of being off the track.
Scott Brady: Yeah.
Alex Beccaria: The danger of having punctures or other issues on your tires. The comfort is straight. I don't think there are any other cars with these [00:03:00] kinds of comfort with driving position and so on. I think we just also... we like it because we've been using it for so many years. We both, we could use it many more years.
Scott Brady: Yeah. That's the thing that I've noticed about the Gelandewagen Wagon is they kind of figured out the perfect set of specifications. It's the 112 inch wheelbase. So it's long enough to be stable at high speeds, but short enough to still do well in technical terrain. The approach and the departure angles are also very aggressive for a vehicle like this. So I found that with that in the differential locks and the excellent ground clearance, these things really do perform well in the dirt. And we've seen that in some of the driving that we've done here on this trip, although none of it was particularly technical. We did need that kind of ground clearance. Particularly when we went over the past from Uganda into Kenya, we got into some larger boulders and ledges that we needed to climb up and down and I was certainly thankful that we had a vehicle with this much ground clearance as well. So [00:04:00] tell me a little bit about what inspired the Entdecker or you shared the story a little bit with me, but what was the thing that said we're going to build. Not only what we believe to be the ultimate vehicle, the Gelandewagen Wagon, but we're going to build the ultimate Gelandewagen Wagon.
Stanely Illman: I think what inspired us was that we converted these vehicles for many, many years with all sorts of things. So, you know, roof racks, and bull bars, and types of wheels and whatever else we tried. And it's quite a huge opportunity in Switzerland to come to the states about eight, nine years ago. 10 years ago, I think when we started and we went to the factory, this was important. We're buying the pool, not so much Mercedes, but what's called the pool. And we started with that and we were able to spec the vehicle exactly the way we wanted it. And that was a great opportunity for us.
Scott Brady: And you guys [00:05:00] bought. 10 of them, if I recall. And then once you bought the vehicles, Stanley shared with me a little bit about how that process worked, because it was going to take almost two years to get the cars so that gave you lots and lots of time to fill out the spec sheet with all the goodies on it right?
Stanely Illman: Correct.
Alex Beccaria: And at the same time, get prepared to deal with them once we get the delivery.
Stanely Illman: What we did is we took one engineer in South Africa. Probably Blatch and he sat and we tried to get as many drawings as we could. And we tried to design the interior for the fuel tanks and what we wanted to put inside for additional fuel and for the water and for the drawer systems and the nets that went to the top, the net system. And we designed all that on care before we even started. And then we decided to have them both by unit tests. So we gave them some drawings. And they put that stuff together for us basically.
Scott Brady: And one of the things that I think has been neat for me is, is how many consumer products that [00:06:00] front runner has released as a result of this project. You guys figured out what worked, and then you made other products available to the consumer.
Stanely Illman: Correct, we did exactly that. And today we figured the front-runners figured out some door systems and water tanks and fuel tanks for the diesel.
Scott Brady: So, Alex, tell me where have you guys taken these trucks? What are some of the highlights of your adventures with these vehicles?
Alex Beccaria: Oh, I don't know. It's all the personal taste. I think Nigeria was certainly a very nice trip to the very South of Nigeria on the border of Umali. That was a very nice trip. We drove them, they came up twice from South Africa to Kenya. Ethiopia was [00:07:00] also a very nice trip. Well, every trip is nice. You can do the same route twice every time. It's different when you travel in Africa, this is the magic about this country. It's always full of adventures and surprises.
Scott Brady: Yeah. I've thoroughly enjoyed traveling with you guys. And it showed me a lot about why you guys designed the vehicles the way that you did. You've kept them as light as possible because you want them to perform in a certain way. You've also kept them pretty low to the ground. You didn't put big suspension, lifts or anything on them, because you wanted the vehicles to handle it at high speeds. And I've noticed on some of these roads here in Africa, that anything can happen, a huge pothole, or a ledge, or a donkey running in from the side, or heaven forbid a child running in from the side. And you guys need these trucks to be able to perform limit handling and they do. They really do handle well.
Stanely Illman: Yes. I think the trucks handle very, very well and really you don't get yourself into massive trouble with [00:08:00] these compared to other vehicles, the actual trends on very corrugated roads, doesn't seem to throw you off that much. They seem to do very, very well with it.
Scott Brady: So Stanley, what would you say are your top two or three things that you did to the vehicle? That you liked the most the modification that you thought, man, that really exceeded my expectations.
Stanely Illman: Well the rooftop tents were a big thing is an edginess that we put on. I think without them, we wouldn't really have the vehicles that we are talking about, the roof racks that hold them, keeps it all together.
Alex Beccaria: We use the tents also as a container for certain stuff. As you know, we have a spare windscreen inside. We, it's a place where we can put sand tracks. Or we can put our sleeping bags or whatever. If it's there, it's out of the way. That's another good thing about these tents.
Scott Brady: Yeah. I thought that it was a good idea that you guys had to put these Lexan windscreens that they keep the film on [00:09:00] so they don't get scratched and then they stick the windscreen underneath the mattress. So they've got a spare windscreen just in case it gets damaged by a rock or something going down the road or a branch comes through it. They're able to pop out the factory windscreens and put in a replacement so that they, and get home.
Stanely Illman: Yeah we've done it once. Many years ago, we hit a kudu. And we drove all the way back from the top of Zimbabwe back to South Africa, we got a windscreen.
Scott Brady: Yeah and that would not be any fun. Not pleasant. So you like the, obviously the front runner rackets, one of really the forefront in the industry, as far as lightness and strength. And also modifications that you can do to the racks. So the different accessories that you can fit. So beyond the tent and the rack, is there anything else Stanley?
Stanely Illman: Yeah there's light balls, there's lights, there's awnings. you can put Jerry cans on top. You can put water on top if you need more. And just depending on the configuration where one's going, and what one's doing. They're a very flexible [00:10:00] type of system that just really works for miles. Another we did as well was we added the spare wheel carriers onto the vehicles as well, to carry two spare wheels on the back. The bull bars that we made for them as well with a winch grate. We made those a front runner as well, which seemed to work quite well.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Those are very nice bumpers.
Alex Beccaria: I think one of the last modifications that we did, which I think is really simple, but really great, is this good wing window that allows access to the luggage compartment, and because we have a drawer system and everything is lying at the higher level. It makes life so much easier when you camp and so you have access directly to the storage boxes. And so...
Scott Brady: Yeah. I noticed that I've used that many times on the trip already. You just push in the two latches and up they go and you can access a bag that's closer to the other end.
Alex Beccaria: As well as the cargo net inside. It's also quite handy.
Scott Brady: Yeah, it's been [00:11:00] nice for me to see these vehicles again. I test drove the Entegra the first time in 2011, but it was for a pretty short period of time. But for me to now be able to spend weeks with the car, I can really see both of your vision come through in the vehicle. And it's certainly the kind of truck that you would want to drive around the world. That's for sure.
Stanely Illman: Yeah, you can, you can go anywhere with that truck I mean it's got two refrigerators in it and very good access to the back doors, which also works very, very well. And so, you know, utilize the vehicle to its ultimate.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Large water tank, large fuel tank, all with transfer pumps. Yeah, it, it really makes it very livable. I noticed that there's not a lot of effort required. To make something happen. A lot of times everything's an afterthought with this, you push a button, it turns on the pump. You go to the rear bumper, you've got water.
Stanely Illman: Correct and the other thing is that's the secret too and the years of experience with the ease of access to everything very quickly, what's important. And if you're able to put up a camp in [00:12:00] five minutes.
Scott Brady: Yeah, absolutely.
Stanely Illman: That's what makes it really worthwhile and pulls it down. Maybe in 10. Pack up and go.
Scott Brady: So you guys have employed some interesting materials with these vehicles. I know that the roof tents employ some carbon fiber. And you guys have even had titanium shovels prepared for the vehicles. What of those unique products have you found work really well for you? What are the things that you would recommend others to consider?
Stanely Illman: Always consider, I believe, is the likeness of everything and the secret to traveling and really travelling is any time you get back, whatever you haven't used, leave it home and don't take it with you. That's the real uniqueness of it. We made a titanium shackle, save another few pounds here and there if you've got two shackles in the car. And it's all the little bits that add up by the time you've finished, you can have another 50 pounds in the car.
Scott Brady: And that would easily be another 50 pounds of fuel if you needed it for range or just keeping the vehicle lighter so it performs better.
Stanely Illman: Or water.
Scott Brady: Or water, yeah absolutely. So Alex, what were some of the things, some of those more exotic [00:13:00] things that you put on the truck that you really found, worked great.
Alex Beccaria: Oh, Difficult question. It's when you try things out also, because you may end up seeing things that you don't really use. We tried, we put these round canisters, which used to be in old Mercedes-Benz spare wheels as a fuel reserve, old ones. And we found a way to fit them in the, in the spare wheels. After we put them, we realized that if you fill them completely with oil, which is what we did. You're making the spare we carry very heavy with a big Hutchinson weeds with a Beadlock and another there's a version that takes seven and a version takes nine liters. Whereas the weight of the jelly can become very heavy. And we started seeing the original Mercedes Benz spare, we carried and started tracking. So we had to reinforce them and then we decided we don't need that much oil. She can carry half the [00:14:00] amount, but it's a good place because you don't use it. Then the barbecue grill sits in a very nice position and is normally always dirty. So it's a good place to keep it on the spare wheel. That's also a nice product. I mentioned to you yesterday there's carbon fiber someplace. Also again, another way to increase the lightness. Every trip we get some new ideas also from our travel companions, some pedestrians. And then we see if we can either improve or change something that is already existing or whether there is a new product that can be developed and can be added. So it's a continuous development and because we made a certain number of vehicles, it becomes a small service product because everyone who has one of these vehicles wants that [00:15:00] accessory or that amendment or whatever.
Scott Brady: That's one of the things that's been neat for me to see through this process is how much testing you guys do? I mean, that advantage that the front runner has with its owner out here using the products in the field. That's very unique, not a lot of companies do that.
Stanely Illman: No they don't and I think that's the secret to how you build lighter and better stuff. We've always tried to keep everything as light as possible. And I think it works. And then you see what breaks. If an engineer, everything you think is perfect for design. So they hit the corrugations and the big bumps that cause it to fall off.
Scott Brady: And that's been another part of the thing that's been fun is to watch you guys work through problems and challenges together as a team, you never saw anything as being insurmountable and we've gotten through some, some pretty significant challenges just because of determination from all of you guys, and Franzie who's not on the video here, but a champion. [00:16:00] Franzie.
Stanely Illman: Yeah, we have a lot of fun and there's parts that pack up and give in like an alternator and you have to find a way to get home.
Scott Brady: That's great. I guess the last question I have you had all the vehicles painted, matte tan, which I think looks great. Some would think maybe that it makes the group look very military. Which could obviously have advantages and disadvantages. What was the mindset behind the color choice and how have you found that that affects your travels?
Alex Beccaria: The first we bought, we bought before this, like 20 years ago. We bought two cars. In this color. Two, four, six, three a special version made for us with chassis number, because it was not a standard Mercedes product. Again, we could pick a certain specification and we liked that color very much. It ages incredibly well. It resists [00:17:00] very well to the dirt, even when it's 30 it still looks good. And I think the fact of looking military can be a disadvantage, but can also be an advantage, like in our case right now. Common bandits would possibly be a little bit scared of a group of military looking vehicles because they don't know if there are armed soldiers inside or what. So they would rather stay away. On the contrary when you go into terrorist areas and so, the military could be a bit of an issue, but again because terrorists these days take hostages quite often, maybe it's not that big of an advantage we didn't really have any disadvantage so far with these vehicles. Everything went smoothly. And I like the color very much.
Scott Brady: I like the color as well.
Alex Beccaria: Blends in perfectly with Africa. We made one black, huh? There was one friend of mine who [00:18:00] wanted a matte black one, which we made a matte black one. But you don't want to use that in Africa?
Scott Brady: Not too hot. I agree. Well, gentlemen, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate the insights. I know that these trucks have become extremely popular, not only in North America, but around the world. And I applaud you both for putting together such an amazing vehicle.
Stanely Illman: Thank you, Scott. Thanks for coming on the trip with us.
Scott Brady: Yeah, I loved it. Thanks guys.
Stanely Illman: Thank you!
Scott Brady: And I'm here again with Alex Beccaria and Stanley Illman. And we're going to talk about these gentleman's experiences traveling around the world. If you can, in just a few seconds, gentlemen, just kind of give us where you've traveled. I know that you guys have traveled extensively around the globe but I think it'll be good for the listener and the viewer. To get an idea where you guys have been, tell me some of the places you guys have traveled.
Stanely Illman: Well, [00:19:00] I've traveled most of South America, central America, up to Alaska, and then through India and Australia and Africa.
Scott Brady: And extensively in Africa. Right? What about you Alex?
Alex Beccaria: More or less. Similar destinations, some were together. Bit more Asia maybe, but definitely my favorite place is this continent by far.
Scott Brady: And you've also spent some time traveling in the middle East, including extensively in Iran.
Alex Beccaria: Yes, in Iran it's more for business than for pleasure, but it's a nice country. Interesting. Other Middle East destinations, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India or some other countries in the area. [00:20:00] It's more complicated to travel in those areas. It's also got these interesting sites.
Scott Brady: You bet. So between the three of us, we've got the seven continents pretty well covered. And I think it'd be fun to talk about what you guys have learned in your travels, those little tidbits. So I'm going to prompt you guys with some questions about some different things and how you guys tend to solve it. One of the, one of the things that we oftentimes get questions on is how do you handle border crossings.
Stanely Illman: Very calmly. I'm going to take time. Don't get excited. Sometimes you can be on a border for four or five hours. Sometimes you can be there for a day, or it just depends where it is, but you just have to keep calm, talk nicely to the people and work your way through it somehow.
Scott Brady: How about you, Alex?
Alex Beccaria: He's generally quite an impatient person. He becomes the most patient person when it is a matter of border crossing. [00:21:00] Yes, as usual with kindness, respect, patience. And you always find a way. We never ever had a problem.
Scott Brady: And I've noticed crossing a few borders with you guys now, is that you guys employ a lot of humor. And in fact, a lot of humor so much so that I would normally use it as a border, but it really works in Africa. I mean, you're very sweet to the people and you joke around and you make light of the situation and I've noticed that almost all of them, just completely changed their attitude towards you and towards us as a group, of course the one guy in Uganda doing the carnets, no matter how we joked with him he didn't seem to like it.
Stanely Illman: In the end it was fine.
Scott Brady: Yeah. In the end, he probably relaxed.
Stanely Illman: He came around.
Scott Brady: Now that was really fun to see. How do you guys also deal with your documents? Have you guys found good ways to manage your documents? Do [00:22:00] you guys carry copies of your documents with you?
Stanley Illman: Well, we keep copies on our phones. So if we really have to show something, if we lose a document,but I don't think we've ever lost a passport or anything, we've never lost a document.
Scott Brady: And you guys are obviously dealing with carnets for three different vehicles. So you've got to keep track of the carnets. You've got to keep track of obviously the passports and the visas that are required.
Stanely Illman: Carnets and the visa. Carnet and passport. But that's it.
Alex Beccaria: What happens actually on the smaller border, is often that the people don't know how to handle a carnet. They haven't seen one, they barely know what it is. So you have to teach them that you need to stamp here, take the section off, you know, but more or less if you help them they manage somehow.
Scott Brady: Yeah. And what else have you guys found as far as adapting to the local cultures. Do you guys just do some research ahead of time, or how do you make sure that you don't offend your [00:23:00] hosts that you're visiting and what do you guys normally do for research on that before you go under various countries?,
Stanely Illman: I don't think we really do research on it and we don't speak the languages, but I think with the kindness and shaking of hands and smile. I think that's all you really got to do.
Alex Beccaria: Yeah it's common sense. And, you know, just be aware that they might be a different culture, different way of thinking, and it's fine. But the basic rules of humanity apply to all human beings. You know differences are very small.
Scott Brady: Very minor.
Alex Beccaria: And they understand that you are different also, if you don't insist, you know. It's ok.
Scott Brady: Yeah, I noticed when we went from Uganda back into Kenya and we encountered the militia the way that you guys interacted with them, you very quickly attempted to calm the situation down. Every able-bodied man in the village was there with a weapon, including bows and arrows, so it could have easily gone the other direction [00:24:00] and I know oftentimes travelers are fearful of those kinds of situations. How do you guys normally deal with that kind of tension?
Stanely Illman: In that particular incident when we were there, I actually felt no tension at all, because what you could realize is as I saw the people coming toward us, it was like the chief who was there and they normally don't start a problem. That's the way I find it anyway, if the old guys there normally don't have a problem. Got to go and shake his hand first, that's the way of doing things. So just bring yourself, you know, don't be the big deal. Be very humble. I think the first thing they asked us was, "Want some water?".
Alex Beccaria: I filled the water and I gave it to them to start with, because one man came on me at first. And the others followed and we gave them some water. Then we started talking and we asked them, they said almost nobody camps through that road. They said a car a year, perhaps. And then they [00:25:00] wanted to know why and what, and how many vehicles and it was okay.
Scott Brady: No, it seems like you guys have a really nice job.
Alex Beccaria: You guys went also, I think you also did your portion of things. Altogether it worked well.
Scott Brady: No, I thought it was great. Cause I mean, obviously when you're dealing with a heavily armed group of people in a very remote area, if you try to run. Or if you show that you're very afraid or you're very aggressive.
Stanely Illman: You've got to show confidence.
Scott Brady: Yeah show confidence, but then be respectful.
Stanely Illman: You know they're there and you're not fearful of them anyway. I could see that if there's anyone who would have held you up they would have held you up.
Scott Brady: Yeah they would've done it. So what, what have you guys found you guys have shipped vehicles around the world too. Do you guys have a preference? So you tend to use containers or roll on roll off or?
Stanely Illman: We definitely prefer to use containers. In the early days when we had the Unimogs. We'd do them in our own row. [00:26:00] Cause you can't put them in containers, but that was always problems. Cause you couldn't drive them on yourselves and they can just disconnect the batteries improperly and that type of thing. But otherwise it wasn't bad.
Scott Brady: I noticed with these particular vehicles, you guys really like to travel with every vehicle being the same and that certainly makes a lot of sense with regards to the spares and tools and supplies.
Stanely Illman: We try to carry most things when we think we might have problems. So for instance, we carry a starter motor, which is a 24 volt to one, since we won't find another one. We carry a fair amount of space, shock absorbers we always take, and two spare wheels, fuel pump, all the things, spare belts, spare fans. Lots of nuts and bolts cause they fall off and that's about it?
Scott Brady: Yeah, I noticed, I mean, obviously these vehicles have been used extensively throughout Africa, all the way from Algeria and Morocco in the North, [00:27:00] down to South Africa and everywhere in between just about. And they're starting to show a little bit of age, but it seems like you guys have a lot of confidence in the platform. And I also noticed that one of the things that I've taken away from this trip is if you guys hear anything different or if you feel anything different, you stop and you check it completely.
Stanely Illman: Correct. We'll try and fix the problem before it turns into a serious no-go-problem. And we've normally found that we've managed to keep them going, electronically they're difficult and they really are. Stupid little things go wrong and you have to fix them too.
Scott Brady: Yeah. I noticed that we had a pretty wide range of issues with the vehicles we had, but none of them were very serious. But we had a wide range, a few shock absorbers that need to be replaced. You know, these are heavy vehicles, right? And what have you found kind of in general with these vehicles that you've needed to pay more attention [00:28:00] to, or has it really just been across the board.
Stanely Illman: Originally when they were Euro five, we had them brought down to Europe. Euro 4 they were
Alex Beccaria: They were Euro 4 to start with, and we brought them to Euro 3.
Stanely Illman: Down to Euro 3 for the use here in Africa temporarily. And as Alex said, and with that scenario those problems went away. We had a lot of turbo problems in the beginning.
Alex Beccaria: With bad fuel.
Scott Brady: Because it needed the ultra low sulfur diesel. And what are some of the things Stanley that you found in all of your years of modifying vehicles? What do you think are some of the most important things that people need to do to their truck when they first... let's say they buy a new land cruiser, or they buy a new Gelandewagen Wagon. What do you think is kind of your top five things that you recommend that they look at modifying on the vehicle for long distance travel.
Stanely Illman: My experience over the years now is don't modify anything. Keep it as stock standard as possible. [00:29:00] Maybe you can do something with springs and a little bit of shock absorbers here and there. But I think that's about it and just good tires. I'm trying to get to 16 inch rims with lots of flotation on the tires with bigger walls. I think that that's basically it.
Scott Brady: And I noticed that you guys started off with the Hutchinson wheels on the G wagons and then you've since removed them. Alex, what did you guys experience with issues on that?
Alex Beccaria: Well, we didn't really experience particular issues. In the beginning. We were more in the North African countries, much more desert lengthy sand. So the need of reducing the tire pressure was bigger. So that's why we started off, but there are also disadvantages. There is a lot of weight and spring weight. The fitting of tires is not as simple as one would think. Despite the split range. And so recently, for this part of the [00:30:00] trip, we thought let's go more simply. And also because this tire can be fitted in any shop by any place with any... while the other one was a more complicated thing. We still have them for the next trip and It's maybe a weight thing.
Scott Brady: Another thing I noticed as well is that you guys do a lot of your own cooking and you make sure that you take the time to cook meals, good healthy meals with plenty of calories. So that you stay strong as a traveler. Did you guys always do that? Have you always cooked?
Stanely Illman: Half the fun is cooking? Half the travel is cooking. You know, we don't always cook fancy food, but we eat it with some meat. We have a deep freeze and we have a fridge. We like cold beer and cold water and cold drinks. And we liked some nice food. And Alex brings magic food from [00:31:00] Italy, and we've got salami and we've got Ham and we've got this and that. So we travel very comfortably with that stuff. A couple of tins of rations in case we really get stuck somewhere for quite a while. We've always got a surplus of tin food.
Scott Brady: And I noticed for me, oftentimes I like to eat where the locals eat, but I oftentimes get sick. And you guys mentioned that you hardly ever get sick on your trips because you're managing your own food.
Stanely Illman: Well We'll buy vegetables and stuff on the way. And a little bit of fruit. And then just make sure we clean it really properly. If you eat in the local places you gotta watch out when eating salads and this and that, because of the water. You're not used to it.
Alex Beccaria: Also the meat you don't know.
Stanely Illman: So we normally bring meat. From home or wherever, you know, trying to bring meat in or find a reputable butcher wherever you are.
Alex Beccaria: Usually we vacuum [00:32:00] packet it for rations per day. We defrost whatever we need.
Scott Brady: And Alex on, on these particular G Wagons how do you guys manage water? How much water do you have on board? Do you tend to want to filter it before it comes in or do you filter it if one tank gets tainted, do you filter afterwards?
Alex Beccaria: What we normally do is we have 95 liters of water in each truck, but that's only for, let's say cooking water, and washing water, showering water, and then for drinking, we have bottles which are easier to keep to store, keep cold in the fridge and so on.
Stanely Illman: And if we find fresh water, very good water, like for instance here you will get some good water that you can drink. I would take that water and we fill the tanks and then we could use that to fill bottles with water and put them back in the fridge.
Alex Beccaria: What happens otherwise is we try and empty one truck first, with the good water. And then we fill [00:33:00] that truck with the shower water that can be any water. Regular or whatever.
Stanely Illman: Then we shower from that truck
Alex Beccaria: And we use it just for that purpose and we keep running the drinking water or cooking water from the other vehicles.
Scott Brady: And I noticed Alex that you guys had some tablets or some liquid that you would put in. Do you use just standard bleach or what do you typically use to treat the tanks?
Alex Beccaria: No, it's a German product...
Stanely Illman: Well I use multants(?). Stuff is used for kids for washing the bottles. It's a little bit of chlorine. The water doesn't taste great, but it works.
Scott Brady: But it gets all the bad guys out of there?
Stanely Illman: Coffee that we have in the morning anyway is boiled.
Scott Brady: What do you guys normally do that you found that works well for the clothing that you wear? Do you just tend to wear whatever's most comfortable or do you have a brand or a particular type of clothing you like to wear when you're in the Bush?
Stanely Illman: I normally wear t-shirts, or a shirt like this, it's just lighter colors are better for the city flies in Africa, [00:34:00] darker colors they tend to attack you.
Scott Brady: That was a good piece of advice you gave me. I showed up with these nice travel shirts, but they're all dark colored and you said, Scott, that's not going to work. And I said, well, it's pretty thick and you said, they'll go right through it. And those are the little things that we all learn as we travel, right? We pick up these little pieces of advice that make travel a little bit better.
Alex Beccaria: Yes. Generally we travel comfortably with shorts or something. Also, we like to give the impression that we are tourists, which this helps. And then it uses less space, it is easier to wash everything. And then of course we also keep a set of longer pants and long sleeve shirts in case there are mosquitoes or things we wear in order to have some protection.
Stanely Illman: We wear those in the evening.
Scott Brady: Or the local governor invites you over for dinner or whatever [00:35:00] happens.
Stanely Illman: Well we haven't had that problem yet.
Scott Brady: Good. Now what do you guys normally do for navigation? That's another thing, here in Africa would you tend to use?
Stanely Illman: Tracks for africa. Generally quite a few roads that we go on or not on the tracks. And then we submit them back and hopefully, I think they only publish after they've got three or four tracks on the same place before they publish. But basically we use that to try and find some maps and stuff in between, and then just work our way through the nice locals and go and find roads if we've never been before or look on Google earth. Google maps works very well. There's lots of not real tracks. The tracks are there, but the roads that they show are not real roads, they just have been traced off of Google earth. Nobody's actually driven those and submitted those as proper tracks with proper coordinates on. I think you saw when we drove [00:36:00] on it, I had a track and that track from Google, but it didn't quite match the exact road that you were on. Sometimes it's a couple hundred meters out.
Scott Brady: Yeah, I noticed you guys used a broad spectrum of resources for that. Tracks for Africa on the Garmin GPS units. And then I think a couple of us had tracks for Africa also on the tablets and the phones. You're using anything different, Alex? Are you using other tools? Just the tracks for Africa. And then there were a few times we talked to locals just to clarify if this road or that one is better. I think it was early in Uganda that we found that there was a road that looked like it would go through and then locals said no, that the roads are not a good road to take so... and I also noticed that you guys spent the time talking to locals to get an idea about security. There were places where they said, it's not really safe to go here, but if you go this way, it's okay.
Stanely Illman: It's better this way or that way and you know, this place has been clear that there's more traffic.
Alex Beccaria: That also changes in time. [00:37:00] Maybe show at this specific time. And then three months later, there's a different scenario. They're different now.
Scott Brady: It could get better or worse.
Stanely Illman: My particular feeling is the more remote, the safer it is.
Scott Brady: And yeah, we certainly noticed that time and this particular trip. I have to compliment you Stanley. We drove some wonderful roads. I mean a couple of them when you're in low range and going over rocks and boulders and, and beautiful. And there was nobody there. And we didn't see another vehicle when we traveled from Uganda into Kenya. And then when we went down towards Lake Baringo from, I think it was Lokichar from that region. We didn't see another traveler. We saw some locals, but we didn't see another traveler the entire time. Brian and I were talking about that. That during the entire trip, we didn't see another Overlander the entire time because we were so remote. So that was a real pleasure.
Stanely Illman: I've never been to that remote area [00:38:00] that we went to this time in. It was absolutely beautiful and very very nice.
Scott Brady: So Stanley, if you were going to give a short summary piece of advice to someone who wants to get into traveling in Africa, they've maybe not traveled that much. What would be the advice that you would give maybe a young couple in their early twenties that want to go traveling? What would you tell them to encourage them to travel?
Stanely Illman: I would say start in the areas where there are more people that you learn a little bit and always try to travel with more than one group. Try and travel in a group. Find another group to join up with. Two or three vehicles is the best way to travel. Don't make a... I mean I think the maximum amount one wants to travel with when one does this type of thing is maybe about four or five vehicles maximum. Otherwise it becomes unruly.
Scott Brady: So somewhere between two and three and four and five.
Stanely Illman: Yeah, in the early years we traveled in a single vehicle. I traveled a lot with a single vehicle. It's not easy. You get [00:39:00] lost. You don't know where you are. Day to day the GPS and the satellite buttons are a lot easier, but other times there was not even a compass or a map.
Scott Brady: A lot more difficult. And Alex, if you were going to give some advice to a young new couple in Switzerland that were getting ready to prepare a vehicle and travel around the world, what would you tell them?
Alex Beccaria: This reset, wipe adventurous. Anyway, they do travel plenty. I would say the same. I think that traveling in a group is also more fun, if the group is the right one and certainly safer. Also if something goes wrong, you're not abandoned in the middle of nothing. I think there's a lot to see and a lot to learn in the world. One life is not enough to see it all better have the app.
Scott Brady: That's great advice. We certainly all do need to get out and see as much of this world as possible. Well, gentlemen, I can't thank you both [00:40:00] enough for the time. It's been a great learning experience for me traveling with both of you. It was an inspiring trip. We saw some beautiful places here in Africa, and I would recommend everyone to watch and listen to come and see Uganda and come and see Kenya, beautiful people and wonderful countries.