Routing and navigation

Soutpiel Safari
John & Jenny
Fri 29 Oct 2010 18:37
With a destination of Johannesburg there is a choice of two main or classical routes; the eastern route or the western route, with many sub-variants of each of these.  The classical eastern route takes one through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia with possibilities of diversions into Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. To make the first part more interesting one can travel from Europe through Turkey and into Syria and Jordan (both well know to John)  before entering Egypt on the Sinai peninsular.  The main (not the only!) problem with Egypt is the ridiculous premium they require for the Carnet.  Whereas all African countries, except Kenya (250%), ask for a 150% loading on vehicle value, the Egyptians look for 800%. !!Having a relatively high value vehicle, this 800% loading requires a very large bank guarantee with its associated costs, and also places one with a very high risk in an environment where theft is a way of life. This single factor was enough to rule out Egypt for us. 
There are two  ways round Egypt; the first goes from Turkey, through Iran and then across the Arabian Gulf by dhow to Dubai, from there a short drive into Oman and then through the length of Yemen to Aden and a ferry from there to Dijbouti. The present security problems in Yemen make this route dangerous, inadvisable and probably impossible. It would be a fascinating route to take in safer times.
The other way,  which was very attractive to us, was to transit Saudi Arabia from Jordan to Jeddah (John's former home for 11 years) and then to take a ferry across the Red Sea  to Port Sudan.  The only problem of this route being that of obtaining a Saudi visa. We investigated this through former Saudi contacts and established that it would be possible but we eventually ruled it out as obtaining the visas would freeze our passports for some weeks at a time when we wanted to be sailing in Canada. Maybe one day on the northward trip?
This left the western route and we followed on the Internet the progress of several overlanders travelling this route both northbound and southbound. Here the classical route is by ferry from Spain to Morocco and then into Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, DRC, Angola, Namibia and South Africa and this is the route we have chosen.
For navigation we are relying on a good sense of direction, the reports of others, Michelin paper maps and Tracks 4 Africa electronic maps displayed on a Garmin Nuvo 550 GPS. We aim to record our GPS position each night and send this in an email blog to the Mailasail site which picks up the position and displays it on Google Earth. You should be able to see where we are each night to 3 decimal palces!