Hi Reddit,

My name is Dan and a few years back I posted on /r/diy that I built my Jeep into a house on wheels and I was going to drive around Africa. Tons of people said I would never make it alive, and there were some extremely cringe-worthy comments in there - see my original /r/diy post.

Three years later I have done it. I drove 54,000 miles through 35 countries, basically around the perimeter of Africa - with a few exceptions.

You can see hundreds of photos on Instagram @TheRoadChoseMe and videos from on the ground in almost every country on YouTube @TheRoadChoseMe. My website has hundreds of posts and thousands of photos, the best place to start is probably African Expedition Overview. From there you can click into any country to see all the stories and photos from that country. That page also has a map of my planned vs. actual route. (Click it to enlarge).

I have also just published a coffee table photography book from my time in Africa. It's a full-color book that has a double-page spread on all 35 countries, and some info on the expedition. It's on amazon, and it's called 999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me

PROOF: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bxvh48dl0mg/
and https://www.facebook.com/theroadchoseme/
and http://theroadchoseme.com/reddit-ask-me-anything

Let's do this. AMA.

EDIT: I'm off to bed - it's been fun, thanks!
I'll answer any new top-level comments in the morning that I have not already answered. Sleep well.

EDIT: Alright, the sun is up and it's 30F, I'm drinking coffee and still replying. Keep asking away!

EDIT: I have to hit the road and I'll be gone for a couple of hours, but I will come back and answer more questions in about 3 hours or so - I give you my word. I'm enjoying shedding light on a part of the world that isn't often visited.

EDIT: I'm back. Answering more original questions

EDIT: Alright Reddit, I think we've come to the end of this train. Thanks for all the great questions. Now it's time to start saving, planing, saving and dreaming for the next expedition!

Comments: 2441 • Responses: 115  • Date: 

mauri11969 karma

How often did you engage all 4 lockers?

grecy894 karma

On the West Coast, almost every day.

In the DRC, at least 20 times per day.

IntellectualHamster331 karma

Can you tell more about the DRC experiences? I've got a friend from there and he only tells me bits about home. I don't really want to pry but am so curious

grecy490 karma

Video will do a better job than I can type it out - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OV8V3GdOcPU

CmdrMcLane712 karma

What country or place most surprised you either by its beauty or its uniqueness?

grecy1419 karma

Gabon is a stunning country that nobody ever talks about. The jungles, beaches, wildlife and wide open plains are stunning, and the people are super friendly.

Driving into Djibouti felt more like driving onto Mars than any other time in my life.

RICH_PINNA218 karma

This was in the Ethiopian Afar region right?! I felt like I was in Star Wars as the sun was setting haha. Epic trip dude.

grecy178 karma

yep. Absolutely felt like a different planet!

ozymandias99999999938 karma

They are the true kings of the planet. Some even say that region is where the Ark of The Covenant is hidden!

grecy33 karma

Right.. I went to the exact spot where it supposedly lies!

kharper428982 karma

My cousin is there for the state department. Not sure if overzealous policy or legitimate danger, but she isn't allowed to leave her compound or armored escort for fear of local intervention, which has happened 3x in the past year. Granted one of those intervention attempts was a "coup" that wasn't much of a coup.

The pictures I've seen are definitely gorgeous though.

grecy99 karma

I would think it's overzealous, but I'm not there, so I can't say for sure.

Capital cities are always much worse than the country side. I was there soon after the rigged election when they were rioting in the streets, burning cars, etc. It all blew over in a week or two.

GreenStretch2 karma

Did you see any surfing hippos?

grecy4 karma

Sadly no. I went to that exact place in Gabon that's famous for it, but nothing. Elephants were walking on that beach, which was cool.

hazyyy1587 karma

I read through some of the comments on the original post and nearly all of them were saying how dangerous it was. How dangerous was it really?

Also, how much did it cost to get your car over there?

grecy725 karma

I read through some of the comments on the original post and nearly all of them were saying how dangerous it was. How dangerous was it really?

I lot of people will be shocked by the fact I never heard a single gunshot for the entire time I was in Africa.

Also, how much did it cost to get your car over there?

It's about $3k to ship a vehicle in a 20 foot container from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world. Plus or minus.

RolliingInTheDeepCon114 karma

My fiancé is currently trying to ship a car from South Africa to Canada, but was quoted $11k. Any tips/moving companies you recommend? That sounds way better!

grecy133 karma

You just have to ask around a lot. Get as many quotes as possible.

Possibly change the route a little to make it shorter/cheaper and then drive the rest. I.e. where to in Canada?

Friends recently shipped from Durban to somewhere in the US, it was $5k including a massive trailer.

RolliingInTheDeepCon40 karma

Good idea, we're shipping to Toronto and saw extra fees for storage in the company warehouse + driving it to us, even though we're ~60 min away.

Thanks!

grecy102 karma

Ship to Halifax instead. Much cheaper.

rh130404 karma

Did you ever pay any bribes? If so, for what? I saw your video of all of the attempts.

grecy430 karma

I paid one genuine bribe in Ivory Coast. I was off my game, and had a really strange experience. I wrote about it here: http://theroadchoseme.com/ivory-coast-begins

wisetweedie189 karma

Why was speaking French a mistake?

grecy425 karma

It gives them the upper hand when you speak their language.

TemporaryBoyfriend307 karma

Surely if you feign ignorance of their language, but listen in, that gives you the advantage... right?

grecy905 karma

exactly.

At the border of Ivory Coast I was pretending not to speak french, the guy was trying really hard and said to someone else (in french) "Why do white people make it so hard to get money?"

CmdrMcLane202 karma

He kinda did getting into Egypt from Sudan. No way to get across without a handler.

grecy540 karma

That's not a bribe so much as just paying someone to run around and do all the paperwork for me - commonly called a "fixer".

I vowed I would never use one, but like you said, that border is actually impossible without.

zuzab135 karma

What makes it so difficult?

grecy620 karma

It's the most beurocratic and paperwork-intense border I have ever seen.

I had to get a local drivers license (in Arabic), I had to get local plates for the jeep (in Arabic), I had to get local insurance for the jeep (in Arabic), and a whole bunch more clearances, permissions and signatures from various authorities and people.

I don't speak, read or write a word of Arabic.

Swen67183 karma

Merely organized bribery and extortion by the govt with the "fixers" in on the game.

grecy132 karma

Probably, yes.

so be it.

superdan23288 karma

oh man awesome you are doing this!!! I remember when you shipped your jeep...i've watched all along...amazing stuff!

what places you visited did you think would make great places to live and could see other westerners living very happily?

Inspirational trip! thanks for sharing so many great photos and short stories in IG!!!!

grecy454 karma

Thanks! I'm happy to hear you enjoyed my photos.

what places you visited did you think would make great places to live and could see other westerners living very happily?

Personally, I'm very tempted to live in Zimbabwe. Although the government is in utter shambles - and has been for decades - the people there are phenominal. They have every right in the world to complain about basically everything, and yet I never heard a single person complain in my 6 weeks all over the country.

People there understand something about really living, and I want to go back and keep learning it for myself.

As an example, I met a couple who in about 2000 when things were really, really bad in Zim they got residence visas and all that to Australia. They went to Aus, and after only a few months they returned to Zimbabwe. They intentionally left one of the best countries in the world to live in a collapsing country. Why?

They said they wanted to truly live, not just exist.

sMarieLoves136 karma

I also visited Zimb for a few weeks in college. (For reference I am a white female American) I was about an hour outside of Harare and then went up to Vic Falls. Amazing place! Weirdly enough best Chinese broccoli I ever ate was in Zimbabwe lol. The markets in both Harare and Vic Falls are still to this day one of the best things I've ever experienced.

I remember talking to a couple, the husband was Zimb and the mother was Cuban. They chose to live in Zimbabwe because even at it's worst it was better than Cuba. But I also heard many many horror stories. I stayed with a family in Harare for a few days and their home was one of the old mansions, he was very high up in the government at one point, but you could tell the entire home was falling apart because they had no money. The home was robbed after we left, we suspect it was because people saw Americans were staying there and knew we had money on us. When I went Mugabe was still in power, and we didn't dare to even speak his name.

grecy87 karma

It's a magical place, but it certainly has it's (very, very) large problems.

I sincerely hope the people can eventually elect a leader that will turn things around.

SintharTrading47 karma

If you have time, can you elaborate on what "truly living" means to you in this sense?

grecy165 karma

I'll write a very big chapter on it in my next book, but in summary it's about living in the now, and not giving up enjoyment today for some chance at a possibly happy future.

It's about riding around in the back of pickup trucks, it's about jumping off cliffs into water, it's about spending your last $10 on a beer with friends, it's about not just following rules, it's about genuinely laughing, singing and smiling, it's about being so much more than just a drone.

makyo158 karma

Sort of like a dog's life?

grecy45 karma

insomuch as a dog is typically happy, and people living in the now are typically happy - me included.

superdan2318 karma

thats all I needed to hear. Zimbabwe is now on the top of my list of places to visit! thanks!

grecy43 karma

just check how "messed up" it is before you go. Oftentimes there is zero money in the atms, and there can be no gas/diesel, and no food in the supermarkets.

SK12340238 karma

What was the scariest experience you had?

grecy537 karma

I rolled the Jeep on it's side in Uganda. I was all alone in a remote place, and I honestly thought I had just destroyed the Jeep. I really thought about getting my passport and laptop out and walking away.
I was terrified.

diego1288227 karma

Besides completing the trip sound and safe, what was your happiest moment or memory?

grecy521 karma

Oh, there are hundreds.
Being surrounded by friendly people who are just insanely curious is a memory I will never forget. You get a clip of it at the start of my recent YT vids.

The first time I saw an elephant (in Benin) was magical, and the first time I was asleep in the wild camping and heard a lion roar is something I will never forget as long as I live!

jsdunn23218 karma

Did you encounter any terrorists or rebel factions? What did you do?

grecy282 karma

Never. Not one.

ar0se87137 karma

Very cool to see where your adventures have taken you since we worked together on that kayak trip at Bosco in 2007. Where do you think you will go next?

grecy113 karma

Holy crap, congrats on the kids!!! That's awesome, you guys must be so stoked :) :)

Wow, that bosco summer was a long time ago.

I'm heading back to the Yukon for sure - I really miss the North.
After that there are plans and dreams, and a few irons in the fire, though nothing is locked in or certain yet. There is plenty of time to plan and prepare.

invictus81125 karma

If you were to do it again, what’s one thing you wish you’d done differently?

Absolutely amazing and inspirational adventure, I wish there was a documentary/story compilation of all of your clips.

grecy200 karma

If you were to do it again, what’s one thing you wish you’d done differently?

You know, I wouldn't change a thing. I did the best I could, and though there were a few mishaps like getting Malaria twice and rolling the Jeep on its side, I wouldn't take them back.
If 2019 me had jumped out of a delorean wearing a sweet puffy and reflective sunglasses and told 2015 me about all the hard times, mishaps and screwups, I still absolutely would have done it. The adventure and the good outweighs the bad by at least 1000x

Absolutely amazing and inspirational adventure, I wish there was a documentary/story compilation of all of your clips.

Thanks! I will publish a written account of this adventure too.. It's on my todo list :)

omoaws124 karma

What was your setup for bathing/showering from your Jeep?

grecy190 karma

I have a black bag that warms up in the sun. After a day of driving I would leave it on the hood, and it was perfectly warm by sunset. Hanging it off the pop-up roof was perfect.

therealmcveetors45 karma

I'm surprised you didn't bless the rains down there

grecy43 karma

Oh, you can bet I did

The_Broet113 karma

Following you on Instagram, it looked like you traveled with some folks along the way. How many fellow overlanders did you meet and what's your next journey?

grecy90 karma

How many fellow overlanders did you meet

Tons. In west Africa I filmed a few to showcase what overlanding is all about - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx34C9WnW4Y&list=PLNiCe5roBX1gdbLoAclKw9RTgo-_kAYAP

and what's your next journey?

I have a ton of ideas and dreams, though nothing is locked in yet. When I look at a world map there are still tons of places I've never been!

foxxy124564 karma

Come to Australia. I promise you'll love it!

Edit: shit. Just heard your voice....

grecy32 karma

haha, classic!

BATIRONSHARK99 karma

Why not do an extra day so you could get a nice even number ?

Also any cool stories from meeting people or such?

grecy302 karma

Why not do an extra day so you could get a nice even number ?

I put the Jeep in a container in Egypt, got back to where I was staying and booked a plane flight for the very next day (there were none that night). I threw the date I got into Morocco and the date of my flight into one of those online calculators and it said 999. It was meant to be.

Also any cool stories from meeting people or such?

About a million. I remember once in a very, very small and isolated town I wandered into town in the dark and went into what I soon realized was a very local pub. The men were very drunk, and all stared at me.
Immediately one came striding across the room, stuck out his hand and said "You Are Welcome Here" before he insisted on buying me a beer. Many beers were had, and many games of pool were played. They let me win a few, then wiped the floor with me until I gave up! Good times.

hazyyy197 karma

Did you do anything for income while you were over there? Or did you save up prior to the trip?

grecy154 karma

Saving before the trip was the main funding, though I also published my first book, wrote a couple of e-books and I write regularly for a handful of magazines.

drunkbackpacker48 karma

How much did you spend

grecy112 karma

around $1750/month for everything was my average

drunkbackpacker42 karma

Do cards work most places? Do you carry cash?

grecy152 karma

Cards work in ATMs in every country, except Zimbabwe (because it's dysfunctional) and Sudan (because it's cut off from the international currency markets because it's on the 'bad' list).

You can very rarely use cards at point of sale, so every time I crossed a border I would go to an ATM and load up on cash. Before leaving a country I would exchange that currency with whatever came next with guys at the border.

In a few countries I exchanged the $USD I had with me on the black market for a rate much better than official, effectively making the country much cheaper.

housedengue84 karma

The countries you didn’t visit, did you skip them because they weren’t on your route or because of safety issues?

grecy136 karma

A bit of both. A few would be extremely difficult (or impossible) to get a visa for. South Sudan and Libya are active war zones, and some of the others are struggling with terrorists.

housedengue33 karma

Thanks for your comment. I’ve followed your entire trip. It seems like you just started it yesterday.

Which countries have difficult to obtain visas?

grecy68 karma

Almost all of west africa. You have to plan ahead and know exactly where you will get each one, keeping your ear to the ground for what works.

Right now Nigeria is being extremely difficult, actually.

CDNeyesonly61 karma

Hey Dan! I’ve been following you for a number of years now — your first trip in the TJ was an inspiration and your most recent trip was incredible to follow along with you.

I don’t really have any specific questions, I just wanted to thank you for your great content.

What’s next?

grecy65 karma

Thanks for the kind words, it means a lot to me!

What’s next?

I'm touring a bunch of Jeep and Overland shows around North America for the summer, then I'll go home to the Yukon for a stretch. I really miss the North.

After that? well.... likely I'll go and explore the places on the world map I've never been to.

heyitsbren1151 karma

If an African-American man emigrated to and had a family in an African country, are his children American-African?

grecy65 karma

African-American-African, surely.

dorianb48 karma

Did you hit Rwanda? If so, thoughts?

grecy58 karma

Sure did, absolutely loved it. They have come a very long way in a short time. http://theroadchoseme.com/category/rwanda

Marauder_Pilot47 karma

Veering away from all the intelligent questions about your setup and all the people who are just flabbergasted that the whole of Africa doesn't look like Black Hawk Down, what would you say to everybody who was convinced that a 10-year-old JK with a 3.8, or really anything other than a Land Cruiser 80, would successfully make a journey that long and rugged?

grecy73 karma

haha, nice one.

I think people are stuck in their ways, and we as overlanders have not realized that cars made today are 100x times better than cars made 20 or 30 years ago. Engineering has come a very long way. The conventional wisdom is to take an old land cruiser or land rover because they are easy to fix and spares are easy to find - which are both true.

What people forget to think about is that old cars like that break down a lot, so you need the parts. Modern cars are much more reliable and better engineered than we acknowledge.

Everyone always says don't take a car with electric windows because they will break. Which might has been true of electric windows made in the 90s (almost 30 years ago). I ask, how many vehicles built since 2010 have you heard of where the electric windows have failed?

backyardstar40 karma

I love this answer because it turns conventional wisdom on its head. Hipster logic would have us believe old equals good, but it turns out human beings are learning and building some newer things better than the old.

grecy35 karma

Of course old is simple and easy to repair... but being old that also means that by definition it needs repair.

ie. a 30 year old land rover is going to have a rusted out radiator and rotten wiring. It's just a fact of life.

Ill_Ball44 karma

Hi Dan,

I got here late, and am I'm really surprised I haven't seen what I was thinking posted already. So here goes:

I read your original post years ago, and like the others, I doubted you. In fact, I remember even going to your blog a few times, seeing the 'easy parts' like Morocco getting done, and wondered like the others how long till you'd turn around, or worse, land yourself in trouble.

At the time, all that vitriol made sense to me. And because, for whatever reason, I wanted you to fail, when you started to succeed, I gave up on watching your trip. I couldn't even bother to stick it out and watch from a computer, while you did exactly what you said you'd do.

What's even more amazing to me, is that many people posting today today can't seem to accept that they were wrong, about Africa, and about you. This time round, the most pathetic people are sulking: 'well you skipped country x, so technically I was right, and you did fail'. These people wouldn't have been satisfied till you did get hurt, and even then it would only be to say 'I told you so'.

You've spent the last three years seeing new places, making new friends, learning things, accomplishing your massive goals. The people who can't bear to wish you well? Well, they've been here this whole time, browsing and commenting on new threads---and as you can see, they haven't grown at all.

Well done again, Dan---you did it! I'm so happy to see that you were right, and we were all wrong.

grecy18 karma

Thank you very much for your thoughtful response and insight.

I think you're right that a percentage of people would never have been satisfied until I was hurt or killed, and they would have really enjoyed seeing that. I knew a large percentage of them were clueless when they would say things like "You're going to be beheaded in the first country" - given the first country was Morocco, which is heavily touristed and relatively very safe.. well yeah.

But there were also a number of commenters who obviously have experience on the ground in Africa, and I did take their input on board.

Only a few months in I started to bump into white foreigners who had just driven up west africa. Without fail every single one of them said to go for it. Sure, there are some spots to be careful, and it would be best to convoy with another vehicle in some countries, but overall people said it was safe enough, and none of them would hesitate to turn around and do it again. Even the ones that got malaria re-assured me and gave me the up to date info I needed.

One of the major things I've learned is that it's extremely hard to get information about a place or incident unless you talk directly to someone who was actually there, and who isn't getting paid to create hype. The reality on the ground, from first hand accounts, is very different, and much more useful.

Thanks again so much, I wish you all the best in the future. I'd upvote you ten times if I could.

FreddiToothnail44 karma

What would you say is the ballpark figure you spent on then Jeep itself and modding it out?

grecy68 karma

I bought the Jeep used for $23k CAD (~$17k USD) and spent a little more than that again modding it. I did all the work myself to keep it as cheap as possible, and things like my cabinets are home made (to the nearest 1/4 inch)

Please don't think you have to spend that much though. These hilarious guys drove all the way around in a vehicle that cost $5k and were on a shoestring budget. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrLzchbsiEI

always_polite20 karma

What was the estimate cost of the entire trip?

treestump44435 karma

Elsewhere he said about 1750$/month average, so I guess that plus the 60k or so for the car and 6k for the shipping, plus whatever else I havent though of. Adds up to about 130k

grecy13 karma

No, not even close.

$1750/month includes the shipping both ways, and my flights, all maintenance, everything.

The jeep was about $40k total, the trip about $60k, so right around $100k total, for literally everything.

supperfield43 karma

How often did you have, ahh, the shits? I ask because I've been across Asia and to Malawi and occasionally the local food and hygiene standards can give me diarrhoea. Meanwhile, was there any local food you said "oh no way" to?

grecy48 karma

Quite a few times, for sure.

I avoided "bush meat" because it can be bats and monkeys, both of which can carry Ebola. i.e. they have it but are not sick, you eat it and now you have it.

santinoramiro42 karma

[deleted]

grecy98 karma

Do you have a favorite person you met along the way?

There are many, though one I think about all the time was a very kind and gentle man from the DRC who had emmigrated to South Africa. We chatted at length about his home country and Africa at large. We were on the same page, and he summarized as "Africa is built around Love and Community, while the western world is built around money and possessions".

I think about that a lot.

How about the “worst” person you had to deal with?

In the Ivory Coast I was walking through a small town when what was obviously the town drunk came up to me and started giving me a very hard time. I had a drink in one hand and a plastic bag in the other with bread or something in it, and he just wouldn't let me past, he kept snatching at my stuff and chest bumping me. Note: he was at least 6 foot 6 and 250 lbs.

I think he was trying to provoke me into doing something, and I started asking the people around for help (there was a crowd), and they all snickered and thought it was funny. It was not. I eventually managed to get around him and get away, and I was pretty shaken up.

Also, favorite meal/place you ate on your trip?

Tibs in Ethiopia is something special! Super cheap and super tasty. Also Jollof Rice in Nigeria is a magical thing - really spicy and delicious.

J-4D40 karma

Did you bless the rains?

grecy27 karma

That song is on the only CD I have in the Jeep, it's a regular feature and always brings a smile to my face!

walt6531 karma

What vehicle would you pick for next long overlanding trip if budget was NOT an issue?

grecy41 karma

It depends entirely on where I'm going on the planet. What's the weather? What are the roads like? How developed is it - i.e. how many days away from services will I be?

I personally try to get as far off the beaten path as possible, so I'm partial to something smaller like the Jeep or any "normal" 4x4. Big trucks don't interest me because they are too limiting.

dupuian30 karma

Hi Dan. Congrats on your journey and thanks for sharing it worldwide. I too am from Canada and we did a self drive in Namibia spring 2019 and thanks to you, we discovered and visited Toli at the Cheetah Farm you also visited. He remembered you well. What a great day petting the tamed cheetah and feeding the wild ones. Thanks for showing all of us that Africa can be visited safely. PS. We experienced the worst drought in 130 years this year in Namibia. Did you notice and major drought and/or any locals commenting on climate change ?? What are they saying about climate change ? Cheers and welcome home

grecy33 karma

That awesome! I'm so glad you made it there and that Toli is still going strong. He's doing a hell of a job trying to preserve those Cheetahs, and I hope my meager efforts at attracting more tourists can help in some small way.

Oh yes, climate change is a very big topic in remote areas (though it's not called that).
Literally everywhere I went the locals would say either that it's supposed to be dumping rain at this time of year and it wasn't, or that it was supposed to be dry and it was thumping rain. In both cases this had a severe impact on their crops.

Universally people told me the weather is not nearly as predictable, and not the same as it used to be even just a few years ago.

lacey40927 karma

What if you fell in love??! Would you have stayed there

grecy49 karma

Tough question. I certainly would have seriously considered it, because enjoying life is the point, after all.

Mastuh24 karma

What did you do when you got Malaria?

grecy135 karma

First time I took the cure medicine, had a crappy night, and then was already a bit better the next day. Like a really bad flu, it was gone in 3 days or so.

Second time was really, really bad. I took the cure medicine, but at 10am the next morning, sitting in the full sun with a down jacket on I was shivering uncontrollably, couldn't walk, talk, eat, drink or do anything.

Luckily I had prepared for this earlier, and had the injectable form of the cure medicine (what they would have given me at a clinic, if I had gone). I had friends inject me on the side of the road twice a day for 5 days while I was down and out.

I had to question my life choices when a very large German mechanic was giving me injections in the butt.

SorrowsSkills22 karma

Jesus

grecy52 karma

I believe I said that word a few times, yes.

ExploringDriftwood23 karma

What was your favorite experience from the 3 years?

grecy52 karma

It's really hard to list just one, though when I arrived at the pyramids in Egypt I was elated. I had literally dreamed of that moment for three years, and to finally achieve my goal after giving absolutely everything I had.....

Hatsuwr20 karma

I thought you were probably just being overly sensitive about comments on the other thread. Then I looked. I have no idea how people got so amazingly offended by that post haha. Good job for handling that well.

Were there any places you avoided? If so, why?

What were your most useful mods while on the trip?

Which mods were most useful once back home?

Besides not getting malaria, would you have any advice for doing a similar trip with a family?

grecy27 karma

Were there any places you avoided? If so, why?

Northern Mali is completely off-limits because of a war with terrorists. South Sudan is still in Civil war, Libya is closed, etc. So yeah, there are a few for sure.

What were your most useful mods while on the trip?

The water tank, pump, filtration and UV treatment. I used it 5x per day, every single day, and it was essential and perfect.

Which mods were most useful once back home?

I've only been back for 3 weeks, and I'm still just living in the Jeep same as I was in Africa. Seat heaters are nice here!

Besides not getting malaria, would you have any advice for doing a similar trip with a family?

...have fun?! These guys did the west with little kids, they loved it. I met tons of families doing the east coast
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc61AxCQQR4

txam14 karma

How are you doing Dan?

grecy19 karma

Doing really well thanks. I'm in the back of the Jeep, it's raining lightly and it will turn to snow soon. I might cook dinner before that I think.

How about you?

txam11 karma

not bad. i recently did a solo 30 day/9k mile trip from TX to BC and back and im ready for more. The northern territories and AK are on my bucket list, so if we're ever in the same area i'll dm you on IG!

grecy9 karma

Do that for sure. I'll be based in the Yukon again soon, and I can't wait to get back into my favorite remote places with my Jeep-house!

MicroBrewz14 karma

I followed almost your whole journey on Instagram, one question I always had was, why did you skip Ghana? You seemingly drove around the border but never entered the country. Why?

grecy28 karma

They wouldn't give me a visa.

It's one of those countries that forces you to get it from your home country, and they were strict about it. I probably could have got an "emergency" visa at the border for $150USD - that would have been the most expensive visa on the trip, and I decided it wasn't worth it, so I skipped it.

ArgayTheGayDog13 karma

Did the people wishing death on you affect you in any way? u/Skipadipbopwop said “You're a fucking idiot, op. I sincerely hope you die on this trip. You're a stubborn jackass to attempt something like this and it wouldn't be fair for you to be this ignorant of the danger and make it out safely. Especially considering all of the cautious people just trying to survive on this continent that get murdered.”

grecy19 karma

I was in southern Spain, just a few days from crossing into Morocco. The sheer volume of comments certainly shook me up, yes.

My Mum read those comments too, which sucked.

I reached out to multiple people I know of that have made the trip, and every singe one said I'd be crazy not to go. So I decided to take it one country at a time (like I did in Central and South America) and that I would turn around, or ship around if I ever felt like it was even remotely as horrible as comments like the one you posted said so.

It was never even 0.01% as bad as that.

ArgayTheGayDog10 karma

I’m glad you were able to experience what you did, I hope you’re content with everything you saw (: and also I’m sorry you had to read those awful comments

grecy9 karma

Thanks very much. It's not your fault, don't sweat it.

Also they were wrong, so it doesn't really matter anyway.

Chesapeake30112 karma

Started reading Volume 1 today and have really enjoyed it!

What level of mechanical skills do you possess and is this from your engineering background? I have been following your Instagram for a while and saw you flipped the Jeep and had other problems along the way in Africa - how'd you go about fixing everything, especially when you were in remote areas?

Thanks!

grecy24 karma

I grew up doing basic maintenace stuff on cars with Dad - so oil changes, tire rotations, new brake pads, etc.

I did all the mods to the Jeep myself (except the welding), partly to learn, but also so I felt confident with it - I understand how all the wiring is done, for example.

I have a bunch of tools and spares on board, and I always managed to deal with whatever came up!

Stroopwafelsiron12 karma

Did you meet any overlanding women? I'm asking as a woman if you think it would be safe also for me to do this?

grecy18 karma

I did. One Sweedish lady went right around solo, though she did have a male friend accompany her for central west africa (Angola, Congo, Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria).

Plenty of women solo the East Coast, in vehicles, or on motorbikes. There are tons and tons of backpackers on the East Coast.

buttsoupsteve10 karma

Are there any common western misconceptions of Africa you'd like to dispel?

grecy71 karma

About 44,567 to be honest. I'll write a huge chapter in my next book about it.

The media has only been telling us less than 1% of what really goes on in Africa, and the reality is that Africa is 3x as big as the US by land mass, and over 3x as big by population, and 54x times more complicated in terms of politics, economies, etc. (because there are 54 separate countries - each with their own President, languages, currency, etc.)

So when we hear about really bad stuff going down in Africa, that only applies to a tiny fraction of the population, and the fact is there are hundreds of millions of people living extremely joyous, happy and fulfilling lives.

I had massive culture shock when the trip was over - I flew into Melbourne (one of the best cities on earth), and was shocked walking around downtown. I didn't see a single person smile, laugh, sing or do anything to indicate they were in the least bit happy. In fact everyone looked and acted downright miserable. I immediately missed Africa.

Millions of people in Africa got married today - it was the happiest day of their lives.

Tens of millions of people in Africa celebrated something today - birthday, child birth, anniversary, etc. - and had a brilliant day with drinking, singing, dancing, laughing

Hundreds of millions of people in Africa had more than enough to eat and drink today, and had a fantastic day.

The news doesn't tell us that stuff, because it doesn't grab attention.

snbrd5128 karma

Did you get robbed?

grecy13 karma

Never

styrus8 karma

Glad you made it man! I remember your first AMA and have been following your journey since.

My questions would be:

  1. Do you recommend others to do the same? Considering facts like money, time and danger.

  2. Whats the most important thing you learned about yourself?

  3. How empty to you feel after coming back, essential returning to a much more boring life?

Cheers man!

grecy18 karma

Thanks!

Do you recommend others to do the same? Considering facts like money, time and danger.

It was absolutely the best time of my entire life. It's the hardest thing I've ever done (maybe ever will do..?) but of course also the most rewarding.
For anyone with a massive sense of adventure and the determination - hell yeah!

Whats the most important thing you learned about yourself?

That I'm not alone in this world, and that my life will be better if I surround myself with friends, family and community.

How empty to you feel after coming back, essential returning to a much more boring life?

I've only been back for 3 weeks, driving the Jeep across North America and living in it, so it hasn't sunk in at all yet. I'm sure it will hit, hard.

Budbusiness7 karma

If someone only had about 6 months to do an Africa trip but with similar equipment and goals to get get as remote and adventerous as you, what route/section of the continent would you recommend?

grecy16 karma

Cape to Cairo, no doubt about it.

It's insanely beautiful, really diverse, you'll see all the highlights, all the wildlife you could hope to see, and you'll get to experience the differences across the continent, especially in the North East. The borders and visas are not a problem, and gas/diesel is plentiful (for the most part) 6 months is a decent time frame for it too.

HumanSpectre7 karma

Do you have any advice for people who want to do something similar? Anything people should avoid or look out for?

grecy25 karma

My advice is to get out there on little trial runs and see what works and what doesn't. Get out on the weekends locally, go further afield when you can, and then try out maybe Alaska or Mexico and central America.

If you love it, keep going!

LarryLavekio7 karma

Im sure you mustve sampled some delicious foods in your two years. What was the tastiest meal you had in your trip and where was it from? What exotic foods would you recomend people try?

grecy18 karma

Jollof Rice from Nigeria is special, as is Tagine from Morocco.

The steak (and meat in general) in South Africa is the best I have ever had. I can confidently say it is easily better than asada in Argentina (which is supurb)

TechJeeper7 karma

Any long term damage from the Jeep flop?

grecy14 karma

I'm still not sure if the front axle is bent, or if it just dislodged an axle seal.

I think it's bent because the camber is very strange and the tire now rubs when it didn't before. Two weeks ago we measured all the angles and couldn't determine for sure if it was. So I'll just keep an eye on it for now!

IntellectualHamster7 karma

That's great you did it and safely to boot!

Can you share any moments that you feel changed how you view the world, other people, yourself or all that apply?

grecy36 karma

Can you share any moments that you feel changed how you view the world, other people, yourself or all that apply?

Repeatedly having people with almost nothing invite me into their homes to share food and drink. It's so unbelievably humbling.

Also whenever the western news was on the radio or a random TV it was always the same stupid rubbish (Trump did something controversial, economic collapse is imminent, brexit is stupid, Australia had another coup, etc. etc.) I would go months and months without hearing about it, then the headlines were the same anyway! Better off without it.

Millsy16 karma

You went relatively affordable for your build. I think your most expensive things were the tent/camper addon. And you had the extra fuel and water tanks you put in (I think mostly yourself).

My question is, would you do the trip again without any of the mods you did? Like would you carry a ground tent / water cans / jerry cans? Or was this what you think was a minimum?

grecy9 karma

You went relatively affordable for your build. I think your most expensive things were the tent/camper addon. And you had the extra fuel and water tanks you put in (I think mostly yourself).

My question is, would you do the trip again without any of the mods you did? Like would you carry a ground tent / water cans / jerry cans? Or was this what you think was a minimum?

Good question.
I think because I had already done 2 years from Alaksa to Argentina, and I had spent time with a ton of overlanders from all over the world with various setups, I was able to really zero-in on what was essential, and what wasn't.

I'm really happy to say every system I designed on the Jeep was fantastic, heavily used every single day, and I personally wouldn't do what I did without them.
i.e. would I drive up to AK with only a ground tent? Sure. Would I drive around Africa with a ground tent? Nope.

MrMallow4 karma

Dan, thank you for doing this!

First of all, congratulations. I have been a follower of yours since you first posted about your pan-am book in /r/overlanding and it's been great to follow you around Africa.

I know you currently have a photo essay book for the African trip, but is there a written book (similar to the pan-am book) in the works as well?

How was the overlanding expo?

Also, I gotta ask... Where to next dude?

grecy4 karma

Dan, thank you for doing this!

First of all, congratulations. I have been a follower of yours since you first posted about your pan-am book in /r/overlanding and it's been great to follow you around Africa.

Thanks & you're welcome!

I know you currently have a photo essay book for the African trip, but is there a written book (similar to the pan-am book) in the works as well?

Yes, for sure. I have multiple notebooks full of things I want to write about - but it's going to take some time. I want to do Africa justice.

How was the overlanding expo?

It was fantastic! So many people came up to chat, and I got to me a ton of my "internet friends" which was great! haha.

Also, I gotta ask... Where to next dude?

Nothing is locked in, though I have a few irons in the fire, and plenty of dreams.
When I look at a world map, there is this very large bit in the middle that looks mighty interesting....

DouchebagMcPickle4 karma

What did this all cost you? I've worked full time for 30 years and barely can afford rent, let alone a Jeep and whatever it too to retrofit it. If love to do something like this, but don't have the means.

grecy9 karma

A really common budget for two people in a 4x4 to drive anywhere on the planet, for all expenses is $1500-$2000 per month (for both people, i.e. not each)

From AK to Argentina I spent $1200/month, and the overall average for Africa was probably around $1750/month.

Stroopwafelsiron3 karma

What's the biggest expense?

grecy7 karma

gas, by a very wide margin.

somuchcraparround3 karma

So... how much did you spend on gas?

grecy3 karma

I burned approx 3,270 gal (at 16.5mpg average), and the average price was probably around $3.8/gal, so that means I burned $12,500 in gas.

drumwolf2 karma

What were the easiest countries to travel to? And what were the most difficult?

grecy7 karma

Tons and tons were really easy. Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi etc. etc. Most of those have tons of tourists and backpackers

Most difficult would be DRC (visa and non-existent roads). I was also shocked by the large language barrier in rural Tanzania.

dobby_h2 karma

How did you clean your clothes? What is your favorite memory of the trip?

grecy4 karma

Hand washed every single item.

Fav memory would be all the extremely friendly and happy people I met. Even fully gown men would giggle and jump up and down on the spot because they were just so excited to see me.

TheSplendiferousSpy2 karma

Do you have a tally of how many parts you replaced, what parts you replaced, etc? I am curious as to what parts failed, what had to be replaced, and what held up during your trip. Looks like you had a great time.

grecy10 karma

There were not many, so I can probably do it from memory.

  • I broke sway bar end links a few times from smashing into potholes.

  • I replaced the u-joints in the front axle shafts because I had not been greasing them in west africa and they died (my fault)

  • I put on a new starter, but later found out it was a kink in the wire that was the problem. I still have the original starter as a spare

  • I had a couple of Optima Batteries fail.

  • I upgraded the suspension from 2.5" lift to 3.5" lift because the smaller one wasn't designed to handle the weight

  • I had a new clutch put in while I was in South Africa. This was preventative, because I bought the Jeep used and didn't know what condiiton it was in. When we got it out, it would have been fine for the whole trip, but we replaced it anyway.

  • The CV-like joint on the end of the front driveshaft died, so I replaced the joint.

  • I had a new windscreen put in because I caught a massive rock in Gabon.

  • Oil changes, brake pads, tire rotations multiple times

  • I got new tires in South Africa. They were still OK, but would have been thin by about Sudan

That's about it, I think.

Slowstang3052 karma

First, this was an absolutely amazing adventure and thank you for sharing it with us. Also a Jeep JKU owner here.

I was wondering, is there a place where I can read about your build? What lift kit did you end up going with? Did you use a 3.8 or a 3.6L? What did you bring in case of flat tires? Did you carry a patch kit besides a spare tire? Any modification that you wish the Jeep had now that you completed the trip?

Are you keeping the jeep for the next adventure or building a new one?

Thanks!

grecy2 karma

First, this was an absolutely amazing adventure and thank you for sharing it with us. Also a Jeep JKU owner here.

I was wondering, is there a place where I can read about your build? What lift kit did you end up going with? Did you use a 3.8 or a 3.6L? What did you bring in case of flat tires? Did you carry a patch kit besides a spare tire? Any modification that you wish the Jeep had now that you completed the trip?

http://theroadchoseme.com/the-jeep has all the details. 3.8l, tire plug kit + compressor, I wish the Jeep was lighter! (but how? no idea)

Are you keeping the jeep for the next adventure or building a new one?

Undecided

shortyjizzle2 karma

Friends of mine did a trip like this in the 80s. Are full meals in some places still 25 cents?

grecy6 karma

I wish I could have seen it back then. Sometimes I think I was born a generation late and have missed out on all the cool adventures and discovery stuff.

I would say around $1 was a common price for a street meal. Same for a massive beer.

clutchslip2 karma

Been following your IG since your original AMA. There were a lot of cowards who have never done anything worthwhile with their own lives and tried to talk you out of it.

I’ve loved following your journey and I can’t wait to see what your next adventure is going to be!

Question for you: How do you manage something like this financially? Did you just save up to fund yourself or was it mostly sponsorships covering costs?

Thanks!

grecy7 karma

Question for you: How do you manage something like this financially? Did you just save up to fund yourself or was it mostly sponsorships covering costs?

I saved every penny I possibly could for 4 years working at a desk job, then I've been slowly spending that down during the trip. I also published my first book on the road, a few e-books and I've been writing for a handful of magazines regularly which have all helped slow-down how quickly my savings are running out.

borednerds2 karma

Hey Dan! Been following your adventure on instagram for a few months now. Sad I just barely missed you at Overland Expo in Flagstaff. I'm doing the same thing as your previous adventure: Alaska to Argentina over the next 3-5 years.

Any chance you've got an audio book version of your books? Would love to gobble them up while driving!

grecy4 karma

That's awesome, you're going to have the time of your lfe!!

I have not done an audiobook yet, though a few people at expo convinced me that I should - maybe even add some "behind the scenes" type content to it.

So I will do one, though my summer is slammed

Have fun on your adventure!!

RxmDiaries2 karma

what are some of the cooler overloading rigs you've seen on your travels? I imagine there must have been some cool defenders out there. What is your dream overlanding rig (or is it the jeep you currently drive)? What are your thoughts on the earthroamer (is it practical, or a vehicle for the ultra rich who scarcely use it)? Also, I've been following you on ig for a while, whats next for you?! Godspeed.

grecy3 karma

what are some of the cooler overloading rigs you've seen on your travels?

Oh I've seen everything from $5k beat-up old Land Rovers to $500k unimog things on steroids. I mostly like the compact box-campers grafted onto the back of Land Cruisers and such - really only as big as my Jeep, but with way more and better living space inside.

I imagine there must have been some cool defenders out there. What is your dream overlanding rig (or is it the jeep you currently drive)?

Yep, I built the Jeep the way I did because it is my dream rig.

What are your thoughts on the earthroamer (is it practical, or a vehicle for the ultra rich who scarcely use it)?

I honestly don't know much about them. I've seen them around but I don't want one, so I've never learned about them. Personally I would rather spend the cash on gas in the tank.

Also, I've been following you on ig for a while, whats next for you?! Godspeed.

Thanks! I'm touring a bunch of Jeep/Overland shows in North America for the summer, then I'll head back North to the Yukon.
After that anything is possible!

milk_of_human_kidney2 karma

For navigation, how much did you use the GPS vs local maps or stopping for directions?

Been following your adventures thanks to your posts on Beyond, congrats on completing an adventure most can only dream about.

grecy7 karma

Cheers!

From AK to Argentina I only had paper maps - which was fine out of the cities, but super, super stressful in the mega cities. For example it took me three hours to leave Quito in Ecuador. That was ten years ago and I remember the stress like it was yesterday! So I promised myself I would never do that again.

Now I have a Garmin GPS loaded with Open Street Maps and it works brilliantly. Paper maps are great for an overview, but the GPS completely took the stress away. When I was going stupid-remote it was all about asking locals, who universally look at the Jeep and say "Sure, you'll make it", even when there is literally only a walking track one foot wide.

hi_im_snowman2 karma

Top reason you’d do it again? Top reason you’d never do it again?

grecy6 karma

Top reason you’d do it again?

The people. The kindness, warmth and generosity is staggering. Every day.

Top reason you’d never do it again?

The top ten reasons I'd never do it again are all Malaria. Haha. Also I have a chunk more grey hair than when I started, and it was only three years.

SaltyMarmot58192 karma

Did you encounter any life-or-death situation or the ones that the people on the previous post warned you about?

grecy4 karma

No, never. I only once saw a gun pointed at a human (due to a mix up), I never saw violence of any kind, and I never heard a single gunshot.

Only in Ethiopia did anyone other than uniformed Military have guns.

Thatassholefinn2 karma

Would you recommend a female doing this alone?

grecy3 karma

The entire thing? probably not. I do know of a few that did it, but that's not to say it's for everyone.

I did meet a few doing the East Coast alone, loving every second.

Halvus_I1 karma

Was trip worth the risk of your life? why?

grecy2 karma

I don't believe my life was at risk. Obviously you are free to disagree, though I've met thousands of people traveling in Africa who will disagree with you.

fyodor_mikhailovich1 karma

How many languages do you speak well, and were you able to pick up some fluency in any others while there?

grecy2 karma

I learned Spanish from AK-Argentina, and I learned French in West Africa. I'd say both of those are decent conversational, though I certainly wouldn't be passing any formal tests.

My Spanish adapted to Portuguese for the few countries that speak it pretty easily, and although I really wanted to dedicate myself to learning Swahili, I didn't get past about 20 or 30 words unfortunately. I didn't put in the time.

RandoReddit721 karma

Did you get robbed in Africa? Still have all organs?

grecy3 karma

never

ogipogo-1 karma

How happy were the people of Africa to see another ignorant white guy flash their cash and treat their wartorn country like a vacation ?

grecy1 karma

If you think all the countries are wartorn, you need to do some reading.

Also it's worth mentioning that in every city I saw hundreds and hundreds of Land Cruisers, Mercedes and even Porches that cost 2-5x what my Jeep does.

I distinctly remember struggling to find a suitable place to camp in rural Cameroon, so I asked in a village if I could camp on their soccer field. Repeatedly the people and the chief told me they were so proud that I had chosen their village, and they were very happy to have me there. In the morning they wouldn't let me leave without first drinking a few massive cups of strong palm wine, straight from the horn of a cow!