Border Costings and Diesel Costs

Travelling through Europe is no problem at all if you have Green Card Insurance. However, my company wouldn’t give me one. So I drove on the minimum insurance for all the European countries (this should be covered with your Fully comprehensive coverage – but check).

The following breakdown of costs and info was compiled mainly by Wal our Belgian friend, with slight adjustments from me (please bear in mind only Wal travelled through Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria so I have left that information in too for reference).

Crossing Austria-Hungary: (with what country? Haha): about 15 Euro to use the motorway for one week (too expensive!). On the crossing we did you have to cross the border via the motorway but you don’t have to buy a ticket if you take the first exit in Hungary. Diesel costs about 0.7 Euro. The secondary roads are pretty good and pass some interesting places, so it’s actually useless to take the motorway.

Crossing Hungary-Romania: friendly people, no visa since January 2001. Diesel = 0.5 Euro. Lots of road works in progress in Romania, secondary roads are not too bad. One of my favourite countries.

Crossing Romania-Bulgaria (Giurgiu?): when leaving Romania you have to pay something like ecological tax (~9 Euro) and toll to use the bridge over the Danube (~7.5 Euro). To enter Bulgaria you are obliged to drive to a swimming pool containing disinfectant shit and this costs you ~5 Euro. Diesel is slightly more expensive (~0.6 Euro) compared to Romania. For these border crossings it’s always interesting to have enough cash Euros on you. In my case it was DM, but I assume everybody changed to Euros, except for that island in front of the Belgian coast. Didn’t like Bulgaria a lot, it has nothing to do with the fact that my camera got stolen. I stayed there 2 days, just travelling through.

Crossing Bulgaria-Turkey (Edirne): I think this is the longest border crossing in distance of the whole trip. It’s huge! Some people still need a visa to enter Turkey but you can buy it at each border post (~8 Euro valid for 3 months). After some checkpoints, customs will stamp the car in your passport at a cost of ~3.5 Euro + ~2.5 Euro. Carnet the Passage is not necessary but it can be used (and smoothes passage). If the person in which passport the car is stamped has to leave Turkey while the car stays in Turkey… then you are in deep s***. So simply, don’t do it.

Crossing Turkey-Syria (Antakya-Aleppo): Driving with a foreign diesel vehicle in Syria costs 100 USD/week. In addition to that they expect you to pay 10 USD for carnet handling and stamps, 69 USD (for bus) or 29 USD (for Landy/car) third party insurance valid for 1 month and don’t forget to bring a valid visa because it is not clear if it is possible to buy it over there! Be aware of people trying to help you even if they are working in the official tourist office. Almost everything is in Arab so a little help is useful (cost us a $10 dollar “helping” fee. Try to learn the written Arab numbers beforehand and check every paper or receipt you get. There is a bank and you “have to” change your cash money there. You have to pay three or four things so you’ll get three or four bank receipts. So, it’s not like changing 200USD at once, oh no, it’s changing 100USD + 10USD + 29USD at the same time. I even do think they have a different rate!!! Very strange indeed. But please, correct me if I’m wrong.

Diesel price is 0.15 Euro, forget about Credit Cards and ATM and forget about cell phones. Internet is available is you look hard, but it’s getting there. A water pipe will be around 1.6 Euro. The roads are OK, very friendly people and free camping is not a problem at all. Even in the centre of Aleppo I parked my car in the neighbourhood of the museum for several days while I was staying in a hostel (we did the same in the centre of Damascus – sleeping in an underground carpark. No problems.

Crossing Syria-Jordan (the normal road from Damascus to Amman): Getting out of Syria was no problem, I only had to pay 1USD for an exit stamp on the carnet (it cost us an extra bribe of a boiled sweet!). No problem getting in to Jordan, no people around to ‘help’ you… It is possible to buy a visa at the border (prices are listed ~10JD=~15 Euro). Third party insurance valid for one month at the rate of 30JD + 5.5JD for a normal car (prices are listed) and 12JD for stamps for the carnet. Everything has to be paid in JD and there is a bank or change office that takes VISA. You can use your cell phone in Jordan at quite a lot of places, Credit Cards are well known and you can find some internet facilities. Smoking a nice water pipe at the ridiculous price of 0.5JD is an experience.

The ferryboat from Aqaba to Nuweiba (Egypt) was something like 157USD for a 4x4 and an extra 22USD per person. You can book it at an office in the harbour and there are some exchange offices. If I remember correctly, they ask you to pay that money in USD. Nobody knows when the boat leaves, but it’s pretty sure it will leave a few hours after it arrived from Nuweiba. On leaving Jordan you have pay a departure tax for the car (~5JD) and ~5JD per person.

Crossing Jordan-Egypt (ferryboat Aqaba-Nuweiba): It is possible to change money on the boat and in the customs area of the Nuweiba port. Costs: 10 Epounds (EP) for a blue paper on the boat, 20 EP for some copies of driving license, …, 30 EP for third party insurance valid for one month, 40 EP for yellow Egyptian number plates (in theory you can recover 20 EP when leaving Mahmoud country) and 1015 EP dieseltax for a Land Rover 2.5 diesel. The Egyptian consulate in Aqaba can give you a 3 month visa in half an hour time for 12JD! So entering Egypt is expensive! Don’t worry, leaving is too! Price of diesel is something like 0.12 Euro/litre, actually the prices of diesel are similar in the Arab countries except for The Sudan.

Leaving Egypt by means of the pontoon over Lake Nasser, Aswan to Wadi-Halfa. In Aswan, contact Mr. Sallah. People know him, so just ask and you will find him. I shared the boat with some cargo, 1 big truck, 2 motorbikes and 4 4x4’s. So I was lucky it only cost me 1000 EP for the trip (it depends of course on how many people are joining you to share the cost of the whole boat but I don’t know anymore how much that was). No 20 EP refund for our number plates (as expected – possibility of getting someone to go back into town and get the refund from the police there – we did not try ask Mr Sallah) and we had to pay an extra 25 EP for the ‘carnet handling’.

Crossing into The Sudan (Wadi-Halfa by boat from Aswan): Be patient, you are in Africa now. You really are! Lots of paperwork to do, carnets, permits to travel, registration with the police (Roxanne!). Be careful with the man without teeth and the white dress! I know he works there at customs, he speaks English and he helps you, but he asked too much money (~40USD per vehicle). Normally it’s free, I presume. But he was friendly, he invited us to a Nubian wedding and we could stay in front of his house overnight. Just discuss about that price and ask a receipt! But it was a bit more complex; there was something with expired British visa, so it was OK. Registration with police takes half a day, 28USD for registration itself + some taxation stamps and stuff like that + an extra 5USD for kind of a road tax.

In the Sudan and Ethiopia you have to rely on your cash USD. Even if there is a way of changing TC’s, the commission can be horribly high so watch out. No ATM. Take enough diesel while going from WadiHalfa to Dongola (from Egypt) and bear in mind that diesel will get cheaper towards Khartoum (~0.34 Euro/litre). This road is badly corrugated, fairly dusty and sometimes you have to cross deep sand, but it is FANTASTIC! I do think a 4x4 is necessary here, especially to crush melons. There are two currencies in The Sudan, Pounds and Dinars; everybody counts in pounds but only Dinar notes exist. 1 Dinar = 10 Pounds. At this moment they are finishing the last bit of a brand new tarmac road from Abu Dom to Khartoum. From Khartoum to Gallabat you can drive a pretty good tarmac road. From Gallabat to a 100 kilometres before Addis Ababa your tyres will suffer a lot.

Crossing into Ethiopia (Gedaref/Metema):Things are pretty relaxed in Gedaref/Metema. Metema is a sister village on the Ethiopian side of a little hill. The police will stamp your passport over there and the car can be arranged in the customs office of Shedi (the next big village). Temporary import permits for 1 USD, but if you want to leave Ethiopia illegally, just forget about that paper! The road from Bahir Dar to Lalibela climbs up to 3600 metres and it’s my personal favourite. In Weldiya starts a ‘tarmac’ road to Addis, but it’s only about 100 km before Addis that it is reasonable condition. There is a new road from Addis to Arba Minch. The next tarmac road is 1000 km to the south (Isiolo in Kenya). But who is interested in tarmac roads anyway! It is possible to go online in Addis, but it is rather expensive and slow. Forget about cell phones if you have a Belgian account. There are some banks where you can change TC’s without a ridiculous high commission and cards are not in use. Diesel is getting more expensive at 0.35 Euro/litre. We didn’t take the official road to Kenya over Moyale/Marsabit but went over Konso, direction Omorate and a sudden turn off south to Illeret at N 04°44’52,4” E 36°10’28,2” . On that road you have to avoid EVERY village otherwise you’ll have the risk of getting shot (we kid you not). We bought our visa for Kenya and Tanzania in Addis.

Crossing Ethiopia-Kenya (Illeret): So, obviously, there are no exit formalities out of Ethiopia and in Illeret you can drive to the police and register if you have a valid visa. They don’t have stamps nor customs. You can get those things in Nairobi if you really want to. We didn’t have third party insurance either. I do think we were very lucky we weren’t stopped by the police at some checkpoints at all. There is no diesel available in Illeret (However, we were told it was possible…). At the mission post of Loiangalani it is possible to buy diesel at 1USD/litre.

The road from Illeret to Loiangalani is pretty rough and the same goes for Loiangalani to Maralal although that road is in better condition once you leave the lake behind you. From Isiolo to Nairobi you cross the equator and you drive around Mount Kenya on tarmac roads. The few kilometres before Masai Mara NP were a lot of animals to see, the studentcardtrick got us a cheaper entrance fee (10USDpp + 500KSH (6.7USD) for the car). ATM in Nairobi.

Crossing Kenya-Tanzania (Through Masai Mara NP and Serengeti NP): We didn’t have the right papers for the car, no stamped carnet de passages. That was a problem but the officer could ‘help’ us by paying ~130USD for 2 cars and 3 lads. Not too bad, so we could leave Kenya without even being there! In Tanzania we had to pay 20USD to ease the handling of the cars. Jaja, we didn’t have the right papers to enter Tanzania here! After paying we got a temporary import permit for the cars and a decent stamp in our passport. Entrance Serengeti and Ngorongoro; 25USDpppd + 30USD/car per day + 20USDpppnight. Vehicles above 2 tonnes have to pay 150USD! Third party insurance is obligatory, I paid something like 20USD for 1 week (too expensive!). When leaving Tanzania we had to pay 20USD roadtax and 5USD for I don’t know what because on entrance they couldn’t cash official money. Diesel = 0.6 Euro/litre.

When you roll your car in a NP you get a fine of 55USD because you spoil their nature (the police report for the crash cost us $10 otherwise it would have “taken some time”! The road to Malawi leads through Mikumi NP where you don’t have to pay in transit and can see lots of animals (apparently this is one of the few national parks in the whole of Africa that lets motobikes through). One ATM in Arusha, (VISA machine – more planned this year). Best to change TC (a lot faster at buros than at the bank – rate not bad either).

Crossing Tanzania-Malawi: I didn’t need a visa. 3rd party insurance valid for 1 month at 20USD, road tax at 20USD and 1USD for carnet stamp. Be careful with changing money on the black market, there are some disguised policemen operating. The roads in Malawi are of a very high standard bearing in mind it is such a poor country. VISA in banks, only in the morning + it takes a long time to process (2-3 hours) + only in the big cities. There are lots of police checkpoints (wear your seat belts – fine was about $18). 1 litre of diesel costs ~0.64 Euro.

Crossing Malawi-Zambia (Lilongwe-Chipata): Possible to buy visa at the border. 25USD for most of the Europeans, 60USD for the British (hehehe). A doubtful 20USD for third party insurance. There is no bank in the neighbourhood, only USD cash and Zkwatcha are excepted. Most of the prices in Zambia are quoted in USD. Diesel in Zambia is very expensive at 0.9 Euro/litre. Cheapest near the capital! Wildlife Camp near South Luangua NP accepts VISA. Banks accept VISA too.

Crossing Zambia-Botswana (Pontoon over the Zambezi): Getting out of a country actually never is a problem. If you take the pontoon over the Zambezi, make sure you pay it in Pula or Rand. The pontoon costs 70 Pula, 110 Rand or 30 USD / car (1USD = 6 Pula). Passengers for free. Entering Botswana or the Common Customs Area (Bots, Nam and SA) is one of the easiest we did. 10 Pula road tax, no visa needed. They only except Pula and there is no way of changing money nearby. You have to take enough Pula from Zambia. Diesel is cheap in Bots at 0.42 Euro/litre. Beware of radar speed traps (honestly!).

Crossing Botswana-Namibia/SA: Free condoms at the Namibian border (erh thanks for that info Wal?). No Visa, no customs. Only a kind of road tax has to be paid at 70 Rand or Namibian Dollar, payable with VISA! Diesel in Namibia and SA at 0.4 Euro/litre. Crossing between Namibia and South-Africa is completely free.

Shipping back to Europe: quite expensive as you can imagine, about 1500 Euro all in. A bit cheaper if you can load a 40ft container with 2 cars and 2 bikes, even more bikes are possible. We shipped two Landies and two bikes in a 40ft container to Antwerp. Our forwarding agent in Cape Town was Peter Schultz, Managing Director of Universal Freight Logistics. Website : "", e-mail:", tel : 021/3861177. Another company is Kenco clearing and forwarding, contact person is Carol Bester, e-mail is".