Planning "gun" route through Africa


February 17, 2004, 01:05 AM
One of the big dreams in life is to drive through Africa in a North to South direction from Europe and ending up in S.Africa.

One of the things to consider carefully is the potential for crime, which is very high in some areas.
So, to make a trip like that, I would feel that being armed is a requirement.

There are many problems traveling with firearms through some countries.
Some are easy, others require time and money, others are next to impossible.

What is the route that would be possible? Through what countries?
Please post your sources for the firearm laws you come across so we can build a small database. :)

Oh, those of you that can't hold back discussing what gun and wehicle to use, I know from previous that you can't be stopped. :D

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February 17, 2004, 02:24 AM
A few $$ in bribes should take care of the laws, neh?


February 17, 2004, 07:41 AM
You might want to check with someone who has done something like that before. I heard about a German photographer who traveled through Africa all the way from North to South by motorcycle.

Bribing officials can work sometimes but some other times does not. Bribing to get a visa or something is fine but I would not advise you to commit a crime and try to bribe your way out when caught. If you can't get some sort of firearms permit (which you probably won't unless you're on a hunting trip), use other means of defense.

I have no idea what the gun laws in those countries might be like but bear in mind that almost no country in the world gives its visitors permission to carry guns for personal protection. Even in the US which is one of the most gun-friendly countries on earth one usually has to be a permanent resident (if I remember correctly).



February 17, 2004, 09:49 AM
Basically, forget it! There are too many complications. From personal experience, I offer these titbits:

1. Even if you have the necessary firearms permit(s), import licence(s), etc., the Customs guys at the border either can't read, or are trying to throw their weight around to impress upon you that you (a European) are now on their turf, and they are in charge, and if you give them any grief, they'll lock you up and lose the key.

2. Even if they accept your paperwork, bribery is the order of the day.

3. If you have a weapon that takes their fancy, permit or not, it's going to be "confiscated for investigation" and you'll never see it again.

4. Almost all African countries ban semi-automatic long guns in any shape, size or form. Many also forbid the carrying of handguns altogether. This cramps your style as to what you can take with you.

5. At this time, AFAIK, there are at least seven major conflicts and who knows how many minor ones (i.e. tribal, crime-related, etc.) going on in Africa. Do you seriously think you can avoid them all?

6. You'd have to take a mix of firearms to counter all sorts of different threats:

- For the two-legged variety, given that you can't have semi-auto weapons, I'd suggest a fast-operating rifle like a lever or pump action - probably the latter if you want detachable magazines. The Remington 7600 would probably be the way to go, as 10-round magazines are available for it in .308 and related calibers.

- For animal threats, you have to cover the gamut from snakes, through pests like baboons that will try to steal your belongings, through things with teeth that would like to have you for supper, up to things with large horns and feet that would like to stomp you flat. Makes it difficult to select one weapon to deal with them all...

So, it looks like you'd need a rifle suitable for self-defence against humans; a shotgun; a heavy rifle for the big stuff; and so on. Having got them all, the problem would be to hang on to them through all the borders you'd have to cross. Overall, it would be so much hassle that I'd strongly recommend against such a trip.

(Of course, you could do it unarmed... :what: :what: :what: )

February 17, 2004, 10:03 AM
I wouldn't rule out the whole trip alltogether. There are a number of African countries that are not involved in violent conflicts or civil wars. I would not, however, attempt to conquer Africa by vehicle like the above mentioned guy did with his bike.

Just choose carefully what countries you want to visit, plan your trip in advance with possible alternatives and ask people who have been there lately. And if you don't plan on going for a hike in the bush you won't need to lug around an elephant rifle anyway... :)

Could be a bit more lively than a holiday stateside, though.

If you really really don't want to go traveling unarmed you'll have to stay in the US, I'm afraid.



February 17, 2004, 12:35 PM
I guess you could also buy throw-away-guns (TM) ;)
But leaving Kalashnikovs all over Africa would be kind of difficult though. :( Especially if one finds some that run well...

February 17, 2004, 04:09 PM
There are lots of places in Africa that it wouldn't matter if you are carrying a gun. You would still end up dead, even if you took a couple of them with you.
The best self-protection for Africa is a well-planned route, and a powerful, sturdy truck. (and ma

February 17, 2004, 04:54 PM
"...leaving Kalashnikovs all over Africa would be kind of difficult..." That's what the USSR did. AK's are everywhere. However, a drive down the length of Africa would be a nightmare. The logistics alone would make you crazy. There's no AAA, no gas stations on every corner, your consulate or embassy likely wouldn't be of any help either should you be thrown into an African jail just for being there, no medical facilities to deal with a bite from one of the thousands of creepy-crawlies, no clean water in most of it, no tire shops, no supermarkets, nothing. And most of all, being an American citizen would mean absolutely nothing.

February 17, 2004, 07:21 PM
And most of all, being an American citizen would mean absolutely nothing. Good thing he's not American then. :D

I thought about something similar a few years ago. I think it would be difficult just to get through some countries in North and Central Africa with a car at all, never mind the difficulties of bringing a gun.

East Africa is probably possible if you can get through the Sudan (or around, for example a transit visa through Saudi to Yemen and a ferry to Djibouti). I don't know about a gun, though. Maybe if you get in touch with a hunting outfit in each country and arrange hunting permits? Methinks that would be expensive, though... It might also be more difficult to bring a gun across some of the borders in question than it is to bring one directly from Europe (or North America).

I have done an East African backpacking trip without a car. In any case the thought of bringing a gun never crossed my mind. I wouldn't have thought it possible for practical reasons. Never felt unsafe though, except for the obvious precautions in big cities like Nairobi and Harare. And generally being aware of your surroundings, of course. The best weapon you have is the one between your ears.

February 17, 2004, 11:41 PM
I admire your gumption, and once planned a similar trip. I did an overland trip South-East Africa a few years ago, but using local transportation. The only vehicle worth thinking about is a 70-series Toyota diesel Landcruiser, because they are indestructible, but more importantly, ubiquitous, so parts and knowledgeable repairmen are available (believe me, you will need them).

Firearm wise, I have been asking around East Africa recently and here is what I can figure: there are two ways to go. The first is to buy a Soviet surplus weapon (on the black market) upon entering each country and ditch it at each border. An AK-47 or SKS is about $200 in most parts, HK G3 is about $400, and pistols (Makarov/Tokarev or .38 revolver) probably about $200-$300. I think you can forget trying to cross borders with firearms unless you have local hunting guides meeting you at the border with a stack of hunting permits, Eland tags, firearms permits, lodge reservations, etc. all stamped by a half-dozen ministries in the capital, and you have a double rifle that shoots non-military ammunition.

The other method is to figure out some way to conceal the weapon in the body of your vehicle so that it is truly undetectable. This is easy with a pistol, but tough with a long gun. Plus, it is pretty tough to get at a concealed long gun in a hurry. This is most practical if you plan to be way off the beaten path and think you will need to repel bandits in the desert, etc.

My advice it to forget a long gun, and concentrate on pistols, since you can conceal them (and after all, they were sufficient for Indian Jones). It largely depends on where you want to go and do, but I would want something that might dissuade a hungry predator. That means you would want .357 or .44 in a revolver, if you were bringing it from outside Africa (although available in South Africa on the black market). Or, in Africa, you could find a Tokarev, which has a pretty good cartridge.

You can often hire locals to protect you for very little money, and they will bring AK 47s or SKSs and an intimate knowledge of local geography and dangers. If you are someplace where you feel vulnerable, especially someplace remote, it can be quite comforting to have a bunch of locals protecting you with all that firepower. Incidentally, in my experience, they take protecting outsiders as a serious responsibility.

You are really taking on a big job going in your own car. I find it is something that is a constant source of worry (theft, breakdowns, leaving it alone, etc.), and generally prefer local transportation when covering serious ground. If you want to go someplace remote, you can usually rent Landcruisers wherever you are for $100/day (often including driver/mechanic). But if taking your own vehicle, with its attendant gear fetishes (I sympathize, believe me), is its own goal, I say go for it! Just have deep pockets.

Feel free to PM me if I can be of any help.

February 18, 2004, 07:22 AM
I wouldn't try to acquire a firearm without any kind of permission in these countries. Sure, hiding a handgun in your car is doable but if you get caught you're in deep doo-doo. You don't really want to end up in a third-world prison. Even if you manage to get out again there is a great risk of catching something nasty.

And you never know if you can bribe the local authorities to let you off or not. There is always a chance to stumble upon an official who takes his job a little more serious than his colleagues or simply doesn't like you.

Try to get a firearms permit and if you can't, forget about a gun. If local laws allow it you should take along a serious knife (or a couple of them in different places). A canister of mace could be a bit too obvious (and can get confiscated) but you might consider some chemical agent that has a similar effect but looks like something car-related.

If you're really into this kind of stuff, do the trip. While it might be a bit riskier than a beach club vacation I'm sure you'll have some great stories to share when you're back home again :)



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