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20.04.2011 - Mali – Home

Our time in Africa was short now; in a few months we would be back in Europe, back in the UK, back home. Read more..


In order to achieve our fundraising aim and complete our challenge, we will need help.

In no particular order huge thanks and appreciation is given to the following for their efforts and contributions to get us on our journey to raise money for two amazing charities:

Anna, Phil, Christian, Tash, Kate, Colin and Lauren for all the support that they have already shown and the patience they will no doubt need. We are both very grateful!

Thanks to master mechanic Ricky Packham for all his help be it sorting sorting our electrical gremlins, to servicing svivel housings and steering arms.

We are also incredibly grateful to two good friends of ours, Charles Evans and Chris Rumsey, both of whom have offered us huge amounts of advice and then completely unexpectedly followed this up with lending us their own (very nice) omni-fuel camping stoves. Thanks to Chris and Charlie we will be able to cook on coleman fuel, petrol or diesel as availability dictates.

RidersRetreat_logoHuge thanks to Paul at Riders Retreat for building and maintaining this website, as well as providing web hosting. From websites to stunning accommodation in the heart of the French Alps.

aalx_logoGraphic design by


We would like to give a big thank you to all at Bradt Travel Guides, who supplied us with a veritable library of the best travel guides around. “Bradt guides are expertly written and longer in detail than any others” – Michael Palin.

mapVivo_logoWe are delighted to announce that mapvivo have ageed to sponsor us and provide the online diary throughout our trip. This is available under a ‘Tohelandback’ profile at Mapvivo encorporates a diary with an interactive map, photos and video, making travelling so much more real for those at home following friends and family who are away. We quickly realised this is the best way to convey the challenge, scale and excitement of our trip so are particularly pleased that everyone can follow our journey and very much still feel a part of it, such is the wonder of mapvivo. Thank you very much to everyone at mapvivo for all their enthusiasm and help thus far.

Antares_brand We are again delighted to annouce that another company has agreed to help us with equipment for our expedition. Antares are supplying us with equipment which will allow us to run electric fridge, winch, GPS, phones and worklights amongst other things. This means we will be entirely self sufficient living out of the vehicle – a necessity in the Sahara and Kalahari deserts.  Antares is a UK company offering sustainable power solutions for specialised vehicles from their comprehensive range of auxiliary electrical power components. The range can switch, store, and convert power to meet individual needs, such as ours. We would like to extend our thanks in particular to Charlie and George McClelland for all the hard work they have already put in and their patience whilst trying to explain all things electrical to both of us!

EBC brakesWe would like to give a massive thank you to all at EBC brakes for generously donating new disc brakes and 4×4 specific brake pads. EBC Brakes manufactures the largest range of brakes in the world manufacturing every size and shape of brake pad and rotor. Having both used their products before we are delighted to have such a prestigious brand supporting us.

Kenlowe logoDuring the many sleepless nights we have both experienced worrying about breaking down in remote places, particularly the Sahara, the most likely cause of these break-downs seemed to be overheating. Heat is a problem we know we shall face so we looked around for ways to be prepared and combat it. Everywhere we looked one name kept coming up as the leaders for additional and replacement fans; Kenlowe. We are so relieved that Kenlowe have donated an additional electric fan, which will be thermostatically controlled to kick in when the standard cooling system is not coping. Thank you very much for making this happen and giving us an additional weapon with which to fight the heat!

K&NK & N, yet another market leading company, have donated two performance air filters for the Landy. Whilst the standard filter needs changing every 10,000 miles the K & N filters do not need to be changed for 60,000 miles – and even then they can be washed clean! Two of those should be more than ample to see us through 30,000miles, despite the ‘dirty’ nature of many of those miles. Thanks for all at K & N for helping us with this.

SentrySafe_Blk_Red_Solid_FlameAfrica is full of dangers, natural and human. Whilst we can’t entirely prevent theft from the vehicle, the use of a subtle bolt-down X105 Sentrysafe will give us a far better chance of returning to the car and finding our travel documents, monies, cameras, laptop, visas (all of which we can’t carry on our person at all times) present and correct. We will be installing one of their compact car-safes in the cab and the X105 in the back. Again, thanks go to Mark for his expertise as well as his generosity.

GoodwinchDavid at The David Bowyer Offroad Centre in Devon (main importer for Goodwinch and all round very knowledgeable chap) provided invaluable advice on winches and equipment. Due to the additional weight of kit once the car is fully loaded, David advised us that we needed a 12,000lbs winch rather than the 9,500lbs winch we had initially intended to fit. David looked after us impeccably and a winch and bumper from Goodwinch and now gleaming at the front end of the car.

britpart_logo128The guys at Britpart (Land Rover parts specialists) provided help heavy duty springs for the car, as well as a full replacement clutch kit, to replace the old stuff on our bus! When things went wrong again just before we left they were to the rescue with a replacement crossmember and other assorted items Thanks go to Richard, who was more than happy to help out the charities and the trip..

challenger_4x4_logo2River crossings are a major obstacle to our success, particularly when we reach the Cameroonian rainy season. Luckily Challenger 4×4, the offroad specialists offered totally impartial advice and have gone on to provide a raised air intake (otherwise known as a snorkel) for the Landy. Challenger quickly realised that the standard forward facing intakes wouldn’t be appropriate for the dusty African road so have specially provided a ‘mushroom top’ intake. Thank you to Paul and Lucy Bass for your generosity in helping To Hel And Back.

premium brands-no lineYet another essential piece of equipment for survival and self sufficiency is a fridge. In the heat we shall face the situation where food will last hours not days before it goes off. As we shall be days away from civilisation at some points a fridge is a necessity for storing food. We are absolutely delighted therefore that the market leaders Waeco have donated one of their CF-40, 37 Litre fridges to the expedition. Thank you so much to all at Waeco for your generosity.

EXPERIENCE-3D_PAN296We quickly figured it was pointless having the most capable offroad 4×4 vehicle on the planet and crossing a continent renowned for having some of the worst roads on the planet without the ability and know-how to drive the car correctly. Thankfully the kind chaps at Land Rover Experience have agreed to give us some all-inclusive lessons on driving technique and recovery so that we are able to keep going, on virtually any surface/environment. Having never been green-laning or driven offroad before we view this sort of training as essential and something we wouldn’t leave without. Therefore we are so grateful that Land Rover Experience have agreed to support To Hel And Back.

X-EngAnother Saharan worry has been how to get moving when we are stuck and there are no trees around to attach the winch to! Well the answer is to use a land anchor which we can bury in the ground and then winch against. Simon at X-Eng Engineering has very kindly sent us their latest offering which will give us another option to get moving whether we are stuck in sand or mud (*update – this already saved us in the Sahara desert in Sudan! Brilliant bit of kit!). Thank you.

Land-Rover-MonthlyWe would also like to point you in the direction of the guys at Land Rover Monthly. They have been really enthusiastic about the whole trip and helped us with advice and contacts no end. We write a monthly article for the magazine and you can view these on the media page.

TWperfPeople told us never to buy a car from a farmer, unfortunately we didn’t listen. As a result we bought a vehicle with a fair bit of rust, but also perished rubber – everywhere. Thankfully, Twisted Performance in Yorkshire have provided us with a replacement set of hoses for the car which should help reduce some of the leaks and fitting with company policy; make us go a little faster! Once again we are so grateful to companies such as Twisted Performance for supporting us in our venture, without their help this trip wouldn’t be a reality so thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Polybush red logoUnfortunately on our Land Rover the perished rubber was not limited to hoses and when we looked closely we could see many bushes looked like they weren’t long to this world. The constant vibration from African roads will put enormous stress through the bushes. Thus we have gone down the road that many Land Rover owners have and will fit poly-bushes. Luckily for us once again the best company out there have kindly agreed to donate a bush kit for our Land Rover, so a massive thank you to Poly-Bush, for all their enthusiasm and support.

Koni Logo Black & Red The guys at Camberley Auto Factors are the sole importers for Koni Shock absorbers. When money is no object and the best is the only option, Koni shocks are the answer. Thankfully, the CAF helped us out with a set of Koni Heavy Duty Raid shock absorbers, which have made a noticeable difference to the way the ol’ bus now handles the bumps on the road. 4 months into the trip and we can honestly say that our car rides better than any other Defender we have been in. Just amazing.

Tracmat Logo When driving offroad, you need to be prepared. Cracks and gaps in the road can present a big problem, which can be solved with the use of Tracmats. Essentially, these boards support the weight of the vehicle across the gap, flexing as they take the load. Noel at Tracmatt supplied us with two bright yellow waffle boards for the trip, for use in the sand and mud, whenever traction is lost. Thank you Noel.

COMMA LOGO_2 A trip of this size requires a lot of oil. We need to take enough quality oil with us, as the standards of replacement fluid on offer in Africa are dubious to say the least. To that end, we were delighted when Comma agreed to help us out as our oil sponsor, providing us with enough oil to change every 6000 miles as well as grease and all manner of consumable oils.

Graham scan Graham Goodyer 4×4 in Coleshill took care of many complex mechanical jobs on the car and have been an on-going source of advice and backup. Thank you to everyone at the garage for their time, patience and expertise over the last couple of months.

DRAPER_TOOLS_VIG In order to take on a trip on this scale, you have to be prepared to take apart and repair the car at any point. One of the vital pieces of kit is therefore our toolkit. Draper stepped into the breach as our tool sponsor, sorting out a whole set of spanners, ratchets, torque wrenches, mole clamps, adjustable spanners, electric drills, tap and die sets, jump leads, screwdrivers, rivet gun to name but a few all from the Expert range. All in all, we now have the best tools for the job, a huge thanks to the Draper guys in Southampton for providing one of the most important bits of our kit and tools which we are delighted to use.

HEL ShadedThe old copper lines on our bus were suspect to say the least. After we had tried to carfully remove them in order to inspect the calipers, they were not only suspect, they were also broken. Hel performance helped us out with new high performance braided steel lines, which not only look a hell of a lot smarter, but bring increased strength and help prevent heat reducing braking performance.

sign logoWhen we needed to uprate our cooling system, the first stop was Allisport. Although they make sport engineered products, they also make beautifully engineered aluminium radiators and intercoolers which provide as much as a 20% increase in cooling. The aluminium intercooler provided has given us a real boost in performance response, but more importantly will help us to stay one step ahead in the heat battle.

AaronLabelJPGAs mentioned in many of our blogs a car’s cooling system is a priority when travelling in extreme heat. The radiator is a key component of this so we got in touch with radiator experts Aaron radiators who very kindly gavce us lot’s of advice a a fresh unit for our Landy. Thanks very much to Gerald for his time and help. For all your radiator needs (and a whole lot more, have a look at the Aaron website).

mm4x4 logoOur thanks also go to the guys at MM4x4, particularly Nick for supporting the trip and providing replacement half shafts and drive flanges. This was essential for the Landy, due to the large amount of backlash in the transmission. Despite being under staffed and extremely busy as one of the country’s leading Land Rover parts suppliers, the guys found time to help us out and got the parts to us in double quick time. Thank you very much for your help.

Bosch_SL-en_4C_L  Automotive parts manufacturer Bosch are another company to have supported us, for which we are delighted. Bosch have provided us with a replacement starter motor, windscreen wipers and bulbs. We are delighted that yet another manufacturer who is well known for the high quality of their products is supporting us , and particulaularly pleased that a high quality starter motor will be on the Landy! Thanks to everyone at Bosch in Denham for their help and enthusiasm.


In our seemingly never-ending quest for spare parts, it always helps to get to know your local high-quality parts specialist. In our case, frequent trips to Allparts has become the norm and, since they carry over £10,000,000 worth of parts on the shelves at all times, they’re never short of that crucial small part which allows us to get the ol’ bus back on the road again. So we were delighted when Allparts offered to help and set us an account up over the weekend! Speedy work from them was followed by speedier work by us, as we sorted out and aquired a whole list of high quality spares, replacements and consumables from the Allpart boys. A huge thankyou to Steve and all the guys from Allparts in High Wycombe, who bought into our trip and helped take us one step closer to leaving!

Logo - OvalJack of all trades, master of none, the HI-Lift jack is an essential part of the Land Rover overlander’s kit. A huge metal bar, slotted and grooved to allow for a powerful jack, this can help lift the car when access is a problem especially when we’re stuck in the mud and with some outside the box thinking even act as a small winch. These bits of kit are expensive, cumbersome and potentially very dangerous so we were thrilled when Ben Gott, head of the largest supplier of Land Rover parts in the South of England offered us a Hi-Lift jack and a lot of great advice. Huge thanks to Ben, who was a mine of useful info, gave us a lot of his time and helped us out a lot.

proppa-van-4x4-pickup-accessoriesSecurity has always been a concern for us, especially considering the doors are 50% rust, 50% Isopon! Thankfully, Proppa stepped into the breach and provided us with a complete set of Kryptonite door locks, which will be used for additional security on the sides and rear of the car. Whilst the sight of these locks will form the main deterrent, they are certainly up to the challenge, should we have to leave the car for a few days and allow someone to have a real go at getting into the car. Huge thanks to Ben at Proppa.

SAR_headerWith so many company’s stickers accumulating at home and many others needing to be made, we needed to find some skilled people produce the rest of the stickers and apply the whole lot in a professional manner which does the trip justice. We came across Sign A Rama in Wycombe, one of the most successful shops in the entire Sign A Rama organisation. You won’t meet two nicer people than Sanjay and Jon at Sign A Rama.

untitledWe’d also like to thank Mark at A2 Stainless for supplying us with a huge range of stainless steel nuts, bolts, washers, door hinges and assorted puddings! Without this lot we would have been stuck halfway through many jobs with countless old bolts only good for the bin, but thanks to A2 Stainless we’ve been able to press on. These have been essential spares over the last few weeks so thank you very much Mark! For everything stainless steel be sure to have a look at

Devon4x4_logoDevon 4×4 are one of the largest and most respected 4×4 and offroad centres in the UK, so we called in to get some advice from the knowledgeable chaps there with regard to protecting the vehicle from the less-than-smooth African roads. Thanks to the guys at Devon and especially Simon, we now have a superb D44 Challenger steering guard, which will help to ensure that if we do run a cropper, we can protect the vital yet fragile steering elements of our Defender. Huge thanks must go to Simon from Devon 4×4.

TJIts all well and good having all the gear yet having no idea, as the saying goes. So, as we neared the end of our preparation stage, we needed to concentrate less on mechanical worriers and more on living arrangements and life on the road. So we were thrilled when TJ from Better Prepared Vehicles got in touch to offer help and training with some of the more challenging aspects of the trip and also to run over the more dangerous bits of kit, such as the Hi-Lift. TJ then went above and beyond the call on duty, helping us to drop the gearbox, transfer box and clutch housing in order to facilitate changing the clutch plates as well as renewing an oil seal on the gearbox housing. Massive thanks go to TJ and his other half Kate, who were both brilliantly welcoming and very knowledgeable and all things to do with Overlanding.

foley_logoMore expert advice was gained from spending a long morning with the Foley brothers in Roydon, Essex. Foley’s had kindly agreed to sponsor us with a set of side lockers for the Landy, allowing jerry cans to be stored lower down and keeping the centre of gravity lower. Both Paul and Stuart Foley were fantastic, running over the car with a fine toothcomb and giving us more than the time we deserved! Thanks guys, we had such a useful morning and are very very grateful! To see some of the other rare and interesting specialist vehicles which Foley’s produce have a look at their website.

Storage of luggage and spares in the back of a Land Rover is a difficult issue as you want everything easily accessible, but still nicely tucked away such that it is safe for when the goin’ gets rough. Whilst no-one has the perfect answer, our solution was to use a selection of strong plastic containers from Plastor in Maidenhead so all of our kit could be stored in a safe and tidy fashion. John and the guys were great, showing us round and allowing us to test fit allsorts until we found the perfect bits for us. Thanks very much guys, it’s made our lives so much easier already!

 When we bought the car the cab smelled, a lot. Additionally the seats were ripped and badly sagging thanks to 13years of farm work. Luckily when it comes to re-furbing Land rover seats, a specialist company is available and Exmoor Trim kindly sent us one of their refurb kits for the seats. The seats are like new, genuinely damm comfortable and the whole place smells a fair bit better too. As if that wasn’t enough the guys even had ‘To Hel And Back’ embroidered across the middle seat, which looks simply stunning. Have a look at the photos in the some of the final preparation blogs.

 To further improve the comfort whilst on the move we got in touch with Alex Sound Reduction Systems who kindly sent down some of their fantastic sound deadening material. We’ve now lined the entire cab as well as some of the back and can now talk without having to shout whilst the car is running. Fantastic!

One of the most expensive items on the kit list was a new set of boots for the car. Amazingly, the guys at Watling Tyres in Maidstone were extremely keen to help and found the best available tyres for us. We had a great morning with the guys in Kent and even squeezed in a photoshoot with the Kent Messenger during our visit. Thanks to all at Watling Tyres, especially Mick, you’ve really helped make this trip a reality. Look forward to seeing your banner above the M20 when we leave for the ferry!

When we needed to light up the back workspace of the car, the guys at Labcraft suggested we use LED light strips. Not only are the Labcraft units waterproof and shakeproof; they use very little power whilst retaining their brightness. We fitted out the Landy with two Nebula strips in the back providing main lighting, with a smaller LED unit in the tray area. A further unit was fitted in the cab to provide backup for the standard light. A massive thanks to Lizzy and all the guys Labcraft for helping us out not once but twice with some really smart looking kit which had made the back of the Defender a whole lot better and brighter!

Whilst our focus whilst preparing the car was on mechanics and storage, we had to think about how we would live out of the car. To help us feel at home, we contacted Royal who sorted out a brilliant fold-away kitchen stand, an absolute godsend when setting up camp.To help us relax after a hard days Overlanding, we also sorted out two Royal Commander chairs which are without doubt the plushest, softest, grandest loungers from which to survey the savannah. A big thanks to Louise as Royal for helping us out with all the kit along with a lantern and a full kitchen Melanine set.

The bumper and wings were becoming a well trodden path to the roof so we needed to change something before we seriously damaged the bodywork. The guys at Mammouth 4×4 were ever so helpful, going above and beyond the call of duty to advise us on all things 4×4 and Overlanding. We chose the Mammouth anodised finish which looks great, lasts a bit longer and will also give off less glare than the standard finish. We would like to thank both Stef and Sal from Mammouth for all the time and advice they gave us.

I’m sure the fantastic Tohelandback rear wheelcover has caught your attention and credit is due to the guys at Aquarius 4x4wheelcover. We explained we wanted a way of continuing to point people towards the website to keep fundraising going whilst we were on the road and they came up with this design and printed it on a sturdy cover. For any design you want to display on the back on your car be sure to check out – we’ve been very impressed by the finished product.

When we wanted to make sure that we had the best headlights for the truck, we went straight to Ring Automotive, who helped us out with their top-of-the-range Xenon lights. Add to this, their specialist knowledge in car power supply, and they were the logical choice to ask for help with car inspection lights, invaluable for taking a closer look under the car. A huge thanks go to Ring for their help.

  • Riders Retreat - mountain bike holidays in Morzine
  • Land Rover Experience
  • Watling Tyres
  • Draper Tools
  • Brit Part
  • hel
  • Koni
  • aalx designs
  • Bradt Travel Guids
  • Map Vivo
  • Antares - engineering with answers
  • EBC Brakes
  • Sentry Safes
  • Twisted Performance
  • X Eng
  • challenger 4x4
  • Goodwinch
  • K and N
  • Kenlowe
  • Waeco
  • Polybush
  • MM 4x4 Land Rover
  • Keith Gott
  • comma
  • Stigs stainless fastners
  • Tracmat
  • Alli Sport
  • BOSCH - invendted for life
  • Allparts - number 1 in car parts
  • Proppa
  • Goodyear 4x4
  • Aaron Radiator
  • Sign a rama
  • better Prepared
  • Devon 4x4
  • foley specialist vehicles
  • Labcraft LED lighting
  • Mammouth Premium
  • Plastor
  • Exmoor Trim
  • Terrafirma
  • sound reduction systems
  • aquarius
  • Master Lock
  • P and O Ferries
  • Dixon Bate
  • hibiscus
  • Ring Automotive
  • Roverland