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Interview with Kim Musau: The Kenyan Overland Explorer

Kim Musau is an accomplished Kenyan: he is a finance graduate, a CEO, and a successful entrepreneur. In 2016, Kim decided to drive from Cape Town to Cairo with his 1998 Land Rover Defender 110 TDi. He completed the first leg of the journey, driving from Kenya to Cape Town and back, passing through Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania. In 2019, prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, he completed the second part of the trip by traveling through Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt. After completing the voyage in 2019, he returned to Kenya to pursue his PhD in global business and international trade while in the employ of the Kenyan government as a CEO and running his own financial consulting firm. While juggling his time between his studies and his career, he began planning his current grand adventure from Kenya via the challenging yet scenic west coast of Africa to iconic Nordkaap in Norway.

Kim Musau

Kim hails from a village nestled on the outskirts of Nairobi, the heart of Kenya. His love for the outdoors and overlanding began when he took up hiking and found solace, realizing that the outdoors provided him with a much-needed breathing space, which allowed him to refocus his energies. With this newfound passion, he purchased a trusty Land Rover, which he used for weekend trips across Kenya and East Africa before embarking on an epic trip from Kenya to Cairo via Cape Town in 2016.

Kim Musau Kim Musau

Kim opted to have his cake and eat it, too, by not abandoning everything to fulfill his passion for travel. While maintaining his career and lifestyle, he diligently saves and meticulously plans for his next big trip, sometimes taking years. In Kim’s own words, “It’s not something that most Africans have been able to do, so I count myself lucky … to have done what I’ve done so far.”

In early 2023, Kim set off from Kenya to reach Norway in a period of nine months. With limited time and resources, Kim had to make the decision to drive for extended periods, taking only a few rest days to achieve his destination in the allotted period. His route took him from Kenya to Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, Angola, Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and finally, in September, he reached Nordkapp. Kim was the first Kenyan to drive to Nordkapp in a Kenyan-registered vehicle. His fellow Kenyans have praised him as a trailblazer for his drive and accomplishments in undertaking his current trip with many hurdles along the way and for doing it solo.

Alpha Land Rover

Kim Musau

There is an abundance of Land Rovers in Kenya, remnants of Kenya’s British colonial past. Right-hand-drive Land Rovers have long served as military and service vehicles across East and Southern Africa. When we visited Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2010, we were surprised to find one entire city street dedicated solely to Land Rover spares and parts. Over time, many of these overworked Land Rovers have been auctioned off, and Kim’s “Alpha” was purchased at one of these auctions. Kim took Alpha the Defender out on several weekend overland trips prior to equipping it for his upcoming expeditions. He fitted an AluCab Icarus roof conversion with a double bed for comfort, along with an external roll cage for added protection. With long-distance travel in mind, a 120-liter auxiliary fuel tank and 45-liter water tank were installed. The indoor living space was equipped with a 35-liter SnoMaster fridge, storage boxes and drawers, Front Runner chairs and table, a 100-watt solar panel, 200 amp hour battery, and an auxiliary battery management system. For protection against the African sun, an AluCab 270-degree awning was installed along with a Rana roof rack. The vehicle originally had a petrol engine, but it was swapped out by the previous owner to a diesel prior to Kim acquiring it.

Kim enthusiastically expresses his love for his Land Rover, highlighting its unique personality, functionality, off-road capability, and special charm that sets the vehicle apart from conventional options (he may be biased). Still, he also emphasizes the importance of choosing a vehicle you genuinely love, as it becomes a second home during overlanding journeys.

Overcoming Challenges and Difficult Situations

Kim has faced his fair share of trials and tribulations on his trips, and what you might not know is that, as a passport holder from an African country, it is often more expensive and more challenging to obtain visas for certain African countries or to be granted entry at a border post due to intimidating border officials. We can attest to this from our experience traveling through West Africa on our South African passports, where, at times, we paid more for our visas than our European convoy partners.

Kim Musau

Kim’s biggest challenge occurred when he was denied entry into Senegal. Kenyans are permitted visa-free travel to Senegal, but he had to reroute his journey from Guinea (Conakry) to Guinea-Bissau to obtain a visa for Senegal. The roads are difficult to traverse in this specific region, and rerouting through another African country can easily set you back a week or more.

He recalls other incidents like being denied entry from Ethiopia into Sudan and having to fly into the country to acquire the visa and make his way back to his vehicle by land, experiencing fuel shortages when crossing from the DRC into Cabinda in Angola, and a cash shortage in Nigeria that left him without access to funds for three days. However, Kim learned to face these challenges head-on and is not cynical. He reiterates that although these were difficult situations, they taught him valuable lessons and, luckily, did not pose any danger to him.

The only time that Kim felt in danger was when he broke down at night in a national park in Kenya without cell phone coverage, and this was the only reminder he needed to not drive at night again. Despite encountering various difficulties during his travels, Kim’s overall impression of Africa is one of diversity—each border unveils new cultures, different perspectives, and unique landscapes. He particularly cherishes Namibia and Norway as his favorite destinations, appreciating the deserts and sand dunes of Namibia, as well as the water crossings and mountains of Norway.

For Kim, there are exciting days when traveling through Africa. One night, you’re parked at a police station as it’s the only secure place to sleep; the next, you spend the evening with a local family in a small village. Every day is filled with fantastic, ever-changing experiences.

“There is nothing that is easy in life. Until you go out and try it, you will keep procrastinating. The challenges that we face everyday will make us stronger, they can never break us. So go out there and enjoy the journey of overlanding.”

Discoveries and Advice for Future Overlanders

Kim is most surprised that he has ventured into overlanding and been able to take on these challenges. Although not a possibility for many individuals from Africa, he believes that the impossible is possible for most individuals from any background or nationality. He would like to inspire other overlanders to start with smaller adventures and to gather enough confidence to embark on longer journeys. Future overlanders should start small, collect information, and avoid becoming stranded due to a lack of essential knowledge.

Kim Musau

“Travelling has never been about accolades and approvals. I only share it on social media to inspire people and tell them that they too, could travel if they wanted to.”

Final Words of Encouragement

Life is full of challenges, and overlanding is no exception. Kim encourages prospective overlanders not to let fear or procrastination hold them back. The experiences shared by seasoned overlanders can serve as valuable lessons, helping newcomers avoid unnecessary difficulties and making the journey even more rewarding. Ultimately, he believes that the challenges encountered on the road only make overlanders stronger and should not deter anyone from embarking on this remarkable adventure.

Kim Musau

Follow along as Kim continues his overlanding journey through Europe after visiting the United Kingdom, Scotland, and Wales since reaching Norway. Once he returns to Kenya, he will plan a trip to explore Asia or to venture to South America.

Facebook: AlphaLandRover


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Luisa Bell has always had a passion for travel, but she never imagined that she would travel the world, with her family, in a self-built Land Rover Defender camper. As the navigator, administrator, and penetrator of bureaucracy, she has led her family to over 65 countries on five continents. Luisa is the wife of Graeme, and their quarter-century together feels like a full century in overlander years. Her two kids and her dog are her pride and joy, and if she could travel with them indefinitely, she would. With a background in immigration law, she has the ability to make the impossible possible and has no plan of settling down or retiring her full-time traveler status. Follow her adventures at www.a2aexpedition.com