The Jeep

2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

Jeep Wrangler Build for Two Years Around Africa

The build of my Jeep is extensive, with each modification carefully thought out and planned. The build focused around primary goals, I will lay out the rationale and decisions for each.
Weight was a primary consideration for each modification, as was limited interior space.

Goal 1: Strong 4×4, big enough to sleep in, fit inside a 20 foot container.

  • 2011 Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.
  • 3.8l V6 Gasoline engine, 6 speed manual transmission.
  • Locking front and rear differentials, electronic sway bar disconnect.
  • 4.10 axle ratios.
  • 4:1 transfer case ratio.
africa jk side zoom dan 720x480

The Stock JK Wrangler soon after I bought it used

Goal 2: Extremely capable off-road

Two years around Africa, especially West Africa, requires a very strong 4×4 vehicle. I chose the Rubicon for the factory diff locks, stronger D44 front axle, and low range transfer case. In addition to that, I have added:

  • Suspension: Stronger and improved handling with mild lift
  • Bumpers: Radiator protection, stronger
    • AEV Front with Skid Plate, AEV Rear, Tire carrier and High Lift Mount.
africa jk with bfg ko2 720x480

Africa bound JK with AEV 2.5 inch lift, Mopar Winter Steel Wheels and BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain Tires in 34×10.5r17

Goal 3: Interior living space

A two year expedition is not a vacation, this is my life. Given that I’m building my Jeep into a house on wheels, I want interior living space – to be able to escape the bugs, the rain, or even just escape the world for an evening will help keep me sane enough to continue.

The build and design is centered around a Pop up roof and interior cabinets I designed and built.

The roof is lighter and more aerodynamic than a roof rack + Roof Top Tent combination.

africa jk wrangler ursa minor j30 720x480

The Jeep with popup J30 camper

africa jk interior cabinets 720x480

Cabinets going in

Goal 4: Improved Sleeping, Cooking, Eating

Two years from Alaska to Argentina on my previous expedition taught me a lot.  I love camping, though after two years I was done with Ramen noodles and tinned soup. I want to eat vegetables, cheese and meat. I want to sleep up off the ground out of the mud. With that in mind, the following modifications where made:

africa jk arb awning rear open 720x480

ARB Awning open over my kitchen

Goal 5: Ability to be self-contained for weeks at a time

My aim to to get far off the beaten path, so I need to be able to support myself. With that in mind, I added:

diy 4x4 water tank pump filter plubming wiring 720x480

Completed plubming and wiring inside behind drivers seat. Pump, ball valves, wiring and filter and UV treatment on right

africa jk titan gas tank 720x480

Titan Tank 13 gallon gas tank

Goal 6: Secure Storage for all my stuff

The stock Jeep glovebox and console are just plastic, and the hood does not lock. I improved that with the following:

africa jk tuffy center console 720x480

Tuffy Security Center Console

Miscellaneous Other Modifications and gear

With that, my house on wheels is complete.

africa jk colorado 720x480

Tiny House. Massive Yard


130 Responses

  1. Jr says:

    Very nicely equipped Jeep. I will be following your adventure through this web site and also in the JPFREEK mag, that’s where I learned of your first adventure. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Geoff says:

    Your set up looks highly professional and well prepared. Good luck and I’ll be following your travels closely.

  3. moises says:

    Your jeep is dope… I am looking forward to hear from your adventure. Good luck and best wishes

  4. Adam Mucha says:

    How much did the total jeep build cost? Very interested in doing something similar for me and my wife.

  5. Jeff moore says:

    Looks like the journey of a lifetime, enjoy.

  6. Jeff G says:


    What an incredible endeavor. Reading stories such as yours tend to bring out the inner, closet adventurer in all of us – making me imagine ways of attempting as you are – though some momentary reflection immediately bring back the (sometimes grim) reality of my desk-bound job, children, mortgage, etc Just know that my envy and admiration of your intrepidness are far more than I could ever hope to convey here.

    As with all things “RV” (used loosely in this instance), you can’t have and bring everything. What are some of the items you planned to include but could not (besides the Merc diesel)? In the same vein, what things do you wish you could bring but are logistically/monetarily impossible?

    Is 87-91 octane mogas available throughout Africa? Will you need to stage fuel in certain areas?

    Safe travels and Godspeed.

    Jeff G. in Riverside, California

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment and insight.
      For sure it’s a compromise in many ways. I wish it was diesel (obviously) – we’ll see how much a problem that turns out to be.
      I wish it was lighter too – though at this point I have no idea what I would do different or not bring to make it so.
      I knew all along it would be “smaller” than most overland 4x4s because I have the interior living space, so I’ve been culling things like mad – only one pair of shoes, few clothes, etc. I don’t have a lot of storage space one I have tools, spares, food and cooking.

      Gasoline will be available, though I will have to be careful about my range and where I go. I might not be able to go some places because I’m gasoline not diesel.


  7. Kiandra says:

    Dan, AWESOME SAUCE ALL AROUND! Happy you’re FOR REAL living the dream. Living your dream :)
    YAY!!! Many, many thanks for sharing your story. You. Are. Inspiring. Journey on and Safe travels.

  8. Cam says:

    Awesome Jeep and awesome adventure. I think you should do this with two Jeeps minimum and I volunteer to bring mine along (I wish). Best of luck on this awesome adventure. Looking forward to your photos, videos and blogs.

  9. Ali says:

    Hi Dan,
    Will be following your stories… good luck and wish you all the best.
    I have seen in the pics that you are going with BFG A/T, why did you select this tire?
    My wife & I are thinking of a similar trip, but a Jeep might be too small for a couple… Still, we started learning a lot from your notes… again wish you a safe and enjoyable trip.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Ali,

      Thanks for the kind words.
      I think for the JK Wrangler going a little bigger (34″) but not wider than stock is great.
      The BFG A/T KO2 is the strongest, most durable AT tire available, so that was an easy decision.


  10. Ian Parsons says:

    Hi Dan,

    Loving the project and the journey.
    Just wondering if you have water stored in your AEV rear bar as well as underneath the vehicle (according to the AEV website the rear bar can store approx. 5 gallons of water)?
    Would it be possible to store water in the titan tank and connect it to the rear bar so you would have approx. 18 gallons of water easily accessible from the rear bar?
    Then add a long range fuel tank underneath to make total fuel capacity almost 40.5 gallons. In Australia, the 2011 unlimited wranglers can have an extra 68 litres (approx. 18 gallons) added for extra range. As far as I know the US spec unlimited wranglers come with a 22.5 gallon tank standard. This tank also has a heavy duty option for extra strength for off-roading (TA64PHD).

    Best of luck on your travels Dan.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Ian,

      Thanks for the comment and thoughts.
      I don’t have any water in the AEV rear bar, as it requires a separate kit to get it out, and I find it a bit inconvenient.
      I don’t believe the Titan is rated for drinking water.

      I looked at the long ranger, and it’s awesome for sure, but it didn’t suit my needs for a couple of reasons. It’s not DOT compliant in the US, so it’s hard to get one in North America. I know of one guy that did, and he spent $2000 USD on it – so cost is a big factor.
      Also for me, I’m using my water system multiple times per day – it’s actually one of my most-used items, where-as the aux fuel is something I plan to only use at most a couple of times per week, maybe only a couple of times per month.
      I also wanted pressurized water so I can force it through the filtration and treatment system.
      So for my needs, and my build, the way I’ve done it makes the most sense.


  11. Charles says:

    How do you wash clothes? Thanks for doing this btw, I had similar ideas for a trip like but this is amazing, great job!

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Charles,

      Right now I’m doing them by hand, which is time consuming. A few places I have stayed will do them for a fee, though it’s quite expensive.
      I need to my hands on a big barrel – lots of people say that if you throw your clothes, some water and soap in there then drive around for a couple of hours the clothes come out spotless!
      I’m not sure I have the space for a big barrel, so I’ll have to get creative :)


  12. Jeff B says:

    Hey Dan-

    Loving your journey!! I’m living vicariously through you for now, though I do plan to adventure across America and Canada in the near future. I have almost the exact set up as you, 285/75/17 BFG KM2, AEV 2.5 inch with Geo correction brackets and a few other suspension bits and pieces. I have a 2015 Jeep JKU Willy’s and I am currently in the midst of selling my rubicon wheels and replacing with steel wheels. my question for you: Why did you choose steel wheels as well? I see very few people who decide to go this route.

    Keep up the good work and safe travels!

    Best Regards,


    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Jeff B,

      Awesome to hear you’ll be out on the trail soon – I highly recommend getting up to the Yukon and Alaska. You won’t regret it!

      I’m running the steel wheels because they won’t crack, and I can beat them back into shape with a sledge hammer if they get bend out of shape.
      It’s basically an insurance policy give that I’ll have no hope of finding 5X5.5 17″ wheels over here, so they have to last the entire trip!

      All the best,

  13. Hector R Carrillo says:

    Surprise to find your story and preparation of the jeep because I recently bought the 2007 Rubicon (Turbodiesel OM606) that you, originally, intended to use in this expedition.

    I’ll be following your adventure and wish You the best in this Journey.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hey Hector,

      Thanks for finding me, I appreciate it!

      I heard that the guy who bought it off me sold it again! How is it running? What kind of mileage does it get?
      I really did have big plans for that Jeep, I hope you can give it a good life!!


      • Hector R Carrillo says:

        I bought it just a few weeks ago, therefore haven’t test it enough.

        Except for a few lights in the dashboard, it works good once the turbo kicks in. I’ll give you an update once we drive it more, just planning to use it on weekends… not a daily driver.

        • Dan Grec says:

          Hey Hector,

          Thanks very much for the update! Double check the radiator fan comes on – that was one problem I didn’t solve.
          I’m excited to here how it runs and how you like it!


  14. Hector R Carrillo says:

    I just bought it a few weeks ago and not sure how is going to perform, it lacks power until the turbo kicks in and has a few lights in the dashboard, but overall works Ok.

    Just curious, if you had big plans for the 2007 OM606… Why did you sell it and got another one? from your comments in 4BTSWAP… you really wanted a diesel.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Hector,

      After the original OM606 blew up I was out of time and money. I had to choose between keeping that Jeep (and spending more money on it) or getting a stock Jeep and driving Africa.

      I chose the Africa trip.


      • Hector R Carrillo says:

        Presume that OM606 was overheated and blew up, therefore you sold it to Shawn, who replaced the engine and than sold it to me.

        Its working real good, except for some lights in the dashboard and the RPM going crazy, but overall, good.

        I’ll ask Shawn if he upgraded the radiator fan system or I’ll research the best system to keep it cool.

        Hope your trip is going great and won’t need to bribe more custom agents…. wish you the best.

        • Dan Grec says:

          Hi Hector,

          A return line came off one of the injectors, so the engine sucked a lot of free diesel, and it ran away.
          The fan, in theory, can be controlled from the TIPM if you get a new one from a 2010 or 2011 JK and then program it with the AEV procal.
          Otherwise you’ll have to run a manual PWM fan controller witch might get tricky – I never solved that problem.
          Interesting the tach still is not right – I fought that sensor for a LONG time :)

          Good luck!

        • Julio says:

          Check the wiring, spacing of the sensor and ensure its clean.

  15. Mwilima says:

    Great stuff , I will be waiting to meet you and welcome to Namibia, All the best and drive safe .

  16. Julio says:

    Dan, fantastic build. I plan to drive to SAS in a couple of years and bought my Lexus LX450 for that purpose. Doing tons of research and trying to modify according to my needs. Inspiring blog and I admire that you’re at it again on an other continent.

  17. leibuys says:

    Hi Dan,
    I read about your jeep build on 4BT swaps and it directed me to here. I’m actually shocked to see that after all the work you did on this project that it never got used for the intended project. I am in the final staged of my JK Wrangler diesel conversion. My intention was to use the same charge air cooler/inter-cooler that you used from the stock CRD Diesel wrangler that was exported. Can you advise how you were able to order that intercooler? All dealers in USA and Canada turn me away and they say the part is for export only. Sorry again to hear about the misfortune. Any help you could provide would be appreciated.
    Kind regards,

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hey Joe,

      That is a very tricky part to source, and I had to reach out to some personal contacts. It’s not something I can share, sorry.
      Best of luck on your conversion, I hope you can wrangle the JK computer into submission, I know many people have problems (me included!)


  18. Jason Broom says:

    Hi Dan,

    I have very much enjoyed reading about your build and your adventures. Following along on Instagram as well :)

    I see that you are running the Titan Fuel Tanks Trail Trekker Transfer Tank (wow that’s a long name). I have been strongly considering this for my Jeep build. I wish I had put a little more thought into how my build would evolve before I selected a tire carrier (went with the TeraFlex Hinged carrier instead of the AEV carrier, even though I have a bumper that would accommodate the AEV carrier). I would like to equip the TF carrier with this fuel cell, but I’m a bit worried about metal fatigue. TeraFlex has assured me that if I can snug the tire up against the tank and the tank up against the hinge, I should have no problem. From the looks of things, I should be able to snug the tank up against the hinge without issue. However, I am not sure about the tire against the tank, as I have not been able to locate one of these tanks in person.

    Were you able to snug the tire up against the tank pretty securely?


    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Jason,

      Yes, the tire is very snug against the tank, and the tank is snug against the carrier. All of those depths are adjustable, so you should have no problem at all no matter what size tire you have.
      The tank has been perfect for my, I think you will love it!


  19. Kurtis says:

    I found your story and read about your build and your trip so far. Sounds like you are having a great experience. I appreciate your approach to travel and your sensible build on the Jeep. Rubicon, AEV, and rational tire size, should serve you well on your long trek. The use of factory bushings by AEV means that you should have long service life compared to aftermarket parts, and they are easily obtained for replacement if needed. Your lighter and narrower tires are less likely to damage the axles like 35″ tires do.

    I did not see any axle modifications mentioned, so I will caution you to go easy on the vehicle because the front axle is still a weak point. Although it is a Dana 44, only the center pumpkin and gears are Dana 44. The remainder of the housing, tubes, axle shaft, steering knuckle, etc. are the same as the Dana 30. Don’t slam into ditches or bumps, or push it hard and spin tires on climbs, or something could bend or break. When abused the outer ends of the tubes bend, and the “C” that holds the ball joints bends, and the wheels will tilt in at the top. It seems you are reasonably cautious, and therefore should not end up with those issue. Do keep an eye on the bracket on the passenger side of the axle that the track bar mount to. Those can break off at the welds due to fatigue. If you see cracks starting, get it welded before it comes off. Also, check the ball joints once in a while because they will wear out. All of this is just caution, hopefully it will all survive your planned 80,000 miles.

    Have a great trip,

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Kurtis,

      Thanks for all the input and advice! You are right, my front axle is completely stock, though I did upgrade to HD ball joints from Rugged Ridge just before leaving North America. I have been told by a few knowledgeable people the front axle on my Rubicon is a weak point, especially because overall the vehicle is heavy, and I am hitting extremely large pot holes. As you say, I’ll take it easy, and I always lay off the skinny pedal when in doubt. That’s what the winch is for.

      Thanks again, all the best!


  20. Billy says:

    Hi Dan.

    I am burnt out and need to get away. I want to travel but have only a 3.8 l Sahara and no bucks for extras. What are my odds?. I live in South Africa and can afford a limited lifestyle for as long as i can work my way from town to town, city to city….country to country. Not broke but need time out. Your advice will be appreciated. My Jeep is a 2012 model…short wheel base.

    Can you advise?


    • Dan Grec says:

      Hey Billy,

      I drove my bone-stock 2000 TJ Wrangler from Alaska to Argentina and had the time of my life. I see no reason you can’t drive yours around the area and have an amazing time! A ground tent and water container and hit the road I say!
      All the best,

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  22. Chris says:

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for sharing your adventures and knowledge! Really appreciate it because you give hope to those of us who are in the process of ridding ourselves of the baggage (accumulating more stuff, bills etc) we are conditioned to believe is necessary for fulfillment. One look at that familiar, genuine smile on your face and others from their adventures says it all!

    Few questions. Can you tell me the reason you went with the AEV 2.5 lift/34” tires over say the 3.5lift/xx”? Since I would like to use your build as my reference, your thoughts on adding a portable toilet (Dometic brand, in a draw) for convenience. Also, were you required to lose the vehicle decals? Would fabric waterproofing spray help with the J30 since you mentioned the moisture in your recent review?

    Thanks and All the Best!
    *final note – at journey’s end, perhaps you could partner with a builder such as Ursa Minor etc. to create a turnkey build based on yours. Regards!

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hey Chris,

      Thanks for the kind words – it always makes me happy to hear others are inspired by what I’m doing. I’m really happy to answer any questions you have, so fire away if you think of more.

      For the Jeep I didn’t want to go with big tires (35+) for a whole bunch of reasons – they’re expensive, they’re heavy. They would require wheel spacers and probably re-gearing the axles. Also they would be impossible to buy over here. The lift is the same mentality – keep it lower for wind resistance, fit in a container and general mileage. It also looks more “normal” because it’s not on a monster lift.
      I will say though my JK got a lot heavier than I wanted (It’s 6000lbs), and I’m starting to think about a bigger lift that will handle the weight better.
      AEV told me the 2.5 is not designed for my kind of weight, and I didn’t listen. Their 3.5 is designed for a heavy JK, so I’m considering that.

      I personally can’t bring myself to the idea of a portable toilet, but many people do. I see no reason it wouldn’t work.

      I took the decals off just so the Jeep doesn’t stand out so much here in West Africa.
      It was my choice. It still stands out, but I think not nearly as much.
      I also never wash it for the same reason.

      And yes, I just contacted Ursa Minor and there is a fabric waterproofing spray for the fabric they use on the tent. I will search some out when I get to South Africa!

      A turnkey build like mine would be cool, but it kind of defeats the point. The whole idea is to build it yourself so you are familiar with it, you have a sense of achievement and you get exactly what you want!

      All the best,

      • Chris says:

        Hi Dan,

        After your explanation I understand. Still can only imagine the countless hours spent in order to factor in even the smallest of details. Totally impressed! I tend to also take similar approaches. I get your point on building yourself..more appreciation after. I will be sure to ask more questions however you’ve been great in detailing your project so I don’t expect much.

        I see where we all can support through Amazon purchases but I hope you consider a Paypal option as well.

        Thanks again for your informative reply!

  23. Mitchell says:

    Dan, this is probably one of the dopest things I’ve ever seen, love all the mods you’ve added to your Jeep. Keep travellin’ and may all your dreams come true!

  24. Flinn says:

    Hi Dan
    one day i want to be like you and travel the world in a jeep.
    Your car has some hectic upgrades.
    Enjoy your trip and keep posting them videos
    p.s your brother mike drives a van

  25. Josh says:

    Hi Dan, I very much enjoyed watching all of your vids on youtube. We watched them all in class for school because your bro was my teacher. The jeeps mods as mega dope and i look up to you as i would like to pursue my dream as traveling around jamacia in a few years. Do you have any handy quick tips on what upgrades i should put on my 2014 toyota land cruiser. Anyway keep up the vids and if you want some feedback from me i think you should start doing vlogs as they really engage the audience in your vids. Thanks cya Dan.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hey Josh,

      The best advice I can give is not to think about mods. Take your vehicle out and go camping, have adventures in it. Once you have done that a bunch you can start to think about what you might like to change, if anything.
      I would love to do daily vlogs, though the Internet in West Africa is not good enough for me to upload every day…


      • Jimmy says:

        Good luck josh
        Please keep me updated on your trip around Jamaica
        Let me know what mods you put on your land cruiser as i am thinking of traveling around Australia in a done up mini cooper
        Thanks Jimmy

  26. Lochie says:

    Hi Dan,
    thanks for all the update videos its great to see how your progressing. Would love to know how much dosh the trip cost you and your car is lit! Id love to get some tips on whats modz to get on my ford fiesta, thanks

  27. alireza says:

    I saw you in my English book AEF starter and want to know when you start your travel in United States tank you

  28. Jeff says:

    Hi, how did you get you jeep to Africa and the cost?
    Thanks, jeff

  29. Mick says:

    Hi Dan,

    Sounds like you’re having a blast ! As I’m sure you know, your trip and website are a real inspiration for a lot of people. You’re doing the trip I have always dreamed about.

    Anyway, a question about the jeep payload (we have one of the final 2018 JKU Rubicons on order – can’t wait). All vehicles have drawbacks but for overlanding the limited payload of the JK is a real issue. To avoid an even higher (e.g. 3.5″ AEV) lift did you consider having upgraded, thicker springs made at a more moderate height? Avoid the lift but increase the load-bearing??? The axles and the tyres on the JKU can certainly handle extra payload but the suspension seems like the real weak point. Would you have any other advice/suggestions if you were starting out again?

    Keep on rolling…and good luck!


    • Dan Grec says:

      Hey Mick,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Absolutely, payload is the limiting factor of the JKU, no doubt.
      I did not think about custom springs, I was working to a very tight budget because I wanted to spend money on gas in the tank, not building a “perfect” Jeep.
      My advice would be to keep it as light as possible. I added all the overlanding mods, AND all the 4×4 mods, which means I am very heavy. Too heavy, I think.

      I am right now looking into upgrading to the AEV 3.5″ so it can handle the weight better.


  30. Jon says:

    Dan – your jeep is awesome and your journey inspirational! Enjoying watching your videos and trip updates, thanks for sharing it with the world.

  31. Jon says:

    Thanks Dan. Yes – how did you secure the aluminum tubing frame to the jeep? Has it stayed pretty secure through your trip thus far?

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hey Jon,

      I drilled holes right through the floor and ran bolts right through. I was worried about them not being strong enough, so that’s why I did it that way.

      They have been absolutely rock solid. When I rock them, the whole Jeep moves.


  32. Amit says:

    I am curious about how much it costs to transport your car into Africa? Also is it cheaper to bring your own car for long tips or purchase a car locally?

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Amit,

      I shipped the Jeep from Canada to Europe, then drove down. Details are here Shipping from North America to Europe.

      The problem with buying locally is that it’s almost impossible to register a car in a country you don’t live in. So getting it registered, insured, etc and keeping all that going while on the road for 2 years is a big, big problem.


  33. TJH says:


    It’s been a blast following your travels and reading all about your build. Thank you for making all this available to those of us considering our own builds and overland adventures. One piece of info that I did not see is the total height of the Jeep with the Ursa Minor top and the AEV lift/larger tires. Do you have a total height? Thanks and safe travels.


    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi TJH,

      Thanks for the kind words.
      I have measured it a few times, and with the now taller solar panels, it’s just a touch over 2 meters tall. (79 inches).
      My Jeep is very heavy though, and it sits pretty low on the suspension. There is a project in the works to correct that…

      When a parking garage says 2.10 I get out and look to be certain. When it says 2.20 I drive right in.


  34. Mate Kirincic says:

    Hi Dan,

    your journey is a real inspiration. I hope to try something like that in the near future.
    I can¨t decide what vehicle to use. I was considering a vehicle with available pop top conversion like Jeep Wrangler, Land Rover Defender or Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Series. Why did you choose Jeep? What where your other options? What do you think about Land Rover Defender for this purpose? Would you use a diesel Jeep (the most of the Jeep’s in EU)?

    Thanks and stay safe,

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Mate,

      Vehicle choice is a very personal things, and there are three million pros and cons to each to weigh up. I drove a Jeep Wrangler from Alaska to Argentina without a single mechanical issue, so it was an easy choice to go with one again. The pop-up roof I have is an easy and direct bolt-on, so that made the choice very, very easy.
      Absolutely the Defender is a common choice, many people really like it for long-term travel.
      I don’t know much about the diesel Jeeps you can get in Europe, they are not available in Canada, so I never really looked at one.
      Good luck! have fun!


  35. Mate Kirincic says:

    Thank you for our answer.
    Best regards

  36. amit says:

    Hi Dan,
    I love to read your blogs. Especially during lunch breaks when I am dreaming of long-term travelling :).

    I and my wife love to travel and now planning to take a break from our jobs and go on 2 to 3-year long trip and we have Pan Am ( Alaska to Argentina) and Australia and Newzealand in our mind.
    Currently, I own a jeep wrangler unlimited (4 doors). I am not able to decide if I should stick to this jeep and start working on modifying the way you did or buy a Truck- F150 or ford ranger. Not sure if Jeep will have enough space for stuff for two of us for the full trip. It will be of help if you can share your two cents.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Amit,

      I’m happy to hear you enjoy my photos and stories and they help pass the time while you’re dreaming! I spent years reading other blogs to inspire me!

      Vehicle choice is a very personal thing, and it really depends on you. Personally I always recommend the vehicle you already have. That way you can stop spending money on different vehicles and modifications, and start spending money on going! After all, the going is much more important than the specific vehicle you choose.

      With the F150 or Ranger would you put a slide-in camper or something similar in the back? .. lots of people doing the pan-am with things like that now.

      But really, it’s your personal choice, do what makes sense for you!


      • Amit Pant says:

        Hi Dan,

        A very valid point that it’s important to start working on it than just deliberating. Africa is very close to my heart. I keep travelling there for my work. Some of my suggestions

        1) Zimbabwe. Do add Victora Fall(African name : Mosi-oa-Tunya, “The Smoke that Thunders) to your list. Sheer size and the sound of the waterfall are spectacular.

        2) South Africa: Garden Route. Hermanus(Whales come almost to the beaches) / Cape Agulhas(Real southernmost point in Africa not cape point) Tsitsikamma National Park(sheer Beauty). Add Swaziland to your list. one of the best mountainous region.

        3) If possible add Madagascar to your list. Read more about Madagascar. It’s a unique place not to be missed.

        If you need more info about the southern part of Africa please feel free to connect. I have some contacts in that region. Let me know if you need something. I hope I can be of help.


      • amit says:

        Yes with F150 /Ranger. I plan to have slide in Camper.

  37. Don Lusk says:

    I have looked over you build a few times and still not sure how you access your sleeping area, When the Ursa Minor first came out I was very excited but when I looked them over and one of the Overland Expos I was not so keen on climbing up through the hatch above the rear seat then having to then slide the hatch back over the access hole to lay down. Is it possible for one of you to get up in the night without disturbing the other? It would be very helpful if you could some time post pictures of the sleeping area from top and bottom. Do you have any new ideas on how you would improver your layout? Would a floor that lifts up like AluCab uses work?

    I am sure you are enjoying Botswana, How wet was the pan at Baines Baobab was it wet as it usually is this time of year, did you have to take the long way around? The Makgadikgadi pan is probably much to wet to drive on too. I hope to hit that area when it is dry some day and get to Kubu island.

    Thanks Don

  38. Noe Marti says:

    Hi Dan
    I am following your journey since over one year. Two month ago I bought a used 2011 JKU Rubicon – colored in sahara tan ;-)…

    Short question: the door hinges on your vehicle are black colored, are they modified? Is there some security system on them, to prevent stolen doors?

    Kind regards and good travel from switzerland

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Noe,

      Great to hear! I hope it provides you many adventures in the years to come!
      When I bought my Jeep it had small black plastic hinge covers on each hinge – they’re just a small piece of plastic that slides over the round part to protect it from rock chips.
      They look good, so I left them on!


  39. justin says:

    Did you have a wiring diagram including the solar and all?? I thought i saw one, but only see the dual battery setup now.


  40. Ramie says:

    Hi Dan.

    Im trying to figure out how you plan for your route. What maps you use. Which gps device you are using.

    And how do you find your fuel stations on routes you choose as it might happen you run out of gas for many reasons.
    Thanks alot you are really inspirring me and will do it with my family.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Ramie,

      For paper maps the Reise Know-How are by far the best. They’re not cheap, so I only get them for some countries.

      For GPS, I have a Garmin that I loaded Open Street Maps into, and all the Point of Interest from iOverlander. It’s absolutely fantastic and shockingly accurate. Every single road, walking track, gas station, bank, hotel, campground and much, much more is absolutely perfect.

      For gas stations, when I’m going remote I plan ahead and see where the next station will be, and then work backwards to figure out how much gas I will have to carry.

      Good luck!


  41. Bekker van Niekerk says:

    Dan, whom do you buy the rugged ridge spares
    and starter from, all at Zone??

  42. Butho says:

    I am humbled to see such a commitment to a goal. I am inspired to do the same from Canada someday. I am also glad you will highlight the true African continent at the end of your trip.
    Why did you go solo?

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Butho,

      I wrote a lot about why I went solo in my book – it’s mostly about not being able to find someone to come with me – nobody wants to take time off work, nobody has the savings account, and everyone thinks it’s too dangerous!

      I decided I could go alone or not go at all – which was an easy choice!


  43. Kieran says:

    Hey Dan,

    New follower. Amazing adventures and sweet build!

    Just building out a rough drawer system for my 4th gen 4runner and kind of thinking I should go with an aluminum frame on the next build before I take off on the Panam next year. I suppose theft wouldn’t be as big an issue as your Africa trip, except maybe with shipping, but curious is that one of the main reasons you went with the aluminum frame, other than just being more solid than plywood? I guess a thief could always bust the wooden panels if they really wanted to get in, but I’m thinking at the very least being able to bolt to the body metal to metal and keeping the locking latch metal to metal would be better than 1/2″ birch ply. But curious what you think and if you’d do the same aluminum build or go with drawers?


    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Kieran,

      Awesome to hear you’re building up for the PanAm!
      I went with the aluminum connectors for two reasons:

      1. It’s very light and strong. I can rock the cabinets (even now after 45k miles of nasty roads) and the whole suspension moves. The cabinets are rock, rock solid.

      2. Cutting everything square and then using the connectors made construction fast and easy. I’m not the most talented craftsmen, and I’m sure if I did it in timber things wouldn’t have always been square and it might have gotten a bit ugly.

      In reality, if someone smashes a window they can open any of my cabinets and take anything – but I only have “not critical” stuff in them. Clothes, food, camping, etc. etc. All my *really* important stuff (Passport, laptop, credit cards, money) is in steel lock boxes bolted through the tub of the Jeep. Even with a crowbar or sledge it would be a challenge to get into them. So realistically in a smash-n-grab I won’t loose anything really important.
      They’re made by Tuffy Security Products and they are awesome! I couldn’t imagine the trip without them.

      Good luck on the build and planning, let me know if you have any more questions!


      • Kieran says:

        Sorry, just got this now. Not sure I saw an email notification. Guess I’ll just have to pin the tab and refresh every couple days!

        Much appreciated! Great points about the aluminum boxes. Good stuff to know, especially how you compartmentalize the critical/not critical stuff. I’m kind of at the stage where everything seems critical and I want to protect it all, but yeah, not so practical to think that way. I mean there is a decent amount of money in my camping equipment and clothing (think MEC type stuff) but in reality, they (or another version of them) can be bought again elsewhere.

        Speaking of security, did you think to have security film put on the windows to slow the smash and grab thiefs? I’m thinking of getting some put on when I get a darker tint.

        I wish older 4runners had Tuffy lockboxes like the Jeeps have. Jealous! Oh well, probably need to jerry-rig an underseat box or something.

        I will definitely ask more about the build/planning as I run into more questions I can’t find answers for elsewhere. One thing I’m working on now is getting together Open Street Maps for the Panam. Not as straight forward as I thought. Any quick tips for using OSM on extended trips? Doesn’t have to be region specific or anything. Seems like a bunch of different sources for different types of maps that you kind of have to piece together or upload to the Garmin when you exit one boundary. Is that right?. I’d ideally like one contiguous map with a mix of everything… main roads, backcountry trails, civilization stuff, etc. But maybe that’s too much to ask.

        By the way, next time you’re in Calgary, I’ll buy ya a beer! That is, if I’m here too 😉


        • Dan Grec says:

          Hey Kieran,

          I never really did consider the security film.. it just seemed like money I didn’t need to spend.

          For OSM, it’s super, super easy. goto where you can download the map in a format a Garmin GPS can read.
          If need be, just buy any old used Garmin, make sure it has a Mirco SD card slot (all of them within the last ~5 years+ do). Then you put the maps onto the SD card, and the Garmin will read them perfectly. For every single country I have been to I have been staggered at the accuracy and detail. Every single walking track, hotel, gas station, intersection waterfall, etc. etc. etc. It seems impossible it can be so good, but it is.

          All the best with the planning!


  44. Dan says:

    Hey! What mount did you use to attach your GoPro to your outside driver’s mirror? Thanks!

  45. Garrett says:

    We saw you on 95 this weekend and checked the page out. Very cool! We camp with a truck and RTT and also have an offroad popup camper. Mostly parks and to areas to ride dirt bikes around PA, VA, NC, WV.

  46. Yousef Saab says:

    Your journey is remarkable, just finished watching it im glad you made it safely, the car is a beuaty. Thankfully the drop in Uganda wasnt a total loss.

  47. Miguel says:

    Hi Dan,

    Really enjoyed watching your YouTube channel. Question – what is the backspace on your steel rims? And did you have to replace any bearings/ball joints during your time in Africa? I’m planning on putting 33″s on my JK, and just like you I don’t like tires sticking over the fender flares, I’m wondering what is a safe wheel backspace/offset that does not put extra strain on the wheel bearings when going to a larger tire.


    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Miguel,

      I don’t actually know what the backspacing is, but it’s extremely similar to stock JK wheels. (the ones I have are made by Mopar after all).
      I replaced my ball joints and u-joints before setting off for Africa as preventative maintenance.
      I didn’t grease the u-joints properly, so I replaced them again in South Africa. Otherwise everything is the same as it was when I set out.


  48. Denish says:


    I have a 2018 Land Rover Discovery Sport, and would love to get your thoughts on whether it’s a vehicle that can go multi country (not as extensive as your trips)? It’s all stock, and haven’ t made any changes to it. Any critical changes you suggest I do? Overall thoughts on if this is something I should even consider with this vehicle? I”m looking to ship it to Europe and perhaps do Spain and Italy.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Denish,

      I don’t know much about those, but I think it should be plenty good enough.
      Think about where you’re going to sleep, eat and cook – those will have a big impact on your enjoyment for such a trip!


  49. Durwin says:

    What do you recommend for a camping chair? Currently I have one from ARB, but it’s too heavy.
    Thanks, Durwin

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Durwin,

      I’ev never found a good one myself, I just use cheap ones until they break (which is often).
      It’s a problem I need to solve for my next adventure!


  50. Durwin says:

    Thank you for answering that question. One other.

    Do you remember the weight difference between the stock Jeep wheels to the Mopar Winter Wheels that you have now? Thanks. Durwin

  1. October 15, 2016
  2. December 7, 2016

    […] outfitting the Jeep, Dan wrote a number of do-it-yourself guides on topics such as water filtration and outfitting Jeeps for long camping trips, sharing what he […]

  3. February 15, 2017

    […] on wheels are constricted for space, but not as much as this one. Dan Grec is the man behind this Jeep conversion that lets him travel across Africa without any discomfort, […]

  4. March 22, 2017
  5. July 8, 2019

    […] his Jeep he would like to be up off of the ground to sleep. As a result, he built an amazing 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (JKU) into the ultimate Jeep Overlanding […]

  6. December 2, 2019

    […] and be in use full time. It’d be impossible to list his mods here, but he has a rundown on his site. Dan has already done almost two years and 40,000 miles through South America, plus roughly 54,000 […]

  7. April 8, 2021

    […] in his Jeep he would like to be up off of the ground to sleep. As a result, he built an amazing 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (JKU) into the ultimate Jeep Overlanding […]

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