The vehicle, which we chose for our trip
is van Fiat Ducato Maxi, year 2000. It has a 2.8 idTD engine, 122 hp, front-wheel drive, 8,5l average fuel consumption per 100 km. We transformed it into a mobile home, adjusted to our needs. From the mechanical side it is the factory standard, normal suspension and equipment. We do not have an air conditioning, which is often very shocking for many Africans :)
    The walls, floor and ceiling were isolated with the polystyrene blocks, mineral wool and polyurethane foam, and then covered with a six millimeter waterproof plywood. This allows us to enjoy the chill morning inside the van, despite of hot African sun outside the car. Under the three burner gas stove there is a window with blind and mosquito net.

Over the bed we installed a sunroof with a mosquito net. On the roof we installed solar panel 240 W, which loads gel battery with a capacity of 150 Ah, through MPPT power regulator. This solar set supplies all electrical devices like: LED lighting, water pumps, radio and inverter on 230V / 500W which supplies fans and computers. The living part has a bed size 115x180 cm. Above the bad over the front cabin is a shelf, which we use as a wardrobe. Under the aluminum bed frame, installed at a height of 90cm from the floor, there are two clean water tanks with a total capacity of 140l, which is enough for us to leave civilization and head out into the bush for 4-7 days. There is also an electrical fuse box 12V and 230V, inverter, folding bike, drums, trumpet, warm clothes, blankets, chairs, table and many other things.

    Next to the bed stands 70x70cm shower with three plywood walls to a height of 90cm from the floor with a folding top. In the shower there is a portable chemical toilet with the organic liquid. At  shower time the toilet is removed, and the top, which we use as a table, goes up and is attached to the wall in a vertical position. It allows us to take a shower after a long day in the African heat. There was a moment when we doubted whether to install a shower inside the car or not. The option of taking shower would be using so-called "sun shower" - a black plastic 20l bag with a tube, which we would have to use outside the car. Thanks God we completed the initial plan, and now we are very pleased with the possibility of taking a shower inside the car, whenever we are. Many times we slept in big cities so without a shower it would be extremely hard. It is a huge convenience for us and a bit of luxury in our mobile home.

            Next to the shower there is a kitchen with a stove and a sink. Under a sink there is a closet with cleaning supplies, medicines, books and household appliances. Under the stove there is bigger closet for pots, pans and other kitchen equipment. Next to that there is another shelf which you can reach by opening left back doors. There is 11kg gas bottle, which lasts for 4-6 months cooking, spare fuel tanks, tools and spare parts.

Sink and shower have a common drain, which is led outside from underneath the car. On the right side, above the rear wheel we built big wooden box. On one side of the box there is a piece of wood which can be lifted up and regulated to different height to hold your head while reading a book or sleeping during siesta time. 
Inside the box there is a battery, manual winch, ropes, tools and other necessary things. Outside, above the side door we installed marquise size 300x200 cm, which expands our mobile house with terrace. It protects us from the sun and rain.

    For one and a half year, after 25,000 kilometers on different kinds of roads our car managed very well. With God’s help, many times we managed to drive through deep mud in Mali, through the river in the middle of the road in Morocco or steep slopes in the area of Kpalime in Togo. Only once we had to turn back in Côte d'Ivoire because the road was too destroyed. After the whole day of driving through the mud and bumpy road, soldiers stopped us and said “you cannot go any further…”.

    Even though we spent a lot of money, time and effort of many mechanics to prepare the car for such a long and difficult trip, we still faced few problems on the way. Thanks to God, thanks to help of many people and the book " I can fix Fiat Ducato on my own", we managed to repair and change few things:
- in Konstanz, Germany: left drive axle 
- in Murten, Switzerland: complete gearbox, front hub bearings and right drive axle 
- on some abandoned gas station in Sahara: oil, oil filter and air filter 
- a hole in the radiator, at a police station in Mauretania, after weird action of pulling us out from the desert sand by a bunch of excited Muslims in the middle of the night 
- in Mali: hose from the cooling system purchased somewhere in smoky, suspicious parts of Bamako city.
- on the beautiful lagoon Mafia-Assini, Ivory Coast: McPherson mount piece on the left side, 
- in Togo: battery which became a short circuit between the plates, in the beautiful mountains around Kpalime. McPherson mount piece on the right side, bearing in the rear wheel hub, engine mounts, rocker arm pin, tie rod ends stabilizer, buffers suspension at the rear. Those things were done on the land of a wonderful missionary priest in Tchamba. The fuel filter in Vogan. Brake pads and windshield which got broken by the fist-sized stone, which jumped out from under the wheels of a big truck driving far too fast on the gravel road, on the way Lome-Sokode near the house of the famous footballer Adebayor in Lome.
- Benin: the brake pump, rubber hose and the cylinders in brake caliper in the right front wheel - on the fantastic beach at Grand Popo.
   In spite of smaller and bigger problems, we are very pleased with our choice. Thanks to these difficulties we often experienced grace and care of God and generous kindness of people who willingly helped us on the way. Thank you very much!

    Pictures and story about building our mobile home is located under these links:
News from our trip you can read on:

Best greetings !
Sylwia and Michal