Aminah: Our Overland Expedition Truck
Aminah is the product of many years of overland knowledge. We have utilised the best features from studying dozens of other overland vehicles and brought them together for Overlanding West Africa’s first truck.
As detailed in the Aminah: A Brief History our truck is a 4×2 Mercedes-Benz 1617 NG, OM366a straight-6 turbo-charged engine, with a 7 speed gearbox and rear reduction axle with differential lock (try saying that after a few beers!). This model of Mercedes Benz is particularly popular in West Africa, proven for its strength, reliability, and ease of repair.
The beauty lies in its rugged simplicity – life on African roads is tough and these trucks have proven they are capable of ploughing on through the most difficult road conditions imaginable. That’s not to say it’s invincible – but when the punishment does take its toll – we can fix it. At times we will drive on some of the most rugged roads in Africa, so we need a vehicle that’s up to the challenge.
Sourcing spare parts in West Africa is usually straight-forward due to the sheer quantity of Mercedes NG models in the region. Once Europe moved on to newer models, many of this generation of trucks were exported to Africa where they are still going strong today.
Unlike more modern trucks we don’t have to contend with the over-complicated, impractical issues of ECU’s and laptop diagnostics – it is straightforward mechanics – something we know a thing or two about so we can deal with any problems and get back on the road with the minimum of hassle.
We’ve made things as comfortable and practical as possible in the back. There are 22 comfortable coach seats with plenty of leg room, most are forward facing with some grouped around tables towards the rear. There is roof net storage, a large library, with forward facing windows at the front for a good view ahead, and drop-down windows along the side to take in the sights- if you’re thinking “what about the air-con?” – then this is probably not your style of trip!
We have an opening between the cab and the passenger body, so you can come and talk to us/ask questions whenever you want.
We are well equipped for surviving on our own for a while, with long range diesel tanks capable of holding 1000 litres, a 350 litre treated drinking water-tank, a 110 litre capacity fridge for fresh produce, large food storage lockers, ice boxes for drinks, and a huge area at the back of the truck for your luggage.
There is also a well stocked medical kit on board, but this is for emergencies only – you will need to bring your own personal medical kits for general use.
We have fitted leisure batteries for running the fridge, lighting, and charging points. There are 2 cigarette lighter charge ports that provide 12 volt DC output (similar to what you have in your car, so you can charge camera batteries, mobile phones, MP3 players etc), and a 230 volt AC inverter for charging more power hungry units like laptop computers.
Please note that the inverter has a UK 3-pin style plug attachment, so bring an adapter as necessary. If your item runs on a voltage less than 230 volts, please ensure you bring a step down transformer so as not to damage your device. There is a stereo fitted in the cab with speakers in the passenger area, so we can plug in your MP3 player and enjoy the CDs people pick up along the way. Aminah also has a secure safe onboard, for storing your money and passports, though of course this is at your own risk.
The equipment on the truck has all been picked for its suitability to the rigours of overlanding. We’ve been on the road a few years so know what works and what doesn’t. We supply large heavy duty two man safari-style tents which are quick and easy to put up. It’s up to you to bring a roll mat and sleeping bag.
We also have comfortable camping stools to sit on around the camp fire at night, gas stoves for cooking, a well equipped kitchen, campfire oven and a BBQ plate. Where possible we’ll cook off the fire, and there is a large cage at the back of the truck for storing firewood for this purpose. Aminah also has a side awning that we can pull out when the rains come so we can cook in the dry!
We carry a comprehensive range of spare parts and tools so we can sort things out in the event of a breakdown. We have sand mats and a military style tow cable to help pull us out of any bogging if digging and matting doesn’t do the trick!
Below is a video of Aminah as she ploughed through the mud in Guineas Fouta Djalon region. This video was taken by passenger Will Betts and shows how well Aminah coped with the bad roads!
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to build an overland truck, watch this video we put together below!