Dan Grec is driving around Africa for two years in a personally modded Jeep and he is sharing his entire journey with his followers.
Grec started by purchasing a 2007 four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon and from there his incredible Jeep customization took many twists and turns.
Once he completed his unique and complex construction, Grec began his journey to Africa.
“My build focused on interior living space and strong 4×4, and it had to fit inside a standard 20-foot shipping container,” Grec explained.
The adventurous traveler documents all of his journeys and he made sure to take many snapshots of his first attempt at building a personal home on wheels.
He bought a Jeep with no extra bells and whistle.
Grec says this gave him a blank canvas for his “house on wheels.”
He didn’t need a backseat or any other features beyond the driver and passenger seats so he stripped out the enter back of the vehicle.
Dan really needed to create a lot of living space so he moved the stock roll bar.
His buddy helped cut the roll bar because Grec admits he was afraid to do it himself.
A new roll bar was added in a different position which allowed the Jeep to keep its strong physical integrity, an important part of the build given the safari driving it is being used for over a two-year period.
Dan’s dad also helped him with the build.
They designed an interior cabinet layout without having the Jeep in front of them for reference. They placed a fridge behind the passenger because Grec needed the driver’s seat to move all the way back when driving.
He then lined the tub with dynamat and lino and created cabinet frames out of aluminum tube and corner connectors.
The design allowed for a 35 L Dometic fridge mounted behind the front passenger seat.
The cabinets were then lined with plywood because it is both light and durable.
The cabinets up high on the left side of the Jeep can be un-clipped and fit in the aisle to make a flat sleeping platform when needed.
Dan says he had his mind set on a diesel engine so he purchased a Mercedes 6-cylinder 3.0-liter turbo diesel.
After a long install process that was very costly, the engine blew up after a week when it sucked diesel from a leaking return line and ran away pegging at 10k rpm + for 10 seconds or so.
Melted pistons, valves, injectors, and glow plugs were all that was left. Grec said he almost gave up on his dream because of the major setback.
He decided his trip was too important to miss so he sold his old Jeep and bought a replacement.
The newer Jeep is a 2011 Unlimited Rubicon.
The new Jeep came stock with a 3.8L gas engine, and 6-speed transmission.
While a gas engine is not ideal for Africa, it meant spending less money so Dan kept the original engine. Dan and his friend moved everything over from the old Jeep to the new one in just three weeks.
Thankfully the cabinets almost fit perfectly from one Jeep to the next, allowing Grec to focus on completing his build.
Dan installed dual isolated Optima Yellow top batteries.
It was a smart move that allowed the Jeep to run on a different battery than the one that is running the fridge and everything else. The isolator joins them when the engine is running, so the alternator charges both batteries at the same time.
He also “installed” a sloth on his roll bar. Dan calls the sloth his “spirit animal.”
You obviously shouldn’t travel around Africa for two-years without your spirit animal.
A flat tire in the middle of Africa could be devastating so Dan installed an ARB air compressor under the hood.
That device will allow him to pump flat tires. During trips to Alaska and Argentina, Grec said he had to fix 16 flats.
Because the Jeep was becoming heavy, Grec installed a heavy-duty rear bumper and a swing-away carrier to hold the extra weight from everything he was carrying.
Also installed was a 2.5″ AEV suspension lift.
He didn’t need the extra lift, but the stronger build would help handle the extra weight.
Grec then worked to install a Warn Zeon 10-S winch with synthetic line.
The line can snap and hit Grec and it wouldn’t cut him in half. That seems like a smart move on his part in any environment.
An AEV front bumper was installed because it protects the radiator really well, and has a skid plate for the steering.
Dust in Africa can be horrendous so Dan was smart and also installed a snorkel with dust pre-filter to remove dust before it goes down into the air cleaner.
His Titan Tank on the rear carrier was also a smart move that provides Grec with an additional 13 gallons of gas. It never hurts to be prepared while on Safari.
Dan also built a water storage, pump, and filtration system.
He built it with an RV 12V pump and a 0.5-micron filter with a UV lamp built in. This is a great way to stay hydrated wherever he may be in Africa. It’s one of the most important pieces of technology for his travels.
Grec also moved the EVAP canister out of the way and then mounted a 12-gallon tank for drinking water.
You need to protect your water supply and Dan did that with a rock guard.
“I had a pop-up roof installed by a company called Ursa Minor. This replaces the stock Jeep hard top, and pops open. Normally it’s a bolt-on to a stock Jeep, but my modified roll bar meant we could open it right up, so I can stand up and walk around in the back of the Jeep for massive interior living space,” Grec explains.
By removing the upper sleeping slats, it’s wide open back there. That was important because Grec is 6-foot-2 and wanted some head space.
When upstairs, this is the view down.
There are wooden slats and mattress sections that slide into place to make the opening a flat sleeping platform.
This is a really cool feature: The sleeping slats fold and slide out of the way on each side to create standing room.
They also make a flat surface that the mattress section sits on when Dan wants to use the upstairs sleeping platform.
On the rear carrier Dan placed a spare tire and a 13-gallon gas tank, maxtraxx recovery mats (the orange things), a high lift jack, and a shovel to dig himself out when needed.
Remember this is all about being very prepared to travel throughout Africa on his own.
Dan also mounted an ARB awning on the back of the Jeep for a rain/sun shade.
He also mounted two 100-watt Renogy solar panels on the roof.
He chose those panels because they are extremely thin and lightweight.
They add virtually no wind resistance, and Ursa Minor made a tiny wind deflector for them.
The panels are wired into a charge controller that’s wired to the second battery.
Dan was able to leave it running with the refrigerator for a week, and the battery was at 14.5V. That means the solar technology is easily keeping the fridge in working order. If Dan became stranded for any period of time having a working fridge would become increasingly important.
“I bought a tailgate table with built-in cutting board, and then made a cutlery holder/organizer so all my often used stuff is easy to get at,” Grec explained.
He’s running a BF Goodrich All Terrain KO2s, which should be the most versatile for all the varied conditions.
After 16 flat tires on his previous trips he decided to go with steel wheels from Mopar.
Steel is better for a trip like this because they won’t crack. He also notes that if they get damaged he can beat them back into shape with a sledge hammer.
Dan says of his project: “I’m extremely happy with how it’s come together.
It’s just under 7 feet tall, and weighs 6,000 pounds with me and all my gear, food, clothes, tools and spares. It’s a few hundred pounds heavier than I would like, but it is what it is at this point.
Dan trial ran the jeep by camping and off-roading around Moab, Utah for a few weeks.
Adding to the final touches for his Africa trip, Dan painted a map of Africa on the hood.
“If you’re wondering how I pay for all of this, it’s all about priorities, and working hard to make your dreams come true,” Dan explains.
Check out how perfectly his Jeep fits in a storage container for the trip to Africa.
Dan has also written his first e-book — “Work Less to Live Your Dreams”.
Which teaches you exactly how to live cheaply and achieve your dreams like he has. Here’s his final product.
On his Twitter profile Grec shares his love of the Jeep brand.
“Driving around #Africa for two years in a modded #Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. Last#Overland adventure was 40k miles from Alaska-Argentina. #JeepLife#JeepAdventure.”
Dan encourages everyone to follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or on his website or YouTube channel.
Dan Grec started his journey on May 7, 2016, loading his Jeep into a 20-foot container in Halifax, Nova Scotia.From Halifax he was traveling to Glasgow in the UK where he would wait about two weeks for his Jeep to arrive.
Here is the proposed two-year trip Dan Grec plans to take across Africa.
He notes on his website that his travel plans could change for various reasons, but for now he is planning to follow the red dotted line outlined in the map shown above.
If you are curious how Dan Grec built the more complex parts of his Jeep, such as his water filtration system, he has documented much of his work on his website.
As he started his journey this month he offered a simple welcoming message to his potential followers: “I hope you’ll join me for the ride.”