During our trial run to Botswana we used a dome tent, which fitted on the roofrack, though we did sleep on the ground for a couple of nights. Such a system is great for short trips, but for ease and speed we have chosen to fit an Eezi-Awn rooftent. We were concerned about having a roof top tent without a hard top as we felt that it might not be sufficiently durable. Both Eezi-Awn and Technitop carry a hard top version, but this option meant a weight penalty over the soft top. Still, having climbed into, crawled about in and generally experimented in various outdoor shops with opening and closing the two makes we had chosen we decided on an Eezi-Awn, as we liked the system of storage pockets on the insides and we were not sure about the durability of the plastic base of the Technitop, which seemed extremely thin in places.
However, when we asked B'rakhah to fit the Eezi-Awn hard top tent in late January 2002, we were informed that Eezi-Awn were re-designing their hard top tent, and thus it was currently unavailable. We decided to stay with Eezi-Awn, but fit the slightly wider soft top model. This was lighter and cheaper, thus acceptable. The soft cover is very durable and the system sits much lower in profile. B'rakhah provided us with a customised heavy duty cover for our aluminium table, which was secured over the top of the rooftent with ratchet straps, thereby providing some protection to the top of the rooftent and making the profile slightly more aerodynamic.
In order to ensure that we only drank good quality water, we collaborated with Tommy Dent at H20 in Pretoria. Adrian had seen a system where a shower and water filter was mounted to a board and marketed by Brownchurch in the UK. We had been unable to find anything comparable in South Africa, so we asked Tommy whether he could replicate such a system. Tommy provided us with the Mark One version in December 2001, just before we were due to leave for Botswana. The board had hooks on the reverse so we were able to attach it to one of the rungs on the ladder at the back of the vehicle. The power supply could then be attached to the hella plug power point next to the rear spotlight.
We found the system worked well, though the board was heavy and awkward to pack, especially as the filter overlapped the edge of the board. The pump was also quite noisy. Following discussions on the possibilities to improve the system, Tommy povided us with Mark Two, a board half the size of the original, fixed in a wolffpakk box, so that we could, if necessary, unscrew the mountings to use the board on its own, or, more conveniently, use the system directly from the box. We took some pictures of Tommy, Nadia, who works for him, and Adrian with the new system which you can see below. Adrian is shown on the left holding the hose running purified water, Tommy is in the centre, and Nadia, his assistant, is shown holding the shower head attachment, which provides a strong shower using only the pump. The Mark Two system was around half the weight of the first, was very easy for us to pack since our packing system revolved around wolffpakk boxes, and the pump was quieter. The shower was stronger, so much so that we will need to ensure we have a large supply of water so as not to run the pump dry! Also the vibrations of the pump and filter had been dampened, and the original filter had been replaced by one a fraction of the size which was much easier to clean. In addition all the accessories (shower head, extra hose length and spares) fitted neatly into the box, making the whole thing very space efficient. Tommy had fitted an extra long lead for the power supply, giving us the freedom to use the device from any of the power points in the vehicle.
Spot Lights/Camp Lighting
Driving in Africa after dark is a seriously bad idea, but sometimes it becomes necessity. Daphne came fitted with two additional 100 Watt spotlights mounted on the bull bar in front of the radiator grill and wired into the full beam circuit on the main headlamps.
In addition to the vehicle lights and various torches, we have a hand portable spotlight and a neon strip light, running off the external 12 volt Hella plug. We can hang this light wherever it provides best cover and we have covered the bulb with yellow film, which provides a soft, yellow light, with the added benefit of not attracting mozzies. Equally, the strip light has a low power consumption (approximately 0,5 Amps per hour). We will remove the bulbs in Daphne's internal lights, to avoid an open door draining the battery unnecessarily.
The vehicle has a standard alarm/immobiliser and an obvious steering wheel lock. The above mentioned grilles, in addition to window tinting provide security for the rear compartment. A safe has been fitted for money and passports/documents.
All but one rear passenger jump-seat was removed and the fridge was fitted centrally behind the cubby box. A netted dog guard between the storage and passenger space and the cargo space was filled with 4 black 20L water jerry cans and 6 wolffpakk boxes, with chairs and extra equipment packed down each side. The equipment is strapped down with a webbing net. We are sure our system will evolve by the time we reach UK.
It appears common to fit 'Warn' or similar electrical winches integral to the front bumper, despite this adding an additional 60lbs weight penalty. This does not include the additional weight of a reinforced bumper, the combination of which requires the front suspension to be reinforced and adjustments needed to the hydraulic brake cables. One ends up questioning whether the higher front-end weight increases the propensity to get stuck. In the end I found a Tirfor hand winch (having had previous exposure to their effectiveness) that had a 10m steel cable, which proved very capable during our trial run in the Kalahari. A Hi-Lift jack has been fitted on the front of the Bull Bar, we carry a set of Trac Mats and additional recovery straps, snatch straps, pulleys and shackles and two shovels. A useful panga for wood and other chopping has been included.
Tools and Spares
A comprehensive tool kit is essential, together with the indispensable Haynes Manual. Even if the repair is beyond your capabilities, most bush mechanics can fix a repair, sufficient to allow you to reach further help. What they lack is the spares and the tools, which becomes essential to carry. Again we found local advice very helpful, although the equipment list within Tom Sheppard’s ‘Vehicle-Dependent Expedition Guide’ was comprehensive.
The tools are contained within a stout canvas bag, which packs in well and prevents rattles and abrasion. Spares and fluids are packed under the drivers seat and within a box in the rear. It’s difficult to know what spares to carry, for each vehicle is different and all-up weight is the constant limiting factor. We carry several diesel fuel filters, oil filters, and an air filter and enough lubricants for one change of each lubricant, together with a number of assorted nuts and bolts, glues, etc.
It is important to have a nightly inspection regime, including checking the underneath to ensure grasses are cleared, limiting the fire risk. We carried a small fire extinguisher in the front and a larger one in the rear.Top of the Page