Daphne in Botswana

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The idea behind this page is to highlight what equipment we found useful and what we should have left behind (with hindsight, of course!). It is purely personal, based on our 8 months of travel. Some obvious items have been overlooked from the lists, for they are probably detailed within the vehicle preparation pages. Some items may seem minor or frivolous, yet they made our lives significantly more comfortable. We were carrying plenty of equipment, for we planned to conduct a number of activities en-route, such as climbing a few high peaks, but our setback forced alterations to these plans.

Daphne

The verdict: we shall state from the outset that in our opinion, a Land Rover 110 Station wagon was the vehicle of choice for our journey. We opted for the 5-door version, as it allows better access throughout the vehicle - we removed all but one rear jump seat. We acknowledge that the majority of vehicles are Toyotas, which maybe more reliable and parts cheaper, but having ridden in several, our view is that their ride is uncomfortable and more bumpy than Daph’s (although we did up-rate Daph’s suspension) and Toyotas are not as agile over the rough bits. We do agree that a Toyota Land Cruiser is faster and more powerful on tar and has more torque in sand (although we never really struggled in the Sahara), but this is reflected in its heavier fuel consumption. Not being tall people we did not find the vehicle cramped or uncomfortable. Equally, finding African mechanics with relevant knowledge was no more of a problem that it would have been for other makes (save for the modern electrically complicated or advanced Japanese models).

Vehicle - Top Ten

Old Man Emu suspension – following the accident on Daph I, the OME provided a superior ride for Daph II.

Quality canvas seat covers for the front seats. We had Melville and Moon, which though expensive were excellent.

Tubeless BFGoodrich AT, steel wolf rims and treadseal. We only had one slow puncture in Algeria, which was swiftly repaired by our tyre plug set. The tyres were excellent, although the rear set were quite worn by the time we reached Tunisia.

Air compressor and tyre pressure gauge. Invaluable. We checked our tyres every morning and our Bush Buddy compressor worked very well, especially in the desert. Connecting it into the main electrics under the bonnet is an excellent solution. We do conceed that it is not strong enough to pump sufficient pressure to pop a tubless tyre back onto the bead - but then few (if any of similar types, less large industrial compressors) are.

Hella 12 volt constant power electricity plugs (fitted both inside and on the outside of the vehicle).

Extended fuel tank- 45ltr side fender tank augmenting the 80ltr main tank. We rarely had to rely on our jerry cans for range.

We fitted some Mantec rear window grilles on Daph II, which although expensive are an excellent design and protect the vulnerable rear window.

We used a ratchet strap and two cargo nets to prevent equipment flying forward and up into the passenger space. This was essential in Sudan and Chad because of the quality of the tracks.

We learnt the value of a seed net on our trail run to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. This was essential in western Sudan.

Raising the cubby box and placing a safe underneath improved the driving comfort.

A good tub of grease – essential to lubricate those parts in sand and dust - much more effective than Q20/3in1 oil or other products.

Vehicle - Bottom Ten

Reflective sunscreen was never used for the rake on the Land Rover is sufficiently upright to make a shade unnecessary.

2nd spare wheel on the bonnet restricts the driver's view, makes bonnet opening heavy and has the potential to damage the injectors from heavy knocks. However, this position reflects a compromise. Carrying 2 spares on the rear is difficult, a spare on the roof increases the vehicle's centre of gravity and few people have space inside the vehicle.

Although we had 4 x 20 ltr fuel jerry cans on the roof, this increases the vehicles centre of gravity. This again was a compromise for Daph – originally we wanted to hang the jerry cans off the vehicle rear side windows, hence the over-the-top side-window grilles (see vehicle page). We were impressed by the strength of the Flexi-lock used to secure the cans on the roof (see Chad page). The jerry cans on the roof worked well for us although they were empty for the majority of the trip.

Rear work lamp – this was an excellent powerful lamp, worked well on the Hella plug and no self-respectful overland 4x4 is complete without one. But we rarely had call to use it, it was a heavy power drain and attracted the mozzies and bugs when used.

The same applies to the front fog/driving lamps. We avoided night driving, precluding their use. However, all 4x4s should have these as it is possible to get caught out and driving lights could be essential!

Rear door lock on Daph frequently jammed due to the dust and failed to lock. Stripping the lock down and using grease provided the best solution.

Camping/Cooking Equipment - Top Ten

Eezi-Awn roof tent. Its easy to see why this tent is the market leader in South Africa, especially after its participation in our disaster. It performs as well now as the day it was bought. Having a mattress, sheets and proper pillows was a real luxury. The flexibility of openings and mozzie protection was impressive, though we had a large mozzie net also, which we only used in Sudan.

Florescent light wand on a long cable, wrapped in yellow cellophane to discourage mozzies worked briliantly. We were able to fix up in the rooftent, so we could read in bed - quite a luxury!

Strong elastic bands to keep the passenger windows tightly closed.

40 ltr National Lunar fridge. This worked well, even when the outside temperature was in the mid forties in Sudan.

Using kitchen implements/pots and pans was worth the extra weight their imposed over lightweight camping equipment.

Although we had a large camping table, we generally only used an excellent small folding table and the tops of the wolffpakk boxes for evening stops for ease.

A kettle with a whistling attachment was invaluable to ensure water was boiled and gas was not wasted (although we sometimes boiled water for 5 mins as a means of purification).

zip-lock plastic bags kept things fresh and prevented spills from becoming a general mess.

Jars of pre-chopped, crushed garlic were excellent.

Dried mushrooms lasted for ages and, given time to dehydrate, spiced up many a meal.

Noodles were great lunch snacks or additions to quick/lazy meals.

Waterless hand wipes, waterless hand antibacterial cleaner and Lava wipes for greasy engine filth ensured hygiene was maintained, and saved us a considerable amount of water, a valuable commodity.

Camping/Cooking Equipment - bottom Ten

We had a self erecting shelter for toilet stops and showers called a GotaGo. It is a great, light and practical instant shelter from a nylon fabric, but we never had cause to use it.

The folding toilet stool was useful, but got left behind at a stop in Botswana by accident and was not really missed.

We carried a 2nd tent for ease of administration on rainy days. The Oztent is a great design and an excellent tent, but a real luxury as it was heavy, long and bulky (it was a storage problem). Perhaps its real value may have been felt had we had more poor weather, but we only had one day of rain in 8 months!

Side awning – an excellent design, ours was self-supporting. Aluminium arms swung out from the roof rack, between which the awning was suspended. This meant the vehicle could be moved to capture the maximum shade with the awning up. But we rarely used ours and when we did, it was so dusty, we were filthy within minutes of putting it up or down.

We found an excellent large aluminium camping table, but storage was a problem. We had made a protective sleeve that had straps that allowed the table to be ratcheted down on top of the roof tent. This protected the tent, but became a nuisance each night to remove. We rarely used the table.

We had a water pump and filter made (see Equipment button), but as bottled water was freely available and sufficient good cooking water could be carried, we had little cause to use the filter. When we did, we experienced electrical problems, so it was infrequently used and never relied upon.

All South Africans live on their braais (BBQs) and we bought a braai grille and potjie (iron pot). These were ditched early on as they were not used and never missed.

We carried some tins and dried foods, but fresh food storage needs consideration. Fresh fruit and veg is freely available, but does not last long in high temperatures. Thank goodness for the fridge.

Equipment - Top Ten

Wolffpakk boxes – great size, dust proof and very strong (although the catches were weak). They fit the rear of Daph perfectly - our packing plan from day one largely survived the trip. We nearly ran out of spare catches though.

Pelican case for the computer protected it very well from dust, water and shocks.

GPS – although really required, it was outstanding in the desert.

Torque wrench, especially for checking tyre bolts.

Folding Track mats – excellent for sand extraction and very economic on storage place.

Tirfor hand winch – a strong performer on 2 occasions, both of which involved winching Daph from the rear.

Head torches (with LED bulbs) were invaluable at night, despite the light wand and other lighting assets.

LAN card for the computer to assist with internet connectivity.

5 ltr water container for immediate availability.

Spare ratchet straps were useful and ever-flexible.

Equipment - Bottom Ten

We had a few platypus water containers (plastic drinking vessels that allows water to be sucked through). These are great, but the water heated too quickly. We had a polar insulated water bottle which kept water cold for a couple of hours, so we used this instead.

We carried a small portable SW radio for the BBC World Service. Reception was patchy at best in most places. A World Space radio is a great option, but not when on the move. We understand that a small dome-shaped arial is under trails to make the World Space portable – this cannot come soon enough and should revolutionise in-car-entertainment.

We had a 2nd safe built in under our fridge -. This utilisation of wasted space was very effective (especially as we had the rear area re-carpeted in Cape Town), but a 2nd safe was a luxury that we rarely had need for. A false expansion tank wired under the bonnet is a great alternative safe location.

Clothing/Personal Items - Top Ten

The choice of clothing is a personal decision, but as a guide, half the amount of clothing you think you need! Quick drying clothing is great, for sweat wicks away fast too. Natural cotton fibres are the most healthy and shirts with chest pockets were the most secure and less obvious.

Adrian had a set of coveralls for grubby car maintenance to protect his clothes. For ease of putting them on he shortened the legs with some scissors so he could get them on without taking his boots off (but yes he looked silly wearing them!).

Adrian also wore a normal trouser belt that had a sewn-in zip which became a money belt for emergency finance should we get separated from Daph. We also had wallets which you could wear under your clothes, though we never wore these. Catherine had a bag worn across the body which contained the passports we were travelling on (the second passports were in the safe under the fridge) plus international driving permits and some extra money. This was very practical.

A leatherman multi-tool was invaluable, not just for car maintenance but everyday matters.

Good sunglasses are required to protect the eyes. In dusty areas, wrap-around sunglasses are great.

Teva sandals were great, but we wore stout shoes or boots for the majority of the time as they were more practical.

Lip balm and hand creams were essential to protect the skin.

Cleansing face tissues with a moisturiser or wet ones were great for those occasions when water was short or a quick wipe down was required.

Clothing/Personal Items - Bottom Ten

We carried too many clothes (something we heard about from most other travellers). But we had stuff to climb mountains and other activities. Two everyday sets of cloths and a smart set is all that is really required. Damage a pair of something and alternatives can easily be bought.

We had a wolffpakk box full of books, from which we read less than half. We were often too tired to read in the evening, and we were not in one place long enough, with the exception of Sudan.

We also had a full wolffpakk box for medical equipment – quite over the top. We can say that now as were experienced no difficulty, other than a couple of dodgy stomach days, but under different circumstances the medical equipment might have been a necessity.

We carried a spare inverter – totally unnecessary.

As we had a LAN card, we burned CD back-ups off at internet cafes. Just as well for our external CD writer packed up early on.

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