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Africa Coast-2-Coast - A Word To The Wise
Preparing Your Vehicle
Deciding which car to take on your journey and how to
pack it are important decisions. Here we share some
of our thoughts, including what worked and what didn’t.
We recognise there are many different points of view
and styles of travelling. Being a bit older, with our budget
backpacking days behind us, we tended to err on the
side of comfort.
We love old Land Rovers, but we chose to drive a 2006
Toyota Prado instead. There were two reasons: reliability
and comfort. We’re not mechanically minded so we
wanted a car we could rely on to get us across Africa.
In hindsight, the only things we had problems with were
things we added like the bull bar. The second thing we
wanted was comfort. Because we are also using this
vehicle to drive around Nairobi, we wanted an automatic
gearbox and air-conditioning.
We made some modifications to the vehicle. Here’s
what we did:
Added a roof rack – We installed Hannibal. It’s a well-
respected product, aluminum and lightweight. On the
roof rack we added a second spare wheel, two jerry
cans for extra diesel and a 40-litre water container with
an outlet for a shower hose.
Bull bar – Of all the equipment we added, we had more
problems with our bull bar. It kept wanting to fall off.
We stopped at least six times to have it fixed. We were
happy to have the protection and are still happy to drive
around Nairobi with a little more gravitas for encounters
with matatus, but it did cause us problems. It now
seems to be firmly attached.
Old Man Emu Suspension – Uprated suspension
to absorb the challenges of African roads. We were
pleased with the investment.
Hi Lift Jack – Bolted to the roof rack to save space.
Snorkel – Most people believe that this is for going
through water, but we are told they are actually for dusty
conditions to enable cleaner air intake from a greater
Water Tank – We bought a 40L black plastic water
container in Walvis Bay, Namibia. It was inexpensive
and fit on the roof rack quite easily. This is an essential
item for wild camping.
Storage – In the rear we put plastic containers (like
Ammo boxes) for clothing, food and kitchen equipment
and secured them using luggage rails and ratchet
Luggage Rails - These are a necessity in order to stop
everything in the back bouncing around and becoming
Tyre Monitors – This is an invaluable device we added
later after having the blown out a tyre. The brand we
bought is called Tyre Moni. Essentially, you fit a small
radio to each tire valve, which then signals pressure
and temperature to a small device that fits on the dash
inside your car. If you’ve got a slow puncture, you’ll
know well in advance.
Fridge/Freezer – We chose a Luna 70L unit, which
we anchored down in the back of the car. It worked
brilliantly. We only wish we had chosen to put the
fridge on a slide so that we could easily pull the
fridge out for access.
Battery Management System – We added a third
battery and batter y management system to run
the fridge, external lights, GPS and inverter. This
is separate from the engine and prevents a flat
Inverter – This allowed us to recharge mobile
phones, computers and other electrical goods.
(But not a hairdryer I hasten to add!) Quite handy.
Hidden safes – We added two small safes to hide
valuables and documents, one in the compar tment
between the front seats and one hidden below the
carpet in the back of the vehicle. Perhaps over the
top, but not expensive. Provides peace of mind.
BF Goodrich All Terrain Tyres – Although we had
a blowout in Namibia and had to write off one of
the brand new tyres, we did not have any further
Garman GPS – We mounted our GPS onto the
dash. Looks good and is neat and tidy.
Tracks4Africa – An essential purchase. GPS maps
of Africa that run on Garmin. The amount of detail
was amazing. You can order an SD Card online
from South Africa. Alternatively you can purchase
it in Nairobi at the camping store in Rhino House,
iPod – An essential item for long distances! We
had a connection installed so that we could put our
iPod in the glove box out of sight. Before we left we
downloaded loads of music and audio books.
External Lights – On a number of occasions and
despite our best efforts we found ourselves driving
at night and setting up camp in the dark. We added
extra spotlights both on the front roof rack and in
between the headlights. We also added some
inexpensive LED lights in the back and a larger
floodlight mounted on the back roof rack.
Fire extinguisher – Mounted securely and
discreetly in front of the front passenger seat. We
didn’t use it, fortunately.
Air pressure pump – Allows you to refill your tyres.
Essential if you are doing any off-roading in sand.
We bought ours in Namibia after getting stuck in
the sand dunes.
Things we didn’t take or modify, but wish we had:
Gas Bottle Carrier – 10kg. For safety purposes
mounted on the roof rack. We forgot to do this and
ended up carr ying the gas container behind the
passenger seat. Not particularly safe.
Window Tinting – Helps with temperature
control. Also provides “smash ‘n grab”
protection against thieves.
Fridge/freezer slide or roller – Allows you to
slide the fridge out of the vehicle for easier
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