Being Africa we endeavoured to cook on an open wood fire whenever possible – you can’t beat sitting around a crackling fire listening to the African night sounds and gazing at the stars. (Make sure you know what a tamboti tree looks like – it gives off poisonous fumes when burnt). Most of the time we used a braai fire grille, a gift from Paul Blackburn at OneLife Adventure that stored over the rear spare wheel and held in place by the four legs by a ratchet strap. We also had a tripod with adjustable height grille that fitted over the fire. When wood was hard to get we reverted to charcoal that in some countries was the only fuel for sale roadside - in some countries they put it in huge bags making it difficult to lift on to roof. We picked up an mbaula (a small single pot charcoal brazier) in Zambia and used this with charcoal to cook when we only needed a single pot – very efficient.
We took our beauclaire gas cooker with cast iron griddle and paella pan from the UK but had to get a gas bottle and regulator in Cape Town. This was an excellent cooking means until it fell off the roof in Zambia. We replaced this with a Cadac system but it wasn’t as good.
A small portable gas cooker fuelled by a small disposable canister was brilliant for a quick lunch or boiling a kettle; it fitted perfectly on a small drop shelf fitted to the rear door inside panel.
Gas Bottle Holder
A Frontrunner system was bolted onto the roof rack to hold the BBQ gas bottle – both purchased in Cape Town as gas bottles shouldn’t be shipped, we believe.
We could boil water either on the fire, or small gas cooker in a small camp kettle; in a low wattage 240 volt kettle either on hook-up or on the inverter; in a ‘kelly’ or ‘storm’ kettle where a small fire is lit under a jacket of water with a hole in the middle that draws the flames and boiles the water surprisingly quickly.
We used a 5 litre plastic tub with large screw top for washing clothes on the move. This was large enough to hold a day’s worth of ‘smalls’ and tea towels etc. Cold water washing powder was available in most stores. Providing the tub wasn’t filled too much the day’s bumps would gently agitate the washing ready for rinsing on setting up camp. We used two handy collapsible bowls for general washing including clothes and they stood up very well only requiring the occasional superglue on the joints – until one was stolen! Take some universal sink plugs as most washing facilities are missing plugs and it isn’t easy trying to soak clothes without one.
Fridges and Cool Boxes
We took our fridge/freezer we had had previously in our motorhome; a Waeco Coolmatic 35 litre capacity running 240 or 12 volt (The dark & light grey one in the photo). This was fixed in a frame on the top rear shelf and strapped in. With hindsight we should have gone for a bigger one that would also run on gas to allow it to last longer than the 2 or 3 days parked up that the auxiliary battery would just about cope with. Efficiency very dependent on ambient temperature. I would also invest in a sliding mechanism to make access easier as Judi struggled to get to items at the bottom. Ours was either a fridge or a freezer depending upon the setting; a combination one if room permits, would be more flexible.
Our electric cool box, purchased in South Africa, didn’t last long and ended up being used as an ordinary cool box – we got what we paid for. We also had an ordinary one we kept for bottles of drink etc.
We had difficulty, following a supermarket shop, to quickly store provisions, especially if we had a few willing helpers trying to assist, and tended to just stuff bags wherever we could stick them – not ideal: best to plan ahead so you can pack up as quickly as possible. Although we never had any problems with the people in this situation there is always the potential for for things to 'walk off' - BE ON YOUR GUARD!
For general camp lighting we used a 12 volt LED strip light fitted over the rear door along with a 12 volt LED wander lamp with velcro attachment (we placed various strips on side and rear of vehicle for correct positioning). Both were bright and being LED, do not attract insects – a brilliant find. Likewise, if we had 240 volt hook-up we used a wander lamp with a yellow bulb that also does not attract too many insects. This was replaced with a standard table lamp after the monkeys in Zambia chewed the old one – not an ideal replacement. Most of the time the light from the fire was sufficient, supplemented by head torches, ordinary and wind-up torches. We also carried a 12 volt plug in spot light with headlight bulb for game drives and checking out strange noises in camp!
We settled for fold-up chairs that took up less room than conventional camp chairs and stacked them on the roof. Fairly easily bought in the larger African supermarkets and specialist shops – we had to carry up to 4 to cater for guests.
We took fold-up aluminium tables that stacked well on the roof. The small one we had had for years ended up with a bent leg and unusable, due to being over-tightened on the roof by the ratchet straps. The large table survived unscathed. I had reduced the height of the table by taking about 5 cm off the bottom of the legs to make it a better height to sit at in the chairs but this made it the wrong height for standing at for food preparation, washing, etc.: Judi, apparently, blames her bad back on my modified table!.
Folding Toilet Seat
A collapsible seat that did just that!
Obviously a very personal thing but my advice would be to travel light. We took far too much because we packed clothes into the Land Rover before it was shipped and then took suitcases with us to Cape Town with more clothes. Although we needed clothes to see us through to the arrival of the Land Rover we ended up doubling up on a lot of items and immediately left a pile of clothes and the two old suitcases with Doreen and Peter at Makuti for distribution to the needy. Further sort outs led to further handouts on the way – no bad thing but we didn’t need to take so much in the first place!
It’s no good having loads of clothes stashed away as the reality is you’ll only use those to hand. I tended to live in sandals, shorts and safari shirts - they have handy pockets and can get covered in dust and still look cleanish. Judi tended to wear sandals, shorts and tee-shirt or lightweight dresses. We didn’t worry too much what we looked like on the basis that we probably weren’t going to meet anyone we knew that day and we looked ready for the bush. That’s what I joked but I’ve been told that I must mention the fact that Judi kept on top of the washing and we usually looked quite respectable. Additionally, if it’s good enough to get into The Sunbird Capital Hotel at Lilongwe it’s good enough to get into most places!
Accommodation and Parks
Camp fees vary from country to country with probably South Africa giving the best value of fees to facilities: others, such as Tanzanian Park camps, are extortionate with some having awful facilities. Likewise, park fees varied enormously from country to country as did the accessibility and facilities.
The South African Wild Card we purchased saved us a small fortune on park fees. International Visitors have to buy a 12 month card covering all the National Parks of South Africa: we paid R1640 (£120) – cost now has gone up to R1850 (£136). If time is to be spent in South Africa it is well worth considering: we saved money after 3 weeks.
Click on image
Total days ‘camping’
Total ‘camping’ costs
Average cost pppn
Average cost per person per Park Day
* + Wild Card + most fees included in camp fees.
SA Bots Zam Tan Mal Moz Swaz Zim Nam
61 63 50 39 22 22 5 18 27
£630 £755 £481 £384 £152 £242 £39 £192 £499
£5.16 £6.23 £4.81 £4.92 £3.47 £5.50 £3.90 £5.33 £9.24
£16* £696 £503 £694 £215 £139 £4* £192 £160
32 35 15 14 18 12 4 14 12
£0.25 £9.95 £16.76 £24.78 £5.97 £5.79 £0.50 £6.85 £6.66
Think I may have paided over the odds for this charcoal ...