£ Per litre kms miles cost Litres Galls mpg cost per mile
£0.51 South Africa 4045 2528 £236 480 106 21.2 £0.09
£0.51 Botswana 4314 2696 £314 649 143 21.1 £0.12
£0.75 Zambia 7053 4408 £647 850 187 23.0 £0.15
£0.69 Tanzania 5203 3252 £472 699 154 22.3 £0.15
£0.90 Malawi 3046 1904 £384 386 85 22.7 £0.20
£0.58 Mozambique 3197 1998 £250 425 93 21.3 £0.13
£0.61 Swaziland 678 424 £56 96 21 20.6 £0.13
£0.64 South Africa 4864 3040 £379 600 132 23.5 £0.12
£0.63 Zimbabwe 3416 2135 £267 396 87 22.6 £0.12
£0.57 Botswana 5742 3589 £429 760 167 22.6 £0.12
£0.62 Namibia 5808 3630 £386 651 143 25.4 £0.11
£0.62 South Africa 3658 2286 £294 432 95 23.9 £0.13
Total/Average 51024 31890 £4116 6425 1413 22.5 £0.13
The below chart gives a rough idea of the trip average fuel consumption for the various countries.
Diesel in many African countries, it seems, is generally of a lower standard and with more sulphur than found in the UK. UK fuel consumption with the Land Rover as standard was approximately 10 kpl (about 30 mpg) dropping to about 9 kpl (25 mpg) after modifications. Speed on the roads in Africa was kept at about 80 kph (50 mph). Fuel consumption was fairly consistent with the exception of driving on long stretches of sand when consumption dropped to something like 5.63 or 5.98 kpl (16 or 17 mpg). These figures accord quite nicely to published figures of 8 kpl (22.7 mpg) for tar and 5 kpl (14.2 mpg) for off-roading.
As a good rule-of-thumb, you should aim to have a fuel range of about 1000 kilometres (625 miles). For general use, a 1000 kilometre range would require approximately 128 litres (28 gallons); in sand this would increase dramatically to about 175 litres (38 gallons). Depending upon the leg and conditions, an additional leeway of a third extra fuel should be factored in. Whilst fuel availability is generally good in towns, the distances between towns, even on the major roads, can be considerable and with no guarantee that the garage will have fuel available or power to pump it. Little or no fuel will be available away from the major routes. The golden rule in the more remote areas is 'never pass a garage without topping up'. Most garages are cash only with fuel dispensed by an attendant; he or she or another will usually wash the screen. They will also check tyres and oil if required: a small tip is usual; 2 rand or equivalent is about right. Attendants everywhere will squeeze as much in as possible, often rocking the vehicle enthusiastically and often leading to spills! Some of the larger garage chains in South Africa are starting to take credit cards but not currently widely available.
The standard 110 TD5 Defender fuel tank holds 75 litres (16.5 gallons) giving a nominal range on tar of only 586 kilometres (366 miles) and on sand, only 422 kilometres (264 miles). Extra fuel, therefore, was essential for the places we were planning to visit. We fitted an extra fuel tank under the rear offside wing; this holds another 47 litres (about 10 gallons) giving an overall total of 122 litres (nearly 27 gallons) increasing the nominal range to 954 kilometres (nearly 600 miles) on tar and 687 kilometres (430 miles) on sand.
As I didn’t know what sort of fuel consumption to expect, bearing in mind we were carrying a lot of weight, I did buy in Cape Town 3 fuel jerry cans (& 1 water jerry can) fitted on the roof rack by Frontrunner holders. This gave an extra 60 litres (13 gallons) and now gave me a total capacity of 182 litres (40 gallons) and an anticipated range of 1423 kilometres (890 miles) for normal use and a sand range of 1024 kilometres (640 miles). I was happy this would be sufficient for our intended trip.
The extra weight of full jerry cans on the roof is a consideration but in the grand scheme of things I decided it was negligible, particularly as I had a little scare soon into the trip. I thought the nearest fuel was much further away than it actually was, thanks to mis-reading the GPS, and thereafter resolved that it was pointless carrying 60 litres of fresh air in the jerry cans not knowing when a crisis might arise: they remained full for the rest of the trip. We only had to use one once in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, although we could have comfortably made it without it, it was certainly peace of mind to have them.