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Packing For A Safari - prepare like a PRO!
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prepare your 4x4 vehicle and offroad trailer for an expedition into africa
Self drive tours into Africa with your own 4x4 vehicle can be one of the best holidays you will ever take, but you should be well prepared and ready for every eventuality. Your vehicle is your lifeline and we will help you prepare it for those long journeys into Africa. Choose the best 4x4 accessories, camping equipment, and outdoor gear. Our information also covers offroad trailers - your home away from home!
4x4 Vehicle Preparation
  Vehicle Selection and Preparation      
Travelling overland into Africa is an experience not easily matched by any other! It gives you an insight into the lives of locals you meet along the way and it provides you with flexibility to extend or shorten a stay due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather, politics, personal preferences or possibly enjoying a place too much to leave after only a few days.

Your vehicle selection will be one of the major decisions, even before you start planning an African self drive journey. Should you choose a 4x4 or 2x4, a diesel or petrol engine, a station wagon or pick-up, long or short wheelbase, new or second hand, offroad 4x4 trailer or no trailer...? We will try our best to give you a good overview of the choices available. Then there's the 4x4 vehicle accessories, equipment and upgrades that will make your journey easier and safer. We'll look at the available options for improving your vehicle and making it camp-ready for your safari.

We'll start with some of the basic questions that come up when starting to plan an overland journey by vehicle.
4WD or not?
4x4 is defintely the way to go if you are planning to venture into any of southern and east Africa's remoter regions. You will find that some areas are only accessible by 4x4 and these are mostly the unspoiled areas you'd want to explore. Places like Moremi, Savute, Chobe, Kaokoland, Kafue, Lower Zambezi and Kosi all require 4x4. There are many places that you can reach with a normal car, but those 'special' spots are the ones where you'll have to select low or high range to discover what the real Africa looks like! Make sure you choose a vehicle that suits the places you plan to visit.

We would suggest a 4x4 with low and high range, as well as diff lock. This ensures that you don't get stuck while out on a game drive or on your way to that remote waterfall you read about in your guide book. If you are planning to tow a camping trailer, then a 4x4 is a must as the additional drag will definitely require 4WD, even in the slightest challenges (sandy patches, muddy gravel roads, ditches, river crossings, etc.) encountered on the road.
Petrol or diesel?
If you plan to go on a long overland journey into areas where you might not find unleade petrol for your brand new 4x4, we'd suggest go with diesel. A diesel engine generally offers better fuel consumption, but it doesn't give you the power of a petrol engine. Most diesel engines are also simpler in design (especially the older models), and easier to work on if it needs attention. For heavy towing however, nothing beats a petrol engine. Diesel engines are fine for offroad trailer towing.

Station wagon or pick-up?

Station wagons are generally more comfortable than pick-ups due to the superior suspension systems but pick-ups offer more room for packing equipment and gear.

Station wagons are generally easier to pack and unpack as the gear is reachable from both the inside and the back of the vehicle. In a pick up, packing can get difficult as everything needs to be packed through the back of the pick up, and to then find something can be time consuming. There are excellent 4x4 accessories and packing systems on the market that suit both these types of models. Drawer systems and side entry canopies allow for easy packing and should make both options viable. Offroad trailers are very popular with travelers choosing station wagons as it allows for more than adequate packing space. Pick-ups are generally more affordable and if you're only two persons, a single cab makes sense. Some travelers even choose to arrange the back of their pick-up to make it possible to sleep in the back, on top of their gear and equipment. At the end of the day it will be personal preference and practical use that will determine the final decision.

The same goes for short- or long wheelbase. Many 4x4 owners choose to travel in a short wheelbase vehicle, as they only go on short journeys and travel as a couple. If you're worried about packing space, then tow an offroad trailer which serves as a complete camp-on-wheels.

Keep in mind that a long wheelbase vehicle is substantially more comfortable on rough roads and in most cases more stable too.

Vehicle Makes
Without getting into a brand war over which vehicle is best, let's look at the vehicles mostly used in Africa. By far the most commonly used 4x4 vehicles in Africa are the Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Hilux, Land Rover Defender and the Nissan Patrol. You are likely to find spares for these makes almost anywhere, as well as mechanics that can work on them.

There are some excellent 4x4's on the market these days but if you encounter mechanical problems along the way, you can be stuck there for a while waiting for a spare part or a mechanic that can fix the vehicle. It can also be an expensive excercise if your vehicle has to be towed to the nearest dealer where a qualified mechanic can fix it.

Some of the more luxury 4x4's seen across Africa are Mitsubishi Pajero, Toyota Prado, Land Rover Discovery and Jeep Cherokee. All these vehicles are great for long distance (tar roads and moderate gravel) driving but they are not made for harsh conditions and bad roads over long periods of time. Have you seen the size of the potholes on some of the African roads!!?
4x4 Vehicle Accessories brought to you by Front Runner Vehicle Outfitters
There are a wide choice of excellent 4x4 accessories available on the market today that will make every African journey an absolute pleasure. Below is a basic list of what is helpful as a start.

The main factor in choosing accessories for your 4x4 is weight. The roof rack is a popular vehicle accessory, used as a base to carry a roof top tent, additional fuel, gas and spare wheel to mention a few. Keep in mind that the carrying capacity of the vehicle's roof is more important than the roof racks' carrying capacity. Overloading a roof rack is a major cause of accidents, so if a roof rack is rated to carry a ton, it was not designed to the optimum weight/carrying capacity ratio.

The Safari Co.'s choice of vehicle accessories is Front Runner Vehicle Outfitters, tested in real African conditions on regular 4x4 journeys into wilderness areas.
  Vehicle Upgrades     4x4 Accessories & Equipment
Upgraded suspension   Front Runner Roofrack with Awning and Brackets
Tyres suitable for gravel road driving   Driving Lights & Working Light (rear) on roofrack
Improved Lights   Feather-Lite Rooftop Tent
Heavy-duty Tow bar   Front Runner Drawer Packing System
Skid plates under transmission/transfer case   12V/220W Fridge Freezer on slider
Bullbar with Winch and Spot lights   Front Runner 40 ltr Water Tank
Back bumper with 2nd Sparewheel carrier   Luggage Barrier
Raised Air Intake - Snorkel   CB Radio (with side band)
Rock sliders   Seat Covers
Built-in Safe   Spares Box with basic vehicle spares
Dual Battery System   Comprehensive Tool Box
Front Runner Longrange Fuel Tank   Tinted Windows (low interior temp and privacy)
Additional Power Points (dashboard and bin)   CASKA GPS and Multimedia System
CTEK Battery Charger   Sand and Mud Tracks
MAXTRAX Recovery Device - take the easy way out!
Further Recommended Vehicle Acessories and 4x4 Equipment
High lift jack and bottle jack
Tool kit
Basic first aid kit
DVD player and Audio System
Feather-Lite Awning
Spare tyres x 2 (+ repair kit)
Tow rope and/or winch
Wheel brace
Air compressor
Water containers (2 x 20 ltr)
Diesel containers (Jerry cans)
Axe, Shovel/Spade
Flexopower Solar Charging Kit
220V inverter
Ammo boxes
Dashboard power points
Dashboard shelf
Roof Console with LED lights
Metalian Offroad Trailer Preparation
  Offroad 4x4 Trailer Tips and Preparations brought to you by Metalian  
For extended journeys into Africa's wilderness areas or trips that need a bit more comfort than wild bush camping, there is nothing better than an offroad trailer. A 4x4 trailer serves as a 'home-away-from-home' and is an ideal solution for families or travelers seeking to make camping an absolute pleasure.

However, proper research and planning should go into choosing the right trailer and equipment that will cater for your requirements, and a suitable vehicle should be selected to ensure a safe and easy towing experience.
Standard of Manufacturing
Your camping trailer will be going through everything you are putting your vehicle through, so it should be tough and ready for anything. Roads in Africa are notoriously unpredictable, with road conditions changing with the seasons. Literally. You want to choose an offroad trailer that will last for many years and many trips into Africa.

Some things to keep an eye out when looking at manufacturing standards are the following: trailer chassis strength, suspension and axle, galvanised or stainless steel construction material, the 'seal' factor, packing space and functionality, accessibility, quality of hinges and locks, weld quality, paint quality, the level of customizable configurations to suit your needs, trailer stabilizers and towbar strength.

Check that ground clearance is sufficient. An additional spare wheel should be fitted securely onto the trailer.
Packing Your Trailer

The add-ons that go into and onto your trailer depends on what you want to get out of your offroad trailer. A great way to prepare a 4x4 trailer is to try to make it an independent unit when set up as a camp. This will include a kitted camp kitchen with a gas stove, working area, fridge/freezer on a slider, water tank with tap, easily accessible food and utensils packing space, battery operated lights, dual battery system (optional solar charge unit), a rooftop tent with an extra room and large main canopy section that fits over kitchen & sitting area, easy access to luggage packing space and camping equipment storage (chairs, table, extra lamps, bedding, etc.).

A nose cone makes the ideal storage space for a battery system and gas bottles. Tools and spares should also fit perfectly here.

Setting up camp shouldn't take longer than 30 minutes. It is crucial that your trailer allows for easy set up and breakdown of camp as well as safe storage of all camp equipment. The benefit of a 4x4 trailer camp set up, is that your vehicle can be used for game drives without any inconvenience of packing things away. Your camp is also safe from intruders (chacma baboons are notorious for camp break-ins) while out on a drive.

Offroad Trailer Tips
1. The tyre size and rim type on your trailer should be the same as your vehicle wheels. It gives you an extra spare wheel in the event of an extreme case where both vehicle spares have been used.

2. When packing make sure that everything has it's specific place to easily pack it and to always find it. Camp Cover manufacturers canvas storage solutions to make camping organized and comfortable. It is a great idea to have canvas bags, containers or holders for every set of items. Loose items tend to break or get damaged during travel.

3. The wheel track of your trailer should be exactly the same as your vehicles - this is the path that the tyres run in. It makes towing in sand and mud much easier.

4. When running a battery system in a trailer, use thick charging cables to ensure that the current is strong enough to keep your battery fully charged.

5. Look at the option of charging your trailer battery with solar panels while camping. Our choice of solar power for charging our two deep cycle batteries is Flexopower's Kalahari-162 4x4 Kit.

6. Rubber coat your locks to prevent it from scratching your trailer.

7. Use canvas storage bags for your braai grill and kettle to keep things clean.

8. Always carry a spare set of wheel bearings for your trailer wheels.

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camping equipment africa
  Recommended Camping Equipment  
Roof top tent
- mattress with duvet
- sheet and pillows
Hand wash basin
Table and table cloth
Expander Chairs
Cooler boxes
Rechargeable light
Candle holders
Washing line and pegs
Braai tongs
Cooking grill
Gas cooker
Gas bottles x 2
Cooking gloves
Frying pan
Cutlery (knives, forks and spoons)
Crockery (dinner plates, side plates and pudding bowls)
Glasses & coffee mugs
Large fork
Kitchen utensils
- bread knife, chopping knife
- serving spoons
- tin opener, bottle opener
- cheese grater
- scissors
- potato peeler
Washing bowls
- washing up brush
- dish cloths
- pan scrubbers
- tea towels
Read more on camping equipment and outdoor gear in Africa
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4x4 Vehicle Preparation | 4x4 Accessories | Offroad Trailer Tips | 4WD Equipment and Fitment | Tips and Advice on African Expeditions
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