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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Trip report: Namibia - Now with video

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sabconsulting

High Wycombe, UK

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Posted: 12/01/10 02:20pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I did a very basic trip report on this back in October 2010, but it was a rushed affair just to quickly put a few photos on the forum. Since then I have changed ISPs and my old webspace vanished as a side effect. So since I am sat here in a hotel in Bradford surrounded by snow I'll use the time to start a more detailed trip report and get the pictures back for everyone to see.

On edit (December 2011): I've also added a short video on YouTube HERE.

One day Sally says "We should take the truck down to North Africa - we can do some of the Sahara".

By "the truck" she meant the air-portable artillary tractor that tows her horse trailer:

[image]

(We've now sold that truck [emoticon] - here was the sad day)

I pointed out that the following:

1) With its rock-hard suspension and fixed-position vinyl seats she complains after 30 minutes sat in it, let alone the length of time required to drive to Africa.
2) It's gas V8 does around 10mpg (US) when unladen and getting to Africa would be a little pricy at our pump prices.
3) It is over 30 years old and not the most reliable toy in the box.
4) Being canvas roofed with no door locks you couldn't leave it for 5 minutes in Africa with your stuff inside unless you didn't mind your stuff not being inside any more.

"If we can't take the truck then can we fly to Namibia and rent a camper?"

"Errrr, well, I guess so..."

So onto the research. I wanted something that had moderate offroad ability, so it needed 4WD, reasonably low weight and reasonably short overhangs. So no class C motorhomes. There were lots of pick-up trucks for rent. There were also some Land Rover 110s, for which I would be paying a fortune for offroad ability way beyond what I actually required. However, all of these relied upon you puting up a tent amongst the things that bite, or using a roof tent, which I imagined toppling out of in the middle of the night after a couple of beers when my bladder starts attention-seeking. There was pretty much nothing else out there.

In South Africa they fit boxes onto the back of their 'bakkies' for use by utility companies. Here's one I saw in Sandton (northern Johannesburg):

[image]

After much searching I found a company who made camper versions of these and a place in Windhoek that would rent me one:

[image]

The whole package was pretty neat. Here it is on a very good road (for Namibia):

[image]

Once at the camp site the roof lifts to give headroom and one side drops down to make a double bed:

[image]

Here the cushions are removed, but you can see the little well where the table normally is, enough for 2 people to sit opposite each other. With the table down and the cushions in place you get a pretty good size double bed. All sides also zip off revealing fly netting. The ventilation was fantastic and we were much cooler in the desert than if we had been in a tent.

[image]

The water tap could be extended out of the window to make a cold-water shower. I used that once when I had got overly hot after a walk through the dunes of the Namib:

[image]

Air Namibia doesn't sound too luxurious, the name brings forth visions of 60 year old DC3s on sand-blown air strips. However, it turned out they had just purchased a very nice Airbus A340 (the same 4-engine jets Virgin Atlantic use). They then ruined that affect at check-in by saying we couldn't sit together. Sally blew a gasket. She wasn't going to spend 10 hours sat next to some sweaty stranger. So I stumped up some extra cash and we found ourselves in business class, which because Air Namibia don't stretch to 1st class was actually more spacious than regular business class. We took off and I fell asleep, only to wake when approaching Windhoek. I felt slightly hard done by since I had paid all that money and had slept through the experience, but I was grateful in the end - we had a long drive on dirt roads and I needed the sleep.

We picked up the truck and some shopping in Windhoek without any real hassle and headed south west. The truck seriously lacked power, and for a while I thought the turbo on the 3 litre diesel wasn't working, but it was just a case of getting used to a lower specification vehicle sold in Africa. A few miles out of Windhoek and the sealed road ended, plus we got our first sighting of baboons. This was definitely Africa. I had plotted the route in advance and was able to follow it easily on my GPS, thanks to an inexpensive map I purchased for it put together by enthusiasts within Africa.

The first day's journey took hours, but eventually we reached the Spreetshoogte pass from where the road drops from the mountains towards the dunes of the Namib:

[image]

Wisely we chose to stay the first night in a proper lodge, while we sorted out how the camper worked:

[image]

[image]

[image]

The welcome at the lodge was fantastic, something I have experienced at other privately run lodges in southern Africa.

Next morning we carried on south west towards the Namib. As we continued the scenery changed and started to give a sign of what was in store:

[image]

[image]

[image]

And a slot canyon showing the last signs of water before the dunes:

[image]

[image]

The journey continues soon - stay tuned for the spectacular bits...


Steve.

* This post was last edited 12/27/11 03:50am by sabconsulting *   View edit history


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DesertHawk

Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Posted: 12/01/10 02:31pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Neat report, neat rig. Thanks for sharing!


">DesertHawk- Las Cruces, NM USA
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sleepy

Oak Ridge,Tennessee

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Posted: 12/01/10 02:49pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

good report Steve...

you are going to have all of us wanting to do some serious traveling

Thanks again for sharing what most of us will never experience

sleepy


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GoinThisAway

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Posted: 12/01/10 05:36pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You've got a good start on a fascinating TR. Thank you for going to the effort of posting a second time. Even having seen your earlier post on this trip I can't wait to see more!


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Bigfootchevy

Bancroft, Ontario, Canada

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Posted: 12/01/10 06:25pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Very good, thanks for sharing.

Paul

sabconsulting

High Wycombe, UK

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Posted: 12/02/10 12:18am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Lots of Stuff wrote:

How do you manage Africa without an Air Conditioner?
We sissy Yanks can't seem to live without them.


There was an airconditioner in the cab so we could keep cool while driving. This was essential because you cannot drive with the windows open due to the fine dust that gets everywhere. You can see some of it on the kitchen work surfaces - even with the camper fully sealed it would still get in some how. The rig was also white and I noticed that even if it had been all day in 100F + temperatures in the African sun the paintwork was cool to the touch.

In the desert, soon after sundown the breeze comes and cools things down rapidly - the large openings with fly netting were excellent for catching that breeze and funnelling it through the camper.

If you look at most South African campers / TTs they are based upon the assumption of outdoor living, so often the kitchen area / fridge are accessible from outside because you will be doing all your cooking, eating, socialising outside, and only use the inside for sleeping. Remember we are talking about southern Africa where it is hot and dry, rather than the humid tropical regions where despite lower peak temperatures you would be crying out for airconditioning because of the humidity (in the same way that I find Abu Dhabi bearable, but struggle in cooler Hong Kong due to the moisture).

Steve.

nycsteve

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Posted: 12/02/10 05:06am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"Things that bite" [emoticon]
Any trip report with this phrase has to be good!





Less Stuff

WA. USA

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Posted: 12/01/10 06:29pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"The journey continues soon - stay tuned for the spectacular bits.."

Wow this post was spectacular! Thanks for posting. Looking forward to the rest.

How do you manage Africa without an Air Conditioner?
We sissy Yanks can't seem to live without them.


DG
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whazoo

Idahome

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Posted: 12/01/10 07:53pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Very cool, I'll be looking for more...

Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli

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Posted: 12/01/10 09:18pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I remember your last report.
Enjoyed your pictures and information from both reports.


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