Our recent trip to Lesotho took us to Sehlabathebe National Park – one of the most amazing mountain reserves I’ve visited. The birdlife, flora and scenery were spectacular. We also saw mountain reedbuck and black-backed jackal on a few occasions. We posted an article with some amazing pics where you can read about our Lesotho 4×4 trip.
We decided to take only the vehicle without the trailer due to the rough road conditions. Lesotho is known for it’s steep and rocky mountain passes, which is great for a 4×4 trip, but not so good for towing an offroad trailer. When camping in Lesotho it requires that we are completely self sufficient. This means we need to include the following in our planning:
- shelter (waterproof tents with bedding),
- food (to prevent taking too much or too little it’s best to plan meals using a day to day menu),
- water (and a long enough hose to refill tanks),
- power (to charge batteries, run fridges, use LED lights and recharging of equipment),
- outdoor gear and apparel,
- vehicle and trailer spares,
- and fuel (enough to give you 750km before having to refuel again).
Below is a summary of how we set up the vehicle for our 4×4 self drive journey to Lesotho. Our focus is to travel light and easy to maintain but comfortable enough to ensure we want to keep exploring Africa…
The Expedition Vehicle
The vehicle’s suspension has to be in good order to handle the rough roads dished out in Lesotho. We make use of Gabriel SAFARI HDP shock absorbers and OME coils to take us there and back.
Traveling as a family means we need to take into consideration the dynamics that exist within our ‘unit’. Entertainment on the road is important for the kids, especially on those long driving days. A CASKA Multimedia and Navigation System makes it a pleasure to travel. It plays anything from CD’s to iPods, flash sticks and DVD’s. Two additional monitors mounted on the headrests keeps the kids entertained for hours. It also great for educational videos. This works well with their educational tools to learn while traveling.
A variety of interest based accessories take up a healthy portion of our limited packing space. Camera equipment, fly-fishing gear, hiking gear, books and a few toys for the kids are about all we have space for. We like to use the Front Runner Wolfpack boxes for these items. They are durable, pack well, is easy to strap down or place in a transit bag on the roof rack and stackable. It also keeps things neat and easy to find as each box is marked.
We make use of a very nifty drawer system in the back of the Land Cruiser that takes our 90 ltr National Luna fridge/freezer and two sliders to carry all our kitchen utensils, cook ware, crockery, food and spices. The drawer system is made by Front Runner and utilizes the space in the back of the vehicle optimally. We placed two cargo rails left and right on the top to easily strap down the gas stove (if we travel with the vehicle only), luggage and/or ammo boxes with shock cords. On the one side of the drawer systems we store our loose items like tent pegs, hammer, recovery gear, tools, ropes and ratchets, tyre repair kit, ground sheets and electrical cable in different, very handy canvas storage bags. These bags are made by Camp Cover and they really make packing and finding things a breeze. It organises the equipment and protects it at the same time. Camp Cover also makes a very handy rubbish bag that fits onto the spare wheel at the back of the vehicle. This bag is made of strong canvas and takes a normal black dustbin bag which can be stored there until you reach the next rubbish bin where it can be disposed of.
A fire extinguisher is fixed to the other side of the drawer system within easy reach if ever required. Next to the fire extinguisher we neatly pack four Expander Chairs from Front Runner (see pictures below). These are the best camping chairs you can take on a 4×4 trip. They pack very compact, they’re strong, offer support and comfort and the handy strap makes it easy to carry.
Behind the back seat there is space to store the Feather-Lite Awning. This is an invaluable piece of camping equipment that mounts on the side of the roof rack and creates protection from the elements. It takes about 5 minutes to to set up and secure – we tested it in strong winds and hard rain, and it passed with flying colours.
Clothing and outdoor gear can take up lots of space. We use K-Way clothing that doesn’t pick up dirt easily and handles harsh conditions very well. The K-Way gear is light so it reduces weight and packing space. The clothes are made from quick-dry material. This ensures we don’t have to pack many different sets of clothes.
Our electrics are made up of a dual battery system (built into the engine compartment of the vehicle), a CTEK D250S battery charger, a Comfort Indicator (situated on the dash), Hella plug points, a Waeco 350W Inverter and a Flexopower Kalahari-162 solar charging unit. The vehicle’s main battery is isolated to be used for starting the engine only. The photovoltaic solar cells work like a charm (see the image below). It delivers 10A of power and we’ve tested it in cloudy conditions for 4 days with the National Luna fridge running non stop, the use of lights every night and charging of laptops and cameras during the day. The kids even watched a movie on the portable DVD players (but this is not recommended…). We never had to charge the battery with the alternator or by 220V power. Our Kalahari-162 solar kit did it for us. We were totally self sufficient in terms off power so now we can be based in the most remote areas indefinitely. Electrics on an expedition vehicle is important, so don’t skimp on it. Be sure you get the right set up.
Sleeping arrangements were made up of a Feather-Lite roof top tent on the vehicle and a canvas dome tent (this is when we travel with the vehicle only). Due to the type of terrain we traverse at times (rocky 4×4 tracks and mountain passes), we travel without our Metalian trailer every now and then. However, most of our trips are done with the trailer in tow. And what a pleasure it is!
The tents worked well and the weather during our stay really put it to the test! We had to endure freezing temperatures, gale force winds and heavy rain but both tents kept us warm and dry. It is important to use a good sleeping bag and foam mattress to keep the cold out.
One last thing: bring enough fire wood for the duration of your stay. This is mountain country and there is no wood available.
Lesotho is a destination full of adventure and beauty, ready to be explored! We will be exploring another part of this fascinating country soon.
The Safari Co. is proud to work with Front Runner, Flexopower Solar Solutions, K-Way, Metalian trailers, Gabriel, National Luna, Camp Cover, MAXTRAX, CTEK and CASKA. All these companies manufacture superior products for the ultimate African expedition.