Tag Archives: 4×4

Try camping – Rob’s response

Anyone who read the post “Try camping – it’s much cheaper” and thought that it was about camping and buying stuff for camping missed the point. It’s really about the differences in the way men and women see the world. Observe a couple in a TV store  – the male will immediately see the importance of owning a 42 inch plasma TV; the  female will roll her eyes and tap her foot. A foot encased in a shoe that cost half as much as the TV, but which she considered a bargain.

Let me explain a few things that were omitted from the post in question. There are a few snide comments on buying a 4X4, but this was a no-brainer and really not worthy of further discussion. I proved that by taking the Opel Monza up the first stretch of Sani Pass. Point made.

You'd take a sedan up here?

You'd take a sedan up here?

So let’s consider the other items.

A man says “I’m going to buy a rooftop tent” and his wife thinks he is going to buy a rooftop tent. Only a rooftop tent. But the man knows that you need load bars to fit the rooftop tent to the bakkie – how else are you going to put it on the roof? Nail it on? The load bars are so obvious, it isn’t really worth mentioning them. If you are going to buy shoes, you don’t really have to mention that you need shoe-laces as well, do you? And if you buy a rooftop tent, then clearly you plan to go camping, right? In remote places (in Namibia anywhere outside of Windhoek is remote). So it is a given that you will need some recovery equipment – high-lift jack, tow strap, sand tracks, compressor, spade. No point in taking a chance on getting stuck out there in remote Namibia. And of course you will need camping stuff like sleeping bags, gas bottles, lights, chairs. So if a man says “I’m going to buy a rooftop tent”, he doesn’t mean only a rooftop tent, he means that he wants to go camping. I would have thought that much was obvious. Anyway, it was Jane who wanted the chairs.

And, to set the record straight, the drawer system so derisively referred to in the post below was made absolutely essential because of the amount of unnecessary “stuff” that Jane has to cart around with her. Take toiletries. I take nothing from the bathroom on a camping trip beyond a toothbrush and toothpaste. After all, you don’t need a comb if you wear a hat; you don’t need to shave if you don’t take a mirror. Jane? 321 separate items in a toiletries bag the size of a respectable Nike tog bag, most of which are unidentifiable and some of which look positively lethal. So the drawer system was actually bought in self-defense to contain these weapons of mass reconstruction.

One of the black bags is Jane's toiletries bag

The black bags on the left are Jane's toiletries bags

Now I concede that a man may be vain enough to sneak a peek at himself in the rear view mirror once or twice during a camping trip to see how his beard is progressing, or how his hat fits. Bad mistake. Beards always feel better than they look, and although women look great in hats, men just look like dicks. But we might sneak a peak now and again. Women, on the other hand, look at their reflection in any shiny surface that they can find; a silver tea-spoon, a pot lid, a darkened car window, the neighbour’s bald head. Even a mirror. A big mirror, which they will take with them expressly for this purpose. Into the drawer with it.

Camping vs hotels - would you really trade this for the bathroom at a Holiday Inn?

Camping vs hotels - would you really trade this for the bathroom at a Holiday Inn?

Campring vs hotels - Or this shower for the shower at the London Hilton?

Camping vs hotels - Or this shower for the shower at the London Hilton?

Of course, women do have more reason to look into a mirror than men; most men have bodies that shouldn’t be seen unclothed in daylight; women are works of art. Have you noticed that just about all men’s magazines have pictures of near-naked women in them? And most women’s magazines also have pictures of near-naked women in them? I’m not sure what that proves – just thought I would mention it. I read somewhere that most women would rather get undressed in front of a man than in front of another woman. This is because women are critical; men are just grateful.

Back to the drawer system. Another reason that it proved essential was to accommodate the clothes that Jane takes camping. A separate outfit for every day and every weather condition, plus a few spares. When all you really need is a change every couple of days. (Clean underwear becomes quite a treat after a few days!) We take off for a weekend in the Namib Desert; she packs a raincoat. But, with all those outfits, she will still find it necessary to launder something sometime during the trip. Amazing. Why can’t she just turn the stuff inside out and carry on wearing it?

So was all this camping stuff expensive? Depends on your frame of reference, really. A man will happily pay $500 for something that is only worth $250 if he really wants it. A woman will pay $250 for something worth $500 that she has no use for whatsoever, and think she got a bargain. I wanted the camping stuff, therefore it was cheap at the price.

In conclusion, to compare the cost of camping to overseas holidays doesn’t make any sense at all! Only a woman could possibly think that a romantic evening wining and dining on the Champs-Élysées in Paris is more fun than digging your 4X4 out of a river bed under the blazing sun in the Khowarib Schlucht in Namibia.

Far more interesting plants here than at Kew Gardens.

Far more interesting plants here than at Kew Gardens.

Now, if we pass up the trip to the Greek Isles next year, I can get a set of Old Man Emu shocks and maybe a snorkel ….

Try camping – it’s much cheaper

As you have no doubt gathered, Rob and I are inveterate travelers and will pack a suitcase at the drop of a hat.  We’ve been privileged to visit many overseas countries (at great expense because of our darned weak currency) and so whilst sipping cool beers on our front patio one evening, we decided it was time to pull in the reigns on all this travel spending and lower our sights a bit.  We would take to camping and explore Southern Africa instead.  This would have a twofold benefit – we would save a fortune and get to know our own and neighbouring countries much better.

Here’s what our first attempt at camping looked like:

A modest start

A modest start

After one or two these trips Rob got this faraway glint in his eyes and started dropping hints about how nice it would be to have a 4×4 so that we could visit Namibia.  “Not a new car”, he said, “we could perhaps get ourselves a good second-hand one.”

I think Rob must have worked for the CIA at some stage because he then started applying Chinese torture tactics and the hints fell like water dripping on a stone.  The clincher for the deal was when he insisted that we drive my little car (featured above) halfway up Sani Pass.  Anyone who knows Sani Pass knows that it isn’t a road, it is a rocky track designed to remove the bottom of one’s car and chew up tyres within eight kilometers.  After we finally managed to lever my car off a boulder and tie the exhaust back on with a piece of wire, I threw my hands up in despair and said: “Okay, you win, let’s go and find a 4×4!”

And so with great luck we managed to buy an almost new Toyota Hilux in mint condition.  The only snag was that it needed a canopy otherwise we couldn’t store any of our gear on the back.  Things were definitely looking up though.

Then Rob started buying the Getaway magazine which features all the mod cons that are a must for camping, and guess what!  The perfect accessory (according to him) was a rooftop tent.  “They don’t cost much,” he said “and make camping so much easier as they can be put up in minutes.  We’d have much more space in the car for all our gear and utilities.”  This sounded like a plan, but at this stage I had also been paging through the Getaway adverts and saw the ultimate camping accessory – a 40 litre Engel fridge.  Now I had some leverage.  “You get the rooftop tent if I get a fridge.”  We had battled in the heat with cooler boxes and the like, so a fridge, as far as I was concerned was a necessity, not a luxury.  I won!  Off we went to the Safari Centre to buy these TWO items.  What an ignoramus I must have been.

Two hours later we staggered out of the shop with a highlift jack, a compressor, a fridge, two folding chairs, numerous jerry cans, water bottles and an appointment to come back the following week to have the rooftop tent fitted – on roof tracks – next to a roof rack.  “What had happened back there”, I wondered.  “I thought we were getting ourselves a tent and a fridge.”

And we're off

And we're off

I must give Rob credit though – once we were kitted out, our camping became a delight.  We thought that as campers we had finally arrived!  But wait, what did the latest edition of Getaway come up with?  A drawer system for the bakkie (in Africa we call a truck a bakkie).  These are great because they come with a sliding section for the fridge to come right out of the vehicle and make it more accessible.  Yes, we definitely needed one of those.  No more utility boxes cluttering up the car – we could put all our food and clothing in the lock up drawers.  Perfect.

Anyone who visits Namibia or Botswana knows that there isn’t always a shady tree to camp under and when temperatures soar up in the 30C’s and 40C’s you definitely need some shade.  Getaway was advertising some wonderful canopies that attach to the side of your vehicle.  They pull out about three meters, giving you loads of shade.  Oh yes, we had to have one of those.

The full monty!

The full monty!

The latest acquisition was a GPS as we would be traveling in such remote areas that we could disappear off the planet without knowing which direction we were taking.

So now, let’s get back to those costly overseas trips that we were complaining about.  Let’s work out what this camping has saved us over the last five years:

Item Equivalent to
Toyota Hilux 4×4 & canopy Three round the world trips for two
Rooftop tent One week at the Paris Hilton Hotel
Compressor & highlift jack Five nights at Sun City with free  casino vouchers each night
Engel fridge Two week overland trip from Nairobi to Cape Town
Drawer system A luxury cruise on the Nile
Shade canopy Flight to Durban to see the grandchildren
GPS Elephant safari in Thailand
Repairs to the Toyota after heavy 4×4 trip A tour of 21 European countries in an air-conditioned coach, staying at 3 star hotels, including all meals
New tyres for the Toyota A visit to the gorillas of Rwanda for a party of eight.

When we decided to go through the Central Kalahari, Rob started talking about having a snorkel attached to the car because of the dust and deep sand.  Enough is enough.  If I have any say in the matter, the only snorkeling we’ll be doing will be in a shallow lagoon in the Seychelles.  Who are we kidding – this camping lark isn’t saving us a cent!!!    But it will from now on, as we have everything we need – if we stop buying Getaway.

Note to the kids:  If you give Rob a subscription to Getaway for Christmas you will be disinherited!