Self-Drive and Camping
Embarking on a camping trip into the bush requires a good deal of planning and preparation. You will be going to remote areas, accessible only by four-wheel drive, where water, petrol, or food, may not be available. You will often be driving on rough roads and under conditions which are very different from those you may be used to.
Camping gear - Tent, sleeping bag, extra blankets and jackets (in winter), camp-beds (if you find them more comfortable than sleeping on sand), axe, shovel, cooker, water bottles, pots, non-breakable dishes and cups, torches, matches, tin-opener, knife, batteries, bulbs for torches (a good supply), candles, gas lamp (gives lots of light), folding tables and chairs, a large cold-box, masking tape, cello tape, safety-pins, sewing kit, penknife, first-aid kit, buckets and basins, Thermos flask, mosquito coil and insect repellent, toilet paper and basic tools.
Keep your maps, and your bird and animal identification books to hand, as well as torches, toilet paper and camera. You will want all of these items within easy reach. Pack everything evenly, so as not to weigh down one side of the vehicle more than the other. Balance is important on sand roads where ruts may cause the vehicle to swerve around.
All necessary food for your camping trip can be acquired from major towns and villages. Make sure that you bring more than you think you will use. Fresh produce or meat will last three to four days in a good-quality cold-box in summer, and a week or more in winter. Tinned food is most practical, supplemented with fresh vegetables and fruits. Use plastic rather than glass containers.
If you have time, prepare two to four one-pot meals before departing. You will be grateful for having only to heat and serve a meal after long hours of driving.
If however you are traveling to Kutse Game Reserve, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Makgadikgadi Pans or other dry remote areas, carry at least 100 litres. In the Tuli, Okavango and Chobe areas, water is readily available. However, it is best to carry between 50 and 100 litres of drinking water with you. Remember to keep some water at hand in the car to avoid having to get out while on game drives.
In the eastern part of the country and along the main roads, petrol is always available. However, in the remote areas, petrol stations sometimes run out of supplies, and there are no petrol stations in or at the entrance to the parks and reserves.
It is worthwhile taking the following precautions: estimate distances to be traveled, add on extra for four-wheel drive usage and extra for driving in the sand; add on extra again for game drives, and the possibility of getting lost - over-estimate, rather than under-estimate.
Carry at least 100 to 150 litres of petrol in long-range tanks, if you have them, or in jerry cans (never use plastic containers). If you do not have a long-range tank, use a funnel or hand-pump to put petrol into the tank. Mouth siphoning petrol through a hosepipe can be highly dangerous.
Spare car parts
If you are going for a drive with 4WD, it is wise to take with you: two spare tyres, spark plugs, jump leads, tow rope and cable, a few litres of oil, insulated wire, electrician's tape, lamp, fire extinguisher, wheel spanner and a complete tool-kit.