During 2015 we decided to do a trip to Malawi, wait for it, without the trailer. And you know what that means? That means back to the drawing board again. We needed to re-think and re-plan everything. How will we fit in everything that we got so used to and that we would need for the trip? Where were we going to sleep and so on?
After long discussions, visits to outdoor and camping outlets, reading traveling and overland forums on the net, we decided to fit a rooftop tent on Shrek, our trusty Land Rover.
The choice of which make we should buy was easy. We already had a Howling Moon tent on our trailer, and a Howling Moon awning on the Shrek. So, a Howling Moon it would be.
We did some research on the internet to see what different types and sizes the Howling Moon rooftop tents were available. Then we paid Campworld Comet Caravans in Boksburg a visit to have a look at their display of the tents before a final decision was made. Our tent of choice was the Howling Moon Stargazer and we ordered one.
After fitting the tent, we paid All Outdoors in Pierre van Ryneveld Pretoria a visit and asked them to make a silver sheet for us with the exact same design as the flysheet on the tent. They also made a silver sheet that fitted the awning for us. This would help to keep the heat out. All Outdoors was a natural choice as they had already made silver sheets for our trailer top tent and we were very satisfied with the quality of the product. The silver sheet was impressed on ripstop canvas.
We had space between the tent and the jerry cans on the roof rack and fitted a waterproof canvas bag that could take six ammo boxes in this area. This we intended to use for an extra mattress and bedding for the tent. The extra mattress was needed as the standard mattress in the tent is too thin and we slept right through it. We had an extra mattress at home and putting the two on top of each other felt a lot better. The two together was however too thick to close the tent.
This did not work too well. The waterproof canvas bag was not so waterproof and as we were visiting Malawi during the rainy season everything inside the bag was wet.
We loaded plastic crates in the space where the rear passenger seats were for cutlery, groceries and what else needed to go along. Two smaller plastic crates were placed on top of the two fridges for more packing space.
This also did not work. Every time you needed something you end up unloading all the crates as the items you are looking for will always be in the bottom crate. This needed some preplanning.
During the Easter break in 2016 we did a trip through KZN, the Eastern Cape and the Free State. Again, our luggage in the ammo bag got wet.
As our plans for another trip to Malawi was already taking shape, we needed to find solutions for the few things that had not worked so well during the Easter trip and the 2015 Malawi trip.
We had an aluminium box made according to our own dimensions that would fit between the tent and the jerry cans on the roof rack. We also installed a second ladder that would make it much easier to get on top of the roof rack where the box is. This worked like a bomb. During the December 2016 trip through Zambia and Malawi we experienced a lot more rain than that of the previous trip. Everything in the box stayed bone dry and it was much easier to pack that try to zip a canvas bag open or close in pouring rain.
On the inside we fitted plastic crates with drawers that also made things much easier. No more unloading of crates. You just open the drawer and look for what you need.
Our camping set-up was now almost perfect. We have the flexibility of travelling any road, good or bad, without having to worry about a trailer on tow. We could camp almost anywhere we like and arriving late at a campsite or leaving early the next morning is no problem due to the ease of opening or closing the tent and be ready in minutes.
We now have the perfect camping setup. When we started planning for the December 2017 trip to Southern Namibia and the Richtersveld one of the questions was, should we take the trailer or not? The decision was anonymous, the trailer will stay at home, we will take Shrek with the rooftop tent.
We have done the full circle. We started with a caravan, then a small tent, then a bigger tent and eventually a trailer top tent. After that the rooftop tent. In between we tried a Chalet or two and even a Bed and Breakfast, but that is not for us.
So said, and so done, we now have the perfect camping setup for our needs. Until, until ……………… yes until?
For the answer on this one you will have to wait until we are back from our December 2017/January 2018 Namibia/Richtersveld trip.