Whats App is a favourite forum for asking for advice and I have become the “go-to” guy in our street group. If it’s about 4×4 advice or wildlife rehabilitation they ask me. Just this week I rescued a Hadedah and a Crested Barbet, both came through and were released safely.
A nearby neighbour who has just bought a 4×4 asked if I could give him some advice as he was planning to travel to Botswana over the festive season.
Fortunately, he had fitted decent mud tyres as they can get wet and slippery in the December rains. I remembered my first trip to Botswana over 30 years ago we had to meet a group of folk who had won a trip through a local magazine and had two journalists to cover the experience. We had nothing other than a cooler box with water and soft drinks.
We could all drive a 4×4 but our experience went beyond that. We did not know border crossing procedures and lost our “droe wors and biltong” at the border. The cold drinks we lost at the regular roadblocks.
Eventually, we got to Maun and checked in to await the arrival of our guests the next day.
Over dinner, we discussed our lack of equipment and how we would do it differently. Out of this, we formulated a checklist of essentials. It’s difficult to say where to begin.
- A fridge beats a cooler box but you have to consider the necessity of battery power to keep it running. Older plated coolers work well and will keep your goods cold for around three days.
- A spade is possibly the most useful item, there is just so much you can do with it. Dig a cat latrine, use it for recovery and even move hot coals around.
- Then we got to the serious stuff, we never got stuck despite the deep sand and ruts in many sections, yet we had to rescue numerous rental vehicles where the folk had not been taught to engage 4×4. Involved a bit of PT so a few shackles and a pull strap would have helped – basic stuff.
- Water is crucial, at least we carried 40 litres, not enough but we were staying at lodges. We rescued a French couple who were drinking radiator water which was laced with anti-freeze.
- We did have a decent first aid kit but it is always worth chatting to a doctor in case you have not covered the gaps. Never forget Malaria!
- And do not forget your prescription meds.
- Then we get to the basics, never forget Duct Tape and Cable Ties. And add in self-annealing tape.
- Tools are without a doubt critical, spanners, sockets a vice grip and decent pliers.
- Then never forget a super tool and a decent knife. The list goes on and can be endless
Yet the most important ingredient is proper planning, without planning one’s performance is altered.
From a Cross Country perspective, we wish you and amazing and safe festive season.