Full Size Overlanding In Namibia/Botswana?

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
I don't know if it helps but we had HMMWVs when my unit deployed to Zimbabwe in 1995 for a military exercise and they were pretty awkward on the roads over there because they were (a) very wide and (b) had the steering wheel on the wrong side. I much preferred driving our little RHD rental car to driving a HMMWV. Having said that, most of the dirt roads were lightly traveled enough that if two vehicles met, it wouldn't be difficult for them to get around each other. FWIW we didn't really do any "overlanding."

However, assuming that at least some travel might be in larger cities (I don't know how big Windhoek is, I was never there) it would be a bit of a PITA to navigate a wide US built vehicle there.
 

sg1

Adventurer
Has anyone ever overlanded with a full size rig in Namibia or Botswana? I'm interested in seeing how good a full size rig performs in Southern Africa.
I have done all of Southern Africa (SA, Nam, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mosambik etc.) in a 4wd camper about 20 ft long, a little over 7ft wide and almost 9 ft high. I had no problems but I wouldn't want to have anything bigger. Height was the most critical factor because of low branches. You should check the weight restrictions of the National Parks though. Quite a few don't admit vehicles with more than 3.5 t GVWR (about 7700lbs) or restrict them to the main tracks or charge outrageous fees (200US or more per day for the truck alone). A 3/4 or 1 ton truck would exceed that. My car papers were checked twice in Botswana to make sure that my camper did not have a maximum weight rating of more than 3.5 metric tons. They did not weigh it though otherwise I would have been in trouble.
 

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alanymarce

Active member
I'm guessing that you wouldn't consider a Patrol, Land Cruiser, or Montero a "full size" ... This is what you'll see in most of Africa, and there's a good reason for this. You will see a few vehicles like Ivecos, and some people travel in trucks (by which I mean "lorries" not "pick-ups") however you won't see them in the more remote areas.

So, assuming you mean bigger than these, the concerns I would have are:

- Too wide and too tall for a lot of tracks - hanging branches are a concern, more to the point (for example) crossing the bridge at 3rd Bridge in Botswana might be simply impossible without destroying the bridge (and ending up in the river). Potentially a concern in some cities - getting into Lusaka at rush hour for example would be a challenge.

- Fuel consumption would be higher than I would hope for.

- You may run into problems if you need spares.

- You'll need big tyres and if you need replacements it may be difficult to find them.

- shipping will cost an arm and a leg, since you will not be able to ship in a standard container.

So, key question - why would you make life difficult when a Patrol, Land Cruiser, or Montero will do more or less anything you might want and will be cheaper to ship, more suited to the roads/tracks, easier to obtain spares/tyres, more familiar to local mechanics, and in general a better option, in my view.
 

Humvee4us

New member
I was just curious as to why no one ever overlands in something like a Ford F-150 or Ram 3500 in Africa; it's always either a Jeep (shipped in), Hilux, or Land Cruiser, but never a larger pickup (bakkie). You always see the midsize pickups loaded to the limit and think if it wouldn't be better to travel in something bigger with more payload. That's why I was wondering if being heavier they would perform significantly worse than something like a Hilux or Ranger?
 

Furaites

Member
Well, I am in the process of planning my overlander and contacting sources for supplies. This kind of info is worth more to me then gold.

Even an F150 with max payload can be easy to overload, even when making plans for a composite panel camper.

I would like to stay in as small a vehicle as possible, but sadly see me in an F250 at minimum...shooting the 7700lb limit to crap
 

sg1

Adventurer
My experience with the 7700 lbs restrictions was in 2011/12 when we travelled through Africa. Check the websites of the National Parks for up to date information. But staying within the 7700 lbs limit is helpful for international travel because in almost all countries outside North America a vehicle with a GVWR of more than 7700 lbs (3500 kg) is considered a Heavy Vehicle and subject to all sorts of special rules (speed limits, road taxes, tolls, restrictions when using certain roads or entering city centers etc.). I can only recommend you research these rules for the countries you plan to explore. Building a comfortable truck camper with less than 3500 kg is possible. Here is an example: https://www.burow-reisemobile.de/pick-up/oman-ford-ranger/ . Dry weight of the unit is 6300 lbs fully equipped.
 
The track of a full size rig is the major problem. Most of the “roads“ are 2 spoor ( tracks) created by Land cruiser, Landies etc which would necessitate a full size vehicle riding with one side in the track and the other uphill in the bush - not impossible but making it an unpleasant journey
 

alanymarce

Active member
re "was just curious as to why no one ever overlands in something like a Ford F-150 or Ram 3500 in Africa"

A key concern overlanding anywhere is whether you will be able to find spares, whether for routine maintenance or for unscheduled repairs. Ford doesn't sell the F150 in Africa as far as I know, and Dodge is no longer selling anything. This is a generalisation, I realise, however I am fairly certain that you won't find either for sale in Namibia or Botswana. I don't think many, if any, were ever sold (I did drive an F150 many years ago in Botswana - brought in for a specific project, and I suspect that it was the only one in the country. We did our own maintenance - there were no dealers at all). So, you won't find parts, mechanics won't be familiar with maintenance or repair, and if you ship one of these in, you'll need spares and skill to do it yourself. If you break something you haven't brought with you, it may be weeks (or never) to get a replacement.

I've seen a few big North American vehicles in Africa, usually either waiting for spares, or abandoned when fixing them was impossible, or simply too much trouble. About the only North American vehicle I have seen in Africa is the Jeep, and they are few and far between outside cities. It just makes more sense to travel in something for which spares are (more) readily available, and with which mechanics are familiar.
 

Furaites

Member
Might make more sense part and repair wise, but what sort of pick ups do you see? If you say Ranger....here in Canada they are only rated for 708kg.

Steering clear of RTT, there is not many SUV that meet requirements of 2 separate beds, while being self contained. Well unless you run 2 and double 90% of your expenses
 

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Furaites

Member
Well then name a Pick Up from Canada that is not going to be out of place. How about showing me where in Canada might I locate a Ford Ranger from other parts of the world with a lot better payload then you can get on a half ton in N.A.

Show me a non RTT setup that is common to be found in South Africa, that has at least 2 beds.
 

Humvee4us

New member
re "was just curious as to why no one ever overlands in something like a Ford F-150 or Ram 3500 in Africa"

A key concern overlanding anywhere is whether you will be able to find spares, whether for routine maintenance or for unscheduled repairs. Ford doesn't sell the F150 in Africa as far as I know, and Dodge is no longer selling anything. This is a generalisation, I realise, however I am fairly certain that you won't find either for sale in Namibia or Botswana. I don't think many, if any, were ever sold (I did drive an F150 many years ago in Botswana - brought in for a specific project, and I suspect that it was the only one in the country. We did our own maintenance - there were no dealers at all). So, you won't find parts, mechanics won't be familiar with maintenance or repair, and if you ship one of these in, you'll need spares and skill to do it yourself. If you break something you haven't brought with you, it may be weeks (or never) to get a replacement.

I've seen a few big North American vehicles in Africa, usually either waiting for spares, or abandoned when fixing them was impossible, or simply too much trouble. About the only North American vehicle I have seen in Africa is the Jeep, and they are few and far between outside cities. It just makes more sense to travel in something for which spares are (more) readily available, and with which mechanics are familiar.
Based on your experience driving the F-150 did you find it capable enough for Botswana, or did you find the popular Hilux to be more capable in that terrain?
 
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