Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

When Bad Things happen to good cars

“It’s me. I’m the bad thing. The good car is my 2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel. And this is how I’ve come to sleeping on top of it,” writes seasoned motoring scribe and overlanding newbie, Calvin Fisher.

When we talk about future classics, we almost never talk about the Porsche Cayenne. Perhaps it’s the fact that, even though it put the German automaker’s books firmly in the black and kept it there, purists still have a problem with its existence in a catalogue otherwise full of teardrop-profiled sportscars.

Then came 2022 and with it the 20th anniversary of the original Cayenne, and a lightbulb moment for me – I had to have one. I’ve always been a fan of the pioneering Porsche, so the hunt began for a mint-condition “957 chassis”, essentially the facelifted version of the original car and my ultimate favourite Cayenne of the lot. I lusted for one. And with great joy, found a 2010 V6 turbodiesel model, ripe for what was to come next. Specifically, an overlanding life, with a rooftop tent, gnarlier rubber and all the bins, tools and addenda one requires for a life of adventure.

But first, what is overlanding even? Simply put, it means travelling a long distance over land. But more than this, it refers to the current trend of equipping your SUV or bakkie with camping and outdoor gear to enable you to spend a night almost anywhere under the stars. Yes, this will involve a tent, but forget spending 30 minutes in the sand and sun trying to pitch one. If you do it right, you can simply erect a rooftop equivalent in half the time it will take you to read about my first trip to the Cederberg.

Then, a trail run

The gravelly Cederberg was indeed on the cards but since there were so many factors to consider, I decided to first plot a route to the Oewerzicht camp site in Greyton. But not before making my first investment in this new lifestyle which for me, meant a Front Runner roof rack. Now, I am going to mention brands here and there, but that’s more for the sake of granularity and detail rather than for any implication of preference or quality. Any good rack will serve as a platform for all sorts of toys and gear. Fact is, you cannot fit a rooftop tent without one, so if this is to be your lodgings on your adventures, it would be a pre-requisite.

It just so happens that the brand I opted for had one specifically suited to a 2010 Cayenne. Then came the rubber upgrade, from the Chinese street tyres fitted by the previous owner to a far more appropriate set of General Grabber AT3s – perfect for rolling over any surface I point the Cayenne’s nose at. At this point the upgrades may as well have stopped, but this is 2022 and my passion for road tripping is challenged only by my love of technology. So, in went the OneNav multimedia system with full navigation, as well as Android Auto connectivity. Now, offline maps were a thumb swipe away, as were all my music playlists. I love this stuff. Plus, it really feels like an official update from the manufacturer. Now we were ready, we just needed eeeerrr, oh! A tent!

Why buy the cow?

We live in a rental economy and mindset. So, my thinking was why buy the cow when the milk could be free (okay, technically not entirely free – but free of maintenance issues, regrets if it’s not quite what you had expected, and so on). The end game for us is to own a rooftop tent of our own eventually, but for newbies like myself and wifey Kelly it made sense to adopt a strategic approach.

Which is exactly what I did and would advise others to do – that is, reach out to a local fitment centre that rents out a range of overland gear. For me, that meant a visit to GoCamp here in the Cape, who were extremely helpful in suggesting equipment that would fit my roof rack system, and who were quick to offer tricks, tips, and general advice to make my transition from a ground tent to one in the sky. Here’s the immediate benefit – instead of laying out that initial (and quite large) investment in a tent that you might not love, rent (for a tenth of the value) a different one over the course of three or more camps. It’s like booking into a different B&B each time. For that first trip to Greyton, we opted for a Front Runner rooftop tent as well as the annex (essentially a changing room). To make things more adventurous, I mounted a pair of mountain bikes to the Thule rack on the tow hitch in case my wife and I decided to hit some of the famous Greyton mountain bike trails. We didn’t mean to make an entrance, but when we rolled into a fully packed camp at 18:00, Cayenne and bikes caked in brown from the dirt roads that led us there, heads were turning. With hundreds of eyes pointed in our direction, we proceeded to pitch our rooftop tent for the first time ever. The process took around five minutes and thankfully we managed to not embarrass ourselves. Thank the stars.

For our second mission, we went all out with an Alu-Cab rooftop tent with matching awning and shower cubicle. We carved a sinewy line on asphalt and gravel from Cape Town to the Cederberg, until ultimately reaching our destination at the Kliphuis Campsite on the Pakhuis Pass. Here we were rewarded with a more remote site away from the crowds, and freedom to make fools of ourselves when setting up our site. This moment never came, though.

Instead, the trio of Alu-Cab products were an absolute cinch to pitch, the entire mission completed within ten minutes of parking. But it did come with some caveats, or shall we call them lessons? The Alu-Cab roof was quicker and simpler to pitch and collapse but was much creakier than the Front Runner. Its shape was also far noisier on the road, sounding like a boiling kettle for about three hours in each direction. The Front Runner, due to the way it unfurls itself was also roomier once pitched and slept more comfortably too. Again, knowledge gained through the benefit of renting. But again, take this as the opinion of the driver of a very unlikely overlanding machine.

But, ina a Porsche?

Yes. A lightly fettled Porsche Cayenne living the kind of life usually reserved for brochures and marketing material. Why a Cayenne? I could ask why not? Or reiterate that it’s a proper 4×4, and mine even has a sensible diesel drivetrain in a world afflicted by pandemics and invasions and hence, skyrocketing fuel prices. But I think after two big trips, that most classic of answers applies here: “Because it can.”

More about GoCamp

Based in Cape Town and Johannesburg, this camping and outdoor rental company is driven by a passion for the outdoors and camping, giving you instant access to the best-quality camping and 4×4 equipment and accessories. These include tents, awnings, canopies, fridges, recovery kits, batteries, kitchen gear and more, to cater for every kind of camper and adventurer.

Renting is a cost-conscious alternative to buying into what is an admittedly expensive lifestyle. Check them out and tell them Calvin sent you (not really, but you can!). Oh, and the best part? If you’re not that way inclined or otherwise busy with life in general, the team take care of all the heavy lifting – that’s fitment and removal in the time it takes you to have a cappuccino.CONTACT: +27 87 057 4775 | www.gocamp.co.za

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