Vehicle: 2015 Toyota Hilux D7 3.0L Diesel
Owners: Dave & Nicki Brown
With wanderlust virtually embedded in their DNA and a yearning to travel flowing through their veins, the Browns named their trusty Hilux Wanda. Together they continue to explore and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Following several short overlanding trips in rented vehicles, Dave and Nicki Brown had come up with a set of requirements for their own vehicle. So, they bought their 2015 Toyota Hilux – affectionately called Wanda – as a pre-owned vehicle in July 2020. They had found a company to help them with the build, and slowly but surely their dream started taking shape. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic there were some delays, but Wanda was completed in about six months between January and June 2021.
The modifications made include a Rival front bumper with a winch, air locking differentials, under armour, a 140-litre fuel tank, Gobi rock sliders, an Alu-cab canopy, and a Front Runner double roof rack, which carries the Tuff Trek rooftop tent. There’s also a drawer system and a fridge slide for the Snomaster fridge/freezer in the canopy, and all electrical requirements run from solar and an inverter. The rear bumper was changed to an AFN split bumper, which has a jerry can holder, a fold-down table and a spare tyre carrier.
According to the Browns the fridge is their favourite accessory… big enough to take two weeks’ worth of food supplies, including cold beers, which are – of course – essential for those incredible sundowner moments. The most useful gadget, however, is the handy step that allows easy access to the roof rack.
“We are fortunate to have only the visa requirements in each country as our time frame for travel. Having grown up in Kenya and Malawi, there has always been a desire to return to Africa. It was our dream to drive from London to Cape Town but after weighing up the risks and difficulties of travelling through Egypt and Iran, and the uncertainty in South Sudan, we chose to start in South Africa. We shipped Wanda there in a container and worked our way around South Africa before exiting through Eswatini. From there, we headed up through Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda before heading south again through Tanzania into Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola, and Namibia,” Dave explains.
“We are often asked what our favourite memory or country is, which in all honesty is impossible to answer. How do you compare a beach in Mozambique with a wild dog kill right in front of you in South Luangwa, Zambia? You can’t, but we have experienced some incredible moments that will live with us forever. So, if pushed for an answer, it would be the people we meet while on this adventure and the many new, lifelong friends we have made that really stand out.”
The Browns were most excited about returning to Malawi and revisiting some of their childhood memories in that remarkable country. “Still, it is the adventure in its entirety that captures our imagination, from the simplicity of life on the road to the challenges that the journey presents along the way, as well as the experiences we get to share.” Their top tip for people considering something similar is to believe in the dream, but keep it simple. “You really don’t need half of the stuff you think you do!” The Browns don’t know where they will end up, but they keep discovering other parts of the world to explore every day, so the journey is definitely continuing.
*Follow the Browns and Wanda on Instagram: @a.truck.called.wanda