VEHICLE: 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser 79 4.5L V8
OWNERS: Deo & Simoné du Plessis
Meet Baloo, a 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser 79 series (4.5L V8 Diesel). Our beloved Baloo has taken us on numerous trips and has given us much joy. It is a jack of all trades: our home, office, and trusty workhorse as we overland full-time across this fantastic continent of ours.
We truly are living our dream at the moment! We have always wanted to explore and find adventure across Africa and being able to make that a reality and experience some of the fantastic places on our continent is bucket-list stuff. We are truly grateful for the opportunity and pinch ourselves every day to make sure that we really are having our morning coffee on a Kalahari pan, landing an Okavango tigerfish on the fly, or watching the sun set over the Skeleton Coast’s dunes.
We consider gear primarily as a means to an end, so we have always limited modifications to what we really need. However, the factory-issue Cruiser comes in plaasbakkie configuration, without a canopy and with one spare wheel on the back. This meant that we had to consider a few changes before making it our home on the road. Our journey with Baloo – and his predecessor, Rubi (a 2-door Jeep) – has been based on a systematic process over years of minimalist trial and error to suit our particular needs. Modifications include a Bushtech canopy, a Quick Pitch rooftop tent, an ARB bull bar and a Gobi-X replacement bumper with two spare wheels… we learned the hard way that we needed that extra spare. We keep food in simple, accessible plastic drawers next to the trusty 45-litre Engel freezer, with all the recovery gear, parts and all-important fishing tackle in various ammo boxes. Our power setup is a dual battery system with a 25A DC-DC charger and 150W portable solar panel. We carry four jerry cans of fuel, a roof crate for wood, a slim 50-litre water tank, and a plastic jerry can with gravity drains. This way we can live comfortably and unsupported in the bush for about two weeks before restocking.
We removed the back seat and replaced it with a DIY decked cupboard system of our own design that effectively uses the space volume and includes sizable and lockable sub-compartments and various 12V power points. We also added a multi-pocketed dashboard cover and removable seatback covers for toiletries and can now safely say that we are close to exhausting every usable cubic centimetre Baloo offers.
After completing a few trips looking like a Beitbridge-bound HiAce, we decided it would be best to upgrade the suspension to support the inherent heavy loading of a permanent overlanding setup. We settled on Tough Dog’s extra heavy duty leaf springs, and to date, they have served us well over many a sand dune, corrugation and rocky track.
We have had many incredible adventures in Baloo. He was our wedding-day car, complete with a justmarried sign. He turned into an amphibian when we waded through deep Botswana water crossings. He provided safety when two elephant bulls raided our canopy kitchen in Damaraland and a leopard patrolled our camp in Khwai. We have worked long hours in his shade and made countless meals by his side.
As we travel and seek wonder in this beautiful world, widening our horizons and interests usually leads to a gratifying experience. Our passion for hiking, fly-fishing, birding, photography, exploring and learning about the African bush merge perfectly when overlanding. Constantly learning more about the environment around us, our part in it and how to respect it fills us with great excitement and we encourage others to do the same! There is no such thing as the perfect overlanding setup, but there is a setup that will enable you to do the things that you love. We recommend that everyone follow Baloo’s advice from The Jungle Book: “Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities, forget about your worry and your strife.”