John & Jenny
Wed 1 Dec 2010 21:07
When we were equipping the Land Rover originally in 2008, prior to going to Bosnia, we had to decide on which cooking method to use. We decided on the French Camping Gaz system primarily because of its availability in Europe and French West Africa. We bought the largest available Camping Gaz cylinder (905) which holds about 2.4 kg of LPG. We augmented this with an old Primus cylinder of about the same size that I had brought back from Saudi Arabia when Su and I drove back in 1996. We had two of these, one of which was practically full.
Camping Gaz works on a cylinder exchange principal, whereas the Primus cylinder is a refillable cylinder, the problem being that getting any form of cylinder refilled in Europe (unlike the USA) is almost impossible. In the UK Camping Gaz is ridiculously expensive. I don't recall exactly how much I paid for my new (empty) 905 cylinder but it was about £60- 70 and the cost of a fill of gas in the UK is about £18-20. In Spain it was 14 Euros.
On this trip we have brought one Gaz 905 cylinder (originally about half full) and one refillable (almost full) Primus cylinder on the basis that I thought we should be able to get it refilled in West Africa, once away from European regulations. Last week the Gaz cylinder expired and I looked around for an exchange. There is a huge market in rural Morocco for cooking gas and every small village has a stockist or two and there are mobile suppliers serving the rural areas on a weekly basis. The Moroccan cylinder is based on the French Camping Gas and the cylinders seem to be of the same modular size and specification. The only problem is that they are all old and extremely battered! One wonders if there is any system of inspection and testing.
I exchanged my almost new, but empty, Gaz cylinder for an old and battered, but full, Moroccan equivalent for only 12 Dirhams (£1)!! I then bought a second battered cylinder for 40 Dirhams (£3.5) plus 12 Dirhams for the gas, plus another 44 Dirhams (£3.80) for a burner which would have cost £15 in the UK! So, for a total of £9 I have got a duplicate cylinder and burner and both cylinders full of gas! Cost of the same in the UK - £110. The only problem is the dire state of the Moroccan cylinders and whether I can exchange them in Mauritania or Mali.
In South Africa it is common practice for outdoor travellers and campers to carry gas cylinders in racks on the roof or outside of vehicles. In Europe this is, surprisingly, illegal. We bought a gas rack for the LR in South Africa and had it fitted to Lavinia in the UK, but could not use it there. We are now using it with these Moroccan cylinders and I must say I feel far happier with them being outside than inside. We met a couple of Swiss lads travelling in a minimalist Toyota Hilux who had found that their exchanged Moroccan cylinder was leaking inside the vehicle - and one of them was a smoker!