AfricanPorsche Expedition 2008
Africa Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
Below are the blog entries from my last big trip - UK to Cape Town overland in an old Porsche. Breakdowns, robberies, crashes, mud, tribal warzones, and not least, Ethiopian food- it was a pretty tough trip all in all! To read a trip report rather than a list of blog entries, and to see more photos, feel free to visit my website at www.bencoombs.net
Well the expedition is taking shape. The route has been planned, the Support vehicle purchased, team members confirmed, and the Porsche has just completed it's 202,000th mile, so is nicely run in for a trip to Capetown. The next 4 months or so will be a blur of activity arranging Carnets, Visas, finance and publicity, preparing the cars for their ordeal and generally faffing. And you can keep updated with said progress here!
We're getting there! After 2 months of searching, Ben finally collected another Porsche to use for Parts last Friday, from all the way over there in Lincolnshire- So the real work on preparing the Porsche for it's ordeal starts next week, when the Donor car will be stripped down and used to fix what's broken on Ben's long-suffering Porsche (which is most of it), as well as supplying all the spares needed for the trip.
As for other developments, well the route plan is pretty much complete, the Shogun hasn't exploded yet, and we now sort of understand the red tape, carnet and shipping requirements... In fact the only real question left unanswered is what the best way is to go about getting the ellusive Sudanese Visas, but our beaurocracy expert Brummy is on the case, while the rest of us cross our fingers that the ICC picking on the Sudanese president dosen't result in closed borders and no visa.
5 and a half weeks to go! And most things are going swimmingly... The donor Porsche is gradually being stripped of parts to support the trip, and spare parts are starting to be acquired for the Shogun, which is now chugging along much happier after a service. The Porsche now has a roofrack & new driveshaft, the shogun has been treated to a new radiator, and we've splashed out on a video camera to record the journey in gory detail... On the paperwork side, we're still waiting on the Sudanese visas with fingers crossed, and should be getting the Syrian visas and vehicle carnets in the next few weeks... In fact at this rate, we're actually going have to go through with this harebrained escapade!
Quite allot of frantic busyness recently- Firstly, our justgiving webpage is now up and running, so if you want to get that warm satisfied feeling of wellbeing that only helping those less well off than yourself can generate, feel free to click on the link below and make a donation to the good folk at the Kenyan Orphan Project. You know you want to... :-)
Moving on, Syrian visas and carnets are all off being processed as we speak, team members are feeling intermittently ill from yellow fever and rabies jabs, and team clothing and graphics for the cars are also now on order. The 'Gun has new master and slave clutch cylinders, and new dampers as well for some reason. It also has a 4" hole in the chassis, which is nice! Ze Porsche is now sponsored by Oakdens Garage in Plymouth (MOTs and servicing - 01752 563009 ;-), where it's going to have it's suspension raised next week. The website is nearly finished, and media coverage is also starting to come together, with our first photoshoot for the Herald scheduled for this sunday. Oh, and it's still raining. Grrr...
We have Sudanese Vias!!! Get in!
The cars are now logo'd up, our first photoshoot for the herald is done, and Syrian visas have been had by all. Except Laura. Getting there...
An eventful few days - on the plus side we've got a crucial barge booked to take us from Aswan in Egypt, to Wadi Haifa in the Sudan, we've somehow convinced the Carnet dude at the RAC that we are actually serious about driving a Porsche to Capetown (said dude has 15 years experience and reckons no-one's ever attempted UK to South Africa in such a vehicle :-), we've been made famous in the Evening Herald and other general preperations are progressing well.
On the downside, the Porsche broke down quite impressively in the early hours of Tuesday morning, when the crankshaft bolt somehow managed to work loose, leaving the car with no alternator, power steering, and critically no oil pump. The car is currently at the garage being fixed and having it's suspension raised, while we all cross our fingers that 10 seconds of rotation with no oil pressure hasn't nackered the crank and rod bearings... And there we were thinking the preperations all seemed to be going a bit too smoothly!
So, the Porsche just died. In a fawlty towers-esque piece of timing, after 6 years and 70,000 miles of dependable, awesome, sideways motoring, it has chosen 9 days before departure to announce to the planet that one bolt working loose last week has managed to spark a chain reaction which has terminally killed the crankshaft bearings. Basically, it needs either a full engine rebuild, or a new engine. in 9 days. This isn't the end. We're on it.
And you, sir, should honour our indefatigable spirit by going to www.africanporsche.com and donating a few shillings to the Kenyan Orphan Project...
Three days to go!! It's been an eventful week here at expedition HQ. Firstly, the Alternator on the Shogun packed up and made us think maybe the trip was jinxed (or more specifically, that Ben was jinxed), but it's all fixed now. Which is nice. There's been a fair bit of progress in bringing the Porsche back from the dead- in a flurry of activity, the Donor car has been stripped of spare parts and climatically, we finally got it's engine out and into a van at about 11PM last night. a mad dash down the M5 had it at the garage in plym at 08:00 this morning, and work is now commencing on the overhaul & transplant. Will we make the start line on Friday? Who knows, but whatever happens, no-one could accuse us of a lack of effort!
So the garage just called... they've got the Porsche's new engine up and running and are just putting the finishing touches to the Supension mods. So we just might be off to Africa tomorrow. Who knows!
We have made it to Africa! Aside from a flat tyre on the Porsche which is being sorted as we speak, both cars have made it to Africa. No turning back now! The faff has been immense.
After a 36 hour slog across Western Europe, we arrived in the beautiful Slovenian village of Bled with its picturesque chapel on the lake set against the backdrop of the Julian Alps. The Porsche was making a few funny noises and the oil light was flickering ominously at low revs giving us cause for concern. After 5 hours of faff at the Porsche garage in the capital the porsche mechanic confessed he didn't have the part to check that the oil pressure was ok and in the absence of any other symptoms to cause worry we decided to puch on.... on another slog across Eastern Europe to Istanbul where we were due to meet Libby.
Crossing the border to Serbia we met a rude awakening as we left the friendly comfort of the EU and were greeted to shouts of "green card!' by nasty looking men with machine guns! 135 euros later (per car!!!) were were allowed into Serbia for our 4 hour night time crossing - not impressed. In not so silent protest, the English flag and picture of the Queen may have been put on show in the back window as the Damn Busters theme was blasted out at the border crossing. Bulgaria was much more friendly and we had a lovely drive across this rural country full of geriatrics with their donkeys and carts.
We enjoyed Turkey very much, the people were friendly and it really is a beautiful country. We went for tea in a nice Turkish lady's cave (yes we are serious) and ate dinner on a fish farm.
Syria, the first proper middle eastern country was less friendly. In the north all they can say is "money money money" in English. But the petrol is cheap and they have camels in the desert so we were happy. Syria was noticibly poorer than anywhere else so far. Hot, smelly and dusty. We visited the ancient city of Palmyra which was fantastic. The rich poor divide is huge, with the poor scrounging for money and living in squaller while the rich wear flashy suits and drive Lexus 4x4s. We are certain we saw a fair few terrorists in that desert.
Jordan was a lot weathier, the people didn't live in nearly as much squaller on the whole and the friendliness was refreshing. The first night we camped by the Dead Sea and took a morning swim. It was increadible how buoyant you are and Laura even ate her cornflakes floating in there! The roads took us through spectacular mountain scenery and many villages where we could see that the quality of life in Jordan can be quite good. Eventually we made it to the wonder of the world - Petra. For good reasons too, it really is spectacular. Photos to come shortly. We saw a little of the poorer side of Jordan here too.
After Petra, we decided to try to get the midnight ferry over the Egypt - oh how naive! On arrival at the terminal we were told it would leave at 4am, then 7am, then 9am. After a night of camping in the terminal car park, including cooking a full meal and drinking tea, we finally borded at 6am. we watched the sun go up, we sat and waited til lunch, through several prayer times until finally at 1430 we slipped the berth. 3 hours later we arrived in Egypt. Shouldn't take too long to get off - yeah right! The ferry had come in at too high a tide and as a result the angle the lorries needed to drive down to the land was too steep. The first lorry got stuck and they had to let the tyres down to get it off (after about an hours faff). The same happened with the 2nd and 3rd lorries, each with the back doors being ripped off in the process!
Eventually we were able to get the cars off. The Porsche had got a flat in the terminal in Jordan & it turned out that a wheel nut was on so tightly that we couldn't get it off. We borrowed some tools from some Polish bikers we have befriended but managed to shear off the nipple of the ratchet. Now the nut was more stuck than ever. Some nice Egyptians with a tug offered their help. We managed to plug a drill in on the ferry, with the cable crossing the path of the cars trying to drive on to it, and tried to drill out the broken tool - with no avail. So we pumped up the tyre and drove over the carnet place where we were to start the hours of faff to import the car.
We had been warned that Egypt would be the toughest, however we were not prepared for this. They went over everything and found problems too. To cut a long story short, getting into Egypt involved spending the night camping out in the import area, letter from the UK to confirm 1 number in the serial number of the car and about 15 hours waiting around... not to mention about 200 pounds!
But we are here now in Africa, relaxing on a stunning beach in the sun before the adventure really begins.
Greetings from the Sudan! we've had a pretty eventful time since the last bulletin... but first things first:
After a very relieved evening drinking beer on the beach in Nuweiba, Egypt, with our polish biker friends, as locals strolled nonchalantly past the surf on thier camels, we all awoke with well deserved hangovers, and for Ben and Laura, a plethora of insect bites from sleeping on the beach without a tent. Job No.1 of the day was to get the flat tyre off the Porsche, a task accomplished very efficiently (read destructively) by the Garage in Nuweiba, for well under a tenner. Using an welder, they were able to melt out the wheel nut enabling the wheel to be removed, then a new wheel stud was fitted putting us back in business.
with wheels on our wagons once again, we set off north along the sinuous driving roads of the Red sea coast, watching waves break on the reefs of this unspoilt corner of the sinai. after about 50kms, the road left the coast, and deflected by the uneasy presence of Israel, struck off West across the martian plateau of the Sinai, towards Suez, then Cairo. as we werte heading into the desert, we filled up the cars. 12 quid to tank up the Porsche, nice! The temperature rose well into the '30s as we crossed the few hundred miles of martian plateau towards the Suez canal, feeling insignificent in such an awesome landscape... and then we were there. descending into the setting sun we reached the Suez canal and crossed in darkness, before pressing on through the manic traffic into Cairo where we spent the night with an expat friend of Louise's by the name of Mike. Cold beers and warm pizza have never been more welcome, while news 24 provided a slightly surreal link back to the world outside our cars and trip.
Saturday. 2 weeks since we left Plymouth. Time to check out the Pyramids. we took a circulous route to them, via an unfinished road which provided us with our first bit off offroading, as well as a fine view of the pyramids to our right. The porsche coped fine with such dusty escapades, boosting our confidence. When we arrived at the Pyramids, we found we were able to get the cars inside their enclosure and took many a fine photo of the porsche parked in the shadow of a wonder of the world. And got asked for 'baksheesh' by allot of pushy tourist police on camels. one gave chase to the porsche when he was ignored, resulting in the Porsche being chased past the pyramids by a somewhat out-gunned dude on a camel. Surreal!
Leaving the Pyramids on the saturday afternoon, we pushed on south through the night, due to a date with the Aswan ferry on the Monday. this was mostly done with a military escort of a pickup full of gun tooting army dudes - they take security seriously here! They don't take road safety seriously though, with most drivers choosing 'inshallah' over headlights, completing blimd overtaking manovures, and swerving around unmarked speedbumps. And Donkeys. Suffice to say, our experience of the Nile route was somewhat more gritty than the average tourist in Egypt! Arriving at the valley of the kings the following morning, we mingled with the well rested tourists, feeling slightly alien among the thronging masses. The tombs were indeed impressive, though our tired state blunted their impact somewhat... asnd they wouldn't even let us take the Porsche down tutenkarmons tomb for a quick photo - how rude!
Carrying on to Aswan, we found a campsite and settled in for some well earned rest. an hour later, predictibly, a big red bus from Weymouth pulled up. the 'No.38 Bus' was being driven from the UK to Ethioppia by a bunch of like minded dorset folk, and was well kitted out for the journey, with a kitchen, bunks, rest area, WC, and beer garden on the top deck. Respect. The German overlanders on the campsite in their Landrover must have thought the british contingent a little unhinged at the sight of an overlanding Porsche and Double decker in souther egypt!
Waking up on the Monday, we set around getting everything sorted for the ferry. This being Egypt, this involves visiting the Court to get a declaration to say we didn't run down any locals, and the traffic police to return our number plates, among other errands. time dragged on until we were late for the ferry, and we neded up spending an hour frantically driving around the hills south of Aswan, looking for the ferry port, allready late... but this being Africa, nothing happens on time and the ferry was generally late too, so we were able to completer the paperwork, escape Egypt, and board in good time, savouring our air conditioned cabins and the views of lake nasser. After Dark, Ben and Anthony had to load the cars onto a small onion barge which was to treansport then to sudan. somehow the Porsche made it onto the deck, and then we were free to spend 18 hours relaxing on the ferry, slipping south through the night.
Dawn brought a fine view of Abu Simbel, allready thronging with Tourists, before we arrived at Port Sudan around lunchtime. More paperwork, and we were released into the Sudan. Ish. We lacked the cash to get very far into the Sudan however, as everyone seemed to have exaus ed their supplies of dollars concurrently, leaving us with barely enough to reach the capital... in a country with only one visa bank in the entire country. 250 off-road miles away. Oh, and we still had no cars. So after watching the sun set over lake nasser, we settled in for an uncomfortable night in the best hotel in town, the prison-like 'deffintoad hotel'.
next morning, we regestered with the local police as alien immigrants, tried unsuccessfully to get money, and asked unsuccessfully where our onion barge was. The barge finally arrived around 11, and about 50 locals set about unloading it's cargo, to reduce the draft enough to get the cars off. This took most of the day, and it was mid afternoon before we were sat in our steeds nervously awaiting our drive onto Sudanese soil. The Shogun went first, with old sacks, wood and tyres packed between the barge and the quay to enable it to climb up onto dry land... and then it was the porsche's turn. gunning the engine, it lept the piles of refuge under it's tyres and alighted in the Sudan. AFter clearing customs, and a nice big argument with the local fixers, we headed off into the desert to camp for the night.
next morning we struck off into the desert bright and early, as the road deteriorated into what we'd been led to expect from one of the toughest roads of the trip. 200 miles of rutted gravel tracks, thick sand and corrugations stood between us and the next major settlement, and the temperature was over 30 by 9am. 10 miles in, a rock hidden by sand hit the porsche's exaust and broke it clean off - knew I should have fixed the mountings in the UK! we continued slowly, being pummelled by both the din adn the corrugations, which forced us to crawl along at 10mph at some stages, before around lunchtime, Tom noticed so,me cracking the the Shogun's chassis, above the rear wheels. This was bad news. reducing the pace further to protect the 'gun, we crawled along, sometimes through barren desert, and sometimes closer to the nile, dunes to our left and palm trees to our right. towards the end of the day, we lost the soft sand and Ben gunned the porsche into some deep sand, which became hard sand very abruptly, getting the car stuck and throwing the roof box down onto the windscreen, putting a small crack in it. fun. But the car was fixed and driven out the sand, before pitching camp for the night.
The following day sparted much the same, before we encountered bettewr roads 40 miles in, near Dongola. And so we drove onto a ferry across the Nile (blasting out 'rule Britannia', naturally) having completed the infamous Wadi Halfa-Dongola road in a Porsche. continuing along the good tarmac to Khartoum, the scenery never ceased to amaze, being stunning desert all the way, lit by the setting sun, and it was well after dark by the time we parked next to Kitcheners gunboat at the legendary 'Blue Nile Sailing club'. Quite a few days!
Morning saw a lie-in, and the realisation that we had no money, the Porsche had a broken exhaust, and the Shogun was lucky not to have split in two in the desert. But it takes more than a few hiccups like that to end the expedition! Western union came to the rescue with money transfers, the Porsche exhaust was welded back together, and even the Shogun prooved fixable, having the dodgy sections knocked out and the chassis braced with some beefy angle sections by a dude wearing fake raybans in lieu of a welding mask. So we're now good to push on to Ethiopia! Bring it on...
On a sidenote, as the Shogun was being fixed, a Toyota landcruiser rocked up having just completed our route across Sudan, and having been stranded in the desert for 2 days after it's wheel mountings broke.
The Porsche is a Legend!
Apologies for not sending an update sooner - the excuse is a combination of bad internet connections in East Africa and the fact that we are having a great time. In update to the last post, we forgot to mention that Libby missed her flight home because she was too busy taking photos of her monkey by the Pyramids and the Shogun got filled up with PETROL in Egypt! Oh how we laughed!
So we got out of Sudan and got beer. (you may recall that Sudan is a dry country with no cashpoints accepting foreign cards). We arrived at the the border with Ethiopia, got stamped out and spent the night in the pub at the border town before being stamped into the country. Immigration in Ethiopia was interesting - the office being in a mud hut in a farmyard with goats wondering in roosters doing the old cock-a-doodle-do thing.
Ethiopia was a pleasant surprise. Its actually a beautiful country and the people are very nice. We spent many a night driving through tropical thunderstorms. The food in Ethiopia was less agreeable. This time it was Ben's turn to "Uzbekistaned" and couldn't move for a day. Milder forms struck down Laura and Brummie the following day resulting in Brummie taking precautions that prompted us to offer him a packet of pantyliners instead!
Crossing into Kenya, the floor less tarmacked roads of that poor country Ethiopia deteriorated into some of the worst roads in Africa. Kenya has about 50m of decent tarmac while its less prosperous neighbours all have good Porsche friendly roads. In particular the first challenge - the infamous Moyale to Isiolo road in Northern Kenya is muddy, rutted and covered in huge rocks. Then there is the small matter of the tribal war raging through that area which makes it extremely dangerous to transit and armed convoys are compulsory. Many a mizungu has been mugged/shot at on this route. So what happened when we did it?
Well it all started well, joining the convoy and the Porsche flying over the bad bits. The heavens opened and the rainy season arrived with avengeance - turning everything to a muddy, waterlogged soup. About 2 miles down the road, the convoy dissipated with kamakaze lorries racing on ahead, leaving the smaller vehicles to navigate the huge ruts they left behind. Rapidly our two cars were alone but doing well. After 100 miles we met our first delay as Brummie span the shogun off the road and it got stuck in a bush. He can be quoted saying "he should have brought a Porsche" as he dug out the front wheels! However team Porsche's smugness was short lived. After successfully making it over the hardest part of of this challenging road, a random act of god struck. A huge rock bounced up onto the underside of the Porsche and knocked the fuel filter from its mounts where it rested on the drive shaft. It was only a matter of time before a hole was worn in the filter creating a high pressure fuel leak that stopped the Porsche in its tracks. After several attempts to bodge a repair and darkness rapidly approaching, the only safe option was to get a tow from the Shogun. After 7 hours of being dragged helplessly over rocks and mud in the middle of a tribal war zone the Porsche finally was pulled into the halfway town of Marsabit.
Our 2 days in Marsabit were some of the most memorable on the trip. A true transit town for locals, the only westerners were the few people as stupid as us to take on such a route. We arrived to the deafening clamor of bull frogs celebrating the arrival of the rains. I cannot describe how load and humbling this demonstration by mother nature was! We awoke the first morning to the news that Obama had won the election in America. Even in this furthest corner of Kenya, the locals were ecstatic and the atmosphere electric. For the next few weeks every second word was Obama - the Kenyan boy who is "President of the World". We partied away with the Kenyans in celebration while they attempted to repair the car.
The next day, we took on the second section of this terrible road. The car started well and it was all going well, until 60 miles in, it emerged that the garage had done a pretty poor job of fixing the exhaust and fuel filter back on and they promply fell off causing the same problems as before, requiring another tow to Isiolo.
We got off the road without further damage and got booked into a garage while we all took a trip into the bush to stay with Louise's sister and her partner in a fantastic Kenyan game lodge and farm where they work. The Shogun was also in need of some serious TLC and actually needed more repairs that the Porsche in the end. The bush was fantastic. It was lovely for Louise to see her sister and we saw lots of game in the bush, including Hyena, Giraffe and Zebra. We ate good food, slept in beds and had hot showers. While we stayed, a calf died on the farm and Louise's sister had to do an autopsy on it. With very little knowledge of cow anatomy nor pathology, she asked Laura to help - the boys were very pleased to get a photo of Laura cutting up a heart.
We took a detour to Uganda where Tom and Laura rafted the White Nile (grade 5). Laura went down two grade 5 rapids upside down in the tandem kayak and is still looking pretty bruised and battered. We then headed back into Kenya where we met with the charity and were able to see all the good work that KOP are doing for this small community near Kisumu that has over 300 children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We have made arrangements to donate the Shogun at the end of the trip to them as it will go to better use there than coming back to Plymouth.
From there we headed into Tanzania. We had made plans to visit the Ngorogoro nature reserve which is part of the Serengheti and one of the best game parks in Africa. Alas, our plans were shot to pieces when Laura's bag with her passport, drivers licence, wallet, money, etc was stolen in the campsite bar that night. After a stressed morning cancelling cards, phones, etc, we set off on the 400 mile drive to Dar Es Salaam to the British Embassy. Fortunately in the right direction for Cape Town. Dar is one of the most horrible, humid cities we have visited. The first night in the hotel was painful as we all lay dying under the ceiling fans. At first the embassy told us it could take 10 days to get a passport. With the flights home for Brummie and Tom approaching fast we decided to split up, sending the Shogun on ahead towards Malawi while Laura and Ben stayed on at the paradise beach outside the city that we'd stayed a night in
whilst we waited for the the passport to arrive. The British embassy may not have had gin and tonic, much to Laura's disappointment, but they did come through for us. We had a 10 year biometric passport by 1.40pm the day after application and were in the immigration office before 2pm when they shut, with a replacement visa by 2.30pm. Who would have thought that would happen in Africa?!!! A small niggling problem with the fuel line delayed us by another hour while Ben lay under the car for the umpteen millionth time and fixed it. We caught up with the others 6 hours behind them. The drive through the dark was an interesting experience - seeing hyena and elephant at the roadside and also a man laying in the road. Not sure if he was drunk or had been hit by a car we stopped to help - fortunately he was alive but drunk and Laura managed to wake him up and move him on.
We are now in Malawi. It is beautiful here by Lake Malawi. We have met many other travellers, who are all astounded that we've made it this far in the Porsche. Everyone is well apart from Brummie who has man-flu and we all have a passport. Oh and Ben had a shower today! Next stop is Zambia for Victoria falls and the Chobe national park in Botswana, then hopefully Namibia and Cape Town in time for flights. The latest plan is to take the Porsche up to Mozambique to sell it there and go scuba diving in their wild exotic beach resorts.
Hello all - this probably our last update before the finish (we hope). We are in Namibia now. We've had a fun week crossing Zambia and Botswana. We stopped in at the Victoria Falls which was somewhat dry but still very impressive before heading across the border to Botswana where we stayed in the Chobe National park and did a DIY game drive the Shogun. You can only imagine the banter when you have Ben and Brummie in the same car spotting hippos - I think we've all heard enough Mum jokes for a while.
We are heading out to the desert mountains for a spot of bouldering this afternoon before taking on the Skeleton Coast and the Namib desert as part of the home stretch to Cape Town. The cars are doing as well as can be expected after the horrendous conditions we have driven them through/over, etc, although the Porsche is now looking rather worse for wear after Tom managed to drive the Shogun into the back of it at 40 miles an hour.
We plan to get the photos and a fuller update in a few days time, hopefully between drinking beers in Cape Town. Wish us luck for the home stretch.
Ok, so we are still in Nambia... we knew we still didn't have it in the bag when we wrote from the Skeleton Coast, but it seems Africa is determined to make us work for this a little harder still. What we hope is the final sting in the tail on this arduous journey came slap bang in the middle of the baking hot Namibian desert when the front wheel decided to fall off the Porsche!
With sunset approaching and awesome lightening storms on the horizon, we carried out the biggest bodge yet on the trip - reattaching the front wheel (which had dislocated following the wearing out of the ball-joint socket) with slings and rachets, scaffolding poles and of course gaffa tape.
The bodge lasted 30km over painful corrugated desert road before it popped out again. 3 successive attempts to achieve a lasting repair , each gaining us a few Km, were carried out that night before we finally decided that with the rapidly approaching electrical storms, waving scaffolding poles around was not a good idea. Both cars spent the night out in the open desert as lightning crashed all around and thankfully didn't finish the cars off for good.
The following morning we persevered, each time getting a few more KM down the road and closer to a workable sollution to the problem whilst refusing to admit defeat and spend the next 2 days waiting for a tow truck in the middle of (very beautiful) nowhere, with limited water supplies. On the 8th attempt, we finally cracked it and were able to negotiate the 100 miles of dirt track back to civilisation. Africa hasn't beat us yet, but is making sure we respect its hostile environments.
We are now in southern Namibia, the bodge is still holding, provided we don't make any 3 point turns or go round corners too fast. About an hour ago we were stopped at a police roadblock and interrogated about the road worthiness of the car (probably due to the obvious damage to the rear end - see previous note)... we all had our fingers crossed that the wheel wouldn't fall off infront of them as we pulled away onto the road.
650 miles to Cape Town... its not over yet!
WE'VE ONLY GONE AND DONE IT - Greetings from Capetown!
The cars and their tired drivers finally pulled into Capetown on the evening of the 3rd December, 60 days and 13,500 miles after leaving the UK... and 61 days since the Porsche's replacement engine was fitted!
So, the last few days - After cobbling together the suspension and making it out of the dusty plains of the Namib desert, we found ourselves with 770 miles still to drive to capetown, mercifully all of it on Tarmac. Fortunately, our repair proved to be thoroughly conceived and made of tough stuff, and held together all the way to the finish. It wasn't perfect however, and we were restricted to driving at 45mph to keep it intact, meaning the final drive to Capetown seemed to go on forever. however after 2 days of cruising through the beautiful, desolate vistas of Southern Namibia and Western S.A., a vague silhouette appeared on the hazy horizion... Table mountain. As we continued south, the outline gained features and metamorphosed into an impressive mountain and the Atlantic ocean appeared to the right beneath a sinking sun, tempting us out west onto the coast road for the final run into the city. Emotions were high as we cruised down past table view before stopping for the ubiquitous group photo in front of the mountain, before heading to a bar called Cubana for a well earned Windhoek Beer. The sun dropped into the ocean as we cracked open the champagne, and tucked into dinner before cruising into the city proper, willing ze Porsches wheel to stay on every time it creaked its way uneasily around a corner. Light traffic meant we were in the city in no time and we booked into a lodge to toast our arrival with further beers and pimms. We'd done it!
We've now been in the city for 2 days, chilling and taking in the sights. Dinner on the seafront with Eugene's family was enjoyed by all, as was the way Tom fell asleep in the toilet in the "Cape to Cuba" bar on long street last night! Today has been a mixture of wine tasting and car sorting, and everyone seems to be enjoying the novelty of having to drive 12 hours a day hugely.
So where now? Brummy and Tom are flying back to their jobs in the UK this weekend, Ben and Laura are off to Mozambique for a bit, while Louise is off to J'Burg to visit friends and sample it's relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere. The Porsche is due to be starting it's new life as some Mozambiquian chav's car soon, however the nearest replacement suspension wishbone is in Germany and hence it may be enjoying the Capetown buzz for a bit longer yet. The Shogun has been donated to the Kenyan Orphan Project charity, and we're currently trying to figure out the best way of getting it back to Kenya... no rest for the wicked!