01 -April 2023 The Third World as Seen From The Saddle- The Zimbabwe Safari Rally.
Previously, a conked-out alternator on the side of the road in the middle of the bush was as much fun as smashing your thumb with a hammer, ditto destroyed water pumps, ditto never -to-work- again carburetors. They made you curse and swear at the bloody useless mechanic who serviced your car a year ago and never picked up on the problem, the useless bastard. But that was before.
After 3 days spent on the Zimbabwe Safari Rally, I now know that the mishaps above are part of the adventure, part of the fun, there to be enjoyed to the max with your best mates, and your new best friends, the ones you haven’t met yet but who will surely stop, maybe not to actually help, but definitely to supervise, and to offer up banter, and the contents of their cooler box. Unless of course their cooler box is empty, which means they’ve actually stopped to drink your beer. But that’s also all good, because you’re having the best fun ever trying to coax your elderly and by now very buggered car across a finish line still hundreds of kilometers away. The brotherhood of the open bonnet is a very cool thing.
I learned a new word on the Safari Rally. Baboonery which means to have fun unreservedly and without brakes. Baboonery makes tomfoolery look staid by comparison. It allows you to dance as though no-one is watching, to let your hair down to the point where your fringe has footprints on it, even if you are bald. Importantly, baboonery by others should be enjoyed, not frowned upon.
Day 2 of the Safari Rally is a theme day where you get to traverse a Big Five game reserve dressed in a silly costume, anything and everything, from Smurfs and Rastafarians and pretty air hostesses to kilted Scotsmen and pirates of the Caribbean.
160 kilometers across the Hwange National Park in a game-viewing Land Cruiser is easily a 4 hour trip. It becomes an all-day adventure if you’re either dressed like an idiot in a meerkat onesie, or if you are driving an impossibly low-slung Lynx sports car. Unless of course you’ve lost your brakes, in which case you go a little bit faster.
And then are also the many waterholes and game viewing platforms at which to stop and enjoy. Ditto the mandatory road block in the middle of nowhere, manned by the crew from the Zimbabwe Professional Guides Association, carrying out nonsense vehicle fitness checks and issuing fines and generous punishment shots of Tipo Tinto rum, with all proceeds going to Old Legs and National Parks staff welfare. You were able to wash away the taste of the Tipo Tinto at the Smurfs’ Bloody Mary and Jäegermeister dispensary in the back of their 1960 Morris Minor, which by then was sans the front bumper and most of the front end. Clearly Tipo Tinto tastes crap because the Smurfs did a roaring trade, with all proceeds going to Old Legs.
The bush in Hwange was so lush and green with surface water everywhere, so the game viewing wasn’t the best. I did see a pair of crowned cranes strutting their stuff, and a magnificent tortoise with spots on him like a cheetah. I also saw a pair of impala, also magnificent. Apparently, I almost also saw an elephant, and a pack of jackals, but didn’t. We also didn’t see lion but heard them all around us at night.
Jenny and I slept like Robert Redford and Meryl Streep at a beautiful tented safari camp called Kapula, which was cut and pasted straight Out Of Africa, and about 40 kilometers east of Robins Camp.
The rocky roads into Robins are punctuated by steep and deep dongas, which took their toll on the lower-slung cars, cracking sumps and ending adventures, but not the party. Christopher the Old Legs Overlander quickly filled with broken down waifs and strays for the last leg in to Victoria Falls.
Clearly anxious to avoid the developing party on the back of Christopher, Andrew Brown, Debbie Swales, Stu and Jackie Gunn in their 1958 Austin Muntu Matatu stubbornly refused to breakdown. Andrew is now well off Greta Thunberg’s Christmas card list after absolutely shredding his carbon footprint, taking 2 hours and 10 litres of engine oil to complete the last 5 kilometers into the Falls. By the time, he rolled into Ilala Lodge, the only thing left working on the Austin was the handbrake, which was a half-brick under the wheel.
Jenny and I swept the Austin Muntu Matatu all the way to the finish line in our 3 liter Isuzu D-Max complete with air conditioned leather interior and surround sound, and enough power under the hood to tow anyone and anything out of the crap. Sweeping at the very back is a tough job, but someone has to do it, and you might as well do it in comfort. Isuzu are proud sponsors of the Old Legs Tour, and with us for the long run.
Jenny and I were so sorry to see the smoke that thunders towering above the Victoria Falls. We have so enjoyed our best adventure ever, having fun, doing good and doing epic on the Zimbabwe Safari Rally. The money raised will be used by the Old Legs Medical Fund to save lives and change lives.
in SOUTH AFRICA please direct donations to the M’dala Trust’s Standard Bank
Account Number: 374 230 927
Branch Code (Fish Hoek): 036 009
Swift Code: SBZAZAJJ
Please us OLT as reference on payment
In Zim, donations to
Swift Code – CABSZWHA
Account name – Old Legs Tour Trust
NOSTRO USD Account No – 1130018407
RTGS Zim Dollar Account No – 1130022072
Thank you to the rally drivers and crews who participated, to Godfrey and his team of mechanics who worked miracles to keep them on the road, and especially to Charlie, Bernie and Olivia from Taylors Africa Safaris for making the rally happen.
In closing, I take back everything bad I’ve ever written about Land Rovers. Land Rover wrote the book on tough, and they are right up there with Morris Minors.
Until my next blog on the road to Zanzibar, have fun, do good and do epic if you can, and check your oil and water – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.