Charlie the Landrover

Here’s a little recap after 6 weeks, 160 hours driving and 9648 kilometers.

We picked up our trusty Land Rover Defender (2006, TD5 model) in Cape Town, South Africa and commenced the journey. Our aim to cross the continent and complete our trip in Nairobi, Kenya. We fondly named the car Charlie.

All the while – we were eager to jump on any opportunity to fly kites, hike trails and ride (on horseback) through the vast dunes, savannah’s, salt pans and bushland. In the true spirit of 5th Element Expeditions, we pursued the road less travelled (although it didn’t always act in our favour.

We first started running into electrical issues about halfway through Namibia – after relentless shale-rock corrugations through the Namibian Desert. After much deliberation we decided that the older Land Rover model (TDI) may have been a better option with its simplified electrics. Our primary issue was that the electical relays kept jumping out of place with all the jiving and rattling to and fro. This was causing us to have to burrow under the seat (where the electics and fuses could be found) after every few hundred kilometers to hold them back in place again. This issue would come back to haunt us in just about every stop we had.

As far as our gear went – the landy was quite top-heavy with kites, camp gear, clothes and the dune buggy, but all in all it handled well driving overall.

It wasn’t long before we entered the Caprivi Strip – an amazing place bordering Angola, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe! It is considered a multi-use area now (blending conservation with everyday living) so we quickly became used to having to stop on the highway for herds of elephant to cross at their leisure.

After a few days we dropped down into the Chobi National park in Botswana, one of the worlds most heavily concentrated areas for elephant. It did not disappoint – there were elephant, hippos (grazing in broad daylight) and the edge of the Chobi River was teaming with wildlife. Geoff had an interesting experience one morning after discovering fresh lion prints on top of his recent boot prints (presumably as it stalked him to the loo, intrigued by our presence.)

Victoria falls (the Zambian side) was our next major stop in the town of Livingston (“I presume.”) It was great to take the opportunity to visit the Livingston museum and discover some of his great history, even read hand-written notes and diary entries of his adventures across the African continent in the late 1800’s – what an inspiration.

We powered through Zambia in a few days (it seemed like the bulk of our time was spent doing border crossings, we didn’t have any issues with corruption which was positive as well.)

We spent some time meandering through Tanzania and then Kenya – however, from the Landy’s perspective, there was one treacherous road on the way to Tarangire that would be the cause of a hole in the sub fuel tank, snapping our suspension bracket as well as multiple stops to fiddle with the electrics. Ironically we discovered one of the roads less travelled was less travelled for good reason!

Fortunately with some cable ties and elbow grease, a handy friend with a welder and the spirit of adventure spurring us on – we were able to patch Charlie back together and press on to our final destination.

We fell in love with Charlie so much that we decided to ship him back to the Gold Coast from Mombassa, Kenya!

I have deliberately left out a number of details of our expedition for they deserve their own stories to be told in entirety. Stay tuned!

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