While the all-new KIA Sportage is still an unfamiliar sight to many, it has already become synonymous with good cheer at paediatric hospitals in South Africa and its six neighbouring states following the successful completion of the second annual Seven7 Campaign, which saw two overland specialists (Leisure Wheels editor, Danie Botha and deputy ed, GG van Rooyen) travel nearly 7 000 km in seven days across seven countries in a brand new KIA Sportage 2.4 GDI SX AWD.
The team embarked on this adventure to deliver toys and good cheer to juvenile cancer patients in each country they visited. They also used the campaign as a marketing platform to collect funds for Little Fighters Cancer Trust, a trust for young cancer patients, especially those with terminal cancer and those whose families cannot afford their treatment.
“While the trip was certainly very eventful, the KIA Sportage performed faultlessly. The new model proved to be a very comfortable and luxurious choice, especially on days that you spend 22 hours on the road. It drew a great deal of attention in every country we visited,” says Danie Botha, the Seven7 expedition leader.
The team piloted a brand new KIA Sportage 2.4 GDI SX AWD with a powerful 135 kW petrol engine. The Sportage remained standard, aside from additional driving lights, which were sponsored by 4×4 Mega World, a more off-road focused set of tyres from Bridgestone with matching rims from Racing Heart Concepts and a custom-fitted roof rack and storage system from Front Runner.
Seven countries, seven days
The trip started on Friday, 14 October 2016, from Johannesburg. From there, the team, which comprised of Botha and his colleague GG van Rooyen, travelled 1 800 km on the first day to visit Namibia and their first hospital.
On the second day, the team travelled to Botswana for a hospital visit and on day three they braved over 20 roadblocks and spurious spot fines for transgressions such as “driving carelessly with lights on” in Zimbabwe.
“Meeting the brave doctors who work with little cancer fighters in Zimbabwe certainly made a long day worthwhile,” says Van Rooyen, who spent the next morning with Botha navigating deeply rutted and potholed tar roads from a dark 3:30 am to make it to the Komatipoort border and, in a roundabout fashion, into Mozambique.
Day four saw a visit to a Mozambique hospital and a short hop over into Swaziland. With a successful hospital visit here and open roads ahead, the team decided to skip their overnight stay in Swaziland and rather head down the KwaZulu-Natal coast to Dundee. This made their trip on day five into Lesotho a breeze.
“With some time saved, we could spend more time in the beautiful Lesotho, where we met wonderful children at the Tiny Lives Matter hospital in Mokhotlong. Here we handed out our last gifts,” says Botha.
The next morning, the team traversed the fabled Sani Pass in the new KIA Sportage and headed back into South Africa, and on the last day, back in South Africa, they met with trip co-ordinators and funders to deliver gifts to young cancer patients at the Unitas Hospital in Pretoria.
Overall, over R6 000 was raised from donations and the Little Fighters SMS campaign and the same amount was donated as gifts to the little patients.
“The new KIA Sportage travelled over 10 000 km in the week before its launch, both as the enabler for the Seven7 Campaign and as a record-setter in the 3 000-odd kilometre World’s Longest Test Drive across South Africa,” says David Sieff, Marketing Director of KIA Motors South Africa. “Much like the KIA Sorento used in last year’s Seven7 Campaign, we believe these parallel trips, covering everything from congested city driving to the non-existent roads in Zimbabwe, has firmly established the all-new Sportage not only as comfortable, but also as capable and extremely reliable. It’s been a pleasure for KIA Motors to again be associated with the Seven7 Campaign.”