Text: Leilani Basson
Photography: Jannie Herbst and Andre van Vuuren
“My son started with this camping business about eight years ago,” says Oom Terry. Before that, he and his 80-year-old wife, Carmen, did a lot of caravanning, but never any serious stuff. “That year he took us to Botswana Mabua, Chobe, Kgalagadi, McCarthy’s Rest… it was magical.
“We bought an Isuzu DC 2.8 and started exploring. Only my wife and I, and the great open spaces. We never joined a group. And luckily we never had any trouble, either. The only thing I would have been able to do was kick the tyres.”
At first the Barnards were fine with a tent. They upgraded to a rooftop tent and then, when Carmen threatened to abandon ship if Terry didn’t come up with a drastic plan, he bought a boskaravaan (bush caravan).
Oom Terry has gone everywhere with his 4×4 caravan Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and various off-road destinations in South Africa. “It’s never given me problems,” he says.
What Oom Terry and Tannie Carmen enjoyed most about their trips was the complete lack of a time schedule or programme.
“We could drive and stop and set up camp when and wherever we wanted. It frequently happened that we would stay over at one place for a few days just because we liked it and were in no rush to get to the next stop.
And with a GPS, you can’t really go wrong.”
Last year they realised they might be getting a bit old to travel these long distances by themselves. The children’s protests also came into the equation.
“For the first time, we joined a tour group – André van Vuuren’s Explore Africa Adventures on their Zambia excursion to Liuwa Plains. It was fantastic, but it did take some getting used to, following a tight schedule and keeping up with someone else’s pace. We had a splendid time. But on the last tour, Carmen decided to stay at home. To her, it is not the same, travelling in a group. She preferred our solo missions.”
Oom Terry modified his Pajero GSX Diesel – he bought it in 2005 and has tallied up 175 000 carefree kilometres – to make space for his mattress, fridge and a few drawers at the back. And whala! He was set to go solo on another Explore Africa Adventure.
“Since we were off to the central Kalahari, I didn’t take the caravan. I was, however, more than comfy in my car.” This was the first time he had taken a trip without his wife.
“I had a great time, but it is not the same without Carmen. It gets awfully lonely in the car by yourself.”
Although he would prefer company, Oom Terry has already booked another trip to Kaokoland in May. “And I want to do the 31-day tour to Tanzania from July to August, as well. I am already working on Carmen, trying to persuade her to come along, but if not, I am more than prepared to go alone.
“For as long as I am blessed with good health, and the means to travel, I will explore.
“The Lord takes excellent care of us. We have never had any serious problems on any trips or found ourselves in any danger not even in the most remote places,” says Terry.
“In a group, there should be even less risk, right? And getting stuck in a group is at least a bit more fun than getting stuck alone!”
A few of Oom Terry’s favourite quotes
- Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. – Mark Twain
- In a dream you are never eighty. – Anne Sexton
- Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. – Samuel Ullman
- The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left. – Jerry M. Wright
- There is always a lot to be thankful for, if you take the time to look. For example, I’m sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt. – Author Unknown
- Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty – they merely move it from their faces into their hearts. – Martin Buxbaum
- Grandchildren don’t make a man feel old; it’s the knowledge that he’s married to a grandmother. – G. Norman Collier