It’s hard to believe, but Johan Badenhorst’s has published 50 Voetspore Diaries for Leisure Wheels. He has entertained readers with countless anecdotes and provided much useful information on overlanding. Let’s hope this is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship…
It all started when we returned from filming Voetspore: Casablanca to the Cape. My first contribution to this magazine was about the journey through Cameroon. I wrote about the Barrier de Pluie – the rain barriers that are erected on the gravel roads.
Once it starts raining, the roads are closed to prevent vehicles from getting stuck and thereby messing up the road surface. We, in our Cruisers, managed to sneak through and tackle national roads that were converted into serious 4×4 tracks.
Many articles followed about the journey down the west coast of the continent. I wrote about getting stuck at the Democratic Republic of Congo border with Angola when not even a mention that it was Nelson Mandela’s birthday could help speed up the issuing of a transit visa.
I wrote about getting stuck on our way to the second biggest monolith (read “rock”) in the world, in the north of Mauritania. And I recalled the problems we’d had with broken blade springs on a Cruiser, and how we eventually fixed them with the arm of a high lift jack.
One of my favourite stories was about driving our own “Dakar Rally” in Senegal.
Other, more general articles followed. We conveyed our Voetspore experiences by telling readers how to plan a safari, choose a 4×4, equip the vehicle and which tyres to choose. We touched on cross-border etiquette, local currencies, dealing with attempted bribery and technical issues.
Two subsequent expeditions – first from Agulhas to Alexandria and then across Africa along the equator – were the source of many more stories.
In Kenya a rat (or perhaps two) got into our vehicles. We thought the rat had left us in Addis Ababa, but when we reached Egypt it was evident that it was still there. The little bugger stayed in the vehicle and was transported, in a container, all the way to Cape Town where a 4×4 Megaworld employee got a hell of a fright when she opened the Amarok’s canopy and the not-so-small any more rat jumped on her.
There were many more adventures on the equator expedition. We had to consider whether automatic vehicles were suitable for severe off-road conditions. We discussed the challenges of travelling into the unknown, where even Tracks4Africa showed only a dark hole. Once more the need for patience, and even more patience, when travelling on the continent was stressed. Yet, for now, as I stated in Voetspore Diary No 36, we are staying in Africa.
Recently, we were able to introduce readers to our new shop in Woodlands Boulevard, Pretoria. This is a one stop safari shop where we do everything, from planning a trip to fitting out the vehicle.
We have 14 years and 200 000km of experience in travelling in Africa, and at the Voetspore 4×4 Megaworld shop we share our experience with customers. But there is another advantage – they share their experience with us as well, and so the source of information grows.
Africa is a challenging continent. Even though travelling is getting easier in many ways, a long journey remains difficult. But the bigger the challenge, the greater the reward. This is what we experienced so vividly during a 28-day boat cruise down the Congo River.
When we arrived in Kinshasa, Francois challenged the guys, for a million bucks, to get on the next barge and go upstream, back the 1743km to Kisangani. There were no takers. Three days later, when I asked them to reflect on the entire journey, without fail they referred to the epic trip on the Congo River as a journey never to be forgotten.
And so I am planning the next one. This time it will be through the Great Rift Valley. If all goes according to plan, we will leave the continent for the first time and cross from Sudan into Saudi Arabia. Therein lies another challenge. I hope that this expedition will contribute to many more adventures, and articles.
My thanks to Jannie Herbst and his team at Leisure Wheels for their help over the years, as well as to all the faithful readers. Thank you. Mooi loop!