Team Tane and their Suzuki Jimny are more than 7000km into their #SuzukiAfricaSkyHigh adventure, and have begun climbing the first of three of Africa’s five highest mountains on 18 June.
The couple intend to climb Mt Stanley (5 109m), Mt Speke (4 890m) and Mt Baker (4, 44m), which are the 3rd, 4th and 5th highest mountains in Africa respectively, over 10 days. These three mountain sit in Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and are more evocatively known as ‘Mountains of the Moon’.
Shane and Tarryn Quinnell (Team Tane), left South Africa on their Suzuki Africa Sky High expedition on 29 April. Since then they have covered just over 7 000km through six different African countries including; South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.
While they climb the first of Africa’s five highest mountains here is a bit of reflection on the trip to date.
Tarryn says; “It really has been an incredible trip with so many amazing sights and experiences. The animals, macoras and remoteness of Botswana were amazing and the people of Zambia and Rwanda particularly welcoming. My favourite parts so far have been swimming in the crystal clear waters of Lake Tanganyika and interacting with the locals while walking the villages of Kigoma, Tanzania, to find the mango tree where Stanley met Livingstone.”
The majority of the trip burden so far has fallen squarely on the shoulders of Team Tane’s small yet ferocious Suzuki Jimny named Badger. He has had to transport the Team the entire distance travelled across varied terrain. While some has been tar, there has also been a huge amount of severe dirt road, insane corrugations and even long water crossings across the flooded Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana.
“Despite the huge amount of trust we have in our little guy Badger, Tarryn and I are still blown away by the capabilities of our little guy on a daily basis. He has never let us down despite the really hard-core travelling he has had to endure with approximately an extra 400 kilos on his back,” says Shane.
Up till now Team Tane report they have had to do almost no maintenance except replacing a blown lightbulb, cleaning the rear brake drums after the salty pans, cleaning the air filter at around 5000km and welding a sway rod which got damaged at about 6000km after a particularly hectic piece of road. Fortunately, they have also only suffered one flat tyre courtesy of a rusty Rwandan nail thanks to the tough Bridgestone’s they put on before the trip.
Shane, who has been keeping records of Badger’s efficiency reports “so far Badger has used and average of 9.9L/100km for the trip. This is quite amazing considering the huge amount of extra gear we loaded on him both increasing his weight and destroying his aerodynamics. It really proves our point that doing overlanding in a Jimny is not only very possible but also far more affordable than most alternatives.” Their car is a 1.3L petrol.
While Badger has had some modifications to assist Team Tane on their trip, it must be noted he is in fact pretty standard. The modifications which have been done include changing the suspension to “Tough Dog,” provided by Opposite Lock, protection equipment like under body plating and a bull bar and additional custom things like side mounted racks for jerry cans and a draw system. All of the gear was mounted by local 4×4 specialist Wizerd Custom Build.
Now that Badger has done his job of getting Team Tane to Uganda, the time has come for them to hit the grindstone.
Shane and Tarryn have faced minor adversity and setbacks in the past couple of weeks as both members of the Team were admitted to hospital in Kigali twice each as a result of a mystery infection. Fortunately, with help from the hospital and advice from International SOS, they finally recovered after spending nearly a week on a friend they met in Rwanda’s couch.
Determined to give the mountains their best shot, Team Tane seem to have bounced back. After Tarryn had been out of hospital only three days they managed to drag themselves and their miniature Jimny “Badgito,” to the top Mt Muhabura which lies on the border of Rwanda and Uganda. At 4127m the Volcano is about 700m higher than anything in Southern Africa and about four times the height of Table Mountain.
When questioned about the hike both Shane and Tarryn confirm “it was really tough.” “Our bodies were noticeably weak from the illness and time spent sitting in Badger but we are glad we did it,” adds Tarryn.
Not yet satisfied they were ready for the mighty Rwenzories, the team decided to take on Mt Subyinyo (3 645m) two days later. Happily they made it to the summit which straddles Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC in much better spirits and physical condition than Muhabura.
Before starting their first climb in the Mountains of the Moon, Team Tane confirm they are feeling pretty good about the upcoming climbs and are very excited.
“They (the Rwenzories) are still a bit daunting but we are sure we can do them,” says Tarryn. To this Shane added “we have done what we can, the rest is up to the elements and our bodies. You never quite know what will happen on big mountains but that’s part of the appeal.”
Team Tane hold up ‘Badgito’, the miniature replica of their Suzuki Jimny called Badger.
While Badger will not be with them, his clone Badgito will be along for the ride.
Their Tracks 4 Africa live map, found on their website, will be tracking their progress and media updated thanks to a satellite uplink, courtesy of local company SmartGrid Technologies.
Find more about their trip in the July issue of Leisure Wheels magazine, on sale now.
Words and photos: Shane Quinnell