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The Classic Safari Challenge 2008

August 19th - September 21st 2008

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The 3rd Classic Safari Challenge is a touring event designed for like-minded enthusiasts who want to enjoy Africa, without gruelling competition. A chance to see the sights, stop, take in the wonders of Africa with breathtaking scenery. A chance to play golf, or go on Safari, with fine food, good hotels, and a carefully chosen route.

PAUSE PLAY

The Route

The 3rd Classic Safari Challenge is a touring event designed for like-minded enthusiasts who want to enjoy Africa, without gruelling competition. A chance to see the sights, stop, take in the wonders of Africa with breathtaking scenery. A chance to play golf, or go on Safari, with fine food, good hotels, and a carefully chosen route.

We start in Cape Town, and finish in Cape Town – so that simplifies shipping, and also helps with flights – book a straight return flight, because our route drives a vast circle taking in Nambia, and Botswana, drive as far north as Victoria Falls and returning via the stunning Drakonsberg Mountains. Checkpoints at evocative places like Safari Lodges, or Rorke’s Drift, with short driving days.

Start on August 19 – back to Cape Town on September 12. We can not accept more than 30 cars with a crew of two, as the accommodation is exclusive. Bring someone special for an event that is simply stunning. Sanctioned by national motor-clubs, this is our third event with a team that has extensive experience of Southern Africa. Bring the car you want to enjoy driving – we are open minded.

Day 1: August 19. Arrive Cape Town. 
Time to collect cars from the docks, have a road-safety check-over, welcome party. We are staying at the five-star Table Bay hotel with views across the harbour to Table Bay mountain, a relaxing place to start out on a journey through the best of Africa.

Day 2: August 20. Cape Town to Clanwilliam. 270 kms/168 miles. 
Driving into the Cedarberg Mountains, some gravel roads before we arrive in one of South Africa’s oldest and smallest towns, staying in the newly-opened Clanwilliam Lodge, plenty of time to swim in the pool or stroll around a charming village-like town.

Day 3: August 21Clanwilliam to Fish River Canyon (Namibia). 595 kms/371 miles. 
We drive along the Cedarberg Mountains into Namaqualand, home of a special range of 3,000 wild flowers that burst into vibrant oranges, purples, reds and yellows at our time of the year. We then cross the border at the Orange River into Namibia, wide open spaces, good roads taking us through the desert, with time to take in the Observation Point above the gorges of Fish River Canyon. We stay at Canon Lodge, enjoy a ‘sundowner’ as the sun sets over the desert.

Day 4: August 22. Fish River Canyon to Sossusvlei. 505 kms/315 miles. 
We plan to organise early-morning flights, so you will be able to appreciate the magnificent scenery of the canyon at first-light. We will be travelling along the boundary of the national park with the largest and probably the most spectacular sand dunes in the world, (Flight of the Phoenix was filmed here), and you drive on smooth gravel roads where you hardly see a car in hours…crossing the Tsairsberg Mountains on one of the best roads of the event. Ostrich, oryx, springbok abound, and maybe a cheetah or two. We stay at the award-winning Sossusvlei Lodge, a luxurious desert resort with stunning views out across the desert. A wonderful way to end a stunning day.

Day 5: August 23rd. 143 kms/75 miles. Soussusvlei to Swakopmund. 
A short day but time out to take in one of the most overpowering, beautiful yet harsh areas on earth, the Vlei is a special area which we reach in 4×4’s laid on for us, an early start so we can watch the sun rise over some spectacular and unforgettable scenery, certainly one of the most beautiful desert scenes you could possibly wish to encounter. We stay at the Swakopmund Hotel, now a five-star hotel it was once a railway station – the restaurants are excellent.

Day 6: August 24th. Swakopmund to Twyfelfontein. 337 kms/210 miles. 
We drive up the infamous Skeleton Coast. Scenery changes dramatically as we head into the Brandberg Mountains. We arrive at Twyfelfontein Lodge, in time to take an optional trip to see some of man’s oldest art – rock paintings that have survived 3,000 years.

Day 7: August 25th.Twyfelfontein to Etosha Game Reserve. 346 kms/216 miles. 
Scenery changes some more, and there is chance to see desert elephants, lions, giraffe, and if you are really lucky, a black rhino. We stay at the recently refurbished Okaukeujo Rest Camp near a floodlit waterhole, a chance to watch elephants and lions virtually side by side.

Day 8: August 26th. Etosha Reserve (East) to Etosha Reserve (West). 80 kms/50 miles. 
Today is a free day but you do have to make the short drive through the park to Mokuti Lodge, as it is a dry season the waterholes will be teaming with life. Take a slow drive and don’t forget your binoculars! Spacious thatched chalets, with an excellent restaurant awaits.

Day 9: August 27th. Etosha to Popa Falls. 495 kms/309 miles. 
Early start for the wide gravel roads across the central plateau, towards the Caprivi Strip. After Rundu we head towardsd Popa Falls, where we are split between the three best Lodges, in this remote and tranquil location. Excellent bird-watching location, one of the most peaceful spots on earth.

Day 10: August 28th. Popa Falls to Kasane (Botswana). 444kms/275 miles. 
The Caprivi Strip feels like another country as we head inland with the Angola border on our left through lush green countryside down an empty road of good quality tarmac, arrow straight to far horizons. We stay at the five-star Mowana Safari Lodge on the edge of the Chobe River, (Bill Clinton stayed here and raved about the place). Good restaurant.

Day 11: August 29th. Kasane – Day Off. 
We have organised an optional trip to Zambia and the Victoria Falls, we have organised also morning and evening game drives and river cruises. Hippos, crocs, elephants, the river is well worth a visit. Chobe Park has the largest concentration of elephants in Africa.

Day 12: August 30th. Kasane to Selebi Phikwe. 598 kms/373 miles. 
We drive south across the eastern Kalahari. We stay at the Cresta Bosele Lodge, lots of facilities from swimming pool to a casino.

Day 13: August 31st. Selebi Phikwe to Agatha (South Africa). 456 kms/265 miles. 
This may prove to be the greatest adventure of the entire trip. We are going to cross the mighty “great and greasy” Limpopo River. We follow the Limpopo River crossing many dried-out river beds. We take in ravine forests, river bluffs and leave Botswana at Pont Drift into South Africa. We spend the night at The Coach House, Agatha, one of South Africa’s oldest hotels, overlooking the dramatic scenery of the Drakensburg Mountains. Excellent restaurant – if you are feeling thirsty there’s 8,000 bottles of wine in the cellar.

Day 14: September 1st. Agatha to Kruger Game Reserve. 295 kms/184 miles.
Scenery changes again, rolling green hills and stunning wide open views. To Blyde River Canyon, and to the Kruger Game Reserve. A night at the Malelane Sun, one of the premier lodges in South Africa overlooking Crocodile River.

Day 15: September 2nd. Malelane Sun – Day Off. 
A leisure day. Leopards Creek Country Club is nearby for those who fancy a spot of golf, who take in a lazy day relaxing in paradise.

Day 16: September 3rd. Krukger Reserve to Phinda Game Reserve. 460 kms/287 miles. 
A fascinating drive across the Kingdom of Swaziland, climbing into the mountains via Saddleback Pass and Piggs Peak. Lunch at the Royal Swazi Hotel then on to Phinda Mountain Lodge, Leonardo di Caprio spent several days with his family here – a remarkable place to stay.

Day 17: September 4th. Phinda Reserve – Day off. 
One of the best places to see cheetah and other game with lions, buffalos, leopards, giraffes. Horse riding, river cruising or sit by the pool and relax.

Day 18: September 5thPhinda Reserve via Rorke’s Drift to Drakensberg Mountains. 454kms/283 miles. 
Isandhlwana battlefield of “Zulu” fame, and a chance to explore the chapel at Rorke’s Drift, and a museum of how 100 soldiers stood out against 4,000 Zulus. Great gravel roads, super scenery all around… total tranquillity whenever you stop. A unique day – what more could any rallydrive offer – unforgettable. Cathedral Peak Hotel has a nine-hole golf course.

Day 19: September 6th. 
Take in a relaxing day amid the stunning scenery of the Drakensberg Mountains.

Day 20: September 7th. Drakesberg to Southern Drakensberg. 495 kms/303 miles. 
This could prove one of the best driving days you’ve ever experienced: We take in the Naudesnek Pass, the highest driving road in South Africa, to Rhodes in the Bell River Valley, frozen in time with perfectly preserved Victorian architecture. We dine together in the Rhodes Hotel.

Day 21: September 8th. Drakesberg to Addo National Elephant Reserve. 
A gentle day with mostly tarmac roads. We are split into three small luxurious lodges, ending the day with an evening game-drive.

Day 22: September 9th. Addo National Elephant Reserve to Knysna. 389 kms/243 miles. 
A short day’s drive through the Grootrivier and Bloukrans Passes into the coastal forest region. Knysna, on the Garden Route, is on the edge of the Indian Ocean. We stay at the five-star Country House Hotel St. James, a visit into town is well worth it – and there is golf nearby.

Day 23: September 10th. Knysna to Franschhoek. 522 kms/326 miles. 
We leave the Garden Route to head back through the Little Karoo. Stunning scenery. Eight of South Africa’s top 100 restaurants are in Franschhoek, and we dine in one of them at Le Quartier Francais. Stop over is at Le Franschhoek luxury hotel.

Day 24: September 11th Franschhoek to Cape of Good Hope. 132 kms/82 miles. 
Time for a lie-in, late start, or for some quality shopping before driving to the Cape of Good Hope. Scene drive to the coast at False Bay, finishing at the restaurant at the very end of the Cape, where Indian and Atlantic Oceans merge. Awards ceremony back at the Table Bay Hotel, time to reflect on a magical journey with ever-changing scenery, amid good company through highly memorable and challenging landscape.

Memories are made of moments like this.

 

The Participants

Crew Year – Car cc.
1 Anthony Sinclair(GB) / Karen Sinclair(GB) 1928 – Bentley 4.5 4500
3 Horst Friedrichs(D) / Helga Friedrichs(D) 1933 – Alvis Speed 20 2511
4 Michael Hurdle(GB) / Barbara Harris(GB) 1939 – Bentley Derby 4.25 4250
5 Richard Seeley(GB) / Judith Carr(GB) 1951 – Jaguar XK120 OTS 3442
6 Barney Curtis(ZA) / Carol Curtis(ZA) 1953 – Sunbeam Alpine 2400
7 Roger Allen(AUS) / Maggie Gray(AUS) 1956 – MG Magnette ZA 1798
8 Graham Daly(GB) / Christine Daly(GB) 1956 – Jaguar XK140 3400
9 George Coelho(USA) / Margo O’Brien-Coelho(USA) 1963 – Volvo 122S 1986
10 Richard Auchincloss(GB) / Karen Auchincloss(GB) 1964 – Jensen CV8 5916
11 Thomas (Ralph) Auchincloss(GB) / Hilary Cheese(GB) 1966 – Jaguar MkII 3442
12 David Spurling(GB) / Patricia Spurling(GB) 1964 – Aston Martin DB5 4000
14 Michael Barnes(GB) / Jennifer Barnes(GB) 1964 – Porsche 356 1600
15 Floris Van der Zwan(NL) / Matthijs Dalhuijsen(NL) 1965 – Ford Corsair 2000
16 Nigel Gray(GB) / Christine Gray(GB) 1965 – Sunbeam Tiger 4261
17 Steven Byrne(GB) / Linda Marston-Weston(GB) 1965 – Aston Martin DB6 3995
18 Frederik Molenaar(NL) / Henriette Onnekink(NL) 1966 – Volvo Amazon 2000
19 Jose Romao de Sousa(PT) / Maria Romao De Sousa(PT) 1968 – Volvo 142 S 1993
20 Richard Taylor(USA) / Antoinette Taylor(USA) 1968 – Saab 96 1700
21 Michael Wilkinson(AUS) / Anne Wilkinson(AUS) 1968 – Holden HK 3000
22 Paul Merryweather(GB) / Sandra Merryweather(GB) 1966 – Jaguar S Type 3800
23 Udo Bichler(D) / Hermine Bichler(D) 1969 – Mercedes 280 SE 2778
24 Laurence Jones(AUS) / Mary-Alice Jones(AUS) 1971 – Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider 1779
25 Robert Porter(GB) / Christine Kerr(GB) 1974 – Mercedes-Benz 230.4 2307
26 David Miller(GB) / Margaret Miller(GB) 1977 – MGB GT 1798
27 Terence Ward(AUS) / Janice Ward(AUS) 1992 – Toyota Landcruiser 4477

 

PAUSE PLAY

Final Report, 3rd Classic Safari

The Final Countdown:

Well, here we are, back at Table Bay Hotel in the shadow of the giant mountain right behind the waterfront, on a bright and sunny day with just a gentle sea breeze swaying the palm trees that surround the cars at the front of the hotel. It has been harder, and tougher, than anyone could have imagined – including organisers. Late rains left the roads far from the ideal that was discovered on the various route surveys. By the end of the 23 days of the event, just about all the cars were suffering the rigours of the giant circuit of southern Africa.

Paul Merryweather has set best times on all the timed-to-the-second test sections, pushed hard by Nicky Porter – so it was a Jaguar versus Mercedes showdown. The Merryweathers on by just a single minute, clinching a hat-trick of successes on this event, having set best times on the 1st and 2nd Classic Safari Challenges in a 67 Mercedes SL. The Merryweather’s Jaguar had all sorts of dramas, radiator, fan, waterpump, differential carrier, requiring regular emergency repairs in local workshops each evening. Nicky Porter’s Merc looked serene in comparison, the single-cam 230 taxi engine feeling quite a home in Africa. Nicky came for a “gentle bit of holiday seeing the sights and the animals” but admitted whenever faced with a timed section, and a Jaguar that looked fit to explode into a zillion bits at any moment, he couldn’t resist growing horns as big as the local antelope.

Rudi Freidrichs suffered the most when the front offside wheel fell off his Alvis due to the hammering over the final sections – metal fatigue from the Peking to Paris taking its toll in this remarkably rapid car. Undaunted, he went away to a nearby museum, fixed the car and returned two days later. He collected a True Grit Award at the prizegiving.

The events winners of the various Categories are on the final results list along with other placings.

Progress Report from the Cathedral Peak, Natal

We left our tiny lodge buried in the centre of the giant Kruger National Game Park – some of us saw spotted hyena, rhino, lots of zebras, various antelope-looking things and Paul Merryweather inadvertently reduced the rare species listing by one when he slammed his cabin door on a cobra. We drove across Swaziland stopping off for a spot of lunch at the Royal Swazi Sun Hotel, before ending up in Phinda where the event was split across two remote lodges.

From here we enjoyed a day off ending with an evening barbecue out in the bush lit by hurricane lanterns and then struck out for Zulu country.

We spent an hour for lunch at a mountainside lodge overlooking the Isandlwana battlefield, scene of the biggest single defeat in the whole history of the British Army, and then drove on for an hour at Rorke’s Drift, where nothing much has changed (apart from the rebuild) since the bunch of 115 wounded, store keepers, medics and misfits incapable of firing a gun took on the siege by 4,500 Zulus, and emerged next day as the surprise winners.

There were two Medal Sections, one before and one after the Rorke’s Drift visit, and the first was very twisty, mostly downhill with wicked adverse-cambers on a hard clay and dusty dirt surface. Notable performances were from Michael and Jenny Barnes in their Porsche 356 (who chalked medal winning drives on both these test sections) as did Nicky Porter and Christine Kerr, in their single-cam Mercedes 230 “taxi”, and top in the 4×4 category were Terry and Janice Ward in their Toyota Landcruiser on the first section and Roger Allen and Maggie Gray in their locally registered pick-up on the second.

Today has been a day off, with the whole rally resting in the aptly named Cathedral Peak, high in the glorious Drakensberg Mountains, the stunning scenery certainly impresses. Some have disappeared for a spot of golf, or taking in a mountain walk.

The car park has seen some frenzied activity from the likes of Andy Inskip, Chris Bruce, Richard Pybus and Simon Ayris who run the sweeper mobile workshops, the Jensen CV8 of Richard and Karen Auchincloss which continues to sound glorious has had a petrol tank leak plugged, and the Aston of David Spurling has had more running repairs.

From the Kruger Game Reserve

The rally has arrived in the centre of the massive Kruger Game Park; we are now heading slowly south and back in South Africa. We are enjoying a day off in a large thatched lodge, each crew has their own thatched bungalow around a central building that is perched on the side of a cliff, overlooking the Crocodile River, which lives up to its name with numerous crocs cruising the currents, with large Kudu, Zebra, and the odd Elephant nervously sampling the waters.

Yesterday saw another Section, with best performance being set up on a long dusty trail by Jose and Maria Romao de Sousa in their Volvo 142S, that was originally built for Tony Fall to drive on a long distance rally in South America, going well now it’s had an axle overhaul. Casualty here, however, was car number one, the Vintage Bentley of Tony and Karen Sinclair which limped in late last night with rear axle seizure. Best vintage car on the Medal Section was the Alvis of Rudi and Helga Friedrichs, other good performances were put up by the Merrweather’s Jaguar S-Type, now with a new radiator found locally, and the Derby Bentley of Michael Hurdle and Barbara Harris. David and Margaret Miller were going well in their ’77 MGB GT having overcome a bout of broken front bump stops early on.

To get to this spot we have travelled from Victoria Falls south across Botswana, leaving Botswana by a rickety narrow bridge over the great, green, greasy Limpopo River to the border confusingly called Zanzibar but of course nothing to do with the spice island in the Indian Ocean off Tanzania. The air is bright and sunny but nothing like as scorching hot as we all experienced in northern Namibia.

Yesterday’s run set out from Agatha, high in the Drakensburg Mountains, a wonderful old-world colonial-style hotel, the comforts of which have gone down as a highlight of the entire journey. Cutting our way through dramatic gorges and rocky canyons out of the Mountains to the Kruger Game Park provided a day with constantly changing views and variety.

Tomorrow’s run takes in lunch in Swaziland, before an overnight halt at Phinda on the edge of the St. Lucia Wetlands, a world heritage site.

Running repairs today include attention to the Jensen CV8, of Richard and Karen Auchinchloss which was running strongly yesterday, and the Derby Bentley is having its rear bumper bolted back on – apart from that its a lazy day chilling out before the action to come. We have just spotted David Spurling operating a long tube of a vacuum cleaner, taking up half a ton of dust from the inside of the Aston Martin DB5 Convertible – as his wife Trish says this is the first time she has seen him operate a Hoover, it just goes to show how life-changing it can be when you take part in a long distance rally.

Progress Report from the Chobe National Park

WE have just returned from an early morning game-drive in the remarkable Chobe National Park, a few miles up stream from Victoria Falls, very much in the heart of Africa. We saw a family of three large, rolling in sand, hippos, buffalo, several elephants greeting us by crossing the road, just prior to spotting a cheetah in the scrub, a rare sight.

To get this far has been a dramatic run. We set out of Cape Town, heading north, with a timed drive through the Cederberg Mountains, a narrow dusty dirt track that threaded along a valley floor shielded by high peaks for nearly 100 kms. Recent rain meant the dirt was corrugated in places and rougher than the original route survey.

The two Jaguar XK120s chose a cautious pace, others pushed on, with the best times being chalked up on the Medal Sections by Michael Hurdle and Barbara Harris in their Derby Bentley, Nigel and Christine Gray in their Sunbeam Tiger and Michael and Anne Wilkinson in the 1968 V8 Holden HK.

After stopping at Clanwilliam, the rally then headed up the long empty road to the border of Namibia, for our stop at Cannon Lodge Village near the spectacular Fish River Canyon. Miles of empty dirt road ran under our wheels to this point.

We then pushed on to Helmeringhausen for a spot of lunch in this one-street town, before another Medal Section of 50 kms through stunning scenery, which saw Rudi and Helga Friedrichs in their Alvis Speed 20, Richard and Karen Auchincloss in the Jensen CV8 and Paul and Sandra Merryweather in their Jaguar S Type collect trophies for best efforts in their respective classes. An early morning departure to take in the world’s highest sand dunes was next up, and then the rally pushed on to south of the Skeleton Coast for Swakopmund, crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, taking in a further Medal Section, 70 kms of sweeping gravel roads, ending up in the town’s converted railway station – the restaurant is Platform One. Winners of the day were once again Rudi and Helga, Nigel and Christine and Paul and Sandra.

The rally headed into wild and empty desert that looked ideal for a Wild West film set to stay under the thatched roofs of Twyfelfontein, set against rich red rocks where mankind first walked umpteen thousand years ago and left his mark with rare rock paintings in nearby caves.

Winners of the Medal Section into lunch were again Michael and Barbara in the Derby Bentley, Margo O’Brien Coelho and George Coelho in their Volvo 122S and Jose and Maria Romao De’Sousa in their later Volvo 142S

We left here for a hillclimb of 20 kms over the Grootberg Pass, winners here were Anthony and Karen Sinclair in their vintage Bentley 4½, Margo and George in the Volvo 122S and Michael and Anne in the Holden HK on our way to the overnight halt under canvas at Anderson’s Camp with Rhino and Lion feet away from our dinner tables out on the verandah at sun set, as animals overcame their fears to sample the muddy watering hole while we all enjoyed a bottle of wine or three. This was followed by free-day of touring through the Etosha Game Reserve on our way to Mokuti Lodge and the thatched wooden chalets of our overnight stop, before setting out for Poppa Falls on the outskirts of the vast Okavango Delta.

This led us to the border of Botswana, the countryside changing dramatically, the roads becoming more busy after thumping down the empty stretch of Caprivi Strip to the border, saying goodbye to the wonderful delights of Namibia with a crossing into the Chobe National Park and an overnight halt at Kasane.

It’s a day off today, a chance to catch up on the laundry, a number of crews have taken a boat down river to Victoria Falls, and in the car park Andy Inskip with Chris Bruce is attending to running repairs, with Simon Ayris and Richard Pybus taking over for the afternoon shift.

The food and wine has been good here, as we chill out by the pool bracing ourselves for the longest day of the event of 600 kms of tarmac to Selebi Phikwe tomorrow.

Ryder Haggard

PAUSE PLAY

Final Report, 3rd Classic Safari

The Final Countdown:

 

Well, here we are, back at Table Bay Hotel in the shadow of the giant mountain right behind the waterfront, on a bright and sunny day with just a gentle sea breeze swaying the palm trees that surround the cars at the front of the hotel. It has been harder, and tougher, than anyone could have imagined – including organisers. Late rains left the roads far from the ideal that was discovered on the various route surveys. By the end of the 23 days of the event, just about all the cars were suffering the rigours of the giant circuit of southern Africa.

Paul Merryweather has set best times on all the timed-to-the-second test sections, pushed hard by Nicky Porter – so it was a Jaguar versus Mercedes showdown. The Merryweathers on by just a single minute, clinching a hat-trick of successes on this event, having set best times on the 1st and 2nd Classic Safari Challenges in a 67 Mercedes SL. The Merryweather’s Jaguar had all sorts of dramas, radiator, fan, waterpump, differential carrier, requiring regular emergency repairs in local workshops each evening. Nicky Porter’s Merc looked serene in comparison, the single-cam 230 taxi engine feeling quite a home in Africa. Nicky came for a “gentle bit of holiday seeing the sights and the animals” but admitted whenever faced with a timed section, and a Jaguar that looked fit to explode into a zillion bits at any moment, he couldn’t resist growing horns as big as the local antelope.

Rudi Freidrichs suffered the most when the front offside wheel fell off his Alvis due to the hammering over the final sections – metal fatigue from the Peking to Paris taking its toll in this remarkably rapid car. Undaunted, he went away to a nearby museum, fixed the car and returned two days later. He collected a True Grit Award at the prizegiving.

The events winners of the various Categories are on the final results list along with other placings.

Progress Report from the Cathedral Peak, Natal

 

We left our tiny lodge buried in the centre of the giant Kruger National Game Park – some of us saw spotted hyena, rhino, lots of zebras, various antelope-looking things and Paul Merryweather inadvertently reduced the rare species listing by one when he slammed his cabin door on a cobra. We drove across Swaziland stopping off for a spot of lunch at the Royal Swazi Sun Hotel, before ending up in Phinda where the event was split across two remote lodges.

From here we enjoyed a day off ending with an evening barbecue out in the bush lit by hurricane lanterns and then struck out for Zulu country.

We spent an hour for lunch at a mountainside lodge overlooking the Isandlwana battlefield, scene of the biggest single defeat in the whole history of the British Army, and then drove on for an hour at Rorke’s Drift, where nothing much has changed (apart from the rebuild) since the bunch of 115 wounded, store keepers, medics and misfits incapable of firing a gun took on the siege by 4,500 Zulus, and emerged next day as the surprise winners.

There were two Medal Sections, one before and one after the Rorke’s Drift visit, and the first was very twisty, mostly downhill with wicked adverse-cambers on a hard clay and dusty dirt surface. Notable performances were from Michael and Jenny Barnes in their Porsche 356 (who chalked medal winning drives on both these test sections) as did Nicky Porter and Christine Kerr, in their single-cam Mercedes 230 “taxi”, and top in the 4×4 category were Terry and Janice Ward in their Toyota Landcruiser on the first section and Roger Allen and Maggie Gray in their locally registered pick-up on the second.

 

Today has been a day off, with the whole rally resting in the aptly named Cathedral Peak, high in the glorious Drakensberg Mountains, the stunning scenery certainly impresses. Some have disappeared for a spot of golf, or taking in a mountain walk.

The car park has seen some frenzied activity from the likes of Andy Inskip, Chris Bruce, Richard Pybus and Simon Ayris who run the sweeper mobile workshops, the Jensen CV8 of Richard and Karen Auchincloss which continues to sound glorious has had a petrol tank leak plugged, and the Aston of David Spurling has had more running repairs.

From the Kruger Game Reserve

The rally has arrived in the centre of the massive Kruger Game Park; we are now heading slowly south and back in South Africa. We are enjoying a day off in a large thatched lodge, each crew has their own thatched bungalow around a central building that is perched on the side of a cliff, overlooking the Crocodile River, which lives up to its name with numerous crocs cruising the currents, with large Kudu, Zebra, and the odd Elephant nervously sampling the waters.

 

Yesterday saw another Section, with best performance being set up on a long dusty trail by Jose and Maria Romao de Sousa in their Volvo 142S, that was originally built for Tony Fall to drive on a long distance rally in South America, going well now it’s had an axle overhaul. Casualty here, however, was car number one, the Vintage Bentley of Tony and Karen Sinclair which limped in late last night with rear axle seizure. Best vintage car on the Medal Section was the Alvis of Rudi and Helga Friedrichs, other good performances were put up by the Merrweather’s Jaguar S-Type, now with a new radiator found locally, and the Derby Bentley of Michael Hurdle and Barbara Harris. David and Margaret Miller were going well in their ’77 MGB GT having overcome a bout of broken front bump stops early on.

To get to this spot we have travelled from Victoria Falls south across Botswana, leaving Botswana by a rickety narrow bridge over the great, green, greasy Limpopo River to the border confusingly called Zanzibar but of course nothing to do with the spice island in the Indian Ocean off Tanzania. The air is bright and sunny but nothing like as scorching hot as we all experienced in northern Namibia.

Yesterday’s run set out from Agatha, high in the Drakensburg Mountains, a wonderful old-world colonial-style hotel, the comforts of which have gone down as a highlight of the entire journey. Cutting our way through dramatic gorges and rocky canyons out of the Mountains to the Kruger Game Park provided a day with constantly changing views and variety.

Tomorrow’s run takes in lunch in Swaziland, before an overnight halt at Phinda on the edge of the St. Lucia Wetlands, a world heritage site.

Running repairs today include attention to the Jensen CV8, of Richard and Karen Auchinchloss which was running strongly yesterday, and the Derby Bentley is having its rear bumper bolted back on – apart from that its a lazy day chilling out before the action to come. We have just spotted David Spurling operating a long tube of a vacuum cleaner, taking up half a ton of dust from the inside of the Aston Martin DB5 Convertible – as his wife Trish says this is the first time she has seen him operate a Hoover, it just goes to show how life-changing it can be when you take part in a long distance rally.

Progress Report from the Chobe National Park

 

WE have just returned from an early morning game-drive in the remarkable Chobe National Park, a few miles up stream from Victoria Falls, very much in the heart of Africa. We saw a family of three large, rolling in sand, hippos, buffalo, several elephants greeting us by crossing the road, just prior to spotting a cheetah in the scrub, a rare sight.

To get this far has been a dramatic run. We set out of Cape Town, heading north, with a timed drive through the Cederberg Mountains, a narrow dusty dirt track that threaded along a valley floor shielded by high peaks for nearly 100 kms. Recent rain meant the dirt was corrugated in places and rougher than the original route survey.

The two Jaguar XK120s chose a cautious pace, others pushed on, with the best times being chalked up on the Medal Sections by Michael Hurdle and Barbara Harris in their Derby Bentley, Nigel and Christine Gray in their Sunbeam Tiger and Michael and Anne Wilkinson in the 1968 V8 Holden HK.

After stopping at Clanwilliam, the rally then headed up the long empty road to the border of Namibia, for our stop at Cannon Lodge Village near the spectacular Fish River Canyon. Miles of empty dirt road ran under our wheels to this point.

 

We then pushed on to Helmeringhausen for a spot of lunch in this one-street town, before another Medal Section of 50 kms through stunning scenery, which saw Rudi and Helga Friedrichs in their Alvis Speed 20, Richard and Karen Auchincloss in the Jensen CV8 and Paul and Sandra Merryweather in their Jaguar S Type collect trophies for best efforts in their respective classes. An early morning departure to take in the world’s highest sand dunes was next up, and then the rally pushed on to south of the Skeleton Coast for Swakopmund, crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, taking in a further Medal Section, 70 kms of sweeping gravel roads, ending up in the town’s converted railway station – the restaurant is Platform One. Winners of the day were once again Rudi and Helga, Nigel and Christine and Paul and Sandra.

The rally headed into wild and empty desert that looked ideal for a Wild West film set to stay under the thatched roofs of Twyfelfontein, set against rich red rocks where mankind first walked umpteen thousand years ago and left his mark with rare rock paintings in nearby caves.

Winners of the Medal Section into lunch were again Michael and Barbara in the Derby Bentley, Margo O’Brien Coelho and George Coelho in their Volvo 122S and Jose and Maria Romao De’Sousa in their later Volvo 142S

We left here for a hillclimb of 20 kms over the Grootberg Pass, winners here were Anthony and Karen Sinclair in their vintage Bentley 4½, Margo and George in the Volvo 122S and Michael and Anne in the Holden HK on our way to the overnight halt under canvas at Anderson’s Camp with Rhino and Lion feet away from our dinner tables out on the verandah at sun set, as animals overcame their fears to sample the muddy watering hole while we all enjoyed a bottle of wine or three. This was followed by free-day of touring through the Etosha Game Reserve on our way to Mokuti Lodge and the thatched wooden chalets of our overnight stop, before setting out for Poppa Falls on the outskirts of the vast Okavango Delta.

 

This led us to the border of Botswana, the countryside changing dramatically, the roads becoming more busy after thumping down the empty stretch of Caprivi Strip to the border, saying goodbye to the wonderful delights of Namibia with a crossing into the Chobe National Park and an overnight halt at Kasane.

It’s a day off today, a chance to catch up on the laundry, a number of crews have taken a boat down river to Victoria Falls, and in the car park Andy Inskip with Chris Bruce is attending to running repairs, with Simon Ayris and Richard Pybus taking over for the afternoon shift.

The food and wine has been good here, as we chill out by the pool bracing ourselves for the longest day of the event of 600 kms of tarmac to Selebi Phikwe tomorrow.

Ryder Haggard

 

Final Results

Vintageant Category

1st Michael Hurdle/Barbara Harris – Bentley Derby 4.25; 86
2nd Rudi Freidrichs/Helga Freidrichs – Alvis Speed 20; 497

Rtd Anthony Sinclair/Karen Sinclair – Bentley 4.5; Retired

Classic Pre-1966 Category

1st Nigel Gray/Christine Gray – Sunbeam Tiger; 2
2nd Margo O’Brien-Coelho/George Coelho – Volvo 122S; 3
3rd Michael Barnes/Jennifer Barnes – Porsche 356; 20
4th Barney Curtis/Carol Curtis – Sunbeam Alpine; 59
5th Richard Auchincloss/Karen Auchincloss – Jensen CV8; 297
6th David Spurling/Patricia Spurling – Aston Martin; 540
7th Richard Seeley/Judith Carr – Jaguar XK140; 1399

Rtd Floris Van der Zwan/Bernard Rea-Taylor – Ford Corsair; Retired

Classic Post-1966 Category

1st Paul Merryweather/Sandra Merryweather – Jaguar S Type; 0
2nd Nicky Porter/Christine Kerr – Mercedes 230.4; 1
3rd Michael Wilkinson/Anne Wilkinson – Holden HK; 5
4th David Miller/Margaret Miller – MGB GT; 30
5th Udo Bichler/Hermine Bichler – Mercedes 280SE; 155
6th Frederik Molenaar/Henriette Onnekink – Volvo Amazon; 177
7th Jose Romao de Sousa/Maria Romao de Sousa – Volvo 142S; 181
8th Laurence Jones/Mary-Alice Jones – Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider; 692

Rtd Richard Taylor/Antoinette Taylor – Saab 96; Retired

4×4 Category

1st Terence Ward/Janice Ward – Toyota Landcruiser; 240
2nd Roger Allen/Maggie Gray – Bakkie; 258
3rd Graham Daly/Christine Daly – Bakkie; 705
4th Ralph Auchincloss/Holly Cheese – Bakkie; 1141