The 2003 Classic Safari Challenge
A three week marathon drive across the heart of Africa.
Leaving remarkable Shiwa.
The English Country Gardens of Shiwa, the Africa House, are left behind us this morning. All of the staff have worked so hard to accommodate us - a tall order.
The camp fires and informal party-like chatting until late in the evening was one of the memorable occasions of the event, providing conviviality is something Shiwa must have been good at since the 1920s. In all, quite a remarkable place and a remarkable experience.
And so we found ourselves bouncing down the long dirt drive to regain our trek across Africa. One amusing tale deserves recording:
A true story that will surely give you a chuckle. Mark de Ferranti dropped into a filling station, like you do when you have a mighty V12 under the bonnet of a Rolls Royce Phantom, and was met by the usual throng of eager young lads. The windows were washed several times as the filling procedure is naturally a long one with pre-war Rolls Royces.
Now then, you need to understand that this is no ordinary Rolls Phantom. It is a Doctor’s coupe, and was originally owned by a genuine doctor. It is a two door, box like coupe with a long bonnet, and very long boot. Originally, the doctor, being a surgeon, kept lots of operating equipment in the boot. It might sound a touch unkind to describe this big beast as something like Mr. McGoo’s car from the children’s TV cartoon series, but in profile, it looks just like that…. so you can imagine that this causes great interest in its travels across Africa.
“Nice car… this is very special.” Says the pump attendant.
Thank you, says Mrs Ferranti. Hot, bothered, and wondering how many thousands of shekels would be needed.
“Is it very special?”
Yes…. It is. Fairly special….
“ I thought so. Is it a Special Land Rover…. or, maybe, is it a Special Jeep?”
Mrs Ferranti, at this point, was seen bending over to collect all the money she had suddenly dropped.
A long, hot day, down arrow long straights, no traffic - as is the norm since Cape Town - between high banks of tall grass. The scenery is becoming more varied, rolling hills, greenness everywhere, a welcome change from our early days. Very long in terms of miles, but we are mostly arriving mid-afternoon. Being split between two different hotels changes the atmosphere somewhat. Both are pretty much as “Africa in the raw” and anyone thinking that we are in a cocoon, travelling in a sanitised bubble, far removed from the realities of real Africa, are very much mistaken.
With there being no other choice, we are in two “totally basic” hotels for the night.