The 2003 Classic Safari Challenge
A three week marathon drive across the heart of Africa.
The Aga Khan’s Mountain Lodge
The Aga Khan’s Mountain Lodge welcomed us this evening - Arusha is just past Mount Kilimanjaro and we all enjoyed a straight forward, but long, run.
The day began badly, being several miles of horrible broken tar - we were forced to run alongside an embankment where a new road is being made. Several drivers looked wishfully at the ribbon of new tar now under construction, while pounding over a mixture of corrugations and bad potholes. This lasted for the first hour, then things steadily improved. All hopes of being able to reach the Indian Ocean coast with hardly anything that remotely resembles “traffic” have now evaporated, the roads are steadily becoming busier. The first two weeks of this great African Adventure have certainly been stunning roads to drive, free of anything to hold us up, and free of anything worth overtaking apart from the odd bicycle. Extraordinary, it has to be driven to be fully appreciated.
Those who get into mechanical scrapes often make the Diary. Now some mention of three cars in particular that, so far, have not received the slightest attention from either Tony Fowkes and Andy Inskip, or Peter and Betty Banham, in our “sweep” workshops. Firstly, the progress of the Vauxhall of Bill Ainscough has been simply incredible. It has never missed a beat, and apart from routing grease-ups, top ups of fluids, and the brakes taken up now and then, all in Bill’s hands, it has simply been a flawless performance. “Blew off all the Bentley’s today,” said Bill. Prince Henry, you will remember, was reported by Bill as being sorry not to make this trip in one national newspaper…. he has missed something. The other notable cars are both different - Do Meeus is in the white Jaguar XK140 Coupe, beautifully prepared, and simply runs like clockwork, and The Dunkley’s Derby Bentley Special is a model of reliability - again. The most travelled Derby Bentley ever will soon have crossed Africa.
Punctures have been a rare occurrence, and all the vintgageants look as if their tyres are around half-worn.
Some of the bothers have been minor and fairly trivial, although worrying enough at the time, like the Mercedes 230SL of Richard Fenhalls and Heather Milne-Taylor who could not put the hood down as the wiring to the catch had jammed. Soon sorted by The Team.
After a couple of scruffy hotels, the view out of over the lake, the green grass with crickets buzzing in the balmy warm evening air, the thatched little round huts which make up our rooms, all adds up to a perfect spot to round off the day. There is a long bar, and a local ginger beer has been a favourite for many, particularly after the Pith-Helmet in car seven, the Ford Pilot brigade, reckon a sling of vodka, a good slice of lime, and one lump of ice, soothes a battered soul like nothing else. Everyone has tried it, except Richard Fenhalls, who opted for a long beer…. suitable called Kilimjaro on the label.
All are well, and looking forward enormously to a very special day tomorrow.