The 2003 Classic Safari Challenge
A three week marathon drive across the heart of Africa.
A most extraordinary escapade
Across Africa and beyond. Nearly 5,000 miles of the most dramatic territory you could ever wish to drive. Every day a challenge of the senses. This has been a most extraordinary escapade.
We set out from Cape Town with high hopes. Along the way, seven cars have lost their gold medals, for a variety of problems. Most have run like clockwork, with only minor mechanical maladies along the way.
Today was by far the most daunting of roads, no fun at all for the vintageants who had to tackle the hot, rough roads of Kenya at the end of a journey when every nut, bolt and joint was beginning to rightly feel the strain. The Inghams Bentley did not enjoy it, nor did the Brodericks, but nobody was in complaining mood at the end of it all… it is the only road there is, and just has to be driven. But what a comedown, what a decline, from times past, when Nigel Broderick can remember topping 100 mph on the speedo for the first time in his life in an MGA on the road from Mombasa to Malindi. You could barely expect an MGA to average half that speed today.
The Darcey MG continues to provide full entertainment value. Having left his passport in the hotel (well, he has had a bang on the head, so this is surely excusable) he did what you and I would do in such circumstances, and turn round (having reached the border before discovering it was missing). Bombing the V8 for all it was worth, he crests a rise to find the road filled with a big green vintage Bentley, and the pink shirt of Richard Dangerfield with arm outstreched, normal Bentley Boy sign language for “make mine a pint.” At massive closing speed, hand slapped hand, and Darcey found himself clasping a pair of passports.
So we all made it, with Pith Helmet bringing up the rear in the Ford Pilot, and entertaining the locals who gave him a free beer from the little bar which Hemingways have set up in the car park….by tipping it over his head.
Bill Borchert Larson has made it, but with a customs officer in the back seat, who refused to hand over the passport to ensure a promise is kept that the car bought untested from a South African showroom hours after all the rest of us had left town, actually gets shipped to England.
And here we are, sitting beside the Indian Ocean, a breezy balmy evening, the food is simply out of this world, the company terrific, we are out under the palm trees, the wine flowing freely, in one of the world’s finest “drop out” hotels. No mobile phones allowed outside of your room, the policy here is tranquility foremost. No disco beat, no televisions, just perfection.
It makes all the hardships of the past three weeks all the more worthwhile, and the comforts of this place by the ocean all the more appreciated.