I was recently asked by 4WD Touring Australia to write a short article about how I left Australia and ending up living and running a tourism business in Kenya. While I was trying to put fingers to the keyboard I spent more time reminiscing over the past then I did writing about it. Over the years, Thiemo and I, have had some incredible experiences both together and separately. Our most memorable experience was being bogged in the Sahara desert for 3 days in thick wet clay in 2013.
I still remember the sinking feeling (literally) I felt as I watched Tim, who was driving Medusa the MAN, break the crust of the salt pan and start to slow down. He thought he had a blocked fuel filter, until he looked in the side mirrors and saw the rear sinking.
What started out as a “oh well this is overlanding, this is what it is all about” soon turned into a mission. The more we dug, the more we sank. Medusa was heavy. So we needed to lose weight, off came the beer (that made a considerable difference!), the luggage, spare tyres, kitchen and everything that could be removed. Still sinking …..
Sand mats simply had no grip and although we had 28 people to push and me trying to pull Medusa out with Betty, our support truck, it was not enough to get us out of the clay. We were still sinking ….
On day 2 we stopped digging and as Tim wrapped steel cables around the tyres the rest of us walked off into the distance to collect soft volcanic rocks from about 700m away. We filled the tracks with rocks and tried to get them under the tyres as much as possible. Finally by the middle of the 3rd day we were ready to try again.
I hooked Medusa to the back of Betty, Tim climbed into the cab of Medusa and 28 people were at the back ready to push. I gave a shunt and effortlessly Medusa drove out of her hole much to our relief.
Thinking back now it was one of the most stressful times of my overlanding career. As road crew our number 1 responsibility is for the safety and well-being of our clients. While we knew we had more than enough food and water to last us days (and we had passed a fresh water hole only a few kilometres before being bogged), we still had to ensure we kept level headed and confident.
We always knew we would get out …….. Eventually
Although we still drive overland trucks, the routes we take through East Africa are a little less isolated. Sure there may be a random dirt road somewhere along the way where we may slide to the side and get bogged but nothing like our Trans Africa days (UK to Cape overland). And with our land rovers on our guided self drive expeditions …. well …. They are pretty hard to get bogged!