was my first expedition and in many ways changed my life in the
years to come. It was the first time in my life where I did exactly
what I wanted to do, in exactly the place I wanted to do it - despite
advice that I was crazy to leave behind a company I had co-founded.
There were some really smart moves like buying
and selling a Land Rover in South Africa - I sold it for the same
as I paid. There were some really stupid moves, like inadvertently
driving through a mine field in Burundi, going into eastern Tanzania
with no US cash, running out of money halfway through the trip and
pawning my sat phone to continue ... the list is long. But if I
hadn't done this trip, I never would have taken on the Around-the-World
trip and future expeditions. In many ways this remains the most
memorable and astonishing trip I've ever done.
I flew into Johannesburg and
bought a Land Rover, drove it through 14 countries in southern and
east Africa, and returned to South Africa and sold the vehicle.
Some journals you may find particularly interesting include; climbing
Kilimanjaro (journal 7), a dash through a war zone (journal 9) and
a transit down the abandoned eastern Lake Tanganika road (journal
A very special thanks to Tim & Amy Mechem
who put up half the money for the Land Rover, and whose time with
me on the road was the most memorable of all.
Writer/Photographer/Driver: Jeff Willner - firstname.lastname@example.org
Crew: Andy Wolford (Johannesburg - Victoria Falls), Carola Bazle
(Cape Town - Victoria Falls)
John Hiscock (Dar
Es Salaam - Nairobi), Alex Semple (Dar Es Salaam - Kampala),
Kevin Temple (Nairobi
- Victoria Falls)
Tim & Amy Mechem
(Lilongwe - Cape Town)
Gregg Lowden (Web
Distance: 24,000km, 12 countries
Vehicle: Land Rover 110, V8, County with modifications
| Trip Summary
- The Start
"Boys,” Dad said, “that kid has
killed – and he’s looking for a reason to do it again.”
That memory and others swirl around in my head as I prepare
for the trip. The
plan for the six months is pretty aggressive; buy a Land Rover
in Johannesburg and zigzag from Southern Africa to East Africa
and back through 14 countries, see how the people and the
land have changed in the past 15 years, as an entrepreneur
determine if economic investment in East Africa makes sense
- Southern Arrival
"Expecting a culture shock beyond
the Boeing door - I was surprised at the modern infrastructure.
Highways, malls, and rush-hour traffic form a modern theater
with a skyscraper backdrop."
- Cape Town Comfort
"Finally in Cape Town, the end
of the first leg of our trip and the memory of it is a mix of
adrenaline, breathtaking scenery, and smashed windows."
- Namibian Sand
"The drive north into Namibia
is long and sandy. Known as the Skeleton coast, it has terrified
sailors for centuries - if you get shipwrecked here you die."
- Africa Wins Again
"There is an expression that
I learned shortly after arriving here – AWA (Africa Wins Again).
It seems to gain credibility according to latitude. The further
north you travel in Africa the more times you find yourself
shaking your head muttering, "AWA". We exercised the
- Into the Margin
"Sleeping inside a Land Rover
in the middle of the jungle can be unsafe. Doing it next to
a town of unemployed desperados is a stupid risk..."
- Kwaheri Kilimanjaro
"Kilimanjaro Day Five - tea
and digestible cookies are delivered to the hut at midnight
- time for the final ascent in the black hours of the morning.
We've had no real sleep for two days, almost everything is wet,
we are bone tired - everyone in the bunkhouse is quietly frightened
of the mountain."
- Ugandan Abandon
"I think there is a recessive
gene that controls driving. Maybe it mutated from the chariot
driving gene, or the gene that compelled Vikings to carve cool
looking heads on the front of their ships. Fortunately for most
people the gene doesn’t cause any mischief. But ever since my
brother beat me in the Volkswagen Bug Championship of Our Front
Yard, I’ve felt the need to find the line. The line. That sweet
poetry of speed and curve that defines the essence of every
corner. Outside, inside, outside, and accelerate smoothly through.
A sane person encountering Nairobi traffic clenches the wheel
and sweats through the anarchy. But for we few, the gene fires
off tiny reverberations of pure pleasure to the cerebral cortex
– traffic anarchy, no rules – “thank my lucky stars, today I
drive the line”. Pity us."
- A Turn into War
"Time slipped out of gear and
everything seemed to happen in slow motion. I stamped on the
gas instantly, Kevin pitched down, the soldiers whirled and
brought their guns level, the leader rocketed into a run drawing
his pistol. I saw the leader's eyes lock mine for an instant
and he aimed his pistol pivoting with our movement, I tensed
for the shot…"
- To Congo and the Worst Road in Africa
"The congregation beamed applause
and laughter and joy and life - and I thought, how will the
first world achieve the satisfaction and joy of this place?
Africa the paradox.."
- Mozambique Madness
"The long civil war, a recent
famine, and a closed economy has left Beira in shabby form.
Formerly a seaside resort town, the superb hotels and sweeping
boulevards of grand houses have been reduced to weed strewn
shells with black-eyed windows. It waits for new money and new
- Malawi to Zambia
driven over 1100km in one day and were only fifty kilometres
out of Lusaka, cruising, almost midnight.
Suddenly, BANG, the windshield shattered. Uncomprehendingly
I saw a little hole in the windshield, right in front of Tim.
We’d been shot!?… No, there was the rock nestled on the left
windshield washer. Two guys had heaved a 2” rock into the windshield
as we sped past. If it had been any larger it would certainly
have gone through and wounded or killed."
- Revisiting the South
"The left side went soft and
loose again, please let it not be the tire, I thought.
It was. We were in the middle of the desert with no spares..."