Show notes for Episode #161—Expedition Rove
Expedition Rove on Overlanding South Africa and Namibia
Americans Mary Hannah Hardcastle and Brit Andy Ellis are currently driving their 2010 Land Rover Defender 110 throughout Southern Africa. In this podcast from the field, the couple shares practical and helpful tips on overlanding South Africa and Namibia.
MARY HANNAH “MH”
HOME: HOUSTON, TEXAS
The heartbeat behind Expedition Rove. MH lives and breathes for the outdoors and for pushing past her comfort zone. It’s this love for the wild, and for adventure, that inspired her to take things to the road full time.
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: A passionate 9-5er in the Media and Marketing world. Her love of adventure travel followed her through her career – spanning magazine brands and partnerships ranging across the travel, motorcycle and outdoor industries.
WHAT SHE DOES: Photographer, Videographer, Travel Writer and Digital Marketer. Round-The-World Navigator and Round-The-Clock Dreamer.
HOME: YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND
The heart behind Expedition Rove. Andy has a love of overlanding and adventure that sparked our first ever long-term trip and kickstarted our life on the road.
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: A former British Paratrooper and a Qualified Electrician by trade, Andy is a “jack of all trades”. He also worked as a Land Rover Technician in California for 2 years, before taking things on the road full time.
WHAT HE DOES: Off-The-Grid Mechanic and Technician. Round-The-World Driver, Part-Time Photographer, and Full-Time Comic Relief.
Ashley Giordano completed a 48,800-kilometer overland journey from Canada to Argentina with her husband, Richard, in their well-loved but antiquated Toyota pickup. On the zig-zag route south, she hiked craggy peaks in the Andes, discovered diverse cultures in 15 different countries, and filled her tummy with spicy ceviche, Baja fish tacos, and Argentinian Malbec. As Senior Editor at Overland Journal, you can usually find Ashley buried in a pile of travel books, poring over maps, or writing about the unsung women of overlanding history. @desktoglory_ash
Hello everybody and welcome to the Overland Journal podcast. My name is Ashley Giordano and I’m your host for this episode. And today I’m in Johannesburg, South Africa, with high on Mary Hannah. And I’m Andy. And we are we make up Expedition Rove. We are right now traveling from the original plan with Cape Town to Cairo. But we have been in southern Africa now for four months. And fates and stars just align. And we got to meet up with Ashley here. So pretty excited to sit down with everyone and just kind of chat through the last couple of years of travels. And thank you so much for joining me. I have been eager to have you guys on the podcast for quite some time and been following your travels for a long time. So I’m really excited about this opportunity to sit down and chat and you have a wealth of overland experience, so it will be really fun to pick your brains and get some practical tips for those folks listening on the podcast. We’ll do our best.
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You guys are traveling in a 2010 Land Rover Defender one 110. Yes, you knew it. Nice and name is Tango Nice. They actually got named Tango before, but yeah. So at the time we were in Bolivia on the, um, on salt flats, we did the typical Land Rover thing. We’re like F Land Rovers, we’re going to go buy a Toyota. And then I started looking online and we ended up getting a Nova Land Rover. But while we were looking out, we’re like, This is Tonga. And then it just flew out. And then we said, if we win, this auction will go to Africa in the auction. Now, that was 2019. So the original plan with this vehicle, we bought it on the auction site and they said we were in Bolivia. And he was just looking, as he always does at the market for vehicles and stuff, came across this one and that was a great deal. And you’re like, okay, let’s just go for it. We were considering Africa at this point in time. We basically decided if we did buy it, if we won the auction, then we would go to Africa, won the auction. Fast forward four months. We flew back over to the UK, built it out and then we shipped it to South Africa. So this was now March of 2020. Everyone knows how March four, 2020 went. So COVID kind of like the lockdowns began about three days after we actually shipped it. We got the word we call the company. We’re like, Hey, can we get it off the ship? They’re like, Yeah, for pretty much the same thing that you’re paying to ship it all the way to South Africa. So we’re like, Well, we might as well just risk it for the biscuit at this point. And we went ahead and shipped it South Africa. Five months later, after being in storage, we shipped it back to the UK, did a couple of other trips like UK to Turkey, up to the UK, to Sweden then not Turkey, yeah, but we did UK to Turkey and then we also did come in here and then after all of that and after the world open back up, we never really gave up on the Africa dream. And so in February of this year, now in 2023, we shipped Tango back down to Durban for round two. And yeah, now we’re about five months into what should be about a year long trip. We’ll see how it all goes. That’s awesome. So a little bit of perseverance paid off here. So when you were in Bolivia, the seller, the union, you saw this for sale. You were on another trip at that point. Yeah, I love when that happens on a trip. Figure out another trade. I feel like that’s usually the way it goes. But that trip, we originally thought, Oh, we’re just going to do the California to Argentina trip, and then that’ll be it. And then it was in Bolivia that the conversations really started and that that trip for us were like, we’d never well, we’d never even heard of a landing were a thing. We thought, Oh, we’re just going to drive and probably not see anyone like those. And, you know, no one else is doing this type of thing. You know, we looked at the map and we thought, Oh, we’ll drive from here to here in like, you know, a property like two and a half months naive. So naive. And it was your idea? Yeah. Yeah, it took us like nine and that we’re pushing it that time period. Just to give a little bit of context, Andy was on a two year visa in the US. His visa was coming to a close and they’re both living in California and it was kind of like we had the vehicles. We had never done a long trip. We had done like four day weekend trips, you know, in Joshua Tree and up to Yosemite and stuff like that. And he was like, Hey, I really think I’m going to do this trip from California to Argentina. We’ve got the vehicle. I’ve now got the time that my visa is running out. And I was just kind of like, okay, I’ll see you when I see, you know, type of thing. And how long had you been together at that point? Four years or something. Oh, okay. Yeah. Been a little while then. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I left the British army and then got a visa for California and that was like 20 month visa. So just work in a little independent one drove a carriage which were go because he got my confidence up as well for the trip but I left real discovery free to the rest of the world, came into the shop and a guy were going to get rid of fix it needed a new transmission and I think I paid like. $3,000 for it. And my boss said, Oh, you can take this old wooden one out of a range of a small transmission, out a Range Rover sport. Put that in, and that’s the vehicle that basically took us to the bottom of South America. So like a $45,000 vehicle, unlike everyone, gives you a landrover. But it was still an original air suspension and it’s got 220,000 miles on the clock. Well, yeah, but this is kind of a cool full circle moment for Andy and I, because Andy was trying to convince me in 2018 to quit my corporate 9 to 5 job and go on this trip from California to Argentina. That was a really big thing. That was a really big thing because I was very comfortable in my career. I had a great job and I knew kind of the direction I was going and all of that. So I really struggled with the idea of leaving that and not being able to come back to it. So when the first idea first came up, I was like, Yeah, it’s a no go for me. Like it’s a nonstarter. Not like not even having a conversation about it. And then after a couple of months of and this is kind of like the full circle moment Andy was showing me, like Richard and Ashley’s Instagram profile, it was like, These guys are doing it. We can do it too, you know? And then, yeah. And then I would come home from work and he would casually have X Overland on the screen at the time. This is when they were all like Amazon. And so we were, I was just starting to like open my eyes to the fact that, oh, there is other people doing this. I didn’t even know that, like you said, Overland, it was on in our vocabulary. This was not on our radar at all. And so that was the point that I was like, okay, we could we could maybe do this, you know? And so, yeah, about a month before we actually well, we only decided to do this trip three months before we set off as well. Yeah. So like you are two months where you are like I’m not going to do it. And then I showed him your profile. I like these can do it because I think the problem is with International Overland and you’ve never done it before is you get in advice of people that have never done it. They only see things on the news or whatever. And then we start saying, let’s only take advice of people that have actually done it from from that day forward. And then that’s all change your mind a bit and like getting out with American bubble and say now let’s let’s just leave the drops you were so scared of leaving work and like all work would have surpassed her and she never be able to catch up again. Where realistic. That’s not a thing that’s really important to bring up because there is a sense of security and safety and predictability. And a lot of people have asked me about that. And I know a lot of other travelers have had the same question. It’s like, what are you going to do when you get back? What are you gonna do? What your job, when you get back, are you going to be able to go back to that job or get another one and will you be able to find work afterwards? And so yeah, it’s a really good point to bring up about. It’s important to feel that safety and security and that stability. Yeah, I think it was one of those of like, I don’t know, the fear of missing out on such a big life experience is probably FOMO. In the simplest of terms was what convinced me to end up actually going. But then from there, I think the moment that we just had a moment I decided to go was the moment that I started channeling all of my energy into the trip and then other opportunities ended up coming up and we made a plan around. For me, it was really important to continue my career on the road. I really didn’t want to take this year long gap or at the time it was supposed to be a year. We’re now like four or five years in and I didn’t want to have that gap in my resume or whatever it is to then come back and say, Oh yeah, we just decided to drive around the world. I really wanted to continue networking. I really wanted to continue all those relationships that we had. And now, four or five years in, I wouldn’t want it any other way. And I do feel comfort in the fact, like Andy knew this prior to me knowing it, of like there’s always going to be another job and there’s always going to be another opportunity. And whatever you’re doing in life is probably preparing it for the next thing anyways. So right now I feel very confident in the fact of like if we decided to stop traveling tomorrow, I could probably find a job very easily just simply because of our experience and the other stuff that we’ve done outside of what a typical 9 to 5 job is. And so I think that’s something that anyone that’s considering a long term trip, there’s probably some type of fear or obstacle that they’re encountering. It may not be a job thing, figuring out whatever that is and then recognizing is it a true fear, is it a true? Is it actually true in your life that you’re not going to be able to find another job? Or is it you’re just giving pushback to the opportunity because you’re a little bit scared now? I was definitely scared of walking away from my job because I didn’t. It’s the unknown. But ultimately anything in the overland space, at least to us, is like, you can sit at home and be very comfortable, but overtraining to us is all about getting outside of that comfort zone, pushing past that, and trying to find new experiences, whether it’s in your home country. And it’s closed. Home or if it’s around the world somewhere. And so I think that was the first kind of break in the mold for me to open my eyes to say, okay, there might be something else out there and it doesn’t all have to be scary. We’ll probably figure it out. It’s also a muscle. Yeah, I feel like. Yeah, because I have been in those situations as well where we’ve taken a break and we’re getting back on the road and I’m like, Are we? Can we do this? Yeah. I’m so comfortable and everything’s predictable. Having a little mental crisis about it. And then you leave and you’re like, Yeah, it’s okay. Yeah. Well, that was this past month. We’ve been home in the US for a month. We went to just visit family and stuff and just being surrounded by that on a daily basis. I was like, Yeah, we still have like half a trip in Africa. It’s like a totally different mindset and it’s so easy to go back into that. So that just shows you just a month at home, we were like, okay, we live here now. Yes. And you can do that at any point. So it’s like almost forcing yourself on a daily basis, like just little things that I think basically you need to remind yourself that like what is a year out your life in the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing if you were to just keep going as you are. But should you take the risk? It’s probably a year that you’ll never forget and a year that you probably talk about with a seven year old or whatever that would be. Yeah, I can’t agree with that more. I think it’s and if you hate it, you probably have the resources to go back home and set up shop. There is always going to be there and it’s probably he’ll you’ll go back after say for instance, I’ve been in California for a couple of years than I would do in Central South America, and I’ve not been out for four years at that point. And I think, oh, you know, I was going and then you get back. People are still in the same seats talking about the same things, doing this and doing the same thing. So you’re not gonna miss out? Yeah, generally, yeah. I think life is going to continue on, but you can pop back into it at any point and that’s kind of the beauty of it. So I don’t know. I don’t think anyone should ever be scared to just go for it, like when I’m on TV. I’m just like you said about going. Going back home. A lot of people are worried that, you know, something might happen with family or whatever and y’all on a different continent. Well, for us, Mariam, this grandma got sick. We were in the top of Botswana. We just went on go, go. When we found some signal. Right. Where’s the next flight? I It happened to be in Johannesburg, which, you know, like an 800 mile drive, wheel drive that I will get on the plane before you know you’re back in America. Yeah. So, you know, we’re not far away from the comforts of home anyways. So even if you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, well, if something did come up, then it’s quite easy to get out of wherever you are, you know? So I don’t know. I think people see. Oh, that’s so far away. That’s so scary. That’s so out there, whatever it may be. But you’re really not like, it’s 20, 23. You’re never really that far away from technology or airport or. Yeah. Once you’re on your on the ground, you adapt and learn and every day you take one at a time. So tell me about shipping from the UK to South Africa. Where did you ship into? What was the process like? Do you have any advice? How did it go? Yeah, I think that’s a much easier process than most people think. We decided to ship to Durban rather than Cape Town because Durban has great storage options. So rather than being on the ground when the vehicle actually arrives to actually unload the container, there’s an agent there that unloads the vehicles, brings it to the warehouse, does all the customs paperwork, and then you basically fly down whenever you’re ready to fly down, which is one thing as well. Like, say, use Durban over Cape Town. It’s generally cheaper to keep it in the storage facility in Durban, and therefore you should always allow yourself a couple of weeks like have the vehicle sat there for a couple of weeks if like the shipping company say, oh, it’s going to be here on this day, at least give yourself a couple of weeks because it probably won’t do on this trip. So they told us, let’s just say it was the 15th. We said, okay, well, we’ll book our flights for the 30th. And then we actually ended up having a two week delay in Germany. That two week window sounded really great when we first booked our flights, but with that two week delay, we were going to get there before the vehicle and then we’d be paying for hotels and all that stuff. So we ended up, I think we just paid the change fee, which was like $250 or something, and we moved our flights back. But in hindsight, we should have just there was no rush. We were putting the timelines on ourselves. We should have just booked the flight for a month out from when our vehicle was actually supposed to arrive. It can be unpredictable. I think that’s the hard thing about shipping, where I could show up on time and be ready in two days or it could take a couple of weeks But that’s the way of using Durban because. Even if it’s not there for a month, it’s not going to cost you a lot. Exactly. And it’s safe. Like we’ve done the shipping route twice because of COVID. So tango in Durban for like just over five months. So before we get to shipping back to the UK. But the main reason. So we were actually in Turkey when we decided to come back to Africa for this time around. We were originally going to ship from Turkey to Egypt and then drive down. Other people may find it is different in their case, but for us it was so difficult to get any quotes for that route and everything was more expensive than actually for us to drive back from Turkey all the way to the UK and then ship. Wow, I’ll forget. So we decided we’ve already done that route before. We know the process. It’s really simple. Let’s just do that. So of course that doesn’t make sense for everyone, but for us it was way easier to just go from the UK to Durban than to go from Turkey to Egypt. And we know the process on the actual like South Africa side. So we knew that it was going to be painful where we heard Egypt can be quite difficult as far as like paperwork, vehicle paperwork, all of that stuff. So we were like, we’ll deal with that when we’re actually on the ground in Egypt rather than having to do that from afar. And we used a company that we already know. So we use a I think we use those in South America, too, but a company called Ides that you saw all out for you. So, yeah, it’s as easy it can get, really. So how did you decide on who you’re going to use? Like in the initial planning stage when you’re like, Oh, we need to get this vehicle shipped? What do I do next? So I think in our original shipping was we work from Buenos Aires back to Texas. So we had our three discoveries, eight three for the rest of the world in Buenos Aires with us, and we needed to ship it back to the US and we got quotes from all these different companies and IVs. US just seemed really on the ball, really good at communicating. We decided to ship with them. I think we didn’t even know what to Google at the time. Like you start googling vehicle or shipping container, ship it. Then like all these house movers come open. We’re like, Wow, this is difficult. And then we finally, I don’t know how we found IBS. It must have been on Google and then we called in and they just like, Yeah, so as soon as we got to him, then we were like, Why would we go anywhere else? And they just know it’s there now. So I mean, they keep a file of everyone and it’s really easy to say, like, Hey, I shipped with you guys last year, we’re looking to ship again and they’re usually pretty good, but you can either even go on their website and put in your destinations and get an instant quote and then they will give you from there like a more detailed quote once you’re further down the line, which is great because sometimes like right now we’re debating because the Sudan situation is not looking so great. We’re debating what our options are for our Trans Africa trip. It’s easy to like we did it two nights ago, three nights ago. We just went on to the website and said, okay, point A to point B, what are these three different options and what are those prices look like so we can start to compare. So to us, that’s just been the easiest like customer service side of things, website side of things. So nice to do. It’s awesome to that. Anybody who’s looking to ship to Durban, they probably could reach out to you guys or yeah, if you’re on Instagram or any of the Facebook groups like The Silver Lining, Facebook groups and people are really willing to take the time to respond about what their experience with like shipping, especially if it was recent. Yeah. Then, you know, check it out. We’re changing. Like the prices during COVID skyrocketed and then we just hit it at the perfect time to ship back down to Durban. The prices went from 16. You know, some of them were crazy during COVID and then they came back down to around the three grand mark. So that’s another thing is a lot of people who may have not shipped a vehicle before because that’s not like a common thing, you know, unless you’re doing international travel. I think a lot of people think it’s way pricier. So they say, oh, my God, you’re shipping your vehicle around the world. That’s insane. You guys must be so wealthy. It’s around $3,000, which if you’re going to be anywhere for an extended period of time for us for this route, for example, you’re going to be anywhere for an extended period of time that’s cheaper than what you can rent a vehicle for in South Africa for a week and a half. It just makes sense for this particular style travel for us to ship wherever we can’t. Yeah, I think if you’re going to come down here because a lot of people, if you’re going to rent an overland vehicle, South Africa is probably one of the best places in the world because you can get, even if you want, just something simple, like a high looks with a rooftop and hope to like a truck, bed camper and or even I’ve even seen uni mugs for rent. But if you are planning to do, say like a two or a three month trip, you probably want to price that up against shipping your own vehicle from wherever you are. And you might find that it’s actually cheaper to just use your own vehicle. How many days did it take for your vehicle to. I want to say the first time we shipped it was 32 days, and this time it was closer to like 44 days from door to door, basically. And where did you ship out of it? Was it Portsmouth or Folkestone? So like the south and the south of England. Yeah. And then once you’re on the ground. I’m assuming you’ve done some research and we’ll talk about South Africa and logistics and planning and what maybe what were the most useful resources for you when you’re planning your trip, where you’re on the road while you’re here? I think a lot of people probably plan a lot more than we do. So Andy and I are kind of like, we like to get a general plan of, you know, point A to point B and the must see spots. And we all normally do the point at point B, so I’ll say, right. I think we can get from, you know, Cape Town to Cairo or whatever. And then I’ll look in between like right which countries do we need to avoid cos the unstable right now, all civil wars or whatever was going on in the world of safety. And so I’ll, I’ll think of like generally the safety thing and then from then on she’ll make the nice links to make it all happen. We don’t overwhelm ourselves with planning an entire trip in one sitting, so that is wise. Yeah, it’s a lot. So rather than do that, just take it in little bite sized chunks. So we’ll plan the general route. Like Andy said, he’ll look at it from a safety political landscape perspective. We’ll say, okay, we’re going to do this to this. And then we look at, okay, where are the must see places that we’ve always dreamed of going? And we kind of map those out a lot of the time. We already have them mapped out because we just kind of are in a constant state of planning. Is that kind of like from Instagram or blogs or everything or. I think everything we just add points to our Google Maps. And so it’s just like, want to go want to go on to go, want to go. If you see something come up, then you go into your map and just drop a drop a pin that nice a route starts to form of like, oh, this is okay. I can kind of see all the dot starting to connect. And then from there, once we’re actually in the area, that’s when it’s like a week to two weeks out is when we get down to the more nitty gritty, we really start talking to like locals and people coming in the opposite direction. So for instance, like, you know yourselves, you drove the Pan-American North to south, right? But then there’s always people coming the opposite way and then they’ll say, Oh, you need to see this, this and this. So this things, there’s no point planning too much because you’ll get a lot of advice, like a couple of weeks out in South Africa or in southern Africa. We’ve been using trucks for Africa so much on this trip, that’s great for any of like the back road stuff. Are you using their paper map or app or using the app that you bought? My premium version, which is great because it gives you all these points of interest along the way as well. And you can zoom in closer. Neumann Really close. So we’ve been using that a lot and then, you know, trusty overlay and oh yeah, just this just a good resource for anybody that’s on the road. So that’s like our two primary things that we’ve been using here. But we always try and leave flexibility in the route no matter how dialed in. We think our plan is for any mishaps, mechanical breakdowns, or simply just someone saying, I really think you should head here because you may have the perfect plan in your mind, but someone who actually lives there probably knows a little bit more on the best places to see all the spots that are as just discussed as much. So we go. We usually try and pull everyone where we can to say like, okay, if you were on this trip, what would you do? But then kind of tailor the route to that as well. What have been some big highlights for you too, on this part of the trip in South Africa? For me, we came from Durban and then we headed north and there’s a little country within South Africa called listen to. And I think it’s the highest country in Africa. Pound for pound, you want to word it. But that was such a cool like welcome to Africa feel and you know, like how you imagine Africa after watching me on the TV, it’s like rich red dirt roads and like green, lush mountains, gates everywhere. And just like all the villages that you go through and stuff, it was just such a cool drama and aching because you waving at them. Yeah, you’re like. Hey, you know, everyone’s just so friendly and the kids are chasing you down the street and they love your vehicle and they think it’s cool and everyone’s nice to you And it was sold out. That were a really big highlight for me. Yeah. And then the other thing is in northern Namibia, seeing the Himba tribe there and trying to communicate, even though we can’t speak each of us language and like sharing things, like when you give them a gift and then they give us a gift and then we show them inside our house and their shoulders inside that house and yeah, yeah, that was cool. I feel like it’s those moments of like almost humanity where you’re like, Oh, this is so neat. Like, we couldn’t speak their language at all and they couldn’t speak English, maybe like a yes or no or something like that breaking down all the barriers and feeling like This is why you’re here, you know, to have those moments of interaction and human connection and getting that real 4D experience of like you can see on TV and it’s nice, don’t get me wrong, I love watching David Attenborough or whatever, but like when you get there for yourself and yet you can actually like smell the place and feel the place and that’s, that’s why you do it. And they’re genuinely interested in you. And we visited the Himba tribe in northern Namibia as well, and it was such an incredible experience. But I was also kind of like I don’t often yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s quite a difficult thing anywhere you go because I’m trying to read it. You’re reading the room and also we like to document a lot of our stuff. And so you never want you want to always be respectful anywhere you’re going, that you are admiring and appreciating a place. And it’s not coming off as like someone’s just coming in, being a tourist and snapping a photo and walking away. Yeah. So we are very mindful of that everywhere that we go and sometimes like we won’t pull the camera out at all, only if it really feels like we’re on a friendly enough level that they’d be comfortable with that. And yeah, it’s always trying to find that balance for me. Africa as a whole, before you even came, was all about wildlife. I was just so excited to experience that side of the world because you can go so many places in the world, but you can’t beat the wildlife in Africa. And my granddad used to go, he’s been on three or four trips and so even I think I was like ten years old the first time he came home and he makes photo books from all this trip. So he came to we were living in Texas at the time and showed us his photo book from Africa. And I was like, I must go, you know, like ever since then. So this is going on 15 years or longer. How old am I now? 20 years of me daydreaming about this. And to finally be here like my first experience, it was so simple. It was Zebra that we saw and I like broke down in tears because I was like, Oh, my gosh, I’m photographing a zebra in Africa. That’s more than just a fever. Yeah. And I told the farmer, bless his heart, told the farmer, oh, my gosh, you saw a zebra. And he’s like, zebras are so common here. He was like, we’ve ostrich. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Look at the ostriches. You know, they look like an ostrich and a pigeon or like a sheep or whatever. You know, in England. Where was the zebra? The zebra was in. We had just coming out of last year, too. We crossed the border back into South Africa and we went to this little farm we found on over lander and fantastic place. There was no one farm on it. And so casual we pull in and he said, Oh, if you guys want to go for a drive, you’re welcome to go for a drive on the property. We didn’t fully realize that this was like a proper game reserve and or like a private game or private game reserve. Basically, it’s a game drive, a self game drive, but we didn’t know if we would just count silently. Like, I’ll just drive up the hill, then go and have a look. And then we came over the hill and all of a sudden there were wildebeests and zebras and I was just like, Oh, this is that. For me, throughout the trip has been such a neat thing. Plus, I think some of the landscape that you get here, like Sandwich Harbor, where else in the world do the Dunes and ocean meet or. That’s on the coast of Namibia? Yeah, we almost lost our vehicle there. So tell us about that classic we thought, oh, we got home hold. We basically yes, we quickly got humbled by Namibia. We thought, oh, we don’t need a guide. Plenty of people have done this because a lot of it’s hard to find out what is just a tourist trap and what isn’t that people are always know what. When you go abroad, they’re like, Oh, you have to have a guide. You have to have it. Most of the time you do. After that, we were like, Oh my God, it’s not such a bad idea for this route. Basically, the tide, there’s a very short window that you can drive. It’s a very simple route. It’s one way in, one way out. But the tide is what you really are playing with there. So there’s maybe an hour window that you have to go in and out, depending on the time of year and the tides that day and all of that moon cycle. That was something like we’re not even surfers and stuff, so we don’t really know much about time. I just looked at the Tide chart and I talked to a couple of locals and I talked to a couple tour guide companies just on a like a personal level to say, Hey, do you think we can do this now? Like, Yeah, the tide looks great for that day. We went exactly at the right time. We went in, we turned around exactly at low tide, and we start coming out and we get stuck. And the funny thing is going down there, although, you know, you got your heart racing and and what I mean we’re so top heavy that. What a top heavy vehicle it got. You go in and we’re like, Oh, wow, we’ve made it. And it didn’t feel like such a big deal because when everything goes right, everything’s going right. And so as option at that point is to go back over the big dunes and work your way back up. We’re all just turn around plan and you don’t really know what the dunes are like in there, do you? That was part of the problem is we are such a top heavy vehicle. We had just come down this route and we are bouncing back and forth and there’s a few times, okay, we are going into the ocean. So we get down to this point and the options are going up this incredibly steep sand dune that we don’t know. And then so you get up there and you can’t make it out of that situation. Well, now you’re stuck for a full 24 or 12 hours until the tides come back down for us to make our way out. So we decided, okay, let’s just turn around and go back out. It was fine coming in. We could make it out exactly at low tide, like we’ve got probably 30 to 45 minutes before the tide is going to come back in to where the tracks are going to be covered. But unfortunately, we turned around and maybe 5 minutes down the sand, we ended up getting stuck. We made a video of this and we happen to have the drone up in the air. And luckily we with our friends Heidi and Chloe as well. Yeah. So they jumped out of the car. They’re running down with Max tracks. We get the max tracks off the top. I throw that drone into the car like both the roller. Please be there when I come back. A little drone, you know? Yeah. We ended up getting unstuck. Thankfully, a tour guide actually ran out and was like, hey, you need to reverse back down to the water. Which is counterintuitive when you’re in that situation, you’re trying to get away from the water. And he was like, No, you just got to go back down and get close to the water so you can get on the harder stuff to get out. And we got out. It was maybe 5 to 10 minutes max, but I want to even 5 minutes like, you know, every minute for 10 minutes and then we race the tide basically to get back out. Yeah, I’m like literally that the tide will come in and you’ll stop, let it go out and then keep going, you know, because it’s that time of the year as well. There’s a lot of freak waves, which we found out only a week or a week after we did it. I think it was have high locks, got a freak wave. It went up into the air box, sucked into the engine stall. The engine couldn’t get it going again. And then the wave came in, turned the high locks onto its roof and the doorstep. You think? Yeah. So that’s one thing is like with that route, a lot of people said, Oh, you guys were silly for even trying it without a tour guide. But the irony is that the following week that vehicle that Andy is talking about was a tour guide. So he drives that route every single day. And it hundreds of times he went out, there was a freak wave that came. And it’s just a very gnarly route. That’s all there is to it. So I’m glad we did it and checked it off the bucket list, but I don’t think I would do it again in my own vehicle. I think I would just happily go sit in a tour guides vehicle and yeah, go out of your way, let me do this. Insurance. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Any other experiences in either South Africa or Namibia that really resonated or you recommend to other people? I think A People Falls, which is where we met him, the people. That was incredible. And especially after the Orange River in South Africa, which is right on the border, you cross into Namibia, orange, that Orange River. It was all the Adrienne’s the to us. Oh the four by four train what a really really cool trail. So we did the normal course four by four trail, which is fantastic. I think you guys did it as well. That was great. Yeah. And then we crossed into Namibia from the Orange River, which is the normal cliff, four by four trail all the way to the top of Namibia. You don’t see another ounce of water, or at least we didn’t during that time of year. And so when we finally met up with made it to a of followers, we were like, oh my gosh, this is an oasis. You know, it’s just so lush and green and different than everywhere else in Namibia. So it’s a really great campground. Yeah. In that area. Yeah, fantastic. And then just a simple thing for me, like coming from England, everything’s tarmac, you know, and, and it’s a small country. So I’ve just been on gravel roads like I think we entered Namibia wherever we ended on the south, we didn’t see enough a gravel road, another tarmac road fall till we got to Windhoek, went down hundreds of miles by that point. So just to be on actually using your vehicle for what it’s made for, like basically that that defender we’ve got is overkill for the UK. You’re probably better off having a camper van out here actually using that vehicle, what it will build for and put it through its paces and yeah. And looking back at the African sunset like how you’ve seen it on TV on there’s dust coming off and like getting blown up and all the dust going orange. And I just, I look back in the mirror probably every day and I’m like, it’s like, look, it’s industrial. Like, look at the dust. The dust. Well, I feel like I’m in a fighter jet, you know what I mean? Yeah. Wow. This is this is cool to know. A cool moment of his life that we’re in right now. I do feel like Africa for the overland side of things, it’s like a completely different beast than anywhere else that we’ve been like. It’s really tough on your vehicle. That’s something that I would if anyone’s considering doing a trip out here, like really do all the maintenance, do all the things that I don’t. Also, I consider obviously I’m a Land Rover guy. We’re driving a defender. Think about rather than if you’re not a mechanic yourself and you’re going to pay for a mechanic in the UK to do your main and pre maintenance before you do this trip. I’d actually think about shipping it to here get in one of the local mechanics here like we there’s a good company in Cape Town area called Gateway Paul By far that guy that we use you listen to because they know they see things that are mechanics in the UK. Well see cos you’re going to be driving on hundreds and hundreds of miles of corrugated roads, are mechanics in the UK will take something apart and be like, oh that why they don’t need to go back there or that bolt need to go back in. Every single ball needs to be perfect on your winding loom needs to be pushed back or do extra things like things that we’d never think of. So for instance, this engine that we’ve got is the Ford Ranger, the Ford Transit Engine and the defender, and it’s just got an engine cover with the engine cover sits on top of the plastic rocker cover and that moves. So if you it’ll just wear a hole in this, put your engine basically over things like I just noticed yesterday just because I always just do maintenance all the time. Just keep an eye on things you have to hear. I didn’t I didn’t put a tie back on and I’ve just noticed the rail in the cable that goes to my massive loss center. I can see the copper on it, so it’s just about to wear through. And that’s just because the vibrations out here on these corrugated roads, if there’s anything wrong with your vehicle, are partly wrong or about to be wrong, these African roads will find. Yeah. 100% it to the test. Everything is is just rattle rattle rattling around Radovan somebody reference the they called it in is a local was talking about the African massage it’s like how do you feel all that there’s been a few times that we’ll be driving the car just bolt we’re looking at each other like, is this real life right now? Because it’s just like I said, it’s just a completely different beast than anywhere else. So you and your accessories, all your aftermarket accessories, you kind of have to start worrying about those because yeah, things will start unscrewing themselves. So every single extra thing you put on, yeah, you kind of have to be watching all the time on your pre inspection and all that. One thing that I would suggest doing is going around every ball with like a yellow pen marker and then mark everything and then you’ll see straight away just do a visual inspection every morning before you sell, you know, like end of day, like keep driving you home. It’s all right for Weekend Warriors. I’ll ever to go smash a bit of rock wall and all. Whatever you want to do that ain’t going to get you from Cape Town back to England. If you drive like, oh yeah, you’ll have a lot of fun in that short time. No, but yeah. What it can’t be been like here. There’s such a camp culture that I haven’t experienced before, so I’m not answering the question, but it’s just a different. I’ve never experienced camping like this before. The culture here is like, you think, you know, we think, Oh, we’re landing in the US and everyone meets up at a show and it’s like people are just now getting into the industry or whatever. Overall, anything’s becoming a thing here. It is like a cultural phenomenon. It has been going for ages and people are just raised on it. So they they don’t go on family vacations overseas. They go camping and they’re generalizing. Yeah. Yeah. But you know what I mean? Like but like a not your average family is your holiday is we’re going to and they are not scared of Miles as well. They might they might live in Cape Town. They’re like, right, we’re going to be in the top and then maybe a bike tomorrow. Yes. We get up at 3 a.m. so they will smash out a thousand miles in a day and then get to where they want to go. And they will go past you on those gravel roads like 90 miles an hour with a trailer on. Yeah, that’s a big part of their culture is spending time camping as a family. So neat to see so many families out there. There’s so many older people out there as well. Like in the US or the UK, you generally get the younger population say like up to 40, 45 or whatever. Here it’s like it’s very common to be the youngest person on a trail or the youngest person at a campsite. And that’s just because people are so ingrained. That’s just part of their life, you know? But it’s also great because it means for international overland years you get to come here and there’s fantastic facilities. So there’s great campsites everywhere you want to go. Don’t keep boilers for your whole like oh Jackie Wheelers and shower. Yes, yes. It’s so good so there’s and brides at every single campsite I would just about say that like Brian to the South African to us cooking on wood is something you’ll only do when you come in. When we’ve been invited to quite a few locals homes and they’ve got basically a campfire inside the house and they’ll make food indoors like that too. It’s a religion. Yeah, the bride says. Oh, also for anybody who’s listening and doesn’t know what a donkey boiler is, we got really excited with the donkey boiler, but all the braai for instance, or the barbecue, everything would be fine. Yeah. So a donkey boiler is basically like a you like a metal tin that you put a fire in and then the. Water is pulled around. Correct? Yeah. Basically like a metal tank with firewood. And then that will be how we all showers and the water is getting pumped through. But it’s the water is heating up as it passes over the fire and then it’s going to the shower. So you’re getting a hot shower, which in the middle of nowhere where otherwise this rugged, rustic campsite wouldn’t have. You can still have all the locals line up. Yeah, I’m in a Bry. A Bry is basically like a barbecue or. But using. You’re using firewood, so. So you’ll make your own calls. So it takes longer. It’s all part of it. Yeah. Which is a huge thing everyone gets. So their campsite, they put the fire on, they have a crack, a couple of beers and then they like over a 2 to 3 hour period will bring their food and enjoy it and stuff as a group. I thought I thought the English couldn’t drink until we came. South Africa. Yeah. Rum and coke. Rum and coke all day. Yeah. Yeah. And a lot of me got into brandy. It was a lot of media. Yeah, we went to a few breweries and you know, what do you bring to a braai there? You have so much stuff already, so I’d always bring, like, a salad or something, and they’re like, We don’t eat salad here. And that’s not that’s not a big chicken. It’s like, you know, it’s been fun to see the cultural differences. Funny, like traveling as a couple, I wouldn’t spend the time to make a fire just for the two of us very often. But here it’s really. I love it. And it yeah, we’re like nearly every almost every single night. I think we’ve just fully embraced the South African ways and we’ve just been trying as often as we can because it’s also nice to, you know, we have induction or we have the option to bribe basically. And so it’s been nice to just get out and enjoy and really soak up whatever campsite or can’t spot that we’re out here. It does seem to be an easy thing to do. That’s really lovely here. Yeah. Like, I would definitely just keep doing it. Yeah. Yeah. You doing it good? It’s one of those things like wherever you go in the world, you take something back home with you and like, Bright and are like, okay, when we have our house near us or wherever we end up, we will have a braai inside of our house like we are taking that little piece of South Africa. We’re going to bring it back and all. But yeah, you know, like hang out. Yep. Yeah. Any favorite meat cuts? I feel like they’re really marvelous. We’ve been eating a lot of lamb here, which I don’t usually eat much lamb at home, but I don’t know, just a bit, a bit of everything. If somebody was interested in coming to, let’s say, South Africa or Namibia, because you guys have spent most of your time in those two countries, what advice or practical tips would you give them? I’d say the first thing is don’t listen to all the fear mongering about so in Africa, because that alone could probably put you off This is one of the safest places I’ve felt. Just feels. I feel it’s just as safe here as I do in England. Well, there is even some places in Europe that I felt less than here. But before we came we were told even from a lot of South Africans and obviously living here, maybe a different experience. And I’m not discrediting anything that’s happened to anyone, but there was a lot of fear put into us of like, you do not stop at a stoplight. You do not do this. You do not. You are going to get robbed. Just get ready for the gun point like all this, especially in Johannesburg. Yeah. And so we came down mentally prepared for that and we’re almost like, oh my gosh, any second anything could happen. And it has been the exact opposite. And everyone’s been so welcoming and we’ve had a fantastic experience. So I would definitely recommend anyone that’s coming down here like, yes, talk to locals. Always great to talk to locals in here where not to go and what not to do. But I would definitely recommend speaking to people that have traveled it recently and make sure that what’s the actual boots on the ground story. And that could be true for anywhere that you travel. If you look at the media side of things, you’re going to get a completely different story than what you’re going to get. Actually there. I think if you just do the basics, like don’t drive at night, stick to the speed limits. Yeah, yeah, you’ll be fine. Yeah, I would say, like a recommendation for a short trip is what we’ve just done, like Marianne had just brought out, and we’ve so flown into Johannesburg and then we’ve draw from Johannesburg south to the bottom of Kruger and then worked his way up through Kruger and then come the panorama route is coming back down. So we basically went like Southern Kruger all the way up to I think it’s ten day rustic camp Mopani area. And then we came out of the park and took the panorama route back down and then came back over and it was I think ten or 11 days in total and it was just a fantastic trip and the best wildlife we’ve seen anywhere and I don’t know, like a lot of people as well will say like our Kruger is a bit touristy and, and all this but we went, went Kruger, we’re fully booked up. Kruger is that big that this is plenty to see still and you’re not going to be like overwhelmed by. But we saw within the first 30 minutes of being in Kruger. We saw more animals there than we’ve seen in the last four and a half months and the rest of it overnight. I mean, the only thing that was comparable was like the private game reserve, too. There was one just outside of Port Elizabeth that we went to kosher. Kosher. But it’s such a small reserve that it’s a completely different experience than seeing animals that are free to roam in this massive space. So I think going into it, we had heard from a lot of locals and a lot of people have been there like, oh, they don’t really know if you’re going to like it. And we absolutely loved it. So I think if anyone wanted to do like a short trip, a two week trip to South Africa, fly in and out of Johannesburg, a few from the US, Atlanta to Johannesburg, direct flight and do that route. It’s phenomenal. And once you get on the ground, like the initial cost of the flights can be expensive. But I think it’s a pretty good place for the budget minded travelers. We just paid $100 direct flight to Atlanta. Yeah, it was $800 for the direct flight per person. And then my mom came out for two weeks, let’s tell you earlier, and I tallied up everything because I just put it all in my card and then we just worked it out later. And I think she paid $650 in total for the entire 12 days that she was here, which is phenomenal for everything that we got to see in that period of time. So yeah, I would definitely recommend looking into that if anyone’s wanting to come in for a short little jaunt. Thank you. That’s amazing. So it is getting dark. We need to go do our Braai Island. Africa is colder than you think. Yeah, if it comes this time of year. Yeah, I know. We’ll bring you, Will. They had snow two months ago here in cold. Yeah. Thank you guys so much for taking the time. And where can we find you on the internet? We are handle is Expedition Rover, our website or whatever. So yeah, website, Instagram, Instagram, YouTube. Kinda sometimes not really. If if you were interested in not build. We do have one good video for YouTube which is build walk around to our old guys who are really into objects and stuff. That’s a detailed overview. But if you’ve not seen it before and you flicking through Instagram expedition, it’s a bright orange defender. Yeah, I can’t miss it. Perfect. Thank you again so much for you taking the time to sit down with me, share your stories and your experience and tips with the Overland Journal podcast listeners. Yeah, thank you again. And let’s go hit some braai. Yeah, that’s good. Thank you. You can.
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