On a recent trip we ventured out of out comfort zone and ventured on a ‘long haul’ trip to South Africa to collect a Conqueror Commander off-road caravan at Conqueror’s premises in Heidelberg.
Come to think about it and based on my experience over the years, it is a pity that the Christmas Holiday period could not coincide with the ‘green season’ in the central Southern Africa. It is a fact that travelling to the more remote areas during the December Holidays over long distances could be quite ‘uncomfortable’ and in ‘extreme conditions’ – high temperatures, a dry and dusty countryside and depressing sights of agricultural land waiting for the first rains…
Contrary to this – travelling cross country in early year, February onwards, could prove to be most rewarding with nature spoiling the travellers with endless ‘grasslands’, patches of undergrowth in full flower, and rivers and streams flowing in between the endless green of grassland and trees covered fully in bright green leaves, flowers and fruit. The perennial wild flowers contributed to the ‘show’ presented by nature all along the way – varying from the Cosmos covered fields, a diversity of colourful grasses and shrubs in full flower, to the various shrubs in full flower in the more desert areas. This was indeed something to experience and enjoy.
On the way back we took the back roads from Heidelberg via Sasolburg, Parys, Lichtenburg, Zeerust and then we cut across Botswana towards Gobabis, ending the trip on the west coast of Namibia. This was out of the ordinary for me – towing a relatively ‘heavy’ caravan opposed to the smaller off-road trailers carrying supplies we at times took along on expeditions into Angola. I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of which the Patrol took to the job at hand.
Initially we were in for a bumpy ride as it seems the pothole warning signs next to the road were as frequent and as many as the ‘kudu’ signs next to the road in Namibia. This had us worried as we thought this was what we were to expect for the long trip ahead – jumping and hopping along and dodging potholes and feeling the ‘weight’ of the caravan in these circumstances. To our surprise we experienced a totally different ride in Botswana after Jwaneng where roads eased out to be quite ‘normal’. Only a pleasure, the Patrol was ‘gliding’ along and we were almost unconscious of towing a caravan. I remember my first encounter, towing a caravan, years ago (late 1970’s) when I was issued with a Landover and a contractor’s caravan on an exploration project out into the Namib. The long uphill outside the town of Usakos at the time presented a ‘nightmare’ to towing vehicles and the more underpowered 4×4 bakkies of that time. I remember that it took me almost an hour of high revs and frequent gear changes to cover the mere 30km of the long gradient ,this time round we were doing it almost ‘effortlessly’ and we had to hold back on the throttle to keep within the speed limit.
We had rain on long stretches of road all the way and a pleasant surprise was entering the Namib on return we also experienced a green Namib with showers still going on – something that is almost a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.
The experience was wonderful and the Patrol came through flying colours!