One piece of wood, one dis­as­trous day

Go! Camp & Drive - - Letters - DANNY ELDRIDGE Port El­iz­a­beth

For my 50th birth­day we planned a three-and-a-half week tour through Botswana. Ev­ery­thing went smoothly un­til we got to Chobe, when a sim­ple piece of fire­wood nearly ru­ined our trip. My 1999 Toy­ota Prado has 315 000 km on the clock. Some­one be­fore us must have used the piece of wood when they got stuck. It stuck through a hole in the bash plate and man­aged to punc­ture the ra­di­a­tor. Luck­ily we weren’t com­pletely stranded be­cause I had a satel­lite phone with me and I phoned the peo­ple at the Muchenje camp­site where we were stay­ing. They were very nice and or­gan­ised help for us. With the help of the Dan­mar tow­ing ser­vice we got the Prado to Mario’s garage in Kasane. In the mean­time we rented a 4x4 from GKT Tours and Rental – this all af­ter 6:30 pm on the same day. We can’t praise the peo­ple who helped us enough. Af­ter some ad­vice from GKT, we or­gan­ised a spe­cial per­mit to drive through Chobe that night to our camp­site. The Prado got a new ra­di­a­tor, but then it seemed as if one of the engine gas­kets was leak­ing. Our tour wasn’t even over yet and the next 3 000 km we were crawl­ing along like a tor­toise. I kept the revs low at 1 800 rpm and pulled over ev­ery 50 km to fill up the engine with half a litre of wa­ter. So far the dam­age to the engine has cost me R65 000, and that ex­cludes the R15 000 that all the help we re­ceived on the fate­ful day cost. Luck­ily my in­surance cov­ers half of the engine dam­age as well as a sec­tion of the tow­ing ser­vice’s fee.

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