One piece of wood, one disastrous day
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.