How does one fall into traveling Africa in an old Land Rover?
As my head hits the pillow for the 1196th time in a roof top tent on our ‘Land Rover Retirement Estate’, I still can’t believe we sleep on top of a 4×4.
It was definitely not in our master plan. Yet every morning starts with a shout, “I love our life and my wife.”
Jan 2014, we rented a tiny red Ford Figo, stuffed it full of camping gear and headed out to meet as many wildlife heroes and wild animals in South Africa as possible. We had 10 weeks. Believe me, our semi-retired life found a new beginning while discovering 32 projects, talking with well over 150 wildlife heroes, seeing hundreds of wild or rescued animals, AND checking out overland vehicles and future options.
Margrit wanted to help more wildlife, I wanted to be traveling Africa, and we both wanted to discover the beauty and vulnerability of Africa. Was it a bit scary at first? You bet. Luckily, we were patient with the learning curve and realized people are pretty much the same everywhere. Also, just like at home, you learn to find the good places and avoid the bad.
Best part for this gadget guy?
Of course, it’s figuring out all the outfitting and modifications required for the mechanical needs, creature comforts, and vital fluids for all possibilities. Thus our ‘Land Rover Retirement Estate’ takes shape.
Surprisingly over the last 5 years we’ve spent 40 months on the road (8 months a year) clocking 128,031 km with only two blown tires (Ngorongoro Crater, De Hell), one hole in our front differential, one twisting off of a side shaft, and a mere 2 weeks stuck in Tanzania waiting for fuel connector parts. Now I’m not saying Landy didn’t need some pampering along the way, but as you see, she very rarely let us down.
Who needs a 32 room Villa when you have a Land Rover and all of nature at your feet?
Keeping mostly towards good weather, we initially set tight schedules and targets for travel and helping. Then a curious thing happened. Each day started finding its own meaning and new needles emerged from fresh haystack along the way. This led to discovering the real Africa, her wildlife challenges, and true wildlife heroes.
Happily, we uncover many hidden corners of our own lives as well. Life is now helping where it makes sense and enjoying the together in traveling Africa in Landy.
Traveling Africa finding Wildlife Heroes
I must admit, meeting the exceptional wildlife heroes with their emerging projects is wonderful. It takes a special person to put up with the rigors of fundraising, challenging regulations and regulators, a 24-7 lifetime commitment, and continuous hard work. Not to mention the emotional roller coaster of rescue, rehab, release, or providing a forever home for animals cruelly treated or injured.
AND ALL FOR THE LOVE OF WILDLIFE. Suddenly, other wildlife lovers connected with us from around the world to volunteer their time and funds or just cheer for us and the heroes. Brilliant people (as in illuminated) looking up from their busy lives to care for wildlife. Thanks to all the heroes.
As of April 2019 Margrit and I visited 12 countries some many times, raised and distributed $55,400 (7/21 $92,000) to 24 emerging projects, created 355 YouTube videos viewed over 11,000,000 times (23,400,000), and wrote 734 Blog Posts along with tons of Facebook activity and a bit of Tweeting.
And of course, 1196 nights in a roof top tent.
Don’t you love numbers that tell stories? Between you and me, Margrit is responsible for most of it except the 12 countries, keeping track of Landy, and a few brilliant ;-}) vids and blogs of my own.
What the numbers don’t show
Sorry we don’t have a way for you to experience our private unexpected journey along the way.
Yet wait a minute. Try this. First, cock your head towards Africa. That’s right. Now, listen very carefully upon the breeze. Did you hear it? There it is… “I love our life and my wife!”
There you have it and likely to continue until the wheels fall off.
Enjoy the day and do some good!
Russ Harris loves all things technical and making the world a better place, especially for Margrit.