The Classic Safari Challenge 2011
15th August to 6th September 2011
Out of Africa:
Diary Notes from Dar es Salaam - August 16
Well, here we all are, tucking into our first stuffed chicken breast, at the Kilimanjaro Hotel, after a hectic day out in the sun. We spent the morning collecting our cars, and following the route-notes through the streets of Dar es Salaam to the hotel car park, where we then spent a leisurely few hours with final fettling, packing, and going through the Organiser's scrutineering and documentation session. It all went well - helped in no small part by Jay Bullock and his mate, Charlie, of CARS UK, who had commandeered a massive warehouse near the docks, where all the cars were then lined up ready for collection. Bureaucracy like import documents and the Carnet de Passage were swiftly dealt with, and a mini bus made regular hauls through the streets carrying eager drivers keen to be reunited with their cars.
Only David and Jo Roberts needed mechanical first-aid before driving to the hotel - their red TR5 had sprung a leak in the Filter-King fuel-filter. Others had to look for things to do - Andreas Pohl deciding his Bentley S2 dhc could be improved with a new leather steering wheel cover. Lining up in the hotel car park, the site of several Bentleys, Lagondas, Alvis, and the rare Kellner-bodied MG SA from Australia, made a compelling site, and we had several visits from local journalists, tipped off by the Tanzania Automobile Association - TV camera crews had most us tripping over long lengths of wire as newspaper reporters came and snapped away, one interview was carried out requiring so many notes to be taken down a brown paper bag was hurriedly improvised into a journalist's notepad.
The president of the Tanzania Automobile Association took time out of his lunch break to come and check us out, and regaled us with tales of rallies past, when the Safari Rally included night driving, and long sessions with no service, using virtually standard production cars... he was rolling out the stories of nostalgia before leaving to return to his desk.
Those of us not involved in the recovering of cars from the docks went walkabout - we strolled down the seafront to the local fish-market, and watched wooden boats coming ashore, and buckets and boxes of fish being landed, filleted and in some cases, going across the road to vast vats where they were smoked. It was Africa in the raw, for an insight into a way of life that looked as if its unchanged for centuries.
So, we are now all set for the journey ahead. Tomorrow, at 7.01am, the first car will be flagged away, to the sound of a local band and accompanying dancers. We head for Morogoro, and a tobacco plantation, where the cars will be stored for three days. A rally start with no motoring? This is a kind of first for an Endurance Rally Association event, but on the Classic Safari, priorities are indeed rather different.
We are flying off in a squadron of light planes that take us all deep into the heart of the bush of the Selous game park, where we split up into small groups to take over small lodges tucked away in the centre of this strikingly beautiful wilderness.
Game drives, where someone else does the driving, and where going as slowly and quietly as possible, becomes the sport for a few days. After this chilling out, we will report on the wine, the food, the silk sheets in our hammocks, the good company, and return to reporting on the driving through Africa.
Upcoming journal items might well be the drive south through Tanzania, the crossing of Malawi (the last time we did this we were all stunned by the improvements, including a remarkably smooth road alongside the Lake), and one highlight - will it happen - is a promise by the police to close down the road so we can all enjoy a hill climb up the massive mountainside that twists and turns Stelvio-fashion to a summit with stunning views across the African Rift Valley. If that is not enough to wet the appetite of readers, the route plan of Martin and Sue Clark takes us on through Mozambique, a full north to south crossing, and then into Southern Africa with days of gravel roads. So expect a sting in the tail, not to mention the visits to the Stellenbosch wine land.
Ho hum, all this to look forward to... and the only downside is having to get up early in the morning.