My Epic Blog

The volksie

For the love of wheels

For many people, cars only get you from A to B. Certainly, I can count on many hands the amount of times I’ve heard that – and annoyingly so. These people disregard the journey between A and B; without doubt the soul can capture much between the two points and as this is so I feel compelled to dedicate this blog to the vehicle itself, to the drive, to the cars and the soothing idles of my Johannesburg youth.

 

You see, my schooling was funded by how cylinders stroke, by how turbos whistle, by how diesels idle, by how farmers in the Northern Cape continuously buy Isuzu bakkies despite the fact that them breaking is the only reason these words flow like they do, the only reason why my father was able to afford the schools that I attended. You see, my father is a mechanic – or an ‘engineer’ – vat die fokken ‘engin’ en sit hom ‘neer’. That’s how I was raised.

 

In 1995, Saturday mornings were loud mornings. As dad started and prepped naked engines in a black cloud of diesel smoke, it was my bedroom that was choked first; the noise was so deafening that it ripped me from my dreams with whiplash. Certainly, engines without exhaust systems can scream anyone into consciousness, perhaps even the dead. Trust me. I know.

 

In 1998, my father built his very own 4X4 by scrapping together the pieces of a Rambler Hornet, a Mercedes Benz and Mini Bus Taxi; inserting a V8; then fitting monster wheels and a BMW sunroof for his youngest son to peep through. Me.

 

rambler

 

As a small boy, I did not understand why my mother and sister refused to be seen in it; the machine was awesomely cheesy and what my father achieved in that 4X4, Land Rovers can only dream about. As it was, many off road competitions were won with it and as the son of a man who won them, how could I not fall in love with the daze of diesel smoke that it left behind?
rambler 2

I will forever miss the Surf Breaker. RIP.

 

Dan Swartz is an oval, stock-car race track that is planted deep in the heart of east rand and as a boy I watched many men scream around it, including my father in his Ford Sierra (much to my mother’s terror). It was that Sierra that I first steered – solo – and my week was not a week until I was allowed to “drive” it into the garage as a five year old on my father’s lap.

 

The first time I actually drove solo was when I was 12 – and I did so in circles and circles in dad’s Nissan 1400. My clutch control impressed my older brother; certainly as clutch control goes there are few men who enjoy the quick release of spinning wheels and burning rubber as much as he does.

 

Rainbow Race Track in Joburg’s South East pitted nitro-powered vehicles against each other in a quarter mile brawl and I remember feeling disappointed that my brother never once raced himself despite, from what I can remember, owning a relatively punchy Golf 2, a bright red dolphin shape and a Green Jetta on 17s. Ah, to be friends with the Portuguese.

 

In the years to come he would actually go as fast as his younger self thought he did. His Subaru was a family conspiracy; apparently it was an STi in a body without the STi wing. Whatever it was – liewe fok – it was the fastest thing that side of Germiston Lake. Well, that was until his AMG stepped it up, of course.

 

You see, in his early thirties, a penis crisis convinced him that the more cylinders there are, the better. And perhaps he was right. Poor sod still doesn’t know that I took that AMG to 220km/h in no time at all on a pot-holed Eastern Cape road that was certainly not designed for those sorts of speeds. Wow, what a machine.

 

Dev's Subaru

Dev’s Scubie.

 

In 2005, my dad built a Subaru engine into a convertible white Volksie – and then a bigger motor into the same Volksie because the former wasn’t fast enough. Needless to say, I enjoyed many Pick n’ Pay runs nestled in its bucket seats and one time – much to my terror – raced it home in a Highveld thunder storm; my dad never did install the brakes that such motors deserve. As a convertible, yes, it felt faster than it was – but as any car enthusiast will tell you it’s not how it goes in specs, it’s how it makes you feel when you drive it. I loved that car.

 

For many people, cars only get you from A to B. But for others – for me certainly – it’s so much more than that. Life between A and B is as important as life beyond those points and, as I value that driving life, it’s important it remains as epic as it can be. No doubt, my brother and I will tell you that if it doesn’t have character, it is not a car worth buying. In all instances, the cheesier, the bigger, the faster, the better. And my heart is often broken by my teeny amount of sensibility as it stops me from buying what I truly want.

 

For now, I am condemned to a boring old diesel golf and I will try my best to value it. Because even it, on the long roads between A and B, can make me smile. Even so, every day, literally every day, I think of when I will finally replace it. And what I replace it with I fear no one ever will ever truly understand – except for me and Dev and Pops and her – the mistress of our Epic African Road Trip.

 

DTV Road Runner

Dev’s DTV Roadrunner. This was his every day car and he loved it until he realised it did everything except keep you dry in the rain.

Senzo Meyiwa of Orlando Pirates celebrates victory during the President Cup on the 22 July 2012 at Mbombela Stadium

©Hennie Lohmann/BackpagePix

20000km: For Senzo, For the Rhino, For Freedom!

The South African soccer captain, Senzo Meyiwa, was murdered in 2014 in Johannesburg. Needless to say his death came as a shock to our nation and a sobering reminder of the South African struggle for peace and prosperity.

 

My Epic African Road Trip will celebrate his life and passion by road tripping to Russia’s 2018 Soccer World cup from Cape Town to Moscow via Spain; of course, we are inviting you to join us no matter who you are and where you are from. Whether or not South Africa qualifies for the event, we will be there waving our flags, proudly and bravely, as a symbol of our unity and strength.

 

senzo 2

 

But that’s not all.

 

As you may be aware, rhino across the world are being decimated by poachers. Of course, My Epic African Road Trip understands that conservation education is vital in the fight to save our beloved rhino from extinction. So, we are proud to announce that we have partnered with animation studio Minds Eye Creative to develop a 25 minute ‘Save the Rhino’ kiddies cartoon that will be shared with children we meet during the 20000km Senzo Meyiwa Epic.

 

The cartoon will follow the struggle of the young rhino, Uphondo, whose mother is killed by poachers. As an educational toon, it will serve to spread awareness about the rhino’s plight to the children we pass who might never have the opportunity to hear about this plight again. If you familiar with the struggle of the Manta Ray and how mobile cinema is transforming their outlook as a species in South East Asia, you will understand that cinema is powerful tool at transforming attitudes and ideas about the world around us.

 

Certainly, as Africa’s future is to be left in these young hands, we hope to create a sense appreciation and urgency surrounding African wildlife within the communities we touch. This cartoon will be accompanied by an adult focused education programme that works to re-imagine the value of rhino in the community psyche.

 

poached rhino

 

This press release is an early call out to anyone who would like to get involved with this epic project. Please contact us if feel you may be able to offer value to this project during its development stages; contributors will be given a free seat if the programme gathers sufficient momentum and sponsorship leading up to the road trip.

 

Although this road trip and its seats will eventually go on sale to the general public, at the moment we are only looking for contributors who can offer some value in the below categories.

 

We are seeking:

  1. Anyone with a willingness to help
  2. Educators with experience in adult education programme design
  3. Cinematographers with documentary experience
  4. Animators with 2D experience
  5. Paramedics
  6. Conservationists
  7. Candidates with potential sponsorship connections in the following areas:
    1. Fuel
    2. Transportation
    3. Animation development
    4. Media
    5. Conservation
    6. Technology

 

If you feel you would like to get involved with the Senzo Meyiwa Epic, please drop Kyle Brown a mail at enquiries@myepicafricanroadtrip.com.

 

Also, Please keep an eye on our website for more information.

wine tram 2

Franschhoek: what a hunk of junk

As South Africa comes to terms with the possibility of economic junk status, tourists everywhere are lapping up the idea of an even cheaper holiday in the most beautiful country on the planet. So, although ‘junk’ might be befitting of our currency at the moment, what it can buy you is probably still the best junk on the planet: South Africa.

 

As junk as my R400 ($27) was yesterday, and still is today, it still managed to buy me a day of wine tasting and tramming between the majestic Cape mountains of my extraordinary country. Franschhoek was, until yesterday, an unexplored diamond that I previously never had the pleasure of visiting and now that I have, I consider myself somewhat of a wine expert. That’s because I can now taste the difference between a blackberry-scented cabernet and the far more earthy merlot of South Africa’s most picturesque grape-squeezing valley.

 

franschhoek 1

 

Of course I am lying. I still know nothing about wine despite yesterday’s many pretentious descriptions of the glasses in front of me. Hell, I didn’t hear a thing of what was said and explained – nor did I care really – because I was too busy pondering about the hunk of junk that is my country. How on Earth was it possible that I had driven one hour from home and arrived at one of the most beautiful places on the planet despite so often reading that I am a delusional junkie for even living here?

 

There are many Africas within South Africa and Franschhoek was certainly up there with the best of them. Nestled in a valley as old as time, it was founded by French travellers about four centuries ago; four centuries on and South Africans are still squeezing wine from its soil. Green terraces are built neatly in satisfying lines between the knees of the mountains, which, it seems, exist for no other reason than to help you take a pretty picture. Certainly, whether you’re into wine or not, it’s extraordinary taking it in from the wine tram that cuts through it all. Travel by tram is always charming but through wine farms, tipsy, it’s a time travelling and absorbing experience.

 

Ah South Africa, my dearest home. Don’t you listen to them when they call you a hunk of junk. Because no hunk of junk looks like this. No hunk of junk looks and tastes like heaven. So, let them call you what they damn-well want to. Why? Because you’re the best and cheapest hunk of junk I will ever spend my money on.

 

fransc 2

 

shark

Cape Town – to surf or not to surf?

I recently moved to Cape Town – and like most Joburgers who fantasize about a life at the coast, I took up surfing. You know, surfing, like they do awesomely and glamorously in the movies, catching waves as high as buildings with a six pack as tanned as the khaki Highveld you left behind. Needless to say, surfing is not as easy as it looks and most of my time in the water is spent balancing on my board like a catfish while Cape Town’s scenic ocean forces liters of salt water down my gullet. It’s not pretty.

 

Of course, far too many evenings of shark week has taught me all about the real horror of my surfing day which, if you were interested to know, is now a Wednesday. Wednesdays in the water, because of National Geographic, is naturally a shallow affair for me. When you’re surfing just a few kilometers from the Ring of Death (that’s the ring that sends Great Whites torpedoing into the air), it becomes difficult to find the bravery to venture much deeper than your waist. Touché: a Cape Tonian recently and drunkenly told me that I shouldn’t worry about the sharks here, that Great Whites have plenty enough food in the Ring of Death to not to care about my waddling self just a stone’s throw away. Ya, we’ll see about that bru.

 

So, it was timely then I bought a surfing cap after losing two normal ones to wave-dunking sessions. You see, with skin like mine under sun like this, its best I got the whole kit – nipple-saving rash vest included, of course. Well, let me tell you then, I look the part, son! Only in Cape Town can I get away with wearing a skin tight vest and fastened flat cap – and still look cool! My boet, my ghey, that shit don’t fly in the east rand, a’rraait? Oh no wait, actually… Never mind.

 

Surfing is what surfing is and now that I do it often I know what that is. It’s awesome– and despite the relentless skin damage (being cursed now by my older self), the shark risk (of which apparently there is none – ya, we’ll see about that bru) and of course the fact that’s it’s actually insanely difficult (if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing), I absolutely love every time I step into the water and catch that elusive wave. Because I’m a Cape Tonian now bru! Who knows, “maybe I’ll start like planting ‘erbs in my garden and like start sharing them with my like neighbours because like, we’re a community like that dude. Aweeh.”

 

Below is an actual picture of me surfing… Casual.

 

surfing

 

karoo-sunset1

Ode to the Karoo

There’s nothing quite like your very first road trip – well, at least the first one you remember. Mine was spent in the back of a bakkie (pick up truck) when I was just five years old, cruising southwards through the Karoo. Yes, it was a different time then and from what I saw, not a single eyebrow was raised at such dangerous madness. Ah, South Africa in the 90s.

 

Of course, I loved every moment of it and remember very clearly the dryness and vastness of the semi-desert. It was much like today’s Karoo I suppose, which, as I am sure you know, is much like the Karoo has been for the past twenty thousand years, perhaps a million: an endless nothingness of sunsets and khaki scrub, which, photographed in and between windmills, is deceivingly charming. Stop for a second and switch the engine to silent. Not even a rustle disturbs your tinglyness, your goose bumps as they settle in for the orange of sunset.

deep karoo

 

In 2007, my father arrived to pick me up from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, a small university town straddling the edges of the Klein Karoo. It was an unusual pick up at 11 O’Clock that night but he had business there. So, tired, he asked me to drive the first five hundred kilometers towards Bedford, Cradock and then onto Colesberg. Of course, never shy of road tripping adventure, I accepted the challenge and headed westwards into the black of night on a road as snaky as any, as wonderful as it is dangerous.

 

At that time of night, the Earth quickly cools in the Karoo and its wildlife, of which there is a startling variety, make their way to the warmness of the tar before the evening turns freezing. There is no ‘cruising’ done here. Animals keep you well under 50km/hour as caracal, eland, foxes and snakes themselves line the white lines: it’s a night safari and I remember feeling guilty as my lights sent red eyes dashing into the bush over and over again, their peace disturbed.

 

So, I turned off at around midnight, switched my lights to darkness, and lived then perhaps my fondest memory of that place. It’s no wonder the Karoo is globally known for its clear skies because above us, in the silence, the milky-way was like spilt milk and glitter. From there, with a billion stars shining down, it’s impossible to find the constellations that you can elsewhere. It’s a sparkling mess of wonder and guessing games – and all that’s certain then is that heaven has never been closer.

 

The Karoo has so much more to offer than just words. It’s an ancient place of silence – refreshing and calming for the oldest and youngest of souls. Certainly, it’s the mistress of most of our holidays: we sneakily love her before and after every main event, during every road trip down and every road trip up. But when, I ask, will she be the main event? When might she be the holiday on the other side? No doubt, in all her mystery, she deserves a week very soon where I meet with her and only her, and spoil her with my presence as she has always spoilt me.

karoo 3

golf

No trip too small

One of the most frustrating things about living in London for a year was being unable to road trip when the going got tough. Releasing stress with a good drive is sometimes all that you need in life; the open road is a wonderful medicine for life’s claustrophobia and the freedom of it can release the tension built up over the course of a week, a month or a year.

 

But for some, the thought of road tripping for hours is as stressful a thought as any; not all of us enjoy the long road and understandably so – the cramping of your back does little to ease the mind, nor does the emptying of one’s expensive petrol tank scream ‘stress relief’. But, not all road trips need to be hundreds of kilometres long and not all road trips need to end with your pocket emptied and your tyres worn.

 

Recently, after a claustrophobic urban week spent mid-towning between the boiling concrete of Cape Town’s CBD, I needed to get away. But ‘away’ for me wasn’t a million miles away: just a half hour’s casual road trip eastwards I found Gordan’s Bay – a pretty, little and lazy ocean town that shares my municipality. It’s proof that small road trips, like their bigger brothers, can also lead to awesome places without months of prep and mountains of money.

gordans bay

Fortunately, when you live in Cape Town, that particular road trip meant that I was able to spot whales to the tunes of my local radio station whilst snaking smoothly left to right on a tar lover’s dream between there and Hermanus. On Gordan Bay’s beach front, which in Autumn is just the right type of full, I strolled in and out of curio shops for hours: old farm houses turned touristy did not diminish the smell of old school white-gabled dutch, of high ceilings and wood well cared for. There was a braai about – but it was fish that I settled for that day and I’m positive it was caught just moments before then. Too good for words.

 

The day was symbolic really of all the road trips that we find in South Africa that don’t need a large budget to traverse. Similarly, road trips on the Highveld to Pielansberg, Magaliesberg or Harties are road trips that will not break your back or your bank, and although it’s not whales that will greet you, it would take a real aquamarine lover to think that they deserve first place when an elephant’s about.  And that’s just north of Joburg. What of south to the Vaal? Or east to Dullstroom? I’ve never been out west.

elephant car

In Durban, road tripping down the coast or into the midlands is not too shabby either even if it’s not too far that you decide to wonder. And all it proves is this: in a country with endless horizons every way you look and just enough road to wonder into them, road tripping is not an event at all really. It just requires you to buckle up, relax, and whilst driving, take in what we often forget: the country of epic road trips is truly our own. Even the small ones.

generic map with ancestors

A road trip for the ancestors

South Africans have many great ancestors. In dedication to them, I have put together an extraordinary road trip that celebrates their birth and influence. How better to celebrate them than to explore the places that created them? We’ll start in Joburg and make a trip of it. Casual.

 

Stop 1: Melmoth, KwaZulu Natal.

 

Via the N3, Newcastle and Vryheid – and then a little bit longer – we finally arrive at our first destination: the heart of the Zulu Kingdom and the birth place of the greatest of them all, King Shaka Zulu. Here, KwaZulu Natal is an endless beauty of lazy rolling hills, magical still more than 200 years since his birth. Safari is popular here, but the kingdom’s beauty is enough to keep you satisfied. Close your eyes and you can hear them coming, the great Zulu army of yesteryear.

Zulu-man-courting-woman-river-Melmoth-KwaZulu-Natal

 

Stop 2: Mvezo, The Transkei, Eastern Cape

 

The trip down to the Transkei will be a long but beautiful one. The terrain evolves from hills to jungle to hills again until finally you arrive. The birthplace of Nelson Mandela is embedded into perhaps the most beautiful of the rural places we will visit; traditional Xhosa houses are small and round but perfect here, colourfully scattered along the faces of the hills he called home. Close your eyes and listen. You can hear him still as he herds the cattle.

15

 

Stop 3: Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

 

Along the coast you will stop in at many ocean towns. Definitely do so because the beaches will not get prettier than this. About pretty places, the largest of the lot nearby is Port Elizabeth, and it’s a stone’s throw from where he was born, the much loved and respected Xhosa chief, Makhanda Nxele. He was adored by his people – and more than two centuries later the place of his birth is as adored by those who stay here. It’s a must visit area of the Cape. Talk about epic selfie paradise!

Port Elizabeth

 

Stop 4: Gamtoos River, near Jeffreys, Eastern Cape

 

Not far from PE is one of the surf capitals of the world, Jeffrey’s Bay. Certainly, there’s not much more you can say about a place like this. Beautiful beach. Awesome beach bars. Surf, surf and chill. But near to it, very near to the Gamtoos River, is the smell of history. It’s the birthplace of one the most famous South Africans of them all – Saartjie Baartram. The brave Khoikhoi woman was once a twisted exhibition.  Now, more than two centuries later, her birthplace is still an untouched exhibition of perfection and beauty. It’s fitting for her legacy.

gamtoos-mouth-600

 

Stop 5: Colesberg, Northern Cape

 

The road trip is almost done and you’re heading back to Joburg. You’ll probably sleep over at Colesberg. Worry not though: history’s trip is not done! Even here on the dusty edges of dry Karoo, someone great was born – Paul Kruger. Yes, even here, just here in lil’ ol Colesberg, here where heat knows no limit, Kruger came screaming into the world about two hundred years ago. As one of the great pioneers of this great country, we salute him before we head on home, beyond the Orange, beyond the Vaal, with memories of them all in our hearts and enough road trip selfies for a lifetime.

IMG_8967-Nguni-Red-Sunset-KPT-May-2015-1.2-WEB

route-62-south-africa

The route less taken is called 62!

For most people, the best part of any holiday is the holiday itself. Reasonable right? Of course it is. It’s what you’ve been looking forward to for months: you finally get the opportunity to chill, party and adventure without the thought of school or work to greet your hangover. What a pleasure.

 

While this is true for most reasonable human beings, there are some of us who value the road trip there and back as much as the holiday itself. For those of us who live in places like South Africa, which it seems God specifically designed for road trip lovers, we understand that the trip there and back can be as awesome as the holiday on the other side – or the one just finished.

 

I recently had a little 10 day getaway in St Francis, a gem of a place tucked away in a far-off corner of Africa’s Eastern Cape. While the holiday was awesome, filled with tit-bits of safari, surfing and lazy day booze-cruising, the trip back was fantastic too! Yes, I should have been buried in my depression returning home, but the road trip between the Eastern Cape and Cape Town is just too awesome to leave a man sad.

 

No, I’m not going to dive into the immense beauty of the Garden Route because you’ve already read all about it in blogs like these. Besides, I could dedicate an entire book to the beauty of the Garden Route and still not capture how mesmerising it is. Instead, like John Keats does in his ‘Ode to Autumn’, I will dedicate this piece to a less celebrated route:  route 62. No, it’s not the gorgeous spring beauty we’re accustomed to, but it’s the splendid and under appreciated inland alternative that, like autumn, deserves this praise.

 

When I arrived in George, still an odd 400 kilometers to Cape Town, I decided to turn off towards Oudtshoorn, an ostrich-loving Karoo town situated about an hour inland from the coast. Around here, through the magnificent Outeniqua pass, South Africa dries out pretty quickly and what you’re left with is hardy, semi-arid desert that, when traversed by route 62, is randomly broken by mountain gorges as green as a watered suburb. It’s an extraordinary place to say the least.

 

The route is an immense painting of the most scenic and ancient of dry places South Africa has to offer, water-holed by fantastic and bizarre stops like Ronnies Sex Shop, a restaurant/bar as odd as its awesome owners. Then there’s Barrydale – a Karoo loving little town of curio shops that relies on the comings-and-goings of passer-byers like me, a town that was founded for no other reason but to combat the vastness and emptiness of the farms around it (or so it seems). Then, as wine farms greet us more frequently, there’s Montagu; without doubt the prettiest old school town South Africa never knew it had. It’s a gem best left undisturbed between the majestic Cape Mountains.

 

Route 62 has an awesome surprise around every corner, and if you’re up for the tad bit longer drive from Cape Town towards Natal, or vice versa, I sincerely recommend it. Certainly, for road trip lovers like me, it’s the type of road you live to find, and as it passes you by, it saddens you that you might never drive it again. Such is the sad pace of life.

sunrise with friends

5 tips that will make Matric Vac even more awesome!


Matric Vac is a once in a lifetime experience and no matter how many parties you attend in the years that follow it, it will always hold a special place in your heart. So, make it one to remember. To do so, here are 5 tips to make your Matric Vac the most awesome it can  be.

 

  1. Never worry about your results

 

Yes, it’s true that you still don’t know whether you got that distinction you worked so hard for. Hell, you don’t even know if you’ve passed! Fact is, there is nothing you can do about it now and stressing about it will do nothing to change the outcome or bring your results forward. So, for this week at least, just forget about it! Matric Vac is here. Freedom and partying is all you should be worrying about. You deserve it.

 

  1. Always do something that you told yourself you wouldn’t

 

Now, we’re not talking about drugs here. We’re talking about experiences. There’s nothing worse than coming home and thinking, damn, I should have done that. Whether it’s skinny dipping at sunrise or extreme bungee jumping, just do it! YOLO, son! If Matric Vac’s not the time to do it, when is? Push yourself. You’ll feel accomplished and satisfied when you achieve something you thought you never could.

 

3. Never go sleep before 1 and never sleep past 10

 

Now, some of you are thinking that there’s no way I’m waking up before 12, hungover and tired. But you must! Genuinely. There’s nothing worse than spending a whole day wasting away in your bed. There’s sun out there and beach – and beach parties! Get moving. As for sleeping early, that’s for the birds. Keep the party going for as long as possible and see where the night takes you. Think you might exhaust yourself? Probably. But that’s what the week after vac is for. For recovery. Until then, go hard or go home.

 

  1. Always tell him or her that you’re into them

 

So, you’ve had a crush all year – or a crush all night. Whatever the case, approach them, chat to them and pull in! What better time than now? Matric Vac is supposed to the best mix of nostalgia, party and making the move. Do not, and I repeat, do not let that person get away without them at least knowing how you feel. You might never get this chance again and you will kick yourself in years to come if you didn’t make the move back then. And if they don’t dig you back? Chilled. Plenty vaccers in the sea.

 

  1. Watch one sunrise, at least!

 

There is only one thing better than a tear-jerking sunset – and that’s a tear-jerking tipsy sunrise with your friends after a crazy night’s party. It’s one of the most spiritual and inspiring experiences you can have on vac – and of all the sunrises you’ll ever experience in life, you’ll always remember this one: the one where you and your friends reminisced about a night gone and lived – and dreamed about your awesome life still to come.

 

Remember to check out what we’re offering Matrics this year. Going to be sick! Pull in.

 

MATRICVAC2016

 

Hippo_mouth

5 things you should NOT do when road tripping through Africa


There are many, many things you can do on your Epic African Road Trip; many things indeed. And certainly, we encourage you to do most of them, even the ones that you regret in the morning. But, no matter what you decide to do, make sure that you never do these 5 things whilst on an epic African road trip.

 

1. Never eat a pie unless it’s from a garage (gas station) or a food chain whilst on an epic African road trip.

 

A few years ago I was so hungry on the way to Lake Malawi that I decided to stop and buy a pie from a small, wooden hut in Northern Zambia. The pie looked great on the outside, with crispy pastry and all, but on the inside, it was without a doubt (and most bloody certainly!) road kill. The worst type of roadkill if, indeed, roadkill can be ranked from bad to good. Needless to say the meat was as tough as a rubber band and the flavour was that sort of flavour that you throw out of your cupboard because it’s 7 years old! It was disgusting.

 

2. If you’re driving, never just assume it’s okay to drive through a green robot (traffic light) whilst on an epic African road trip.

 

Let me stress that, for the most part, you will be okay when it comes to this. Most law-abiding people tend to follow the rules but I assure you that there are the occasions (damn taxis!) when people try and catch the last inklings of their green robot to only end up plain dashing through solid red. Always look left and right before you go, even if it’s green!

 

3. Never, ever, ever, buy a bottle of brandy or Vodka that costs less than R100 ($4) whilst on an epic African road trip.

 

Besides the fact that it’s vile, have you ever heard of the saying ‘blind drunk’? That’s because it’s real. Alcohol, at this price, consumed at this pace, will literally affect your eyesite. But besides that one very significant side effect, there’s another important thing too. Like the morning after: this wretched alcohol will leave you so poes hungover that you won’t even know your own name, never mind the name of the brandy you spent your money on. In Zambia, I bought a bottle of brandy that cost R35 ($2.50). I have no idea what it was called. But it was syrup. Syrup that made you blind. Syrup that tasted like shit.

 

4. Never tempt fate with a hippo whilst on an epic African road trip.

 

Yes, it’s true that hippo kill more humans than crocodile and lion put together. After the mosquito, it’s the most dangerous animal in Africa and will either bite you in half, or more kindly, crush you if you enter it’s territory. Now, this normally wouldn’t be an issue for a sane safari onlooker who has no intention of entering it’s territory. But alcohol can do funny things – and I assure, no brandy fists will be strong enough to stop it if it decides that today you must die. Say your last goodbyes – or find a very large and sturdy tree and climb like a leopard (but watch out for leopard!).

 

5. Never pay too much for things whilst on an epic African road trip. But, never pay too little either.

 

If you’re a tourist in Africa, I assure you that you’re paying too much. You can get most things you see for half the price ie. for the stuff you buy from people you meet along the roads and in the villages. But, be fair! Pay attention to the craft work that goes into some of the awesome things you want to buy. If you genuinely believe that what you want to buy is worth $100, then pay that. Don’t negotiate towards a nothing price: often locals will let their art go for next to nothing just so that they can generate some money for the day. So, pay fairly too. Long story short: never overpay when it’s clearly too much (which is often). But don’t underpay when the price is fair.