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Showing posts with label Adventure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adventure. Show all posts

Encouraging Maths and Science - Deep Rural Kwazulu Natal - Rural Development

GeoSolEarth brings hope to deep rural areas. Encouraging Maths and Science as well as interacting with learners, teachers and the community, we provide valuable online technological resources that promote entrepreneur development.

A large number of schools are very deep rural and lacking basic facilities such as libraries, halls, sports fields, assembly areas etc.

Ekuphiweni - Devondale - Qudeni - Emangidini - Nkabane - Sdashi - Mzimhlophe

Mona Primary School - Ekuphiweni

Isigcalaba - Nkandla Rural - Mbiswe - Malunga 

The Areas of Mpendle - Makhayiyana - Ziyendane - Khovothi - Mandeni

Rural Development - Kwazulu Natal - South Africa

Rural Areas of Kwazulu Natal - Many areas experience difficulties such as no water, lack of sanitation, no quality education, no libraries and gravel roads... Many teachers, nurses and hard working individuals strive everyday to make the places better, the children smarter and life easier...

Empower Those Around You... Look After Each Other... Try To Provide Opportunities
South African Building Contractor Group

Douglas - Mhlumayo - Mhlabathini - Pomeroy - Uitval - Kwazulu Natal

Sibongintuthuko Primary School - Mhlabathini - Umhlomayo - South Africa

Tugela Ferry and Church of Scotland Hospital

Tugela Ferry Mall - Tugela Ferry - Kwazulu Natal - South Africa

Hlabisa - Hlabisa Hospital - Umkhanyakude District Municipality

White Mountain - Sobabili - Wembezi - Pisgah - Ntabamhlope

My Little Africa - Kestel Lion Park - Free State - South Africa

Our staff visit My Little Africa - Kestel Lion Park - Free State - South Africa... Located off the main N5 Highway between Harrismith and Bethlehem... Nestled within the small cosy town of Kestel...

My Little Africa Map

Address: Jan Van Riebeeck St, Kestell, 9860
HoursCloses soon: 5:30PM ⋅ Opens 9AM Sat

This lion park is lovely... We were able to Interact and Play with the Lions and Snakes... A thrilling experience that built Trust, Confidence, Team Work, Courage and Personal Development ...

My Little Africa has a variety of animals such as Lynx, Wildcat, Snakes and Lions...

The park relies on visitors and donations and is ideal for a school excursions that wont break your budget... My little Africa has been in operation for a good number of years...

For Guided Safe and PRIVATE South African Rural and Animal Tours email geosollab@gmail.com...

More Drakensberg Videos... Drakensberg Adventure

On Other Travel Blogs ... Spioenkop Dam and Nature Reserve

One Home - One Garden

The One Home, One Garden initiative has been undertaken to empower deep rural area populations. The South African Department of Health runs and encourages the initiative. The Department provides essential medical services to poor deep rural communities located all over South Africa.

Deep Rural - Mkhwamunye and Nhkezuka looking towards Mazabeko

Most clinics have beautiful gardens cultivating fresh produce ... Nondweni Clinic (below)... These Gardens enable local skills development and provide various income opportunities to the local community folk.

Geotechnical Solutions together with the The Rangoolam Group has undertaken various challenges enabling the construction of essential sanitation and water services to these remote areas and clinics.

Clinics outlined included

Rorkes Drift Clinic - Hlathi Dam Clinic - Nondweni Clinic - Mazabeko Clinic - Collessie Clinic - Mandleni Clinic - Eshane Clinic - - Douglas Clinic - Ethembeni Clinic ... 

Tugela Valley - Tugela River - Tugela Ferry Agriculture - Looking down towards Tugela Ferry and The Tugela River...

Collessie Clinic - Msinga Top

Geotechnical Investigations - Compaction Testing - Mod AASHTO - Soil Grading Analysis - Atterberg Limits - DCP Testing - Concrete Cube Crushing - Concrete Strength Testing - Block Strength Testing - Water Quality Testing...


Durban - Pietermaritzburg - Newcastle - Harrismith - Johannesburg - Pretoria - Bloemfontein - Bethlehem - QwaQwa - Kestel - Reitz - Vereeninging - Ladysmith - Dundee - Estcourt - Glencoe - Vryheid - Greytown - Muden - Colenso - Winterton - Bergville - Drakensberg

More Adventure Videos... GeoSolutions Adventure Videos

Adventure - Cape Town and Table Mountain on Foot

A Scenic Tour around Cape Town and Table Mountain on Foot using various public transport systems like the Red Tour Bus... This Tour around the City of Cape Town visits Historical Landmarks like District Six, Kirstenbosch Botannical Gardens, World of Birds, Cape Town City, Clifton and the V&A Waterfront. To Name a Few ...

The City is Vibrant and Classy and Accommodation is all around... Food Restaurants and Retail Shopping Malls make it a shoppers paradise. Cape Town is however pricier than most of South Africa... Pity the poor souls who live here...

The V&A waterfront is vibrant with entertainment and tours. Tours can be arranged to Robin Island as well as around the Cape Peninsular ... Cape Town and Table Mountain with a Helicopter...

The 2 Oceans Aquarium features the Cutest Penguins showing themselves of. A variety of Sea Animals are found at the Aquarium located within the Waterfront in Cape Town. Animals include Seals, Fish, Penguins and Snakes.

Hout Bay is a Must See... The Red Tour Bus makes its way along this route... Wild Seals and Seagulls together with the salty smell of the sea make this place enchanting...

and World Renown Salt and Vinegar Fish, Chips and Calamari...

A Local Cape Malay Feeds Seals with his Mouth in Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa...

Table Mountain is Recognized Among the 7 Wonders of the World... On Windy and Rainy Days the Mountain is Closed. So if the Weather is clear head on over... The Lines are Enormous in the morning so we recommend the Afternoon Lunch Sunset Shift...

Going Up the Table Mountain Cable Car ...

The View from the Top is Stunning... Food can be bought from the Summit Cafe located on the Summit.

Our Crew Love Business Trips to Cape Town...

GeoSolEarth Staff

Cathedral Peak Resort - Central Drakensberg - South Africa

A Scenic Drive to the Cathedral Peak Hotel and Resort located within the Central Drakensberg.

The Hotel and Resort is an Upmarket Facility featuring all the best entertainment and hikes... For a Full List of Facilities have a look at our GeoSolutions Review... Google Maps Cathedral Peak Review...

The Entrance to the Cathedral Peak Hotel is warm and welcoming...

Hikes include:
1. Blue Pools
2. Neptune's Pool
3. Ribbon Falls
4. Rainbow Gorge
5. Baboon Rock
6. Ribbon Falls
7. Mushroom Rock
8. Doreen Falls
9. Cathedral Peak
10. The Bell

Helicopter Charters over the Mountains can be arranged. Quad Bikes and the Mike's Pass 4x4 Trail allow adventurers deeper access to the Drakensberg Mountain. The Restaurant and Bar offer delicious lunches for guests and day visitors with spectacular views.

More Drakensberg Videos... Drakensberg Adventure

On Other Travel Blogs ... Spioenkop Dam and Nature Reserve

Rural Skills Development and Job Creation - South Africa

GeoSolEarth is proud to be a part of rural skills development and job creation. Most of the areas we service are poor with high unemployment rates. The roads we travel on are gravel dirt roads and the areas lack electricity, sanitation and clean drinking water.

We are however very fortunate to still see smiles on the faces of local kids and people... Our Geotechnical Solutions staff are always blown away by the warm welcomes and happy faces.

Happy Faces at Dukuza High School...

Emkhuphula Learners always had the most interesting stories...

Skills Development and Job Creation in Emmaus... Empowering the Community within the Building and Construction Sectors...

Learners at Nteneshana Primary School faces challenges of No Water and No Electricity...

The little ones at Mzomusha Primary hardly left us alone...

There is also a lack of classrooms and no maths or science teachers...

Geotechnical Investigations - Compaction Testing - Mod AASHTO - Soil Grading Analysis - Atterberg Limits - DCP Testing - Concrete Cube Crushing - Concrete Strength Testing - Block Strength Testing - Water Quality Testing...


Durban - Pietermaritzburg - Newcastle - Harrismith - Johannesburg - Pretoria - Bloemfontein - Bethlehem - QwaQwa - Kestel - Reitz - Vereeninging - Ladysmith - Dundee - Estcourt - Glencoe - Vryheid - Greytown - Muden - Colenso - Winterton - Bergville - Drakensberg

More Adventure Videos... GeoSolutions Adventure Videos

Spioenkop Dam and Spioenkop Nature Reserve

An Adventure to the Scenic Spioenkop Dam and Spioenkop Nature Reserve.

Day visitors are welcomed as well as campers, fisherman and boating enthusiasts.

There is a Park Entry Fee to the access facilities. If you prefer luxury accommodation the Spioenkop Lodge is available for Bookings.

Spioenkop Dam Seen from Spioenkop Monument. Tours can be arranged with Spioenkop Lodge ...

This vantage point allowed soldiers who controlled the Hill a 360 View of the surrounding area. The Hill was integral during the Siege of Ladysmith.

Zebra at Spioenkop Nature Reserve - The Location is Awesome and you can embark on mini wildlife safari with your own vehicle...

Fishing is also permitted within the reserve and the Spioenkop Dam forms part of the Tugela outfall...

Animals and Wildlife include Giraffe, Zebra, Eland and numerous other Antelope species. Fish include Carp, Barbel, various river fish and occasionally bass in certain areas.

Spioenkop Lodge and Tours - Raymond Heron - Heron Tours ... Spioenkop Lodge Contact

Article by: GeoSol Earth Staff  

Contact us if you want to be featured on our Earth Blog - GeoSolEarth Contact

On other Blogs ... Cape Town and Table Mountain by Helicopter

On other Blogs ... Lions Rock Wildcat Sanctuary

Giants Castle Nature Reserve - Central Drakensberg South

A Scenic Drive Towards The Giants Castle Nature Reserve...

Turning off from the Estcourt N3, winding through Wembezi ...

Giant's Castle is a mountain peak in the southern African Drakensberg in KwaZulu Natal. Giants Castle offers visitors to the regions hiking opportunities with panoramic views. The Nature Reserve offers secluded accommodation, bushman rock art with easy access for everyone and about the best base to start a Drakensberg hiking experience. The area is one of many of South Africa's adventure areas, and plays host to the Giants Challenge MTB marathon in April each year.

Lying at the southern end of the central Drakensberg Giant’s Castle, which gets its name from the outline of the peaks and escarpment that combine to resemble the profile of a sleeping giant, is essentially a grassy plateau that nestles among the deep valleys of this part of the Drakensberg.(Wikipedia)

Giants Castle Game Reserve is considered the home of the eland as well as the bearded vulture. Another Giants Castle highlight is the superb bushman rock art at main caves which is easy to get to and well presented.(Wikipedia). Formerly the renowned Lammergeier Hide was open for visitors to watch bearded vultures and other endangered bird species. This facility has since fallen into disrepair. (Wikipedia)

The Giants Castle Campsite and Chalets offer the best Base for all Eager Hikers and Climbers wishing to venture deeper into the Drakensberg Mountains. The Bushmans River can be fished for many Kilometers however only Fly Fishing is Allowed... Giants Castle Fly Fishing

The iZimbali Restaurant provides delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners with comfort, cleanliness, warmth....

Drakensberg Hiking Trails from Giants Castle ...

There are in excess of 25 walks in the Giant’s Castle Game Reserve. The 285 kilometres (177 mi) network of trails here includes 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) to 30 kilometres (19 mi) hikes, spanning from 1 hour to overnight.

There are currently 14 recognized escarpment passes in the region (listed north to south):

Corner Pass
Around the Corner Pass (variation route on Corner Pass with alternative summit) 
Judge Pass 
Gypaetus Pass (opened in September 2012) 
Bannerman Pass 
Thumb Pass 
North Hlubi Pass 
South Hlubi Pass 
Langalibalele Pass 
Bond Pass (opened in 2014) 
North Jarding/Jarateng Pass 
Central Jarding/Jarateng Pass 
South Jarding/Jarateng Pass 
Giant's Castle Pass...

The Bushman’s River Trail is one of the most popular walks in the reserve. Points of interest along this route include Sandstone View and the historic Rock 75, where a cook from the 75th Regiment on Foot carved the figure 75 into a boulder during the Langalibalele rebellion in 1874. The highlight of this trail is the Main Caves, with one of the best known rock-art sites in South Africa... (wikipedia).

Article by: GeoSol Earth Staff  

Contact us if you want to be featured on our Earth Blog - GeoSolEarth Contact

A Gorgeous Drive through the Central Drakensberg - South Africa - Towards the Cayley Lodge Resort and Monks Cowl - Fishing can be done at Bell Park Dam as well as Drakensberg Sun - The Yummy Valley Bakery as well as the world famous Waffle Hut are must stops. 

Tugela Ferry - Msinga - Muden Adventure - Rural Skills Development - Job Creation

The Kwazulu-Natal Department of Public Works has undertaken a school sanitation project to construct new toilet blocks for male and female, grade R learners and teachers in the Umzinyathi District Municipality located within the Kwazulu-Natal province.

Various schools were identified within the Muden, Tugela Ferry and Msinga areas for geotechnical investigation studies. The Ramgoolam Group together with Naidu Consulting Engineers have requested Geotechnical Solutions (Pty) Ltd to carry out geotechnical investigation studies for selected schools.

Here is our Adventure...

Tugela Ferry is a town on the northern bank of the Tugela River, in central KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. During the apartheid era it formed part of the KwaZulu homeland, and at present it is included in the Umzinyathi District Municipality....

Schools included:

GeoSolutions List of Learner Schools
Emachunwini - Holwane - Mzomusha - Ntshishili - Sibumba - Nomaqulu - Bethulo - Pano - KusaKusa - Zizi - Osuthu - Mabedlana - Nomahaye - Makhankana  - Mfunzi - Zimiseleni - Mhlangezulu - Mhlumba - Kwavulamehlo - Gayisani - Phumela - Mpikayizekanye - Fabeni - Ngongolo - Mabizela - Nkamba - Mbondweni - Mfenebude - Umbonje - St Benards Julwayo - Mashunka - Ntokozweni - Themane - Nyoniyezwe - Kwazenzele - Emkhuphula - Mathinta - Mpompolwana - Bhekabantu

The Stories were endless and the little learners provided us with tons of comfort and warmth. Clean Drinking Water remains a problem as most schools and learners have none. The delivery of water is totally reliant on water trucks which seem to speed past the schools with little consideration for the children.

Emkhuphula Learners with the most stories... There are Zero to No Maths and Science Teachers.

The areas are deep rural and forgotten by the big city politicians....
The schools and areas are lacking electricity, water, roads and sanitation...

Our Geotechnical Solutions Crew...

Geotechnical Investigations - Compaction Testing - Mod AASHTO - Soil Grading Analysis - Atterberg Limits - DCP Testing - Concrete Cube Crushing - Concrete Strength Testing - Block Strength Testing - Water Quality Testing...

More Adventure Videos... GeoSolutions Adventure Videos

Waterfall - Hart Hill Falls - Tugela River

The Stunning Hart Hill Waterfall is located a stones throw away from Colenso... Downstream of the Falls - Hart’s Hill is a hill and is located in uThukela District Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The estimate terrain elevation above seal level is 999 metres. Latitude: -28°40'53.04" Longitude: 29°49'59.12" The Falls is Located very close to the small town of Colenso...

Downstream of the Falls

Top of the Falls is equally Breathtaking... The Tugela River (Zulu: Thukela; Afrikaans: Tugelarivier) is the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. It is one of the most important rivers of the country. The river originates in Mont-aux-Sources of the Drakensberg Mountains and plunges 947 metres down the Tugela Falls. The Mont-aux-Sources is also the origin of tributaries of two other major South African rivers, the Orange and the Vaal. From the Drakensberg range, the Tugela follows a 502 kilometres (312 mi) route through the KwaZulu-Natal midlands before flowing into the Indian Ocean.

The total catchment area is approximately 29,100 square kilometres (11,200 sq mi). Land uses in the catchment are mainly rural subsistence farming and commercial forestry.

The Waterfall Itself...

Lions Rock Bigcat Sanctuary - Bethlehem - South Africa

On Safari at Lions Rock Bigcat Sanctuary located in Bethlehem, Free State Province, South Africa...

The location is Really Stunning... As part of FOUR PAWS’ work for wild animals in captivity, we focus on the situation of big cats in zoos, in private captivity and in the entertainment industry. The area was was taken over by FOUR PAWS in 2006. During the early days at the newly acquired big cat sanctuary, huge demands were placed on the local team. Massive structural changes had to be made to the area to bring up to FOUR PAWS´ rigorous quality standards

LIONSROCK is also home to a variety of game - Wildebeests Blesbuck, Burchell’s Zebra, Duiker, Eland, Impala, Letchwe, Mountain Reedbuck, Red Hartebeest, Reedbuck, Springbuck, Steenbuck and Waterbuck. There is also a wide variety of bird species that have found refuge on the farm.

Other Big Cats include Tigers... All cats have been rescued ... Four Paws...

Contact GeoSolEarth for Private Tours to any of our Blog Sites...

On Other Blogs ... South Africa to India by Car - Ayob Vawda

On Other Blogs - Rural Skills Development and Community Upliftment

Cape Town and Table Mountain by Helicopter

A scenic tour around Cape Town and Table Mountain by Helicopter...

Taking off from the V&A Waterfront Towards Robin Island...

A scenic tour around Cape Town and Table Mountain by Helicopter... Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa. It is a significant tourist attraction, with many visitors using the cableway or hiking to the top. The Table Mountain Cableway has provided more than 24-million visitors with an unforgettable experience, taking them to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town. Taking off from the V&A Waterfront Towards Robin Island...

 Robben Island is an island in Table Bay, 6.9 km west of the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa. The name is Dutch for "seal island." Robben Island is World Famous for Its Apartheid Political Prison housing famous anti-apartheid political activist like Nelson Mandela, Tokyo Sexwale, Jacob Zuma and Ahmed Kathrada. South Africa's first democratically elected president - Nelson Mandela - spent 18 years of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island..

Landing Back the Waterfront

Zaheer Bux - Youtube
Zaheer Bux - Twitter

Spectacular Drone Video Footage - Maasai Mara Wildebeest Migration

Last year, I embarked on an unforgettable 19 000km adventure that will stay with me for a very long time. I crossed the African continent alone on a motorcycle. The journey took about 6 months, as I took my time to learn more about the 15 African countries I was travelling through .


I tried to help where I could, particularly with charities for children and wildlife conservation. I also captured many images, many of which are on the Facebook page of Two Wheels Across and documented the entire journey in videos for my Youtube channel.


One of the exciting parts of my adventure was Casper the friendly drone, a Quadcopter that I used as often as I could to capture the beauty of Africa from the air.


I am excited to share one of the videos I filmed with you. I was fortunate to be in Kenya’s Maasai Mara during the migration and I captured the river crossing from the air. I also danced with an elephant, ran with wildebeests and kept three lions company for a few minutes. I hope you will enjoy the film!

 Guest Blogger in Animal Encounters                             Africa Geographic

Adventurer - Ayob Vawda - South Africa to India by Car

South Africa to India by Car.
Adventurer - Traveler - A Sunday drive between 2 friends in a Toyota Fortuner that started from:

South Africa - Mozambique - Malawi - Tanzania - Zanzibar - Kenya - Ethiopia - Sudan - Sinai - Egypt - Under the Suez - Jordan - Syria - Turkey - Georgia - Azerbaijan - Armenia - Iran - Pakistan -India - Nepal - Dubai

And then back to South Africa.

All with Minimum Visa.
 Facebook - Ayob Vawda

By Frans van der Merwe

Driving The World For Peace - an “impossible journey” which started off in July 2008 in KwaZulu-Natal is nearing its end after more than 75 000 km.

Two South African adventurers, Ayob Vawda and Abdool Samath, stopped over in Louis Trichardt this week on the homeward leg of a journey, which they were told beforehand that it would be “impossible.”

Their extraordinary trip, which brought them some incredible adventures, took them through the Eastern part of Africa, several hot spots in the Middle East - including Iran and Yemen - and right through to India. They were turned away from the border of China, even though their visas were in order.

They have high praise for South Africa’s diplomatic missions in the countries they visited.

“Everywhere we received a very special welcome,” said Abdool. The foreign media, including television stations, also celebrated the two South Africans’ extraordinary exploit.

Apart from some tight situations at some borders (in Georgia they had to fake a medical emergency to convince the authorities to allow them through) and a shot-out back window of their vehicle, which is evidence of an attack by bandits in Kenya, they are enthusiastic and cheerful about their multi-facetted encounters and amazing experiences.

In Louis Trichardt, where they stopped over for refreshments in Eltivillas, their odometer registered a completed journey of 75 340km.

A large colour photo of Madiba on the side of their vehicle, worked “magic” when they were held up by bandits in Kenya. When Abdool politely requested an aggressive bandit to point the gun away from his face, the change in direction brought the picture of Madiba in full view. The bandit’s aggression changed into jubilant admiration, and the two adventurers were allowed to journey on!

Soldiers of Fortuner

Images and Article : Toyota Zone

Almost 75000 km into the journey, there was a moment where it could have all gone terribly, horribly wrong. Ayob Vawda and Abdool Samath had been on the road for more than 20 months and, apart from a single puncture in Yemen, nothing had disrupted their wonderful odyssey that had begun far away in Cape Town, where anything seemed possible. “We were on our way back home, running through the mountainous region of Kenya, and were told that the road through was impassable because of heavy rains.

So we waited, and waited some more, and every day the rains came again, making the situation worse,” Ayob Vawda recalls from the comfort of his Ladysmith home, where he’s still trying to wrestle the wanderlust bug out of his system. “The roads were bad alright. Soft thick mud with great big grooves carved out by trucks – which is what happens in the rainy season – threatened to bog us down. “Every so often we came across abandoned vehicles that hadn’t made it, and the only thing to do was to keep momentum going, slowly, gently and to drive around the stricken cars and trucks if necessary. I’m no 4X4 expert but after nearly two years away from home driving in these conditions I’d developed a feel for it. So it was first and second gear in low range, for many kilometres at a time. “All of a sudden, a little kid appeared on the side of the road flagging us down. We naturally slowed, wondering what the problem was, and as we came to a stop I heard these strange, sharp popping sounds. It took me a second or so to realise it was gunfire. “It’s strange how time seems to tick so slowly in those moments. I remember seeing the child running away, remember his face and I thought he couldn’t have been part of this set-up because he looked so frightened, so surprised.

What I did was pure reaction. I just put my foot down and drove for my life. Our lives.” “The back window exploded from a shot, but all I could think of was to get away, and fortunately we got out of there. Later, when we got to the next town they said that the bandits in that area didn’t just take your car or your valuables, they took everything. They would strip you naked and leave you in that remote area to die.” Ayob and Abdool had dreamed of driving to China. They’d talked about it over and over again, but without making any real plans. Then Abdool bought a brand new Fortuner 3,0 D-4D 4×4 and convinced Ayob that the dream they’d talked about could actually become a reality. And so they set off – still without any plans, except to make it all the way to China. “We were both at loose ends, both single, our lives at a turning point. Abdool sold two of his properties and I sold my motor spares business on the South Coast, so we were self-funded. This was pure adventure.“After Abdool took delivery of the Fortuner from Dundee Toyota, we drove down from Glencoe, where he lives, to Cape Town.

We were totally unprepared; na?ve I think is the word. We had a roof rack only, fitted just before we left South Africa in Nelspruit to take water containers and two spare wheels, and for the rest we packed our stuff into those black plastic containers you buy at supermarkets.” Over the next 22 months and 80000 km, they journeyed from Cape Town through Mozambique and then into Malawi.From there the route traversed Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, the Sudan, Egypt and then over the Suez Canal into Jordan, then Syria, Turkey and finally to the northern most point of their journey, Georgia, which was part of the former Soviet Union. “We had no schedule, which meant we could explore each country as we liked. This is how we logged such a huge distance on the Toyota. For instance, in Sudan we must have covered close to 15000 km, criss-crossing that vast country, which is about the size of South Africa. They then made an excursion East, travelling through Pakistan into India, and then to Nepal. It was here that Ayob was struck down with typhoid fever and hospitalised in Kathmandu. “This part of our trip was another attempt to find a route through to China, but for various reasons this didn’t happen, including falling foul of a no-right-hand-drive ruling in some countries. “It would take a book to describe all the wonderful experiences we had, and that is one of our plans. We saw fantastic sites, the tourist must-do places like the Taj Mahal which just takes your breath away, where up to 20000 people a day visit. “For me, one of the most unusual experiences was a trip through the desert in Egypt where almost no-one goes. We latched onto a tour run by Pan Arabic. They take visitors to World War II sites where you can see the remains of Italian, German and English planes still quietly rusting away in the desert. “We saw many more wonderful places – sufi temples, and the wonderful shrine in the middle of Mackinnon Road in Pakistan.

Here it is said that a saint called Sayyed Baghali Shah was working on a railway gang when the workers were threatened by a pride of lions. Baghali went out to confront the lions and befriended them, to the extent that they formed a protective laager around the railway gang so they could carry on with their work without fear of attack.” Later on when Baghali died and was buried the authorities tried to run the railroad through his grave, but each time they tried one of the workers died in mysterious circumstances. Thus the railway line that should have run straight at this point takes a mysterious kink, to circumnavigate Baghali’s burial site. “For our return trip we drove down pretty much the same way we’d come up Africa, except that we went through Zambia, not Mozambique. The roads are much better, but on the way up we had a duty to carry out for the Glencoe Relief Aid in Mozambique, gathering information that they would use to provide relief in the area against diseases such as TB and malaria. “When I set out I was an absolute novice in off-road driving, but after about 70000 km behind the wheel – Abdool did the rest – I felt like a master. We covered every hazard: soft sand, hard sand, rock, winding narrow tarmac, you name it. “The Fortuner was incredible. We had it serviced at major towns and cities every 10000 km, and I’m not kidding when I tell you that, apart from the one wheel we changed in Yemen, the Fortuner still has the original General tyres that came with the vehicle on delivery.

Quite amazing. It is still running its original brake pads too. The only breakages we had were three shock absorbers – and the rear window. “Despite sometimes travelling for days on end in low range, we didn’t have one spot of mechanical trouble!”Ayob and Abdool found that the closer they got to home after nearly two years away, the faster they wanted the journey to end. But it was with mixed feelings that they arrived home as, apart from all the wonderful sights and experiences, it was the hospitality and generosity of the people they met that will stay with them. Abdool, at the age of 66 is taking a break for a while, but Ayob, at 54, is already raring to go – again. Ayob’s Travelling Tips TZ: What advice would you give to readers embarking on a similar trip?AV: Go where your heart takes you, it’s all about the experience, not the distance.TZ: What would you do differently?AV: Nothing, everything was like a magical dream. The spiritual aspect of meeting so many people was wonderful. On a practical sense, the route via Zambia and Zimbabwe is better than via Mozambique where the rough roads are a car-breaker.TZ: What vital pieces of equipment would you need?AV: We were so under-equipped. In our case, it was our Garmin GPS and a camera. Oh yes, and we drank bottled water whenever possible.TZ: Which countries were out of bounds?AV: Many for various reasons: conflict or car-elegibility issues in the case of Tibet, which prevented us from reaching China on our eastern leg.TZ: How difficult was it servicing the Fortuner in Africa and Asia?AV: No problem at all. The servicing in the major centres is as good as it is in South Africa.TZ: Would you do it again?AV: Coming home, I feel unsettled. I can’t wait to get on the road again. - See more at: Toyota


Ayob Yusuf Vawda and Abdool Samath Samath's road trip makes the just-for-TV jaunt that Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman took for the Long Way Round series look like a leisurely afternoon ride. Ayob, 54, and his friend, Abdool, 66, set out from their homes in South Africa in July, 2008, to undertake an epic drive with a spot of voluntary charity work for Glencoe Islamic Mosque and Madrassa Trust along the way. Ayob sold his business, a motor parts shop, before setting off. They hoped their trip would culminate in making their pilgrimages at this year's Haj in Saudi Arabia, but they are stranded in Abu Dhabi awaiting their visas after encountering cumbersome bureaucracy at multiple embassies. While their heavily decorated Toyota Fortuner has not missed a beat on the 58,000km odyssey, the journey has been incident-packed. Apart from a large dent above the right rear wheel and minor dings and scratches elsewhere - "every dent on this car happened in India" - the car is in remarkably good shape, possibly because of two notices plastered across the rear door. One says "Driving - the world - for peace" and the other says "Visitor! May be lost. Please be patient".

Ayob, a lively, wiry man, is quick to share his anecdotes as he recounts his journey with the aid of well-worn maps, which came in useful after their GPS was stolen in Tanzania. "That happened after going around Mount Kilimanjaro," says Ayob. "We were greeted by Masai tribesmen and had to inch our way through the crowd." After leaving South Africa, they did voluntary work for the charity trust in Mozambique and Malawi before taking on Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.

It was after crossing the Gulf of Aqaba to get to Jordan that their real adventures began. "After Jordan, we drove on to Syria, saw Damascus and then went through Turkey and took the crusader route along the Black Sea and ended up in Georgia and Azerbaijan," he recalls. When they tried to get exit stamps for Georgia, the usually quiet Abdool used his acting skills. "He's an Oscar winner!" enthuses Ayob. After a 12-hour wait at a border crossing, where the Azerbaijani officials didn't want to let the right-hand-drive Fortuner pass through, Abdool pretended to have a heart problem and soon paramedics were on the scene, he received two injections "from a very pretty nurse" and spent a few days in a dilapidated Georgian hospital while Ayob took the two passports to the embassy in Tiblisi, Georgia's capital, to sort out exit visas.
After Abdool was given the all-clear, they drove on to Armenia where they spent two weeks, eight hours of which was given over to extensive searches of the car by humourless Armenian and Russian officials. "Getting into Iran was the easiest border we encountered," says Ayob. "The man spoke perfect English, he was so helpful, he gave us maps and cash to boot." When they visited the South African embassy in Tehran, the officials were amazed. "They offered us tea and cigarettes and he says we were probably the first to ever drive to Tehran from South Africa. He thought we must have hired a car in Iran."

An invitation to the embassy's African Unity Day celebrations ensued and that was the start of a series of generous offers of hospitality in Iran, aside from an incident where they were robbed. "Fake cops robbed us of some dollars - they pulled us over, searched the car and said they were looking out for fake dollars," says Ayob. One of the con men took a close look at one of Ayob's US notes and then asked to see the rest of his money and his wallet. "They took my wallet into the car and drove off - I flipped and tried to chase them."

In the mountain town of Damavand, they had better luck when they slept for four nights in the loft above a kebab shop. Villagers near Khorramabad invited them to live with them in their goatskin tents. In Nasar, a local woman who seldom mixed with men in her village became their tour guide and cook. A chance encounter with a group of 36 tourists from South Africa, Australia, France and Switzerland in Esfehan led to them joining forces for a safe road crossing into Pakistan. Then it was a hair-raising journey from Bam to Quetta with a police escort the whole way.
"But the Pakistanis were very good to us - in Dalbandin, we slept on the roof of the police station with American jets going to bomb Afghanistan flying over," says Ayob. "It's a crazy city, man," is Ayob's incredulous description of Quetta, a place just 40km from the Afghan border and divided by US and Pakistani soldiers, police and Taliban. "There are guys with machine guns and sandbags on every second corner."

Ayob recalls a rather disturbing reason for local motorcyclists to be pulled over by the police. "If you are riding double on a motorbike, you will be stopped at every place because of target killings," he says. It has become a common practice between warring factions in the area to kill specific people from motorbikes with one person riding and the pillion passenger shooting. "I met the head of the anti-terrorist squad and he advised us not to use the car but instead to walk around, keep your mouth shut and go with local transport," he says. By blending in and being sensible, Ayob says he and Abdool gained access to a marketplace for weapons.

"The market sold US rifles, uniforms, night vision goggles; and it was sold to the general public," says Ayob. "No city impacted on me like Quetta." After failing to get visas for China, Ayob and Abdool crossed the border into India at Amritsar and experienced upset stomachs and new dents in their car in between seeing the Taj Mahal at Agra and the city of Lucknow. In Nepal, Ayob contracted typhoid and, while he was in hospital, he received word that his mother in South Africa was unwell, so he flew home from Kathmandu. "She passed away and I missed the funeral - in Islam we bury the body very quickly - and Abdool waited for me for three weeks in Nepal while I recuperated in South Africa."
After reuniting in Nepal with Abdool, they returned to Iran and crossed over with the car into the UAE by ferry from Bandar Abbas to Dubai. Now they are in Abu Dhabi hoping to hear from the Saudi Arabian embassy if they will receive their visas so they can make their Haj pilgrimage. "I am not too encouraged to go to Saudi now," says Ayob, reflecting on the difficulties they have experienced so far in trying to get visas.

But he is quick to admit that, so far, the 16-month journey has provided him with many amazing experiences as well as the opportunity to help with charity projects. Indeed, as the photographer arrives, he has started riffing on his opinions of the war in Afghanistan and explaining how the gun smugglers operate on the Kenya-Tanzania border. McGregor and Boorman might have slick camera crews and A-list friends to celebrate with them at the TV series launch parties, but Ayob and Abdool have lived off their wits and the kindness of strangers when they took the seriously long way round to Abu Dhabi. glewis@thenational.ae

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