World Marathon Drive – part 3
The final part of this epic road trip ends with a bang…
Last month we left our intrepid travellers thankful to make it out of Zambia in one piece and crossing the border into Tanzania, so here’s where we pick up their story: With spectacular landscapes and wildlife in abundance, we made a slow but enjoyable drive towards the country’s largest city, Dar Es Salaam, which proved to be a fun place to spend some time. A quick visit to the local Volkswagen importer to check a couple of concerns and all is well, at least until we grind to halt on the road to Arusha. We managed to get our worn out but trusty VW towed to the Port of Tanga, where a local garage informed us that both our batteries were duds. It appears those nice chaps at the VW garage in Dar had swapped our new batteries for a couple of their useless ones. Nothing like an honest mechanic, eh? Back on the road again, we soon found ourselves entering Kenya, passing the spectacular Mount Kilimanjaro en route, with more beautiful scenery and wildlife everywhere we look. Every day Africa was showing us how different this continent is to the rest of the world – fascinating, colourful and beautiful, though at times a little depressing as a result of political problems, corruption, neglect, famine and drought.
Jewel in the crown
Five days after leaving Dar Es Salaam we reached Nairobi. Apart from a trip to Uganda, this is as far as we can go as a result of further political and civil war problems in Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia. That lunatic, ldi Amin, had just been shown the door after terrorising and murdering most of the Ugandan population and we were interested to see what was left of the country once described as the jewel in the Commonwealth crown. A slow three-day drive north through Nairobi and we arrived at the Ugandan border where, despite the unruly chaos that was customs and immigration, we entered the country in a relatively short time compared to other African countries on our travels.
But driving towards Kampala, it soon became obvious the country was a total mess, thanks to one idiot’s misrule. With Kampala still under a curfew, and Burundi and Rwanda no go areas, it was back to Kenya and the port of Mombasa, where we hoped to get a ship to the Middle East.
A week later we were in Mombasa, which seemed as good as anywhere else to spend our ﬁrst Christmas abroad. An unspoilt beach and the very hot weather certainly made it a great new experience. Our African adventure ended when we secured a passage for the VW and ourselves on a cargo ship going to Dubai. Our travels round Africa had provided both good and bad times, but it was an experience we were both very glad we had done, even though at times some of the difﬁculties we encountered more than taxed our sense of humour.
Goodbye old friend
Time for a new adventure though and, after a week sailing the Indian Ocean, we found ourselves in the United Arab Emirates and the new port of Dubai. Dubai in 1980 was very different to the vast concrete jungle it is today and was certainly very different to the Africa we had become accustomed to over the last 10 months.
It was a wonderful place to be. Settling back into a more ‘real’ world, we immediately felt more relaxed and met representatives of many of our sponsors who had offices in Dubai and the UAE and sampled the luxuries of another excellent Sheraton Hotel – a much missed commodity whilst we were in Africa. Everything was looking good for the next stage of our adventure. Even our trusty VW seemed more at ease, having left the nightmare roads and dust of Africa
well behind it.
With everything looking good, we were brought crashing down to earth two weeks into our Dubai experience. Whilst the VW was in the local Volkswagen garage for its routine 72,000 mile service, the mechanics went joyriding in it and somehow succeeded in twisting the chassis. All part of the service apparently! Whilst we had learnt over the course of our travels that most things on a VW can be repaired, this couldn’t. Our fundraising drive round the world had met its greatest challenge yet, and we could see no immediate way forward.
But such was the interest in our World Marathon Drive in Dubai that our dilemma was short lived. Land Rover, who had their Middle East office based in Dubai, were very quick to respond to our proposal for a replacement vehicle with such enthusiasm that, before we knew it, a smart Land Rover Carawagon was delivered to Dubai from Doha in Qatar where it had been taking centre stage in their showroom. Within days, we had a new vehicle, another home on wheels and a generous sponsorship package to boot.
The World Marathon Drive was back on the road again, continuing toward our goal of circumnavigating the globe on four wheels. Sadly, as the last leg was done under Land Rover power, it’s beyond the remit of C&B, so we’ll end this epic tale in the sunny climes of the United Arab Emirates. However, it seems only fitting that we should finish the story with a few words about the vehicle that transported Nick and Caroline over 70,000 miles around the world.
Giving up our trusty VW was a difficult decision, but we had no choice. Despite the numerous mechanical problems we encountered, which were more a result of driving across rough and challenging terrain not suitable for a two-wheel drive vehicle rather than of its own unreliability, our VW Camper was home to us for over a year and did a very good job at being one. It was also an excellent mode of transport, which was a joy to drive, playing a wonderful and useful part in our global adventure.
The story in brief
Nick and Caroline’s round the world marathon drive was a tremendous fund raising mission caried out in order to raise money for Cancer Research.
The initial plan was to raise £250,000 by visiting as many countries as they could and the intrepid pair attracted sponsorhip from over 160 different companies and numerous celebrities.
They set off on January 10 1979 from London having been waved off by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu in their Volkswagen Caravanette.
In standard spec their home for the next year contained everything they needed plus a few extra additions to cope with the journey ahead. These included a winch, spot and fog lamps, a rev counter, a huge roof storage unit for carrying jerry cans of fuel, sand ladders and tools.
They also carried with them two spare wheels and as many spares as they could without overloading their trusty steed. Sadly, it didn’t quite make it….
Before it was written off the humble VW visited 38 countries, experiencing everything from freezing sub-zero temperatures to searing desert heat.
All in all the little box on wheels served them well.