Roadtrip: Nairobi to South Africa and Back


A few weeks ago, I was tagged on a post of some rad adventure seekers who want to drive from Nairobi to Rio and back for the world cup and I was like, whaat? On visiting the link, I saw that the guys drove to the 2010 World Cup in SA. I then got in touch with one of the guys, Mwangi Kirubi and asked him to share the experience. Here’s the Q&A…

Q.      Who are you guys, occupation(s), how did you meet?

We are adventure-seeking Kenyans with a passion for Africa. We are Mwangi ‘Mwarv’ Kirubi (photographer), Naomi Kariuki (banker), Cathleen Mjomba (TV producer) and Gibran ‘GB’ Mjomba (tour operator). We all met at different times. I met Cathleen in 2007 when doing Mizizi at Mavuno Church. Next was Naomi in December 2008 when climbing Rwenzori and Gibran at Mavuno Church.

Q.      Whose idea was it to drive to SA?

Cathleen and I had the idea of driving to SA, separately though. This was in 2009. We were excited that the greatest football showcase was coming home and didn’t want to be left out. We wanted to have a convoy of several vehicles going down or even organise a tour. As the World Cup approached, we realised it wasn’t going to be possible so we stuck to one car.

Q.      The car choice & preparations… how did you get to that?

Car choice? The Forester (Silvester) was the only car we had between us. I had acquired it from Japan in 2008 and had taken it on many drives across Kenya before the trip to Cape Town. Subaru Kenya were gracious enough to give us complimentary full service a week before departure – we’ll be eternally grateful. We had to purchase a Carnet de Passage from AA Kenya which allowed us to travel from country to country with the car, as well as Comesa Insurance. The only visas we needed were for SA, which we had to apply for in advance. The other countries, being part of the Commonwealth, granted us free visas at the border controls. We also bought Garmin Streetmaps for East Africa and Southern Africa which helped us know which road to keep to, turns to make, when to make a pit stop and where to camp. None of us had been past Moshi Tanzania so the entire route was fresh to us.

Q.      Sponsors, tickets/accommodation, insurance and challenges before setting off?

Brancom gave us complimentary branding of Silvester, Bonk gave us clothing, Subaru gave us service. No other companies chipped in. We had family and friends give us financial gifts before we left. We camped all along the way and were hosted by friends in Cape Town and Johannesburg which was great because the winter nights are very chilly down south.

Q.      What kept you going in the face of these challenges?

We had a budget of Kshs1,000,000 for the entire trip, and each of us was to raise an equal share of the budget. None of us had raised the required amount by the departure date. But we still got into Silvester, fired all the cylinders and headed south. We had spent many weeks in prayer and we knew God wanted us to make this trip and with He being Jireh our Provider, we knew He had us sorted. It was a journey of faith that took us halfway across Africa. And we didn’t sleep hungry, run out of fuel, suffer a puncture or experience any problem along the way, going and coming back. We ended up spending only Kshs. 300,000 for the entire trip all inclusive.

Q.      How did it feel to have all the bags packed, full tank and fire the car setting off to SA?

It was exciting to all be in Silvester for the first time and start the 13,000km journey. Without the full finances needed, we knew our faith was going to be stretched. We were flagged off – rally style – by friends from KWELI Magazine who had been with us throughout the planning. We were all smiling and happy on the outside. Inside, we were praying that all would work out and we’d get to Cape Town..

Q.      The journey… highs, lows, distance covered per day, stop overs, roads review per country, crossing the borders- hard/easy?

It took us 9 days to get to Cape Town from Nairobi, a distance of 6,000kms. The roads are well maintained tarmac all the way, except a section in Zambia between Nakonde and Kapiri Mposhi which had sparse potholes, responsible for bending our front right rim. Individually, we had different highs and lows. I think a common high was getting to Soccer City – words can’t explain how excited we were being at the heart of the World Cup. A Botswana immigration official was mean to us at the Kasane entry point. We felt so bad that we didn’t want to sleep in Botswana. We drove the whole day and night and got to the border with SA at 6am, stopping only for food and fuel. That was our worst experience when going down. Coming back, Vic Falls was a highlight. You’ve got to walk in the thundering smokes of the falls to understand. Sharing our Christian faith with cops who wanted bribes for no reason was a great experience.

Q.      The world cup experience…

None of us had tickets for the games so we watched them in fan parks. Our first game was in Rustenberg, the game where Ghana got eliminated. Next was in Cape Town where Netherlands avenged Ghana’s elimination by Uru-go-away (Uruguay), and the last was the final in Johannesburg. Football aside, it was nice interacting with people from all over the world and sharing stories about cultures and football. Top on the list was getting to meet the family of Joseph Abels in Cape Town. He works for Subaru and got to service Silvester. We visited his home on his invite and prayed together before we started the journey back.

Q.      The journey back…

We decided to take it easy since there wasn’t an event we were rushing to. We met Kenyans in Botswana who were also driving back home in a Toyota Wish from the World Cup. You can read their story here. When we got to Lusaka, we took a detour into Malawi to experience the friendliness of the Malawians.

Q.      Summary; how was the trip,what did you learn, any breakdowns, how faithful was Sylvester, was he economical? How did it feel to come back home, The general experience of the entire journey. Would you do it again?

God is faithful. We got to Cape Town and back, 13,000km in total, without a single flat tyre or breakdown of the car. Apart from an oil change in Cape Town and replacement of a rear left wheel thingie which was worn out, we didn’t experience any single issue with Silvester. The other lesson we learnt is that Africa is one great place full of friendly people, the friendliest of all being petrol station attendants who share stories of their cultures and give tips on where to get nice home-cooked meals. Would I do it again? Yes! This July, I’m taking a photographic trip to Lesotho with fellow photographers and videographers. And come 2014, Rio will be the destination.

Visit their website here but in the meantime, browse through the gallery below…

Cheers MMnjug for the heads up.

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Disclaimer: Pictures appearing on this blog are copyrighted to the photographers and the sites indicated. Kindly refrain from using them for editorial purposes (not unless they are copyright free).

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