Status Report

During the Adventure Mike and Jeanette sent daily reports through so that the website could be updated.

Status Report 7 August 2008

The Silver Spirit is Back!!

Mike and Jeanette got back to Jozi on 26 June and have been parted from the Silver Spirit since then.

This week they were reunited with the Rolls and the backup Toyota HiLux which were both in fine fettle despite the long sea voyage from London.

They cleared the vehicles through customs in Durban without a hitch and arrived back in Jozi last night.

Mike says the trip up from Durbs in the Silver Spirit was like 'going home' in more ways than one! "She 'purred' all the way".

The Adventure will be flighted on Carte Blanche on M-Net next Sunday (17th) and featured in the September edition of Woman and Home.


Status Report 26 June 2008

Our Travellers are Due Home!

Mike and Jeanette are due back in South Africa today.

They have had a wonderful time in England and Wales, visiting old friends and making new ones.

The weather has been very kind to them and the Silver Spirit continues to purr along.

Mike and Jeanette became members of the RREC (Rols Royce Enthusiasts Club) and attended the UK Annual Rally last weekend, where there were more than 1 000 Rolls Royces!

At the rally they screened a 45 minute video compiled by Koos Roets from the 60+ hours of video shot on the Adventure.

The Rolls and the Toyota will be loaded into containers and shipped back to SA very soon.

Daily Reports

25-30 March 2008 Cape Town Waterfront

From the 25 March to 30 March the Silver Spirit was on display at the Clocktower Square on the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Campmaster erected a small tent, a table and 4 chairs, to simulate a safari camp, and Stormhoek provided some wines to make it a real African Safari.

28-29 March Cape Town

Three members of the Silver Spirit team, Mike and Jeanette van Ginkel and Koos Roets, flew from Joburg to Cape Town with 1time on 28 March, together with a second cameraman and other ‘ground crew’. Some frantic final organisation took place, followed by a drive up Signal Hill to watch the sunset over Cape Town and then a crayfish braai in Gordon’s Bay.

Day 1 - Sunday 30 March 2008 Cape Town Table Bay Hotel send-off

On Sunday 30 March the team met for a wonderful breakfast at the Captain’s Table in Sun International’s Table Bay Hotel. From 10:00 a number of Rolls Royce’s and other classic cars joined the team at Quay 6 on the Waterfront, in front of the statue of Oscar the Seal. A typical small Cape band made music while owners and spectators alike checked out the wonderful cars on show.

Cape Town was at its best – the weather was beautiful and Table Mountain looked magnificent. The Table Bay kept us nourished with tea and biscuits while the numbers grew. Mike and Jeanette gave an interview to various members of the media and E-TV shot video for the evening news.

The Rolls Royce’s then formed up for a cavalcade through the hotel’s grounds and on to Stellenbosch.

Click here to play the E-TV video on YouTube...

30 March 2008 Cape Town to Stellenbosch 49km

Many of the Rolls Royce’s escorted the Silver Spirit to the beautiful gardens at Le Jardin, where a Stormhoek Picnic was held. Le Jardin provided the guests with a sumptuous cold buffet and the entire event was lubricated with delectable Stormhoek Wines, the ‘Couture’ Rose being the favourite, over ice, on a hot afternoon. That evening was spent at the Devon Valley Hotel.

Stellenbosch is a place of great beauty and culture and is the heart of South Africa's wine industry and is the second oldest European settlement in the Cape after Cape Town.

Day 2 – Monday 31 March 2008 Stellenbosch to Matjiesfontein 80km

We received a big welcome at Maatjesfontein from David Randon, who presented us with 4 bottles of fine champagne to celebrate special occasions along the way. The Silver Spirit met up with another classic Rolls. We stayed at the historic Lord Milner Hotel where legend has it that ghosts rove around at night and people hear laughing and the sound of billiard balls in empty rooms.

Matjiesfontein is Afrikaans for Fountain of Little Mats and this picturesque little village is situated just off the N1 almost halfway between Cape Town and Beaufort West and remains a popular stop-over for train passengers and motorists alike. The town is steeped in history, having been command headquarters and "home" to many British officers during the Anglo-Boer War. On the outskirts of the village was a huge remount camp for over 20 000 troops and 10 000 horses was established. The hotel later served as a convalescent hospital for wounded officers.

The entire Village was restored in 1970 and declared a National Historic Monument. We took a trip on an Old London Bus that does a daily tour, visited one of the two museums, sipped wine aboard an original steam train, and Jeanette summoned us to dinner using an old bugle.

Day 3 – Tuesday 1 April 2008 Matjiesfontein to Kimberley 840km

We passed a very interesting evening with Mark Harding, the original owner of the Silver Spirit, at the lovely old and historical Kimberly club.

Kimberley is, of course, the source of many famous diamonds, including the world’s largest. The first diamond was discovered in 1866 and led to the diamond rush where the prospectors and entrepreneurs included Cecil John Rhodes, Barnie Barnato and others. Some of the most interesting history of South Africa comes from Kimberley. The ‘Big Hole’ is still stunning to see and the Kimberley Museum is an old mining town, beautifully restored.

Day 4 – Wednesday 2 April 2008 Kimberley to Johannesburg 700km

Wednesday afternoon and evening was a wonderful event at the Palazzo Hotel at Montecasino. Friends, Rolls Royce owners and sponsors joined us for a garden party, beautifully orchestrated by the Palazzo staff. Stormhoek Wines were again in great demand. Campmaster again set up an example safari camp.

The Garmin Skydiving team amazed us all with a landing in the pool! They then handed over two Garmin Nuvi sets (fortunately dry) for the Silver Spirit team. Karl Jensen gave an amusing speech to send us off and Tom Borrill told us a little about the work of Rotary in Southern Africa.

We would like to thank the Palazzo for making this such a special occasion.

Day 5 – Thursday 3 April 2008 Johannesburg to Francistown, Botswana 600km

On the Thursday morning we set off from Johannesburg with the Silver Spirit team enhanced by the second vehicle, a Toyota HiLux and team members Roger Pearce and Mark Campbell-Gibson. We were accompanied by Roy Watson for part of the way in his beautiful Bentley. Later that day we entered our 1st country - Botswana. We had a pleasant stay at the Cresta Morang in Francistown.

Francistown is the second largest city in Botswana, but quite small by world standards, with only just over 100 000 inhabitants.

We travelled on good tar to Groblarsbrug – the border post – known as Martins drift in Botswana. We were delayed by almost 3 hrs because 2 trucks decided to attempt the single lane bridge over the Limpopo from opposite ends at the same time! Neither would give way! Luckily Roger walked ahead and gave some instructions and the truck on the Botswana side performed a slow reverse! Botswana customs and immigration were particularly pleasant and we were on our way in a jiffy. We refuelled just over the border because the petrol is substantially cheaper in Botswana.

We decided to take the secondary road via Selibe-Pickwe to Francistown. The stretch from the border to has got bad with many large potholes appearing out of nowhere. From Selibi Pickwe the road improved and one can do a good 150km/hr between the towns. We got some hassle at a vet road block just before meeting the main Gaberones – Francistown road at Palape. Foot and mouth disease is of huge concern in Botswana since they export nearly all their beef to the EU. We did however manage to stash our biltong rations!

Day 6 – Friday 4 April 2008 Francistown to Livingstone, Zambia 520km (Victoria Falls)

The convoy proceeded to the Kazangula Ferry to into cross into Zambia. We were amazed at the 7 km line of trucks waiting for the ferry. There are 2 ferries which take 1 truck and 6 cars. We were lucky to catch the first one, jumping the queue of trucks. We made some friends on the short ferry trip and had a brief rest.

We stayed at the lovely Sun International Zambezi Sun in luxury. The staff gave us a warm welcome. We visited the amazing Victoria Falls and the magnificent Royal Livingstone Hotel was a wondrous experience.

The Victoria Falls can be viewed from Zimbabwe or Zambia. Unfortunately, due to political upheaval in Zimbabwe, most people only see the Falls from the Zambian side, although a short walk across a historic bridge (and two border posts) are all that are needed to see both sides.

Day 7 – Saturday 5 April 2008 Livingstone to Lusaka 500km

We proceeded north to Lusaka overcoming some very bad potholes. We tried to miss them all but hit a few bad ones. In Lusaka, capital of Zambia, we stayed at the Holiday Inn.

Lusaka is a bustling African city with friendly people, colour, and purpose. Zambia is the current head of the SADC and takes a lead in many matters.

One week on the road, 3 countries and over 3 000 km and all is well.

Day 8 - 6 April 2008 Lusaka to Mutinondo 700km

On 6 April we travelled north to a private game lodge, Mutinondo, which was a special experience. Mutinondo Wilderness lies within Chief Mpumba's area on the plateau 30 km west of the Luangwa Valley in the Northern Province of Zambia. The area consists of 10 000 hectares of privately owned land encompassing pristine Miombo woodland, massive chunks of granite inselbergs, crystal clear rivers to swim in and drink from and picturesque waterfalls and glades (dambos).

Although we had planned to camp we spoiled ourselves by staying in the magnificent lodge.

Day 9 - 7 April 2008 Mutinondo to Mbeya, Tanzania 450km

It was an early morning start as we set forth for the Tanzanian border and Mbeya. On the way we stopped at Swera Ngando – a wonderful stately manor in Africa. You can read about this in a book called The African House.

We crossed the border to Tanzania and stayed at Ungentule Lodge on a coffee estate. Utengule Coffee Lodge is an oasis of calm on the slopes of the Mbeya mountain range in Southern Tanzania, with spectacular views across the East African Rift Valley.

The area around Mbeya has been called the "Scotland of Africa", because the hills are clad in heather and bracken. Actually the flora is more closely related to the Fynbos indigenous to South Africa’s Western Cape than the Highlands of Scotland. Loleza Mountain, which rises over the town.

Day 10 - 8 April 2008 Mbeya to Morogoro 700km

Another early start for the trip north to Morogoro. On the way we had a great sighting of lions next to the main road and traversed some amazing mountain passes before dropping down onto the Tanzanian lowlands.

Day 11 - 9 April 2008 Morogoro to Arusha 650km

On to Arusha and a pity we never saw Mount Kilimanjaro in all her glory – she was covered by clouds.

Day 12 - 10 April Arusha to Nairobi, Kenya 300km

On to Kenya – country no 4!

The roads up to Nairobi were poor – but they were building a new one. The new prime minister actually stopped to admire the Rolls at the Holiday Inn.

Day 13 - 11 April Nairobi, Kenya

In Nairobi we had our first resupply and service day and another night at the Holiday Inn.

Day 14 - 12-April Nairobi to Archers Post, Kenya 350km

Saturday night was spent at Sarova Shaba Lodge on the periphery of Shaba National Reserve. The park is home to a host of wildlife, some of which can be found only here, including the reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, gerenuk, beisa oryx and the Somali ostrich. The park also hosts lion, cheetah, elephant, buffalo and leopard, and over 100 species of birds. The Lodge is most famous for the hundreds of crocodiles in the Uaso Nyiro River

Day 15 - Sun 13-Apr Archers Post, Kenya

Another night at Sarova Shaba Lodge, which was at one time the home of George and Joy Adamson, the famous conservationists.

Day 16 - Mon 14-Apr Archers Post to Marsabit, Kenya 250km

Another early start, bound for the Saraba Shove Lodge in Isiolo. This was the end of the tar! The road from there north to Marsabit was extremely bad with the worst corrugations and rocks that we tried to avoid, not always successfully! I was absolutely amazed how well the Silver Spirit handled the terrible conditions. Behind the wheel, while I had full control, there were occasions when it was impossible to avoid large rocks and the ‘middle maniejie’ hitting the bottom of the car. Driving in these conditions requires a decision every second and can be exhausting.

Marsabit proved difficult to find accommodation we could get to. Recent rains prevented us from getting to our planned lodge. Marsabit mud was impassable! We found rooms at the Catholic convent just outside town. In the evening we took a 10km drive to an extinct volcanic crater which we were all amazed by. It was huge and beautiful. We enjoyed wonderful sundowners and snacks.

Day 17 - Tues 15-Apr Marsabit to Moyale, Kenya 250km.

We left Marsabit in the mist at 6am. Now we hit the most terrible conditions you can imagine. Each time we feel the roads cannot get worse they do! Huge rocks, terrible corrugations, deep gullies a meter deep every kilometer. Our average speed over 250km of sheer terror was about 25km/h.

We arrived at the Ethiopian border at 13:15 and found customs was on lunch until 1400. Eventually after clearances we were through by 1530. At this stage we got to look under the Rolls and found that one of the brackets of a shock absorber had been broken and needed repair. Roger and Steve got stuck in and did this repair together with a few modifications to the underbelly protection plates which had had a good hammering but had held up.


Day 18 - Wed 16-Apr Moyale - Awasa, Ethiopia 450km.

Report coming soon.

Day 19 - Thurs 17-Apr Awasa - Addis Ababa 300km.

Report coming soon.


Days 20-22 - 18-20 April Addis Ababa (waiting for Visas)

Being stuck in Ethiopia waiting for our Sudanese visas, we have had time to learn what a fascinating country this is. It has recently overtaken Egypt as the second most populous country in Africa after Nigeria. Apparently the population now sits at 91 million! Travelling through the southern parts this has been very evident as there is a constant throng of people along the road. This is in contrast to Zambia when, driving in the north we would not see a person for hundreds of kilometres. We read somewhere that 50 million of this population is under 18! We wonder how this country is going to cope with the responsibility of developing this huge population because most of the rural population seems desperately poor.

Ethiopia is the only country in Africa never to be colonised, although it was occupied by the Italians during the Second World War. Ethiopia never adopted the Gregorian calendar with the rest of the world and officially follows the Julian calendar which has 13 months. This makes them about 8 years behind the rest of us. Ethiopia is celebrating the millennium this year. The official date today is the 12th April 2000 (this even appears on the newspapers)! Another weird thing is that time of day is measured differently in Ethiopia. 07:00 in the morning to us is 1 o’clock here. 08:00 is 2 o’clock and so on. 15:00 is therefore 9 o’clock in Ethiopia. Go figure!

The Ethiopians believe that they are the descendants of King Solomon and Queen Sheba who produced a child out of wed-lock. Being complete taboo at the time – they had to send this son away. According to ‘legend’ King Solomon ordered that all his generals send their own first born sons to escort his son to safety. This massive migration ventured up the Nile River from the Middle East and eventually settled here. Ethiopians believe – their emperors i.e. Haile Selassie are the direct descendants of this son. As a measure of protection from God, King Solomon apparently sent the Ark of the Covenant along and it is believed by Ethiopians to still be housed in the Sanctuary Chapel at Axum. Although disputed by western historians, this is taught officially in Ethiopian schools.

Today (20 April) we ventured out of our glorious hotel to explore Addis Ababa “the new flower”. As Africa’s 4th largest city it is quite daunting to drive here. We went to Maskel Square to see the millennium lights we then explored the Merkato market – said to be the largest market of its kind in Africa. We certainly got to experience the sights and sounds there. Our cameraman – Koos fell victim to a pick pocket and lost his wallet!

We are desperately hoping our Sudanese visas will be ready early enough tomorrow (21 April) so we can head north once again. We are all missing the road now!

Day 23 - 21 April Addis Ababa

Hooray! The Sudanese approved our visas. Unfortunately we could only collect them at 15:00 (or 9 o’clock local time). This meant it was too late to drive north. The visa application process was very trying and we would strongly recommend people get this done before they leave home. But in South Africa it takes 6 weeks to apply for it so we just ran out of time. Not only does one have to drive through Addis to the Sudanese embassy, spending extra time in Addis can play havoc with one's budget. We plan to leave at 06:00 sharp tomorrow so that we can get as far as we can to try make up on lost time. We aim to reach Gonder tomorrow and then into the Sudan the next day. Unfortunately this means we will miss the Blue Nile falls and Lake Tana – the source of the Blue Nile.

The Rolls went in for some maintenance today (21st). The part had to be taken 30km out of Addis as the power at the workshop was cut due to load shedding! In Ethiopia this is a common occurrence as they refer to it here as “rationing.” They seem to have similar problems with power as we do back home. Ethiopia relies on hydro-electric power and due to low rainfall this season they are not able to produce enough power to feed its growing capital city.

We went to a supermarket and stocked up on some provisions for the Sudan. We also found some wonderful cheeses and enjoyed them with sundowners from our hotel room balcony. On the 11th floor we have a beautiful view of the city and our self made cocktail party was a fitting send off to Addis Ababa. This evening we all ate wonderful pizza at the hotel. The Italian influence certainly still remains in the food here.

Day 24 - Tuesday 22 April Addis Ababa to Gondar 775km

By 06:15 we out of the Hilton hotel and finding our way out of Addis. Addis does have wide streets in comparison to most African cities but it is a deceptively huge city, and it took quite some time to leave the city boundaries. Steve did some impressive navigation as Roger lead us out of the city bowl. When heading north out of Addis, one travels in one direction and that is upwards! The main road winds up an impressive pass onto the Ethiopian highlands. Whenever we reached what we thought to be a plateau we encountered yet another steep mountain pass leading skywards. The landscape changed dramatically from typical African savannah grasslands in the south to endless alpine tundra fields filled with grazing livestock. And as we have become accustomed to in Ethiopia – hundreds upon hundreds of people using the roadway as their path to and from wherever they are going.

Our GPS recorded a maximum altitude of 1 0202ft. Higher than the Sani Pass back home where we tested the Rolls. The altitude certainly could be felt taking its toll on the performance of both the Hilux and the Rolls. This altitude also affected the ambient temperature and there were times we were positively freezing when we got out to admire the panoramic views. Today’s route took us the closest to Ethiopia’s highest peak called Ras Dashen sitting at an impressive altitude of 4 543m (14 901ft). We also encountered many abandoned tanks and armoured vehicles in fields next to the road. Although most were merely shells, some still had there guns very much attached and we all wondered from where and from which war these originated. One tank certainly had a Russian engine inscription on it. We will endeavour to find out more about these treasures but if anybody could help us place them, we would love to know!

By far the highlight of the day was our first crossing of the mighty Nile River. More than just a river-crossing this entailed us dropping off the escarpment into the bowels of a massive canyon known as the Blue Nile Gorge. Many parts of the impressive pass are under construction which made for some hair raising driving on gravel sections with sheer 1 000m drops into the valley below. The descent is so significant into the Nile gorge that one can notice the rapidly increasing temperature and vice-versa as one climbs out the other side back onto the highlands.

When one gets the first sight of the world’s longest and most historically significant river, it is a truly spiritual experience. Even this far south and not yet married to the White Nile she is an impressive sight. Perhaps 300m wide and flowing with all the enthusiasm needed to get across the formidable Sahara, the worlds largest desert. It was such a shame that we were not permitted to stop and absorb the experience. In fact we had a rather terrifying encounter with an Ethiopian soldier running at us armed with an AK47. He was shouting ferociously at us and we had to make a quick judgment of whether it was safer to just drive on or stop to interpret what he was screaming. We did stop - luckily it turned out, as the current bridge is unsafe and only one vehicle is allowed to cross at a time. Never mind that the preceding vehicle was a 50 ton truck – probably overloaded nevertheless!

Anyhow we could all think of much worse ways to die than falling a hundred meters from a collapsing bridge into the majestic Nile at this most beautiful place! Such hazards, we have learned, are just par for the course when travelling in these wild and remote places. We can however report that there is an impressive modern bridge being furiously constructed next to the old one. In a small way it is a shame that future travellers will pass over that bridge oblivious to the dangers which we “early pioneers” endured at that very spot.

We reached Gondar by 17:30, unfortunately leaving us with no time to view the Royal Enclosure. This world heritage site is the main attraction for international tourists to this part of the world. That is, those mad enough to be heading for the Sudan! The site houses several castles from the 12th century built by the Ethiopian emperors with architecture and grandeur not known to the world during those times. We did however get to see them in the distance from our hotel perched up on a hillside overlooking the city.

Anyhow, another early start tomorrow, as we tackle one of the 4 major challenges of the entire quest. The road from Gondar to the Sudanese border is not only over treacherous sliding gravel but also known to be dangerous bandit territory with a real risk of ambush and hijack. Once inside the Sudan we face the other challenge of getting to the main highway running from Port Sudan to Al Khartoum. According to our captain, Roger Pearce, if there has been rain, this road can be almost impassable.

Wish us luck and thank you for all your messages of encouragement. We may need them today more that ever!

Mike, Jeanette & the SS Team

Click for stunning photos and an interesting website on Gondar

Day 25 - Wednesday 23 April 2008 Gondar to Khartoum 850km

The team is in Khartoum, where they will be until Sunday.

The team left Gondar at 06:00 for the border crossing into Sudan. Everything went smoothly and they were in Sudan earlier than expected.

To their delight, there was a new tar road all the way to Gedaref so, rather than stopping at Gedaref, they took the decision to push on to Khartoum.

Unfortunately they hit problems on the way - the radiator on the Rolls sprung a leak and the engine came loose from the engine mountings!

They carried out running repairs, made sure they had a lot of water, and limped to Khartoum, arriving at 22:30. According to Marc, after 16 hours on the road they were all physically, emotionally and mechanically exhausted.

However, the Silver Spirit Team is well named. I spoke to Marc, Koos and Jeanette today and the flagging spirits of yesterday are already behind them.

Roger is arranging the necessary repairs, Marc is writing the daily report, Koos is organising photographs and Jeanette is, of course, shopping! No mention of Mike or Steve - perhaps they're still sleeping it off!

Jeanette says she was chatting to someone in the supermarket and they have just been visited by a lady who is driving a tractor from the North Pole to the South Pole. And we thought Mike and Jeanette were crazy!

The team will stay in Khartoum until Sunday, when they will set off for Dongola. They are leaving one day later than planned but will spend one less day at Wadi Halfa, still getting the ferry to Egypt on Wednesday.

Day 26 - Thursday 24 April 2008 Khartoum

After a horrendous sixteen hour day from Gondar to Khartoum we were up bright and early to get the Rolls repaired. Fortunately a taxi driver directed us to a “radiator repair shop” where we pulled the radiator out.

The radiator core had cracked so a decision was made to fit a new core. We had also broken two more engine mountings which were a bit of a bugger to change.

The temperature was showing over 50 degrees on the Rolls dashboard. We have two tool boxes, one plastic and the other steel. The lid of the plastic box was open during the day and it quietly melted and folded over. The steel box and its contents was not affected. The coolest place was under the Rolls. Steve Pickering, our resident on the road engineer, did a sterling job under the circumstances. Pity there are no beers here to rehydrate with!

During the day we came upon a local Steers and Debonairs and guess what we had for supper? Home delivered pizza! Strange place this.

Come the end of the day the Rolls is in fine condition and a run across the city in the heat shows we have not damaged the engine despite running for about 400km with little or no water.

As mentioned previously, traffic, not only light, but the traffic lights in Khartoum are quite intriguing. Here they have a red a square box next to the light tells you how many seconds you have to wait till it turns green and of course when it turns green it tells you how many seconds you have until it turns red. The traffic is better controlled and behaved than in Addis.

Please remember that all this driving is on the right side of the road which for us on the wrong side, however, Jeanette, has now become very adept at driving these chaotic conditions that we have experienced in Addis and Khartoum.

Day 27 - Friday 25 April 2008 Khartoum

“Sunday”here in Khartoum. A lazy day with everyone banned from touching the cars. We went for a drive and took in the Sudan National Museum which gave us some of the history of the ancient times of Sudan. We then went to the Royal Palace Museum where we learned recent history of the last 150 years and the struggle for independence which took some 70 years of unrest until they obtained independence in 1957. At that time Queen Elizabeth II came to Sudan and together with her sister Margaret, confirmed independence to Sudan from Britain and Egypt.

Interestingly enough, there were four Rolls Royces in a glass enclosure in the grounds of the museum. The oldest of the Rolls Royces was a 1924 sedan that was donated to Sudan in 1952 by King Farouk and used at that time by the Governor General. Another interesting car was an open top 1952 Rolls Royce that Queen Elizabeth and Princess Anne paraded in and raised the Sudanese flag for the first time. According to museum historian none of these cars had been used for the last 36 years. The cars were in pretty bad shape and really in need of some TLC.

Our drive took us along the banks of the Nile to the west side which is the old city called Omdurman. By the time we finished with this visit the temperatures had soared to 50 degrees and driving in lunchtime so we sought out Steers, which was air conditioned and had really traditional hamburgers – they were great.

Back in our air conditioned bed room I did my interview with Radio 702 which went off well. This interview was videoed both in SA by Tobie Swanepoel and here in Khartoum by Koos Roets.

Breakfast was ice cream on waffles, lunch was Steerburgers and for supper we went to a splendid Lebanese resturant next to the Canadian Embassy where we had things with strange names but we all enjoyed. With alcohol not allowed they have the most amazing array of fruit juices and cocktails. The lemon juice and mint is really splendid. This was in the open air but with mist blowers that cooled the air by 10 degrees to make it very pleasant.

After a tiring day we had a pleasant night back at the Bourgainville Guest House.

Day 28 - Saturday 26 April 2008 Khartoum

A nothing day where we all lay around reading and catching up on some rest. In the afternoon we washed the cars. This was followed an hour later by a huge sandstorm over Khartoum which was very spectacular from the flat roof of the guesthouse where we were staying. Back to square one with the cars!

Breakfast was Sudanese grapefruit and supper was a Nile Perch and Rice. Very splendid indeed washed down with Château Sudan Orange le Juice.


Day 29 - Sunday 27 April 2008 Khartoum to Dongola 600km

After a very early coffee only start we crossed Khartoum to meet up with our guide who arrived an hour later and by the time we had left the outskirts of Sudan we were about two hours behind schedule. Out of Khartoum is a tar road built by Osma Bin Laden's company. To my great joy this road is tarred all the way through to Dongola.

At Dongola we boarded a very rickety ferry with five other cars and dozens of people to get us from the west side of the Nile to the east side where a very bad dirt road continues up to Wadi Halfa. As dusk was settling in we stopped alongside the 3rd cataract of the Nile and set up camp. Spaghetti and Tuna for supper washed down with a coffee. A restless night for most because of a strong wind blowing but it at least kept the temperatures down.

Day 30 - Monday 28 April 2008 Dongola to Wadi Halfa 200km

Another early start, this time coffee with rusks, cheese and crackers. We set off in high spirits to tackle another two hundred kilometers of a mixture of track, sand and stone. At about 10am our guide decided to head east out into the desert proper to take a short cut. It is a long story but it took about 10 kilometers for the rocket scientist guide to bury his 4x4 bakkie in some very soft sand at the bottom of a wadi and of course the Roller, all two and a half tones of her, followed suit. It took about two hours to get out of that mess using all the equipment we bought and never thought we would use. Thanks to the HiLux with its diff lock, .8 bar tyre pressure and the wonders of a good snatch rope. We then had to backtrack with the guide receiving strict instructions; I can’t put into print exactly what he was told, to stay on the track.

We battled on and early in the afternoon there was an almighty bang from the back of the Rolls as a shock absorber punched its way through the body and into the parcel shelf. There was not an awful lot we could do about it and pressed on. Somebody was watching over us as the road suddenly got better and in fact the last fifty kilometers into Wadi Halfa.

We celebrated getting into Halfa with cooking some Nile fish we had bought in an earlier village and washing it down with (not telling)

Day 31 - Tuesday 29 April 2008 Wadi Halfa

We had camped over night at a nice spot next to the Nile and we were woken to the sound of braying donkeys coming down to the river for brekkie.

They weren’t into our coffee and rusks.

It did not take too long to find a guy who could weld and soon we had the back of the Rolls in the air and a new fabricated plate was welded in. Not an easy place to get to but it never ceases to amaze me how these people can manage with very basic and crude tools. This welder would make a fortune in Johannesburg. Here's hoping it holds.

We are booked onto the ferries for tomorrow and whilst we should get into Aswan in Egypt on Thursday, the cars will only get in on Saturday. With Customs being closed over the weekend it looks like we will only get the cars out by Tuesday or Wednesday next week, Inshallah.

Day 32 - Wednesday 30 April 2008 Aswan, Egypt (50km)

We woke this morning for a communal breakfast of beans, dry egg, piece of cheese and dry bread. Washed down with a Miranda it’s not so bad.

Checked out the lifeboats and other things this morning. 280 berths on life rafts and boats with nearly 600 people on board. Great. Not only that but they are all tied to the deck!

Around about 14:00 we pulled up outside Aswan as there was a passenger missing. They searched high and low for Mr Said but I suspect he has long been barbel feed. Oh well.

Docked at 15:00 and we eventually disembarked at about 18:00. After a lengthy customs and immigration procedure we arrived at our beautiful hotel with huge cold showers, ice-cold beers and G&T, an amazing buffet and finally beautiful beds.

Unfortunately they had cancelled our booking and Aswan is full. We are in a hovel in the central market and it is not licensed and serves only local food. However, it is comfortable, the showers are wet and the people are friendly.

We are booked onto the ferries for tomorrow and whilst we should get into Aswan in Egypt on Thursday, the cars will only get in on Saturday. With Customs being closed over the weekend it looks like we will only get the cars out by Tuesday or Wednesday next week, Inshallah.

Day 33 - Thursday 1 May 2008 Aswan

Hopefully the barge with the cars might arrive today (Friday which is the local Sunday). Yesterday I met a customs guy who is prepared to work today if the cars arrive by midday so we will see what happens.

More later.

Day 34 to Day 36 Friday 2 May 2008 to Sunday 4 May 2008 Aswan

Communication from Aswan has been bad, so just a short report for now – more later.

Busy clearing cars which we finally did this afternoon. We are busy washing cars and cleaning up after the desert and not much else to report.

Those not busy with the cars have had trips along the Nile in feluccas and lunched here and there but not much else.

Tomorrow we head off for Luxor.

For those interested in prices, things are different in Egypt. Diesel, which which is over R 10.00 per litre in SA, is just R 1.50 in Egypt. But a 375ml beer is R 50.00 here!

So far Koos and his 'assistants' (other members of the team press-ganged into taking photos) have shot some 47 hours of video and 1 600 still photographs!

Day 37 - Monday 5 May 2008 Aswan to Luxor (231km)

Up and away at last onto the roads of Egypt. Travel for foreigners between cities either by own car or bus is restricted to convoys between the town centres. With us on the convoy were Sib (from Morningside, Sandton, on his way from SA to Nrwayon his Vespa scooter) and Lodewyk from Russia on his Kawasaki. The convoy was going at 100kph and the scooter at 80kph, which was a bit scary for Sib. The hotel had packed us a lunch, which we ate, before the start. Usual cold boiled egg, piece of cheese and bread.

Our convoy of about 30 vehicles left Aswan at 08:00 for Luxor. This small convoy just roared through villages, towns and cross roads with no stopping. The roads were quite good with wonderful views of the Nile and the large luxury ships which ply between Luxor and Aswan. There was a half way stop along the way where every con man in Egypt was lying in wait for the likes of us. No, we did not buy genuine Papyrus paper made from banana leaves!!

Into Luxor at about 1.00pm and joy of joys we passed a KFC on the way in. Definite sign we had arrived in civilisation. We all shared a large bucket of chicken for lunch.

A photo shoot around the Temple of Luxor followed then back to our hotel, which from the street was a bit of a dive but inside opened out into a lovely establishment along the banks of the Nile. A very good find.

Day 38 - Tuesday 6 May Luxor to Hurghada and Marsa Alam (Port Ghalib)

Again up early to take the convoy from Luxor to Hurghada. We did not go into Hurghada as we peeled off right at Safaga for the 200km run down to Port Ghalib. On the way down we passed a convoy of buses coming the other way with over 100 luxury tourist coaches in it. The idea of the convoy is to safeguard the tourists but somehow I think that when you get a convoy of over 5000 people, which follows the same route day after day at the same time, they have missed something somewhere. Furthermore, when the convoy turned left for Hurghada we carried on with out a convoy to Port Ghalib!

On arrival at the Sun International five star plus Palace Hotel we went ahead in the Toyota to set up the cameras. Awaiting the arrival of the Rolls was a team of Sun International staff and two very well groomed, I nearly said beautiful, camels. On arrival the cameras popped, the champagne flowed and Mike and Jeanette were paraded on Casanova and Madonna, the two fine camels. All very grand.

It is very difficult to describe this Sun International resort but think of the Palace at Sun City by the sea. Absolutely magnificent. Blue, blue warm waters with lots of palms and pools. Many restaurants and shops of all descriptions. We are being quite spoiled.

A late lunch at the Look Out bar brought our day to an early end.

Day 39 - Wednesday 7 May Port Ghalib

Unbelievable. In the desert I get for breakfast two of possibly the best poached eggs I have ever seen. Absolutely perfectly done in water and not in a poached egg pan.

This was followed by a trip on a rubber dingy to a small bay where we snorkelled for a while. Jeanette has been looking forward to this for a long time and there was no stopping her from floating from one end of the reef to the other. It was a big problem getting her to pack up and get back to the hotel about 5km up the coast. A wind had come up and we had quite a trip back in the rubber duck bouncing from one wave to the next. We did come across a couple of very large turtles swimming about in the now choppy waters.

A splendid sandwich and beer lunch next to one of the pools set us all up for an afternoon snooze.

In the evening we wandered over to one of the other Sun International hotels and watched belly dancing along with our supper of curries, Chinese and fish. We have sampled some of the Egyptian wines and some of the dry whites are not a bad drop.

A very pleasant day.

Day 40 - Thursday 8 May Port Ghalib

Tried a range of local cheeses, breads, yoghurt and jams for breakfast. All very good although some are still eating eggs in an omelette which has become very boring. You are going to get a Delhi belly on this kind of a trip so why postpone it?

The press has come down from Cairo to meet the Silver Spirit Adventure so lots of filming and a long lunch with the journalists. An ice-cold glass of the local Pinot Blanc went down well. Well organised by the lovely Ramona.

We had the Roller up in the air today for the first complete inspection since Khartoum. Horrors of horrors. On the Khartoum to Wadi Halfa road we have lost the complete diff skid plate, broken a rear trailing arm mounting off the diff and one rear shock has called it a day. The skid plate is not a problem as we are now on tar and we have changed the shock. We will have to find somewhere to weld and repair the diff sub frame. It was never going to be easy and we are nearly there.

Tonight is an early night as we are off tomorrow to Hurghada for another day of snorkelling, eating, drinking and behaving like slobs. It is really is tough at times.

Note from webmaster - the Gallery is really worth viewing. How the other half live!

Day 41 - Friday 9 May Port Ghalib to Hurghada (240km)

We have no report from the team for this leg of the journey. Hurghada is 250km north of Port Ghalib.

The road follows the coastline the entire way

Day 42 - Saturday 10 May Hurghada to Cairo (480km)

When we say early start we mean early start. The Hurghada to Cairo convoy leaves from a point 60km north of Hurghada at 3.00 am. This means we had to be up a 1.30am am to be there by 2.30am.

The previous evenings meal was a Seafood extravaganza which featured Chinese, Italian and Lebanese traditional dishes such as pasta, stir fries etc. Still trying to work it out. Piece de Resistance was a huge carvery, which featured a complete grilled goat including its head. Somehow didn’t go down well with our lot.

The drive up the coast of the Red Sea in the dark was very quiet except for the gentle snores of one cameraman and a medic. We passed many an oil and gas well with their fires lighting up the night sky.

Just outside Cairo we lost the convoy due to the Rolls' appetite for fuel but this was a bit of a blessing in disguise as we found a new highway leading us into the city. Diesel by the way is 90 cents a litre and petrol is R1.10 a litre. When did you last see the money counter on the pump with a lower figure than the litre counter?

Anyway, into Cairo we travelled with much joy that the Rolls Royce and crew had done it. Somehow we navigated across the city unaided with our first stop at the Pyramids of Giza. The police promptly threw us out when they saw all the filming equipment but we did surreptitiously manage to get some photos and footage in.

From there we headed west to our overnight where an ice-cold bottle of champagne was opened to celebrate the getting from Cape Town to Cairo in the Rolls. Michael and Jeanette have proven that you are never too old to dream.

Sadly, we had to see Steve off on his plane back to Johannesburg. Steve did a great job keeping the wheels turning from Nairobi to Cairo. Lucky bugger gets to watch a Grand Prix on Sunday with cold beer!

Day 43 - Sunday 11 May (Cairo)

No report for today.

Day 44 - Monday 12 May (Cairo)

A normal start to the day with pre-cooked omelette, (cooked before I woke up I reckon), and beans. There are various other choices of goat by-products such as yoghurt, cheese, milk, meat and so on.

We set off for some sightseeing and took in the Citadel and then the National Military Museum next door, which was a great find. The most amazing building with ceilings, wall and fittings to compare with the Palace of Versailles. A fantastic place and we overstayed our time by two hours.

Later in the afternoon back at the hotel Michael and Jeanette were the subject of a film shoot by an Egyptian television station. This went on for nearly five hours into the dark, rushing up crowded streets in the Rolls. Eventually the lady called “Tequila and Orange” and that was the end of that.

Day 45 - Tuesday 13 May (Cairo)

Surprise, surprise. The day old omelette has been changed to day old scrambled egg! My friend the goat remains.

The reason we have been hanging around Cairo is to get an audience with the Governor of Cairo to deliver a letter of Goodwill from the Mayor and people of Capetown to the Governor and people of Cairo.

Today was the first possible opportunity and what a grand occasion it was. Lots of pomp and ceremony and the exchanging of letters. The Governor is a very gracious man and gave us half an hour of his time with him expressing great interest in the trip and South Africa.

It must be mentioned here that this meeting with the Governor was made possible by the staff of Sun International in Cairo. Up the length of Egypt the people of Sun International have been a huge help. The stay in Port Ghalib, finding us room in a fully booked out Hurghada, advice on the roads, the meeting with the Governor and more. Our trip through Egypt has been made so much more comfortable with their assistance. The meeting with the Governor today was a true highlight of the trip (please don’t all rush out and ask Mamdouh Sheshtawy to arrange a meeting with the Governor!) And let's not forget the launch in Capetown at the Table Bay Hotel and the splendid accommodation at Victoria Falls. A BIG thank you to Sun International from the crew.

Day 46 - Wednesday 14 May Cairo to Alexandria (250km)

At last we leave Cairo and its noise and bustle. We are up early for beans and egg before setting off on the short run of about 250km to Alexandria.

Our first stop was the Metropole Hotel in Alexandria, which is one of the ancient splendid hotels of Alex from the 19th century. The hotel is reputed to stand on the site where Cleopatra entertained Mark Anthony. The hotel also featured in a 50s movie called “Ice Cold in Alex”. Mike and I entertained a beer or two at the famous bar.

One of the features of Alex are the ancient trams, which still run.

We finished off the day with a wonderful Lentil soup and an awful steak.

Day 47 - Thursday 15 May (Alexandria)

The egg and bean breakfast is slightly different in Alex but still beans.

We visited the shippers where a decision was made to use containers instead of a RoRo service because of the high likelihood of theft between Alexandria and Naples. From a safety point of view a good decision but in the end much more expensive. The two giraffes on the front of the HiLux, the deep throat sisters, were pinched off the bonnet before we got the cars into the containers so, so much for safety.

We spent the rest of the day loading and the day ran out and as a result me missed our trip to El Alemein, something I was really looking forward to. The bureaucracy is horrendous. It took four hours to get a pass to go into the port. Next time….

On the way back to the hotel we picked up air tickets for Rome via Cairo.

Supper was an interesting experiment with Crêpes, which turned out to be an omelette in English but apparently not in Arabic.

Day 48 - Friday 16 May (Alexandria to Cairo to Rome)

Up early at five to catch the only flight to Cairo at eight am. Into Cairo International and after a short wait we took the flight for Rome on Egypt Air. It was a very pleasant flight and the goat stew wasn’t bad either. On the flight the Captain mentioned we were heading for Rome, Inshallah. Now that means God willing and I was hoping he had some faith in Airbus and Pratt and Whitney as well.

We took a train into Rome on a very crowded train dragging Jeanette’s luggage along with us. Good thing she had prepared herself for a short trip.

At the clean Hotel Morgana, around the back of the station, we came upon Mario who runs a pavement pub. Due to an unfortunate misunderstanding about the size and the number of beers required I arrived at a dinner date in an unfortunate condition. I believe that my Tripe was splendid.

Day 49 - Saturday 17 May (Rome)

Today was topless day as we travelled around Rome on a topless bus and took in all the sights. I retired after lunch after all the effort put into the previous afternoon for a small relax and also to try and get rid of a cold.

Mike and Koos enjoyed the bus so much they went for another lap in the afternoon.

Dinner was a repeat with my date of the previous evening but this time with a clear head. My friend is in Rome learning to speak Italian, which is very fortunate as the menu that evening was only available in Italian. We decided on something very light e.g. light ham and melon but the fruits of her lessons delivered us each a large plate of chops and roast potatoes. Of such are stories grown.

Day 50 - Sunday 18 May (Tuscany))

With a couple of days to kill before the cars arrive in Naples, Inshallah, we have decided to hire a car and travel Tuscany and Umbria.

We set off for Siena where we had a long walk and a good lunch. From there we set off for San Gimignano where we found a splendid family hotel in a nearby village.

Soup was mix of barley and blended bean. Main was olive oil and lemon infused strips of grilled sirloin. To die for, doll.

Day 51 - Monday 19 May (Florence)

Today we headed for Pisa, took the photos holding the tower up and then headed for Florence where the heavens opened. Ever tried to park in Florence in the pouring rain? David is closed on Monday and after getting drenched to find this out, that was the end of Monday.

The restaurant in the little hotel on the banks of a local lake where we spent the night was also closed on a Monday. However, a bit of luck was had when the innkeeper suggested we go to a small restaurant he and his wife frequent. Amazing pork knuckles although in English we know them as shanks.

Day 52 - Tuesday 20 May (Touring Umbria)

Today was a slow run around the lake dropping in on the most amazing and quaint villages. The Umbria area is really something.

On the way down we stopped in at Monte Casino and visited the monastery on the top of the mountain. Very special. It is amazing to see how well they have copied the place in Fourways.

It poured all the way into Naples and later that evening I picked up Lorraine who had flown in from Joburg for the last week's run into the UK.

An appalling Margarita Pizza for dinner.

Day 53 - Wednesday 21 May (Naples)

A nothing day. We returned the rubbish Renault Scenic and did the Museums of Naples. I reckon the museums of Cairo are far superior and I find it quite depressing to view Egyptian artefacts outside of Egypt. They should return the lot from all over the world.

Day 54 - Thursday 22 May (Capri and Pompeii)

Up early and the sun is shining. A quick decision and we are off to the Isle of Capri by ferry. From Capri village we took a cab up to Ana Capri and the views on the trip up were fantastic. We sipped our Napoleon brandies at the Hotel San Michel and we never got our lips wet. (Who wrote that?)

From Capri we caught a ferry to Sorrento and from there we set off for Pompeii which after the fourth time has become a bit of a bore. I must say they have tidied it up a bit.

From there it was back onto a train for the run back into Naples.

A long day, which was finished off with a Spaghetti and Pesto sauce. Wonderful.

Day 55 - Friday 23 May (Naples)

Today was a long and complicated day at the docks finding and clearing the cars, which we got done by late afternoon.

Later on we went for walk around the back streets of Naples with children playing in the rain and finishing off the day with a very fine Pork cutlet.

Day 56 - Saturday 24 May (Naples to Maranello)

On the road again. We have arrived at our overnight stop of Marranello, the home of Ferrari. We have visited the factory museum and listened to some amazing cars rushing around the streets. Koos is like a kid with a new toy.

We are off to the Cavallino Restaurant across the road from the Ferrari factory entrance for supper and tomorrow we head off for somewhere near Monaco.

Day 57 - Sunday 25 May (Maranello to Cannes)

Continuing our drive up through Italy and France today we head for the French Riviera with an overnight in Cannes.

We passed by Monaco exactly as the Grand Prix started which was a bit of fun being able to glimpse down into the town from the freeway above in the hills. We were all disappointed with the results, having spent the previous day at the home of Ferrari.

Today was the last day of the Cannes Film Festival and downtown is awash with beautiful people strutting about and the exotic cars rushing by were amazing. Lorraine and I were there with the Toyota. The display of exotic motor yachts along the waterfront made us realise we come from a different world. Anyway, crepes on the sidewalks of Cannes on the last night of the Film Festival was fun but the 3km walk back up the hill to the hotel wasn’t.

Day 58 - Monday 26 May (Cannes to Millau)

BACON. The first sign of civilisation since we left Nairobi, what a relief, what a breakfast!

Last night on the walk back from downtown we passed a wheel alignment shop where we have taken both cars to get their wheels pointing in the right direction after the trials and tribulations of African roads. Lets see if they can balance a Rolls wheel that has been straighten by hammer! (They couldn’t and we have had our first wheel change)

Whilst the cars are being repaired the others are taking in the local village of La Cannet, which is over 1000 years old.

The rains came down again and we headed off for the village of Millau, the site of the worlds highest bridge. The plan was to get to Millau and then the following morning to set out to find the bridge. Well, I missed a turning and the next thing we were on this bridge way, way above a valley and village below. Unbelievable and not for those who are not keen on heights like me! Imagine a bridge over the Umzimkulu valley and you have a rough idea. I liked the opinion that they built this bridge over the valley for the simple reason that they could.

Day 59 - Tuesday 27 May (Millau to Arras)

Today we were up early to have another run over the bridge to do a film shoot. Just as spectacular as the first trip across but this time with the cloud cover below the bridge.

Then a long, long day with pouring rain to the town of Arras about a 100km out of Calais. The run across Paris in the rain in the late afternoon traffic was interesting to say the least. There are a few Parisian drivers who heard the wrath of the team leader today.

We ended up in a pub across from the hotel where they put on a dinner for us. Simple and spectacular. Cheeses and bread to die for.

Sadly today the Rolls finally had a front shockabsorber expire on the amazingly smooth roads of France. Scratching our heads on this one and some poor bugger has to change it, which is about a two hour job. Guess who?

Day 60 - Wednesday 28 May (Arras to Goodwood, UK)


After a lovely evening in the French town of Arras in an Irish pub we left this morning for Calais and a short trip under the Channel by car train. The HiLux had to go in with the buses, as it was too high for the car compartments.

From Calais it took three hours to drive down the coast to Goodwood where the trip officially ended.

It was a difficult last leg for a couple of reasons but the cars behaved perfectly, in particular the Toyota HiLux was literally driven out of the showroom in SA and up to the UK.

The Rolls had a couple of suspension problems which were not unexpected as these problems would be easy to resolve for a return trip and they are only problems which you will find during a trip of this nature. Fortunately we were able to find very helpful and very capable people in Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Khartoum and Wadi Halfa Without them we would not have made it. One also needs to remember that the Rolls fully overloaded weighs over three tons. This puts incredible strain on components that one would not normally think twice about. It says a huge amount for the original design and construction of the car.

We were advised that all sorts of things would go wrong. We were advised that the aluminum engine would implode if it was overheated. Driving two hundred kilometers with little water and the temperature gauge off the scale because of a broken radiator put rest to that little myth. A hugely impressive motorcar, which made it in style to the UK despite our best efforts.

Hopefully after a good cleanup it can go back and win another prize at a Concours d'Elegance.

Day 61 - Thursday 29 May onwards

Well, now the trip from Cape to Cairo to London is over and what an adventure it was!

Roger and Koos have now returned to South Africa, bringing many juicy tales.

Mike and Jeanette will be spending time in the UK visiting friends and touring and will be on show at the Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club Annual Rally at Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire on 21 and 22 June.

Mike says that with beer at R 45 and everything else costing the earth, they will be on 'short rations' for a while.

Day 89 - Return to SA

Mike and Jeanette are due back in South Africa today.

They have had a wonderful time in England and Wales, visiting old friends and making new ones.

The weather has been very kind to them and the Silver Spirit continues to purr along.

Mike and Jeanette became members of the RREC (Rols Royce Enthusiasts Club) and attended the UK Annual Rally last weekend, where there were more than 1 000 Rolls Royces!

At the rally they screened a 45 minute video compiled by Koos Roets from the 60+ hours of video shot on the Adventure.

The Rolls and the Toyota will be loaded into containers and shipped back to SA very soon.

We have posted a few new photographs in Daily Reports and in the Gallery.


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