Well… it’s certainly been an amazing year for adventure on The Africa Rally 2023, with a few brave teams, in some of the most surprising vehicles making it all the way from Sparrowhawk Lodge in South Africa, to Victoria Sands Lodge in Kenya!
This journey of approximately 4,500kms has seen teams come face to face with lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes, and from time to time the realisation that the tiny box of tools they through in the back of their classic vehicle might not be solely enough to get them to the finish line. Not to fear though! The friendliness of the people whom our teams have met has been on a whole new level, whether as simple as lending a 13mm spanner, or as complex as a full engine rebuild (in a day!) – they’ve made it happen.
The team that shone brightest though, was Team 13 – Milkvan Journey, who selected their noble steed to be a 1971 VW Kombi Ice Cream van, and somehow managed to pick up the Scavenger Hunt Trophy, the Life of Crime Award, and the infamous title of overall Winners of The Africa Rally 2023!
Keen to get involved at every level, although they only edged the victory in the Scavenger Hunt Trophy, they were far far ahead of any other team for our Life of Crime Award… I mean, how can you get caught speeding that much in a VW Kombi!? Especially as it still has it’s original twin port motor in the back!
Aside from one or two unhappy police officers, they brought joy to everyone they met, with multiple strangers (now new friends) walking up to them on the street to let them know they’d been following their journey online, and were overjoyed to see the Milkvan in person. This is where The Africa Rally is different to other events. Yes it’s possible to drive across Africa in a new expedition vehicle, but you simply don’t invite the attention, generate the joy, and meet the new friends you would if you rocked up in a mini, or a beetle for that matter!
It’s the difference between an African journey, and an African adventure.
This is why we always encourage entry in the ridiculous, and even provide discounted entry for that!
Was it all plain sailing?
Of course not! It wouldn’t be an adventure if nothing went wrong… and coincidentally Team 13 ended up having 13 breakdowns from day of purchasing the Milkvan to getting home again safely. Some were of course worse than others, but the one that springs first to mind is in Malawi where they managed to break the accelerate cable linkage. If it had been the cable itself they would have been fine, as they had spares, but the actual linkage… this was a problem.
An hour or so later, they had managed to find a piece of pipe, some cord, and design a makeshift handle. Yes, that’s correct… for around about 1,000kms they were driving with a hand operated accelerator!
The Full Story
The Africa Rally HQ Team have started catching up with teams from this year, in a YouTube series they are calling “Stories from the Road”. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s an unedited, unscripted interview with various teams that took part in order to provide an insight into what future teams can expect on the road up into Africa. Here’s the first episode from Team Milkvan Journey:
The Golden Pineapple Award
There are no wooden spoons in this rally, in fact we reward the utterly mad, ambitious, and ultimately the tough teams that battle through when all seems against them. To this end, we’re keen to introduce you to Team Two Brits & a Mini who flew over to South Africa just days before the Start Line to collect a 1978 Leyland Mini ready for the rally.
Space and ground clearance were not on their side in this vehicle, but the beauty of it being a mini, did certainly mean there was no shortage of people wanting to help them back on the road when they got stuck. Ultimately a compounding number of issues, and a wait on parts in rural Tanzania meant they didn’t quite complete the Africa Rally this year, but were well deserved winners of the Golden Pineapple Award.
That’s not the end of the story though…
When Kaz called our Rally Director to organise recovery of the Mini via our logistics partner (Global Fixers) we think he must have had a beer or two, because only being a day away (by bus) he offered to head down to Tanzania (from Kenya) and pick it up. He definitely didn’t know what he was getting himself in for though, as that 9 hour drive to Dar es Salaam turned into an epic 43 hour journey, where he basically (with a lot of help) rebuilt the Mini.
The Full Story can be found on the Africa Rally YouTube channel, as it was all filmed!
Picture of the Rally
There are of course a number of classic trophies as well, one of which being Picture of the Rally. The Africa Rally HQ team genuinely didn’t realise how difficult a job it would be to select this… as some of the pictures, especially of the wildlife, were perfectly timed. In order to decide it, we ultimately went to our Rally Director, Paul Clayton, who to our surprise quickly discounted all the “obvious” shots, and selected a glorious shot of Mr PJ Daly topless on the edge of Victoria Falls.
PJ was part of Team The Mad Celts from Ireland, driving a trusty Land Rover called “Lucky Boy” who certainly lived up to both his name, and them to their name. The two lads (apparently in their 70s – although this is up for debate), wasted no time in jumping into what Africa had to offer. First abseiling down Table Mountain on arrival, then jumping in Devil’s Pool for the photo at Victoria Falls, before completely ignoring any satellite navigation techniques to get them through Tanzania. It turns out, pulling over and asking for directions is a much more fun approach when travelling Africa.
Here as well is a picture of their trusty Land Rover, Lucky Boy, at the Finish Line on Lake Victoria, along with both PJ and Des sporting their Africa Rally Finishers Medals.
Keen to get involved in next year’s edition?
More information on The Africa Rally 2024 can be found here!