On the Ground in Southern Africa
Our African adventure started at the Royal Livingstone Hotel in the former British colonial enclave of Livingstone, Zambia.
The guides, many with extensive Paris-to-Dakar Rally experience, packed high-powered rifles and would secure a safety perimeter at each planned stop. Some of the areas we'd visit would be inhabited by dangerous predators like lions, cheetahs, and spotted hyenas.
Our 12-Liberty caravan, backed by several support vehicles, set off for Botswana early on day two, crossing parts of Namibia over recently hard-surfaced roads. By midday, as we traversed the famed Caprivi Strip, the springtime temperatures were well over 100 degrees. We reached our destination, the Elephant Valley Lodge, as the sunlight faded over the horizon.
Day three would turn out to be the highlight of our trip, compressing a week's worth of adventure into a span of barely less than 12 hours. We started with a challenging off-road section, where we put the CRD's torque to the test on a particularly difficult trail through ancient teak forests. Before lunch, we visited the town of Mabele, where we were greeted by schoolchildren, who were happy to ditch the classroom to sing and dance for us. Jeep had painted the town's day-care center and installed windows in the school buildings. This is the Jeep tradition, stretching all the way back to World War Two when young GIs handed candy bars to hungry children in occupied Germany. One of our local guides, a young man named Reggie, told us he'd graduated from this school.