There are some places I prefer not to find myself in the middle of the night, and driving and sleeping in Africa were just added to the list. If you haven’t already, check out the first two parts of HummerGuy.net’s interview with adventure photographer Chris Collard:
Now onto part 3 – Africa at night!
What was the most exciting driving moment you had?
There were several times I broke one of my basic rules of international travel, “don’t drive at night.” I was on the way to South Luangwa, Zambia and after getting Shanghai’d by a makeshift immigration check point where two guys attempted to extort $600 from me, I was running late and it was well past dark. I had a couple of close calls with oncoming trucks that scared the bejesus out of me. I pulled over to check my Tracks 4 Africa GPS map (and my shorts!) for an alternate route… and took it. I found myself on one of the most amazing and remote 4×4 two-tracks. Through a land of millennia-old cultures, I bumped along in the dark for several hours. To the left and right I could see small fires burning in front of traditional mud rondavels (huts). Numerous villagers were out in the moonless night walking or riding bicycles from here to who-knows-where. I finally pulled over to sleep near one of the villages. I awoke the next morning to a few dozen new friends who were quite curious to my presence. These people live so close to the earth and so far from the power grid. From a layman’s perspective, the only two things separating them from their ancestors were woven clothing (most with a greater semblance to rags that actual clothes) and plastic water containers.
What were the sleeping conditions like in the H3?
The ARB Simpson rooftop tent was my home for almost two months. It sets up and breaks down in about five minutes and is designed for the rigors of the Australian Outback. It was a perfect fit for Africa. I had an old college roommate, Allen Andrews, with me for the first three weeks, there was plenty of room inside for our sleeping bags, stuff-pillow and a few personal effects. But after three weeks together and zero personal space, we were scrapping like two Alzheimers patients in a senior care home. I think were ready to draw a line down the middle of the tent… “your side… my side.” In all seriousness, we are great friends we were fine.
The weather varied dramatically during my trek depending on where I was. Temperatures in the Kalahari peaked at 47-degrees Celsius during the day and were still cooking at night. I’d only have the tent screens on, no sleeping bag and usually stripped down to my boxers (I know, TMI). But in Lesotho it was cold enough to freeze a 20-litre water jug. I bought a full-face traditional wool ski-type mask, and had a good sleeping bag. The key in the Okavango and other mosquito-infested areas was to make quick entries and exits from the tent. Then, go hunting for the little buggers before going to sleep.
More on Chris’s African HUMMER Adventure to come!