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Whence the Slow Donkey reference? The donkey bit has nothing to do with any misperceived stubbornness from Anne nor any physical attribute of mine. Our tractor-like Land Cruiser 76 series 4.2 diesel station wagon is slow (but oh so steady) and is disparagingly referred to as a donkey.

It was with “tremendous anticipation and barely contained excitement” that the date for our trans-African journey drew closer. It had been a long time coming and with my specifically planned retirement just over a year previously, I had plenty of time to prepare for this adventure of a lifetime. In principal we have no time limits set for this trip. We envisage more or less a year away and are most fortunate in not having to apply strict budget constraints. We plan to drive there and also all the way back. The “there” has not been finalized but will possibly be as far as Egypt. To claim the iconic Cape to Cairo trophy is not on our agenda. We will start off on our own to allow the flexibility of only having our own whims to consider. Our main focus will be on wilderness areas, wildlife and the isolation and beauty of the more out of the way destinations. We both love the coast as well. We would also like to immerse ourselves somewhat in the local culture and meet the locals where appropriate. In my opinion we have the capability needed to visit the most remote of destinations.

It appears to be a relatively simple matter nowadays to drive directly from South Africa to Cairo. The main roads are now largely surfaced and of reasonable quality. The most obvious exception is the stretch from Northern Kenya to Ethiopia. It seems that even the notorious ferry trip from Wadi Halfa in Sudan to Luxor in Egypt is being taken out of the equation. However our desire is to spend as much time as possible at the many wonderful out of the way places our research has uncovered. It is in these remote areas that we will need the capabilities of our Land Cruiser. We do not plan to shrink from any wilder remote areas because of difficult logistics. We will begin with visits to parts of Botswana, Namibia and Zambia mainly for nostalgic reasons. There is no intention to cover our neighboring countries comprehensibly as we have covered much of this ground on previous trips. After Zambia the route proceeds into unknown territory for us via Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and probably also Egypt. Travelling north we will follow a more central route. The route south and back home will be biased more towards the east and the coast. We have planned our routes to largely avoid driving the same roads twice. However we will have the flexibility to revisit any favorites and perhaps experience them in a different season. Heading south from Sudan or Egypt and after Tanzania and Zanzibar, we will divert to Malawi, parts of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. I would expect that by the end of the trip we will have done more mileage and spent more time off the main routes rather than on tarmac. We plan to ceremoniously to attach a sticker of each country’s flag to the side passenger window as we cross each border.

“If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.” – David Livingstone.

We plan regular blog entries, internet coverage permitting and I will try and record as much travel detail and advice as possible as the journey proceeds. This website blog has “DAILY DISPATCH” and DETAIL FOR GEEKS headings. The “DAILY DISPATCH” is the name of our local newspaper in East London and here will be a diary of our daily doings and perhaps even “un-doings”. Some days may be lumped together as internet connections will be sporadic and I only really want to include items of general interest in this section. DETAILS FOR GEEKS will detail more specific information such as road conditions, time taken, directions, costs, red tape, logistics, destination and campsite reports. This might only really be of interest for those with a more specific interest in African travel. Some of the trip reports I researched were extremely helpful as they contained the type of detail needed to take the pain out of planning this type of self-drive trip.

“The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley,” ("The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry"). - Robert Burns.

Personal Details.

We, Anne (nee Weare) and Stan Weakley, have been (almost always) happily married since 1982 and have 3 children.

Sarah 29 years, single, degree in Fine Art from the University of Cape Town. Now working as a buyer for a large clothing retailer with frequent overseas travelling. Sarah is living at home again and will inevitably be taking charge of our domestic affairs whilst we are away. She has our power of attorney in our absence.

Peter 28 years, Bachelor’s degree from UCT as well as a postgrad diploma in financial management. Career change and now has 3 year’s training as a Cordon Bleu chef.

Kate 26 years, busy with the final year of her legal studies, has completed her legal articles. Due to be married to Gideon on 19 March 2016. Our only deadline!

ANNE AND STAN IN THEIR DOTAGE!

Anne:

Born in our home city of East London on the Eastern Cape coast of South Africa and on the slightly better side of 60 years. Initial training in Speech and Drama and later as a professional nurse in Cape Town. Prior to my retirement Anne played a vital role in the management of my surgical practice. Very easy going but super-organized. Excellent driver with good off-road driving experience. Devoted mother and will miss the family. Has joined me in my enthusiasm for the outdoors and African 4x4 travel. No sins and many virtues (unlike me), with her most valuable virtue being patience. Interests include cooking, reading, family life, inferior decorating, travel and shopping. Love of her life, the family. Her relatively sober habits add balance to our marriage.

Stan:

My original South African ancestor Joseph Weakley and his wife Emma (nee Kinton) from Bradford on Avon England, arrived in the Eastern Cape with the 1820 settlers. I was born in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape of South Africa exactly 100 years after it was founded. I am now just on the wrong side of 60 and fading rapidly. Undergraduate medical studies were undertaken at the University of Cape Town, returning to Eastern Cape and East London for my early hospital years. Anne and I as newly marrieds then spent almost a year in London in 1983 with my initial postgrad surgical training. Thereafter I finished off my studies at UCT and Groote Schuur Hospital as a trainee surgeon, consultant surgeon and lecturer. I entered private practice as a specialist general surgeon in a busy 3 man practice in East London in 1989, retiring at the age of 60 in 2014 with a view to undertaking this trip. Balding smoker with a great love of wildlife and the outdoors since childhood. Hobbies include fishing, birding, budding photographer, sport, reading and outdoor life and nature in general. Strongly pro-African. Ndithetha kancinci isiXhosa, but will need to practice my Swahili a lot more. Both Anne and I are fairly widely travelled abroad. Loves of my life, our two bulldogs and our Toyota Land Cruiser, modified for overland travel.

“Africa is not easily forsaken by her children.” – Unknown source.