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Cape to Cairo & Beyond – 2012

13th October 2020

11 Classic MGs; 24 Adventurers; 12000miles/19,000km; 75 days; 18 countries; 4 vehicle ferries; from MG Cape Town, South Africa to MG Motors, Birmingham, UK …

The intrepid MG traveller Roger Pearce once said, Africa is not for Sissies and how right was he! South Africa was a breeze: hoards of MG International Family members, good accommodation, sealed roads, lots to see and very, very clean… Namibia was lovely in a different way – good dirt roads (although we thought they were bad at the time…), good accommodation, desert landscapes and wild African animals… Botswana was much like Namibia but Zimbabwe was the start of ‘Darkest Africa’ for us.

75 Prince Alberts Pass, Knysna

The accommodation deteriorated, as did the roads. Although the majority of the population in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia loved our cars and enjoyed us being in their countries, more and more started shouting abuse at us and throwing sticks and stones at our MGs… All was not quite right for them!

The roads in Zambia and Tanzania were sealed but deeply pot-holed due to high density trucking and poor maintenance. Many of our shock absorbers failed and one rear spring broke in two… but this was insignificant compared to the carnage we witnessed of the trucks that were virtually hammered to death! Many had broken down, others had rolled over, some had burnt out and one broke in half!

90 Zambia - RIP towing Blue A to Kapisha Springs

We were hugely successful in the 42nd East African Concours, enjoyed the animals and accommodation in the Masaai Mara Game Reserve and appreciated the hospitality of the Australian High Commissioner in Kenya, but the ‘Road from Hell’ in northern Kenya to the Ethiopian border sure did live up to its reputation! We encountered 375km of the roughest, rockiest and most dusty roads most of us had ever experienced! We were warned that 4×4 vehicles and off-road motorbikes turn back when they are confronted with this road – but the little MGs continued on defiantly… These were the conditions we had prepared our trusty steeds to navigate and they did us and the MG fraternity proud!

That is not to say we were not seriously challenged. Nearly every MG had one sort of problem or another. Various shock absorbers failed; two front springs broke into three rings each; one puncture; one stone guard came adrift; numerous cars stopped simply because the motors could not breathe – as the air filters were totally blocked; points gaps closed up regularly due to excessive wear of the mica due to abrasive dust mixing with the lubricating grease; one clutch failed due to excessive sand being packed around the clutch mechanism; a few starter motors, overdrive units and other electrical connections failed due to the ingress of dust; headlight filaments broke from the constant vibrations and bits and pieces fell off the dashboard at will…

100 RIP fits nicely in this pothole in Tanzania!

But, as Roger Pearce proclaimed, “…but you all did it…” – Yes, we did, even though ‘White Car’ had to be towed the last 60km by ‘Blue B’…

Ethiopia was green and lush, with reasonable good road surfaces, and the Christian history was phenomenal, especially at Lalibela and Axum.

Sudan was hot, hot, hot – 30C during the evenings and 40C during the daytime – and our little MGs revelled in this test of their cooling systems. Not so our bodies – as each of us consumed around seven litres of water each day, according to Dominic, our ‘Water Boy’! We enjoyed the ‘Chinese Roads’ – being new sealed roads traversing much of Africa at the moment – which took us to more pyramids than we were to see in Egypt – as the kings of Sudan ruled Egypt for some time and followed the rituals of building pyramids as tombstones to their tombs…

Busy streets through villages - this one in Kenya

The ferry from Wadi Halfa to Aswan on Lake Nasser can only be described as a disgrace! When will the road border open between Sudan and Egypt?

Egypt is obviously a holiday destination and did not disappoint, but we were perplexed why armed guards felt compelled to loiter around us at every stop along the way…

Hearing the bad news that Libya had closed its border to us and subsequently searching for and finally finding a vehicle ferry and negotiating getting across the Mediterranean Sea to Iskenderun, Turkey almost spelled the end of the trip for some. However, all except ‘Blue A’ and ‘Blackie’ continued on and ‘sprinted’ across Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and France in essentially good but cold weather to Britain and our final destination – Abingdon, where all of our cars were built and then on to Longbridge to MG Motors, where MGs are still being assembled.

Hard going on the Road from Hell - Kenya

Hearing the bad news that Libya had closed its border to us and subsequently searching for and finally finding a vehicle ferry and negotiating getting across the Mediterranean Sea to Iskenderun, Turkey almost spelled the end of the trip for some. However, all except ‘Blue A’ and ‘Blackie’ continued on and ‘sprinted’ across Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and France in essentially good but cold weather to Britain and our final destination – Abingdon, where all of our cars were built and then on to Longbridge to MG Motors, where MGs are still being assembled.

Congratulations, MG adventurers – the MG world salutes you!

The full blog written by the participants of this incredible journey can be found at http://mgblog.thepeacefund.org/