Bundu bashing through Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe: The day before day one

Bundu bashing through Namibia, Zambia & Zimbabwe
Bundu (ˈbʊndʊ): noun, slang ( South African and Zimbabwean ) – a largely uninhabited wild region far from towns.
Bundu bashing: the recreational pursuit of going off-trail into the bush, usually with a 4×4 vehicle.

My dad and I had made the brave decision to endure each other’s company for eight to ten weeks, travelling, meandering and getting lost in four Southern African countries: Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Our main goals were to tolerate each other’s driving ability, cooking skills and sense of direction. Secondary goals would be to visit some of the most pristine wilderness areas in Africa, meet the locals and have a few adventures.

Transport would be provided by the unofficial king of the African bush, the legendary Toyota Land Cruiser. Not one of those fancy suburban monsters beloved by soccer moms. We were hitching a ride in an ‘it’s so ugly it’s beautiful’ Land Cruiser 4.2 diesel, with an aluminium canopy, 255 litre fuel tank and a top speed of … 110 km/h. Yep, it was going to be a meander indeed.

We were packing two tents. One rooftop tent (for me, because I was scared of trampling elephants) and one ground tent (for my dad, because he was also scared of trampling elephants, but not lithe and supple enough to negotiate the up and down to the rooftop tent). There were lots of other specs that were apparently very important: 2 back up batteries, water tanks, 2 spare wheels etc. I was actually only concerned about the one centimetre thick mattress I would be sleeping on.

Why write about it?
Because I think I am quite a classy writer, with the ability to entertain and inspire. A natural heir to the stripped down prose of a Cormac McCarthy, if you will. Ahem….yeah, well, no, fine. Actually the truth was that I had nothing better to do with my time and everyone else seemed to be blogging about their pet canary or the 15th relationship that went down the toilet bowl. Hopefully our trials and tribulations would make for some amusing alternative reading.

The plan was to depart at seven am the next day. My dad had done a great job of packing the ‘cruiser, whilst I provided the moral support. Packing is a job for experts, not beach bum novices like myself. Well, that was my excuse. The first day would see us do 800 km to the metropolis of Springbok, where we were going to sample the invigorating night life at the local camp site, before another early morning rise in order to tackle the Richtersveld, cross the Namibian border at Vioolsdrif and head on to the Fish River canyon. Apparently the canyon was closed to hiking due to heavy rains, so our tentative plan was to stay one night and then head to Luderitz. One of our guide books indicated that the town had a great camp site despite regular gale force winds ripping tents out of the ground – couldn’t wait.

Then it was off to Sossusvlei, a salt pan surrounded by high red dunes in the southern Namib desert, where we were sure to be welcomed by 5000 Germans taking pictures of the stunning sunsets. After all that Teutonic bonhomie we had to get to Windhoek by the following Thursday. The side shaft seals on the ‘cruiser were apparently showing signs of wear and tear, and there was a top guy in Windhoek who could sort it out for us. You don’t want to get stuck on the Skeleton Coast or in the Kaokoveld without your side shaft seals – whatever the hell they are, or do. Well that was it. It was time to hit the sack and dream of trampling elephants.

King of the Bush

King of the Bush … I hoped …

[This is an extract from the travel memoir, The eat, pray, drive chronicles, by Marc Steyn. Get your copy of the ebook here.]