We arrive short after 4 AM at Petro-Port on N1 North of Pretoria to start the convoy at 4:30 AM. It’s just 3 vehicles which turn North on N1. The others obviously knew what was laying ahead of us and chose a more relaxed start into the Elephant Experience. We are going to meet them at Nata Lodge in good 11 hours according to the optimistic estimate of our leader.
Plan was to take the N11 in North-Westerly direction to cross into Botswana at Martins Drift border post. From there it is another long stint – all tar – to Nata. But we pass the first off ramp towards N11 as well as the second a couple of kilometers further North. It’s a pity, that we don’t have radios, to get information what’s the matter. Luckily there is cell phone coverage, so we ping our leader for a pause. It’s time for breakfast anyway.
We changed route since Taun got informed that there was chaos at Martins Drift border post. So we headed further north via Polokwane and Alldays towards Tuli Block. A couple of Ks before Platjan Border post we had to turn off onto gravel. We kept some distance due to the trail of dust of the two cars in front of us.
Maybe 2 kilometers into gravel the engine stalled. And guess what? – no cell phone reception!
I did check the Diesel filter – Diesel came thru!
I looked at the fuel pump – it did feel a bit sluggish compared to the two spare pumps I had with me. Replace or not replace – that was the question. But I had to wait in any case since the engine was too hot, I would have got burned while dismounting.
After an hour Taun and Alex came back. When they realised we didn’t come to the border post they turned back to look after us. Taun agreed to my finding w.r.t. the fuel pump, but suggested that we check on the flow back from the injector pump first. Diesel was coming out there, so the fuel pump was okay. So I learned about the only essential electric component of a Tdi300 engine the magnetic switch to cut off the injector pump. While he wiring was there one connection has become somewhat loose under the heat and the rugged conditions. Crimping it and off we went continuing our trip.
Platjan border post is only viable with low water. Thereafter a decent stretch of gravel road until we reach tar to push for Nata.
After about 1050 km and more than 16 hours we arrived at Nata Lodge at dark. Meeting the rest of the convoy for a late dinner.