Archive for July 2013

Winter Trial and Driver Training

Sunday, 21. July 2013

We had decided to drive to the old stomping ground at Rust de Winter on Friday already to camp there with some LROC friends before doing our first element of the obligatory 4×4 driver training. It seems our Landy is opposing events and outings. Like on the first stint of the Botswana trip the engine stalled twice on the way due to a loose connection to the magnetic switch of the injection pump. Since I identified quickly the root cause we only lost some time. Enough that for the last 30 minutes of the drive it was in pitch dark. And shortly before our destination we had to find our way thru a bushfire prevention fire along the road.

Saturday morning after breakfast we did convene on the training terrain. And after a theoretical introduction we started training at multiple obstacles.
The first was about getting out safely of a hill climb that turns out to be too steep. For that exercise we had to stall the engine just before the top of the artificial hill – not easy with our 300Tdi in first gear, low range. Than we had to train the following sequence of action:

  • Change to reverse and let the clutch come slowly to make sure reverse gear is in
  • Slowly release brake and let the vehicle hang on the drive-train
  • Switch off ignition and switch it on again to make sure that any anti theft or similar computer is disengaged
  • Make sure that front wheels are straight and your feet are off any pedal
  • Turn on engine and reverse downhill without touching neither the clutch nor brake or throttle

The second exercise was on the same obstacle – engine controlled downhill:

  • stop after completed climb (the top of the hill was just a vehicle length and not much wider than the vehicle)
  • release the clutch in first gear, low range without throttle
  • and just steer down the ramp


From outside the car these exercises don’t look very spectacular. This all changes with the perspective from within the vehicle – you pretty much drive blind.


The next obstacle: axle twister
DSCN6696-webAs we learned only later most of the experienced guys of the club were doubtful whether our vehicle would be able to make it.

With diff-lock engaged Monique tackled it first and passed it with flying colours.

Hats off!

Even though our long wheelbase might have provided some advantage over the “shorties”.


DSCN6725-webMonique was so excited, that she did enter the “natural” axle twister section without properly closing the door.

We could not avoid some ground touches and had to skip one section.
Our friends battled there a lot although their vehicle’s clearance is decently higher than ours.

And we didn’t want to take chances.



DSCN6747-webDSCN6735-webWe finished the training with a drive through the terrain that we had to share with some cattle.


DSCN6733-webOn this drive we could apply some of the driving techniques learned earlier when tackling river banks downwards and up again.

DSCN6738-webBack on the campsite we spent a relaxed late afternoon after we had identified the surprise we found on our table.
DSCN6742-webAnother riddle for you: The award for the first correct answer is to be picked up at our place.

And in the evening we gathered around the campfire exchanging experiences from previous trips.

A complete 4×4 training consists of 3 elements: Driver training (theoretical and practical), recovery, and trial.
Since there was scheduled the Winter Trial for the following day what was closer than tackling the second element on this occasion.
We had to skip some gates, since we didn’t want to damage the vehicle. Some of the obstacles just were not suited for LWB. As a result we saw some bent rock-sliders. At our vehicle we have got sand ladders mounted underneath the rock-sliders, which is a great protection for the additional tanks under the front seats, but at the cost of clearance.

Hope we will get some pictures of ourselves driving thru the course from fellow club members.



Boda Boda

Thursday, 18. July 2013

Boda Boda is a East African mean of transportation. And the variant I was referring to is becoming more and more popular in cities close to a traffic collapse like Nairobi is the motorcycle taxi.
Sitting myself in a normal taxi I was not able to capture a picture of a boda boda in full action. By this I mean one with two passengers behind the driver.
The other category of boda bodas in their hundreds if not thousands are the goods transportation motorbikes.

The Kenyan papers I read were referring to the boda bodas as replacing the matatu (I will post on them separately) as number 1 cause in road carnage. Therefore my statement not being brave enough

Initially – and still outnumbering the motorbike – the boda boda was a standard roadster bicycle with either a cushion for people transport or a carrier for goods transport.

But why boda boda?
Legend says this term derives from the Kenya/Uganda border region. It started in the southern border crossing town of Busia and quickly spread to the northern border town of Malaba. In Busia there is a stretch of about a kilometer “no-mans-land” between the border posts. Bicycle owners saw a business opportunity in transport people from gate to gate without the paperwork involved with using motor vehicles crossing the international border. The bicycle owners would shout out boda-boda (border-to-border) to potential customers.

Dining out

Tuesday, 16. July 2013

It got late today in the office, at least too late to call a taxi. Well, I could have called one and stuck in traffic forever. Instead I decided for a walk to an Ethiopian restaurant rather close by. W.r.t. the behaviour in traffic I already had to revoke my initial statement about the discipline of the Kenyans, my 2-3 kilometer walk thru a neigbourhood outside the CBD did educate me different on the cleanness of Nairobi as well.

But that is not as important as my dining experience I want to share. I do love Ethiopian food, so it was a kind of natural that I looked for an Ethiopian place off the beaten track. I found Smart Village a kind of hidden restaurant with a great atmosphere.


If I had researched the internet more diligently I would have known that I actually was entering an Eritrean restaurant not an Ethiopian – and while most of the world’s population wouldn’t know the difference I am not sure whether there is any difference w.r.t. cuisine. The food was good, but not outstanding, but the injera surely one of the best I ever had.

IMG_0428-webIMG_0425-webThe whole experience was made perfect with an Ethiopian buna (coffee) ceremony where the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans nicely mixed with the smell of incense burned on charcoal in front of the coffee table.