Recce missions don’t always go according to plan! Our typical recces involve scouting the best routes, searching for alternative roads, checking out dining and coffee options, and ensuring that hotels are up to par. It’s a demanding job, but someone has to ensure that our customers have the best experiences!
Recces in Africa can be enjoyable but can also present the occasional unexpected situation, like our recent visit to the heart of the Tankwa Karoo semi-desert. We were there to explore a big five game reserve option for our 2024 SA 4×4 Adventure. The Tankwa Karoo is one of South Africa’s most arid regions, receiving less than 100mm of rainfall annually.
After leaving the main N1 motorway and traveling about 15 miles along a well-maintained dirt road, we arrived at the game reserve’s reception, only for it to begin raining heavily. Over the next 16 hours, more than 60mm of rain fell, which is over 60% of the region’s annual rainfall, accompanied by an intense thunder and lightning storm – in March, one of its driest months! When we left the following morning, the receptionist warned us not to take the mountain pass due to the road closure caused by the rain, but she failed to mention anything about the road back to the motorway.
As we drove on, we encountered a car stopped in the middle of the road ahead, and as we approached, we realized that the car was stuck in a river that had formed across the track. Our Tour Manager, Ian, attempted to pass the stranded Dutch tourists, but we also became stuck in the river. Now, two cars were immobilized, and the road was impassable. Moreover, we were in a remote area with no mobile phone signal, and as far as we could see in any direction, there was only semi-desert terrain.
In the distance, we spotted a farmhouse and what seemed like a moving vehicle, possibly a tractor. We took off our shoes and socks, rolled up our jeans, and waded through the floods for almost twenty minutes to reach the farmhouse. Fortunately, we found a farmer and a tractor to help us. After exchanging money and three hours of strenuous labor, we were dragged through five flooded rivers and continued our journey back to civilization.
We had requested a VW Toureg 4×4 or a similar vehicle from Avis, but they provided us with a Toyota Corolla instead. We informed them that the car may not return in the condition it was lent to us, and unfortunately, our prediction came true.
Watch the video below for first hand experience.