Angus Barnard’s bi-annual stay in the Kruger National Park in May for five weeks was one he’ll never forget, for many reasons.
We rose early in our home in Port Alfred and moved the Romany into the street from the garage − a relatively easy matter, thanks to our caravan-mover. I then drove my X-trail and parked it in front of the caravan. After loading the caravan with the remaining items from the house, we were ready to go… only to find that the battery in the car would not respond. It was 4.30 a.m., so my wife and I pushed our car down the street and got it started without any help. Our holiday had begun.
On our arrival in Cradock, we discovered that our jockey wheel decided to be otherwise; so I switched the car off, got out, and tightened the jockey wheel in its place before getting back into the car. But the car would not start… dead battery. Fortunately, there was a motor-spares shop further down the road. A gentleman came and tested the battery, and then broke the news that the battery needed to be replaced.
Armed with a new battery, we continued our journey and stopped for the night at Al Dam − only to discover that the power cable to the caravan had come loose and had been dragging on the tar road.
We spent the next few hours repairing the plug with a spare 7 Pin Plug from my box of tricks.
Off we went the next morning, my GPS instructing me to turn off the N1 onto the shorter tarred route. On our arrival at Vereeniging, we found the road closed due to a river being in flood, and were told that it was best to turn around and head to Johannesburg. All went well, and we stopped for the night in Nelspruit. After some shopping for the pantry, we carried on for the last leg of our trip to Berg n Dal but were delayed for about 45 minutes (with stationary cars blocking all exits) due to a horrific accident. Much use had to be made of the clutch and brake as we battled our way through these vehicles, and about 5 km further on, the car came to a halt − the clutch and pressure plate had burnt out. A phone call to our insurance company saw to it that a low-bed vehicle arrived within an hour, and off went our car to Rocky Ridge to be repaired.
We then phoned Johann and Suzanne van Rensburg, the friends who were waiting for us at Berg n Dal. They immediately came to our rescue and towed our caravan to Berg ‘n Dal. For the next five days, they called for us in the morning and took us for drives, and then for a last drive to fetch our car when it had been repaired.
The rest of our holiday went by without mishaps until the second last day of our stay, when we were at Crocodile Bridge camp and my wife informed me that the caravan lights were not working. I checked the system and found that the cables in the fuse box had melted due to a short. We spent the last two nights using candles.
We had a wonderful and enjoyable stay despite the problems with our car and caravan. The vegetation was lush, so we saw fewer animals, but had some magnificent sightings of cats.
Our return home was uneventful except that the road through Swaziland was in a shocking state. It certainly has deteriorated alarmingly since our last visit two years ago. We will certainly take a different route home in two years’ time.
We stopped in East London and left the caravan with relatives. Our brother in law knew of an auto electrician firm and contacted them to do the necessary repairs to the caravan.
The cost of the repairs to our car and caravan came to R31000.00. Although we are a little poorer because of the vehicle problems, we are looking forward to our holiday in Kruger in 2019.
Caravanners are special people. Mr Alf Pretorius, who came to our rescue and towed our caravan from Berg ‘n Dal to Skukuza, refused to allow us to cover his expenses.
He said that caravanners help each other out in times of need.