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To provide more insight into the history of the Roadrangers, let's begin with a brief look at Roadranger1 (RR1). Constructed on an English Commer chassis and purchased new in London, RR1 was a very comfortable to live in camper but its suspension was better suited to good English roads. Taking it into "Canyonlands" (below) soon convinced us that this was not a suitable vehicle for world-wide touring, especially when it came to finding spare parts when you needed them. Regardless, for 3 years it served us well in Europe & North America providing us with many an adventure. RR1 was sold in San Francisco before we returned to Australia, where, using our experience, we began to design a camper better suited for all season world travel.
We'll see more of RR1 later but first, to better understand what "overlanding it" behind your own set of wheels can mean when it comes to seeing the world, let's accompany RR2 on a 5 stop journey across the globe beginning just south of the Arctic Circle and finishing up on an island a short flight from Antarctica. And to make a game of it, look for clues that I have included in the text describing the pictures that will follow on this page; these hints may help you identify RR2's location or at the very least, the country it's in. The answers can be reviewed at the bottom of this page. You will also notice the term "wild Camp" placed in the text at times; this refers to the fact that where you see RR2 pictured, we camped a night or two or more. The variable locations will illustrate one of the great advantages of travelling in a home on wheels for YOU can choose the view from your living room window. True, experiences encompassing the good, the bad & the ugly can evolve from this practice but overall, were we to do it all again, we wouldn't change a thing; well maybe some things!
ARCTIC CIRCLE TO LATITUDE 40 SOUTH
STOP 1: We begin on an island sometimes referred to as "The Land of Fire & Ice" and where lava fields stretch as far as the eye can see, but be well prepared if you venture into the heartland of this rugged, starkly beautiful country shaped by both volcano & glacier. Wheel tracks just off the road indicate a RR2 (Wild Camp).
STOP 2: Dropping well south then east from our mystery island, we find ourselves in a country where Europe meets Asia across the Bosphorus and have an eery experience in this deserted mosque after sunset. (Wild Camp)
STOP 3: Dropping a lot further south then east to a land once famed for its rubber plantations, this country divides into West& East just north of the equator. Travelling in ideal territory for ambush, I paused very briefly to take this picture, for at the time, this country like so many others around the world we encountered, harboured armed dissidents who didn't agree with the government or anyone else who happened to be around at the time.
STOP NO. 3
STOP 4: No danger of guerilla ambush here in this dry land said to be part of the oldest desert in the world. The granite outcrops were once regularly inhabited by Bushmen and their rock art can still be found here. Far from anywhere RR2 spent some lonely and ghostly nights here. A Republic since 1990, this country is one of the least inhabited in the world.
STOP NO. 4
Last stop (5) finds us camped in a country of fiord, geyser, volcano and bubbling mud pool. RR2 overlooks "Erehwon," (nowhere spelled backwards.) Antarctica is but a short flight from the southern tip of this island.
STOP NO. 5
SO YOU "WANNABE" AN OVERLANDER
Have we now convinced you to buy a vehicle/camper or whatever and then set off to tour the world? That's great, but you'd better be prepared for it mechanically, physically and mentally as well. The driveway (below) that I am working in, was in a suburban home surrounded by a 7ft high concrete wall, with broken glass imbedded in the top of it and 2 blood hungry Rottweilers roaming its perimeter. That fact alone didn't help to put us in a good frame of mind during our enforced stay in this city, capital of the country from where Mt Kilimanjaro is usually climbed. The next ten (10) "LOCATIONS" may help to illustrate more of the issues facing the Overlander.
LOCATION 1: The movie "Exodus" dealt with the resettlement of this land after it was declared an independent state in 1948. Since then, the land, at that time non productive, has been nurtured into prosperity by the people who live there today. In this desert, we took considerable risk against our security over the two nights we spent camping there.
LOCATION NO. 1
LOCATION 2: RR2 tackles the largest desert on the planet and as you can see, it's not always sandy, at least in this area that borders an adjoining country made famous by the film "Casablanca." The stones look harmless enough but in reality, they are very hard on tires. Five (5) tube repairs in one day can get tedious especially when having to re-inflate tires with a hand pump.
LOCATION 3: If you thought those stones in the previous pix looked harmless enough, try these for a day or two; you'll find such roadways in a mountain kingdom sitting atop the Drakensberg mountains in Africa.
LOCATION NO. 3
LOCATION 4: Once French occupied and still a volatile country at times, it's never easy to navigate especially if it rains in the south. Lowland gorillas live close by and if you need help, you might find the odd pygmy or two willing to lend a helping hand. Knowledge of bridge construction and a strong arm with a shovel is also an asset in this country now predominantly Christian.
LOCATION NO. 4
LOCATION 5: Did I say knowledge of bridge construction was an asset? Overlanding it in some parts of the world can mean facing a variety of hazardous situations, sometimes on a daily basis. If we cannot get RR2 across this half rotten timber bridge to access the "Mara," it means back-tracking over the "Geti" across miles of bone jarring, dust covered roadway. Worst of all, if we proceed ahead & break through the bridge, we could be in a serious no way out dilemma. Ominous storm clouds threaten on the horizon and there could even be lions around as well. Decisions, decisions!! Where are we and in what country?
LOCATION NO. 5
LOCATION 6: Where oh where does the road go ponders Wendy, (bottom right.) No sign posts here and forks in the road aplenty; if we make the right decisions, we hope to reach Sossusvlei and the highest sand dunes in the world. We pitched camp where Wendy is now standing and gave it some thought.
LOCATION 7: It's bad enough carrying three extra tires and 50 gallons of spare fuel along with a host of other spare parts, but why carry heavy wheel rims as well? Answer: Steel or otherwise, they cannot always endure conditions such as those encountered in the "Hoggar Massif"deep in the heart of Taureg country.
LOCATION NO. 7
LOCATION 8: The flooded road to Francistown via Nata is at the moment impassable but perhaps the bottleneck can be bypassed by detouring across a vast, featureless salt pan void of landmark and where compass travel must prevail. If you venture here, beware of a subtle change in color for they are soft patches that will quickly suck your vehicle down. Lions sometimes roam this area after game as well, as we were soon to discover.
LOCATION NO. 8
LOCATION 9: Fearing for your life is not a pleasant experience nor is it a planned one either....it's the luck of the overland game; the game being if you let what you have been told by others control your travel plans, you may never go anywhere at all; the world was like that when we travelled and if anything, it's far worse today. Here we make camp and hide ourselves and RR2 on a disused road hoping to avoid overnight detection by armed Zipra dissidents taking refuge from Zimbabwe's National Army. Across the border nearby, chaos reigns in Matebeleland as hundreds are systematically sort out and massacred. In the distance, perhaps a mile away, we hear automatic weapon fire, possibly some luckless buck being shot for dinner.....we hoped!
LOCATION NO. 9
LOCATION 10: There were times when getting RR2 into countries for our style of travel was just not possible. For instance, many attempts were made to gain access to this country with our wheels but entry was always refused leaving us no alternative but to tour it the hard way testing our patience and resilience to its maximum.
LOCATION NO. 10
Yes, there were times when our home on wheels became an obstacle to our travel plans especially where visiting islands were concerned; the expense of shipping and a lack of an adequate road system, obliged us at times to find temporary storage for RR1/RR2. But, how great it was to return "home" and be back on the road again, enjoying a glass of wine and reflecting on the day's adventure/s over a crackling fire.
Hazardous times and overland hardships such as you have just seen, can soon become only memories when you can park your home FREE in places like this with your own lagoon thrown in; we camped here for 10 days and nobody bothered us. You'll find this site on the largest of a group of Spanish islands in the Mediterranean sea.
Here, a RR2 (Wild Camp) provides an escape "far from the maddening crowd" and I mean that literally because to reach this isolated ocean beach, located on the largest island of this multi island country, you must first risk a rustic car ferry across the Strait of Malacca. Tigers still live here.
Sand & surf give way to winter and a new set of challenges for both RR2 and ourselves as we learn, throughout two European winters, to live in resort carparks located close to the skilifts. Here, the snow falls heavily in the shadow of Monte Bianco, rising above the Graian Alps. A tunnel under the mountain links this country to the land of haute cuisine and yes, RR2 is under there.
6 LOCATIONS WE ARE NOT LIKELY TO FORGET
LOCATION 1: At the tip of the "Dark Continent," the famous mountain across the bay creates as spectacular a city background as any you'll find in the world. That is especially so when first seen on the horizon from the bow of a ship at sea as we did. (Wild Camp)
LOCATION 2: Can't fool you with this one, the sign tells it all. The Serengeti was something we had often talked about in "early days" Australia. At times, we didn't think we would ever get to this fabled wild life park so often featured in documentaries & film. Entering Tanzania, border authorities gave us a rough time because of an earlier visit we had made to South Africa which at the time, was very much reviled by black Africans because of its apartheid policies. However, with some lying, cheating& very cautious bribery, we made it, but then as most African overlanders soon learn, such experiences "come with the territory."
LOCATION 3: One does not expect to see a glacier on top of a mountain this close to the equator, especially on this continent. You will likely know the mountain but what country are we in? On a side note, Wendy's breakfast is about to be cut short as she monitors the slow approach of two male lions unseen by myself as yet. (Wild Camp)
LOCATION 4: There are mountains & mts. & mts. but none more dramatic in beauty, colour and form than these. Emerging suddenly from the plains of the Patagonian steppes, (realm of the Huasos), the foothills ring to the calls of guanacos, animals fleet of foot and much sought after for their hide, (more's the pity).
LOCATION 5: Well north of Namaqualand by a saltpan in the land of the kokerboom, Wendy sits in the open doorway of RR2 while watching elephants arrive for their daily water intake. Sometimes in herds 30-40 strong, our best viewing of these gentle giants was on a day when (3) small herds congregated at the waterhole providing a spectacle of over 50 pachyderms. No wildlife experience in our travels has ever matched it! (Wild Camp)
LOCATION 6: Sadly, so many of us live out our lives with wildlife around us but typically, we give them very little thought. For us, Africa changed all that! Spending lots of time in wildlife reserves & camping overnight by their waterholes, we developed great respect, admiration & understanding for these, our fellow creatures, that are so superior to us in many ways. Observing their habits, listening to their calls and best of all, watching how they interact with each other was a wonderful learning process for Wen & I. We feel we are better people because of our time spent with the animals of Africa and that experience remains to this day, among our favourite world travel memories. Since Africa, we have searched for wildlife wherever we have travelled and in the dense bamboo forests of this country, wildlife was not easy to find.
The following three (3) pictures all have their associated stories but the common theme for us, is that they were goals set long beforehand and finally achieved, albeit slowly. Firstly, lets start at the TOP OF THE WORLD. No it isn't Everest but RR1 achieved goal one (1) when it ventured as far north as most people can comfortably get a vehicle anywhere in the world. For a week we camped virtually alone watching the "Midnight Sun" appear & re-appear through mists that would suddenly roll in from across the Barent sea. This unforgettable (Wild Camp) experience cannot be duplicated today for the area is now strictly controlled by local authorities.
Perhaps the question most asked of us in interviews about our travels was "what country did you like the best?" It is a question we grew to anticipate and so avoid because ALL countries have something to offer from which you can learn and benefit. All humanity regardless of race or creed are born with the need for family, friendship, love, respect and understanding and it is within those guidelines, particularly the latter, where many travel experiences are to be found. For example, one has to spend time in Africa to fully understand why the fellow pictured above, carried out his entire interview not realising that his microphone wasn't plugged in. Neither Wendy or I said a thing about it, then thanked them for their interest & left the scene. We spent three fascinating years in Africa.
Did we say that we did not have a favourite country? Well maybe! After you think you have seen it all, perhaps you are ready to tackle India. For ten months we roamed with RR2 across the length and breadth of this land and a no more challenging country will you experience than this truly fascinating part of the globe.
With its southern sea level shore reaching towards the equator and its northern extremes capped by the highest mountains in the world, that which lies between will continually captivate your attention for however long you choose to stay, if you can survive the experience! Whether it be history, diverse cultures and colourful peoples, scenic wonders or ancient edifices you are looking for, India has it all and then some but with one minor drawback; at last count, 1.3 billion souls live there and forever how long you stay, they will never let you forget it.