Six countries, three weeks, two lakes and the time of your life. Join Carri-Anne Jane as she puts foot through Africa
For those tired of the usual holiday schlep to the coast, trying to find the quickest lane at the toll booth, spending a small fortune on your chillout time only to realise your neighbour has rented the pozzie next to yours, threatening to kill your holiday buzz – it’s time to contemplate your next holiday somewhere far, far away. It’s time to start thinking about the Put Foot Rally.
If you want to explore Africa, the so-called dark continent, but are a little apprehensive because Sally listens to the radio station that uses MHz as their frequency and a cousin’s-auntie’s-brother-in-law three times removed had a terrible time at that border crossing, because ‘Africa is very dangerous you know. Very dangerous!’ never fear.
Ignore the fearmongers and embrace the southern countries that contribute to most beautiful continent on earth for the adventure of a lifetime.
After completing the 2013 edition of the Put Foot Rally, an event billed as ‘the greatest social rally on the face of the earth,’ one walks away utterly amazed at the genuine warmth, huge smiles and open-hearted friendliness encountered over the 18 days of adventure. A velvet-wrapped, jislaaik-bright pink Toyota Fortuner was our chariot. The plastic chicken attached to the air scoop was optional.
The 2018 Put Foot Rally sees 196 teams take on six southern African countries in 19 days, presenting themselves at six checkpoints and surviving as many raucous checkpoint parties, whilst traversing roughly 9 000 km from the 17 June – 05 July 2018. The notion of team is simple – it’s however many people you can legally fit in your vehicle. Legally means with seatbelts on.
The PFR runs from South Africa into Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and finishes in Mozambique. Route is strong word in PFR, the checkpoints are more like beacons that act as a guiding light, you get there via whatever tar/dirt road takes your fancy. Tracks4Africa route guidance is your friend.
There is no backup. It’s you, your fellow teams if they like you, your chewing gum, industrial tape and the all-important cable ties if things go wrong. If you’re lucky enough you’ll watch a bush mechanic fashion a compression cylinder from an old Red Bull can in Zambia. There is no medical help either, unless you consider the medical students’ prescription of a healthy glug of Jagermeister and two Corenza’s as a cure for all ailments.
Accommodation is whatever you want it to be, though the majority tend to opt for camping. Nothing beats waking up to the sound of a hippo nosing the grass close to your tent. Or a cup of moerkoffie made properly with Koffiehuis and condense milk after a long night socialising around the camp fire. Swimming at Lake Malawi will make you question those overpriced holidays to bucket-list destinations and watching the sunset in Monkey Bay will take your breath away. This is the peaceful Africa they don’t show in the movies. T.I.A. baby.
If it all seems like utter madness and complete irresponsibility – it’s not. It’s sheer genius to be more accurate. The aim of the Put Foot Rally is to showcase southern Africa as a safe tourist destination; a perfectly viable and easy self-drive option in any vehicle, whilst highlighting a landmark of each country at the themed Checkpoint Parties. While it is a party, the PFR has a giant heart, with the Put Foot Foundation raising thousands of rands so they can do charity work along the way, getting all teams involved and being the change they want to see in the world.
About the vehicle. Anything is welcome if it is roadworthy and licensed, from the skorokoro that you wangled a deal on to your supremely comfortable German SUV or the Hilux you hired. There will be potholes that make the craters in Mpumalanga look like a smooth road and ones that could double as a ‘fire-pool’ in Malawi, so don’t get too attached to the new front-splitter you just attached. If you place pride on your ding-free 21-inch rims, you may want to swap them out for something more practical.
A working reverse gear that doesn’t require coaching is vital when needing to back away from an over-protective mama elephant down the Caprivi strip. And the reflexes of Nigel Mansell in small Malawian towns will help you dodge children, bicycles and the odd very expensive goat.
If you love driving and adventure, the Put Foot Rally is a superb way to see Africa. Knowing a bunch of like-minded people are around, somewhere, to come and kick the wheel with you when something comes wrong whilst muttering, ‘I don’t know, boet… is she turning over?’