Ten days, three hours and 16 minutes. That’s how long it took two British rally drivers to break the record for driving from London to Cape Town.
Not even border delays, including a “tense” crossing into Libya and fuel shortage in Egypt, could stop Robert Belcher, 58, and Stephen Cooper, 53, from shaving more than 10 hours off the time set earlier this year - but the morning rush hour in Cape Town was a problem.
In February, British adventurers Philip Young and Paul Brace drove from Cape Town to London in an 875cc two-cylinder Fiat Panda. It took them 10 days, 13 hours and 28 minutes.
The first such attempt was in 1933 by Cameron Gilg and Walter Kay, who took 158 days to drive from Liverpool.
Belcher and Cooper took on the task of driving more than 16 000km though 13 countries in a slightly modified Land Rover Discovery. They made their final stop at the Mount Nelson Hotel on Monday.
Cooper said they had hoped to finish the journey in less than 10 days but had come across some delays
“It slowed us a bit coming into Cape Town - on Monday the traffic was trailed back about 15km outside the city.”
He said a major concern was that border control in Africa operated for limited hours, unlike in Europe, where borders were open around the clock.
“That slows you down.”
“If you don’t get to a border in that period you have to sit there for 12 hours before it opens again.We’ve had to plan the entire border times right the way through.”
The pair crossed through England, France, Italy, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana before reaching South Africa.
Belcher said they had organised a security escort consisting of two cars, four guys with machine guns and a guide to go through to take then through Libya but did not meet them at the border.
“We ended up driving into a tense Tripoli on our own. The security guys caught up with us. The police wouldn't let you go without an escort.
“The border post between Egypt and Libya looks like a war zone.”
Belcher said: “They were stamping our passports at the back of an armoured personnel carrier. It is not a place to be”
He enjoyed meeting new people and the scenery.
“Northern Sudan, the desert there is just stunning. Coming into Cape Town through the Stellenbosch Valley at dawn, the sun coming over the mountain is amazing. With journeys like this you see sights that you’d never ever seen in your life,” he said. - Cape Times