The Rickshaw Run

By Tom Maberly

On the 10th of August 2018, myself (Tom Maberly), Luke Saunders and Campbell Saul – The Babwe Bandits, embarked on an adventure that would span almost through the length of India all in our beloved Tuk-Tuk named Patricia.

We were taking part in an event called The Rickshaw Run. Starting in the far north of India in the harsh and unforgiving deserts of Rajasthan, close to the Pakistan border, we would ultimately travel just over 3400km in two weeks on some of the worst, most dangerous roads we had ever come across, all the way down to the lush green state of Kerala.

The state of the roads was one thing, but the other drivers and vehicles on them, was another. It didn’t take us long to workout that our glorified lawn mower was right at the the bottom of the food chain, which in order went: elephant, cattle, camels, trucks, buses, cars, motorbikes, bicycles, people, monkeys, dogs and finally the three wheeling hot cake (us). Twolane highways were turned into six and oncoming traffic would not acknowledge you being there. They drive on your side of the road and do not know how to turn their bright lights off. We avoided night driving at all costs.

With two spanners, a spark plug socket, duct tape and a pair of pliers, we hit the ground running. Day one started with the opening ceremony followed by all the competitors racing out of the start gate and trying to get an early lead. We had travelled a marathon 6 km before Patricia over heated for the first time and we had to pull over to give her a breather. We thought we were pushing too hard, so we backed off a bit and trudged on. 2kms later, she overheated again.  Not a great start. Luckily, myself and Luke are mechanics and armed with an eager trade assistant, Cam, we got down to diagnosing the drama at hand. We found the carburettor to be blocked, so at the expense of our precious petrol we cleaned her out and set off again. This would be the first of many breakdowns and by no means the worst.

Driving through Rajasthan was brilliant. When locals heard news of three mad men in a bright pink tuk-tuk coming their way, they lined the roads in anticipation of a quick, rare sighting of The Babwe Bandits. They shouted what we took as encouragement and offered us copious amounts of the sweetest most delicious chai tea you ever did taste. Camel sightings became the norm and the sound of the 7 horsepower, one-cylinder beast which drove Patricia became harmonising to the ears.

The hot air limited us to 40 km/h when on the good roads and averaged 20 on the back roads. Slow going but we were unfazed. Spirits were high and there was laughter all round. It took us a couple of days to get clear of the 40 plus degree heat as we moved closer to the cooler west coast of India. We were quickly finding small ways to beat the system. For example, working off the theory of ‘Indian time’, we were able to progress a lot further if we got up earlier as the locals only really get moving around ten o’clock in the morning, allowing us to beat rush hour traffic and get clear of the cities before the madness began.

As we got further South, we were made aware of the once in a generation flooding which was happening on the west coast. We experienced this first hand in the city of Ahmedabad. The highway was closed due to flooding so we had to take a different route. Adamant to get to higher ground, we made a run for it. We found ourselves waste deep in a slow flowing river, pushing the old girl out. We were grabbing our kit as it floated past us until we got out of the water. Soaking wet, we drained the engine of water, cleaned up the spark plug and tried our best to dry everything out. Patricia was ready to go! We soldiered on.

We decided to steer clear of the west coast which was receiving its worst flooding in over 100 years. Floods were not the only danger; disease and landslides were imminent. Our finishing point was relocated to Bangalore which is where we arrived on the afternoon of the fourteenth day.

What an incredible adventure we had and while doing it were able to make it into an awareness/fundraising campaign for the Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust (KAWFT), an organisation very close to our hearts as Zimbabweans.

We wanted to acknowledge and make aware the amazing work the KAWFT team does and how important it is that we all support them. We aimed to show people that fundraising can be a lot of fun and we hope others follow suit.

Thank you to all the incredibly generous Zimbabweans who came together through this campaign. It really showed what we are all about.

KAWFT was formed by three Kariba residents,intent on treating and helping injured or distressed wild life in the area. In conjunction with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, they also began anti snaring patrols to combat the ever increasing poaching issues and many snared, wounded animals have been darted, snares removed and the wounds treated, allowing the animals to make full recovery. – © NZiRA Travel Zimbabwe, Issue 10

For further information, please contact:

Sonya Mc Master +263 772 874 352  or +263 778 733 784
Debbie Ottman +263 773 996 487 or +263 784 512 921

Email: kawf2011@gmail.com, Website: www.kawft.org

FACEBOOK: KaribaAnimalWelfareFundTrustKariba

For more travel articles visit: www.nzira.co.zw

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