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Re-entry in South Africa

April 2016

Actionmobil Robusto traveling in the South American Andes

Why did we sell Action Mobil Robusto?

We answered this some time ago as follows:  

A lot of speculations and questions were mailed to us from virtual fellow travellers. We want to answer these.

We are certainly not the only ones that are surprised to read that Robusto is up for sale. We attentively read the text, but were not able to find out why. Of course we hope that the reason for selling is not health related and that you are well. After 8 years traveling with Robusto, many things became a habit. We wanted a change again.

 • You really want to rid yourselves off your Robusto. We are to some degree surprised.

But what would life be without surprises. Throughout our life we ourselves have been planning, discharging and every now and then even realising. As elixir of life, so to speak. The separation was not quite easily, because we put a lot of passion into it.

Finally you are getting rid of this heavy burden! After 4 unsuccessful warranty repairs to Robusto; after 5 years of negotiation and nerve-thrilling struggles with Action Mobil; Action Mobil acquit warranty adjustment and built a new, statically calculated cabin. Of course we were allowed to make a big financial contribution.

Hey, what are your plans? I have been looking forward to continue travelling with you through your blog! Robusto will be sold? You forgot the wine in the inventory or have all bottles been emptied? We still have a lot of travel plans, but not only with a truck anymore.

Good for you that you sold Robusto. Secretly is still hope to be his passenger once more that despite his size the bug will bite and we will become the next owners. Big or small, a truck is a truck.

Were you not able to get a global insurance option for the 20 tons? It is almost an impossibility to find a worldwide validity insurance with reasonable premiums for a vehicle of this price range.

I was looking forward to an eye hurting, mouth-watering reading experience about your vehicle... and to dream... and suddenly it was sold. It took a long time to sell this Action Mobil - 14 months and 75 inquiries.

Regardless of poor global perspectives we wish you a good time. Luckily there are still oasis’ left in the ever growing desert. We continue to enjoy our travel life and we will always find "Oases".

• Now that you have secured the tyre supply for this special size you want to get rid of your vehicle? Special tires sizes are hard to find, but if you travel with a 6x6 truck, then with the right off-road tires. 

• What happened to "Robusto" - was it just too big? Do you prefer the flexibility of the smaller vehicle and trailer? Have I made a terrible mistake building an Action Mobil truck? If a big 
expedition mobile with a heavy truck has no broken frame and no cracks in the cabin, it is a good vehicle.

• Has another shipping of this luxury vehicle become too risky? Shipment is associated with high risk such us damage and also high costs - simply no fun.

• We have seen your new Astralia vehicle – an anti-Robusto. We are busy building a 6x6 based on the Robusto model. Are we making a general mistake? Or should we also drive the truck for 10 years before moving to something more agile? Everyone makes their experiences and thus gets smarter. Maybe you do not need 10 years!

Please note:
Upon re-entry after several years abroad of the vehicle, import taxes etc. are due again.
Travelers with trucks talk about bans on driving in National Parks in Southern Afrika & South America; hundreds of USD for a transit or special permits like in Australiens Outback.

Actionmobil Robusto traveling in Mongolia

For us the first five years in South America with our Robusto were truly amazing. Back in Europe, with all its truck restrictions travelling with our 20 ton vehicle became far less appealing. On the two year Asia trip that followed the uncountable truck bans became annoying. Mongolia turned out to be a real highlight regarding off-road driving and freedom. Laos, Cambodia with their numerous dam roads were sometimes very challenging for Robusto. Given all these reasons and the fact that Robusto would be too big and even more importantly too wide for our planned Australia route, we decided to sell him.

Given our long standing experiences there is no such thing like the ideal vehicle to live and drive in. We will continue to look for the ideal vehicle for each specific continent - always taking the climatic conditions into account.

We are often approached regarding our experience with off-road trailers.
By now we are able to refer to 50 000 km travelled with a Nissan Patrol 4.2 TDI with Offroad Trailer Ultimate in Australia and
15 000 km travelled with a Discovery 4 with Offroad Trailer Conquerer Commander as well as
35 000 km travelled with a LandCruiser DC V8 with Offroad Trailer Conquerer Companion driven in South Africa / Namibia / Botswana / Zambia / Malawi / Tanzania / Mozambique.

Landcruiser with Conqueror Trailer Nissan with Ultimate Trailer

We have enjoyed many year of driving and living in Robusto. Especially during the five years in South America we felt unrestricted and free. Later we felt annoyed by all the weight and height restrictions as well as bans on truck driving in towns of Europe and Asia. 

The less complicated travelling in smaller vehicles with reduced risks and disadvantages when it comes to choosing the route in New Zealand, Australia as well as Africa has, regardless of the reduced living comfort, convinced us. Less technical features mean less servicing and less things that can break. The joy of driving Robusto off-road is the only thing that I miss every now and then. 

The next change of continent in the beginning of 2017 we are contemplating finding something with a more comfortable and secured living space within the vehicle.
Most probably we will buy a small 4x4 van.
We’ll gladly accept all disadvantages of a vehicle weighing only 3500kg knowing that we will gain more freedom and flexibility driving around worldwide. 

Simplify your life! –for us, we are on the right track.

All good things come in threes (happened in September 2015)

After a much enjoyed trip through Namibia for a month with our visitors Thomas, Sandra, Lara and Noah we continued our journey into Kaokoveld up to the Kunene River at the Angolan border. As planned we travelled along some adventurous river beds like the Hoanib, Sawurogab, Hoarusib, Khumib, Marienfluss and up to the Kunene River. Once more we thoroughly enjoyed the solitude amidst grand nature. 

After a couple of days stay at the Kunene we travelled via Opuwo, Oshakati, Ondangwa, Eenhana and Okongo towards Rundu. Our aim was to spend some time in the Caprivi Strip.

70 km after Okongo on the tarred road it happened!

A big bang paralleled by an escape attempt of the Landcruiser, frightened us out of our relaxed cruising mode along the straight tarred road. In the left rear view mirror I saw our Commander in an extreme skew position and was able to subtly stop the vehicle on the left side of the road. 

What had happened? 

Our left trailer tyre including brake drum had disappeared into nature. Brigitte found it some 100 m away in the bushes.  The rim was damaged, but the tyre was not flat. From the looks of the worn off wheel axle we did not even think of mounting the spare tyre. At 1 pm we called our insurance company from our satellite phone.  The person in charge promised to send a recovery team. 

Conqueror Commander breakdown lost wheel

The first team arrived at dusk from the 70km further Okongo. Unfortunately they were a total joke. Three big, unfortunately already tipsy guys had squeezed into a small pick-up. At the back they carried a single axle with wheels, which looked like it would - at its best - be able to carry the front axle of a Fiat 500. So it was completely unsuitable for our 1.4 ton Commander.

Recovery Team 1 Recovery Team 2

We called our insurance agent again who promised to send a proper team from South Africa or from Windhoek. We confirmed with him that we would spend the night at the accident location in our trailer. 

At noon the next day, much too early in our opinion, a far too narrow recovery truck arrived. It was neither from South Africa nor from Windhoek, but from the 160km distant Ondangwa. After 5 hours of hard work we managed to load the trailer with our equipment without further damage.

load up load up 1 spare wheel

recover action rescue trailer too small our Commader doesnt really fit

somehow it is on it adventurous venture somehow it is on it

We gladly accepted the proposal of our agent to take the Commander to the Conqueror service workshop in Windhoek, some 1000 km away as we had personally met Bernd, the owner of this perfect Offroad-Centre, before.

truck with our Commander trailer

After one night in a hotel in Ondangwa, which we reached late at night, we continued with the Toyo to the 800km farther Windhoek. The truck with our trailer was parked at the end of the village at the recovery office. We confirmed with the boss that after securing the trailer with some additional straps, the truck would drive directly to Windhoek, which it would reach the following morning. 

As we were travelling faster in our Toyo we reached our accommodation at late afternoon. After a hearty meal at Joe’s Beerhouse with a large sauerkraut container serving as wine cooler for our Sauvignon Blanc the world seemed a bit of a better place and we went to bed with higher spirits.

relax at Joe's Beerhouse

Our Commander really arrived the next morning at the Offroad-Centre with a mere three hours delay.  Problem was he was on a trailer and not the truck anymore. Apparently the engine of the truck broke and thus the Commander had to be reloaded. This must have happened pretty careless, not to say in a brutal manner as the Commander had sustained severe damages all around. For us a deja-vu experience in Africa.

dammaged Commander trailer

On both occasions the actual costs from the accident were only one third of the overall costs. The remaining costs were caused by headless, careless treatment of the vehicles by the recovery teams during off- and reloading during our absence. As the insurances had organised the recovery teams they were liable for the damage!

Marcel from the Offroad-Center took photos and consulted with the Conqueror factory in Heidelberg. Due to the severe extend of the damages it was decided to send the Commander to Heidelberg / South Africa for repairs.

On the same day we organised a reliable recovery team and reloaded our Commander. Now nothing stood in the way of the 1500 km transfer via Botswana to South Africa. We arranged to meet with Andrew and Dellen at 09:00 the next morning at the Botswana border to cross together with the necessary vehicle documents. The border crossing went smoothly and we again planned to meet the next morning at 07:00 at the next border post to depart Botswana and enter.

We reached the only half decent looking hotel in the dark. This must have been the reason why we immediately moved into the last available room where we only noticed later that we had ended up in a hotel, which charges by the hour. I secured the not lockable bathroom window and front door with alarm traps.  Then we were able to sleep. We arrived at 7:00 am and met the recovery team at the border. They had spent the few hours of sleep in the vehicles.  

The departure of Botswana went swiftly and now we faced the third entry into South Africa within one year. The stubby officer who granted us a 3 month visa after an hours discussion when we entered South Africa the second time, after we had the fire damage with the Discovery, was at his desk again. We were lucky and slipped pass him to a young, good-looking official. She took our passports, leafed through them, saw the numerous stamps and gave us each a 3 month visa. We did our leap of joy once out of sight from the officials, happy to have surpassed the new law that only one 3 month visa may be issued per year. 


Entry South Africa

Whatever information is passed around, which sometimes might even be correct...After 7 months of travelling we were able to re-entre South Africa from Mozambique without any problems once more receiving three months residence with a tourist visa. As this is what we need we were extremely thankful.

Addo Elephant Nationalpark

"Flightless dung beetle"

Of course elephants are the dominant animals of the Addo Elephant National Park.
A special attraction are also the protected pill rollers. These inconspicuous, flightless beetles are mainly found in this park in South Africa.
With a maximum length of 47 mm they are the smallest animals under protection. The wingless insects with their black armour scent fresh elephant dung, which is rich in energy and nutrition, from far away.
These small beetles are acrobats: They balance on large spheres; roll a large dung ball in front of themselves home-made from elephant dung; therefore the name “pill rollers”.
Out of respect for these small, hardworking and useful creatures heaps of elephant dung and the beetles themselves should be side tracked when driving on the roads.
The dung is also used as hatchery for the offspring. The female pill roller forms a hatching ball out of fresh dung which is three to four times as big as herself. Then she stands on her front legs and rolls it in her upside down position backwards over any occurring obstacles. The male follows her unobstrusively.
During this tiring work the female still has to fend of enemies like birds and lizards. The ball gets buried in an underground hatching cave. Then the beetles start mating. The egg matures in the dung ball to a larva which eats itself through the dried elephant dung from the inside to the outside. The digested plant material is compost for the ground. A perfect recycling system.

Caution flighless dung beetle Dung beetle male watching females hard work Mistkaefer Akrobatin

What looks like wood, is not always wood!

This proved fatal to Brigitte and resulted in the loss of a frying pan. She used a wooden looking table-bench for s short putting down the still hot fryig pan. The short putting down ended up with a permanent adhesive property. The table was molded from plastic deceptively similar-looking in color and texture of wood. Takes me wonder, who is now the owner of the artwork.
I wasn't able to loose the pan again!

frying pan permanent put down forever