Tim Baily is additional than just a safari operator, he is a gentleman with a passionate really like for his indigenous Africa — and with some justification he can also declare to be an skilled on the additional violent side of African politics.
For in the earlier eight years Tim, in his attempts to get his trans-Africa safari organization proven, has continually identified himself slap in the center of whichever juicy African conflict appears to be simmering at that particular instant.
Tim led the 1st expedition to get by the Congo safely right after the Simba War, and when his convoy of battered Land Rovers arrived at the Oubangui river which separates the Congo from the Central African Republic they identified both banks swarming with induce-happy African troops. The two countries were being all established for war in excess of a unexpected disagreement on the foreseeable future shape of “African Unity.”
Tim’s know-how of Swahili saved them here. He borrowed a native canoe, paddled across the river to confront the astounded Congolese troops, and diplomatically persuaded them to let the ferry across the river to accumulate the rest or his convoy.
Currently the Siafu Safari Company is a thriving enterprise. It is named soon after the Siafu ant which stops for almost nothing. If it simply cannot go spherical, over or less than an obstacle it will simply just consume its way by means of it. The first 4 battered Land Rovers are now changed by full fleets of shiny new vehicles, and the routes involving London and Nairobi are very carefully planned. Today the Siafu expeditions crossing Africa know that they will achieve their destinations, but this was not always so.
Tim was born and lifted on his father’s farm in Kenya until finally independence pressured him to immigrate to South Africa. Seven yrs in the past, with car salesman Peter Hooper and a single small wheel base Land Rover, Tim remaining Durban on the get started of what was to come to be a 20,000 mile journey through a turbulent new Africa. The trip was to choose sixteen distressing and perilous months, and to fill Tim’s mind with the wild notion of managing overland safaris on a professional foundation.
To go by means of the freshly independent nations of Libya, Tanzania and Kenya, Tim and Peter experienced to check each and every item of their gear and outfits and remove all traces of South African origin.
Their serious difficulties began when they experimented with to go away Kenya. The principal roadways into Ethiopia experienced all been closed owing to bandits raiding throughout the border, the southern Sudan was also shut, and to the west the Congo was however a bloody battlefield contested by mercenaries and Simba rebels.
Last but not least they managed to find just one border publish into Ethiopia that was open at Kalem, close to Lake Rudolph. From below it took them 42 times of grueling, sweating, again-breaking function to address 170 miles of the foulest streets in Africa. They unloaded their Land Rover a thousand times to haul it by way of mud holes as massive as the car or truck itself, or labored like slaves to widen tracks that had been intended for nothing at all bigger than camels.
In Addis Ababa they ended up refused visas to cross the Sudan: but alternatively than make a return journey about individuals dreadful Ethiopian streets they selected to continue on north devoid of visas. They remaining Ethiopia, by-passed the Sudanese border post by driving by the desert, and then manufactured a frantic non-end dash together the Red Sea coastline for Egypt.
They nearly created it, but their outdated map experienced misplaced the placement of the northern frontier by 10 very important miles.
They arrived at the Sudanese exit write-up believing that they experienced won their gamble and were in Egypt — and ended up immediately arrested as they recognized their error.
Luckily they were not as well intently guarded, and whilst the Sudanese officer in charge radioed Khartoum to inquire what should really be carried out with them they succeeded in stealing back again their passports and building a frantic night time escape into Egypt.
Nearly instantly they ended up arrested once again. Their Egyptian visas, which they experienced believed to be legitimate for three months, ended up valid for a person thirty day period only, and presently they experienced expired.
Wryly the two travelers defined that neither of them could browse Arabic. They have been taken beneath escort to Port Suez and held there in jail for two nights ahead of their plea was eventually approved.
From there they crossed the deserts of North Africa to entire their journey to Europe.
For most males all those sixteen months would have been crammed with sufficient adventure to past a lifetime, but not for Tim Baily.
“My ambition,” Tim says, “was to operate expeditions for young folks, presenting them genuine adventure mingled with the romance of travel to the Africa I know so properly. I wished to exhibit other individuals the interesting peoples and locations I have noticed, and give them the exact options to share in the encounter: and excitements that have been my very own.”
In England Tim Baily worked for a year with the South African immigrant corporation, and was in line for grooming for a senior post when he gambled with hello s future when once more. He felt that he had learned enough about office administration and his upcoming action was to study the journey trade. So he took a major slice in income to function as a tour operator. Following eight months he resigned again and then rebuilt his funds with 6 months tough labor digging out the underground tunnel for London s new Victoria Line. Then he was all set for the most significant gamble of all: the acquire of 4 2nd-hand Land Rovers and his return to Africa.
“My buddies and kin all thought I was crazy,” he recalls. “Only a fool, they reported, would risk his vocation this way. I tried out to clarify that not all of us crave for the securities of fashionable-working day everyday living, and that for me there was a much greater sense of success in the sort of daily life that I was scheduling. I thought also that there need to be a excellent number or other youthful folks bored with stability and regime who might feel the very same way, and who would be grateful and eager for the possibility or shedding the shackles of civilization for a handful of months in Africa.”
“I tried out to demonstrate the comradeship of a camp fireplace by night time, the majesty of a bull elephant with ears unfold all set to charge, the dust-stuffed splendor of an African sunset, or the sounds or indigenous new music drifting across the night time bush. The extremely uncertainty of Africa tends to make each instant a new knowledge. Africa, I advised them, is like nowhere else on earth, and I ought to see each corner of it, and assistance many others to see it, just before it goes — for regrettably, it is heading.”
So, in November of 1968, Tim Baily launched that initial Siafu expedition throughout Africa 50 young men and gals driving 6 Land Rovers, for two non-public cars experienced also joined his convoy. The Sudan was even now a stumbling block in regard to visas, and so their route lay through the Algerian Sahara and the Hoggar Massif, heading south as a result of black iron-stone hills, wild purple mountains, and the huge yellow sands. On this pioneer excursion the endeavor of trying to keep their ancient motor vehicles working taxed all their mixed mechanical competencies, but Tim Baily was discovering invaluable lessons in bush mechanics.
South of the Sahara this was a period of time or violence and upheaval. The Siafu occasion avoided the Biafra conflict but as they handed through northern Nigeria they uncovered armed service checkpoints just about everywhere along the route and repeatedly the Land Rovers have been stopped and searched by impolite soldiery who left the expedition associates to repack. The delays were being infinite. On getting into Chad they identified extra war stress. The previous remnants of the French International Legion have been combating a tiny-regarded war from rebellious tribesmen in France’s former colony and the northern section of Chad was a turmoil of raiding bandits.
Up coming arrived that remarkable crossing of the Obangui River into the Congo. The most the latest waves of bloodshed in that disappointed land experienced been brought underneath command only a couple of months just before, and at any instant it could explode once more. The whole region was nevertheless nervous and cause-happy, and the expedition experienced bring about to sweat a dozen periods more than the thirteen hundred miles of troop-infested mud and jungle roadways just before they inevitably crossed properly into Uganda.
In East Africa they had been at previous ready to relax, to pay a visit to the wonderful sport parks, to cruise up the Victoria Nile to the Murchison Falls, and to simply just laze and swim on the Kenya coastline — activities which are nevertheless a important feature of each Siafu safari. When they ongoing south they encountered an angry political ambiance as they crossed from Libya to Rhodesia, but it was their last instant of tension. 4 and a 50 percent months just after leaving London the first Siafu Expedition drove triumphantly into the South African metropolis or Johannesburg.
Due to the fact that unique hair-elevating vacation there have been a dozen and far more successful Siafu safaris, and the Siafu ant emblem painted on the white doorway of a Land Rover is quick getting a common sight on the desert and jungle roads of Africa, the toughest continent of them all for overland travel.
Nowadays Africa has settled back again into an uneasy peace, if you ignore the odd coup d’ etat right here and there. But as Tim Baily warns all his consumers, “With a life span or knowledge in Africa I experience there is small question that I can get you as a result of to your desired destination — but I will not warranty it. For soon after all, what fantastic is an journey without an aspect of chance connected?”
Notice: This short article was written in 1971 when the creator made the trans-Africa journey with just one of Tim’s Siafu overland expeditions.