Taking the road to Zambezi

2015-10-01 06:00
Paul Eberhard celebrated his 70th birthday on the mighty Zambezi River.

Paul Eberhard celebrated his 70th birthday on the mighty Zambezi River.

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CELEBRATING your 70th birthday on the mighty Zambezi River and your 20th wedding anniversary with a bottle of ice cold champagne in the middle of the bush will leave many green with envy.

Combine this with secretly taking video footage of a highly organised diesel-stealing syndicate and being transported to the world of Mowgli in the famous Walt Disney children’s book The Jungle Book and you have the perfect “ingredients” for the next best-seller Hollywood movie. But for travellers Paul and Maria Eberhard from Aston Bay this is not near enough. Always on the search for the next adventure they added a warm cup of coffee in the heart of the Makgadigadi Pans, evading speeding truck drivers and crossing the river themselves into Botswana for the first time to the mix – the perfect getaway.

With Monty, their trusted truck, in top condition, the Eberhards embarked on yet ano-ther journey at the beginning of May – this time they took the road to Zambezi in Botswana. On their return home at the end of June, Monty showed that they travelled exactly 10 000km. They did not suffer one mechanical or health-related problem for the entire trip – not even a flat wheel or a cold.

From Jeffreys Bay, the Eberhards pointed Monty’s nose in the direction of the Kruger National Park where they co-incidentally reunited with a German couple who they had only briefly met before in Jeffreys Bay. “The friendship was instant and we continued our two-week –long journey on our way to Francis Town in Botswana together,” says Paul. “As we neared Botswana it was time to part. They continued towards Zimbabwe, while we drove in the direction of Botswana.”

For the first time, after trying many times before, the Eberhards could slowly navigate Monty across the muddy 3m wide river-border crossing Pont Drift from Musina into Botswana – another tick on their bucket list. When the river is in flow, vehicles can only cross with a cable car.

Once in Francis Town, they took the road to Orapa where they decided to cross the majestic snow white Makgadigadi Pans – driving 90km through bush and sand with only their GPS to guide them. “Sleeping and enjoying a cup of warm coffee in the middle of the sand pan is a majestic moment I will not easily forget,” says Paul.

Leaving the sand pans behind them, the Eberhards followed the road to Nata, Kasane, Livingstone, Lusaka (the capital of Zambia) and Goma. Here they were shocked to see every 10km to 15km truck drivers from reputable companies selling diesel to people along the road holding 20l plastic drums. “We found out that companies lose up to 10 000l of diesel per month due to this illegalities going on. People here are making a living from it,” says Paul who took video footage of some of the “transactions”.

From Goma they headed towards Copperveld on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Following the border from Ndola to Solwezi we came across the most horrible roads littered with potholes. It is even worse than the roads in Jeffreys Bay,” says Paul. On their way to Solwezi, they passed Lumbabashi and Gengola where hundreds of speeding truck drivers came flying by so close to Monty that Paul had to turn his side mirror inwards to avoid being hit.

From Solwezi they carried down to their goal town, Zambezi. “What a disappointment,” says Paul. “The town is very dirty and we could hardly find a place to stay. There are no shopping facilities and only one petrol station that is ridiculous with its prices. We left after one day.”

Travelling towards Mongu, the Eberhards crossed the Kabombo River with an old diesel engine ferry where Monty just fitted on. “Crossing over was like being transported right into the Jungle Book. We were right in the middle of the river when the sun was going down. It was absolutely fantastic,” says Paul.

The very next day, Paul celebrated his 70th birthday on the Zambezi River - a tradition that goes back many years. He celebrated his 60th birthday on the Nile River, while his 50th birthday saw him on the Orange River. “Who knows where I will be for my 80th birthday?”

Their journey furthermore included Katima Mulilo, Nata, Maun, Ghanzi, and Verda where they attempted to enter South Africa towards Toska but the road was so bad that they had to give up after driving a mere 15km. They continued towards Bokspits where they crossed the border to Upington and travelled down to Port Elizabeth on their way back to Aston Bay.

At forefront of technology

Afer seeing some of his work captured with a GoPro4 with 4k setting and a Panasonic film camera with 4k setting, one of the world’s famous producers of film accessories, proDAT, approached Paul to test their new programme called PowerDirector14 for free.

PowerDirector15 is an unbelievably fast and flexible video solution, offering a unique combination of high-end performance and advanced editing features. Its intuitive interface makes it accessible to creators of all skill levels, from beginners to experts. A huge selection of customisable design tools, including unique alpha transitions, animated titles, particles and PiP objects, give users the freedom to explore their creativity and reflect it in their video creations.

Some of Paul’s work is included in the PowerDirector editing programme as part of the online film bearbeitungs programm. There is also a link to his own website and work

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