A woman from New Zealand has finally gotten Cape Town after a gruelling journey by car from Aberdeen in Scotland to Cape Town.
Her epic journey took her through the UK, Europe and Africa.
Laura Morrison, 36, kept a journal of her journey on social media as she drove “Charlie” – a 1958 Morris Minor she inherited from her dad Neil when he died from cancer in 2016 – across 16 countries.
Saddened by her dad’s passing, the purpose of her travels was to raise money for the Cancer Society Research Division in Auckland, New Zealand, and to date, she has managed to raise more than R440 000, well past her initial target.
Beginning her journey in June last year in Aberdeen, Scotland – her dad’s birthplace – she managed to beat all odds and arrived in Cape Town on January 12.
Speaking on Tuesday, Morrison said she was humbled and grateful.
“I can’t believe it, I don’t think it has sunk in yet!”
This is not Morrison’s first visit to South Africa or Africa, for that matter.
‘Great love for Africa’
Born in Zambia, Morrison moved to Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe before the family settled in Picton, New Zealand when she was 13.
Since then, Morrison has backpacked from Cape Town to Nairobi, Kenya, for four months, worked in northern Mozambique for seven months, worked on overland trucks for nine months from Rwanda to Cape Town, before settling in Botswana for two years back in 2010.
In fact, of all the African countries she visited as part of her latest journey, Egypt and Sudan were the only ones she hadn’t visited before.
“This was my dad’s dream to drive from his birthplace to Cape Town. He moved to the continent in his late 20s and had a great love for Africa.”
According to Morrison, the most exhausting part of the journey was the planning beforehand.
“It took quite a bit of planning, it was quite a big process…
“Getting the car ready was one of the biggest challenges, to make sure it was mechanically sound. I had a lot of work done on it. But getting a permit for the car was quite easy – it’s like a car passport that you travel with.
“Planning the routes was the biggest challenge. I didn’t know how many kilometres I’d be able to do per day. I didn’t know the condition of the roads, so there was a lot of guesswork involved as well. It was an exhausting few months before I could get Charlie on a ship.”
Morrison shipped Charlie from New Zealand to Scotland, before undertaking the rest of her journey by car – with no air-conditioning!
‘Lots of challenges along the way’
She admits that things didn’t always go according to plan. “There were lots of changes along the way, despite months of planning.
“The, major issues were mechanical, and they weren’t even that major, so I was quite lucky. I had no problems until I reached Ethiopia, and for about a month after that there were quite a few issues and I was on the side of the road quite a bit, getting towed an awful lot…
“It took six mechanics to figure out what was actually wrong.”
Some days were also much longer than expected, Morrison said.
“Often what I thought was going to be a three-hour journey would end up taking 12 hours. There were a few days that stretched me to my limits, but mostly I just met the most incredible, helpful and friendly people along the way.
“This journey was really all about people – that was probably the highlight of my trip.”
Morrison says she was particularly taken with Sudan and Zimbabwe.
“Sudan just blew me away. I didn’t know that much about the country and it turned out to be one of the best countries I’ve ever been to in my life.
‘Africa is my home’
“Also, the network of people in Zimbabwe who welcomed me and helped me through the logistics of not having petrol at each and every place I was going was quite humbling.
“But each country had something amazing about it as well…”
Following the end of her seven-month-odd journey, Morrison is contemplative about the future.
“I was planning on going back to New Zealand, but now I’m considering staying here, in Africa.
“I really feel like this continent is home, so I might take the plunge and finally settle here,” Morrison told News24.