Land Rover stuck in the mud – Difficult Recovery

Land Rover stuck in the mud and how we recovered

11.04.2013
In the morning we had nice breakfast at the lodge and later headed to the border. The border was not far, so first we went to Tanzanian immigration to stamp our passports then to customs for the TIP. The lady said she wanted to have a look into the car. So she came with us to the car. I opened the rear door and our dog started to bark loudly. The customs lady was running away, from a very far distance she shouted, everything fine you can go. So we headed on. At the Kenyan side we had to stop at immigration, got our three month visa for 50 US$, and then stopped a few kilometers after immigration at customs. I had to get an insurance, a guy was immediately there, but first I had to stamp the TIP in and pay for one month road tax, which was 40 US$ and followed the guy to the village of Taveta. I bought the insurance for half a year which was 50 US$, because we intended to extend our visa in Kenya. At the roadside I bought the SIM cards of Safaricom and data bundles for internet. Then we drove on to Green Sport Lodge, where we had already stayed before. My sister had announced by email that she would visit us in Kenya end of June.

12.04.2013
We left early because we wanted to go to Amboseli National Park, and the road was gravel and lead along Kilimanjaro. The first few kilometers were terrible, heavy off road, but eventually it got better and allowed speeds of up to 50 km/h. Thus we arrived at the campsite outside Amboseli National Park and we were surprised how much it had changed during the last two years. They had built several Bandas and tented rooms, which were quite nice. So we sat for our afternoon coffee, when suddenly the clouds disappeared and we could have a gorgeous view at Kilimanjaro with its snow covered peak. Amazing!

Land Rover stuck in the mud close to Kilimanjaro
Land Rover stuck in the mud close to Kilimanjaro

The spectacle did only last for a few minutes and then it was covered with clouds again. In the night it started to rain, heavily raining, and when we woke up the whole campsite was under water for about half a meter. Now we could forget about going into Amboseli. So we made the wrong decision and left the campsite for Nairobi. But we did not get far. First we were wading until the headlights in water, but could find the gate of the campsite to leave. As our Navigation device records the last 50 km, I could find the gravel road through the Garmin. The ground was soft but with 4×4 engaged we could drive slowly. When we reached the main gravel road, the water got a bit deeper, but slowly we could make our way. A few hundred meters away from the campsite a tree was fallen on the gravel road. I was just thinking what to do now, and made the wrong decision. I tried to detour the tree, but the soil off the gravel road was so soft, that after a few meter we heavily stuck. No low range was of help. Suddenly the Land Rover started to sink on one side, and the water was already entering through the doors.

Luckily the tree stopped the Land Rover from turning over. Shit, what to do now. But as usual in Africa suddenly some guys and girls came out of the bush. So they pushed the side of the Rover to support it and we tried again, no chance. Then they lifted the Land Rover to put some stones under the wheels, but the Land Rover was too heavy and sunk again together with the stones. So there was no chance to get it our with manpower. With two guys we were wading in knee deep water and slippery soil for about 1 kilometer to the next Kenya wildlife station. The Rangers were nice and promised to come with a tractor, not for free of course. They said they first must look if I have not offended some nature laws by going off the road. We waded back, and soon the tractor arrived, they had a look, no offense, but charged me 30 US$ for pulling me out. Nothing is free in Africa.

They put a long chain and slowly started to pull. At one point the Land Rover was about to fall over, but luckily did not do, so I was on solid ground again. The ranger guided me for some kilometers out of the worst things, because they said, with this flood, there are some passages still to come, which are tricky if you do not know the road. So they made track and I had to follow exactly in their track. After a few kilometers they stopped and we could go alone, we paid and everybody was happy. The mistake was that I did not stop in front of the tree and put a rope around the branches and pulled it aside a bit. Maybe that would have worked, we did not know. Anyway we got some nice footage. Soon we reached the tar road to Nairobi. It was already dark when we arrived in Nairobi, we stopped in front of a shopping mall to get some food, when suddenly the Land Rover died and did not move anymore. I was thinking maybe the battery got wet and discharged itself. So we called Maura, a taxi driver we had known from our last stay in Jungle Junction to tow us to Jungle Junction Campsite. Maura was busy at the airport, so we waited at the parking. Nairobi is not a safe city at all, especially during night, so we were cautious, but I looked under the bonnet but could not see anything. After a while Maura arrived and we tried to jump start the car, but no success. Then we tried with starter cables but no chance, nothing moved. So Maura towed us to Jungle Junction. It was not far but very steep ascents and I did not know that Maura had changed car to an automatic transmission car, a small one, and he hardly could tow the heavy Land Rover. Somehow we managed to get to Jungle Junction, I paid Maura 30 US$, but we were safe within the campsite.

How everything started