Feeling the soft spraying mist of Victoria Falls on your face, watching the big five prowl the open plains, seeing a giant sun set over the great Zambezi river. They’re those dizzying, once-in-a-lifetime experiences on every intrepid adventurer’s bucket list.
MINI versus Elephant: has the MINI ALL4 Countryman met its match?
And if it’s raw, unfiltered African travel that you’re after, it doesn’t get much more thrilling than the Put Foot Rally. Starting in South Africa and meandering through Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique – all within the pinch-yourself parameters of seventeen days – this rally is for the most lionhearted of adventurers only. But coursing through unchartered savannah brings its own set of pitfalls, as any of the 60 or so teams will tell you. False maps and flat tires, with only a circling pride of lions for company? Stranger things have happened on the Put Foot Rally.
But none of this has put off team Shake & Bake, the crew of Durbanite daredevils that took on the challenge of the Put Foot Rally this year. And thanks to MINI South Africa, the four-strong team – Gordon McTavish, Meegan Rourke, Andrew McGill and Louise Gans — had a gleaming new fifth member: a souped-up MINI All4 Countryman. With MINI as the crew’s official vehicle and after getting some intensive MINI Driver Training, they put their MINI to the test over seven thousand kilometres’ worth of road ahead.
With the efficiently built and urban-chic design of MINI, it might seem like a fish out of water in the African savannah. But that’s only at first glance. As an iconic rallying car, MINI has plenty of off-road anecdotes to tell. Just ask Stéphane Peterhansel and his co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret, who won the 2012 Dakar Rally in South America thanks to the MINI ALL4 Racing car. Team Shake & Bake carried that rally spirit torch across the African continent.
But there’s more to the Put Foot Rally than the call of the open plains. The team are hoping to raise R50,000 (nearly €5,000) for Project Rhino, the anti-poaching foundation, and the eponymous Put Foot Foundation, which seeks to provide underprivileged school children with brand new quality leather school shoes. Shoes can help to prevent the spread of parasitic infections such as hookworm and threadworm, as well as minimizing discomfort and cold, and granting children access to schools with a stricter uniform policy. And if all goes to plan, the work of the Put Foot Foundation will put six hundred pairs of shoes on little feet this year. It’s positive steps for a demographic so desperately in need.
“What an amazing feeling it’s going to be, leaving each point along our route knowing that we helped to make a difference in the lives of those children. We’re really hoping that people will get involved to help make this happen,” said Meegan Rourke, one of the crew members, before they began their trek.
In support of these causes, MINI South Africa has agreed to match all cash fundraised by Shake & Bake, up to the value of R100,000 (about €10,000). So anything you donate today, MINI will double. Now that’s an incentive if ever there was one.
You can see their whole journey chronicled on their blog and Facebook page. Check out the highlights here!
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