The wander lust grabbed hold of an English couple 10 years ago and it hasn’t let go since resulting in them travelling close to 300 000km all over the globe in Mercedes-Benz trucks.
Not even being stuck in a six-day-long traffic jam in China has put them off!
And now Clive (68) and Ann (65) Barker of Somerset are in Durban about to begin a journey through southern and central Africa which may last months or years… they’re very vague about it!
“Time is not really an issue for us so we’ll meander along doing what we enjoy most – meeting wonderful people and discovering places we know little about,” said Clive.
The Barker’s 28-year-old Mercedes-Benz 1017A truck has been undergoing repairs in Durban after being shipped out from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia where their last journey ended.
“The vehicle needed its brake cylinders replaced so that has been done for us in workshops of the Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealer in Durban. Management kindly allowed us to sleep over for a few nights in our home on wheels while the repairs were being done,” said Clive.
From here the Barkers plan to head north to visit game reserves in Zululand, then on through Swaziland to the Kruger National Park where they will spend some time before trucking it back to the coast for a journey along the Garden Route.
“We’ll leave the truck in Cape Town and fly home for Christmas. Early in the new year we’ll be back to resume our travels going up the west coast into Namibia and then on as far as the whim takes us,” said Clive.
The Barkers’ wander lust was sparked in 2000 by an advert in a British motor-caravan magazine about an overland and sea journey to Beijing. They inquired and made an “on the spur of the moment” decision to go.
They bought a Mercedes-Benz 811 truck, kitted it out fully for living in and so it all began. They ended up travelling about 150 000km all over the world including a trip through south and Central America visiting 23 different countries.
In 2008 they bought their present truck from the German army, once again installing as many home comforts as possible. “We’ve bought old trucks to ensure there’s no modern electronics to confuse the issue when running repairs need to be made and chose Mercedes-Benz because they are so reliable and the only motor company I know which stocks spares for its old models – on top of that the parts are available almost everywhere in the world!”
In March last year the Barkers left home and drove through Europe, the Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tibet, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia where their journey ended in Singapore earlier this year. They then shipped their truck to Durban.
“In China we got stuck in a traffic jam which lasted six days, although we managed to turn off the road after three days! The amazing thing is the spirit in which Chinese people accept such things as part of their lives – they smile and laugh about it,” said Ann
Clive said they were excited about their African adventure and were particular looking forward to seeing wildlife.
“We have no idea when our travels will end although once we’ve completed this leg we’ll have visited most of the countries we were keen to see.
“But we’re in no hurry to finish – we seldom travel faster than 60km/h. For us it’s all about the journey rather than the destination.”