Where Are We in January 2021?

We finally returned to South Africa in late November 2020 to continue the expedition. The plan was to explore Kruger National Park and nearby conservation projects during December 2020 and January 2021.

November 2020

After implementing our return plan to Africa in late November 2020, we lived the first weeks around Pretoria, where we did numerous TLCs and upgrades to Honey Badger the Defender. She had been standing for many months while we were away and was in dire need of all the TLC.

Everything went quite smoothly with upgrading our loyal 4×4, and if we have the time, we’ll tell you more about them later. Among other things, we built a sleeping system to the back of the car and upgraded to a heavy-duty suspension; big thanks goes to Rob Keen from Bespoke4x4 for great service and help!

Also, huge thanks go to our new friend Heinrich Gericke who went above and beyond to help us move and store HB the Defender while we were still in Finland! We were blown away by his honest will to help out a fellow traveler, and we continue to be amazed by the general kindness of people in Africa.

December 2020

We did manage to spend almost four weeks in the iconic Kruger National Park! We stayed in several campsites from the South to the North, from the Crocodile Bridge to Punda Maria. During this revival time in the bush, we had many awesome wildlife encounters. Especially with the elusive African Wild Dogs!

We will write a detailed report from our time in Kruger later on! Just after Christmas (on the 28th of Dec), pretty much “out of the blue” came South Africa’s president’s announcement of the new lockdown level and rules. The shift was to “adjusted level 3” – but luckily without any restrictions on movement. So we continued our stay inside the Kruger National Park.

December still brought some disrupting news, as we were hoping to cross the border to Zimbabwe in late January 2021. But Zimbabwe closed its borders during December, and thus we had to change plans again. This time we planned to cross into Mozambique instead.

A spotted hyena with a cub in Kruger National Park, South Africa.
A spotted hyena with a cub in Kruger National Park, South Africa.

January 2021 – Are We Stuck or Not?

We came out of Kruger at the beginning of January and stayed a short while around Hoedspruit to reload ourselves and do some “running errands.” We also tried contacting several local conservation organizations and are in the middle of discussions with a few.

We had originally planned to cross into Mozambique on the Friday, 15th of Jan, and had already made accommodation reservations, etc. The next review of the lockdown rules was scheduled to be on the 15th, so we had planned to escape South Africa by then.

But then, without any pre-notification, the president’s announcement came already on Monday, the 11th of January – and it again brought us bad news. South Africa has now closed its borders according to the reviewed regulations of the “adjusted level 3 lockdown” until February 15th. So it seems that we are stuck – again.

However, it’s still unclear whether foreign nationals could still cross the borders to a neighboring country with open borders (with a negative PCR test). The “official” story (the official gazette) says no, but we got the information that it may be possible after all through some of our contacts.

At the time of writing this (Jan 16th, 2021), we are still in the process of figuring this out. If we can go to Mozambique, that will probably be our number one plan. But if not, it may be that we could shortly return to Namibia and then continue onwards through Zambia. It’s all “go with the flow” at the moment, and we’ll update you as soon as we know more!

But one thing is for sure, all this has made our way forward much more difficult at the moment, but then again – nothing is ever easy! And we are not going back to Finland anymore. Instead, we are determined to make this work – no matter what!

In general, we hope that most borders would remain open, and we can continue on our mission through Africa for wildlife conservation. We hope all our friends around Africa will stay safe during this trying time. Everything will pass!

Wildlife needs us more than ever now. We will win this – together!