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Geely takes on desert trek

2013-03-04 11:47

THE DANGERS OF THE WILD: Natalie Swallow's (inset) little Geely LC managed to complete its 5200km return trip from Cape Town to Windhoek despite being damaged in collision with a warthog.

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Author: Natalie Swallow and Trevor Little

 
A Cape Town couple who challenged perceptions of Chinese cars by embarking on a 5200km road trip through perhaps the harshest climate on Earth came through unscathed.

Almost. There was this warthog, see, but this is their story...

A Cape Town challenged perceptions of Chinese automaker's by completing a 5200km journey to Namibia in their Geely LC 1.3 city car.

Natalie Swallow (50) and her partner Trevor Little completed a holiday trip to Namibia  in their Geely LC 1.3 despite pessimistic comments from family members that their little ride wouldn't make it

The warthog? Well, the LC suffered damage to its right front bumper and wheel; unfortunately the warthog didn’t survive.

GEELY TAKES ON THE BUSH

“Shame, the poor animal became road-kill,” said Natalie, who was a bit surprised when she was asked by a passing truck driver if he could have the dead warthog that nearly cost them their holiday.

She said: “I have family all over Namibia and we wanted to go for a visit.”

The couple covered 800km on their first day, travelling from Cape Town along the N7 to their overnight stop at Grunau.

Swallow said: “Everyone was sceptical about the car, saying we would be stuck if something happened in the middle of nowhere. (We were travelling) much faster along an open road to see what the car could do”.

During January 2013 she had joined her brother Dirkie in Otjiwarongo. He was also pessimistic about the vehicle’s performance.

‘EVERYONE’S A SCEPTIC’

She said: “He (Dirkie) was surprised that we had made it so far but had little hope that we would complete the next part of our trip – all the way into and through the Etosha National Park! We had to skirt a few water-filled holes but she handled the off-road conditions perfectly.”

The couple travelled to Tsumeb, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay before returning towards Windhoek. Disaster struck shortly after they left Swakopmund on their way back to Cape Town.

Swallow said: “A whole family of warthog ran across the road. We swerved and missed one, but then hit another.”

The car was seriously damaged. A warthog can weigh 50 to 115kg and the unfortunate hog was an adult.

REPAIRS NEEDED

The front end and wheel took the brunt of the damage. The pair took their damaged Geely to a dealer in Windhoek for repairs. Swallow said: “We made it to Okahandja where the wheel alignment was reset, and then to Windhoek. I could hear people saying ‘I told you so’ but we were in for a treat.

 “They replaced the bent steering arm and made some emergency repairs to the damaged body parts so we could drive back to Cape Town.  It only took an hour or two before we were back on the road. I still feel bad about the poor warthog, but I’m very happy with the car – and the support we got from Geely via their Namibian dealer.”

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