Zimbabwe here we come, first road trip with the Frankmobil1!

So this has been a long time coming…. a match made in HEAVEN!

Completion of the Frankmobil1 (FM1) and the need to add Zimbabwe as a destination to the Safarifrank offering… where better to put the new vehicle through its paces than some of the wildest places in Africa!

Welna and I were so excited to see the final product when we arrived in Maun. And we were not disappointed!

The project is a collaborate effort between Safraifrank, Iveco, Expedition Vehicles Australia, Travelander and Kavango Extreme. What a Team to produce one of the BEST overland vehicles in Africa!

The road trip route took us from Maun to Pandamatenga, Hwange, Vic Falls, Binga, Kariba, Mana Pools, Lower Zambezi and Livingstone before returning to Maun via Kasane, some 4000 kms in just over 3 weeks!

In Hwange we spent some time walking with one of the local legends Spike Williamson at Hwange Bush Camp.

 We also bundu bashed our way to Jozibanini in the south of the Park (7 hours for 110km’s!) where we had one of the best ellie sightings ever!

We were impressed with the vibe in Vic Falls where there seems to be many new initiatives and it remains a safe and friendly environment.  How can one ever tire of views like this…

The back road from Binga to Kariba… enough said…. anybody in the know would tell you that it is one of the most ‘interesting’ roads in Africa. Well it took us 10 hours to do the 500km and the FM1 did an AMAZING job to say the least! Despite its size and weight it is incredibly ‘surefooted’ and absolutely flies over some of the worst corrugation imaginable, thanks to the large wheels/tyres and King shocks…. pretty unbelievable in fact.

At Mana Pools we spent an incredible time with another Zim guiding legend, Andy Smith. Cruising the channels of the Zambezi in a canoe and walking the flood plains with him is one of the best safaris that one can do and an experience not to be missed.

Welna and I then camped at Chitake Springs (about 40km inland from the Zambezi at Mana Pools) one of our favourite spots in Africa. True to its reputation as one of the wildest places in Africa and not for ‘first timers’ or the faint hearted, we had another incredible time there. The Travelander camper once again made our day when we were able to setup camp in 30 seconds when it was getting dark pretty fast!

The next stop was Lower Zambezi in Zambia where we stayed at some great spots and also enjoyed the varied terrain and activities on offer in this jewel of a Park.

The last stop was Livingstone where we explored all the town has to offer and stayed at the very romantic Sindabezi…

Once back in Botswana and on the way to Maun we had a great ellie sighting next to the road, what a great way to finish an incredible road trip.

Suffice to say that the Frankmobil1 exceeded our expectations and we can’t wait to put it through its paces again on the Liuwa expedition in November, BRING it on!

Go where others simply cannot…

Go where others simply cannot…

It was hard to imagine what the final product would look like while it was still in construction. Shane obviously had the idea in his head and I knew what it was to become but never the less, my jaw was still hanging the first time it pulled up…finished!

Incredible! Every little thing thought of and perfected. One bystander said “You have just brought business class to gameviewing” and he was damn well right. This definitely is the first of its type, the best game viewing vehicle in Africa.

I was itching to take it out for its first ever game drive and it certainly didn't take long for us to hit the dusty road. No messing around we hit what is some of the worst corrugation in Southern Africa, testing to see if anything rattles or shakes loose. But amazing…it was smooth, rolling over like it was too easy. Even when we picked up speed to 80km/h, a speed where we should be starting to lose control of the vehicle, it kept its grip and was flying through with ease.

Ok so it handles the main road fine, but this is an off-road BEAST, so lets take it where it belongs. OFF-ROAD. We entered the wilderness area and as we started looking for animals we realised our advantage…height. We were able to see over bushes and tall grass, which in any normal game viewer would have blocked our vision and limited our ability to spot game. No issue for us.

It didn't take us long to be surrounded by a herd of about 40 elephants all drinking at a waterhole. But what was the best part about it was that a vehicle drove past us. But the driver and passengers weren't looking at the elephants, they turned and looked at us and started taking photos of our vehicle, amazed as they have never seen anything this impressive.

We cruised the whole day through thick sand, mud, narrow roads and bumpy roads all without using the arsenal of lower gear ratios available. So what that means is that when it really comes down to going off road, where you wouldn't dare go with a cruiser or land rover, this vehicle can make it. It can go through deeper water, sand and mud all while still being comfortable and having that business class feel. We changed the game.
 

Next time someone says to us “don't use that road its not passable” we would say challenge accepted mate!

Serious progress

Serious progress

The Frankmobil1  Iveco game viewer project is now making some serious progress as we near the end of the major work to the structure. With plenty of debate and redesigning having gone into the works, the Team has now arrived and almost completed what will be the best design for the ultimate vehicle.
 

To make a serious 4x4, some significant modifications and accessories have to be added. With many  top of the range parts having come all the way from Australia to Maun, has turned the Iveco into an unstoppable 4x4. Items such as custom extra water and diesel tanks, American off road racing suspension, custom made rims, massive off road tyres and the list goes on….
 

With all the accessories fitted and numerous test drives, it was time to get into the custom work. Most of the inside of the cab were stripped and the roof cut off, giving the Iveco no longer the feel of a truck, but now of a traditional open game viewing vehicle. But definitely no ordinary one at that!

All the parts and shape now in place, the ‘guest side’ of the construction began, firstly with building the tray floor, followed by the design and welding of the roof and now onto the placement and design of the special marine seats that will be used. The height of the vehicle and design of the roof structure, allows for unparalleled and unobstructed views from all guest seats!

Once all has been welded and finalized with the major design of the guest section, it’s off to the sand blasting, rubberizing and powder coating, making it waterproof, rust proof and pleasing to the eye.
 

It is one very big project, for one very big vehicle!

New home base in Maun

New home base in Maun

Exciting times here at safariFRANK as the two new vehicles crossed the South African Botswana border on Saturday 17 September 2016! They were driven all the way from Iveco premises in Johannesburg to Maun in Botswana by our good friends Shane and Nic Seaman. Thank you guys for a great effort and getting these beasts safely to their new home in Maun!

We are now awaiting the arrival of the container of state of the art accessories from Expedition Vehicles Australia, which left Australia towards the end of September and will arrive in Botswana early November. Once the container arrives in Maun the real fun can begin with the ‘make over’ and the birth of the FrankMobil's….keep watching this space!

 Iveco Daily 4x4’s at the Tlokweng border post between South Africa and Botswana.

The single cab passing the Tropic of Capricorn on its way north towards Maun, Botswana.

Super model AnnCat posing with the beast on the edge of the Makgadigadi Pans, Botswana.

The FrankMobils at their new home base in Maun.

Iveco's have arrived in Johannesburg!

Iveco's have arrived in Johannesburg!

Great NEWS and excitement at safafrIFRANK!  The two Iveco’s arrived today at ELT the Iveco Dealer in Johannesburg. On the photo is Colin Shaw, Iveco Development Manager on the left, handing the vehicles over to Marc Jones ELT Sales Executive on the right. The vehicles will remain on the showroom floor for the time being, pending delivery to Maun later in July. 

 

 

The single cab Iveco will be converted into the FrankMobil1 Game Viewer and the double cab into the FrankMobil2, with the Travelander camper on the back.

 

Watch this space for updates!

Kavango Xtreme and Kavango Engineering

Kavango Xtreme and Kavango Engineering

Johan caught up in Maun with father and son Shane and Nic Seaman, respectively from Kavango Xtreme and Kavango Engineering. Shane and Nic are local legends building specialised safari vehicles made for tough Botswana conditions. Discussions were focussed around the upcoming conversion of the FrankMobil1 into an awesome expedition vehicle. All parties are very excited to be part of this ground breaking project.

ex"spec"tations

ex"spec"tations

safariFRANK has teamed up with Iveco SA (Iveco), Travelander and Expedition Vehicles Australia (EVA) to develop two state-of-the-art expedition vehicles to be based in Maun, Botswana.

The two vehicles are an Iveco Daily 4 by 4 Single Cab and a Crew Cab, both supplied by Iveco SA.

The picture shows Frank's recent visit to the EVA factory in Queensland Australia, for discussions with the owner Justin Beall.

The picture shows Frank's recent visit to the EVA factory in Queensland Australia, for discussions with the owner Justin Beall.

The vehicles will be upgraded with a full package of high technology accessories supplied by EVA imported to Botswana. The accessories include upgrades to suspensions, wheels, diesel and water tanks, bull bars, winches, seats and so forth. The single cab will be named the FrankMobil1 (FM1) and the crew cab the FrankMobil2 (FM2).

The FrankMobil1 will be further converted in Maun into a fully equipped industry leading luxury game viewer, specialising in photographic expeditions. Also the FrankMobil2 will be fitted with a Travelander Automatic Slide On camper imported from Australia.

The vehicles are scheduled for delivery to Maun by end June, with conversions completed by end August. They will be available for expeditions in Botswana and beyond from September 2016 onwards.