Every business starts from somewhere. Umdingi Safaris started out with one man’s vision. As the business grew over time, equipment improved with growth. That is how our story was created.
Clint started out in the industry working for other companies with dreams of having his own business one day. He was freelancing for different lodges as a learners guide and fitting his own clients around the freelance work. We gradually put things together. Everything from a website to handwriting itineraries for our guests.
Umdingi Safaris originally started out as Clint being a one man show with myself in the background doing tiny things and trying to finish a veterinary degree. The man of many talents would guide, setup camp, play chef, and host all from his land rover station wagon. It came time where we had the money to get a game drive vehicle and upgrade our bush camp gear. The car that had been purchased was just not any game drive vehicle but a second-hand land rover pickup that earned the name Abdul. Our land rover was no longer a spring chicken but had the assets to become something beautiful.
Driving took 18 hours to drive the vehicle from the big city, Harare to small town, Victoria Falls in the lovely month of October.
It was the first week of October 2018 with a fuel crisis that was occurring country wide. October… They call it suicide month in Zimbabwe. The question is why normally; it gets extremely hot.
Back to Abdul, our lovely land rover. The land rover’s doors had to be wired shut because they would not stay closed. The vehicle’s windows were broken, and they did not roll down. The heater on the vehicle was stuck on and would not turn off. Every time the vehicle was turned off; it had to be push started (we were unaware of the car alarm fault at that time).
To say the least, driving it to the city of Victoria Falls had been an adventure. With the heater, the warm gear box beneath our feet, and the heat outside of the vehicle; we were thankful for the bottles of water that we packed. I kept joking to Clint, easy weight loss.
Following that, Imagine driving a car through multiple toll booths with having to unwire the doors and rewire doors with a que of cars behind you. That was us. Clint’s face had grown unhappy at each toll booth. Every time we needed help to push start the vehicle; we paid a few dollars for 2 or 3 guys to help. Finally, after more excitement; the trip continued. First stop. Kadoma. Second stop. Kwe Kwe. Third stop. Gweru. Fourth stop. Bulawayo. Fifth stop. Lupane. We had ran out of fuel and water at Lupane. We were so close to home but still hours away.
We began to slightly panic at Lupane. Every fuel station either waved us on, had a sign reading no fuel, or just responded with responding saying no fuel. Finally, desperately searching and driving on a dust road; we had come across one guy selling fuel from a barrel. We paid the gentlemen for fuel and loaded up on sodas. We were on the move again!
Lupane. Dete. Hwange. And onwards. I call it, “the land of the cattle, sheep, goats, and oh, watch out for the donkey carts!” Among these places, there is Hwange. Hwange is known for Hwange National Park but also as a mining town. The park is one of the most beautiful places you could ever go to. The town… a sad scenery where the potholes could swallow your vehicle.
The Robertson team eventually made it to Victoria Falls. By the time we hit the airport, Clint was being questioned about a marriage proposal. We had been dating at that time. We arrived in Victoria Falls and pulled into our cottage. Clint got out and said some words to the extent that we just paid for heap of junk and why did we do this. He had the look that he just wanted to give a kick to a door of the vehicle.
My response was, “One day we’re going to look back at this and laugh and say remember when.”
Our game drive vehicle still has the name, Abdul and we slowly converted it into a beauty. The vehicle has changed a lot with a little TLC, routine services, a paint job, seats with metal work have been done, a canvas roof and cushion seats were installed, and the roof was taken off the front. Abdul went from shabby to beautiful.
More of our dream became more of our reality. And those dreams continue to become reality. If you join us on an adventure, you will possibly have a game drive in that exact same game drive vehicle.