Vespa Veterans recall their never to be repeated Canyon adventure - Namibia Safari and Lodges - Gondwana Collection
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Vespa Veterans recall their never to be repeated Canyon adventure

Avatar of inke inke - 15. July 2016 - Discover Namibia

Gruelling descent into the Fish River Canyon.

Taking a scooter through the Fish River Canyon? Impossible! This would be the reaction of any sensible person who has seen the second largest canyon on earth with their own eyes. Yet this didn’t stop six members of the Cape Town Vespa Club to nevertheless attempt the impossible in 1968 – getting themselves into an adventure without equal!

The Cape Town Vespa Club made a bet in 1967 amongst some of its members, to be the first to take a vehicle through the second largest canyon on earth. They planned to descend into the canyon at the main viewing point and take their Vespa’s to Ai-Ais, 80 km to the south.

After six months of intense preparation the men set off for the Fish River Canyon on 9 July 1968 – with three scooters, spare parts and equipment. They had named the scooters Veni, Vidi und Vici (as in Roman emperor Julius Caesar’s famous words: I came, I saw, I conquered). It was a grueling experience during which their transport often turned into goods to be transported. As the expedition unfolded, Veni plummeted down into the gorge, Vici sank to the bottom of the Fish River and Vidi’s engine finally packed up for good.

Totally exhausted they climbed out of the canyon on the 18th July, grateful for the ‘escape route’ at the sulphur springs where they took stock. They had lost three Vespa’s and managed only about one-and-a-half kilometres per day. But all was not lost. They had left the first ever tyre marks in the canyon and had an experience they would never forget.

42 years after the expedition, three of the six men returned to the Fish River Canyon from 11 to 13 June 2010 on invitation of our MD, Manni Goldbeck. Johnnie Johnson (who has since passed away), Aubrey Jackson and Graham Nell were happy to relate their adventures in the quirky comfort of the Roadhouse bar, while Terry Davidson was unable to attend. 

The other two members of the team could not be located, until news of the reunion reached them and they made sure to contact us. Peter Derichs reached out from Johannesburg and finally Tony Beckley contacted us all the way from Brisbane, Australia! Inspired by the reunion and the story of the Vespa expedition recounted by Gondwana, he created a wonderful website about the utmost adventure of their life.

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