Couple Saved: The Power of Kindness and inReach®

Adrian Abrahams of ROAM Overlanding, a Garmin ambassador, was very thankful when a couple from the Netherlands graciously allowed his group to utilise their bigger campsite during an overlanding trip in Botswana. A few days later, however, Abrahams was able to return the favor in a big way. He shared the story with Garmin.

Being friendly can sometimes pay off in ways you never anticipated.

Last year, I was on a ROAM Overlanding trip to the Okavango Delta in Botswana. After a week of pushing from campsite to campsite, we arrived at a magical place known as Khwai Magotho Community camp, excited to spend the next 4 days relaxing and enjoying true wilderness.

While looking for the perfect campsite for our group, we stumbled across one that had already been booked by a couple from the Netherlands. We asked if we could swap our smaller campsite for their bigger one, and — thankfully — they were very friendly and accommodating to us. We set up our camp and spent a couple days exploring and watching elephants and hippos playing in the riverfront.   

One evening, we cooked dinner on open flames under the stars and fell asleep to the sounds of lions and hyenas calling in the distance, the chuckling of hippos in the pools nearby and occasional gentle snores of nearby resting adventurers in deep slumber.

But suddenly, we were startled by the frantic cries of Louis, one half of the Dutch couple. He had been brought to our camp by a mechanic from a nearby village. It was quite the sight: Their little car was painted in mud, and Louis looked like he had been through a troubling time. He was desperate for us to come help him and his girlfriend, who was back at their 4×4 (which had been door-deep stuck in a river for hours).  

The number one rule of being in these wild places is that you don’t go mucking about at night — because there are big, dangerous animals, and the nighttime is their time. But a fellow overlander in need of help was certainly worth it. We switched on all our vehicle spotlights and slowly followed the mechanic to the drowned vehicle.

When we arrived, the situation was worse than we thought. The vehicle’s rear end was taking on water, and the people who came to help our new friends had unfortunately made the situation worse.

Considering we were in a completely wild area, we decided to opt for a fast and effective snatch recovery. These are particularly effective in helping break the suction of a vehicle stuck in mud. We got all the recovery gear together, spaced everyone around safely and hammered the beans out of my vehicle to give it a good tug.  

Just like that, the drowned vehicle hopped out of the river, water draining from every orifice. The whole vehicle was soaked. Yet, unbelievably, the engine started. We helped get Louis and his partner back to safety at the campsite, where we could watch their backs in the dark while they got their tent set up.

Most of their food was damaged and clothing was drenched, so the next morning we hosted them and gave them space to dry out their belongings. There was just one big problem: There was no way that this vehicle would be taking them back to town, and none of us had any cellular signal or Wi-Fi®.

Luckily, I always carry an inReach Mini satellite communication device¹ in my vehicle — typically for sharing our location and messaging with loved ones at home. Now it was going to come in handy for reaching the 4×4 rental company that the vehicle belonged to.

We managed to communicate with them via messaging on the inReach device and exchanged all the details we needed to get confirmation that a flatbed truck would be out within the day to collect the Dutch couple and their drowned vehicle.

We continued to host them for that evening, and, in the morning when we went our separate ways, we could tell they were grateful to have stumbled upon us. We have kept in touch since then, and their adventure continued to get crazier from then on, but at least we had gotten them out of the dangerous part. They eventually arrived home to the Netherlands safely.

Sometimes (more often than not) being prepared can end up helping others even more than yourself, and I think there is no better feeling than being able to help when it’s needed.  

¹Active satellite subscription required. Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communication devices. It is the responsibility of the user to know and follow all applicable laws in the jurisdictions where the device is intended to be used.

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