I'm in Zambia, Africa, in South Luangwa National Park. I'm bringing up the rear of a caravan of eight Jeep Wranglers that are being directed, one by one, down a steep river embankment and over the boulders of the riverbed below. The seven Jeeps in front are moving very slowly, if they're moving at all. I can hear the shouts of the spotters, who are leaping among the rocks and mud and pools of fetid water, helping our small group of American journalists guide the all-new, 2007 Wranglers over, around, and between obstacles that would defy anything this side of a Land Rover Defender. This is wicked terrain, and I'm not encouraged by the excited voices echoing off the riverbank. Good grief.
I came here to gaze at giraffes and baobab trees through the Wrangler's open roof, not to prove to the guys from the four-wheeling magazines that I'm anywhere near as proficient at this boulder-dodging business as they are. But the shouts and the sickening scraping sounds rising from the river suggest that differential cases are kissing boulders, mufflers are being crushed like tinfoil, and fender flares are finding new homes on the river bottom. It's going to be a long time before we get to our lunch spot next to the hippo lagoon.... Read full article