When it comes to travelling around South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ most fans will be relying on the standard modes of transport such as bus, airplane, train and car. But some Chilean fans have other plans.
On 14 June overland vehicles will arrive at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, just two days before the Chilean game in Nelspruit against Honduras. The overlanders will be filled by 56 Chilean football fans, who will follow their team around the country in the massive 4x4 trucks.
“We have set the tour from 14 until 25 June, the last Chilean game of the first round, and we are going to sleep every night in a different place. After the 25th we will have to adapt the itinerary according to the results,” said Pamela Mendoza, the team organiser and leader.
The first destination of the tour will be a Chilean Bar, set up for the first game in Nelspruit, where the fans will have the opportunity to meet their countrymen and get into the swing of the World Cup.
“We are coming to South Africa because we believe in our national team, we are soccer fans and this is the most important sports party in the world,” said Mendoza.
Overlanding has become a popular tourism pastime in South Africa. These massive custom built 4x4 trucks offer tours to some of the region’s most inaccessible destinations, and as such a unique experience of the landscape and the people who inhabit it.
Klaus Dreckman is one of the La Roja fans who will be joining the overland tour, and aside from the football he is looking forward to the prospect of visiting South Africa. “There is a lot of excitement because of the experience that we are about to have: traveling around a country very different to ours in culture; getting to know spectacular places, living unimaginable experiences and to be witness of the biggest party in world sports.”
However these fans are here, first and foremost, to show support for their national side. “We’ll bring our flags, not only the Chilean but also the ones that different overlanders are bringing to represent their own cities (Punta Arenas, Iquique and even Eastern Island). And of course we are planning to get some vuvuzelas,” said Mendoza.
“We are going to be a red tide flood in each city and stadium,” said Drekman.The ‘overlanders’ are confident that Chile will perform well in the tournament. “There is a lot of expectations about what Chile can do in the World Cup,” said Drekman. “To be in second place, only one point behind the fifth time world champions [Brazil], shows us that this young team, it’s ready for big challenges.”
With the tournament kick-off less than one week away, the Chilean fans are full of anticipation. “The mood could not be better. We are going to have an unforgettable experience and enjoy all the marvels that soccer and South Africa have to offer,” said Mendoza.