Thursday, 5 November 2009

Thinking for ourselves

On Monday we hired a car and Bonnie, Shannon and I followed Amelia and Gavin down to Cape Point. Very different driving around in a tiny little car too the truck. It was very windy at the Cape and we walked up to the light house and nearly got blown off.

We then went to a penguin colony and enjoyed a lovely lunch at Betty's. I tried some pickled fish and then had fish, calamari and chips, ending with a Malva pudding. We were very tired heading back into Cape Town.

On Tuesday Bonnie and I headed to Hermanus. We ended up staying at a really old hotel by the beach and were able to look out into the bay and see whales - an amazing sight. We took a boat tour out into the bay and got really close views of the whales diving and swimming and also a pod of dolphins racing the boat. Both remarkable creatures.

At the moment we are in Mossel Bay - it took a lot longer to drive to than expected and it has a very different feel than Hermanus. We are spending the morning here then are going to spend tonight at a game lodge. Cannot believe that the African adventure is nearly over.

South Africa

The last week of our tour was spent driving down through South Africa. I much prefer Eastern Africa, the further down South we've come the more African culture we've lost, but fun all the same to see new things.

We stayed a night at Orange River which was very beautiful and quiet, although maybe not after the night in the bar. Some of our group chose to go canoeing but I chose to spend the morning relaxing and having coffee.

We then headed to Springbok the next day for some shopping. A bit scary because in the hour we were there someone saw two people get pushed in front of a car.

The next big day we had was driving from Gekko camp to Stellenbosch, it was Mel's 21st so we chose to decorate the truck with balloons and two ply toilet paper. Amelia decorated a cake and it was a fun lifely journey.

In Stellenbosch we participated in a wine tour. Why they let a 24 overlanders who have being bumping around in tents and trucks for seven weeks do this I don't know. We did try to behave ourselves, in fact, I think we did a fairly good job. The landscape around the area was amazing and the weather beautiful, most of the rest of the passengers would have liked to stay for longer.

After a dinner out and one final night together at the Stumble Inn we headed to Cape Town the on Saturday. Aric got dressed up as P Dog, Tiff a cheese and Ailie a cat - very very funny and just the way Halloween should be. It was a somewhat somber ride back as it was not going to be long before the good byes started.

Arriving in Cape Town Bonnie, Lauren, Ant and I were checked into a Mansion - well maybe not a mansion but a beautiful house that we settled right into. Most of our truck passengers went out to dinner at a German pub - last night of Octoberfest and all!!

On Sunday it was the start of the Goodbyes and very sad it was too - amazing how in such a short time you can make so many wonderful friends who will last a lifetime.........

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Cheetah Farm and Swakapmond

After the Delta we headed to the Cheetah Farm. It is a real working farm with sheep and cows run by a father and his sons, they have donated part of their land so that they can look after injured cheetahs. So we arrived in the late afternoon and got taken to the homestead where we were able to pat the three cheetahs that were there - the youngest was six months. It was really neat to be able to stroke them, they have coarse hair like a dog but they purr like a cat, albeit a BIG cat. They are placid, lazy animals but have brilliant patterns over them.

We then went to set up camp being mindful of the scorpions and puff adders! Then we got loaded onto trucks and got to go feed the other cheetahs on the property. One of the son's threw big chunks of meat out to them and they would take them away to eat - very neat. We then also got shown the younger cheetahs as well who were very cute.

After dinner a few of us went to the bar. It was plenty of fun. One of the games was trying to crawl through a bar stool without touching the ground and another was picking up a bar stool with only one hand. It was very entertaining to watch the boys from the truck trying to do it. After a few games of pool we hit the tents as we had an early start to get to Swaka.

On the way to Swaka we pass through desert, endless, sand for as far as you can see. Luckily the temperature had dropped otherwise the ride would be rather unpleasant. We also got to stop at a seal colony by the Atlantic. They were pretty neat to watch but not very nice smelling.

Swaka is an unsual town very much influenced by the German settlers - it's a few quiet town, and many of the Aussies say's it reminds them of an outback town. So we've all being just wandering around eating, shopping and using internet. Sadly I think we're arriving back in the Western world - for me East Africa is where I'd rather be.

Yesterday a group of us did the town tour. We stopped at one village and had heaps of children running up to greet us and wanting to be swung around and have photos taken of them. They were all very happy and we had plenty of smiles and giggles. We then went to the home of one of the woman cheifs she was a beautiful lady in her 8o's, and some of her great grand children were there too. She said the most difficult thing about her life was when there was apartheid and how her son was taken away to jail. We also visited a medicine lady and the shanty town. At the end we went and had some drink in a local bar and then had a local meal. Starting with a sour kind of drink made from a maize plant, then going onto porridge with a spinach dish, bean dish or caterpillars. All very nice, the caterpillars tasted very much like shrimp and had the same texture. For dessert we had three kinds of dried fruit, one tasted a bit like tea, on had the texture of dung and the last was mostly seed! A great experience though and very well run. Oh and I also learnt some of the "click" language which was fun.

There's one week to go before we finish the tour and the thought of having to go back to reality is not that appealing! Hope all is well.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Okavango Delta

We stayed for one night in a campsite owned by a Kiwi that grew up in Five Rivers - there seems to be plenty of NZ'ers over here living the dream. It is a quiet campsite, although there was a moment of panic after Shannon found a scorpian in her tent bag!

It took 1 and a half hours to drive to the Delta edge on very sandy, bumpy roads with children from the villages coming out to wave to us. When we got to the water our Mokoro's(canoe's) were loaded up and then Mel and I climbed in with our poler John. He was an older man and I think was entertained by our singing the whole way three hour ride. The Delta is an amazing place with reeds and water as far as the eye can see, which maybe is not to far as we're lying down in the Mokoros. But the noise of the frogs and the crickets and the swish of the reeds as we wound our way to the campsite was very humbling. We ended up at a small island which was to be our own. Up go our tents, and down goes the hole for the toilet - real bush camping! We then got taken out to a swimming hole with brownish, clear water and we had a lovely couple of hours there just relaxing, trying our hand at steering the Mokoro's and getting the cleanest we've being in weeks.

In the early evening one of the local guides took us for a tour of another island. There was a chance of seeing elephants and hippos but we did not see these and were all walking back a bit sad. When suddenly our guide stopped causing a pile up of 7 Muzungas behind him, only for us to look up and see a cobra slither across the track in front of him(and us). Eeek, a COBRA.

We all had wonderful sleeps that night as it is so very quiet and dark in the Delta, although there is thousands of stars to look at. We've not yet seen the Southern Cross but all us Kiwi's and Aussies are hoping to soon.

We spent two nights in the Delta and had a lovely time - the last night the local guides did traditional dancing and singing for us and as it was a cultural exchange we had to sing something back. The Aussies sang Waltzing Mathilda, Bonnie and I sang Pokarekare Ana, Ailie sang a Japenese song, Mel a Belgium song, Gift a Zimbabwe song, we then all sang a harmonious version of In the Jungle and for our finale we did a rousing rendition of the Hokey Pokey with botht the locals and us all joining in. So there you have it in one of the most awe inspiring places in the world we let lose with a quality action song!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Zambia and Zimbabwe

Time is flying by here in Africa even though I've well and truely settled into the relaxing ways of the people who live here.

Since leaving Malawi we had three long driving days of 10 hours where most of us just slept or spent time staring out the windows. It's getting hotter as we head down south so makes for difficult times playing cards with the windows open on the truck.

We arrived in Livingstone, Zambia on Tuesday at a camp site that is owned by a Grubby(a Kiwi who has being over here for 15 years and originally was from Mosgiel). His campsite was one of the most relaxing that we stayed at - the bar was just done on a honesty system which means we just wrote down what we had drunken. It's really hard to keep the liquids up with it being so hot and it means that eating is hard as well.

The first day in Zambia I decided to go rafting on the Zambezi - I took the easy option of the safety raft although in hind sight we got the roughest ride. We started out at 8am and had breakfast and then were driven to the National Park and walked down the gorge to the river. In the background we could hear the sound of Victoria Falls. In the safety raft was Bianca, Sarah(tour leader) and a local guide. I fell out on rapid no. 3 and was so terrified I wanted to hop off. Then on no.8 I also fell out which was just after we saw a crocodile in the water. Next falling out was on rapid no. 15, Mel and I were at the front of the raft and we both shot out - it's a grade 5 so there is no control over anything. I got picked up by a canoeist who took me to one the the other rafts where a Brooke had being hit by her paddle and had blood pouring down her face. So after a bit of first aid we headed on down the river. Brooke got into the safety boat with me and we tipped before we'd even entered the rapid. So we both went down river again and were picked up by one of out group rafts. I think this is where I broke my toe as I can remember that I'd tucked my toe under a paddle in the safety raft and it must have got caught and snapped then. Not a lot anyone can do for it though but makes for a good story. Out of everyone in the that went from out whole trip the people who had spent any time in the safety raft were the ones that were bruised and banged. After leaving the water we got a cable car out of the gorge and had lunch and then on the hour and a half ride back to Grubbys we had a few well deserved beers.

The next day some of our group went on a lion walk. It was really neat to be close to five 18 month old lions. They are really lazy animals and were not really interested in walking with us. After an hour with them we got to spend some time with some even lazier cheetahs - an amazing experience just to pat them and be so close to such beautiful animals.

That night the majority of our group went on a sunset cruise on the river. The main aim for most of the people(but not me) was to drink the bar out as that way we would have got the cruise free. Needless to say it made for many messy people who were lucky not to fall off the boat. It was all in good fun though and the sunset over the river was amazing.

We also got to do some local drumming with out group. Even me who had no rhythm could join in and we all had a great time.

Yesterday we arrived in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. It's a lovely quiet little down and it's very nice relaxing. Right now I'm at Shoestrings which is owned by an Aussie and the mood here is awesome, there are people playing guitar in the background, the pool is cool and it looks like the avo will be spent chilling here.

Tomorrow we split up which is going to be hard for many. Sarah our Aussie tour leader has already left and tomorrow we split from Jack and have a new leader called Gift. It all looks good for going down south and I do very much like Africa. Take care.

Saturday, 3 October 2009


After leaving Dar we had an easy driving day(or I think everyone is getting more used to the 5am starts). After driving through Mikuni National Park where we saw plenty of giraffes, antelopes and elephants we stayed at Old Farm House Camp near Iringa. We arrived about 7pm after a 13 hour driving day but all our truck was excited and happy to be traveling again after the stop over in Zanzibar. The camp had no power so the showers were wood fired. The bar was in a little hut and made the best hot chocolate with Amurula.

The next morning we left at 5am again as we needed to get to the border early, in the end it though we had no trouble with our passports but there was a blockade at the border with trucks and wood piles. Eventually our driver managed to convince the drivers to move off the bridge so that we could get through, after entering Malawi we counted two hundred big rig trucks waiting to get into Tanzinia from Malawi - am very thankful that we got through or we would still be there.

We then spent two nights at Chitemba Beach Camp which is right on Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is a massive lake - so big that you can't see the other side and the waves are always crashing onto the beach. We spent the days relaxing and catching up on washing. I went on a visit walk and we went to a school and health clinic that both were in need of funding. We also visited a witch doctor and he said that I'd get married soon, have three children(two girls and a boy) and that I was happy in my job! So there you go lets see how right he is.

For the last two nights(and tonight) we have being staying at Kande Beach. The drive here was very windey and hilly. We stopped half way at a market for us to buy outfits for each other to dress up in. Last night we had a big night that started off with outfits being given out and then a punch bowl being drunk and then dinner was a pig on a spit roast. There were some very funny outfits that were worn by everyone - can't wait to put the photos up when I get back.

So tomorrow we head off again, where I do not know but will keep you undated next time I'm at a internet place. Hope all is well.

Friday, 25 September 2009


It feels like a long time since I last updated. We've had a few very long driving days. The first was the road between Nairobi and Arusha - not one part of it was sealed so it made for a very bumpy ride in the truck. In Arusha we stayed at a snake park and we are all very aware of the huge, dangerous snakes that are around! After one night in Arusha we went in to Ngorongora Crater. A truely spectacular drive, and very windey both going down into the crater and back out(lucky I'm used to the GY road). We took jeeps into the crater as the truck was too big, it meant we could get much closer to the animals. We so a nice herd of ele's both a big bull one and some Mommas and babies - the big bull one trumpeted at us and our driver got out of their fast. We also so many types of birds, lions, hippo's, a rhino, plenty of elk and a cheetah. It was a great couple of days made even better by the lovely sealed road between the crater and Arusha(thank you Japanese government).

Our next big drive took us from Arusha to Dar e Salaam(a mega 15 hour drive), we even had lunch on the truck. Very entertaining to at lunch to have cheese, veges, fruits and knifes flying around as we went over each bump. When we got to Dar we got stuck in traffic for a good three hours as it there was a big celebration for Eid. Hundreds of people all lining the streets, so we all were hanging out the windows saying hello and trying to communicate with the locals. Our campsite was right beside the beach party so made for quite a restless night.

Then we have traveled by ferry to Zanzibar a beautiful island of the coast of Tanzania. The first night we stayed in Stone Town and were able to watch an awesome sunset go down from the balcony of Africa House - a upmarket hotel right on the beach. Stone Town was very cultural and much friendlier than I thought it would be. We went to a night market by the beach and were able to sample many types of fish and meat and the banana and chocolate pancakes was delicious.

For the past two nights and for tonight we are at a beach hotel up the North of Zanzibar - very much beach holiday mood. Most of us have just being lazing on the beach most of the times with occasional visits to the three restaurants close to us. The sunsets are amazing and the stars are bright at night showing that we really are in a beautiful spot. Today Christian, Ann, Heidi and Ann went out on a little boat for some fishing. We caught 13 all together and some of them were very ugly with big teeth, we were also lucky enough to see two dolphins. After we arrived back we bartered with one of the chefs too cook us some fish. So we had 13 fish cooked and some chips and salad all for 27 000 shillings. Not bad when divided between five of us works out just over $5 per person.

Tonight we may go on a sunset cruise, and as I have being battling some kind of weird flu thing I should go rest - it most likely is not malaria but no one knows quite what it is.

Tomorrow we head back to Stone Town for one night and then the next day back to Dar. From there we travel to Lake Malawi for a few days. Hope everyone is well. Take care.