Category Archives: Africa

Finally – The Wrap Up

Yes, I know, it’s been three months since my last post and about 2.5 months since we left Africa. I had every intention of making one final post about the end of our trip in a timely manner, but life just got in the way. Anyhow, for those that are still interested (I’m not sure anyone is even reading my blog anymore) here is a “wrap up” to our trip.

While in Cape Town we stayed at a very nice hostel at the base of Table Top Mountain. In the mornings we could walk right out of our bedroom and there it was; massive and gorgeous, usually surround by a fair amount of clouds. We spent two days checking out the town and did a little shopping for non-camping clothes. Down at the tip of the the country we visited a beach where African penguins live and mate. It was really weird to see people sun bathing and swimming right next to a bunch of penguins.

After that we drove about 1.5 hours north to the wine region, stopping at a few wineries on the way and ending up in one of the most picturesque little towns I have ever seen called Franshoek.

We checked into a nice guest house, made reservations at some nice restaurants and then spent the next two days strolling about he town, eating good food and tasting not so good wine at a few local wineries. We left Franshoek returning to Cape Town for a little more sight seeing only to realize that I had left my passport at the money exchange place in Franshoek. Luckliy we were able to retrieve it he second time we left Cape Town which was the start of our journey along the Garden Route. The Garden Route is the coastal region between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth on the Eastern coast of South Africa.

We spent a few days driving the coast, stopping in little towns along the way and generally not doing much. There are supposed to be several world class surfing spots along this part of the coast, but unfortunately we hit them all at the wrong time of the year.

We even spent two extra days in Jeffery’s Bay, the most famous surf spot of all, hoping our luck would change and there would be some good surf. Nothing doing, of course, but Charles still had to rent a board and a wetsuit and sit out in the water for about an hour. I think he only caught three waves the whole time he was out. While in J’Bay we stayed in a tiny, tiny little shack on the beach. It fit the bed and that was it. Oh, and some bed bugs.

After J-Bay we drove to Port Elizabeth where we spent the last day of our trip sitting on the beach trying not to get too burnt and trying to brave the freezing cold water a few times. After that we hoped on a plane back to J’berg and then flew back to London. At the end of the trip, even though we had an amazing time, we were both glad to be back to familiar surroundings. Now, of course, we both think about our trip on a weekly, if not daily, basis. It has left such a mark on us both and we have every intention of going back again someday. Africa is one continent I would recommend all people to visit at least once in their lifetimes. With your family, friends or even by yourself, it should not be missed.

The Mis-Adventure Adventure – Part 2

The next day we got stuck. I guess it was bound to happen, but I was really hoping that it wouldn’t be me who got us stuck. We were driving through one of the pans in the CKG called Deception Pan, aptly named, and before I even realized what was happening the truck sank into the thickest mud I have ever seen. This stuff is dark and sticks like cement. We weren’t in very far and thought we might be able to get out on our own by using our firewood for traction. It was a little stressful, considering that some of these roads don’t see traffic for months at a time as I mentioned before. Luckily, a Czech couple that we had passed earlier drove by not even 10 minutes after we got stuck and the pulled us out. Thanks goodness!

We carried on and a few kilometers away we got really lucky and spotted a pack of wild dogs. These guys are endangered and are very hard to find. Watching them for 30 minutes was a good pick-me-up after the near disastrous mud-stuck incident.

We left the CKG later that day and drove to Khalagadi in Southern Botswana. Down yet another horribly wet and muddy road for two hours and we arrived in, what I think, is one of the prettiest parks we have seen. Wide open spaces with rolling hills and short grass. Very nice campsites also. This park is on the border of Bostwana and South Africa and after one night on the Botswana side we headed out early, before the sun was up to do a short game drive to try and find the lions that we could hear roaring in the distance. We were rewarded for our early wake up and spotted two males and one female sunning themselves about 50 meters from the road. One of the males got curious and decided to check us out. The video below is just a minute or two, but captures what we saw pretty well.

After the last lion encounter we head to the South African side of the park where we spent two pretty uneventful days and nights before leaving the park. It had rained the night before we left and we had to cross a shallow river to get out of the park. Looks bad, but it was really shallow and we got across without any problems.

With a full tank of gas, air in the tires and a clean windshield we set off for the Las Vegas of Africa, Sun City. The trip was too long to make in one day so we stopped mid-way in Upington. A totally unremarkable town with very little to offer. We did find a nice guest house on the river and as I carried our stuff up to the room Charles went to park the truck. Completely forgetting that we had a tent attached to the roof of the truck he decided to park in the shade of the awning to keep the truck cool. No more camping for us. The front of the tent hit the roof of the awning and bent enough so that we couldn’t use the tent anymore. Bummer. We were only a few days away from turning the truck back in unharmed. The next day we left for Sun City and stayed in a nice chalet for two days, played in the water at the fake beach and waterslides and gambled in the casinos. We had planned on staying one more day, but starting having problems with the trucks battery so we limped back to Johannesburg one day early. We were not looking forward to turning in the truck with a funky battery (not our fault) AND a broken tent. We got lucky and found a camping store on the way to Jo’burg and the owner got out his hammer and vise and fixed the tent for us for only a few bucks. So, truck returned, off to the airport, several hours of delays and we are now in Cape Town. We are in search of some decent non-camping clothes so that we can go have a few nice dinners and not look like hobos. Wish us luck!

The Mis-Adventure Adventure – Part 1

The Kalahari has had its way with us over the last 10 days. We are still having a great time, but have had a few rough days. After flying back to Maun we went on a mokoro trip in the delta. This is one activity that I really wanted to do. A mokoro is like a canoe made from a hollowed out tree and is steered by using a long pole about 3 meters long. After a long, bumpy drive we arrived at the delta and took off for an hour long ride through grass-lined channels. It was so peaceful and really beautiful.
Our guides answered any questions we had, but mostly we just guided along in silence.
Eventually we stopped and got out of the mokoro and we were supposed to go on a nice “bush walk.” Ummm… taking off our shoes and wading through thigh-high, leech infested waters was not what we had bargained for. The water wasn’t really that bad, but the hour+ walk in 95 degree heat to a hippo pool that had one hippo a few hundred yards away was not fun. Then of course we had to walk back to the mokoro. I would definitely go on another mokoro trip, but I think I will skip the bush walk.

The next day we took off for a part of the delta called Moremi that was reachable by 4×4. The roads were very wet with puddles about 2 to 4 feet deep, covering the whole width of the road and stretching up to 100ft long. It was a bit nerve-wracking but we made it without any problems.

The truck was a bit worse for the wear after the trip. That night it rained which made the drive back out even more treacherous. But, again, we made it. Next destination was the Central Kalahari Desert. This national park is remote to say the least. None of the camping sites have water, there is no where to fill up with fuel or stock up on fire wood or buy food. You must bring everything with you. You have to calculate your mileage before going in the park to make sure you will have enough fuel and water to get you back out because the park is not patrolled by rangers and some roads do not see cars for up to three months at a time. The road in to the park was another bad one. Below is a little video of what the drive was like, for 65 km, 2.5 hours.

In the end all the crazy driving was worth it. The park was beautiful. I’ve said it before, but the colors of the African sky our unbeatable.

The second night or our stay in the CKG we didn’t make it to a campsite before dusk so we set up camp in the middle of the bush. Our nice dinner was cut short when we realized that a few hyenas were watching us eat. Very common supposedly, but kind of scary at first. We climbed up into our tent and fell asleep while looking at the blackest night with the most stars I have ever seen. Truly awesome.