Tuesday 11th January, 2000 to Wednesday 12th January
The start of our travels in Southern Africa.
Simon and Laure drove us to Heathrow for the 21.35 flight to Windhoek, Namibia. A delayed departure and the airport seemed fairly deserted by the time we left. Our flight finally took off at 23.00. We had a trouble free flight and got a little sleep. The flight had a stopover at Lusaka, Zambia, where the plane refuelled, but fortunately they insisted we stayed on the plane! We continued on to Windhoek Airport and although it was light, it was partly cloudy so we didn't see much. We arrived about 14.00 hours. We took the shuttle bus to the Hotel Safari which is 42 kilometres away! We booked in, found our room and then went for a swim in the pool and had a beer, enjoying the relatively cheap prices. We later went to the restaurant for a nice buffet supper and then returned to our room for an early night.
We slept pretty well, had showers and went across to the restaurant for a buffet breakfast. We had a phone call from Pegasus, saying they would pick us up. We had a quick swim and were then collected by Mona and taken back to her house to collect the camping car. Mona, and her husband Norbet, gave us a comprehensive rundown on the vehicle (a Toyota Venture) and we said our goodbyes. We drove into Windhoek for money, shopping, to Wild Dog safaris to check out our trip at the end of March and to the Intercape bus depot to buy a ticket from Keetmanshoop to Cape Town next week. We bought a pie and pizza for lunch and then drove back to collect our luggage from 'Pegasus' house (They thought we shouldn't leave our luggage in the car in Windhoek - but like many white people we met, we found them to be over-cautious). We then set off via Windhoek to the Daan Viljoen Park. We drove around one of the unsurfaced trails and then had a walk to a waterhole and back. We saw an Eland and many birds. We then went to the campsite and got settled in. We had a swim in the pool and cooked our first nights meal.
Friday 14th January 332 kilometres
It was quite cool in the night and Rosie didn't sleep well, but it quickly got hot when the sun came up. We had an early morning walk to the dam and then had breakfast outside. We drove back to Windhoek, giving a lift to one of the security guards. We went to the visitors' information (there was not much there) and then bought a bird book of Southern Africa (£13) and some more booze. We had coffee and carrot cake in a cafe and then got some petrol. We left Windhoek and drove south through Rehoboth and then saw some baboons beside the road. It got much drier and flatter and became less green. We turned off to Hardap Dam where a disinterested lady directed us to the campsite. We found the swimming pool with difficulty and had a swim. We drove up beside be dam (the reservoir) looking for game but we only saw some ostriches. The weather had become very erratic and looked very stormy although it was still hot and windy. As soon as we decided to cook though, there were a few drops of rain and so we decided to cook in the camp kitchen - but the rain never came to anything. We talked to a young German couple after supper. It was still very hot.
Saturday 15th January 300 kilometres
It was a very hot night and we couldn't sleep. Adrian didn't feel too well this morning. We drove out around the park on a 60 kilometre drive on unsurfaced roads. We saw springbok, ostrich, and baboons. We stopped at a delightful picnic spot for coffee. We left the park at midday, bought fuel and then drove south. Rosie had had a drive in the park and did so on the way south. On through Mariental where we shopped in Spar and then we turned off to Maltahöhe. The scenery was barren, and desert like . We found a shady picnic spot for lunch (the temperature was 93 ºF). We drove on through flat land with pink hills in the distance to Duwisib castle, set in pretty green hilly country. We had a shower and although it was windy the temperature was still 82 ºF. We lit our first braai and cooked steak and then sat out under the stars on the clear night.
Sunday 16th January 256 kilometres
It was a cool night and after breakfast we visited the castle. We had coffee / tea and freshly cooked apple pie in the 'kiosk' next door. Then on south again through a variety of desert scenery with beautiful pastel shades. We found a shady tree for lunch with weaver birds nests. A hare ran away as we sat down. On again and we saw many birds of prey but failed to identify them. We saw a dragon lizard on the road and also a ground squirrel. We were running short of petrol when we realised it was Sunday. We turned into the "town" of Helmeringhausen to the petrol station but it said 'Not open on Sunday'. We hadn't got enough to get to Aus and so Adrian wandered around looking lost. The only other building in the "town" was a hotel which was also closed. In any case we only had enough money for petrol or campsite not both. Eventually a man came out of a house by the petrol station and said, "do you want some petrol?".Adrian said, "yes please", and he said "why didn't you ring the bell?".Adrian said "it is Sunday and it says you are closed”, he said, "Oh I'll always come out"!. So suitably filled with petrol, we headed off back through the bleak empty desert to Aus and then on to Klein Aus Vista, which was a small farm set in the desert. Pete, the friendly man there, took our English pound notes once we had told him the exchange rate! He sent us off to the campsite, where it was very windy. We had supper and then set out for a walk up to watch the sunset, but after seeing the sunset, we returned before we had done the whole walk, as it was getting dark! We sat out under the stars - we were the only people there.
Monday 17th January 217 kilometres
We were awake early and had breakfast in these desert surroundings. We then drove to Lüderitz across this vast desert, pink at first and then grey. We arrived in Lüderitz, got money, posted cards and had coffee and cake in a German looking cafe. We then visited the campsite on Shark Island. We were worried about staying here because Lüderitz has the reputation of being very windy - 90 per cent of the time. However it was calm then and so we drove north to Agate Beach for lunch, where we paddled in the cold sea. We then drove south to Sturmvogelbucht, an old whaling station, where Rosie had a skinny dip in the sea, which supposedly is very cold but she said it was OK. Then on to the Dias Point (which is the place where Bartholomew Dias erected his first cross on his voyage in 1488) where there were lots of Cape fur seals. We drove on to Grosse Bucht and then back to Lüderitz. Here we went to a bottle shop and then got groceries and petrol. We returned to the campsite. It had turned cloudy earlier but had cleared to give a very still and sunny evening. We had a beer and a feta salad and then had showers. It was hot and still beside the sea. We had a braai and cooked steak. It was a lovely evening.
Tuesday 18th January 545 kilometres!
We awoke to mist but it was still calm. We left at 8.00 to drive back across the desert to Aus and then turned south along a very bumpy unmade road through absolute desert towards Rosh Pinah. We stopped for coffee under the only tree, an acacia, in the middle of a dried up river bed. We got petrol at Rosh Pinah, which was a mining town and then travelled on through a "death Valley" looking landscape, going steeply down to the Orange River. It was very very hot (41ºC). We "swam" in the brown Orange River and then had lunch under a tree by an overhanging rock - the only shady spot. Then on to the Fish River, where we had another "swim" near some black children playing in the river. The weather was beginning to turn stormy looking now. We travelled on along this dirt road until we reached a sign pointing out a 4WD track up a dry river valley (which Pete from Klein Aus had told us about). Storms all around us raged but fortunately there was no rain where we were, as this valley was just a river perhaps 100 metres wide, with vertical sides. We were, to say the least, a little concerned if the river should start flowing. The last 20 kilometres of the route was just like driving across a ploughed field. We eventually arrived at the road (track) and headed towards Ai Ais. The view across to the Fish River Canyon with all these storms raging was unbelievable. We then turned north and drove to Hobas and then on to the Cañon Roadhouse where we arrived at 6.30. We went in to the bar and had a beer, which we felt we deserved, and chatted to the very pleasant managers. We had a quick swim, a shower and prepared supper. By the time we came to eat supper there was a violently gusty wind blowing which knocked over Rosie's wine much to her disgust and forced us inside. The sun set with a beautiful sky.
Wednesday 19th January 94 kilometres
Rosie did the washing and hung it up to dry in a tree. We left for Fish River Canyon, to the Main Viewpoint where we took many photos of the incredible canyon (which is meant to be second only to the Grand Canyon). We then moved along to Hikers Viewpoint where we talked to a young Dutch couple who are staying at the Roadhouse and are on their honeymoon. More photos and then on to Sulphur Springs for lunch overlooking the canyon. We sat under a shade because it was very stormy all around and we had a few spots of rain. Both the Dutch couple and ourselves had been told by Sonia, our manager at the Roadhouse, to go to the Cañon Lodge for a cup of tea. We set off back to Hobas on our way to the Lodge. However we never reached there as just before the turn off, a flash flood river, about 100 metres wide, was rushing across the road. Our Dutch couple, who had passed some half an hour before when the road was dry, were waiting to be towed back across by a Land-Rover. We all returned to the Cañon Roadhouse about 4.00 and went into the bar for a beer. It started to rain - and didn't stop. We stayed put with our convivial company, had a meal and a little wine!, and went out about 10.00 to find rivers flowing everywhere. There was no way we could get back to the campsite so stayed in the Roadhouse and drank bubbly with our Dutch couple. We finally retired at 12.45 to a place around the back off the Roadhouse, using the facilities of one of the rooms.
Thursday 20th January 267 kilometres
We had breakfast in the Roadhouse, got petrol and left by 9.45. The rivers had gone down a lot but we couldn't use the main road out and after driving through a few small rivers we turned towards the B1, which was mostly dry, across to Grünau. We then joined the main road (tarmac) north to Keetmanshoop. We stopped for elevenses in a picnic spot and soon afterwards Rosie had a drive. We stopped in another picnic spot for lunch but just as we sat down the erratic weather started raining on us and we had to sit in the back of the Venture with the tail gate up. We reached Keetmanshoop and went into the tourist information (which was useless!) and as we came out we saw that the Dutch couple from last night had pulled in behind us. We said goodbye to them (they had still been in bed when we left this morning!) and went 14 kilometres north to the Quiver Forest (Kokkerbooms) and campsite. We had a short swim in a murky water tank pool and afterwards walked around with forest, seeing a dragon lizard. There were two cheetahs in an enclosure. We had showers. There was a very erratic sky with a double half rainbow and it had become very windy. We cooked supper, but the meal was interrupted as we wanted to walk up to view sunset through the quiver trees. We came back and Adrian made a fire which we sat round under the stars till late.
Friday 21st January 40 kilometres (in the venture)
We got ourselves packed up and organised to hand back the Venture. We had showers and left at 12.15. We drove five kilometres to the "Giants Playground" a vast area of large "piles of stones", reminiscent of the Devil's marbles, but square-shaped. We walked around viewing this amazing sight, and then chatted to a German as we left. We had lunch just along the road under the shade of a tree. We drove back into Keetmanshoop, the weather by now having deteriorated to give heavy non-stop rain. We drove around looking for eating places, taken from Lonely Planet, but they all seemed to have closed or were simply not there. We went to the museum but that closed early on Friday. We had a cup tea at the Canyon Hotel. We didn't really know how to fill in our time now, because there is little else to do there, so we drove out of Keetmanshoop and stopped beside the road and read. We then went back to the Canyon Hotel and had our evening meal. At 10.45 we went to the BP garage to catch the Intercape bus to Cape Town. We met Norbet off the bus and handed the Venture back. We boarded the bus, which was very crowded, at 11.15 p.m. and headed south. We crossed the border into South Africa about 2.00 a.m. and everybody had to get off the bus twice, once to leave Namibia and then to enter South Africa.On the Bus
Namibia - south, our own Safari
We loved the desert, the emptiness, the wide open spaces.
The ever changing sky. The brilliant skies of sunset.
The variety of the desert landscapes.
I, particularly disliked the wind, which was so erratic and could blow up so suddenly and make life very difficult.
We disliked having to be so wary with our belongings, although we actually found people, whatever colour, friendly and honest.
We found the 'Venture' ideal as a vehicle - perhaps a little sluggish, and only 2 wheel drive, but it coped with a variety of terrain. Sleeping in the vehicle was comfortable and easy (we were glad of our 50p potty!)
Camping equipment was basic but adequate. Our menu was limited due to few shops and no fridge, but supplemented by beer and wine, which was good and not expensive.
We always camped on campsites, a) for security
b) for facilities, which were generally good
The wildlife we saw, particularly our first time in Daan Viljoen park
Camping in the desert (nearly all the time)
Driving on desert roads (virtually no traffic)
Duwisib Castle - the actual setting and the first camp fire.
Beautiful still weather at Luderitz (unusual) - another camp fire
The coast south of Luderitz - swim in the sea at whaling station. First Dias Cross - fur seals
Driving beside the Orange river in the extreme heat and stopping for a "swim"
Taking 4x4 track up a dry river valley with storms around.
Canyon Roadhouse - a lovely evening spent with a young Dutch honeymoon couple. Dramatic rain and flash floods, preventing us from getting back to the campsite
Quiver trees at sunset.
Fish River Canyon - viewing it and against the dramatic sky the previous night
We liked being able to sit outside as there were so few biting insects
Longer evenings than when in Oz (sunset about 7.45)
Hurricane type winds which sent us inside at Canyon Roadhouse and knocked over my wine.
Similar winds (not so strong) at Kokkerboom, making life difficult and my subsequent difficulty in locating my camera to photograph the quiver trees at sunset.
Helmeringhausen - no petrol, being Sunday (but the man opened for us)
It was long overnight journey and we awoke to a warm day. However at about 6 am our bus broke down and we pulled in beside the road with a worn out wheel bearing. We all tumbled out and there we waited beside the road for 4 hours, with no drink, no toilet and no food. At 10.30 a.m., we were picked up by a second coach and taken on to Valrhyndsdorp. Here we managed to get some food in a fast food shop and then boarded a third coach which had come up from Cape Town. Even this one seemed to have a problem with engaging gears and we stopped a number of times whilst going up a hill. We phoned the car hire firm and cancelled our car for this afternoon, and also managed to book into a guest house. We stopped at Citrusdal and Malmesbury and finally arrived in Cape Town at 3.45 p.m. We hung around at the bus station for some time waiting to be picked up by the proprietor of the 'Leeuwenvoet House' - our guest house. We were picked up by Rod, an ex Scot and taken to the guest house and to a very nice room where we had a shower and recovered! We had a complementary beer and then were shown all the available local restaurants etc. Later we went to one just round the corner where we had an excellent meal. We came back and phoned Emma and then used the hotels Internet when we discovered that Pippa had her baby on the 19th.
Rosie had an early morning swim. Breakfast was excellent with a great variety of choices to eat. A man from the hire firm arrived and dropped off our car, and we were soon off around Cape Town and across to Kalk bay. Here we walked around the harbour and looked at the fishing boats and a seal swimming around in the harbour. We then went on to the beautiful beach of Clovelly where we had a paddle. Then through Fish Hoek to Simonstown where we had lunch in a restaurant overlooking the sea. We went on to 'The Boulders' which is a national park and a protected place for the Jackass penguins. We looked at these and then went for a swim in the Bay next door, but the penguins didn't understand they shouldn't be with us and so we swam around with them. Then down through the Cape National Park to Cape Point where we went up on a funicular railway to the lighthouse. It was incredibly windy there as we looked down to the Cape of Good Hope. This we then drove around to, taking many photos, including one of some ostriches. It was then back up the East Coast passing lots of forest fires. Unfortunately we couldn't go round the Chapmans Peak drive as the road was closed because of one of these, so we had to go back inland to Constantia and then round to Hout Bay. We continued on to Camps Bay which was very very crowded being a Sunday afternoon but we stopped and had a paddle in the cold sea. Then on past the waterfront shopping complex and back to Leeuwenvoet house. It had been very hot all day and was still very warm. We went out to a local fish restaurant which was both excellent and inexpensive. We checked the Internet again at the hotel and e-mails from Si, and then phoned Paul. It was still very hot so we had a swim in the pool before going to bed at midnight.
Monday 24th January 80 kilometres
We were up early and tried to write a message to everyone as an e-mail home, but having written it the system crashed and so nobody got one. We tried to sort out a flight to go from Johannesburg to Windhoek for the end of March and later drove in to central Cape Town to confirm it. We also took some photos in to be developed. We drove up to Table Mountain to the cable car terminal where we parked by a talkative "car watcher". We caught the cable car up to the top of the mountain and then went on a pleasant walk around the flat top and then back down in the cable car again. We drove around to Signal Hill and looked across to Table Mountain, while we had our lunch. In the afternoon we went round to the Kirstenbosch Gardens, where we enjoyed wandering around seeing all the plants and shrubs in this stunning setting on the side of Table Mountain. Afterwards we drove through the heavy evening traffic to Bloubergstrand and viewed Table Mountain across the bay, and then back to Leeuwenvoet House and a swim. We had our evening meal further down the road from last night in a pleasant restaurant which had good food but was very quiet. It had been very hot all day. We phoned Simon and Tom from the hotel and it proved to be very expensive. We had another swim before retiring to bed.
Our view of Cape Town
A bustling, vibrant City.
People (white) seem to like enjoying themselves.
Life appears very normal (except barbed wire around schools etc.).
Very beautiful - dominated by Table Mountain.
Not expensive - entrance fees, dining out and drink all very reasonably priced.
"Troubles" seem an irony in such a normal feeling place.
Coloureds very quick and eager to start talking e.g. while guarding cars and at station.
Those that talked still had pride. Begged but not persistent.
Many blacks waved when we passed (on steam train).
Cape peninsula has beautiful scenery and bays.
Kirstenbosch gardens delightful - organised and well kept but not posy and all in good taste
Taxi driver gave money to begging children, hotel owners didn't.
High spots - Cape Town and surrounds
Sight of Table Mountain under cloud and then clear.
Cable car up Table Mountain, the view from the top and a delightful mountaintop walk.
Lovely guest house beneath Table Mountain - friendly owners, huge choice for breakfasts, refreshing small swimming pool, lots of restaurants nearby.
Wonderful Kirstenbosch gardens
View of Table Mountain from Blaubergstrand
Our excursion to Cape of Good Hope - beautiful scenery - Kalk Bay, Clovelly, Simonstown
Swimming with Jackass Penguins at ‘The Boulders ‘.
We got organised for our steam safari, by leaving some of our luggage behind at the hotel. We left after another excellent breakfast and drove intoCape Town and collected our photos, which were rather disappointing, and our air tickets for the flight from Jo'burg to Windhoek. We drove around the town a bit looking at various sites and then on to the railway station. We had difficulty leaving our car but eventually rang the hire firm and then "abandoned" the car. It was now the start of our Golden Thread Tour. We went into the 'Blue Train' waiting room, where we sat down with Alan and Kate from Maidenhead! We boarded the steam train and after a short delay left at 11.20 sipping champagne in our private compartment. The rest of the day we travelled out through the townships of Cape Town and across the dry plains to Hermon and then up a branch line to Porterville. Here we stopped and were taken by the school bus (the only transport available here) to a winery where we tasted a number of wines and had a very enjoyable braai (barbecue). We arrived back at the train at 9.00 p.m. and left, going back down the branch line to Hermon and then north and westwards on an enjoyable ride in the dark to Worcester which we reached at 1.00 a m. Here we "lost" our steam engine and continued through the night with a diesel one.
On the train
Wednesday 26th January
Rosie, perhaps unsurprisingly, didn't sleep too well as we clattered through the night. We awoke to a dull and then wet morning. We stopped very early, to fill the carriage tanks with water at Riversdale, and then at Albertinia where we changed our diesel engines for two steam engines. Lots of photos here and the locals had set up craft shops on the station, which we visited. At Gouritz, we saw people bungee jumping off of one of the high bridges across the gorge. By now it had turned hot and sunny and we had lunch in the restaurant car and then stopped for the night at Hartenbos. From here we were taken by bus to Mossel Bay, where we walked around a museum complex and the Dias museum where there was a replica of Bartholomew Dias's ship (he sailed here in 1488). We also went into a shell museum, to see the post tree and the spring where bygone sailors got their water. Then on to "The Point" for a cup of tea and a walk up to a cave in the cliff. It was then back by bus to Hartenbos. We then walked down to the beach and had a lovely swim in the sea and walked back to the station and along the track to the engine depot, much of which looked like the old engines stored at Barry Island. We came back for showers and then had a very pleasant evening meal in the restaurant car.
Thursday 27th January
We slept well apart from a train going past at 2.15 a m. The train left about 6.30 a.m. and we travelled along the beautiful coast to George and then inland up through the Montague Pass. We climbed steeply through beautiful scenery and several tunnels through the Outeniqua mountains to Oudtshoorn. Here we were taken by bus and visited the Cango Wildlife Ranch where we saw crocodiles, cheetahs, Jaguars, white tigers and meerkats and then on to an Ostrich Farm which was a bit touristy, but enjoyable. We both sat on an ostrich and stood on their eggs. Then back to the train which left Oudtshoorn at 5.15 p.m. to return down through the MontaguePass to George for the night. Another excellent evening meal after which we sat in the bar till 11.30 p.m.
Friday 28th January
We awoke to rain which cleared later but it was mostly a dull day. We visited the Railway Museum in George, returned to the train and then left for Knysna. We travelled along the beautiful coast past Victoria Bay, the lakes at Wilderness, Sedgefield and finally to Knysna, where we were to stay for the night. It was a beautiful journey along a beautiful coast. Unfortunately as soon as we arrived it started raining, but after lunch we walked into town, and wandered around taking some photos in for developing and buying some stamps in the Post Office. It was then back for a boat trip on the Knysna lagoon which again was pleasant, but a bit touristy!. Back for supper, after which we played Yahtzee with Alan and Kate and retired to bed at 11.00 p.m.
Saturday 29th January
After breakfast we showed the rest of our Namibia photos to Alan and Kate and then walked into Knysna to collect our photos. We came back and had coffee in the station waiting room and then left at 10.45 by train to head back along the beautiful coast. We had an early lunch so that we could have a swim at Wilderness. We wandered down from the station to the beach and had a very rough 'swim' in the waves, which was lovely. Then on to George where we stopped to fill our engines with water and had a cup of tea in the station. It was then back to Hartenbos, where we arrived at 4.15 p.m. We walked down to the beach for a "swim" in the rough shallow waves and sat on the beach in the sunshine - lovely. We came back and said goodbye to our steam engines. We left Hartenbos about 7.00 p.m. behind our diesels and then had our last dinner on the train. We sat in the bar until midnight.
On the train
The Steam Safari
Excellent all round!
Adrian was in his element!
We thought there would be lots of spare time, but there wasn't.
The food was excellent (too much!)
Lovely friendly service.
Very interesting and varied group of passengers (20).
Some beautiful scenery.
It was good to go on "tours", which we wouldn't normally do.
We had wonderful swims in the sea, from the train (particularly Wilderness).
It will be nice to get back to a double bed and our own facilities.
It was lovely to feel "special" - everyone waved.
It was nice to feel safe - to leave cameras around etc.
Remarkable value for money.
We could see townships from the safety of the train.
Carl (our organiser) was quite delightful and made for a lovely atmosphere.
Highlights of steam safari
Swimming at Wilderness from the train.
Visiting steam engine sheds at Dan Josefat (for Adrian)
Being waited on with V.I.P. treatment.
Befriending Alan and Kate from Maidenhead.
Going to sleep in the dark and then waking in the morning, all to the sound of steam.
Sunday 30th January
We were up early as the train had travelled through the night. We reached Worcester where we changed our diesel engine for a steam one. We left at 7.15 a.m. and were already in pretty countryside. We had our last breakfast on the train and then got packed up. It was a very slow journey and there were several stops, due to our engine having problems. We stopped at Dan Josefat where we had a walk across to the engine shed which was another Barry Island job. There were many engines being rebuilt and repaired here. Our engine steamed in and after lots of deliberation they decided a steam tube had failed and so the steam train was "retired". Our train manager Carl, suddenly said he'd found a diesel engine and we all rushed back to the carriages waiting in the station and we were whisked off to Cape Town where we arrived at 12.30, one hour late. We said our goodbyes and Rod and Helen finally picked us up at the station and took us back to Leeuwenvoet House. We had decided to go to Robben Island today, but the dull day had deteriorated rapidly into a very wet and windy day. Helen and Rod took us down to the pier in the waterfront complex and we joined the boat across to Robben Island. It was an extremely rough crossing. We were taken by coach around the island for a very moving tour of both the prison and a number of other "touristy" spots. It was drizzle and rain most of the time and also on the rough crossing back again to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront complex. We got more photos developed, which weren't that great, and we looked around the shops. We then took a taxi back to the guest house. Our meal tonight was at the 'Ocean Basket', which was a sea food platter and was excellent. We used the hotel Internet again and had a message from Simon.
Awoke early - we could see Table mountain from our bedroom window. We took some washing to the launderette round the corner. Had breakfast and then a man came to collect us for our motorhome hire. The washing was not dry, but we had to collect it and then went to collect our motorhome - mostly pretty good. We stopped in a shopping precinct at Somerset West to stock up. Drove on to Gordons Bay and on to Kogel Bay- beautiful. Camped right beside sandy beach looking to the Cape of Good Hope. We paddled in the sea - it was very rough. Tried to get sorted. Adrian cooked chicken outside on the gas stove, using the new gas ring we had just bought. Ate outside and sat under the stars.
Tuesday 1st February 196 kilometres
A cup of tea in bed looking out to sea and the beautiful view. We had breakfast outside and then left and drove around the coast past Rooiels Bay. It was very picturesque , with dramatic hills, deep cut valleys and sandy beaches . There was much evidence of bush fires.
At Betty's Bay we visited the Harold Porter gardens - peaceful and pleasant, with much fynbos. Had tea / coffee after and bought a few things. At Kleinmond Adrian bought some booze. On to Hermanus, a very pretty resort, and old fishing harbour. We saw the Irish /South African group from the train. We walked around then drove on to the beautiful cove of Voelklip for lunch and "swim". The water was cold. On inland via Napier and Bredasdorp to Struis Bay- almost at most southerly point of Africa. Windy but a beautiful turquoise sea and white sand. We cooked supper inside using the microwave (Ostrich mince). We walked to the harbour, along the beach. There was much evidence of fishing, with lots of boats leaving.
Wednesday 2nd February 170 kilometres
We had a swim in sea before breakfast. Left after breakfast and drove to Cape L'Agulas , the most southerly point of Africa. It was really lovely. Had coffee here on the beach and then drove back towards Bredasdorp and took dirt road to Arniston / Waenhuiskrans. Beautiful white sand and turquoise sea. We walked along the dunes, but couldn't see the huge sea cave as it was not low-tide. Had lunch here in van with lovely view. Then back to Bredasdorp, where we got petrol and Adrian got keys cut in the printers!. On to Swellendam, very pretty country, with lots of sheep and cattle. We crossed the railway line into Bontebok National Park via a poor dirt road. We saw many Bontebok and other antelope, also a secretary bird. We camped here in a pleasant site. Had a walk before supper and then a Barbecue overlooking Breede river. Lovely.
Thursday 3rd February 214 kilometres
A cup of tea in bed overlooking the Breederiver. Then a walk above the river on Aloe Hill before breakfast which we had outside. Then Rosie had a bath! We drove a long way round Bontebok Park, and saw tortoises and many bontebok and birds. We had coffee at park entrance and then drove to Swellendam, where we had a short shop and finally got some salt! Drove up into hills to Montagu via Kogmanskloof Pass and then up to Barrydaleand back via Tradouws pass (which was all burnt) to Heidelberg. Then on to Riversdal where we went to the municipal site which had an "ensuite" loo / shower. Had swim in large pool next door. Ate outside.
It was a blue-sky and hot, all day. We had breakfast outside and drove into Albertinia where we visited the aloe factory. We had coffee here and then had a short shop. We bought some hangers and some milk. We stopped to watch the bungee jump at the Gouritz Bridge and then went on to Hartenbos, where we had a swim in the waves. We had lunch where the river comes out. Then on to Glentana, a lovely wild beach, where we talked to a local chap. On to George where we bought some netting for the van’s windows and down to Victoria Bay. We camped in an idyllic cove with the railway above us. We had a swim in the waves and then a shower. It turned cloudy now. Adrian cooked sausages on the braai and we ate outside.
Saturday 5th February 36 kilometres
We were up late and had breakfast outside. It was lightly raining and cloudy at first but sunny later. We drove to Sedgefield to Di's parents Cecil and Phyllis. There was a lot of chat. Phyllis took us out in the car and we drove around Sedgefield in the afternoon then back for a braai. We met their daughter Sandy and her daughter Melissa. We slept inside Cecil and Phyllis’s house. We had a letter from Emma
Sunday 6th February 40 kilometres
Cecil and Phyllis went fishing early. We left at 8.30 after breakfast outside, for Swartzvlei beach. We walked along to Lion Rock and back. Drove to Rondvlei and walked the six kilometre "mole rat" trail to Schwarzvlei and then looked across from a hide (we saw a Pied Kingfisher). Drove back to Cecil and Phyllis's for a cup of tea and then to Schwarzvlei head where we had a swim in a strong current. Came back and had a bath. Supper with Cecil and Phyllis. She saw a puff adder in the garden (her dogs were barking) just as Sandy and her husband and Melissa arrived. We all hunted but couldn't see it. We went to bed quite early as we were all tired. Sedgefield
Monday 7th February 89 kilometres
Had a really good sleep. We had breakfast with Phyllis and Cecil and then his fishing friends arrived. We left just before 10.00 and drove eastwards to Knysna where we shopped in a Spar. We continued on the N2 and then turned off to Brackenhill. There was a tall Karri gum tree here, 68 metres high planted in 1922. We had a pleasant short walk in the Forest (it felt like Oz.). We then drove 2 kilometres on an unsurfaced road to a very picturesque waterfall (like New South Wales) where there were deeply forested slopes. We had lunch here where a group of baboons played opposite - a top spot! We left at 2.30 and drove to Plettenburg Bay. The site at Robberg was closed so we returned through Plettenburg to a site at Keurbooms on a lagoon. We did the washing (in a machine) and Rosie cut Adrian's hair. It had been a very hot day. We cooked and ate outside. We rang Emma.
Tuesday 8th February
We hung out the washing to dry again as we had taken it in last night. We had a cup of tea and then breakfast outside. We then had a walk to the lagoon before leaving. We crossed the Keurbooms river and stopped at Keurbooms beach for coffee and then a "swim" in the waves. Then on to Nature's Valley for lunch and another "swim" in the waves and also in the lagoon. A beautiful spot. The temperature was 90 degrees F. The valley had lovely steep forested slopes. We talked to four people from Jo'burg at a lookout we had stopped at. Then on to Stormsriver mouth in Titsikamma National Park, really beautiful coast. We had a walk to the suspension bridge and then camped right on the coast. We had a swim in the pool by the sea. Lovely! We cooked supper on a braai and ate outside and sat under the stars. We phoned Tom and Si.
Had a swim before breakfast (in the pool) and after breakfast walked along (up!) the Lourie trail and then came back and had another swim. We decided to stay another day. We walked to the reception and swam in the sea there. It became very windy. We then walked in the opposite direction on the Otter trail beside the sea, until the path became too difficult. We saw a school of dolphins and a sea lion. We came back and had another swim. It was very windy so we ate inside. Storms river mouth
Thursday 10th February 125 kilometres
A cloudy start to the day. Rosie had a swim before breakfast and then it cleared to give a hot day but became very windy. Drove through Storms River village and then on to the "big tree" and went on a lovely walking trail for 2 hours, through the forest. Saw a Outeniqua Yellowood supposedly 800 years old. Afterwards we got petrol and then had lunch beside the Paul Sauer bridge over the Storms river where there was a very deep gorge. We drove on to Humansdorp where we shopped in Shoprite and then on to Jeffrey's Bay, where it was extremely windy. We camped beside the sandy beach.
Friday 11th February 130 kilometres
The wind had dropped overnight and we had a mixture of sun and cloud with a little light rain then turning humid later. We had breakfast outside (it then turned hot) and had a "swim" in the sea. We stopped to buy beer, then a short shop in Spar. We went into an Internet café, where we got a message from Si to say he's coming out to Jo'burg next week! We also got a picture of Pip and baby at last. We sent an e-mail. We left Jeffrey's Bay via Kabbeljous lagoon and then on to Port Elizabeth. We visited a shopping precinct and had lunch in the van, and then on to visit Willie and his wife (grandparents of Soni on the train). We chatted for a couple of hours and had a cup of tea and some excellent home-made cakes. Drove out of Port Elizabeth and then had to drive 40 kilometres north to a site on the river at Colchester. Had a barbecue and ate outside. We watched a large spider making a web and saw two large beetles.
Saturday 12th February 109 kilometres
The day was hot with part cloud and part sun. We had a cup of tea in bed and then walked along beside the river before having breakfast outside. We got petrol and then drove to Addo where we bought stamps, butter and got some money and then on to the Addo Elephant Park. We had coffee and then set off on a "safari". Saw herds of elephants (twice) several ostriches, a large tortoise, monkeys, warthogs, a jackal, and red hartebeest. We arrived back at the campsite and had a cup of tea and then showers. It tried to rain but we still cooked and ate outside. After supper we walked briefly to the waterhole. We also chatted briefly to two couples next to us.
Sunday 13th February 141 kilometres
We awoke at 6.30, it was a miserable day, and stayed that way most of the day with drizzle and light rain. We left at 7.30 for another "Safari drive" in the Park. We only saw two elephants, but also ostriches, tortoises, red hartebeest, bushbuck, duiker and many birds. We had breakfast by a water hole and coffee late morning on our return to the main gate. We then left and drove to Grahamstown. We had lunch, inside, beside an old bit of road. We saw the Settlers Statue at the National Monument and then went to the municipal campsite. Rosie wrote several postcards. We then drove around Grahamstown which was a very pretty university town. There were lots of churches (40) and attractive early houses and wide streets. The evening was damp so we cooked and ate inside.
Valentine's Day, warm and sunny. Adrian cooked bacon and eggs outside for breakfast. We left at 10 o’clock. We walked around Grahamstown which was nice and then had a shop. We had coffee by the camp site entrance. We drove to Thomas Baines reserve - quiet and pleasant. We had lunch beside the dam - there were a few ducks etc. We drove on via Salem - pretty country, lots of pineapples growing - to Kenton on sea. Very pretty - lovely beaches and two river mouths. On to Bushman's river mouth - a terraced site. We walked out by the river and beach - many dunes. Had a quick dip in the sea. Back to campsite for a cup of tea. Two vervet monkeys were nearby. A German man living in Namibia came to chat - said floods of Kruger and the North are very bad. Adrian lit the barbecue with difficulty and we had a Valentine meal (chicken in wine with many vegetables) and bubbly and wine.
Tuesday 15th February 225 kilometres
A very windy and difficult day. We woke early and then dozed till late - Rosie felt unwell. We bought charcoal and firelighters and then left and drove towards Boknes to visit the Dias Cross. We had a long drive across fields, and then walked over the dunes, but when we finally climbed to the top of them, the cross was far too far across further windswept sand dunes. We returned and had coffee in the van and then drove through Kenton on sea(where we got petrol) to Port Alfred. We had thought of camping here, but it was far too windy. We had lunch by the side of the river and another settlers memorial. We found a place to get on the Internet, but the system didn't work too well. While we were in the tourist bureau Rosie's glasses broke, but we visited a jewellers close by and they mended them. We drove on towards East London, through lovely wild country. We intended to camp at the Cap River reserve by the Fish River. We went along a long unsurfaced road but the campsite was unsuitable for motorhomes. We carried on to Kidds Beach where we had trouble finding the campsite and when we did, down another bad road, the campsite was closed. We tried to find another place at Palm Springs - more unsurfaced roads - but couldn't find that either. We'd tried phoning them, and after managing to get the right dialling codes (they have all changed in South Africa), nobody answered. On towards East London, and we then turned off towards the Igoda River mouth and finally, after travelling down a really bad road, we found the site on our second attempt. No one was there but we were told by the owner's daughter that we could stay - we had arrived after 7.00 p.m., just before dark. We had supper in the van. Si phoned.
Wednesday 16th February 52 kilometres
A calmer morning. We left and drove down to the sea for coffee at Cove Rock and then on into East London. We managed to park and visited the tourist information. We were trying to find out about the floods in the north, and they sent us on to the A.A. They were not too helpful but gave us the telephone number of the Road's manager whom Adrian phoned - things didn't sound too bad. We took in some photos to be developed and then shopped in 'Pick and Pay'. We had lunch in the car-park and then got a free enlargement of our photo of us at Cape L'Agulas. Then on to Gonubie beach, a few miles north, where we camped at the river mouth. We did some washing and then had a cup of tea. We hung out the washing but it clouded over so we went for a walk along the river mouth to the sea. On returning Rosie had a bath! and Adrian a shower. We had a braai on which we cooked fish and then sat out under the stars. We went for walk again about 10.00 p.m. to the sea but everywhere was deadly quiet.
We left early, to avoid a road closure due to blasting at the Kei river (which was between 10.00 and 2.00), and went northwards on the N2. We got through OK - just. Then on past Qunu where we saw Nelson Mandela's house and then on to Umtata where we visited the new Mandela museum. We were the only white people there. Then on to Port St John, through pretty, then dramatic scenery - a deep tree covered gorge to the sea. Couldn't find the sites at Port St. John as the roads were closed due to roadworks with no alternatives signed, so we back tracked a little and crossed the river to a site at Cremorne estate. This was in a beautiful position beside the river. There were lots of German motorhomes on a sort of rally there. We hung out the washing which soon dried and had a cup of tea. We then went for a swim in the pool and chatted to Steve the owner/manager and then had showers. We had a braai and sat outside on another beautiful evening.
Friday 18th February 48 kilometres
Looked through leaflets etc. Wrote to Emma and sent some postcards. Drove back into Port St. John and bought some bread. We found the road up to the airfield and proceeded up it. We went a very long way on a very poor road but couldn't quite make it to the airfield as the road was finally too rough. We returned and had lunch by a reservoir. Drove back down into the town and on to Second Beach and then on to the Silaka reserve along a very bad unsurfaced track. On the way we bought some crayfish from some locals. The reserve seemed very disorganised. We went for a walk around and down to the beach but the only things we saw were wildebeest. We drove out and back down to Second Beach where we went for a walk on the beach and bought some souvenirs from some locals. We then returned through Port St. John and back across the bridge and right down to the end of the river down another very poor track. We had a text message on our phone from Si saying he was possibly going to arrive on 1st March. We returned to the campsite for a cup of tea and a short swim in the pool and then a shower. We cooked the crayfish on our gas stove outside, a very nice meal. We then went across to the bar where Chris the bar manager told us that it was illegal to buy crayfish at this time of the year. Adrian played in a "Pool" competition. Chatted to an American doctor called Joseph. Left the bar at 11 p.m. and returned to bed.
We had breakfast outside. Then we waited to travel in the Land Rover with Chris, the manager and Joseph, to the airstrip. There are tremendous views down. When we got there a microlight landed - we chatted to the two crew - Martin and Richard who were surveying logs washed-up from a sunken ship. We came back to Cremorne. We left there midday and drove via Lusikisiki, Flagstaff and Bizana (where we shopped for petrol, milk and cash) and on to Port Edward (KwaZulu Natal). We shopped in Spar (a lady from Johannesburg chatted to Adrian) then on to a pleasant site beside the lagoon at Koelwaters Park. We walked to the sea and then I had a bath. Adrian cooked chicken on the stove outside. We sat outside - it was very quiet, although there were lots of people. We listened to a nice radio programme - oldies.
Sunday 20th February 117 kilometres
It was hot but quite windy today. We discussed the route to take from now on. We had breakfast outside and saw a fish eagle across the lagoon. Then we walked to the end of the lagoon and down to the sea where we had a paddle and then had a swim in the lagoon. We returned for coffee and left at 11. 00 a m and drove north. We stopped at Ramsgate a very pretty little town where we'd tried to have a swim in the very rough sea. This was quite impossible and so we crossed a sand bar and had a lovely swim in a deep lagoon. On to St Michael's on Sea, where we had lunch on the very busy beach with people of all colours. Then on up past Port Shepstone and inland on an old road and came down to the beach at Mtwalume. On to Kelso where we found a pleasant site beside the very rough sea. We had a swim in the large pool. It came over cloudy and humid. We had a cup of tea, got organised and then had a good braai with steak. It was very quiet in the evening and later we rang Si.
Monday 21st February 248 kilometres
We woke up to the sound of rain at 5.30. Rosie had a swim in the pool before breakfast which we had outside. We left and drove inland but the weather became increasingly drizzly with very low cloud and poor visibility. We drove past Ixopo, but the visibility became so bad we were just in fog so we returned a short distance and took the road through Richmond to Pietermaritzburg. This was a very large town and was very busy. We drove around and left in pouring rain and on Howick where we shopped in a Spar. We stayed in a small expensive municipal campsite. We went for a short walk to look at the Falls. The evening was damp and we ate inside.
Tuesday 22nd February 22/2/2000 25 kilometres
A hot day. We had breakfast outside and then walked out on a lovely walk to the base of Howick falls. We came back for showers and then coffee. We got some petrol and then Adrian went to the local garage about the engine which had been misfiring. We went across the road and ordered some new ignition leads. Then we drove off to Umgeni reserve. We had a very strenuous 2 hour walk along an escarpment and back below it - a very dodgy path! We saw giraffes, zebras, blesbok. Then back to Howick where we collected the leads. On to Midmar where we camped overlooking a lake. Adrian fitted the ignition leads. We had a braai but it was quite damp and we came in at 9 o'clock.
Wednesday 23rd February 172 kilometres
We had breakfast outside in the hot sun. We drove to the end of the reserve, to the "cascades", but didn't walk far as the path was very overgrown. Drove out of the park and had one more fruitless search for the "cascades", but did stop by a waterfall for coffee. On via Nottingham Road to Mooi River - pretty green hilly country - very English. On via Estcort to Frere, near Chieveley- the site where Winston Churchill was captured in 1899. We had lunch here. On to Winterton and then into Drakensberg to the Boys' Choir School where we attended a concert - superb! Camped in the adjacent Dragons Peak Park. Had a braai but it turned to drizzle later.
Thursday 24th February 13 kilometres
Awake early. Had a swim in the lovely large pool before breakfast. Did the washing, had coffee, another short swim and then set off late morning to the end of the road - at Monks Cowl. We went for a delightful walk lasting four hours passing several waterfalls and having dips in the river as it was very hot. Then back to Dragons Peak campsite. Had a cup of tea and then washed the duvet covers. Had a text message from Si to say he's coming out on Sunday. We rang him later. The weather went drizzly but it was too humid to cook inside so we had scrambled egg on toast. We played a game of Yahtzee.
Friday 25th February 115 kilometres
Had some rain in the night. It was a mixed day, warm in the sun. We had breakfast outside and then a swim before leaving. Drove back into Winterton where we shopped for petrol, stamps and food. We had coffee by the road soon after. Then on towards Bergville. We turned off to the Royal Natal National Park. We had lunch near the Rugged Glenn and then drove on into the park. We had a walk along towards the gorge and then on to Mahai campsite. We had a cup of tea. We later had a braai of fish which was excellent.
Saturday 26th February - Rosie's birthday 17 kilometres
A cup of tea in bed and cards and presents (from Emma, Paul and Nicky, Renee and Lena, Adrian, and cards from Hil and Jill). We had breakfast outside of poached eggs and then walked to the cascades. We returned to have a shower and then drove out of the campsite to the visitors' car park. We walked out to Fairy Glen and then along the river to the cascades again and turned up a very steep path to a lookout. On to Tiger Falls and back a much less steep way to the van. It was very hot by now and we immersed ourselves in the river! We left and drove a few kilometres to Hlalanathi where there was a beautiful view of the amphitheatre although cloud covered much of it. Had a swim in the pool (which was very busy) and then a bath. We then had bubbly and cake. Rosie's birthday meal was in the restaurant where they had a braai. We sat outside on a warm evening and played dice games.
Sunday 27th February 110 kilometres
There was a beautiful clear view of the amphitheatre in the morning, but the clouds soon came up. We had breakfast outside and then a swim. We hired bikes and cycled out for an hour and then came back for coffee and cakes. We left and drove through Oliviershoek Pass and around the Sterkfontein dam. We were now in the Free State. We had lunch in the van by the side of the road and then visited a Basutho Cultural Village. On past Qua Qua to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, through wonderful sandstone rock formations, to Glenn Reenen campsite. It was very windy now. We had a cup of tea and then went for a superb walk up to "Echo Ravine" and then back for supper of bacon and cheese omelette which we ate inside. Rosie wrote some postcards.
Monday 28th February 137 kilometres
It was a cool night and we had breakfast inside. The cloudy day became warm, windy and sunny. We left and drove around the Blesbok loop and the Oribi loop, but saw only large birds of prey. We drove on to a bird hide. From here we saw red bishop and weaver birds. We also saw some oribi. We had coffee in a nearby picnic area and then on to Clarens where we bought bread. We had lunch soon after in a lay-by. The scenery and the views to Lesotho were superb. On past Fouriesburg towards Ficksburg. Here we shopped in Shoprite. We visited an Internet cafe and had messages from Si, Paul, Renee and Lena, Val, Ed and Liz. We sent a message back. We drove out of town towards a site on the outskirts but returned to one in the centre. It was like a French municipal site. We had tea and buns and later we had a braai. Si phoned and we phoned Paul and Nicky. The evening was warm and we came in at 10.00.
Tuesday 29th February 153 kilometres
It was a lovely morning and we had breakfast outside. We had a shower, got water and then went into Ficksburg to get petrol, and with difficulty some gas. We left and crossed the border into Lesotho. We found the country very colourful, happy, busy and hilly! We drove through Maputsoe and then on a very long and winding road up to the Katse dam. We passed through several small villages with lots of traditional round thatched houses. People were wearing some western and some traditional clothes (a blanket worn in various ways and headgear). There were many animals - horses, donkeys, cattle and sheep - usually wandering all over the road. The former two were often ridden or were pulling things. We went over three passes - the highest of which was 3050 metres (10,000 ft) and the road was continually up or down - very steeply!. Everywhere was very green and there was much cultivation. We went through several security gates and had to get passes. As there was nowhere to camp and they wouldn't let us stay in the car-park we stayed overnight in the Katse Lodge overlooking the dam. Just as we arrived there was a torrential hailstorm. We had a pleasant meal in the evening of fish / steak in the restaurant.
Wednesday 1st March 179 kilometres
We were awake early and had a cup of tea in our room and then had breakfast in the restaurant. We left and drove back from the Katse dam. We bought some petrol from an archaic pump in Katse. We had coffee on top of one of the passes and lunch further down the biggest pass. Then on to the customs at the border at Caledonspoorte and back into South Africa at Fouriesburg. We bought some wood and a film here and went on to a campsite at Meiringkloof, which was down to very long sandy track. We had a swim in the pool and a shower in an antiquated block. Then a walk out up to Bushmans Cave where we saw a rock dassie and a red crab. We came back and had a braai and sat out under the stars. Rang Em and Stu.
We were awake early again and as we were having our cup of tea it started to rain lightly. We were worried about being stuck down a sandy track, so we drove back to the main road and stopped in a layby to have breakfast. Then on to Bethlehem where we shopped and took in two films for processing and then had coffee while we waited for them. We bought a new frying pan for the van as the other one had broken. Went on to a park called Pretoriuskloof beside the Jordan river and had a long walk. We saw several rock dassies and a bird like a vulture. We had lunch here and then went on to Rietz, where there was a campsite. We had difficulty finding this but eventually found it at Bietje Water resort. We were the only people there but there were lots of workers tidying the place up and trying to help! It rained hard while we were having a swim in the pool. We had a shower (in another funny block) and the sun came out. Had tea and fruit loaf. It turned into a wet evening, but Adrian still cooked lamb on a braai which was excellent. We ate it inside.
Friday 3rd March 293 kilometres
We had breakfast inside as everywhere seemed damp. Last night the owner had said that her husband would take us on a tour of the farm this morning where the campsite was. He arrived at 8.30 and took us in his 4WD Toyota around this massive farm which employed 950 black workers and which exported much of its produce (lettuce, mange tout, potatoes, etc.) to Marks and Spencer's. After about 2½ hours we returned to the campsite and left late morning and drove via Frankfort to the Vaal dam at Oranjeville where we had lunch. On through Heidelberg to Jo'burg where after a short diversion! we found Simon and his apartment at Sandton and spent the evening with him. We did two lots of washing and went to bed late.
Saturday 4th March 210 kilometres
We left Johannesburg, Adrian had spent a long time trying to locate the Pilanesberg telephone number. Eventually we found we could camp there tonight, so we drove to Pilanesberg, stopping to get petrol and meat and wood at the shopping centre nearby. We stopped beside the road and had our coffee on the way. We arrived at the campsite in time for lunch Simon was pleased to see such a happy, family, pretty campsite. We were delighted to see so many birds. It was very warm and Adrian and I had a swim in the lovely swimming pool. Then we set off on our Safari drive. We saw giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, kudu and a Lion looking just like Aslan out of Narnia. We drove back to the campsite. There was thunder and lightning but it stayed dry and very warm. We had a braai and sat outside until 11.30 p.m.
Sunday 5th March 246 kilometres
It was a fine day. We had breakfast outside and then left for some more game-viewing. We saw lots of animals including buffalo. We had our lunch at one of the picnic sites. It was 4 o'clock when we left Pilanesberg Park. It had been good weekend. We stopped at Sun City but only to get petrol. Then it was a long trek back to Johannesburg. We had some hold ups especially near Hartbeespoort. It was gone 7 o'clock when the arrived back at Simon's flat. We had supper with him and wrote some postcards and went to sleep in his apartment.
We were up early and left by 7.30 a m and saw Simon off to work. We drove out of Jo'burg on the motorway passing enormous queues in the other direction. At Germiston we took the N17 and followed this route to Secunda. We shopped here in 'Pick and Pay' and we also got money, stamps and postcards. We found an Internet shop and sent a message. We had tea/coffee and a waffle in a small cafe. We also went to a pharmacy where we bought some malaria pills (Lariam). We got some petrol and then left for Standerton. We had trouble finding somewhere for lunch but we eventually had it on a small layby beside the main road. The country around was very flat but there were lots and lots of cosmos. Soon after lunch we had a violent storm but it then turned warm and sunny again. The country became more hilly. We went through Volksrust and on to find a pleasant quiet site beside the Mahawane dam. There were no barbecues here and the evening was cool, so we ate inside.
Tuesday 7th March 126 kilometres
It was a cool grey morning but it became hot in the afternoon. Rosie had had an upset stomach during the night. We left late after breakfast inside. We went through Volksrust and then on South. We stopped to walk to O'Neil's cottage (where the treaty of the first Boer war was signed) and it was drizzling heavily. Then on past Newcastle to Dundee. Here we went to an excellent museum at Talana Hill, which was also a battlefield in the second Boer war. We had lunch here and then spent all the afternoon looking around the museum. We then went back to a campsite in Dundee - very ‘French municipal’. We cooked fish on the braai and sat out in the evening sun.
Wednesday 8th March 249 kilometres
A misty morning, which turned sunny and hot. We had breakfast inside and left at 8.30. We got petrol and then headed for Rorkes drift, 29 kilometres on an unsurfaced road. Here we looked around the museum (the Anglo - Zulu war 1879) and then had tea/coffee. We drove on more unsurfaced roads to Isandlwana (another battle site), where we went to a museum and then on to the actual site. We had lunch here in the shade of the van. We went on another unsurfaced road until we returned to the main road and then back via Dundee and on to BloodRiver, which was 20 kilometres down another unsurfaced road. There was another museum here to the Voortrekker- Zulu battle of 1838, with 64 bronze wagons. We drove back the 20 kilometres and then on to Vryheid, where we managed to find a municipal site, pleasant, but the sun had already gone down behind a hill. We had a braai of lamb and then sat out under the stars in the cool evening.
Thursday 9th March 229 kilometres
A cloudy grey morning but we had breakfast outside and left early. We stopped in Vryheid and shopped in Shoprite which was very mediocre. We got petrol and then drove south through wonderful scenery. As usual we couldn't find anywhere to stop and so pulled on to a track up to a game reserve for coffee. Then on through Melmoth with lots of forests and sugar cane and on past Eshowe. We had lunch in the van on another track up to someone's house. At Gigindloru we turned up the coast to Mtunzini and on to the Umlalazi reserve. It was very hot and humid. We walked down to the beach and then drove to a lagoon where we tried to have a walk through the mangroves but returned to go down to another beach. The path was very rough and steep and the sea was even rougher. We only needed to be splashed by the waves to get very wet. We drove along to the campsite seeing monkeys and a red duiker on the way. Had a cup of tea and then a shower. It was too hot for a braai so we cooked fish on the stove outside. We phoned Si. We sat out under a starry sky until a shower of rain forced us in at 9.30 p.m.
Friday 10th March 135 kilometres
A hot night and we were awake early. Had a cup of tea watching the monkeys, ibis and duikers. We went for an early morning walk along the sand dunes - it was a long way, badly sign posted, and we came out by the beach. We walked back along the beach having a splash in the sea to cool us down. Rosie walked up to the entrance to find out about a swimming pool (which we never found). Adrian cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast. We had a shower and then left and drove northwards via Richards Bay, (which we never really got to as we took a wrong turn). We had coffee on the outskirts and then on to St Lucia. We had lunch and then a short walk in the Dukuduku Forest. We found a camp site at St.Lucia, called Sugarloaf, but had to go back to the town for a permit. We shopped in Spar, got money and petrol and then went back to the campsite. Here we saw banded mongooses and a Knysna Lourie (a bird). We walked around looking for the "perfect pitch". It was very hot and humid. We had a cup of tea and then went for a swim in the very pleasant pool and a shower after. Rosie feeling unwell went to bed early.
Saturday 11th March 16 kilometres
Rosie gradually felt better this morning. We ate breakfast outside and then had a swim in the pool, when it rained heavily on us. We drove into St. Lucia and took our washing into the Laundromat (where the lady said she would do it for us!). We tried to get our photos developed but the machine was broken. We drove round to a beach which was like the west coast of Vancouver Island. Then back to collect our washing. We had lunch by the Omfolozo River estuary and then a walk through the nearby Forest along a walk called the Knysna Lourie trail (but we didn't see any). We saw a red Duiker and then back to the campsite where we saw more mongooses and monkeys. We had a cup of tea and a swim and then walked out along the river to the estuary. We came back and had a braai and Rosie wrote some postcards. Sugarloaf
Sunday 12th March 217 kilometres
We were up early to a beautiful day. We had a swim in the pool and then breakfast outside. We left at 8.00 a m for the Hluhluwe - Umfolozi Park. We saw masses of wildlife. Those we saw for the first time were impala, nyala, kudu, white rhino, black rhino, and crocodile. Those that we had seen before included buffalo, zebra, warthog, giraffes, wildebeest, baboons, monkeys, guinea fowl, and iguana. We also saw many birds including a hamerkop and a coucal. We had to leave the park by 6 o'clock (£50 fine) and after a bit of a rush we managed to reach the gate at 5.40 and headed for False Bay Park. We took a wrong turning just before the campsite and arrived at the main gate of the park just as it was getting dark. By the time we reached the campsite it was dark and we had some trouble finding a pitch beside the waters of Lake St Lucia. Unfortunately there was no swimming here (crocodiles) and no electric. It was very hot and there were a lot of "flying things". We cooked on the stove outside and afterwards sat out under the stars and didn't come in till after 10.00. Rosie saw a shooting star.
Monday 13th March 145 kilometres
We were awake early again and watched the sun rise over Lake St Lucia. Adrian cooked bacon outside and we breakfasted beside the water. We left and drove in to Hluhluwe town, where we failed to get our photos done and the coin phone didn't work (so we couldn't phone Wild Dog) and there was a queue at the Post Office for stamps. We successfully shopped in Spar and also got some petrol. We went into the tourist information and then drove back to a Zulu village where we thought we would have coffee and cakes in the restaurant - but it was not open on a Monday, so we had coffee outside and the cake we bought from Spar which was very stale. We bought some gifts and then walked around the village where we took some video and photos. We drove north on the N2 seeing a python crossing the road on the way. We had a long wait for some roadworks. As usual there were no stopping places and we turned off on to a side road to have lunch in the shade of the van. On to Pongola through pretty country. We found a campsite on the outskirts of the town and went straight for a swim in the pool (which was very dirty), followed by a shower and a cup of tea. There were lots of people on this site - mostly black or coloured workers, and there was much music and noise late into the evening. We had a braai and sat out until quite late, it being very warm.
We had breakfast outside - it was very quiet, and then left at 8.30 and drove into Pongola for some money, post, beer, foil and insecticide. We then had to drive back 30 kilometres before turning off to Golela and into Swaziland. Through the customs and then on a long straight road with no stopping places, so we just pulled off on to the hard shoulder for coffee (there was little traffic, but people appeared as usual). Then on past Big Bendto the Hlane National Park. Here we got our first sight of the effects of all of the rain that had happened in the north. The entrance road to the park was really bad and as all the park roads were closed, we didn't even bother to look at the campsite. We went on to Simunye where we had lunch beside the road in shade of some trees. Then on to Mlawula Reserve which we couldn't get into as the road had been washed away. We returned via Simunye and on through Manzini, Lobamba, to the Ezulwini Valley (the Royal Valley), where we found the Timbala Caravan Park. We had a cup of tea and then a swim in the very pleasant pool followed by a shower. We cooked fish on a braai and sat out for a pleasant evening as there were no flying things!
Wednesday 15th March 117 kilometres
We awoke to a grey morning and so had breakfast inside. However we still had a swim in the pool and then left and drove back to the Mlilwane Nature Reserve. Because of all the previous rain, there were some very rough roads. The weather started to drizzle heavily and the roads became more difficult. We saw lots of antelope, bush pig, zebra, hippos, crocodiles and birds. It got a little warmer and drier and we had coffee watching hippos in a dam. We left about 12.30, then turned the wrong way and travelled some 20 kilometres before we eventually turned back to the Ezulwini Valley. The weather closed in and it rained very hard. We drove into Mbabane (the capital) and parked in the middle and shopped in a Spar. We had lunch in the van in the pouring rain and then managed to find an Internet shop. We left Mbabane and went the wrong way again (no signs in Swaziland), but finally found our way, through hilly country to Malolotja Nature Reserve. Here we camped on moorland hills in a beautiful campsite amongst the blesbok. Sadly the weather closed in and it drizzled heavily all evening, so we cooked chicken stir-fry and ate inside.
We awoke to a thick mist and drizzle which partly cleared but then returned, so we had breakfast inside. We left and drove north past Piggs Peak, where we were stopped by a police control and asked to check our hooter (horn). We travelled on through beautiful hilly country, much of it heavily forested. Then suddenly we descended from the clouds to a pleasant and hot day. Then on to the border and back into South Africa. We continued to the Malelane Gate of the Kruger National Park and drove to Skukuza Camp. On the way we saw two lions devouring a dead giraffe and then another two male lions walking along the road. We also saw an elephant, lots of impala and much bird life. It was extremely humid and we had some showers of rain. At lunchtime a monkey pinched a banana off of our table. Rosie did the washing and Adrian emptied and filled the tanks. There were a number of warthogs wandering around the campsite. The evening turned very wet and as it was far too hot to cook much, we had scrambled egg inside. We spoke to Paul and Nicky on the phone but both Emma and Thomas were out.
Friday 17th March 149 kilometres
We were awake early and had a cup of tea and then left for a Safari drive. We saw baboons, monkeys, impala, fish eagles, and much devastation from the floods along the Sabie River. We came back for breakfast and it was now hot. All the bridges north were closed so we now had to leave Kruger, which we did via the Paul Kruger Gate over the just reopened bridge . On the way we saw more giraffe and zebra. We had coffee beside the road under a tree at what was normally a roadside stall. Then on to Hazyview where we stopped in a seemingly out of context, big shopping precinct where we shopped in Spar and got some money - but not photos or phone. We had lunch in a picnic site, before the Kowyn Pass. Unfortunately just as we arrived and had set tables and chairs outside, a violent storm came so we ended up sitting inside. It was very forested and picturesque here. We were in heavy clouds as we drove over the pass and then on through Graskop to Pilgrim's Rest, a beautifully restored mining town. We walked around here for some time looking in all the craft shops and whilst we were away a local lad had cleaned our van (for 20 Rand). We drove down to a campsite beside the river and sat in the sun with a cup of tea. We had a shower. The advertised swimming pool was very green and not in use. The weather had turned very erratic and a storm loomed but we still had a braai although we had to come in to eat it. Si phoned to tell us of a problem with his car in England and we phoned Emma and Tom. We finally came in at 10.15 as it came on to rain very hard.
Saturday 18th March 93 kilometres
We awoke to a grey morning with light rain which soon turned humid. We had breakfast inside. We stopped briefly at lower Pilgrim's Rest and then drove up to the old cemetery. Rosie had a bit of an upset stomach. We left and drove towards Blyde River Canyon. We stopped at the Pinnacle and then God's Window. We had coffee here, but it was too misty to see the view down the escarpment, but we had a nice rain forest walk. It was the same at Wonder View. Then on to the Berlin Falls where a young lad tried to clean our van again! We had lunch beside the road by a monument and then on to Bourkes Luck potholes where the Blyde and Treur Rivers meet. Here you are supposed to see potholes scoured by the water but there was so much water that it was flowing over them all - very dramatic. We stopped to view the Canyon in a number of places and then the "Three Rondavels". There was wonderful scenery with the deep gorge, red rock and green vegetation. We bought a carved wooden dish and a carved hanging, at a very reasonable price. Then on to a campsite at Blydepoort, where everywhere was very very wet. We had a swim in a large pool, in the rain, and then showers / bath and a cup of tea. We prepared supper and had a braai, which we just managed to finish before it started to rain torrentially, which it did for a lot of the night.
Sunday 19th March 197 kilometres
A very grey morning and it soon rained. We watched the antics of the vervet monkeys stealing the food from other people's tents. We had breakfast inside and Adrian did the 'emptying and filling'. We got some petrol and then headed off in bad visibility through the hills, so we missed much of the lovely scenery. We went through the Abel Erasmus Pass and then down and down whilst viewing the Oliphants River which was very brown. When we reached the plains at the bottom, the visibility was much better. We had coffee beside the road and then on back to Kruger National Park at Orpen. We drove on to Satara Camp. We saw lots of animals on the way particularly giraffe, but also zebra, elephants, wildebeest, buffalo and wild dogs. We also saw many birds, most of which we identified. We had lunch in a small layby, by a river. We arrived at Satara at 5.00 p.m. and had a cup of tea with little ground squirrels all around. We had a braai of lamb and sat outside under a beautiful sky.
We were awake early to the sound of the birds. In particular there was a woodland Kingfisher. We had breakfast outside and it became very warm and humid. We filled with water and were late leaving, but we managed to telephone Wild Dog and Ashton's at the camp entrance and also to get some petrol. We drove northwards not seeing as much wildlife today but we did see two lions very close up, a hyena, zebra, elephants, giraffes, waterbuck and hippos. We had coffee by a water hole and lunch by the Oliphants River. We arrived at the Letaba campsite where a lady told us that the bridge across the Letaba River was closed, which meant we wouldn't be able to go further north. So we drove up to the bridge to find the river in full flood and the bridge being "repaired" - but not exactly closed. We returned for a shower and a cup of tea and then prepared to go out on a "night drive". This was not a great success as within a few minutes of leaving, storms approached all around and it soon turned to torrential rain and we all got thoroughly soaked and so returned back to camp. We cooked a pasta and tuna dish and sat inside. It rained most of the evening. Rang Si.
Tuesday 21st March 186 kilometres
We were awake very early. A mixed day followed, which turned warm with an occasional shower. We had breakfast outside and left just after 8.00, we would have been earlier but we had to wait for the office to open to get our money back for last night's aborted "night ride". We drove northwards soon arriving at the Letaba River, where the river had fallen some 12 feet overnight and they had finally managed to fill in the hole between the bridge and the bank and so we drove across without too much trouble. We did not see so much wildlife today, but we did see elephants, buffaloes, zebra and of course impala and also many birds. We had coffee by the roadside while Adrian was investigating a seriously overheating engine which he discovered was due to a leaking radiator. He refilled the engine and we continued gingerly on. We had lunch by a "waterhole" but couldn't see anything. We photographed a nice baobab tree. We arrived at Punta Maria about 5 o'clock, made a cup of tea and were about to sit outside when a rain shower forced us in. We still had a braai however, of steak and sat out under a full moon, in a very quiet and peaceful campsite, hearing the call of hyenas.
Wednesday 22nd March 315 kilometres
A damp morning followed by a variable day, very warm at times. We had breakfast inside and left Kruger via the Punta Maria Gate. On via Giyani, where we shopped in a Spar. We had coffee soon after, by what had recently been a very flooded river. We passed lots of African villages, where because of all the rain, some of the mud houses had collapsed, so that the roof was down at ground level. We were now back in the hills. We went through Duiwelskloof and soon after Politsi had to take a different route as the road had a weight limit less than our vans weight, presumably due to the road or a bridge being damaged in the earlier floods. Soon afterwards we stopped beside the road by the entrance to a house and had our lunch inside the van. We returned a little way down the road we should have come on, to look at a site at Magoebaskloof, but it was very wet and the river had obviously overflowed into the swimming pool, which was dark brown. So we carried on to Pietersburg where we took some photos in for developing in an out of town shopping precinct. We drove on to the campsite where we had a cup of tea and got organised but then returned to collect the photos. We had a braai of steak and sat outside till gone 10.00 under the stars, on a quiet cool evening.
Thursday 23rd March 325 kilometres
We were awake early to find the grass very damp, but the sun soon came out and it was very hot. We had a cup of tea in bed and looked at our photos and then we had breakfast outside. We cleared up the van as this was our last night in it and headed out of Pietersburg. The van decided to play up one last time by misfiring, but Adrian soon fixed that! We accidentally turned onto the N1, which was near motorway, and which we had to pay for! (not much though). We got petrol in a service station and then had coffee. We travelled on southwards and turned off near Warmbad and had lunch under a tree by the side of the road. Then back on to be N1 and on to Jo'burg. We had no trouble finding Si's place this time and filled up with petrol in the station opposite, and then met Laure. We had a cup of tea and then Si arrived. We unloaded the van and did lots of washing. There was much chat and photo viewing etc. and Si cooked us all a meal. We slept in their apartment.
Friday 24th March 0 kilometres
Awake early again and saw Simon off to work. We left with Laure to be picked up and taken on a trip to Soweto, which turned out to be really interesting and excellent. We drove but also walked around, and saw Winnie Mandela's house, and Tutu's house and visited Nelson Mandela’s earlier house, now a museum. We also visited the 1976 memorial to the Soweto uprising and then had lunch in a cafe. We were driven back via a transfer to a taxi, to the Waldorf Appartments. All three of us had a swim in the pool and then got sorted out for our trip on to Windhoek. We sent an e-mail on Si's computer, and when he returned home, we drove out to the Randberg waterfront. This was very lively with lots of people and places to eat. We had a meal of prawns/calamari/steak and a great last evening in South Africa.
Saturday 25th March 36 kilometres
We were up early and got packed up. We had breakfast on the balcony with Simon and Laure and then left soon after 9.00 a m for Johannesburg airport. We had great difficulty in handing back the van, because we couldn't find the person to hand it back to. After a very frustrating time for both of us (Rosie and Adrian that is) we managed to board the plane with little time to spare. We had a trouble-free flight to Windhoek on a very uncrowded plane. We took a taxi to the Hotel Safari because the driver told us it was the same price as the bus, unfortunately for him we knew what the price was! Just as a special treat for us, his radiator had a leak and needed some water before we got to the hotel! We arrived at the hotel in a torrential downpour. So -- we had a cup of tea and then a bath and then took a taxi to collect our sleeping bags from Pegasus which cost us £7! We returned and had a swim in the pool. Liz, from Wild Dog Safaris, rang with bad news on the route of our Safari. We had a good buffet meal in the hotel, and then the rain returned.
Total distance travelled in Camper - 8102 kilometres
Highlights (from motorhome trip) and top spots(T.S.).
Kogel Bay - a lovely setting for our first night. (T.S.)
Brackenhill - picnic lunch in beautiful unspoiled forested hills with a deep waterfall - baboons playing on the other side of the stream.
CapeL'Agulhas - unexpectedly lovely. The most southerly point in South Africa.
Bontebok National Park - much wildlife, tranquillity and isolation.
Victoria Bay - camping in an idyllic bay which we had viewed from the train. (T.S.)
Nature's Valley - steep forested slopes, a swim in the rough sea and in the lagoon. (T.S.)
StormsRiver Mouth - a superb camping spot beside the spectacular coastline. Saw dolphins. (T.S.)
Big tree - a walk through a forest of tall trees.
Addo Elephant Park - seeing herds of elephants and other wild life.
Grahamstown - a lovely University town
Transkei- driving through without problems - seeing Mandela's home and visiting the new museum to him in Umtata.
Cremorne Estate - Port St. Johns. A drive up to the airfield on top of a mountain with Chris and Joseph and meeting a microlight crew. Amazing views. (T.S.)
Umgeni Reserve - seeing giraffe. A momentous walk!
Drakensburg - Boy's choir concert - brilliant. Walking in the Drakensburg. (T.S.)
Golden Gate National Park - a walk up to Echo Ravine.
Lesotho - amazing green mountains, clear streams, steep winding roads, traditional villages, colourful and friendly people.
Reitz - a tour of a huge farm which sends vegetables to Marks and Spencers.
Pilanesburg National Park - with Simon - lots of animals (including a lion) and birds. (T.S.)
Dundee - visiting the Boer war sites of Talana Hill and the museum. Also Anglo Zulu war sites (Rorkes Drift and Isandlwana).
Blood River- the Voortrekkers site.
St. Lucia - finally seeing a Knysna Lourie (a bird). Swimming in the pool as mongoose played.
Hluhluwe - Umfolozi Park - being chased by a black rhino. Also seeing masses of wildlife.
False Bay - sitting out beside a lagoon under the stars.
Hluhluwe - visiting a Zulu village and laughing with two tiny black children, one with an armless teddy and the other with a legless blonde doll.
Swaziland - Mlilwane - seeing crocodiles and hippos. Malolotje - camping on the 'moors' with blesbok around us.
Kruger - watching two lions devour a giraffe carcass and also two male lions and a chomping elephant. Lots of birds.
Pilgrim's Rest - a beautifully restored mining village. (T.S.)
Bourkes Luck pot holes - in full flood.
Blyde River Canyon - the wonderful scenery. (T.S.)
Soweto - our visit there with Laure.
Jo'burg- our visit to the Randberg waterfront on our last night with Simon and Laure.
We were up early and packed up ready to leave on our Safari. We had a good buffet breakfast. We were picked up at 8.10 by Ben and Steve and then on to the airport to collect Pete and Colin. We left there at 10.00. We saw a water monitor on the road and soon after stopped for a briefing, where we saw helmeted crickets and later saw lots more. We drove on to Gobabis, a quiet town, particularly as it was a Sunday, with a single tree lined road. We bought some drinking water in Spar. We had lunch under a camelthorn tree on the road out, where there were lots of white butterflies and nasty small flies. We reached the border at Buitepos after stopping at East gate for petrol. The border was now called the Trans Kalahari border post. On into Botswana and across the Kalahari (semi) desert. It was flat savannah grassland with some low shrubs. It was very green for a desert because of the rain that had fallen here lately. We saw a tawny eagle, cattle, horses, donkeys and goats. It was rather a monotonous drive and we dozed a lot. We arrived at a farm near Ghanzi at 5.30, to find that the campsite was flooded under three feet of water, so we camped by the owners house (shack). This had only one shower and loo, which was off the owner's bedroom. The day had been fine but with a very mixed sky. We sat around the camp fire and had our first meal. Our fifth member Steve arrived with two girls from Wild Dog. We sat out under a clear sky with lots of stars.
Monday 27th March 495 kilometres
We were up early to a fine morning. We had breakfast outside and left at 8.10. We stopped at Ghanzi for money and to buy more drinking water. The outskirts of the town were very flooded. Then on to D'Kar to a so called cultural centre. We were supposed to see a tannery here, but it had long since gone and the rest of the place seemed all run down. We looked in at a shop with weaving etc. We left at 11.00 and headed eastwards. The tarmac road soon ran out and the new road had not yet opened and so we had to take a detour through a deeply flooded track. It was then 150 kilometres of unsurfaced road with many potholes. We dozed a lot. We stopped by the side of the track for lunch and found that we had a flat tyre. This was changed but then we had trouble pumping up the under-inflated tyre and did so finally with the help of a passing 4WD. It was very hot and dusty. We saw little except cattle, horses, and goats again but we did see one steenbok. We finally reached a surfaced road and headed northwards across flat country with grass and trees. At 4.15 we stopped to put petrol in the van from a can. We finally reached Etsha where we bought petrol, beer, wine and also ice from a local school. There were lots of traditional houses. Then on to Sepopa and down a long sandy track to the campsite on the Okavango. By the time we arrived it was almost dark and we quickly put up the tents and had a shower. We had a nice meal of vegetable stew and rice, sitting round the campfire.
Tuesday 28th March
Rosie had to get up in the night for the loo, so it was just as well it wasn't last night! We were up quite early to a hot day. We had breakfast and loaded up into a boat. We left at 9.20 on a very fast boat trip down the Okavango river for about one hour. Then we had to load everything into a truck for a short drive past Seronga down to where we picked up a Mokoro. Everything had to be unloaded and reloaded. There were two people in each canoe plus a 'poler'. We had lunch on the bank after about an hour. It was very hot and we were very pleased when we stopped for a swim, which was very pleasant. We saw lots of wild life, mostly birds. Some of those we saw were a Senegal coucal, swallow tailed bee eater, an African jacana, African fish eagles, blacksmith plover, Pells fishing owl, open billed stork, bataleur eagle, pygmy geese, cattle egret, squacca heron, black crowned night heron, purple heron, pied kingfishers, grey lowrie, and little bee eater,. We also saw a painted reed frog. We travelled in these canoes for about a total of six hours until we reached our bush camp about 5.00 p.m. We unloaded the canoes and set up camp, with hippos roaring in the distance. We had supper around the camp fire. Okavango
Wednesday 29th March
We were up early and after at cup of tea, left at 7.15 for a "game walk". This was an hour in a Mokoro and then a 2¼ hours walk. We saw a lot of hippos in the water as we were about to land. However we only saw a warthog, and lot of tracks of elephant, lion, kudu and zebra on the walk. We saw a lot of birds though. We came back and had coffee and then had a "bush shower". We had an early lunch of scrambled egg and beans and then a lazy afternoon. We then went in the Mokoros across the delta for a second bush walk. This was about an hour long, and again we saw little except for a group of elephants and a tortoise. We also saw hippos again in the water on our return. We arrived back at 6.30, feeling very hot. We had supper of chicken and mash them sat around the campfire. We had our bottle of wine. Okavango
Thursday 30th March
We were up at 6.30 to watch a beautiful sun rise. Rosie had slept very badly. We had breakfast, packed up and left about 8.10 by Mokoro back to Seronga. The reeds seemed very thick and full of spiders etc. and were very wet first thing in the morning. We saw more birds, particularly lots of little bee eaters as we left. It became quite hot, but sometimes cloudy and cooler than yesterday. We had a swim again at the same spot as before. We arrived at Seronga at 12.45, unloaded our canoes and then had lunch. We had a "bush shower" and it was even nice to have a dunny! We were driven up into the village in a truck, and visited the village shop and school. We talked to some of the older children and some of the male teachers, who showed us round their vegetable gardens. We were taken back by truck, and then some local ladies cooked us a meal of "pap", pumpkin, fish and water lily roots and local "beer". We sat around the campfire but lots of little black bugs rained down on us so we had an early night.
Friday 31st March 486 kilometres
We were awake at 5.00 and up at 5.30 to be ready to leave at 7.00. However the truck didn't arrive until 7.30. It took us across to the river where we arrived at 7.45 for the boat back to Sepopa. However the boat didn't arrive until 9.45! We walked up into the village where the school sports day was on and filled time in watching the children. We walked back to the landing place and when the boat finally arrived we loaded all our camping gear in. Unfortunately Ben didn't return from his attempts to find out what was going on until 10.15. The trip back to Sepopa didn't seem as exciting as on the way. We loaded the van, checked the tyres and left at 12.20. We arrived at Etsha at 1 o'clock, just in time to get petrol and visit the local supermarket. On returning to the van we found that we had another flat tyre. Ben and Steve changed this and then filled our drum with water. We left and soon stopped to have lunch under the tree in the shade. We left there at 2.30 for Ghanzi, seeing several birds on the way. We then had to do the 150 kilometres of unsurfaced road again, which was still very flooded. We had to stop to fill the van with petrol from our can and finally got to the surfaced road at dusk. Unfortunately we were on the new road which after a short distance had a barrier across it. We didn't see this in the dark and hit one of its oil drums causing damage to the vehicle. We eventually got to Ghanzi at 7.30, put up the tents in the dark and had a shower. Ben and Steve, even after this rather difficult day, cooked a meal on a campfire. We sat around the fire until quite late.
Saturday 1st April 618 kilometres
We were awake early had breakfast and packed up and then had to wait while Ben got our tyres mended. We bought some more drinking water from the local supermarket. We left at 9.20 and drove back westwards. This was a repeat of the first day across the Kalahari (flat) Desert. We turned off and drove around the small "town" of Charles Hill, just before the border. At 11.45 we went through the customs and left Botswana and back into Namibia where we had a heavy rain shower. We stopped at Gobabis at 1.20 and went into the supermarket for Ben to buy us provisions. We left at 2.00 and got petrol. It was very hot now and we had a late lunch under the shade of a tree. We left there at 3.00, the temperature was 86º F. At soon as we neared Windhoek airport, it began to get hilly and we had more rain. We reached Windhoek at 5.00 p.m., bought some firewood in a petrol station and then called in at Ben's house for him to collect some things. Then on to Daan Viljoen Park (where we had camped on our very first night in Namibia in January) put up the tents and then had a shower. We sat around outside around the campfire, under a beautiful sky.
Sunday 2nd April 598 kilometres
There was lightning during the night and Ben and Steve came round and put the "covers" on top of the tents. We were awake early to a cloudy morning but fine although damp. There were some baboons running around the camp site causing chaos. We had breakfast and left at 8.25 and drove back into Windhoek and dropped Steve at Wild Dog. We checked tyres at a petrol station and left at 9.20. We stopped in Okahandja at some wood carving stalls and bought an elephant and rhino (models!) and I bought Rosie a takeaway coffee at the petrol station. We continued north through flat country with hills in the distance. We had lunch under a tree by a large termite mound about 1.00. We left about 1.30 and soon there was a heavy rain shower. Then on to Otavi where we got some petrol and there were lots of locals selling "mealies". It became hilly, tree covered country that was very attractive. We reached Tsumeb, a former lead mining town which was very green, fertile and tropical looking. We waited for half an hour outside a supermarket, but it didn't open at 4 o'clock as advertised, so we left soon after (we had asked Ben about whether the clocks had changed during the night, and he convinced us it was not until Wednesday. We later found out it was today and so the shop hadn't opened, as it was still only 3 o'clock!). We stopped at Lake Otjikoto (one of only two natural lakes in Namibia), but we didn't go in because it was now raining and we thought it was getting late! We saw an eland and a kudu in the park. We got to Etosha about 5.30 (old time) and then saw giraffe, black-faced impala, banded mongoose and zebra. We reached the campsite at Namutoni, (an old German fort) about 6.00 p.m. (old time) and put up the tents. We went to the waterhole, but we saw only a springbok and some birds. Supper was cooked on a braai as usual and later we returned to the waterhole ,but again saw nothing!
Monday 3rd April 140 kilometres
We got up at 5.30 to see a lovely sky. (Rosie had actually got up at 4.30 first, by mistake because she thought it said 6.30). We left early for a game drive. We saw six lions and lots of other animals and birds. We came back to camp for a "brunch", late morning. We then climbed up the tower in the fort. We had a swim and then a bath/shower. We saw the red eyed bulbul feeding a jacobin cuckoo, in a low tree and also a red billed quelea. We had a cup of tea before the afternoon game drive. We saw lots of animals including mongoose, zebra, springbok, wildebeest, kudu, giraffe (some drinking), a spotted hyena and two lions eating a kill (a wildebeest). We came back for supper and sat around the fire. We tried to ring Tom. We then walked up to the waterhole again but there was still nothing there. Namutoni, Etosha
Tuesday 4th April 263 kilometres
We were woken at 5 a.m. by a rain shower. We had heard lions roaring in the night. We left after breakfast to drive west in Etosha, but we did not see much wildlife today. We saw hundreds of springbok and other animals as before and also red hartebeest, ostrich (with mating stripes on their legs), ground squirrels, blue cranes and lots and lots of yellow flowers. The road was very flooded in places and although we searched for a cheetah we did not find one. We stopped briefly at Halali (where we went to another waterhole and as usual saw nothing) and then on to Okaukuejo. We had lunch and then pitched the tents, and went across to what is supposed to be a marvellous waterhole - but saw nothing again (the trouble is that they have had so much rain, the animals are not interested in walking all the way to a waterhole!) . We had a swim. We then left on a game drive to some of Ben's favourite places but unfortunately everywhere was flooded and we saw very little. The sky was very dramatic but we only had one shower of rain. We had a braai supper and then another walk to the waterhole - seeing nothing. We had an early night.
Wednesday 5th April 456 kilometres
Up at 5.15 and walked via the waterhole (nothing to see) to the tower to watch sunrise. Then it was a rush to clear-up, have breakfast and leave for 7.00. We stopped at the petrol station in the campsite and then there was a short drive to the park gate. On the way we saw giraffe, a springbok, gemsbok, steenbok and wildebeest. We left the park at 7.30. We reached Outjo at 8.30 having seen a brown snake eagle on the way. Here we went into an Internet cafe and had messages from Tom (two), Si, little Val, and South Africa Direct. We sent our last message from Southern Africa. Rosie bought a T shirt and then we had coffee and cakes. After that we had a long wait in the bank (due to some unbelievable bureaucracy) to change back our Botswana money. We now had a change of route as we were not able to go to Twyfelfontein due to dodgy roads. We left at 10.30 travelling southwards along a straight gravel road with green either side, green hills and clear blue sky. We saw a springbok. We drove on past Kalkfeld and then past lots of bare rock "koppies". We had an early lunch in a shaded picnic site and then on to Usakos for petrol, the loo and to wait for "Crazy Kudu Safaris”. We were to travel with them as the next roads were expected to be particularly bad. The scenery was impressive and there was a beautiful blue sky. There were a lot of river crossings which we often got stuck in and had to have help to get out. We finally stopped at a "rest camp" at Spitzkoppe. We drove out to see some rock paintings, which you had to climb up to rather like Ayers Rock (Rosie stayed at the bottom). We came back for supper on the braai and had a lovely evening sitting out under the stars.
Thursday 6 April 462 kilometres
Up at 5.30 for breakfast. It was lovely watching the sun rise. We took a group photo under the beautiful clear blue sky. We then had a bumpy drive to see "the Golden Snake" which was not very impressive - but the scenery was. We left at 7.45 and reached the tarmac road in just under an hour. Then on towards Swakopmund. We stopped at Arandis which was Ben's childhood home and it was very green, with trees all in the middle of a desert. It is a uranium mining town and Ben's mother and brother live there, but unfortunately they were not in. Then on 35 miles to Swakopmund through desert scenery like on the way to the Luderitz. We reached Swakopmund at 10.00 and left our trailer at the hotel where we are staying tonight. There were signs of the recent flooding in the town (they normally have 8 mm of rain a year here, but two weeks ago they had 100 mm of rain in one night). We then had a long drive north (75 miles) through flat salt desert and mist, to Cape Cross. Here there were thousands of fur seals which we spent some time walking around. We left at 12.30 for the long drive back to Swakopmund. On the way we passed an accident of a rolled car and we stopped to see if help was needed. We reached Swakopmund at 2.00 p.m., collected our trailer and had lunch by the misty sea. We then drove back to our hotel and settled into our room. We took in three films to be developed and then walked around the town and up a tower to see the view. We came back to get ready to go out for a meal. We had a nice meal with the whole group, Rosie had calamari and Adrian had crayfish and ostrich. We came back to our hotel and rang Emma and Tom.
We awoke at 5.00 am to a foggy day but it soon cleared to blue skies. We had a cup of tea and Rosie labelled the new photos, and then down to breakfast at the cafe next door. We left at 10.45 after getting petrol. We crossed a large bridge and headed south straight into the desert - sand and sea and mist. After about 20 minutes we passed the fishing town of Walvis Bay (which according to the papers was still flooded). Then into the Namib - Naukluft Park. It was a gravel road from now on. The desert had a slightly green hue, due to the grass just coming through, after all the rain and later it was very green (for a desert). We got another flat tyre in the middle of nowhere and the temperature 93ºF. We saw two ostriches running off. We had lunch at 1.00, under the only trees. Even these were beginning to show a little green. We saw some springbok in the distance and later another antelope. We went over a pass of bare mountains and over a river, which showed signs of serious flooding (the picnic site had ‘disappeared’). Later we got stuck in the sand on a river crossing and had to be pulled out by a French man with a 4WD. We saw 2 white storks, a small antelope and some ground squirrels. At 3.45 we stopped at Solitaire for a break, in a little wayside cafe cum everything. It was wonderful desert scenery. Then past a huge herd of springbok with the grass shimmering white. Then on through a plague of locusts and a dust storm. We arrived at 5.15 at Sesriem campsite. We had a swim and then a shower and after supper, sat by the campfire under the stars.
Saturday 8th April 111 kilometres
We were up at 4 am! to leave at 4.30, in the dark, to drive to Dune 45. We climbed up this knife edged dune to watch sunrise and then came down for breakfast at the bottom. Unfortunately the trip to Sossusvlei was cancelled because the road was closed and so we had a 3 km walk, with France, across the desert (where the river had been two weeks ago!) looking at animal and insect tracks. We took a lot of photos. Then back to the campsite for a swim and then coffee. We walked over to the shop. It was very hot. We had brunch and then a lazy time early afternoon and Rosie cut Adrian's hair. Another swim and then a shower. We left late afternoon to go to Sesriem Canyon where Rosie had another swim. Then on to Elim dune and another long climb to view the sunset. On the way down we talked to a Swiss girl and then back to Sesriem campsite for supper and our last campfire.
Sunday 9th April 300 kilometres
We were awake early and walked out to photograph the sunrise. There were some people in a hot air balloon doing the same. There were also lots of mosquitoes. Rosie had a swim in the pool and then we had our last Safari breakfast. We packed up and left soon after 8.00 a m. Sadly we threw away our faithful potty! We stopped for some petrol at the entrance to the campsite and then took the dusty unsurfaced road all the way to Rehoboth. We saw several springbok and stopped to view a quiver tree and later a weaver birds nest. At first we went through beautiful gorge like scenery of the Naukluft mountains but later flatter land. We drove through the Bastervillage of Rietoogand then watched some baboons by the side of the road. We reached Rehoboth at 12.45 and filled with petrol. It was now a full circle for us because we came through here on our second day in January. We had lunch in a dirty glass splattered picnic area. We left at 1.30, the temperature was 88ºF. We arrived at the Hotel Safari in Windhoek and booked in at 2.30. We said goodbye to Ben, Steve, Pete and Colin. We had a swim in the pool and then sat and had a beer. We had a bath. Later we had a buffet meal in the hotel and then watched "Goodnight Mr Tom" on Namibian TV, so we went to sleep after midnight.
Total distance travelled on safari - 4301 kilometres
Highlights of our Camping Safari
The nightly campfires and sitting out under the stars.
The African sunrises.
The Okavango - lying back in a mokoro and being 'poled' by Eby with his velvety, knowledgeable voice.
Swimming from the mokoro in the Okavango.
Waterlilies all around. Bee eaters as we left. Waiting in a mokoro to be 'poled' through the hippo pool to the shore - hippos all around.
Charging along in the fast boat on the Okavango River.
Etosha - watching the giraffe drinking from a pool. Watching the lions - two on a kill; two mating, and three young ones.
Spitzkoppe - the stunning scenery, colours, skies and rock formations.
Seeing the thousands of Cape Fur Seals at Cape Cross.
A meal out with the group in Swakopmund.
Driving through the unusually green desert.
The dunes of Sesriem - their colours and contrasts. Seeing animal tracks in the desert sand.
Notes on our Camping Safari
The daily distances were too long - we always arrived late and had to rush to get organised before dark.
We couldn't stop when we wanted to.
We were travelling too fast to see things.
Food good, but we had to fit into their mealtimes, with long gaps between - no elevenses or 'snacks'.
We loved the camping, in the warm weather.
Very pleasant company (all male!).
Hated having no "personal" water at bush camps, for lenses and washing.
Our potty was invaluable, and the loo was not generally a problem.
Good to have Ben'sknowledge on wildlife.
Nice to know that shopping / cooking were not our responsibility.
There were too many disappointments en route to really appreciate our trip.
We were curtailed by a non four wheel drive vehicle.
Early darkness (and only torchlight in tent) was a major nuisance.
North West Botswana (to the Okavango)
Low green vegetation.
Very little to buy in the shops.
Towns and villages not pretty!
More traditional houses near delta.
Very little wildlife "en route".
Trans Kalahari road good, unsurfaced road very difficult due to much flooding.
Delta wildlife elusive - polers with knowledge essential.
Journey by mokoro - hot, full of spiders, chaff, sharp grass etc.
Very "quiet and relaxing".
Swims in delta lovely and refreshing.
Waterlilies beautiful (and other flowers and frogs).
Bush camp lovely and remote. Lack of personal water supply difficult (for Rosie).
Mossies a nuisance, also little black beetles.
Eby quiet, serene and knowledgeable, with a deep calm voice. Other polers quiet and kept to themselves.
Seronga (Okavango) - Junior school sports much like anywhere. Secondary school - children boarded from other villages. Education up to about 18. Grew vegetables, reared chickens and pigs.
Our return to Namibia in April
We still loved the desert scenery and the blue skies.
We felt easy and safe.
The sunset was much earlier than in January, and worse when the clocks changed.
The scenery (Kalahari) towards Botswana was monotonous.
Picnic areas were usually dirty and strewn with broken glass.
Still amused to hear so much German spoken.
Swakopmund had some very smart tourist shops.
Windhoek was in a lovely setting, but not much fun in the rain.
Hotel Safari much busier than in January.
Monday 10th April
As usual we woke up early, had a cup of tea and got our notes etc. up to date. We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant about 8.00 am. We caught the 9.30 courtesy bus in to Windhoek and spent the day walking around. We checked our flight, bought a few things and had coffee. We bought a roll for lunch and ate it in the park. We took our last film in to be developed, which we collected at 2 o'clock and then caught the 2.45 courtesy bus back to the Hotel Safari. We quickly headed for the swimming-pool for our last swim and sunbathe. Back in our room we had a shower and got organised for flying home. We had our last meal in the restaurant, Adrian had the carvery and Rosie had kingclip followed by crepe suzette. We went back to our room and rang Si and then went back for a drink at the bar and to pay.
Tuesday 11th April
We had an alarm call at 5.00 a.m. and got ready to leave on the 5.45 airport bus. This arrived very late and then hung around in Windhoek before heading off for Windhoek airport. We needn't have worried because there were hardly any people booking in. As we passed through the security check, Adrian made the buzzer go off, although we never found out why. The flight left at 8.20 via Lusaka and on to Heathrow. We passed close to the Victoria Falls which we had a good view of, from 37,000 ft! There were very few people on the plane and we moved about as we wished. Looking down, everywhere was very green and there were many rivers at first, but it then became gradually drier and then desert (just sand). We watched most of the film "The story of us". As we came up to the Mediterranean we went into cloud. We only had a roll for our evening meal (with a glass of wine or two!). We arrived at Heathrow at 9.00 p.m. and Tom met us and drove us home. We went to bed just before midnight and it snowed!!
We had a great time. We'll be back! Hermitage!
Some words seen / used in Africa.
Bakkie - pick up truck (ute)
Takkie - gym shoe
Kloof - ravine
Braai - barbecue
Robot - traffic light
Superette - small supermarket
Oceanette - holiday flat by the sea
Mealie - maize
Pleasure - like 'bitte' in German "don't mention it"
Koppie - hill
Notes on some of the National Parks we visited.
Bontebok - Our first national park.
Enjoyed viewing the wildlife.
Addo - Elephants great.
Umgeni - Lovely views.
Short visit only.
Very 'dodgy' walk.
Pilanesburg - Lovely campsite.
Brilliant bird life.
Great to be with Simon on his first week and to see a lion and much other game with him.
Hluhluwe-Umfolozi - Huge number of sightings.
Daily visits only.
Umfolozi better signposted than Hluhluwe.
Mlilwane (Swaziland) -Too wet to enjoy - roads bad.