We left Hermitage at 3.45pm with Hil and Doug. We arrived at Heathrow and booked in and then we had a glass of beer/ wine with Hil and Doug before saying goodbye to them. We proceeded to the plane for our flight to Johannesburg and then on to Victoria Falls.
We had had a family weekend with Emma and Felix, Paul and Nicky, Tom and Nuria - celebrating three birthdays - Adrian's, Paul's and Tom's. [Simon and Laure are in Calgary.]
Our seats were on the upper deck of the plane, with a gap in front - we had plenty of leg room, but the trays and screens were difficult. We had supper - I was having problems knowing what to eat, as I had just found that I was intolerant to most of the food I eat - wheat, milk, egg white, potatoes, yeast and more! It was not a restful night! I spilled my bottle of water into my lap, wetting me and staining my back friend!
We were woken at 5.30 (one hour on) and served breakfast. We could see brilliant golden sky on the other side. We had a very smooth descent to Johannesburg and spend an hour or so there before our onward flight. This was on a much smaller plane. We were given a snack meal and looked down on to a flattish brown landscape.
At Victoria Falls we were met by Tobias and he drove us to the office of "Good Memories" who we are going on a three-day Chobe tour with on Monday. We met David, the "boss" and paid him for the trip, and also changed some money into Zimbabwe dollars. Tobias took us to the chemist, where we bought Larium pills (and a potty). He drove us back to the Sprayview Hotel. We booked in then went to our room and got a bit sorted (I scrubbed the back friend) then we went across and had lunch - Thai salad for me, chef's special of chicken salad for Adrian. The weather was very hot.
We came back to our room, and both dozed for a bit, then went across to the pool and after a short swim (the water was pleasantly cool) we both lazed for a while, then came back to our room and made a cup of tea which we drank sitting outside, then we set off to walk into the "town".
We were besieged by "beggars" - African-style and people trying to sell us wooden rhinos or exchange money (it is much cheaper to pay by Zim dollars than American).
We saw the entrance to "Victoria Falls" (for tomorrow) then wandered up to the station - it was like "Out of Africa" - black people and their belongings everywhere. We saw the Victoria Falls Hotel, and wandered around the area of the craft village (it was now 5.00pm). We saw some dancers perform outside the museum. We went into one Travel place and tried to sort out trips. We also bumped into Tobias. We came back to the hotel and enjoyed a beer by the pool then back at our room washed and changed and went back for a lovely (and inexpensive) meal, with Chenin Blanc to drink (about £1) and Dom Pedro to finish. We came back to sleep. It was now 9:30pm.
Sunday 9th September Happy Birthday Tom.
We were awake early. We went across to breakfast - not brilliant, but a pleasant atmosphere again. Orange squash, tinned pears, guava, strange coffee and a cooked breakfast. There were also hot scones - we took one with us. We walked down to Victoria Falls - there was not so much hassle today. We had a wonderful walk around the Falls - we gasped with wonder. We saw the Livingstone statue and many different views of the Falls. It was very damp! We ate a scone with coffee. We walked right up to the end of the Zimbabwe side, looking to Zambia, and to the bridge, where people were bungee jumping. We spoke to a young Australian couple, based in Harare, with a 16 month-old baby daughter. We walked up towards the Victoria Falls Hotel to view the Zambezi gorge then had a long, hot, dusty walk back toVictoria Falls village. We booked a "sunset cruise" then walked back to our hotel for a late lunch (salad for me and hake for Adrian) then we had a short swim and prepared for our 3.40 pick up for the Sunset Cruise. This was brilliant. We met lots of lovely people - a French girl called Laure, a New Zealand chap, a German boy from Berlin, an American from Atlanta, a South African lady married to a Welsh chap, a Zimbabwe family (dad, mum, and young daughter). We saw a hippo, a crocodile, a giraffe, and we watched the sun go down. There was plenty of booze. We got back to the hotel at 6.45. We got a bit sorted, and then had supper (spare ribs R trout A and beer). We had no Zimbabwe money left. We sat outside our room.
Impressions of Victoria Falls
We stayed at a lovely hotel.
Victoria Falls seemed happy and quiet.
There were very few tourists there.
There was a lot of hassling to buy things.
The people were lovely.
It was a beautiful temperature.
The money was chaotic, and things were very cheap!
It was very dry, contrasting with the wet falls.
The falls were fantastic (and wet!)
It's a tourist / border town.
Helicopter trip was expensive but good.
The Sunset Cruise was great fun.
Monday 10th September.
We were up early (6.30). We spoke to an Australian man like Tony Hall at breakfast (peach and mango slices, bacon etc). We were ready for our 7.30 pick up by David (Good Memories) and a lady. David drove us to the Botswana border - we saw guinea-fowl. There was no problem at the border. My back friend was still damp! We transferred to a safari vehicle with Toff and Kiddie (Ultimate Safaris), then we went on a boat safari for the morning (there was no loo) with Magane(?) and later another couple (from South Africa and Czech). We left late, but we saw lots - a tiny crocodile and later many more crocodiles, big and small; tiny jelly fish; dozens of birds; lots of hippos; water monitors; dozens of elephants crossing the river to Sedudu Island; buffalo; water buck; lions and a puku. Great viewing! Back at the start we were taken by a different safari vehicle and driven to Safari Lodge for lunch overlooking the Chobe river at Kasane. Toff picked us up and drove us into Chobe National Park - excellent wildlife viewing - hundreds of elephants; puku; kudu; a pride of lions (2); impala; crocs; hippos; bushbuck; steenbok; zebra; giraffe; sable antelope. Toff collected wood, then drove us to Buffalo Ridge campsite where Kiddie had set up camp. The sun had gone down. We had a beer and later a meal by the camp fire. We camped under a "banana tree" with lovely star-shaped "bananas" (seeds).
Chobe National Park
Tuesday 11th September.
We were awake early and up at 5.30. We had a cup of tea. We left at 6.30 with Toff for a game drive in Chobe. We saw the sun rising. There were lots of baboons along the road playing. We saw lots of birds, including a giant eagle owl and we saw some wildlife - kudu; zebra; lots of vultures by a dead (stinking) elephant; lots of pelicans; 2 lions; lots more elephants. We got back to camp at about 10.45 and had "brunch". It was VERY hot. We had a shower. The temperature was 35.4 ºC. We lazed around. We went on a game drive at about 4 o'clock - and saw a few birds including a tchiagra and we also saw kudu and baboons. We came back for "sundowners" and took photos of the sun, but it was not a real sunset. We had supper - rice and "stew" then we went on a night drive with Toff. We saw two spotted hyena and two caracal (Lynx). We came back for "pud". Bed after 11 o'clock.
Buffalo Ridge campsite – Chobe National Park
Wednesday 12th September.
We were up at 6.00am. We had a cup of tea, then a walk with Toff. We saw many birds, including Sunbirds. We came back for breakfast, then got packed up. We left at 10.45. We drove into Chobe and saw much wildlife but the only new thing we saw were wild dogs. We saw loads of elephants and impala. We saw lots of vultures feeding on a dead buffalo. We had lunch at 2 pm under a shady tree. We saw two giraffes and some hippos grazing. It was a long monotonous road back to the tarmac then half an hour to Kazane. We bought a map of Chobe (expensive as we were given change in pula - we gave it to Kiddie and Toff as a tip!). We heard the dreadful news of the hijacking in US. We crossed the border back to Zimbabwe and David drove us to Victoria Falls, passing three elephants by the road, to the Sprayview Hotel. We washed our feet! then we had a lovely swim and a shower. David brought us more Zim dollars. Felt exhausted! We had supper - seafood cocktail R bream cocktail A then chicken R and beef A. We had messages on the phone from, Si, R&L and Tom. We sent to Si, Em and Tom.
Impressions of Chobe
It was very hot.
There were supposedly 50,000 elephants there.
The river safari was excellent.
There was lots of wildlife in the Eastern end.
A lovely couple ran the safari.
We had good 4x4 drives.
It was very quiet.
It was very dry and dusty, except in the flood plain.
The camping worked well.
Animals seen in Chobe
Thursday 13th September
We were up early - and had a swim before 7 am! We had a shower/bath and then breakfast and got packed up. We had a message about our flight over the Falls - we were picked up at 9.30 and driven to the helipad. We had a wonderful flight with views of the Falls. We were driven back to Victoria Falls town and had tea/coffee and then walked around. A chap from Victoria Falls talked to us. We got our photos (2 lots) done - they were not well done! We bought some postcards. We had a taxi back to Sprayview hotel and had lunch. It was very hot so we had a last swim then Tobias picked us up and drove us toVictoria Falls airport. The weather became cloudy on the flight to Johannesburg - it was a very unpleasant descent and freezing cold (5ºC) and wet and windy. We had a long wait at passport control. We were met by Kath (Adby) and husband Steve. Kath drove us back to their house. We had supper and much chat then went to bed in their house.
Friday 14th September. 5km
We were up early to say goodbye to Stephen (who was going to work). We had breakfast with Kath and chatted until 10.45 then she drove us to Johannesburg airport. We had coffee with her then caught the1.00 pm flight to Cape Town. It was cold in Johannesburg, cloudy on the way but we had a sunny descent to Cape Town with lovely views. Joanna collected us and drove us to the Pearman home in Somerset West. We had a cup of tea, then collected the motorhome and drove off. We shopped at Spar then found a site at Strand. We tried to get sorted, but all the cupboards were very full - there was no room to put anything. Also there was no water on the campsite - a tree had fallen down. We had no water! We had 'tea' with wine from the plane. The water came back on later, but we had no way of filling the tank (no hose or container). We filled a jug and a kettle with water.
Saturday 15th September. 35km
It was hot in the night. Adrian made a cup of tea then we spent the morning sorting things into the right place. I felt unwell. We left after midday and drove a short distance to the beach. I had a paddle then we had lunch. We shopped at 'Pick and Pay,' but we didn't finish. It closed at 2.00 pm on Saturday, but we hadn’t realised - we were the last people in the shopping mall! A tray of books etc. had fallen off the shelf onto my head as we drove in so I felt a bit knocked out. We drove to the Pearman's house and left some of the surplus things from the motor home. We then drove to a second 'Pick and Pay' (larger and still open) and Adrian bought a hose for the water. We drove towards Stellenbosch and camped at Mountain Breeze caravan park. We put washing into the machine. We had a braai and sat out side.
Sunday 16th September. 68km
We were awake at 5am as Adrian had cramp, then slept until 8.30! We had showers Adrian fixed the electric socket. We had breakfast on the logs outside and left at 10.30. We drove into Stellenbosch. We looked around 'Sam Winkel' then had coffee there, and then we walked around the town. It was very attractive and the scenery was lovely. We sent an e-mail from the tourist information. We had lunch by the 'Braak' (square / village green). We drove to Boschendal - a beautiful winery. We walked around and in the "Manor House" which was lovely. Then we drove onto Franschoek - the scenery was wonderful. We visited the Hugeonot monument which was peaceful with lots of Proteas in the garden. We drove back towards Paarl and stayed at the Berg River Resort. We had a braai and sat out.
Monday 17th September. - Adrian's Birthday 64km
Adrian opened his cards and a few presents. We left at 11 o'clock after showers and drove into Paarl. We visited the tourist information and had a short walk around the town, then drove up to the wild flower reserve. We had lunch and then walked around. It was lovely. We drove back down to Paarl on an unsurfaced road and then to Nederberg Winery where we had a tour then tasting. We drove to Wellington but there were no restaurants open so we drove to the campsite after buying food for our meal. We had bubbly with a prawn starter (the bubbly was from Boschendal) then we had wine, also from there with the meal of steak and vegetables cooked on the braai. Afterwards we had pineapple, strawberries and cream.
Tuesday 18th September 144km
A slow start to the day! It was cloudy, but cleared and then became cloudy again later. We left at 10 o'clock after having breakfast outside. We drove towards the west coast through pleasant, undulating country to Melkbosstrand which was beautiful. We had views to Table Mountain and Robben Island. There was a white sandy beach and lots of flowers. We had lunch on the beach here and then drove north through lots of wild flowers to Yzerfontein. The site was right beside the beach. We arrived at 3 o'clock and had a cup of tea then we walked along the beach to Yzerfontein and back. It was a beautiful wild, white sandy beach. It was quite cool and we had a few drops of rain. I cooked a rice/ prawn meal inside and we had an evening in! It rained in the night.
Wednesday 19th September 111km
It was cloudy and grey at first, with periods of sun later. We had breakfast inside, then showers and left at 10 o'clock. There was a little penguin on the beach. We drove on to the West Coast National Park. The wild flowers were lovely. We saw lots of birds and some other wildlife ( bontebok, springbok, and tortoise). There were beautiful coastal views with white sand. We stopped for lunch overlooking the bay. We drove back up the eastern side of the bay through the park to Langebaan. We shopped in Spar and then got some petrol. The campsite was empty. We walked on the beach as the sun was going down and then Adrian lit the braai.
Thursday 20th September. 57km
It was cloudy and sunny, and windy on the coast. We had breakfast inside. We stopped at Langebaan for the bank, post office (stamps) and Spar. We drove to Paternoster and had coffee by the beach after walking across it. It was beautiful with white sand and low white houses - it looked like Ireland. We visited De Winkel op Paternoster (a museum type shop) and the man told us about whales in the bay so we drove round to view them and then we drove back round the bay and stopped for lunch and had a walk on the beach. We drove through Cape Columbine Nature Reserve to Tietiesbaai which was beautiful. We decided to stay for the night. We walked along near the shore and back and then had a cup of tea. We saw some rock dassies. We had a walk in the other direction. It was very windy so we cooked and ate inside.
Friday 21st September 165km
We were awake early to a lovely day. Adrian cooked bacon and mushrooms for breakfast outside and we sat outside - it was idyllic. We left at 9.30 and drove back to Paternoster on an unsurfaced road then partly unsurfaced to Stompneusbay and Helena Bay. We had coffee on the beach near a memorial to Vasco de Gama. We drove via Velddrift (The mouth of the Berg River) to Piketberg. The country was flat, but there were hills to the north. We took the N7 north over Piekenaarskloof to Citrusdal. We had lunch in the van beside the road as there were a lot of flying things. We visited the tourist information and Spar in Citrusdal and then we stayed at the campsite. We had a swim in the cool, grubby pool and then a bath /shower followed by a cup of tea sitting in the warm sunshine. We had a braai. It was a mild, still evening. There were lots of campers here for a rally, but they were very quiet.
Saturday 22nd September 98km
I was unwell in the night. It was a misty start, then a lovely sunny day. We had breakfast outside. We shopped in Spar then drove north on the N 7. We bought a large bag of mandarins for 5 Rand and a large bag of lemons for 2 Rand at a roadside stall (the lemons lasted us until we went home). We had coffee overlooking the Oliphants River, then we drove into the Cederberg as far as Algeria on an unsurfaced road. The scenery in the Cederberg was wonderful. From Algeria we took the road to Clanwilliam, having lunch along the way. We had views to Clamwilliam Dam. There were lots of wild flowers. We got fuel in Clanwilliam, then took the R 364 towards Parkhuis pass. The road was mostly unsurfaced, but not bad. There was superb barren scenery with bare rock formations. We stopped at Kliphuis forest campsite just before the pass. We paddled in the stream after having a cup of tea, then we had showers. We cooked lamb on the gas braai. It became very misty.
Sunday 23rd September. 150km
It was misty and drizzly in the morning. We had breakfast inside then left at 9.30 having not found anyone to pay and returned to Clanwilliam. There was bad visibility until we came out of the clouds. We took the road to Lamberts Bay. The scenery was really nice. We stopped for coffee beside the road after Graafwater. At Lamberts Bay we viewed "Bird Island". There were hundreds and hundreds of gannets, also cormorants, and gulls, penguins and seals. We had lunch in the van afterwards and then drove on a dirt road to Dorling Bay. We just viewed this from the van, but the coast was very nice around this small fishing port and then we drove on to Strandfontein. The campsite was directly above the beach and we had our own private loo etc. Unfortunately I was feeling unwell with cystitis. We walked along the beach. We cooked tuna, tomato and rice and ate inside as it was very windy.
Monday 24th September. 138km
It was very windy in the night. Adrian slept on the top bed and I had quite a good night's sleep. We had a cup of tea looking out to sea while we watched whales. We had breakfast sitting on the bed still watching the whales. Afterwards we had a walk along the beach and then we had coffee. We now left and drove via Papendorp (we saw the mouth of the Oliphants River), Lutzville and Vredendal to Vanrhynsdorp. There were lots of vineyards . We visited the tourist information and craft shops in the old gaol then we had lunch beside the cemetery. We visited the Kokkerbooms succulent nursery and then drove north on the N 7 to walk the trail through the succulents. We drove back to Vanrhynsdorp to camp. We made a cup of tea with the loose rooibos tea which we had just bought then we had a braai, but it was quite cold and we even had a few drops of rain.
Tuesday 25th September 192km
I was unwell with cystitis, so we left after breakfast and found the doctors. I saw Dr Albert and had an injection and then antibiotics. We got some shopping, stamps and money and then left on the R 27 over the dramatic Vanrhyns Pass. We had lunch at the top then drove on to Nieuwouldville. From here we drove north to Loriesfontein (45 miles away) and back to view the wildflowers. We stopped to view a delightful waterfall on the way. The site at Nieuwouldville was lovely. It was a municipal site with each pitch set among some rocks and there were lots and lots of flowers. We had a cup of rooibos tea in the last of the sunshine. It had been a cloudy, overcast morning, with blue sky in the afternoon but there was a cool wind when the sun went down. We had a braai and sat outside until late with me wrapped up in the Lesotho blanket. It was a very cold night.
Wednesday 26th September . 94km
We woke to thick mist/ cloud. We had breakfast inside then left at 9.30. We turned off to drive around the nearby flower reserve. It was too foggy to see much and the flowers were all closed. We viewed and filmed a tree with Weaver birds nests and stopped for coffee soon afterwards. The weather cleared to give cloud and sun but there was a very cold wind. We drove to Calvinia. There was lovely mountain scenery and lots of flowers around the town. We visited the tourist information, shopped and then drove to the nearby Akkerendam Reserve where we had lunch among pretty flowers and boulders and with Drakensberg type mountains around. We drove around the town viewing the old buildings then we went to the Internet place and read and sent messages. We stayed at the campsite in the centre of town with the friendly chatty caretaker lady. I cooked a 'stew' meal inside. We had some rain and it was very cool.
Thursday 27th September. 315km
We awoke to blue sky which stayed all day. It was cold at first and we had a bath, hair wash etc. then had breakfast sitting on the bed in the sunshine! We had a short shop in "Friendly Grocer" and then left and headed into the Karoo. There were lots of flowers at first, but it got increasingly drier. We had coffee beside the road where there were lots and lots of different flowers. We had lunch just before Brandvlei, (when part of Rosie’s tooth broke off) and then we stopped here to get some fuel. We drove on to Kenhardt and found a small municipal campsite (20R). We had a cup of tea then went to pay at the municipal offices and visited the tourist information. Here we got a key to visit the Kokkerboom forest. We drove back the five miles and then walked around this wonderful area with thousands of kokkerboom trees. We saw mongoose and rock dassies too and then we watched the sunset here. It was marvellous. We drove back to the campsite and Adrian lit the braai. It was a warm, still evening. We sat out until quarter to ten. We had telephoned Emma.
Friday 28th September. 193km
It was a hot, sunny day. We had a bath / shower and then breakfast outside (the mains electric had gone off!). We left at 9.30. We returned the keys of Quivertree forest to the tourist information then drove on a dirt road to Rooiberg Dam. We missed the turning first time. We viewed two pairs of quiver trees with gravestones. It was very wild and remote country. We had coffee there afterwards. The basket of books had fallen on my head again. We returned to Kenhardt and then on towards Keimoes. We had lunch just before in a ‘newly painted’ a picnic area. We bought some firewood in Keimos - a large busy town on the Orange River. There were a lot of vineyards. We drove on through Kakamas. We stopped to let a broken-down motorist use our mobile phone. We drove on to Augrabies Falls National Park. We found the campsite and had a cup of tea. There were lots of birds but also millions of flidges. We walked to the Falls, after having a swim in the pool. There was masses of water coming over the Falls, and lots of "paths" over the rocks to different viewpoints. We came back at sunset and Adrian lit the braai. We cooked the lamb we had bought in Calvinia. We were joined by Jurie and his son Gert who were camping next to us and chatted to them while they shared our braai. I saw a wild cat.
Saturday 29th September. 138km
We had a cup of tea, then walked to view the Falls. We came back for breakfast and then walked part of the Dassie Trail to Arrow Point. The scenery was splendid against the blue sky with the red barren rocks and boulders but the walk was spoilt by clouds of flidges. We came back and had showers then drove a few kilometres of the wildlife trail on an unsurfaced track. We crossed two rivers but turned back at the third (dry) river bed of deep sand. On our return, I videoed Adrian driving through one of the rivers. We had coffee near the entrance to the park, then we left and drove back via Kakamas to Keimoes. We shopped in two different shops, but we couldn't find any films to buy. We got some fuel, and stopped soon afterwards for a late lunch. We drove on through parched, mostly flat country, to Upington - an oasis town on the Orange River. Adrian got two films for me in Kwikspar (hooray). We stayed at Die Eiland campsite on the banks of the Orange River. I did some hand washing and then we had a cup of rooibos tea (I had now bought a tea strainer). We had a swim in the large, pleasant, cool pool. I wrote some postcards. We had a braai of corn on the cob and then a stir-fry cooked in the "Marmite" pot. The site was busy with a lot of "Roof" campers and others and we could hear music being played. We walked around the site before bed. It was very warm.
Sunday 30th September. 233km
It was a blue sky and sunny all day. It was very hot - 36 ºC, but also windy. We had a cup of tea, and then breakfast outside. We had a swim in the pool and then a bath / shower. We left and drove to Spitzkop Reserve .We had coffee near the entrance and lunch at the end. We drove around the flat arid landscape. We saw a lot of antelopes and also two camels, but all from a distance. We climbed Spitzkop before leaving. We drove back to Upington and then on to Oliphantshoek. The road was mostly flat, and the landscape very dry, with a few hills in the distance, but there were hills around Oliphantshoek. We camped beside a small lake at Mala Lodge and had a braai.
Monday 1st October. 139km
We were awake early. We had a cup of tea, and then breakfast outside and then a shower / bath. We left and drove towards Kuruman, stopping at Kathu to view a huge mining truck and digger and then we had coffee there. We drove on to Kuruman. We visited the tourist information - they gave us a bag with leaflets in. We had lunch in the campsite behind, after shopping at "Pick and Pay". We visited "The Eye" - a natural spring emitting 20 million litres of water every day. It was a nice little lake with waterlilies, fish and trees. It reminded us of the lake in Monets garden in Giverny. We visited the Internet cafe and read and sent messages. We then drove to the nearby Moffat Mission Church - like an open-air museum to Robert Moffat and David Livingstone. We gave a lift back to Kuruman to the lady who worked on the till. We then drove back to Red Sands Lodge. The sand was very red! We had a swim and then a braai.
Tuesday 2nd October. 300km
It was a hot, sunny day. We had breakfast outside then a swim in the pool and then a shower. We left at 10 o'clock and drove the two kilometres of sand track back to the entrance, where Adrian picked up some oranges from under the trees. Then back the 20km to Kuruman where we got some fuel and then we headed south. We stopped at the Wonderwerk Cave. We had a guided tour (so no time for coffee). It was just us and our black guide. We saw the museum bit first. There were cave paintings in the cave, and a lot of excavations inside. This cave is very important to the history of man. We had lunch soon after beside the road, and then drove via Danielskuil towards Barkly West. We stopped before there to drive around Vaalbos National Park. We saw various different antelope and one giraffe. The sun set as we left, then the full moon rose. We arrived at Barkly West campsite at 6.50, just as it was getting dark. We had a braai and sat out until bedtime.
Wednesday 3rd October. 52km
It was a hot, sunny day. We had a cup of tea then breakfast outside. We had a short walk by the Vaal river and then a bath! We left and drove back a short distance to Canteen Kopje - an old mining hole with excavations of early man. We walked the trail and then had coffee. We drove towards Kimberley and stopped to drive eight kilometres of a very corrugated unsurfaced road to view a glacial pavement marked with San engravings. We drove on to Kimberley - we shopped in a caravan place but couldn't get a small bottle of loo fluid. We found the campsite and had lunch then we caught the old tram from the Big Hole (adjacent to us) to the centre of Kimberley. We walked around looking for the tourist information but didn't find it. We went into an old part of the McGregor museum - but there were only rocks and stuffed animals here. We caught the tram back and then visited the Big Hole Mining Museum, which was excellent. It was made as the old town of Kimberley. We walked back to the campsite and had a swim in the milky pool. We cooked pork on a gas braai. We could see a big house fire near by and walked out to see where it was before coming back to bed.
Thursday 4th October. 211km
It was a hot, sunny day. We had a cup of tea then breakfast outside and then a swim followed by a shower. I found there was a washing machine here, so we did the first lot washing and then went in the van to view De Beer's Open Mine. We came back to the campsite and had coffee and did the second lot of washing then we drove to 'Pick and Pay' to shop, then finally found the tourist information which was not much good anyway. We viewed the memorial to ‘The Honoured Dead', then came back to the campsite and had our lunch. We now left the campsite and visited the McGregor museum in a large "mansion". There was a lot of information on the origin of man with regard to Africa. Afterwards we visited the adjacent Duggan-Cronin museum - there were nice photographs of African people but the museum was being "done". We left Kimberley now and headed via Boshof (where we stopped for fuel) and Deaksville (where there were salt pans) to Bloemfontein - a very large town. We had a lot of trouble in finding the campsite, which was on the road out. We finally arrived at 6.30, as it was just dark. Adrian lit the braai and we cooked fish. We chatted to a family named Allwood from Ixopo.
Friday 5th October. 61km
It was sunny, very windy and cloudy later. We had a cup of tea and then showers and then breakfast outside. We drove back into Bloemfontein and parked near the Waterfront and then walked around the town. We had coffee in a cafe at the Waterfront. There were lots of nice old buildings in Bloemfontein but we didn't like the town and it seemed very grubby. We drove to the tourist information, which was useless, and then to view the Women's Memorial but we couldn't get into it because there was a show being held there. We drove up Naval Hill and had lunch by the Observatory. We watched springbok, ostrich and wildebeest across a meadow of blue flowers. We drove around the summit of Naval Hill; there were lots of views down to Bloemfontein and to the surrounding countryside. We drove back down and then along the road for Adrian to see the "white horse" on the hillside and then we drove on to Maselspoort Adventura Resort. We had a swim in the large, pleasant pool. We put the sheets in to wash, but the machine didn't work. We had a cup of tea then Adrian lit the braai, but we ate inside and then listened to the start of "Endurance" on cassette - the story of Shackleton in Antarctica.
Saturday 6th October. 210km
It was a very cold night. We were awake early and had breakfast outside and then a swim and then a shower. We took the dry washing out of the machine as no one had come to mend it as we had been told they would. We left at 10.10 and tried a different route, but the road was too bad so we had to drive back the same way to the N8. We had coffee soon afterwards. We drove to Thaba Nchu, and then turned off to Maria Mokolo National Park. It was a partly gravel road, but when we eventually got there we found that the park was only open to organised tours from the hotel. We returned, stopping for lunch beside the road. A singing black man came along and asked for matches for his cigarette. We turned off after Tweespruit towards Excelsior and then to Clocolan. We bought beer and a few goods in Clocolan and then found the campsite, beside a small lake with coots on it. We had a cup of tea. It was a municipal site with a communal braai area and a lot of young people gathered and played music. We had our own braai, but it was a very cold evening. We came in at 8.00 pm and read some of "Adrian's people" from last year.
Sunday 7th October. 192 km
It was an even colder night! We woke early and had a cup of tea. We had breakfast outside, now in the warm sunshine. We left at 8.30 and drove into Clocolan and found a "Friendly Grocer". We drove to Ficksberg, but there were two lots of long sets of roadworks which slowed us down. We got money and fuel in Ficksberg, but the Internet cafe we had used a last year wasn't there now. We crossed the border into Lesotho. We drove through Maputsoe and were delighted to see a parade of young people walking along the road. We stopped and photographed and filmed them. We had coffee soon afterwards. We took the road towards Mapoteng and then towards Mamates. We had lunch and then gave a lift to a young chap into Mamates. When he wanted to get off he said "stand-up". We drove on to Maseru, the capital, which was sprawling and busy. We took the road south, and turned off to Thaba Bosiu (Moshoeshoe's mountain fortress) but we didn't stay as it wasn't open, being Sunday. We returned to Roma and found "The Trading Post". Lots of local children tried to "help"! We had a quick swim in the pool, and then a shower. We lifted the barbecue over to where we were camping and had a braai, of excellent beef. We sat out until 9.15.
Monday 8th October. 81km
It wasn't such a cold night. We had a cup of tea and then breakfast outside (Adrian cooked bacon, egg and mushroom). Afterwards we walked up the craggy hill behind us, through the village to view the dinosaur footprints. We were accompanied by two young boys who acted as our guides. We saw a lot of village life and had some wonderful views. We saw people quarrying stone and others making mud bricks. We came back and had a swim and then a shower and tea/ coffee. We left at 11.30 and drove past Roma, where there is the University of Lesotho, as far as Ramabanta (we think). We had lunch on the way back. The scenery was wonderful. We drove up to Bushman's Pass, a very long pass. We enjoyed seeing the remote, empty mountain scenery. We returned to a caravan park called Tollgate, at Nazareth and made a cup of tea. There were a lot of locals watching us, particularly the children. We had a braai on a sheltered barbecue behind a hedge, but there was a shower of rain so we ate inside and went back out when it stopped. Later we walked into the bar and met the manager and other local people.
Tuesday 9th October. 175 km
It was a blue sky and sunny all day. We had a cup of tea and then Adrian cooked bacon outside. He had a bath - there was hot water only in the men's block! We got some water and then left and drove back towards the main road south. We turned off on a smaller road through Matsieng (the chiefs village). We got lost in the village, but after a man directed us we found our way to Morija and visited Lesotho's only museum. It was a small museum and there were groups of very well behaved school children there. We continued south and then turned off to Malalea. This was a long road, and then became unsurfaced over the Gates of Paradise Pass. We had splendid views, but it was still several kilometres into the valley, and we were worried about getting out if it rained, so we returned and took the unsurfaced road to Mohales Hoek. The road wound on forever! We crossed the Makhaleng river, and then gave a lift to two ladies, who had directed us (there are no road signs in Lesotho), to Motso and then we continued to Mohales Hoek, arriving after 5.00 pm. We got stuck in the town and couldn't find a way out. We eventually got to the Mt. Maluti hotel, but there was no room for us to stay there in the car-park. We eventually stayed in the car-park at Monateng Hotel, arriving after 6 o'clock. I had a cup of tea and Adrian had a beer. I cooked minced beef and rice and we ate inside then listened to the second "Endeavour" tape.
Wednesday 10th October. 141km
It was a hot, sunny day. We had breakfast inside - a lady from the hotel came to say hello as I was cooking bacon (we had no electricity again here of course). We drove to the border at Telle Bridge, through a lot of little villages. The last part was unsurfaced. It was a very small bridge over the river at the border and we were driving along a very rough track which continued to be unsurfaced for another 30 kilometres, almost to Sterkspruit. We had coffee just after the border, sitting inside. I took a photograph with the yellow flowers on the thistle-like plant which we had seen many of. We had lunch after Sterkspruit and sat outside in the shade of the van. There were goats nearby. We continued to Lady Grey and found the tourist information. It was in a cafe in a pretty house. We then found the campsite, and later the manager of it, who was called Andrew. We drove up to the Dam, walking the last part of the way. There were a lot of black teenagers playing here, some were swimming. It was a very pretty "kloof". We returned to Lady Grey and bought some firewood, some milk and some eggs and then returned to the campsite for a cup of tea. We had a shower, which was not very successful for me, it just flooded the floor. We then had a braai - I made soup in the big pot. We went over to the bar, but it was all closed up so we came back and played Yahtzee and cards. We send text messages to Emma, Tom and Simon.
Impressions of Lesotho 2001.
It was not so green (in October) as Feb/ March last year.
Lesotho blankets were not so brightly coloured as those we saw on the way to Katse Dam.
We didn't travel as high this time, as last year.
We met more people this time, and discovered how friendly they were.
Thursday 11th October 140km
It was a hot, sunny day. We had a cup of tea in bed and then breakfast outside. We left and stopped in the town to pay Andrew. We headed off towards Barkly East, through lovely scenery, very remote with only sheep. We had coffee beside the road, surrounded by sheep. We did some shopping in Barkly East at Sentra. Adrian talked to the owner and then we went on to the butchers where we bought his recommended farmer's sausage (boerwors) for the braai. We drove towards the Barkly Pass, stopping soon for lunch surrounded by more sheep. The scenery at the Barkly Pass was wonderful. We descended to Elliot. We got some drink and firewood and fuel and then drove to Thompson's Dam. We had a cup of tea and then a lovely walk around the Dam. We were surrounded by mountains, and it was a lovely temperature, and on the way back we passed zebras, blesbok and springbok. The sun set as we got back to the campsite. We had a bath/shower and then Adrian lit the braai. There were 'burning off' fires nearby. We came in at 8.45. It was a cool evening with lots of stars.
Friday 12th October. 297km
It was a warm but very windy day. We were awake early and had a cup of tea. We had breakfast inside because of the wind and left at 8.10! We stopped in Elliot to shop in Spar, and then drove via Ugie and Maclear( both black towns). We had coffee beside the road. We now entered the Transkei, and joined the N2 to Umtata. We drove through it, and it was big, busy and noisy. We stopped at Shell "Ultra City"as we did last year. We had lunch there, and got fuel and money. A girl climbed up into the vehicle and asked me for information about the bus to Cape Town (she thought we were the tourist information caravan which was here last time we visited.) We turned off to Coffee Bay - it was a long, winding road with bad potholes. There were a lot of traditional houses. There wasn't much to see in Coffee Bay. We had a short walk onto the beach but it was very windy and had been all day. A chap tried to sell us some necklaces, and when we said no he offered us marijuana! We couldn't find anywhere to camp or stay here so we drove back a few miles and took the long, unsurfaced, very bad road to Anchorage Hotel (caravan park) at Tshani. We arrived at 5 o'clock - Adrian was exhausted from the drive. A chap offered us some crayfish to buy! We had a cup of tea and then walked to the beach. The wind dropped, so we had a braai and ate outside until it rained. We listened to side 5 of "Endeavour".
Saturday 13th October. 24km
There was a lot of rain in the night and in the morning. We had a cup of tea then showers. Then there was more rain! A man came and offered us some crayfish and Adrian bought five of them. We had breakfast inside and read, hoping the rain would stop. After coffee we went for a lovely walk along the beach to Umtata mouth and back. While we were having lunch, Adrian went to see a truck driving up the hill to see if it made it up there (it did!), then we went for a walk up the hill ourselves to check if we thought we might make it, and then back along the beach in the other direction. We decided to take a chance and leave. We managed to get up the very steep hill and also the 17½ km of rough track back to the main road, and then back down to Coffee Bay. We asked at the backpackers if we could stay there but she told us of a nearby large, lovely campsite! (not in any of the books). We found our way there and had a cup of tea then walked out onto the beach. We returned and lit the braai and cooked the crayfish. There was some rain so we came in and listened to two more sides of the Shackleton cassette.
Sunday 14th October. 337km
It was a nice day. We were awake early and had a cup of tea then walked out to the beach. We had a paddle and then came back for breakfast - bacon and egg cooked and eaten outside and watched by two dogs. We drove back to the N2, then to Umtata and had coffee at "Ultra City". We took the R61 towards Engcobo, and had lunch just before, where two local ladies were cutting and gathering grass for thatching. We continued to the N6 to Queenstown. The advertised campsite wasn't there anymore but we found one at McDonald's Farm, a few miles north of the town. We had a cup of tea. We were surrounded by lots of animals - ducks, geese, turkeys, peacocks and all sorts. We were given the use of the toilet facilities in one of the rondavels so I did Adrian's hair. We talked to a Dutch couple Hans and Mary-Ann, who were in the first motorhome we had seen since the start of our travels. We had a braai, cooking the sausage (boerwors). The Dutch couple came to join us afterwards for a drink.
Monday 15th October. 129km
There was some rain in the night and early in the morning but it was warm and dry for our breakfast outside. We drove back into Queenstown and got our gas cylinder refilled and then visited the tourist information and used the internet. We shopped in 'Pick n Pay' and then had a late tea and coffee. We got fuel and oil and Adrian fixed the windscreen wiper. We left Queenstown and drove on the R67. We had lunch in a lay-by / picnic area. At Seymour we took the unsurfaced road to Hogsback. We saw a snake and a tortoise on the road. The road was deeply rutted in places and was very steep. Just as we arrived at Hogsback, there was heavy, non-stop rain and later thunder and lightning! We pulled into the forest area and had a cup of tea. The site here looked derelict, so we found our way to "The Edge" on a long unsurfaced track. We still had heavy rain, with some thunder and lightning, but then the weather cleared again. We had a shower and then we rang Emma. We cooked beef and rice inside and listened to the last part of the Shackleton story.
Tuesday 16th October. 88km
There was a thunder and lightning storm all night, but we awoke to a blue sky. We had a cup of tea, and then had breakfast outside. We walked up along the ridge to pay - there were lovely views. We drove back to yesterday afternoon's spot and walked the "39 steps" - a pleasant walk to pretty waterfalls. There were a lot of white lilies and yellow iris. We drove through the "village" and on to a walk to the"Swallowtail Falls". It was a pretty walk beside a stream with a lot of small waterfalls but we ended up above the last big waterfall, so we couldn't see it. We returned to the van and had our tea and coffee. We now left Hogsback and drove back down from the hills on a surfaced road to Alice (where there is Fort Hare University) and then we had lunch in a litter-strewn picnic area just before FortBeaufort. We drove on through Adelaide and Bedford to the N10 and then drove the 20 kilometres south to Cookhouse, passing a lot of roadworks. From here we drove to Somerset East and stopped at Besterhoek Caravan park by the Bosberg Nature Reserve. We had a cup of tea then walked to the nearby bird hide but all we saw was a jumping fish! We came back for a shower/ bath and Adrian lit the braai. There was light drizzle later. The night watchman, called December, had come to chat to us.
Wednesday 17th October. 128km
It was sunny with blue sky, but very gusty. It became hot later. We had a cup of tea, then breakfast inside and left at about 9 o'clock. We stopped in Somerset East to shop in Spar then drove back to theN10 at Cookhouse, and then north to Cradock. It was nice scenery and drier near Cradock, we stopped for coffee. We visited the tourist information in Cradock and chatted to the very informative man, the former primary school headmaster. We found Cradock Spa campsite and did two lots of washing. We had lunch while the first lot was doing, and then had a wonderful swim in the warm indoor pool while the second lot was doing. It all dried very quickly. We drove back into Cradock and walked around. It was a very attractive town with lots of old restored houses. We visited the Olive Schreiner Museum and also viewed the church, which is like St Martin in the Fields. We then visited an Internet cafe and read our messages and sent one to Kath, Simon and the Pearmans. We viewed an old horse trough, commemorating Edward 7th's accession, then drove back to the campsite for a cup of tea. We had a braai and sat out on a very still evening.
Thursday 18th October. 68km
We had a cup of tea, and then a swim in the lovely pool and then a shower. We had breakfast outside then tried to find a walk by the Great Fish River, but there were lots of flidges and the path wasn’t signposted, so we left the campsite and drove back into Cradock. We shopped in Spar, had a short visit to the Internet café and then got some money and some fuel. We drove up Oukop to view Cradock below and had our tea and coffee here. We then drove to the Mountain Zebra National Park. We booked into the campsite and had our lunch, and then left on a game drive for the afternoon. The scenery was beautiful and we saw lots of different antelopes and several mountain zebras. We had a cup of tea, then a short walk and returned to the campsite. Adrian lit the braai. The weather was very cool. It had been cloudy and sunny with a few spots of rain in the morning but the afternoon was clear.
Friday 19th October. 198km
It was a very cold night. We were up at 6.00 am and left for a game drive. We saw mountain zebra, kudu, mongoose and more. We had cereal at a "picnic spot". It was sunny but there was a cold wind. We came back and I had a swim in the freezing pool, and then a warm bath and then we had coffee and toast. We left Mountain Zebra National Park soon after 10 o'clock and drove back to the tarmac (the R61) north westwards. We stopped for "elevenses" - there was still a cold wind. We saw a group of meerkats and watched them for some time. We were really excited. We had lunch by the Wapadsberg Pass where there was lovely scenery and Adrian had his snooze. We reached the N9 and then headed for Nieu Bethesda on 30 kilometres of unsurfaced road. The scenery was wonderful. At Nieu Bethesda we visited the " Owl House" which had lots of interesting cement statues and other unusual things. It was a very pretty, happy town. We drove back 30 kilometres on a different unsurfaced road but still with wonderful scenery to the N9, and then another 30 kilometres to Graaf Reinet, surrounded by more wonderful scenery. We drove through Graaf Reinet, where there were some lovely buildings and houses, to the caravan park. It was full of Dutch people in motor homes (about 40 of them). We had a braai and played Newmarket afterwards.
Saturday 20th October. 106km
It was a cold night again. We were awake early and had a cup of tea then showers and then we had breakfast outside. We left and drove up to the Valley of Desolation. We had wonderful views from here down to Graaf Reinet and the surrounding area. We walked to an Observation point, and then further on to some viewpoints. The scenery was spectacular to Spandau Kop and then the plains beyond. We had coffee at a picnic site on the way back down. We drove on to the Game viewing area and enjoyed a drive through this pleasant park with lots of wild flowers and much active game (various antelope, also giant tortoises and we saw two different birds of prey). We had lunch in the park then drove back to Graaf Reinet. We shopped in Spar and then had a walk around this lovely town. There was a huge Dutch Reformed Church and a lot of pretty houses and lots and lots of flowers. We got fuel, wood and beer and even saw a steam engine as we left! We drove on to Aberdeen, on the flat, straight road but with hills at the side. There were some nice houses in Aberdeen and a large central Church with a municipal caravan park nearby. It felt very French, or Dutch and the local people used the park as a walkway through. We had a cup of tea in the warm sunshine. We had a braai, despite the braais being away from where we were parked, and then unexpectedly sat out as the wind had dropped.
Sunday 21st October. 16km
We were woken by some noisy people in the night at about 1.00am. When we woke in the morning we had a cup of tea and then breakfast sitting inside. We then left (no payment) and tried to find the nearby Nature Reserve, but the gates were locked. We drove on to Beaufort West, through flat Karoo country with some hills in the distance. We stopped for coffee but sat inside because there were lots of bees around. We drove through Beaufort West - there were some nice houses, but the N1 goes the right through the middle of the town, so it is not so attractive as other Karoo towns. We drove into KarooNational Park where the scenery was lovely but there was not much game. We had lunch at the campsite where there were lots of birds and also a giant tortoise, who came wandering past our table. We then headed off on a game drive where we saw mountain zebra, eland, hartebeest and we think a reedbuck and a klipspringer. We came back and walked the short 'Fossil Trail', which had skeletons of extinct Karoo animals. We had a swim in the pool which was cool. We drove on a second drive, but saw no new animals. We stopped for a cup of tea then came back and walked to the bird hide. We saw masked Weaver birds, a coot, a Red Bishop and also swallows drinking. We came back to the campsite and had a shower / bath. We had a braai. It was a warm evening and we sat out until bedtime.
Monday 22nd October. 220km
I had an upset stomach in the night and in the morning. We had breakfast outside. It was a sunny and very hot day (33ºC). We had a short walk to some old graves, and then we walked the "Bossie Walk"which was among many plants. We talked to a couple from Hermanus with a little boy called Nicholas. I had a swim in the pool and then we left Karoo National Park and drove back to Beaufort West. We shopped in Shoprite and then got some fuel. We left and drove south on the N1 across the flat, dry Karoo. We stopped for coffee in a gate way, and then later for lunch in a shaded picnic area. We turned off at Prince Albert Road to Prince Albert. The countryside was very dry and arid. Prince Albert looked a very nice town with some lovely buildings. We now ascended the amazing Swartberg Pass, through mostly barren rock but with many plants further up. We stopped for a cup of tea on the descent and then continued down to 'De Hoek' campsite, which was set among stunning scenery. There were 130 school children staying here, but they all seemed well behaved and were very well organised. We had a swim in the large pool, while the children were playing team games near by, then we had a bath / shower. We had a braai and sat out. It was pleasantly warm. We walked over to the public phones and phoned Val Kennedy (our phone, which had been incredibly reliable, didn’t work in this valley).
Tuesday 23rd October. 111km
We had a cup of tea, and then a swim in the pool and then a shower. It was warm, but there was light cloud. We drove to Cango Caves and did the half hour "Scenic Tour". The caves were very attractive and impressive. We had tea /coffee there afterwards in the coffee shop and then looked at the interpretive centre and the shop. We left and drove on to Oudtshoorn, having coffee in a lay-by just beforehand. We walked around Oudtshoorn while a young boy cleaned our van. Adrian bought some shorts. We had a cup of tea in the van while the boy was finishing. We drove on through the impressive Outeniqua Pass to George, stopping several times to view the stunning scenery. After George we headed for Victoria Bay. We camped on the other side of the bay from last year. It was now cloudy. We walked around the bay, and then came back and Adrian lit the braai but it rained!
Wednesday 24th October. 107km
We had a cup of tea and then breakfast outside. We saw some dolphins in the bay. We had a 'swim' in the sea, and then a shower / bath. Someone locked door of the ladies' loo block so I had to shout for Adrian to open it! We left and drove to Sedgefield, stopping at Dolphin Point viewpoint near Wilderness. As we walked along beside the sea we saw a steam train. We found where little Val was staying and met up with her and saw the others. We had a cup of tea/coffee with Val and then drove with her to Knysna. We found out that the Watership Brass Band weren't playing until tomorrow, but we still had our lunch there. From there we went on to view the grave of George Rex. We drove around a bit and went to see "St. James", where Rob and Di's wedding is to be on Saturday. We came back to Sedgefield, and visited Di's mum, Phyllis. We had a cup of tea with her and chatted and we also saw Cecil, who was looking better than we had expected, after his recent heart attack. We came back to Shearwater, the apartments where everybody was staying. In the evening we went out for a meal with the whole crowd. It was great fun. After the meal tapes of Beatle music were played and we were all singing and dancing. We came back late to sleep at Val's apartment.
Thursday 25th October. 76km
It was cloudy and sunny. We had breakfast with Val, then she and some of the others left for Cango Caves. We went onto the beach and tried to have a swim in the sea, but it was rather rough, so we settled for a pleasant swim in the pool instead. We did the washing and then we drove into Knysna again. This time we saw Watership Brass, but spent the time talking to Zander's wife Sally. We visited an Internet cafe and received and sent messages, then we walked down to the Waterfront and bought an ice cream. We drove on to The Heads, first to the foot of them and then to the viewpoint and then down to beautiful Coney Glen beach. We drove back to Sedgefield (Shearwater) and had a cup of tea. In the evening there was a communal braai with a whole barbecued lamb. John and Di O'keefe had arrived.
Friday 26th October. 27km
The weather was cloudy, sunny and windy. We had breakfast and then later we went with Val to visit Jimmy and Jessie. Jimmy was a wood turner and also a fishing friend of Cecil's. Jessie liked fairies and had little dolls tucked all around her pretty garden and all sorts of mobiles hanging in the house. We bought a couple of Jimmy's wooden things and stayed there to have tea and coffee with them. They were a delightful couple and are coming to the wedding tomorrow. We drove back to Shearwater where the O'Keefes had arrived to take Val out for the rest of the day. We cooked bacon for lunch, and then walked onto the beach, but it was very windy so again we had a lovely swim in the pool and then showers. We packed up, had a cup of tea, and then left and drove to Buffalo Bay. The scenery was wonderful - we camped right beside the rocky shore - but it was really windy. We had a nice walk along the beach. Adrian lit the braai. The sky was lit up with strange colours because of the erratic weather. We spoke to a young German couple with a little girl called Nicola. It was a damp evening so we ate inside.
Saturday 27th October. 38km
The sun was playing games with the sea mist when we awoke. We had a cup of tea and then had breakfast outside in this wonderful setting. We did some cleaning in the van and then chatted to the interesting warden couple before we left. We drove back to the main road and as we turned off we saw a steam train heading for George on the railway line below. We had coffee at Brenton-on-Sea, on a seat above the wonderful wild beach, looking back to Buffalo Bay. It was a lovely view with the golden beach backed by the green vegetation of the hills and just two little children playing by the waves. We drove back towards the main road and stopped to visit Belvidere with its pretty, tiny little church. While we were there we heard a 2nd steam train heading for George and we knew what it must be and so dashed back to the level crossing to see our double headed train of last years trip. We now drove to Point Lodge, where we were staying tonight, and got settled in. We had a swim in the pool, and then a bath / shower and prepared for Rob and Di's wedding. We ate some lunch sitting on the balcony overlooking the lagoon. We walked to the St. James hotel, which was just adjacent to us. The wedding was in the open air beside the lagoon – it was sunny, but really windy, making it difficult to hear. Afterwards we had bubbly and canapés and then it was a free afternoon while Rob and Di went to ride horses on the beach at Buffalo Bay. The reception started at 7 o'clock. After the speeches and the food there were some fireworks, but these were really rained off as we had a big storm. The dancing started now, we came back to Point Lodge at about 1.15 am. A few others kept going all night!
Sunday 28th October. 80km
There was another thunder and lightning storm early in the morning. We had a cup of tea in bed while watching the television before all the electricity in the area was turned off at 8.30 am for the day! We had breakfast downstairs - several of the others were there. We packed up, and I had a quick swim in the pool and then we walked round to St James. The sun was now hot. We all had coffee and cake on the lawn but it became very windy again and then the weather deteriorated and we had more rain. We all waited to see Rob and Di leave and then the others left to drive back to Cape Town. We left and drove to Sedgefield where we had a short shop in Spar, and then we had lunch overlooking Swartvlei water. We had a walk on the beach and discovered that the river is now banked up by sand, unlike last year when it came out to the sea. There was another storm as we drove west to Herold's Bay. This was pretty, rather like Victoria Bay, but bigger. We had a walk on the beach and then drove back to the campsite. We had a cup of tea and some wedding cake. Later we had a braai, but we ate inside as it was cool and damp.
Monday 29th October. 295km
It was a fine sunny morning, with some cloud later. It was still windy. We had a cup of tea, then breakfast outside. We left and drove back to the N2 from where we had views to Mossel Bay. We drove to where the Great Brak River reaches the sea and walked onto the beach. The sea was very red here from the river. We had a short paddle then drove on to where the Little Brak River reaches the sea at Reebok. We walked on the beach. While Adrian videoed I had a walk to the river mouth where there were hundreds and hundreds of terns. Afterwards we had coffee on the beach here, it was lovely. We watched a seal in the sea. We drove inland now, up over the Robinson Pass through lovely remote scenery to join the R62 west of Oudtshoorn. We had lunch soon afterwards, sitting inside because of the wind. We drove on to Calitzdorp - we got beer and fuel but we were unsuccessful in getting any fruit and vegetables or any money. Adrian was very annoyed with the bank, who wanted to charge for phone-calls to change money as well as the visa card charge and so he took a very long time getting nowhere. We had intended staying at Calitzdorp Spa, but it was 22 kilometres back on another road, which we had missed. We decided to continue through this wonderful barren scenery to Ladismith, over the Huisrivier Pass. When we got to Ladismith the police kindly escorted us to the campsite! but we decided not to stay there. There were lovely buildings in the town and the scenery around was wonderful. We got some money and some fruit and vegetables here, then continued through even drier scenery, past Warmwaterberg (where it was a gravel road into the town) to Barrydale. We had a cup of tea in the last of the sun and then a braai and sat out until bedtime.
Tuesday 30th October. 157km
It was a fine day with warm sun, some cloud but still very windy. We left late (10.30) after showers, and breakfast outside, and more cleaning up of the van. We drove to Montagu, stopping for coffee in this lovely scenery. At Montagu we found the tourist information and bought a few things in the adjacent craft shop, and then we found an Internet place, which was in the printer's shop. We sent a message to Rosemarie to ask her to turn on the heating, to the Pearmans, to Simon, and to a taxi firm for our return journey. We had a short shop for the last of the food. We drove on through Kogmanskloof Pass, and stopped here for lunch. The wind was very gusty. We then drove on through Ashton, (where there was a steam train beside the road) to Robertson. Here we visited the tourist information to find another Internet place, as the taxi firm wanted confirmation. These were both pretty towns with lots of flowers, particularly roses. We drove on to Worcester. We located the National Botanical Karoo Gardensand had a walk around but there was very little in flower. We drove back into Worcester to the campsite. We had an Email message to say that Adrian had left his file in the Internet place at Montagu! We had a beer (Windhoek) and then a braai of lamb, rice and vegetables, which was excellent. We sat out until 9.30pm.
Wednesday 31st October. 302km
We were up early and left just after 8 o'clock and drove back to Montagu. We arrived there soon after 9 o'clock. We collected the lost file and sent a short e-mail. We drove back through theKogmanskloof Pass again to Ashton and then via Bonnievale to the N2. We had coffee here. We turned off via Rietpoel and Stanford to Hermanus. We stopped at a Voelklip Bay (as we had last year) and had lunch, watching whales from the back of the van. We had a short walk around, then drove nearer to Hermanus and saw more whales and then we walked a short way into Hermanus itself. We now left and drove around this wonderful coastline through Kleinmond to Kogel Bay. This was our first stop last year, and was so lovely that we wanted to return The gate was shut, but we managed to find the warden and let ourselves in and park by the beach. It was a beautiful view and situation for our last night .We had expected it to be really windy as the wind had been blowing all day from the south, and Kogel Bay faces south, but it was so still we couldn’t believe it. We had a cup of tea. Later we had a braai and sat out until bedtime - it was Hallowe'en and we even had a visit from a black cat!
Thursday 1st November - Friday 2nd November. 30km
It was a beautiful day. We had a cup of tea and then had breakfast of strawberries and banana outside. We got packed up and had a 'splash' in the sea. We left and drove back a short way and then climbed down the steep bank so that I could have a swim in the 'Sea Pool' here. We now drove towards Somerset West through this beautiful coastal scenery. We got money and then fuel at Strand (where we had started out about seven weeks ago.) We got to the Pearman's house and met Trevor and then Jenny. We had lunch with them and I had a swim in their pool and then we had showers. We got finally packed up, then Trevor drove us to Cape Town airport. We arrived early, but the time went very quickly. There was a thorough hand baggage search and Adrian had to give up his Swiss penknife which was in the rucksack pocket (and he was heartbroken!). We had something to eat - I had a salad and a cup of tea and Adrian had omelette and a beer. We spent the rest of our South African money. There was a full moon as we walked across the tarmac. We were lucky in having a spare seat next to us and after supper, which wasn't brilliant, we both dozed and slept. We reached the Mediterranean at first light and it stayed like this until we got to Heathrow, where it became a bit lighter. We had breakfast before our descent to Heathrow. We circled London and saw Hyde Park, the Eye, and the Thames. We landed at 6.35am local time (8.35 S.A.). We got through baggage collection really quickly and then had a taxi home, arriving at 8.15am on a beautiful morning - cold but with a clear blue sky. Hermitage
Feelings about South Africa 2001.
We noticed that Afrikaans was spoken much more than we realised last time. (particularly the West Coast and North).
The weather was erratic (hot/ cold/ windy).
We wanted to travel on more unsurfaced roads this time - this was often frustrating.
The countryside was dry compared with last year.
There was very little hassle - people were just getting on with their lives.
There were very few tourists - perhaps this was the time of year, or the areas that we visited.
The Rand was poor, so things were really cheap for us.
We saw virtually no motorhomes, so people were interested in ours.
We saw a lot of 4x4’s, with tents, in the Kalahari area
The US hijacking events of 11th September dominated our thoughts, and world thoughts, especially with regard to future travel.
There were virtually no washing machines at campsites in the west and north.
There was a feeling of Australian outback, with long, remote stretches between the towns.
There were no traditional houses in the west and north-west and more western dress and less begging.
‘Pick n Pay’ had the greater selection and was more "western". Bottled water was hard to obtain in the north.
Highlights of South Africa 2001.
VICTORIA FALLS - the Sunset Cruise, the helicopter flight, the walk by the Falls, the hotel.
CHOBE - complete! The Chobe river cruise; the hundreds of elephants; Game viewing from the 4 by 4; our nice guides.
The view of CAPE TOWN from the plane.
The WINELANDS - Stellenbosch - coffee at Sam Winkel.
MELKBOSSSTRAND - the distant view of Table Mountain in our isolation.
WEST COAST NATIONAL PARK - the flowers and the views.
PATERNOSTER - seeing whales. The idyllic setting of the Tietiesbaai.
The wilderness scenery of CEDERBERG.
LAMBERTS BAY - thousands of gannets, also penguins and seals.
STRANDFONTEIN - seeing whales from our bed!
The FLOWERS of Loriesfontein and elsewhere.
The wilderness feel of the KAROO.
Kenhardt - the KOKKERBOOM FOREST.
The spectacle of AUGRABIES FALLS.
KIMBERLEY - The Big Hole and the sights around (history and prehistory)
LESOTHO - the scenery and the people.
The wonderful scenery around BARKLY PASS.
The walk around THOMPSON'S DAM.
The Wild Coast - COFFEE BAY campsite.
HOGSBACK - the scenery and the walks.
CRADOCK - and Graaf Reinet and Nieu Bethesda - all really attractive towns.
CRADOCK SPA POOL - (Adrian's temperature)
MOUNTAIN ZEBRA NATIONAL PARK - the scenery and the wildlife.
KAROO NATURE RESERVE - The Valley of Desolation and the game viewing area.
KAROO NATIONAL PARK - more stunning scenery.
SWARTBERG PASS - amazing!
CANGO CAVES - lovely.
MEAL OUT - with the crowd for the wedding.
CONEY GLEN - beach at Knysna Heads.
BUFFALO BAY - beautiful setting, also BRENTON ON SEA next morning - looking back towards Buffalo Bay.
Seeing a steam train near the tiny church of BELVIDERE.
ROB AND DI's WEDDING - a great crowd in a wonderful setting.
The coast at LITTLE BRAK RIVER outlet.
The scenery of the KLEIN KAROO (near Montagu)
HERMANUS - seeing whales close to, in a beautiful setting.
Beautiful, beautiful KOGEL BAY for our last night (our first last year)