A year’s memorable moments, Ethiopia (part 2)

We were glad when we arrived back in Gondar and looked forward to do the historical route via the Simien Mountains, Aksum, Tigray, Lalibela and back to Addis. As you can remember, we had a quite nightmarish experience driving through the Simien Mountains in pouring rain through mudslides in the most terrible road conditions imaginable. The night came early and we thought we will never reach Axum alive. Ethiopia is one of those countries that you love to hate but hate not to love! It is a tiring, beautiful, mindboggling country. We thought we would never think of going back, but Ethiopia is back on our tick list for our next trip through Africa in a year or five.

The Royal Enclosure with it’s castles in Gondar was awesome

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While waiting in the bakkie for Arno who was at the bank, I took photo’s of the friendly Ethiopians in Gondar

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The woman underneath the blankets at the green door, stays there

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Terrible road conditions combined with terrible weather made this trip through the Simien Mountains treacherous and highly dangerous.  It took us 12 hours to do the about 280km drive.

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The immensely high and beautiful Simien Mountains

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Orthodox Christians on their way to church

Aksum and the atmosphere there made a huge impression

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The obelisks of Aksum

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The Church of My Lady Mary where the Ark of the Bible is supposed to be kept

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Overlooking Eritrea

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Queen Sheba’s Bath

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Bahran our wise, cute and clever guide.

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The terraces build on the mountains planted with tef

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Rock hewn churches of Tigray

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The hardworking farmers of Ethiopia

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Beautiful little girls….so happy to say hallo

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Stone houses with tef growing on the roof (Tigray)

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View towards Somalia

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Hardworking donkeys of Hawsen

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Breaking down houses stone by stone!

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Churches and mountain tops

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The never ending mountain passes through super high mountains

 

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Our crazy GPS!!

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Patchwork landscape

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Cooking in Hotel rooms (Maychew)

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Huge horns of the Ethiopian cattle

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Market in Addis

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Ethiopian New Year in Addis

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Getting ready to move again….to Kenya (Wim’s Holland House, Addis)

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Ethiopian New Years party with the Hollanders (Addis)

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The huge anthills between Ager Maryam and Moyale

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Some looking like statues

A year’s memorable moments, Sudan

On our way from Gondar to the Matema/Quallabat border post, I developed a funny cough. We had a bad experience the previous night with bedbugs and I obviously had a allergic reaction although at that stage I did not know it. The further we drove the worse it became and at some stage I started taking Celestemine. This sort of spoiled the excitement of crossing the border into our next country. On top of this, we had a difficult border crossing on the Ethiopian side with a Customs officer who wanted a bribe….something that we NEVER did on our trip. When we  finally got to the Sudan border post, it took them 3 hours to stamp our Carnet de Passage. We were tired and I ill  when we finally drove into Sudan in a hot 45 degrees.

We were amazed to found that the landscape between Ethiopia and Sudan changed from green and high mountains to desert within a few kilometers after entering Sudan. It is as if there has been a line drawn on the border post…..from high to low, green to desert. My post on our trip from Qualabat to Wad Medani told you that it was an extremely difficult day with 2 cloudbursts, a desert wind storm, not finding a hotel in Gedaref in pouring rain and arriving after dark in Wad Medani in a cloudburst nearly having to overnight in the Hilux next to a flooded Nile.  The first few days in Sudan were traumatic for both of us. I developed Bronchitis and we were both travel weary. Everything was very foreign, we could not sleep because of the immense heat and the Mullah’s calling for prayer every few hours. Travel fatigue set in and it was the hardest time of our whole trip. We had to stay longer in Khartoum for me to get better but when we finally drove out of the city we were excited and both looking forward to our desert experience. Sudan was at the end the part of the trip that we found we keep on talking about….it was fantastic and a life changing experience that made us find characteristics in ourselves and in each other that we did not even know we had. We are proud about our Sudan experience and proud about each other and ourselves by coming stronger out of it and being able to get back on track and enjoy our trip to the utmost! Sudan was the cherry on our Overland trip’s cake.

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Ethiopia near Metema border post

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Forgotten truck on the main road to Sudan near the border

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Green but flat landscape when a few kilometers in Sudan

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Desert under water on our way to Wad Medani

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This is where I nearly broke my neck slipping on the wet tiles. This exact moment was sort of the last straw mentally and physically for us.

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Camping in 45 degrees on a stage in Khartoum

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Not a happy chappy…wondering why on earth we’re doing thisDisappointed smile

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Very ill and sorry for myself.

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Khartoum version of a Tuk-Tuk

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Experiencing dessert living

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Thousands of tires next to the road in the desert

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Resting and watering places in the Bayuda Desert

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To see the desert in flood!

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Camping behind a dune at Meroe

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A highlight of our trip. The Pyramids of Meroe

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Having a braai in the desert at Meroe

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Enjoying a  desert “bath” and sleeping under the stars

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Camping in the Nubian Desert under the stars north of Abu Hamed

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Only the 2 of us in on a 400km desert expedition without roads

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A Desert sunset

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Counting the deserted stations on a deserted desert railway to see where we must drive

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One scared woman

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The “road” to Wadi Halfa

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Another deserted station

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And another station….we had to pass 10 of them to get to Wadi-Halfa

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We had to keep an eye on the railway line not to get lost

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Was difficult at times because the railway line is long gone

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The harsh beauty of the desert

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Seeing the Egyptian Army patrolling across the border near Wadi Halfa

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Camping in Mazar’s garden in Wadi Halfa, tired but excited about our Nubian desert adventure!

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Lake Nasser where we turned finally south again. Sad that because of the unrest the ferry weren’t running to Aswan.

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Having a picnic next to the Blue Nile

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We drove along the Nile passing the Temples of Amara, Seddenga, Sulb, and Sesibi

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Nobody to be seen in the 50 degree heat

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Driving thousands of kilometers next to the river Nile

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Where two deserts meet. The Libyan desert on the eastern side of the Nile is part of the Sahara desert while the Nubian desert is on the western side of the Nile. The people that inhabits borth  deserts are mostly Berber.

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We saw bed’s everywhere in the desert

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Huge amount of water in the desert after rain that flooded Sudan

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Broken bridge after the flooding

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Not a usual sight in the desert

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Magnificent sunset at our wild camp near Jebel Barkal in the Bayuda Desert

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World Heritage Site Jebel Barkal at Karima

 

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The Pyramids at Jebel Barkal

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The city of Karima on the eastern side of the Nile

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Crossing the Nile (again)

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Driving through the Bayuda Desert in a sand storm

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Crossing the flooded Nile (again) at Atbara

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He insisted on a photo with me

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Big wash day in Khartoum next to the Nile

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Gunboat Melik at the Blue Nile Sail Club where we camped in Khartoum

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Seeing the White and Blue Nile meet with the city of Omdurman in the backgroundIMG_9922

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The burst water pipe in Khartoum the day we left

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While we waited for the chaos to come to an end in Khartoum because of the burst pipe, this little guy talked long stories to us in Arabic

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The friendly people in Sudan

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A year’s memorable moments, Ethiopia (Part 1)

Because there is no official border crossing into Ethiopia from Lake Turkana, we were  already in Ethiopia but still on our way to Omorate.  We were stamped out of Kenya in Nairobi and had 10 days to reach Omorate where there is a border post. We drove right pass the lonely Police Post where we were supposed to stop. After waiting about 10 minutes for Fanie who was driving behind us, we decided to turn back. Only on arriving at the Police office seeing Fanie’s vehicle, we remembered we were supposed to show our Passports there.It  caused a bit of explaining and calming the Policeman before we were allowed to drive on.  On reaching Omorate late afternoon, we were quickly stamped into Ethiopia but had to come back the next morning for the Carne de Passage to be stamped by Customs. Ethiopia was a real eye opener country. Beautiful and diverse. First  the Omo valley and then the huge mountains in the highlands, the Nile, the Rift valley lakes, people on the roads with their animals, hardworking woman and little girls,  little boys playing with their whips or doing tricks next to the road, rock hewn churches, castles, historic routes,  bad roads, never ending mountain passes, driving short distances that takes a whole day, staying in hotels very cheap, coffee ceremonies,  nice Ethiopian red wine, the way the people dress, the Coptic Christian churches, the contours right through the country,  ……everything made us feel that we were wandering through the Old Testament of the Bible. It is a tiring country but so much worthwhile to spent time in. In Addis Ababa, we decided to drive to through the Nile valley towards Bahir Dar and on to Gondar and Sudan. These are some of the moments on our northbound trip.

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This was not a good Border Post for the Voetspore guys….they had to turn back because they did not have Visas for Ethiopia. Johan Badenhorst warned us to get our Visas in Pretoria

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The patience of Africa

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The hardworking  woman of Africa

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The children of Ethiopia. These three came for a bath in the dry riverbed using sand to clean themselves ( Mango Camp)

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This 15 year old Ethiopian boy trains hard to become a famous athlete

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Crazy kids trying to amuse travellers to receive money. Near Lake Chamo, Arba Minch

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Getting water African way

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Having a braai at Lake Abeya

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People and animals on the road

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Woman, girls and donkeys work VERY hard in Ethiopia

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Dangerous driving

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Camping next  Lake Langano

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Entering Addis seeing this landmark

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The terrible traffic in Addis

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Camping at Wim’s Hollands House next to the restaurant

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This cat and her babies shared the entrance to our room at Wim’s

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Our bathroom at Wim’s Disappointed smile

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Man staying in a hole on the sidewalk in Central Addis

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Getting lost in Addis looking for a working ATM

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Little Coptic monuments

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Extreme green of Ethiopia

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The dangerous sliding road into the Nile valley

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The excitement of having our first glimpse of the Blue Nile

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Watchdog (baboon) at the bridge across the Blue Nile

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A Landmark moment crossing the bridge over the Blue Nile

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Farmers planting their crops in the Nile valley

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Ethiopian style horse saddle

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Our first coffee ceremony was at the Tilik Hotel in Debre Marcos

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The amazement about our journey at the coffee ceremony when the Hotel management looked at the Africa map

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Pretty girls in Debre Marcos

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VERY steep slope!

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A reminder of the war between Ethiopia and Somalia

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Carpet sellers on route from Debre Marcos to Bahir Dar

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Bible figures

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The flooded rivers running into the already flooded Blue Nile

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More Bible figures

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Rice paddies next to the Blue Nile

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The feed their animals on the tar roads

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Coptic Christian church and weird looking mountains in the flooded Nile valley

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Lake Tana and the origin of the Blue Nile

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Little Coptic Christian girl (this was a very special moment for both of us!)

A year’s Memorable moments (Kenya)

Reaching Nairobi was for us a huge feat!  We saw it as the last frontier before leaving the Africa that we know (we thought) and going into the unknown. We enjoyed Kenya.

Experiencing the notorious Nairobi traffic

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The disappointment when we reached Jungle Junction. Expected too much methinks.

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Japanese idea of camping at JJ’s Nairobi

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Experiencing a gathering of Wildebeest at the Mara river in the Masai Mara

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Meeting Chris & Julie who started their trip in the UK. We and them followed each others blogs and we were delighted when they drove in through JJ’s gate in Nairobi. We went together to the Masai Mara.

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Masaai at Aruba Mara.

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The joy of Vin visiting us in Nairobi.  I only then realised how much I miss the children.

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Eretha’s surprise gift sent with Vinay.

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The cat that stayed with us at Wildebeest Lodge, Nairobi

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The very cute and good mannered monkey who visited us every day at Wildebeest Lodge, Nairobi

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Arno buying in pouring rain in  Nairobi  yellow cans for extra petrol for our Lake Turkana leg of our tour.

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Arno & Fanie recovering Fanie’s beer after the Olive Baboons stole the six pack beer. This confirms that men will climb mountains for a beer or two.

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The excitement of seeing our first camels. On the road to Maralal, Kenya

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Crossing the Equator the first time

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Friendly Samburu woman on the road to Maralal, Kenya

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Friendly Masaai Iron monger who gave us a demonstration of making spears in his workshop in the traditional centuries old way.

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The beautiful Samburu girl at Samburu Communal camp at South Horr, Kenya. We bought papayas from her and her brother

IMG_8244_thumb1_thumb   The strange beehive houses of the Turkana tribe and The Jade sea, Lake Turkana. The little boy ran away when he saw the Hilux.

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Three fishermen towing their boat on the shore of the windy Lake Turkana

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Unbelievable that someone can live in this on the windy shores of Lake Turkana

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Camel roadblock between the lava rocks just north of Loyangalani, Kenya

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Typical Masaai Stance at a small village in the Chalbi Desert

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Masaai woman in Siboloi, Kenya

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Woman from the Turkana tribe in Sibiloi, Kenya

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The unbelievably bad road conditions next to Lake Turkana

Roses in the wilderness, Maralal (thank you Fanie)

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Experiencing Africa’s BADDDD ablutions (with hot water though), Mararal, Kenya

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The barren landscape of the Kasut Desert

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Two crazy Overlanders from the south of Africa

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All alone at Crocodile Corner, Sibiloi National Park

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Sunset at Crocodile Corner with a gale force wind blowing

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Huge termite hills

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Beautiful Flamingo’s at the godforsaken Crocodile Corner, Sibiloi National Park

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Endless and lonely gravel roads along the war prone Lake Turkana in the in the Chalbi Desert

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Petrified Forest, Sibiloi National Park

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A year’s memorable moments (Tanzania)

Crossing the border from Malawi into Tanzania was (for us) the REAL BEGINNING) of our Africa experience……..and it really was!

Sith, our very capable Insurance agent at the Malawian/Tanzanian border post

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The Malmesbury lady that decorated our tent at Utengela Coffee Estate, Mbeya while the rest of the group were inspecting our bakkie

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Chongela, owner of Chongela’s Campsite near Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

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Children on an educational school tour from the UK slaughtering their own dinner at Riversyde Camp, Iringa, Tanzania

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Bargaining on a city market for the best produce at the best price (Mbeya)

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Experiencing the REAL Africa roads for the first time

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Experiencing Dar es Salaam

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The city of Dar es Salaam and some of the colourful inhabitant

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Woman leaving the ferry at Dar es Salaam

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Dows at Mikadi Beach

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Beautiful sunset at Mikadi Beach, Dar es Salaam

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Leaving for Zanzibar on the ferry

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Zanzibar!

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The Forodhani market

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Enjoying a glass of wine on the beach , Zanzibar

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Old Stone Town, Zanzibar

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The terrible and sad history of the Slave trade

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Our trip on a Dalla-Dalla to the forest

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The Colobus monkey and baby we saw in the forest

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Seeing Kilimanjaro without clouds on arriving in Moshi

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Camping in Robert’s garden at the foot of Mt Meru in Arusha

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The tower clock that marks the halfway mark between Cape Town and Cairo in Arusha

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A year’s memorable moments

While travelling through the whole Continent of Africa, you are sometimes forced to wait and wile your time. Sometimes it is because of the absurd heavy traffic or a burst water pipe in the Centre  of Khartoum blocking the early morning traffic while you tried to rise early to get out of the city en route to the Ethiopian border post. I waited numerous times in the vehicle while Arno tries to change money at the bank or sitting in a queue at a petrol station. We once at the ferry crossing to Dar es Salaam from our campsite, sat for 2 and half hours in the queue for the Kigamboni Ferry to take us across to Dar es Salaam. The best past time for me was to take photo’s of people. I am not the worlds best photographer but wants to show you some of the people and moments captured over the months on the road. The photo’s starts from the beginning of our trip.IMG_5771

Three boys from different nationalities playing ball in Letaba camp, Kruger National Park not understanding  each others language. One from Mauritius speaking French, a Namibian boy speaking German and an Afrikaans speaking boy from South Africa.

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Prawn seller at Areia Branca

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Jan & Joey with their pet boerbok Bettie on their farm in Mozambique

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We saw so many stray dogs right through Africa but this one broke my heart. He adopted me and even slept at night in front of our tent at Goody Villas at Inhassoro in Mozambique waiting for me outside the ablution block, He was badly mutilated.

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Bapi, the brave demining expert welcoming us to his dangerous mine infested area in Mozambique

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The friendly people starting the ferry  specially for us to  take us across the Shire river in Mozambique late in the afternoon when we thought no ferry is available.

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The excited children in the village of Chief Tembe  where we had to stay the night after crossing the Shire river in Mozambique . They were like a Mexican wave while we were pitching the tent….coming forward and backwards as we worked . This was the night of the mosquito plague and where Arno got his malaria.

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Chief Tembo from Tembo village in Mozambique near the Shire river who gave us permission to stay in his village.

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Antony, our helper and interpreter that helped us out at Chief Tembo’s Village to organize our overnight stay.

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Small boy in a dugout on Lake Malawi at Palm Beach

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Dutch Overlanders playing volley ball with the locals at Cape Maclear, Malawi

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Ruthie with her eldest daughter, son and very small twins. The daughter is 13 but she has to help her  mom with  the twins and the 2 other children. These babies are 10 months old but they look more like 2 months old. This was at Fat Monkeys, Cape Maclear, Malawi

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Washing done in the Lake at Cape Maclear, Malawi

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Overlanding Africa means meeting new friends from all nationalities and having an impromptu braai

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Lucy the cute little daughter of Kananji, our friend in the Chembe Village, Cape Maclear. She loved to visit the Mzungus at their funny tent home

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Baking our own bread. Cape Maclear, Malawi

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In Africa big and small must help. Makuzi Beach, Malawi

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My birthday cake surprise from Richard at Makuzi Beach, Malawi

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Vicious but beautiful stray cat at Makuzi Beach, Malawi

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2 cute 10 year olds guiding us to the waterfall at Livingstonia telling us their version of the history of the slave trade.

Mossel Bay to Alexander Bay…doing the West Coast

We were 3 weeks at home before we were back on the road again. We drove from Mossel Bay to Witsand to say hello to the children. They have a very nice undercover area available for us to camp. Troi slept with us in our tent and loved having us there to wish him the best on his first day at Grade 1. After 4 days with Leon, Hanli and Troiboy,  we drove the 250km to visit Lucas, Petro and Little Luke on their smallholding near Caledon. Luke was very nonchalant when we came driving through the gate, looking intensely at Arno and said “Oupa, I knew it was you because I know the sound of your “kamp bakkie”. We had a fantastic weekend camping at Vloedbos with them and we entertained Luke by riding with him on the super tube. We were the oldest children on the slide.   

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    Witsand and the Breede River

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Troi starting his school career

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                                                   2 Famous Hiluxes at Vloedbos                             

   We then stayed at Mountain Breeze Holiday Resort near Stellenbosch which is our favorite campsite when visiting Cape Town. We walked to the farm stall and enjoyed the fantastic environment. We visited Arno’s brother Chris and his wife Hilda who stays on a wine farm nearby. As a bonus Arno’s sister Heleen and her husband Gerard also came to enjoy the day with us. It was a real family day with wonderful food and lots of fun and joy.  Our sister-in-law Anneke, Naas’s mom, also came to have a braai with us. We had a lovely evening together. We then surprised our grand kids PJ and Yvonne by pitching up at their Nursery School in Brackenfell. They at first did not recognize their grandparents (the long hair and weight loss we think plus a year’s absence) but when PJ suddenly recognized me, he absolutely jumped into my arms with a loud ”ouma Lies”. It was a very special moment. Yvonne, shy at first, hugged me tightly around the legs and then it was Oupa’s turn. Priceless moments! We enjoyed our visit with Pieter, Agnes and the children.  They have maps of Africa and followed our journey. We also wrote them letters and send them photo’s witch they took to school to show to their teachers where “Oupa & Ouma Afrika” are travelling.                                                                                                   

While we were in Brackenfell we  had some wear and tear fixed on the Hilux and the Canopy. Ciske, the owner of Gomad 4×4, who made our canopy, has the best after service anyone could wish for. He put new rubbers in and secured the canopy again. The load bin came loose from the chassis because of the terrible roads we drove on, and has  been fixed.

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Family reunion

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Camping at Mountain Breeze. Anneke joined us for a braai. We paid R160 per night

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Oupa Afrika with PJ & Vonna        

Now our West Coast experience really started. We drove north on the R27 and turned in at the gate of the West Coast National Park. When we stayed in Langebaan we always preferred driving through the Park rather than continue on the main road. We had a very enjoyable drive through the Park. The lagoon was as lovely as ever. Driving across the bridge over the Berg river was like a homecoming for us. We drove that route every weekend to our holiday house at Laaiplek for 4 years. We stayed with Andre, Jeanne-Marie, Marene, Luan and Stefaansie until the weekend. I baked rusks for all of us and we enjoyed being  grandparents. It was Marene’s 8th birthday, so we took her to her favourite restaurant, Panarottis in Vredenburg, treated her with a Pizza and let her choose her birthday present. The Saturday morning the men, (big and small) went on a fishing expedition for the morning while the Fairy Godmothers (mom Jeanne-Marie and grand mother Elize)  enjoyed the birthday bash with the eight year old fairy and her friends.        

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                                                                                                                                  Stefaansie playing with his Ethiopean whip that Oupa Afrika brought  all the way

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Our beautiful Fairy with the Fairy Godmothers

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Saldanha Bay Caravan Park. R58 per night. Old but clean ablutions

Next we moved to Saldanha’s Campsite to enjoy a wonderful time with Carel, Daphne and Dane. Dane spent 2 whole days with us at the campsite.

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Our huge family camp at Strandfontein

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Beautiful sunset from our camp site at Strandfontein. Private ablution facility, R107 per night during the week, R170 per night during weekends

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Beach bums

We drove north towards Elands Bay, stayed for one night at the campsite and then moved to Strandfontein. We enjoyed the camping there so much that we stayed a whole week. Reading, writing, braaiing and just relaxing. Our Velddrif kids and grand kids joined us for the weekend. It was really a most enjoyable experience. Strandfontein is called the Jewel of the West Coast and we agree wholeheartedly!

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Wild camp on the beach about halfway between Lutzville and Groenrivier

Our next stop was a beach camp en route to Groenrivier which is also the entrance of the Namaqua National Park.. It was amazing wild camping again without a single sole around.. The views were magnificant, the weather hot but bearable but nothing could compare with the feeling of being totally isolated with only the ocean, the beautiful sunset and magnificent stars at night.

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The sunset was a Valentine’s message

The next stop was at Groenrivier mouth. We pitched our tent and sat looking in awe at the monstrous waves crashing ashore. The 64.5km between Groenrivier and Hondeklipbaai is a coastal experience where there are no developments at all….only the beautiful rugged coastline on the one side with the vast wilderness on the other….. pristine and untouched as it is has been for hundreds of years. A 4×4 is required to reach the campsites. The campsites are clearly marked and has enviro loos but one has to be totally self efficient. Because it is an arid Park, there is no water available and no amenities at all. The road are partly good gravel road changing to real 4×4 deep sand for periods. The signs next to the road warns you exactly where to expect what. It was real fun challenging the deep sand. Namaqua’s special campsites are Delwersklip which is the closest to Groenrivier, with 7 campsites. Kwass is 18.7km from the Groenrivier gate with 4 campsites,  We camped at Koringkorrelbaai where we were joined later in the day by 2 other vehicles. There are 5 stands and 3 enviro loos. Just north of the camp is a long beautiful beach. The next camp is at Skuinsklip from which is also close to the historical Spoegrivier Caves. Skuinsbaai Noord has only 2 stands and can be reached from Sarrisam on one of the Parks private access roads with a high clearance vehicle or from Groenrivier with a 4×4.  After 5 days camping and exploring the Park we reached Hondeklipbaai where we camped at the very neat and tidy Skulpieskraal campsite. There is also a  cosy little restaurant called The Rooi Spinnekop.

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Camping at Groenrivier. Camp cost R116.50 per night

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Namaqualand with the rugged coastline at the back

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Campsite at KoringkorrelbaaiIMG_2932

We were able to drive along the beautiful tarred road along the coast through the De Beers diamond fields. It is called the Diamond route. We entered the area at Koingnaas. From Kleinzee the tar road becomes a good gravel road. It is about 100km to Port Nolloth where we camped the weekend at McDougals Bay Caravan Park.

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Skulpieskraal at Hondeklipbaai R160 for the campsite. Clean and tidy ablutions

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Hondeklipbaai

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Die Rooi Spinnekop Restaurant at Skulpieskraal

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McDougals Beach. Camping cost R130 per night.

Our next stop will be Alexander Bay to see the mouth of Orange river after witch we will tackle the Richtersveld, camping at Brandkaros about 27km from Alexanderbaai.

Family time and a wedding

To reunite with our daughters after 6 months was very special. For us it was a huge achievement to return  safely earlier than initially thought but for them it was a “thank you for returning safely…..now we can stop worrying about you”! We were still experiencing a huge emotional turmoil. This up and down of emotions after an overland trip is something only other travellers can relate with….most definitely not the young people who went on with their normal lives. So we tried our best to fit into their lives, doing the normal household chores, help planning the wedding etc. but we are still feeling the vacuum that exists in our lives. We came back different people with different values in life. Now we must make the best of who we became and where we are going forward to in life. But enough of this!

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The clean up started!

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Special messageRed heart

We stayed with Vin and Eretha in Pretoria until Vin’s parents arrived from India. We moved on to Naas and Heleen’s house in Johannesburg to help with the preparations for the wedding and to look after their house and Bella while they went to Cape Town for a week. We girls were enjoying ourselves playing wedding planners and were very busy. Methinks that the father was at times bored to death!!    Heleen organized a surprise afternoon get-away with Eretha and the twins wich were huge fun. Eretha treated us (the girls) to a Spa breakaway in the Magalies Mountains.    

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IMG_2480_1      The three sisters

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The 2 sistersRed heart

We had a very nice get-away a week before the wedding to the Waterberge, camping first at Klein Kariba and then at The Oog near Mookgopong (Naboomspruit).

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Klein Kariba where the monkeys bombarded our Hilux at 5 in the morning with you know whatDisappointed smile!!!  It took Arno a long time to get the bakkie clean againSteaming mad

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Die Oog

On our return from our camping trip in the Waterberge, when we stopped in front of the  gate where we departed from so many months previously, the truck suddenly started missing. The long and the short of the story is that our faithful bakkie brought us up to the gate of Naas and Heleen’s house and then blew a gasket. I think it thought that it brought us home and NOW it is his turn to be cared for! Unbelievable.!!! We LOVE this vehicle. Well, it was just before the wedding that took place on the 16th of December (a holiday).

It was such a joy to meet up with the West Coast children and grandkids who arrived 2 days before the wedding. 

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Stefaansie, Marene and Luan forming a band with oom Naas’s instrumentsWinking smile

The wedding was totally awesome! Between Heleen and me, Arno and Naas,  we’ve done the decorations for the reception as well as all the flower decorations.The bride looked heartbreakingly beautiful, the groom dashing. Arno in a suit was adorable and I felt like a queen in a real evening dress, high hills and for once not in a short or jean!  We danced the night away, stayed over at the venue, had another in prompto breakfast party between us, the bride and groom and the in laws from India. The leftover sparkling wine were immediately brought to the table and between the wine and the wedding cake, the breakfast became a real wedding feastBirthday cakeMartini glassParty smile 

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Ouma Lies and Marene. Oupa Arno was the videographer.

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The beautiful couple

We came back late afternoon on the 17th after helping the couple at the venue. We could only start phoning around for mechanics to work on the bakkie on Wednesday 18 December…..3 days before, it seems, ALL the mechanics in Johannesburg are closing shop. The 11th guy we called was not available but they promised he will call back. By this time we were quiet frantic, making plans to maybe fly back to George or borrowing one of the children’s cars to drive back to Mossel Bay. The bride, groom and his family from India are on their way to us in Mossel Bay while we are still trying to get the Hilux fixed!  Bert Osmers,  owner of Auto Clinic in Randburg, phoned back and said we must bring the bakkie in. He is also closing on Friday but will have a look.  He was so good to us (and the Hilux) The no 3 and 4 Gaskets has blown and the top had to be taken off. Luckily he knew an Engineering firm that could still do the top. We got the Hilux back late Saturday morning, took it for a test drive to Pretoria to feed Eretha’s cats and to say goodbye to my sister   Annette and Willie.  Early   Sunday morning we left Johannesburg and leisurely drove  to Gariep Dam where we camped at the Forever Resort.

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Early Christmas with the family

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Willie and Arno downloading music

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Our “Johies” home

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Packing to go home……

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A bit sad but looking forward to the new year with new adventures

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Gariep Dam….last camp in 2013

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Home sweet home

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We would like to say to all and everyone a Happy New Year. We were a bit busy since back in South Africa but the postscript of our Overland journey will follow soon.

Exchange Rates, Petrol Prices and Road conditions in Africa

At this stage we would like to share some statistics of the countries we visited.

Starting with Sudan. It was a pleasure to fill the vehicle with Petrol. At R4.20 per liter it reminded us of South Africa 12 years ago. Petrol stations are everywhere but power cuts and availability is a problem. The exchange rate was 7.1 Sudanese Pound for 1USD. Money must be exchanged and cannot be drawn from an ATM. We exchanged US Dollars for Sudanese Pound. Road conditions in Sudan varied from fair to very good, except for the stretch between Abu Hamed and Wadi Halfa where there were NO road, just a railway line that had to be kept in sight while negotiating the deep sand and sometimes rocky bits of the Nubian Desert.

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Ethiopia roads vary from not too bad to extremely bad and and driving conditions are very hard on vehicle, driver and navigatorCrying face. Pedestrians and animals claim the road for themselves and then animals are even fed on the road…..totally crazy. The exchange rate is 1.85 Ethiopian Birr for R1.00 and the petrol price is R10.30 per liter. ATM’s are available in the bigger towns, but US Dollar can be changed in most towns. There are petrol stations everywhere, but as in all the countries that we travelled, power cuts can cause problems. Very few petrol stations have generators, so you must drive in at every station to find one that is operational.

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In Kenya the roads are fair to bad with lots of road works going on. They are even busy working on the infamous Marsabit road and about 40 kilos are already tarred. When one crosses the border into Kenya from Ethiopia, the people and animals disappear from the surface of the road and walk beside the road in the veld. It is as if a border post separates two different worlds! The exchange rate is 8.6 Kenya Shilling for R1.00 and the petrol price is R13.25 per liter. The petrol stations situation is the same as previously mentioned and ATM’s are readily available at Banks and in Shopping Centers.

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The road to the Masai Mara

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Moyale to Marsabit

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Corrugated road  between Marsabit  and Isiolo

Uganda was really a very pleasant surprise to us.  It is a very modern country and the road conditions are good although at times you must also dive and duck for huge potholes. The exchange rate is R1.00 for 250 Ugandan Shillings and the petrol price R14.60 per liter. All over Africa the petrol attendants wanted to put diesel in our vehicle and sometimes it took a lot of explaining and lots of different words for PETROL to convince them to fill the vehicle with petrol. The very sharp woman attendant in Jinja went and found a “PETROL” sticker witch she stuck to the body of the vehicle just above the petrol cap. I must say since then my problem disappearedSmile.

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We travelled through Rwanda without drawing money nor putting in any petrol.  It is a very modern country with good roads and the traffic is not bad. We felt very uncomfortable after visiting the Genocide Museum and were in and out of Rwanda within 24 hours.

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Tanzanian roads are mostly in a good to fair condition, except where there are road works and gravel roads. The detours at the road works as well as the gravel roads are not maintained and in a terrible condition. The Chinese are busy building bad tar roads all over Africa. I just wonder how the African Governments think they are going to repay the money borrowed from the Chinese for the road constructionI don't know smile. The exchange rate is 15.5 Tanzanian Shillings for R1.00 and the petrol price is R14.50 per liter. ATM’s are available and function very efficiently.

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In Malawi the roads are much improved since we last visited the country in 1998. There are still parts that have potholes, but one can at least travel at a decent speed and avoid the potholes. The one road that took us 3 hours to drive the 56km in 1998, is now a beautiful tar road. The exchange rate is 36 Kwacha for R1.00 and the petrol price is  over R20.00 per liter! ATM’s are only available in the bigger towns.

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Mozambique’s roads vary from good to potholes held together by small pieces of tar! We experienced some of the worst potholed roads on our whole trip in Mozambique. Petrol is readily available and ATM’s where one can draw money, is in every bigger town. The exchange rate is about 3 Metical for R1.00. The petrol price is just under R17.00 per liter.

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To summarise: The one huge disappointment for me on this trip was Tracks 4 Africa. They should change their name to Tracks 4 Southern Africa. The further north you go, the less one can rely on T4T for the correct info. It lead us into back ally’s and slum areas when good direct roads were available. In Ethiopia it was a total disaster. It showed roads that did  not exist, could not calculate distances, gave wrong info on road surfaces, etc., etc. Will definitely will have a talk with them. Personally, the worst road on our trip was the route along lake Turkana from Nanyuki in Kenya to Omorate in Ethiopia. The reasons are:     The heavy rains……..Terrible road surfaces that very from rocky to fine powder dust to huge potholes……The fact that it carries on for four days without one kilometer of good road conditions……..The strong wind that blew the dust into the vehicle from behind, because of the fact that one can only travel at between 10 to 20 kilometers per hour.

(Posted by Arno)

Decisions! Decisions!!

We decided that we don’t want to rush through Zambia and Zimbabwe. We wanted to be in Pretoria round about the 15th of November, so the decision was made to rather drive through the Tete Corridor and go to Cahora Basa for a few days rather than drive via Lilongwe to South Luangwa. We will combine that part of our trip with the Namibia, Botswana, Caprivi, Zambia, Lake Tanganyika and back to Uganda trip that will be the second leg of our Go2Africa adventure. Actually the 3rd leg….., ArnizeGo2India will be the 2nd legOpen-mouthed smile.

We discovered when packing up that our bed sheet that was with our washing, was missing. Arno went to look at the washing line and saw that it was on a shelf in the laundry which was locked. So, we were packed and ready to go at 5.30 but had to wait until 7.00 when the door could be opened for us. Luckily the South African party of 5 vehicles that came in the previous afternoon, were very interested in our truck and our trip and we passed the time talking to them. Eventually we were on the road and enjoyed driving again after the week of rest at Cape Maclear. Everything went quick and smooth at the Border post. It was a very very hot day. Tete is the hottest place in Mozambique and we experienced that for sure. 44 Degrees!! We crossed the mighty Zambezi and got a camping spot in the garden of the Misteriosa Lodge overlooking the river. We had M2 and a delicious pizza for dinner and were ready to drive on to Cahora Basa the next day.

Driving south made it clear for us that it is time to move onwards….south! We couldn’t stop. We were quite early at the Mozambique/Zimbabwe border. We went through so many Border posts and saw, heard and experienced crazy to utterly stupid things but it is still a mystery to me why  the Mozambique Immigration officer chased me out of the office, NOT going to stamp me out because I could not give him an ADDRESS of where we are going to stay in HARARE, ZIMBABWE.  What on earth does it matter to HIM where I am going to stay in another country. Well, we invented a name and viola, were stamped out of Mozambique. We had a little commotion on the Zimbabwe side when an European couple wanted to jump in front of the queue we were all standing in and the Zim guy with dreadlocks in front of me complained. An officer came to me asking if I was with a bus and that I must fall in at the back of the queue when a Zim lady came to my rescue biting of his head, telling that I stood in the queue all the time but THOSE people are trying to press in. It was fantastic to see how skin colour vanished and everyone stood together for what is right. They obviously bribed the officer to get them in front and it really boomeranged on all of them. I had this warm feeling of being an African, belonging here!  We stayed at “It’s a small world Backpackers Lodge in Harare which we can really recommend. It is quiet, clean and modern. They also have an art shop and we camped between the iron elephant and the iron chickens and ducksSmile. We had a HUGE shopping experience in Harare and even bought APPLES and BILTONG! We were going to camp at the Bubi River’s, Lion and Elephant Lodge on route to Beit bridge but when we got there we saw that the campsite is next to the main road and that sleep will be impossible with all the trucks passing by. So….south we went!! By now we were far before our schedule and start wondering where next? The Zimbabwean Border at Beit Bridge was quick and easy except for them sending you from one window to the next and back again after our Passports being stamped out, paying for crossing the bridge over the Limpopo etc.etc. The South African side of the border was a bitter disappointment for us. It was quiet at the border post. We were part of about 6 people going to the RSA. There is a window marked for South African citizen’s coming back and the 2 of us stood there for about 10 minutes while officers were chatting to each other, walking up and down on the other side of the window. An officer waved us away with a “we’re not stamping here, stand over there”. We had to queue behind Zimbabweans that had to fill in numerous forms etc. After about 30 minutes we were stamped in and then had to wait another 30 – 40 minutes behind the Zimbabweans who had to fill in temporary import permits for their vehicles, waiting for the lady to stamp our Carnet de Passage. The other officer were just sitting around doing nothing. The officer (doing nothing for 30 minutes) finally came to the window and we asked if she could help us with the Carnet. Her answer was “O did she not help you?  Duh…why shall we be standing here if she helped us?!! So she stamped our Carnet (took 5 seconds) and we were released in our homeland, the land of milk and honey, the good old RSA!! Eish!!!

We decide to buy a few groceries (in Afrikaans and RandSmileOpen-mouthed smile) for the cheapest prices ever (the last 7 months in any case). We went to Tshipise and camped there for 5 nights. We were sad but happy. That sounds crazy but we were sad that the adventure part were over but it was glorious to be back in South Africa. But we were restless. We had to process our experience and that is not so easy. We decided that we need the Kruger National Park, so here we are. We came in at the Pafuri Gate, camped at Punda Maria, Tzendse (where an elephant visited our tent and broke down the tap next to the tent) and is now at Letaba camp. Our emotions are now finally under control. We are reminiscing about the trip and are looking forward to the next 2 months of travelling in our homeland before we continue our African circuit. We will visit with children, family and friends, enjoy a wedding, Christmas with children and grandchildren, go home for a few days, just to begin the rest of the journey. The blog will go on. We will do a Postscript of the whole trip and will write about the pleasures of being part of the family circle again. Exciting times awaiting us.Winking smile

While I am updating the blog, Arno is servicing our brave Hilux that took us on this 26000km trip without one break or flat tyre. We are proud of this brave and  faithful vehicle which we could depend on through thick and thin!!  Hell or high water, it took us to Egypt and brough us back homeRed heart

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Bridge over the Zambezi in Tete

Landscape in Zim and Tete

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Camping in the garden of the Misteriosa Lodge $7 p.p.n

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Camping in an art exhibition in Harare $7 p.p.n

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Tshipise Camping at R90 (Part of the perks of being 60 plusWinking smile)

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Punda Maria

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Tzendse Bush camp

Lots of babiesOpen-mouthed smile

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