Bilene & Xai-Xai

It took us 5 hours to drive the 196km to Bilene. Luckily we started early. T4A showed Palmeiras as a campsite and we decided to try it. On our way I found out that my Kindle can help tremendously with finding places to stay and general info by using Google. The Kindle has GPS reception where nothing else has. I Red heart my Kindle!!

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Our huge campsite at the cost of R60 per person per night

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This connection was the reason that we couldn’t touch the bakkie without being shocked! Every time we had to work in the fridge or open the canopy, we had to unplug the electricity Disappointed smile

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Arno busy putting in the Mozambique Sim card that cost 100MC (R30) We walked through the local market to buy the Sim card and bought our first fresh Portuguese rolls (R2 each ) We paid for the same size (foot long) rolls R10 in Luanda!! We still have lots of fresh veggies but saw that everything is abundantly available at the markets

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Busy with the budget and the blog while sharing our first (and maybe last) 2M beer at the high cost of 65MC (R21)

Crossing the Limpopo

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It was a real adventure to get a campsite. It took us 5 hours to drive 200km doing camp crawling!! The campsite that T4A and the web AND Lonely Planet Africa navigated us to, were either a dump or closed.  To make a long story short, 6 Lodges/campsites later, we landed at Nhambuvale Lodge & Campsite that is situated about 40km past Xai-Xai and after visiting/exploring 6 Lodges/Campsites.  We had to put the Hilux in 4×4 to drive through deep sand to reach the campsite. The lesson we learned is that you cannot depend on any info you thought you had because campsites are closed, not existing any more or just to scary to stay at.Confused smile We had this fantasy about camping in Mozambique on white sand with  blue rollers running in just in front of our toes. No….in this area the lakes are like beads on a string. Beautiful, but you stay next to a lake with the sea hearing distance but out of view. Still, it is absolutely fantastic to be here!

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Camping is not coming cheap…R90 per person per nightCrying face

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Having funOpen-mouthed smile

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Our first wash day

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Heading east towards the coast

The length of this dam wall that is also the crossing towards the main road to the coast, is  5km and they are busy lengthening it!

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Crossing the Massingir Dam wall

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The Olifants river that feeds the dam and the Hydro electric scheme

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This says it all…..but NOT enoughDisappointed smile

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Difficult driving through swamp land on terrible potholed road. Huge never ending  canal left of the road

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Goodbye South Africa Hola Mozambique

We left Letaba camp a bit sad because we had to say goodbye to new friends. On the other hand we were fairly excited about finally crossing  the border into Mozambique. Initially, after phoning the children for the last time, we were both quiet and after a while I asked Arno how he felt because I had mixed feelings of excitement, sadness and felt a little bit scared.  He felt exactly the same!!

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Charles & Margaret who we met for the second time in Letaba

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Mike & Margie who are on their way to Zambia. Hopefully our paths will cross again

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Hiten and Anita from Bethlehem that gave us farewell sosasies and curry chopsSmile

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Grandson Hitie who became huge friends with us

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Last sorting out of documents before leaving the good old RSA

We entered Mozambique at the Giriyondo border post and everything went smooth if not quick. The customs guy vanished for periods but eventually we could leave. Our plan was to camp at Massingir Dam at a campsite named Aguia Pesqueira  in the Limpopo Trans Frontier Park. Following the Peace Accord of 1992 and the subsequent treaty between Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, Coutada 16, once one of Africa’s premier hunting areas, was proclaimed the Parque Nacional do Limpopo. This vast area of over one million hectares forms the Mozambique component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, soon to be Africa’s largest protected wildlife area, linking Limpopo, Kruger and Gonarezhou National Parks. Leaving the Kruger and having visited Gonarezhou last year, it was devastating for us to drive through this lovely pristine bushveld without seeing one single animalSurprised smile At the campsite we were asked to rather go to Campismo Albufeira nearer to the exit gate of the Park, because there were no water at the campsite. The Albufeira campsite were nice but noisy because they are extending the already huge dam wall and the lorries, stonebreakers, etc. were working nonstop next to the campsite.

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Giriyondo Border. Very expensive border crossing because one pays Park Fees of R125 per person and R125 per vehicle…R375I don't know smile

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Campismo Aquia Pesqueira , Massingir Dam

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Campismo Albufeira. Camp fee R70 p.p = R140

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The noiseSad smile

Our week in Letaba

We arrived  late in Letaba on Friday because of the long delay at Skukuza workshop. Arno decided to drive the Hilux in 4×4 because the vibration that we heard at the front right wheel then stops. We were lucky to get the very last campsite against the fence. As normal, the hyenas came at dusk running up and down the fence.  Although there are signs that says that the hyenas must NOT be fed, unbelievably people still do feed them. Sad! We have one young hyena that keeps us company but not begging at all. Just looking at us like a cute puppy.

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We went to Phalaborwa Tuesday very early to get our last provisions and to get someone to do an inspection on the Hilux. We were very lucky to find mechanics on call that really knows what they are doing. Everyone at the shop were very friendly and helpful especially when they heard about our adventure, making double sure that everything is fine with the Hilux. We now have a super de lux 1994 Toyota Hilux ready for the big adventure. 

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On route to Phalaborwa we were so lucky to see a young male leopard. The leopard walked across the road right in front of us. We also saw lots of elephant and a breeding herd stopped the traffic going back to the camp and going out to the gate about 15km from Letaba. The elephants walked towards us on the road just coming on and on so we had to reverse all the time. After about 20 minutes of them playing with us, they divided into 2 groups each on the side of the road. Arno decided that it was time to try to get through and off we went between them as quick as possible. The one male was NOT impressed and trumpeted after us and swung onto the road but by that time we were past the whole herd with our bodies full of adrenalin!! We made it to the camp with 10 minutes to spare. If you are late, you get a fine of a  R1000 with no excuses about elephants blocking the road.

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A huge bull elephant like this walked past the fence one evening  within a meter of where we were sitting in our chairs

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The lazy lions

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We had a full day of getting provisions, last medicine, gas, biltong (not enough methinks) and odds and ends.  Arno also filled our water tank with drink water by syphoning the water (and drinking a lot of water in the processSmile ) The day were long and busy and we were happy to be back in the Park.

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My personal arsenal of making war on mosquitos except for the HOT PINK PEPPER SPRAY which I intend to use on inquisitive lions.

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Namibia playing rugby against France in Letaba campsite

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The travellers in Letaba

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Picnicking

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The camera stand (because the real one was at the campsite) to take the above photoWinking smile

Our final departure from Pretoria to Skukuza

We went to buy some fresh greens at the Food Lovers Market in Centurion but also to say our goodbyes to Eretha. It was very cold so we did what we had to do, give Eretha a hug (severalSmile) and a kiss and then we were on our own. Such a nice drive to Malelane, quickly  in at the Malelane gate but when we arrived at Skukuza we had to stand in a queue for 45 minutes to book in while it was getting dark outside. I had my first lesson in  Africa patienceSad smile We pitched camp in total darkness. It was so exciting to finally be in the bush, camping, that even the bad late start could not damper our feeling of where we are and why we are here.

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The beautiful old train bridge at Skukuza

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We got the most beautiful campsite. The atmosphere between the campers were really an experience on its own. We drove out to Satara one day and saw lots of animals. Rhino’s, Elephant, and a pride of lions next to the road in the riverbed. Our neighbours became friends and it was actually a bit sad to say goodbye to them Friday morning when we left for Letaba

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Willie & Elmari van Vanderbijlpark

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Oswald & Anne-Marie from Boksburg invited us for a braai when the garage worked until after dark on the Toyota’s wheel bearings. Oswald & Willie actually went to look for Arno after the gates were already closed and he and the truck were still missing in actionSmile

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Chris & Kara from Springs….our very friendly English speaking neighbours

We had a long and nerve wrecking experience with the workshop on the outskirts of Skukuza where they kindly agreed to grease the wheel bearings and change the differential’s oil.  It took 3 half days of patience, sweat and tooth grinding but it has been done. Not so good because we will have to take the Toyota to the Toyota Dealer in Phalaborwa next week to sort out the funny grinding noise that we hear at the right front wheelSad smile

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Jan the Mechanic and his assistant mostly looking at the wheel and vanishing for loooooong periodsSurprised smile

Putting everything together

We collected Visas, Carnet de Passage, International Drivers Licenses, Renewal of RSA Driving Licenses that we were waiting for, making 10 fold of photocopies of EVERYTHING, etc.etc. Then we had to pay final Telkom Bills, Municipal bills, cancel ADT, pack the last things and say goodbye to the children and eventually, off we went!

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Even Bella were saying goodbyeWinking smile

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And we got a speech from the lady on the right……to do what we must do, enjoy, take the time and just get BACK!!!

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So, just to make sure what she meant, she gave me this earrings to take TIME to enjoy the trip,  keep safe all the TIME and come back in TIME……..not too sure of what she meant by the lastWinking smile

Thank you family, children and friends! Your support make this adventure of ours so much more special. Love you all!! Thank you Pieter for working behind the scenes until we’re back, Lucas and Petro edging us on ”just go do it”!!, Andre & JM always excited and supportive, Carel & Daphne supportive but sure their parents are a bit crazy, Hanli & Leon asking if we are sure we want to do this, Eretha and Vin working themselves to death but are proudly telling all their friends about our trip and finally Naas and Heleen….who gave us there blessing! Willie & Annette, Cora, Lucas, Renier, Cecile, Willie, Antoinette, Chris & Hilda, Gerard & Heleen, Frans and family in America and all our friends….we take you with us in our hearts!

Quality Family time

Saturday, the day before we left for the Kruger National Park, we invited Willie, Annette and Cora for a farewell braai at Naas & Heleen’s house. Liena were also invited and it felt as if she is part of our family now. She flew to London on Monday so in a way it was her farewell braai as well. Eretha and Vin could not join us for lunch because they were both working, but joined as later on. Heleen spoiled us with her fantastic decadent chocolate cupcakes and made roast vegetables, I baked a potbrood and Arno braai’d chicken and a leg of lamb that we brought with specially for this occasion all the way from Mossel Bay. We had a few bottles of Bubblies to celebrate this special occasion.Martini glass All in all a very memorable afternoon with our family.

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The bottle pops and Bella got a frightParty smile

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Full and happy after a late lunch

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Mom and daughters after an exciting day.

The last few days between our daughters

 After the very hectic running and driving around period in Pretoria, we relocated again to Johannesburg.  Eretha and Vin took us for a farewell (Pretoria) dinner where we had a lovely time with the two very overworked children. Thank you guysRed heart  We appreciate the time you made to spent with us in your very busy schedule and between deadlines.

The time arrived for the last preparations before our final departure to the Kruger National Park. We had a long list of things to do like baking rusks (very important for us to have our morning coffee with a health rusk in hand), do the final packing of the drawers, make a list of serial numbers of our equipment for customs, etc. etc. Naas is busy studying for an exam and Heleen helped us out by being available whenever and wherever we needed her.

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This is supposed to come on the roof. On the right is our medical kit that goes into the bakkie

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Chaos!!

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This is not an All-Bran ad but the mixing of our health rusks for the trip

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The final product. Don’t know how long it will hold before we must bake again. Next time it will be in the bush! Check out all the OBS bottles…..!! EMPTY evidence of Heleen’s Little Honeypot launchSmile

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Our Goldie locks support team watching mom cutting the final product

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Repacking and sorting the drawers

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Naas taking a break from studying

Finally the Visas!!!

The Ethiopian Embassy gave us a card with the date when to collect our Visas. The date was Friday 26 April 2013. The Sudanese Embassy said “any day after Thursday”. So we in our wisdom decided that MONDAY 29 April 2013 will SURELY be the date to pick up the Visas.  But no…..Sure the Ethiopian Visas were ready after SIX visits to the Embassy but at the Sudanese Embassy the Consul were drinking coffee with the friendly guy in the front office and (very friendly) told us that we must come back on Tuesday after 14:00. So, just after 14:00, we arrived at the Embassy and were met with a welcoming committee with our Visas in hand telling us to enjoy there country and remember our Yellow fever injection card!  Historic moment!! Finally all our visas in hand:-)

Sudan Ambasade

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