Cape Town to Nairobi.
Hello all, everyone well? Good, good, that's what I like to hear.
I have a fair bit to write as I obviously have not been very diligent about my updates. Sorry.
Well, in the end my plans changed as they always do and I skipped Kruger and the Baz Bus in favour of jumping on a truck and heading off through Namibia, Botwana and then on to Jo'berg. As you will have noticed from the title, even having booked my place and paid for it after a few weeks my plans changed yet again!
So a bit about the truck. It's not some dusty working vehicle but a truck designed to take passengers and very nice it was too. The truck is called Tana and is owned by Acacia and is driven by Patrick who is an absolute sweetheart. The guide on our trip was Marietje who is a walking encyclopedia and a lovely lady too as well as being an amazing cook. We also had 2 trainee guides with us, Yasmin and Jaco who are both enourmous fun as well as being very knowledgable and competant. So the stage is set, now for the activities.
Day one, I skipped the Township tour as I still feel uncomfortable about treating people like they are in a zoo, perhaps I was wrong to bypass it, perhaps not, I still can't decide.
Later we left Cape Town and drove North to a vinery where we did some wine tasting. They had the nicest cheese there and the Rose wines were gorgeous, wish I had bought a bottle or two. Can't remember the name of the place but it was run by a chap called Sparky. It chucked it down with rain and all our tents blew away so I was running around in the dark with Patrick trying to secure them. But we had a good nights sleep and all was well.
Next day we headed to the Orange River which borders Namibia. Had a little chill out there. Not too much else to report about this day. Here's a photo which will express the 1,000 word's I have failed to come up with.
Then we crossed into Namibia which was rather exciting. We headed to our campsite at Fish River Canyon and Heidi and I walked to the canyon which was 10 km walk and silly me, I didn't take any water with me. Tut, tut, learnt a lesson there!
The truck came by and picked us up as we were nearing the canyon and when we got there it was superb. It's the 2nd largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon.
We legged it off to the truck which was parked elsewhere by now to watch the sunset and a wonderful suprise of Champagne was waiting for us. Very nice. Later we continued with a few beers up in a tree at our campsite which was a first for me. Bugger trying to convince people to bring you up a beer though!
The next day we had a very early start as we headed to Dune 45 at Sossusvlei with the plan of climbing to the top (140 meters) to watch the sun come up over the dunes, which we did. We had been warned that the climb would take about 15 minutes but when we pulled up next to it I thought that the dune looked disappointingly small and couldn't understand why it should take so long. "How hard can it be"? I thought to myself. Now, I should know that whenever I think this, I am in for either pain or disaster or possibly both. God it was tiring scrambling up the never ending dune with your feet constantly wanting to slide back down. It just carried on and on and when you thought you was at the top there was another big bit to contend with. But we all made it and it was well worth it. I saw the red Namibian dunes that I have dreamed of for many years, the photos of them, like so many of my other pics, do not do the scene justice.
Once we had slithered back down the dune we were greated by a cooked breakfast of eggs and sausages which was fabulous after our exertions.
From there we headed off to meet Bushman at Sesriem which was just wonderful. Bushman was very knowledgeable and I loved learning from him. The was a dry lake bed that the others went to explore which really didn't look that big but perspective is all over the place in the desert and the lake was actually a couple of kms long.
I stayed to chat with Bushman and after that I just wanted to stay and learn from him. He showed us a trap door spider's nest which was great and found us footprints and lizards to inspect. What a great day!
After our walk we stopped at Solitaire for a break which was great because there are a load of old cars and bikes there which were on display outside, I loved that they could be seen by anyone.
Next we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn which was all rather exciting.
That night things just got better when we bush camped in the desert in a sort of cave made by some great big rocks. There was a gorgeous sunset to admire and I really think that this is the first time that I have seen the sunrise and the sunset on the same day, fab.
Luckily the snakes, scorpions and spiders left us to sleep alone. I woke up in the night for the loo and wandered off to look at the stars which were gorgeous without light pollution. I felt that I should do some musings and come up with something profound but in the end I went back to my sleeping bag with a calm mind instead.
The following day was a very long drive to Swakopmund. I chilled in the afternoon and booked some activities for the next day. That evening I had a mixed game grill which consisted of Eland, Kudu, Springbok and Zebra. It was edible but everything was drenched in a very strong sauce so it was nigh on impossible to differentiate between the different meants, only Zebra had a different texture. In the end I asked for a doggy bag and gave it to a guy begging on the street and he was really chuffed to have game. It's a shame that doggy bags are not in more use at home, it does make sense to avoid wasting food.
So, the next day I started with a couple of hours quad biking in the dunes which was wonderful as well as horrible. First I struggled to get used to not putting my foot down when stopped, turning the handlesbars and worse still in the direction that you want to go. Not having a twisty throtle, instead it was one of the dreadful ones controlled by your poor, flagging thumb. Also the gears were none down and 5 up, yuck! I do have to complement the greabox and clutch though. Anyway, we went miles and miles and it was really beautiful out there and oh so peaceful. The only thing is my right thumb kept sliding off the throttle and I was scared of going sideways across the dunes but none the less I must recomend the activity. Better than heaving yourself up sand dunes with a sandboard I suspect!
That afternoon I jumped in a plane and then jumped out of it at 10,000 feet. And my god, it was amazing! I did a skydive in Jersey last year and loved every nano second of it but incredibly this was even better. The guy I was strapped to put us into a loads of spins during free fall which was just so exciting and only opened the canopy at just under 3,800 feet so we had 38 seconds of free fall and went tearing past Nellie who had jumped before me. We reached a top speed of 244km an hour - 244 km - ooh I'm liking this speed business. Then when the canopy was open my new best friend set me up in the harness so that I was sitting very comfortably on it and said "Close your eyes" which I obediantly did. He then performed magic with the toggles on the canopy and it felt like we were in a gigantic swing going backwards and forwards - truely awesome. I opened my eyes and watched the earth shift beneath us and life was perfect. We had a very gentle landing and for hours afterwards I fluctuated between blissfull calm, extreme excitement and pure joy. This is definitely something that I want to do again and again and again.....
Right, I'm going to stop here and type some more later - don't want to spoil you with too much excitement. Oh, ok, I'm off to the pub!
Speak soon, love Sarnia xxx