Thursday, May 26, 2011

The end... of this circuit...

The next morning dawns bright and clear, and up gets the tour leader to put the kettle on for her beloved passengers. Duly boiled, it is transported back to the truck and placed amongst the breakfast fare.

Tour leader goes away to do various duties. Later, after all is packed away, we leave and pull into a service station after a couple of hours for a toilet break.

Tour leader is duly surprised that everyone is claiming desperate thirst and need for coffee.

MORAL OF THE STORY: if you are going to illicitly use kettle as impromptu punch receptacle, empty it. Otherwise contents WILL be inadvertently be boiled up and served to you for breakfast.

Much love

Racing to the end...

Our least few days on tour are a mixture of beautiful scenery, activities and packing...

A major stop, and our last in Namibia is Fish River Canyon - the views, the thermal springs, and the oven baked lasagne all combine to provide fanastic experiences, and luckily its a little bit warmer than we have been used to at night (see the fashion shoot).

All too soon it is time to wave goodbye to Namibia and on to South Africa. We stay at a new campsite - Umkulu - on the Orange River, and despite there being plenty of activities on offer - rafting/ canoeing and sunset walks, by this time legathy has set in and everyone just chills. That night we chow down on Kudu steaks and gird ourselves for one final assault before Capetown - its nearly time for winetasting...

....which does not disappoint. Priced at a very reasonable 55R for the guarantee that you will feel 'internally warm' inside. This is followed by a group meal (not a good idea to wield cooking instruments after said tasting) and a knees-up until the early hours.

Fashion guidance: how to be a successful overlander

Fashion shoot: step by step guide to fashion SUCCESS
Location: Dune 45
Models: Debatable

Rule 1: Pick beautiful location

Rule 2: add some models...

Rule 3: Remember the Namibian winter gets cold. It is important to counteract this

Rule 4: Accessorise. Accessorise. Accessorise.

Rule 5: You may lose 70% of heat from your head but look after those toes.

Rule 6: Uncertainty of to origin of clothes (is it a towel? a scarf? an animal?) should not prevent it being put to use

Rule 7: Adopt fashion trends from home. High trousers? Check. Tucked in tops? Check. Sultry expressions... check?

Rule 8: Rock that bare legged, socks and shoes look. You KNOW it looks good

Rule 9: Rest assured that no matter how ridiculous you look, one member of the tour will always look more so - thats right - meet the tour leader

(personally I think people dream to look like this)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Swakopmund. Home of overlanding adrenaline south of Vic Falls. Sadly no skydiving on the agenda, but there is still plenty to entertain all.

One of the restaurant institutions in Swakopmund is Napolitanas - and the group indulge in the truly massive portions. It has been subtly suggested that doggy bags may be required, but despite these warnings, a few people actually manage to finish their plate and therefore spend the night in a self induced food coma.

The next day is activity day and some go sandboarding (top speed - 75kph), some go quadbiking and some go for a more relaxing option and take up the offer of a massage from Kath (ex-Acacia tour leader) and a dolphin cruise.

This involves close encounters with dolphins (whose loving of the boat is for less savoury reasons than would be anticipated - the vibrations of the boat in the water increases a dolphins urge for sexual activity... not so sweet and innocent!), pelicans (no vibration attractions), seals (hopefully no vibrationary attractions as they ended up on the boat with us) and champagne and oysters to finish - life is tough!

Its hard to drag ourselves away from Swakop, especially as we've had two nights in dorm beds - possibly the nicest dorms in the world - but we've got a way to go yet...

Monday, May 16, 2011


Highlights of the tour so far in this country:

* Stalking lions in Etosha NP (thats lions that were stalking, not that we were chasing them)

* Meal at Joe's beerhouse in Windhoek - zebra, ostrich, kudu, oryx, croc all devoured

* Revisitation of 'lamb' night from Malawi

* No revisitation of punch night from Malawi and Botswana (so far)

* Epic games of hearts. Inducing overcompetitiveness all round.

* Sleeping outside, watching shooting stars and nebula at Spitzkoppe. Some of the group opted for gollum-esque cave dwelling instead.

* No more malaria zone!

* Dom Pedro

* Quadbiking, sandboarding

* Dolphin cruise and hugging seals

Monday, May 9, 2011

Delta time...

Botswana means Chobe and the Okavango Delta to most overlanders, and neither disappointed this time...

Chobe NP started off our next leg of the tour nicely - lots of elephant and a 'nearly' lion hunt (or so I'm assured - the actual sighting was of a lion lying down, idly watching some passing (terrified) impala.)

64,000 elephants populate Chobe, and a couple of herds duly rocked up at the waters edge during our cruise to show off...

600km later and we are in Maun, and head off to the delta. After an exceptionally long mokoro ride of 4 hours to get right into the wildeness, we set up camp, swim, battle each other aboard the mokoros - which sink - and generally cause havoc in the swimming area. We are lucky and get to see a lot of game including wildebeest, zebra and elephant - both on foot and on the mokoros. Also, less excitingly, spiders and mosquitos, which the polers assure us are our friends. Consensus of the group indicates this is a lie.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ramblings on Zambia

Hello fools,

Having published various musings on Malawi, my dear tour leader, Pol Pot, has assured me that if I fail to post something similar on Zambia, she will house a dead fish in my locker on the bus for the remaining three weeks of the trip. So I must issue a simila
r health warning, read on only if the only alternative activity is akin to watching Jeremy Kyle, eating a tramp's toenails, etc etc.

To spare any innocent and unsuspecting visitor to this page too
much pain, I will focus on Livingstone, home of the Victoria Falls and adrenaline capital of Africa. Victoria Falls in high water (when the greatest volume of water passes over the Falls) is surely one of the most magnificent sights on earth. The foam that it churns up when it meets the seething turmoil of the Zambezi below is best seen from the air, in a microlight plane (a golf buggy with wings). Nature at its most terrible and awe inspiring. David Livingstone (legend) put it best when he declared of the Falls, "It had never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so lovely must surely have been gazed upon by angels in their flight." Sounds like a corny chat up line, but it so perfectly encapsulates the experience of witnessing the falls at full flow.

Having duly admired one of the seven natural wonders of the world, we embarked upon the serious business of casting ourselves into the gorge from a great height. The smell of fear and soiled pants was palpable as we defied every rational human instinct towa
rds the frothing Zambezi below and leaped 111 metres held only by a glorified elastic band around our feet. It is indescribably torturous when staring into the abyss, but the adrenaline high post-jump is well worth the sweaty palms, mind boggling terror and increased laundry bill.

Jacked up on adrenaline, we indulged in the "Sunset Cruise",
an all you can eat and drink boat ride along the Zambezi as the sun sets, which followed the predictable course of relative civility at the beginning, only to descend into a cacophony of shrieks and triple gins as the evening wore on. There is, however, something truly magical about the African skyline, which cannot be conveyed by word or photograph. Yet another stunning moment. Until said tour leader, Stalin, decided to start waterboarding her passengers.

Another highlight was the full colonial experience High Tea at the local five star hotel followed by cocktails on the veranda as the sun set over the Zambezi, the froth of the Falls visible on the horizon. Having been accustomed to being consistently filthy in appearance and savage in behaviour for the past six weeks, this experience made us feel almost human. We were, however, conspicuous as overlanders rather than the slightly more upmarket customer to which the hotel is accustomed. Starved of food by aforementioned tour leader, we were betrayed by the feral glint in our eyes as we scoured the lavish spread (the best I have ever witnessed) and the silence that reigned as we furiously devoured our loaded plates like ravenous swine at the trough. Sugar hangover, anyone?

Again, Livingstone and the Falls are an unforgettable experience - other activities include walking with rhinos, getting up close with lions, jet boating, helicopter rides over the Falls, etc etc. Africa is a continent that never ceases to amaze and inspire, and overlanding must surely be the best way to experience this incredible continent. It is certainly full-on, very physical, and as much a lifestyle as a holiday, but the one sentiment you are guaranteed never to feel is disappointment.

Malawi, by a scathing Brit

Dear fans,

This is likely to be a self-indulgent and wearisome post, since I both like the sound of my own voice and am currently failing miserably to upload any photos. I was compelled, however, by my dictatorial tour leader, diabolical shrew as she is, to upload some of my futile musings. So if you are not deterred by great swathes of pictureless and dour prose, and would like to know more about overlanding Malawi, or if you are simply a glutton for punishment, then please do read on.

Malawi is dubbed "The warm heart of Africa", famed for its temperate climate and welcoming people. Indeed, unbelievably friendly welcomes were extended to us mzungus throughout, although slightly less kindliness was shown to the pig that was ritually slaughtered at dawn for our hog roast. I now know the true resonance of the phrase "to squeal like a stuck pig". Needless to say, no alarm clocks were required that morning. RIP Betty, you made a tremendous sacrifice.

In the interests of brevity, I had better describe the highlight of Malawi - Kande Beach. Situated on the shores of Lake Malawi (which David Livingstone - absolute legend - accurately and eloquently dubbed "the glittering sea of stars"), it was surely one of the most beautiful spots we have passed through all tour. And, like true foreigners, we proceeded to befoul this tranquil spot by holding a raucous dress up party, clad in the most ridiculous attire our busmates could dredge from a local market and fuelled by a noxious brew of homemade punch, which smelled and tasted like witches' farts, but succeeded in its sole aim of inebriation. Incriminating photos of various tour members dancing on the camp bar and our dear leader, Trotsky, dressed in an outfit comprised solely of an oversized swimming costume and fluffy dog-shaped slippers (innovatively placed) to follow.

Lake Malawi is not only a beautiful spot, but also offers an incredible range of activities besides mere inebriation. Between us, we managed to go horse riding (stunning ride through the local villages, culminating in swimming the horses in the lake), cliff jumping, scuba diving and a solo tour through a fishing village dressed only in Speedo's and a pair of swimming goggles (a certain tour member became lost whilst swimming, and was forced to perform a walk of shame, to the collective cackles and lusty glances of the local women).

Malawi is often neglected as a tourist destination, which is a terrible shame given that us lifers (those chumps doing the full 58-day trip from Nairobi to Cape Town via Uganda) agreed that it was, along with Uganda, the most beautiful and friendly country thus far. Where else would one be invited to dinner at a local house, be invited to participate in a really rather saucy dance with two very large local men, and be offered "special birthday cake" which, we were assured, would cause us to "skank with Bob Marley in paradise" all in the same evening?

Walking with Rhinos

One of the great things about working on the road is that we get to participate in amazing things on a 'normal' or everyday basis. Its weird how you can get to be blase about seeing the wonders of the world, though Vic Falls in high water is still one of my favourite sights... even if you do get soaking wet!

One activity I'd never done before was a game walk to view rhinos, and this time 3 pax and I headed off into the bush to do just that.

Mosi-O-Tunya NP has 5 adult and 2 baby resident rhinos, all of which were very active on the day we trekked meaning lots of walking. Our guide, Tony, made the walk so informative with facts not only about the rhino population, but also the other animals present in the park - few of which were in evidence but we learnt a lot about their poo!

After about 2 1/2 hours of walking (apparently unusually long) we found Jessie, an eleven year old female and her 7 month old calf. Despite being in a reasonably built up area, she was pretty relaxed and allowed us to get within 10 metres of her and her baby. It was a massive thrill, though the adrenaline started pumping when Tony explained that rhino can accelerate at speeds of 0-40kph in 4 seconds, and we were definitely in her charge zone (though protected by a tree) should she get grumpy.

(Apparently on patrols in the past Tony has been charged and has got fairly adept at tree jumping to keep out of the way, though a couple of encounters have been somewhat closer than ideal!)

After we had spent about 40 minutes with the rhino, we moved away to give them their privacy - they are after all, wild. Such is the poaching problem - rhino horn sells for more than gold - that 32 people are employed solely to look after the rhino in this park alone.

Our trip was completed with a light snack at the waters edge, keeping a wary eye out for 7 metre crocs, and some viewing of zebra, giraffe, monitor lizards and impala finished the morning off nicely!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Guestblogging Swede #2

Hello again!
I'm back but now from Livingstone, Zambia.

Since last time We've gone through the south of Tanzania, Malawi and almost finished Zambia (this is our last stop before Botswana.

The stops in Tanzania after last time was Dar Es Salaam and Iring
a. Iringa was great for a meat lover :D. Emma filled our freezer with d
elicious beef and we got served meatballs (
not the swedish kind..).

We got on the truck again and left for Malawi and the beaches! (some of us more tired than others)

We past the border on easter and got one Kinder egg each (yummy) before we came to our first beach in northern Malawi.
The next 3 days we spent in Kande beach with lots of sun, swimming and a fancy dress party (don't know if I would call my clothes fancy though...)

After Kande beach we went south to the next beach where our chefs for the day made the most delicius lamb EVER.. mmmm. It will go to history as the best meal ever made by the group on the truck (even if Letaloi, our driver, did most if not all the work on the lamb).

We left the beaches of Malawi and spent a afternoon in Lilongwe (and the longed-for Nando's by a few) before we headed to Zambia and Chipata for one night.

Then we left Chipata at 5 in the morning to get to Lusaka,
Zambias capital. In that campsite I was kindly asked by Emma NOT to run outside the fence. Appar
ently she didn't wanna call my mother to tell her a buffalo killed me (don't understand why?).

After Lusaka we came to Livingstone and Victoria falls. Vic falls is AMAZING!! So incredible, I'm totally amazed! You all just have to see it! Awesome.

A few of the guys went micro-lighting, bunging and rhinowalking today, I slept by the pool.

Have to go now... dinnertime (wouldn't miss that for the world)