Stage 4 - The Finale!


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Africa
September 4th 2010
Published: September 6th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

Leaving Livingstone we drove west, carrying eight of those from the previous stage and ten new people. We were headed to Chobe National Park in Botswana, for more wildlife, open top jeep tours and river cruises. From there, thanks to the geography of this part of the world we, headed back into Namibia and then back to Botswana, before ‘going bush’ for two nights in the Okavango Delta. The delta is an intricate network of channels that began life as the Okavango River in Angola. The delta is formed by the Okavango River, which flows into a basin on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. The river has no outlet from the desert and spreads out into thousands of small streams to form a wilderness of meandering clear waterways, green islands and lush plains.

When the truck stopped we were on the edge of the delta itself. We were met by a number of men and women with small two person dugout canoes called mokoros, that have to be poled though the water. This is how we spent two days travelling across the delta- and carrying everything we needed. The second night in the delta was also the first time Tracy and I wrote a pub quiz for the group. It could be said with some certainty that she relished her role as the quizmaster!

Next stop Namibia. We stayed in the north of the country and camped with the Namibian Bushmen- also known as the Khoisan. These people were the original inhabitants of a large part of southern Africa before being displaced by other Africans from the north and east and Europeans from the south. Nevertheless a number of projects have ensured that elements of their culture and traditional way of life remain. So after an evening game of football with the local children, the following morning we went on a ‘bushwalk’ with some of the local people and learnt about the plants they used, how they used to hunt and how to make fire with wood (with pealing plane tree wood apparently).

Heading south we arrived at Etosha National Park. We weren’t expecting much, having visited quite a few National Parks. There were a few new animals, but the real highlight was the two watering holes, which were lit up at night and provided excellent viewing for elephants, giraffes, springboks and the elusive black rhino. The following day we visited a cheetah reserve, where captured and injured cheetahs are brought to recover and live. The farm has been turned into a reserve and now it earns most of its income through tourism. We got up close and personal with three of the domesticated cheetahs and then watched from the back of a van as the owner fed the semi-wild ones. They definitely look at you and think about it!

Heading south again we had an overnight stay at the bottom of Spitzkoppe (considered to be the African Matterhorn) and camped surrounded by granite mountains close to ancient sites where the Khoisan have stopped for over 4000 years. We then headed to the town of Swakopmund, via the Skeleton Coast and a Cape Seal Colony. The following day Trace and I signed up for a morning of sandboarding (i.e. lying down on a piece of thin plyboard and going head first down 100m high sand dunes). What was your fastest time, I hear you say? 70kph! On a piece of plyboard. It was great fun, but I was not well the whole time and as consequence was out for the count for the rest of night.

Fortunately we were up and running the next day, and off to the mountains, dunes and plains of the Namib Desert and a dawn trek up Dune 45 of the Sossusvlei Dunes before heading south over a couple days to the immense Fish River Canyon.

The final days of our trip with Dragoman took us into South Africa and down to Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope. We left the truck and the crew that night and spent 4 beautiful days in Cape Town visiting Robbin Island, Table Mountain, District 6 Museum and meeting up with various friends for drinks, dinner and shopping. We also found a ring for Tracy. We then hired a car and drove up to the winelands, where it rained! We visited a couple of vineyards around the pretty towns of Stellenbosch and Franschoek before driving south to the coastal town of Hermanus to watch Southern Right Whales from the shore. As we stood on one headland, a mother and calf came within 20m of the cliffs, whilst another breached nearby. There was even dolphins and seals too.

Our final night was in Cape Town, where we met up with my old boss and had a great meal and a bit too much wine. A great end to an amazing trip.

We arrived in Sydney two weeks ago and it feels like the seven months never happened! We hope you have enjoyed the blog and the photos and look forward to seeing you all soon!

Speak soon

Will and Trace xx


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