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Published: March 10th 2012
Sitting down in front of our netbook to write once again, I must admit that I have struggled to write the last couple of blog entries. Each day I have spent on this overland trip has produced so many news sights, activities, incidents and emotions that it has become almost impossible to chronicle our safari in any kind of meaningful and concise way. So, I am trying a different approach in order to give you, faithful readers, a taste of this portion of our adventure.
The third and last leg of our group trek (the entire trip entitled by our overland company 'Dunes, Delta and Falls'😉 focused on the 'Dunes' portion and for my work mates reading our blog, this area is a geologist's dream come true. And with all the stunning scenery and the huge distances travelled, it produced some of the most highs (both literally and figuratively), lows and just plain wacky moments of the trip.
Crossing the Tropic of Capricorn for the first time. Huge. Enough said.
While camping at a private farm on the edge of the Namib Desert (run by a chap named 'Bushman'😉, witnessing the most beautiful post-storm sky
ever - see pics (and see lows below - a rain storm in the desert - are you kidding me?).
Exploring the natural wonders of the bizarre environment of Sossusvlei - a clay pan, enclosed by the world’s largest red sand dunes, some up to 300m high. Most especially, trekking in the incredible desert heat to Dead Vlei - a long ago dried up marsh with dead trees that do not deteriorate in the hot, dry conditions. It is here that many of the most famous and spectacular Namibian photos have been taken and I tried my hand at capturing the blackened tree trucks set against the huge ochre dunes in turn set against the sapphire blue skies. See my pics and decide for yourself.
Taking a late afternoon hike through Sesriem Canyon, a small, dry canyon typical of the area; seeing amazing geological features and playing a spontaneous game of 'knock the piled stones over by hurling stones at it from 20 feet' - what we won't do for fun when given the chance.
Seeing Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa, and arguably the second largest in the world, at sunrise. It was only
the second thing to bring tears to my eyes (the first being the Ngorongoro Crater).
After crossing into South Africa and setting up camp on the South African banks of the Gariep River (formerly known as the Orange River), enjoying a late afternoon paddle with Mon and our guide AJ on the river. It was a treat to work the upper body for a change and give the lower body (both legs and bum) a rest.
Seeing the moon-like terrain and wide expanses at Clan William as we headed inland and continued south with the Cederberg Mountains in the distance. Then, after a few hours, getting our first views of magnificent Table Mountain overlooking the famous, beautiful, and cosmopolitan city of Cape Town.
Getting a welcome distraction from our final bumpy ride into Cape Town; sitting in the dreaded last back seat of the truck and feeling like I was really going to get car sick at last (or is that truck sick?) getting a visit from Chris who showed me his terrific golf video of playing one of South Africa's loveliest courses, Pezula in Knysna South Africa. See it on his fab web site (see http://www.shoestringgolfer.com
and check it out; also read about the round he played with fellow overlanders in Livingstone before we set out for Botswana). For a goofy golf nut like me, this was the perfect tonic.
Taking the overland truck through the winding, steep and busy streets of Cape Town (with me riding shotgun beside driver Lourens) at dusk as Chris and Lourens take us on an impromptu and spectacular (and not on the itinerary) cable ride up and sunset viewing from Table Mountain (see Mon's next post for details and pics). Awesome!
Continuing to suffer through unusual and freakish rain events which followed us into the desert like a fiendish curse. None were perhaps as bad as the ones at Maun and the Waterberg Plateau, but getting tiresome nonetheless. Sigh . . .
Struggling with the several pre-dawn camp pack-ups and long, bumpy drives to distant next stops. We began to dread Chris' next-day briefings and the ungodly hour he would announce we were to get up and set out. Ouch!
Suffering from what I can only describe as vertigo as I was climbing up Dune 45 with the overland gang to see the
sunrise over the Sossusvlei dunes. It prevented me from being part of the group that made it to the top (to celebrate Zlatka's birthday) and even from joining the group that only went about half way. But I soldiered on and made it fairly high up and enjoyed the experience of seeing the sunrise from such a unique perspective and with only a small note of bittersweet regret.
Getting out of sync and sorts with Mon during this leg of our trip. We had now been travelling together for some 2 months and I imagine many long trip travelling companions hit a wall at some point just as we did. This coupled with the fact that neither of us have been part of the kind of close group experience like our overland trip in many years and sometimes the good-natured, neutral and easy-going stance required in such close quarters was difficult to call up and maintain. That tripled with a lack of real privacy presented some challenges and at times put a strain on things. But we made it back out of our funk; nothing that could not be cured by the 5-star Camps Bay condo we went to
at the end of our overland trip for a few lovely days of first class Cape Town R & R (see Mon's next blog for more on this).
Saying goodbye at the end of our 21 day trip to the good bunch that made up our overland gang; most especially June who coulde make me laugh til my tummy hurt; Antonia and Zlatka whose common interests, cosmopolitan outlook and shared moments on the trip made them true mates; Lindsey and Dean whose experience from the Nairobi to Livingstone leg rubbed off on me and stood me in good stead; Lourens and Chris who made the highs great, the wacky a matter of course and the lows not so bad in the grand scheme of things. Thanks all.
Feeling pretty smug with some of our mates under the dining shelter at Bushman's camp when yet another freakin' storm hit. 'I'm not getting drenched this time' I merrily thought as I passed the time reading and playing cards. But hang on - not so fast; a terrific wind came up and started blowing the tents away like giant tumbleweeds rolling across the desert. Making mad dashes out
into the downpour, we grabbed the tents, pulling them back to safety and pegged them down, discovering that one of them even had one of our mates Pia inside! So much for staying dry; we could only laugh hysterically at the drenching and, as sources at Bushman's later told us, the fact that the storm produced more water than all the rain in all of last year. Go figure . . .
Already on a long day's drive, arriving in a little town called Bethanie and just as we were seeking a likely spot for late lunch, watching helplessly as the truck stopped/broke down in the middle of Main Street (and the 'boys' pushing it out of the road). A couple of hours later and with the assistance of a local mechanic and his sweet 'apprentice' son we were on our way but in the end missed the sunset at Fish River; oddly enough the sunset as we stopped on the side of the road to gawk at was declared by many to be the best one ever seen.
The highs, the lows, the 'I'm-not-sure-what-they-were' moments - they are all burned in my memory and I would not
trade any of them for the world.
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