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Published: February 20th 2010
Hello!! I’m sitting in a hostel in Cape Town. It’s brand new, there’s pressure in the shower and the mattresses are 8 inches thick. Yippee! I’m excited to have made it here, but a little sad to be at the end of the African leg of my trip. I wrote an update from Botswana but didn’t have a chance to post it, so it’s here below. I still feel the same about most things - except the American. She got worse.
It’s taken a bit of adjustment travelling ‘on tour’. You stay at the same places as all the other tours and questions from any locals you meet are often ‘What company are you with?’ Maybe you don’t get quite the local experience you might on your tod, but more likely you’d struggle to do it at all without your own vehicle and tent. Anyway, I’m sitting at a table seat on the overland truck whilst cruising away from the Okavango Delta to the Namibian border with my new buddies. My camera battery is charging behind me, my towel is drying on the back of my seat and there’s a cooler box full of food. This is
the life. My feet are up and tapping away to tunes, and on that note, my feet are almost the same size again. I’ve nearly finished the extra course of antibiotics kindly and insistently donated to me by a pair of concerned pharmacists in Livingstone, and things are looking good for the gammy left foot. But back to my new vogue travel mode…
On arrival at Livingstone, I check in and receive a note from my new leader - the rest of the group are booked onto a sunset cruise this evening (for extra dinaro - obviously). They’ll see me there if I join them, or afterwards otherwise… I admit to seeing a flash of Butlins yellow in my mind, but it’s a nice note and a great site right alongside the Zambezi, so I blow away some minor whispers of anxiety, get a shower, book myself on the cruise and hobble to the bar for medical administration - with a view! I feel like I’ve made it, as I look over the mighty Zambezi sipping a cold beer. At this point it’s a slow moving monster of a river and in the distance I can see the
Smoke That Thunders.
On the cruise, it transpires that the rest of my group have already bonded well having been together for about three weeks already and are splitting at Livingstone, so the party is on and I’m instantly at ease from the warm welcome. With not knowing exactly who is going where at this stage, my best bet is to sit back and enjoy being around piers. I think I even got away with slurring some English :o).
I’m now 5 or 6 days into the tour and absolutely loving it. I’ve been lucky with the group, both crew and 7 fellow adventurers. Only one lets the side down, but she really did shoot herself in the foot. Having travelled with the group before, she wrote a scathing account of them on her blog and has now rejoined the group forgetting (or maybe not caring) that she had given one of them the link - what a dick! She’s a humourless New Yorker too, so we can’t even laugh around it. We are now waiting for the next blog update and admittedly, I’m intrigued as to whether I will get a mentch! But more on my good
company another time as I don’t have long to update.
Other stuff: buzzing over Victoria Falls in a microlite, taking a walk with nomadic bushmen of Botswana, spending a night in the Okavango Delta and then taking an aerobatic (aka ‘scenic’) flight over it (photos should cover some of this). Botswana has been pretty amazing: completely flat, sparsely populated and far drier here. There is plenty to see, and it’s a real change from my trip so far. I miss the twists and reveals of the nature of Malawi and Zambia, but here are those huge expanses of space that make you take deep breaths inside and out.
We are now heading into Namibia and already the landscape of shrubland is tripping over itself making waves and ridges look like carpet pushing up at the edges. I can’t wait to get to Etosha and then to Swakopmund to the dunes where I hope to jump out of a plane ;o). But first, a night in Windhoek and a visit to another meaty restaurant where I intend to swap beer in for wine.
Next update will probably be Cape Town. I’m there 14th to 18th Feb. Then Hong
Kong for the weekend and into Kathmandu…
- - - - - - - -
So, I made the skydive in Swakopmund, and it was the best rush ever. Like flying! I was really lucky too and got a (hot) cameraman jumping with me for free so I have the whole thing on video... The view from up there was beautiful. We were right by the ocean, and over miles and miles of dunes and desert plains. I’ll never look at the sky the same way.
Even though so many people told me that Namibia would be beautiful, I just couldn’t imagine how such an enormous expanse of sand could offer the variety until I saw it. The truck never stayed in one place for more than one or two nights, in places I would have liked to stay four or five, but being with a big self sufficient truck and fun friendly company meant that I didn’t starve and I stayed sane. I would have imagined these to be dangers of the sparseness, but some things enlightened me up to the vivacity of the place. The enthusiasm of our crew for this particular region was quite
infectious. They recommended (and provided) a book “The Sheltering Desert” by Henno Martin about two German geologists who existed in the Namib for the duration of WWII. With this survival story as a backdrop, our walk with ‘Bushman’ through the desert to Deadvlei was even more enlightening. We stopped every now and then whilst Bushman pounced on a sand dune and stood up holding a small lizard, or pointed out to us where and what position the local Springbok had slept the night before or told us stories of how the Namib bushmen lived to survive, mercilessly leaving the weak behind. It’s a tough reality and I felt lucky to have a litre of water with me and a fancy dress desert photo shoot to look forward to…!
From there we visited Fish River Canyon (for sunset with cheese and wine!!!), the Orange River (where one of our group was taken ill and gave everyone a bit of a shock), Klawer for wine tasting (and successful record breaking attempt for ‘most naked people in the pool’!) and finally Cape Town. I feel sad to be leaving Africa - and there’s still so much of it to see. I had
a great time and got so much out of both ways of travelling that I could easily take a break now, but sitting in a high rise in Hong Kong, I am gearing up to the Asia leg and can’t wait to see Carolyn in Nepal in a few days and use my legs again!
Stay in touch
Love and hugs
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