Page 5 of Willow Travel Blog Posts

Africa » Tanzania » East » Lushoto October 10th 2008

The journey from Chitimba, where we were staying in Malawi, across the boarder and into Tanzania involved 3 minibuses, a shared taxi, a private taxi and a bicycle... not bad for one days travel! We were heading for Mbeya, a large town in the southern highlands, where temperatures were cooler than on the shores of Lake Malawi, the land extremely fertile and in every direction rolling green hills were covered with tea or banana plantations. As we climbed higher the roads were winding and steep, but with few potholes compared to Malawi the journey was relatively smooth (near wheelies around corners excepted!). The roads even had speed humps, although given the number of overturned trucks and buses abandoned by the roadside I'm not too sure how effective they were. Mbeya wasn't our favourite place simply because ... read more
Views from the Tazara
Wildlife of the Usambara Mts

Africa » Malawi » Lake Malawi » Chitimba Beach September 25th 2008

Malawi ended up being one of my favourite African countries so far, although we didn't get off to the best of starts when I realised I'd left the diary that I'd been so diligently writing for the last 5 weeks (albeit usually a week behind but the intention was there....) at the boarder. At the time I was squeezed into a tightly packed minibus on the way from the Zambian boarder to Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, and as we'd been the last on we'd ended up with the dreaded rollercoaster back seats which in this particular instance were made worse when a bundle of dried animal skins were loaded into the small luggage space behind us. So I got to spend three long hours morning the loss of my diary whilst bumbing and weaving along ... read more
Flora on the Nyika Plateau
Chitimba Beach

Africa » Zambia » Livingstone September 15th 2008

The boarder crossing at Kazungula took us from Botswana to Zambia and was easily one of the most entertaining I've ever done. We cleared Botswanan immigration easily enough and headed on down to the ferry queue, where our truck driver Tony did a fantastic job of queue jumping us pretty much all the way to the front, much to the displeasure of all the lorries sat waiting I'm sure. Apparently they've waited to cross for over 4 hours before (lorries typically can wait days as everyone else gets priority), either because one of the ferries was 'broken' or the crew were on a lunch break...which perhaps amount to much the same thing. Fortunately though we were lucky and barely had to wait 15mins before boarding the rather rickety wooden looking vehicle 'ferry' that took us across ... read more
The Bridge to Zimbabwe
Rainbow over the waterfall
Rural life, Zambia

Africa » Botswana » Ghanzi District September 10th 2008

Ghanzi is in the Kalahari Desert, a semi-arid area covering some 900,000kmsq of Botswana, Namibia and the northern part of South Africa. It's here that we spent our first night in Botswana, not too far from the Namibian boarder... and where we paid to upgrade to a dome shaped hut for the night (think branches woven together with a door that didn't anywhere near fit type of hut... we're not talking posh here), just to have a day off putting the tent up only to take it down again at 6am the next morning! The fact that it came with camping beds was an added bonus :0) The Kalahari is home to the San people, or Bushmen, who traditionally lived a nomadic life as hunter-gatherers. These days many if not the majority of them live in ... read more
Hippos hiding everywhere, Chobe River
Buffalo, an example of what chased us... except this one looked more friendly
Chobe River

Africa » Namibia » Etosha National Park September 5th 2008

We joined the overland truck (it may have seats like a bus but apparently it's most definately a truck) in Cape Town and spent a week traveling up to Swakopmund on the west coast of Namibia, taking in Orange River, Fish River Canyon (the second largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon) and the amazing huge red dunes of the Namib desert on the way. Unfortunately we've had a (hopefully minor and temporary) issue with our photo back ups - when we get to somewhere more urban we're going to attempt a rescue so I'll save the blogs for the first part of the trip until then - hopefully soon! Swakapmund is a pretty town with wide streets and german looking architecture which has fast become the adrenaline sports captial of Namibia. And unfortunately ... read more
At a water hole
Hundreds of Cape fur seals everywhere at Cape Cross

Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Coffee Bay August 30th 2008

As I sat on the plane at Heathrow the sky outside was grey and rainy - far too many hours and no sleep later I sat drinking a cold beer with Helen in sunny Warner Beach, catching up on all the news and excited about our trip ahead that sees us heading north through Southern and Eastern Africa as far as Uganda. After a few days of lazing around we moved further along the Wild Coast to the smaller and even more relaxed Coffee Bay. The drive down took us through small towns, some busy, others quiet, and towards the end of the ride the streets were filled with school kids making their way home, some walking, others sqeezing into already tightly packed minivans, but all impecably dressed in school uniforms that made school kids at ... read more
Fernkloof nature reserve, Hermanus
On the road
Whale watching at Hermanus

Africa » Mozambique » Southern » Tofo July 20th 2007

Waiting in the car park that doubles up as a bus stop in Manzini, Swaziland, I passed an entertaining hour watching a master class in packing, with the luggage destined for Mozambique slowly, and seemingly quite precariously, being piled higher and higher. We'd left the hostel around 6.30am, catching a minibus that took us as far as the next main minibus stop, and from there we'd squeezed into another van heading for Manzini. There the van driver waved us off with instructions to 'head for the old KFC' - of course life would have been far to easy if the bus to Mozambique actually left from the bus station we'd been dropped of at! And that's where, having been astounded when those directions actually got us to the bus, we watched the packing spectacle. In addition ... read more
The Railway Station, Maputo
The view at breakfast, Tofo
The Railway Station, Maputo

We'd left the hostel at Hluhluwe early in the afternoon, crossed the boarded into Swaziland and by nightfall arrived at the hostel - a few km off the 'main' road, down a bumpy unsealed track and seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The hostel I stayed at, Sondzela Backpackers, is within the Mlilwane wildlife reserve itself and turned out to be one of my favourites - located in a beautiful, tranquil setting everyone here was really friendly, and for a small additional cost you get a great meal each night (including a veggie option!!), cooked by the staff outside over an open fire!! I spent a great few evenings here sat round the bonfire, drinking beer, chatting to random people and generally chilling out - by day though there was lots of exploring to do. Unlike ... read more
You're blocking my path! Impala, Milwane
Walking through Mlilwane wildlife park
Mlilwane wildlife park

Africa » South Africa » KwaZulu-Natal » Saint Lucia July 3rd 2007

I'd stopped at St Lucia on the northern coast of KwaZulu Natal mainly because I wanted to see the Hippo's that live along the estuary here - so a few hours after arriving in town I found myself down at the jetty, clambering onto a tour boat and trying to decide on the best place to sit. What I'd somehow managed to miss when I was reading up on St Lucia is that in addition to the Hippo's these wetlands are also home to rather a large number of crocodiles. We'd only moved a few hundred meters when the captain suddenly slowed down and veered off towards the bank.... with no Hippo's in sight I was a bit confused until, just before the front of the boat nudged the bank, I finally realised what we were ... read more
Where did everyone go?!? St Lucia
Sunbathing on the esturary at St Lucia

Africa » South Africa » KwaZulu-Natal » Eshowe June 27th 2007

It's been a while since I arrived back in the UK now so I really don't have any excuse for not having done this earlier... but I figured I should at least finish the last few blogs from my Africa trip before I head off again ;0) Eshowe is a small town and at first, when I realised I was the only person staying at the backpackers there, I was more than a little tempted to hop back on the Baz Bus and head on up to St Lucia with everyone else. In the end I was glad I stayed (and not just because I got upgraded to the hotel ;0)) - travelling through in the low season I think I was a bit of a novelty in town and so got to spend a great ... read more
Local wildlife outside my window
The young nephew
One of the ladies I lunched with...

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