Monthly Archives: January 2014

Sunday, 26/01/14

Before moving on to my Cape Town experience, I just wanted to say something about the people I shared my overland trip with
There were 19 of us altogether. Perhaps it was because we didn’t have a “common aim” or even a common destination, as some were leaving at Victoria Falls, like me, others were going on together, but I have never met a group of strangers get on so well. There were long rides in an uncomfortable truck, disgusting toilets, disappointing food sometimes, different budgets – the list goes on. Yet from the beginning and through it all, people remained helpful, cheerful and supportive. Even though there were strong characters and clear emotions expressed, we never fell out. I had a great time, got to know some special people and hope to stay in touch/see some again. So I raise a glass to you all.

At Fish Hoek I met another remarkable person. Irene is Dutch and is my first Servas host. Servas is an organisation that helps travellers to stay with people who live in the area they are visiting, and so get to understand the place a little better. Irene shared her home with me, fed me and even drove me around. She is generous, honest and artistic – there are pieces of her abstract paintings all over her house.
So if I was able to appreciate the Cape Peninsula it was largely due to her.

On Boulder Beach I saw African Penguins

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I went to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. It would probably have been even better in spring, because of the annual flowers, but the “fynbos”, the local vegetation, has many unique indigenous plants –

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The silver tree – a kind of Protea

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More Proteas

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Rare Ericas or heathers

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Cycads of ancient origin
And all within the beautiful fynbos mountain setting

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Of course I went to the top of Table Mountain

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The walk around the top took me about two hours and I encountered the rock hyrax again.

Irene took me to Cape Point and I walked with Norman, a friend of hers, to The Cape of Good Hope.

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And Irene drove us down to the shore

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Spectacular!

Well, there are almost too many things I’ve seen to talk about, but I do want to mention the food markets. So far I’ve been to three but will take any opportunity to go. They have stalls of food from all countries, sweet and spicy, fresh, grilled or baked, to eat seated, as you wander about or to take away. They’re full of delicious things and though it’s hard to decide what you want, it does mean that you don’t have to have that conversation about “where shall we go for dinner?/what do you fancy? because you can all have whatever you like. Brilliant! Bring to the U.K. Immediately.

Friday 17/01/2014

To try to catch up :-
Our first night in Livingstone we all went for a sunset cruise on the Zambezi, with a buffet dinner and as many drinks as we could consume in two hours. It was a lovely setting –

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The next day a group went white-water rafting, but I chose to go and ride an elephant. All the original elephants were reared as orphans, but they have had offspring – of which more later.
My elephant was called Madinda, if I remember right, and he was the character of the group, constantly wandering off the track to tear trees apart and shaking his shoulders in what his keepers called “dancing”. Of course I fell in love with him the moment I looked him in the eye.

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And then we met Muni, who was only twelve days old.

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A dream come true to get that close to African elephants.

By this time we were having to say goodbyes and go our separate ways, but a few of us set off for the Victoria Falls the last day. Locally it is known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “the smoke that thunders”, because of the spray and the noise. You get absolutely drenched as the water comes at you from every direction. It was a wonderful experience and I couldn’t stop laughing with excitement. Pictures cannot do it justice but here are a few.

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Our first view

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The spray

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The bridge we had to cross to see the complete falls.

So now I’m in Cape Town, after two days in buses, border crossings, delays and junk food. You don ‘t want to know.
Complete culture shock as this afternoon I was sitting having a Windhoek beer, looking at the clouds sweeping over Table Mountain, (the “tablecloth”), and watching a Splendid Starling picking up scraps, having just been in the V & A Waterfront shopping mall and passed a mural video of MC Hammer, “You Can’t Touch This”.

Monday 13th Jan 2014

Aaah Zanzibar!
We took the ferry from the frantic harbour in the early morning, carrying “day packs” passports and yellow fever vaccination certificates. As you can see, it was a grey day.

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On the way we sat on the upper deck and it started to rain. I kept telling the sun to come out and two minutes before we landed, it did just that and stayed out for all our time there.
This is a picture of some of us arriving
at our hotel in Stone Town

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We had time to explore the place, which in the case of most of the women meant shopping and for me mainly chatting to the shop owners and wandering about . That evening we had cocktails at sunset – a Blue Lagoon for me

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The following day we went to a spice plantation with our guide, Ali, who for some inexplicable reason had an English accent. I really enjoyed this and took loads of pictures of the plants and fruits as well as the guides, who were great fun.

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A banana flower

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Cloves

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Jack fruit – which tastes like a cross between banana and pineapple

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Ali in a cinnamon tree

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Peppercorns

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Nutmeg with Mace

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Vanilla pods on the vine

Then on to Nungwi Beach – silver sand, turquoise sea and blue sky

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Adele and I had an air-conditioned room by the pool and I drank Tequila Sunrises – only they ran out of orange juice so the second one was made with Passion Fruit – even better.Music provided by me on my speaker, (thanks Angelo) and plenty of time for some of us to get tired and emotional.
After two days, back to Stone Town.

A small group of us visited Changuu or Prison Island. There are about 100 giant tortoises there, originally from the Seychelles. They were a gift from the Sultan of Oman in the 19th century and are now extinct there.

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It’s called Prison Island because it was the centre of the slave trade and then a quarantine area for yellow fever and bubonic plague

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The prison

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Shackles

Then back to Stone Town for New Year and dancing till 1am

Saturday 11/01/2014

To continue:
It took us two days to reach Dar el Salaam from the Serengeti
On the 27th Dec we started off at 4am and travelled for 14 hours over rocky, bumpy roads in temperatures in the low 30s. At least we weren’t doing the driving, (a S. African called Herman). We arrived late afternoon and agreed to take Tuk Tuks to Stone Town on the ferry while he drove the truck the long way round. It took seven of them to take us all and as we all set off in a mad dash for the boat it reminded
me of The Italian Job. Even more so when we hit a massive traffic jam. Our
driver got out to find out the cause
Apparently a couple had been seen kissing in public, the police had been called and a crowd had gathered to pitch in their opinions/direct traffic and generally create chaos!
Eventually we reached our camp site on the beach just in time to set up camp before dark.
The following day we were to go to Zanzibar.

Friday 10/01/2014

Have only got a few more minutes to add to this blog so can’t bring you up to date
However I am now in Livingstone, Zambia on the last day of my overland trip
Re-reading the last post, the two last paragraphs appear to have got muddled, so sorry that it doesn’t make
good sense
To continue
On leaving Serengeti I was sitting in the 4×4 looking out while the others were sleeping when I saw something extraordinary. The driver stopped and the others followed and we all got out. Forty- two giraffes were collected in a single place, some on the move but most just standing there, though there were no trees to eat and no apparent reason for them all to be there. No picture I’m afraid as it was too vast for my phone to capture well – but most memorable
No time to say more but will try to do so over the next couple of days.

Thursday, 2nd January, 2014

On Christmas Eve we set of for the Serengeti reserve, but to get there we had to go up the side of the Ngorongoro crater. This felt like travelling into The Lost World. Tall trees reach out of the crevices, the sides are lush with vegetation and you peer down onto the plain below.

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But we also saw a Serval, a bat-eared fox, Dik Dik and many other animals. In the evening of Christmas Day we sat around the camp fire on the edge of the crater and sang songs and told each other about what we all usually do for Christmas. There are 19 of us, 8 from Australia and a mix of others, from Canadian to Swedish. It’s a really good group who are getting on well. We’ve had lots of fun and they have been very kind to me.
No time to tell you more today, but after the game parks we were off on the road to Zanzibar

We drove for miles and only saw Maasai cattle. But the Serengeti did not disappoint us in the end. We saw a leopard tail hanging from a tree and there was the cat, dozing and stretching in the shade, rolling over
on it’s back and staring back at us.
Over the next two days we saw lions, cheetahs and elephants from close quarters.

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