We’re On Our Way

 Posted by Elizabeth at 5:26 pm
Apr 052011

The last few days have been long travelling and admin days but we are finally out of Johannesburg and on our way. Our flight was the usual boring 14 hours, although the food was not all that appetising for some reason, but we landed safely on time.

Our first night we stayed at Country Park some distance out of Johannesburg but close to Bushlore from where  we were picking up our 4wd.

Monday morning we were picked up and taken to Bushlore. Our 4wd so far seems pretty good. It has everything we asked for on it, including a brand new bullbar with winch and a twin spare wheel carrier on the rear. They also fitted 6 new all terrain tyres, so hopefully they will last us the journey. It was then off to do the initial food shopping where we managed to spend a reasonable amount just stocking up with the basics. We also bought some extra things like new pillows, a spotlight and few things to add to the cooking gear. It took us the rest of the day to pack and organise the car! I think we have organised it in a fairly efficient manner, but I guess the next week or so will test that theory.

Today was a transit day to get out of Johannesburg. It was a pretty boring 5 hour  drive as the countryside looks very much like our countryside at home, complete with cows, sheep and even 2 emus. Tonight we are staying at Glen Reenen Camp in the Golden Gate National Park. The park itself is quite scenic although it was overcast as we came in, It would look stunning with the sun shining on the sandstone ridges, It is quite cool as there is a strong breeze which is pretty chilly. Hopefully tomorrow the sun comes out.

Tomorrow we will have a look around the park and then head of to Lesotho.


 Posted by Elizabeth at 9:25 pm
Apr 072011

It started to rain in the middle of Tuesday night and it didn’t stop until about 8pm Wednesday so we had the pleasure of packing up and setting up again in the rain – not so much fun when you are still trying to work out the most efficient way to do it! The tent did not leak during the night thankfully, although the mattress did get a little wet whilst we were driving during the day as the cover was not on quite right, but it wasn’t a big issue.

Before we headed off we took a drive through the Golden Gate National Park. It was quite pretty and would have been lovely if the sun was shining. We even saw our first wildlife – some zebras.

We are now in Lesotho which is an absolutely beautiful country. There are huge green mountains everywhere with villages clinging to their sides. The typical house here is a round stone hut with a thatch roof, not so warm when it snows I would think, Even driving in the rain all day yesterday with the mountains covered in mist you could still tell it was beautiful scenery. We climbed up to 3088m, needing 1st gear to make it up a lot of the inclines through the mist and rain with waterfalls running through the mountains everywhere.

We had our first vehicle issue yesterday whilst climbing the hills. Even in the cold and rain the engine was working so hard it overheated and then popped the radiator cap and we lost all the water. Not too big a deal as we have plenty of water on board to fill it again, but a bit of a nuisance when it is cold and raining.

Last night we camped at Katse Dam which cost us a whole 20R ($2.80). It has a great view of the dam wall and thankfully had a building where we could cook and stay out of the rain. It even had hot showers and a 24 hour security guard.

Today we have travelled along rough dirt roads, through villages and over mountains at probably an average of 30km/h and are camping at Molumbong Lodge. It has been a lovely relaxing day soaking up the scenery and I am very pleased it stopped raining and the sun is out. Some of the hills would have been a challenge if it was still raining!

Most people here wear a blanket either over their shoulders or wrapped around their waist and the men look like bandits on their horses wearing balaclavas with just their eyes peeking out. The main form of transport here is walking, horses or donkeys. We have seen few cars and those that we have seen are either the minibus taxis you see everywhere in Africa or official vehicles such as the UN or government organisations.

We both feel like we are here in Africa at last today as we are now in the countryside.

Sani Pass

 Posted by Elizabeth at 6:31 pm
Apr 082011

Last night was very cold with a wind making it worse, so I donned the thermals and we got into our warm sleeping bags early and read for a while. Both of us slept well and were warm and comfortable despite the cold.

Today we headed through more scenic countryside and rough roads, passing villages and climbing to a height of 3242m, and this time the car survived. We exited Lesotho and descended the Sani Pass. The pass is quite high through some spectacular scenery, with lots of tight hairpin bends and steep inclines (you can just make out some of the road in the picture at left). It was a very pretty drive. Whilst the road was gravel it was in far better condition than we expected, although I’m not sure I would want to tackle it in a sedan.

Tonight we are staying at Mount Currie Nature Reserve. It is a very nice campground with lots of grass, a scenic outlook on a lake and clean hot showers. There were zebras in the picnic area as we came in and it looks like they wander through the camp. We have our first campfire tonight, although it is in a “braai” stand rather than a real campfire, but it will keep us warm and we’ll use it to cook dinner.

Addo Elephant National Park

 Posted by Elizabeth at 8:54 pm
Apr 102011

Last night we stayed at Gonubie Holiday Resort which was definitely nothing to write home about, but was just fine as a stop over. Firstly the GPS took us to the wrong camp, but we took a scenic drive through town to find the right place, and then I managed to lock the keys in the car (oops!). The car we have automatically relocks if you don’t open the driver’s door, so leaving the keys on the passenger seat and shutting the door is not a good idea! Luckily there was a group of local workers camping next to us, and they very kindly helped us get the keys out of the car. At least we got to meet some of the locals and it didn’t happen when we were completely on our own in the middle of nowhere. Needless to say we now have the spare key tucked inside the tent just in case.

We arrived at Addo Elephant National Park around lunch time today and are staying here tonight. After a quick lunch it was off on our first game drive of the trip. There are definitely a lot of elephants here and they are very easy to find and extremely relaxed around vehicles. It is though quite civilised and feels a little like a zoo with the tarred roads, the perimeter fences (even if it is huge) and all the cars, although it is awesome to get so close to the elephants. The elephants are somewhat smaller than others we have seen in Africa and they are all caked in red mud. Apart from herds of elephants, we saw zebras, kudu, black-backed jackals, red hartebeest, buffalo, leopard tortoise and warthogs.

The campground is extremely civilised with each site fenced off with hedges for privacy, picnic tables and a braai. Not at all like some of the places we will be camping as we head further north!

A Week Already!

 Posted by Elizabeth at 7:24 pm
Apr 122011

I can’t believe we have been gone a week already. The time has certainly flown by and we have now got ourselves pretty much into a routine. It is much warmer, especially at night, than it was last week which makes everything a whole lot easier and more pleasant.

After spending the night at Addo we got up early and did a game drive for a couple of hours finding lots of elephants again (what a surprise). We then treated ourselves to a brunch which cost us a whole $12 for a meal of eggs, bacon, tomatoes and toast along with a drink – much cheaper than at home.

Taking the road south through the park we did a game drive on our way out and started to head towards Cape Town. Last night we stayed at the Ebb & Flow North Campsite which was very pleasant with lots of grass on a small river and clean showers.

Today we have followed the coast road through countryside that is pretty much the same as at home. We took a detour through Mossel Bay which is a typical seaside tourist town and then headed towards Cape Aghulas, the southern most point in Africa. After the obligatory photo and a climb up to the lighthouse it was back on the road and we are now staying at Uikraalmond Rest Camp which is pretty expensive at 230R ($33), but the amenities are clean and there is lots of grass to camp on.

So what have we learnt so far this week?

– Don’t leave the car keys on the seat and shut the door
– Make sure you put the tent cover on properly if you are driving in the rain
– Take care in the rain and don’t slip and hurt your thumb (which is still sore a week later, but hey at least it gets me out of having to do some things!)
– That a bucket with a lid filled with detergent, water and clothes and strapped to the roof rack makes an excellent washing machine. When you arrive in camp all they need is a quick rinse and they are done. Definitely beats hand washing!

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