Africa Day #5

This whole camping thing is getting better and better! The only negatives is the tent clips and having to get up in the middle of the night to use the facilities, but otherwise it has been great!

This morning we had an early start so that we could canoe down the Orange River. It ended up just being a group of 10 of us. The water levels were low which made the current pretty flat so the paddle down river was a bit harder than expected. We had some inexperienced paddlers with us, so for a portion of the journey I ended up by myself in the guides kayak, which was a lot of fun! There were some fast waters along the way, which were really fun, except it usually was shallow so you had to be careful not to get stuck in the rocks. At the end of the trip, my canoe ended up getting stuck for a quick moment in the shallow slow waters. It was a great activity to start the day with.

Orange River
Orange River

When we arrived back at camp, we packed up and had lunch. I ate what I believe was a ham sandwich, but I could not be sure exactly. It was lunch meat, and it actually was really good, that I had two. It could also be because of all the energy burned canoeing!

We left camp to cross our first border into Namibia. The whole crossing only took about an hour between the South African border control and the Namibian, and I have another stamp on the passport.

Crossing into Namibia was like leaving civilization, as you head into the desert and the roads are all dirt/sand. Thankfully, our Lando is a relatively smooth ride! We arrived at camp in the afternoon, set up and headed out to Fish River Canyon. This is said to be the second biggest canyon behind the grand canyon. We were stopping here for a short rim hike and to have dinner at sunset.

Fish River Canyon
Fish River Canyon
Fish River Canyon
Fish River Canyon with my New Zealand friends

The views were really incredible, but the coloring has nothing on the grand canyon. You have to be careful around the rim as the rocks are loose and there is nothing that is stopping you from going down. It was quite a nice walk and it was very relaxing watching the sunset going down over the canyon.

Group Sunset at Fish River Canyon
Group Sunset at Fish River Canyon

We had a delicious nacho dinner at the canyon and then headed back to camp for the night.

Tomorrow will be one of our first longer drive days, at 8 hours through the desert.

Africa Day #4

As I am writing this, we are stuck on the side of the road. The tracking device they have installed, is once again causing issues with the Landos electrical system. This is where we have spent the majority of our day 3, but thankfully it is not that hot and there is a constant wind… and I am in AFRICA!!

Last night went okay, I think I will take a day or two to adjust to camping, with the temperature changes, but otherwise I was comfortable.

It was another early morning with a 5:45am wake up, break down, breakfast, and pack up to be on the road at 7am.  We made it nearly 2 hours before we had to pull off the road. I did my first bushy bushy stop today, which is squatting in a bush on the side of the road. I reckon the first one is the hardest, and it will get easier as these 54 days roll on. Thankfully it was successful!

Today we are headed to the Orange River. We have another 1 – 2 hours drive, and depending on the timing, we may be able to go canoeing, although that is yet to be seen. To be continued…

I must say, for having a 5 hour stop on the road, spirits remained high. We even had a bit of a sing a long, as one of the other travelers brought along his Ukulele. With our Lando refusing to start, we were arranged a bus to transport us and our camping gear to the next camp site. Again, I was very impressed with us all keeping it together in not the most ideal situation. Our bus was cramped, the AC was minimal and we literally were all stuck to each other in the seats. We also had a 20 minute drive to the camp on a dirt road which vibrated the whole bus the whole way. It makes for a great story, but I can’t say it was the best 2 hours of my life.

I am becoming more flexible with my eating and it is only day 4! I ate my first meat pie today, and it really wasn’t that bad. Again, not something I may have chosen, but as my only option, it went down fine!

Unfortunately, we did not arrive to camp in time to canoe, yet we will be able to do that in the morning. We were able to go for a swim in the Orange River, which divides South Africa and Namibia. It was really nice after the long day! And thankfully, we also got news that our Lando was able to be repaired and would meet us at the camp site by evening!!

Another G Adventures group was also at the camp site, they were traveling the opposite direction as us, and I was able to chat a bit with them, and they had nothing but great things to say about the upcoming places.

The campsite provided dinner for us this evening, because all our supplies were with the Lando, so we had a Brie (a BBQ) with lamb, potatoes, beet salad, salad and cabbage. Despite not liking lamb, I managed to try it again, and still, it is a no go for me, but everything else was delicious. We also had a birthday, so we had camp birthday cake for after dinner.

I very much look forward to sleeping tonight and going down the river on a canoe in the morning. Tomorrow we will be crossing the border to Namibia and heading to the Fish River Canyon, which is possibly the 2nd largest canyon in the world, after the Grand Canyon.

Africa Day #3

Lando
Lando

And we are on our way! We pack up our Lando and load in for a drive. Our first stop was Blouberg Beach (the spelling may be wrong) where Table Top mountain looks blue. Next we had to make a extended stop at the market, where we bought groceries and had to have a mechanic come out to finish installing the tracking device on the Lando.

Once we got going again, it was only about 3 hours to our campsite. The landscape is a bit like the desert in the states with mountain ranges popping up all around. It has been really pretty and since it is all new, it is exciting. This would be our first of 40+ nights camping out in Africa. We we taught the load out procedure as well as camp set up that we would be using the rest of the way.

Camp Set-up
Camp Set-up

After we were all set up, we had some time to sit by the pool before we did a wine tasting. A lot of the wines were made right at the farm we were camping at. We even were treated to African Ruby, a wine infused with Roobios Tea and another herb.  For dinner, the camp served us a traditional African meal of Chicken Poetkje (again, spelling could be wrong, it is hard with limited google). It is a a white stew made with chicken and vegetables served with rice and a homemade bread that was very dense and delicious.

The remainder of the night was spent at the pub with the other travelers, listening and dancing to music and chatting with each other.

It was a great first day! I have high hopes for the camping, as the tents are quite nice, we have a mattress and I think I brought everything I need to be comfortable.

Tomorrow will be our last day in South Africa, as we head to the Orange River.

Africa Day #2

Top of Lion’s Head

Day 2 in Africa started at 4:45am to go for a hike up Lion’s head mountain with the sunrise.  Carey picked me up at 5:30 and we made it to the trail by 5:45am. We made it up to the top in an hour and had another strawberry picnic and took some pictures. It was absolutely beautiful watching the sun come up over the mountains. The hike itself was a bit strenuous at times with the incline, but it was a lot of fun and a lot of hands on climbing. The first part down was probably the most challenging finding footing but it was quite a rewarding way to start the day!

Top of Lion's HeadHiking down Lion's Head

We went back to the hostel for showers and breakfast and to pack up since I would be moving rooms and meeting my group tonight. I ran into my new CEO when we got back, and she was very nice and I have high hopes for my trip! Next we went out of town to these gardens. They were really pretty and it was a nice relaxing day. At the gardens there is a big swing that we were able to swing on together.

Next up we went to Spice Station where we had lunch and walked around the different shops and relaxed on the lawn with the mountains in the foreground. We then drove back to Cape Town where I had to say goodbye to Carey and checked into my new room and met some of the people I would be traveling with.

Our welcome meeting was at 6pm where I met the rest of the 21 other travelers and two guides. So far it looks like we have a good group. We have travelers from Germany, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Finland and England. Our two CEOs are from Africa.

We went out as a group for dinner and then back to the hostel to get ready for an early morning. Unfortunately when we arrived back at the room, the girls we were sharing with found bed bugs and so we had to get all of our stuff out of our room and be put into different rooms. There were no more beds in the G Adventure rooms, so I was placed in a room with random people. This is where I met an American Kim, who was also taking time out to travel. It was so great to make this connection to make the bed bug situation a non-issue. We spent the better part of two hours chatting before deciding we really must sleep. She was going to be volunteering with Rhinos, and I look forward to following her adventure!


Tomorrow we start on the road! We will be staying in South Africa, but arriving at our first camp site!

Africa Day #1

My welcome party to South Africa!
My welcome party to South Africa!

Back up on blogging, this should be a little easier, as we do less each day! Unfortunately photos will be limited due to wifi, or lack there of!

Despite dripping teriyaki sauce all down the side of me prior to boarding my 12hour flight to Dubai, the flight went off without a hitch. Uneventful as I prefer it and I managed to sleep quite a bit which was helpful!

With the encouragement of a good friend, and some googling, I took advantage of my 7+ hour layover in Dubai and took the metro over to the Burj Khalifa. The view was amazing and it was an adventure that definitely put me outside my comfort zone, but left me a bit more confident in my solo traveler abilities.

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa

Flight from Dubai to Cape Town was uneventful as well and again I managed a good amount of sleep so I was ready for the day when I arrived.

I am so very lucky to have met Carey in Europe! Some times you get lucky and you meet these people that you instantly bond with and I have confidence this will be a lifelong friendship!! She is such a positive and energetic person and I just love her enthusiasm and spirit! She met me with gifts, a hippo and a biltong, which to most people’s surprise I did try! It is a dried meat, similar to jerky. After a quick shower, we went and grabbed food, checked into my room and went on our way.

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At the South African coast

She took me down to the beach, which was stunning, although the Atlantic was just about as cold as it is in Maine. We climbed the rocks and had an amazing view of table mountain and lions head. Next we went to a local coastal restaurant that was right along the water and ended the day at signal hill. Due to some traffic issues, we ended up having to run to make sunset, but it was exceptional with our strawberry picnic.

It was the perfect start to my African adventure and it’s always my favorite to see a city with someone local. I feel truly fortunate for the friendship and the amazing day!

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I love this girl!