10.11.2008 - 17.11.2008
So, our adventure starts! – We got a cab to the Nomad Tours office where we met the rest of the group and the staff crew, and the truck, called “Janice”. The first thing we noticed was that the group was very different to our one in Egypt. A much more mature crowd. I think we are the youngest this time, whereas we were the oldest in Egypt. Clearly no one in the group fancied the idea of camping :- )
…off we go! – The truck is basically a two axle lorry with a converted body for passengers with coach style seats and big windows. It’s actually very good – primarily because there is plenty of room to get up and walk around when you feel like it. Secondarily because there are only 12 of us and 28 seats…
As we drove North through South Africa the scenery started to change very quickly. By the time we got to the Cederberg region we started to see “big” views.
We also saw a LOT of vineyards. They grow wine here on an industrial scale. We actually stopped at a winery and got a guided tour of the machinery and all the various processes. No pictures – they are not that interesting unless you like looking at steel vats. We also got our first taste of African heat. The factor 30 came out very quickly.
Our destination for the day was a lodge at Citrus Creek – a region as you’ve probably guessed is known for its citrus fruit growing. A cool place, although most of the group were fairly shocked to find we were sharing “houses” with a room each. No probs though, it gave us a chance to get to know each other over a delicious “poike pot” of chicken stew.
The next morning we departed for the Namibian border. The scenery continued to fascinate. Miles and miles of granite rocks and mountains, all formed by volcanic activity. A kitchen maker’s dream.
(That’s all granite and it falls away in giant sheets over time – each layer cooled at a different time when it was formed so it if full of natural “faults)
Then a quick stop for lunch under a tree…
(The skies are starting to get bigger)
… and onwards to the border…
After a very short hop we arrived at our first Namibian home…
…where we did what all English people should do in Africa…
Gin & Tonic!
The nest morning I took a canoe ride down the Oranje river whilst Kirstin enjoyed a chill out back at the cabana.
A good trip and not too hard a workout, with some fun small rapids.
Suitably knackered we hit the road again. I say road, but this is Africa and we got our first taste of the “African massage” – the roads are just graded dust. You get a noisy vibrating massage all the time – and bear in mind we are covering over 500k’s some days.
It’s not that bad actually but it does get a little tiring after a few hours.
We were quite surprised to find the Namibians make wine – and lots of it! We thought the vineyards in SA were big but nothing can prepare you for the sheer scale of the vineyards in Namibia. They only grown them in one region, along the river, but boy do they make use of the water!
(One of 12 trucks we passed, full of workers for the vineyards)
(The huts the workers live in , and the vineyards in the distance)
(Almost the same picture but it shows the scale of the vineyards better. I like both pictures so much I had to post them both)
At one stage we stopped in the middle of the desert so we could get a feel for what it is like to be in the middle of nowhere. It was certainly eerie.
One of our guides, Pilili, asked what is the first thing you notice and K correctly answered – the silence.
(Thought I’d post one with us in it!)
Our destination this day was the Fish River Canyon – the second biggest in the world (I think you know the biggest…). Absolutely breathtaking!
We had a bite to eat, and some more G&T’s :- ) , then watched the sunset…
And the moon too….
(Our driver and guide, Pilili)
(The colours in the sky are amazing)
That evening we stayed in butt-f@*#k-nowhere, in a place called Seeheim.
(Some “junk” in the garden)
(You’ve now seen all of Seeheim – those tyre tracks are ours – one house, one “station”)
The next morning we set off to see the Quiver trees at Kokerboom Forest and the Giant’s Playground. As we approached the forest we saw our first big cat following us along the side of the road.
The people on the truck got very excited and all the cameras and camcorders were out in a flash.
We had a good walk around the quiver tree forest. The trees are named such because the natives used to use the hollowed out branches for arrow quivers.
(And yes, that is me “Quivering” – don’t underestimate how hard it is to look like you are quivering in a photo – I had to practice!)
The Giants Playground is basically a HUGE collection of rocks, many of which are neatly stacked into large towers (as if giants have been playing here.. see?).
(That’s a LOT of rocks – it goes on for miles and miles – the rocks have split and eroded, leaving them stacked up)
Trucking on we then spent about an hour looking for a tree to have lunch under. There are not many trees here – it really is all desert. We found one tree but it was swarming with hornets and the floor was covered in dung so the group protested and we drove on in search of another tree. It took an hour to find another 2 small ones!
The rest of the drive in the afternoon was hard work – all very rough roads and now the dust had really started. It’s very fine and abundant. I noticed the ingress of the dust when I went to check the time and had to wipe the face of my watch to see the hands! – it makes you choke and sneeze too.
Some observations about the group: It’s very entertaining watching how different people are, especially when they are older and more set in their ways. You know, “Window open all the time”, “Window closed all the time”, “window open all the time even if it means everyone behind moves to get out of the wind” – that kind of thing. All harmless but it’s amusing me how people are definitely less accommodating as they get older. At one time, I emptied the on board chill box (of all the water), bought 4 bags of ice, refilled it, crushed the ice, and before I’d actually finished someone was ramming their bottles of water ON my hand as I was packing the ice down. By the time I’d walked to the back of the bus to get my beers to put in the chiller and returned it was already practically full! – “it’s no biggie, you’d have done the same K said”, nope, I wouldn’t. I’m learning to be more tolerant of people’s foibles. No doubt people have spent years dealing with mine! : - )
2 days later… well – our tolerance has expired! – We’ve agreed that this is the last time we’ll do a group thing. It’s not just a question of whether you like the people or not – in our group everyone is likeable in one way or the other (well, except one), it’s more that fact that they dick about and mess things up for everyone else, that and the sheep mentality. It’s more than funny.
Our guide actually made an announcement yesterday that we are in fact going to a game park later this week where we’ll see all the beasts close up and that we’ll “want to delete all our current photos of animals” and that we should not be stopping so much. No one has taken any notice. We feel like strangling people. Actually, smothering with a pillow.
Still, life goes on and we are loving the scenery and the wildlife – I’m actually finding I have a penchant for botany. The animals are all fine, but I’ve seen them on TV. I know, it sounds shallow, but I have, and I’m sure I’ll love seeing them close up, but I’m finding I’m far more interested in the plant life, and some of the birds.
We stayed at a lovely lodge that night in Stampriet – all done in old fashioned Victorian style with lots of old photos and what not.