Rob and Dee Overland in Africa 2014 – 10,000 miles – 4 months – 10 countries

Dee’s Blog

Rob did it again! He, with a lot of help from Jean and David two gyro friends, put the icing on the cake of my Africa adventures. At 4:30 pm Thursday with the skies clearing we were in the air in two Magni gyro planes. These are open cockpit tandem cockpit gyros of Italian design – sleek and very stable. We flew out to the coast, saw whales cavorting in the surf, went toward the city of Cape Town with Table Mountain and other peaks describing the far horizon. What a fantastic geographic setting – mountains, plains, sea and city! Flew low and slow over it all and headed back as the sun was setting – coming through the pass between Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. Added the finishing touch and another fantastic perspective on the adventures of Africa. Thank you, thank you all. dee

 

A few pics here- more to follow in Rob’s Cape Town Post

 

 

 

 

 

 


Zambia – a favorite. Friendly, helpful, open folks so well demonstrated by the large amount of “how can I help?” we received from everyone passing by in cars, on bikes or on foot when we had our truck breakdown on the rutted dirt road to Kapishya. Wide diversity from wilderness of north Luangwa to first world Livingstone near Victoria Falls. I especially liked our two day drive leaving Buffalo Camp in North Luangwa National Park on to Mfuwe the entrance town for South Luangwa NP. We were on the road – dirt tracks – for at least six hours each day and only saw two other vehicles until we got to the tarred road outside Mufwe. Good encounters with locals along the way. Gave a lift to a guide going to his village for his days off. This was at the pontoon boat where we loaded the truck onto boards over floating oil cans and the strong operator pulled us across using a claw fashioned out of a tree root on the wire stretched across the river. Glad we had local knowledge since this was the one place we had trouble getting any info about possible passage. The guide was so pleased his mother could send a message ahead to the potential camp site and park gate operator that we were on our way. This out there telegraph system (infrequent cell phone service) twas back up for rescue in case we failed to show up. Stopped at one of the larger villages when the woman operating the pump caught our eyes. She was dressed in robin’s egg blue wrap skirt, green shirt and yellow head wrap and had an authoritative air about her. We found out she was the elected pump supervisor, an important village position. Kids were excited and when I suggested a song they treated me to “How I learned my ABCs” in another language! We shared some colored pens and then Rob brought out a soccer ball which was a big hit! Not many pass by and very few stop here. Along the way on the second day we started to see some bicyclists. One guy told us it was a three day ride to Mfuwe and he had only a spare jacket and woven straw mat tied on his bike. He gladly accepted a bottle of water and some crackers. Scenery was great – close woods, deep sands and occasional wild life. And that was just two days on the road between game viewing in national parks. Livingstone was a jump to first world. Lots of traffic, stores, etc. I liked my visit to the museum which had good coverage of the explorer/missionary David Livingstone and an in depth review of the politics(political shenanigans) of the country since independence in the 1950s. So much of Africa struggled with throwing off colonialism only to contend with tribal rivalries and vast corruption under their own rule. Experiencing Victoria Falls was a treat. Being there, walking along the wet path on the point of land parallel to the powerful falls must be experienced. Pictures give you just a small introduction to the majesty of it all. And then rafting on the Zambezi where the hike down to the river was an adventure in itself. It was over 1000 steps down a steep incline which had a ladder of sorts built out of tree branches. I took careful steps in my hiking boots sometimes getting an assist from Richard a local scampering down the side tree supports in bare feet! Those are just a few insights into this great adventure we are having. Travel on! Sent from my iPad


You’re Welcome! The ubiquitous greeting in Tanzania. I first was startled but then realized it was more “We welcome you here” and I respond with Thank you. When I proceed with “How are You?” it breaks their practiced tourist pattern and we may have an actual conversation as I want to focus on them rather than avoid their approach. Ah perspective, intent. We are here to blend in with the scene in Africa. Experience life in their way. Glad to have the time to stop in villages, shop at street stalls, camp at Overlander places. Just coming out of Serengeti National Park and entering Ngoronogo Crater area.

Our entry was a difficult day with roads of corrugated dirt, speeding trucks and buses, a blown tire and though we changed that on the road found another flat tire the next morning. We now know vehicles race down these washboard roads doing at least 60 km/ hr to “smooth” out the bumps and everyone wants the best part of the road no matter what lane it happens to be in. Also found a fuel station at the Park HQ and they had tire repair so we adjusted and got on with focus at hand. We did find the wildebeest migration heading north to Kenya following the rains and good grasses. With effort and perseverance we found a ridge line and valley covered with wildebeest, zebra and some impalas all restless and moving NE. Weather patterns had been mixed and guides were saying animals appear confused and not sure about best pastures. Single large wildebeests would grunt, run at another often near a group lying down. They appeared to be herding the troops: come on guys, time to move! Wonderful to pause and get into the behavior. Many photos, videos and Rob exclaimed “Now we are having fun again”. Tomorrow we go down into Ngoronogo crater, a protected area full of wildlife because pickings are good there and quite barren in surrounding plains in they make the trip up and out. Then we will move on from Tanzania. We have found it more expensive and less friendly than other countries. Focus on individuals and create good experiences. On we go.


So varied. Changes in landscape, vegetation, vistas. And cultures as expressed by dress, manner, loads being carried by those along the roads. What an adventure. Went from South Africa to Mozambique, a border crossing, then 8 km over sand dunes to the coast. That was the main road to Ponta d’Ouro the laid back beach town on the Indian Ocean. Found camping in a park right on the beach. Good to kick back and be in one place for a few days. Did a dive. Not spectacular but got in the water, saw some coral, fishes. A tourist destination, sort of off season and quite basic. Three days was plenty so back over the dunes, got off track this time due to washed out sandy track but locals in a large truck happened by and showed us the way.
Added Swaziland to our itinerary, a kingdom within South Africa and a good surprise. Organized,neat, good farmlands mainly sugars cane, bananas and pineapple. Local crafts of weavings of sasil into wonderful table mats, bowls done by woman’s cooperative (Gone Rural) and intricate and colorful candles made by local artists(Swazi Candle Craft Centre). Staying at backpacker lodges, camping out in gardens and chatting with other travelers mainly 20-30 something Europeans.

Then onto Kruger National Park, South Africa’s best known game park. We have a Wild Card that covers park admission ( proved to be a good bargain with five visits covering the cost and we were now on 10+ visits). Camping is inside fenced areas along with the fancier bungalow accommodations, restaurants, good bathrooms and cooking facilities. We get up about 5:15am, quick breakfast/coffee, down with the tent and out the gate at 6 am for early morning game viewing. It is intense, staring out my side, looking through vegetation though we often spot animals as they cross the tarred or many dirt roads we travel on. Trade info with passing vehicles on what we’ve seen where. I am keeping a list of daily sightings and noted three pages for one 3 1/2 hr morning drive! Samples are lots of impalas, giraffes in groupings of 3 -4, springboks(many types of boks to identify), rhinoceros, wonderful birds from huge vultures and graceful hawks to tiny multi colored bee catchers, a solitary leopard walking along a dry river bed (our first large cat sighting), hippos and crocks laying about a waterhole, a small but dangerous puffer head snake crossing a dirt road, warthogs with tusks, and elephants either solitary males or in groupings with protective females running the group. Wow. One is tired after the intensity of 3 hours of sighting and photos.

We did a night drive with a ranger and 14 other tourists and that was spectacular. Went out at 8 pm and after 1/2 hour started seeing the big guys. Four lionesses, two older and two quite young, about 9 months according to the ranger. Just lying on the tarred road getting the warmth and keeping away from annoying insects in the grasses. Then a solitary female leopard, 4 rhinoceros, an owl on the road turning its head almost 360 looking for a meal, a large elephant feeding on trees and shrub, more rhinos and what are those eyes in a tree? Two leopards came down and quickly mated and repeated this activity four times, with the male opening his jaws and biting the female on the neck each time to distract her from the other pain as the ranger explained. This occurred near a group of impalas who called out warning to each other but the ranger said the leopards will concentrate on mating for several dyas and then get back to hunting. Extraordinary – we observe, animals go on with their behavior nonplused by us being around as long as we stay in our vehicles and are quiet. Then three males lions walking down the road – dark manes around their large beige necks. Hyenas, more impalas, more birds and ranger headed back to camp around 11pm. He had extended our night drive by one hour since sightings were so good. That’s plenty of info for now. Til next time.

Dee

 


Three weeks in Africa and much has happened. One great week outfitting our new home the Toyota HiLux 4×4. Bushlore folks were terrific and we left Saturday morning for our first camping adventure. Up to the Drakensberg escarpment for Golden Gate Nat’l Park. Chilly in their autumn season – down bags and long underwear in the evening. Got short hike in – up ravine, around meadows for good views. Noticing mostly white people at the National Parks. Some South Africans and lots of European tourists. I guess the local majority (Black) have to deal with 45% unemployment and a battered education system so visiting national resources is a luxury, not a high priority. All people are very friendly with wonderful smiles that shine forth from a sincere inside of good wishes. Onto Royal Natal National Park with more walks and a view of San rock art. Indigenous tribes were prolific in drawing events of lives and dreams, as the story goes. Then our first 4×4 mountain pass- Sani Pass- up to 2873 meters, about 9400 feet. Rob did a great job around the hairpin turns. Luckily the grading was pretty good and he has been a 4 wheeler for 40 some years! Next stop was home of Tina & Jones between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. An excellent visit for gaining local knowledge, having fun with Maya, 6 yrs old, and Noah, 4 yrs old. They even took us to a local private reserve where we did our first animal viewings – zebras, wildebeests, blesboks (they graze together sharing their individual specialty senses of smell, hearing and eyesight), giraffes, hippos and then rhinosorous! Really a great day. Then we moved on to Hluhluwe/Imfolosi National Park for three more days of great animal viewing.

Dee


Days ticking by – one week until departure. Bitter sweet to be leaving Salida as Spring arrives and  active summer just ahead. There will be others here. This year – Africa. As we prepare we try to remember less is more. Less to cart around and more focus on being where we are – living as the locals do. OK we will have the 4×4 with roof top tent, all the supplies to feed, cloth and communicate but we will be camping out for four months. Bring it on. Like the sailboat, self sufficient, independent, engaging with the locals. I hope to get exercise beyond bouncing along in the 4×4. Plenty of hiking opportunities and we’ll walk like the locals do. Arrive in Jo’burg Saturday April 19 in time for Easter Sunday/Monday holiday. Then touch and feel our selected 4×4 on Tuesday and deal with registration, insurance, all the paper work and refurbishing we decide to do. Hope to be on board and off by Saturday April 26. Be flexible, Be Present, take in all the adventures. Come along with us. Dee