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Journal 3

Sea and Sand

August 2005

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Thanks Updated 15.03.06 Virtual Tour of Mel Please join us - added 20.02.06

We finally made it down to Cape Town stopping at Cape Agulhas, the most southern point in Africa - we also visited Cape Point just in case! Other sites we visited were Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life (very interesting), as well as a trip up Table Mountain.

Dormitary Cape Town from the Sea
Dormitary Cell Cape Town from the sea.

We finally managed to leave Cape Town and headed to Stellenbosch, the wine region, for some wine tasting. Excellent fun - it costs about £1.50 for a taste of six different wines (about three full glasses). You then drive to the next winery and repeat - driving is essential as walking would not be possible after the 3rd or 4th vinyard. We also had a fantastic meal - Cheryl said it was probably the best she has ever had - springbok.

After that we headed north to the Cederberg Mountains where I spent 10 days hiking when I lived in SA, so great to be back. We then headed all the way up to Namaqualand, a semi-desert region, which once a year after the rains, turns into one of the most spectacular landscapes imaginable. The flowers are amazing purple, orange, red and yellow - it really is a sight.

Daisies Namaqualand
Namaqualand Daisies. Acres of flowers  

Crossing into Namibia is easy. Namibia has one of the lowest population densities in the world - two people per square kilometer. If it was overlaid on Europe the NW corner would be over London and the SE corner over Rome. The Fish River Canyon, second in size only to the Grand Canyon, was our first port of call. Then on to Luderitz a small ex-German town on the coast. Just outside the town is an old diamond mining ghost town. On the way we also passed about 20 feral horses that now live in the desert. After this we headed up to Sosos Vlei, with the highest sand dunes in the world. They are certainly very high. It took 2.5 hours of hard work to walk up dune 45. Running down again was excellent and took only about 15 minutes. The place is a photographer's dream with a pertified forest in the middle of one of the pans.

Mining Town Sand Dune
Ghost diamond mining town Giant sand dune Feral Horses
Andy on Sanddune Sossusvlei Petrified Forest
    Petrified Forest

Our next stop was Solitair - a one horse town - for some ot their famous apple crumble before heading to Swakopmund. This town is really nice and so clean with loads of good restaurants and the Hansa beer is served in large steins. We stayed a while, serviced the 'car' and then headed on to the Skeleton Coast, which certainly lives up to its name, with skeletons all over the beach - mainly seals but also hyena and jackal lying everywhere. We looked at the cape seal colony of about 100000 seals - very smelly but once you get over that it is amazing to see and hear.

Fish River Canyon Smelly Seals skeleton
Fish River Canyon Smelly Seals Skeleton

We drove off the road into the desert and made camp behind a small hill just enjoying complete solitude. On the second morning we saw some huge tracks around the car - probably hyena but apparently there were some lions in the area so we headed out.

Our next adventure was to Kakoland in the North West of Namibia. We met a British couple that wanted to go that way but needed to go in convoy as it is very remote. We first drove to Epupa falls on the border of Angola to wait for them before heading into the wilderness. They did not turn up so we went alone. Quite a drive. I am amazed at what Mel (the car) can drive through. I got Cheryl to walk ahead to film us driving and she was having to use 4 limb drive to get up and down the slopes. At one stage I could have touched the ground out the window of the car. The main reason we were so keen is that Craig, the guy we bought the car from, said he would be really impressed if we made it to Red Drum. Jeez I hope people do not challenge me too many times. Red drum is just that a drum in the middle of nowhere apparently put there as a navigational aid. The views through the mountains were amazing followed by golden grassy veld (plains).

Rooi Drum Road to Rooi Drum Our message
Here's the proof Craig. Road to Rooi (red) Drum The message we left at Rooi Drum

Our next stop was Etosha National Park really good park the camps have water holes next to them and you can just relax there and watch the animals come and go. We even managed to see a lion kill an impala. Half of you was thinking "run Bambie" and the other half was thinking "kill it". We must have seen over 100 elephant, loads of different buck, giraffe, spotted hyena - quite a special place.

Etosha at night Etosha
  Water Hole Etosha National Park  

Cheryl has been on a scenic flight over the ocovango - I decided not to go as Adrian and I had previously taken this trip. We are heading up to Zambia today after sorting out the problems with our starter motor. Spares are hard to come by as the engine is not a Toyota but from Detroit. A guy in Maun, Botswana managed to get a piece of carbon and carve it to the same shape as our brushes and it now works again. As they say here 'n boer maak 'n plan (a farmer makes a plan). We have named our car Mel (the previous owner called her Mellow and before that she was known as Donkey). She is a 1978 Toyota land cruiser with a 6.2 litre V8 Detroit engine - might as well use as much diesel as we can while it is still around. She is 6 m long so there is plenty of space in the back where we have a fold down double bed. She has 2 fuel tanks so can take about 180 litres of fuel - enough to cover 1400km. We also have 2 batteries so we can run our fridge, lights and stereo off the back battery. We have a gas cooker, built in washing machine, shower, kitchen sink, table, chairs, sofa and library - really very comfortable.

Home for the next year or so.