The Journey

Introduction to the REAL Africa

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Well, what followed was so frightening and amazing at the same time that words to truly convey our experience fail me……maybe Stewie the journalist can do it better, but I will give it my best try!!

Admittedly, we were both nervous about this border crossing as we had been warned by several travelers to expect the worst. Why we decided to cross at Ruacana, is still a mystery but we arrived at about 11.30 being the first people to cross that day. At the Namibian side, the officials decided that they need some entertainment as it must be bloody boring to sit in 35degrees all day waiting for someone to appear. So they proceeded to try and find Stan’s engine number which seemed impossible to find whilst the customs guy asked us at least 10 times whether we were sure that we have no goods to declare!! Finally we made our way to the Angolan side and it was not so bad at all. Just the problem with the fact that the Angolan Embassy in CT decided to put Stew’s visa in his old passport took some explaining. But after having been send back to the Namibian side and more explaining, we got our stamps and were off into the unknown!

Well, if we said the Mozambican roads were bad…..well we were actually joking. There is no comparison to what awaited us on this journey. Before Stew gives you the lowdown I just need to warn any other LUNATICS that decide to take this road that the following are absolute essentials :

  1. Rescue remedy…..10 bottles if you can
  2. I-Trip, absolutely essential just to soothe the mind and to remind you that you are still alive
  3. A whole lot of patience
  4. Nerves of STEEL
  5. Humour in bucket loads
  6. Water Water Water and then some more Water, there is truly no joy when you have to fix something on the car in the blazing sun with temperatures of 40degrees and no wind nor shade

Despite being gatvol at times and despite the fact that at times I have been the scariest I have ever been in my life, despite me thinking at times that I am not made for this and that I will be unable to do this trip, despite my thoughts that we are truly in the middle of nowhere and that if anything happens to us here, our kids will never find us, I learned so much….

  • I learned to trust Stewart as well as Stan above all
  • I learned that nature is the best teacher
  • I learned that as in life, crossing a river is not the hardest, rather what waits on the other side, and how to get out on the other side. So, take the plunge, cross the river, but be prepared for what happens once you get out on the other side
  • I learned that no matter how long the night feels the sun will always rise and a bright new day will start

 

Day 1 Ruacana to 25km past Chitado

 

The hydro-electric dam wall at Ruacana was beautiful the water pouring under our car as we drove over the bridge.

 The dam at RuacanaLocals hangin' at Chitado - check the SADF bullet holes!!

The road from Ruacana immediately turned to dirt, about the size of a farm road that only gets used once or twice a day. Our first landmark was Chitado, a village 41 km away. The “road” twisted and turned following a general direction west. The absence of people was immediately apparent other than a few wandering Himba people, making their way from nowhere to nowhere through the dense bush. Chitado consisted of about 10 old houses some of them in ruins clearly showing the marks of the Civil War. From Chitado we headed north, closely watching the electronic map on the Garmin as we had to turn west at a fork in the road unmarked by a village or civilization. We stopped on the way to help a local whose motorbike had given up the battle with the road and had collapsed on him. I helped him as much as I could but eventually had to leave him to put it all together again as time was marching on.Then onwards, left at the fork in the road, towards Oncocoa. At  about 4.45 pm, we decided to camp  for the night, and pulled off the road under a giant baobab tree, and set up camp in the middle of nowhere whilst preparing our first meal on Angolan soil!

 Helping the locals    Bushcamp.....as you can see NO MORE glamour!!!

The Garmin was now our constant companion, to check the road maps, distance traveled, average speed, altitude and much other useful and useless information. According to “Mr G” ( the Garmin) we had traveled for 3 hours 50 minutes ,  covering 114kms.

 

Day 2 – Bush Camp to Bush Camp, via Oncocoa and Moimba

 

We left our first night’s bushcamp about 8am all set for a day of tough driving. First we encountered  a river crossing where the water was flowing shin-deep. After an initial walkthrough, Stanruza crossed with ease under the watchful gaze of a Himba lady that once again, appeared out of thin air! Annaliese tried to communicate with her and at least got her to pose for a pic after a reward of a mealie and a biscuit. We soon reached the village of Oncocoa.. Again consisting of just a few houses and huts, with old bullet marks scarring the brickwork , we dove westwards, at a steady 20-30kms per hour. The countryside was thickly grassed, and we encountered several herds of wild looking cattle, with some of them having huge horns that  the Spanish matadors immediately came to mind. But other than the people at the village, and again the occasional Himba moving like ghosts through the bush, there was very little sign of human habitation.

 Our Himba lady Well done !! Crossing one of the many rivers

The road to the Cunene mouth and the road we had chosen to head further north, were one and the same until just past Moimba.   Although the map showed us entering a National Park there was no discernable difference. Watching the map on Mr G, we knew we had to turn northwest at the next turn right – but there was no next turn , right or left!!  Mr G insisted we had missed the turn, so we retraced our steps, and found the faintest hint of a track heading northwest.

 

With no-one to ask for directions we had to trust  that this was indeed our turnoff.  We now were following a track that looked like it had last been used a few months back and our average speed dropped even further, as we struggled to follow the faint track through the bush. Every river crossing was now pure guesswork as there were no fresh tracks to follow into and out of the river beds. We had to stop at each crossing, walk through the river to the other side to try and find the slightest indication of a track.

 

As we drove on, we steadily dropped in altitude, and as we did the bush thinned  and there was less and less water in the riverbeds, most of them being bone dry. By now the road surface was deteriorating fast but we pushed on as far as we could, until we were forced to stop on the bank of a river with a particularly sandy crossing point, one which we decided to tackle in the morning. As we set up camp a wandering Himba appeared out of nowhere, asking for food and clothing. We gave him a few stale Pringle chips, and one of Zack’s old pink golf shirts, (a La Coste no less!!) which seemed to satisfy him.

 

Not knowing what lay in front of us tomorrow, but knowing we still had another 200km or so to Flamingo lodge/campsite on the sea, we had a very uneasy night. According to Mr G, we had only managed 177kms that day, which took us just short of 9 hours!

 

Day 3 – Bushcamp to Flamingo Bay

 

Waking after a night of little sleep with strange noises and no idea of what awaited us that day, we decided to get into Stanruza and on the road as quickly as possible, and just as well. The road deteriorated even further and the first 40km took us 2 hours!!! What made matters worse is that Annaliese was bitten by some weird insect and the bites that covered the bottom part of her legs, soon turned into blisters, made worse by the unbearable heat as well as our discovery that something went wrong with Stan. We stopped and in 40degrees had to try and fix the airbags as part of it dislodged and was clanging loudly as we went over every bump. We eventually gave up as we still had a long way to go and wanted to reach our destination that day still.

 Weird insects, weird place!!Where is the bloody road!!

The last 53kms was nerve wrecking as we had to drive very slowly to ensure Stan gets there in one piece, we ran out of water and the heat was unbearable. Despite all this, once we saw the amazing Arco Oasis in the middle of nowhere, our spirits lifted. This inland lake is absolutely stunning and for the first time in Angola, we saw the locals planting crops and working on very organized farmland. We later learned that this was the Kimbundu tribe. Surrounding the lake were the most amazing sandstone formations, very similar to the White Desert in Egypt. Truly amazing to see all this as it seems that Angola is a country with diverse vegetation, in one day we went from thick bush, to savanna grassland to arid desert with Welwitchia plants, to a lake and lush vegetation, back to desolate desert landscape.

 Desolation Inland lake

Best of all was our first sighting of …..wait for it…….a TAR ROAD !!!!! Yeah !! Only 2 problems….we had no idea which way to turn and as this is the first time we have been on a proper road in Angola, we were traveling on the wrong side of the road!! We soon realized our mistake, and eventually with the help of Mr G, found the turnoff to the lodge. Our trip on the tar was all of 13kms!! Unfortunately the end was not in sight yet as the road to the lodge once you turn of the tar follows a river bed and as luck would have it, we got properly stuck in the sand 1 Bloody km from the lodge!!! Well after a few attempts and murderous looks from Annaliese, we got the sandladders out and got unstuck. We arrived at the place and to the utter disbelief of the manager Ursula, told the story of the way we traveled……turned out that no – one has ever been on those roads!!!

Tar road at lastWe made it YEAHHHHH

We were so exhausted and filthy (Stew was at least 10 shades darker) that we decided not to camp and paid an exorbitant price for one night in the lodge to ensure a proper cleanup and a good nights sleep.

Flamingo LodgeOur camp Strandloper !

We set up camp the next day and spend the next two nights relaxing, going for walks on the beach and killing ourselves laughing at the jokes told by the fisherman that frequent the place. We were well entertained, first by a crowd from Vredendal who had a field day teasing “Die Engelsman en sy Landrover” ( It seems that everyone here are hardened Toyota fans) and then by a group of Paarl farmers who made no bones about the fact that we will never get to the end of the trip with a Landy!!

 Tanning in the dust ...between the fire and the coals......what a girl is reduced to !!

Stew partly fixed Stan with the help of the locals and after finally getting my equipment out, I could do my first massage on him in the desert!!  The next day we were surprised by a HUGE group of campers , all 48  of them. They were part of a tour organised by Radio sonder Grense  and just as well we decided to leave the next day as the place got a bit crowded. Big surprises at Flamingo though, we ran into family of Izak and Hester as well as Luffie Druker who grew up with me in Aus and whom I have last seen more than 30 years ago!!

 

Windhoek - The second time

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Arriving back in Namibia was a weird experience, with African skies, dry air , and miles and miles of bushveld, in stark contrast to the greenness and civilization of England.Thank you to Onkel who fetched us form the airport despite him being very sick.Also thank you for looking after Stanruza whilst we were gone, you are a true example of Namibian kindness and hospitality.

 Anton Lubowski Street

After having seen Zack again and being touched by the uncanny resemblance to my dear brother, Anton, both in looks and character, I took Stew to see their house and took some pics of the street now named after him. At times I miss him so much, specially being here in his beloved country but I do know that he would have been so proud of all the development in Namibia,

 Mark and Nancy  The girls

Stewart wanted to see Etosha, so after a day spent shopping for essentials, repairing the tent, and repacking to send all the UK clothes, as well as the clothes we brought back for Zack, back to Cape Town, we settled down to a “last supper” with our Dutch friends, Mark and Nancy, as well as Marieke, who was visiting Windhoek for a month,and can you believe it….another laywer!!! Now the Dutch legal fraternity joined the Brits and the Africans in the “bush disappearing act” We had a great time and they made our first night back joyful despite us missing our sons terribly.

 

The next morning, after a few unplanned detours, we left for Etosha Pans.

 

Etosha and Ruacana

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We spent the night   just outside Etosha, as we has been warned that even camping inside the boundaries of Etosha had become very expensive. Although the grassed camping area at Etosha Safari Camp was overrun by overlanders, we found a good campsite, had a great swim in the pool and and an even better meal in the beautiful restaurant. Yeah to Jagermeister as everythinh just seems better after a shot of that!!

The next morning we drove through Anderson Gate, and were deluged with vast numbers of springbok and zebra sightings. We also saw wildebeest, rooi hartebeest, giraffe, gemsbok by the 100s, impala, ostrich and the best of all, 4 lions, who wandered across the road about 50 metres in front of us.A truly magnificent sight as you realize the size and power of these kings of the jungle once you see them up close. One of those WOW moments never to be forgotten.

     

The pan itself was full of water, looking like a dam, I have never seen it like this, unbelievable and surreal as it looks like I suppose Lake Malawi looks like, with water as far as the eye can see.

 The pans like I have never seen it

As we drove towards the northern exit, we spoke to Zack and Rudolf, using the last of the connection at one of the camps. Our day was made and we had fuel for the soul to carry on. On our way out, we were greeted by about  30 ostrich, waving their wings and dancing, as if to say farewell

 A very wet Ovamboland

As we had decided to exit Namibia at the Ruacana border post, we still had a good long drive ahead of us. We drove through an Ovamboland virtually underwater, with huge pools of water on both sides of the road. Although the road was good, the many settlements  made for slow traveling, and  our anticipated stopover, chosen via the Garmin, failed to materialize. We decided to push on to Ruacana itself, and arrived in the dark at the wonderful oasis of a hotel, Eha Ruacana Lodge, where we were treated to television, en suite bathroom, and a cooked supper and breakfast, served by the ever helpful Emma.She was a joy to behold and served Annaliese the most delicious dessert with no name!! We were even treated to a bottle of Nederburg wine!!

 

 

 

Lubango and around

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We left Flamingo Campsite only at about 10.30 as we had so many chats with the newly arrived camping crowd. I think they all thought we were stark raving mad to do what we were doing , but the guys as always were very interested in Stan.

How magic to drive on TAR road, no matter what the condition, what is a pothole or two.....no problem!!! The first town (actually our very first Angolan town after having been in the country for 5 days!!!) was Namibe even though it is relatively small, it seemed like a city to us!! As all of you most probably know , the signs of the war are everywhere, BUT there are also signs of development everywhere, you can just sense that this is a country with hope and we do wish them all the best in their efforts.

Namibe main road, I love that the palm trees double as roadsigns

After Namibe tha landscape changes form the barren desert we had thus far to lush green valleys planted with all kinds of crop. Also after Namibe you have to go up the huge plato to get to Lubango where we were heading. We heard about the Lebo pass before , but words cannot describe the amazing sight as well as the feeling going up from 600m to 2000m in a few kms. You start on these "haarnaald draaie" and as soon as you think this is it, you realise that the actual pass only starts then, It is beautiful and something that should be developed into a huge tourist attraction.( Kay , we thought of you and our hikes a lot)

Leba pass.........believe it , no trick photography!!

We reached Lubango in good time and I nearly fell out of the car as it seemed like a HUGE city for our bush apes! The latest recorded details put the inhabitants at about 200 000. Same as in Namibe, we could see lots of building and development. Unfortunately, Angola does not offer much to the tourist though and budget accommodation is non existing. The cheapest place we could find was a rondawel at the price of $110 for the night. Outrageously expensive for what you get, but the worst was when we started looking at food, Tomato sauce cost R50 for a small bottle, a glass of water and an Espresso came to R35 etc etc. We were not so good at calculating the exchange rate yet and were stupid enough to go to the first restaurant we could find, after having to pay R250 for a bottle of White wine, we decided to make food in our room, African style!

The nice thing however is that the people are so nice. Every day we just realise that the people of Africa have such kind and good hearts and will always help you a much as they can. We met Truter, an Afrikaans guy from Middelburg Tvl and his Brazilian Fiance Patricia in the reataurant. They invited us to sit with them and at the end offered to have Stan fixed at their company workshop, gave us names of contacts in Angola on our route, as well as lots of tips on travelling in Angola. We also met Carlos, the owner of a few mines in Angola who promptly invited us to stay in his house when we are in Luanda. Al we can offfer in return to these good peole are our heartfelt thank you's.

A few of the sights around Lubango

Tundavale, the most amazingViews Aren't they just beautiful ??

rock formations with a deep cliff. You cannot see the bottom.

We were told the horror story that during the war years, people were thrown off these cliffs to their death.

Statue to commemorate freedom from slavery, a lot of people from tis area were transported to the coast to be sold as slaves.

The goodness of the locals are still ongoing. We were walking in the street desperately looking for an internet cafe/place as I was by now desperate to get in touch with just ANYONE and we ran into John. An Angolan who spend 4 years in Cape Town!!!! He lived in Woodstock and worked at Century City!!! He was so kind and took us to the Internet place , even if it took him a least 30 min to find out exactly what we wanted. We got there and saw most of the city at the same time!!

Tomorrow we are off to Lobito and Benguela on the coast

 


 

Lubango to Benguela via Chongoroi

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It appeared we were a bit premature  in hoping to set off early this morning, as  a thorough inspection of Stanruza’s  suspension not only showed that the airbags in the back springs were no longer of any use, but one of the back shocks had snapped off at the bolt. Thanks to Truter’s contacts, we managed to track down 2 new shocks, and we spent the morning fitting them. So much for expensive Old Man Emu shocks, they lasted all of 2 ½ months!

One of the best roads we have seen in Angola, and they are preserving the tree!!

So we left Lubango eventually at 1 pm, with estimates of time to Benguela from 4-6 hours.  The first part of the road was quite good, other than detours for non-existent bridges at every river. But the road soon deteriorated, with the worst combination of potholed tar and rutted dirt testing Stanruza’s new shocks to the full.  We soon realized we would not make Benguela that  night, even though the road gradually improved, with signs of reconstruction everywhere. At about 5pm we reached the small town of Chongoroi, and low and behold spotted a hotel. But we were appalled to be told a room cost R1050, so instead decided to bushcamp just outside town.  On the way out, however, we  remembered that Rob and Allie  (thanks guys!) had often asked the church for  shelter, and  so we drove into the local church grounds, located the Father, and asked if we could camp there for the night.

Our campsiteFather KapingalaStew in the human zoo !

Father Jacob Alberto Kapingala took us to his Mission, where we set up camp under the watchful eyes of about 20 locals, the oldest of which was about 10 years’ old. I am sure they have never seen a rooftop tent before, nor our rudimentary ablutions and meal in the gathering gloom. Despite their parents efforts to get them away , they persisted and we finally felt what it would feel like to  stay in a zoo! They only gave up when we decided to just sit there and not move or talk.

 

We went to sleep that night hoping for a good night’s sleep, but it was not to be. At about 1.30am we were woken by a loud conversation in the vicinity of our tent by one of the locals. We listened intently, in case the words were meant for us, as it sounded like only one voice was doing all the talking. It was indeed only one voice, apparently conversing for at least ½ an hour with himself. I subsequently nicknamed him the magic mushroom man, as I think they had a hand in the event! He eventually quietened down, only to start up again at about 4am, for another stint!

 Trying my best to ignore the adorable kids!! An example of sometypical portuguese                                                                                                                                                                                                     style buildings                                                                                                                                 

That morning we had a quick breakfast, and under the watchful eye of the young locals, packed up camp. After awarding the most precocious one of the kids with a bright yellow MTN hat (we already gave them all our sweets the night before) much to the delight of the rest, we completed our trip to Benguela, on a road that improved from km to km, eventually ending on a perfect tar road, newly laid. I’m not sure if we were supposed to drive all the way on it, as for large parts there were alternative roads with “Desvio”  (= “detour”) signs all over the place, but as we cannot read Portuguese we ignored them, and made good time to Benguela.

 

Benguela

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As we approached this coastal city, we immediately felt at home as we both realized that we are coastal dwellers. It is bustling, vibrant and energetic. We first did a scout around to try and see what this place is all about and decided to use the Services of Lonely Planet Africa to source Nancy’s  Hospederia as we were in dire need of a good cleanup after the 2 days of dusty roads. Nancy is an ex-pat from the US and made us feel at home. It was great to be able to converse in English and as she was so impressed that we were the first Lonely Planet guests even offered free juice . The kindheartedness of the locals continued in that her place was actually full, but one of the guests moved out of his room to make space for us. Nancy runs an English language school as well as a guesthouse/backpackers and for any future travelers, this is affordable accommodation by Angolan standards.

 Local church A satisfied Stew at the beach cafe after a typical portuguese meal

 We used the rest of the day after booking in to explore south of Benguela, including the stunning beaches and villages of Saint Antonio, where we had in impromptu  lunch,  Baia Azul and  Baia Farte (aptly named, as this place stank of fish). A swim in the calm bay and surprisingly warm waters at Baia Azul, a beautiful beach resort  of holiday houses , was a highlight. Here in this area as well, we noticed all the development as beach houses are being fixed, new houses built and in general everything seem to be moving forward. We are sure that if we were to return in 5 years time, Benguela and surrounds will be a very different place.

 Coastal village close to Benguelaremnants of a holiday resort

Benguela is a sprawling bustling  coastal city, with a beautiful beach and promenade. We ate that night at an outdoor restaurant/bar on the promenade, sitting in the warm balmy evening in shorts and t-shirt. The promenade is like a stepsister version of the Sea point promenade with the a lot of joggers, walkers and even a few locals doing Tai Chi !! The city has many beautiful old Portuguese buildings and architecture, including an ancient Catholic Church close to where we stay. We had no problem changing money, or finding everything we needed (except fresh fruit and veggies!), and enjoyed the laidback atmosphere of this city.

 Beautiful Baia Azul  The fishing village of Baia Farte

As we are writing we are still unsure as to our plans for today as we would love to stay, but the life here for foreigners is just too expensive. Hopefully as it gets more popular it will become more accessible as it is a shame that people do not know about the beauty of this place.

Port Amboim

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We left Benguela after a lazy morning having breakfast, having another luxurious hot water shower, and finding directions to the internet café, our laptop refusing to connect to the wireless internet at Nancy’s. We had even less luck at the internet café, so left Benguela with many unsent emails sitting in the outbox.

 

We drove north to Lobito, a  “modern” port city  with all the dirt and squalor of Angolan cities in evidence, without the historical charm. But we were happy to see that the rumours of a Shoprite were true, and proceeded to stock up on products from as far afield as Argentina, Portugal, and even South Africa. True to the exorbitant prices of Angola, we nearly passed out at the till, but at least we had some nice provisions. Always a pleasure to fill up Stan though, as the diesel here cost R4.50 per litre!!!

 One of the typical villages

Heading along the coastal road, we  drove through   the sprawling mass of Sumbe, and pressed on to the coastal town of Porto Amboim. In the gathering dusk (will we ever learn to arrive early!)  we approached one of the beachfront restaurants about accommodation, who kindly offered us a “room’ for the night – in a converted container with no window, at some astronomical price. When we asked about camping, a local English teacher moonlighting as a waiter, by the name of Nelson,  negotiated on our behalf that we camp on the beach in front of the restaurant. We gratefully set up camp, and decided to have a meal at the restaurant. Unfortunately the nameless soup didn’t agree with Annaliese, and she was to suffer the after ,effects for many days afterwards.

 

We left early the next morning, heading north  for Luanda and were stunned at the good roads. We reached Luanda in good time just had to watch out for the crazy drivers. It seems that the locals’  driving skills are non existent as they are obviously not used to better roads and drive at very high speed with no knowledge as to how to control their vehicles. There were many wrecks on the roadside as evidence of this.

Stats and Helpful Info

The following are some stats as well as some info that might be helpful to future travelers:

 

(Please note that the prices are relevant at the time that we traveled and should therefore be adjusted. The cost of the accommodation does not include some “freebies” like staying at friends or bushcamping, and the amount reflected is per couple per night)

 

Country :                              South Africa the first time

 

Dates :                                   15th March 2008 to 27th March 2008

 

Exchange rate:                   N/A

 

Number of Nights:             13

 

Distance traveled:              2033km

 

Average distance per day:156km

 

Cost of Diesel p/l:               R8.59 (at 15/03/08) to R10.24(12/04/08) 

 

Average fuel consumption:6.15km/l

 

Diesel used:                                    365.62 litres

 

Worst Road/s:                     Coffee Bay

 

Best Road/s:                       Take your pick!

 

Favourite new destination:Port St Johns

 

Average cost of accommodation:R415 per night

 

Number of Bushcamps: none

 

Cheapest accommodation: Camping at municipal campsite in Coffee Bay R20

pp per night!

 

Most enjoyable( in this case excluding the stays with our wonderful friends!!!)    Under Milkwood, Knysna                

 

 

Stats and Helpful Info

The following are some stats as well as some info that might be helpful to future travelers:

(Please note that the prices are relevant at the time that we traveled and should therefore be adjusted. The cost of the accommodation does not include some “freebies” like staying at friends or bushcamping, and the amount reflected is per couple per night)

 

Country :                              Mozambique 

 

Dates :                                   28th March 2008 to 10th April 2008

 

Exchange rate:                   3 Meticals = R1

 

Number of Nights:             14

 

Distance traveled:              3109 km

 

Average distance per day:  222km

 

Cost of Diesel:                    R10.60 (Maputo)

 

                                                R12.25 (Vilanculos)

 

Average fuel consumption: 8.04 km/l

 

Diesel used:                            370 litres

 

Worst Road/s:                     Punto du Ouro to Maputo

Tar road 400km north of Masinga and

                                                Road to Pomene

 

Best Road/s:                       Maputo to Xai Xai

 

Favourite new destination:Xai Xai

 

Average cost of accommodation:R445.78

 

Number of Bushcamps:   None

 

Cheapest Acommodation:Camping at Pomene R200 per night for 2

 

Most enjoyable:                  Villa Del Mar in Vilankulos

Stats and Helpful Info

The following are some stats as well as some info that might be helpful to future travelers:

 

(Please note that the prices are relevant at the time that we traveled and should therefore be adjusted. The cost of the accommodation does not include some “freebies” like staying at friends or bushcamping, and the amount reflected is per couple per night)

 

Country :                              Mozambique 

 

Dates :                                   28th March 2008 to 10th April 2008

 

Exchange rate:                   3 Meticals = R1

 

Number of Nights:             14

 

Distance traveled:              3109 km

 

Average distance per day:  222km

 

Cost of Diesel:                    R10.60 (Maputo)

 

                                                R12.25 (Vilanculos)

 

Average fuel consumption:  8.04 km/l

 

Diesel used:                            370 litres

 

Worst Road/s:                     Punto du Ouro to Maputo

Tar road 400km north of Masinga and

                                                Road to Pomene

 

Best Road/s:                       Maputo to Xai Xai

 

Favourite new destination: Xai Xai

 

Average cost of accommodation: R445.78

 

Number of Bushcamps:   None

 

Cheapest Acommodation: Camping at Pomene R200 per night for 2

 

Most enjoyable:                  Villa Del Mar in Vilankulos

Stats and Helpful Info

The following are some stats as well as some info that might be helpful to future travelers:

 

(Please note that the prices are relevant at the time that we traveled and should therefore be adjusted. The cost of the accommodation does not include some “freebies” like staying at friends or bushcamping, and the amount reflected is per couple per night)

 

Country :                  South Africa (2nd Time)

 

Dates:                        11th April to 13th April 2008

 

Exchange rate:       N/A

 

Number of Nights: 3

 

Distance traveled:  867km

 

Average distance per day: 289km

 

Cost of Diesel:                    R10.13 p/l

 

Average fuel consumption: 6.88km/l

 

Diesel used:                                    126 litres

 

Worst Road/s:         None

 

Best Road/s:           All

 

Favourite new destination: Tzaneen

 

Average cost of accommodation:R650 per night

 

Number of Bushcamps:               None

 

Cheapest Acommodation:Fish Eagle Lodge Tzaneen R550 cottage per night including breakfast

 

Most enjoyable:                  Fish Eagle Lodge Tzaneen

 

Stats and Helpful Info

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The following are some stats as well as some info that might be helpful to future travelers:

 

(Please note that the prices are relevant at the time that we traveled and should therefore be adjusted. The cost of the accommodation does not include some “freebies” like staying at friends or bushcamping, and the amount reflected is per couple per night)

 

Country :                  Namibia

 

Dates:                        18th April to 20th April 2008 and

                                    3rd May to 5th May 2008

 

Exchange rate:       1 Namibian Dollar = R1

 

Number of Nights: 6

 

Distance traveled: 2991 km

 

Average distance per day: 498 km

 

Cost of Diesel:        R9.21 to R9.31

 

Average fuel consumption: 7.47 km/l   

 

Diesel used:                        400 litres

 

Worst Road/s:         None just too straight !!

 

Best Road/s:           All even the gravel roads

 

Favourite new destination:N’Gepi Camp in Caprivi Strip

 

Average cost of accommodation:R350 per night

 

Number of Bushcamps:   None

 

Cheapest Acommodation:Camping at N’Gepi R150 per night

 

Most enjoyable:      Puccini House , 6  Puccini Street, Windhoek

Luanda

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We had been told to stop on our way in to Luanda at the newest , fanciest shopping centre, Bellas, and so in the notorious Luanda traffic, we nosed our way into an area just south of Luanda, that consisted of brand new housing complexes, office parks, and a shopping centre of Canal Walk-like proportions. It was totally disorientating to park in a ticketed carpark, and sit and have a coffee/cooldrink in a huge entrance hall.

bellas townhouses

We subsequently walked through a centre of boutique shops, cinema complexes, fast food restaurants, another Shoprite even better than Lobito’s, and an internet café. Given that the laptop was misbehaving, we had downloaded the unsent emails onto a memory stick, and managed to send them off via Gmail.(Getting quite impressed with ourselves for finally getting more technologically minded!!)

After having our fix of an airconditioned mall, we headed through central Luanda, where the thickening stream of traffic slowed to walking speed. A constant wave of street vendors, selling anything from the usual sunglasses, to the far more exotic, such as foodstuffs, toys, clothing, shoes, and even a vacuum cleaner, kept us from tedium, as we inched our way towards the “beachfront”.

Luanda TrafficThe oldThe new

Following our Garmin’s directions, we eventually arrived at the Luanda Yacht Club, Club Nautica. After negotiating our way past 2 obnoxious “carguards”, we were shown into the club’s secure carpark, where we set up camp.( Thanks to Ally and Rob we knew that they allow foreigners to camp for free in their carpark) Although we were right on the water’s edge, unfortunately the ground surface had recently been lifted, leaving an uneven dustbowl of concrete, tar, embedded rubbish and red dirt. We made the most of the free accommodation, however, although we did make some enquiries as to the price of a hotel for one night. The price tag of R1200 per night put a stop to that.

Our parking lot campThe view made up for it though

We took a walk through Luanda on Saturday morning, stopping for a coffee and pastry at one of the local eateries. Luanda is a mixture of very wealthy and very poor, with fancy new skyscrapers and ruined buildings side by side. The general filth and piles of rubbish that we had noticed in every Angolan town/city to date, were intensified, with little evidence of an effective drainage or sewerage system. But the brightly dressed city dwellers, most of them dressed impeccably, went on with their lives with a general cheerfulness that was good to see.

Despite the beautiful setting of our campsite, with a stunning sunset view of the city’s skyline, the lack of even basic amenities, and the rubbish dump environment was made worse when, on the first night, a huge function at the Yacht Club had a disco blaring music from 9pm to 5am, and the next night a club across the road managed to keep going until just after 5am!!It seems that the Angolans take an 8 hour working day to the absolute limit as the DJ’s refused to stop playing until they made use of the full 8 hours!

local fisherman

So with very little sleep under our belts, we broke up camp on Sunday morning. In general, the past few days were difficult as Annaliese’s food poisoning got worse, the situation was made even harder by not having ablution facilities available and when she injured her back, was ready to cal it a day. Thank you Rudolf for the mental support and good vibes send from you.

After queuing for diesel, we headed north once more. As you have to be eternal optimists in Africa to survive, we were in high spirits as new places needed to be explored, however,just as we were leaving the Yacht Club, we realized Stewart’s wallet had disappeared. A quick search yielded no results, so we hoped it had somehow been packed away with the camp.

We drove northwards, through the still thick kamikaze traffic, despite it being a Sunday, and with the road initially still good, set our sights on finding a quiet spot up north to recharge the sleep batteries.

Ambriz and the Italian connection

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We traveled for 4 ½ hrs and then realized we would not make the secret bush camp south of Nzeto, as once again the roads were worse than we thought, and it was getting dark earlier and earlier as we traveled north. Fate was on our side; however, as we decided to take the turnoff to Ambriz, as someone at some stage mentioned that it was a nice coastal town. The little side road, needless to say, also quickly deteriorated, but we made the 22kms to the coast in good time (just over ½ an hour!). As we were driving around to try and find a camp spot before dark, we saw 3 guys sitting at a building site right on the beach and promptly asked them if we could camp there. They readily agreed.

Our camp at Ambriz Loo with a view, just a steep hill if you have                                                                                                                                     to go fast!!!

This was one of our best decisions thus far, as we proceeded to spend some of the best days we’ve had in Angola with Maurizio, Gigi and Massimo. All of them hail from Italy, and are working on a huge project for an Italian Oil Company building “plastic houses” for the contract workers. Gigi and Massimo (who does all the cooking) hail from Sicily and Maurizio, who is 64, is from Rome. He has a Moroccan wife of 36 and a son of 8 as wel as a son of 36 and a daughter of 30!! A jolly man, who saved the day as he could speak

English very well. They all took us in and wined and dined us on crayfish, freshly caught fish, oysters etc etc, Their kindness exceeded all expectations and we have no way to ever repay them. We could only contribute in a small way by offering them some South African wine and beer. Despite the fact that they have been living in their caravan for over a year now with limited resources and no internet facility, their greatness of spirit override everything and we had a truly joyous time with them. We wish them luck and a speedy finish to the project to enable them to go home for a while.

Part of the Stew the hairdresser Fish braai

Italian connection 

We had some bad luck whilst we were there in that a bag with all our essential medication was stolen, but by this stage we have realized that things like that happens and that life goes on. We had a great break here, did a lot of washing , cleaned Stan properly and were ready for the last stretch in Angola when we left early on Wednesday morning.

Massimo the chefOysters for AfricaArturo

Arturo was named by the 3 guys. The story goes that one day whilst the town was celebrating "Ambriz Day" this body with no head or legs washed up on the beach. They finally got hold of the police but as they were so busy celebrating, they took one look at the body and decided it it actually a TURTLE!! Mauritzio and gang then decided to give it a proper funeral and named the body Arturo. This is his grave! 

Best of all about our stay here though was…….wait for it…..STEW DID MY FOIL HIGHLIGHTS !!!!! Is that not brilliant…..watch out Nikki, you might have to employ Stew as an assistant when we get back!

Lucifer's highway

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We managed an early start from Ambriz, anticipating a long day of bad roads, and we were not disappointed. We averaged 24 km per hour for just over 9 hours, which included an enforced passport and visa inspection stop. We 'negotiated" for 45 minutes with a uniformless official, who eventually wanted us to pay US$ 150 for some imaginary offence - but refused to issue us with a receipt! So we took our chances, and simplygot back in the car and drove off!

  Our Angolan farewell roads as we came in , we will leave!!

The road from Tomboca quickly deteriorated, living up to its nickname of Lucifer's highway. The road was mostly only as wide as the car, with thick 12 foot bush on both sides, interspersed by thick jungle where the light hardly penetrated, and deep clay pools of water streched for metres. The vegetation of the coast was a thing of the past, with a true "Jungle Book" feeling emphasized by many small villages, where we were greeted by smiling faces. Despite the lack of electricity, running water and many other things we consider necessities, it was surprising to see how clean and well dressed all the locals were. We did notice that it seemed that all the work was done by the women and children, whilst the men sat and "discussed affairs".

 

We bushcamped that night between villages, and had a great steak braai, complete with potatoes and salad (our last salads). In the morning we were surpirised (again!) by a baker selling his wares, as he walked from village to village. We bought some fresh rolls there and then. it appeared that our latest baker spoke French, something we had noticed more and more as we got close to the border, and even the towns had a local and a French name.

 Our early morning visitors. Note how smartly they are derssed in the middle of nowhere !

The drive to the border was on a track that did not improve until just 5 km from the border, a tarred airstrip heralded a "grand" tar road into the Angolan town of Noqui, on the banks of the Congo River, and then over the border with DRC into Matadi, by Angolan standards a huge, bustling  modern (ie has running water and electricity!) port town.