LIVE THE DREAM!
Submitted to us by Vanessa Dekenah
During the last ten years or so of my working life I knew that I had something to work towards, and in the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr “I have a dream.”
My dream was to travel to see in person a sight that I had seen in a Travel Magazine - an elephant standing in the veld with Mount Kenya in the background.
Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get to see this exact sight, but I still lived most of the dream in the adventure I had. The following is a brief account that I wrote for a Travel magazine on our return...
My husband Allan and I set off in early April with such romantic notions of what traveling through the African land would be like. Unfortunately, the first four weeks or so we had dreadful weather, but once we left South Africa, the weather improved drastically! We had traveled all along the south coast, stopped for a couple of days in St Lucia, and then headed into Mozambique via Swaziland.
The roads in Mozambique are difficult – so many potholes and corrugations, but it is so different from South Africa! So many people everywhere – you couldn’t travel 100 metres without a person on the side of the road selling whatever they have – potatoes, tomatoes, naartjies, wood etc. The women with unbelievable loads on their heads, and the guys on bicycles with several HUGE bags of charcoal or wood – their strength is amazing. We noticed that there was not one over-weight person – you get to see the real meaning of the word poverty. The verges along the sides of the roads were being cultivated – it didn’t seem to matter who owned the land, but perhaps they have their own system of who owns what!
We spent a super few days at a “lodge” called Areia Branca on the Barra peninsula. It was super being right next to the sea – we canoed and snorkeled (I was so pleased to see sea-horses in their natural environment.) But we had to move on, so we went up the coast to Morrungulo and then to Inhassoro - arriving in time for one of the bi-annual deep sea fishing competitions.
Having problems with our car, (which involved me having to get a lift with a truck driver to the next town to buy oil, and using the only available transport to get back – the back of a motor-cycle!) we had to go to Tete as there was a Toyota dealer there. We arrived on a Friday evening, so had to wait for Monday morning to have the car fixed. There is only one campsite in Tete – “Jesus e Bom” – right on the Zambezi river, but we were sharing a compound with two village families, countless children, chickens, goats and the worst ablutions you can think of (well, not quite – at least the loos flushed!). We had to admit, I’m afraid – Mozambique was not out favourite country!
What a difference to be in Malawi – a wonderful country, with a beautiful lake. Find a place called “Fat Monkeys” if you are ever in the Cape Maclear area – we stayed two weeks there as it was so fantastic. Luckily we had our canoe with us so we could paddle out to the islands and snorkel – the tiny beautifully-coloured cichlids are around the rocks in their hundreds. We visited a couple of their game parks – not too much diversity, but I was pleased to see elephants wherever we went – in Zambia they even walked through the campsite to get to the marula tree!
Zambia’s main roads were better than Mozambique’s, but once off the highways we were definitely pleased we had a 4x4 with low range! We were told that the road to South Luangwa Park was fantastic compared to previous years – well, I would have hated to have had to drive it before now.
Another highlight of the trip – Livingstone and Victoria Falls. I just adore the vibe in this area – so much adrenaline and activity! We found a wonderful campsite called Bush Front Lodge, not as busy and crowded as some of the better-known camps, but also not used much by the dreaded overland trucks (please let’s keep it a secret from them!) A microlite flight over the Falls is something everyone should try – though a calm day is definitely recommended. For the brave there is the Gorge Swing and the Flying Fox as well as the well-known Bungi jumping, and if I ever go back there my next “must do” is an elephant-back safari.
On advice from other travelers about the roads southwards we did not travel far in Botswana – we stuck to the north and visited Chobe National Park, doing one of the fantastic sunset cruises on the Chobe river as well as driving through the park itself. Another great discovery – a new campsite called Senyati Safari Camp, which offers widely spaced “private” campsites with your own lappa for bathroom and wash-up facility. A deck with a bar overlooks a water-hole, and one evening various groups of elephants came to drink – wonderful! On our way westwards to Namibia there were elephants grazing on the side of the road – never mind the cows, goats and warthogs!
Into Namibia and huge sighs of relief as the roads improved to a degree that you did not have to check every inch in front of the vehicle. Previously, poor Allan missed so many sights because he had to concentrate on the road surface so much. Namibia is a country we love – back to wide open spaces and being able to stop on the side of the road without people around! We visited several great campsites, but a real jewel we discovered was at Rehoboth – Oanob Lake Resort. It’s just off the road before you reach Rehoboth (traveling south) with chalets and campsites all with lakeside spots. Fish Eagles, Kwelias, Pelicans – the bird life was prolific (even the dreaded Hadedas and Egyptian Geese!) A place well worth another visit.
We always feel like we’re nearly home when we reach Noordoewer and go to Abiqua Camp – we are there most years to do an Orange River canoe trip, so it is only one day away from Cape Town (if you have to rush!). This time we took a bit longer to get home – via Lamberts Bay and Yzerfontein.
Highlights of the trip – Barra Peninsula, Lake Malawi (Fat Monkeys at Cape Maclear & meeting Sam at Cool Runnings in Senga Bay), Victoria Falls, fantastic sunsets, big starry skies, Baobab & Quiver trees, lots of elephants!
Low Points – Car troubles, Tete, bad roads, too many people, physical & mental exhaustion (at times!)
Would I do it again? No – not this whole trip, but perhaps some of it (I’d love to go back and see more of Malawi)
Do I recommend others to do the trip? Definitely, yes– if you plan well, have a really sturdy 4x4 (with low range) & trailer, a decent budget (these countries aren’t cheap – we are not at all extravagant and spent every night camping and ended up spending an average of R600 a day, which included petrol, car service & repairs, food and drink as well as Park fees and camping charges) and LOTS of patience. You must also be fairly fit and as young as possible!
A traveling companion that you trust and get on really well with is an absolute necessity!
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