Richard went home.

To Malawi!

So the day has arrived, this morning we stopped off at the Weerasinghe family home from over 25 years ago… How interesting to see the pretty little town of Blantyre where Richard and his family spent a happy 10-ish years. It’s really lovely here!

It’s Sunday morning so we are enjoying scrambled eggs and toast at the only establishment that is actually open, there is also loud and energetic singing, cheering and clapping coming from all the churches in the area and it’s sunny… Pretty good start to the day!

We have had a busy old week making our way from Dar Es Salaam down to Blantyre. We departed Dar last Sunday after Richard replaced our rear shocks and we headed for the border with Malawi. We stopped at two gorgeous campsites along the way and had a quick and simple 30 minute border crossing at Songwe.

Excited about the shocks anyone?:

20120617-112949.jpg

However, it wasn’t long after leaving Dar that we found our brakes to be toast. How annoying after waiting all that time for parts from the UK! The pads were so bad that they had knackered the discs as well 😦 Careful driving and lots of engine braking later, we were in Lilongwe, Malawi to pop into the Land Rover dealership… that no longer exists. Wonderful.

Richard found one set of Land Rover rear pads and one set of after-market front pads from a local workshop, even though they took 4 hours to find we were very lucky indeed!

We have been travelling with a lovely Swiss couple in their 1980’s Range Rover (lovely big noisy V8!) and met them for our last night of beers and fried foods, they have now departed for Zambia and we have some time left in Malawi yet.

One of our campsite mates:

20120617-112707.jpg

Anyway, that’s us for now… Richard has just spotted his favourite childhood restaurant so it looks like we are headed out for dinner at Hong Kong Chinese in the next couple of days.

Spreadsheets are bad, very very bad.

20120608-121518.jpg

So it’s the four month anniversary of our African adventure! 8th February to 8th June… We are still in blimmin’ Tanzania! We’re not sure quite where we went wrong but we thought we would be at least in Botswana or even Namibia today.

We had a really special treat on Zanzibar, staying at the gorgeous little Matemwe Lodge… Our own bungalow by the ocean with a gorgeous bathroom that I didn’t have to share with unknown numbers of fellow campers. Beautiful food, fabulous staff, excellent cocktails and wine list. Couldn’t find a thing to complain about… Unless you include the part where I was forced to leave (supporting a large pout)!

We are still in Dar Es Salaam, waiting for the FedEx agents to release our much needed shocks.

Interpretation of commonly used phrase “This Is Africa”: took two days for the shocks to be ordered, packed, collected and flown to Tanazania from small-town-England… Waiting time is currently at five days to get them from the local airport here in Dar Es Salaam. This Is Africa.

Mikadi Beach Camp has a great spot and a great bar but there is only so long you can live with a tent full of sand and cold salt water showers that at the moment only get water when the tide isn’t too far out. This Is Africa.

Just to add insult to injury, we foolishly whiled away our spare time compiling a spreadsheet of expenses “to date”. I won’t elaborate.

I best go as we are now off to the supermarket to purchase their entire stock of instant noodles. Bon Appetit to us for next two months 😉

Take care,
Jo and Rich
X

So the beer worked wonders…

20120527-225038.jpg

KiwisInAfrica vs Kilimanjaro
Result 2 : nil/0/nada

WE WENT ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!

Kilimanjaro is now another feather in our African cap. After some rushed research we chose the 6 day Rongai route as the best option for us. An excellent choice made by Richard as we fumbled our way to the sign congratulating us on reaching Uhuru Peak (the highest point of Africa) at 5.40am on May 24th… Of all the 5 different routes on Kilimanjaro, we were the very first punters to get to the summit that day!

Generally speaking, you start climbing from Kibo Base Camp (4,700 metres) at approximately 11pm and attempt to reach Uhuru Peak (5,895 metres) sometime after 6am… so 7 hours is roughly the average minimum time for ascent on our route but bizarrely the two most unfit people on the mountain made it in 6 hours 40 mins. Whoop!

Maybe the guide was telling some little white lies? Hmm. Tips are important after all.

Here are a few iPhone pics to capture the key moments… Please note that at nearly 20,000ft of altitude you aren’t really in your right mind then add the fact that temperatures at the top are typically between -18 and -26 degrees for that time of day so we look like marshmallows in 6 layers of clothing!!

I never thought it possible, so I want to say: much love to my Richard for pushing me forward every day when I started to panic! AND for putting up with my moaning when I stumbled back down to the exit gate with a busted knee. AND for still dishing out the cuddles after 6 days without showers or clean clothes. Climbing mountains really isn’t my thing but it’s done and I am immensely proud of us! X

Jo and Rich
Mountaineers

20120527-224510.jpg

We started at the registration office. There were numerous boards warning punters about the risks and dangers of climbing Kili. It turns out that Kili has quite a high failure rate. This is mainly due to unprepared tourists turning up and thinking they can make it. Ummm, doesn’t sound like us at all.

20120527-224534.jpg

This is Deo, our guide for the 6 day climb. It’s not just a good photo, he’s really that cool.

20120527-224555.jpg

This is the camp for the first night. The summit looks very, very far away!

20120527-224643.jpg

By the second camp we were above the clouds. Small aircraft were buzzing around below us.

20120527-224810.jpg

Day 4. We start the ascent later that night. But Kibo base camp is still miles away! Tough day ahead.

20120527-224829.jpg

Jo chilling out at Uhuru peak

20120527-224907.jpg

Sunrise… Yeah!

20120527-224858.jpg

Glaciers.

20120527-224930.jpg
Couldn’t quite make it through the finish gate.

Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, we love it!

Serengeti National Park

What an incredible 3 days we have just had! Entering the Serengeti from the west after our stay in Mwanza and exiting at the south east end of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area towards Arusha.

We saw everything in those three days (including baby versions)… Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Hyenas, Rhinos, pink Flamingos etc etc the list goes on!

We camped in both parks and had visitors in the form of Bulls, Jackals and Hyenas during the night. Scary.

We even winched out two experienced game drivers when their Toyota Land Cruisers got stuck in the Serengeti mud. We then proceeded to drive straight through that very mud without even a flinch from our trusty Disco. So much for bringing the wrong car to Africa! Pah!

The truck is now enjoying some TLC with a thorough jet-wash, tarmac roads, and then a nice break in Moshi while we make an attempt at Kilimanjaro. Who’s dumb idea was that?!

Serengeti Slideshow

Ngorongoro Slideshow

Friends in Mwanza

Stopping briefly in Mwanza on Lake Victoria for diesel and some hi-vis jackets has turned into three days of eating, drinking and celebrating birthdays! Everyone in this town is amazing, we have been fed, watered and even given a bed to sleep in as well as being invited to two birthday BBQ’s where we were surrounded by the most interesting people you could find!

We can’t get over how everyone here just has their arms open to visitors and ex-pats alike, we have been immensely lucky.

Thank you to Karima, Daniel, Manish and all your friends for being incredible!

Our tent is now properly attached to the roof rack thanks to the gents at Mwanza Engineering Works who helped us no end, if you ever need overlanding assistance in Tanzania then make this your first stop… They are skilled and hard working and offered all sorts of advice to solve our dilemma.

The pic is one of Africa’s stunning sunsets at Tunza beach… Pity I only had the iPhone to capture it.

Oh and Happy Mothers Day to all the lovely ladies xx

20120513-120807.jpg

Gorillas in the sunshine!

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while but it’s safe to say that time flies when you’re having fun… Uganda has been brilliant, we’ve made lots of really lovely friends and stayed in some of the most picturesque places so far (check the travel page for links).

Our day with the gorillas was truly special and we were really sad to leave them. We visited the Habinyaja group in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, they were so relaxed and friendly… We could only sit back and marvel.

We chose the “H” group on purpose as they are supposed to be the most difficult to locate and we wanted the challenge of tracking them in the jungle for a good few hours. On Saturday however, they were out in the open on the edge of the jungle and we found them destroying banana trees after only 30 minutes of easy walking. We didn’t know where to look first, we basically walked right into the middle of their circle and let them move around us as they were playing, exercising and of course eating only a few meters away.

Although it was initially difficult to part with $500USD (each!) it was one of the most rewarding experiences on our journey so far and we would recommend it to everyone who is lucky enough to make it to Uganda. It’s a beautiful country with a lot to offer.

Tonight we are spending our second evening in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. It’s an impressive city (so clean and orderly!) and what is more impressive still is how this very proud and patriotic little country has recovered so spectacularly from their tragic past. We visited the Genocide Memorial and Museum this morning, a burial site for over 250,000 of the victims. The museum is very moving and states the facts with a perfect mix of emotion and “shock value”. There are many tributes to the fallen all over Rwanda but for us two it is just too overwhelming so we will concentrate on other good points and attractions!!

Tomorrow we are headed for Tanzania, it’s time to get back on track after our very extended time in Uganda! First stop will be the Serengeti so let’s see how we get on spotting the Big 5

X Jo and Richard

Beast of a Feast

Surprisingly, Richard couldn’t resist a gut busting all-you-can-eat African meat restaurant so last night we spent the evening at Carnivore restaurant filling up on ostrich meatballs, crocodile chops and ox balls. Yes, cows TESTICLES.

20120426-185534.jpg

I had the chicken.

Today we departed Jungle Junction, Nairobi for Tanzania but changed our minds enroute and we now find ourselves at Natalie’s Resort tonight in Eldoret, bound for Kampala tomorrow. We decided that we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hang out with the Mountain Gorillas and so hopefully we will be picking ticks and fleas with the big guys themselves by the weekend 😉

Obviously we have been a bit slow on pics for Flickr, hopefully tonight we can add the Turkana route ones that we have been holding on to the last week.

Take care everyone,
Jo and Rich

Addis to Nairobi – Lake Turkana

We have just completed our crossing to Jungle Junction in Nairobi, we opted for the Lake Turkana route for safety and scenery – not to mention it was supposed to be a much softer track than the Marsabit route however it was not that soft! It is known as a sand road but we took the track around the Sibiloi National Park and it was very rocky.

We have seen some pretty amazing things along the way, had breakfast with some crocodiles and stumbled upon some zebra on the side of the road… you know, the usual. Lots of beautiful African tribes people just living their lives in the middle of nowhere.

We drove for approximately 800 km’s on a track. Just two tyre tracks disappearing into the distance! Rocks big and small, sand, mud and dry river beds that are just pebbles and trees. Richard has done all the driving and has done an amazing job, even hopping out to cut away the thorn bushes… Gotta take care of our lovely orange paint 🙂

We have been camping now for over two weeks with a long drop and a sponge bath (using a kitchen cleaning cloth) on the luxurious days so we have treated ourselves to an ensuite room tonight and then first thing tomorrow the car goes to Land Rover for a very deserved service and no doubt some repairs, we are very proud of our little orange trooper but it has taken a beating over the last week and has only complained once or twice when the suspension decides its too hot (43 degrees? Fair enough!).

20120419-205248.jpg