Singapore at the window…

Blimey! Three weeks since the last post from us, I do apologise!

We have covered a fair amount of mileage in that time but not so much that we couldn’t slow down a bit and take time to do some pretty great stuff in Thailand and (west) Malaysia.

After the north of Thailand, Bangkok and Pattaya, where we left you last, we headed towards the coasts of the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea… the first seaside we had had on this route with the truck and we are water babies at heart so it was a refreshing change. We camped with the sound of the waves and the swishing of palms. We spent a night on a liveaboard at the Similan Islands and enjoyed two days of beautiful diving amongst humongous boulders and lovely corals. We have hiked in to jaw dropping caves and floated around in the ocean next to a Siam Junk (aka sailboat). It’s been fantastic but also rainy and we haven’t been able to trust the weather enough to camp as much as we would like to. I should confess we even had an accidentally massive night out and only knew what we did after finding the photos on my phone the next day. We slept in the car park we had driven the car to with the intention of a quick meal and an early night sleeping at the beach. Ha! Fitbit told me the next day we went to bed at 5am but we don’t know what we did past 11pm the night before. The restaurant owner bought us tequila shots… I blame him.

We have also faced facts in the last week or so… we are jaded and a bit over it and more than ready to get the car and ourselves to Australia for the next chapter and a new environment. This is why we are holed up on the Singapore border, on the 29th floor of a building overlooking the expanse of water we have not yet been able to drive across. Today we went on foot to Singapore and collected the permit that allows us to drive the truck there…. our faithful carriage is booked to sail the high seas this Sunday !! Tomorrow we will join the queue of vehicles on the causeway and wait our turn to drive the last 20ish km’s of Asia. There are many routes to take through Europe, Central Asia and Asia and you can’t pick them all but come tomorrow we will have driven ourselves from London to Singapore, yippee! It was 1955 when the first ever cars set off from London to reach Singapore… and they were Land Rovers [insert smug face here].

So chaps, just a short post today. We have some more detailed information we can add on Singapore for other overlanders but will do so after we have crossed this last land border.

Oh yeah, also, there are Christmas decorations everywhere in Malaysia and Singapore. It has come as a bit of a shock, I feel quite weird about it actually! It’s roasting hot, dripping with humidity plus I can’t believe we have been travelling that long already… crazy.

x J&R

A Frank shaped hole…

I’m really not sure how many people read this anymore, I realise the posts have been patchy at best… padded out with photos and so on. It’s not always easy to find things to talk about on this journey you know. I’ve guessed that once we’ve added some photos and appropriate tags to Instagram it feels like everyone probably has a reasonable grasp on what we are up to and the blog borders on redundant.

We haven’t talked much about our vehicle either, there isn’t a great need to I guess when it remains such a faithful companion… that can change at any moment though so who knows, maybe I’ve just jinxed it! We are maintenance mad and obsessive with tyre pressures and daily checks, it pays in spades. Just yesterday we spent some time at Land Rover in Bangkok to purchase oil, oil filter, plug and a new bonnet catch and switch. Ol’ Orange is now suitably fitted out with new parts and brimming with fresh oil. We’ve been a bit lax with some things, namely the issue where the alarm goes off at random because the car thinks the bonnet is open haha! It’s been doing it for about two years but now it’s like new again. We have made changes to some of our equipment since Africa in 2012 and will likely make one detailed and vehicle focused post at the finish line when we know for sure that everything has worked to its fullest potential. We have even more changes to make after this trip! That must mean there is another in the pipeline… ?

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, this route has been kinda lonely… lonelier than Africa anyway and certainly without Frank’s love and affection (and stinky breath) to cheer us. It’s also fair to say we are the misfits of the overlanding world, pretty much always have been! It never fails to amaze me how willing people are to offer their opinions on our vehicle, often ill informed or just plain old sanctimonious. It gets me down but luckily bounces right off Richard… every time we have to smile politely and nod along with the judgement being handed out it just makes us more determined to carry on. I was looking at continents of the world the other day, by Christmas/New Year this beloved vehicle of ours will have covered 4 of 7 and that determination I mentioned earlier will help us complete 6 continents, just you wait and see haha!

One crucial change for the future is how to accommodate our furry friend Frank, I can’t leave him again for this length of time… not bringing him to Asia has been immensely difficult. We have missed him desperately and for me it has affected my ability to fully enjoy the ride. These are entirely selfish thoughts of course, Frank is probably the happiest he has ever been living on the beach in Auckland and this is exactly why I sent him ahead instead of bringing him with us.

So what else have we been doing? Heaps! It feels like last week that I posted about our break in Phuket and heading off in to the jungle for a few days! We had a really really great time in Laos, for me the best country on the route by a long way. So beautiful, so genuine and authentic. We headed north east from Vientiane, via the Buddha Park which was really great and on towards Phonsavan and the Plain of Jars. Typically we much more enjoyed getting drunk with locals and other tourists at a late night cafe than the Plain of Jars itself but at least we are honest about the fact we are terrible tourists. We’ve always enjoyed the social element of travel more than the sightseeing.

From Phonsavan we headed south on this nice little route that Google Maps suggested, why wouldn’t you take it when it’s almost 100km shorter than the alternative… we can give you many reasons why it turns out! When you’re driving along a beautiful new road surface and eventually notice there are no cars coming in the opposite direction you start to wonder what lies ahead. Mwahahaha! Land slides, destroyed bridges, mud pits, vertical drop offs in thick thick cloud… you name it. The “road” was so bad we had to stop, sleep the night and carry on the next day. It took a full afternoon, a nights sleep and all of the next morning to cover roughly 200km’s and we loved every bit of it.

At the end of this road we found Cool Pool spring for a much needed swim and then 2 gloriously relaxing nights at Kong Lor Cave. Then past the Limestone Forest back to Vientiane where we tried and failed to cross the border in to Thailand.

After a couple more nights in Vientiane we went back north past some of the jaw dropping scenery we had enjoyed on the way down from China previously. I specifically chose a camp area in the mountains that offered staggering views but also refreshingly cool air which we relished for the short time we were there. Then on to Vang Vieng where we came across a little camping gem and spent three nights melting in the heat and moving our bodies as little as possible. By the third night there were 6 overlanding vehicles there of all shapes and sizes, all of us trying to figure out how we would get to Thailand when we really shouldn’t be able to.

The uncertainty of being in a country where you can’t easily get your vehicle out again is too much for me. I like to know where we are going next and how we get there… this is not how it works in Laos at the moment! After considering all the options we made another attempt at the Vientiane border and after being rejected a second time and with yet another cancelled immigration stamp in our passport the customs chaos did a sudden and unexpected 360 and said they would allow us to pass… a second stamp in the passport, a couple of customs documents for the car and we were sent on our way speechless and disbelieving at what had just happened. It was about 24 hours before it really sunk in!

We have been busy little bees ever since, putting distance between us and border customs as quickly as possible! We headed north to Chiang Rai, Pai, Lampang and so on. We chose some small roads hoping to find some adventure but everything here is so beautifully paved, it’s a nice change from the road craters of Laos.

And here we are, slightly shell shocked and baffled after a visit to Walking Street in Pattaya. Sleeping in the tent at Plodd Stop with our little USB fan and headed for the west side of Bangkok tomorrow to start heading south once again.

We’re coming for you Frank! Promise!

The star of Mongolia…

Well, we have certainly faced our fair share of adversity in Mongolia… sometimes there are places where everything seems to go a bit wobbly and for us that was this incredibly picturesque country!

Since the last post however; we have met loads of inspiring overlanders, the tent has not tried to escape the roof rack again, we have rescued three cars from rivers, streams and bogs, kept ourselves out of trouble in those same rivers, streams and bogs! Repaired two tyre punctures. Faced many many hours of difficult “roads” [slow, skeleton shaking, suspension screaming, Jo moaning, Richard wincing, mentally exhausting “roads”] that displayed immense vistas and unforgettable experiences and our route through China is now sorted (again).

We are leaving Ulaanbaatar tomorrow and crossing the Chinese border on Tuesday however we are travelling alone and not towards Nepal. The collapse of the last remaining vehicle bridge to Nepal from China has caused a real headache for us and our travel companions who have had to completely rethink their entire route. It really is very sad and so frustrating but we have had to make a call and that call is to head to Laos on our own which is a bit lonely (and a lot costly) but this is overlanding and we have to carry on. Can’t miss Christmas with Frank can we?!

I think the photo stream from Instagram tells most of our story over the last couple of weeks. The drive to the border south east of Ulaanbaatar will complete the star of Mongolia which you are possibly curious about. In our usual fashion (totally disorganised), we drove directly south from Russia to Ulaanbaatar where we got some recommendations of things to see which meant travelling north again then west, then back to UB where we followed a recommendation east then back to UB where we took ourselves south west and here we are again… in UB… about to drive south east. If I had any way to accurately describe the driving style in Mongolia you would understand that 4/5 visits to UB is not good! This city has taken back that 5 years Richard gained from swimming in Baikal!

I don’t know how much we will be able to communicate during our 22 days in China, we will do our best of course but it may be Laos before we speak again.

J&R x

“How’s the serenity?”

I’m not sure I have enough vocabulary to describe the situation we find ourselves in right now… but it does allow me the time to put together this update at least.

We are in the north(ish) of Mongolia, we have just returned from a jaunt out of Ulaanbaatar that involved one night at Amarbayasgalant Monastery and another at Khovsgol Lake. Tonight we swung in to a ger camp looking for a shower, a toilet and an early night. After extensive negotiation we managed two of these three things… the shower (filthy) and a toilet (filthy with no paper or soap) but most definitely not an early night. In the middle of these utterly idyllic surroundings that include flowing rivers, mountains, huge skies so on and so forth is a DJ and a crooner that make me want to cry myself to sleep. If, in fact, sleep was actually an option.

So, get this right… this other thing that happened today; the tent nearly came off the roof at 100kph [insert clean underpants here]. There’s this track which is more potholes than surface to get round the west side of the lake, it rattles and bumps and jiggles you all about… from the end of that track is a newly built asphalt road that in many places has collapsed creating suspension destroying troughs. To save your suspension from these troughs you achieve quite a lot of ABS assisted braking and with the previous jiggly road that rattles the nuts off everything, including the tent clamps, you find the tent is hanging over the bonnet and off to one side. Ultimately not too difficult to put right as Richard is really great with these sorts of things but if that tent had actually come off…? It doesn’t bare thinking about!

What else has happened since we posted last, we had one lovely evening at Lake Baikal with the sun out, mid-20’s and generally very pleasant. The next day it was 13 and we were walking around in very low cloud and rain that didn’t lift again for a number of days sadly. By the time we had to cross to Mongolia we had seen little of Baikal but enjoyed a fun few nights in Irkutsk and a bit of budget luxury in Ulan-Ude where we had a hotel with heated pool and sauna!!

The change of scenery in Mongolia has been gladly welcomed by both of us plus it seems that half the world’s overlanders are in Mongolia… we have been quite alone the last two months and now we cross paths with other overlanders at least once a day (they even helpfully highlighted our tent issues today but at the time we were clueless as to why they pointed with concern at the roof of our vehicle!). It’s been really great to meet so many people and enjoy some company plus what we have seen in the north of Mongolia is really quite breathtaking, I think you could describe it as biblical in many places. We both said yesterday, in one absolutely enormous valley, that it just looks like a huge and perfect painting. Without a camera it is impossible to capture with accuracy.

Anyway, our next bit of news is that our pre-arranged border crossing to exit China has been destroyed in an earthquake. Our plans are in disarray and we need to reroute. Possible for us, at great expense, but not possible for our China travel buddies and so we have a lot to sort out. This has come to light with only a week to spare and with a very tight schedule that really didn’t accommodate drastic changes… just small convenient changes, haha!

Because of the changes to the China route we now have a little bit of tweaking to do on the truck while waiting for new paperwork to be done and all while hoping to still see something of the Gobi desert if there’s time.

Hashtag, this is not a holiday.

Requesting your positive vibes for China please!

J&R

The orange washing machine…

So much to tell you about the last week or so! However, what is important to mention right now is that we are seated in a watering hole in Barnaul and there are drinks and shots and dishes of food flying at us from all corners of the establishment! The locals and patrons here are so friendly and want us to eat and drink their national favourites. Someone even sent the live musician to our table for a special song. It has happened in so many places! It’s very humbling and we have been taught a great lesson in hospitality while in Russia and Kazakhstan.

Anyway, back to the correct timeline, the last time we posted we had had a good night out in Turkestan and were only one night away from Almaty… after using every minute of the midday check out from the hotel in Turkestan we spent all afternoon and evening driving, about 10km from our planned stop and with the sun starting to touch the horizon we picked up a horrid great screw in one of our new tyres. Fortunately our sleeping spot for the night was flat and had a lovely mountain view (mountains!!) but that was it because it was also covered in goat poop, locusts, spiders and massive ants that would bite! Richard was forced to face his insect demons and lay down amongst said insects in an attempt to plug the hissing hole while the wheel was in situ. When this didn’t work and we had to remove the wheel to make the repair was when things really got interesting! After lifting the car enough to remove the wheel the jack started sinking back in to the ground so after we celebrated Richard’s first successful tyre plug we realised the axel was nearly on the dirt and we couldn’t get the wheel back on. The only option left, now in the dark and by light of one head torch, was to empty the car and extract the air jack from the darkest depths of our storage options. The story goes on but it was 3 hours, a lot of aggressive bugs and much dirt later when we were all back in one piece and putting the tent up.

We arrived in Almaty, amazed that it can take 5 days to cover only a portion of one country and very ready for a shower, clean clothes and clean sheets! We spent two nights at European Backpackers sleeping in the noisy street but enjoying a lot of time with other overlanders and travellers with myriad stories to tell and laughs to share. We picked up the essentials… 6 litres of oil, a filter and a sump plug and departed for some long awaited sightseeing.

We reached Kolsai Lake number one a little late (actually a lot late) and so we weren’t able to do the 6-7 hour walk to the second lake which was disappointing but still managed an hour or so around the edge of the first one where some friendly locals insist we try some of their freshly fried bread which was totally delicious! After checking out some of the nearby “guesthouses” in Saty we opted for a steep 4×4 track down to a rocky river bed and slept there instead… the rushing water from the surprisingly large river provided some excellent white noise and for the first time felt truly hidden away. The next day we headed for Kaindy Lake and its underwater forest… it was spectacular and we again met so many friendly Kazakh people wanting photos of us and the truck. Even without the unique lake the track up to the mountains was really great fun and we realised just how long it had been since we had put the truck through some of its paces and enjoyed a small bit of technical challenge. Was worth it for the drive alone!

From there we collected some Norwegian backpackers/hitchhikers and made tracks for Charyn Canyon… the jewel in the crown I think. We asked our hitchhikers to walk in to the canyon for safety as we had read the track in to the canyon was “hairy” and we were not disappointed! The first few hundred metres was super steep, lumpy, bendy and narrow. Of course the truck handled it with ease but the climb back out the next day made me weep a tiny bit at the top. When you can only see the sky and you don’t know if you have the power or grip to carry all our weight up and over the edge things get tense! For me. Not the other one of course.

We came across a sizeable crew from Discover Earth who were very keen to film us and our car on a number of occasions… not sure if that means we will become TV stars but no one asked us if we wanted to partake!

Our night in the canyon was one of the most memorable and after a further few days of hot and dusty trails we were willing to try anything to get refreshed and clean so it was a dip in the fast flowing waters of the Charyn River, our first experience! We entered the icy water breathless and cursing but exited feeling very alive, snap frozen and clean as a whistle… we dressed with numb skin and enjoyed a small camp fire set off by an intense moonlight that had me up most of the night gazing at the blue lit canyon walls.

While in the canyon Richard was told about a singing dune, a white mountain and a town called Basshi. Eventually we put the broken pieces of English together and decided we would go and have a look… the warning words of “bad road” really didn’t cut it! I’m not sure it was worth seeing given how awful the drive was through the Altyn Emel park but I can’t deny it was unique and picturesque so each to their own.

After sleeping the night next to a 700 year old willow tree, that Genghis Khan touched when he visited the area, it was time to get serious and head back towards Russia. We were 2 days behind schedule and we hadn’t known how much worse the roads would become. Let’s go with ‘roads in name only and not actual roads’, remnants of what used to be a road and possibly more like driving on the moon than planet earth. After three plus days of continuous driving in these conditions the front suspension started making some worrying noises, we were physically and mentally exhausted and I had nearly rearranged my face on the dashboard a number of times!

Tonight though, we are set to depart Barnaul, Russia in the morning where we have had the front anti roll bar bushes done on the truck (no booking necessary and for less than a quarter of the price in the UK!). We have done 10 more tonnes of laundry, some personal beautification, lots of photo uploading, supermarket shopping so on and so on and so on… chores chores chores! We are aimed at Lake Baikal but that is 5 to 6 days from here so we’ll update you in a week or so.

J&R

Lake Turkana… IMPORTANT!

If you’re considering the Lake Turkana route into Kenya then you must read this post from cornwalltocapetown … They had a scary experience as did we.

Richard and I chose not to say anything for fear of worrying our families but on our jaunt past Turkana we found a body on the shores, white in appearance and it left us very quiet and very shaken considering it was just the two us after deciding we didn’t need a convoy on this particular route.

Clearly you do!

Lake Turkana from Cornwall to Cape Town

It just had to be a nail-biter of a finish…

Of course at some point in our journey the luck had to run out and it most definitely did the day we left Swakopmund to head north again.

We weren’t really supposed to be in Swakopmund to be honest but with yet more bad advice from our Lonely Planet, we “had” to go there in order to obtain permits for the Skeleton Coast National Park. You don’t need to, that’s complete rubbish.

We spent a couple of nights there anyway, had a campsite with private bathroom (!!), found a great cafe and dressed in clothes without holes or stains for a fancy dinner out. All wonderful. Then we headed north.

No need for diesel in Swakopmund… We’ll fill up on the way. No we won’t, as we had 100km’s of range showing on the dash we realised the closest station was 100km’s behind us. A night in Henties Bay, a full tank + plus jerry can and we were off again.

Enter Skeleton Coast National Park (via a STINKY Cape Cross seal colony) and we were well on track… For 11 hours of being stuck in the sand. Brilliant.

After our night of “adventure” referred to in the previous post, we head for Palm as we need fuel, money and the mother of all car washes. We arrive, there is no fuel, ATM or car wash in Palm.

On to the delightful little Kamanjab and our favourite bar at Oppi Koppi Rest Camp… A terrible road (not helped by very wobbly steering due to wheels etc heavily laden with sand) and we find a familiar and sympathetic face at the other end. Thanks to Oppi Koppi for giving us 5 hours use of their cleaning equipment and the first meal and beverage we had had in 30 hours (beer and pizza of course).

Let’s head to Opuwo, we’d been told about a gorgeous hotel in the area with a great campsite and views… Tarmac road! Things really are looking up! A few drinks, a beautiful sunset and two long sighs of relief.

We are only hours away from the Van Zyls Pass, “let’s do it!” says Richard, “NO” says Jo, “YES” says Richard, “NO FLIPPIN’ WAY” says Jo. We do the Van Zyls Pass (A notorious one way/downhill 4×4 track.)

Our slightly bung tyre as a result of our night of terror in Moremi can’t really do much more rock climbing/descents and has frightening looking bulges exuding from every angle inside and out after reaching the bottom.

We catch the sunset in the Marienfluss (stunning) and then continue to Marble Community Camp only 50km’s away…

The road is actually a rock track and it takes hours. Excellent. We sleep, change the wheel, and hit the river bed tracks in search of the famed “desert” Elephants (the whole reason for heading north). There are none and in a desperate bid to justify all this chaos we start taking pictures of anything that moves, it’s “desert adapted” says Richard so the giraffes, impala and zebra suddenly become different in some way. No problem, let him have his moment.

Hours and hours of river beds behind us and we hit the first road we’ve seen in days, it’s horrendously rutted and corrugated and another tyre completely disintegrates. Two tyres in two days after 20,000 miles. Just perfect.

Oh and the spare wheel winch jams so the ruined wheel has to be wedged into the boot. Things get a little quiet in the car… Our tyres (MT-R 19″ etc etc) are exceptionally rare and we have to consider the possibility of continuing to Cape Town with no spare at all.

Windhoek! What a bloody wonderful place! The option of a brand new 19″ MT-R or slightly used for half the price, fitted in moments. The gorgeous sparkly Land Rover dealership has a replacement spare wheel winch and we find the best car wash in the whole of Africa to remove the 10 tonnes of sand we are carrying around in the underbody of the car. We’re back on track! Properly!

Since then we have had a fantastic time. Sossusvlei, got the last available campsite in the area, caught sunset and sunrise and didn’t pulverise the huge Oryx that bolted out in front of the car! We have had a really relaxing couple of days, lovely accommodation, beautiful sights and tonight we are only 180’s from the border with South Africa.

How heart-wrenching.

Life’s a beach and then you dig


The Skeleton Coast National Park. Referred to as the “sands of hell” by sailors. Famous for shipwrecks, whale bones and inhospitable terrain. Salt/Sand desert meets rough Atlantic Ocean. 1000’s of square miles of salt plains completely desolate and uninhabited. Perfect for some illegal off-roading right? ….wrong.

It all started out well. Let’s do a bit of shipwreck hunting, we’ve worn heaps of tread off our very grippy mud-terrain tyres.

Next, the wreck of the Montrose. It was 5kms off the road.

But 1km from the wreck…

20120714-201930.jpg

Not too bad, dig out a bit of sand? Simple. 30 mins later…Jubilant!

20120714-202004.jpg

Reverse 10 metres and end up like this…

20120714-202036.jpg

20120714-202027.jpg

Hmm, not so simple. We made use of all our recovery equipment: air jack, spade, sand ladders and then some “desert adapted” rocks as Richard would put it (will explain later)… No joy. Everytime we try to move the car just digs deeper.

20120714-201058.jpg

At 4pm-ish Jo started to get a bit edgy and insisted we go for help and looking back that was a great idea (of course it was, Jo x). We walked an hour to the road and had precisely 20 minutes before we had to leave again to get back to the car before nightfall. Just as our 20 minutes had passed a car turned up (loving Murphy’s law!) We told the driver our situation and he kindly offered to drive to the next settlement (35kms away) and give them our GPS location.

The wind had picked up, the temperature was dropping rapidly, we could just see the roof tent in front of a (deceptive) wall of crashing Atlantic waves and we couldn’t be certain that anyone would come for us that night so we headed back to the car. (Oh and did we mention that the locals in Henties Bay had informed us of forecasted “extreme” sand storms for the next day?)

As we were about 1km away from the car we saw lights slowly moving along the road (searching). A dimly lit Sat-Nav at 3km’s with incoming fog really doesn’t suffice for signalling equipment so it was a mad dash for the car to illuminate the hazards. No good, the car is buried so deep you’d have to be two-foot-tall and a metre away to see them! LED head torches? No good. Headlights? No good, pointing in the opposite direction. Xenon roof-mounted spotlights? Yes, unbolting and waving them madly over the top of the roof tent works a treat, we’ve been seen! A confusing and unknown amount of time later reveals the shouting voices of a group of completely selfless individuals in the dead of night and not just one bright light in the distance but two headlights advancing slowly in our direction.

20120714-202049.jpg

After such a long blog post we really can’t be bothered going into much more detail! But MOST importantly… after three hours of these local road-worker heroes digging, pushing, reassuring us and accepting constant hugs from myself, they freed us and then let us camp next to their temporary road-worker accomodation.

Let’s just say that our New Zealand silver fern door magnets went to the most loving and deserving home we could have hoped for! They were completely crazy about the All Blacks and I don’t think we’ve ever been so grateful for our boys in Black as we were this night (other than the World Cup of course!)

The most enormous thanks goes to the road-workers of Torra Bay, Namibia. It was an adventure, no doubt! You have enriched our experience of Africa (and very grippy mud-terrain tyres!)

For the observant amongst you… there was a bottle in the sand near the car. I put a note in this bottle with the following: “If you are reading this note, you are probably stuck in the sand like we were.”

(post written by both Richard and Jo so you will need to read from both perspectives)

Richard and Jo (sand kings!)

Ants in the tree and a spider in the car!

20120622-155948.jpg

Well, we’ve had quite a week! We have visited all the old haunts of Richards childhood… Schools, restaurants, sports clubs etc etc and spent three glorious nights with the adorable Mr and Mrs Grimes. It was a blissful reminder of home life and they were so generous. Home-cooked meals, TV (!!), comfy clean beds, our own bathroom, and a washing machine. That’s right! An actual clothes washing machine.. Amazing.

We have since covered quite a distance and taken in the sights of Mulanje (a mountain) where we camped at the Likhabula Pools, Zomba (a mountain plateau) and we now find ourselves back on the sleepy shores of Lake Malawi. All gorgeous of course but we have been feeling a little lonely, missing the excellent company of David and Di.

A testing day in transit yesterday; parked in a lovely spot for lunch to find our spare wheel carrier broken in 4 places but thankfully still attached to the vehicle (just!). While negotiating the storage of an enormous 19″ wheel (coupled with enormous mud-terrain tyre) in the back seat of our poor truck we were “attacked” by an equally huge spider! URGHH. Where our leggy friend is now is a mystery though as we both took off at the sight of it! I was precise in emptying the contents of our can of fly-spray into the vehicle before departing for the lake but still, made for a fairly tense three hour drive.

We arrived at dusk last night at the much anticipated Chembe Eagles Nest where we found a campsite full of impressively spec’d up and kitted out overlanding vehicles that make us two look like chumps to be honest. These things are amazing! They must have sensed jealousy in the air as they were quick to offer us two of the most tasty and tender lamb chops we’ve ever eaten. This didn’t soothe the green-eyed-monster as she reheated the 4 day old bolognaise sauce. Grrrr.

No matter, we have indulged in a lazy morning of scrambled eggs and Konyagi cocktails today and as there are welders in absolutely every corner of Africa, we are now back to normal with a functioning spare wheel carrier. Tomorrow… Zambia! And our next dose of African wildlife.

A few pics to a create a “nutshell” of the last few days:

Ants in the tree, world famous (in Blantyre!):

20120622-155805.jpg

Phoenix School, where Richard learned to a be a smart-ass:

20120622-160136.jpg

Dipping our toes in the Likhabula Pools,Mulanje:

20120622-160240.jpg

Money well spent! I think not:

20120622-160401.jpg

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