It’s a roller coaster

We are in Namibia and now venturing into our list of “lasts” … Last border crossing, last game park, last black market currency exchange and so on and so forth. We are only a few weeks away from Cape Town, how sad and exciting all at the same time.

We entered Botswana about a week ago, had a great time in Kasane reliving our first trip to the Chobe area but moved on quickly to Maun for the Okavango Delta experience we had missed in 2010. Amazing!! We took a stunning scenic flight over the Delta, taking in Wildebeest, Zebra, Elephant and Hippo from 500ft in the air.

Spent the day on a (very leaky) Mokoro canoe where we had to promise we could both swim and told not to worry about the Pythons, Crocodiles or Hippos.

We continued on to Moremi for a night of camping and what turned out to be the most terrifying night of our trip… Actually, our lives.

We have a hot shower (first one in a long time)… Prepare a Konyagi cocktail with fresh chopped lemons (first mistake)… Leave our packet of macaroni on the table (second mistake, the monkeys stole it)… Cook our fragrant beef dinner on the cooker away from the open fire, in the dark (third mistake)… A cacophony of genuinely blood curdling screams emanates from the darkness approximately 20 metres away… We hurl ourselves in to the car, crushing everything left lying on the seats assuming the worst has happened. It has.

After a few minutes of muted panic, we exit the car, locate our extensive first aid kit and head in the direction of the confusion… Torch lights racing back and forth, yelling, hysterical crying and rustling in the bushes. As our head torches illuminate a large set of glowing eyes lying in wait at the edge of our campsite I thank God for the man who approaches the animal from behind and chases it away… Richard was walking straight for it and was only metres away.

The gentleman explains that a child has been taken by a Hyaena. It has survived but suffered severe head lacerations… down to the skull.

News Link:

What to do next? The family are holed up in their tent, no one knows what to do, cars start driving around with headlights on and then the crashing sound of an Elephant destroying the trees next to our car snaps us back into reality. Elephants love fresh fruit and lemons are all over us and the car.

That’s it then, we have to get out. Everything (chairs, knives, pots full of hot food, Konyagi cocktails and everything we could get our hands on) gets thrown in the car, any available space will do. We have to get out.

Back in the car again we realise the tent is up. Can’t drive anywhere with the tent up unless we kiss it goodbye for the rest of the trip! Poor Richard has to go back out and pull it down… No time to be fussy with me covering the surrounding area with torch light, it’s folded and clipped in record time and we are on the road to the nearest safari lodge. Except there is no road, in the darkness we have lost the trail and our only option is to turn back to the last place on earth we want to be.

There are two options, drive 30+ km’s through a deserted and pitch black game park full of hunting, meat eating animals or return to the campsite-of-terror for a long night waiting for sunrise. We decide to drive, stupid. Our tyre pressures are very low for sand roads and so we spend a gruelling 4 hours crawling our way back to Maun… The sand is deep in places and our faithful truck goes for a slide. Richard’s driving skills mean no harm or damage is done but our already frayed nerves really can’t take much more.

We arrive at the Old Bridge Backpackers at midnight, it’s completely full but after an emotional explanation of the evening’s events the watchman lets us sleep in the driveway, on the safe side of a locked fence.

In the morning we survey the expected damage, there is none! I realise I spent the 4 hour drive sitting on BBQ tongs, a camping lantern, the diagnostic tool, my handbag and our paper maps. Only the laptop had suffered with a few scrapes and gouges. The owner of the backpackers calls the local hospital to hear that the child is still alive and hopes are high.

Next up Richard wants to camp in Etosha, Namibia’s biggest and best game park. I don’t think so.

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

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