Paul and Kat's travel adventures
Living in: London, United Kingdom
  • Day172

    Elephant Sands

    April 16 in Botswana ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Elephants galore. We have heard from multiple people that Elephant Sands is their favourite campsite and it is easy to see why. The camp is built around a watering hole where, yes you guessed it, elephants frequent.

    As we were rolling in, there were already elephants and later in the day one even came within a metre of our tent! Luckily we were watching from the safety of the bar, which has got to be one of the best placed bars in the world, within metres of the watering hole. Truly special.

    We also had our first proper rain since we arrived in southern Africa. Apart from scrabbling to put on the rain cover on our tent it didn't affect us too much, the bar was still serving booze after all... I even got a spectacular view of the lighting in the distance as I had a shower. All of the camping showers seem to have a view but this was one of the best.
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  • Day170

    Maun - Okavango delta

    April 14 in Botswana ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    The town of Maun was our base for exploring the Okavango delta. It is the largest inland delta in the world and is teeming with wildlife. The question was whether we could find it.

    Our excursion included getting on a boat called a Mokoro, which has a poler navigate the delta. It is similar to a gondola, or for those familiar with Oxford or Cambridge, a punt. It was super relaxing as we floated between the grass until we reached a larger pool of water. Our poler said hippos and pointed, we assume she was winding us up but sure enough a group of hippos were a mere 50m away. We got a chance to have a go with the poling later which was great fun, even if Kat spent most of her stint in the grass ;)

    Where Kat did excel was in spotting animals. She had already acquired the nickname 'Ranger Kat', for spotting a rhino in Etosha before the guide and was at it again in the delta. When we went on a walking Safari I was sceptical we would see anything but within the first 30 mins we had seen some giraffe before Ranger Kat spotted the wildebeest.

    In the evening we were treated to some local entertainment by the polers. I have to admit, it reminded me of the after dinner entertainment on 'Come dine with me' but it was pretty cool to be around the camp fire deep in the bush.
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  • Day168


    April 12 in Botswana ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    With our truck still at the side of the road, a replacement truck was driven all the way from Cape Town (that's a long way!). They had driven all through the night and gamely arrived by mid morning. So we loaded everything onto our new truck, including 9 new people, so it was a tight squeeze. Sadly we were leaving behind our two Brazilian friends who were ending their trip in Windhoek.

    It was all very emotional, even before they gave a leaving speech and presented us with gifts. One of the couple is from Salvador and they have a tradition of handing out ribbon ties to special people. You make a wish when you tie it on and it comes true once it naturally breaks. A real sweet gesture and it's just as well my eye was already watery from the scratch otherwise I would have had to come up with another excuse...

    Eventually we were on our way to Botswana but our troubles weren't over there. Most of us crossed the border trouble free but the Chinese needed to pay for their visas. Apparently they have changed their processes and you can only pay in the local currency, pula, not in South African Rand or US dollar, which is tricky as you can't get the currency outside of the country.

    With the card machine 'out of order' and the currency exchange office 'closed' our leader was stumped. Requests to be reasonable fell on deaf ears, so they drove to the nearest petrol station to see if they could help. They couldn't, but one of the Chinese was being very entrepreneurial and went around all the truck drivers going the other way changing as much as she could.

    Eventually they had enough and we left the border 4 hours after we arrived, so we didn't see much of the Kalahari desert and the poor newbies had their first experience of putting up their tents in the pitch black.
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  • Day167


    April 11 in Namibia ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Apart from a tire blowout on the road (which was more exciting than inconvenient) our travels had been trouble free. That was until soon after Etosha and the truck just died, never a good sign.

    So we sat at the side of the road while the mechanics overalls were put on and they got to work. I haven't mentioned the tour staff yet but we have a driver, tour leader and cook, all from Kenya, which as they would say, is the best country in the world.

    A few hours went by and there was no sign of it being fixed. So plan B had to be enacted, a minibus to the nearest town, so we could wait in a cafe rather than roasting at the side of the road. The fact that it wasn't our day was confirmed when the minibus sent to pick us up first drove 30km in the wrong direction...

    8 hours after we had broken down we were back at our truck but unfortunately it still wasn't fixed. A coach had been acquired to take us to our destination but first we had to get everything off the truck onto the coach. Cue human chains passing luggage, camping mats etc.

    So our 'lunchtime' arrival in Namibia's capital, Windhoek, ended up being gone 9pm. It was a testament to the group that everyone took the delays in their stride. There wasn't any complaining, we all helped when it was needed any waited when there was nothing to do. Some even took the opportunity to do some road side yoga! However, there were 9 people joining our tour in Windhoek, so they just sat in the restaurant where we were meeting, waiting for us to turn up.
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  • Day165


    April 9 in Namibia ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    If we had done this trip on our own, we probably wouldn't have gone to Etosha but I'm really glad we did. It is famed for its wildlife as the animals gather around the watering holes, however we had read that in April it's harder to see animals, as it is just at the end of the wet season so there are more places for them to hide.

    We were however incredibly lucky on our first day, seeing all the usual suspects, giraffes, elephants, zebras, springboks etc. We also got to see 6 lions, 3 of which were guarding their kill of a giraffe, which was lying across the road. It was quite a gruesome sight.

    The second day was far less successful as we went on the hunt for the illusive leopard, hours looking in trees to no avail. It was also a bad day for me as I somehow hurt my eye. It got so painful I had to miss dinner, which just shows how bad it was!

    The evening plan was to sit out by the watering hole as they have it all set up with a spotlight and wait for the animals to come to you. So I sent Kat along as she was fussing over me and I didn't want her to miss out. Apparently there was a real party there; Elephant, zerbra, various types of antelopes even some rhinos. One of the rhinos very loudly broke wind and made everyone laugh.

    We had seen a rhino in the distance on the first day but I was gutted to have missed out. However, later in the evening my eye was feeling better enough to leave my foetal position, so Kat guided me to the watering hole. Luckily a few of the rhinos were still there, so I got my rhino fix after all.
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  • Day163


    April 7 in Namibia ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    It was back on the road as we continued our journey north to Namibia's most famous national park, Etosha.

    We were camping about halfway, after visiting the Spitzkoppe mountains. We explored these huge rock boulder type structures and even got to scramble over a few. You could take a million pictures in Namibia and still feel like you need to take more.

    I haven't spoken much about our group yet but there is a wide spread of ages (luckily no teenagers though) and the dynamic has been good. We also cover a range of type of trip, from those for whom this is a 3 week holiday to those travelling for a year plus. One of the easiest way to spot the difference is the approach to splashing the cash, for example the Americans on holiday are rarely seen without a drink in their hands.

    Some of the group partake in pre breakfast yoga sessions. Kat is always keen to join but unsurprisingly given the time, her attendance has been sporadic at best.
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  • Day162


    April 6 in Namibia ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Swakopmund is apparently the adventure capital of Namibia, but since adrenalin and me are hardly friends, I wasn't that excited. However we had a room with an ensuite, so a welcomed break from camping. I say room but it was actually a converted shipping container, beggars can't be choosers.

    We sat through the compulsory adventure company pitch but nothing could tempt us to part with our rapidly diminishing cash. So a chill day it was. We did have a group meal, followed by karaoke, which was great fun. Kat has her karaoke favourite, 'ain't no mountain high enough' by Marvin Gaye. The trouble is there are other versions of that song, so when it was Kat's turn to sing, she just spent most of it giggling to avoid the awkwardness of having no idea of the tune.

    I was also forced to sing a song, so I went for an old favourite from university that we always sang as a big group at the end of our karaoke nights, Hey Jude. The trouble was the crowd wasn't quite as loud so you could actually hear me, which nobody wants.
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  • Day159


    April 3 in Namibia ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    The last few days we have truly been in the middle of nowhere. One big advantage of this, is the sparkle of the clear desert night sky. There is something magical about staring up at the milky way.

    The drive to Sesriem rewarded us with the largest sand dunes in the world. It was another early start as we entered the park at sunrise. Actually all of our starts have been before sunrise, not my favourite thing to get up when it is dark but I take solace in the fact that it's harder for Kat ;) However, she has been doing it, so no excuses for getting up late when we get back to England.

    We got to climb the largest sand dune in the world, the imaginatively named Dune 45. It didn't look that high but climbing it was tough. The sun is unrelenting, even that early in the morning and the sand just falls away under your feet, making it doubly hard.

    It was so worth it though. Kat was very happy playing with her camera but I don't think the orangeness of the sand and the blueness of the sky can be done justice.
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  • Day158

    Fish river canyon

    April 2 in Namibia ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Namibia! A slow but relatively painless border crossing brought us to country number 8 on this trip.

    Today's activity was mainly driving in our overland truck. I haven't mentioned our truck yet but between that and our tent, it is home for the next 3 weeks. Every thing we have, had to get in the truck, so it is very well stocked with luggage, food, tents, tables and chairs, cooking equipment etc.

    We arrived just before sunset at our destination, the fish river canyon. It is the second largest canyon in the world and the visit there was similar to my visit to the largest, the grand canyon. Basically just a few photos, watch the sunset and then head off.
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  • Day157

    Orange River

    April 1 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    This was our second night of camping and it turns out that it's not that bad. Putting up and taking down our tents every day is a bit of a pain but the tents are a good size, I can even stand up in the middle! The campsites have been better than expected, they all seem to have a swimming pool and more importantly a bar. It also helps that there is no sign of rain, very different from England.

    Our morning activity was kayaking along the Orange river, which was great fun but long. One downside (or positive, depending on how you look at it) is that you don't really know what you are signing up for. Three hours later we realised...
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