A Travellerspoint blog

The grand finale of our 7619km tour of Africa!

semi-overcast 26 °C

Well, Kilimanjaro was well and truly hidden by clouds and rain, we were not impressed! We hoped we might catch a glimpse of it in the morning, so we got the tents up as usual and headed for a much needed shower. We ended up more soaked once we were fully clothed, as the heavens had well and truly opened on us! This was soon rectified by a stiff G&T for me & Vodka for the hubby.

The following morning unfortunately Kilimanjaro was still hiding :( We headed to Arusha and went shopping which was fun. We were taken on a little mission by one of the locals as we were looking for some Masai blankets as souvenirs to take home. Finally we found some and got ourselves a good deal. We then headed to our next camp ‘Snake Park’, just the name made me shudder! Luckily all of the snakes were caged, though we got to see the infamous black mamba which we all had heard so much about whilst travelling in Africa! There were turtles to see, a rescued baboon who they were unable to release back into the wild, and a vulture which was really impressive! The one that really took us by surprise though, was the cage of three HUGE crocodiles! One even moved and we got to see him walk away, not something you usually see as they are basking in the sun and lazy in the daytime! Lee was able to hold a couple of non-venomous snakes, though I stood about ten metres away and just would not go any closer to them. We then headed to the bar, eagerly awaiting our next few days of game drives, we were so excited!!

The following morning we were picked up by our safari vehicle and headed to the Ngorongoro Crater where we were having lunch. The views were incredible, the crater looked like animal paradise and was much bigger than we expected it to be. We had lunch on the crater rim and drove through the conservation area to the Serengeti. We saw many Masai men along the way, walking with their herds of cows. We saw lots of zebra, baboons, giraffe, camels, gazelle, wildebeest & buffalo, and then once we crossed into the Serengeti we saw more and more. We saw a large herd of Elephants with their babies who happily crossed the road around our vehicle, and then came across a Lioness with her cubs, we were over the moon! The cubs were happily feeding and then decided to have a play around and one ventured really close to our jeep. We also saw bat eared fox, serval, hippo, stalks, ostrich, impala, thompson gazelle, hartebeest, vultures, snake eagle and lots of mongoose running around.
Our campsite for the night was in an open area, unfenced. The food was cooked in a cage, and we had to eat in a cage, it was like we were animals in a zoo! There were signs up in the campsite saying not to leave the designated camping area as animals will attack humans! I wasn’t sure what difference stepping out of the camp would have made as there were no fences separating the two! On our way back from the bathroom to our tent, I noticed two pairs of eyes watching us which certainly unnerved me and I wanted back in our tent ASAP! The following morning we heard our guides saying that they had heard lions very close by overnight.

We headed out on a morning game drive and had pretty good luck with our animal spotting. We were lucky to spot two Leopards resting in the trees, yellow spotted rock hyrax, nile crocodile, warthog, topi, antelope, kirks dik dik and a leopard tortoise. We spotted a hyena crossing the road, and then as we carried on we found one having a cool off in a puddle! We were able to get so close to it, it was incredible! Our driver spotted about 12 vultures sitting in a tree and wanted to take us closer for a better view. We then got our safari jeep stuck in the mud, in croc infested waters! Needless to say I wasn’t the happiest I’ve ever been at that point!! After lunch back in the cages at the campsite, we headed back to the crater. On the way we came across a pride of four lions taking a nap by the side of the road. We were brought to a halt when loads of Wildebeest decided to run from one side of the road to the other, and then another group decided to do the opposite, it was great to watch :) We then saw a mass of vultures devouring something. Once we were able to get a closer look, we could see that they were eating a zebra! They were going crazy and really pulling at the carcass, quite a sight! We arrived at our campsite back at the crater rim, again an open campsite. It was the same drill, cooking and eating in cages. About 20 buffalo appeared after dinner and decided to graze amongst our tents. We were warned that they can be very aggressive and to be careful. Before we went to bed we could hear lions growling and groaning nearby. Once we were safely in our tents, we could then hear buffalo chomping right in our ears, to the point where we could hear them chewing and the grass ripping! Lee even got nudged by a buffalo at one point, it was an eventful night. One of our group heard lions roaring and she said it sounded really close. Luckily I had my ear plugs in, or I would probably have been seriously panicking!

The next morning we were off on a game drive down into the crater. The views on the steep road down were beautiful, and the weather was nice and cool so our chances of spotting animals were looking good. The crater was full of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, impala & buffalo. We could see flamingo in the lake, and we went through the forest area and saw elephants. We finally completed our ‘Big Five’ as we came across black rhino! Then our game drive really picked up when we spotted some Hyena devouring a carcass. They were running around with zebra legs in their mouths! We then noticed that there were 3 lions strolling away, so we think that the lions had made the kill and we’d just missed it! We followed the lions and they came right to the road and were literally right next to our jeep. We could see some other lions up on the road in front, and the 3 we were heading up to meet them. They were a pride of 13 in total and to see them greet eachother was amazing, they were snarling and growling, and running into eachother, and one went to smack another with its paw! They then just lay around in the road and right by our jeep, I was literally 3ft from them, it well and truly made our day! Just when we thought we must have had all of our luck for the day, there was a huge male alone laying by the road. I was absolutely chuffed to see an older male with a huge fluffy mane! He must have had a good feed as he seemed too full to be able to move! We then found another pride of 6 lions, which included two male lions with even bigger manes, one of which was cuddled up with his lioness, we were in our element! After an incredible game drive we said goodbye to the crater and headed back to Arusha.

The following morning we went off on a Masai village walk. We learnt about their way of life which is fascinating and met young Masai children who sang a little song for us which was really cute :) We were shown the local clinic which is run by the camp site. They deal with snake bite victims there, and offer free treatment, through the profit made by the camp. There were two patients at the time, one of which had been bitten by a Black spitting cobra, outside her house, in the same district we were standing in. It was at that point that I was kind of looking forward to leaving Africa!! We headed into Arusha town to do some more shopping and to look at some beautiful Tanzanite which is only found at the base of Kilimanjaro, and is running out fast. Lee insisted I was having a ring as an early birthday present (4 months early to be exact!), so I left the shopping centre a very happy bunny! We decided to have a Masai blanket party for our last night as we had all bought some along the way. The party was cut short a little though as we had to be up at 4:50am to get ready to leave camp and drive to Nairobi, not cool.

Off went the dreaded alarm and up we got, mopping tents and packing them away for the last time. Our drive to the Kenyan border had a huge highlight as we got to see the mighty Kilimanjaro finally!! There it was in all its glory, with Lee hanging out of the truck window snapping away  We didn’t have much time in Nairobi unfortunately as we had to head to the airport that evening for our flight. By the time we boarded flight no.1, we had been up for almost 24hrs and were certainly feeling the strain. Egypt Air that we had never heard of got us to Cairo in one piece, and then on to Heathrow. The first thing I noticed was the white cliffs and green fields as we crossed the channel and it immediately felt like home :) We were looking forward to seeing some familiar faces as we headed through the airport...!

So… what did we think of our little adventure??

The words Incredible and Amazing wouldn’t quite sum up our overall experience. I’d like to think that I’m a little more laid back now as travelling has proved to be tricky at times and with all of the planning in the world things can change in a flash, and are out of your control. Expect the unexpected was the motto. We found the whole experience very humbling and it has made us appreciate that we’re very fortunate to live where we do and lead the life that we do. It has made me realise that material things really are of no real importance, and what matters is the people you share your life with and your health. At times, to just be able to have clean clothes, a shower, and a bed felt like pure luxury. I can probably count on my hands the amount of times I used my ipod and phone etc, where as at home those kind of things are stuck to me, and I wouldn’t leave home without them. At home you can really get stuck in your own little bubble. As cliché as it sounds, long term travel really does change something in you, the way you think and your general outlook. It makes you realise the world really does have so much to offer, and maybe life isn’t just about the daily grind.

Travelling has definitely changed our plans for the next few years, and hopefully we will end up where we want to be. Little did we know that 6 months of travel would be just the start of things to come :)

Posted by Cass - Lee 23:59 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Zanzibar… our rainy and cloudy beach paradise!

rain 26 °C

Well, the first thing that happened when we got to Tanzania was a little boy, probably around the age of three approaching Lee. He did not say a word just held Lee’s hand, it was so sweet :) Unfortunately, not all of the kids were as cute. There were some children waving at our truck, so we waved back, then they decided to stick their fingers up – charming eh! The journey through Dar es Salaam was a bit crazy, the streets reminded us of our India travels, very busy and teeming with people. There were stalls everywhere, it was pretty manic. We made our way to our campsite and set up our tents. We were right on the beach and sat there on a swing with a few beers, perfect after a day on the road :) We were aware of the dangerous reputation Dar has, though seeing a sign in the toilet that read ‘Inside camp = Safe, Outside camp = Not safe’ certainly brought it home!

The following day we had a super early start, to catch a 7am ferry to Zanzibar. We were reunited with one of our favourite forms of transport – the Tuk Tuk! On arrival in Zanzibar it was chucking it down! According to the locals it hadn’t rained for over a month, and only started the previous day – just our luck! Out came the emergency poncho’s and we headed to our accommodation. I was more excited at the prospect of a bed, something we haven’t experienced for almost three weeks! We were given lots of options of things to do whilst on the Island, though the weather put us off and we all decided to head out for a bite to eat. We then set off on a shopping spree, poor Lee with three women! My scarf fetish reared its head again and I found myself buying more :) We found ourselves in an off license, and managed to get a bottle of vodka and a bottle of gin for less than seven quid – bargain! Finding mixers was another story though, and we found ourselves enlisting the help of a little local guy who led us through the maze of little streets that makes up Stonetown in search of a supermarket. Once we’d made it to the shop, they didn’t even have what we were looking for, and our little helper was insisting that he take us to see his spice shop in the market. It turned out to be quite a cool trip, the markets were great and we bought ourselves some curry powder. He then took us back to our hotel, very helpful little guy he was. We headed to a ‘sunset’ bar for drinks in the evening, the drinks were lovely but sadly the sun was absent :( The views across the Indian Ocean were beautiful though, and we could see the regularly photographed sand bar in the distance. We then went to the food markets for dinner. We had some lovely skewers freshly bbq’d for us, lobster, tuna and barracuda which we ate with toothpicks, a mission in itself! We also tried a small local pizza which was lovely and finished with some ice cream, all washed down with a freshly squeezed sugarcane and lime juice, beautiful. We then headed back to our accommodation and collapsed on our bed, in fact a proper four poster bed, luxury!

The following day we headed to the beach at Kendwa, and stayed in some lovely bungalows. The drive itself was nice as we got to see some of Zanzibar and the local villages on the way. Sadly the sun was still hiding, and it rained instead. We decided to head to the café, and that’s pretty much where we stayed having a couple of beers, before venturing onto the beach. Had the weather been better it would have been paradise. The white sand, stunning views and beautiful warm water would have made an idyllic beach holiday. We excelled ourselves as a group that evening and managed to stay up past midnight, which is just not a regular occurrence on this trip, given our stupid o’clock starts! Lee woke with a bit of a hangover, and unfortunately the weather was still bad so we ended up heading back to our room to sleep. Later we ended up back in the bar and having a lovely meal at the restaurant next door, a place we wished we’d ventured to earlier!

Our beach time was over the following morning and we headed back to rainy Stonetown. As we’d exhausted all of the shopping options when we were last there, we decided to head to a café and have a coffee. I was given my empty cup, with no coffee. After asking where it was numerous times, it arrived, and I had to gulp it down as we had a ferry to catch. As we were peckish, we decided to order some scones and brownies to take away. The waiter took our order and then returned saying that they were out of scones, so we asked for just brownies. Off he went, and then returned saying there were no brownies either. We then ordered crepes with bananas and syrup, which arrived exactly at the time we needed to be leaving for the ferry port, and so after trying to wolf it down, we asked them to pop it in a container that we could take away. This was almost more agony than it was worth and we left the restaurant in a complete flap. The ferry port was an unorganised mess and we were trying to get through the gate, juggling our bags and passports and tickets, whilst I was trying to stuff crepes covered in syrup in my mouth, with my hands. It was not a pretty sight. The motto of our trip has been TIA – meaning ‘This is Africa’, translated as ‘Go with the flow’ pretty much!

Once on the ferry things went from bad to worse. The crew were handing out sick bags and I was thinking that was clearly a sign that the crossing back to Tanzania was going to be a rough one. That it was, and about halfway into the journey people were throwing up left right and centre. So there we were stuck in a cabin that stank of vomit and the various sound effects that go with that. It was then that I began to feel queasy, and spent the rest of the journey as still as possible with my trusty sick bag at the ready. Lee found it highly amusing watching the crew pushing the bin back and forth collecting full sick bags and handing out fresh bags ready for filling. I was pretty happy when we finally got to land, it seemed like the 2hr crossing was never ending. We headed back to the campsite and got our hand washing chores out of the way, before hitting the cloudy beach with a beer. We then left the campsite and went to a local restaurant for dinner, something I was a little apprehensive about considering the warnings all around the campsite about the lack of safety outside the camp boundary. We had a nice meal, in candlelight due to a power cut and headed back to camp to get ourselves to bed, with an early start looming. We had to be up and dressed, with tents down and packed away, ready to leave by 6am. We didn’t really need an alarm as the prayer call kicked off at 5am anyway, and that was enough to wake the city.

With a full two days of driving ahead, we were on the road and en route to the Serengeti & Ngorogoro Crater, something we were very much looking forward to :) Our route was along the foothills of Kilimanjaro and the campsite we were headed to supposedly had good views of the ‘Roof of Africa’ itself, there could certainly be worse places to stay eh :)

Posted by Cass - Lee 02:14 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Enlightened by Malawi

sunny 30 °C

With a full day of driving ahead, we hopped on the bus and headed for the border. After being hounded by people trying to exchange our left over Zambian currency, we got through customs and into Malawi. The first thing we noticed was the amount of people and animals on the road. Due the fuel crisis there, there weren’t many vehicles passing. Police checks were everywhere in Malawi, and we managed to find most of them on our travels, one of which went on for about half an hour. Our first port of call was Lilongwe, the capital city. As soon as we got off the truck we were approached by many people who wanted to show us their paintings and jewellery etc. We had a look around the city and saw lots of wood carvings and souvenirs, we just weren’t sure what we wanted to buy at that stage as there’s too much to choose from! We stopped at one point and were unsure why, then our guide asked us if any of us fancied a mouse or a frog on a stick, random or what! Lee did toy with the idea, and then changed his mind. Card games were what kept us from boredom on our journey, though us girls were getting rather fed up with Lee being the jammiest pain in the backside and winning almost every card game! We carried on with our journey until we broke down in the middle of nowhere! A group of local children flocked to see what was going on and we had a little joke with them which was great fun. They were laughing and dancing and reeling off the English alphabet and numbers, until they got shouted out by their parents and all disappeared :) We got back on the truck and carried on through the dark winding potholed roads and finally made it to our camp on Kande Beach, Lake Malawi. Settings tents up in the dark was interesting, and then we had a nice dinner and hit the G&T’s which were much needed after a day of driving! We played some pool at the bar and took a look at the ‘beach’. We were amazed that there were waves crashing, just as though it was the ocean. We managed to stay up till 11pm which was unheard of on this trip as the early mornings were taking their toll!

The following day we were greeted with a nice brekkie of pancakes, yum! Just after I had left the tent, Lee had a bit of an incident with a very big and very fast spider…. running around on our sleeping bags. Not knowing whether it was venomous or not, he tried to splat it a few times, but the spider was winning. It finally took refuge in our sleeping bag, and that’s where the story came to an end, with a swift blow to the spidery head. We were hoping to spend the day on the beach, though it was super windy and cloudy, so we decided to just chill and do some hand washing, god I miss washing machines. Just when we thought we’d had enough animal antics for one day, Lee was walking back to our tent when he leapt backwards. He’d spotted a yellow and brown snake in the grass which took him by surprise! Being an avid photographer as most people know, he was more concerned about getting a picture of the bloody thing! There he was with his phone out getting closer for a good shot, with me throwing a bit of a hissy fit that it might be poisonous etc etc. One of our guides was then intrigued and went to have a look, before about five locals joined in to! It turned out to be a Yellow Striped Sand Snake, which is luckily not venomous, and also native to Tanzania and not Malawi, so it was either lost or on holiday :) Just to join in with the others, we had a bathroom full of rather large lizards, needless to say Cassie’s Paradise this campsite was not! As the Aussie’s on our trip were celebrating Anzac Day, we were treated to some Anzac Biscuits cooked in a makeshift oven on hot coals. Our guides definitely put my cooking to shame, my camping menu would consist of beans on toast every night I reckon! I decided to head off and read my book for a while, and spotted a rather inviting hammock right next to the water. So in I got, and nearly fell out again - twice! Once settled it soon became far too cold and windy, so I gave up and headed back to our trusty truck for shelter.

The following day we were bound for a village called Chitimba. We stopped en route for a spot of shopping, and returned to our truck happy with our purchases :) Not too far into our journey we came across what looked like a truck crash. It turned out to be a truck that had too heavy a load to be able to get up the hill, so locals were helping offload the sugar bags to help him, for money of course. The hold up created a bit of a traffic jam, so the locals cashed in on this too by creating a makeshift road and charging people to use it! If people wouldn’t pay, they either blocked the road, or threatened to smash windows or knife people! There was no way our truck was going to fit through, so we had to just sit and wait. They tried moving the truck that was stuck, and it just would not go, and basically jack knifed itself across the road, precariously close to the edge (a sheer drop). Our driver offloaded us and was able to get our truck through the gap and we met him up the hill. Fingers crossed the other truck made it up the hill, and not over the edge, we’ll never know. We later stopped at a place called Mzuzu and had a nightmare getting money out of the cash machines. They either didn’t take MasterCard or were just broken. The ones that were working had a huge queue, and we were half an hour late back to the truck in the end!

We made it to our next campsite in Chitimba, what a place it was! Right on Lake Malawi still, though we were blessed with beautiful weather, albeit a little windy :) Our backdrop was lush green mountains, it was stunning. Right outside our campsite was our very own little wood carving shopping mall, it was great! We headed out to see what was on offer, and boy can these guys carve. They were all eager to make a sale, and we ordered a few bits and bobs, and then headed back to camp. The following morning, we popped out to do some more shopping, it was great fun, and we made our final orders so the guys could get carving, for us to collect later. We then went out on a village walk. Our first stop was a school. As soon as we walked into the grounds, the kids flocked to us, trying to hold our hands and talk to us. We met the Head Master who talked us through the age groups of the school and the fact that their class sizes are generally 120 pupils. They learn a range of lessons, and from the age of 8, they learn all of their classes in English. They have lessons for life skills, which teach them all sorts of things, from how to deal with an argument, or how to express themselves to the HIV/Aids epidemic Malawi is faced with. The school also houses many Orphans, who have been left with no parents generally due to HIV/Aids. We were taken into the youngest infant class first and the children were all sitting in circles on the floor. Lee was taking photos of the children and they were crowding round to get a glimpse of the picture. We moved on to the next age group, though these guys were a little more rowdy and over excited, and were showing off a little, and Lee had a little stick thrown at him. So we decided to move on and leave that class to it, though Lee managed to cut his leg on a rusty nail on the way. We then visited an older class who were around the age of twelve, and they were very well behaved and maybe even a little shy. Once we were back out in the playground we were again mobbed and I had children holding my hand on each side, it was very sweet. We met children who told us their father was ‘eaten by the lake’ after he had been drinking some beer, and another boy who had lost his mother to Malaria and his Father to Cancer, it was pretty devastating.

We then headed to meet the local Witch Doctor. Into his house we went, and out he came dressed in a rather bizarre bright green outfit, with the equivalent of a musical hula-hoop around his waist and bells on his ankles! He had two drummers and they kicked off, and so he started dancing. He was really going for it, shaking his midriff and ankles. He then called us up one by one to dance like him, it was hilarious and highly embarrassing! There were kids clambering over each other to get a peek through the window, and people doing the same at the door! Once the dancing was done, he decided to show off his skills by eating a burnt piece of wood which was still glowing from the fire. After that, we all went in one by one to have our fortune told. Apparently we are going to have two children, in two years time, we are going to be successful in our jobs (which we don’t have), and travel more before settling again in the UK. Hmm… may take that reading with a pinch of salt as we all had something similar!:) haha!

We headed to the hospital next, and what an eye opener that was. Basic does not even describe what we saw. We were shown around by a Doctor who worked at the hospital and he explained that they do not have enough vaccines any longer. One problem they are constantly faced with is Malaria, and they have no way of treating it now. There were families queuing outside with their children for vaccines which he said they simply could not provide. They had boxes of condoms, as in no less than 8000 in a box, in a bid to combat HIV/Aids. It just shows you what a desperate situation they are in, and hits home at how fortunate we are with the health system we have, and all we do is complain about it. Malawi now has a new leader, and they are hoping that this will bring about some changes in the healthcare system.

After a morning, which for me really hit home at how lucky we are, we headed to the beach to relax for a while. We collected our carvings from the guys and spent our last night in Malawi around the campfire, toasting marshmallows  Malawi has been an incredible experience, and to see daily life here makes me realise what a spoilt brat I really am.

Posted by Cass - Lee 12:34 Archived in Malawi Comments (0)

Zambia… it’s all about Victoria Falls!

sunny 30 °C

We made our way to our campsite, from the border, and wow – what a place it was! Situated right on the Zambezi River, the views were stunning with the Falls in the distance, and the setting was just perfect, and we were spoilt with a pool too :) We decided to head to see Victoria Falls, though as it flows into Zimbabwe we decided to cross the border to get the best view. It was well and truly worth every penny and border crossing! The view was incredible, and as we got closer to the falls you could feel the spray in the air. Once we got to the point where you have a full frontal view, it was like a torrential downpour! We looked as though we had just had a bath with our clothes on, we were drenched! We then got to a section where there were signs up saying it was extremely windy, slippery and there were no barriers. We started walking along that part when we realised our brand new camera had stopped working, so we thought it would be a better idea to leave the wet area and try and resuscitate the camera! It was touch and go, and it wasn’t until the following morning that the camera showed signs of life! The whole day had been pretty incredible and we’d managed to visit three countries in one day… from Botswana to Zambia to Zimbabwe!

With a huge sigh of relief, we headed out on a Lion Encounter, with a seemingly fixed camera! After a few camera hiccups and a safety briefing on what not to do around the lions, we set off. We were taken to an area where lions that have been raised by a charity called Alert are released into the wild. We were all handed a stick and told to use this to distract the lions if we needed to as they could pounce etc. Into the lions den we went and there were two females and one male waiting for us! My heart was pounding in my chest, Lee was as cool as a cucumber. One by one we were able to approach the lions from behind and stroke them, it was incredible and they were so much softer than I imagined they would be. We then went for a walk with them and went down to the river and watched them attacking some logs! They were also attacking each other and biting, it was funny to watch, they were very playful!

We headed back to camp to do some chores and prepare for our booze cruise. We were getting bombarded and hounded by the monkeys, they were just so cheeky! One stole my wine glass and ran up a tree with it. He then dropped it and it smashed on the floor by our tents! We headed out on a sunset cruise which had a free bar – bad idea! It was great fun, and we returned pretty sloshed! We then headed to another bar back on site and continued with the fun. When we decided it was time for bed and we had drunk more than enough, we headed back to our tents and went to brush our teeth. On leaving the bathroom we bumped into some of our group who had got back to their tents and decided it was too early to go to bed! They wanted to go for one more drink, and so we got kidnapped by them and taken to the bar with our toothbrushes! After one more drink we finally hit the sack, only to awake the following morning feeling rather worse for ware! We had to say a sad goodbye to half of our group as we were heading in different directions. We then spent the day lazing around and sunbathing which was just what we needed, and then had a nice early night :) Before we left, we did have another monkey encounter when we spotted one eating out of a saucepan. The cheeky little thing then decided to run away with the saucepan, whilst being chased by a tour leader from another tour group! The saucepan was retrieved after the monkey dropped it twice :)

The following day we did much of the same, before leaving for Kafue River. Once we’d arrived we left the truck and headed off down the river for a cruise  We arrived at our campsite for the night which was only reachable by water. It was typical ‘bush’ camping. We were cooked dinner by the boat crew and were entertained by locals dancing and drumming for us, which was certainly a bit different to say the least! We then headed to bed and went up to use the bathroom facilities. It was basically a stone shed with no lighting. I was scouring the place for spiders when I spied a monster. There hiding in a little hole in the wall was a spider probably the size of my hand, and his eyes were glinting in my torch light. That was enough to make me not want to go to the toilet until the morning! After we braved the toilets back on the boat we headed for bed. I surprisingly slept like a baby, even knowing sid the spider was only a few meters from our tent! We jumped on a speedboat and got taken to a local village where we learnt about their life and met a man and his family, which was nice. We then boarded the boat back to meet our truck and headed to our next campsite. Once we arrived and had lunch, a few of us decided to head out for an unguided walk to spot some wildlife. As I was only in flip-flops I was hoping we weren’t going to run into anything that could eat us, as there was no way I was going to be able to run! We walked around and found plenty of Impala, as usual, and lots of prints on the ground, but no animals :( We decided to head back to camp and just as we thought we’d had a pretty lame game walk, there were a few Giraffe’s happily grazing just a few meters ahead of us! We couldn’t believe it and headed closer to them for a better look. They then got spooked by a car and started moving a little too quickly for my liking! I backed off a little and Lee went closer, no change there though! He managed to get really close, before they all disappeared off into the bushes. We returned to camp pretty happy with our walk :) We’d been told that we may be lucky enough to spot Zebra in our camp, but unfortunately they were no where to be seen.

The following day we were bound for Chipata, on a 620km drive, though minus two of our group as one was admitted to hospital :( It was a good chance to see the local life along the road, and our driver stopped en route to buy some doors, which would have looked pretty nice in our house! One sad part was when we saw a truck crash where it was upside down and the cab was literally crushed :( Apparently the roads get a lot worse as we carry on up the continent, and we will see a lot more road accidents.

The next day we were headed for the border crossing into Malawi… time to explore another country :)

Posted by Cass - Lee 01:53 Archived in Zambia Comments (0)

Botswana… it’s all about the Elephants!

sunny 28 °C

After the border crossing into Botswana we got to the campsite and got the tents in place. After dinner as it was so cold we decided to start a campfire. Lee got nominated to go and collect some fire wood and returned with a tree, yes literally! The following morning we could hear hippos groaning and bathing in the river just down from the campsite, it was pretty amazing to hear them so close and knowing there was no fence separating us from them! There was a sign up in the campsite saying to beware of hippos and crocodiles. To be honest, rather than say beware, it should just say run as fast as you can, and get your backside to the top of the nearest tree you find! We were then faced with another travelling day, and we stopped off on the side of the road to make hotdogs for lunch. The locals seemed to find this pretty amusing and kept driving past waving and honking their horns, we’ve found Africa very welcoming so far. It’s a bit of a nightmare knowing how to dress though as in the mornings and overnight you need your thermals, and then during the day it is sweltering!

We arrived at our overnight camp called Elephant Sands, what a place!! The camp was situated on a watering hole where elephants come daily to drink, and our tents were literally in the elephants territory. We were told not to keep any fruit in our tents as the elephants would smell it and try to get to it, and if we needed the loo in the night, to shine our torch out of the tent and look for elephants as they would be roaming around! If we saw any, we needed to get back in the tent and keep quiet, by this point we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to sleep a wink! We then decided to head out on a game drive in search of elephants and anything else we could find, and what a drive it was. Nothing like Kruger, this time we were literally off roading and drifting through the sandy tracks, this felt like real safari! We stopped off at a watering hole and were told to keep our eyes peeled as elephants can come at any time and from any direction. We took a few photos and enjoyed some nice beers, and the cracked on with the game drive. We saw Kudu and some other animals, and some elephants grazing, and we were told to keep very quiet so they would not charge. It seemed like quite a leisurely drive, until dusk that is… it then became elephant central! They were appearing from nowhere, and at one point one was charging along and had we been just a couple of seconds earlier, we would have collided! The drive had gone from relaxed to an adrenaline fuelled frenzy in a matter of minutes! At one point we could hear rustling in the bushes, one elephant was less than 10mtrs laying down, and then we noticed these huge grey lumps ahead, they were everywhere and with their young, on every side of us. Our guide quickly turned our headlights off and shut down the engine, and we all just sat in silence, and sheer panic! We literally spent the last half an hour on the edge of our seats making our way back to our camp, and wondering what we were going to see around each corner and almost swallowing our tongues with our gasps, it was like something you would see in a film, such an incredible experience! When we got back to our campsite, there were elephants at the watering hole, we just caught the tail end of around thirty elephants that had come to the hole at one time!

The following day we continued our drive, and there were elephants happily crossing the road every so often, and we spotted Kudu and Giraffes too, it was amazing… a bit different to maybe spotting a fox at home! We could see the flat plains of Namibia which borders Botswana on our drive. That afternoon we headed out to Chobe National Park on a cruise. We spotted loads of hippos munching away in the water, lots of Kudu and an elephant taking a dip! It seemed to turn into a bit of a booze cruise and we returned back to our camp a little bit tipsy :) The following morning we had another 4:30am start and it was like a scene of ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here’ in the bathrooms… there we bugs all over the place, including a massive spider, uuurrrgghh :( A beetle decided to climb up my leg whilst I was taking a shower, much to my horror! Off we went to the border for another crossing, this time into Zambia. The ferry crossing itself was one not to be forgotten! Whilst we were boarding the ferry, it was a beer run frenzy, people running everywhere and loading beer from the port onto the boat. We left the port and as we approached Zambia, men in boats were frantically rowing towards the ferry. They were collecting the beer from the ferry to avoid paying tax on the alcohol! It was hilarious to watch, and apparently when police come along they just tip everything into the river, and then come back and collect it later! From what we’ve seen so far… Zambia looks like it will have more funny moments to come! :)

Posted by Cass - Lee 15:51 Archived in Botswana Comments (0)

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