A Travellerspoint blog

Driving up the west coast of South Africa, into Namibia

Cape Town to Vic Falls Tour - days 1-7

sunny 35 °C

[Sorry the internet is rubbish - i'll upload photos later on. ignore the numbers within the text ]

Day 36, 4 March 2011

It was a later start today. One of the travelers had their luggage left in Adelaide (well done Qantas) and there was delay in it getting to us at the hotel. We tried to get the last minute errands taken care of, ie post cards and essentials as we realised we are now heading back into the bush and leaving civilisation as we recognise it.

We loaded onto the truck/bus and then headed north.

We arrived at the campsite late in the hot afternoon. It was pure luxury compared to our previous camping experiences. There was very spacious tents sitting on FLAT grass (Wendy likes the flat bit), a swimming pool (which was actually a bit brisk) and a bar. The dinner was a ‘Braai’( I am bringing this fantastic barbequing method home, it consists of multiple meats cooked 10cm above hot coals in a mesh cage- sheer brilliance!).

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Just when you thought it could not get better, we had a wine tasting. W and I are still of the opinion that the white wines are too sweet, but the reds are great.

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Day 37, 5 March 2011

It was a 5.30am wake up as the tents had to be down by 6am. Breakfast was at 6.30am, and the truck was moving by 7am. Love the good early morning starts!

We are driving towards the border today. You can see the change in vegetation and feel the raise in the heat. We’re getting closer to the desert – the rocky hills along the horizon are beautiful.

After a stop in a town called Springbok to do some grocery shopping we went stopped by the side of the road for lunch then left South Africa and entered Namibia. Our camp is a bit beyond the boarder on the banks of the Orange River. The river is not orange but it is very full and running fast as it was flooded a few weeks ago. We had a swim in the camp pool, did a bit of washing (which dried within 30 mins), set up our tents and had dinner.

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The name of the camp is ‘felix unite’, good flat grass to set up on. However we will be setting up our tent further away from the camp kitchen in the future – some people stayed up chatting.

Day 38 6 March 2011
New insurance policy day!
We had a later start today so we lazed around the pool, hiding in the shade. It was an easy drive to ‘fish river canyon’. We set up camp and then went for a swim. The pools seem to be decreasing in volume, size and filtering capacity as we progress north. However the sight of a pool in the warmer weather is still appreciated.

Afterwards, we headed off to the Fish River Canyon which the Namibians claim is the second biggest canyon in the world. On the way we got to have a go in the roof seats of the truck – we had some Abba playing so it was a very ‘Pricilla, Queen of the Desert’ moment! The canyon was very spectacular. We opted not to do the 80km, five day trek, but rather walked about 1km from one view point to another.

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The sunset was pretty amazing, there was a thunderstorm beside the setting sun which was beautiful.

The view from the toilets were one of the more spectacular I have ever seen.

Whilst we were away, some spits of rain had started dropping at the campsite and our master chef ‘mash’ had managed to cook an awesome roast chicken dinner and also get all the rain covers on the tents. After about 15mins, we took the covers off but kept them nearby. We had to eat dinner under the cover of the main building because there was a lot of lightening and thunder around.

Day 39, 7 March 2011

C- Kitchen duty day.

Today I was on kitchen duty so we had to get up a bit earlier - the early wake up for 5.30, gear packed up by 5.45 and I started kitchen for breakfast. Wendy got most of the tent down and then we had to roll it into the bag together. They are good tents to sleep in, with great big netted windows, but they’re buggers to get back in the bags.

It was a very long day of driving. I read the ‘Dan Brown novel the ‘lost symbol’, good book and W finished the first of the Stig Larsson book (luckily no car sickness). It was very interesting to see the characteristics of the landscape change. There has been a lot or rain here (more than usual) so it is very green – it looks like green velvet up to the big red mountains.

We stopped at some little roadside town, where everyone was interested in the apple pie for some reason.

Eventually we got to camp and set up tents, carefully checking for scorpions and ant holes before doing so. Apparently, the smaller and clearer the scorpion the more poisonous it is.

The pool was a mile away! W and I headed straight there after setting up the tent. We had a quick cool down and then I had to go back to prepping food for dinner (Sunglasses help when cutting onions).

We had another nice dinner and then showers and went to bed. Tomorrow is bush camp, no showers!

Day 40, 8 March, 2011

It was a 4.30am rise, tents down by 5 am. We had to drive into the dunes to climb up ’Dune 45’ for sunrise. Dune 45 is 45 km from the gate of the park. It is 200m high and made of that fine red sand that gets into all your clothing. We climbed all the way up and sat back and watched the sunrise. It was pretty spectacular.

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Then came the regular dares of running down sand dunes the hard way, straight don the flat sides, no the gentle ridges.

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I went first, and W followed. They forget to tell us that sand builds up in your shoes! You start your own little tiny sand dune with the contents of your shoes and socks!

We had breakfast at the bottom of the dune and then drove up to Susslevly. Vly means river in some language and sussle means swamp.

We entered this national park and were driven along a sandy track in jeeps. The ride would make a killing if it was theme park attraction ride. The only problem being you are in real life and there are no seat belts! I loved it.

The jeeps dropped us off and we walked about 1km in through the dunes to Dead vly. Apparently there is a river that runs through the desert, but has changed course over the years. There are these trees in the desert that lived where the river was, but as the river moved they died (over 300 years ago). However the moisture content is so low that the trees have not decomposed, but kind of become standing fossils that sit in the hardened mud.

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They look very stark against the red dunes. Most interestingly, I walked up an adjacent sand dune (which was bloody hard work), and there was a lake there from the most recent rains. (W- he also had a great time running down the dune again.)

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We drove on to the town of Solitaire, where there is a well renowned bakery that produces 200kg of apple pie each day. The apple pie is bloody good but would have been better with custard and ice cream. Wendy and I had a piece each, before lunch. The idea of apple pie before lunch is a bad one. No room for lunch.

We drove a little further to the ‘bushmans camp’, which is a little oasis in the middle of the desert. The pool was ok, but there was no filter, lots of bugs and the rocks on the sides were very hot. We chilled out for the afternoon and W fell asleep in the hammock.

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Dinner was served and then we had a talk from the ‘bushman’ – a white Namibian guy who is very passionate about where he lives and the native people who are called the bushman (remember the people in the movie ’The Gods Must be Crazy?). It was a very interesting talk about some fables, the history and the future of the bushmen people. It was very thought provoking – there are similarities between those people and the aboriginal people.

Day 41, 9 March 2011

Another early morning rise, W is on the kitchen duty! Away we go to greater civilization of ‘Swakopmund’ which considered the holiday capital of the country.

After an easy 4hr drive we arrived and were shown a DVD to see what ‘adventure’ activities we wanted to do.

After lunch and settling into our small hotel room W and I freshened up, sorted out laundry and wandered along the beach into town.

The Initial sights are funny as it seems to be a mixture off old English and German heritage buildings. There is a great deal of accommodation, but it is all empty. We are back chilling out and catching up on duties.

We had a group dinner at an Italian restaurant. C and I shared a ‘kudu’ steak (type of deer looking thing) and a ‘game’pizza. Way too much cheap wine and beer was consumed. We caught up with another overland group at a bar later on. They were unhappy that they only had 6 days left of their tour from Nairobi. I’m not sure if we’ll feel the same at Vic Falls, we’re happily going through the motions, but it’s also a lot of work always on the move, tents up, tents down, hot long drive days. We’re a bit spoilt because we’ve already seen a lot of the animals – others on the bus are still at the ‘wow, there is a Zebra’ stage – we’re like, pffft, another bloody Zebra. Still, it’s beautiful a landscape and the dunes are amazing.

C and I escaped around 11pm.

Day 42, 10 March 2011

Today was a later start, we buggered around and went for breaky at about 9:30, then went to the internet and unfortunately spent most of the day catching up on emails.

Later in the afternoon we went to the beach and C went for a swim. It looked quite rough and there were no life guards to be seen so I opted to stay on the sand. We then went to an awesome bar over the beach and got optimum seats to watch the sunset – just a few hours early. We persevered with the beautiful, but hot view, saw a few nice dogs (yep they allow smoking, dogs and children in bars over here it is quite strange) and watched the sunset over the water. It’s hard to believe that we’ll be on the other side of the same ocean in a few weeks (from BA).
We went home and cleaned up before going out for a really good dinner with a few other tour people.

Posted by ourlife 05:30 Archived in Namibia Tagged desert driving tour Comments (0)

Cape Town

Days 33 to 35

sunny

[Sorry, this internet is rubbish, will upload photos at a later date]

Day 33, 1st March 2011

My turn to write, Wendy is in extreme discomfort courtesy of the bartenders strongly encouraging her to drink with them. The following phrase kept being repeated.

Here’s to being single,
Seeing double,
Drinking triples,
And multiple orgasms.

No need to say anymore there!

The early morning rise did not help her head. Pain killers were immediately sourced and bags packed into the car. I kept driving, W stayed alive and didn’t spew in the car. Apparently the tequila was the stronger version.

The drive to airport was easy. We got there, found out we could have driven the car into the city and had it picked up. Instead we caught a shuttle bus to the hotel with a crazy driver who we think was auditioning for F1. The bloke was crazy after struggling to find an address of a passenger before us.

Wendy was feeling tired (ie she was in a terrible mood), so I left her at the hotel and went exploring. The reception had told me it was 15 min walk to a place called the waterfront. Try 50mins! And it was hot today!

I got the waterfront, bought an extra duffle bag for the stuff we have picked up (a parcel may be being sent home very soon!) and then went to the pub for liquid rehydration. I struck up some conversation with some locals. Apparently they rate Julia Gillard highly. Although after hearing about their president and the anecdotes, I almost think our government is doing alright. Remember, hot day 50 mins walk, cold beer then think of the possible conversations.

I caught the taxi back to the hotel.

Wendy was Skyping to Jack and Marion when I got back. It was still hot that afternoon, so we had cold showers and chilled whilst the heat of the day passed. We went down Long Street and saw all the markets and shops. It is a lot like a Sydney shopping strip in Paddington etc. with lots of funky clothes shops mixed with antique shops and open air markets. We had Gelato ice creams and then we went back to the hotel.

Tonight is ‘writing night’. Post cards and blog entries are being updated and finally written! It is still quite warm here, but tomorrow we plan to hike up ‘Table Mountain’. Everyone says be careful, but we are still comparing to previous climbs, a piece of cake eh? Don’t worry plenty of water will be on hand.

Day 34, 2nd March 2011

Today we got an early start to try and beat the heat and climb ‘Table Mountain’. It would have been great, except that it took 1 ½ hrs to get to the beginning of the path. We originally thought there was a path behind the lower cable car station. Somehow we managed to miss the initial entrance but managed to find the next entrance and climbed up just over 1000m up a gorge. The path consisted of steps and big rocks. The view at the top was really beautiful and clear and you could see the ocean. (W – I may have struggled a bit to keep my breath – what happened to all that Kili fitness).

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We had a look around the top and had a cup of coffee and then elected to catch the cable car down – it was a lot faster!

After another trek back to the hotel we had a shower and headed back out to the beach. We’d been told the best places to go and we found a nice spot amongst the other people that were swimming (not many). We soon found out why there weren’t many people in the water. It was so cold our feet started cramping. We each took a dive under a small wave and got out – about 1 min in the water in total. We opted for our small travel towels over a nice sun bed and umbrella and dried off pretty quickly. After a while we left and jumped into a local mini van (a lot less scary than the one in Zanzibar) and got into town for 12rand (about $0.50). We found some outdoor shops and wandered around the waterfront to find tickets for Robben Island for the next day. We hiked back to the hotel – via a pub called the turtle. After walking in we soon found that we were in a ‘local’ pub (as in we were the whitest thing in there….). We saddled up at the bar and got two beers – but were soon approached by a locally bar fly, claiming that he was a traveler too and that we should start a fund for every traveler to drink…. As in we should buy him a drink. I nursed my drink and C quickly bought two cheaper drinks and drank his. We escaped asap and wandered off into the closest shop (to make sure we weren’t followed) and got our first real Barwick baby gift (you’ll have to wait and see - C is concerned how much I’ll actually spend once they’re here!) and a few other trinkets.

After getting back to the hotel, via the supermarket we noticed that the light in our room still wasn’t working. The previous night we’d had someone come and have a look and said that it was ok for one night but it had to be fixed by the next. I cracked it and sent poor C down to deal with it… well he played the ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ card, claiming that he had a tyrant waiting in the room and that they’d better fix it or they’d have to find us another hotel – or he’d set me onto them …. (I was impressed!). A few minutes later a poor girl came up and said that she’d found us a double room on a lower floor so we packed up all our stuff and moved down. Although it was smaller, the light worked, it had a tv and also didn’t have the wafting marijuana smells… we settled in for the night, eating our chicken keivs on the floor.

Day 35, 3 March 2011

Today we got ready and headed off toward the District six museum. From my understanding, district six was an area of Cape town that had a mix of people in the early 1900s as it was close to town. When apartheid started coming they removed all the black people and made them move to other out skirting towns and bull dozed the area to allow white people to move in. The museum is about the issues caused by the move – the loss of community, the fact that homing pigeons kept coming back to the district and the unfair nature of it all. They’re now in the process of moving people back into district six in government buildings. It was interesting, but we didn’t really understand a lot of it – I think it was a bit of a memorial.

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We raced down to the city to change some $$ - found that it was going to be harder than we first thought so we raced off to the waterfront to get the boat at 11am. Unfortunately I’d packed c’s big pocket knife to help with lunch, but there was a security gate so C had to race off to leave it with the security people and then race back to the boat. We made it on in time and spotted a number of dolphins and seals on the way over. Robben island is where political prisoners were sent in the past. They were sent for anything including being a recruiter for the ANC to being Nelson Mandella. We had a very boisterous guide who managed to draw the nationality of each person on the bus (Aussies were blamed for bringing back eucalyptus – which drink too much water and rabbits – both of which the greenies now prevent them from removing) but also told us all about the island. We were also taken through the prison by an ex political prisoner. It is very hard for us to fathom how/why the things that happened did happen. There was an international press tour at one point – and although the black prisoners were usually dressed in short sleeves and shorts with no shoes, for the press they were made to wear jackets and long pants and shoes. They were also given beds – whereas they usually had three blankest to sleep on/with. C and I managed to sneak off into block A where there were stories of those that were kept in solitary confinement – except that my usual fear of being locked in kicked in and I made us leave after 5 mins. We raced back to the boat and got back to town at about 2:30.

We then had a nightmare of a time trying to find a way to convert $$ for the local payment. We’d gotten the travelex cards because we thought that we could use them at a travelex booth and withdraw US$, no. (C- we actually visited 6 different institutions all over the city and water front, racing on foot and trying to beat the apparent 430pm closing time of banks! Just slightly stressful) So we tried using our visa debit cards, no. Eventually we tried my credit card which worked (C- hoorah!)- I even got a nice call from the bank about an hour later confirming that I was in Africa.

We raced back to pick up my boot (we’d had to put it into a shoe shop to get two of the lace holder thingys (C-eyelets!) fixed), and got some provisions from the supermarket. (C- after the stress of the banks, we figured out we had eaten one apple, one bit of toast with vegemite and one decent ( first decent one and cheapest too in Africa) coffee all day, it was 5pm when we got to supermarket!)

We met the people for the next tour at the hotel (they seem a bit older than we’d anticipated from who we’d talked to previously) and we went for dinner with the group and enjoyed our very nice bottle of Stellenbosch wine while C uploaded the blog. (C- on revision of the blog the next day, it has been decided that blogs should not be posted when having consumed alcohol on empty stomachs, save as draft , then review!)

Some last minute packing and reorganizing and then to bed finally.

Posted by ourlife 05:14 Archived in South Africa Tagged mountain Comments (0)

The Garden Route

The views of Aouth Africa

Day 29, 25 February 2011
Today was a long day. We landed in cape town at about 5am and negotiated our way through immigration. We picked up our bags (even though we were told in Dar El Salam the bags would be checked through to Port Elisabeth (called PE by the locals)) and found the domestic check in area – which was miles away, Terminal A, gate 141!?!. We even managed to get five minutes in the lounge!

Once we arrived in PE we picked up the hire car, a fiat punto. This is small (emphasis on small) european car. The backpacks plus day sacks occupy the boot and the back seat when folded down. Any charitable thought of giving someone a lift would have to balanced out with a) lack of space and b) lack of engine power. C did the checks of the car and as per usual pulled someone out of the office to inform them of unrecorded chips and marks, in some vain hope the marks we add are just missed.

After the obligatory turning on the wind screen wipers instead of the indicators (European cars!), we headed off out of town. The wrong way at first, but eventually found the main highway, the N2, and started the adventure.

After driving for about 2 hours we stopped in Jeffrey’s Bay and talked to the tourist info people. We worked out our path down the garden route over a burger and went in the direction of what is called Storm’s River which is just outside of Plettenberg Bay. At Storm’s River there is a huge gorge and an accommodation village. It is a bit of an adventure activity area with bungy jumping, tubeing and other scary things. We booked into the backpackers and went in search of the elephant sanctuary. At the sanctuary we got to walk with elephants – holding their trunks and pat them – it was awesome. Apparently C and I were very lucky and received great elephant blessings, C claims the elephants just managed to sneeze of both of us.
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We crashed pretty early as we’d pretty much been going for 48 hrs. Even the noise of the backpackers didn’t disturb us too much.

Day 30, 26 February 2011
After breaky we went down to the tree canopy walk which we had booked the day before. It was a bit early so C explored the Elvis shops (apparently there is a big festival in the Storm’s River Village each year) and I got coffee. I managed to buy some scissors to trim Chris’ whiskers. His beard is coming along well but he was complaining about the hair going over his lips. (C- I don’t care what they say, whiskers do not sift, they just catch everything! It gets very annoying.)

At 8:30 we were taken into a room for a briefing on the tree canopy walk and then kitted up and driven to the forest. It was amazing – they’ve constructed a number of platforms around the middle of the big old trees and you slide across on wires – you’re about 20 -50m off the ground. I managed not to freak out, but a few unsavory words were used - C loved it. (C – I have the evidence recorded in film! Wendy can swear with the best of them when stimulated).
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We went back to Elvis shops and looked at the old cars (C- they were Cadillac’s and they were in pristine condition, it could make a grown man cry. Don’t worry dad, I got photos!)

We finished up and headed off to see what Plettenburg was like. The landscape is beautiful along the road – we struggled a bit to focus on the road as we kept crossing ‘gorgeous gorges’, ( C- Wendy’s new phrase, it was funny at first but after 50 gorges it becomes monotonous.), and we’re driving along next to huge rock mountains. Plettenburg was another sleepy coastal town – a bit like what Mooloolabah used to be – with some flashy houses and some dodgy ones. At the café we stopped at, they had photoes of the beach before and after the Tsunami in 2008. Apparently over the 7 days, huge waves rolled in and removed very large tracts of shore line. There is a famous hotel called the “Manor” whose swimming pool is now literally in the sea, the owners must have been very nervous we think for a few days.

Afterwards, we got back on the road toward Knysna. As we got to Knysna we went out to what is called The Heads – which is where there is a break in a big mountain which lets the water into Knysna. The houses in Knysna are the next level up in opulence – this is where people have their holiday house/mansion. We located the backpackers and dumped our stuff then went in search of a sunset cruise. It was fantastic – we were given a discount because they want to encourage the backpackers to promote it to guests. it was great – they provided drinks and nibbles, then part way through there was an oyster tasting. It was lovely out on the water. Afterward we had a few more drinks with a few of the others on the tour – then we were taken to dinner by a lovely South African couple – it was great to have some company and to eat nice food. We stumbled home at about 11pm- our heads the next day though were a bit rough! (C the generosity of strangers could be our undoing!)

Day 31, 27 February 2011
We decided to do a big drive today to get down to the southern most point of Africa – Cape Argulhas. It is where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. The light house is close to another small costal town about 100km off the main highway.

The point was pretty windy but C still managed to pee in the ocean (which is for good luck).
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After a bit of a look and a wander we got back in the car and zoomed off toward the wine region. I was really struggling at this stage - the wine headache just wouldn’t let up. But luckily C is a good highway driver and as long as I get him on the right road he just keeps driving.

We went up over the mountains and came across Franshoek – which is a wine beautiful town – very ritzy. We kept going though, to Stellenbosch which is a university town (lucky I didn’t go to uni here- it is surrounded by 150 vineyards) and found the backpackers and a supermarket. We crashed pretty soon after dinner.

Day 32, 28 February 2011
In the morning we just caught up on emails/ banking etc, and at 10:30 we headed off on a wine tour. It is very much like the Australian wine regions- you drive round and find these beautiful cellar doors with tasting rooms and restaurants. We were given a tour of the wine making plant which was very interesting – but a bit smelly then we set about tasting. As usual C and I agreed that we’d get one bottle per vineyard – we stuck to it this time – there were only four vineyards on the tour- which by the end we thought was a good thing. We also did a cheese tasting which was great.

There were a lot of people on the tour that had done a 90 day overland tour from Nairobi. They were in pretty good spirits, but said that there had been some very long traveling days. I think our next tour will be a lot like that.

After cooling off in the pool when we were getting dinner ready C helped two Dutch guys with barbequing (or ‘braiiing’ as it’s called here) a huge piece of steak. It was a bit more cooked ( ie not rare and bleeding) than he usually does it but they were happy. We somehow got dragged into the bar and were given copious amounts of tequila by the bar people…. Another long day tomorrow! (C -I told W, the generosity of strangers will be our undoing)

Posted by ourlife 00:20 Comments (0)

Stone Town Maze

The ancients of the Sultan

Day 27, 23 February
Stone Town

After another leisurely wake up and breaky at the coral rock we headed off on our transfer to Stone Town. It was an uneventful drive until we hit the main street of what I think is called New Town. There were people everywhere selling all kinds off things. It resembled a south east asian market with lots of weird smells and it was pretty chaotic (even just from the car!).

The driver found the hotel suggested by those at Coral Rock and after a quick room inspection we unloaded our bags, asked the reception the usual queries re banks, shopping, food etc and headed in the direction of the ferry terminal to find tickets. There are a lot of what locals call papassi – which are pretty much ticket touts that find tourists to buy tickets for and either get tips from the tourists and /or a commission from the agent. We ended up with a bit of an entourage as we made our way to the office and C warded them off while I negotiated two ferry tickets for the next day.

It was extremely hot, but we decided to do the touristy thing and explore a bit of the maze of stone town. It is very geared for tourists – with pretty much the same wooden trinkets and paintings in each shop that we’ve seen across most of Tanzania. We even spotted more of the special wooden salt and pepper holder turtle that we had gotten from Coral Rock because we thought it was unique to there…. Oh, well.

We walked around most of the afternoon looking at various shops – escaping very convincing sales men. We also booked a spice tour for the next morning and had some lunch. At one point I made C follow some strange guy who was promising a great spice shop – but really he just led us into the middle of the main local market where we got bombarded with more weird smells, people, rubbish. We rely on the line ‘the Australian govt doesn’t allow us to take that stuff home because of the quarantine’…. Which they don’t really understand but it seems to work.

After a nice ice coffee to quell C’s nerves (after the hubbub of the market), we walked around in circles till we found some Persian baths which we then decided not to pay the $1 to go in and have a look (they’re no longer used).
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We then went in search of a jewelry shop that we’d seen advertised in the inflight mag – with the promise of something Tanzanite for me. We found it, and spent an hour or so choosing some stones to be made into earrings – (C always said that I can buy anything I like, I just have to carry it ). Tanzania is the only place you can get Tanzanite from. I wonder how many other countries have similar exclusive precious stones….

After a few beers (again to quell C’s nerves after the jewelry shopping) we showered and changed and headed out toward some restaurants. Instead we found the night market which is a set up of all of these tables where the locals cook all of the seafood that they’d ‘caught’ that day – yep effectively street meat. But of course they wear big chef hats and claim that theirs is fresher than the next table (no gloves, or any other form of hygiene though). Now, when the one thing a hotel receptionist says is, ‘stone town is 99.9% safe from crime, but I suggest you don’t eat at the night market because it will make you sick”, what do you think we’d do…… we ate at the night market. In retrospect it was something we had to do and we actually haven’t been sick!
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After a bit of a stroll along the waterfront we headed back to the room and fell asleep to the sounds of the streets below.

Day 28, 24 February 2011
Day two in stone town was supposed to be fairly casual….. we had breaky and waited out the front of the hotel for our spice tour pick up at 9:00 – which I think arrived at 9:15 but we then drove around to a few other hotels to pick up people. When C and I confirmed about the timing of the tour finishing (we’d been told that we’d be done and back in stone town by 1-1;30pm) they said about 3….. after a few terse words we were again assured that we’d be dropped back by 1-1:30. It’s funny how easily you place your well being in the hands of strangers – before we knew it we were off into the bush – ending up on a dirt road in the middle of no where. But we were dropped off at the spice farm and given a fairly good run down of the various spices and fruits that they grow in Zanzibar. Nothing is actually native- but introduced by the numerous inhabitants over the past 100s of years. We tasted cardamom seeds, drank coconut milk, tried on natural ‘lipstick’ and were treated to banana leaf rings and bracelets by the locals. After further info about pepper, oils and the requisite shop at the end we were taken to a local village for lunch which was simple but tasty.
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After lunch as we were heading back toward stone town we were told by our guide that, as there was only one bus and C and I were the only ones to go to stone town, we would have to get out and get a public bus back into town – but not to worry, they would pay for it…… there is a point at which sometimes you wish that you were more assertive, more demanding, or just more bloody minded as after some consternation we got out of the van and found ourselves on the side of a road waiting for a public bus. It took the guide a few goes to find a mini van that would take two stupid tourists – but eventually we loaded into a van that was full of locals- and proceeded to stop every 100m all the way to town. Nevertheless we made it back to our hotel, a bit more bleary eyed but a lot more the wiser.

We found our jeweler friend and picked up the beautiful tanzanite earrings and were then driven to the boat by his driver. After a hot and steamy wait we squashed our way onto the boat – had out bags put onto the front of the boat and then made our way up to our seats. We watched the Italian Job with dodgy subtitles and I tried to ignore the lurching of the boat as much as I could.
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When we arrived in Dar Es Salaam we were hustled into a taxi with two south African Girls who we had befriended on the boat – and negotiated a good deal to be taken to a hotel then picked up and taken to the airport. We’re now sitting waiting to be picked up and will have to wait until about 2:30am… the joys of traveling!

Our taxi driver was waiting for us at the hotel and took us to the airport at about 11:30pm. They don’t let you into the airport until close to your check in so stopping at the hotel was a good idea. After checking in we ambled around the airport looking at duty free and touristy stuff and snoozed until the flight.

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Zanzibar Magic

Beaches, bed and cocktails........Hmmm

Day 23, 19 February 2011

We still wake up early expecting the warm ‘’washy wash’’ and tea to be brought to our tent/bed, despite the fact we are now in a hotel room with a flat bed and solid doors. So at 6am we duly woke up, but no tea!

With much lethargy and fuss we had managed to re-pack the bags the night before. However I swear the only things we have packed was the grime from mountaineering embedded in our clothes, but these bags and their stretching seems indicate otherwise.

An early breakfast, with extra strong coffee and we prepared for the transfer to Kilimanjaro international airport. When walking around the hotel you could not but help to notice that the different guests seemed to be spilt into two categories, the sprightly, energised guest preparing to climb vs the hobbling, groaning reduced life forms of guests who had visited the mountain.

The transfer was fine, then going through initial security was fine, until we noticed that no one was at the desk to check anyone in. A substantial queue had formed and a had rumour started that there were passengers from the previous morning flight who were overbooked and were placed on this flight. After some good rugby tactics and scouting/ flirting by W, we were checked in via the business class desk and given our seats.

We are now good at concealing the size and weight of my day pack for fear that someone will ask to weigh it. I ran into problems with the second security gate with my wedding ring again! W and I cannot figure why mine sets the detectors off and hers does not.

We flew into Zanzibar international and still had to get checked for yellow fever vaccinations and entry despite it having been a domestic flight?

During the drive to the Coral Rock, we commented about some of the similarities between the sights of Vietnam and Tanzania. You can see lots of new construction and new buildings shouldered beside ‘slum-like’ houses and children wearing clothes that seem to be 8th or 9th hand me downs. Interestingly, the children all seem to happy and smile and wave all the time as you drive past in the car. They still squash more people onto a car then seats are available.

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If you didn’t have a transfer or did not know where the hotel was, you would never find it. You turn off the major highway (a two way road) into a village town of houses built out of coral rock and about one room big. There are no signs and no way of knowing if you are being taken somewhere dangerous until the car pulls up in front of the resort.

The room we’re n is basic but beautiful, with an amazing private beach view you would find hard to beat. This part of the island faces the Indian Ocean and has very large tidal beach, so at low tide you can walk for 500m out to pure beach and then at high tide the water rushes in to crash against the coral rock foundations. The erosion has us intrigued as the edge overhangs by about 3m, luckily the buildings are a bit further back, we think.

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We agreed today was ‘I don’t care’ day. Many beers were ordered, a massage booked for tomorrow, washing handed in and the atmosphere soaked up. This culminated in us falling asleep during the afternoon and then completely missing dinner. Another similarity to Vietnam.

Day 24, 20 February 2011.

After waking up feeling somewhat seedier then previously remembered for while. We got up and started to return to the real world. We checked emails and enjoyed breakfast from an open air restaurant hut. The day was spent lounging and relaxing. It certainly is much closer to the honeymoon idea then climbing out of tents at strange hours of the night.

We also feel clean again. The massages included a scrub, so now dirt embedded from Meru and Killi has been forcefully removed. The laundry came back pristine, 2 whole garbage bags for 20,000 TSH! (about $13 Australian). Don’t know how long it will last though.

Day 23, 21 February 2011

Beach excursion day.

We booked a beach excursion for today so at about 8.15 we were picked up and driven to a remote beach and put on one of the local boats to explore a remote island beach.
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The boat ride was idealic in an old wooden skiff (W commented she was happy that at least there were life jackets easily available). When we arrived at the beach there was almost no one around except a family at the other end of the beach 100m away, and some local women collecting pippis from the sand.

The sand was pure white and the waters deep blue. We went for swim and splash and settled in to read some books in the shade of cave.
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Just before lunch we went snorkeling. We jumped back on the wooden skiff and then eased our way around the side of the island to coral reefs. Although hard to compare to the great barrier reef, there were great mounds of coral to explore and many fish to see. The amount of coral rock that has built up on the island is quite substantial. We were there for about 2hrs just swimming and snorkeling.
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Back to thee beach for lunch, the menu;

Hot rock cooked lobster, prawns, fish, calamari and octopus
Sides of fresh potato wedges, rice and special sauce
Desert; fresh fruit including coconut, watermelon, mango, pineapple and chocolate

Seems tough doesn’t it?

Karma however said there was price to be paid. We had bought some more sunscreen locally that said it was SPF 60. We applied it liberally, often and covered up every time we sat out of the water. We still came back looking like lobsters. Where W and I applied the sunscreen from Australia, no problems, where we applied the local sunscreen on our backs and legs, big red problems. My back and W’s legs are looking very angry at the moment. Lots of coconut butter has been applied, but tonight’s sleeping is looking questionable. This is after we were admonishing all of the Europeans for hanging out in the sun without any cream on!

Day 25, 22 February 2011

Sleeping with sunburn is not fun. At least now we can call it a real holiday.

Today is get ready day. We are tidying up and doing the admin of reviewing emails and getting the blog ready for posting. There are heaps of photos to be sorted and accommodation for Stone Town needs to be determined/ booked.

(Lots of sleep and lazing also).

Bring on Stone Town!

Posted by ourlife 12:04 Comments (0)

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