Friday, August 6, 2010

Alan's Final Perspective!!

The last time that I actually applied my fingers to my BlackBerry (or a keyboard) was on the 1st July!! Why so long ago? Driving all day every day took a lot out of me and when we stopped for the evening the last thing I felt like was thinking about what to write, so it was a blessing in disguise when Fiona arrived and took to writing the blog like I took to drinking Jamesons!! Some of my thoughts were shared in Fiona's writings and all our daily activities were well documented.

My biggest regret about the trip is the fact that it was far too short for me!!! Whilst I felt that I needed to come home, there is/was no real reason to have done it other than that I had to be back at work on the 2nd August.

To have been able to spend more time seeing more of Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Mozambique would have been ideal for me. I feel that a lot of the time was rushed getting to places and when we got there very little time was spent looking around the actual towns we were in. (When we were in Tanga we met the couple from Namibia who were spending 6 months on a trip - now that is what I should of done!!!!)

North of our border is so different to what we have in South Africa - yes the roads are bad, the food served is different (but the same if you bought and cooked it yourself), being out of your comfort zone is not always great, camping is great if you spend longer than one day in a camp and have decent ablutions, hotel etc are fun to experience (well some of them), beers are great to taste, local gins are lovely (except the one made from banana in Uganda), all the people we met were so friendly and helpful and the beauty of the countryside is staggering to drive through.

The highlight of the trip was definitely seeing the gorillas. Whilst the journey on foot is not so memorable I will never forget the feeling of being so close to these wonderful creatures. I have watched the video that I took of them a few times and it reminds me of how regal and imposing they are. The mind boggles at the thought that there are actually people out there that actually kill these primates. May the gorillas be protected forever!!!!

"Lowlight"? None really other than The Beast giving me grief but with hindsight I am pleased that I was able to DISABLE the Steve Autoclinic so called modification.

I appear to others to have returned a different person (besides the tan) and on reflection of this I can honestly say that I have been re-energised at all levels.

Will I do it again? Damn right but this time I will be probably being doing it on a motorbike and for a longer period! After I met the chaps from Bulgaria and Italy, who have travelled through Africa on motorbikes, I would love to do the trip this way and forefill my initial dream. Clearly the logistics of this would be little different.

So for now that is me and I will be posting some more pictures this week-end and I will also try to attached a section of the odd video taken.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Inhambane accommodation

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28th - 29th July Fiona's last Perspective

Today was spent at the market haggling the prices down to an acceptable level and then buying a few gifts, before lunch in Tofo. The price starts at double what the real value is and eventually you might be lucky to pay the locals price.

We all had Barracuda & Chips at Casa Barry. The prawns seem non existent at the moment.

We drove to look at a few beaches. Mozambique reminds me a bit of Thailand and the Transkei. It is not at all what I expected and I am honestly not sure whether I like it or not.

One annoying thing is that wherever you go, as soon as you get out of your car, you are harassed by a million people trying to sell you something. You can be in the middle of nowhere and as soon as you get out of your car there are 10 people standing around you with their hand out...

The cellular companies advertise by painting the roadside Kiosks in their colours with their branding. North of Malawi most of the buildings were painted dark pink for Zain and yellow for M cell. In Mozambique every second little building or roadside Kiosk is painted in blue with Vodacom branding. It is hugely overdone.

I loved our accommodation in Inhambane, the room being on stilts and being able to sit on the deck and watch the fish swim by, the crabs scuttle around trying to catch dinner, and of course the crisp white linen, that's always a deal closer for me!

We slept well, knowing that we were leaving for home soon.

We left Jen & Gav early the next morning and headed for Maputo, whilst they headed for Durban. Gav's brother is not well and he is going directly to Durban to see him.

We stopped en route to buy some Peri Peri and then again to say hi to an old freind Dennis and then headed for Maputo.

So, after 6 hours we arrived in Maputo.

That evening we took a taxi to a local Portuguese restaurant recommended by Dennis, called Cristal. We must have been the only non locals eating there, just what Alan and I like.. Good Chicken, good Prawns and good Vinho Verde.

Komatipoort here we come!

Tomorrow we would be home....

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

27th July Fiona's Perspective

This morning we set off for Inhambane, a 4hr drive. A fairly good drive, except for a 20km stretch of roadworks. A single dirt track became the road and there was no way to overtake the trucks and slow Bakkies! Well, Alan found a way! I felt like I was in the Dakar!

We got to Inhambane by 1.30PM, in time for lunch. Unfortunately our eagerly awaited Prawns and chips were actually Shrimps and chips.
We tried out the Pao (Mozambique bread) as suggested by Sam, one of my staff at the office. Alan quite liked them and had 3, the last one with a layer of Chilli and hot chips.

We found a place to stay and settled in for the next two nights after Jen negotiated a discounted rate (50%) because we were South Africans, we are nice, it was low season etc

Dinner was great and Alan finally got his Chourico sausage. It was warm enough to sit outside next to the pool for dinner and with an African singer playing Guitar in the background (sounding a bit like Trini Lopez) it was perfect.

Our rooms are made of wood and are on stilts out in the bay. Going to dinner, the tide was in and water surrounded the room, coming back, the tide was out and our room seemed to stand on stilts on the sand.
The rooms were out quite a way from the restaurant and pool, so it was either a long walk up on an elevated gangway over the water or a ride on a golf cart, which was quite fun after a few drinks.

I think we have definately ended the holiday on a high note. The accommodation is great! There is nothing quite like crisp, white linen sheets and a patio with steps down into the ocean.

Tomorrow we will be lunching in Tofo, visiting an old Lighthouse and buying some gifts at the market (not sure if we can actually fit anything more into the car!!!)

The countdown has begun...

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gav & Jen - Inhambane

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Lunch @ Inhambane, Mozambique

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26th July Fiona's Perspective

After a quick cup of coffee (Jen's jump start for the day) we set out for the coast. The first big town that we hit was Chimoio. We stopped to draw money and put in petrol. The ATM queues were down the road, but to our delight, the Std bank ATM was deserted. Reason - No money!!! So after waiting an African 5 minutes for it to be refilled (actually 30min) we drew money and were then able to fill up with petrol and continue towards the coast.

With every country visited, there are always roadside stalls, but there are subtle changes in each country. Mozambique definately has a different feel to it. Besides the Portuguese writing everywhere, it just feels different.

The drive today was fairly stress free due to the roads being good and relatively free of traffic, so we made good time and only had to give one policeman a bottle of water. Actually he wanted Coke and couldn't speak English, so he looks at Alan blankly and says Coke? Alan says no, we have none and gives him a half finished bottle of water.

By 3PM we arrived in Inhassoro. We stopped in at Seta Lodge and had Prawns & chips and a bottle of wine with a sea view. Well, that was just for me. Alan had his own meal and some Whiskey. Gav & Jen ordered Calamari expecting rings and got a Calamari steak instead. I think something got lost in translation.

After that we decided we were not going anywhere and booked chalets for the night.

Mozambique is going to be a quick overview for us. We can always come back again as it is so close to home.

We sat on the deck whilst the sun set and Alan & Gavin attempted to work their way through yet another bottle of Jamesons.

At about 10PM we all went for a walk on the beach as it was full moon, the tide was out and it was the romantic thing to do.

The holiday is coming to an end, and I can't say I will not be glad to sleep in my own bed, be able to love my dog again and be back at the office.

Too much of a good thing can ruin it...

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Monday, July 26, 2010

24th & 25th July Fiona's Perspective

Today was relaxed, a bit of a boat ride along the coast, and some wine with lunch and an afternoon snooze whilst Alan and Gav watched rugby.

All in all exactly what we wanted.

Our last night was spent with Taffy and Jen, sitting around chatting, laughing, drinking and listening to Ismael Lo.
We all couldn't believe the time had passed so quickly and were really sad to leave.

So, we left with Herman, the wooden caricature of a Giraffe and set off before Gavin and Jenny for Blantyre. We would catch up with them after the border crossing into Mozambique.

We met Elizabeth's (our domestic worker) father and sister outside a prearranged spot near Lunzu.
Rhoda, her sister helped me buy some Malawian material and have a few sarongs made up. Thereafter we followed them back to their home in the village, Rhoda on the back of a bicycle taxi and her father on a motorbike taxi.

The rest of the family was waiting outside for us, the children all in their Sunday best. After some introductions, we were shown the house, the yard, the chickens etc. They had a big parcel for Elizabeth and gifts of homegrown Paw paw, eggs and peanuts (all pre shelled) from his garden for us. We gave each child a soccer ball and some pens. I took a couple of photos and Alan Videotaped Precious, her son whilst he kicked his new ball around.
Soon it was time to go as we still had about 700km to do before dark and Gavin had already crossed the border into Mozambique.

The border crossing was once again uneventful and we ended up about 40km behind Gavin & Jen as we had entered Mozambique at a more southern Border crossing.

We caught up with them in Tete, where they had stopped for coffee and to get some take away Chicken and chips.

A quick stop along the road to eat and we were quickly on our way again. The overnight stop was still 300km away and it was getting dark and everyone knows you don't drive after dark in Mozambique or anywhere north of our borders if you can help it.

Well, so much for no night driving. We drove till 8PM, which meant 2,5hrs in the dark, which was not great as we were tired, having been on the road since 7am. Trying to phone ahead for accommodation was interesting as no one seemed to speak English and my Portuguese is a little rusty (ha ha).
We finally decided to aim for the closest place as the cell signal was almost non existent and trying to call ahead was just becoming impossible.

The closest place seemed to be a Kruger Park replica, in the old days. It was a bunch of Rondavel's alongside a lake. With the decor to match the Kruger lodges. But it seemed vaguely clean. So we lay our weary heads down on the pillow and we were lights out.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

23rd July Fiona's Perspective

This morning we chilled, waking a little later than normal and deciding to drive in to Monkey Bay harbour and see the old ship the Chauncy Maples, 101+ yrs old from the days of Livingstone.

After breakfast, we set off for the harbour. About 4km after we hit the tar, we got pulled over by a Policeman standing in the middle of the road. The embankment on our side of the road was so steep that Alan pulled over to the right hand side, off the road onto the dirt. We then got a 20min lecture on how it was illegal to park facing oncoming traffic and it was a major offence in Malawi (where goats, cows, bicycles etc are all over the road). After apologising, we then reversed and parked on the road, on the correct side, in the middle of the lane, blocking traffic, but that was ok, totally legal!!! We were then asked for Alan's drivers license, and when that was in order, he asked to see our fire extinguisher, which is actually not a legal requirement, so we showed it to him. Alan then asked him what else he would like to see as we would love to show him anything he wanted to see (facetiously). This put him on the back foot and we were allowed to go.

Wouldn't it be great if all the burnt out trucks lying next to the road had had a fire extinguisher on board, maybe they wouldn't be a shell of their former self!!!

We stopped at a roadside stall, called 'Toys R us' a couple of guys sitting under a Lapa making wooden replicas of Landrovers and Landcruisers. (I have uploaded a pic of their signage). So we ordered one to be made to look exactly like our vehicle and showed him a photo on my camera of Gavin's vehicle and ordered one for him too. Incredible workmanship.

Back for lunch and an afternoon snooze! Well, actually I snoozed and Alan repacked the car to fit in all the Curios I had bought. Especially Herman the Giraffe, a caricature of a giraffe that Taffy&Jen had just brought back from Zambia from a lodge they had stayed at. It wasn't for sale, but they managed to purchase it, just to give it to ME!!!

Afternoon drinks were relaxed and we sat chatting to Taffy and Jenny (South African owners of our accommodation), watching the sun set, when I got an sms that Gav and Jen where close to Monkey Bay and where were we.

They arrived about 30min later and joined us for dinner, drinks and more drinks. So, the team was back together.
We decided then and there that we would extend our stay by another night...

Do we have to leave?

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Toys R us

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Friday, July 23, 2010

22nd July Fiona's Perspective

Our Hosts Taffy & Jenny arrived and joined us for drinks. We soon learned that we were going out on the boat tomorrow to snorkel and feed the Fish Eagles.

After a real home cooked meal with Beef and Pork roast and loads of Vegetables, we retired, exhausted from the last 20 days of continuous driving.

This morning we woke to the sounds of Red tailed Monkeys playing on our tin roof, actually it sounded more like Hippo's.

We have an outdoor shower, which works here as we are in the middle of winter and it was warm enough to shower outside last night.

So, after a shower and the first decent breakfast in a while, although the egg yolks are quite pale and creamy coloured, almost the colour of the white, because the Chickens apparently don't get enough greenery to eat, the local vendors set up their wares at the bottom of the beach. They are allowed to come once a day for an hour to peddle their wares. This stops the constant hassling every time you set foot on the beach and seems to work quite well.

Taffy took us down the Bay on his speedboat to a site where we could snorkel. He then threw a couple of dead fish out, which got the Fish Eagles out of their nests in the trees on the cliffs. We had a few circling and then swooping down in front of us to grab the fish out of the water, quite a magnificent sight.

The snorkeling was amazing, it was like being inside our tank at home in the days when we had some really beautiful Cichlids (Malawi fish). The colours were quite spectacular. Blues, Turquoise, zebra striped with yellow fins....

Alan and Taffy drank a few beers whilst I snorkelled, after which we headed back to the Lodge for lunch. What a way to spend the morning.

Taffy tells us his story of how he decided to get out of the rat race and sell everything and take a chance on starting this Lodge in Malawi. Now, as Alan put it, we pay him to drink beer with us and live a life that we were quite envious of.

Lunch was served and after a bottle of white Wine, we thought it would be the right thing to do, to have an afternoon sleep.

Later, we met a 55yr old American lady that spends her time traveling through Africa selling her paintings and artwork to fund her travels. We exchanged some tips on where we had both been, and which Campsites were worth a visit.

After another great dinner, the day was over.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Following Paul to Murchison Falls

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Nairobi policeman

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Sunset on Lake Malawi

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21st July Fiona's Perspective

Well, 9 days to go and we will be back home and back in 1st world Africa.

Whilst we may not be 1st world, we certainly are compared to most places north of our borders in the African continent.

This morning we were up early, and after packing everything (cutlery, pillows etc) back into the car, we set off to find better accomodation in southern Malawi.

We had been recommended a place by a SA family from Durban (parents and 2 girls) who were doing a 3 month trip, in their 200 series Landcruiser. Home schooling (tent schooling) for the girls.

They told us of a place run by a SA couple that was worth visiting. So we set off to find the place as we could not get hold of them by phone. We drove for 4 hours and finally got hold of them an hour before we got to their place. They had been away for 5 days and out of cell contact.

It was finally a place we could relax and chill for a day or two. I posted a picture on the blog of the view from our cottage.

Before I could get the bags out the car Alan had a beer in hand and had his feet in the sand.

Norman Carr cottages, Cape Mcclear, Monkey Bay, Malawi. Worth a visit.

I would say that the three other places that I enjoyed and would recommend were Utengule Hotel, Mbeya on a Coffee plantation in Tanzania, Bahoma Lodge, Bwindi, Uganda and Ishasha tented camp, QE National Park, Uganda.
And then of course our first nights camping in Murchison Falls, in the middle of nowhere at the side of Lake Albert with only the Hippo's for company (a place not even marked on Tracks4Africa) ..... But if I give out the location, will it be private anymore?

I'm off for a Sundowner, whilst watching an African sunset over Lake Malawi in the "Warm heart of Africa"

Till tomorrow....

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Monkey Bay, Lake Malawi - View from our room

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20th July Fiona's Perspective

The border crossing into Malawi was pretty uneventful. We bumped into our biker freinds again at the Malawi side of the border. The BMW had a slashed tyre (not surprising after some of the roads travelled) and they needed to get a new tyre at a dealership in Lilongwe, Malawi or in Zambia. We tried to help them by making a few calls, but had no luck.

We had arranged to meet our Domestic worker's sister in Malawi in order to pick up some Rice and Mielie meal for her. Apparently the Rice and MMeal in Malawi is much nicer than the SA brands, but you cannot get it in SA. We called ahead and met Catherine and her husband at Kapolo, the third Police roadblock from the border.
What a nice couple. I took photo's for Elizabeth and a video message for her from her sister. When we get closer to Blantyre we will be going to meet her son, Precious at his school. We have saved some soccer balls and pens to hand out there.

I have never been to Malawi before and besides the fact that they have a large lake that stretches down the country for 580km I did not know what to expect.
I was surprised by how mountainous it is and how beautiful the drive through the mountains was. They seemed to go on forever.

We got a recommendation to stay at a place called Kande Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi. Well, if we had been 25 years younger, British and backpacking across Africa, this would have been where we would have stayed.
I think it was the worst place we have stayed in so far. We lit a big fire, used all our own Cutlery, plates etc as I was not eating off anything in the rondavel's kitchen. I even brought my own pillow in from the car as I wasn't sleeping on theirs.

So after the initial shock of seeing where we had to sleep for the night (moving was not an option, it was a long drive back to the main road and who knows what else we would find) we unpacked the car and lit a big fire and Alan made me a great meal! Rump steak, Veg accompanied by lots of Jamesons (this would help us sleep).

Another experience in Africa...
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

19th July Fiona's Perspective

Up early this morning as we wanted to try and make it to Mbeya. Overnight there and cross over to Malawi Tuesday.
This means at least 8hrs driving today.

Alan started collecting number plates from countries we visit a couple of years ago after I managed to purchase old plates in Cuba (essentially illegal). Since then we have managed to purchase them in countries where you have number plates assigned to you for life.

On this trip we have only managed to get a Kenyan plate so far. In Tanzania there is not a lot of English spoken, so it is a bit of a challenge. In Uganda we may still get one.

In the last 2 days we have passed 8 trucks that have gone off the road and rolled or collided with other vehicles and gone off the road or are burnt out.
This is hardly surprising as they drive these roads at high speed.

We have also passed a couple of foreigners who are cycling through the country with their sleeping bags etc all strapped onto their bicycle. Very brave, the roads are long, steep at times and treacherous. The buses and trucks give way to NO ONE!!

Driving through little villages or just in the middle of nowhere you see a mud house with no windows, but a huge satellite dish on the roof, held in place by bricks and a small solar panel. It just goes to show everyone watches Sky news or CNN, wherever they are.

The car seems fixed and is going well, this is a good thing as our back up vehicle (Gav & Jen) is 2 days behind us. They are off to the Ngorogoro crater whilst we want to spend a bit of time in Malawi. I am sure we will touch base with them in Mozambique.

Every time you go near a village, the speed limit drops to 50km/h. We are always careful to obey the set limits, but despite this, we were stopped and fined for going 96km/h. I think they were pulling a fast one, so Alan negotiated them down from a R260 to R100 fine, with no paperwork! The police here are at all times very freindly, especially whilst taking your money.
We have subsequently discovered that the maximum fine they can give legally is R130.

On the way North, Alan and Jess handed out almost 50 soccer balls to children in various villages. Imagine our surprise when driving back through one of these villages, we saw the school children playing soccer with one of them!

We phoned ahead and booked into the Utengulu Hotel on a Coffee Plantation 15km out of Mbeya. The team stayed there on their way up. I think Alan is going to need a hot bath and a stiff drink after the last couple of days driving.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised by the accommodation. It was really stunning.

We met a South African guy who is on contract in Dar es Salaam and two Bulgarian bikers who had ridden from Bulgaria all the way to Egypt and down through Sudan to Tanzania and were ending their 10 week trip in Cape Town.
We had a great evening, chatting, drinking and eating with them. We also gave them tips on where to stay and got some idea from Alex the South African on where to stay in Malawi.
Simon, one of the Bikers organises adventure trips through Bulgaria, so guess where our next trip will be....

We got a tip that a South African running a Tyre dealership in town could help us with a number plate. As he could not locate one, he saw that his own Tanzanian plate was about to fall off, so he helped it along. We left town for Malawi with our Tanzanian plate, exchanged for some biltong.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

18th July Fiona's perspective

This morning we left Arusha and set off for Moshi en route to Morogoro. Another long day in the car.

Driving through Moshi, I caught a glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro's snow capped peak. Almost 6km high, it is very impressive.

The landscape has changed again, with the flat plains becoming mountainous.
The majority of the locals seen on the roadside have changed from Maasai to Swahili, dressed in pretty bright coloured sarongs.

There is a big Muslim influence in this part of the world and one area I really notice it is the public toilets. They are all long drops with a porcelain bowl in the ground. So you have to squat. These are normally filthy so using them is just not an option.
I now understand why Jess always opted for a bush wee on the side of the road.

Today was a long day in the car. 8 hours of driving terrible roads.
We arrived in Morogoro and went in search of the best hotel in town.

This was because the rest of the team stayed in the New Acropol on the way North , as the guide book rated it highly and it was apparently awful.
We stayed at the Hilux hotel, which was better (I'd hate to see what the other hotel was like if this was better!)

After a few double G&T's, (in order to sleep in our room) we ate some dinner and went to sleep intent on an early start in the morning for another 8hrs on the road.

We have changed our plan and are hot footing it for Malawi. We decided that we have been to so many great game parks that we would rather spend our last few days seeing Malawi and Mozambique, both countries we have not yet seen.
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Sunday, July 18, 2010

17th July Fiona's Perspective

This morning we set off with much trepidation. The question in both our minds was whether the vehicle would hold out for the long trek home, through remote areas where back up would be questionable if not non-existent.

5km soon became 200km and our anxiety started to fade. We sms the Workshop Manager in Nukuru to tell him that all was well and the problem had been sorted. They spent an entire day on our vehicle, fixed it properly and charged us R500. The amount we have spent at Rivonia Toyota, Steve's Auto clinic and various other garages is frightening, especially as they achieved nothing.

We drove through Nairobi at about lunchtime and seriously considered looking for a KFC, but found the traffic too congested and headed south without stopping. As we were negotiating our way out of Nairobi, we took the wrong turn and ended up in a roadblock going into the airport. Very freindly police gave us directions. Another soccer ball went to good use. I will upload the pic of the Policeman with his ball.

We headed for Arusha, Tanzania. A long drive, but we are starting to feel that we are running out of time and need to push the daily travel a little more. We found the roads fairly decent and stopped for a quick roadside snack of biscuits and cheese. Just before the Tanzanian border we stopped at a roadside curio shop run by the community. We did some serious negotiating and bought 2 wooden Maasai statues, about 1.3m high. Fitting them into an already fully packed car was a challenge, but soon we were on our way to the border.

The Kenyan border crossing was pleasant and quick, the entry into Tanzania also quick, but we found the Customs officials very self important and officious. All in all it was quick and we were on our way in 30minutes.
We soon discovered why it was a quiet border post. The roads from then on were just plain awful. Dirt and ruts and trucks... It took us 2 hours to travel the 80km to Arusha. At one stage we needed to pull some bushes out of the road to get onto a better section of the road. I got out and lifted the branches to discover they were full of thorns and as I reacted it swung round and hooked onto the back of my shirt and pants. There was nothing I could do to get unstuck and Alan had to come to my rescue.

Our hopes of getting to Moshi dashed as it was already getting dark. Alan was not keen to stay at the Maasai campsite again as it was probably the worst place they had stayed at on this trip, although it was highly rated in the guide book. Alan happened to befriend the Marketing Manager of the Arusha hotel, who had recently been to SA. He told us we had a wonderful country, much better than Tanzania. He then organised us a heavily discounted rate at the Arusha 5* hotel, the only one of this rating in town. I think another Soccer ball helped.

Uganda, Kenya and now Tanzania, power failures are common. At dinner, whilst in your room, the power just goes off. At least at home we believe they are scheduled.

The Maasai are a very colourful tribe and are now seen everywhere. The women wear tons of jewellery and Earings. They are not keen for you to photograph them, but I paid 4 women R100 to take a photo. It was only with my cell phone, but I have uploaded it to the blog.

We are heading for the Selous (pronounced Seloo) Game Reserve. The biggest in the world, 3 x bigger than the Kruger Park at 45 000 square km. It is a long drive and will probably take us another 2 days.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Maasai women

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Driving through outskirts of Nairobi

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Friday, July 16, 2010

16th July Fiona's Perspective

Well, it is Friday lunchtime and they are still working on the car. They are now thinking it could be electrical, having eliminated all else. If they don't find the problem today, we are stuck here till Monday as the workshop is closed over the weekend!!!

I have extended our stay in the hotel by another night, whilst Gavin and Jen have moved on. We will most probably meet up in Mozambique again.

I am visualising the beaches in Mozambique again. I think positive visualisation is very effective.

Realising I am stuck for the afternoon with Alan at the workshop and no transport I went looking for something to do. I found a salon and booked a Manicure and Pedicure. What a treat after 2 weeks of walking around in slip slops in dusty conditions.
At home you would pay in the region of R400 for both. It cost me R140 and looked great!

I then anxiously waited for Alan to call as they had put the car back together and were going for a test drive.

In Uganda the main mode of transport besides Taxis, which were only common in main Centres and for long distance travel, was a Boda Boda. This was a motorbike rider who gave lifts across town to about 3 people at a time and charged about R2 - R5. No helmets necessary and obeying the road rules not even considered. They can be seen everywhere and hang around in groups on street corners.

In Kenya you have the Tuk Tuk, which is a little 3 wheeler car which charges R10 for a trip and then you still have the motorbike riders.

At 5PM I finally got a call from Alan to meet me in the bar!!! Good news, the car has been fixed!!!

After exhausting every other option, they found that the chip installed by Steve's Auto clinic in Kyalami Business Park was causing arcing and the intermittent power fluctuations. What really irritates us, is that we took it to Steve's Auto Clinic and told them there was a problem with the chip and can they look at it. They removed the chip, left the harness, which was causing the problem and did not even test drive the vehicle and still charged us R1500.00.
P.S. Alan is busy scraping their sticker off our rear windscreen!!!

Anyway, after celebrating, we are going to find a local restaurant tonight for dinner and plan our next few days.

Positive thinking works!!!

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Murchison Falls on the Nile from the boat

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Leaving Bwindi, Uganda

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Border post into Kenya

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The result of the style of truck driving in East Africa

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

15th July Fiona's Perspective

Alan and I got up a little later than normal. A) because the weather is a little cooler and it was warmer in bed B) we were tired because of the late night and driving all day (no, it had nothing to do with the Jamesons)

I did not mention how delicious the Samoosas were last night. We opted to have a snack for supper and they were tasty!!!

We drove into town and found a supermarket. Eldoret is quite a large town. After a shop for essentials, like bread, Red bull and Garlic we were on our way.

The drive down to Lake Nakuru was quick as the roads were probably the best we have been on for days. Unfortunately the vehicle started jerking intermittently, which is a problem we have had erratically for the last 4 months. Toyota Rivonia amongst other garages could not find the problem back in SA, but after visiting Toyota Nakuru, Kenya. We felt some hope. We left after an hour or two in the workshop and some spare parts, just incase.

We stopped at a petrol station to get a colddrink on our way out of town when an old African man tried to sell Alan a tow rope... It must have been a sign. Alan said he had no need for one, but the old man said he needed the money, so Alan offered to buy his Knob Kerry for R50. What a bargain, he handed it over, took the money and ran!

But disaster struck 12km down the road...the jerking and loss of power was still happening. So, we turned back to Nukuru.

Then the drama unfolds, the car won't start when in the workshop.
So, we had to leave the car in the workshop overnight and find a hotel to book into. The workshop manager was ever so pleasant and even gave us a lift to a hotel.

On the upside, at least I can do some washing!!!

Well, Gavin and Alan have done 10 300km since they left Kyalami and between them have only had to replace 1 x air suspension, 2 x fuel pumps, 2 x Air filters, 1 x Alternator and whatever tomorrow brings. Oh, and Gavin has a cracked windscreen.

So after an early dinner and 2 Dawa's (a Kenyan drink) we retired to bed.

Tomorrow will no doubt bring new challenges....
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13th - 14th July Fiona's perspective

Gavin's vehicle has been fixed and we are ready to go.

Whilst the guys were fixing cars, I went through my clothes, only to discover I have 2 pairs of clean pants left! I have to plan a wash and get the clothes dry before the Putsi fly lays eggs! Stress. I thought holidays were meant to be relaxing!!!

After a nice long, hot bath we went out to a local Indian restaurant in Entebbe recommended by Jane, 4 Point.
We had great Butter chicken and then all exhausted headed back to the hotel.

Security had been stepped up at the hotel and we had to open the car for a cursory search and mirror searches under the car. They even had Police in attendance. It is all a farce though as their search was certainly not thorough at all. There are Americans staying at the hotel, so I suppose it looked good.

After a healthy fruit breakfast, we continued on our journey. We are going to cross over into Kenya today. As the border crossings are going to have much tighter security, we are going to travel a little further to a smaller Border post, which is less busy.

We decided to first head for JinJa, where Jen had seen a painting she wanted to buy. I happened to see a couple I like too. After a quick bite to eat at 2Freinds restaurant, we were on our way and soon got to the Busia border post into Kenya. This was a relatively smooth crossing and it probably took all of 60min to pass through both entry and exit customs offices.

So now off to Raj's place in Eldoret, Kenya for the night before heading off to Lake Nakuru or Naivasha.

In Kenya the landscape changed from Banana plants to Mielie fields and Rice Paddies.

The trip up to Naiberi River Camp, Raj's place was uneventful until it got dark and we still had about 50km to go. There is good reason why you should not drive after dark in Africa.
Picture this, No road markings, No lights, trucks with No lights, trucks straddling the middle of the road(and they do not move over for anyone), potholes all over the road big enough to lose a tyre so everyone is weaving around them, which is also difficult as you only see them at the last minute!! goats and cows crossing and people walking everywhere, on and off the road!!!

So the last 50km took well over an hour as it had started to rain too! My job was to spot the potholes, whilst Alan avoided everything else! Very stressful.
By the time we got to our destination it was 8PM and we headed straight for the bar for a double Jamesons.

Raj who owns the place and about half the towns factories... Is a great character. He is a 54yr old with a 23yr old Kenyan girlfriend. He has long hair at the back, shaved on the sides. Jessica who stayed here on the journey up to Uganda calls it a mullet.

Jen and Gav went to bed early which left us drinking Jamesons till midnight with Raj. Listening to his stories and laughing a lot.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

13th July Fiona's Perspective

This morning we were up early with a view of the lake from our tent window. We then had a cold shower, coffee and flapjacks made by the twins.

The last two days have been spent in a Tsetse fly area. They are persistent little buggers and fly up to 30km per hour, so out running them is not an option and on these roads driving is also often not an option either. They are attracted to dark colours and it seems only certain people. Gavin of course got bitten, everything bites him! They occasionally sat on me, but never bit me. I think they didn't like the smell of G&T's!!!

We set off at 8am for Entebbe via Kampala. We are anticipating big delays around Kampala with traffic being diverted and possible Police or army roadblocks after the Bombings on Sunday eve. We already went through a few smaller Police stops, which comprise of a sign in the middle of the road saying 'Police Stop' and 3 or 4 police standing around with AK47's.

There have been very few places where an armed guard is not present. The hotel in Entebbe had 2 guards with AK47's, Jane has an armed guard at her house at night and outside every bank/ATM you will find them. When Jane and I went to the local cafe, there was an armed Guard outside that too.
Military or Police Bakkies pass you on the road with a couple of guys in the back wearing uniform with rifles in full view.

We drove through villages for the first hour of the journey and handed out pens to school children on their way to school. The joy and excitement of receiving a gift as small as a pen was wonderful to watch. The smiles where huge and if one child managed to grab more than one pen, they would run away with a few others in hot pursuit.

We drove through the Budango forest this morning and stopped to get out and listen to the birds (as instructed by Paul). The wonderful sound of hundreds of birds was cut short by Alan yelling that something was on his foot and he could not get it off, as he was in the middle of a bush wee !!! A beetle/tick like insect had crawled between his toes and sunk 2 pincers into the soft skin. When I got hold of it and pulled, it did not come off easily at all. It seemed to have hooked itself into the skin. Africa is not for sissies.

Trucks and buses drive at high speeds, whether the roads are good, bad, dirt or a single track, so it is no surprise when the occasional burnt out bus is seen lying next to the road.

We stopped at Luwero, en route to Kampala for a Rolex from a roadside stall. This was Gavin & Jen's first roadside experience of Chapatti with an omlette inside. Jen thought we were taking her to a restaurant for Chapatti's and coffee. No coffee in sight, but she picked up a pineapple for R3.30 and Lunch for about R2.00

I think it would be hard to starve in this country as everywhere you look there are fruits & Vegetables for sale and if you have no money, there are bananas, melons etc growing wild alongside the road. The Ugandans are a slim nation and you very seldom see a fat person.

Arrived back in Entebbe. Alan & Gavin went off to Paul's workshop to see if they could sort out Gav's vehicle....

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Monday, July 12, 2010

11th - 12th July Fiona's perspective

We awakened to our curious Hippos and Jane and Paul boiling water for coffee. After coffee and crunchies, we packed up camp. The twins and Gareth are obviously seasoned campers and love the bush. No supervision was needed from Jane & Paul and before you could have a second cup of coffee, the tents were packed and the Goldrings were packed and ready to leave.

Today's plan was to game drive, cross over the Nile to the south, via the Car Ferry and head for the Falls.

Gavin seems to have a broken Air shock on his Cruiser, which doesn't surprise me after the roads we have traveled.
I think we might have to return to Entebbe for it to be fixed before we leave Uganda. He also seems to have been bitten by every type of bug, insect and mosquito in Uganda! Poor Gav! He even has heat rash.

In Uganda you have to iron all your clothes after washing as the Putsi fly lays its eggs in damp clothing and then when you wear them the heat of your body hatches the eggs and the worms burrow under your skin and hatch! The only way to kill them is to iron everything. I'm terrified of this happening, so I will wait for Kenya to wash my clothes.

After our camping excursion with Jane&Paul, Gavin and Jennifer are probably going to head for the Ngorogoro crater and we might head to the Masai Mara as the annual Migration is in full swing. We will then proceed through Malawi and then into Mozambique, where we will meet up again.

I intend meeting up with my Domestic workers sister and son in Malawi. Elizabeth prefers the Rice and Mielie meal from Malawi, so we will stop at the Tete border post going into Malawi and get some from her sister. Apparently the best Mielie meal is the one made at home, hence not buying from a shop. On the way to the border into Mozambique, we will travel via Blantyre where Patience, her son is in school at a little rural village outside town. We have kept some Soccer balls aside for the school and of course Patience.

By 12noon we had got to the Ferry in order to cross over to the south of the Nile. After crossing, we packed a cooler box with snacks and drinks and got onto one of Jane&Pauls boats. We went for an hours cruise along the river, viewing Hippo's by the dozen, Elephant and lots of buck along the waters edge.

Another 40min drive to the campsite along the raging banks of the Nile. Before setting up camp, we all put on costumes and walked down another little known path to a corner of the river just above the falls where a couple of metres away from the raging rapids a small calm tidal pool awaited the hot and thirsty travelers. Cold Nile beers and a swim in the Nile!! A perfect way to end the day.

We walked down to the falls, which are very impressive. The river narrows from about 500m wide to about 20m wide. The pure force of the water is unbelievable.

That eve dinner was a hurried affair, although Alan was braaing fillet and refused to rush the process!
Shortly after dinner all parties rushed off to the closest TV to watch the Soccer World cup final, a mere 45min drive. Alan and I chose to stay in camp, sit around the fire and have some quiet time!

We woke up to the news of the 2 bombs in Kampala! We are going back that way, but have decided to stay in Entebbe whilst Gav sorts out his vehicle.

So I suppose the drunk soldier had it half right about the Somali's coming...

We packed up camp once again and proceeded down the river to the last campsite on this leg of the journey.
We set up camp, had some lunch and then got onto another one of Jane&Pauls boats for a 3hr trip up to the falls and back before dinner. Accompanied by the occasional G&T. Have to keep the Mozzies away!!!

Food, boat ride, food, drink, sleep....hard life!!!

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

10th July Fiona's Perspective

We saw Jess off at 5.30am this morning. 6kg over in her luggage allowance, but Jess negotiated away an excess charge of $60 per kg.

We set off at about 8am to Murchison Falls National Park with Jane, Paul, Sian, Amy and Gareth. The aim was to camp for 3 nights out in the middle of nowhere.

The first stop was for a mid morning snack. We found a stall along the road selling Chapatti's. This time we had a Rolex, omlette wrapped inside the Chapatti's (rolled eggs, hence the name). Delicious and only R2.50 or 600 Ugandan Shillings.

The next stop was a lodge that Jane wanted to view for future placement of clients. They are Tour operators and own a company called G&C Tours. Chobe lodge was situated on the Nile, with floor to ceiling glass frontage, giving you spectacular views from anywhere. Wetherlys style leather couches finished the chic look.

We then entered the park via a little used track, traveling for 90km, stopping occasionally to hold back branches and pull away fallen trees to allow for passing.

We had numerous sites of Buffalo, which seem to thrive in this environment as they are everywhere. Elephants, Giraffe, Topi, Cob, Water buck and Thomsons Gazelles were to be seen in great numbers too.

We met up with Jen and Gav at about 5.30 after a full day of driving. They met us at an Airstrip in the reserve, which was guarded by a drunk soldier who told me he was protecting us from the invading Somali's. I now feel much safer!!!

We carried on for another 40minutes until Paul turned off onto yet another little track which was not shown on the Garmin! This led us to a secluded spot next to Lake Albert. Our only company about 10 Hippo's. Thank goodness they chose to stay in the water and view us from a distance (50 m).
We set up camp before dark and enjoyed Jamesons and Waragi Gin whilst listening to the grunting and snorting of the Hippo's close by.

Paul set up a makeshift shower for us after dinner. It consisted of water from the lake, warmed in a metal bucket on coals on the fire. The bucket has a pipe put into it with a pump running off the car battery. The water pumps up through a pipe to a shower head affixed to the side of your car. So basically you are showering out in the open with nature as your shower curtain.

That night I went to sleep to the sounds of Hippo exiting the water in search of food.
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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Photo's from Uganda - Fiona

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9th July Fiona's Perspective

After leaving Ndali lodge it was a 5 hour trek back to Kampala and then eventually Entebbe. The roads were great for about 3 hours after which they deteriorated back into dirt and potholes. It was heavy going as there were lots of trucks and buses on the road. I think this is the first country I have been to where buses overtake cars at high speed. Being stuck behind a fast moving bus means that you are driving in a red dust storm and cannot see a thing, including the road!!!

We passed through lots of villages en route and took in some weird and wonderful sights at the same time. Pool tables on the roadside covered by a thatch or tin roof advertising 'Pool table, Bar and fresh Dube'

Produce markets abound and can be found in every village. Grown around the country, Bananas, Avo's, Watermelon and Pineapples are in abundant supply and can be bought everywhere.

There are also butchers dotted around the village. These consist of a hut with meat hanging up outside, often the carcasses still have the tail attached, so that you can identify your meat of choice. The 'butcher' then hacks off some meat with a Panga or something closely resembling one. It's enough to put you off meat if you don't have a strong stomach.

The sale of Coffins is also common, painted in hues of Pink and Purple and stacked up along the road.

There are also stalls selling food, most common being Chicken on a stick (Kebabs) and Chapatti's (mix of Roti and Pancakes). We stopped at lunchtime to buy a Chapatti and Jess negotiated the Vendor down from 2 000shillings, which was the Mzungu's (white man) price to the local price of 200 shillings. Go girl.
The villagers clamber around you as you walk down the road, seeing an opportunity to sell something to the Mzungu's. I also had numerous requests to take a photo of them with Jess and then to view it afterwards. This caused fits of laughter from their freinds upon viewing the pics.

Police can also be seen intermittently standing alongside the road, their uniforms are white! Strange colour for such a dusty country.

Once we arrived in Kampala, we went in search of the local Craft market.
Jess and I bought a few knickknacks whilst Alan ate his Nando's which we had bought a few minutes earlier.
Jess and Alan, starved of Nandos for 6 weeks jumped at the opportunity to get take aways. Sadly, it did not live up to SA standards.

After a fish braai of delicious Talapia, we retired to bed as the next day was going to be a long day of traveling and also an early start as Jess flew back to JHB on a 7.30am flight.
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Thursday, July 8, 2010

6th - 8th July. Fiona's perspective

We arrived at Ishasha Wilderness Camp, nestled on the banks of the Ishasha River in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Unfortunately a massive fire had swept through the area a few days earlier and so most of the area was black.

Ishasha Wilderness Camp is a fully tented Camp with 10 tents and a tented lounge and dining area.
The tents had double beds, shower and portable loo. I was relieved to find that they did have 2 flushing toilets, for the 3 tents that our group had at the far side of the camp. The shower was a plastic Jerry can filled with warm water outside the tent, strung up and attached to a pipe with a shower head. So when you wanted to shower you had to request one from the staff.

Lunch enabled me to finally taste Chapati's with a wonderful Avo salad. Afterwards G&T's were had by all whilst sitting down at the deck next to the river.

Our American freind Elizabeth happened to also transfer to Ishasha Wilderness Camp, so we touched base again and she offered Jess to join her and her Driver/Safari guide on a late afternoon game drive as Alan and I chose to stay in camp and chill.

Bad decision!! Jess, Elizabeth, Gavin and Jen all saw the Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha!!! And they have pictures to prove it.

The following morning we set off for a game drive through the Queen Elizabeth National Park determined to see the Tree Climbing Lions! But we saw Herds of Buffalo, Topi, Ugandan Cob, Vultures, but no Lion. Defeated we returned to camp for breakfast and to say goodbye to Elizabeth and exchange numbers. I did the normal Fiona thing and offered to help her organise an SA holiday when her and her boyfreind decided to visit SA.

Determined to try again we made a date for a game drive in the late afternoon.

The late afternoon proved more fruitful after Gavin & Jen came across a Leopard sitting alongside the road. Lovely sighting. We then drove down to the river running between Uganda and the Congo and had some Sundowners whilst viewing the Hippos lying on an island in the middle of the river, no mans land!
We spent the last few daylight hours, sipping Whiskey out of crystal glasses feeling ever so colonial. Jess has learnt to drink Whiskey due to the lack of decent wine in some areas. Box wine just won't do!

Back to the lodge for a shower (by request) and dinner, which was followed by Ugandan coffee in front of a fire next to the river.

Breakfast was a leisurely affair and we finally left deciding on a game drive before exiting the park. Imagine our excitement at spotting the Lioness in a tree, 100m from the previous sighting. So finally, we had seen the Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha!!!

We arrived in Fort Portal 4hrs later and finally at our new destination an hour later.

Ndali lodge is situated overlooking a Volcanic lake from which their water is sourced. What a magnificent view.
It is owned by Aubrey, apparently it has been in the family for many years. Aubrey is newly married to Claire, a native Ugandan who speaks the queens English.

We all had a long bath before dinner.
I think the first time anyone has had the chance to bath and not shower in weeks. When Alan and I visited Jess's room before dinner, I was asked to kill a 'tarantula' sized spider. I missed and it jumped at me, and in the dark we could not find it.

An early dinner and then bed.
But not before a quick detour to find the spider again and dispose of it! What would they do without me!

Tomorrow we are off to Kampala and then back to Jane & Paul's house.
Gavin & Jen are Chimp trekking and then overnighting en route to our rendezvous point at Murchison Falls, where we will be camping for 2 nights with Jane,Paul. Gareth and the twins.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

4th - 6th July. Fiona's perspective.

Well, it was a really long drive to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forests. The normal bad roads etc. Driving is tiring as you have to have even more concentration than normal as driving in a straight line is not possible. Potholes and ruts are the norm. But going over 20km/hr is not possible for long stretches of road, which is mostly dirt. Oncoming buses flash their lights to tell you to move over when they are straddling the middle of a single lane road!!! Lots of fun!!!

The country side becomes really picturesque at times with Tea plantations, banana plantations and rolling hills. It reminds me a bit of the Hazyview area.

We reached Bwindi and Buhoma lodge at 4PM. Richard, our Ugandan host was most pleasant and the staff were most accommodating and nothing was too much trouble.

We met an American lady also staying at the lodge, from LA. She is a Dentist and had just spent 10days in rural Uganda with a group of medical volunteers giving medical attention to Ugandans who have probably never seen a Dr of any kind, and probably will never again.
Elizabeth (the American Dentist) ended up joining us for all meals and drinks as she was traveling alone and really good company too.

The next morning we set off for the briefing before the Gorilla trekking. The group of habituated Gorillas that we would be seeing consisted of 18 females, males, babies and the great Silverback. The drive to the drop off point at the beginning of the hike was an hour into the mountains. Halfway down the road, the Belgium tourist and his driver had engine trouble, so we made space and had him, his guide, our guide and us all in the Cruiser, with one in the boot! I felt sorry for the poor bugger in the boot!

It seemed wherever you are in Africa, even the remotest parts, there were people walking, sitting, living....

The hike was 2 hours of intense hills, tracks through the forest, with high levels of humidity and narrow paths on the side of the very steep embankments. Thank goodness it did not rain as it would have been treacherous. Rain is common in this part of the world and can happen at a moments notice. The reward was an hour spent with the most awesome animals. The eyes are the windows to the soul and I think theirs are sweet and gentle. We sat amongst them without fear. The only time we smelt them was when the Silverback lifted his arms, and boy was that a ripe smell!!!!

The hike back was exhausting and tough on Alan's knee and Jen's Asthmatic chest, but perseverance and a strong will to overcome anything got us all back in one piece.
We discovered that evening that our group of Gorillas (there are about 4 groups) is by far the furtherest.

After a shower, Jess and Jen had a massage (hell in Africa again...) and we settled into a comfortable chair on the verandah waiting for supper so that we could all get to bed and rest the weary bodies.

The next morning we had a relaxed breakfast and set off for a short 3 hour drive to Ishasha Wilderness Camp in the Queen Elizabeth National Park....

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1st - 3rd July / Fiona's perspective...

The 4 hour flight to Uganda was uneventful and accompanied by Paul, who was flying back from a week of attending Soccer matches all over the country.

I was met by Alan and Jess, Jane, Sian, Amy and Gareth. It was so great to see them all again and to see Alan & Jess looking so clean... I think they wore the last clean outfit they had, because the next day was spent doing copious amounts of washing at Jane's.

Alan organised for us to be booked into a hotel for the two nights in Entebbe for a bit of alone time, whilst Jess stayed in Jane's spare room and Gav & Jen stayed in a luxurious tent set up in their garden, with double bed, shower and bush loo, as well as some solar lights!!!

Dinner at Jane's was preceded by Waragi Gin (Ugandan Gin) & tonic (to keep the mosquitoes away). When in Rome....
It was a great evening and was awesome to see Jane and Paul again.

After a day in Entebbe, luxuriating at the pool, Colonial style, we set off in Paul & Jane's car (as our vehicle has only the two front seats and there are now 3 Austin's on tour) for Lake Mburo.

It was a long 5 hour drive over roads that were treacherous due to oncoming buses, who straddle the middle of the road and cattle, goats and roadworks, which meant the main road suddenly became a gravel road or plain dirt road full of ruts and stones for kilometers....

We crossed the Equator at some point and stopped for the obligatory photos and a bit of retail therapy.

After that stop we were not on the road for very long when Jess and Alan decided that they were hungry and started to look for a road side stall making Chapati's. Not sure whether I was glad or not, but wherever we stopped, we were told that they were sold out! It was a Saturday morning after all!

We arrived at Mihingo Lodge in Lake Mburo National Park in time for lunch.
Food is always important when you spend hours on the road with no Engen Quick stop stores to be found!

The accommodation was great, with us getting the tent/chalet with a view and Jess, Gavin and Jen getting rooms down near the water hole, which meant climbing 101 steps for dinner and back. Jen commented in the morning that she had gotten her Gorilla trekking training all in one day!

Jess and I were soon lying at the pool with G&T's when Alan joined us for a swim and the news that he had organised us each a massage later.
It's hell in Africa!

After a wonderful massage, dinner and a sighting of Bushbaby's close up, we retired to bed for a good nights sleep.

Tomorrow we would be off to Bwindi to see the Gorillas!!!!! A 7 hour drive...

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 30 - Alan's Perspective

After a tasty dinner, the night was spent trying to sleep whilst listening
to Richard coughing in the room next door!! He said he has a post nasal
drip!!! I am afraid he was not wrong.

The next morning after breakfast Richard told us about a quiet, scenic
route that took you past Mt Elgon. So off we went, it was Gavin's turn to
lead and he disappeared into the distance. First we were on a tarred road
driving though the most amazing scenery, the mountain was covered in clouds
and looked absolutely amazing. The tall canopy thorn bushes were a sight to

After travelling for a short while on dirt roads, in African terms (1
hour), we arrived at the Suam border post. What a surprise, here was a
little-used border post where officials were interested in where u were
from, where u were going etc. It was so quiet!!!!

We crossed over into Uganda and started to climb into the most beautiful
green hills, you get to drive through lots of villages with all the kids
shouting "mzungu"!! Locally they stop and stare at you as you are the
"mzungu tv".

We found virtually no traffic on the road and those trucks and motorbikes
that were around were travelling pretty slowly.

Down the pass we went!! All of a sudden Gavin's break lights come on and he
slows down to a crawl. The reason? The road was one BIG mud bath and he had
to engage 4x4!!!! Slip slide down the road he went!!! I looked at Jess and
said "oh well no wonder the road is so quiet". There after we slided,
skidded and bounced down the road. On some corners there were locals that
were either fixing or pretending to fix the road - definitely pretending as
they were not making a difference at all!! But they wanted money!!! Gavin
just drove through and so did I. I mean hey we did not need their help - we
drive Landcruiser's (that sometimes break down).

It felt as if the road would never end, never!! At some stage Gavin stopped
to get himself a beer but I decided against it (he should of as well
because the beer ended up all over the inside of his car. On and on went
the mud and sliding!!

The vegetation changed from farming fields to forests and with this the
road changed to a nice smooth dirt road for at least 5 km! Then back to the
fun stuff (and heart stopping as there was a pretty sheer drop on our

Eventually, hours later we hit tarred road again. What a pleasure!! With
all the mud caked on the wheels it felt like the wheels needed balancing
but after a few pot holes we were back to normal.

We stopped over in a place called Mbale for the night. The mozzies just
about carried me away.

We set off fairly early for Jinja. After a few kms The Beast started to
lose power every so often. Overtaking became a issue as every time I
accelerated she would lose power. Before leaving SA the car had spent two
days at Toyota whilst they "fixed" the problem. It appeared to be back!!

We arrived in Jinja and drove to the Nile to have lunch and to book a river
rafting trip for Jess, Gavin and Jen. Lunch consisted of battered telapia
and crispy hot chips. Delicious!

Our camping spot was at Gavin and Jen's friends (Neville and Ina) who were
farming just outside Jinja. We were met by their son, Graham, who was going
to show us the way to the farm. Driving to the farm we encountered more mud
but the difference this time was the oncoming trucks. They hog the middle
of the road and expect you to drive on the shoulder where all the mud and
water is. Gavin and I were slipping sideways. Pretty lousy section of road.

The farm is located next to Lake Victoria and has stunning views of the
environment. Neville does fish farming on the lake. Pretty interesting

Ina and Neville prepared battered kapenta, talapia and a fish curry for
dinner. Delicious!! We pitched our tents in their garden for the night,

Early the next morning we set off back to Jinja so that everyone could do
white water rafting.

Jess was extremely apprehensive at the thought of going down the Nile on a

Apprehension became excitement and off they went!! I had decided not to do
it because of my knee and shoulder and was to drive to the first rapid and
take pictures from the river side. I never got there!!

The Beast would not start at all so I spent the day taking both my petrol
tanks off and replacing both fuel pumps. With the help of Paulo and
Abdillah we managed to get the tanks off. Imagine this, I have this huge
200 litre tank full of petrol and no containers ti syphon it into. Well the
problem went away when empty buckets appeared and I saw the quality of the
fuel. I negotiated to pay for their help with petrol. The look of glee on
their faces was a sight to behold. Frankly, I paid too much but it was
worth it.

We eventually finished the job and it appears to be fixed. Today will tell!

I drove to meet the others who by now finished their adventure. Jess was
beaming from ear to ear, Jen looked happy to be back and Gavin was pale!
Gavin had nearly drowned when a rope from the raft wrapped around his leg
and he could not get it loose!! Hopefully he will write about his

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Au Revoir SA........

So, I arrive in Uganda in 3 days time. After reading the blog I am anticipating some rain, plenty of bad roads, lots of good food and lots of alcohol (and good company). I can live with that.

I am lucky my luggage allowance is 30kg as I have had numerous requests to bring STUFF!! The most important being Dry Wors from a specific butchery too!! So, minus 5kg from my luggage allowance, just for Dry Wors… I had to repack. I was then told to not worry about bringing too much luggage as all I really need is 4 pairs of pants/shorts… for 4 weeks??? I am starting to worry.

I have started to research places to stay in Mozambique, or rather one of my staff's father lives in Mozambique and has very kindly given me a lot of info on where to stay and where not to stay (more importantly). Where to go to swim with Manta rays and dolphins, best dive spots and places where we can stay and get Mates Rates …

After reading about some of the places they have had to stay in, I thought that a little preparation would get us hot showers and decent toilet facilities….

So, in just a few days time I get to view Silverback Gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forests National Park on the slopes of the volcanoes, Chimpanzee tracking in the Kibale forests and see the glorious Murchison Falls in Northern Uganda and MOST importantly I get to see Alan and Jess……….I don’t think any of us realised just how long a month is!!

Au Revoir…… SA, Soccer and all the Vuvuzelas


This is code for Lake Nakuru!!!!! Later.

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Day 28 - Alan's Perspective

So the road to Kakamega Forest is, was and no doubt will always be abysmal,
to say the least!!!

Earlier on in the blog I did mention how we very quickly learned that when
you looked at a map and planned any days travel you could not take the
distance to be travelled and know how long it was going to take to get
there as the road conditions are just so unpredictable.

I have skipped a bit of our travel time!! Must be the whisky and beer we
are drinking!!!

Gavin and I had decided that we would leave Temba at 07h00 so that we
could do the border crossing fairly early on in the day - did I just say
another border!!! Yes a crossing into Kenya!!! I have to say that the
experience we had at this border post was the least stressful to date.
Everyone was so pleasant and happy to see the msungu's (white people). It
took us no longer than 35 minutes to get through. Awesome stuff.

I digress, so Jess and I are up with the sparrows and standing to attention
next to the car at 07h00 sharp, ready to go. Gavin and Jen stroll out at
about 07h55!!! Gavin had forgotten that we wanted to leave early!! Sadly we
are unable to have any coffee or breakfast before we left so we headed out
for the border post. For those of you that know Gavin and Jen well, they
need their coffee in the morning!!

So border post done and now off to find coffee and breakfast! The scenery
is breathtaking, green hills and fields of tea plantations. You expect to
drive around a corner and see a sign advertising tea and scones!! But that
was not to be. I stopped and asked a policeman where we could get a decent
cup of coffee and he said just up the road!!! An hour later still no coffee
or food!! We took a wrong turnoff and ended up on a beautiful road and
scenery, which Gavin and I have decided not to tell anyone about lest too
many cars use it and mess it up, on our way to Kakamega Forest. We stopped
at a golf course for coffee and lunch!! Not even Pecanwood members are
allowed at this golf club but we did get food!

Everyone was happy again!!

The distance to be travelled only 128 km. Ja right!!

The last 40 km of road was hell (and we did not even make our targeted
destination!!). We crossed the equator but did not take any pictures
because all we saw was a building that said New Equator Pub (Gavin saw the
right sign!!).
It was dark, pot holes were leaping out all over the road and it had
started to rain cats and dogs!!! I had to sms (radio was not working) Gavin
and tell that we were going to look for a place to sleep before it got too

We spotted a hotel in the town of Kakamega and managed to get the last two
rooms. Phew!!! Because of the rain Dstv was not working so we could not
watch any soccer.

Slept well and then set off to the forest, Udo's camp via the bottom gate.
We were told that we could not reach the camp via the bottom gate as there
is a swamp in the middle of the forest so we decided to stay at the camp

Washed clothes, everyone else went for a guided tour in the forest but I
decided to stay behind for some much needed quiet time. It rained again!!.

I put some lamb chops on the braai accompanied by butternut, toasted
sandwiches and baked onions. Had a great time around the fireplace then
went off the tent. In the early hours of the morning the heavens opened up

Eventually we got up and sat around for a while watching the tent and
clothes dry!!

Back on the road through the stunning forest to Eldorette (George in
Zambia's recommendation) and then on to 888888 to see rhino!!

We stopped in Eldorette at Will's Pub for lunch. Gavin met a chap called
Raj, who ran the Naiberi Camp site, and it went down hill from there!!

The first night we had a pretty late night where copious amounts of Jim
Bean was consumed!!! Next day Gavin and I went into town to draw money and
charge my one battery up. It was Raj's birthday so he went out and bought a
ton of pork to braai, which is Nepalese chef prepared the Indian way. It
was very tasty!! I had a early night.

Sunday we set off for Kitale (opposite directions to the rhino!). By mutual
consent this tarred road is the worst we have travelled, 48 km in just over
two hours!!! We stopped in Kitale for coffee and a kidney bashing break!!

By this time Gavin and I were saying well if we attempt the next 164 km we
will miss the England vs Germany game so we opted to find somewhere to stay
that was reachable.

Just for the record, we are unable to post pictures at the moment because
the internet speeds are so slow.

We ended up at Siarikwa Safari Lodge, met Richard, talked about motorbikes,
looked at car engines, had a delicious dinner, roast chicken, beef olives,
roast potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, butternut, bread sauce, gravy,
vegetable soup and steamed pudding and a bottle of Jameson's. Bed!!!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

From the wetlands of Kenya!

After crossing the border in to Kenya, we lunched at a dilapidated golf course and then arrived in Kakamega in the rain, thankfully we stayed in a hotel :) On the journey, i noticed a few interesting things
  • the inhabitants love to burn things, anything...this creates a disgusting smell and wafts through the window as you pass the towns
  • it is seriously populated ...i discovered this when I was desperate for a wee, very hard to find a deserted spot in these parts!
  • A new light was shed onto car your car into a shallow dam and start washing! This method can also be applied to bicycles and motorbikes!
  • most people wear these cheap,brightly coloured slip slops, it reminds me of the Malibu advert! They definitly live the island life...well at that pace anyway!

After a good rest, we drove into the Kakmega Forest, WOW, so beautiful and instatnly calming. I was desperate for the loo again and was pointed in the direction of the toilet...a long was so bad, i called Jen to keep guard and went on the outskirts of the forest! hee hee

We went for a very interesting walk in the forest witha guide, Caroline. Jen and i had a 'bush manicure' - there is a 'sandpaper tree' that we used to buff and file our nails, when Caroline offered some nail polish (bright orange sap from a tree), we drew the line! Delicious dinner cooked by the master chef and his apprentice followed by smores :) (marshies and marie biscuits)

We are outside Eldoret now, thankfully in a chalet (it rained last night and all can say is that i am not that much of a water baby!) looks like we are expecting some rain ...

Awaiting the arrival of our final team mate...5 more sleeps and counting! Until next time.... kwaheri!

fun in the sun

Well it has certainly been a while! Internet connections are few and far between and when we do have them, none of us have any inclination to do any writing!

we camped next to Lake Victoria – still in Tanzania. Didn’t get much sleep – between the noisy pub next door and the howling wind, we were quite unsettled! It was very beautiful . There is a hillside overlooking the lake and it is covered with houses, it looks a bit like Greece covered in dust!

So a bit of insight into our journey since I last wrote…

After 3 relaxing nights at Kapishya Hot Springs (and some very entertaining evenings) we headed for the border. We spent over 2 hours there, being sent back and forwards until Jen and I had the best idea yet and went and sat in the car, with the aircon on, while the boys braved Tundoma border post and all the insanity that comes with it! Jen and I were bothered in the car for all of 2 minutes, Jen had had enough and put her window shield up to block out the irritating vendors. This resulted in a very dumbfounded look from one guy and a fit of laughter from one that was watching this. We headed for Utengule coffee farm – really pretty. The next morning we had a fruit platter for breakfast, Gav and I were trying to figure out what to do with a lemon looking orange, after about 5 minutes of prodding and tasting we ate it, upon asking Jen what she did, we discovered she had squeezed it all over her fruit! Just a little bit of confusion ;)The girls hit the craft shop in Iringa – I got myself some crazy pants (Jen’s influence) and some kikois. We then had to contend with a traffic jam, Gav radioed us in awe of the taxi drivers here…”Al, I was 2 inches from your back bumper and the next thing I knew, 2 taxis had got in!” It seems as though we cannot escape road construction, Dad’s new motto “adapt or die” came into play when he started to bully the buses and overtake the trucks in between the 100m beacons.We were both dehydrated and starving after that drive – I wasn’t prepared to let go of the door handle or unfasten my seatbelt to get refreshments! Scary stuff! Gav and Jen adopted a different mantra and took the drive at a leisurely pace, frequently stopping for wee breaks and to buy paw paws and bananas. 

We camped at the Old Farmhouse that night. After dinner we went to the bar, the boys had whiskey out of packets and I think it gave them a new meaning to ABF because we left the bar pretty soon after! The next night we spent at The new Acropol, Still trying to figure out what was new about it!

For a change of scenery, we stayed at Peponi beach camp. There I was, sitting on the loo and a scorpion surfaced from the shower curtain. I ran to tell dad (who ws watching the soccer) and who promptly told me, while sipping his Jameson, “I don’t do scorpions”. I had to persuade the barman to come kill it for me! On the road to Moshi, dad received a fine, Gav saved the day when he threw a soccer ball to the guard! We ate a delicious curry lunch in Moshi and then drove through to Arusha where we camped at the Masaai Camp. This is around the time where I lost faith in our guide book, it stated that this ws the best campsite in Tanzania…no comment.

Huge relief on the 18th when I received my marks!  We did some stocking up and then drove to Karatu where Jen negotiated a good rate for us to stay at the Octagon Lodge! Next day we drove through Ngorogoro Park, saw a glimpse of the crater –bad mist and then headed into the Serengeti national Park. After driving around in the dark, we finally arrived at Mbalageti Lodge (I think that’s it’s name) and stayed the night. We were supposed to camp at Dik Dik but got a little waylaid!

And that is how we got to Mwanza.  until the next internet connection!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 24 Alan's Perspective

The last time I wrote was from Morogoro - fixing toilet etc.

When u do use the rooftop tent and u get to stay in a hotel or lodge u
cannot believe the sort of beds u get to sleep in, sheets with holes in
them, beds that creek everytime u move, comfortable and yes uncomfortable
ones. New Acropol takes the prize for the worst bed ever!!

We set off after breakfast at our normal slow pace (consideration for The
Beast's fuel consumption!!) But before long we adapt to the new game - race
the buses!! U have never seen buses drive as fast as these local people do,
they overtake on solid lines, on corners and up hills - our taxi drivers in
SA could learn from these chaps!!

The road rules are very different here, if u r travelling behind another
vehicle and there is a solid line in the road but he puts his left
indicator on, u can overtake regardless of what u think might be travelling
towards u. If he puts his right indicator on u cannot overtake as either
there is a oncoming car or obstacle in the road or they r turning right.

It did not take Gavin and I long to adjust to this new way of driving. (Not
sure how the ladies feel about our driving-in fact Jen does not enjoy it -
not that I blame her after what she went through).

Just before Tanga Gavin got a $20 speeding fine (his second but the first
one he got off with a bit of help from a soccer ball).

We had lunch at the yacht club in Tanga and then set off for Peponi camp
site alongside the coast line for a one night stay.

The next day we were setting off for Arusha which is the gateway to the
Ngorogoro Crater and the Serengeti!! On the way we would also get to see
Kilimanjaro. How awesome is all that?

The road towards Arusha has spectacular scenery, some of the best I have
ever seen!!! Look the roads (or lack there of) do tend to take ur eyes off
the beauty of ur surroundings but u have to get to see this countryside.

I was stopped for a very "serious offence" - speeding! With the help of
lots of smiles and a soccer ball we were soon on our way!

Jess and I could not wait to get our first glimpse of the famous mountain.

As we approached Moshi, the starting point for the ascent up Kili, we only
got to see the mountain covered in clouds. What a anticlimax for us!!!

After lunch in Moshi we headed off for the camp site in Arusha (Masai Camp

The camp site was nicely grassed (ground cover variety), but situated on a
pretty noisy road and had pretty dismal shower facilities to boot. One
thing u do get used to on this trip, is cold showers. To have a hot shower
u had to go through the common bar, through the gents and into the so
called showers. Well at least the water was hot there, ur other option was
the ablution block in the camp site with cold water.

Interesting they have a armed guard looking after the camp (felt like

After our delightful lunch we settled for smoked oysters on crackers
accompanied by a few Makers Mark's.

We all wondered off to the pub to watch a bit of soccer and sit around the
fire as it was pretty cold. Jen and Jess were engaged talking to a couple
of local ladies whilst Gavin and I had a few beers.
You do eventually get tired of all the chatter around u so we wondered off
to the tents.

Friday morning we woke up to the din of traffic and people (not to
mentioned dogs barking), packed up and headed out to look for the shops to
replenish some of the provisions. We found Shoprite and Jess and I bought
what was required to eat for the next few days. Once we had packed all the
goodies away I wondered off to the bookshop to see if I could find a map on
the Serengeti whilst Gavin strolled off to a Internet shop to try and
establish where the migration of wildebeest was at this stage.

I got chatting to two of the ladies that worked in the bookstore and asked
them where we should stay in the park. The advice was to stay in Karatu the
first night and then enter the park early the next morning.

We found a stunning place called The Octogon, run by a delightful lady
called Pamela. Initially we were not going to stay here but Jen chirped how
nice it would be if we were to spend the night. Let's face it the gardens
were to die for and the whole atmosphere was relaxing. A reasonable rate
was negotiated with Pamela. The comment that clinched the deal was her
saying " come on guys if I reduce the price any more I will have to decide
whether I cook with butter or margarine!". Enough said as she could
certainly cook! Pamela epitomises Tanzanian people for me, friendly, kind
and a sense of humour.

The next morning we set out for Ngorogoro Crater, arrived at the gate and
paid our $140 per vehicle!! This is just to travel through the reserve and
onto the Serengeti and not even to go to the crater itself.

The park was covered in a layer of mist that gave us a earie feeling.
Scenery to die for!

After driving through to the Serengeti gate and paying $240 per vehicle for
24 hours we set off for our hunt of the wildebeest. In the distance I saw
what looked like dust plumes. Wildebeest were near!!! The excitement levels
rose. As we got closer to the dust it became apparent that all I had seen
was in fact smoke from a bush fire. Not to be put off we drove towards the
camp site we had been allocated. If ever anyone goes to the Serengeti and
they put u in a camp called Dik Dik, rather turnaround. It is worst than
worst. Field mice all over the place, shabby. Ugh!!! It was decided that we
would come back when it was dark so that we could not see the place.

We ended up seeing massive herds of wildebeest and zebra on the plains. An
incredible sight! At some stage a few landrovers came flying past us and
Gavin and I decided that there had to be a kill up ahead so off we sped in
pursuit. Before we knew it we were miles away from our designated camp site
(shame) and had no chance of getting back there in time. But as luck would
have it there was a camp not far away. To cut a long story short it was a 5
star camp and thankfully it was full (at those prices) so we had to head
off once again in the dark to the next place which was 28km away (hour and
half). The trip was long and at some point we stopped for a Jamesons
(fisherman's drink) in the dark. We even contemplated just setting up a
bush camp but the thought of being caught by the officials was not
appealing. Eventually in the distance we saw lights!! Managed to organise
rooms for us. After our day Gavin and I headed straight off to the pub for
a Ardberg or two.

Good stay.

The following morning we saw great a sighting of crocodiles.

I cannot begin to explain the roads in the park, but they are the pits, you
would think that the officials would put some money back into their road
structures. Besides the dust and potholes the roads do not appear to be
looked after at all.

Once out if the park we headed for Mwanza which is situated next to Lake

We camped at the local yacht club for two days. The first night I cooked a
lamb casserole for dinner accompanied by Jess's great toasted sandwiches
and the second night I went on strike so we had dinner at a Indian place.

Monday 21st we washed (attempted) our cars and chilled the rest of the day.
Points to remember, cold showers, mozzies and a noisy singer in the early
hours of the morning.

Tuesday we packed up and after the ladies had been to a local market with a
expat we headed out for Musoma (we have travelled about 6600km now).

We stayed at the Temba Beach Hotel (do not be fooled by the name). It is a
place to avoid (cold showers).

Headed out for Kakamega Forest but did not quite make it do to bad roads
(really) and a heavy downpour....

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