So I had the most fantastic Africa overland trip that I could ever have wanted and soooo much happened that I’m not sure what I would write and it would bore you entirely. So I’ve uploaded quite a few photos cos they usually say more than words and I’m gonna just summarise some of the highlights of the trip, as well as a bit about living on the truck, or “truck life” as mel, our tour leader, would put it. It definitely is something to get used to but you know what…I’m totally missing truck life and really would love just one more day on the truck…preferably a party day on the truck though…those are the best!!!
i also want to say that i have loved the beauty and culture of africa. it's been so good for me, as an african who previously hadn't travelled on the continent of africa apart from my home country, to have seen so much of africa and other african cultures. truly amazing. and all the animals too...wow. i love our continent, despite it's many frustrations and downfalls, it is still so stunning and diverse and beautiful and ... fun.
I would like to forewarn you that I might sound like a raging alcoholic in the summary of news below...but I'm not - I promise!! it's just that a lot of the highlights of this big overlanding trip somehow happened around the time of alcohol consumption cos that's when people are crazy-funny, when often strange things would happen and generally when the most memorable events occur!
Ok, so I started out in Nairobi where there were another 4 people starting out with me, but the rest of the crew (the other 19) had already been travelling for 19 days through Uganda and Rwanda to see the gorillas (which was a fantastic experience apparently). As I said in a previous blog entry, it was totally scary and intimidating meeting all the people and being a “newbie” as they put it (and constantly reminded us of that status which I hated!!). But it was pretty easy fitting in and within a few days we started to have location / in-jokes and I started to feel part of the truck. We didn’t spend lots of time in Kenya but passed on through quickly to get to Tanzania, which was fantastic and we spent stacks of time there.
There was a section that I'm not sure if it was in Kenya or Tanzania, I'm terrible with remembering names and places! It was called Snake Park and it was Neil's 30th birthday so we had a surprise party for him. Because he works in the medical field, we decided to have a casualty-themed party - it was so much fun! Mel made us a lethal punch and when that was finished, Avis (in her drunken state) decided to make another punch that was even more potent than the first and the only mixer that was used was one litre of diet coke, the rest was a mix of random alcohol - so most people were feeling really rough the next day. Clever.
A big event was the Ngorogoro crater which was a safari/national park but it was totally weird cos the animals were seriously densely crammed into this crater area, it was so awesome to see so many different wild animals so close to our jeeps. Incredible really. I had a seriously stupidly bad camera so I didn’t get any good animal close-ups but other people got pics that could really be published in National Geographic!!
Then we hit the famous Serengeti - totally cool! We didn’t see a huge amount of animals but it was great to see how vast the Serengeti really is. A highlight was two rare leopard sightings and one of them was extraordinarily close. But it was loads of fun and actually quite scary camping in the middle of the wild. No barriers/fences/gates or anything, just camping in the bush with some bush toilets. It was so scary going to the loo in the night cos you had no idea what was out there and what could be watching you!! We heard lions during the night and some heard hyenas close by to our tents. But in a span of 24 hours in the crater and Serengeti, we saw all of the Big Five (buffalo, lions, leopards, rhino and elephants). Very cool! And we also had three flat tyres during the Crater and Serengeti and the third was actually right in the Serengeti - in the open and wild - scary!
The next big event was hitting dar es salaam (which wasn’t great at all, hot humid dirty sticky) but we camped at the most incredible campsite. The campsite was like heaven, right on the water, open beach bar, swimming pool, right on the warm sea, stunning! Then from there most of us caught a ferry over to Zanzibar and spent a couple nights in Stonetown, which I didn’t rate very highly. Not sure why, just not that pretty although right on the beach, but a redeeming factor was an open-air fresh fish market where you could choose your fish and shellfish and they would braai it for you. Very cool - not that I'm big into fish at all but it was a great experience. Oh yes, we also hit a really cool local club where we got “jiggy wid it” to reggae music and drank hideous local brew - clear liquid that we bought in a clear see-through baggie!! Oh my word, that stuff was potent!!! I felt soooo rough the next day - do you remember that day Ems???!!!
We then headed off to the coolest place in northern Zanzibar and stayed in what we thought was absolute luxury - two bedroom hotel type rooms right on the beach. Awesome! Now, I don’t know why but I havent got any pics of Zanzibar - I just didn’t seem to take any pics. But I might try snag some off some other people. Must be cos Zanzibar was a mix of lots of stunning beach time, snorkelling, incredible (garlicy) food, limited sleep and loads and loads of partying on the beach til late-late!! It was seriously soooo much fun. Had a fantastic time and loads of cool memories for sure (a few that stand out are: Avis's crazy-stubbed-toe-life-and-death-incident; breaking up a knife fight on the beach, frisky Beate's escapades and spotlight swimming!).
(This photo was taken at Kande Beach.)
Then we headed over to Malawi and stayed in a really cool campsite right on lake Malawi - huge fresh water lake. Lotsa cool local beer and volleyball - yip those are the things I remember bout that first campsite - can't remember the name - I'm terrible at remembering those details. Then we headed onto one of the highlights of the whole trip - Kande Beach on Lake Malawi. This campsite was like heaven, soooo pretty, all sand, little beach huts, hammocks, right on the beach, cool bar area. All fantastic.
We had this one day which is a Oasis tradition - spit roast day! We had two spit roasts going which started at 9am and tradition is to crack open the first drink at the same time. So it was good old hardcore Scottish lassie, Leslie, who had the first drink at 9am, crazy girl! We then had the best time ever with “truck Olympics” - we split into teams and our teams name was “team AVRO” aka “team average” - classic! And HA we bloody well won! Between each event though we all had to drink shots…so by the afternoon it was pretty messy. It was a loooong day and a looong night with some people really struggling aka Shona and her early night and Antony and the hammock incident! Yes…you know what im talking about. Anyway, Kande Beach was just so memorable cos it was beautiful and we could have three days in one place, not moving on too quickly, and just chilling out on the beach and in hammocks… and of course lots of dancing and music too (and hideously huge bar bills Dr Nick - how did that actually happen???!! And more skinny dipping…but it was mostly the boys this time!).
From there the next big event was entering into Zimbabwe. Now the infamous “MJ Day” happened the day of the border crossing i.e. Michael Jackson tribute day combined with Leslie’s birthday with the celebrations kicking off at 08:45am.
Very wild and very cool but check out the details for that in one of the previous blog entry. I have tried to upload a video to this blog but it's too big. So I put it on YouTube and try to click this link and see if it works - hopefully so! It's a video of us singing and dancing to "Thriller" and Lesley was doing a dance on the cooler box/eskies. Check it out!
(if the link doesn't work, then search for: "MJ Day and Lesley's Birthday")
Let me know if the video works on youtube ok!
Zimbabwe was great, very cold but great. It was such a priviledge to go through Zim as it was the first time in many years that Oasis went through Zim and we were the only tour group that travelled through it, all the others went through Zambia instead. We froze to death in Antelope Park but we did fantastic activities, like walking with lions and lion cubs, elephant rides, watching lion feeding, etc etc.
I think I gave more details of that in another previous blog entry. All very cool. We also did a safari on horse back, so you got up close and personal with the wild african animals!
We also went to an orphanage in Zim which was quite sad but good to see the great work they are doing for the children in need.
Oh yes, before that we also went to Bird Park which was so much fun - the place was brilliant, so beautiful and we upgraded to a dorm room for $1 per person per night which was a steal - I mean a ceiling over your head and a ensuite bathroom - amaaaaazing!!! We had fun checking out more lions, birds, doing water skiing, hanging out with the locals zimbo guys, etc. we had a party where, a few days earlier, we each had a very small budget and we had to buy a hideous outfit for someone else on the truck. then we had to do the big exchange at Bird Park and dress up for Fashion Crime Night. Lots of fun again! Hugh bought a teenage mutant ninja turtle outfit for me that is meant to be for a young boy - I couldn't fit my arms through - it was far too small...and really tight...thanks very much Hugh!! check out Mel, our tour guide and Franco, our driver. crazy!
There were a few of us though that caught a truck tummy bug (a bug that went through the truck - a flu bug which is better than a real tummy bug!). So Bulawayo wasn’t that fun for me cos I stayed in my tent most of the time. But by the time we hit Vic falls, I was up and running so we really enjoyed it over there.
The Falls was stunning and lots of people did adrenaline junky stuff (I had done a lot of it in USA and NZ so I didn’t repeat it - limited cash). We also had fun a local bar meeting other backpackers and …oh yes…we went to the coolest restaurant. There was limitless wild game meat (warthog, ostrich, kudu, etc etc) and other dishes and we got our faces painted and wore local dress and we got taught how to drum with African drums and then did local African dancing (or at least we tried to!) and some people got their fortune told with a dude who used bones to tell the future and it was just a great night. Very cool.
Oh yes, we only spent one night in Mozambique and we bush camped i.e. you pull off the side of a road and camp in the bush, sometimes you have to masheti the shrubs and bushes so it’s flat enough to camp on (and even then you camping on rocks and thorns and stuff - uncomfortable - but I highly highly recommend Thermarest sleeping mats - worth their weight in gold!!!!!). We just transitted through Mozambique to get to zim so I have to go back to it sometime and stay along the coast I think. Someday…
(This photo is actually our last bush camp in Namibia but gives a good feel for bush camping right next to the road.)