Okavango Delta – Beautiful Africa

On day 16 of my 35 day G Adventures African Overland Truck adventure my group went for a three-hour walk in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.  We were surprised to see so much wildlife!  We saw Giraffe, wildebeest, warthog, elephant, antelope, zebra, and hippo.  Here is a buffalo skull on the trail…

We didn’t eat breakfast before the hike, so we had brunch upon our return.  Usually, our breakfasts consisted of instant coffee, cold cereals, bananas, sometimes yogurt, and granola or oatmeal were offered.  If we had a long driving day in the overland truck, we would pack a sandwich and eat on the truck.  Sometimes, when we were able to stop, we would have a pasta salad or something more substantial.

Here are a couple of photos of the women.  I loved this girl’s shoes…

After a short nap and swim, I read some in my book, “The Last Rhinos”.   We went for a mokoro boat ride to find wildlife and saw hippos.  As the sun set, I knew it was a magical time…

Once we were gathered around the blazing campfire that evening, our Mokoro drivers (or polers…I’m not sure what they’re called), who also camped with us, sang native songs!  One of the songs was “Beautiful Africa” and with each stanza, it changed to “Beautiful Hippos”, or “Beautiful Giraffe”, etc.  They clapped their hands loudly to the beat!  We decided to sing songs from our countries to them.  There were three Americans and we sang…”Take me out to the Ballgame”!

The Okavango Delta is an area that is still pure and peaceful!

Journey by Mokoro to an Island in the Okavango Delta

After picking up a bushman in the Kalahari Desert of Botswana, that you can read about here, my G Adventures Overland Truck group left and drove 7 hours to the Island Safari Lodge in Maun.  It was basically a stop-over before we loaded our supplies and camping gear for a two-day trip to camp in the bush on an island in the Okavango Delta.  First, we loaded speedboats and traveled 45 minutes to an area with the Mokoros (dug-out canoes).  The supplies were then loaded onto the Mokoros and off we went.

It was like an African version of being on a Gondola in Venice!

An hour later we arrived to our camping spot, unloaded and set up our tents.  Bush camping is very basic – this was our toilet…

After working up a sweat, we went for a swim in the Delta.  The water is very clean and cold…the locals scoop it up and drink straight from the Delta!   The water lilies were gorgeous!

I took a short nap and then we went for an hour walk with the group and saw some hippos in the water!  The Okavango Delta was one of the highlights for most of our group!

Sick in Africa and Windhoek, Namibia

I was on day 11 of my 35-day African Overland Truck adventure and was sick!  (I know I talked about it in my other post briefly, but wanted to share the details…goody for you!) We had spent two days in Etosha National Park in Namibia that you can read about here, and were now on the road for 7 hours towards the Capital of NamibiaWindhoek.  I had already taken two doses of Cipro, but they hadn’t kicked in yet.  I also took two Imodium (kept me plugged up for 6 days!) since I was going to be on the road without a bathroom on board.  I laid down in the back of the truck (the bumpiest area) and didn’t eat anything all day.  At one point, I felt nauseous, so I told one of the guides and by the time he radioed the driver, they stopped and unlocked the door to let me out, I was gagging!  Luckily it was just dry heaves!  I made my way through thorns and tall grass to a hidden area to go to the bathroom!  Seasoned travelers know this goes with the territory when you’re traveling in developing countries.  I had been sick in Peru twice and Cipro worked for me then!

When we arrived to the beautiful Namutoni campsite, two men from Australia (Dirk and Des) were kind and put my tent up for me.  As you can see, it was a beautiful area.   It looks like I was being quarantined!

Some of the group went for a long hike to the top of the ridge, which I would have loved had I not been sick…but I slept until dinner.  The antibiotic had kicked in so I took a shower, ate for the first time that day and felt much better!

The next morning we were on the road again by 7am and arrived in Windhoek around 1pm.  We stopped at a mall…

to go to the ATM, buy snacks/liquor, and use the bathroom, before driving to the hotel.  Here’s my room…

After checking in, I washed some clothes in the sink, hung them to dry, got my luggage organized, took a shower, had a drink at the bar, and then our group went out for dinner to Joe’s Beer House.  It was a fun, interesting and unique restaurant/bar!  Here I am with Kelly and Noreen…

These two girls were the youngest, Sarah and Kiki, from Denmark…

It felt great to be cleaned up, have some make-up on and not be camping!

Etosha Salt Pan, Namibia

As I mentioned in my last post about Etosha National Park, that you can read about here, my G Adventures African Overland Truck group was driving through the Park towards the East side of the Park.  We made a stop at the Etosha Salt Pan.  The salt pan desert is roughly 130 km long and in places as wide as 50 km. The salt pan is usually dry, but fills with water briefly in the summer months, when it attracts pelicans and flamingos.

It seems like you’re on the moon…it’s so flat, desolate and stark!  Speaking of the moon, I took my first photo of the moon on this trip.  The Tour Director showed me how to set it on timer so there wouldn’t be any movement (I had it on a Gorillapod tripod).  Then I cropped it.  I’m quite proud of it!  I know it could be clearer, but my zoom lens isn’t very powerful.  I posted it on facebook as the “African Moon” and then someone (a smarty pants) said, “I didn’t know their moon was different from ours”!

An African sunset to finish the day!!

The Wild Side in Etosha National Park, Namibia, Africa

Etosha National Park in Namibia is a great place to see a wide variety of African animals!  As we drove through the park on my G Adventures Overland Truck journey, we were excited to see many Zebra, Wildebeest, Elephant and … Continue reading

Exploring the lovely town of Swakopmund, Namibia

My second day in Swakopmund, Namibia started with a walk to the beach.

It was gorgeous!  The weather on the trip had been what I expected…40-50 degrees Fahrenheit at night, 80’s during the day and sunny!

I indulged in a decadent breakfast of cappuccino, homemade waffle, peaches and ice cream at an outdoor café.  I was transported to Europe!

After a little shopping…an inexpensive ring and a book, I experienced one of the best massages I’ve ever had.  She used hot stones  (which I’ve had before).  I dozed off…which I’ve never done during a massage.  Although I tipped her, she was most pleased with an inexpensive ring that I gave to her.

I made my way back to the hotel and had trail mix for lunch followed by a three-hour nap.  That evening I had dinner at Letty’s Oyster Bar at the end of the pier with two of the ladies on my tour.  The seafood was excellent!

They walked me back to my hotel, which was on the way to theirs.  I had asked the desk clerk the day before if it was safe to walk around by myself, because I noticed most places were gated and had barbed wire or electric fencing.  She advised me not to walk alone at night.

It was a lovely day and I enjoyed exploring the lovely town of Swakopmund!

Day Six of my 35 Day G Adventures African Overland Truck Experience

After arriving in the beautiful town of Swakopmund in Namibia at 11am on day 6 of my 35 day G Adventures African Overland Truck experience, I took a taxi about 4 blocks to a separate hotel from the rest of the group.  Our accommodation for two evenings was to be in a dormitory style co-ed room with 7 of us (including some loud snorers), and there were no other single rooms available, so for $50 a night, I thought it was a great deal.  My room had a skylight and three beds.

After checking in, I went for a walk around the town.

I was surprised at how clean, upscale and new everything looked.  It was not overly crowded, but the few tourists I saw seemed to be mostly European.  Most of the shops had bars on the doors/windows and there was some barbed wire here and there.

I found a salon and had my artificial nails removed for the first time in years.  They weren’t holding up well with all of the camping.  That evening, I met the group for dinner at a restaurant called Napoletans and feasted on Greek pizza!

One of the positives of traveling in Africa by Overland Truck is the ability to see so many different places along the way!  This isn’t the Africa most Americans envision!

Deadvlei Salt Pan, Namibia, Africa

On day 5 of my 35 day G Adventures African Overland Truck experience, that you can read about here, we hiked up Dune 45.  From there, we drove a short distance to the Deadvlei Salt Pan.  You’ve probably seen the National Geographic photos of the dead trees.   Initially, as I approached it, I wasn’t that impressed…

but once amidst the trees, I was energized and excited.  It is a photographer’s dream.  The contrasting colors of the burnt orange sand, biscuit cracked earth, dead brown trees and cobalt blue skies are so dramatic.

We drove to our campsite, which was at someone’s farm.  It is called Skaarswater Farm, which means scarce water.  It was a lovely site.

That evening we had steak, salad and bread cooked over the fire for dinner!  Visiting Dune 45 and Deadvlei Salt Pan in Namibia is amazing!!

Typical Day on an African Overland Truck Adventure

My G Adventures Overland Truck group woke early (5:30am) on day 3. We had 45 minutes to go to the bathroom, wash up, dress, pack and take our tents down, before breakfast. So being organized is really important. We would typically be on the road by 7am. Many days we would make a sandwich at breakfast to take on the truck if we had a long driving day.

We drove 9 hours to the Namib desert. Every two hours we would stop for a bathroom break and sometimes, if we were in a town, we could pick up water, snacks and go the ATM. Bathroom breaks were usually on the side of the road…girls to the left, boys to the right…behind bushes, trees, tall grass, etc.

Later in the afternoon, before arriving to the desert, we stopped at Sescriem Canyon.

We camped here…

After setting up my tent and retrieving my suitcase, I would set out what I wanted to wear the next day, put my headlamp on, spray myself with Peaceful Sleep (mosquito repellant that works great and is half as expensive as deet), and place my medications, toiletries, etc. next to my sleeping bag.  We were split into groups for chores–cooking/washing dishes/stock coolbox/packing/clean-up campsite.  If I was on the cooking team, usually around 5:30pm it was time to help by chopping things up. The washing team duty was my least favorite job.

We would help each other remember to take our Malaria medication. Most people were taking Malarone.  The only common side effect that most people are having is odd dreams. Some of my dreams were that a man approached me and another girl on the trip and he was a bad man, so I bit his arm and tore some flesh off.  Another dream had me throwing spaghetti at my husband.  In one of my dreams, I had a baby and it could talk and told me I needed to take him to the hospital because he was going blind.

We would have a campfire every night. Some of us would have a drink or two, talk and then it was time to get ready for bed.  If you don’t mind taking a cold shower in the dark occasionally, bugs, and camping, then an African Overland Truck experience is the perfect way to see Africa!

Gariep River, S. Africa

After driving 9 hours on Day one of my G Adventures Africa Overland Truck journey, we set up camp at  Gariep River (Orange River) on the border of S. Africa and Namibia.  It was already dark, so the next morning it was a treat to wake up to this view!

 

I would’ve shown you the campsite…but the wifi at Lake Malawi was very slow, so I can’t!  Maybe later!

This is the bar that we didn’t use since we only had a few hours that morning before we packed up our tents and drove on to cross the boarder into Namibia, towards our destination of Fish River Canyon.

Africa Overland Truck Experience with G Adventures

Driving from Cape Town through S. AfricaNamibia — Botswana — Zambia — Malawi — Tanzania is A LOT of driving.  G Adventures‘ 35 day Overland Truck trip has you in the truck for more than 140 hours…which is more than three full work weeks.

On the road in Namibia

So…to pass the time we came up with lots of games to play.  I brought three beach balls to give to children, so we had a blast hitting it around the truck.  Here’s Noreen (from Ireland).  We played “Bee Bee, Bumble Bee, I see something you don’t see”.  I made funny faces!  We played rock, paper, scissors.  I’d place a coin in my hand and have people guess which hand it was in.  Or I’d think of a number and see who came closest.  We played the telephone game once, but Michael (from Ohio) purposely twisted it so it was completely different!  Here’s Michael…

We played Charades, card games, toss the coin and guess heads or tails, name as many countries as you can remember on each continent, stand up and try not to fall while traveling over bumpy roads, see what weird tricks we can do…like move one eye and keep the other one straight, double jointed tricks, etc.  After running out of things, I came up with the game of placing an object on the table in the back of the truck and we’d guess how long it would take to bounce/fall off the table.

We did silhouette animals…

I finished an audio book on my I-Pod.  I also bought a book called “The Last Rhinos” that was newly released and finished that.  I just bought a book by Paul Theroux (sp?) called “Dark Star Safari”.  It’s fun reading stories about the continent you’re on!  Sometimes the roads are too bumpy to read a book though.  We sleep, talk, eat, or do nothing!

 We traveled by some amazing landscapes in Namibia…

Most of Namibia is desert land.  Some of it reminded me of New Mexico!

It’s amazing to me how much variety you find even in the desert…with colors, textures, etc.

Namibia is a beautiful country and although taking an overland truck through Africa is at times difficult…it is worth it!

Greetings from Africa

Hello friends!  I was going to wait until after I returned from Africa to begin posting, because I knew there wouldn’t be much time, but I wanted to touch base with all of you!  Let me begin by saying…Africa is amazing!!  So much has happened in the 10 days I’ve been here, so I will give a quick summary.

My traveling companions are from all over the world.  Sixteen men and women..single and married…from Ireland, Australia, Germany, Canada, Hong Kong, S. Korea, Denmark and one man located within 45 minutes from where I live in Ohio!

I am currently in Swakamund, Namibia in a guest house within four blocks of the beach.  Until now, we’ve been camping and putting up our tents each day.  I am the only solo camper, but I’ve learned to put the tent up myself within 5-7 minutes.

Home away from home

We’ve already had two mishaps with the overland truck.  The first morning as the three guides were preparing to load our luggage, someone drove by and tore the doors off of the truck in Cape Town.  We waited two hours for another vehicle to arrive.  The replacement isn’t quite as nice as the original, but we’re going with the flow.

A few days ago our truck broke down in the desert.  It took them almost an hour to fix it.  But…when you’re visiting spots like this….you embrace it!

Dune 45 rising over 1100 feet or 350 meters high at a 45 degree angle – Sossusvlei Desert in Namibia

We left our campsite the other morning at 5:00am to drive the 15 minutes to Dune 45, also known as “Big Daddy”.  I was too scared to hike to the top.  It is much higher than it looks!  Next, we drove a short distance to the Deadvlei Salt Pan in the desert.  As you can see, it’s amazing!!

Deadvlei Salt Pan

I’ve seen all types of animals along the road while driving.  We’re heading towards Etosha National Park next.  My wifi and cell phone service is sporadic, so I’m not sure when I’ll post next.  As I said before, I’ll be posting some pre-prepared posts that don’t relate to Africa in between if there is no time to post!  Hope everyone is well!!

Get Your “Af-ri-can” On

I’ve got Africa on my mind!  These photos are from a shop in the Clifton area of Cincinnati…

Lots of progress made so far–

  • Airfare purchased
  • Trip Insurance purchased
  • Wheeled convertible duffel bag bought
  • 30 degree 2 lb. compressible sleeping bag bought
  • North Face Hiking Shoes bought

I’ll do a post about the gear I’m taking at some point!

I decided against the couch surfing…the three people I contacted haven’t responded yet…so I booked a hostel (private room) that looks really cool through Hostel World.  Also, decided on my itinerary for the four days in Cape Town–one day hiking Table Mountain and taking the cable car down; one or two days of unplanned activities around Cape Town–maybe the hop-on/hop-off bus; one day an organized tour (found through Trip Advisor) that hits all of the major sites–such as…

Clifton, Bantry Bay

Camp’s Bay

The spectacular Chapman’s peak drive (if open)*

Hout Bay and boat trip to Seal Island

Muizenberg

Kalk Bay

Fishhoek

Boulders Beach National Park – visit the African Jackass Penguins

Cape Town day tours Visit to Simon’s Town and the Historic Mile

Cape Point

Cape of Good Hope – The most South-Westerly point of the African continent

Most of my itinerary is finished, including the currency conversion rates for the six different countries and the time differences.

It’s fun planning the trip also…but my brain starts to hurt!  Maybe because I try to get it all done so quickly!  I wanted to thank those of you that gave me some wonderful tips on what to take and what to do!

Have a terrific weekend!