Entering South Africa was easy when we approached customs to have the car searched, they just waved us through saying I look too old to be smuggling drugs. We also had great hopes of getting some work done on the car, we have accumulated a list of jobs that needed doing. After two and a half days of driving around Messina, including going to a Toyota main agent, it would seem that our Toyota does not come within their remit, (this is the second Toyota agent that we have been to that does not have spares for our Toyota) eventually we got half a day’s work done, and we left Messina with our jobs list largely intact.
After going through the game parks in other countries we had decide not to bother with the Kruger National Park, it is good, but so sanitised compared others that we have been to. The campers sleep in cages, the roads are tarmac, it is almost like driving through a zoo.
Looking at the map in Messina we find we have quite a difficult route south, the Kruger is over three hundred Ks long and it is all easy driving, so we decide to go that way. On our way to the first camp we saw loads of antelope and we had giraffes and elephants on the road, the tarmac road, the road that makes life so easy, I think that tarmac is so under rated.
Our two day drive became five days, it was brilliant, and one day we saw all the ‘big five’ in one day. That is lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. During out stay we also saw, giraffe, zebra, hippo, our first ever wildebeest and a whole host of antelope and a big variety of birds. At one point in our drive round we joined a traffic jam to see something, this is a common feature of the Kruger, once people start queuing it is impossible to get round them, as the road is so narrow, and when we found out it was only a leopard, and we are stuck on this much over rated strip of tarmac until there is a gap to get away from the crowds. I must say we had a fantastic time even though it is neat, tidy and over safe. This is probably the homogenised Africa our guide book mentioned a while ago.
From the Kruger we headed for the Golden Gate national park, this was on the recommendation of an Australian we met in South Africa about ten years ago. This is in the Drakensberg Mountains so it is a bit high, when we got there is was cold, wet, and miserable it was not a nice night camping, the birds and other wild life seem to have gone off to sunnier climes, we did the same, quickly.
We use to have a friend in the village of Bulwer, I think we still have the friend but he no longer lives in Bulwer, he is in the UK. But his ex-neighbours still live in the village, being nice people they put us up for a few days, we had a great time.
Leaving Bulwer we made our way south, to the coast, the ‘Wild Coast’ we toddled round in stages stopping at some really nice places, we made a detour to the Addo national park. There are signs everywhere “Dung Beetles have right of way” and “Do NOT drive over dung beetles” our normal modus operandi in game parks is to drive reasonably slowly heads swinging from side to side trying to spot wildlife, with an occasional glance at the road to see if we are still on it, and a bit of an eye out for pot holes, now we have to also keep a sharp look out for beetles rolling balls of elephant poo across the track.
We saw quite a few elephants and our first ever Meer cats so all was not lost. Every night we had lions roaring just across the way, but they were fenced out, or rather we were fenced in, a great big electrified elephant proof fence, South Africans do like their safety.
Carrying on we came to the famed ‘Garden Route’ over the years several people have said to us “if you get to South Africa you must go on the garden route” now we have done it. Personally I am glad it is over, it was dreary, and we had to find some ways off of it to maintain some interest.
One thing we did do though was go to Cape Agulhus which is the southernmost tip of Africa; also it is geographically the northern point of the meeting of the Indian and Atlantic oceans. Theoretically I suppose everything we do now, is on the way home.
And now off to the cape, we are rushing a bit here in S.A. as it is cold, the days are warm but as soon as the sun gets low on the horizon the temperature drops, really drops. We camped in the town of Muitzenberg, here in this town Cecil Rhodes popped his clogs at the age of forty nine. We had a list of places to go and things to see, our first morning we went down to the pointy bit at the end, on the way of this pioneering journey, we went into a house only to find that Charles Dickens had already been there, and he did it on horseback. But we have done it, Rochford to the Cape.
Amazing countryside, and looking forward to tomorrow, and hopefully not so windy. We wake to rain, not enough to put us off entirely, but enough to slow our gallop, late in the day it was very windy and more rain. We went to a local nature reserve, which we did at a bit of a run, spent some time in an internet café, perhaps the rain has put us off. We woke up the next day to heavy rain so we packed away wet and left Cape Town to it’s own misery. Flooded roads, no visibility, and cold.
We had fewer problems with the rainy season in Kenya and Uganda than we have had with the dry season in South Africa. I am not actually sure if they even have a dry season in the Western Cape. We are hoping that if we go north we will get out of this rain belt.
After days of driving we got to the town of Springbok, and the sun is shining, hooray, we went for a coffee and to plan our next move, and while we were drinking and planning, it started snowing, later we had hail, sleet and rain. Our plan now is, in the morning leave the county.
Photos on http://picasaweb.google.com/mickhelen99
Some map markers on http://www.zeemaps.com/map?group=468852.