March 14th 2013: Doha, Qatar – Cape town, South Africa
Driven distance on March 14th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 58’740km (36’500 miles)
We spent the night freezing in the over-air conditioned airport since our next flight was scheduled to leave the next morning at 7AM. The flight was very long and in addition we had a stop in between in Johannesburg where we weren’t allowed to leave the aircraft. After we arrived in Cape Town around 6PM, we luckily had someone that picked us up and drove us straight to the hotel that we booked before. We were quite exhausted from the never ending trip all the way from Bangkok.
March 15th 2013: Cape town – Langebaan, South Africa
Driven distance on March 15th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 58’740km (36’500 miles)
We figured out that it is unfortunately very difficult to go from Cape Town to Langebaan by public transport. Luckily the owner of the hotel was able to organize a private chauffeur who drove us the 110km (70 miles) to Langebaan. By the way, the chauffeur was a kite surf teacher who had nothing to do because of no wind :-). On the way to Langebaan we already saw some ostriches and some kind of deer :-). Also at the lodge in Langebaan we were lucky. Originally we booked a small studio, but the owner, a woman from Switzerland, offered us a room in the guesthouse, where we can also use the common kitchen, living room and a BBQ place. The only disadvantage is, that we have to move to the small studio for four days during eastern holiday, since the guesthouse is fully booked then.
From March 16th 2013: Langebaan, South Africa
We will spend the next few weeks with kite surfing here in Langebaan :-), since the estimated time of arrival of the ship with the Landrover is April 14th.
March 16th – April 21st 2013: Langebaan, South Africa
Driven distance on March 16th – April 21st 2013: 540km (340 miles)
Driven distance total: 59’280km (36’830 miles)
The biggest part of the 5 weeks “waiting for Landrover” time we spent in the little cozy coastal village Langebaan. We enjoyed life here with kite surfing, eating, shopping, strolling around, doing nothing… what a life! :-) Since we weren’t really in the high season for the wind, we couldn’t kite surf every day, but we still had enough days to increase our kiting :-)! What was really nice and special was, that there were always seals looking out the water. Sometimes they just stuck up their head shortly but at other times they were spending quite some time on the surface to clean themselves.
Since there is not much more to do then kite surfing in Langebaan and since we needed some change, we went by bus to Cape Town on April 5th. As there was the annual big Jazz festival going on in the city, we tried to get some tickets at the spot. Without success, it was absolutely sold out L. But of course we didn’t give up. We made a big „Tickets Wanted“ sign and strolled around the entrance. What we didn’t know was, that it is illegal to buy or sell tickets besides the official places. We were told this by a policeman with the threat that he could lock us up in jail. Luckily he didn’t do it:-). Quietly we left the scene and the police. We tried our luck at another place and asked around a bit more secretly. So we did find someone who had tickets, so we got them somewhere in a dark corner. Like this we did get to see the great concerts! The same way we did it the next evening again!
Since there are very limited possibilities to get around in South Africa without a car, we rented an old 80’s E-class Mercedes for about 22$ per day to cruise around the Cape Town area. We visited Simons Town, where there are herds of sweet little African penguins and went to the Cape of Good Hope and explored the Nature Park there. We really enjoyed the beautiful wild coast and we even sighted some animals like ostriches different “horn animals” :-), turtles and baboons (monkeys). Back in Cape Town we paid a visit to the famous “must see sight” table mountain. We conquered the mountain with the 360° rotating cable car. With freezing winds we enjoyed the great view over Cape Town. Back in the city we visited some of the sights, like the Slave Lodge, the Company’s Garden and the museum of South Africa. After Cape Town we drove along the beautiful cost all the way to the most southern point of Africa, Cape Agulhas. Along the way we always stopped to witness the stunning deep blue sea with the foamy waves smashing heavily onto the steep cliffs! In Bettys Bay we could see once again the African penguins.It was really amusing to witness how the little animals got swept onto the shore by the waves, but then stood up and walked quite easygoing across the stones on land :-). On the way back we chose a route through the inland which led us across beautiful hilly landscapes und huge wineries.
April 16th finally arrived – The Landrover is ready to be picked up! We drove to Cape Town early in the morning to meet our agent at the container depot of the port. Equipped with shiny vests we went on the search of the container and waited then quite anxious that the container is being opened. Yoohoo, everything is still here and the Landrover started the engine after 5 weeks without any trouble! The whole customs procedure was unfortunately not quite finished and we went back into the city without the car. It took not just 2 – 3 hours as planned to get everything done, but rather the entire day. So finally we got the car just before the office closed at 5PM! Because of this unexpected waiting time, we had to go back to Cape Town the next day, since we had to purchase a new refrigerator for the car. Also here we encountered some issues, since the measurements of the new one were quite bigger. So the following day we had a reconstruction day for the drawer of the fridge:-).
April 22nd 2013: Langebaan – Elands Bay, South Africa
Driven distance on April 22nd 2013: 140km (90 miles)
Driven distance total: 59’420km (36’920 miles)
Today’s day was indeed something special. First because we were on the road with the Landrover again after 5 weeks in Langebaan and second because we officially started on our way back home to Switzerland :-).
Since the space inside the car was really getting to the limits due to the kite surf material, we organized a shop that welded an additional roof rack to place above the hood. So the first stop was only 30km (20 miles) from Langebaan away. It took a bit longer than we expected in the mechanical shop to adjust the rack and to mount it to the car. Finally we took off at 2PM. Now we have more space inside the car for food and some beers ;-).
Around 4PM we put up our “tent” and enjoyed it to be back on the road again!
April 233d 2013: Elands Bay – Sanddrif (Cederberg), South Africa
Driven distance on April 23rd 2013: 340km (210 miles)
Driven distance total: 59’760km (37’130 miles)
After we re-arranged everything a bit in the Landrover the evening before, we figured out that one of the backpacks was missing. We actually managed it to not look in all the closets before taking off from Langebaan! So we could turn right back around and drove back to Langebaan, and what a surprise, the backpack and some shirts were waiting for us.
With plenty of motivation we cruised under the sunny sky with the right music over the country roads:-). Across hilly landscapes and rocky valleys we reached the „Cederberg Wilderness Area“.
April 24th – 25th 2013: Cederberg Wilderness Area (Sanddrif), South Africa
Driven distance on April 24th – 25th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 59’760km (37’130 miles)
The Cederberg Wilderness Area is famous for its rugged landscape, amazing rock formations and ancient rock art paintings. Since we were quite motivated to do some hiking at this beautiful weather and nice temperatures, we started a tour in this area. In the south of the mountains we performed an 8 hour hike to the breathtaking „Wolfberg Cracks“ and the „Wolfberg Arch“. After a heavy uphill hike we reached the so called „Wolfberg Cracks“. It was a marvelous view! Red steep cliffs, in the middle 2 parallel high gorges and an endless wide panoramic view at the surrounding region. At one of the gorges we squeezed through until we ended up on top at a plateau. But the hike through the gorge wasn’t that easy at all. We needed to squeeze underneath little rocks, across pitch dark tiny openings in the cliff and some smaller climbing parts were also involved. We hiked along the high plateau to a huge arch, the so called „Wolfberg Arch“, from where we also had a fantastic view at the nearby rugged rocky landscape. Since we aren’t the most athletic fellas, we were quite at the end of our energy after the 8 hours hiking.
April 26th 2013: Cederberg Wilderness Area (Sanddrif) – Clanwilliam, South Africa
Driven distance on April 26th 2013: 140km (90 miles)
Driven distance total: 59’900km (37’220 miles)
Near our campground we visited the „Stadsaal“, an area where there were once again scurrile rock formations and small caves. The area Cederberg (and others) were inhabited by the African nomads, the San (Bushmen), and we were able to witness some 1000 years old rock art paintings that were still in good shape. After this, our trip continued along a 4x4 track, which started off quite easy, but then ended up on a pass where really a 4x4 was required. We needed for 10km (6 miles) about one hour... :-). What really surprises us here is how secluded some of the villages are. In the middle of nowhere is a tiny village with a few houses.
April 27th 2013: Clanwilliam – De Pakhuys Camping, South Africa
Driven distance on April 27th 2013: 30km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 59’930km (37’240 miles)
In the morning it took us quite some more time then expected to shop groceries. It was just crazy in the supermarket. It felt like all the stores will be closed for the next several weeks. At the ATM’s it was about the same picture. At each machine were about 8 persons waiting! But now we have quite enough food reserves!
After a short drive we ended up at the very nice campground „De Pakhuys“, which is famous among climbers. Several kilometers away from the road we were able to put up our camp surrounded by specially shaped rock formations. Since it was still early in the afternoon we hiked to the nearby little but beautiful waterfall.
April 28th 2013: De Pakhuys Camping, South Africa
Driven distance on April 28th 2013: 20km (10 miles)
Driven distance total: 59’950km (37’250 miles)
Todays hike was leading us again to the tracks of the San indigenous people. The „Sevilla-Trail“ which was near our campsite went across a rocky plane, where there were at 9 sights impressive pre-historic rock paintings. Some of them were clearly visible and surprisingly in good shape. The native people have drawn elephants, zebras, monsters, bow hunters, dancing women and handprints to the bright rock walls. On the way we also saw a few „Dassies“, some kind of marmot, and a herd of baboons (monkeys). During our cozy lunch underneath a cliff we were a bit shocked when several monkeys looked down at us from the cliff high above. Actually really sweet, but when you see one of the grown up males, which is the size of a huge dog, we do have quite some respect ;-). Immediately we packed up our lunch and took off.
April 29th 2013: De Pakhuys Camping – Calvinia, South Africa
Driven distance on April 29th 2013: 130km (80 miles)
Driven distance total: 60’080km (37’330 miles)
Today we were almost the only once on the road! The biggest part of the trip led us over unpaved roads which are mostly in good condition. But what can be very annoying on such roads are the little waves, which are created over the time. If you drive faster than 80 km/h (50 mph) you don’t really feel them anymore;-)!
April 30th 2013: Calvinia – Augabries NP, South Africa
Driven distance on April 30th 2013: 460km (290 miles)
Driven distance total: 60’540km (37’620 miles)
Since a very long time we drove today more than 400km… The long drive wasn’t really interesting since most of it were highways.
May 1st – 3rd 2013: Augabries NP, South Africa
Driven distance on May 1st – 3rd 2013: 140km (90 miles)
Driven distance total: 60’680km (37’700 miles)
The first day in the park was car free, since we still had enough from the day before. So we made a 4 hours hike, which led us first to the big gorge at the twin falls, the smaller falls at the park. The National Park is famous for its waterfalls, which originate from the Gariep River (also called Orange River). Already those falls were quite impressive and fitted perfectly into the rugged landscape. We continued the hike across the dassie track, which has its name from the little animals. And once again were the little guys crawling all over the rocks or enjoyed a sunbath:-).
Back on the campground we took a short break before heading towards the main attraction of the park, the bid waterfall. The smashing waterfall was very impressive and thundered down into the deep gorge.
We stayed one more night inside the National Park, since there was also a round trip of about 100km (60 miles) where there are supposed to be animals to see. Since this park is more famous for the falls then for the animals, we didn’t have too many expectations when we took off. But we got positively surprised! Besides several herds of different “horn animals” we also were lucky enough to spot a herd of giraffes! 17 animals were there strolling through the bushes and looked at us sometimes a bit confused:-). As happy campers we left the park and stayed a few kilometers outside of the park on a very quiet campground.
May 4th 2013: Augabries NP – Spitskop Nature Reserve, South Africa
Driven distance on May 4th 2013: 110km (70 miles)
Driven distance total: 60’790km (37’770 miles)
First an add-on to the report just above from the Augrabies National Park. At the campground of the National Park were always monkeys strolling around every morning. Since we weren’t quite used to taking very good care of things during breakfast, we got robbed. A cheeky monkey came out of nowhere and stole a raw egg from the table! The smart little guy was sitting comfy on the nearby tree and put a hole in the egg and drank it completely out:-)! Still during the breakfast was another monkey trying to steal and rushed with his arm along the edge of the table! Without success:-)!
We weren’t able to move directly to our planned destination, since we first needed to get accustomed that many of the National Parks are fully booked. The first available spaces were not before May 10th, so we have a couple of days where we have to kill some time. For this simple reason we made an intermediate stop near Upington, in the Spitskop Nature Reserve.
May 5th 2013: Spitskop Nature Reserve – Upington, South Africa
Driven distance on May 5th 2013: 60km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 60’850km (37’810 miles)
We took off in the morning to the 37km (23 miles) round course in the little private park. And again we were able to spot several herds of different animals. Besides the usual “horn animals” like Eland, Gemsbok or Springbok it also had 2 camels, which really don’t fit in this part of the world. Apparently their ancestors were brought in by the Germans during world war I. Also a rare species were the black springbok. For the first time we have also seen a herd of zebras, which were together with some blesboks. Unfortunately were all animals quite shy and we couldn’t enjoy them from close distance.
May 6th 2013: Upington – Kalahari Trails Nature Reserve, South Africa
Driven distance on May 6th 2013: 230km (140 miles)
Driven distance total: 61’080km (37’950 miles)
We completed different things we had to do like recycling an old car battery. Therefor we asked an employee at a gas station, but he only looked a bit confused. But luckily another customer was listening and took the battery and loaded it into his car :-). It is that easy in Africa... Our trip then led us into a part of the Kalahari desert, which is filled with wonderful red sand dunes.
May 7th 2013: Kalahari Trails Nature Reserve, South Africa
Driven distance on May 7th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 61’080km (37’950 miles)
Since you are inside the car in most of the National Parks and since you are sometimes not even allowed to leave your car, we grabbed the chance in the Kalahari Trails Nature Reserve to perform a 16km (10 miles) long hike. The sandy trail led us over a plain, which was covered with many bushes, grass, and some trees. There were many animals eating, but unfortunately they usually left as soon as they spotted us. The green bushes on top of the red sand dunes and the deep blue sky in the back ground made a perfect picture in the evening sun.
May 8th 2013: Kalahari Trails Nature Reserve – Kgalagadi Lodge, South Africa
Driven distance on May 8th 2013: 40km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 61’120km (37’980 miles)
Now it is about time to write something regarding the temperatures. What we are not used to in Switzerland are the huge temperature differences between day and night. During the day it is usually comfortable 25°C (77°F) and sunny skies. But as soon as the sun goes down it is getting cold and quite a few times we crawled into our sleeping bags at 8PM. It happened that the temperature in the morning was only 0°C (32°F)!
Before we took off in the morning, we had a laugh by watching the little mongooses and squirrels running around and digging holes.
We made another in-between stop at a pleasant camp site simply 5km (3 miles) before the gates of the Kgalagadi National Park. The 4* campground was quite luxurious for our standard. Every camp spot had it’s own spacious little hut with toilet and shower inside, where it was almost possible to get installed like at home:-).
May 9th 2013: Kgalagadi Lodge, South Africa
Driven distance on May 9th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 61’120km (37’980 miles)
Since there are usually no people around during the day on the campgrounds, we treated us to a cozy and relaxing day.
May 10th – 13th 2013: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa
Driven distance on May 10th – 13th 2013: 570km (350 miles)
Driven distance total: 61’690km (38’330 miles)
After our 5-day waiting time near the gates of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, we finally entered early in the morning at Twee Rivieren! On our first day we made some kind of a loop, where we could see several herds of springbok, Gemsbok and Wildebeest. The animals weren’t shy and we were able to watch them from close distance, not like the previous smaller reserves. Towards the evening when we were already tired from driving on the bad roads, we almost missed two female lions, which were strolling over the sand dunes just 15m (50 feet) away from us! Immediately we stopped and geared up with camera and binoculars :-). Shortly after we stopped, one of the lions was lying in the shade of a bush and the other one sat down in the sun and cleaned herself a bit. It was really a special experience to be able to see those beautiful, yet dangerous animals that close. And since we were for quite some time the only vehicle there we had of course the V.I.P. viewpoint. After a while the two lions kept on moving and we drove happy back to the Twee Rivieren Camp.
The second day past unfortunately by without any sightings of bigger raptors. Besides the usual herds of “horn animals” we saw a few times lonely jackal moving around. We stayed this night in a chalet since the campground was fully booked. Also here in the Camp area were the Jackals strolling around and we had to make sure that they didn’t steel our steaks from the grill :-).
Since we had another day ahead of us with terrible roads, we started already at 7AM! The thermometer of the Landrover showed an incredible -0.5°C (31°F). But it actually increased quite fast as soon as the sun was rising. A man in another car mentioned to us, that there are 5 lions just 2km further down the road. Really excited we rushed there but got disappointed! We couldn’t find them anymore. Well, we can’t always be on the lucky side. Some hours later the luck got back on our side and we spotted a herd of giraffes, which chewed nicely besides the road on some trees. Again fully motivated we continued. In all the parks there are some natural or man made water holes directly along the road, where the animals can kill their thirst. At one of those holes we had luck and saw again some giraffes drinking. First there was another car, which shortly after took off. We could see the animals from almost 5m (16 feet) distance how they made gymnastic exercises to get down to the water ;-). We got quite in a hurry, because the gates of the park close at 6PM and we intended to cross the boarder at the Mata-Mata camp into Namibia. Quite surprised we got informed that the border closes already at 4:30PM, so we had to stay another night in the park. In the morning, when we were still in the bed, we heard some kind of roaring. We didn’t think too much and figured that it belongs to a “normal” animal. All of a sudden was hectic on the campground and there was the silhouette of a lion visible on top of the dune. Now we actually realized how a lion sounds :-). The spectacle continued when the frying eggs were already in the pan! Everybody was rushing with their monster zoom lenses and binoculars towards the fens where there is a good view to the nearby water hole. The majestic male lion came to the hole and enjoyed the drinking. After a while he continued his walk and we could enjoy our breakfast :-). We could cross the boarder from South Africa to Namibia without any problems, only the firewood we had to give to the customs official. „No South African wood in Namibia please“ :-).