Riders Africa Adventure with World Expeditions
This not a travel log where the events of every day are detailed. Instead, I have presented some of the highlights, best, worst, unusual, humorous and embarrassing events of the trip along with relevant photos and some opinions.
Others may have different opinions but this is the way I saw things. Anything I say about anyone or anything is purely in fun. Some information and photos I got from others on the trip. I may have enhanced some of the information I gathered. Anything that is blatantly incorrect please let me know. All photos used have been converted to a smaller size for faster downloading.
Words, photos or video can never convey the visual impact and "feeling" of some of the places we visited. You have to be there.
to Navigate the Photos
Cladius Tondorai Tickey (Tickey) was our driver and guide. He was highly intelligent, articulate and became part of our families. Passionate about Africa and its flora and fauna he had an answer for every question we asked. He guided us through border crossings, showed us where to go and not go in towns and provided stimulating conversation at all times. He never lost his enthusiasm even though he has been doing this job for 14 years. It is hard to see how anyone could negotiate their way around Africa without such help. For nearly 6,000km he negotiated the truck over all grades of road and I could not fault his driving. Even on the few days when we drove all day he was still full of enthusiasm at the end of the day. Kiboko should be proud of this man. We even got to meet Tickey's wife who flew down to meet with him in Livingstone. See this photo.
Richard Sithole was our cook and secondary guide. He was also highly intelligent and articulate and became part of our families. When Tickey was otherwise occupied, Richard took over and never let us down. He had a great sense of humour and loved the jokes provided by Dennis. He even had a few of his own. Richard was a last minute inclusion when our original cook (Komoyo) left to deal with a family problem.
"This is Africa" (TIA). Any event that could not be explained or was just part of the African culture was TIA.
"Like a Sloth in Molasses" (LASIM). Described how slow some people were in Africa. In particular, supermarket checkout people.
A "veneer of normality". Describing the relationship between the different races in South Africa.
"Unwanted visitors who come into your house to help distribute your wealth". Burglars.
The animals. This is the main reason for visiting Africa. The animal viewings were "up close and personal". See this small selection of animal and insect photos.
Walking with the lions (and the elephants for some of our group) was an experience that I will remember for a long time. The lion walk involves walking with, patting and learning about lions. We walked with 3 lions about 2 years old for one hour. It is all part of a program to increase the lion population. See these photos.
the Etosha National Park (Namibia) we went on game drives
before sunset and after sunrise in our bus looking for animals.
There are tracks all through the park and you can stop anywhere
but cannot get out or coax the animals. On the game drives, we
saw nearly every animal except a lion and leopard. Tickey said
that lions sometimes hide in the large pipes that provide
drainage under roads but he did not find any. Even saw a
cheetah which Ann found. The sunrise drive goes for 5 hours and
evening for 2 hours. The animals are very tame and most you can
view very close beside the bus. You can stop for ages beside a
waterhole and watch and listen to the animals. It is
fascinating. The most prolific animal in the park is the zebra.
We were lucky to view giraffe, rhino and elephant up very
close. As we see the various flora and fauna in the park,
everything about it is was explained to us by Tickey.
Early in the trip we would get Tickey to stop the bus if we saw any animal kilometres away. The camera optical zooms were strained to the limit capturing that elusive animal photograph. Further into the trip the animal viewings came more often and closer. After a while we got blasé about the viewings and did not even bother stopping but may take a photo. At the end of the trip we were all "animaled", "sunsetted" and "sunrised" out.
Visit to a Himba village. I suspect some of it is staged for the tourists but nevertheless it was an eye opener and fascinating. Bare breasted women with loin cloths and covered from head to toe with a mixture of butter fat and red ochre and extremely elaborate hair styles. Watched them do their daily chores and went inside their dwellings. We found a lady for Bob and had a mock wedding ceremony. Found out later she is married with 2 children so Bob is now a bigamist. See these photos.
activities around Spitzkoppe were interesting and fun. It was
the only place we camped at that did not have showers and the
toilets were of the "drop" type.
Not for me, but Dennis, Noel and Bob abseiled down Table Mountain (only for about 100m). That day, most of us walked up Table Mountain and watched them abseil. They then walked back up to the top and we all caught the cable car down. The cable car was the same design as the one we rode on in Switzerland about three years ago. The guy in charge of the abseiling had an interesting hat which filled me with confidence. See this photo.
was one that stands out. On our last night of camping we stayed
at Camp Mabula. Except for Noel and Jenny, everyone else decided
to upgrade their accommodation to cabins. We did not know it
before we arrived, but later discovered that Mabula is a game
reserve where people hunt game. We were not allowed to go to the
nearby waterhole to view animals because it was dangerous whilst
hunters were about. There was a very distressing story related
to the current hunters that I will not relate here but we did
discover that they bait the animals. It was a pity about the
hunting because Mabula had the best facilities of all the sites
we had stayed at. A large covered dining area, good toilets and
showers, a pool and the cabins were very good.
Not really a lowlight, but on the safari there was a lot of travelling in the bus. We travelled over 5,500km. Some days we drove all day and our longest day was 720km.
Getting to Cape Town from Australia took about 27 hours of travelling and waiting around airports.
we feel safe
was just like the Dandenongs
meals and food
When we stayed at the Desert Camp in Namibia, we had dinner and breakfast at Sossusvlei Lodge because Richard was unable to cook and it was the only restaurant close. Tickey said it was one of the most expensive in Africa and he was right. It was very swish with a superb selection of food. I was impressed.
In Swakopmund, we had dinner one night at the "Ocean Basket". It was a fast food restaurant but the selection of seafood and the way it was cooked was very good.
In Cape Town, we had two dinners at a sea food place. The service was fast and the food cheap and very good.
Dennis was extremely disappointed that we only found one McDonalds (in Cape Town) and it did not have free WiFi. I don't think he ate there but he did find his first sausage roll in a bakery in Outjo (Namibia).
Everyone purchased a few 5 litre bottles of water which we kept in the rear of the bus About AU3.00 for 5 litres. Noticed in a supermarket in Groutfontein where you could refill water bottles for about AU$00.30 a litre.
restaurant we went to we always ended up with a calculator
working out our separate bills and of course we would always
forget the tips (10% extra).
Worst camp site
At the Khama Rhino Sanctuary in Botswana. Whilst the actual site was very good, it was a long way to the toilets/showers and these were shared with other camps. One of the male toilets was faulty and I could not see any way to inform someone to get it fixed. I had to get up during the night and it was a long scary walk to the toilet. The Camp offered game drives but nobody took up the offer.
In some of the other camp sites like Etosha, the facilities were a little run down and the power went off one night.
Lost, broken, embarrassing and mistakes
Jenny got lost at Cape Town airport on the day we arrived. We sent out search parties and had an announcement put over the PA system. Ann found her after about 20 minutes. Poor Tickey had only just met us and must have been wondering what is going on.
On our cycling tour of the Cape Town wine area, Bob raced ahead and missed a turnoff. The sag wagon chased and caught him.
Jenny thought she lost her phone when we stayed at the Desert Camp near Sossusvlei Lodge. However, she found it later.
Gerry lost a lens cap whilst climbing Table Mountain.
Jan dropped her camera in Cape Town and had to put tape on it to hold it together.
Jenny dropped her camera in the truck that brought us back after visiting the Dead Vlie. Luckily, someone found it.
Glenda lost her watch, then found it, then lost it forever.
Jenny purchased some batteries in supermarket in Springbok and left them there. Someone else noticed she had forgotten them and retrieved them.
Vince lost a large amount of US dollars at Ngepi Camp. With the help of Tickey, he filed a police report in a nearby town. When he got back to Australia, he claimed it on insurance and got most of it back.
Dennis got a rip in his bag, bought some glue and fixed it.
In Swakopmund, we arrived at the TUG restaurant to discover that our booking was for the previous evening. We were still able to obtain two tables in the wheelhouse.
Bob left his drink bottle in a cafe in Kasane (Botswana) but got it back.
Glenda left her dress at the Lion Walk. She had to change into a tee shirt because her dress was too loose and forget to change back before we left. Someone from the Lion Walk personally brought it back.
In some places, I found the hot and cold tap positions reversed. Stood for a long time naked waiting for the hot water when it was the cold water tap.
Dennis forgot his netbook charger and despite visiting every place in Cape Town he could not purchase a replacement.
At our camp beside the Chobe river, we noticed something dropping onto our dinner table. Tickey informed us it was Fruit Bats poo. We moved the table.
At the end of the trip, Gerry left his runners in the bus (deliberately).
I want my money back
I thought the Ferry to/from and tour of Robbens Island (Cape Town) was very badly organised. Robbens Island was once a prison for political prisoners and is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. The prison and tour was very interesting though.
The queue to get on the ferry at the Waterfront could have been better organised so people were not spilling out the main entrance door.
They showed a video in the fancy ferry on the trip over but never mentioned the format of the tour.
When we arrived at the island there was no signs or people to show you where to go or what to do. Most people were heading towards a convoy of busses so we hopped on one. The bus only drove about 100m and everyone got off. What was the point!
The guy doing our commentary and guided walk was an ex-prisoner of the island. Parts of his talk were interesting but he did a lot of name dropping which I thought was unnecessary. He also mentioned about a "Garden" that Nelson Mandela talked about in his book but did not elaborate.
After the prison tour finished, we were supposed to go on a bus trip around the island. However, the guy guiding us around the prison never mentioned it and just said goodbye outside the prison so we just walked back to the wharf because there was not a bus to be seen. Others in our group did go around the island by bus and that is how we found out.
When we got back to the wharf, there was a decrepit converted fishing boat taking people on board. Nobody there to tell you what was going on. Where was the fancy ferry we came on? We hopped on the fishing boat and took off and then watched the fancy ferry pull in to take passengers.
I emailed the tour company about my concerns but never heard back.
Victoria Falls. For those who have never seen Niagara or Iguaçu falls then they have nothing to compare against. Jan and Vince, who have seen Niagara, and Ann & I who have seen Iguaçu, agreed that Victoria Falls were disappointing. It was not the actual falls, they looked magnificent, it was all the things associated with the falls.
The river level was very high causing a spray which blocked the view of the falls. If you did not have a raincoat (which you can hire for about US$2) you will get very wet from the spray.
Even if there were no spray, you cannot see all or most of the falls from any position and you can only see about one sixth from Zambia and the rest from Zimbabwe. Too get to falls in Zimbabwe, you cross the Zambezi River via the bridge where the famous bungie jump is located. An Australian women fell into the river there when her rope broke. It was reported that the river was crocodile infested but I found out that this was not true.
The infrastructure around the falls is very basic. Only a pebbled path along the cliff top and some crappy lookouts with poor safety rails. Not like Niagara or Iguaçu falls where there are boardwalks at the top and around the falls and there are some great positions where you can see most of the falls and areas you can get very close to the bottom of the falls.
Of course, when you pay the entrance fee they don't tell you that the falls are not currently visible. To make it worse, you have to pay two entrance fees, one from Zambia and one from Zimbabwe.
I would recommend aerial viewing of Victoria Falls. Bob, Jan and Vince did this.
Popa Falls. Well, they sounded interesting. When we stayed in
the tree houses in Ngepi Camp, I thought a bike ride to the Popa
Falls and back would be fun. They had bikes for hire, so 10 of
us set off. The bikes were transported on a flat bottomed boat a
short way upstream and we boarded a converted 4WD to meet the
bikes. The 4km track from the main road into Ngepi Camp was
sandy and very difficult to ride on. The bikes were not in the
best condition. Some only had one gear and some no brakes.
Glenda gave up, left her bike at a village and walked back.
Helmets were not the best fitting. It was very hot and Dennis
mentioned to me that he was worried that some of us may not have
enough water. Luckily, at the falls there was a place that sold
We each paid 250 Rand (about AU$30) for a guide to accompany us when we walked up Table Mountain in Cape Town. We were told it is dangerous because you may get mugged. The track was like Bourke St. There was no way you would get mugged. However, it was a Sunday when we walked. It took us 2 hours to walk up. The guide told me that there is an annual race up the track we went on and the fastest time is 26 mins. He has done it in 39 mins.
Not me, but Dennis and Bob. We were all anticipating staying in the "tree houses" at Ngepi Camp. We were forewarned that at least one of the houses we had booked was flooded and someone would miss out. Due to the bedding arrangements, Dennis and Bob missed out and instead stayed in "Bush Huts". We offered to swap for one night but neither Dennis or Bob took up the offer. I guess Dennis and Bob did not relish the idea of laying in bed together watching the sunrise.
The Desert Camp in Namibia. Luxurious self-catering units with private bathrooms. Canvas walls and zippered windows. Very similar to units in Emma Gorge (Kimberly's, WA, Australia) we once stayed in. The central meeting area had an unusual carved-wood bar. Glenda, Vince and Jan were very happy because it had a pool.
"tree houses" at Ngepi Camp in Northern Namibia where
we stayed for two nights. We thought that this meant that we
stayed up a tree but it meant that the building was built on or
around trees. The houses were lovely though. Bamboo walls, the
front opens so you can see the sunrise in bed. Mozzie net around
bed. Built on the banks of the fast flowing Okavanago River,
they had fantastic views of the river, and in particular of the
sunset in the morning whilst laying in bed. Toilets and shower
and a light. Nice deck out front touching the water. All
The units at the Zambezi Waterfront Resort in Livingstone (Zambia). We had the top floor with 4 beds and a private balcony. A monkey got into our room through a broken wire vent at the top of the room. It stole some sugar and tea and raced out the front door. We reported it twice to reception but nothing was done. The place did need a little maintenance but was pleasant to stay in. The restaurant was beside the Zambezi River and a pleasant place to sit. Only tainted by the meal on the second night and the WiFi not working.
Interesting things and places
Table Mountain. So named because of the cloud that covers the flat top looks like a table cloth. At certain times the cloud slides off the mountain like the table cloth is being pulled off. Some days it gets very windy and the cable car is closed.
Camps Bay. The "Portsea" of Cape Town. We went there on the Hop-on, Hop-off bus. Only about a 20min drive from Cape Town. Nice beaches, posh houses and flash cars. The bus returned to Cape Town via the coast and the architecture reminded me of the French and Italian Riviera. Flash houses perched on cliffs by the sea, some with their private beaches.
The Waterfront in Cape Town. Lots of nice restaurants, free entertainment every night, police presence all the time to deter unsociable behaviour. See this photo of the most public telephones ever.
Dune 45. So called because it is 45km from Sesriem where we camped. We got up at 4.15am, drove about 50km, climbed the dune along its ridge and waited for the sun to rise. Took photos and came down. Some ran down the side of the dune. Breakfast was waiting for us at the bottom.
Dead Vlie. After we climbed the sand dune (above) and had breakfast, we drove in the bus about 10km to a car park. There are three ways to get to the Dead Vlie from the car park. You can take a 4WD shuttle, drive your own 4WD or walk (its about 5km drive or walk and then another 1km walk). Ann took the shuttle and the rest of us walked. With Tickey guiding and explaining to us, we walked through the desert and found the most amazing flora and fauna. Took two hours to reach the Dead Vlie and it got very hot. By the time we reached the Dead Vlie I had drunk all my water. The Dead Vlie is a white clay pan with numerous dead black trees believed to be about 900 years old. It is an eerie place but stunning in its beauty. Caught the shuttle back to car park with Ann and lunch waiting. Ann's shuttle back took her past Sossusvlie which is a larger clay pan than the Dead Vlie and had water in it. Both Sossusvlie and the Dead Vlie are surrounded by the highest sand dunes in the world.
District 6 in Cape Town. In 1966, the government declared District Six a whites-only area and relocated more than 60,000 people. The old houses were bulldozed. The area is still mostly vacant and a stark reminder of Apartheid.
The unfinished freeway in Cape Town which was apparently stopped by a recalcitrant landholder. One Valentines day, a couple had dinner on the freeway.
(Namibia). We spent two nights there in a guest house. Some
rooms had no hot water or it was tepid and the power went off a
few times. Also, the internet did not work for everyone. But we
did have the longest sleep-in there. The town was as modern as
any in Australia and very clean.
Bethanie (Namibia). Of interest because of the old colonial hotel we discovered. An uninspiring entrance led to beautiful open courtyard. It was fascinating. We had coffee there and soaked up the atmosphere. See these photos.
Canon Road House. An extremely modern place near Fish River Canyon. We camped there and had coffee in the main building. One of the better campsites.
Solitaire. Very remote. Nice bakery. Good facilities. Vehicle maintenance facility and tyres.
Tickey stopped occasionally to explain an interesting thing he had seen on the side of the road. A huge Weavers Nest in a tree, unusual trees and a termites nest.
The sunrises and sunsets. We viewed them at many places and some were magnificent.
The lady on another tour who joined us from time to time. She was an older person from Australia (Bathurst, NSW) on a similar tour to ours but we camped in some of the same places. She felt a bit left out in her group and joined us on some evenings. Even brought a bottle of wine over one night.
for Water Volleyball?
we have no Bananas
In Cape Town at the Waterfront there was open air entertainment every night and it was very good. We passed it on our way looking for a place to have dinner.
At the Zambezi Waterfront Resort in Livingstone there was entertainment on the first night. African dancers and music. Not that exciting. African music and dancing is a bit monotonous like Australian Aboriginal music and dancing.
The concert by the unemployed youths at Spitzkoppe was very good (described earlier).
Richest Country in Africa
Other things we did
Spent a day travelling to/from Cape Point (the most South-Western point of Africa). Saw some baboons close up, the lighthouse and on the way back we visited a penguin reserve at Boulders.
In Cape Town we rode the Ferris wheel,
Spent a day cycling the wine area about 50km out of Cape Town. Did wine tasting at 3 wineries with lunch at the last one.
Took the hop-on, hop-off bus around Cape Town.
Had a one hour cruise around the canals in Cape Town.
Others visited the aquarium in Cape Town.
Visited Fish River Canyon.
of us hired a guide with vehicle and did a tour of Johannesburg
and Soweto. We visited Mandela's House, Desmond Tutu's house,
and the Hector Pieterson museum (which dealt with the student
uprising in 1976 where over 500 people were killed). Had coffee
at the Mandela Family Restaurant.
The Dwellings and Locals
In Cape Town, there were very flash houses on the road up to Table Mountain (elevated of course), in Camps Bay and along the coast. The ones near Table Mountain all had barbed or razor wire around them with security firm signs prominently displayed. These people are prisoners in their own houses.
At the base of Table Mountain there is a multi story building containing luxurious apartments (I think). It is a blot on the landscape and there were numerous protests when it was proposed. Apparently, the developer found a loophole in the regulations that allowed the building to proceed. See this photo.
Walvis Bay had some very plush houses. It is the only deepwater natural harbour along Namibia's coast and is therefore the centre of Namibia's sea industries. However, it is completely surrounded by very barren desert. Along the coast, there are very flash building complexes and with desert on one side and ocean on the other.
The villages in remote areas. We saw thousands of these, each with its own wooden fence around. Saw lots of children coming and going to school. Most in uniforms, some carrying plate and spoon (for the Government provided meal). Local people walking around and some stalls on the side of the road selling local wares. I wondered where the people got their water from and was told and shown a Government provided water collection point.
Shanty Towns. These were everywhere. I noticed that electricity was provided and wondered how they can afford it. Apparently, the Government subsidise the cost and also provide water and communal toilets. Cheap busses are provided to/from the cities.
I gave a lady at the Crystal Market near Swakopmund two kangaroo stick pins which she proudly displayed on her breasts. See this photo.
In Zambia, near where we stopped for lunch, a guy was attaching a trailer to a pushbike. See this photo.
What does this man do for a living? At a town we stopped in for a break, we all noticed this well dressed man. He stood out from everyone else.
are Things in Zimbabwe
The Worst Roads
After we left Camp Mabula, Tickey took us along a very bad dirt road. I wondered why he took us along this route. Turns out he wanted to show us some emus so we would not feel homesick. He did not show us any kangaroos though.
The roads in Zambia were the worst of the sealed roads.
In Botswana, we did encounter bad roads, but they were in the process of repairing them which slowed us up.
In all countries there are speed humps at the beginning and end of major towns.
We travelled on gravel roads in Namibia and they were in good condition.
Methods of Roadwork's
In South Africa, they were constructing about 60km all at once. This caused lots of delays. Why not break it up and reduce the delays? Ah well, TIA.
Enterprising locals made good use of the long and frequent delays. Whenever there was a delay, a local would appear with an assortment of refreshments to sell. See this photo.
They had a novel way of stopping people driving on certain sections. See this photo. VicRoads (the State of Victoria/Australia road body) could save heaps of money by enforcing this method. Don't need barriers any more.
Saw lots of women road workers.
Saw 13 people helping fill one pothole.
In a remote area, I saw this elaborate gutter of local rocks cemented together. It went for ages. Rather elaborate considering where it was.
much does that Visa cost?
in the wrong place
Phone Reception and WiFi
Rick Turned 65
price of things
Virtually all the subservient workers are black.
People are employed to do vary basic tasks. For example, sweeping car parks (see this photo). "Car watch" guys that help people park their cars near supermarkets.
Digging trenches is done manually.
In a mall in Cape Town, many retail shops were open until 8.30 on a Sunday night.
Fuel in South Africa was about the same as Australia but in Botswana it was very cheap. LPG is not used for vehicles in South Africa.
There are no self serve checkouts in supermarkets or self serve fuel.
What we did not need or see
Scorpions. Whilst camping, we were warned that they come out at night so lock up your tent and place the tent bag in a tree. Did not see any.
Spiders. Not ones of any significant size.
Snakes. Someone saw one when we climbed Table Mountain but I never saw any.
Cheetah in the wild. Well, we did see a pair camouflaged in the grass at Etosha, but not everyone was convinced it was cheetahs. Ann found them and Tickey was 100% convinced which is enough for me. We did visit a park and feed some cheetahs. I was not happy that they were in a small run and the owner of the place had heads and stuffed animals in the entrance area. They claimed that they had been "saved" but are they breeding the cheetahs for a game park?
Babies in prams in remote areas. They were always carried in a sling. Saw a few prams in towns.
Babies with dummies in remote areas.
A double headed Mamba snake. Dennis had this on his wish list and finally found one. See this photo.
Thermals. I brought some but never used them.
Warm hat and gloves. I brought some but never used them.
Flamingos. Tickey said we may see some on the salt flats in Etosha but we never did. Jan was very disappointed.
A lawn mower of any type except on our last day at Mabula and it was an electric one.
Soft luggage bags. They were specified in the Kiboko information and caused us some consternation before we left. Soft luggage bags are just not practical for overseas travel. In the end I rang Kiboko in South Africa and they said don't worry about it.
could be done differently
Do not stay in a game park where they shoot animals (especially on the last day of the safari). It put a downer on the trip.
Remove the "EXIT" stickers from the rear windows of the Kiboko truck. They blocked the view out of the rear seat and could have been put somewhere else.
Less days in Cape Town and more in Johannesburg and stay closer to Johannesburg.
Extend the exhaust pipe of the Kiboko truck to the rear of the vehicle instead of coming out the side. The fumes were a problem at times.
If the exhaust pipe is not extended, don't idle the motor as often.
At Livingstone, we had the opportunity to do a variety of activities. For example, Lion/Elephant walks, cruises, bungy jumping, helicopter rides etc. These activities had to be booked in advance. Tickey gave us a sheet with a list of the activities and we had to pick the activities and times and he would book ahead. The sheet he gave us was worse than useless. The print was too small to read, there were no times given and we did not know the format of the activities. He did do some bookings but we changed some of them when we arrived in Livingstone.
A better system for the driver to talk to the passengers. Tickey just yelled through the cabin opening but we could not always hear him.
In the information provided by Kiboko, explain the arrangement and costing for the "Double Entry Visa" required at Zambia.