Ghost Riders Africa Adventure with World Expeditions
Commenced 29th March 2012
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.
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The trip was organised through World Expeditions by Dennis, the "President" of the
Warby Ghost Riders
We started in Cape Town, stayed there 6 days and then commenced a 21 day safari by bus which was
really a converted truck.12 days camping interspersed with accommodated
lodging. For the safari,
Dennis negotiated an
itinerary with World Expeditions which was based on a trip by Kiboko. After the
safari, we had one day near the Johannesburg International
Eleven people took part. Nearly everyone knew each other before we left
Australia because some of us had been on previous overseas trips together and we had numerous training walks and bike rides together.
Dennis's account of the trip can be seen
Noel & Jenny
Gerry & Gael
Jan & Vince
Ann & Rick
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
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
"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
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
In 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.
Camped in the Chobe National Park beside the Chobe river and went on a 3 hour
cruise on the river through the Park. Saw the most elephants ever, lions, crocs,
hippos and heaps of birds.
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
The 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.
specifically requested, and visited, a school in the community there which was
interesting. We sat in the classroom and the teacher spoke to us. Looked through
their textbooks. The kids all wanted their photos taken (and look at the result) and they sang for us and we sang
for them. Jan did a reel dance for them which the girls in particular found
fascinating. Ann played hopscotch. They all stay at the school during the week with meals and
accommodation provided. Jan helped make sandwiches (there were two women there
who make over 200 meals, three times a day) and Glenda helped a budding
artist (Glenda is a very talented artist) and gave the school some pencils. Each
of us gave a donation to the school head. See
this huge rock and looked at some rock paintings. The guide could talk the
"click" language and he explained it and then sang for us on a makeshift
rock stage whilst we listened in a makeshift amphitheatre.
In the evening we had a one hour concert in the bush camp from some unemployed
youths in the community near the school. No instruments, just singing and
dancing. We even joined in for one song. The singing incorporates the click
language and they also click their feet together
when dancing. Each of us paid about AU$8.00 to the group.
Bought a very basic mobile from some kids selling things on the side of the
road. They sit there all day in decrepit makeshift shelters waiting for someone to pass
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
There 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
The issue of game hunting was one of a few things I did not like about South
Africa. I never realised it was so prolific. We passed dozens of game parks in
our travels so there is possibly hundreds of them scattered around South Africa.
Most have lavish entrance gates, electric fences and some even have airfields. There are
large amounts of money involved. For example, people can pay up to US$30,000 to
shoot a leopard. Everyone in our group found the practice disgusting. How can
one kill such beautiful animals for pleasure or for a "trophy" and
claim it is "hunting" if the animals are baited?
The problem is that the locals don't believe it is an issue. Even Tickey or
Richard did not have a problem with it. They explained that the hunting is
regulated and after a game kill all of the animal is utilised in some way. For
example, if the killers don't want the meat, it is given to the locals. However,
I am not convinced this is done because I cannot see have they can keep a check
on it and enforce it.
I was told later that on our river cruise through the Chobe National Park there
were people who were hunters presumably taking photographs of the animals they
would like to shoot.
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.
Did we feel safe
In most towns there were security people walking the streets and guards on
the entrance to supermarkets (see
this photo). You had to show the supermarket receipt to the
guards as you left although a few times I noticed that we were not asked to show
the receipt but the black people were. Most ATM's have a guard nearby. One town
we went through had two ATM's bombed recently. Some
banks had double security doors which we embarrassingly got caught in once.
Remote towns have many dodgy people hanging around. Even with all of this we did
not feel threatened at any time.
In Botswana however, there were no security guards in the supermarket we went
into in Kasane.
A shop in Swakopmund (Namibia) had a locked gate on the entrance. If you want to
enter the shop, you press a button and the shopkeeper decides whether to
let you in or not.
Viewing animals on game drives was completely safe. You are not allowed to get
out of your vehicle or coax the animals. Toilets are in gated fenced areas.
Camping in the game parks was also safe because you are fenced in and at the
rear are floodlit waterholes that you can view at night. You have to be very
quiet and watch what comes in to drink. The first night there was rhino,
elephant, giraffe and lion. At night you can hear the animal sounds and early
one morning was a lion roar. Second night we saw 2 rhinos fighting in the middle
of the waterhole. Third night we just watched the grass grow (or die) around the
waterhole but in the early morning in bed we heard lions roaring very close. The
gates into the park are shut at sunset and opened at sunrise.
It was just like the Dandenongs
In some of the areas we visited, Eucalypts were prominent and the
surrounding countryside was similar to country Victoria.
The border crossings
I found some of the crossings fascinating. In particular, from Namibia to
Zambia. The first thing you see after crossing the border into Zambia is
this sign which "welcomes"
you. It got worse after that. The immigration centre was a small crowded room in
a terrible state. No signs to tell you where to go or how much things cost. Outside there is rubbish
everywhere, vehicles parked anywhere and dodgy people hanging around. The immigration people dealing with
us had no computers but they were pleasant.
I noticed a decrepit old caravan near the Zambia immigration centre we went in.
Some tourists who were self-driving told me later that they went into the
caravan to process their paperwork. It was even worse inside and the immigration
officers were sitting on planks.
Crossing into Botswana we had to disinfect our shoes. See
this photo. However,
there was nobody there to ensure you did it. There was a long delay processing
the bus in Botswana and we took taxis into Kasane and we were met later by the
There is a border crossing over the Zambezi river where four African countries
meet (Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe). The immigration point was
chaotic. We crossed from Zambia to Botswana via a ferry. The ferry is small and
there are large trucks crossing. So why not a bridge? Apparently there was a
proposal to build a bridge and the money was available but the four countries
could not decide where to put it so it never happened.
How many photographs
We all took a huge number of photographs. Gael probably took at least 3,000.
I took nearly 2,000.
Best meals and food
Whilst camping on the safari of course. Given the circumstances, our cook Richard did a
fantastic job. There was not one meal I did not enjoy and the vegetarians were
well catered for. There was also a few surprises. There was always a supply of
fruit in the bus whilst travelling. Richard and Tickey shopped for supplies
often. I caught them coming out of a supermarket with
these trolleys which was a few days supply. Breakfast
was usually porridge, cereals, yoghurt and sometimes boiled eggs. Toast was made
on a grill over an open fire. Wood for the fire was purchased from people
selling along the way. Like in
this photo. These guys sit all day waiting for a
sale. The wood cost us US$2.00.
For lunches we stopped in a shaded place on the roadside or a park with a nice
lawn. Richard would whip up a salad and other delicacies. After we had finished,
locals would often appear looking for the leftover food.
We passed a horse and cart once, stopped the bus and gave them some food. Two
Adults, five children and four horses. See
Where meals were not provided we went to restaurants for lunch or dinner. In
Cape Town, we always went down to the Waterfront for dinner, usually as a group.
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
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.
Whatever 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).
Some restaurants added a 10% surcharge if there were more than 6 people in the
group. Could never work out the logic of this.
Whilst camping, we always did the washing up (see
this photo), helped unpack and pack and helped with food preparation.
Nothing major. Bob cracked his head on a sign (see
this photo), Jan cut her finger. A few had blisters.
Some felt poorly but it may have been travel sickness.
We had little rain. At breakfast after our first camping night a storm hit
us and we had to pack up very quickly. Probably our fastest pack-up. It rained
overnight on our 2nd night in Etosha. Nearly everyone had to get up, close all
the tent zips and put the rain covers over their tents.
Had a few very warm days, but overall the weather was very pleasant.
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
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.
Best people photos
Lost, broken, embarrassing and
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
Jenny thought she lost her phone
when we stayed at the Desert Camp near Sossusvlei Lodge. However, she found it
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
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
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).
Bob (72)/Vince (59).
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
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
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
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
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
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.
The 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
The rest of us made it, walked down to the falls only to discover that the
river was flooded and you could not get to the falls. Then we find out that the
falls are actually rapids. Noel was happy though because he saw his dream motor
home parked beside the
Okavanago River. A half million dollar unit driven
by a guy from Denmark circumnavigating the world.
We all made it back OK to be told we are the only
ones ever to successfully ride there and back. I reckon they were snickering
soon after we left.
Of course, when you pay the entrance fee into the "falls" they don't tell you
that the falls are not currently accessible because of flooding and they are
really rapids. See
this photo of Dennis looking for the falls. Ah well, TIA.
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
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.
The "tree houses" at Ngepi
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 solar.
The grounds and restaurant were also lovely. Many unusual features. One the
second evening, we went on a one hour boat cruise on the river just before
sunset and it was a very pleasant trip. Saw heaps of birds and hippos and the sunset. Felt like I was on the African
The noise of the crickets during the night was very loud and hippos come out to
graze. They employ a guy with a whip to shoo them away because they can become
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
Who got Sick
Nobody. The first overseas group trip I have been on where nobody got ill.
We all took malaria prevention and Tickey told us when to start taking it. He
has had malaria twice and he knows someone in the town of Solitaire who has had
it 12 times.
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
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
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.
Swakopmund (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.
We did have a couple of interesting
meals there. One was in a converted tugboat permanently located on the Atlantic
coast. We were lucky to get
tables on the top floor or what would have been the wheelhouse. Unusual
atmosphere in which to have a meal. Afterwards, we walked along
the pier to a Japanese sushi restaurant located at the end of the pier. The other meal was in the
"Ocean Basket" which was very nice.
this brochure in a real estate agent. About AU$36,000 could buy you your
dream block of land in Namibia.
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
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.
Anyone for Water Volleyball?
At Ngepi Camp, we noticed
this volleyball net with the court covered in about 1m
of water. They were having the highest floods for about 40 years and our
bus had to navigate through some water to get to there. I was lucky to have a
guided tour of their solar and battery backup facility but had to walk
through 1m of water to get there.
The Biggest Camera
On a game drive in Etosha, I noticed
this guy in another vehicle with the
largest lens I have ever seen. He would have needed a separate suitcase to cart
I also noticed many people taking photos with smartphones and even an iPad.
Smartphones and iPads don't yet have optical zoom, optical image stabilisation,
optical image preview, adjustment to white balance,
flexibility in exposure settings and low light capabilities. Also, point and
shoot cameras have better overall ergonomics. For example, with one hand,
you can stick the camera out a window and adjust the zoom level and take the
photo. For some people, the sharing applications, filters, speed and
availability of the smartphone will be more than enough but for me they are not
yet smart enough.
Yes, we have no Bananas
As I found out at the Zambezi Waterfront Resort in Livingstone. On our second night there,
the meals took an hour to come. I had ordered a banana split for dessert and I
was told they had no bananas but they did have apple crumble which I had the
previous night and was lovely. After another hour waiting for dessert we were
just about to leave when the apple crumble appeared. It was just a defrosted
slice and not very nice.
Ann and Jenny. They both bought extra bags to take all the items home. See
this photo of all the items Ann bought.
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).
The Biggest Swimmers
Jan, Vince and Glenda. Whenever we stayed at a place with a pool (and there
were a few) they were the first in. I reckon Jan had her bathers on underneath
her clothes most of the time, just in case we stopped anywhere near a pool. She
wore them when we went on the bike ride at Ngepi Camp and at the end stripped off
to her bathers and
lay in the river. Jumped up quickly when we told her there was a crocodile
The Richest Country in Africa
Is apparently Botswana due to the diamond mining. They have a policy that
local businesses have to be majority owned a locals.
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
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
Had a one hour cruise around the
canals in Cape Town.
Others visited the aquarium in Cape
Visited Fish River Canyon.
Four 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.
We drove through Johannesburg and Soweto and went inside
a shanty town.
See these photos.
He seemed to have many lady friends on our travels. We caught him chatting
up a few and he joined a group around a campfire at our second camp in Etosha.
At one of the border crossings, he was chatting up a lady but when we yelled out
from the bus that he was married and she disappeared. See
Jerry. Not long ago he had two knee replacements and a hip replacement and
then climbed up Table Mountain. Jenny also had a hip replacement last year but
coped very well with the bike ride and walking.
The French Tourists
Near the town of Solitaire, we encountered two vehicles on the side of the
road driven by French tourists. One vehicle was driving poorly. Tickey had a
look at it (see
this photo) but was unable to fix it. They did not speak very
good English and Tickey was able to contact the hire firm and arrange
assistance. We saw them a few times later on.
We celebrated Easter in South Africa. Bob cut up a chocolate bar and Ann had
some small Easter eggs she brought from Australia.
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
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
I gave a lady at the Crystal Market near
Swakopmund two kangaroo stick pins
which she proudly displayed on her breasts. See
In Zambia, near where we stopped for
lunch, a guy was attaching a trailer to a pushbike. See
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.
The M.O.P.O.T. Award
Most Objectionable Person On Trip. Was judged by Bob and
awarded to Dennis on our last night. He was presented with a silver tray and a
The Craziest Driver
The guy driving the minibus that transported the group of us that did the
elephant walk. The lion and elephant walks are in the same area but different
minibuses transported us to/from the site. Returning from the lion walk we were
passed at very high speed by the minibus transporting the elephant walk people.
Noel told me later that driver was crazy. He even drove up on the footpath to
pass other vehicles.
Advice Costs Money
In Swakopmund, we were looking for the Ocean Basket restaurant. Noel asked a
local for directions and he helped us but then demanded 20 dollars for his
How are Things in Zimbabwe
Talking with Tickey and Richard (who both come from Zimbabwe) about their leader
who has got a very bad name with the Western press. They like him and claim his
only problem is the way he implements things. Apparently, he gets an idea and
implements it instantly without considering the repercussions.
We had to get up early most days, usually between 5.00 and 6.00 am. The
earliest was 4.15 am to catch the sun rising over the sand dunes. This took a toll on everyone and most people got caught
having a nap at some time. See
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.
The Methods of Roadwork's
On our last day of driving with the safari, we passed through some
Some interesting things:
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
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
In a remote area, I saw
elaborate gutter of local rocks cemented together. It went for ages. Rather
elaborate considering where it was.
Best Playground Equipment
At the site of our first camp near Springbok I saw
equipment. Probably the most meagre equipment I have ever seen.
It was our home for three weeks and we spent a lot of time sitting in it. It
had two fridges at the back, one for the food and the other was for us. There
was an invertor from 12v to 240v so we could charge our batteries (very useful).
We helped keep it clean by sweeping floors and cleaning the windows.
How much does that Visa cost?
This caused us much confusion, even though Tickey explained it numerous
When you first enter Zambia, you have to purchase an entry Visa. If you
want to view the Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe, you have to exit Zambia and after
visiting the falls re-enter Zambia. This means you need another entry Visa. For
convenience, Zambia allows you to purchase a "Double Entry" Visa at a reduced
price to cater for visitors who wish to view the falls from Zimbabwe. You
purchase this when you first enter Zambia and your passport is marked to show a
double entry. You must pay the Visa in American dollars in cash and they don't
accept American dollars dated before 2003 or give any change. You must have the
exact money (nobody told us this in advance, even Tickey).
Its in the wrong place
Said Dennis when he checked the position of the Tropic of Capricorn sign we
passed by. See
In some countries there are roadside signs urging people to fight
corruption which is rife in Africa. There were even signs warning about people
stealing electricity. We heard a story about a guy who hooked into traffic
lights to get free electricity and then complained about his TV going on and off
(bit hard to believe).
Poaching in game reserves is prevalent and difficult to eradicate because of
corrupt officials. Parks are patrolled at night and there is a zero tolerance to
poaching. Anyone found in a game reserve at night is shot. Entry to and from
reserves is strictly controlled. Gates are opened at sunrise and closed at
sunset. There should be no one in a reserve at night.
Mobile Phone Reception and WiFi
Mobile phone reception was good in most towns but WiFi internet was not. We
composed email messages using an
iPad in the bus and intended to transfer the messages when we found a convenient
WiFi location. However, I
tried a few times at places where there was WiFi but it never worked or was
unreliable. Ah well, TIA.
I transferred our camera photos into the iPad as went so we could view them
properly and edit them. Everyone on the bus was very impressed and most
intended getting one.
Mongoose, squirrels and monkeys. They appeared at some campsites. Cute, but
they can have rabies so you have to be careful. They will get inside your tent
if the door is open. Mongoose come out in large groups, do a scan of the place
looking for food and then disappear. At the camps in Etosha, jackals were
hanging around and mad a mess of the rubbish bins looking for food.
Apartheid museum, Slave Lodge, District 6, Robbens Island (all in Cape Town), the Hector Pieterson museum (In Soweto which dealt with the student uprising in 1976 where
over 500 people were killed) and the shanty
towns (everywhere). Man's inhumanity to
man. I cannot say much more.
We Played UNO
On our last at Camp Mabula we played for a while. Even Tickey joined in. See
When Rick Turned 65
It happened whilst I was on the plane from Perth to
Johannesburg. Ann told the
airline staff, they announced it and everyone sang happy birthday. They
presented me with a bottle of champagne and a bottle of wine. Due to the time
difference, my birthday lasted 31 hours. We drank the wine on some camping
We never had trouble getting cash. Plenty of ATM's around. However, it would
have been convenient if some ATM's dispensed dual currencies. US dollars are
needed at some border crossings and can be used in Zambia and Zimbabwe so it is
essential to take some with you from Australia. If you want to obtain US dollars
locally, it is messy and does not always work. You withdraw money from an ATM in
the local currency. Then go into a bank and exchange the local currency for US
dollars (if they have any).
Zambia uses the kwacha unit of currency. There are about 5,000 kwacha to one
Australian dollar. You end up with ridiculous amounts for simple items such as
in this photo but
the items are cheaper than in Australia.
Zimbabwe now uses the US Dollar and other currencies but before 2009 had its own dollar. Rampant
inflation made the old currency worthless. Notes up to 100 trillion were
produced. Craft markets sell bundles of the old currency which I purchased but
it did not include the 100 trillion note which are now sought after.
Mobile phone woes
It happened in Peru when International roaming would not work and it
happened again when my SIM card went faulty the first day into the trip.
Luckily, Ann's phone worked perfectly in every country but she had her numbers
stored in the phone, not in the SIM. She even got a phone
call in the tent at 3.00 am one morning. In Australia, I took my SIM to the
Telstra shop they said it had been "fried". I wonder how that happened?
Probably a good idea to keep a copy of your SIM card numbers in your computer
and maybe store your numbers in the phone instead of the SIM for overseas
Recycling and bins
Most towns have a craft market area where locals sell their wares to the tourists
and we visited many of these. The main one in Cape Town near the Waterfront was
good and the sellers did not hassle you much. The open air ones were tainted by
the aggressiveness of the sellers which I found annoying. Glenda had the right
idea. She said to the seller "I just want to browse. If you hassle me I will
walk out and go to the next shop". It worked ! I noticed at the one
in Swakopmund that there were people cruising and buying from vehicles to avoid
the aggressive sellers.
At the one near the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, I sat in the shade of
some trees and got talking to some sellers who were on their break. They asked
me a lot of questions about Australia and in particular, the cost of things. One
wanted to know the cost of the air fare and when I told him (in US dollars) he
told me he could never, ever afford that.
Many sellers were extremely interested in the Tupperware drink bottles we had in our
backpacks even offering to trade them.
The hair styles
Glenda was fascinated by the African hair styles. Many ladies had their hair
styled in a type we would call "corn plaits". An intricate pattern on the
head with the hair braided. Glenda said she asked a few women how long it took
to do this style and they told her hours. Many women wore plastic wigs which I
thought looked silly. Apparently, it was the latest fashion.
We were all interested in Richard's hair. It felt like steel wool. See
Vince and myself purchased wigs as a joke and we all had a bit of fun on our last
I am always reluctant to fill in the "feedback" forms that are handed out at
the end of a trip. I decided to fill mine out at home, scan and email it to Kiboko. I
actually got a reply thanking me for the feedback. That's a turn-up!
We managed to get all our items through. Most of us purchased wooden products to bring home and
had some concerns about them passing through Australian customs. We did have a
problem with a raw wooden carved elephant that was purchased at the Himba
village. The customs lady pointed out a borers hole in it and said it need to be
fumigated. They organised it all for $30 which included delivery to our door. It
came back in 10 days. We also had to get our emu eggs fumigated but that was done on
the spot at the airport. We also had a problem with some seeds on a wooden
statue. The customs lady just removed them.
The price of things
Cheaper than Australia for most things. For example, latte is about AU$2.50,
tee-shirts AU$20, T-Bone steak AU$10/Kg. Cigarettes AU$2.00 a packet. The labour costs are much lower because they can employ very
cheap labour. This are a few things we noticed:
Virtually all the subservient
workers are black.
People are employed to do vary basic
tasks. For example, sweeping car parks (see
photo). "Car watch" guys that help people park their cars
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
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
Thermals. I brought some but never
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.
Some say I have a fascination about toilets but some are quite unusual and
the entrance signs are interesting.
There were lots of public toilets around, but sometimes you have to
pay, usually about the equivalent of AU$00.25. The payment is used to keep them clean which most
were. At least all of the toilets we used were the western
type, not squat toilets like in Nepal.
I took photos of the interesting signs
and toilets except the worst one near the Dead Vlie (forgot to bring my camera).
In the town of Springbok, we needed to use the locked toilets. Went to the
toilet to discover they were locked and then went to ask the owner for the key
but he was very nasty retorting "you did not ask first". Tickey spoke with him
and got the key.
In the toilets at the Sesriem camp, the lights did not come on until early
morning and it was very dark inside. I went there about 4.00 am with my torch. As I was leaving, a guy
walked in with no torch. Forgot to tell him there was poo all over one of the
toilet seats and floor.
At the Canon Roadhouse, there was a "Pandora's Box" in the men's toilet.
this photo. If you lift the flap people in the main bar are alerted (I
What could be done differently
World Expeditions and Kiboko did a fantastic job in organising the trip. We
were never left to fend for ourselves. However, there are a few suggestions for change if it all happened again.
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
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
To everyone on the trip for your fantastic company. Dennis for arranging
the trip. World Expeditions and Kiboko for running the trip. All the guides and
helpers along the trip.
Where we visited there was no spectacular scenery or architecture like the
Andes or the Pyramids but this trip was not about looking at things like that.
It was about the animals and the overall animal experience is better than
anywhere else I have so far been. The culture, politics and people were also
fascinating and I learned an immense amount of information about them.
The social problems in Africa are massive but are getting better. On our last
day, four of us were lucky to do a day tour with a well educated and dressed
African lady who was insistent that things are improving.
Not happy about the game parks involved in breeding and hunting animals. Back in Australia, I discovered
that most people also did not realise how prolific they were and the methods
My rating of this trip is 6.5/10.