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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Trip Summary
The trip was organised through World Expeditions by Dennis, the "President" of the Warby Ghost Riders cycling group.
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 airport.
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 here.

Participants
Dennis
Bob
Glenda
Noel & Jenny
Gerry & Gael
Jan & Vince
Ann & Rick

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.

The sayings

  • "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.

Highlights

  • 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.

    • 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 bigamist. See these photos.

  • 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.
    We 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 these photos.
    Then climbed 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 by.

  • 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.

Lowlights

  • 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 good.
    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 bus.
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 this photo.
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 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.

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.

Injuries
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.

Weather
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 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.

Best people photos
See this selection.

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).

Oldest/youngest
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 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.

  • 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 sold drinks.
    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.

Unusual accommodation

  • 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.

  • The "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 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 Queen.
    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 aggressive.

  • 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.

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 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.

  • 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.
    Saw 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 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.

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 it around.
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.

Biggest Shoppers
Ann and Jenny. They both bought extra bags to take all the items home. See this photo of all the items Ann bought.

Entertainment

  • 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 nearby. See this photo.

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 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.

  • 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.

Richards Girlfriends
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 this photo.

Good effort
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.

Easter
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 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.

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 meat cover.

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 trouble.

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.

Sleepers
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 these photos.

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 roadwork's. 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 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.

Best Playground Equipment
At the site of our first camp near Springbok I saw this playground equipment. Probably the most meagre equipment I have ever seen.

The Bus
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 times.
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 this photo.

Corruption
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.

The Pests
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.

Disturbing
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 this photo.

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 evenings.

Money Issues
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 travel.

Recycling and bins
See these photos.

Markets
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 this photo.
Vince and myself purchased wigs as a joke and we all had a bit of fun on our last night. See these photos.

Feedback
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!

Customs problems
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 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.

  • Leopard.

  • 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.

Toilets
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. See this photo. If you lift the flap people in the main bar are alerted (I forget how).
See these photos.

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 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.

Thank you
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.

Final word
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 they use.
My rating of this trip is 6.5/10.