Location: Malindi, Kenya
......... well we said we'd be back to Africa and here we are!!! Almost 1 year to the day since we left and we touched down back at Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi, possibly even aboard the very same jumbo that took us 'Out of Africa' last year. The scene of a very hasty and stressful departure 364 days ago is so familiar and this time we made only 1 entrance through immigration with the correct visas rather than the numberous and slighly dubious repeat entrances of the last time we saw this airport. But this time we are not going anywhere in a hurry and everywhere very slowly. This is day 1 of our Honeymoon!!.... a once in a lifetime riding safari through Massailand.
After a quiet day wandering round Nairobi looking for the inevitable items that I left forgetfully at home we are just soaking up the sun and enjoying our first Tusker beer. With new riding boots purchased and some booze aned chocolate stash we purchase our first class rail tickets and eagerly await our overnight sleeper train to the coast where we spend the next 5 days at a beautiful resort hotel called Hemingways famed for it's deep sea fishing trips.
On arrival at the station and mixing with the throngs of locals queueing for tickets we get allocated our cabin and carriage only to find after walking the length of the train twice!! (all 17 carriages of it) that it did not actually exist contrary to the ticket clerks insitsnce that it did. Finally on accepting his mistake numerous confused and hassled Europeans managed to board.
The air of grandeur that greeted the slow departure immediately took you back to a glorious colonial past when this line was in its hey day and teh British Empire only travelled in style .... sadly the tired and creaking train had obvioulsy seen better days but it is a touch of our colonial past that leaves one imaging the glory days of this railway.
The train proved to be all we expected and less! The lights did not work so we each had a torch courtesy of Kenyan Railways that died after about 2 hours, the first class dinning car was hugely romantic but very amusing as the crockery and cutlery as well as the waiters uniforms must surely have dated from 1930..... but we did have a solid silver gravy boat!!!..... but never mind all that the romance of an overnight sleeper with silver service through Africa just made it seem perfect and very exciting.
Location: Zanzibar, Tanzania
A TASTE OF PARADISE
Having grown alittle more familiar with Stone Town we have begun to quite like the hussle and bussle of it.It is more arabic than african but has a heavy asian influence to and reminds me a little of parts of India (only much tidier and cleaner).
The fact that this island was the centre of the slave trade to the middle east and far east for hundreds of years and was ruled by the Sultan of Oman explains the very arabic feel in the food, the architechture and the call to prayer from the mosques several times a day.
However, although we are starting to enjoy Stone Town it is time to leave as we are long overdue a few days of doing absolutely nothing but lazing on the white beaches and swimming in the turquoise Indian Ocean that we came here for. So a bus to Nungwi in the north of the island is boarded with high expectations of finding our little piece of paradise.
The litttle Toyota minibus that is our taxi seemed to have two controls only - the accelerator, that only worked when pressed to the floor, and the horn that only worked to warn cyclists of the arrival of a 8 seater rocket approaching at 100mph and 3 inches to their right!!! The rest of Zanzibar looked kind of greenish but was a blur really as we were generally concentarting on the next small narrow bridge or corner that our driver seemed unconcerned about even if there was a cyclist in the way. Thankfully the tarmac ran out about 10km from Nungwi the small dow building and fishing village we are heading for so he had to come out of 'warp drive' . This meant he had to slow down but it also meant that we bounced about like two peas on a drum as the minibus found it's own way across the pothole filled dirt track. Oh for those long straight and wonderfully flat dirt roads of Namibia.
Anyway - enough moaning - we have just arrived in paradise! Nungwi appears to have just one dirt track 5 yards from the sea and a load of thatched 'bungalow' style huts as accomaodation. After checking out about 5 we plumped for the Amaan Bungalows -and instead of trying to do it on a budget went for the top end room built on a coral outcrop with a wooden balcony on stilts over the sea....Nungwi 5 star luxury for $50 a night The view was just too good to not have so we settled down for a G&T on our balcony over the water and admired the most crystal clear turquoise sea I think I have ever seen. The beach 100 yds to our left was white! Oh Joy!!!! We could be here a while I suspect
Apart from a scuba dive on what turned out to be our last day (which we did not know at the time) it was just great to finally do very little and get a chance to lay in the sun.
Jude decided to give the Scuba a go (even though climbing into a small boat from a choppy sea with one arm was not easy) and frighteningly got down to about 15m and was lucky enough to see turtles - and even held one!!!! It was ridiculously daft of the diving school to take her that deep but she obviosuly really enjoyed it. I dived separately with a group of spaniards (I think they wondered if I was mute as they obvioulsy thought I was Spanish too but just did not talk much - I just nodded and looked blankly at them whilst they gabbererd away at me) and although we had a good long dive to about 22m and saw a stunning variety of fish, coral and shrimp sadly no turtles on either of the 2 dives.
The rest of the White Nile crew had also by chance headed for Nungwi so we ended up spending another couple of fun days with Simon, Sara, Louise, Josh & Felicity. HAPY DAYS!!! ...and a slightly giggly confused night!
A sunset G&T on the balcony with them one night and a candle lit dinner at Simon & Sarahs splendid accomodation just off the beach another was perfect way to finish our few days in Zanzibar....oh - and nearly forgot the obligatory locally rolled 'Zanzibar Cigar' made from traditional herbal tabacco by a slightly red eyed rastafarian- WOW!!! I laughed so much I nearly peed my pants! ...nearly shinned up a flag pole to nick the Tanzanian flag and nearly giggled quietly enough outside my room that Jude nearly slept through it. A lesson learnt. Smoking Zanizar Cigars can split your sides.
We have to sign off now and make the long and ardous trip back to London at very short notice....hopefully we can get another airline to take us back soon.
............. We've seen the Sharks & Elephants and many many more wonderful sights but sadly the Gorillas will not be seen - this trip anyway!! - Hopefully they will still be there if or when we get back another day. Gorillas in the mist will remain a dreamy thought to be savoured for another time.
Even the trip home through Kenya International Airport proved to be just mad.... but that is another story...
THE END ??............ or perhaps just a pause in lifes great adventure.
Location: Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Another flight this time via a night in Johannesburg at a backpackers hostel right next to the runway of J'burg international airport finally got us to Zanzibar. A destiantion we did not expect to make but are here. First impressions on a grey, wet and humid Sunday were that may be se should not have bothered...... was thiws worth the trip?
It is very rundown, we got ripped off at the airport foreign exchange (or more specifically I was stupid!) and we arrived at a fairly rundown guesthouse in a very rundown Stone Town, having had a couple of nights luxuriating in the Cape, slightly dispondent........
but never mind all that ........we're on an adventure so the fact that we are staying down a very dodgy back alley next to theroughest part of town (the port) and a very pungent fish market is just all part of it. The whole town had no power on Sunday night so we eat at the first real restaurant we could see (it was pitch black). It ended up being a tribute restaurant to Freddy Mercury who was born here in Stone Town. Sadly the food did not match his talent. However we had a few local beers by the exotic names of Tusker, Safari and Kilimanjaro - much more appealing than Carling Black Label really, followed by a 'Shisa' - Judes first attempt at this and thankfully a street lit walk home as the power returned before we ventured into a fairly forboding pot hole filled side street where we are staying.
Monday dawns and a tour of a spice farm starts sunny and blue skied.
It was fascinating to see how they grow - pepper on vines, cardomun in pods on the roots, cinnamon is the bark of a tree and cloves actually have very pretty flowers. Vanilla also grows on a vine that is syupported by trees so it grows taller. We ate a freshly chopped down coconut. The price of cloves exported from Zanzibar is ~£0.75 per kg (it was 3 x that just 2 years ago!)
.....the best part of thye day though was getting an e-mail from Simon and finding out that the 'White Nile' crew are on Zanzibar tonight! - we met them in a bar and had a great re-union eveing after heading in opposite directions just 6 days ago and being 2000 miles apart we are now drinking (heavily again) and catching up on travelellers tails. Gunnedah - you and your hat are an inspiration!
Location: Franschhoek, Winelands, South Africa
MERLOT,CAB SAUVIGNON OR SHIRAZ?
...We were not expecting to add anymore to this diary 2 days ago but have decided after much deliberation to stay on and hopefully see out the rest of the journey. Our thoughts are mainly elsewhere back home for now.
After 5059 km on the road and so much adrenalin from such a rapid journey through southern africa it is nice to slow down and enjoy a few days in Franschhoek, in the heart of the winelands behind Table mountain .We are staying in a gorgeous old Dutch Cape style manor house and have a very luxurious room with heated floors,exposed beams a thatched roof and the MOST comfortable 6ft wide bed we have slept in - better still we have the whole place to ourselves. After 3 weeks in a tent, several nights in nice but overvrowded 11 bed dorms and 1 night in a very grotty room in Cape Town after landing back here it makes a nice change. We can now hoepfully begin to really appreciate some of what we have seen.
We have spent a day wine tasting and eating in what are apparently some of the best restaurants in South Africa - and they are FANTASTIC! ......they just did not have Zebra or Oryx on the menu. Shame.
To date we have had an action packed trip but what it was missing was real interaction with the local people and we just got a taste of that in Zambia when we had to leave. hopefully if we continue right through to Uganda/Rwanda or the Congo we'll get plenty of interaction and experience a bit more of the real Africa.
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
FAREWELL & BACK AGAIN
We ahve now said 'farewell' to the White Nile, Livingston, Zambia and a trcuk full of new found friends.
To Josh, Sarah & Simon, Louise, 'Gunnedah!' and her hat, Heather, Anna, Marcus, Jill, Jill, Phil, Claire, Maggie,Jane, Paul, Paul, Adrian and Steffi, Keith and last but not least Allison, Garth & Renata - "IT WAS NICE!!!!!!!!!!!!" (Private joke - sorry everyone else!!). Thanks for helping make it such a blast!! We'll stay in touch.
Unexpectedly we are now back in Cape Town after some bad news from home. We have to decide whether to end our trip less than half way through or carry on in the next day as have a possible flight out of Cape Town on Thursday evening. We managed, despite the power cuts, computer failures and general usual problems you'd expect in Africa to get a flight from Livingstone to Cape Town with just 2 days notice..... that is harder than it sounds in Africa. Now we have today to make up our minds whether to go home today or stay on and maybe fly home if need be in week or so.
We spent what may be our last day in Africa at the Cape of Good Hope - the most south westerly point on the African continent. It is a spectacular setting and the whole day was crowned by an ebvening of Whale watching in Simons Town. A group of about 6-8 Southern Right whales wer playing and basking juts a few yards from the caost as we watched from the safety of the rocks no more than 100 feet away. They were beautifully graceful and remarkably noisy when blowing - the eerie sound of 'whale music' clearly heard even on the shore. Just neede a darkened floatation tank with the whale music on and it would have been a perfect hippy meditation moment. Instead we had a coastal train thunder past just 4 feet behind us. Shame really but it was still a great experience.
It has been a blast for 4 weeks - if it finishes today we have had a memorable trip......may be the Gorillas in the mist will remain just that and we'll see them some other day. Or just keep it as a misty dream..........
Location: Victoria Falls, Zambia
A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE!
Today we went for a walk. Boring??!
Today was the madest craziest thing I have ever done in my life.
We went for a little stroll and a swim with a difference. Having met our guide Omega by the banks of the Zambezi jude and meself set off for our after lunch stroll. We had to paddle across a small 'weir' by way of a traditional African dance (that's side stepping very slowly by the way) to start with and then crossed some rocky terrain that was broken by a fast flowing current, even the odd bit of white water. Gradually after 20 minutes or so the water started to get deeper and faster but we stopped for the obligatory photo - even managing to capture the end of a rainbow.....believe it or not - right in Judes palm - so they DO exist. We have it on film.... I have found the Treasure at the end of my rainbow!!
It is blonde, blue eyed and holding it in the palm of her hand (the rainbow that is!!). Check the photo if you dont believe me!
At this point we took a few snaps of the falls - then Omega asked us to take our clothes off and leave them on the rocks (we had swimmies on by the way) as we were going for a swim. ......
...but this swim was against a fast flowing current, nearly 6ft deep water and only 35 yards from the TOP of Victoria falls in the middle of the Zambezi!!! We had to try and swin about 30 yards to a small grass knoll - with a broken arm Jude had no chance and as her slightly terrified face went back passed me I grabbed her bikini bottoms. Sorry Jude! But she got the wedgie to end all wedgies but I was not letting her go!!! We were all of 3o yards from the top of the falls now!! Obviously me being brave as a lion decided there was absolutely no f'ing way I was going to give it a try!!! Ladies first again and all that!!!
Anyway - we thought it would be better walking to our final destination - The Devils Pool on Livingstone island - so we waded through thigh high rapids on a rocky knife edge then clambered onto a large rock. At this point all sense of reality disappeared as Omega screamed like a mad man then 'bombed' into the river just 6ft from the edge of the falls!!!! he surfaced, laughed, looked at us with wild mad eyes whilst sitting on the edge of the falls and said "come on in". I cant publish my response !!! ...but it was only 2 words.
.....but hey we're on holiday, Judes got a broken arm, so yeah, you've guessed it, in she went!! sadly this left me little choice but to go in too. We were swimming in deep water at the top of the Falls. 10 ft to our right we're dead. 5 ft to our left, probably the same outcome. Just where we were we were "safe". Yeah right!!
Splashing, screaming and hollering like lunatics we waved at people on the opposite side of the gorge - we cold see them watchimng us through binoculars and in disbelief that there were people SWIMMING right in the centre of the falls in what to them must have looked like a suicide attempt.... they were screaming when I inexplicably thought it would be fun to 'bomb' Jude and clambered onto a rock then leapt into the falls from a rock. At one point we leant over the rock shelf holding us back and my hand was in thin air 350ft poking out of the front of the falls.
we spent about 20 minutes here and it was a completely sureal experience - luckily we got some pictures before my pocket camera got drowned!!! It was a swim that Ihave had nightmares about and dont think I'd ever repeat. I nice cold beer on Livingstone Island after calmed the nerves but the adrenaline was pumping for hours after. Thanks Omega for a mad afternoon that will never be forgotten but will long be talked about.
The Taxi home shared with 9 passengers plus the driver (in a small 4 door Toyaota), 3 in the passenger seat, 6 in the back and the driver gets his own seat....thankfully... just seemed perectly natural. Africa!! We love it!!