Mambo poa rafiki (whats up friends, in swahili)
Far out, our time in Africa has flown by! Picking up from where we left off in Zimbabwe......Vic falls was impressive but not mind blowing. As luck would have it, the Zambesi river was the highest its been since 1964 which meant the view of the falls was a huge cloudy thundering mist, which is fitting as it's local name translates to the smoke that thunders. We stayed in Vic falls town for a few nights, one evening was spent being entertained by "the tin can kids". This crew of local street kids cranked out some funky high energy percussion on their home made instruments of paint tins, car springs and plastic containers, while others crumped and acted out scenes....a raw version of stomp.
At another campsite in Zim we met the owner who is an ex Rhodesian Army member, who as many africans, had a tale to tell. During the land redistribution when many white land owners were forced out, his family were repeatedly threatened by Mugabe's men at gun point. Eventually after a few visits he released his two pet lions into his fenced front yard as the ultimate deterrent. All was well until one of them ate his dog and he decided to keep them in their own enclosure for good, although they have escaped twice already this year!
We said goodbye to Zimbabwe and headed to Botswana to the legendary Chobe national park. Aboard a sunset river cruise down Chobe river we were able to watch up close a group of menacing hippos loudly snort and bear their tusks/teeth to each other as they tried to impress the on looking curvaceous cows.
The next day en route to Okavango, the truck stopped for everybody to take a leak in the bush and suddenly a gigantic bull elephant, nearly the size of the truck, decided to march out of the bush right next to us. Luckily he was on a mission and after a quick glance he pretty much ignored us before stomping off across the highway. Gotta love those random african moments!
Okavango delta turned out to be one of our highlights. It is the largest inland delta in the world and teems with animals making the most of the precious abundant water. We arrived to our remote campsite after our skillful guides had navigated us through the labyrinth of channels in makoros (hand made traditional dug out canoes which float barely above the water). The next couple of days were spent camping and exploring the delta islands on foot. We reveled in being able to get up close and personal to wildlife without the protection or intrusion of a vehicle. Lucky for us we had skillful bushmen as guides who knew how to deal with dodgy situations if they arose, although one of them nearly stood on a puff adder which easily could have resulted in loss of a limb. One evening around the campfire the bushmen put on a very entertaining impromptu performance of traditional song and dance. Of course we had to return the favour and cranked out a sheepish rendition of stand by me and showed them a few magic tricks which they seemed to love.
We really enjoyed the next leg of the journey as we had several bush camps in some stunning surroundings in Botswana and Namibia. Bush camping basically means puling up in a remote area and surviving of the trucks resources. One site in Tsodilo hills was stunning and in the morning we were able to explore the rock formations and ancient rock art of the nomadic San people (the people featured in the gods must be crazy) who believed this was the site of creation. Another jaw dropping campsite was Spitzkoppe in Namibia where huge amber/red rock formations rise out of the desert plains in otherworldly formations.
An afternoon was spent at a park which cared for problem cheetahs who would otherwise have been shot by farmers. The owner was a classic fella who kept 2 hand raised cheetahs as pets which played alongside his several dogs. We were able to interact with these stealthy cats and one of them even took a shining to Philippa and gave her leg a good licking with his raspy tongue.
Etosha national park was next on the agenda. Here an amazing night was spent sitting under the stars around a floodlit waterhole. As we waited with baited breath, families of jackals, hyenas, rhinos and elephants wandered out of the darkness to quench their thirst seemingly unaware of our presence. At one point a mother rhino and her calf came right up to the barrier munching on some plants literally a few feet away. It was also cool to watch to watch two bull elephants have a 2 hour stand off, occasionally locking tusks.
On our way to Cape town we passed through the Kalahari desert and visited some of the largest dunes in the world including dune 45 which we sat atop while watching the sunset. We also visited the famous wine region of Stellenbosch in South Africa, where we had a fun boozy day sampling local vinos. It was quite funny as all the boys decided to sport creative facial hair for the occasion.
Cape town is truly a stunning city, situated in a beautiful bay with Table Mountain looming above. We spent our time here scrambling up the alternative route of the mountain and wandering the funky Cuba/K road type streets. We also said goodbye to the crew we had been traveling with for the past 2 months. Cheers for the great trip guys.
We are now at the surfing mecca of Jeffrey's bay, spending a mellow week relaxing and enjoying the ocean. The waves have not disappointed and Bobby has already had one monster swell come through where the point was a solid 6 - 7 foot (double overhead) and Super Tubes was producing the longest barrels he has ever seen. During one session Bobs surf board bitch slapped him in the face and he is now sporting a nice shiner. He came off ok compared to the SA CEO of Billabong who broke his leg in the barrel and another guy who broke his arm in the same session. Philippa is also in the wars after bedbugs ravaged her face resulting in big whelts.
We are hoping to go shark cage diving before we leave but as there is another huge swell on the horizon we are crossing our fingers that the boat will still sail.