Archive for September, 2011

South Africa, bru!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 3, 2011 by nornironafrica


Chris had been building South Africa up the entire trip. When we get here…you can get…you can do…so on and so forth. When we finally arrived it poured rain. Its was brutally cold. The tent flooded. And the legendary biltong was expensive! South Africa didn’t impress us. Only at first, then the sun came out, the landscape changed and everything was right in the world. We arrived in Stellenbosch and had a good look around the wine farms the region is famous for. We went out to one of the local student bars and met some friendly locals. We shared a few stories and they told us about their experiences about growing up in South Africa. The next day was the day we officially ended the trip, we drove to the most southern point on the African continent: Cape Agulhas. The drive was beautiful, South Africa was earning us back to it. After we visited Agulhas we took the whale route back to Cape Town. And it is indeed the whale route, we saw a few just off a beach. We arrived in at Fish Hoek on the Cape of Good Hope to visit Chris’ uncle and auntie there. They very kindly put us up for a few nights and let us clean out Doris. We ended up heading out in Cape Town and pub crawled around the bars and hotspots of Long Street. We visited the V&A waterfront, saw the District 6 museum for some culture and drove through a township. All throughout Africa you can see the disparity in wealth and poverty. They are so very close together and this is truly shocking. We had a fairly rash climb up to the top of Table Mountain on a closed pathway. We had a fantastic drive around Camps Bay and Hout Bay. The scenary is absolutely incredible. South Africa has earned a special place in our hearts and all of us have vowed to return there. However, this is likely to be more than a few years down the line. There are more regions of the world to visit first.Sadly this is it. The end.

JC is returning to his Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Queens.

Jack is returning to the UK in hope of finding a Phd or job.

Chris is staying in South Africa to visit family but will return to NI for a placement in Architecture.

Red failed to secure the job he was after and decided to return to university.

Its been a crazy adventure and we’ve all learnt a lot about, life, the countries we visited, ourselves and what we want out of the future. It wont be long before we’re off on another crazy adventure to another part of the world. Stay posted…

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Skeleton Coast

Posted in Uncategorized on September 3, 2011 by nornironafrica

We left Botswana and headed into Namibia again but this time from the East. We travelled up to Windhoek and managed to do some admin, including a shop and some Internet. Sadly we didn’t have enough time to update the blog so you are getting a number of stories in one big blast. The first thing we realised about Windhoek is that we seem to be leaving Africa proper. Everything is much more modern and European looking and this is the colonial influence Germany has had. We left Windhoek and headed for the coast. Swakopmund is a quaint little down right on the Skeleton Coast. Here we treated ourselves to some fantastic seafood straight from the Atlantic. Last time we had seen the ocean had been in Dar es Salaam. We had crossed the entire continent of Africa. We headed North to the town of Eis to see The White Lady cave paintings. These were found in a valley that acted as micro-climate for the bush men for thousands of years. A small oasis in the Namib desert. We then headed back to Swakopmund and went south towards Walvis Bay to see the massive sand dunes that has made Namibia famous. On our way down the coast we spotted a ship wreck. We had to check it out; ship wrecks have made the Skeleton Coast notorious with sailors. If your boat got thrown upon the coast, your chances of survival were pretty much nil as you were simply greeted with an endless desert. We reached the massive sand dunes that sweep right down to the sea. It’s quite a climb up to the top but the view makes it worth it. Truly spectacular.

Back in Windhoek we celebrated JC and Jacks birthdays by going to a Game Buffet. There were unreal quantities and types of meat. There was Zebra, Springbok, an assortment of seafood and deserts. We all ate too much and struggled to stay awake on our trip to Fish River Canyon. The views are immense; it’s hard to judge the scale of the canyons walls. Namibia had treated us well, we were sad to leave it.

Botswana!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 3, 2011 by nornironafrica

We had a bit of a detour to get into Botswana. Firstly, we left Zambia and dodged another fine from the police for another bit of paperwork we were “required” to have got at the border. We claimed ignorance and after some pleading we were sent on our way. We entered the Caprvi Strip in Northern Namibia and journeyed down to the border crossing with Botswana. Here we ran into some fellow Irish folks, Kate Meehan and her brother and sister JP and Lucy. JP and Lucy had come out to visit their sister Kate who is an expat in Botswana. Kate was showing them around Botswana, Zambia and Namibia for a few weeks. Kate very kindly offered us a spot for the night and a chance for a shower. We must have looked (or smelt) like we needed one and Kate took pity on us. She led us to her lovely house which is situated right on the Okavango Delta. Once we had cleaned ourselves up, we set about gathering firewood for a braai. Kate and Jack produced some fine salad and roast potatoes while JP and JC char grilled some steaks over the fire. We ate dinner around the fire and traded stories of travel. Kate told us of times when she was travelling and people had taken her. She was simply forwarding the hospitality she had received. We were really touched by the kindness and generosity that Kate and her family had shown to us. We have been left with a lot of traveller debt that we will need to repay to other travellers in the future. The next day we said our goodbyes and got on the road again. We headed down to Maun and then up to Moremi National Park. We travelled up on the gravel road and found a clearing to camp for the night just outside the Park. There were signs of many wild animals, elephant, deer and of course, lions. We lit a massive fire and used our lamps to scan the field for glowing green eyes. No creatures found us that night and we went on and into the Park. We saw a massive herd of elephants, lots of mothers shepherding their young, while the bull elephants cleared the path ahead. The savannah held plenty of zebra, wildebeest and water buffalo. We luckily saw a number of predators including cheetah, spotted hyena and wild dogs. We had headed up to Mboma boat station to get a ride on a dugout canoe. We reached the road to the boat house and were surprised to find it was covered with a stream of water. The pool was about 12 feet across with sand on both sides. The water was murky and still. We followed all our river crossing drills correctly, letting Doris cool, wading and crossing the river first and of course checking for crocodiles. We waded across and although the bottom was silt we figured we could make it across. Of we went and immediately got Doris stuck. How stuck she was weren’t quite sure. The first hour we spent jacking up the wheels and putting sand over the silt. Then we realised that the back axel was stuck on a sandbar, we began digging. We failed at pushing her out. We then found that she was stuck on a sandbar at the front axle also. All this was happening while water was perilously close to entering the air intake and killing our engine. We had phoned the ranger station at the front gate which was 60km away, they hung up on us. We phoned the National Park reservation office in Maun, 90km away. They said good luck. We prayed another vehicle would come along and tow us out. We had managed to get ourselves into one of the most difficult self rescue situations possible. We were in a river, the water was nearly over the engine. Each wheel was buried in silt. Both axels were stuck on a sandbar that ran front to back under Doris. No vehicle had come along the road in two and a half hours and there weren’t any trees close enough to winch off. That and I’m pretty sure I just saw a croc’s tail in those reeds. We needed to get out of here. An hour of digging at sandbars, jacking wheels, unloading heavy items and croc watch (not as good as Bay Watch) and we thought we were ready to give reversing another go. She moved an inch, and this is with Red, Jack and Chris pushing with all their might. An inch is an inch. We got her one more. Another try and we gained another. One final big push and she was free. After some celebrations we picked up our kit and got ourselves out of there. Phew!  We got out of the National Park just before closing time and the sun set. Knackered we ate dinner and turned in. An African adventure we’ll do our best not to repeat.