I have now left Africa and headed to China. I had the most amazing time in Africa and it is a shame to have left. My overland tour with Tucan Travel was incredible and I have to give Caz and Bren a big thank you for making the trip so amazing.
Since the last blog I have been up to the following:
Day 30-36: Kande Beach & Chitimba
Didn't get up to much in Kande except have a few beers on the shores of lake Malawi and just generally lap up the atmosphere of the place. Chitimba was a different story...
On arriving at Chitimba Stu and I realised that the Arsenal vs Man utd Champions league game was on and we managed to get a local lad to take us to a local bar 20 minutes away to the watch the game. It was quite an experience to say the least - about 60 blokes in a tiny room hudled around a 20 inch TV screen with all the doors and windows closed. The place was a sauna and judging by everyones astonishment - I think we were the only none locals ever to visit the establishment. We managed to stick it out till the end of the first half till the ridiculous heat got the better of us and headed back to camp.
The next day all of us decided to do the trek up to Livingstonia, a good 17 kilometers away from the camp and at a significantly higher altitude - highlights include visiting the misionary, local school and a gorgeous aterfall. We set off in good spirits thinking we'd do it in half the time people usually do it in and it wasn't long till we realised how hard it was going to be and I struggled the most in the heat (and the lack of fitness). People started getting blisters and really started to struggle but we made it and the view at the top was well worth it - we could see gorgeous Lake Malawi stretching out below us and could even see the shores and mountains of Mozambique on the other side.
At the top (when we reached it some hours later) we popped into the local school and got swamped by kids and then took a dip in a refreshing mountain screen. When we reached the hospital at the top we had had enough and hired ourselves a open truck to take us back to the camp. This was by far the most uncomfortable and probably the most dangerous ride I have had in my life - the treachorous state of the road and vehicle was unbelievable and it took over an hour to travel the 17K back to camp - we got back battered and bruised but very, very relieved!
We chilled out the rest of our time there and in the evenings I spent most of my time chatting to the resort owner and budding photographer, Ed Peeters from the Netherlands. We had a right laugh chatting about Malawi and other stories of Africa till the early hours. He had some awesome pics and check them out if you get a few spare minutes:
Day 37-42: Dar es Salaam & Zanzibar Island
After Chitimba we headed North and left Malawi, heading for Dar es Salaam so we could head for Zanzibar. Dar was just the usual big city and not much stood out about the place except for the fact that it was very, very hot!
We headed for Stone Town on Zanzibar and stayed a couple of days in this amazing town. The Town isn't your typical African town - it has a massive Arabic influence and the food, the people, the streets and architecture are unique. We did the spice tour and I did the stupid thing and tried one of the fresh chilies - went bright red and was in a great deal of pain while the rest of the group laughed at me ;-)
After Stone Town we headed to North Beach where we just relaxed and had numerous cocktails on the stunning beach. I did manage to squeeze in a couple of dives with Kate, which was brilliant and a good break from the relaxing on the beach - it's a hard life ;-) . We also met a local Masai called Jacob who got smashed with us one night and was a right laugh.
Day 43-47: Serengeti and Ngorogoro Crater
We ventured North from Dar and into the Serengeti National park. This was incredible and we were lucky to see Leopard sleeping in a tree, almost all the big game (Lions, Elephant, Hippo... the list goes on) except Rhino. We were even lucky to be there for the Wildebeast migration and saw tens of thousands of them running across the plains - our jeeps were surrounded by animals.
We even got to spend the night camping in the park and could hear all sorts at night - Lions and Hyeena etc making all sorts of racket in the distance.
After the Serengeti we made our way to the Ngorogoro crater rim where we spent the night before heading into the crater. The crater rim had a stunning view when it wasn't smothered in cloud and it was quite cool up there too, which was a nice change to the African heat.
The night was pretty uneventful and we packed our chairs away when we went to bed (they do this so Elephants don't play with them and throw them into the trees etc until something woke me at around midnight and I got up for a pee. I unzipped the tent and walked about 10 yards from the tent to have a pee. I turned left to pee down wind (as you do) and then I heard a grunt followed by a chomping sound. I slowly turned round only to see 4 bus size buffalo standing less than 20 yards away, all of them looking at me. I just stood and stared at them till I was done and then stared at them a bit more before heading back to my tent - was an amazing experience I will never forget. I found out the next day that it was one of the girls in the other tent that screamed at seeing the buffalo that woke me.
We got up early and headed for the crater gates only to find that some admin error meant that we weren't allowed into the crater and we had to head back to the main office to resolve it. After a lot of wasted time we resolved the issue by paying the park officials an additional $200 to let us enter the park (basically a bribe) and we finally got into the crater by 10am. Although we had such a bad start to the day, we were still lucky to see Lions hunt Zebra and narrowly miss the kill, several Rhino, Elephant, Hippa, Cheetah...etc and the park was just exploding with life! One day I hope to go back and get a full day in the crater.
Day 48-51: Nairobi
For my last night on the overland truck we hit the world famous Carnivores, which is a meat lovers dream. They no longer do Game meat as it is illegal in Kenya but they do all sorts of other meat including Ostrich and Crocodile and we all tried everything and ate till we were almost sick.
The next day I said my farewells to everyone on the truck - I look forward to meeting them all again in the near future. I was really lucky to have such a good bunch of folk on my bus and I had 48 days of fun and laughs.
I headed into the heart of Nairobi to join up with Mel who is doing aid work in Kenya and I met her in Cape Town at the start of my trip. We had an awesome time catching up and even braved the markets of down town Nairobi, which was one hell of an experience to say the least - favourite part of the afternoon was when everyone started running and shouting, so we just did the same. We think it was the cops that spooked everyone!
We then hit the local bars and clubs and were pretty much the only tourists out in town and it was amazing! The locals were awesome and we had a wicked night out.
After a day of chilling (Nairobi is pretty much shut on a Sunday) we went and checked out the Elephant orphange. The orphange was incredible and although it's terrible seeing all the orphaned elephants, the actual program being run to rear them and re-introduce them is incredible - plus you do get to pet them and we were very lucky to see a baby Rhino up close too. The Rhino had a mud bath and then took a liking to Mel and proceeded to try cover her in as much mud as possible - photos coming soon ;-). I then reluctantly left Nairobi and headed back to South Africa to chill before heading to China.
I am now in China, busy checking out the sights and sounds of Beijing and loving getting lost and being a complete foriegner - noone here speaks a single word of English and it dertainly adds to the adventure!!
Anyway, I will try update my blog more regularly now - internet is more readily available and reliable in Asia (I think).