Well 84 days, 9 countries and around 13000km ago we began this leg of the trip.... Africacacaca. Along the way we travelled overland through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania (incl Zanzibar), Kenya and finally Egypt.
We have travelled via means of cars, trucks, buses, coaches, trains, planes, boats and camels and are still looking forward to the next 11 months... A word of advice for the first time camel rider - uphill and flat are relatively straight forward - downhill is completely a different story... you'll walk wierd for days after. Also try not to let your travel companion (Bernie in this case) choose a Camel with a scabby-head (no joke) which insists on itching it's scabs on your legs whilst you are unable to get away on your Camel.... gross!!!
In summary, Africa has been truly amazing - in addition to the very stereo-typical African scenery of miles and miles of baron, desert scrub land with a sprinkling of mud huts every 500km or so, we have experienced some of the worlds most spectacular and magical sights.... Climbing Table Mountain, The dunes of Namibia, Victoria Falls, Safaries galore (Etosha, Chobe, Okavango Delta, Ngorongoro Crater...) in which all of them we have been unexplainably fortunate with our viewings - seeing a pride of lionesses round up buffalos for the kill, witnessing cheatahs accelarate after a head of Zebras and Wilderbeest, and walking (yes walking on foot - what were we thinking) amongst completely wild animals of all species in the Okavango Delta. The list continues...Lake Malawi, The paradise beaches of Zanzibar, The Ancient Egyptian relics, and having the privilege of experiencing the infamous "Blue Hole" dive site in the Red Sea.
As with Asia - the most memorable aspect of Africa will definitely be the people.... from the existing friends and family that we caught up with in South Africa to the fantastic group of people we had the pleasure of sharing the overland experience with, to the multitude of local peaple we have met from all walks of life and diverse home environments..... there have been some sadening moments that will continue to humble us for many many year to come. On the flipside there have been some extraordinary happy moments shared with the most unlikely people... We also met the most unhelpful, rude, least bothered, happy to offend lady on the whole planet - she works at a chicken counter at a remote service station in Botsana.... God bless you Miss Mopey-Face and I hope your teeth and hair fall out during breakfast tomorrow - ha ha ha - just kidding ....(or am I ????)
- 4am starts to the day - taking tents down in the dark (and sometimes full on lightning and thunderstorms)
- Getting bashed in the head by a tree from the back of the safari truck - ouch
- Sending Debbie off into the night in a car driven by Rastas that we had only just met
- spewing out of fear 3/4 the way up table mountain
- Bernie's 5am birthday cake surprise secretly baked by Robinson - our chef (PS - thank you to everyone for the Birthday wishes on email/facebook)
- an unplanned close encounter with a herd of maternal elephants at Okagango Delta, Trumpetting and stomping merely meters away from our bush toilet (a hole in the ground) whilst we were going to poo and had to run away in fear of our lives.
- a mosquito bite on my under-carriage in the most embarrassing place to scratch in public.
- dancing with Masai tribesman at a full-moon beach party
- Watching malawi v Ivory Coast in the only hut in the Malawian village with TV - crammed in with all the locals as malawi scored - pure gold !!!!
Our most recent adventures have been in Egypt where we took time out to visit the pyramids and sphinx, Abu Simbal, and Dahab on the Red Sea. We travelled 3 days down the Nile on a Felucca which is a sort of huge matress mounted on the hull of a small boat - this mattress was our dining room, kitchen, bedroom and lounge as we slowly and siliently sailed down the Nile. Yesterday we went snorkelling in one of the most impressive dive sites on the planet.
Since we last wrote Bernie has celebrated her Birthday (over 3 days through Malawi, Dar Es Salam and Zanzibar)
From here onwards internet should be readily available in most places we visit, making updating the blog on a regular basis a realilty - a luxury taken for granted until you journey through mass areas where even a landline phone call is unheard of.
Next stop Europe - starting in greece and then we take a boat across the waters to Italy before making our way across the many countries of europe. Our New Year snowboarding plans have changed and we will now be partying hard with holly and Scott somewhere in Europe to welcome in 2010 - watch this space as we could be in your home town ???
With this I will sign off and finish my stella beer before it gets too warm in this billion and 7 degree heat.
Keep it safe - keep it real - love to you all
Stuart and Bernie