Total Distance: 22618
Distance covered today: 345 km
Start: Hotel, Tripoli, Libya
Finish: Hotel Marhala, Matmata, Tunisia
Yesterday afternoon after emails were done, we walked again from our hotel to the medina where we enjoyed coffee, fresh strawberry juice and a lovely light chocolate cake. On the way there we walked again through Martyr's Square as there is no other way and people are gathering not by the hundreds but by the thousands. The atmosphere has turned completely festive and families are out, cars are driving bumper to bumper around the square, people are waving the green Libyan flag and even more are walking with massive posters of Khaddafi and people even have him imprinted in their rear windows. Some people came up to us and welcomed us in the country and talked very animated about their love for their leader and that the news given by Al Jazeira Network that people in Libya are unhappy with him is completely wrong. So we are confronted again by this apparent two ends of the spectrum in the Arab society where many people prefer a monarch who brings stability to a country while others want democracy and fair elections. Helicopters were constantly flying over and although the atmosphere is jovial, festive and nearly like a big fun-fare, we are very cautious as we have seen how quick things can turn nasty in Egypt and although we do not wish it here, we are ready to move on. It is not our battle and nor our leader.
We enjoyed dinner as a group of four next to the Arch of Marcus Aralias where Dallas tried camel which was actually not any different from beef. It is served in a clay amphora which is slow baked and at the table it is cracked open. The meal however also cracked our budget but it was a lovely evening.
On the way back to the hotel the mob was growing bigger and we knew it was time to get out. They have a funny way of showing their support to their leader by doing donuts on the roads, street-racing between pedestrians - even us had been nearly run over by these thugs on the way back to the hotel.
Anyway after a relaxing morning we headed out of Tripoli and hit the border shortly thereafter. The Libyan border procedure was relatively painless and then we headed to the Tunisian border. This time the bad luck hit Dallas. We were with them when the Tunisian Embassy officials told him he can get a visa at the border however the border officials only gave him 7 days to get through the country which was far less than they needed to see the country. No matter how long they argued, the officials just were not co-operating. We knew exactly how frustrating that must be and we were only too happy that we got our visas prior.
We left the border into yet another sandstorm even worse than the one the other day in Libya. Around us were massive groves of olive trees standing in the wind-blown sand. As we left the plains and headed for the hills, the wind dropped and at sunset we were driving through beautiful hills passing Berber villages set on the hilltops. We arrived at a town called Matmata and our accommodation was something very unique and very beautiful. It consisted of tunnels leading into the sandstone mountain face and into cave systems where the bedrooms are dug into the sandstone. They are surprisingly warm inside and after a lovely dinner accompanied by red wine, we headed for bed.19 February 2011
Total Distance: 23110
Distance covered today: 492 km
Start: Hotel Marhala, Matmata, Tunisia
Finish: Le Petite Mousse, Bizerte, Tunisia
We left after breakfast and headed out of the deserty hills towards the coastal plains which were a lot greener than the regions of yesterday. Still miles and miles of olive groves covered the region. Here in Tunisia though the traffic is a the best we have seen so far - people stick to the speed limit, they don't drive like possessed and the country has a completely different feel than all other Arab countries we have been through so far. There are women on the streets and most of them don't wear head covers and many wear jeans so tight one will need a tyre lever to get them out of it.
Along the road they have a number of braai houses. It is basically a small outdoor restaurant with a slaughtered sheep hanging on the streetside. We stopped at one and you tell them how many kilograms you want, they chop off a piece of the carcass and then braai it there right next to the road. Fresher meat we have never had before.
We also stopped in the town of Kairouan which is apparently the 4th holiest Islam city in the world. Visiting this town 7 times equals once to Mekka. The inner town is surrounded by the old protective wall and inside is the busy medina where Arina bought herself some carpets and I got a shave and a haircut.
We continued further north pass the capital Tunis in order to get a night's rest as close as possible to the northernmost point of the African continent. We found a really lovely hotel and restaurant right across the water's edge and overlooking the Mediterranean from our balcony. The evening is quiet with the Mediterranean waves gently crashing only meters away from our bedroom. Not a shabby spot for our last night in Africa…20 February 2011
Exactly 3 months since we left Cape Town on the 20th of November 2010 we arrived at the northernmost point of the African continent called Cap Blanc - a white spit of rock jutting into the ocean not 12km north of our hotel. Not a bad name for a tour either Cape Town to Cape White. After many adventures, we have reached the furthest point Africa has to offer and the journey has come to an end.
We are taking the ferry on the 20th at 4pm from Tunis to Genoa in Italy and we will stay in Milan until we fly home. We will most probably fly home by the weekend and therefore get home a week earlier than anticipated. The vehicle will be loaded this coming week as well and guess it will take some 3 weeks to get home.
So from the far side of the continent, after just over 230 000km we are waving goodbye to the continent for only a short while.
Some interesting facts:
Southernmost point of the journey: Cape Town - 33 Degrees and 55 Minutes South
Northernmost point of the journey: Cap Blanc - 37 Degrees and 20 Minutes North
Highest Point: Simien Mountains, Ethiopia - 4250m above sea level
Lowest Point: Dead Sea, Jordan - Minus 385m below sea level
Duration: 3 months
Distance Covered through Africa: 23223km
Fuel Used: 3250 litres
Most expensive Fuel: Zambia - R10.77 per litre
Cheapest Fuel: Libya - R0.92 per litre
Amount of Countries covered: South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Tunisia, Italy - 14 in Africa and 16 in total.
Warmest place: South Luangwa, Zambia - about 35 degrees
Coldest Place: Simien Mountains, Ethiopia - about freezing
Friendliest country - Sudan
Money Spent: A fair bit
Value of Adventure: Priceless
To all who travelled along, hope you enjoyed the ride. Thank you for supportive emails and comments and it certainly was wonderful to hear from you all along the way and share with us a trip of a lifetime.