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 Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012

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wideformat4x4
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:54 pm

If your in Uganda are you popping next door to Kenya or heading south ?
The Kenyan people are by far the most friendly people I think I have ever met but that said I don't get out much !

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:08 am

yes keep updating please, looking forward to more. clinking teacups 
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:16 pm

Any chance of a link back to us at ADVENTURE OVERLAND. You mentioned last year this may be possible?

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:11 am

Tembo wrote:
Always enjoy reading the updates. You reminded me of my own crossing of Western Tanzania years ago. Enjoy Uganda and Rwanda as well. Haven't been to either since the war in 1994, so interested to hear about your experiences.
Tembo ... updates to follow! We absolutely loved Uganda!!

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:13 am

wideformat4x4 wrote:
If your in Uganda are you popping next door to Kenya or heading south ?
The Kenyan people are by far the most friendly people I think I have ever met but that said I don't get out much !
Heading south - carnet isn't valid for Kenya unfortunately (for a very long list of reasons ...). More updates coming ...

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:14 am

roamingman wrote:
yes keep updating please, looking forward to more. clinking teacups 
Updates coming ...

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:16 am

Tom Mc wrote:
Any chance of a link back to us at ADVENTURE OVERLAND. You mentioned last year this may be possible?
Tom - there is one on the right hand side bar on our blog ... it should be working ? The website is currently broken, and will unfortunately have to wait until our adventure is finished to be fixed ...

Hope the show was another HUGE success!!

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:19 am

Kampala - setting it all up

23rd August 2013

We typically avoid major cities on our journeys, but every now and then the admin that needs taking care of necessitates a stay in a capital city – this time Kampala.

Coming into Kampala we took a straight route to the backpackers Red Chilli Hideaway. Unknowingly, this took us straight past two of Kampala’s many bus stations. It was organised chaos! Or rather, disorganised chaos: people, boda-bodas (motorbike taxis), mutatas (minibus taxis), cars, coaches, and even a truck with a shipping container on the back were all fighting for space on the road. Viking Explorer was in his element – laughing, manoeuvring his way, hooting, jostling, pushing, shoving. It was rather comical – but maybe not if you have to battle your way every day.

On the way through the craziness, we noticed that South African brands have made their way this far north: Nandos on once corner we passed; Steers on another corner; and the GPS reliably informed us of a Shoprite nearby. We stopped at Toyota to arrange a mini-service. Brodie has been carrying us over hill and dale, and a little TLC will ensure he continues to carry us. An appointment was booked for 2 days later.

Arriving at Red Chilli, we were directed to the campsite at the back. As always, we met lots of interesting travellers: Hein – a South African married to a Norwegian who is planning a lodge at Murchison Falls; Eve & Dries – Belgian overlanders travelling southwards; a Dutch couple with their 2 kids travelling from Amsterdam to Cape Town. As always, an enjoyable group to spend a few days with.

Next morning we were up early to brave the traffic to the Rwandan High Commission. Viking Explorer needs a pre-arranged visa, whereas I can buy mine at the border. While it is possible to apply online, it seemed to be a long time to have it approved, if approval comes. At the High Commission, the lady behind the counter was initially a bit icy, but Viking Explorer charmed her and soon he even had a smile from her. After completing the forms, and handing over a passport photo, we were dispatched to Ecobank at Garden City Centre to pay the $30 visa fees and obtain a photocopy of the passport. Off we went, braving the traffic to the bank, obtained a photocopy at the internet café and returned to the High Commission within an hour. At this point we were informed we could collect the visa in 2 days time: since we were filing on a Thursday, it meant we could only collect on Monday. No amount of pleading would entice her to have it ready on Friday.

Next stop was the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) where we were spoiling ourselves with permits for both chimpanzee tracking and gorilla tracking. Dixon and Grace were both very helpful, and after about an hour and a half we had booked dates, paid, and been issued with our permits. Very exciting! But certainly dry bread and water for the rest of the trip …

We returned to Garden City centre for a coffee and a light lunch. Garden City Centre is like any South African shopping centre – aside from the G4S security men checking cars on entry, armed with AK47s. I am unsure if it made me feel more or less safe … But no-one else seemed to blink an eye, so we didn’t either.

For the first time we had a chance to really relax and take in the surroundings. We noticed how many other muzungus there were: walking on the streets, at the coffee shop, riding the boda-bodas. There feels like there is a big ex-pat community as well as more tourists around. We also remarked that while London has its pigeons, Durban has its mynah birds, Kampala has Maribou storks! Everywhere! They are perched on top of buildings, and flying around. No longer a special bird seen in the wild.

Before heading back to camp, we stocked up on supplies at Nakumatt (supermarket). With such a cosmopolitan city, the selection was wide and varied, catering to the westerners, those from Asia as well as Ugandans and other Africans. It was a feast for the eyes and tempting to the tastebuds.


Lastly, we started enquiring about cooking gas. Our CADAC gas bottles, which have been regularly refilled while travelling northwards, can’t be filled in Tanzania, Uganda or Rwanda. So, we needed to make the investment in a new gas bottle or live without gas for about a month. If you know Viking Explorer, not having a morning cup of coffee would be deprivation at its highest degree! Again, sourcing a bottle was easier said than done – the exchanging gas bottle system relies on you having a gas bottle to start with …

By this stage it was time to return to Red Chilli. We had set much in motion, and now time needed to pass.

Waypoint Rwanda High Commission - N0 20.180 E32 34.904
Waypoint Ecobank - N0 19.136 E32 35.525

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:21 am

Kampala - ticking it all off

26th August 2013

Friday morning dawned, and we were off to Toyota Kampala for Brodie’s service. I was duly dumped in the Customer Service Lounge with a TV, my laptop and internet dongle. Viking Explorer disappeared into the service bay to keep an eye on the service. While sticking his nose in, he discovered that two of the four brackets holding the second fuel tank in place had sheared. While an ideal solution would be to replace the brackets, we settled for the next best solution of welding the pieces back together again. The rest of the service went smoothly, without too many other nasty surprises. After 4 hours – coz these things never take as quick as you hope – we were heading back to the campsite.

I had been feeling slightly under the weather for a few days: loss of appetite, unhappy tummy, and generally fatigued. So Viking Explorer returned me to the campsite so that I could spend the rest of the afternoon sleeping while he relaxed with a good book.

By this stage, Tom & Jemina had arrived in Kampala in search of – yes, you guessed it – a back wheel for their bicycle. The one they bought in Bukoba (Tanzania) had lasted all of 2km before buckling and they caught a bus to Kampala to restart the search.


That night, Hein spoiled all of us with a most divine spinach curry. With a sprinkle and a shake of spices, he had us all sweating with watering eyes as we devoured his delicious fare. We all chatted about our travels – always interesting! Hein is also a wealth of knowledge of Kampala and Uganda, having lived in Kampala for 3 years. He generously shared any information we wanted.

Faced with a weekend in Kampala, we initially planned to head out to Jinja to visit the source of the Nile, but my preference was to recover properly so that we could enjoy out travels in Uganda. And sleep is what I did. Viking Explorer took Jemina to Shoprite, and returned with far more than was on the original shopping list! Tom was making progress with sourcing a new wheel, and by Sunday evening the new wheel was in place! By Sunday night, I decided that medical intervention was required on Monday, in addition to the other chores for the day: visa collection, gas bottle purchase, forex, Shoprite (last time).

On Monday, Tom & Jemina managed to book chimpanzee tracking for the same day as us. We look forward to enjoying the activity together. We headed out to take care of our chores, which we managed to complete all in one place at Lugogo Mall. My visit to the pharmacy resulted in a treatment for giardiasis – so we’ll see if that returns me to fighting fit. Shoprite, gas purchase and forex followed in quick succession. Off to the Rwandan High Commission – and a freshly stamped visa in Viking Explorer’s passport! A very successful day!

Our last night in Kampala we were treated yet again to Hein’s fabulous cooking. He has been such a great companion, such a kind and helpful fellow traveller, and a wonderful new friend. We wish him every success in his venture and hope to see him again.

But for us, we are finally done in Kampala, and after our sixth and final night, we’ll be let loose …
… Uganda here we come!

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:23 am

A visit to the Nile River - Murchison Falls

29th August 2013

Finally, we managed to escape from Kampala, visas, permits and travels plans in hand. We negotiated our way through the crazy morning Kampala traffic, and soon found our way on the road towards Murchison Falls.

The countryside of Uganda is beautiful. It is so much greener than the typical dry Africa. The roads are in relatively good condition, with some roadworks along the way. We saw 3 minibus loads of backpackers from Red Chilli Kampala heading up to Red Chilli Murchison Falls, so we knew we were on the right track.

We passed through many small villages along the way. As with so many, there is always mobile phone airtime to be bought, and tomatoes, onions and potatoes from a roadside stall. The people are so friendly – returning our waves with enthusiastic full arm waves and large white-toothed grins. They do appreciate having tourists in their country.

Our route took us to Masindi, where we had to make the decision: do we drive the shorter route through the park to our accommodation, or do we drive around the park. The cost difference is not insignificant: in 2013, the vehicle fee for foreign registered 4x4s is a hefty US$150. We opted for the scenic route, which took us away from the tar road and onto gravel roads towards … yet another lake. This time, Lake Albert. We didn’t find any camping along the lake, so only admired the view and then drove onwards.

We arrived at Murchison River Lodge – it was a little oasis! The main restaurant and bar overlooked the mighty Albert Nile. The beer was cold and the view was stunning. Unfortunately for us, though, the tourist campsite seemed to be located between the overflow staff tents on the one side and the safari company ‘fly-camp’ on the other side (complete with laundry hanging everywhere). It felt like we were located in the staff quarters. A disturbed night with staff waking us at 0430 was the cherry on the cake. The managers were ineffectual, but fortunately the owner was onsite and came to our rescue: he had a little piece of land where we could wildcamp. Perfect! And our second night was spent in peace and quiet enjoying sundowners and nature’s light show over the Nile river with no-one else around.

We arranged to join a boat trip up the river to see the majestic Murchison Falls … make that, we took a boat trip on the NILE river!! How fabulous is that! The guide and skipper on the boat were knowledgeable about the river, and the birds and animals we saw along the way.

We enjoyed some special sightings of elephant and buffalo wading in the reeds in the shallow water. We also saw warthog and waterbuck along the banks. The hippos watched us from the water with beady eyes, and the crocodiles lay lazily at the water’s edge, with open mouths.

There were lots of birds too – kingfishers, herons, jacanas – and we were fortunate enough to see an enormous flock of red-fronted bee-eaters on the tall mud banks of the river, darting in and out of their holes.

After almost 2 hours heading upstream we had our first glimpse of the Falls themselves. The wide river is forced through a narrow gorge – only 6 or 7m wide – and the force of the water is visible even at a distance.

We stopped to let people off who were continuing on foot to the top of the falls, and then returned by boat back to the launch point. Unfortunately, we didn’t get close enough to the Falls to feel the spray on our faces … but it did seem that the water currents were strong even at a distance.

An enjoyable excursion, and we look forward to the next stops on the itinerary.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:24 am

Crater Lakes

31st August 2013

Near to Fort Portal, and before you reach Kibale National Park, there is a very special area dotted with small lakes. This is the crater lake area of Uganda …

From Fort Portal we drove the 20km or so to the lake that we had chosen to visit – Nkuruba. This has been recommended by Juan and Sarah, as well as Suzanne and Paul.

The Nkuruba Community Campsite is located on the rim of a small lake, which lies about 40 – 50m below, down steep slopes. We came up the steep road in a light rain and arrived on a beautiful green lawn – and immediately saw a GB registered Toyota parked with rooftop tent erect! We had found Chris and Julie of Osiyeza.

Viking Explorer had been in contact with them much earlier in the year, and we did wonder if we would meet them along the way. They have come down the east coast of Africa, and are heading towards Cape Town. We spent a most enjoyable afternoon doing what travellers do best: comparing notes, sharing travel experiences, swapping useful information and generally relaxing in each other’s company.
We also marvelled at the breath-taking surroundings. This little lake is one of the few lakes in the area that still has pristine, untouched natural forest. Most other lakes have had their forests removed and the land has been turned into farm land by the local villagers.

But not here.

There are still monkeys in the area, leaping from tree to tree, playing on the branches. Aside from the annoying vervet monkeys who are unconcerned by arm-waving humans, we were treated to sightings of red colobus monkeys, red-tailed guenons and were spoiled when a troupe of black-and-white colobus monkeys passed through camp one day, stopped to feed.

The setting is so peaceful and serene. Aside from the frogs calling from the lake below, and the great blue turacos shouting from the treetops as they fly through, we could hear the peals of laughter bouncing off the crater walls from the local children swimming and playing in the lake below.

We woke one morning to mist and a light drizzle. The weather is certainly cooler here, with rain even in the dry months. But, it was magic. It honestly felt like we were in the clouds! Just gorgeous.

We took a walk up to Top of the World. The path leads you through some of the farmlands, past a church and then finally up a steep hill. There were children who greeted us along the way. Some were interested in the birds we were looking at. One girl asked for books and pens. She was carrying a toddler on her hip. She couldn’t have been older than 17 or 18 and was still trying to complete secondary school.

The views from the top of the hill were stunning. There is a new resort being built there, including a campsite and modern ablutions. The restaurant area has an almost 360 degree view – including views of 3 crater lakes. Definitely a place worth visiting again when it is up and running. On the way down we were stopped by four young boys who wanted their photos taken. Not often we get that request so we quickly used the opportunity to secure some portraits.


The local community run the campsite with pride, and the price was just right. Every morning the grass campsite is swept of leaves, and water carried up from the lake below to ensure there is water for everyone. The buildings are in good repair, and we were thankful for flushing toilets and a bucket for showering. There was such care taken to keep the campsite and bandas in good order, and we supported the initiative not only by spending time there, but also by buying some of the locally produced crafts.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:31 am

Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park

4th September 2013

When you book your chimpanzee permits, they do tell you that you have a 90% chance of finding the chimpanzees.  What I think most people choose to ignore, is that it also means there is a 10% chance that you will only enjoy a walk in the forest.

Up early in the morning, we piled Tom and Jemina into the car with us – pretty cozy, but still nowhere near as overloaded as other vehicles on the road! – and set off from our campsite at Chimpanzee Forest Guest House for the park office in Kibale National Park, about 8km away.  On the way into the park, we managed to see a few primate inhabitants of the forest – L’Hoest Monkey and Olive Baboons.
We were the first to arrive at the meeting point – not wanting to be late of course – but shortly afterwards, the safari vehicles started arriving and dropping off their clients.  We were broken into human groups of 6 and assigned a guide.  The 4 of us were joined by Dana (American) and Olivier (French).  The briefing from our guide, Silver, was fairly short and sweet.  Please don’t eat in front of the chimps, don’t imitate their calls (you have no idea what you might be saying!), keep noise to a minimum, and keep together as a group.  There were a few other odds and ends, but very soon we were ready to walk out into the forest.

The forest has been preserved beautifully, one of the few habitats left for chimpanzees.  The trees are tall, extending almost 40m into the air, and the forest floor is moist beneath our shoes.  As we follow Silver down the well-used paths, and over several boardwalks, we can hear the calls of numerous monkeys and lots of different birds … but no chimp sounds.

There are no trackers who head out in the morning to find the chimps.  Each guide is armed with a radio and they keep in contact as the different human groups spread out in the forest.  We follow the paths, and stop to look at some monkeys along the way.  They are high in the forest canopy, and hear us humans coming!  We watch as they hide behind leaves, or leap from tall tree to tall tree … we struggle to keep up with them and quickly give up.

In the meantime Silver is in contact with the other guides. An hour after leaving the park office, one of the guides seems to know the direction the chimps are moving in, and so we head off at a brisk pace to see if we can intercept them.  This is no business for paths – we head straight into the undergrowth: climbing over logs, dodging bushes, avoiding the swampy bits underfoot.

Then, we stop.

All is quiet.

Silver is back on the radio.  It seems the chimps have disappeared.  We wait a bit.  Then we decide to keep moving. In hope.
Backwards and forwards between the guides.

Nothing.

We are looking dangerously like the 10% enjoying a forest walk.  It has been 2 hours since we started.
In hindsight Silver had a little more information than he shared with us.  Shortly after I almost gave up hope, we arrived at a spot in the forest where another human group were all staring into the canopy with long telephoto lenses and binoculars.

High up in the canopy, we saw the alpha male of the chimpanzee troupe.

He was sitting watching the spectacle unfold below, seemingly unperturbed.  Every now and then, he turned away and all we saw was his back.  Then he would turn back to gaze at us.  As curious about us as we were about him, clearly.





About 20 minutes later, a female chimp with a youngster (6 years old) emerged from a nest in the canopy.  The young are reliant on their mothers for food until 6-8 years of age, and remain with her until age 11.

The male energetically called her over, and a long grooming session took place.  Silver told us that she was in heat, and the alpha male had separated her from the troupe to “court” her.  Her youngster must have been becoming more independent, as it seemed that she was ready for a new baby.  Although these 3 were alone, the rest of the chimp troupe probably wasn’t that far away.





We spent about an hour in total gazing into the canopy 40m above, watching the grooming and courting.  It was so special to spend time with these marvellous creatures, even at a distance.

Then, we turned, and Silver guided us back to the park office – another hour away through the magic forest scenery.

All of us grateful that we are part of the 90%.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:33 am

Hi everyone!

Hope you all had a fabulous show over the weekend!

I have updated some posts from our adventure ... I'll add a few more tomorrow.

Scroll up, and enjoy the catch up!

rgds
African GirlChild

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Oct 04, 2013 5:10 am

WOW ... as per! thumbsup 

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:33 am

CAMPING REVIEW: Crater Lake area, Fort Portal

5th September 2013

“howareyooohowareyooohowareyooo” is the sound that rises from each village that we pass through. The small children seem tuned in for vehicles, and start shouting and calling long before we can see them. Suddenly, they burst onto the side of the road from the houses and lands, grinning, waving, dancing, calling … this is our welcome as we explore the crater lakes.
The crater lake area south of Fort Portal is so very pretty. The landscape is dotted with many small crater lakes, and we set off to explore and see what other campsites were on offer.

NDALI LODGE

The signs for Ndali lodge seem to appear everywhere, and so we headed off to see if they offered camping. They are located at the top of the hill overlooking Nyinambuga crater lake, with stunning views of the water below. Unfortunately, they were more towards the luxury end of the tourist market, so their chalets were a few hundred US dollars per person per night, and no camping was offered.
Price: no camping

LAKE KIFURUKU ECO CAMP

Almost across the road from Ndali lodge is Lake Kifuruku Eco Camp. It appears to be a community camp initiative, but sorely lacking in facilities for the ambitious price. The toilets were African and limited shower facilities. The small campsite was raised above the parking level without shade, and difficult to drive the car up. There was no communal covered area, or bar / restaurant. We were quickly ignored when a taxi pulled up with more potential guests arriving. There was no view of the lake, and it was surrounded by farmlands – no natural forest remaining. Not very appealing.
Price: US$10 pppn

KASENDA BEACH RUIGO

A bit difficult to know what the name is – different signboards had slightly different names! This was the furthest south from Fort Portal. The road to the site was very rutted and rough – it didn’t look like there was much traffic in this direction. The Kasenda crater lake is very pretty and doesn’t have the same steep sides as other lakes, so the campsite and accommodation is right near the edge of the lake. This lake was again surrounded by natural forests, although not too far away farmlands abound. The campsite was easily accessible for a vehicle, with space to open a rooftop tent and with trees nearby. There was a central bar / restaurant area, but it looked a little short of maintenance. The ablutions promised hot showers. It all looked a bit tired, and the staff almost unsure what to do with guests!
Price: US$10 pppn

CVK LAKESIDE RESORT

Not far from the entrance to Kibale National Park is this little spot. It is on the main road and seems to cater for overland vehicles. It has a bar and restaurant overlooking the Nyabikere lake. The campsite was right next to the parking lot, but was on sloping ground and the grass hadn’t been cut in a long time. The ablutions were western flushing toilets (but didn’t seem to have water) and the showers cold. The monkey sanctuary that was advertised didn’t seem to exist. There didn’t seem to be any staff around, and when we finally managed to rouse one, she had no information about pricing, or camping, and made up a rather steep price. Very disappointing for a place once highly rated.
Price: unsure. Only indication was about US8 pppn

NYINABULITWA COUNTRY RESORT

The outside of this spot looked very inviting – but we struggled to find anyone to open the gate for us. Eventually, we walked in through the pedestrian gate. It is a beautiful property overlooking the Nyinabulitwa lake – gentle crater sides so very close to the water. But, it seems the only human habitation was the locals wandering through. There are a few gorgeous chalets (we peered in the windows) and a communal covered area. The campsite – or grassy area that could be used for camping – was very pretty. There didn’t seem to be any ablution facilities, so maybe no camping? A bit of a chat with those who would talk to us revealed that it is currently closed and the owner is looking to sell. It seems a pity that it is just standing unused, but then again, there is a new development not far away on the same lake …
Price: closed

PICK OF THE BUNCH: NKURUMBA COMMUNITY CAMPSITE

For completeness, this campsite in included again. After heading up a steep hill, the campsite is located on a flat grassy patch overlooking the Nkurumba crater lake. The crater is steep sided, and is still covered in natural forest. The forests are home to a number of monkeys, which you can see as the move around. There are flushing western toilets and the shower is a bucket – I believe you can ask for warm water if you so wish. There is a covered communal area and restaurant area. We were warmly received and well looked after! It was easy to see why this place had a constant stream of backpackers.
Price: US$4 pppn

NEW ONE COMING: TOP OF THE WORLD

We took a stroll up to visit Top of the World – a new development perched on the highest hill in the area, overlooking Lake Nyamirima far below. The views are gorgeous – you can see 3 crater lakes on a clear day – and the new resort looks to be of a good standard. The campsite area is grassy and flat with lots of trees – although I am unsure whether a vehicle would be able to get through. The ablution block looks modern with all the modern conveniences of flushing toilet and shower. It should be opening late in 2013 or 2014, so worth visiting.
Price: not sure

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:34 am

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

5th September 2013

After having said goodbye to our friends Tom and Jemina we set off to investigate the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. The area is situated just outside Kibale National Park on the eastern side, and is basically a swamp with a forest on it. It is also a haven for birds and monkeys.
We arrived at the visitors centre just before 10, just as the day started to get really warm. The morning clouds were parting, and the sun peaked its head out and started shining from a clear blue sky.

At reception we were met by one of the local guides. He ran us through the different walk options and left us to decide what we wanted to do. We settled on a swamp walk, and stressed that we would like a guide who knows the birds in the area. “OK” he said, “that would have to be me then”. Before reaching Bigodi our bird count for Uganda stood at 80. We challenged him to find us at least five new birds to add to our list. “No problem” he said.

Off we went with water at hand and hiking boot on foot. We hadn’t even gone 100m and we had three new birds on the list. Off to a very good start.

The walk follows a trail that encircles the swamp. On the other side of the trail is local farm land, so contact with farmers and the locals is frequent. We also came across a few young boys selling carvings of chimps and gorillas. Our guide ensured us that they are only allowed there during school holidays – the rest of the time they have to go to school. This is part of the local community focus on education. As the centre and swamp tours are run by the community, 50% of the proceeds are ploughed back into the community to maintain the boardwalks (which are used as a main route to the market) and to equip the guides with binoculars and reference material.

We had a lovely walk, although quite hot (our own fault for starting so late…). When we recapped what we had seen we ended up with 14 new birds on our list. Very good result for a hot mid-day. We also managed to see five different species of monkey.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:38 am

Relaxing in the Rwenzori Mountains

7th September 2013

What a magical place we managed to find.

On the way south from our walk around the Bigodi Wetland Centre, we decided to stop in at the Rwenzori mountains. Tracks4Africa shows that there are a few options for camping just outside the park gate, so we decided to head up the road to stay and maybe go for a walk.

The turn-off from the tar started with a nice gravel road that slowly became narrower and narrower, at the end turning from a road to a track, and then to a very rocky two-spoor jeep track – and all the way we were following the signs for the Equator Snow Lodge… not every day that a lodge has a road this bad leading up to it!

After about 15km we arrived at the outskirts of one of the village Rubonai where the first campsite is – the Ruboni Community Camp. Enok was at the gate greeting us, telling us that this was the best site to camp of the two belonging to the Ruboni community. The site about a kilometre up the mountain is not really suitable for camping (which turned out to be the case). We said we still wanted to see it, and headed up towards the other camping alternatives nearer to the park.

Just before the park gate is the Equator Snow Lodge. Built with support from USAID and land donated by WWF, it is run by GEO Lodges (who also run other high-end lodges in Uganda). We asked at the gate to the lodge if they had camping, and were promptly directed to the manager. What a stunning place! It is completely built using the rounded pebbles and rocks from the river, blending superbly in to the surrounds. The chalets sleep four, have a huge fireplace, and a large deck overlooking the surrounding mountains and the nearby river. At US$118 full board it is a very good offer – if you are not on a one year camping trip that is…

After the tour of the lodge we headed back down to have a look at the other campsite run by the community, before Enok suggested crossing the road to the Rwenzori Mountaineering Safari Lodge where we decided to stay. Ronald the host was super friendly, gave us hot water for a bucket shower, and allowed us to plug in to his hydro-power set-up. The campsite was quiet, which suited us perfectly. Bwambale, the local representative for the Tourist Police, also came to check that we were comfortable, and assured us that we were safe and he would be looking after us. With only a few kilometres over the mountains to DRC, this was reassuring.

He went above and beyond, though, and while we were resting later in the afternoon, he showed us the rare Three-Horned Chameleon – both male and female – that he had found near his house.
The next morning we decided to have a slow day and not go for a walk. We did, however, catch up on some sleep, do some writing, and some bird watching.

We gazed at the mountains around us – it was so peaceful, serene and allowed us to relax and appreciate the scenery. In the afternoon, the mountains showed us their fickle nature, and sunshine gave way to torrential rain!

After another quiet night (and waking up to snow on the mountain tops) we were invited to a local breakfast – the traditional matoke (cooking bananas and potatoes in a peanut and tomato sauce), and “tea” of hot milk with local leaves.

In a gentle way to introduce us to the local culture, African GirlChild was given the peanuts to crush using a stick and wooden “pot” – cooking being the traditional job of the woman of the household. We sat on the verandah of a rather simple multi-room sleeping quarters, basking in the sun, and enjoying a tasty meal.

But, we couldn’t stay forever. Last stop before we left was to have a tour of the micro-hydro electric facility that they have at the lodge. It was fascinating – something so small providing much needed power.

And then, it really was time to head back down the mountain towards Kasese.

For those of you who have followed us since the beginning may remember a post titled “Overawed by kindness” when we were in Morocco. This was a stay along the same lines. The place was simple but nice, the staff and the other visitors very friendly, the Tourist Police representative was superb, and we had a very good stay. We really were overawed again by the kindness of this little community.
The whole community unites in supporting tourism in a way that we haven’t experienced anywhere else. Not only did Enok help us find a suitable campsite – even if it wasn’t his – but also offered any guiding we were interested in. One of the ladies from the Equator Snow Lodge was down at our campsite, and came to check if we would like to come up to the lodge to have a meal. The tourist police also work closely with the community to encourage them not to overcharge the muzungus when they come to the market. It really is a community effort.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:40 am

The beautiful Lake Bunyoni

8th September 2013

After tumbling down the mountain from Rwenzori, we intended to spend some time in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Especially, we wanted to go on the Kazinga channel cruise – a two hour cruise on the channel that joins Lake George and Lake Albert. This was, however, not to be.

Stopping briefly in Kasese to check emails and do some admin, we found the park office for QENP. One of the guides helped us with information, and provided us with a quote for one of the locals to take us down to the cruise the next day. US$100! On top of park fees and activity fee! Yes, US$50 cheaper than taking our own car in, but still too expensive for us. We declined, and headed to Simba Safari Camp to spend the night. We had hoped that they would provide a shuttle to the cruise, but no such luck. Our stay in QENP was therefore reduced to the drive through the park on the main road. We did see buffalo, waterbuck and elephant on the way through which helped a bit on the disappointment of not doing the channel cruise.

The drive south towards Lake Bunyoni took us through some really scenic landscape towards the town of Kabale. We drove through the town and headed over the mountain down to the lake. A stunning view of a beautiful lake. The first campsite we tried – Kalebas – did not have space for Brodie and our roof-top tent, so we continued on to the Bunyoni Overland Resort. Here we settled in at the campsite – a circle at the bottom of a hill, overlooking the lake. Just as we had finished setting up camp we were treated to a very pleasant surprise as Ram and his wife came to say hello. We last saw Ram in the UK at the Overland Show just before we left! What a small world it is. Ram grew up in Uganda and moved to the UK when he was 15. We spent the evening together, and Ram treated us to breakfast the following morning before they left.

After seeing Ram and his wife off we went for a walk to explore the area around the campsite. We had a lovely walk, adding more birds to our growing list. Our walk also took in a few of the other hotels and lodges on that part of the lake. There really are some nice places to stay. On arrival back at the campsite we noticed we were not alone any more: two overland trucks had joined us and a small city of tents had sprung up. It was not too noisy or too many people, but it put quite a bit of pressure on ablution facilities not really able to cater for such an influx. The last half of them showered in cold water. The two trucks really displayed the difference in travel standard – the one was a luxury Spanish/Portuguese truck with three staff and table cloths; the other one was a budget truck out of Botswana where the driver was also the guide and the cook, and where everyone had to pitch in.

The next morning we saw the overlander trucks off before going in to Kabale to stock up a bit and continue towards Mgahinga. As we left the campsite, the rain started and by the time we reached town it was coming down in buckets. High street was like a river necessitating a bit of planning and agility to reach the front of the store. In the five seconds it took me to run from the bank back to the car I was soaked through – not really fun.

Heading out of Kabale we again took the road towards Lake Bunyoni, turning at the lake and following the lake shore along a dirt road. We almost reached 2200m before descending towards the lake again. The drive was beautiful, undulating along the lake side, passing small villages clinging to the steep shores amongst agricultural fields plastered to the hill-side, really showing off the Ugandan country side.

We soon reached the town of Kisoro, our last stop before finding the turn-off to Mgahinga National Park. In Kisoro we stopped for a cup of coffee at the Gorilla Junction to gather some strength before starting the very bumpy and rocky road up towards the park to find a place to stay for the night.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:42 am

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

12th September 2013

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park takes its name from the middle of the three volcanic mountains that are in the park; Mount Gahinga. To the east of it is Mount Muhavura and to the west of it is Mount Sabinyo. A gahinga is a pile of rocks, and the name is a true reflection of what the mountains are made of – volcanic rock.

Our drive up from Kisoro in the late afternoon was much tougher than anticipated. The road – as with previous access roads to remote areas – was bumpy and rocky, littered with potholes of various sizes, occasionally bisected by big puddles of water, and wound its way through villages and farmland. As we left Kisoro we could see the clouds gathering, suspecting that we might get some rain on the way up to the park. And boy, did it rain when it started. We were about 3km away from the campsite when the heavens opened and it only took about two minutes before the track was turned in to a small river coming towards us. Most people were seeking shelter, while the few caught out resigned themselves to the fact that they were already soaked through.

When we arrived at our campsite we didn’t even get out of the car to run into the office – the rain was too hard, and the porch of the building was too full of people seeking shelter. As the rain eased the porch gradually emptied and we could arrange for parking on the site – and we did manage to find a piece of lawn that was not completely soaked through from the downpour.

The campsite is community run and is situated just 50m outside the gate of the park. It is basic, but the staff makes up for it in friendliness. We quickly heated up our dinner, and then headed down to the bar – and to the roaring fire they had put on to try to keep the mountain chill away.

The following day we rose early to be at the park entrance at eight to arrange for our walk into the Sabinyo Gorge. This walk is one of several starting from the park offices, the other walks on offer including a walk along the DRC border, a climb to the top of Mt. Sabinyo, and a cultural walk with a Batwa guide. Fees paid, we were introduced to our two guides (and yes, it was only the two of us on the walk) and then we headed out. The walk took us through former farm land, through two stretches of bamboo forest, before entering the gorge. Stunning! How small you feel at the bottom of the gorge with steep mountain sides around you and the occasional cloud coming in to cover the top of the mountain. About an hour after we arrived back at camp the shower bucket was filled with warm water – gorgeous after a long hike in the sun.

That evening we decided to have dinner at the camp, again next to a roaring fire. We were joined by a Dutch couple who had successfully completed the Sabinyo peak climb, so we had lots to talk about and photos to share. The next morning we headed down the mountain, crossed through Kisoro town again, and started our drive up to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – and our long awaited Gorilla Trek.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:44 am

Magical memorable moments

14th September 2013

There are few words to describe this incredible experience … so we’ll leave it to pictures.



Please head over to the blog to see the photo gallery of our experience.

http://www.kapp2cape-blog.net/2013/09/magical-memorable-moments/

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:46 am

Uganda, national parks and foreigners

15th September 2013

This post is intended for those independent travellers – like ourselves – who are interested in visiting the national parks in Uganda. It is a magnificent country, and we fully intended to visit quite a few of the national parks.

Our research into Uganda quickly revealed an interesting pricing structure for visits to the national parks. The latest prices can be found here.

http://www.ugandawildlife.org/about-uganda-master/visitor-tariffs

What was immediately obvious to us was the exorbitant fee that is charged for foreign 4x4s to enter the parks – at the time of writing, this was US$150! At least it isn’t per day, but it is a once off fee per park. However, if you travel on public roads in the park, then you are not subject to any park fees – either people or vehicle. If you want to partake of activities in the park, then you are subject to activity fees and park fees. Park fees for people are fortunately 24hr fees.

So, for Murchison Falls:
When driving up from Kampala, there are 2 ways to reach accommodation outside the park on the south side of the Nile River. The first, is to head north from Masindi into Murchinson Falls (not sure the gate name) and exit the park at Mubako gate on the west. Since this is not a public road, all park fees – for both people and vehicles – are payable if you take this route.

The second way is to head towards Lake Albert via Kinyara, Biso and Bulisa, which avoids any park fees by driving a much longer route around the western side of the park.

Once outside the park, Wild Frontiers boat trips will collect you from your lodgings (for a small fee) but their boat trip is more expensive than that offered by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, who won’t do any pick up service. Remember to buy your park permit if you don’t have a valid one – at least you can save the cost of taking your foreign registered car in!

For Kibale National Park:
The road through the park between Fort Portal and Kyenjojo is a public road, as is the road between Fort Portal and Kahunga. So, it is possible to drive through the park if you want to visit Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, or accommodation in the area, without paying park fees.

For Queen Elizabeth National Park:
The main road that runs north – south between Kikorongo and Rubirizi is a public road (no fees payable). It also seems that the road that runs from this road west to Kisenyi village is a public road, so no fees payable. It also seems (and I stand to be corrected) that some of the lodges that are only a short distance off these roads – such as Queen Elizabeth Bushcamp – are somehow “outside” the park (no fees payable). What I do know, though, is that if you want to take part in the Kazinga Channel boat trip you are most definitely entering the park, and so all fees are payable. We had assumed that when we stayed at Simba Safari Camp just outside the park near Kikorongo, they would be running a bus shuttle down to the boat trip, but no such luck. They only offered to arrange a driver to take us in, but this was nearly as expensive as taking our own vehicle in. In the end, we didn’t do the boat trip due to the costs involved (boat trip fee + people park fee + vehicle fee / driver fee)

The road inside the park down to Ishasha – where the tree climbing lions tend to hang out – requires park fees (I believe) for people and vehicle. This is a pity, as this is such a special part of the park, and also gives much easier access to the Buhoma entrance to Bwindi National Park.

For Mgahinga Gorilla National Park:
There are no roads in the park for tourist use – all activities take place on foot! We stayed just outside the park at Amajyambere Iwacu Community Camp and could walk from there to the visitors centre for the activities that we took part in. So, park fees were payable for people, but not vehicle. As an aside, definitely the most impressive park we have visited, and the walking tours are worth the effort.

For Bwindi Impenetrable Forest:
Again, there are no roads in the park for tourist use. All activities are walking based. We stayed in Rubuguri at Nshongi Gorilla Resort Camp. We drove the 7km to the park entrance for our activities. Park fees for people were included in the activity fees, and no vehicle fees were payable.
We have spoken to a senior manager at Uganda Wildlife Authority about these high vehicle fees, and strongly encouraged them to look to Zambia and Tanzania national park fee structures. We fully intend to write to them again, informing them of the missed revenue from us due to park fees.

I think, though, that since most tourists in Uganda are on arranged tours through Uganda tour operators (who have a significantly lower fee structure) it might be optimistic to hope for a revision of fees for what is such a small segment of their tourism income.

We can but hope.

Note: please send me any additional information to enhance the above, or let me know of any errors I may have made.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:48 am

In and Around Bwindi

15th September 2013

After exploring the gorge in Mgahinga National Park, we could let the excitement mount for our visit to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and our gorilla tracking activity.

There are quite a few gorilla groups, and the group you are visiting determines which park gate you start from. We were tracking Nshongi group, and so we were starting from Rushaga.

The drive from Mgahinga through Kisoro up to Rushaga was magnificent – although the road in places left much to be desired. The further we drove, the more we climbed and wound our way through green hills and trees with views across the valleys every so often. The landscape is a patchwork of shades of green – the various farmland demarcations visible from afar. Everything looks lush and fertile. The villagers watch us as we pass by, some waving, some just staring.

About 2 hours outside Kisoro , we glimpsed the edge of the magical forest. It is such a contrast of natural beauty, rising above the farms and cultivated plantations. It seems so majestic, so regal, so mysterious. It is beautiful to behold, and sad to think that this forest use to cover so much more of Uganda.

We had booked into Nshongi Camp, a community run campsite just near the park entrance. Unfortunately for us, the camp is about a 500m walk from the car park – so really not set up at all for our rooftop tent. There was absolutely no way for us to move the vehicle closer. The campsite and bandas were very picturesque, and great care had been taken with the gardens, but it was not to be.

We had to find alternative accommodation.

We headed about a kilometre down the road to Gorilla Safari Lodge, where we were told there may be camping. We were welcomed with smiles and assurances of a place to camp, for a hefty fee of US$30 per person! This would officially be the most expensive camping on our trip in Africa – more than double the next most expensive! And, for this princely sum we would camp in the carpark and use toilets and showers in some random building. We offered US$10, but they weren’t interested. The owner wasn’t on site, so any negotiation required phonecalls. We gave up. But suddenly one of the staff told us we could camp at Nshongi Gorilla Resort, 7km down the road in Rubuguri.

Off we went, late in the day, tired, but still in need of a place to stay.

The little village of Rubuguri is tiny, but has a small local pub and a few shops selling the bare basics. We were welcomed at Nshongi Gorilla Resort – yes, we could camp. We could have the use of the bathroom in one of the chalets (why didn’t they just give us the chalet?) and park outside reception. At only US$10 per person, we couldn’t really argue. The best was yet to come, though, and after dinner as we prepared for bed, we were brought 2 hot water bottles to keep us warm in the cool mountain temperatures. Heaven!

The next morning – only a day before our tracking – we wandered around the village in search of eggs and a few vegetables. We managed to stumble upon the beginnings of the setup of a clothing market – we are quite adept by now to recognise the racks being set up to display clothes. Brilliant – we returned later in the afternoon to have a browse. This was great fun! Clearly, the locals are not used to muzungus in the market, and we had a little following, and small crowds gathered where we stopped to make purchases. These clothes all seem to arrive from North America – there were lots of university branded T-shirts and sweatshirts. I managed to find a piece of material I quite liked, and Viking Explorer bought a replacement T-shirt for one which has been retired.

On our wanderings, we stumbled across an NGO called Big Beyond. They were celebrating planting indigenous trees, and are involved in a number of other projects and initiatives in the village – all aimed at empowering the locals rather than giving handouts. One project in particular is to process the coffee beans they are already growing: rather than sell the beans for very little to middlemen who then sell it on, Big Beyond is working with a community to grind the coffee beans, package them very simply, and sell the package. The NGO are helping the community to promote the coffee to the local lodges (of which there are numerous) rather than the lodges buying other coffee. Great idea, and what a fun bunch of people!

After our gorilla tracking, we headed back down the mountain to Kisoro. We took the more scenic route this time, passing by Lake Mutanda. As we twisted and would our way towards the lake, we kept catching glimpses of very colourful buildings near the lake. Eventually we arrived at Chameleon Hill – a new development overlooking Lake Mutanda. It was gorgeous! We stopped in – as you do – and were given the grand tour. It was so tastefully done, with each chalet a different colour on the outside, and beautifully decorated on the inside. It is owned by Koos (South African) and Doris (German). Although they both live in Cape Town, they were on site, and we spent some time with them. We told them about our travels, they told us a bit about the trip they had done a few years before, and told us all about the dream of building this place. Sadly, due to the lay of the land, they didn’t have any camping facilities, although they had always wanted to include some.

Time was marching on, and we continued our way towards Kisoro. This would be our last night in Uganda before crossing into our 21st country on the trip: Rwanda.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:50 am

Being spoilt in Kigali

22nd September 2013

What I love about travelling is the people you meet – through someone who knows someone who is related to someone else. This was such a case: the mother of a friend of my cousins’ lives in Kigali and had welcomed us!

We arrived dusty and tired in Kigali – and desperate for the luxury of a bedroom and proper bathroom. We were welcomed by Beulah, Jan and Danya into their busy life, and treated like one of the family. They were so immensely helpful with making sure we sorted out our admin, caught up with ourselves, and also saw a bit of the city.

It was only once we stopped moving that we realised how tired we were. I spent most of the first 2 days (Monday and Tuesday) catching up on sleep – morning naps and afternoon siestas became the order of the day. At the same time, Viking Explorer arranged for a timing belt change. Excellent contacts resulted in a mechanic coming to the house to complete the work. Unfortunately, the timing belt purchased in Uganda was the wrong size, so the mechanic needed to source another. All in all, an afternoon productively spent without moving too far from the comfort of the house.

Tuesday saw us on a guided tour of the city, courtesy of our kind hostess Beulah! We saw some of the key landmarks, and also some of their own favourite restaurants and hideaways. It is a fascinating city, and remarkable clean due to the banning of plastic carrier bags. The public spaces are well manicured, and the people friendly and welcoming. We stopped past the Genocide Memorial and the main market – Chimirongo: all to be visited later. We even made a brief stop at the Italian supermarket to taste their delicious gelato ice cream!

Tuesday was also birthday time for Danya, and so we were swept up in the celebrations, meeting of friends, and fantastic dinner at Korean / Japanese restaurant – Sakae.

Viking Explorer had been talking about sushi just a few days previously, so he was especially delighted at the venue! A fun evening, making new friends.

Feeling recovered – well, at least partially – on Wednesday we headed over to the Genocide Memorial Museum for a visit. It was a very tastefully, sensitively introduced and displayed. It covered a brief colonial history, and then the events leading up to the 100 day massacre of 800,000 people. The museum site itself is the final resting place of 250,000 people. Most people living in Rwanda were impacted in some way – losing families and friends. The second part of the museum has brief displays about other genocides in the world. Again, it was sensitively displayed, and very moving. After all the kindness and hospitality we have experienced on our travels, I found it so sad that people are capable of such brutality.

On Thursday, Beulah took us off for our next exploration – Chimirongo market! By African standards, this felt like quite an organised market. The market contains sellers of everything from clothes and shoes, fabrics, crafts and curios, fruit and vegetables, and everything in between! Beulah – being a local – already has a few friends amongst the sellers, and we were introduced to fabulous fabrics and very typical Rwandan crafts. After a few hours, we were the proud new owners of a few pieces of fabric, a new pair of sandals and typical imigongo paintings, done using cow dung. Afterwards, we visited a local coffee shop where I tried tree tomato juice – a bit tart but very tasty.

Roll on Friday, and it was time for the African International Club annual “Welcome Home” dinner. It was a great evening with a diverse international crowd and truly outstanding food. We certainly felt right at home!



The rest of our week was spent chatting, relaxing, reading, watching birds, and generally being spoilt rotten. But then, it was time to extract ourselves from the comfort of a room and pack ourselves back into the car …



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African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
Departure: Adventure Overland Show, 7th October 2012
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:55 am

Hi there everyone!

I have been updating our trip on the forum (please scroll upwards) and I am amazed at how much we have done! Uganda and Rwanda were so memorable.

We are currently in South Africa. We are in the final month of our trip - a great comprise to enable us to see the gorillas! We have decided to visit the Northern Cape - I tried to tell Viking Explorer that it was a fair compromise to not visiting Nordkapp on this trip ... but he wasn't buying it Wink

We head out on Saturday to visit Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Augrabies Falls, Richtersveld and Namaqualand. It is a very special and very remote part of South Africa - we are quite excited about it!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the updates above!

rgds
African GirlChild

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African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
Departure: Adventure Overland Show, 7th October 2012
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http://www.kapp2cape.net
GirlChild
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Posts : 419
Join date : 2012-03-07
Location : In the sands of UAE

PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Sat Oct 19, 2013 3:21 pm

The journey South

2nd October 2013

Well, at some point, we knew we would have to point Brodie south and return to South Africa. We have no interested in tackling Egypt or Syria. We didn’t see very much of South Africa earlier in the year, and so we have saved this as the final country on our adventure.

But first, we had to get there.

Day 1: Kigali (Rwanda) to Nyakanazi (Tanzania) (260km)
We left Kigali at a fairly civilised hour, as we didn’t want to disturb our hosts at early o’clock in the morning! We followed the tar road to the border, winding our way again through beautiful green scenery. We were surprised by a heavy thunderstorm along the way, too. The border crossing was hassle free (see border crossing page) and soon we were on the tar road from the border to Nyakanazi. We returned to Sayari Guest House for the evening, and were recognised by Amina who had been so welcoming last time. A quick meal out of the back of the car and we were soon asleep.

Day 2: Nyakanazi (Tanzania) to Sitalike (Tanzania) (510km)
This was the start of the stretch through western Tanzania – the part of the return journey we were not looking forward to, given the fine dust and dirt we had experienced on the way up. We were in for an enormous surprise. No, not quite tarred by the Chinese (yet) but they had definitely had rain in the previous days, and the dust had been compacted into hard gravel. In places, it was even smooth! We made far more progress than we had anticipated we could make, and reached our nightstop of Kasulu at lunchtime! So, we decided to push on … Uvinza came next, and then we reached Mpande with a mere hour until sunset. Viking Explorer decided that it would be nicer to spend the night camping outside Katavi National Park listening to hippos grunting in the water, than stay in a guest house with echoing walls and loud TVs from adjacent rooms. We knew the road for this stretch was not good, but we just had enough time to reach Riverside Camp in Sitalike. We rolled in as the sun set! And as Viking Explorer had imagined, we were serenaded by the hippos and even saw 2 elephants grazing on the water’s edge.

Day 3: Sitalike (Tanzania) to Mpulungu (Zambia) 344km
Despite the gravel roads, we reached our proposed nightstop of Sumbawanga at lunchtime, so pressed on to cross the border. This meant not only crossing the border, but making it the 60km (20km on terrible roads) to Mpulungu to clear customs. We had used Kasesya / Zombe border post when we headed north, and were feeling confident it would be quick. We were in for a huge surprise when the immigration official became very difficult with us, and threatened to send us back to Tanzania because Viking Explorer didn’t already have a visa. Any discussions were blocked by this power hungry official. He said he could only give us 7 days (!!) because he would have to explain to his superiors if he gave us anything longer. (the fact that both previous entries had been 30days seemed irrelevant). He could, however, give us 14days if we gave him money for a drink. We operate a ‘no bribe’ policy so told him to stamp 7 days. Eventually, after much hassle, our passports were stamped and we headed out. We managed to make it to Mpulungu in time to clear customs – from a very friendly man who balanced off the aweful experience at the border. Thank goodness we were heading back to Nkupi Lodge for the night, and Charity again welcomed us, and cooked us yet another superb dinner. The temperature was a shock to the system – easily high 30s!

Day 4: Mpulungu (Zambia) to Mutinondo (Zambia) 487km
Ahh – back on tar!! What a relief. It was a fairly easy day, with a stop in Kasame to stock up a bit at Shoprite. We sooned reached the turnoff to Mutinondo, a gorgeous game farm on the edge of the Luangwa Valley. It was back to the southern African standard of camping, and we enjoyed a stroll to the river, and a chance to make a fire and bake bread again. That night we nearly froze as the temperature dropped to 8C … a bit of a shock!

Day 5: Mutinondo (Zambia) to Lusaka (Zambia) 574km
Our journey on tar continued. Our destination for the day was Eureka Campsite on the south side of Lusaka. It was a fairly uneventful day on the road, although passing through Lusaka – like any large city – required 3 pairs of eyes and a sixth sense to anticipate other motorists’ behaviour. The campsite was lovely, with a bit of a backpacker feel. We met a group of 4 Irish motorcycles who were travelling from Mombasa (Kenya) to Cape Town over 8 weeks.

Day 6: Lusaka (Zambia) to Livingtone (Zambia) 450km
Our early start paid off as we encountered lots of roadworks and one way traffic as we exited Lusaka. However, it still delayed us by an hour making our long day in the car even longer. After the roadworks, the tarred roads continued all the way to Livingstone. The further south we drove, the higher the temperature soared. The wind, which once used to be cooling, was now hot and biting. Our dear vehicle is lacking one small detail – air-conditioning! So, we arrived hot, flustered and tired at Maramba River Lodge for our camp spot for the night. After setting up camp, we were visited by a large hippo who quietly wandered through camp, munching on the grass.

Day 7: Livingstone (Zambia) to Francistown (Botswana) 532km
Another border crossing day, and we decided to brave the infamous Kazangula ferry. We departed Livingstone at 6am and reached the border a little after 7am. All looked quiet, and about half an hour later we were aboard the ferry, having cleared Zambian border formalities. Botswana side was quick and easy, and soon we were back on the road. We stopped to fill fuel, and met a vehicle of South Africans. They were just starting their return journey to Johannesburg after school holiday – and were planning on doing it in a day! Madness. Our journey took us straight south towards Francistown, the thermometer rising as we progressed. When we stopped for lunch, the mercury stood at 42C. Brutal. We reached Francistown and went to Marang River Lodge. Bad idea. They had a wedding on, and despite assuring us that it would finish at 6pm, it continued well into the night. (Better bet would have been Woodlands … ) After 7 long days on the road, my sense of humour was thin. As an aside, it was pretty and the ablutions were good. So I kept reminding myself as the night wore on …

Day 8: Francistown (Botswana) to Waterberg (South Africa) 476km
Early up and ready to cross another border. We were very fortunate that the clouds rolled in during the night, and we even had a very light drizzle while we were packing up and enjoying breakfast. Rain in Botswana! The excellent tarred roads continued and we covered the approx. 300km to the border, stopping to fill fuel in Palapye and again before the border. Very smooth border crossing and finally back into South Africa. We didn’t want to arrive in Johannesburg with the rush of traffic after school holidays, so we stopped at Waterberg Wilderness Camp for the night instead. It was hard to remember the hot days we had come through, as the temperature dropped below 20C and we had to dig out our fleece jackets!

Day 8: Waterberg (South Africa) to Johannesburg (South Africa) 264km
The final stretch of a very long drive. We avoided the toll road and stuck to the R101 passing through many towns along the way. This area of the country I have not visited in many years, and was not familiar with all the new names! We stopped in Modimolle to pick up venison – and met a chap who had just read our article published in the SA4x4 magazine! He was very excited and posed with Viking Explorer and the car. Eventually, we joined the many laned highway that passes through Pretoria on the way to Johannesburg. We were quick surprised by how fast people drive! And how busy the roads are! Makes driving in Dakar and Kampala positively easy.

And so, with our last few pounds, we are spending a bit of time touring in South Africa.

_________________
African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
Departure: Adventure Overland Show, 7th October 2012
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