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 Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012

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GirlChild
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:09 am

Hi roamingman!

happy new year to you too! Glad to see you are still following our adventure!

rgds
African GirlChild

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:11 am

Becoming a writer

There is so much information out there!  Similar to when we researched the overland adventure, I am wading through so much useful information – but sometimes it feels a little overwhelming.

So far, the vast amount of information has yielded some clarity for the immediate steps:

Step 1.  Just get writing!  It is so easy to get distracted with how to publish, who to publish through, where to publish, when is the ‘right’ time. It is easy to get distracted with which is the “best” software to use. But at the end of the day, if there is no book, then the rest of the discussion is null and void.

And the writing? It doesn’t have to be beautiful, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be coherent! The advice given to novice authors is to establish a routine of writing regularly, getting into the flow, adding words at a regular interval. I have seen some authors set themselves a target of 2,000 words a day. Other authors write for a set period every day.

I have followed this advice, and set myself a target of writing for 2 hours a day. Some days it is a little less, and other days, I am so absorbed by the story and reliving the experience, that  time just flies by! I have also found that I need to vary the scenery a little bit, and so have started also visiting coffee shops for somewhere a little different.

So far, this has proved to be a very successful discipline, and the book has reached almost 40,000 words! I am very proud, and slightly in awe of myself.

Viking Explorer has now also joined in with the writing – I think he is becoming a little excited as the book takes shape.

Step 2: Edit the writing.    Ahh – this was the step that I didn’t even know about, but makes perfect sense. This is the first rough polish of the book. The step where the full text of the book – after step 1 is finished – needs a check of consistency, coherency and general flow of the story. Being slightly old school, this is when the book will be printed out for the first time, and I’ll be grabbing coloured pens and “correcting” in the old way. I am sure it’ll be exciting – much in the same way that I felt the first time I printed out my thesis while I was studying. From my research, this step can take as long as – if not longer – than the actual writing process. Large sections may need to be rewritten, some sections deleted altogether, and new linking sections added.  We’ll see.

And somewhere in the mix – possibly between step 1 and step 2 – photos need to be added to the book. We realise that the book just wouldn’t be as interesting to read without some visuals along the way.

So, we continue with our new adventure – the adventure of writing a book!

PS – no, we don’t have a book title yet … waiting for some inspiration on that.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Mon Jan 13, 2014 1:50 pm

Thinking about it commercially, for a book you need to have in the title the most important word for all - "overland". This will attract like-minded folk from across the planet.

Then, the next word or should I say words are "Cape Town". This speaks for itself, it's a destination that given the time, money and family/work commitments we'd all love to have a go at. This being the case, how about ...

Overland UK to Cape Town - how hard can it be?

Overland UK to Cape Town - the novice's guide.


Boring compared to Sunrise over XXXXXXXX Lake I admit, but again it's far more viable commercially. It always was the case, but now with Google and the like, it's even more prevalent. If you are the sort of types that money isn't an issue, then yes you can be poetic call the book whatever you want, but unfortunately I believe I'm right in saying you need to sell books to help fund your next adventure. That's life!

Alternatively you may say sod it, I want to call it something dear to my heart. Fair enough, but be prepared for an uphill struggle.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:23 pm

Tom - thanks for great advice!  thumbsup 

Yes, while waiting for those darn lottery winnings to come in (I am sure my new Nigerian friend promised it would be any day now  scratching chin ), we'll have to come up with a commercially viable title. Wink

Definitely has to have "overlanding" in the title ... sort of defeats the purpose otherwise Wink

I'll add your valuable comments to the mix ...

Great day to all!
rgds
African GirlChild


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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Mon Jan 13, 2014 8:55 pm

Interesting to hear about the technique you have developed for writing. It really does help to have a 'writing habit.' I have written three books and published two. Had one best seller in Canada a long time ago. I wrote each book in 2-3 months. Generally I would write each day from about 9pm until midnite, then go back the next day and read what I wrote. After editing what I wrote the nite before, which tended to make less sense the closer it was written to midnite, I would do research for bits of facts or figures I needed for writing the next bits. It worked for me. Each book was about 700 pages in first draft, edited down to about 300-350 for publication.

My advice...don't worry about publication yet. Write the book you want to write. Pour yourself into it until you are happy with it. Then offer up the results to publishers. My experience is that publishers feel they are the experts and if you come to them with something before it is done, they will offer all sorts of 'helpful' advice that only ends up diluting the story you want to tell. What editors and publishers do well is let you know when something drags a bit or needs more explanation...but not the story itself. But do not let them interfere in the creative process...your story.

Good luck with the book!


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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:10 am

Tembo - awesome advice, thanks!  cheers1 

Yeah, I got the feeling that writing was the priority initially ... then once I have a "product" I can worry about the publishing. You have confirmed that for me Wink  thumbsup 

Back to the keyboard ...

rgds
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:51 am

Word by word ...

Word by word, the book is taking shape. Viking Explorer has also picked up his quill – so to speak – and is enjoying adding his perspective to the adventure.

We instituted a new habit together – Writers Retreat! One day on the weekend, we venture to a favourite coffee shop with laptops in hand and spend a few hours writing together, enjoying Americanos and Chai Tea Lattes. During our writers retreat, we ignore mobiles, email, facebook … and immerse ourselves in the adventure.

With both of us writing, a focused Writers Retreat, and a few hours during the week, our book has reached 58,000 words!

I have also looked at any remaining information from the trip that needs to be uploaded to the website, the blog or both, so more content on budget should be following soon.

Short and sweet update – words are preciously and selfishly being saved for the book.

rgds
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Thu Jan 23, 2014 6:19 pm

Final Budget summary

After much work, we finally have put together a budget summary from our amazing adventure.  We hope that you find it helpful in planning your own African adventure.

As a reminder, our adventure was broken into 2 stages:

Stage I: Europe and North Africa, October 2012 – February 2013



Europe was expensive to travel through, with high fuel prices, 3 ferry crossings and generally high food prices. Spending improved on entering Morocco, with all prices much lower – particularly as we stayed off the tourist route. We used markets for food, rather than supermarkets. Border crossings added to the budget, as there were rather a lot of unreceipted fees to be paid. Vehicle costs were related to work done on the vehicle  in Morocco, as well as a new battery in Senegal. We visited national parks in Mauritania and Senegal – a key part of our adventure.





We were welcomed by friends and family as we travelled through Europe, which certainly helped the budget. By late October, camp sites in Europe were starting to close for the season, so we struggled a little in places to find camping. We felt more comfortable staying in campsites, although we were safe wild camping in Morocco. We didn’t try  wild camping in Mauritania or in Senegal. Most of our hotel accommodation was in Dakar, Senegal, while arranging vehicle shipping.





Our target spend was £50 per day, and we managed slightly under £50 per day. This does exclude shipping the vehicle from Dakar, Senegal to Cape Town, South Africa, and flights.

Stage II: Southern and East Africa, March – October 2013



Through this part of the trip, we tried to see as many national parks as possible, while keeping an eye on the budget. Botswanan parks were expensive, but worth the experience. As we travelled north, parks became more expensive, and we visited fewer parks in each country. Fuel was cheaper than in Europe, but more pricy than Morocco – somehow we managed to keep the daily fuel spend in line with Stage 1. Border processes were more transparent (no unreciepted fees), and fewer ferries to catch. We continued to shop mainly in markets, topping up in supermarkets were available. Unfortunately, a new windscreen, another new battery and other work on the vehicle pushed up the costs in South Africa at the end.





We opted for paid camping primarily through this stage of the trip. Not only were the facilities generally good (particularly in the south) but there were so many people everywhere, that we gave up finding somewhere away from villages to wildcamp. We used Guest Houses  as we travelled up the west of Tanzania. Camping was almost non-existent, and the guesthouses were relatively inexpensive.





Our daily spending target, was £50 per day, and we managed £52 per day. This excludes costs of receiving the vehicle into Cape Town, South Africa. We also haven’t detailed our costs of waiting in South Africa for the vehicle, as we stayed with friends and family, which meant our costs were untypically low. We treated ourselves to gorilla tracking in Uganda, the costs of which haven’t been included

For more information on each of the countries, We have created detailed Fact Sheets for each country we travelled through – please head over to the Downloads page and download them for using while you are travelling.

For your ease of use, this post can be downloaded here: Final Budget

best wishes, and happy travels

Viking Explorer & African GirlChild

(Tom - I have no idea how to insert a pdf file for everyone to download ... )

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:56 am

Err ... wow!!!  clapping  clapping  clapping 

Info aplenty!

(Tom - I have no idea how to insert a pdf file for everyone to download ... )

Well that makes two of us Oyvind, I've no idea mate. Anybody out there know?

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:31 pm


Also your Budget and Finance writeup is outstanding!

Thank you much for sharing.


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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Sat Jul 12, 2014 6:17 pm

On my own ... Part 1 (African GirlChild)

19 March 2014:

After many months of dithering about what to do with the vehicle, it seemed that returning the vehicle to the UK was the best alternative. As Viking Explorer had already returned to corporate life, the task was left to me to arrange.

I was quite surprised at the reaction of family when I announced that I would be driving the vehicle from Johannesburg to Cape Town on my own. People expressed much concern for my safety, concern about me driving such a long way on my own. Funny. You wouldn’t have thought that we had just spent 13 months driving through Africa. In any case, I remained undeterred. The easiest place to ship the vehicle was from was Cape Town as I have the support of family, which eases the process considerably.

But first, I needed to do yet another repack of the vehicle. That which will be used for future trips needed to stay in the vehicle, while souvenirs and other personal items should stay out. I wanted to avoid any nasty surprises from leftover food or lotions, potions and gels when we opened the vehicle again. I was horrified by how much we had squeezed into the car. It took me 2 full days to unpack, sort, and repack the vehicle.

Early in the morning, just as the sun was rising, I set off from Johannesburg. The directions were pretty easy: join the N1 south and head towards Cape Town. For about 1,500km. I planned a midway stop as I didn’t fancy a single day trip.

It was the first time I had driven the vehicle for such a long way. Somehow on the trip we settled into a routine where Viking Explorer did the majority of the driving, while I took care of a lot of cooking and washing up. Like most routines, it developed without us realising it, and persisted for months. But now, it was me behind the wheel.

At first, I was so conscious of the size of the vehicle. It felt like driving a tank. But soon, I settled into the comfortable seat and easy steering and had a chance to watch the stunning scenery I passed through. Like I have said many times before, South Africa is such a beautiful country.

With it being midweek, the roads were quiet. There majority of traffic was large trucks transporting goods across the country. Very few small cars. The only annoyance was the roadworks I encountered in the last kilometres before my nightstop. Known locally as “Stop Go”s, half the road is closed while the other half is used alternately.

My stop for the night was at Bun Clody Guest House in Hanover, exactly halfway between Johannesburg and Cape Town. It had taken me 9 hours to reach there, and I was feeling hot and tired, and stiff in my neck and shoulders. But the hosts made me feel right at home, and I was incredibly grateful that they provided both dinner and breakfast. I didn’t have the energy to wander too far to find food.

There were lots of interesting people staying there too. A group of contractors were working on a solar installation not far away. The youngsters were only a few years out of high school, and I really felt quite old looking at their young faces. There was a more Afrikaans culture – with respect for elders still intact and chivalry alive and kicking. The youngsters used the old tradition of calling their supervisor “Oom” (uncle), and even called me “Tannie” (aunt) as they also did the hosts!  The supervisor, Leon, invited me to join them all for a game or two of pool at a nearby local bar. Not only was I not allowed to walk around the corner to the bar (it was that close by) but he kindly opened the truck door for me while the youngsters jumped into the back! Mfundiso, a sales rep for a pharmaceutical firm who was also staying at the guest house, joined in after his long day on the road. It was a fun evening in a small Karoo town, with old style hospitality.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Sat Jul 12, 2014 6:20 pm

On my own ... part 2 (African GirlChild)

21 March 2014:

Up early the following morning, I faced a long day of driving to reach Hermanus. Before setting off from Bun Clody in Hanover, I gave a guided tour of the vehicle to my wonderful hosts and my new friend Mfundiso – all of whom were interested and fascinated by our home on wheels. I do love sharing the story of our adventure.

Having taken all the obligatory photos and exchanged contact details, I was back on the road. I was in for an enormous surprise. The road down to Cape Town had lots of roadworks going on, and I stopped at 12 of the infamous “Stop-Go”s. With each one adding 10 minute wait, my journey dragged on and on.

I stuck to the habit I had established the previous day: regular stops. Every 2 hours or so, I would find a service station or coffee shop or “ultracity” to have some food, a drink and a leg stretch. It helped give my brain a break and combat tiredness … to a point.

But the driving and scenery was beautiful. My favourite vistas for the day were in Hex River Valley, a spectacular fertile green valley. Worth a visit – but on this journey I was on a timeline.

When I reached Worcester I was beginning to doubt I’d make it to Hermanus. I was feeling tired, and not quite sure how far I had left for the day. I even considered calling my aunt and uncle and asking them to come and fetch me and drive me to Hermanus. Fortunately, though, the last stretch was shorter than anticipated and I rolled into Hermanus 11 hours after leaving Hannover. It was a journey I do not wish to repeat on my own again.

I cast my mind back almost a year to the day when we had collected the vehicle after shipping from Senegal. At that time, the weather closely resembled that of the UK: pouring rain, gusting wind, and cold. This time, I enjoyed glorious sunshine and long evenings.

My time was brief, but I had enough time to visit with my dear grandmother, who celebrates her 95th birthday this year. She is an astounding woman, and I am grateful for yet another chance to spend time with her. I also enjoyed the hospitality of my aunt and uncle again, and gave them a brief synopsis of the adventure.

I had arranged to ship the vehicle through African Overlanders. After the stress involved in shipping the vehicle from Senegal to South Africa, I was glad to “outsource” the logistics to Duncan. It was very sad to park the vehicle at his backpackers near Stellenbosch and hand over the keys. I felt like I was losing a body part.

Tim and Margie were on hand again – every generous with their time. After taking us to the container yard a year previously to unload the container and take possession of the vehicle, they were at the other end of the adventure, and picked me up after separating myself from the vehicle. I remain immensely grateful for their help. We had a few hours together catching up – so special. And then it was off to the airport for me.

A week or so after, the vehicle with its new found friends were loaded jointly into a container back to the UK.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Sat Jul 12, 2014 6:22 pm

Brodie on UK soil again

1 May 2014:

With Brodie on his way back to UK soil I needed to look into where to park him when he arrived. We had made our decision: we were going to store him as we do not rule out the option of taking some time off in the future to travel again. Brodie is such a good vehicle that it actually makes better sense to store him than to sell him and then replace him in the future.

The UK has a number of places that offer storage for vehicles, both short and long term. I researched about 15 of these places, narrowed it down to five, and sent out requests for more information and quote to these five. I received replies from four of the companies, with one standing out in more ways than one. Manor Car Storage are close to main roads so easy to get to, their price level is good, and my strange requests for tent airing and fridge running was answered by Anna with a ‘no problem’ attitude. Above all, communication via email has been very friendly, and to me this is very important.

At arrival in the UK Brodie cleared customs no issues. Manor then picked him up and transported him to the facility where I had booked him in for an MOT. Moment of truth. How would his condition measure up to UK regulations after 18 months out of the country, 43,000km, 21 countries, and lots of dusty and bumpy roads? Pass, of course. And not only pass, but no advisories! Awesome.

Brodie will now spend his time amongst other vehicles, most of which he could probably drive over if he wanted to. He will be taken out for some air every two months while all his working parts are pressed and pushed to ensure he keeps working as intended.

Meanwhile, we keep looking at the calendar and assessing our options for taking him out on the road again – even if it is only for a few weeks.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Sat Jul 12, 2014 6:24 pm

Introducing our new ride

5 June 2014:

Brodie is back in the UK. We are in the UAE. So what is happening with Kapp2Cape now? We continue exploring, of course!

All good explorers must have a trusted vehicle to take them where they would like to go – or to where the track leads. It was time to look for a reasonably priced, capable, and not too worn, 4×4 to fulfil the role Brodie would have had. I started optimistically with a low budget, looking for a Jeep that would fit the bill. Not to be. I had a look at a few and it was clear that they were in need of work equal to or greater than the value of the car. So I increased the budget and widened the scope. I looked at Nissan Pathfinder (not 4×4 enough), Nissan Xterra (few cars on sale as they are popular), Mitsubishi Pajero (not sure about the V6 engine) and Jeeps (generally too small). So I upped the budget again, casting my net to include the LandCruiser. One day I came across two LandCruisers. One was sold already when I called (cannot hesitate too much here) but the other was still available. I went to see it straight away, liked it, negotiated some money off, and agreed a deal. Sorted.

We call her Penelope. She is a 2001 100-series Toyota LandCruiser 4.5L petrol automatic. She is in very good condition for her age with only 223k km on the clock. The body work has no major scratches or dents, and there is only minimal wear on the inside. She started her life in Dubai with an expat doctor family, then she changed hands to his successor, before being ‘imported’ to Abu Dhabi by the expat I bought her from. There is even a fridge in the centre console – very good for the hot days here.

The price paid included money off for an issue with the steering. A quick question on a forum pointed me in the direction of a good mechanic in the industrial area of Mussafah. Sibi Thomas at Jamal Auto Works took her in and changed the steering rack, steering pump and the upper steering joint, and serviced the AirCon.

We probably won’t kit her out the same way as we did Brodie – we just don’t have the same requirements. We will, however, make sure we have all we need: fridge, storage, electrical solution for fridge and chargers, and a water tank. Fuel is relatively easy to come by so an extra large fuel tank may not be needed.

A short camping trip is already in the planning stages. This will no doubt reveal what we need to buy and what we need to do. It is all part of the exploring.

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Now available for download to Kindle, iPad, tablet and PC:
"For the love of Africa, an overland adventure" by Sheelah Turner & Oyvind Helgerud
Amazon COM:  http://amzn.to/1CvtN8K
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1BjNqeo

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Sat Jul 12, 2014 6:26 pm

On the road again

29 June 2014:

There are three types of scenery in the Gulf States: desert sands, mountains, and beaches. Our preference is mountains. For us there is no appeal in ‘dune bashing’ – going up and down sand dunes. It seems a bit repetitive. Beaches are good as destinations – a place to have a cold drink at the end of a trip through … you got it – mountains.

Our aim while here in Abu Dhabi is to explore as much of the mountains as we can. There are some mountains here in the UAE and there are more in Oman. Fortunately for us we have found travel companions who also enjoy exploring mountains and who are happy to venture a bit off road.

And so we found ourselves hunched over a table with maps and guide books spread out, looking for the smallest roads and the best view points. I must say here that the maps of the UAE and Oman are not great. They lack a bit of detail. While travelling in Africa we were also spoilt by the detail of our electronic map, it is amazing how quickly you get used to relying on what other travellers have seen and noted. We didn’t want to go too far away from Abu Dhabi as we only had two days. Nor did we plan on going into Oman this trip as we did not want to deal with border crossings. We agreed on a route towards the town of Hatta, and to take things on the fly as the day progressed.

The following weekend we spent most of our time acquiring camping items and some of the food basics for the trip. We needed a table, a cooler box, some tools, a cooker, and some equipment for the kitchen. Towards the end of the week we visited the South African butcher to stock up on the meat for the braai we had planned. Our friends had promised to take care of the vegetables and the cold drinks for the evening around the camp fire.

We set off early on a Friday morning (weekend here in the UAE is Friday and Saturday) and drove out on quiet roads in direction of Oman and Hatta. A quick fuel stop later we turned off from the main road and started our exploration of the mountains just on the border between UAE and Oman.

It was relaxing being on the road again, surprisingly easy to get back into the travelling mode we had while in Africa. We had managed to get hold of an electronic map that fitted our GPS which made navigation somewhat easier. Up in the mountains, though, it didn’t make much difference. It was driving on instinct, trying to find the track that looked most used. Soon we found a track that looked promising – it looked well used and it was pointing in the right direction. We passed some fences, we passed some farms, and we drove past herds of camel and goats and some bee hives. And then we arrived at a gate. It was open, but it was clear that we were about to enter private land. I stopped the car, disembarked, and approached the farmer who came towards me with a big grin on his face. Formalities over – no English here – I pointed in the direction of Hatta and asked “Hatta?”. He shook his head and declared firmly “khalas” – finished! This was as far as we could go. The only way to get to Hatta was back from whence we had come and to go the long way around the mountain.

We could now see the scenery from the other direction, and it gave us a good excuse to stop for lunch. We found a tree that had a little shade, and unpacked our camping chairs. Without a thermometer, it is difficult to know the exact temperature, but it certainly felt like well into the 40s, and we were grateful for a small breeze of warm air. After an hour or so relaxing, chatting, eating, we continued on our exploration.

Unfortunately for us explorers, the roads in the UAE are slowly being tarred. The guide book we used from 2012 is already out of date. It talks about steep gravel hills and technical sections on a stretch of track that is now two tarred lanes in each direction. It will get more and more difficult to explore in the future.

In Hatta, which we reached in no time due to the above mentioned tarring, we decided to head towards the Hatta Pools. In Oman. We had bought car insurance for Oman and had agreed to bring our passports for this exact scenario. At the border there was a lone guard. He checked our passports and waved us on. No stamps, no insurance check, no entry formalities. But, we would only be able to leave Oman out the same way.

Hatta Pools were in full use when we arrived. Although the day was hot, the pools didn’t look too inviting to me, but African GirlChild would have swum if there hadn’t been so many men around. We wandered around a bit, dipped our toes, and decided to continue towards the planned camp site for the night. At this point it looked like the heavens were about to open and give us an afternoon shower.

After some searching we found the track that we hoped would eventually lead us to our camping spot. We had to do some scouting of the track and some good 4×4-ing to get there, but it was worth it. Our chosen site was surrounded by small hills, and was far enough away from civilization for it to be almost completely quiet. We quickly started the fire, put the chairs out, and began preparing the braai feast. It was super to again be able to sit at sunset, watching the fire, enjoying a sundowner and relaxing after a long day of exploring and experiencing.

The temperature just didn’t drop. While travelling in Africa, we welcomed the cool evenings after scorching days, but that was not going to happen here. Even when we retired to bed, it still felt well above 30s, and the small breeze seemed to die down completely. After a hot night with less sleep than desirable we put the kettle on and dug the rusks out. Fortunately the sun had hidden behind some clouds early in the morning, but just as we had finished breakfast it came out full force. Hot turned hotter, so we packed up quickly and set off towards the coast, grateful for airconditioning in the vehicle.

The road down to Kalba and Fujairah could have been from the French Alps – steep up and down, and cresting through a tunnel. At Kalba we turned left up the coast, and it was along this stretch of coast I saw the most wonderful – but sad – sight: 25 (yes I counted) Series-4 LandCruisers on the beach pulling fishing nets out of the water. Wonderful because I love these little cars; sad because they are all beyond restoration due to a serious attack of rust from the salty water. In Fujairah we stopped on the beach for an early lunch before turning back towards Abu Dhabi.

Several of our colleagues remarked that it would be too hot for us to go camping at this time of year. And they all had a point. Had it not been for the clouds they would have been right. It was borderline at the campsite – any hotter and it would have been too hot. But it wasn’t, so we ended up having a most enjoyable first camping expedition. I am really looking forward to cooler weather and more exploring of these fantastic mountains.

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PostSubject: Our bestseller awaits you!   Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:35 am


The book is here! How exciting! During the first week of publication our ebook – "For the love of Africa, an overland adventure" – was the number 1 Best Seller in African Travel on Amazon UK.

We are bouncing, you can no doubt imagine.

In addition, some of our followers and readers have been dropping us emails and facebook comments to tell us how much they are enjoying reading the adventure. Our favourite comment so far has been:

“LOVING your book [African GirlChild]. Was so engrossed I ended up on the wrong train today… during your Morocco chapter!”

Another comment from a ferocious reader:

“I love that you and [Viking Explorer] have chapters each… that is working so well for me having both voices there, together, but separately.”

A number of our wanna-be readers also contacted us to say that they have had problems downloading the ebook if there wasn’t Amazon in their country. People that we know were affected are living in Norway, South Africa, and UAE. We hope that we have now rectified the problem for everyone, and the ebook is available on the following Amazon websites for download:

Amazon COM:  http://amzn.to/1CvtN8K

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So, please rush out and buy the ebook. When you are finished reading, we’d be very grateful if you took the time to post a review on Amazon – a fair one would be most appreciated.

While you are doing that, please share the ebook via facebook, twitter, email, text, carrier pigeon to your friends and families.

Thanks again for your support.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Tue Feb 10, 2015 5:17 am

Congrats, although can't see the "4x4 Adventure Overland Show" sticker in the back window? bawling

Fail!

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:57 am

Big congrats...will download it to read when we are back in Morocco in a few weeks. I wish you much success!

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Feb 13, 2015 3:13 pm

Tom Mc wrote:
Congrats, although can't see the "4x4 Adventure Overland Show" sticker in the back window? bawling

Fail!

Oh dear. I think it is on a side window Wink But we'll just have to come and get another sticker from you ... make sure to rectify the situation ...

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Fri Feb 13, 2015 3:27 pm

Update on a trip we took at the beginning of the year ...

Heading northward to Oman

1 Jan 2015, Day 1

When I woke his morning, I was reminded of the last time we spent New Year’s Day adventuring. We were in Mauritania heading for the border with Senegal, 3 months into our African Adventure.

This time was quite different. Instead of waking early, packing the vehicle in the dark, and driving through the deserted streets of Nouakchott southwards, we woke late, and juggled the day to day issues so wonderfully absent on the long trip. I discovered the cat had barffed on the bed and so my day started with an unscheduled changing of bedsheets and a load of laundry while packing the car. After taking our bags and boxes to the car parked in the basement, having a quick shower and breakfast, we could set off on our camping adventure. Before we really got onto the road, we quickly stopped past the dry cleaner to drop off dry cleaning required next week. And then, just before we joined the motorway, we realised we had forgotten the cooker – quick return home to collect.

The net result was a 10:45 departure! Far too late.

Our aim for the day was to drive north through the emirates of Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah to reach the border with Oman. This area of Musandam is isolated from the rest of Oman. It is famous for its fjords and mountains, known as the “Norway of Arabia”. We had planned to visit in December with visiting friends, but when they fell ill, we cancelled the trip.

Leaving Abu Dhabi and bypassing Dubai was easy on the well paved 6 lane roads. Some days it really doesn’t feel like we are living in a desert. We sailed past Sharjah and Ajman – we’ll visit those cities another time – before entering Ras Al Khaimah (RAK).



The city feels more like I would expect in this part of the world – almost no highrise buildings or skyscrapers so typical in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Instead, low level buildings all facing the roads. The small stores had brightly coloured facades, with the occasional store owner (male of course) standing in the doorway watching or chatting to friends. Much more relaxed. One stretch of road had wedding boutiques and other fashion stores down the one side – and car accessory stores on the opposite side! Shopping opportunities for the whole family.

Roadsigns had all but disappeared by this point, and the roadworks everywhere were making for challenging navigation. Eventually we stopped at a small grocery store and Viking Explorer hopped out to get directions from the store owner. He pointed northwards and told us to keep going straight and we would rejoin the main road towards Oman.

Onwards.



The desert gave way to the mountain ranges typical of the area, and the towering mountains loomed ahead of us. What struck me was how monochrome beige it appeared. Even in the desert, the colours seem varied, and further south in Oman, there seemed to be more variety in the shades.

We arrived at the border post at 14:45. Very late. We still had a way to go. We entered the departure hall on the UAE side and were horrified to see the queues. Actually, queues would be too kind of a description for the general mass of people gathered. While the men queued, their families waited outside. As each family head reached the counter, the families were summoned (another 4-5 people) who needed to squeeze their way to the immigration desk to go through procedures. We waited patiently, but progress was slow. Eventually we changed our minds about the border crossing. This was very time consuming, and needed to be repeated on the Omani side, and the whole procedure again two days later when returning.

Being good travellers, our plans changed again!

Back to the UAE – accidentally upsetting the border officials as we tried to exit the border post designed for entry. I suspect this has happened before, and he good naturedly told us to keep the car facing the correct way, and redirected us back into the UAE.

We returned southwards, and turned into Wadi Ghalilah to see what we could find for a campsite. This wadi (dry riverbed) is also the start of the “Stairway to Heaven” hiking trail. Not for the fainthearted, the photographs alone gave me vertigo let alone doing the trail.



We again encountered a frequent problem we had in Africa – finding a campsite away from civilisation. The wadi was flanked on both sides with steep mountains, which posed challenging for finding a hidden site. We eventually found a suitable spot, although we could see a small settlement across the wadi and were aware of another around the corner. But we were running out of options. As we were dithering, we heard a vehicle coming and Viking Explorer walked over the road to catch the driver and check if we could stay there. The youngster – late teens as best – was all smiles without any English. Hand gestures explained our desire to sleep and eat. Thumbs up indicated it was no problem – but Viking Explorer needed to have a few photos taken first with the youngster. Westerners must be a bit of a novelty in these parts.





At last, after a long day in the car, we could settle in for the night: light a fire, cook our food and relax.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:23 pm

Half a swiss roll and a grapefruit, mmmmmm ... tasty!

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:52 pm

Shame you couldn't get to Oman! That is a place I would love to explore. Hopefully it is not too hot in UAE this time of year. I think it hit 50c last time I was in Dubai!

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:44 am

Tembo wrote:
Shame you couldn't get to Oman! That is a place I would love to explore. Hopefully it is not too hot in UAE this time of year. I think it hit 50c last time I was in Dubai!

Tembo - we have been into other parts of Oman, but really wanted to explore this part. We'll try again before it gets too hot ... either before May or after September. That said, there are mountains in Oman that are cooler than surrounds as the altitude of over 2,000m means the temperature is about 30c when it is 45c down below!

rgds
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:54 am

Day 2: 2nd January 2015

The quiet wadi we thought we had found was surprisingly busy. Local cars shuttled between the main road and the settlement near us – we waved good naturedly as the cars flowed in either direction. In the the morning, the vehicles started up again, but this time it included westerners too. A group of 5 cars with numerous occupants passed by, presumably on their way to hike “Stairway to Heaven”. One car had become stranded – a series 4 LandCruiser. Viking Explorer has been lusting after one for years, and so had a good inspection … one day!



We packed up and returned to the main road. Our plan was to see how far we could make it into Wadi Bih following route no. 5 in our Off-Road UAE book. The wadi extends west-east from UAE into the southern part of Musandam (Oman). The border post is closed, but just for good measure we drove all the way to check. No luck.


Instead, we climbed up a newly tarred road (new since the book was published in 2011) to see if we could find the resort 30km up the mountain which had been under construction when the book was published. The road wound and twisted its way up the mountainside. This was no natural track being followed – we could see where in places the mountainside had been blasted to make way for the cars. Higher and higher we climbed, the scenery ever so stunning. We noticed toilets and large viewpoints had been erected at regular intervals up the mountain. We stopped at one – the toilets were surprisingly clean, but the large viewpoint area was strewn with litter, despite large rubbish bins being available. So sad to see.




<apologies ... no idea why those images are sideways>


When we reached the top of the tarred road, the final viewpoint was packed with people camping. A few tents were set up and lots of people sitting around eating, picnicing. Not a western face in sight. We were astounded. The tarred road turned into a dirt track, and we continued further up the mountain in search of the resort, although we were becoming skeptical as to its state of completion. Again, as we ventured further, there were more people camping on whatever little piece of flat ground they could find. Finally at the top, and less than a kilometer from another closed border with Oman, we found the probably site of the resort – although the only signs of life were a few seemingly abandoned earthmoving equipment, and a few more campers. No construction yet started on any resort.

It was noon by the time we finished our lunch with a view over the valley. The stream of traffic up the hillside was increasing in volume, and the number of picnics growing. As we returned down the mountain, every viewpiont we passed was filled with people having picnics, and cars were parked in long lines on the hard shoulder. We navigated our way back down the mountain and though the villages back to the main road by following the line of cars heading in the opposite direction.

About half an hour away were Khatta Hot Springs. While in the general vicinity we thought it was worth investigating. The building looked modern, and after paying our entry fee at reception, segregation was implemented. Men and women passed through different doors and had their own facilities.

The last time we were in a hot spring was in Zambia, when we visited Kapiysha Hot Springs. Those springs were so closely maintained in their natural environment, with only a low wall creating a dam for the spring water. This time, modern brick building was erected, and the spring water was housed in a large octagonal swimming pool covered with shade cloth, the bottom of which was the only nod to nature – still covered in pebbles. No photographs allowed. There were sun loungers for those who wanted to catch some rays. There were a few other ladies present – another westerner, 2 arab ladies and a handful of Indian ladies. Much (slightly heated) discussion ensued as the Indian ladies wanted to enter the water fully clothed in their dresses while the Arab ladies were firmly telling them they need to put on swimming costumes as clothing was not allowed in the spring. I took my cue to depart.


As the afternoon wore on, we planned another route from the off-road book. From previous trips, and now this trip, we were beginning to realise that the accuracy was diminishing, even though the book was printed 2 years previously. The very isolated routes weren’t really, and we realised how had it is in this country to truly escape other people. Route 2 looked to be a fun way of seeing some interesting scenery, and we set off through the smaller villages until we reached the dirt tracks through farmland. In this area, growing turf is the key product, and the stark contrast between irrigated green grass and red sand of the desert was surprising. After the farmlands, we passed underneath powerlines for a stretch of desert before the well worn tracks we were following veered into the desert.


It was so pretty. The red sand, the relatively hard packed sand track and us. There were a few trees and lots of little low bushes. The sun was dipping towards the horizon. We passed some camel herders along the way, their camels with babies grazing peacefully. They sat alongside their little 4×4 in the shade, and gave us a friendly wave as we passed. We have found people to be really friendly in UAE.


We found a charming spot to camp for the night. With lots of bushes on the ground, it seemed there were fewer people engaging in “dune bashing” activities. We have heard stories of people setting up camp only to be disturbed in the night by groups of people in their 4x4s “bashing” around over the dunes into their camp! We wanted to avoid that.

We weren’t that far from the track, and were again reminded how well used it was – a few cars passed in either direction, waving to us as we set up camp.


We pretended we were completely alone.

… Aside from the local music we heard from over the dune

… and the car which stopped to pick up a guy who magically appeared from behind another dune

… and the little settlement we spotted when we climbed a dune to watch the sun set.



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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:57 am

Mmmmm, dusty picnics - why do folk do that?

As for camping and the possibility of being squashed at dead of night (maybe no the best turn of phrase!!!) you did well to find those tress to nestle amongst, and least you could sleep soundly.

Stay safe kiddies. clapping

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