Archive for May, 2010

Fierce warriors

Life on the road is long and bumpy. The truck is not exactly the smoothest of rides. The further back you sit, the bumpier the ride. We usually have the sides rolled up, exposing us to wind and dust, tousling our hair generally wearing us out. Travel days vary from 5 hours to 9 hours. We usually wake up bright and early, pack up camp and board the truck. We stop for lunch on the side of the road and for occasional pee breaks and we keep on driving until we run out of daylight. By the time we set up camp again, as the sun sets, we’re usually pretty exhausted and sore.

Our remedy for all this travel wear and tear has been yoga club. I started my own routine when we were traveling SE Asia and I’ve been keeping it up since. Mark started doing it with me here in Africa and more people have kept joining in. After we get off the truck, before supper, we have a core group of around 7 people + a handful of casuals join in the 45 minute power yoga routine.

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Ruins on the hill

After spending a night in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, we headed out to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins near the town of Gweru. Having done little of our own research, and being largely in the dark about much of Africa’s history, we had never heard of the place — duh. Travel is enlightening.

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Whoops!

I let an administrative detail expire without renewing it by accident and our site was down for a couple days. I’m sorry! It’s back up and we have lots of new stuff to share very soon so stay tuned!

New photos at last

We’ve finally been able to connect long enough to upload a few new albums. Head on over to our photos page to see our albums from Malaysia and South Africa, and our first album from Namibia.

Vic Falls

Victoria Falls with mist galore

We arrived in Zimbabwe and set up camp at the bumping Shoestring backpackers hostel in Victoria Falls. Most tourists and business are still a bit wary about coming to Zim. As a result, the town of Vic Falls feels somewhat derelict as most tourists opt to visit the falls from the Zambian side. It’s a bit of a bizarre feeling wandering around the streets of Vic Falls. The shop owners and tour bookers are very glad to see us, although prices are exorbitantly high. We were hoping prices would be low to draw the tourists back, but sadly that’s not the case. Some trucks, like ours, are starting to make their way back here. Most of the trucks just to pop in to visit the falls and leave again. We, on the other hand, will be spending a couple weeks in the country.

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Wow. Three hundred days. I can’t decide if that seems longer or shorter than it feels. We’ve finally fixed a glitch that was preventing us from updating our Breadcrumb, so now you can check out all the routes we’ve been driving along through Africa so far! Here are a few interesting stats on our travels so far:

Average speed over water: 34.2 km/h
Average speed over land: 51.4 km/h
Average speed of our flight from KL to Jo-burg: 798 km/h

Total distance covered (excluding flight): 51,813 km (1.29x around the equator)
Average time driving in the Oasis truck per day: 4.5 hrs.

Poler and makoro

The Okavango River Delta in Botswana is the world’s largest inland delta, fed by several rivers coming down from Angola. The landscape of the delta is in constant flux, as waters rise and fall and islands are created and then submerged once again. We signed up to take a two night excursion into the delta, away from the truck, where we’d be completely immersed in the wild bush of Africa. We headed out early on the first day, and after nearly two hours of driving in a huge 4×4 truck through wild grasses and deep streams, we arrived at our drop point and were introduced to our group of local guides. They would be responsible for our safety over the next couple of days, as we trekked and camped and swam in the land of hippos, lions, buffalo, baboons, and more.

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Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is the biggest park in Namibia, and one of the largest in Africa. It surrounds the Etosha Pan, which is a large dried up lake bed, at least according to the most accepted theory. If it still held water, it would be the world’s third largest lake. The park is home to all sorts of wildlife, and we got to spend two days driving to water holes and through expansive landscapes looking for animals. We hoped that, with luck, we’d find a few. And indeed we did — although I think “a few” is a wildly inaccurate understatement…

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Cheetah on the prowl

On our way to Etosha National Park in Namibia we made an overnight stop at a cheetah rescue farm. The cheetah refuge was set up in an effort to encourage farmers to trap and remove cheetahs from their land rather than shooting them on sight. Cheetahs are notorious for killing livestock, which of course is the livelihood of so many of the local farmers, so the dilemma is apparent; unfortunately, since the farmers have guns and the cheetahs don’t, it’s also equally apparent who is losing the battle. The cheetah refuge is run by three brothers who are trying to encourage farmers to use live traps, whereupon the cheetahs are transported to the farm and are introduced to a new home. The farm itself has over 7000 hectares of land dedicated as cheetah habitat, and they live in a semi-wild fashion where they are fed once daily by the brothers and otherwise hunt for any game that is unfortunate enough to find itself wandering into their territory. There are currently about 20 cheetahs on the farm, along with three “tame” ones that were found very young and brought up with close contact to humans. These three live in and around the house with the brothers and their dogs, and we got to visit them right up close. But I’m getting ahead of myself – first I have to write about our first giraffe experience!

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Sunrise at Spitzkoppe

After visitng the mega-opolis of smelly seals at Cape Cross, we headed to Spitzkoppe to set up camp for the night. Neither Andi nor Grant, who have been leading these trips now for 10 years, had been before, so no one really knew what to expect. What is it? It’s an area containing spectacular sedimentary sandstone rock formations protruding out of nothing. We were impressed.

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