Archive for the ‘Journeys’ Category

Day 3: Northern Kenya

We’re back in civilization, in Addis Ababa, after going off radar for a week, traveling up through Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia. Yes we were ragged and filthy, but it was phenomenal. Over the course of seven days, on one long, straight road, we passed through the lush foothills of Mt. Kenya, along escarpments looking out over the Great Rift Valley and crossed the equator. We crossed dry savanah and volcanic desert. In Ethiopia we climbed up and down through coffee-growing highlands scattered with beautiful grass huts and villages to taunts of children shouting “you you you!”

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Namibia campsite

We like to camp. We’ll gladly go into the backcountry for a week at a time, cook over an open flame and sleep on our inflatable sleeping mats. By the end, a soft mattress and hot shower is always in order. We have been on the trans-African Oasis truck for 73 days now and have slept on a soft(ish) mattress just seven times – thankfully we’ve showered a few more times than that! The other 66 sleeps have been on our inflatable sleeping mats in a heavy duty canvas tent. This is by far the longest stretch of camping we have ever done. It is also what is making this journey so memorable, not to mention affordable.

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The church in Livingstonia

Chitimba Beach was our next stop on Lake Malawi. Besides being a beautiful location on the northern end of the lake, it’s also a popular stop because of it’s proximity to Manchewe Falls and the community of Livingstonia. We were staying for two nights, so on the full day we decided to venture out on a guided walk to Livingstonia. It’s nearly 15 kilometres and 3000 vertical feet from Chitimba Beach, and there’s only one very rough road connecting it to the rest of the world. We headed out at 7:00am and psyched ourselves up for a long day.

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Gemsbok in the wild

After leaving the wineries of South Africa behind us, we crossed the border into Namibia and began to put some serious mileage behind us. On our first night in Namibia we were introduced to bush camping, which is something we’re going to be doing a lot of. Basically, the truck drives all day until the sun is dropping towards the horizon, and then finds a convenient spot off a side road to pull over and set up camp in the desert. We’ve bush camped three times so far, and they have all been in the most incredible settings, with bright moonlit nights. We’ve started to do yoga together regularly, and I have a hard time imagining a more peaceful setting: at our last bush camp, we did yoga in the middle of a vast desert landscape, while Barbara-Jeanne played music for us on her ukelele. The sun was setting in front of us, while the moon was rising huge and red behind us, and a distant lighting storm played along the horizon and the stars began to come out above us. Not bad at all.

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View from Table Mountain

After spending nearly a week in Cape Town, we’re finally on the open road, headed north over the great continent of Africa. Cape Town itself was great; the city is beautiful, and the setting is stunning. The part of the city that we stayed in is nestled between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. Table Mountain is so flat on top that it looks like the upper half of the mountain was simply sliced off and discarded. We rode the cable car to the top, and despite fierce winds and bitter cold, we enjoyed spectacular views off both sides of the mountain.

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Meet the truck

Life on board

Over the next 15 weeks we’ll get to know our fellow passengers intimately. We’ll be traveling together, cooking together, sleeping together, and even peeing together. There are 21 of us in total, plus Andi, our fearless leader, and Grant, our capable driver who built the truck with his very hands. So far everyone seems to be getting along just fine. As personalities start to reveal themselves, things could get interesting…

We’ll maintain the blog as best as we can whilst traveling Africa. So far, Internet is intermittent and slow, but we’ll do our best to document the journey for our own continued benefit and for the benefit of our new best friends.

In no particular order, allow me to introduce the Cape Town to Cairo 2010 truck:

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We made it!

It was a marathon: an 11 hour flight followed almost immediately by a 28 hour train ride. But the good news is that the flight was smooth and comfortable (kudos to Malaysia Airlines for making our first flight on these travels a pleasant one), and we had a 4 berth sleeper cabin all to ourselves for the whole train ride, so we arrived in Cape Town happy and relaxed. And now we’re in Africa! Even though we were in transit for over 40 hours, this is by far the fastest transition between continents for us yet, so it hasn’t completely sunk in. Tomorrow we should finally be meeting some of the people who are going on the overland trip with us, and we’re excited about that.

So that’s our update: we made it safely across the Indian Ocean and through Johannesburg. Hopefully that puts all of your minds at ease — and yes, parents, we’re talking to you :)

A long way down

Mark and I are at the KL airport waiting until it’s time for us to board our plane to Johannesburg. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow we will be in Africa. So fast! Our ocean legs on boats have given us time to acclimatize and mentally prepare. We’re feeling anxious. Although we’ll be crossing the Indian Ocean very quickly, this is going to be our longest stretch of continuous travel yet, or at least it’s going to feel like it. Our flight is an 11-hour red-eye. Once we land in Johannesburg, we’ll make our way to the train station to hop on the Shosholoza Meyl sleeper train to Cape Town. The train is supposed to take 26 hours. In total, it will probably be about 50 hours in-transit. Hope we make it!

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We downloaded a cool new app for our iPhone called “ShakeIt” (thanks to Lisa and Rob’s facebook recommendations). Now we can take polaroids as we go! It’s fun. So we documented our trip from Georgetown to Tanah Rata, since our trips are usually the stretches that get photographed the least. Enjoy!

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Coconuts in Cambodia

I’d like to start off by declaring it a huge honour to be given posting privileges by wewander hosts Mark and Meghan Gosen. For those who aren’t familiar, myself (Mike Davis is my birth name) and Sarah Davis (my begrudging wife) are long-time bridge partners of Mark and Meghan, turned friends. Since Mark and Meghan left the soils of North America, the friendship has made a transition to more of a stalk-er, stalk-ee relationship. Until February 17th…

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