Archive for June, 2010

Ahhhh, this is the life

Game drives through Africa’s many national parks have been some of the highlights of our overland journey. Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya offered yet another chance to get close with some of this continent’s most famous wild beasts, and it was one of the last parks that we’d be visiting. It didn’t disappoint! We spent about six hours driving through the park in 4x4s, spotting more zebras, buffalos, hyenas, and birds than you could shake a stick at. But two animals in particular were the highlight this time around: flamingoes and rhinos.


Lori and Mark

We arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, on June 16th, 54 days after leaving Cape Town on the Oasis Overland truck. Nairobi is the approximate halfway point of our journey through Africa, and we had a few days’ break in the city to do as we pleased. Fortunately for us, we were able to get in touch with my dad’s cousin Lori, who was just finishing several months of work in Nairobi. I’d never met Lori before, at least not since I was old enough to remember, and I was very excited to make a family connection so far from home.


maasai camels

While staying outside of Arusha, Tanzania, we had a chance to visit a nearby Maasai village, and to learn a little bit about their culture from our guide. We opted to ride a camel to the village instead of walk, simply because we’d never ridden camels before, and they were offered. It struck us after deciding this that we’d never actually seen any camels around the area before. There were plenty of donkeys and cows and other beasts of burden, but no camels. It turns out that the camels were brought in by the owners of our campsite specifically for tourists to ride on this tour. Authentic it was not, but fun it was! Luckily, the rest of our day proved to be much more informative and interesting, as we visited a small Maasai village, a snake-bite clinic, and a small museum on Maasai culture.


Pizza in Naples, Khmer curries in Cambodia, falafels in Egypt — tasting the local flavours is essential when traveling, in my mind. Although you can find pizza in Cambodia these days, it just seems so wrong. Sure, many a-time I have craved bread, coffee, beer, and occasionally even chocolate. It feels like I can’t go on without them. Yet I can go on without them; I do get on without them. And it’s really not so hard.

Life on the truck is different in that we are cooking for ourselves. Three meals a day. The passengers are divided up into ‘cook groups’ of three. These groups rotate through a 7-day cycle so that you only have to cook once every seven days. The groups operate autonomously. Andi gives us some money and then we are on our own to plan, shop and execute our three meals. This can be easier said than done.


It’s World Cup time! Although we’re not in South Africa, it’s still exciting for us to be in Africa — the buzz is felt throughout. We’ve started a World Cup pool on the truck, which makes watching the games more interesting, especially since there is no Canadian team. Our picks were drawn at random. We’ve got Slovenia, Mexico and Ivory Coast. Go Ivory Coast!

So many photos…

We’ve just finished uploading six new albums on our Photos page. Head on over to see our pictures from Namibia (cheetahs and Etosha National Park), Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls and lions), Malawi (school visits and hiking), and Tanzania (Zanzibar and the Ngorongoro Crater).

The dawn of the Crater

The Ngorongoro (ph. Korong-goro) Crater is a magical land where a plethora of wildlife coexist inside a spectacular natural enclosure. It is like a massive real-life snow globe, minus the snow. From the top of the steep jungled-walls you can see the entire circular play pen below. The crater is now over 2 million years old, formed after the walls of a dormant volcano fell in on themselves. It’s a unique ecosystem of flora and fauna and somewhere that’s been very high on my ‘must-see’ list for a long while.



Stone Town street

The name alone sounds exotic. Zanzibar. It’s off of the coast of Tanzania, and is reached by ferry from the city of Dar es Salaam. It’s actually two islands, Unguja and Pemba, which are collectively referred to as Zanzibar. The majority of visitors head for the beach resorts and the fabulous old city of Stone Town on Unguja, which is exactly where we went for four nights away from the big yellow truck. It was a nice change of pace for us; we were independent travelers once again.


Fire! Fire! Fire!

A few nights ago, after a very long day on the road, we pulled off in to the bush to set up camp. It was already after sunset, and darkness was fast setting in. Everyone scrambled to set up their tents as quickly as possible, and cook group went to work on dinner. Meg and Steph headed off a ways to do some yoga, and the rest of us started to unwind a little. Just as we were finally starting to relax, we heard Meg’s voice faintly yelling from a distance: “Fire! Fire! Fire!” At first we had no idea what she was on about, but a few of us walked around the truck to where her voice was coming from. We saw Steph and Meg coming back through the bush towards us, and an orange glow quickly brightening in the distance, about 100 metres from the truck. There was a fire in the bush! Andi and Grant went to check it out more closely, and I climbed on the roof of the truck to try and assess the size. The flames spanned a stretch of about 20 metres or more, and it seemed to be moving quite quickly. The area in which we were set up was completely overgrown with tall, dry grass, and the wind was blowing hard. Luckily for us, the wind was taking the fire to the left of us, but we’d already noticed a couple of shifts in the wind earlier that evening. We decided that we needed to evacuate, and quickly: even though the fire wasn’t coming directly towards us, it was making its way across our exit path, and would soon cut us off from the road. Tents came down lightning quick, and food was carried still in the pots into the back of the truck. We all piled in, and made it safely out to the road. The fire glowed in the distance behind us as we drove on, looking for a new site for the night. It was a surprising bit of excitement, and I think we were all lucky that Meg and Steph spotted it early from their yoga location. I guess yoga club saves lives!

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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