"Callie on Tour"
As most of you know, travelling is my favourite hobby.
This blog will tell you about my exciting travels: great experiences, impressions and adventures that came across my travels.
True memories - Enjoy :-)
For fotos please go to www.privatepro.ch/callie
Zambia 22. - 24.11.2008
Posted at 02:07, 22 November 2008 in Southern Africa
22.11.08 Kasane - Livingstone (Zambia)
The other side of the Zambesi river then has again a line full of trucks and vehicles to go across the other side. So a very busy area, hot and humid... and I was really glad to be here with a group! We all got the passport stamped (and Visas if required), but then it took 2 hours to get the administrative paperwork done for the bus we travel. So we waited patiently.
After a short drive then we reached our final destination: Livingstone. Now... I did not expect a huge city, however this is not at all what I thought Livingstone would look like. It is a one-street city, meaning there is one main street with some kind of funny looking shops (for us from the 1st world they look like storage shacks...). Very dusty, quite smelly... and that is it!
We ate lunch at the hotel, strolled up and down the street and I then updated this blog before we then left to drive down to the main attraction here: the Victoria Falls! Now... just in time for that it again started to rain really hard. But the biggest disappointment: at this time of the year the Falls are dry on the Zambia side! So all you see is the steep canyon/gorge, with the 100m wall where the water normally would fall down. Bugger!!! The only water we had coming down was from the sky, and we all got soaking wet - even with the raingear...
So instead of having a nice sunset dinner at the Zambesi river, we had to go back to the hotel to change and then went back to the restaurant in the dark. But by then everyone was already in a quite good party-mood, and the evening/night become another huge dancing party... Good fun!
It rained all night, but luckily just in time it stopped in the morning. So off to do some crazy adrenalin-pumping stuff: Bungy-Jumping, Flying Fox and Gorge Swing over the Victoria Falls Gorge... Now I have done Bungy and Flying Fox before, but still loved it - it is the 2nd highest jump in the world with 111m! But then the Gorge Swing - holy malony - now that is the best thing EVER! You jump from the same platform as for Bungy, but instead of just going down and up, you freefall first and then swing back and forth in the narrow gorge. ASSUME!!!
I was all shaking from excitement.
As Livingstone does not really offer to much... (like nothing...), I then spent the rest of the day hanging around in the hotel. Nice to just do nothing... It again started to rain in the afternoon, so watching TV after 3 weeks was a welcomed distraction ;-)
This evening then we had our Farewell Dinner at the hotel. Last time of African feeling, as it took them hours to serve us... But we still had a lot of fun together - also afterwards when we sang a self-created farewell song to our guide and driver. Crazy little group this is ;-)
Some good-bye drinks at the bar, and then off to bed.
24. - 25.11.08 Livingstone - home.....
Some of the group still have a few days in Livingstone, but the majority of us left around lunchtime to the airport and flew to Johannesburg. For some of us it was really hard to say good-bye... lots of tears and emotions...!
For three of us the stay-over in Johannesburg was very long, so our guide organized a little shopping tour in a huge mall for us. So us girls strolled around the stores - not really buying a lot, but just enjoying time away from the airport.
And back at the airport we had another little dinner before it was then time to finally say good-bye to each other (yes, more tears and emotions ;-)
Yes, and the rest was just a looooooooong travelling time, with to much time at airports...
But back home I had a nice surprise, as my little beloved niece and nephew were awaiting me with HUGE smiles, big laughs and even bigger HUGS... ahhhh felt so good ;-)
Botswana 17. - 22.11.2008
Posted at 04:11, 15 November 2008 in Southern Africa
17.11.08 Gobabis - Maun (Botswana)
After the border crossings, the roads changed to kamikaze driving. Cattle, donkeys and horses all over the place, running off into the street without warnings. A real challenge for our driver, but he managed very well. Also, Botswana is very careful about the Foot-and-Mouth desease, so we regularly had to stop, get outside and walk through some kind of antiseptic stuff to clean the shoes. Which is always a funny experience, as the oh so busy African guards are just hanging around and couldn't care less :-)
Arriving in Maun then changed the mentality we had seen up to now. Here now this is really african style living. Very busy streets, buildings and shacks in not so good shape anymore, and now more coloured and black people than white. Which for me is a little stressy, as they always want to touch my blonde hair.... But in the group we are safe, so we all went to change money and do the big shopping for the next 2 days camping in the Okavango Delta. Water, water, water, beer beer beer - and sunscreen :-)
The hotel then a very nice surprise, swimming pool and a nice little bar. We all chilled out first, then packed our daybags for the next days to come.
18. - 20.11.08 Okavango Delta (southeast part at end of Boro River)
From the hotel we left early in the morning by 4WD over sandy bumpy ways from Maun to the village of the Polers. Polers being the people that push the Mokoro boots, the wooden barkboats where you actually lie in. It was so relaxing to sit back and slowly make a way through the high grassy water.
And guess what: all of a sudden you would here a loud "pfffscht" and Hello Hyppo!!!
Our camping spot was on a little island surrounded by the waters of the Okavango Delta. We spent the days walking to spot wildlife (yes guys, again 5am!!!). But it was soooooo worthwile. We got very close to Zebras, Gnus, Baboons (Paviane) and Antilopes, and there was a huge heard of 20 Girafes passing us, whilst another group of Elephants crossed their way. Our guide (a little crazy I admit) then took us around the bush against the wind, and WOW...! we met up with the Elefants like 10m before us. Now THAT was scary, as the Elefant in front did the ear-waving and lifted his trunk to warn us... Well, we RAN...!!! But hey, what an experience.
So after that swimming in the Delta with the Hyppos somewhere in the farer end was just a relaxing little adventure ;-)
We enjoyed the days out there, sitting in the camp, relaxing, chatting, playing games with the polers, eating good food the guide carefully prepared - and sleeeeeeping. The weather here was always cloudy and lots of thunder in the background. Luckily however we did not get any rain (yet)... And the sunset - oh my - just beautiful!
On the 20.11. then we had to break-down camp. In Maun at the hotel we took a very nice and long shower, repacked everything and then went to lunch to "Nando's", South Africans answer to McDonalds. Afterwards we made our way to north to Gweta, another of these 3-house villages in the nowwhere :-) Our lodge again a funny place (Planet Baobab), clay huts spread out in a huge park-looking area full of really huge and old Baobab Trees. We took pictures in front of the tree, but you can hardly see us, these trees are extremely big!
Another time at the bar, the pool - another hours without electricity (we have gotten used to that by now... this is Africa). But we had time to do some laundry and dry it in the rain... ehm not!!! Well - over night the hotel then had power and offered to dry our stuff in their dryer...
Funny story here... the area of that lodge is so big, and their pathways so confusing... after dinner we got lost and did not find our room for 1 freeking hour!!! Now imagine lots of little creepy night-active animals, only a little flashlight, rain and humidity.... not very funny when you are tired...
21.11.08 Gweta - Kasane
After finally having found the hut we slept like dead bodies... all of us, so that we all got up to late and the guide was not to happy as we then were late for leaving. Oh well...
A long travel day through interesting roads, full of holes - and I meen big holes. So again a stressful day for our driver. In Nata a quick stop to get food which we as usual ate on the bus to gain time. Driving through the Makgadikgadi Pan National Park offered a huge flat area of land (size of Switzerland), and the road just as straight as it can be. But more interesting all the animals on the street, from Storchs to Marabus to Vultures (Aasgeier) next to a dead Zebra up to a real Elefant just walking along the street!!!
It then started to rain VERY HARD! So the Chobe activities unfortunately got cancelled, as the Zambesi River is to dangerous in this rain-storms. But going shopping in a muddy, flooded little African village is quite a fun challenge too - really hope I will ever get my feet clean again, as every time you had to cross the street you sank into muddy stinky water up to your ankles... lekker!
So the rest of the afternoon then we spent enjoying the lodge (again cute huts) this time directly on the Zambesi River, where a little Hyppo amused us. Some beers, good food - and that is just a good way of living ;-)
22.11.08 Kasane - Livingstone (Zambia)
Directly after Kasane we had to get in line for the border crossing to Zambia. Now the guide warned us, that the Kazungula Ferry-crossing could take a while, but we were very fortunate and got to cross the river immediately. An adventurous trip I have to say...
Namibia 07. - 17.11.2008
Posted at 05:16, 10 November 2008 in Southern Africa
07.11.08 Gariep to Aus
Again a long days drive on dirt roads (gravel roads) throuth the Ai-Ais National Park. But the landscape is now very dry and deserted, only the mountains of the Huib Hoch Plateau striking out. Here we walked along the 2nd largest Canyon in the world, the Fish River Canyon - impressive and interesting with all the mineral layers, where the river has carved his way through.
We spotted a beautiful coloured Oryx, a large antilope with long horns - impressive! With music from a German radio station in the bus we stopped at a farm for lunch in the Gondwana Canon Park. Interesting enough, most people here are white or coloured, rarely black. This goes back to history with German ancestors settling down here in Namibia.
After driving all afternoon (in the end along the train tracks with a stop in Goageb) we arrived in the middle of nowhere: Aus. Again, a few houses make a village... Our camp in the "Klein Aus View" was called Geister Schlucht, and was situated within some boulder-hills, in the middle of the desert. Very scenic, very beautiful sunset - but very windy! We even spotted the wild horses they have here.
Dinner was then back in the Bahnhof Hotel Aus (hi hi hi... funny), but then back at the camp the guide started a nice camp fire and we sat around talking and drinking. Two of us finally decided to sleep outside - WOW!!!!! Millions of stars in the sky - very very special!
08.11.08 Aus to Namib Desert
Today we hit the Namib Desert - again very dry yellow gras landscape with the Blackback Mountain range in the horizon. Two jackals crossed our way, nicely striped. We also looked at a Nest of the Social Weaver Birds, huge nests they build on the tree branches. We drove over the Yaris Hochpass at 1'750m and enjoyed the scenery.
The long travel days give us enough time to catch up on sleep... so in the evenings we are ready to relax and have fun. This night was in the Nubib Nature Camp, again a farmer that built very cute huts in the mittle of nowhere. He took us out for a Nature Game Drive and we spotted Springboks, Oryx and birds - but only saw the leopards footprints, no life one yet...
I took advantage of the quiet area and again slept outside - its just wonderful to hear all the little noises under the stars. At 3am I just had to keep my eyes open and "catch the falling stars"!
09.11.08 Sossusvlei / Sisriem to Naukluft Mountains
A very early start today as we drove into the famous Sossusvlei red Dunes. At Dune 45 we started our climb up (ca. 150m in the sand - puh!) to then have lots of fun - and burnt feet - when running down again! We are a fun crazy little group!
With a 4WD we drove into the Sossuvlei Pan and got the impression of what it means to burn in the very hot desert... No thanks!
A little further the Sisriem Canyon then offered some shade, baboons again and an interesting little canyon with funny rock formations. Sisriem meaning 6 strings from top to the bottom where the water is.
The later afternoon then another great surprise - a superbe lodge (Namib Desert Lodge) with a swimming pool! You can imagine that it took as only seconds to get changed and jump into the cool waters! And with that started a long beer-drinking and fun shit-talking crazy evening (we are busy learning Africaans swearing words ;-) And we even saw some animals coming to the water hole in front of the bar!
10.11.08 Naukluft Mountains to Swakopmund
Apfelstrudel in lively Solitaire - another German remaing ;-) We drove on and crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, which I by now have already crossed multiple times on different continents, quite funny actually. On the way we stopped at some scenic places, as the landscape changed from the flat desert to a canyon-like mountain range (Carp Cliff at the Kusep River). Coming closer to the coastline we then entered the Skeleton Coast, a flat desert with nothing but yellow sanddunes.
A short stop in Walfish Bay to have lunch offered to put the feet into the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, before we then entered Swakopmund. First thing to do here is book all kind of activities. I chose Skydiving for tomorrow - yippie!
Now to tell you about Skydiving I actually just need 2 words: SO GEIL! (aehm... fuc...good). Even thou the jump was postponed, as Swakopmund often has a fog in the morning, so I only jumped in the late afternoon. But that gave me the time to stroll around the little city, shop a little and have a look at the curios market (local wood carving things).
But the jump... Once they dressed you and fixed your harness, your buddy does some little training on how exactly to "behave". Then a tiiiiiny little plane took six of us up to 10'000 feet. Slowly my stomach gets nervous in a cool way! And then... then they open the planes side, your buddy pushes you over the edge of the plane and for some seconds you are just hanging there in the nothing. Last moment for regrets - but not me... I was ready! So then the best moment of all: 30 sec of FREE FALL: Thats Namibia Life (our motto...). Oh what a feeling. The buddy then pulls the rope, and as we fall smoother, I was even able to fly the parachute by myself - doing some fun turns and swirls to get that stomache feeling going!
In the evening we all came together for dinner and some drinks to share the adventures. We also met up with some Township guys which some of us visited in the afternoon. A long party night full of great fun and laughter!
12.11.08 Swakopmund - Damaraland
After all that partying, a travel day on the bus was most welcome! We passed the Koenigstein, Namibias highest mountain (2'573m) and entered the Damaraland. Here now we met some typical African tribes, the Himba women (ocker skin, bare breasts and wearing some leather/straw things). And the Herero women dressed in long colourful dresses with a funny-looking hat. They honestly just live in a shatter on the street, selling puppets and making money from fotos the tourists take... The men then sell precious stones that they are mining themselves in the area.
We stopped in Twyfelfountain, a place looking like the Devil's Marbles in Australia! In the boulder-rocks there's rock paintings of African animals dated 5'000 or 6'000 years back. It was a damned hot walk... a wind blowing like a hot hairdryer!
Another stop was at a Petrified Forest, where some old trees from previous years were up to 45m - and now have turned to stone due to some kind of process...
After that hot and dry dusty day we all again were very excited to have a little pool at the lodge. African lodges are just so high in standard, I am really having a luxury trip here with GAP in comparison to other GAP trips of the same level. Enjoying it however ;-)
13.11.08 Damaraland - Etosha National Park
Leaving the Damaraland with a stop in Outjo to shop all we need for an African Brai (BBQ), we then head North towards Etosha. Meanwhile the landscape changed from rocks and yellow gras to smaller trees and huge termite hills. We entered the Etosha National Park and it did not take long to already spot some great wildlife at a waterhole: Oryx (still my favourite), Springboks, Zebras and Jackals took turns to drink. It is really funny to watch, as all groups of animals just patiently wait for the other group to finish, and only when that group has left, the other group moves in. Wouldn't it be great if we human beings could be so patient???
On the way to our camp in Halali we were looking out for more wildlife, but did not see anymore exciting animals (the springbok by now is common...). At the camp then a new taste of this trip, as we had to put our own tents up. Quite easy to do, but in this heat still a hot task. But again - there was a wonderful pool, and after setting up camp we all cooled off in the clear poolwater with an even cooler drink in hand - ahhhhh, thats a holiday ;-)
In the evening the GAP guide and driver worked their bum off and made an absolutely great African Brai (BBQ) for us. Mhhh, steaks from the grill, my favourite!!! For those who know what camping means, they can appreciate what it is like to just hang around the fireplace, chat, drink and enjoy the stars - and oh yes: the full moon....
Around midnight some of us then went to the waterhole that is lit up to check if any animals made it there. And WOW: the white rhino was just drinking water. What a huge animal. But it even got better; as soon as the rhino left the scene, a trumpet signal in the dark could be heard, and 2 min later the elephants marched in! Oh man, just assume, 11 animals of all sizes. And they enjoyed the water, you could actually hear them sucking it in with their trunks. They also played with each other and we just watched them for a loooong assume time.
14.11.08 Etosha National Park
Short night, early rise to go on a game drive (safari). A special open vehicle took all of us around the waterholes to spot animals. However... I did not really enjoy it so much today, the hot wind when driving is so dry, and with all the dust and lack of sleep - was hard on all of us. Nevertheless we very much enjoyed seeing Giraffes, Zebras, Wildebeest (Gnus), birds of all kind up to the Ostrich, Antilopes of all kind and the warthog (Warzenschwein).
Back at the camp then another cooling off in the pool with relaxing sunbathing at the poolside. Yes, even thou the sun is shining every day, I have not yet been able to work on my tan ;-)
Dinner we then took in the campgrounds restaurant, but more important was the visit at the waterhole again. Just in time again for the Rhinos, 5 of them this time, incl. a little one, so cute! All humans watching them sit quietly there and watch, and the animals do not seem to mind us behind the fence. Once in a while they check the scene, but mainly because of other predators, not us.
Now my favourite moment then: Lions! Yes, 3 of them made it slowly down to the waterhole - with a short interaction as the rhinos left. Fun to watch!
15.11.08 Etosha National Park - Windhoek
I slept like a baby after all the wildlife excitement. In the morning - by the way, EARLY mornings we do here, so 5 am getting up!!! Can you imagine me being up and even fit at that time??? Now that should actually tell you how much I am enjoying this trip ;-)
Well we took the tents down, cleared camp and left for Windhoek. So a very long welcomed travel day to catch up on sleep. A few stops on the way, but nothing more.
Arrived in Windhoek at 4pm, where my first mission was to update this blog ;-) So now I am off for a nice hotel shower and then a group dinner, as we here loose some colleagues and also gain new people to the group for the next part of the tour.
After the group dinner in a very funny touristy german-beerhouse-like place (with great steaks at a bargain price!) we had a Namibian/Portuguese party at the hotel, as they celebrated their religious San Martin holiday... There was really good party-music, so we danced and partied until early hours!
16.11.08 Windhoek - Gobabis (Kalahari)
Finally we did get a day to sleep in - ahhhhhh. But guess what, at 8am I was up already, seems to be the habit lately to get up so early... A short stop at the shopping center to have breakfast (don't really need to buy anything), and then we left for Gobabis in the Kalahari desert. Quite a boring driving today, the landscape being the same all the time - so sleeping in the bus has become a habit :-)
But we arrived quite early at our lodge and - oh my god! - like in the movie Out of Africa this lodge offered little huts with view into the wilderness, where Gnus, Antilopes and other animals just walked across! We just sat outside of the huts, enjoying cool drinks while the African Wildlife paid a visit.
Later in the afternoon then an excursion: go to visit the real (?) bushman. Now if you have ever seen the movie "The Gods must be crazy" - this is the people from that movie!!! The funny clicking talking again, the way they move to copy the animals (and we had to guess what they were) - it was actually a very entertaining and social event, that I really liked. We only could talk to the chief, as only he spoke a little English, as for the others it was sign-language. And with the kids, oh, just lovely... a little tickle here and there and they would giggle and play with us. Really a good experience!
Back at the camp then they grilled a lamb on the open fire for dinner (they actually burnt it in the fire...), we sat around the fire eating and watching the wildlife around us again. Now.... this is the 'nice' wildlife, but I also have to mention all the creeeeeeepy things in the little huts. Not just spiders, no: MEGA spiders, scorpions, bugs in size of a hand... flying - buzzing all around. Aaarghhh... But hey, that's AFRICA LIFE!
17.11.08 Gobabis - Maun (Botswana)
A long travel day ahead of us, 620 km to Maun in Botswana. The border controls went smooth, everyone from the group got through without a problem. You just have to be patient... african way ;-)
South Africa 02. - 06.11.2008
Posted at 05:01, 10 November 2008 in Southern Africa
02. - 04.11.08 Cape Town
It's a long flight to the Southern tip of Africa, and after landing at midnight, a thunderstorm gave me the first impression of what they call a "slight shower"! A good night sleep and the next day: off to discover Cape Town...
First in the morning I met Simone (German) who will also be on the GAP tour. We decided to together grasp a look over the city from the Table Mountain. A Swiss cablecar took us up into the clouds at 1'086m. So... nothing to see in the fog really :-( But one has to be patient... all of a sudden it cleared and we could enjoy the spectacular view over the city with the Waterfront and the beaches, the suburbs and all the way to the Cape of good hope.
The afternoon then we booked a tour to the Cape, passing some beautiful beaches with good-looking surfing guys ;-) But you know me... more interested in my dear Penguins, so was all excited to see the "Jackass Penguins" at Boulders Beach near Simons Town. The landscape here is really worth seeing: rough ocean spraying over the rocks, picturesque and colourful houses in the little villages and white sandy beaches in between.
We then entered the Cape of Good Hope Natural Reserve and were lucky to already here see Ostriches (Strausse), Baboons (Paviane), Antilopes and Zebras! What a treat :-) Of course we also climbed Cape Point and of course we took the "must-do" picture at the Cape of Good Hope sign.
In the evening for the first time we did not really feel to save - two blond women walking in the streets... did not feel to good. But we found a nice little restaurant, had dinner and then made a quick way back to the hotel.
Next day then was very sunny and warm. With another girl from GAP, Emma (Aussie) we strolled along the city-sights down to the Waterfront. Now, modern Shopping Malls everywhere don't really put me into the African feeling, and you can only guess how hard it was for me not to shop... my backpack is full, and the trip has only just started!
But Cape Town is such a beautiful city, it is really great to walk around and look at the diversity of all the buildings. By the way, there is quite some construction going on because of the 2010 Soccer World Championship. The new stadion has a prime location right on the beach!
In the evening then we had the GAP Welcome Meeting, where a competent guide gave us first information on what the next three weeks will be like. I am really looking forward to it!
We all went for a common dinner to get to know each other - my family for the next three weeks :-)
05.11.08 Cape Town to Lambert's Bay
With a very comfortable little tour bus our group of 13 plus driver and guide took off now for the GAP Tour Delta, Dunes and Falls. The group is a great mix of nationalities (Aussies, USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Portugal and South Africa). After a short ride we left Cape Town via the wineyards (with a little wine tasting of course...) into the area called Svartsland. I am amazed by all these Dutch or German names - clearly showes the history here. A long drive on this 1st day all the way up to Lambert's Bay, where we had the chance to go out to a birds refuge to see some Cape Gonnets (almost like the Boobies in Galapagos ;-)
Dinner was then directly on the beach in a funny place called "Muisbooskerm": lots of dishes freshly prepared - unfortunately mostly fishy stuff....
06.11.08 Lambert's Bay to Gariep (Namibia)
Next day again a long travelday - already on some dirtroads shaking us up a little. The Namakwa land now has hills of granite and sandstone, and with the yellow, dry gras it is quite scenic. Once in a while we saw Ostriches and Springboks!
In the afternoon we already left South Africa and crossed the border over the Oranje River to Namibia. Shortly behind the border was our next lodge, a super duper lodge (Felix Unite) right on river, with luxurious huts on top of the hill offering a wonderful view over the river. Soon after, all took off in Kanu's to fight the strong wind and the currents. Really funny! At the open air bar then the thirst had to be killed with some beers (oh yes, I can do beer... believe me!), and a lush outside evening again gave us the chance to get to know each other.
The group is cool, and the standard of this GAP Tour amazing luxurious! I am enjoying it totally. Our South African Guide and Driver not only do their job very well, but they are also good fun to hang around with and learn about Southern Africa.
Southern Africa Travel Plan: 02.11. - 25.11.2008
Posted at 02:07, 29 October 2008 in Southern Africa
GAP Tour: Dunes, Deltas and Falls Discoverer
Highlights: Fish River Canyon, Namib Desert, Sossusvlei, Cape Cross, Swakopmund, Etosha Pan National Park, Kalahari, Maun, Chobe National Park, Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls, Cape Town, Windhoek