This stage of our 8 week adventure started with a flight from Windhoek in Namibia, down to Johannesburg and then finally flying into Entebbe in Uganda. Not much to do in Entebbe but overnighted at the charming Karibu Guest House which was a nice place to relax and explore their Botanic Gardens.
We then flew for an hour out of Entebbe to Mweya and stayed one night at Mweya Safari Lodge. Our main activity was a sunset cruise on the Kazinga Channel in the Queen Elizabeth National Park which is home to crocs, hippos and birdlife. The lodge had a comfy bar with a 70kg pair of tusks from a bygone era.
The following day was an interesting drive to Ishasha Bush Camp which involved some pretty rough and slow going 4wd roads. First stop along the way was chimpanzee trekking in the very pretty and forested Chamburu Gorge which is about 16km long and home to about 30 chimpanzee. This was 50/50 whether we would find them. The walk was very pleasant roaming around tracks and coming very close to pods of hippo in the river which was good viewing in pursuit of the chimps. After about 2 hours walking our guide found 3 on a track which allowed us to follow by foot. They move fast so we were scrambling along the trails behind them. Soon they had connected with about 12 more. Great experience given how hard it is to find them. Then on to Ishasha Bush Camp which is an upscale tented camp with a great African feel on a fast flowing Ntungwe river. Spent 2 nights here and a full day of game viewing in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Pretty park and the highlight was spotting 2 cheetah and the commotion it caused so many animals all warning each other they were on the move.
Leaving Ishasha behind we headed to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for a 3 night stay at Buhoma Lodge. Wonderful treetop lodge with a great feel and staff. Went on a community walk which included coffee grinding demonstration and banana gin making process with an old local Henry. Then up the hill to visit a pygmy village which is where some got relocated from the forest. Pretty miserable existence but they seemed happy.
Day 2 of our stay was the gorilla trek which involved a very scenic but steep 90 minute climb up one of the hills. Fortunately they were easily found in the forest once at the top so had a great experience viewing them eating and moving about. Joy’s trip highlight.
Our final day was a 3hr trek to the waterfall which was a very pretty walk thru rainforest to a decent set of falls. Huge thunder and lightening storm mid afternoon which was refreshing. A great location for a few days, excellent lodge, some good people to chat to around a coals fire in the evening and of course the gorillas.
Arrival into Zanzibar was shitful when we missed a connection and spent 8 hours in Nairobi airport between midnight and 7.30am. Finally arrived to a very quaint arabic influenced Stone Town. Staying at Mizingani Seafront Hotel which is very attractive and historic in its design. Stone Town is a bit rundown but that is part of the charm of the myriad of narrow alleyways busy with a mix of tourist and normal daily living. Great to walk around. Waterfront has been rebuilt and very vibrant at night with eating markets making a good cheap choice to enjoy the sunset and all the activity of locals diving into the ocean.
The first of our two fulldays was spent exploring the alleyways finding two good coffee shops in Puzzleword and Zanzibar Coffee House. The second was has great staff and pick of the bunch. Visited the slavery exhibit which was hugely interesting to understand the brutal past and also strolled past Freddie Mercuries house where he spent his first 8 years.
Our final day here was spent further wandering the streets, visited the local food and market, some more historic buildings and then had my 60th birthday dinner at the new Hyatt hotel.
The last few days of the trip were spent on Kendwa Beach on the north east coast of Zanzibar. Great water and the whitest of sand.
The Self Drive Adventures 31 day trip through Namibia and Botswana started in Windhoek Namibia staying at Londiningi Guest House where we spent the first couple of days getting cars and filling the car with provisions.
Day 3 we got moving and headed to Ghanzi which is about 500km toward Botswana border and drove through part of the Kalahari desert. Stayed the night at Tautona Lodge and immediately upgraded to this room. A bit soft we know!
Day 4 was another bitumen leg of 290km to get us into Botswana and camped in Maun at Audi Campsite. Terry had mechanical problems with his gear box which luckily was easily fixed by a mechanic.The afternoon involved an exciting flight over Okavango Delta.
Day 5 was much excitement as we entered Moremi National Park in Botswana which involved 4wd mode through some sandy conditions and spent two nights camping and game viewing. Camp site was called Third Bridge which was great with showers, shop and plenty of nightlife to avoid. Stay in your tents!! 4 elephants wandered straight through our camp site one evening and then back around our site later that night under a full moon. Later that night a couple of lions were around camp as we could hear their noise as well as some other animals looking for food. Very special.
Day 6 was a full day of game viewing from Third Bridge with our super experienced guide Duncan. Game included leopard, elephant, zebra and others. Elusive lion not spotted here. In the afternoon while we were out viewing a few elephants wandered into camp, had a dust bath and then hung around until later that night. Exciting stuff having animals wandering around so close and reinforces not to get out of the camper at night!!
Day 7 we had an exciting 80 km 4wd trip over to Khwai Conservancy for 2 nights without any facilities. Drive included 2 river crossings and some challenging sandy road. An elephant was in the camp site when we arrived. During dinner a hyena strolled past us a few meters away while eating. A bit of a fright!
Day 8 was another slow going dusty and fun 4wd section of about 90km. Lots of sand and a couple of bogged cars to pass getting to Savuti campsite inside Chobe National Park.Day 9 spent on safari in Chobe involved another leopard spotting, elephant and 1200 year old boab tree.
Day 10, 11 and 12 were first a transition day from Savuti to Kasane, from there we spent 2 nights at the beautiful Victoria Falls Hotel, visited the magnificanet Victoria Falls and ended the day with a sunset cruise on the Zambezi. Daryl got very sick and had to pumped with all sorts of drips and injections in a 24 hour period to get him going.
More shots of the hotel and the merry group on the sunset cruise.
Day 12 included the drive back to Kasane for our sunset cruise which delivered a great spectacle of around 60 elephants walking along the river as we passed.
Day 13 and 14 involved leaving Botswana behind and a drive back into Namibia to Divundu which was about 450km to a unique and quirky tree house camp site called Ngepi. Great spot to relax for a day before continuing this great trip.
The following day 15 was a 500km trip mostly on bitumen to Grashoek to visit and stay at the traditional bushman Ju/Hoansi and visit their museum and participate in activities of their traditional life. A good fun event with Guido and Daryl partly making a bow and arrow and then “hunting”. Day 16 was a transition day to get us to Onguma via Groetfontein and resupply if needed. Very comfortable camp site at Onguma with some animal watching at their restaurant waterhole.
Days 17 and 18 were spent in Etosha National Park working our way through it at our own pace and exploration. A terrific park and spotted our only lion but from about 300m away! excellent game viewing of herds of giraffe, elephant, zebra, oryx and on it went. Spent the second night at Okaukuejo Camp and witnessed a great nights viewing at their floodlit waterhole which presented, elephant, giraffe, rhino and a few other smaller animals. Excellent setting and great to see the rhino.
Day 19 was an exciting day of 4wd as we left Etosha. Spotted some rhino in the distance so tried to access them but they scampered away. Our destination was KhowaribWaterfall Camp and the day was around 200km with much of it in 4wd. The ride into the camp after Etosha was great fun as we travelled down wide, dry, sandy riverbeds with the scenery changing a lot. Very interesting drive and great fun when a number of cars raced through the section Dave bogged in at the start. Scenery covered in last 50km or so was outstanding.
If Day 19 was fun then Day 20 was just even better. Not a long day as it was about 110km to the most amazing and desolate Armspoort Camp or Daves Camp. Along the way we stopped at Khowarib pre-school to meet the teacher and kids and drop some donations. Everyone very excited with the kids singing some songs for us. Then we headed off another exciting day of 4wd traversing ever changing landscape until arrival at our moonscape camp sit. Another great day!!
Day 21 travelled through some very variable dry landscape and finished winding our way down a very pretty river that required about 90 crossings. Very shallow but heaps of fun and pretty. Raced an ostrich at 40kmh. Dropped in at the Manchester United bar for a longneck beer. Staying at Puros tonight which is a shady camp spot with elephant roaming near by. Went on an evening search for desert adapted elephant and also stopped in at a traditional Himba community. A very meagre existence for people to choose in 2018… but happy I assume.
Day 22 and Day 23 were remote slow going 4wd (100km each day) driving in very barren rocky terrain. Very gritty, shaley 4wd driving and moving through some very desolate dry country south down Crowthers Trail. Camped in the middle of what was effectively the desert on a very windy cold evening. Great fun around the camp fire in middle of nowhere.Day 23 a relatively short drive but very slow going through some gnarly rocky trail that was ripe for causing punctures. Fortunately none happened. Again the country and hills kept changing from grassy plains to shaley mountains to vistas with significant mountains in the distance. Saw elephant and giraffe on the way to Palmwag Lodge. Stayed in some comfortable canvass huts overlooking a drinking hole, complete with elephant.
Day 24 was about 170km through the Valley of Desolation which was exactly that. Very stark, dry country that was again spectacular. Headed south through slow going tracks moving between high and low range 4wd. Guido got our one and only flat tyre. Tiring drive but plenty of variation to take in. Camped in a riverbed surrounded by mountains. Great camp site, 5 dampers were cooked, music playing and the drinkers drinking.
Day 25 was a continuation south to Swakopmund (270km) which started with the most amazing gorge/riverbed drive looking at the most stunning geography and geology. Slow going on rough rocky tracks. Great to arrive at our destination and shower and relax. Stopped at 2500 year old welwitschia tree and at at Cape Cross Seal colony and quick visit to a ship wreck.
Day 26 and 27 were rest days in and around Swakopmund and stayed at Meikes Guest House. Time included wandering around town, drinking coffee at a good coffee shop and of course dinners. Also had a great morning of quad biking and viewing 2500 year old skeletons people, whales and other animals and footprints of elephant, rhino , lion etc. Very interesting history and exciting to race around the dunes on quads.
Day 28 travelled to Sesriem; the home of the Sossusvlei Namib-Naukluft National Park red dunes which were viewed evening and morning of Day 29. Along the way we drove through Kuiseb canyon and Bad Lands, stopped at Tropic of Capricorn and at Solitaire for an apple pie at McGregors. A popular must do stop.
Morning shots of the dunes.
Day 29 was a short 120km day from Sesriem to a magic rocky camp site called Namibgrens. On the way a very steep Spreetshoogte Pass had to be driven with gradients greater than 20% all the way. A good challenge for Joy.
And then our trip finished on Day 30 with a drive back into Windhoek. A brilliant trip led by Dave Van Graan and outstanding itinerary put together by Self Drive Adventures. Every day on this trip was outstanding. Cant wait for the next African adventure.
Arrived Cape Town 18 June to start a significant African adventure covering Namibia, Botswana, Uganda and Zanzibar.
Staying in a very cute restored farmhouse in the middle of the city which has been restored by a French couple who have created a traditional French provincial experience. Hotel is called La Grenadine Petit Hotel.
First couple of days exploring included a stroll through the Bo-Kaap district with distinct coloured house of the cape malay people, a city walking tour and then a visit to the oldest vineyard of Groot Constantia.
Our next day was a day of understanding more about apartheid, forced removals such as District 6 and the history of Robben Island.
A day of starting at the Saturday markets , followed by a visit to the super impressive Zeitz art Museum and ending at Kirstenbosch gardens where they spent 50 years eradicating all the plant life that did not fit. Impressive vision and stunning gardens and backdrop.
Perfect day for a tour of the Cape in our rented car. Very easy place to drive so off we set for the most stunning coast and mountain scenery.
Sunset on Signal Head very spectacular.
And a few more shots from Signal Hill.
Our final day was out around Stellenbosch visiting a couple of wineries of Muratie and Lazenac and then driving the spectacular Franshoek Pass.
The Dave Russell sailing extravaganza 2018 started in the beautiful northern part of Saint Lucia.
After a relaxing day and 2 nights at the Rodney Bay Gardens Beach Resort it was onto the catamaran for our southern adventure.
But first a bit about Saint Lucia.
There was no European presence until its settlement in the 1550s by the notorious buccaneer Francois le Clerc, a.k.a. Jambe de Bois, or Wooden Leg. Peg-Leg le Clerc set up a fine little base on Pigeon Island, from whence he issued forth to prey upon unwitting and treasure-laden Spanish galleons. Around 1600, the Dutch arrived, establishing a fortified base at Vieux Fort.
The first attempt at colonization occurred just a few years later, in 1605. An unfortunate party of English colonists, headed to Guyana on the ship Olive Branch, landed on St. Lucia after having been blown off course. 67 colonists waded ashore, where they purchased land and huts from the Caribs. After a month, the party had been reduced to only nineteen, and those were soon forced to flee from the Caribs in a canoe.
By mid-century the French had arrived. The British were not happy and Anglo-French rivalry for the island continued for more than a century and a half. The island’s first settlements and towns were all French, beginning with Soufriere in 1746. By 1780, the British launched their first invasion effort at the “Battle of Cul de Sac.” By 1814, the island was finally theirs.
The country became independent within the British Commonwealth in 1979. the economy seems to be primarily tourism, and then thins like offshore banking, banana exports and coconut oil.
Day 1, we sailed from Rodney Bay having spent the night on the boat, leaving around 11am. Our destination was Soufriere and moored in the stunning Anse des Pitons. the sailing was around 17nm arriving around 2.30. Mooring ball was our option.
Anse des Pitons is a town with excellent land based accommodation if you were island hopping. Hotel and self contained villas. A great option or addition to staying in Rodney Bay.
ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
The first Europeans to occupy St. Vincent were the French. However, following a series of wars and peace treaties, the islands were eventually ceded to the British. The French settlers cultivated coffee, tobacco, indigo, corn, and sugar on plantations worked by African slaves.
Like the French before them, the British also used African slaves to work plantations of sugar, coffee, indigo, tobacco, cotton and cocoa. When the British abolished slavery around 1840 the plantations went into decline and depressed world sugar prices kept the economy stagnant until the turn of the 20th century.
A crown government was installed in 1877, a Legislative Council created in 1925. Independence was gained in 1979.
Sailed from Anse des Pitons on St lucia to Keartons/Indian Gallows on St Vincent and took a mooring ball. We enter a new country and customs processes are required which were done the next day in Bequia. Sail length was approx 36nm and moored about 60% down the west coast.
Rain squalls and a pod of spinning dolphins added some extra interest at end of the day. Beautiful tourquise bow and stern mooring spot. Locals on hand to help. Dinner on land at Rockside Cafe with Rosie the German owner of 16 years. Great dinner and cheescake to finish.
Day 3 and 4
A short sail of 16nm from Keartons to Admiralty Bay Bequia. Mooring ball. A pass by cruise by an old concrete settlement set in side of the hills of Bequia is an interesting aspect from the 60’s. Attempted utopia that failed. A beautiful bay with many restaurants and bars. Lunch at Jacks Bar on beautiful swimming beach at end of Princess Margaret beach walk.
Good cafe and cake for coffee at GingerBread Cafe. Dinner at Max Pizza with Jazz. Great pizza and night.
Next day toured by taxi to the local turtle sanctuary and conservation guy. This fellow has been committed to this project for about 30 yrs and released about 800 turtles around the islands. No government backing so hopefully will continue when he cant do it any more. Turtles get released to all the islands nearby. Lunch at Lower beach which is accesable by dinghy or taxi.
Sailed about 26nm from Bequia to Tobago Cays. Spent afternoon snorkelling and exploring the island where turtle sanctuary is. Saw one lizard on the island but no turtles in the water. Dinner on board boat in a very pretty location. Wind is constant here as there are no island protecting boats. This mooring is a must do for at least one night when down here. kite surfers also add to the attraction in this spot.Mooring ball.
A short 4nm motor from Tobago Cays across to Saltwhistle Bay on Mayreux. Lovely protected bay with hotel style accommodation and great spot for lunch and drinking by the beach under the palm trees. Great spot for at least one night and maybe 2. Dinner on the beach with bbq fish.
Another short motor to Clifton on Union island to do the immigration check out of St Vincent and the Grenadines, some shopping and then motored to Chatham Bay and took our first anchoring on Union Island. Beautiful bay and had impressive lobster dinner.
Sailed south to Carriacou which is the northern island and part of Grenada. Stopped at Sandy Island which is directly off L’Esterre Bay for snorkel and lunch. Beautiful spot to stop. The sail there was approximately 20nm and then another 4 nm to Tyrell Bay. Motored around the corner to Tyrell Bay which is where customs for Grenada is required. An average location but necessary to enter the country! Spent the night on mooring ball.
Day 9 (and final)
Approx 35nm sail day which was a real good final sail day. Left Tyrell Bay around 8.30. Arrived Molinierre Point around 12.30 tied to mooring ball and snorkelled around a whole lot of statues that have placed underwater, some on the sea bed, many standing straight and one woman sitting on a park bench. Very unique and worth a look. Then short motor to St Georges and anchored just sth of the harbour. Final dinner and then a couple of lazy days at Radisson in Grand Anse Grenada.
Staying in Soho district at a very modern and super comfortable hotel called the Arlo.
Started the day with a healthy breakfast at Sanctuary T which has an outstanding range of new age tea’s and flavours.
Late morning activity was a visit to The Met on a busy Saturday. Some interesting exhibits from all centuries including Picasso, Faberge Egg, and some modern american artists. Probably prefer MOMA but both need visiting.
Then the rest of the day was spent exploring The Highline, very good coffee and average lamington at an Oz café called Bluestone Lane in Greenwich Village.
Dinner at Bistro Les Amis in Soho which was French/Italian menu. Good food and wine.
New York Day 2
Started the day with a good breakfast and coffees at an Oz café in Little Italy called Two Hands.
Rainy day but got a dry stroll in across the Brooklyn Bridge, the restored promenade and Brooklyn Heights. That would be a place to live. Then train trip uptown to the Smithsonian Institute of Design which was second prize to waiting in a long queue to the Guggenheim. Next visit perhaps for that one.
Day 3 New York
Final day started with breakfast at Jacks Wife Freda. Good breakfast with ok coffee. Very popular at lunchtime when I wandered past. need to queue later in the day.
Started the touristy stuff with train to Flatiron building and then walked down through Gramercy Park.
Then another train down to Battery Park for trip out to Statue of Liberty. Very crowded but worth paying for the Pedestal and Museum. Interesting history of how the Liberty came about and the collaboration with the French.
Dinner at Houseman round the corner from the hotel. Flight to St Lucia in he morning