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Fun on the beach at Glengariff

2:14 am Filed under: Family, Travel

We actually had quite a few days of bad weather while we were at the coast, so when we had a good day we had to make the most of it.  The water was bloody freezing, but somehow you got used to it and it didn’t seem that bad.

Max's first sand castle Kean at the beach Playing in the waves Max is big on gangster fist punch shakes and thumbs up Walks on the beach Castle destruction The big fella eating sand

Max enjoyed walking in the little waves and playing in the sand, Kean seemed to enjoy eating it!

Kilimanjaro – Back in Moshi

8:14 pm Filed under: Travel

We had an extra day in Moshi after we got back, of course we settled down to sample all of the local beers. Tusker was my favorite.

Kenyan Beer - Safari Kenyan Beer - Kilimanjaro Kenyan Beer - Serengetti Kenyan Beer - TuskerKenyan Beer - Ndovu

Kiwi and Eloise had got pally with Remi who ran the show at the hotel, we found out she had actually reassigned Killian to our group to make sure we had a great trip. She took us for a little tour around Moshi to get some curios and sample some local food.

A truck name Precious Kenyan kebab

All the security guys around the hotel were Masai, they were all nice chilled guys. Apparently you can’t just wear a table cloth and call yourself a Masai, there’s a code you have to live by, all Masai never back out of a fight, and never quit a fight till they have won or are dead.

 Masai Masai The owner of the hotel and Remi in the middle

Kilimanjaro – Day 2 Baranco Camp (3950m) & Day 3 Karanga Hut (3930m)

4:58 am Filed under: Travel

As mentioned previously, the altitude really messes with your head (well it does with me) so the journal slimmed down to dot points which I’ll try and elaborate on now.

Quote: “Too high for journal, dot points only”

  • Porridge & white eggs – I never eat porridge, but up there that warm slimy goop is pretty good start to the day. For some reason the yokes in Tanzanian eggs is really pale, almost white.
  • Sleep/Dreams & Bubbles of sanity – Same as when we travelled South America, I can’t really sleep properly at anything over 3,000m above sea level, I kind of snooze with really crazy dreams.
  • Day 2 –3 different zones – As we gained altitude we passed through really specific zones of foliage till eventually there was nothing, it looked like the surface of the moon or the mountains of Mordor.
    • Jungle.
    • Mossy saplings and grass.
    • Arid with weird cactus things.

Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route  Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route   Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route  

  • Headache, Water – I got a really bad headache on the 3rd day (the first signs of mountain sickness), Kilian told me to drink the wora (water) I had been drinking shit loads so I upped the amount of electrolyte I was putting in and that seemed to fix it.
  • Julia, the German – Zett and I went for a wander around the other camps and ended up meeting this interesting German woman, who had done some interesting travels.
  • Kilian stories, good/bad – Our guide had some amazing stories, and he wasn’t shy on sharing some full on one.
    • Western breach – rock fall – killed dude in the back, another 4 porters and 2 clients killed before trail closed.
    • Rained for 6 days, they still made it.
  • Dependable Oswald (Ozzy) – We nick named him Ozzy, he inadvertently became our personal guide as we kept a steady pace when Eloise and Kiwi were resting. He didn’t say much but he was always there.
  • Tent always on an angle – There’s not exactly huge cleared areas for camping at each of the camps, and it works on a first come first serve basis so depending on how fast your first couple of porters are your tent is never level. Some nights were worse than the others but they always set the tents with you pointing up hill so it wasn’t that bad.

 Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route  Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route  Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route

  • Hakuna matata – Is Swahili for no worries (mate, cobba bloke), the porters you passed on the trail seemed to enjoy the fact that we’d greet them in Swahili. At the pre-summit camp the Porters sang this cool song with that as it’s main lyric.
  • Porter smell, a cross between B.O. and I’ve shit myself! – There’s not a lot of spare water up on the mountain, so the porters have to carry water to most camps, we got a shallow basin of luke warm water to both wash up in each morning before breakfast and before dinner at night.  obviously the porters don’t have this luxury, they also sleep 6 in a 2 man tent for warmth and lug 20kg of gear each up the hill each day, so they get a fair old pong up.
  • Kilian sayings – He had a funny English accent.
    • Pora (Porter)
    • Wora (Water)
    • Really….pause…. Shit (When something was bad)
    • Eat da food, Drink the wora, take the slow pace (the mantra he drummed into us to get us to the top)

 Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Karanga hut Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Frost on the tents in the morning

Kilimanjaro – Day 1 (2975m)

4:19 am Filed under: Travel

After a slow start this morning (nothing bad just typical “Africa time”) we eventually got to the trail head and started walking at about noon. Our bus driver was a classic, he looked like snoop dog.

Oh yeah we were held up a bit when the bus’s shock absorber half fell off, which they “fixed” by tying it up with a bit of rope and putted along at walking pace the rest of the way. At least we didn’t have to walk with all the gear any further than necessary.

Snoop dog and his bus A prime example of afri-stacking while we were waiting around  A local girl checking us out while we were fixing the bus The bus, she's broke Sleeping in caves has been prohibited, please us tents  Loading the food Big crazy skunk monkey The whole crew, ready to climb Umbwe Route Starting Point The first few steps up Kilimanjaro

We started out at around 1800m above sea level on a reasonable jeep track, which eventually got pretty steep and tricky (I would have loved to have the KTM there). After an hour or so we stopped to show our lunch packs, after which we started on the “real” trail. Which I guess you would say was a 5 hour dirt, moss and root staircase through the jungle.

Kilimanjaro Porters Lunch pack Umbwe Route Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Fire Trumpets Umbwe Route Umbwe Route IMG_8104 Umbwe Route Umbwe Route  Umbwe Route Camp End Of Day One

I really enjoyed the twisting switch-back natural staircases and the setting was spectacular, a bit like Magoebaskloof actually, old decaying trees covered with stringy moss as far as the eye could see in all directions.

Eloise had a pretty tough first day but seemed to spring back at dinner, I hope she finds a good rhythm and enjoys tomorrow more.

Elephant Sands

4:44 am Filed under: Travel

We were pretty keen to wave goodbye to Zambia. We crossed over on a barge back to Botswana and spend the night in Kasane.

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The next morning we made tracks to Francistown, but decided to make a quick stop over at Elephant Sands for lunch. Whilst preparing some delicious sandwiches and sipping on a beer, we has some visitors. This is what followed:

 

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They emptied the pool which was right next to the lapa and were so close the owner had to “shoo” them away. It was an awesome experience. My favorite of all shots Pete took is this one:

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Victoria Falls

3:09 am Filed under: Travel

To view the spectacular Victoria Falls we had to enter Zambia and head to Livingstone. The moment we set foot in the place we had a bad feeling. Just after we crossed the border we got pulled up by traffic cops. We lost our number plate in Botswana at one of the river crossings. It kinda gave them something to rub their hands together for, but once we paid the fine and had the receipt, it was ok. We got pulled up 3 times in a 60 km straight. They loved pulling the “insurance card”. They pulled all this BS about having to have bought insurance when you crossed the border. Luckily we had a letter from our local insurance stating we were covered in Zambia, but we still had to argue the point every time.

A very small portion right on the edge of the falls Looking through the gorge Zimbabwe side - small part right on the edge, before the spray hits yaThe smoke that thunders

Another one of their favorite “dodgy ways to make money” was a scam they called “council tax”. Where ever you were pulled up, they claimed you had to pay this tax, even to cross the border, yet no where is it a legal requirement. I think it is one of those where if enough people believe it, it gets real. What a croc of S#it!

With the demise of Zimbabwe Livingstone became the main destination to see the falls. Unfortunately Livingstone’ians didn’t realize the value of the tourist and are blatantly out to stooge you in every way imaginable. Dad’s wallet got pinched as a bunch of locals helped him into his own car. All activities are reasonably  expensive, but hey, it is the Vic Falls…one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

After viewing the Falls from the Zambia side we decided to head over to Zimbabwe to view it from there. It is a short walk away. Saffa’s cross the border no charge, but if you are travelling on a Aussie passport they sting you US$50. After enquiring about a “few hour crossing to few the falls” and being ensured that it would only be $20 for the Aussie passport, we were truly pissed off to re-enter and be charged US$50. The conversation got a little heated (to say the least) and ended with an official saying “then stay in Zimbabwe”, and chucking the passport back at us. Needless to say, we “negotiated” our way back in after changing some currency at exorbitant  rates. In the end, Pete could have seen the falls in helicopter for cheaper than walking over the border. This all said, it was a pretty spectacular view from Zimbabwe.

Family shot Pete and Max getting soaking wet  Max's rain coat Neels and Hester in the hired rain coats Vic Falls bridge Zambia side - Knifes edge Vic falls

Pete and I also went for a white water rafting trip. Due to extremely high water, I was a bit disappointed. It was more like taking a raft out on sea. On top of that we ended up in the Oar boat (safety boat that catches any one that falls out). Was nice being in the gorge, but I just know the rafting can be so much better.

Caprivi

6:38 am Filed under: Travel

After the wildness of Botswana we we crossed the border over to the relative civilization of Namibia, we were booked in for a few days at Kalizo lodge near Katima Mulilo right on the mighty Zambezi river.  The Zambezi is a mighty slab of river and was running at full level due to plenty of rains north in Angola, we guessed it to be around 400 meters wide where we camped.

It was a nice to spend a few days in one place and take a break from all the driving. Pete and I were hoping to catch some tiger fish, whilst Dad and Hester were keen on a birding boat trip.

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The extreme wet season up north did not work in our favor when it came to catching huge tiger fish, apparently they hang out in the reeds when the water is this high, so we were relegated to spinning and trawling for the little ones that hang out in the main river.

We still had heaps of fun, even if we did have to settle for the little fellas, amongst the 3 or 4 tigers we also caught some squeakers and a cat fish. The squeakers are so name because they make this weird squeaking noise when out of the water. Pete got a little nervous towards the end of the trip when his tiger tally was a little low (Zero), but he managed to get one right at the end.

Pete's babel First Tiger for the day Foul hooked or not, I got it in the boat Mokoro on the Zambezi Local fisherman Bokoms - dried fish Fishermans hampie Enjoying the river Pete's huge tiger Teethy tiger Sunset over the mighty Zambezi

Dad and Hester enjoyed their birding trip immensely,they saw some really scarce king fisher and plenty of other cool birds, unfortunately I don’t know all the names.

  Fish eagle Some rare king fisher Parrot dove Another type king fisher Water monitor

Another awesome chapter in our trip.

Botswana – Moremi & Savute

5:16 am Filed under: Travel

After the Delta we headed north, first stop being the Moremi South gate camp ground. Just outside the reserve entrance we saw a group of elephant, giraffe, zebra and red buck, but did not even bother slowing down as we weren’t even in the reserve yet so we figured if the spotting was that good outside the reserve we’d see plenty more…. we were wrong.

That night we had a spotted hyena visit the camp, he obviously scavenges the camp sites often as he’d return quite quickly after we shooed him away. We took the camera to bed and waited for him after we turned the camp lights off to get these pics.  So much for all animals being afraid of fire, he didn’t flinch as he ate some scrops right off the fireplace next to the fire.

Just after we retired Neels said there was another much larger one around the camp also but we missed him, the whole experience made us glad we shelled out for a roof top tent (especially with Max).

Moremi South gate campPete getting the perfect shot Spotted hyena Posing for Pete Curious lil fella So much for keeping them away with fire

The next day was meant to be a quick half day drive to Savute and some game drives around there, a half hour into the trip we realised our mistake.  Just because the map has a nice big fat white line that’s much fatter than most of the other lines, doesn’t mean it’s going to be a “real” road!

No, the “major” road we were taking was just a single lane sand track, much like ever other sand track we’d been on, twisting and humpy limiting our speed to 20-30 kmph. By lunch time we’d only just reached the North gate (around half way) at which point they told us the way forward was impassible due to some deep water crossings, and that we’d have to go all the way back to South gate where we’d camped the night before and take another route around.

Due to the fact that we’d seen the grand total of SFA the whole way up the track we weren’t so keep on the idea of doing it all again. At that point this real boertjie (Afrikaans) cowboy strolled in, he managed some other camp to the North and had just came through all the water crossings the guy at the gate was saying was impassible in a similar model hilux to ours (with a slight lift kit).  He said both our cars would make it through the crossings no worries and offered to go ahead and show us the best line through each crossing.

I don’t know if there’s any official colloquial term warning about trusting cowboys but we “just” made it across the crossings, the point where water came over the front of Neels’  Pajero was and little too close for comfort.  We were thousands of ks from civilization on deep sand roads in all directions, if we had have drowned one of the vehicles, it was definitely holiday over….  All is well that ends well I say! 

PS: I actually really enjoyed finally giving the Hilux a good test… but the look on Neels’ face didn’t let me show it at the time.. Pete.

Typical road The bridge before the water crossings A little too deep? Wading through the croc and hippo infested waters The hilux finally seeing some decent action

The road to Savute was just more sand, but pleasant enough, it got quite deep at some points requiring some low range actaion. At one point in the track we came across these weirdoes in two Kia soft roaders getting towed by a really cranky local in a tractor… when I say towed, I mean towed by a friggin chain as thick as your leg… I’m sure the front would have been missing by the time they got to Savute.  Thankfully after crawling along behind them for a few ks they stopped at a little offshoot through the bush and let us pass.

That night we had a honey badger visit us, yep a stinking badger!!! Thing is you very rarely see them in the wild, apparently they’re quite a force to be reckoned with in the wild so we made sure we packed the camp up before heading to bed…. Unfortunately no photo.

Pete was fascinated by the fortified wall around the ablution block, the whole thing was like a military bunker, with the cinder block walls on the outside reinforced by 45 degree sloping dirt on the inside. It was made like that so it was elephant proof, because in the dry season the elephants dig all the water pipes up, you can see from the photo the bunker was elephant proof but the sign wasn’t.

Camp at Savute Early morning Max Blue bird Banana beak Elephant didn't like this sign Elephant crossing the road Max getting some beer for dad

Another great leg of the trip, we’d love to head back this way one day and give ourselves a little more time to explore… now that we know how far you can/can’t drive each day.

Botswana – Okavango Delta

8:55 am Filed under: Travel

First thing the next morning we packed up camp and headed straight for the airport to catch our flight into the Okavango Delta. The flight was quite interesting, we all packed into a Cessna for a short 20 minute hop over to the Delta. We only ever got up to 4000 feet so we got a great look over the delta. The dirt landing strip looked pretty dodgy on approach but our pilot Freddy made a nice “smooth” landing.

Max checking out the view Okavango delta from the air Arrival in our little Cessna Mokoro pick-up from the airstrip

On our first mokoro outing we went to the hippo pools. Never thought I’d say this, but we actually saw a hippo jump out of the water and take a little dive. The second time round was a little close for comfort, as this one felt we were intruding a little and actually jumped towards us, doing a kind of mock charge. Gave everyone a good fright.

Spider stick infront of Mokoro Max and I enjoying the ride Papio, our excelent guide Looks can be deceiving Double trouble 

Plenty of interesting insects visit the mokoro, specially if you don’t have the spider stick in the front, which KP (Pete’s guide) never bothered with, he also struggled to steer his bent “banana” boat on the main track so Pete had plenty of visitors, they are all friendly insects though…. even the wasps nest we went through didn’t attack us.

 KP's Banana boat Praying mantis Teeny weeny little green frog Another cool red spotted reed frog

Most outings consisted of a mokoro trip to an island, followed by a little hike looking for some animals. We did one big day to an island a little bit further away with a packed lunch. When we got there our guides immediately saw some lion spoor (foot prints). It was awesome to see how they tracked it, staying down wind, we circled around full of anticipation (we were tracking loin on foot with no rifles or backup). Unfortunately we didn’t see the lions, mainly cause some baboons got us side tracked, and the fact that lion are so well camouflaged. We find the remains of a giraffe was killed recently, the bones still had some skin on.

This was one of the best veld (bush) experiences ever, with no guns, no cars, no motors. Just trusting our guides and there knowledge.

Other interesting animals were the red lichwe, they are a lot like a red buck but specially adapted to all the water with padded hoofs that don’t get stuck in the mud as they run across the water plains. The sound they made running through the water was real distinctive.

Lucky beans Rats of the bushveld...even in Botswana Squirrel Zebra crossing the water Water lillies Cruising on our big day outing Water level... just right Red lichwe Crane of sorts Good campflage Mokoro cruising Whats left of a giraffe KP showing what a giraffe fima is good for Elephants spotted every day Plenty of fish eagles  

We had an awesome stay at Oddballs camp. It is an all inclusive kinda deal, with open bar and great food. The guides eat with us, and we got a bit of a feel for there life style as we went to watch a pool game of South Africa vs France in the Soccer world cup at Papio’s tent in the staff camp.

Our tent Lunch at Oddballs Enclave Outdoor bath room Bucket shower Group shot Papio, Shelley & KP Oddballs Enclave mokoro entrance Oddballs Camp

Overall we loved the Delta and highly recommend it to anyone visiting Botswana!

Botswana – Kubu Island

5:49 am Filed under: Travel

 

This is from the (only) journal entry of our trip:

Boabab sunriseZett and I are sipping on a beer on the stoep (Veranda) out the front of our tent overlooking a slice of pristine Okavango delta, Max is having a snooze so there’s no sound other that the birds and the odd baboon call.

I figure this is as good a time as any to jot down what’s happened the last couple of days.

Day 1. Pretoria to Kubu Island

We started out with an early start after a not so good nights rest, Max was projectile vomiting from 11:30pm through too around 2am, we all found out later that it was due to a stomach bug… we’ve all had a dose of it over that last couple of days, luckily it seems to only last 24 hours.

Despite this we were on the road by 5am and made really good time up to the border arriving at around 10:30am.

The border crossing itself didn’t go as hoped but about as well as expected, the main problem being that my application for an extension to my relatives permit is still processing (after almost 3 months) and the permit itself has expired. We had the extension application with us but as you expect no-one really knew what to do about it, we managed to get them down to a R1500 fine for overstaying, which they say will allow me to re-enter on a 3 month tourist visa… thanks for nothing the department of home affairs!

Morning hike around KubuAfter the border crossing we again made good time up one of the main highways north for several hours. Once we turned off the main highway though it was a completely different story, the tar road gave way to gravel road, which gave way to sandy track, which gave way to “choose your own adventure” salt pan and grassy plain where we were using a combination of GPS, compass and gut feel.

We eventually made it to Kubu Island (an island dotted with Baobab trees on the edge of the salt pan proper) just before sunset. We bypassed all the designated campsites and setup camp on the pan side of the island, right in front of a stand of 5 impressive baobab trees.

The baobab tree looks like it’s been planted upside down, with its branches looking more like the roots of some sort of tuba. Though the outside of the tree is hard and smooth it looks sort of wrinkly and fleshy, apparently they take hundreds of years to grow to a decent size.

After a fairly windy night and cruisey morning we set off for Maun, at this point the navigation really got interesting with the GPS devoid of any roads, we mostly relied on the kindness of the goat herders we passed and the compass on my watch.

The sandy tracks eventually made it to the back streets of Gewa, where after driving through some shacks and grass roofed huts we made it to the highway again for some fuel before heading to Maun for the night.

The following shots are to/from and around Kubu island, we weren’t actually there for long but it make for some great photos.

Kubu sign Sowa pan Cars under boabab  Roots like twisted soals Morning Boabab Boabob sunrise   dead boabab Hike on the pans Mini boabab Boabab fruit our camp from the island Huge boabab Random donkeys lone car on the pan coming down onto the pan a little break if you get stuck in the wet here you're serously stuck Me photographing the our camp our camp and boxes

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