Africa Archive


The “Roof of Africa”, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Megumi at the highest peak of Kilimanjaro (5895m), Scott had to turn back on the final ascent with AMS.

Megumi at the highest peak of Kilimanjaro (5895m), Scott had to turn back on the final ascent with AMS.


Overlanding Africa

When travelling, it seems no matter where you are, you still operate in a kind of bubble. You move in an almost semi-detached observer capacity […]

When travelling, it seems no matter where you are, you still operate in a kind of bubble. You move in an almost semi-detached observer capacity to your surroundings, unable to see or experience things truly as the locals do. Insulated by your bank balance perhaps, the knowledge of alternative options or simply that you are merely ‘passing through’ and have a ticket out; there are a thousand subtle factors that differentiate you from ‘them’. Where you stay is always that little bit more accessed by other travellers, and catered, no matter how low budget, it is still tinged with western comforts. There are some exceptions to this of course – volunteering, actual homestays and hiking off-track all take you that much closer. Not that even a ‘totally realistic’ local experiences is even necessary either – its’ just difficult to achieve!

The one area I have found that this comes closest to the ‘real’ though is the simple act of sharing local transport, getting from A to B. We have found this most effectively in catching buses in Africa but it is equally true of trains in India & buses in Nepal. Here you are all thrown together – locals and travellers alike, there is no differentiation in class, the discomforts, delays, bumps, food and other circumstances are all shared equally by everybody. And for these moments the experience achieves a rare utopian equality, cherished by us perhaps, but in the most part quickly lost in the mundane by the locals – but such is life.

Winding our way across Africa

In the last few months, this contrast has been particularly evident as we traded the insulated backpacker environment of ‘BazBus’ in South Africa for ‘slow overland travel’ – distance coaches, local & mini-buses of all variety, trains and shared taxi’s. Winding our way from Capetown, at the southern most point of Africa, west to Namibia, and then swinging back across the continent north eastwards through Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania to Kenya. We have experienced all modes of transport combinations in between through simple necessity and in doing so watched cold coast become desert, desert unfold to savannah, dry forest give way to lakeside fisheries; and the more tropical rice fields, tea, coffee & banana plantations; lush mountain scapes transform back into savannah plains and then finally become tropical beaches.

Just like the landscape, along the way we have also watched Africa transform. As the villages roll by and new tribes reveal themselves – the people, culture and experience has itself evolved in interesting ways. On boarding the coach in Capetown, a pre-recorded version of the “Lords Prayer” was played over the intercom as a prelude to a safe trip. Departing Namibia, the manager of the bus got on and led a very heartfelt, personal prayer effort. Leaving Livingstone, Zambia a evangelical preacher got on and spent 50 minutes praizing Jeeezus, praying for our sinz and trying to “saaive our mortal soulzz” at a frantic pace. Then on a bus leaving Lilongwe, Milawi, a young preacher got on & started exorting ‘Halleluyahs’, ‘praise brothers’ and ‘Amens’ from the packed, responsive local bus, a woman behind me started chanting frenetically, hyperventilating and ‘speaking in tongues’, then broke down into tears that took about 20 minutes to dissipate, other people took it in turns to respond and share prayers while the buses speakers blared soulful, rhythmic spirituals – we had to double check whether we were  actually on a public bus or perhaps mistakenly  boarded a church tour. Later in Tanzania, we were even treated to an ‘in coach’ video of the “Life of Jesus” in Swahili. Either the transport got more and more dangerous as we progressed or things were definitely more religious in central / Eastern Africa. Our journey though was also paralleling a deeper exploration into more AIDS / HIV devastated country. Something like 30% of the population in Zambia is HIV positive, the average age there is late 30’s (stats similar for Malawi). One person, Polly we met in Lusaka had been researching Zambian modern artists – she had a list of 10 people to interview in the capital, but had only found 3 still alive. All had died from HIV related illness in the last few years. Most were sub 40 years old!

Quite often we were the only foreigners on the bus, sometimes there was just a single other traveller. We have been crammed into minibuses, designed to seat 12 with more than 20 other people. Every space, even the vertical, has a value in Africa it seems. I have been seated next to old ladies of all tribes and had large sacks of eggs, bananas, maize and chickens for travel companions on numerous occasions. (We found out subsequently that it is customary to bring a chicken along when you visit relatives in some parts of Africa). Babies have endured a full days cycle of smiles, fits, feeding and defecation all squashed up against my leg, sometimes roaming free but more often strapped snugly into position on mum, by a brightly patterned tablecloth in the African fashion. We have encountered several chickens thus intimately enshrined as well. It is often said of African women that they don’t just travel, they move and the aisles, racks and roofs of most bus are overflowing with large sacks of produce, food and suitcases that stand testament to this – jumping off the bus in a remote village for a quick toilet break, is frequently more akin to a game of tetris.

We have literally spent multiple days on buses – buying our food through the window at passing villages or stops as we go. Impoverished locals displaying their wares gallantly on baskets on their heads or trays as a bus pauses – quickly shouting their offerings through the windows to try and close a deal – fresh banana’s, apples, carrots, biscuits, bread rolls, coke or water, airtime, furniture, crafts or electronics. You rarely need to go looking for anything in Africa it seems, just catch a bus and it comes to you. Thus supplied, we have been constantly delayed – accidents, flat tires, police fines, derailments and everything else it seems bar a hijack (fingers crossed). Since we left South Africa, we have yet to be ontime anywhere and we have soaked it all up and loved it. As a result, we have spent intimidating nights at minibus stops in the middle of large cities, crossed dodgy border posts at the most ungodly hours and even been derailed in a national park in Tanzania, a 7 hour stop that became a travel highlight.

We have been learning ‘not to sweat the small stuff’, cultivating patience and a sense of relaxed resignation at our progress – ‘inshallah’ / ‘ce la vie’ / ‘shoganii’ / ‘whatever will be, will be’ – the joy of travel without time limits. And in all that, as ever we have met some amazing local people of all tribes and descriptions – friendly, smiling, accommodating and equanimous in the cramped, shared conditions. We have criss-crossed the African continent, spontaneously feeling our way as we go and in so doing have been gifted some amazing insights and experiences of the real Africa; we emerge perhaps better illuminated as to travel’s grand purpose along the way.


A Desert Road Trip in Namibia

Namibia is about the size of Pakistan, with a population of only 2 million. The place is pretty much empty of people, but home to […]

Namibia is about the size of Pakistan, with a population of only 2 million. The place is pretty much empty of people, but home to some amazing natural landscapes, national parks, ancient tribes and the worlds oldest deserts. The deserts are what attracted us here. A chance to soak up some amazing, surreal scenery and scratch a few photographic itches bred of our latest travel investment – a new Sony digital camera that takes 180 degree panoramic photo’s and maps GPS / compass data. (like we needed more toys, but anyway!)

Team Namibia

From Capetown we had caught a surprisingly comfortable 20 hour bus to the Namibian capital of Windhoek. Staying at the Chameleon Backpackers, it was our plan to try some meet people there who might be in interested in hiring a car. As empty as inland Australia, to get anywhere in Namibia you need your own 4 wheel drive or else be willing to shell out $500+ minimum per person to join a tour or Safari for a few days. Chameleon was a backpacker hub, a highly organized, pleasant set-up and bustling connection point for other travellers in Namibia – we figured it our best bet for some spontaneous recruitment. On arrival though, after the marathon bus trip I promptly passed out, only to wake up 3 hours later and find that Megumi had already befriended a group of other long term Japanese travellers, (both starting out and 1 years / 3 years into their respective trips) and another Korean girl. 3 of whom were up for pooling resources. Job done!

Alien horizons

Accompanied by Hiro, Shimche, and Tacto – we grabbed a 4×4, hired a tent for 3 days (All of which, plus fuel worked out to be a netcost of $120 pp) and set out on the 6 hour drive to the Namib desert, the oldest desert in the world and famous for its red sand dunes and the extremely photogenic Dead Vlei. The drive itself was fantastic though challenging, less than an hour out of town we hit gravel road, the last we would see of bitumen for the next 2 days. From the typical savannahs of the African plains, the landscape slowly gave way to rocky hill outcrops reminiscent of Hampi in India and transitioned into flat, treeless plains with rocky peaks spanning the horizon in every direction. As we got closer to the Namib, these rocky hills took on stranger and stranger hues and took on a magical Alien air – it was not a great leap to see ourselves exploring Mars in a rover here. Arriving at the central entrance to the Namib National Park in Sesriem around mid-afternoon, we quickly set up our tents at the campground and made a quick dash for the Ellingen dune to view the sunset.

Climbing a sand dune is a lot harder than it sounds and is exhausting work, each foot sliding down and back, it really does take twice the effort to get anywhere. The horizons at sunset were well worth it though. Spectacular panorama’s aplenty in all directions; as the sky slowly worked through a cascading series of soft pinks, purple and redish tones, magnificently contrasted by the red sand of the dunes themselves and the rocky panorama’s in every direction.

Climbing Dune 45

The next morning we got up early (4am) and lined up at the park gate for the 5am opening and sunrise dash. Our aim was to drive the 45 km to get to Dune 45 (naming obvious) and climb-up for the sunrise. This quickly took on  a ‘right of passage’ almost ritual feel, as we proceeded in procession with a score of other 4×4’s, safari jeeps and customized tour vehicles into the darkness, out deep into the desert. On arriving at Dune 45, we quickly disembarked and climbed the 500m great red dune ridgeface to the top with the other like minded early risers. The growing light, revealed hundreds of red sand dunes parading themselves on all sides, slowly shifting colours as they danced to the prospects of the new day. The trip down was much more expedient and fun, a series of orchestrated sprints by all straight down the steep inclines.

Next stop was Dead Vlei in Soussvlei, much deeper in, but accessed via a sandy, 4×4 track, 5km into the desert basin. I have driven 4×4’s a few times, but wheels deep in up to a foot of sand was quite different. About halfway in, we got a bogged in the sand, not once but 3 times. Our tires buried half way up, I suddenly had the sinking feeling that we would spend the rest of the day trying to get out, (ironically powered by Asian push power). Thankfully a “not too happy tour guide” stopped by and with a ‘look that said it all’ put my car into the correct “Low Gear”, so that we could continue forward. Obviously we are far from the first tourists he has had to teach how to drive here, probably not his first today even judging by his demeanour. From there, we made the 1km walk over some dunes to the stunning white clay flats, dead tree’s and the huge red sand dune backdrops that make up the Dead Vlei. The movie, “The Cell” was shot here, so it was a very familiar sight and incredibly photogenic and fun, before the desert heat kicked in at least.

A magic invisible line!

Leaving the red dunes, we then drove across to Swakopmund, an arduous 6 hour drive along gravel roads winding through the Namib National Park North to the coast, but another continual progression of stunning backdrops, changing desert landscapes and strangely coloured hills. Swakopmund is a strange town. A German colonial city that looks like a movie set and completely out of place in the middle of desert. The town is a cute, progression of classic Hans Christian Anderson architecture on the beach, its prison a fairy palace. This is a big tourist destination apparently, South Africans come for beach / fishing escapes, Angela Jolie and Brad Pitt come here to have babies – entirely pleasant as it was, it was hard to know what to make of it.

Me & Will

Ahead of a drive back to Windhoek, we wanted to see the world oldest plants and surrounding moon landscapes; so had planned on an exploratory drive into the surrounding deserts with little maps or information. The moon landscape was easy to find, a jagged landscape of large grey hollows and thousands of what appeared to be impact craters. The Wilwitschia took some more work and faith though – down a dirt road into endlessly flat desert sand plains, until we finally spotted a few plants amongst the desert scrubs. Driving on we came across a large section of desert dominated by the huge, obviously greatly aged plants. The Wilwitscchia is the world’s oldest plant and found only in the deserts of Namiibia. It has 2 leaves that shred over time emerging from a central wooden cocoon; males with spores, females buds. They have a strange peaceful aura, somehow in the middle of nowhere they have managed to live through it all – hard to fathom that some of the ones we were looking at had existed before Jesus.

On returning to Windhoek, (by proper road this time), we said our goodbyes to the rest of the crew and checked into Backpacker Unite. Well hosted and Megumi happily entertained a 5 beautiful cats, we stayed up very late into the night exchanging travel tales with the owners.A Namibian born of South African decent and his wife. He had served in the army during the conflicts with Angola and had some fascinating insights into recent Namibian history, its parallels with South African apartheid and its other tribal / political idiosyncrasies.

Women from the Himba tribe

We had decided to forego the Etosha national park this trip, thinking we were a bit safari’ed up and still had Kenya / Tanzania to go, we had however wanted to visit the Hemba triba in the Northern part of Namibia. The Hemba are a beautiful tribe who still stick very strongly to their old ways, their women reknowned for their beauty and cover themselves in red mud. You need special permission to visit though and require a guide etc, so it had seemed a little too difficult (and expensive) to incorporate into our trip this time. But as luck would have it, there we were wandering around the markets in Windhoek when we spied 3 half naked, mud covered women selling crafts. A quick chat, a souvenir and a photo and Wham, Bam, Thankyou Namibia! Another 20 hour bus ride across the Kalahari desert to Livingstone, Zambia!


Bunjy Jump – Victoria Falls, Zambia / Zimbabwe

Megumi living her dream, bunji jumping  111m into the Zambezi river at Victoria Falls. 世界七不思議の1つ、ビクトリア・フォールズで111mのバンジージャンプ!

Megumi ticking off another dream & bunjy jumping  111m into the Zambezi river at Victoria Falls. One of the 7 natural wonders of the world, on the border of Zambia & Zimbabwe.



Getting under the skin of South Africa

South Africa, the rainbow nation, is a land of dichotomies and contrasts. While the natural beauty and diversity of the country is stunning and the […]

South Africa, the rainbow nation, is a land of dichotomies and contrasts. While the natural beauty and diversity of the country is stunning and the wildlife tantalizingly exotic; it is the people we have met here that leave the biggest impression. From fellow travellers to the locals, both black, white & everything in between, everyone is engaging and ready with a smile and a tale. We have spent many nights simply sitting around meeting people at the backpacker inns we have stayed at, rather than heading out to explore, simply because the people were so interesting. India was very different to this, we met a lot of fantastic people there, but the place somehow forces you to put up more barriers I think, if only to filter out the visual and sensory onslaught that India entails. Perhaps travellers there were all just seeking or searching for something different and off on their own trip. Africa has none of that, it is a place for the adventurous and the energy of the local people just seems naturally more socially infectious.

On the traveller side, we have met lots of students, doctors, nurses & other volunteers, mostly European (many Dutch) & some Americans with big hearts and aspirations, but few from Australia or Asia (perhaps that’s just seasonal?). There are many older travellers, retires and business people and regular interceptions of other longer term travellers like us, mid-stream though around their own world adventures of different types. There are too many travellers to mention of course, but its hard not to give a special plug to a fellow mad aussie Tristan – who is running 52 marathons in 52 countries in 52 weeks, yet still finding time to ‘run with the bulls’, attend rock festivals and have a regular night on the town. (Follow him at

And then there are the South Africans. South Africa is both rich and poor, it is Africa on a micro scale with all its different tribes and yet also global with its English, Dutch, Asian and Indian roots all bound together. In so many ways, the country is a crucible for the rest of the worlds’ struggles and its internal conflicts seem to represent all of our burdens as globalization and the ‘one world’ concept struggles to become reality. On the surface everyone is incredibly friendly, you get genuine engaging smiles & conversation from almost everyone you encounter. Perhaps this is part pre-world cup face, part cultural, but it is touching & welcoming nonetheless. The more time you spend here though, the more you start to scratch the surface and realize the country is bubbling away with strained racial tensions and still trying to come to terms with its past and its future. Racism is real here. In Australia, there are plenty of rednecks and racial overtones but most are bred through ignorance and lack of contact with other peoples. It is almost superficial, South Africa is different. Here there is a history and cause to the prejudices. Like its famed diamonds, it is uncut; each potential facet has its own character, history, issues and opinions. Yet with all its potential, it is still well short of the necessary polish and cuts required to really catch the light. Perhaps time is the polisher here, it is hard to be sure.

White South Africans seem to be a paranoid bunch, mostly justly chastened by their own experiences I am sure. We were constantly warned about crime and to expect the worst in people, despite all our experiences to the contrary. One white South African I met told me that “we fear them because of the potential for crime and violence we see disguised in every face. They fear us because of what we have & can do to them” with our wealth, power and knowledge of the system.

Another South African from Joburg told us, that since apartheid every Taxi (with a black driver) he gets in, drives at insane, dangerous speeds, as some form of subtle retaliation for sins past. Now, the next generation of white kids (his sons) have grown up experiencing this and they feel anger and resentment seeding new racial issues of their own. The cycle continues.

Another guy we met showed me an SMS from his daughter, the gist of which read “Hi Daddy, grandad got shot the other day, he is doing much, much better though”, a childhood positive spin on an otherwise everyday Mercedes hijacking in Joburg.

Other’s reminiscence about the times of Apartheid because things got done then, under the new regime everything is corrupt, African style – suggesting that the place is dysfunctional at every level of organization these days. The papers seem to suggest so as well, with scandals aplenty. President Zuma has loads of wives & 25+ kids, perhaps he just needs to feed them all somehow 😉

On the flip side our black Suweto tour guide, was showing us the township which we were expecting to be a ghetto, but looked like a pleasant neighbourhood in comparison to the barbed wire, guard dogs and heavily patrolled Joburg residences. He explained its simply by “Ubuntu”, as in, “we believe in community above all else”, something the white folks don’t have.

Our guide in Kruger had a lot to say on Apartheid and both his and his fathers struggles working under British and Afrikaans rule and the mines of Johannesburg, but that story we mostly knew already. Most revealing were his comments about the other tribes, particularly the Zulu (Zuma the PM is a Zulu), describing them as not very intelligent for a start. Suggestions and overtones we would hear many times, the black population themselves seem firmly divided by their own tribes and politics. The divide is far deeper than simple skin colour.

In Durban we met Indians (there are something like 1.3 million in Durban), seemingly the most positive of the lot, while in Capetown we met ‘coloureds’ (of Malaysian / Indonesian slave backgrounds). All were quick to offer different views, opinions and issues again, to the same endless debate. Everyone is very forward with their conversations about race and race issues, it seems to be the one saving grace – open discussion, however negative has to be some kind of step.

While we have been here the leader of the ANC youth (a subset of Mandella’s old party, the ANC), has publicly been singing a song containing the inflammatory lyrics “kill the boer”, he has violently thrown a BBC journalist out of a news conference and just visited Mugabe in Zimbabwe praising some of his policies against white farm reclamations and attitudes towards foreign company ownership. In the same week, the leader of the AWB (the Afrikaans version of white supremists I gather) gets murdered by 2 black farmhands and both parties are rallying against each other with retaliation statements, while the rest of nation waits on tenderhooks, suspecting a race war to break out.

All this in the lead up to what should South Africa’s coming out party. If anything was going to unite this place, the World Cup should. It’s a black mans sport, the national obsession and a global showcase of South Africa to the world, one suspects it is their best chance at trying to forge some national unity.


South African Travelogue

After India, arriving in South Africa was almost like coming home too oz. Overtly friendly people, western comfort foods aplenty (meat pies & ginger beer […]

After India, arriving in South Africa was almost like coming home too oz. Overtly friendly people, western comfort foods aplenty (meat pies & ginger beer foremost among them), rugby and cricket on TV and fantastic natural settings, all under the familiar gaze of the southern night skies and the Southern Cross. Arriving in Johannesburg from Mumbai, we hung out for a few days and decompressed – Megumi recovering from a bout of Indian belly (her first would you believe, struck down on the last day) and just generally soaked up being in a western country for the first time in 6 months.

Joburg was not the murder capital we were expecting and after India, we found everyone friendly, relaxed & full of smiles, albeit quite expensive, (having to get around in taxi’s because its ‘too dangerous to walk’ takes its toll). After nothing more than shopping, sleeping and eating for a few days, we embarked on our African adventure. First stop, the Apartheid museum (the first museum on our trip so far believe it or not), before doing a tour of the famous Suweto township, home to Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela among many others and central in the Apartheid battles and uprisings. Expecting an extreme ghetto, coming from the slums of Mumbai, it was surprisingly an incredibly civilized city (a black population of more than 3 million), home to a fantastic new World Cup stadium there were lots of nice houses balancing the tin shacks, a modern transport infrastructure and remarkably in contrast to Joburg, free of barbed wire and security guards. One gets the sense that this was the frontline in the ‘new South Africa’ World Cup cover story (or cover up depending on your level of cynicism)

On Safari in Kruger

From Joburg, we caught the Baz Bus (a convenient minibus service for backpackers that allows you to hop on and hop off at backpacker destinations of your choice across the country), for our first safari adventure in Kruger National Park. Staying at the Funky Monkeybackpacker in Nelspruit, we signed up for a relatively cheap, good value safari adventure. That taken care of, I sank tequila with some locals, endured a late night dip in the pool after losing at cards and suddenly felt like I had settled into travel South African style.

The Kruger safari was a 3 day, 2 night adventure, sleeping in canvas tents within the national park and touring the grounds in the custom built safari jeeps that seem to permeate this part of the world (plus a spotlighting tour at night). For company we had a local guide in his mid forties, having been tracking / guiding for nearly 30 years, 2 Swedes, a German girl and a peculiar Hungarian / Israeli chap who quickly earned the moniker Mr Bean. Kruger is a fantastic park and you are hard pressed not to see plenty of wildlife – we chalked up a dozen lions, hundreds of elephants, impala, rhino’s, hyaena’s, giraffe’s, hippo’s, crocs, eagles and zebra’s amongst everything else. (Actually everything but the leopard & cheetah on Megumi’s hitlist anyway) As with all safari’s in Africa it was not cheap, but stunning and a fantastic way to integrate into the African experience.

Lions at play

Post safari, we decided to ditch the limited confines of the BazBus route and hire a car so that we could forge our own paths over the mountains into Swaziland and Zululand beyond. A 7 hour winding adventure over dodgy, forestry dirt tracks into a sketchy Swaziland border crossing and remote logging villages, all in a tiny Tata sedan ,almost made us re-evaluate the wisdom of this choice, but eventually we found our way through the mountains into Swazilands civilized tourist belt and set ourselves up at Sondeza backpackers, in the middle of Milwane Wildlife Sanctary for more natural immersion. This backpacker has it all – warthogs mowed the lawn, ostriches woke us up tapping the windows at dawn, hippo’s and crocs roamed the pond and the surrounding fields had all manner of impala, antelope and zebra roaming about happily free of carnivores. Breakfast and dinner was cooked on a braa (Afrikaans for BBQ), beef and warthog for me & maize (pap) for Megumi (newly vegetarian and struggling in Africa!) Happy to soak up our new environs, our Swaziland experience was limited to this relaxed point of view; interactions with locals on the sanctuary and the surrounding crafts/ tribalware shops, but we get the feeling we didn’t miss too much.

Hippo's fighting / kissing, St Lucia

From there we headed down to Sodwana Bay, back into South Africa and the Elephant Coast for a brief flirt with some of South Africa’s best diving. Unable to compete with a ferocious rip and Megumi seasick from the aggressive beach surf take-offs, we cut our losses and keep heading downwards to the St Lucia estuary via the Hluhluwe Reserve. Hluhluwe is Rhino central and the park effectively brought the black rhino back from extinction. Doing a self drive safari through the national park, we managed to see more than 20 Rhino’s. One mean bastard charged our car from the bushes at dusk and the elusive black rhino (almost impossible to see apparently) happened to walk right up to the restaurant window as we ate lunch! St Lucia was all about hippo’s and crocs, the beautiful estuary, a UNESCO heritage area has some amazing birdlife, fishing and pretty dangerous waters, we took a boat cruise up the estuary to see the sites, but getting somewhat sick of wildlife spotting by now, kept the visit short.

For the final leg of the car trip, we jumped across Zululand to the Drakensburg mountains, where we spent the night in a beautiful backpacker, the Inkosana Lodge, waking up in the awesome shadow of the Dragon Mountains peaks and then exploring ancient bushman cave paintings (approx. 3000 years old) before hiking up into one of the surrounding valleys at Giant’s castle, before heading onto Durban. The Drakensburg mountain range borders the country of Lesotho and is a remarkable extension of sharp peaks and beautiful grass covered valleys. We could have easily spent a week there, hiking trails and exploring the numerous cave paintings, but we had only given ourselves 3 weeks in South Africa and already craved some real, African experiences as opposed to the entirely familiar western experience we were encountering, we decided to move on as quickly as we could.

Bushmen paintings - shamanic transformation

From Durban we rejoined the BazBus backpacker trail and spent 3 days on the Wild Coast in Coffee Bay, staying at Bomvu Backpackers. Coffee Bay is remote, accessed by a 2 hour incredibly potholed road from the nearest highway and for that reason amongst the most untouched areas remaining in South Africa. The beach, community and remote hill sides Xhosa townships of round, pale blue ‘rondavel’ huts, all create a fascinating backdrop. And Bomvu itself is an institution in the community here, with live drumming sessions at nights around the fire and jazz / drumming / trance festivals held in their own private valley. While we were there, a jazz / drumming festival was being held, largely targeted towards the local community with many local bands, singers and performers. Not really my style of music, but a lot of fun, mostly because it provided the opportunity for a real, local interaction experience, watching the locals dance, party and move is hypnotic in itself and something quite hard to find in a country of segregation and pre-packaged tourist tribal experiences.

From there, we reluctantly made our way down to Port Elizabeth and then Knysna, a pretty settlement on a beautiful lake, before rounding out with the better part of a week in the beautiful city of Capetown. Here, apart from just relaxing from the backpacker crawl of the previous few weeks and exploring the city, we managed to meet all manner of interesting fellow travellers – departing, arriving and planning their own exotic adventures. We did manage to score a clear day and climb Table Mountain to soak up the stunning Capetown views and do some resupplying for the trip ahead, but decided to skip the wine tours, beaches, Cape of Good Hope tour and other sights. In part, we were a little chastened by the high cost of tourist travel in South Africa, but largely were left craving ‘real African experiences’. We had gotten used to living in more edgy places now I think, more used to the real and fascinating reality that travel through the third world seduces you with. The natural beauty of South Africa was stunning and we met some fantastic people, but the rest was a bit too comfortable and westernized to satisfy us for long. Perhaps we will appreciate that more a little bit later of course, but for the moment 3 and 1/2 weeks was enough. We were keen to move on. Next stop the stunning deserts landscapes of Namibia.


Ancient Welwitschia’s – Swakopmund, Namibia

Desert fields of Welwitschia's. The worlds oldest plant (up to 2,000 years old) ナミブ砂漠に生息する、数千年生きるという世界最古の植物ヴェルヴィッチア

Desert fields of Welwitschia’s. The worlds oldest plant (up to 2,000 years old) and only found in the ancient deserts of Namibia…



Dead Vlei – ‘Namib Desert’ Sossusvlei, Namibia

The dead tree's, white clay and red sand dunes make Dead Vlei stunningly photogenic. Used as the set for the move the 'The Cell'...

The dead tree’s, white clay and red sand dunes make Dead Vlei stunningly photogenic. Used as the set for the move the ‘The Cell’…


Desert Sunset – ‘Namib Desert’ Sesriem, Namibia

A random desert panorama from our trek into the surreal, alien landscapes of the Namibian deserts...

A desert sunset panorama from our trek into the surreal, alien landscapes of the Namibian deserts…


Table Mountain – Capetown, South Africa

The stunning view from Table Mountain overlooking Capetown and Cape of Good Hope. The last known whereabouts of Pchan...RIP!

The stunning view from Table Mountain overlooking Capetown and Cape of Good Hope. The last known whereabouts of Pchan…RIP!