59. Waka, waka, goodbye Africa!


We have done it my friends! We have cruised all the way to South Africa. This truly has been an EPIC journey, the most amazing thing we have ever done! We have travelled through 22 countries and driven over 35.000 km! We have seen world wonders and we have seen little undiscovered gems. The entire journey has been a highlight. Of course we had less good days, but really, this has been so amazing that even the harder days were good days. And traveling with your car really gives you the feeling of ultimate freedom. I always felt free while being on the road but having your own car makes the adventure so much better: sleeping in the middle of nowhere, leaving whenever you want and most of all going wherever you want to go.

Yes, this has been such a great trip, so many highlights to look back onto: watching animals in the wild, showering in the desert, seeing the footprints of hyenas near the car after a night of sleep, monkeys stealing our food, climbing up mountains, giant spiders in the tent and yes, even digging out two trucks. It has all been fantastic!

Unfortunately all trips eventually bring you back home. But home is also where my friends are. Friends I have had to miss but friends who I know are there every time I set foot on Belgian ground again. Thanks to all of you who never give me the feeling we have to ‘work’ on our friendship, we just pick-up where we left, nothing has changed. And a big, no huuuuuuge, thank you to Martine and her husband Bart who have surprised us several times with the best gift one can receive on a trip like this: diesel! Thank you so much guys! And oh yes, keep the lobsters coming! LOL

Also a special thx to my closest friends…
Layla, frientin, thank you for keeping so much in touch, for sending pictures and including me in your life as if I’m still in Belgium. You are such a great friend!

Anneke, frangipanneke, love you so much my crazy sista!

Florence, you always have the best intentions for everybody. Thank you for being a true friend. xxx

Bart, you are such a fantastic guy! Thank you for taking me out to dinner. LOL Luv you!

Maja, sometimes a friends does something totally unexpected, something that makes you realize that you can always, always count on them. You are that friend! Thank you for everything you do for me without even realizing it. You mean the world to me! xxx

Sonnie, my soulmate! Ten years have gone by since we met. Thank you for our fantastic friendship, for all the good times we had and for all that lays in front of us. You truly make my world a better place! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

And last but far from least, Kosta, my fantastic four all-in-one. Travelling through Africa together has been the most amazing thing I have ever done!!! You have made this trip into what it turned out to be: a fantastic journey with hundreds of highlights! We just had so much fun, so many good times and we stood beside each other when times were rough. Thank you for this epic adventure!! And thank you for letting me be who I am and loving me for it, I am sure that is not always easy. LOL And remember that as we go home, we are going to embark in what might turn out to be the biggest adventure in our lives: living together. LOL XXX

So this really is it. We are off to the airport now. Thank you for travelling with us. Here some last pix, an overview of our adventure….

58. Last time to Cape Town

The next day we move on to drive the Bayne’s kloof pass and spend the night at Katryntjesdrift : ), a campsite in Wellington. From there we move on to Franschoek, a lovely town where we enjoy a lazy afternoon walking around, drinking a coffee and just enjoy the warm weather. Enjoying the last moments we have before we set of one last time to Cape Town.

Monika socks, true life savers!

As we approach Cape Town we put on the same song that we started this trip with. ‘Waka, Waka, it’s time for Africa’ is  filling the car with the awareness that this really is the end. We still have a couple of days in Cape Town, but the cruising part is over.  Now it is time to get the car ready for the container, get the gearbox checked and throw away our traveling clothes.

Waffle time!

We do ‘normal’, every day stuff on these last days. Friday a game evening with eight people, on Saturday a bunch of people come over to stuff themselves with waffles and glühwein and on Sunday we hike. Saranne, Mandla, Rumpedi and the two of us go up Lion’s Head. It is just a hike of about one hour up but it does us all some good as we have stuffed ourselves with the rest of the waffles this morning. : ) Afterwards we go and feats on a meat platter but oh well, we can’t all be top models. ; )


57. Star gazing

There is something about stars that just makes you feel content. It is as if looking at them makes the world a perfect place. We don’t often take the time to stare at those little diamonds but in Sutherland it is one of the main attractions. Sutherland is a little town in the middle of nowhere that is known for SALT, the South African Large Telescope. In the coldest place of South Africa (this is not a joke unfortunately LOL) and you can do a bit of star gazing in the evening with a telescope. The sky is clear 80% of the time and due to zero light pollution you can truly enjoy the diamonds of the southern hemisphere.


During the day we visit SALT. It is almost a private tour as we are only four people. In total there are about 12 telescopes here but we only get to have a peak into the biggest one. We get to enter and see the gigantic telescope from close by. Apparently there is more to see in the southern hemisphere than in the northern one, so all year round astronomists from different countries spend their days in bed here and their nights studying the sky. Hence why we don’t see anybody else than a couple of technicians.


The German telescope aka The Barn

When temperatures have well dropped below 5 degrees, we prepare ourselves to do a bit of stargazing ourselves. My outfit consists of 2 pair of socks, one of them being my Monika socks (knitted by Monika and ultra warm), a top, a t-shirt, my black jacket, my red jacket and Kosta’s hoody. Of course I am wearing my scarf and an extra neck warmer thing. Kosta just walks around with a blanket. : )  Spending an evening looking through a telescope is great. What appears to be a star in the sky when you look at it with the naked eye, is in fact the planet Saturn surrounded by its rings. We are able to see the different colours of the stars, we see clouds of stars and Mars. Although it is cold we are really enjoying our evening. When temperature feels like it is heading towards zero we climb into our bed. Me, I don’t even bother in changing into my pyjamas. When we wake up the next morning we have, for the second time on our trip through Africa, frost on the car. Told you this was the coldest place of South Africa!


Romantic star gazing LOL

56. Cheetah time!

As my friends might know, and I am sure people that worked with me know, patience is a virtue that is not part of my personality. When something needs to be done, it should be done quickly. And when I want to see something I want to see it now… like cheetahs that live in the South African Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. This is the last park of our trip and so our last chance to see these amazing animals in the wild. You probably think the name sounds familiar, makes you think of Kalahari. Well this park is the result of a merger between the Kalahari-Gemsbok NP in South Africa and the Mabuasehube-Gemsbok NP in Botswana.


Gemsbok, every time we look at them now we imagine
them on our plates. LOL

Obviously you can enter the park in SA and Botswana but you can also make your way in through the Mata Mata gates situated at the Namibian border.  The only ‘catch’ is that you have to stay 2 night in the park if you are leaving the nature reserve via another gate and so via another country. This was not part of our plan but as the detour to avoid spending two nights here costs us the same in fuel, we decide to take it as it comes and book ourselves a campground for 2 nights. And thank goodness they did not let us make a daytrip only! Thank goodness for rip-off rules and regulations ‘cos on the first day we don’t see any predators but after a good night sleep we not only see black-maned lions but also 8 cheetahs not far from the car. Patience has made this wish come true!


Hmmm, interesting


Black-maned lions


Don’t forget to bring your camera!

As we set off at 7 am not many tourists are on their way to spot animals yet. But that is the time to be out and about as the cheetahs look for preys in the cool morning hours. Thanks to a photographer we see 4 cheetahs about 200 meters from the car. At least our binoculars (or do I have to say monoculars as one part always falls of LOL) makes them seem a bit closer to us. The photographer moves on but we decide to sit patiently and hope they come our way. As the big cats start walking, we start the car again and reposition ourselves strategically. It might sound boring to watch the cheetahs just walk and linger a bit but it is truly a fantastic experience to see them in the wild. Our patience is rewarded: after about 45 minutes they cross the street not even 20 meters away from us.


Cheetahs far away


The reward for being patient : )

To end our great day, we see four cheetahs in the evening, only 5 meters away from us, but with a fence in between. You see, you have to be in the fenced camping area before 6 pm. As we set of to go and give notice that we’ve returned from our day trip Kosta says we should try and check something first. The evening before other people saw some cheetahs near the cottages on the other side of the fence, maybe they are there again. And we are lucky because 4 gorgeous cats come walking out of the high grass. The fastest pussy cats in the world are walking at a slow pace, not caring about the car that drives next to them. What a sight, what a highlight, this is truly fantastic!




55. Kaokoveld and Etosha NP

Sometimes you go see something of which deep in your heart you already know you are not going to be impressed by. Rock paintings is for us one of those things. As we are passing near it, we decide to walk and see the White Lady of the Brandberg, a 40 cm figure that is part of a painting that depicts a hunting procession. We thought we would just arrive there, park the car, walk 5 minutes and quickly have a look before driving on.  But oh no, it takes us a 40 minute walk under the blistering sun to see it. In total we are gone for two hours without enough water but thank goodness enough sun cream. But like I said, it is really not interesting, the walk is nicer than the actual goals we were walking to (well, except for the fact that we did not carry enough water LOL) That same day we make our way down to the Burnt Mountain, a volcanic clinker that appears to have been exposed to fire. Again, not impressive. We do however enjoy the Organ Pipes very much. It is a stretch of a 100 metre with dolerite columns that are about 4 meter high.


‘White Lady of the Brandberg’…. you see what I mean


On ‘Burnt Mountain’


At the Organ Pipes

And then we arrive at the entrance to our most northern destination: the Kaokoveld. How is this part of the world described in a guide book? Well, it goes like this: ‘… It is one of the least-developed regions of the country, and is often described as one of the last true wildernesses in Southern Africa’. More than enough reason for us to go there! It is also part of the region where the Himba people live and that would be great to see. The Himba women are known for smearing themselves with a mixture of ochre, butter and bush herbs. This dyes their skin an orange/red-like colour. It serves as a natural sun block and insect repellent. They also style their hair with ochre and oil so it looks like they have dreadlocks. These ladies never shower, no really, never. And an important detail for women-lovers amongst us : the Himbas barely wear any clothes and walk around bare-breasted, but trust us, that is not necessarily a treat to the eye. ; )


In the Kaokoveld


Living in the middle of nowhere


Abandoned Himba house

For two days we drive in the blistering heat, in the middle of nowhere. The scenery is amazingly beautiful. We could take pictures all day but none of them would show the true beauty of this part of Namibia. Unfortunately we barely see any Himbas. We do meet them however in Opuwo, the city known as the capital of the Himba culture. Loads of them are walking the streets. We don’t have any picture to show of them though and that for two reasons. First of all I don’t want to push my camera in their face. Second of all we are not interested in doing a ‘tour’ of a Himba village. For us, it would feel like being in a zoo. We prefer just to look at them while they smile at us on the street. Ok, we admit, we were hoping for a Himba that would be hitch-hiking but in spite of the car being ‘Himba-ready’ we had no lift to give.


In the ice cold infinity edge pool


Infinity edge pool

After the search for the Himba we start our search for the animals in Etosha National Park.  Etosha means ‘great white place of dry water’ and I can understand where that comes from. It is sooooo hot here! For once we actually also spend the night at the campground of a park. The only reason we’re doing this is to go to the waterhole near the campground in the evening. The waterhole is lit up at night so you have the opportunity to watch the animals drink. We’re lucky to see not only giraffes and zebras drink, but also to watch 3 thirsty rhinos and an elephant.  What we see during the day disappoints me however. We spot a couple of elephants (3 out of the 2.500!) and lions but unfortunately no cheetahs, the only animal still on my wish list. We do see a thousand springboks and zebras. My goodness, they really are everywhere! It seems to me they are an excellent pray for the cheetahs but nope, no hunting cheetah to be seen…. Damn! (Is this cruel of me? LOL)


At the waterhole


The King just walking by, 5 meters from the car
and totally not interested in us

A long drive brings us from Etosha to the capital, Windhoek, where we stay for a couple of days. We visit the city, we catch up with friends via the internet and more important, we have a nice evening out eating game at a restaurant. After seeing so many of them we want to try gemsbok and kudu. And we have to say, that my friends is good meat! We are completely stuffed when we walk back to the guesthouse. And yes, we actually walk back. People in Africa are a bit paranoid about this. In the evening, once it gets dark, barely anybody walks on the street. They all think it is dangerous. That kind of  makes it safe for us as there is barely anybody else walking around. ; )



After Windhoek we want to relax am afternoon in some hot springs. As they are closed, we end up spending a couple of hours at the Hardap dam where they also have a game park. It is a beautiful area with no other tourist. When we drive out of the park we find ourselves a fantastic place to sleep. We spend the night on a hill from where we can see the dam, and where baboons are looking down on us. Fortunately they can’t climb down to steal our food as it is too steep. : )

And then, after three weeks in this beautiful country, we start cruising to South Africa again….

54. From hot dunes to stinky seals

Loads of sun (plus the heat that comes along with it) and red sand dunes are the ingredients of our next day. At a quarter past six the gates to the park open and we of course, early birds we are, are present. We want to enjoy one of the oldest and driest ecosystems on earth before the sun makes us want to sit in shade we can’t find and enjoy a nice cold drink we don’t have.


You can hike on the dunes and one of the most accessible of the large red dunes is Dune 45 which rises 150 meters above our heads. As it is the most accessible we, for obvious reasons, decide not to hike it. No, we, with no sense of any perspective on how big the dunes actually are, want to choose one where nobody else is setting foot on.  Dune K&K as we call it, is our target. It looks big but not too high. Not even sure we are actually aloud to hike this one, but oh well, we can do this! Why go where all tourists go when you can suffer on your own dune that is way higher than you expected! LOL Walking up is no walk in the park. For reasons my friends will understand, I do not make it all the way up. I sit down several times and stand up again to do 50 more steps but somewhere along the line I have enough and sit down to enjoy the scenery. Kosta however does like sports and he suffers his way to the top. By the time we are walking down again the sun has already heat up the sunny side of the dune.


Our final destination in this warm and sweaty environment is Sossusvlei, a large pan of cracked, dry mud that is set amid red  sand dunes. By the time we are there it is incredibly hot. It’s almost hard to believe how hot it can be during the day when at night it can all of a sudden be very, very cold. And it is wintertime now, I don’t want to know how hot it is going to be when my friends Martine and Bart will be here in November.


In the afternoon we move on toward Swakopmund. And this is what we love the most about this beautiful country: you can bush camp everywhere! Namibia counts just over 2 million inhabitants, spread over an area of 825.000 sq. km. That means more than enough space left for us …:

… to choose a great spot for the night

… to enjoy a sun downer

… and to take a shower in all privacy

Before arriving in Swakopmund we stop at Walvis Bay, a harbour town. The only real reason we stop here is so Kosta could eat a schnitzel at Willi Probst bakery & Cafe. And let me tell you people, we have enjoyed our lunch! Never did chicken with mushroom sauce taste so good! And as for the schnitzel, jawohl, it makes feel Kosta right at home. : )

German products you don’t have to miss in Namibia

Swakopmund is also a place where without any doubt Germans feel at home. It is a beautiful town full of them. Here you find everything you need. From nice supermarkets to internet possibilities, from bookshops with loads of German books to your typical tourist gift shops. From historical buildings spread over town to a sea-side promenade, yes, Swakopmund has it all. What they don’t have anymore is a brewery. The former Hansa brewery where you had the ample opportunity to sample the golden drink, has closed down. Kosta was looking forward to do an ‘educational’ tour of it but unfortunately the beer-maker has relocated.

Desperation of a thirsty fan

A mere 100 km north of Swakopmund they also have a smelly seals colony. Seals might be cute but oh goodness do they stink! After almost vomiting three times I make my way down to the car. Good thing I have seen countless in my life, I have no urge to force myself to look at them one minute longer than needed. Kosta, who finds this very amusing, stays out a bit longer to enjoy the company of this funny creatures. I think he just wants to proof he can actually stand the smell. LOL


53. Finally: welcome to Namibia!!!

It takes us one and a bit day of driving to get to the border of Namibia.  Nice and boring driving: the scenery is nice but not the most exciting, the roads are straight, the tarmac is good and most of all the car is running so smoothly that we have nothing to say about making it the 850 km to Namibia. Don’t you just love it when all goes well and you have nothing to tell?!!! The only thing we should mention for Ruth ‘s conscious is that we did a little stop for her. The first time we were driving up was with her. After the car showed signs of serious problems we ended up spending the night at a place were they had rooms and the possibility to camp. Ruth eventually ended up sleeping in the car and Kosta and I in her room. I am sure up till now Ruth is still grateful for the mosquito net we have in the car, and for us sleeping in a room without. LOL Anyway, in the morning we get everything ready to leave. As this is the first night we actually camp with Ruth she has no idea what is ours. So Ruth puts away our cutlery, our plates and two coffee mugs that were in the room. When we later discover her kleptomania we promise to return the mugs if we ever make it back on that road to Namibia.  And so we did. : )


For Ruth: returning ‘the stolen’ goods

Six weeks later than we thought we are finally welcomed to Namibia! Our first stop is a campground not far from the Ai-Ais/Richersveld Transfrontier park. It is still early afternoon and we decide to rest our heads here for the afternoon as the lodge with facilities for campers also has a swimming pool. And not just a pool, no, a pool to my liking: a hot one! The water comes from the hot springs and has the feel of a bathtub that never turns cold. I never understood how some people can just soak for an hour in their tub while it gets cold. Ok, they add hot water after a while but its not the same, really. How relaxing is that when the hot water turns lukewarm all the time? But this is just great! The water is warm but not too warm, a little breeze cools you down but not too much. Yes, we have arrived in pool paradise! We stay in the water until we are as wrinkled as we won’t even be when we’re old. This is what they call an afternoon of relaxation.


But Kosta and I are eager to travel on with The Cruiser so next day we leave the pool for what it was and drive up to the park, only 20 km from the campground. We don’t go into the Ai-Ais hot springs (Ai-Ais meaning scalding hot in Nama) but we come to see the impressive Fish River Canyon, a canyon measuring 160 km in length and up to 27 km in width. The inner canyon has a depth of 550 m. There is a famous and very popular five day hike you can do here in the canyon. Because it is a very strenuous hike this excursion of 85 km requires you to have a doctor’s certificate of fitness issued less than 40 days before the walk.  As the route is only open from May till end of September we can unfortunately (ooolé, olé, olé, olé) not do the hike.  So we enjoy the canyon the healthy way: by going from viewpoint to viewpoint in the car! LOL


Fish River Canyon

Now one thing you should know about Namibia before you pack your bags is learning how to read a map. I’m not talking about knowing where you are driving to, no I talking about realizing that that little town mentioned on your route map might not be identified as what we actually define as a town. As we drive out of the park we make our way down to Sossusvlei. That still being a bit of a drive we first have to stop somewhere to get money out, buy a bit of stuff and get fuel. Next town on the map: Bethany. Not only is this ‘town’ on the map, it is also signposted along the road. When we get there, however, all we see is a hotel and two other houses. Yes people, that is Bethany for you! Our hopes are on the next possible stop indicated on the map but well, it might be ‘bigger’ but everything is closed as it is Saturday afternoon. With almost no money left nor food, we decide to bush camp a bit further and come to the little supermarket that is open on Sunday morning. It will take us a bit of a detour towards a proper town that has a tiny bit bigger dot on the map to find cash the next day. Along the way we pass many ‘towns’, signposted on the streets, sometimes on the map, sometimes not. Nothing more to be found there than a couple of houses representing ‘the city’. Consider yourself warned. : )


The hotel of the big town Seeheim