After spending 3 weeks at Ko-Sa, on the coast of Ghana it was time to leave and head for Accra, or more specifically Tema, where for the second time our trusty overland truck, Colonel K, was due to be loaded onto a Ro-Ro vessel and be shipped to Namibia.
So we said goodbye to the owners, staff and a few locals who we had got to know quite well (mostly kids that sell bananas or pineapples), we gave out a few presents to the kids, old sunglasses, a Suzuki Rizla hat, some pens, etc. Two of the kids, Godwin and his sister Mary, seemed genuinely upset that we were leaving.
The plan was to spend a night at Big Milly’s Back Yard, which was only about 60km from the yard in Tema where we had to drop off Colonel K early the next morning, so after a quick call to Tom to make sure they had enough room for us to park there, we set off. Now, this day was a public holiday in Ghana, and as we drove down the steep dirt track that leads to the entrance, we realised that we had a problem, it was packed with vehicles! There was no way that we were going to be able to drive into the yard, so after assessing the situation (and blocking a side turning), we decided that we would drive to Tema that afternoon and stay at a hotel that we had previously used. Now 60km really isn’t far, and should be easily done in an hour, right? Wrong! That 60km involved travelling through the suburbs of Accra, at 5pm on a public holiday, and it gets dark in Ghana at 6pm ‘ish. That last 40 minutes was a complete nightmare, the lights on the Daf are the equivalent to having a candle lit miners helmet in each headlight, that coupled with our fantastic tinted windscreen, created a very nerve racking experience. There were pedestrians running across the unlit motorway right in front of us, and there was the potential to hit a pot hole the size of a small car at any time, but eventually we made it to the Crismon Hotel and had a nice meal and a comfortable night.
Next morning we drove the short distance to the Portside yard and met Bas (the MD) to drop the truck off give him the Carnet de Passage and a full set of keys. About an hour later Ze Germans arrived in their Hilux camper to do the same. We then squeezed the 4 of us, 4 suitcases, and 4 hand luggage bags into a tiny taxi, and headed into Accra city and our pre-booked back packers hotel, The Sleepy Hippo.
The Sleepy Hippo, is a backpackers type hotel, and is amazing value for money compared to other accommodation in Accra, costing $40USD for a double room including breakfast, it even has hot water (most of the time), and electric (some of the time). It is owned by an Aussie (Drew) and his wife, but it is mostly run by the very friendly Richard, and Chef (Joshua), its not in the best of areas in Accra, but taxis are so cheap that its not a problem.
After spending 6 nights here, and getting many nerve racking emails and calls from Bas concerning the customs situation at the port (the scanner broke down, the customs wanted to see the carnets yet again, etc) the day finally arrived when the Glovis Cougar was due to arrive and leave, and we were due to fly out of Accra, (on the 60th day of our 60 day visa!) what could possibly go wrong? We arranged to meet Bas in a hotel bar near the airport so he could bring our fully stamped Carnets and keys to us. On arrival he gave us our Carnet and then told us that even though Ghana Customs had had the Carnets for many days, they still hadn’t stamped the export section of the relevant page! He promised that he would email a export document from Customs the next day (this was subsequently received). We had a few beers with Bas, during which he showed us a photo of Colonel K being loaded onto a truck (apparently you can’t drive a vehicle into the scanner, it has to be on a vehicle or trailer). Bas had to stop these idiots, who I guess didn’t realise the weight of the Daf. Wheelie truck!
Anyway, that night we flew out of Ghana, and next stop was Nairobi, Kenya, and after a brief stop here it was onto another flight down to Johannesburg, in South Africa, where we stopped overnight at a hotel near the Airport. An early morning flight the next day was due to take us on to Walvis Bay, but shortly after boarding (the quite small jet), the captain announced that there was a problem with the steering of the front undercarriage and that we would have to disembark again once a bus could be arranged to take us back to the terminal building. After about another 20 minutes we found ourselves on a bus next to the plane, but the captain asked the driver to stay where we were for a bit, as the maintenance engineers where already here, 10 minutes later it was all fixed and we (it was only about half full) got back on board, and eventually we took off. We were well behind schedule but heading towards Namibia.
As we approached Walvis Bay, the plane descended and the view of the Namib Desert was truly stunning, and after about 12 years the sheer beauty of Namibia came flooding back to us!
We were very luck to make it to Namibia that day, because shortly after we landed there was a nasty sandstorm blowing in from the desert, perhaps this was a good sign.
Ok so now we are in Namibia, we have to “tackle” another African customs official at immigration. We had already found out that the maximum stay here for a tourist is 90 days, but you must have a return ticket to get a visa! Obviously we have no return ticket, and expected this to be a huge issue with the officers, we also had to state how much money we were expecting to spend during our stay. Guess what? We were through immigration in a couple of minutes, with a full 3 month visa, and the return ticket issue was not a problem. THIS IS NOT WEST AFRICA! The officers also smiled and joked with us, and even told us how he hoped we would have a pleasant stay in Namibia, unbelievable.
Namibia is a very different world to the places we’ve been over the last 6 months, its incredibly clean and well organised, its very safe, and so so cheap. A nice meal out, with bottles of wine, cocktails, etc will be less than £20, and this is in a nice restaurant. Diesel is less than 50p a litre (this is the cheapest we’ve encountered apart from Western Sahara).
We visited our clearing agent, Zaskia, at Coastal Imports, who seemed very organised, and we completed a couple of forms for customs here, ready for the arrival of the Glovis Cougar.
Together with Andreas and Mareika, we are staying in a nice B&B in the large and more holiday type town of Swakopmund, which is not too far from Walvis Bay, and its not too long a walk into town for shops, bars and restaurants. Oh and hairdressers! After over 6 months away, Jac finally found somewhere that she was happy to have her hair done in, so lets have a look at the before and after pictures eh.
She was in the hairdressers for nearly 4 hours, and it included a laydown hair wash, treatment, and head massage, Jac is now a happy bunny!
We have been in Swakopmund for 5 days now, and we are extremely impressed with the town, it is surrounded by two seas, one is water, the other is a sea of sand.
The temperature has been quite a shock, after about 11.00am the sun is very hot (as long as you are out of the wind), but after about 6.00pm the temperature really plummets, and a fleece or jacket is certainly needed in the evening or first thing in the morning. This will certainly change as we head North up the Skeleton Coast towards Etosha and the Angolan border, and then inland to the desert areas. The air here is so much drier than the very humid air of West Africa, you can feel the difference on you skin, especially your face that feels so much drier. I hope that it doesn’t mean that we will get wrinkles.
Today is October 4th, and we have heard this morning (from our spies Phil and Angie, who are waiting for a different ship for their vehicle to arrive), that the Glovis Cougar has docked at Walvis Bay, so with a bit of luck we will collect Colonel K tomorrow and get back to camping. We have really missed the truck, and have had enough of hotels, and B&B’s.
We don’t yet have a plan as to where we will go in Namibia, but we will probably head down to South Africa afterwards for a couple of months before heading over to the East, and Central countries of Southern Africa.
Thanks for reading, and hi to everyone back home.