lorrywaydown

Namibia, Kaokoland and the Himba

We planned to leave Tsumeb, and to camp overnight just outside the town of Ondangwa in Ovamboland, in the north of Namibia, but to our surprise the road is now tarmac, and we covered the distance much quicker than we thought (we are used to the gravel tracks), so we decided to “crack on” and drive the whole way to Ruacana Falls in one day.

There are a few places to camp up there, but we decided to use the Community run campsite which is situated right on the Kunene River. The river forms the Northern border between Namibia, and Angola, and despite the name, there is very rarely any water cascading over the falls as the water levels are controlled at a dam with a huge hydro-electric plant (this supplies more than half of Namibia’s power). But despite this, it is well worth a trip, as the river is absolutely stunning here. The campsite run by the local Himba people, is in such an amazing position, just as the river splits and forms a huge island. As usual we were the only vehicle here, and as soon as we arrived a few of the Himba children arrived and were intrigued by Colonel K and us. They were really nice kids, and didn’t seem to be after anything, just interested in us (Jac gave them a few salted crackers, which they really disliked and spat out).

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Ruacana Falls is just inside the huge area of land known as Kaokoland, which covers the massive wilderness area of north western Namibia, this is home to both the Himba and the Herero people. These ,especially the Himba, have largely been sheltered from western society until fairly recently, and the big change came to them during the Angolan war in the 1980’s, when South African forces were massed in this area. There are still land mines on this side of the border to remind you! The Dam at Ruacana Falls was badly damaged by an air strike in 1988, from a Cuban aircraft (yep thats right a Cuban, as in the Caribbean Island), this really was a messed up part of the world, and it just goes to show how a country in Africa can change quite quickly and sometimes for the better. Namibia, is now a peaceful and prosperous country (of course it still has its problems), and some African countries could learn a lot from this place.

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The river here is a dangerous place, and with huge crocodiles swimming up and down its not the place for a quick dip. The current and water levels change very quickly too.

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The Himba even provide a special area for fishing from the bank, protection from hippos and crocs.

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I didn’t actually try the fishing here, not because I was scared of being eaten by a huge Crocodile (actually I was a bit), but because it was so damn hot up there, it was well over 40c in the shade and not much cooler at night (staying up at about 27-28c even at about 5am). But there was so much going on at the waters edge, I just didn’t have time for fishing! There was a large group of Vervet Monkeys, that were determined to get themselves eaten by the crocs, eating the reeds, and drinking the water.

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There were quite a few youngsters in the group, and they spent as much time, playing and rolling around together, they were great fun to watch.

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On one walk along the river we watched Kingfishers feeding off of the small fish in the shallows, including this Pied Kingfisher.

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As as with almost all of Africa that we have seen, the sunsets at Ruacana are beautiful.

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We stayed at the Community site (called Hippo Pools) for three days, and it was so relaxing, but due to the extreme heat (oh and the fact that we only had two months left on our Namibian Visa), we decided to move on, but not until Jac got talking to a local guy that was making items from waste left by us westerners on the site. She came back with this ‘baseball cap’ made from old Orange Fanta cans!

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A nice idea, but everytime you wear it you run the risk of cutting your ears off! No such thing as soft or folded edges here. And Jac wanted to give it to a small child as a gift mmmm, you can tell we don’t have kids eh (nephews, and nieces look out when we get back).

Anyway after a few fantastic days with the Himba people at Ruacana Falls, we had to break camp, and head off back up the long steep climb into the Koakoveld.

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The road drops down about 1,500ft very quickly to get to Ruacana, and so we had to do this the other way round when leaving Ruacana, and this involves some very steep sections, but because of the Hydro-plant this is section of road is now tarmac, and so it was not an issue with the Daf, but the view from the top looking out over the Kunene River and the hills of Angola was stunning.

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Our next destination was Epupa Falls (I’m assured that water does flow over these), again on the Kunene river, but about 150km to the west. There is a track that runs directly along the river via the small settlement of the fantastically named Swartbooisdrift, but with a 9 tonne truck, that is a no-no for us. You definitely need at least another vehicle with you, and we’ve been told that even in a light weight fully sorted, tricked up 4×4, it can take 3-4 days of hard driving. And of course we are entering the “rainy” season here. So our only option was to head South and then West to the small town of Opuwo, where we could refuel, and restock the larder before heading north to the border again.

Opuwo really is a rough and ready town, theres nothing really that endears it to you, everywhere is very busy, the fuel station, the “super market”, and just about everywhere there’s people, mostly Himba. The day we got there the town was completely enveloped with a huge dust storm blowing in from the surrounding hills.

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The town has got a true African feel to it, and really reminded us of West Africa, we started to warm to the place, and ended up staying in the campsite of The Country Lodge on the top of the hill overlooking the town one way, and out over the Kaokoveld the other way.

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The above photo was taken the next morning, and it was a very windy, dusty night (nothing to do with with our one pot meal……), at about 2am we were outside with our trusty machete, chopping a large branch off of a tree we were parked next to (there was no way we could move over to get away from it), before it destroyed a large segment of Colonel K’s side. I felt very guilty cutting this off, but we had no choice in this instance.

We are looking forward to reaching Epupa Falls, and driving further into Kaokoland.

Thanks for reading, and hi to everyone back home.

V

Etosha East, and beyond

Our last night at Olifantsrus was marked by a massive storm hitting the site, we had seen dozens of storms off in the distance for the last 2 or 3 nights, but had just seen lightning, dramatic, but way off to the North. This time it was different, we were in the hide when it started to rain, gently at first, then the wind picked up, and the rain absolutely hammered it down, in huge great blobs. The trouble is we had left the windows open in Colonel K, and we didn’t want a repeat of the Mali storm where we lost a window. so we made a dash for it. We were out in it for no more that 3 or 4 minutes, but we were soaked, really soaked. No harm done, but its weird that even when its uncomfortably hot and sticky, you still want to get out of the rain! You can’t please us travelling Brits.

By morning, any sign of rain was gone (the storm only lasted about half an hour), but I’m sure that the plants and animals of Etosha were grateful for what must be the first rains of the rainy season (it doesn’t rain much here even in the wet season). We packed up, and set off on the 200km drive through the park to another campsite, this time in Okaukuejo, this is located at the Eastern end of the famous Etosha Pan, but we had been warned that we are unlikely to be able to stop there, as its usually fully booked in advance, but we would try anyway.

On the long slow drive on the bumpy, corrugated gravel track, we took quite a few diversions and stopped quite a few times watching game and at various water holes, at one particular spot we were watching lots of Springbok and Wildebeest, when out of the scrub wandered this beautiful young male Lion.

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It was fascinating to watch how all the other animals “backed up” and refused to muster the courage to approach the water hole (even the far side) all the time that he was there. After drinking (it was seriously hot in the midday sun) he just laid down and chilled, completely oblivious to the anguish that he was causing, I guess they just had to wait. He was still laying there when we left!

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These massive birds nests are home to lots of Weaver birds, and we were once told that you shouldn’t stand or camp under them as they are particularly attractive to snakes and especially Black Mamba’s, who feast on the easy picking of the eggs, and can just drop from the tree at any time.Thumb P1040070 1024

As we approached the edge of the Pan, it got very dusty, but there were an extraordinary large number of animals in this inhospitable place. Thumb P1040076 1024

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When we got to Okaukuejo, we bumped into Phil and Angie in the car parking area in their Iveco camper, they had entered the park from the nearby southern Anderssons Gate (we had entered by the Western gate), and were also trying to camp here. As we thought, they were fully booked with no available space, and the staff suggested that we drive the further 65km to the next campsite at Halali, where there should be space available at the much bigger site. Phil and Angie decided to do the same, so we agreed to meet them there later in the day. The waterhole at Okaukuejo is a well known game viewing spot, and we were a little disappointed that we weren’t able to see an evening here. But you never know, perhaps Halali would be a nice surprise.

Although the campsite is huge (about 75 spaces, and not the sort of place that we usually stop in, but its impossible to wild camp in Etosha), the waterhole was very interesting. When we arrived in the early evening, the first thing that struck us was how many people were sat  watching the waterhole, the other thing that you immediately noticed was that there was a dead young Elephant on the other side of the water.

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It obviously hadn’t been dead for very long, but strangely there were no other elephants around, so either it was on its own at the water hole, or its group had left, it we don’t know. We also don’t know what caused it to die, there were no obvious wounds or injuries on the body,.

As darkness started to fall, we were treated to some very strange behaviour.

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Quite quickly six White Rhino appeared out the darkness and into the artificial light of the waterhole, including a mother and calf, one of the adults lay down alongside the dead Elephant and stayed there for almost an hour, it then got up and seemed to try to get the Elephant up on its feet, by nudging it with its head, it then seemed to lay across the body, and using its weight tried to push it up or Jac thought it looked like he was trying to resuscitate him. The other Rhino’s also approached the Elephant and most nudged it gently, and seemed almost upset or mourning the passing of this superb animal. We also experienced again the amazing sight of Rhino’s going head to head,almost in a social embrace (sometimes for 10 minutes at a time) and jousting with their horns. It is very easy to watch these amazing, intelligent animals for hours.

That night in bed in Colonel K, we could hear the nearby call of Lions, and also the cackle of Hyena, so we assumed that come morning most of the Elephant would be eaten. In actual fact, from our viewpoint there were no obvious signs that predators had been there (but we were told that both Lion and Hyena had been feasting on its belly area). Then after a few minutes this little Black Backed Jackal popped his head up, very nervously, but it was an opportunity too good to miss for him I guess (you can just see his head above the carcass).Thumb P1040185 1024

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Everything was very nervous around the waterhole that morning, probably because the smell of Lion was still very evident.

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 We only stayed at Halali for one night, and once again said our goodbyes to Phil and Angie (who had arranged to meet up with Andreas and Mareike a few days later to travel back through the park and to tour Kaokoland together), and we headed towards the East gate at Namutoni. Even on the exit of Etosha, there are always a few surprises for you if you look hard enough. We spotted this pride of Lions sheltering from the heat, just outside the gate, four females and two males, all fairly young.

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You can get some idea of the heat even at mid morning, with this photo of a Giraffe with Etosha Pan and its heat haze behind.

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From Etosha (no more wildlife pics for a bit….I promise…….), we drove about 80km to the nearby town of Tsumeb, stocked up with fresh meat and Veg (there is a Veterinary check point as you travel South from the Etosha area, and any uncooked meat will be taken from you in a bid to prevent the spread of Foot and Mouth disease) and then found a campsite on the edge of town. We spent a couple of days here, doing chores like washing (theres a washing machine on site), and maintenance issues on the truck. During the check we noticed that the diesel pump for the water heater had broken free from its mounting (the one supplied I think), and so made up another that now bolts directly to the chassis rails. We also bought a new larger tarpaulin in town to try to keep as much dust out of the bikes on the back rack. This tarp only had eyelets in the corners so we purchased a kit to fit another 20 eyelets around the edges.

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We also cleaned out all the locks and catches, that were full of dust. The living area of Colonel K has remained surprisingly dust free from when we are driving on the gravel tracks, but obviously once you park up and open all the doors and windows, any dust that is blowing about will get in there.

Also while at Tsumeb, we took the opportunity to empty the water tank to get rid of the horrible salty taste that we picked up a week or so before (previous blog), and refill the 300 litre tank. We took this decision after watching thousands of litres of clean drinking water getting sprinkled onto the grass every hour at the camp site. The problem is solved and there was no need to change the water filter, which is handy as there are no suppliers of replacement filters anywhere in Africa. Hopefully our spares will last us the rest of the trip. Fresh water really isn’t an issue in the urban (ish) areas of Namibia, weird but true.

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  Even on the fairly large campsite on the edge of town there is still plenty to watch and see. One evening we walked to the nearby bar to watch rugby (South Africa v New Zealand, and very loud in the bar), and as we walked out the side door we were confronted by about 10 Banded Mongoose’s, we later saw them over by the truck. Then there are also our little friends that were living in the tree above us.

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These bats are funny little things (not so little actually), and are quite awake and aware of you as you move about below them, at dusk we watched them leave the tree, they fly so low and close to you.

We had a walk into Tsumeb, which took about 45 minutes each way (it was scorching hot, carrying water is a must), and its a strange old mining town, mixing old and new, including this old Roman Catholic Church.

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And this Copper mine that is right in the centre of town, and towers way above the other buildings.

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 Whilst at Tsumeb, a group of mostly retired German tourists arrived in this 1967 Magirus, Deutz, ex firetruck that the guy converted into a safari tour bus 15 years ago, they had just completed a three week trip to Namibia and Angola, and were sleeping in ground tents. It made the Leyland Daf seem positively new by comparison.  

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Our “current plan” is to leave Tsumeb, and head north past Etosha, and travel across the wet (ish, its all relative out here) delta area of Owamboland along the Angola border to Ruacana Falls, and then across to Epupa Falls in Kaokoland (also on the border with Angola), we will then travel south and then head over to the Skeleton Coast and head back towards Swakopmund. This will then take us about half way though our 3 month Namibian visa that we have been granted, so will still give us plenty of time to explore the southern half of the country. It will be quite a bit hotter in the Kaokoland and the border area, though trust me its warm enough here right now……….

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It may be a while before we get chance to post the next blog, so no more boring animal or sunset photos for a bit eh, 

Hi to all our family and friends back home.

thanks for reading

V & J  x

 

  

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

   

 

   

 

 

 

   

 

  

 

 

 

   

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

North to Etosha

After leaving Spitzkoppe we headed North on the gravel roads towards Brandberg Mountain, via the tiny mining town of Uis where we stopped at the general store and stocked up with some fresh meat and vegetables. We also stopped at a community run Coffee Shop and during this trip we have tried to support local projects as much as possible, including local suppliers, and businesses. But some of these people have got a lot to learn about customer service, and we left here without buying any lunch (not what we intended). We were the only customers in the place and serving us was obviously a chore that the two waitresses couldn’t be bothered with.

The journey to Brandberg was as usual very stark but beautiful, and took us out of Erongo District and into the Southern part of Damaraland. On the way we saw this Rock Kestrel. 

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We stayed at Brandberg White Lady Lodge Campsite that was situated right at the base of the mountain, and after a quick drive around the site we choose a fantastic spot right on the edge of the dried up river bed. 

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Damaraland is the home to the famous Desert Elephants, and we were lucky enough on our previous visit to Namibia to have seen them. They are very elusive animals, and because they travel such huge distances to find food and water, they are very difficult to find, and they are generally more aggressive than Bush Elephants. But our camp spot that we chose was covered in fresh elephant footprints, and dung, so our hopes were high in sighting them again (apparently they came through the site less than an hour before we got there). But despite staying here for two nights we did not see any elephants. We did however have a great time at Brandberg, and it really is a beautiful spot, and all for less that £6-00 per person per night. You even get a nice hot shower (heated African style).

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From here we headed up towards Twyfelfontein (this is not really a town or village, but more a “farming” community), this is home to a few touristy type attractions, such as Burnt Mountain, and The Organ Pipe rock formations.

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These “organ pipes” are thought to be 120 million years old, and are made from Dororite, which was cooled very quickly to make this unusual rock formations.

That night we stayed at a nearby campsite (that even had a bar!), and again camped right next to the dried up river bed (the Huab).

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The following day’s drive was a very nervous one. Stupidly we were going to be very close to running out of fuel, with the nearest filling station in the town of Khorixas, about 120km away. We learnt a lesson that day, top up with fuel when ever you can! It was stupid because the last time we put any diesel in the tank was in Walvis Bay when we collected Colonel K from the port and even then we only put in 150 litres, and we have passed numerous places where we could fill up. Anyway we made it, so no harm done.

The gravel roads in Namibia are generally very good, but some of the minor tracks (which we tend to use more often), can be very heavily corrugated, and this is punishing for both truck, driver and passenger. The Daf has held up very well, with just a few fasteners working their was loose, and the odd bracket snapping, and thank god for our suspension seats that we fitted in the cab.

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We learn’t one other lesson that night, taste the water before filling the fresh water tank up! We stopped at a fantastic campsite about 5km outside the small town of Kamanjab for one night. As there was a tap right next to the truck so we decided to top the water tank up (we had not done this for nearly a week), and it proberbly took about 75litres to move the gauge nearer to the full mark (more later).

Early the next morning we set off for Etosha National Park. When we were in Swakopmund we found out that a new campsite had recently been opened in the Western end of Etosha, called Olifantsrus, and until this camp had opened the only way to visit this vast area of the park was to stay in one on the exclusive tented camps there, so we decided thats where we would head for. The trouble was that we were told that the site had to be pre-booked, or you would be refused entry into the park at Galton Gate. Obviously that wouldn’t work for us as we didn’t know what dates we would want to book for, so we took a chance and just drove there. We needn’t have worried as it was not a problem, we paid the park entrance fee’s (£4.60 pp per day), and then drove the 75km to the campsite, via various waterholes for a spot of game viewing. The park is huge with the drive from the West Gate to the North Eastern Gate being 350km (there is a fuel station though).

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When building the camp at Olifantsrus, (£12.50 pp per night, which is approx twice the price of most places but still a bargain) they decided to construct a new waterhole just outside the campsite fence, and a viewing hide with a foot bridge that takes you over the fence and right next to the waterhole. 

From here we had the most amazing experience, and took the decision not to just jump in the truck and do more game driving, (this is the obvious thing to do, but in this heat there not much animal activity during the day), but to stay put and see what comes to us over the course of the next 24 hours. As you can see below quite a bit actually came to see us!

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And not only Elephants, also (below) Kudu, Thumb P1030714 1024

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Blue WildebeestThumb P1030913 1024

Red HartebeestThumb P1030925 1024 Thumb P1030858 1024

Gemsbok/OryxThumb P1030751 1024

And everones favorite, the Birchell’s ZebraThumb P1030906 1024

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We also saw this extremely lucky (if the wound doesn’t get infected) Springbok, that looks like it had a very close shave with a Lion.Thumb P1030841 1024

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At night you can still visit the hide, and though the hide is in darkness, there are infra red lights over the water hole, so you can see a short way out into the vast blackness. The first evening we were there we were treated to 2 male White Rhino, and a female with a young calf. We watched the males jousting with each other, trying to compete with each other, and we watched both the males retreat away from the female Rhino. It was fantastic to watch these huge animals at such close quarters in their own environment. There were also visits from jackal’s, and a herd of Eland (a huge type of Antelope).

The evenings are now much warmer than when we were further South (quite hot actually, with night time temperatures not getting below 25c and day time well above 35c with a scorching sun), and its lovely to sit outside and eat even after dark, without needing anything more than teeshirt and shorts. There are a few flies in Etosha, but not as bad as we have experienced during our trip, and there is only a very small Malaria risk (though we are still taking our preventative medication as we will be going up to the Angola border afterwards). We have even experienced a few drops of rain in Etosha, and have seen quite a few violent storms in the distance after dark. It is also quite windy at times, and we do have to consider the position of the windows if we are leaving the truck, especially after having one ripped off in the tornado that hit us in Mali.

Anyway back to the water tank! That 75 litres that we put in because we weren’t sure about availably in Etosha, must have had a fairly high salt or chrorine content, as now our drinking water (comes through a purifying filter) has a mild salt taste, not a disaster but not nice either! So next time we will taste the water before putting it into the tank. Obviously we can’t just dump between 250 and 300 litres of water and start again, so we will drink bottled water for a time until we use the remaining water for, showers, washing up, clothes washing, etc. We may have to change the water filter again (this we have just done) if that is also tainted by the salt content.

Posting the blog is becoming much hard in Namibia, when in North and West Africa we almost always seemed to be able to get a 3G signal from a local sim card, then hotspot the laptop to that to send it, unfortunately although most of Namibia is covered by a mobile signal, most of the rural area (about 90%) is covered by 2G signal (E as its called here), so we can only upload a blog when we are in a more built up area. So some blog posts my be quite a bit out of date by the time they get uploaded onto the Lorry way down, and another may follow very quickly afterwards. But hey That’s Africa!

V

Namibia, out into the Desert

The day had finally arrived that we were due to pick up our Leyland Daf overland truck, from the Port at Walvis Bay, Namibia. At 9.00am we sent an email to Zaskia at Coastal Imports, asking what time she wanted us at their office in Walvis Bay, as we were staying in a B&B in Swakopmund. As usual we got a prompt reply saying she would contact us in about an hour as her representative, Pandu, was currently at the port dealing with the Customs concerning the clearing of our truck and Ze Germans Toyota Hilux. So all was going swimmingly. Just over an hour later we got a phone call from Pandu who was quite animated and asked us to get to their office asap, but definitely within an hour as there was a problem with Colonel K’s chassis number. So after two taxi rides (Swakopmund taxis aren’t all allowed to drive out of town), we got to Walvis Bay and were promptly driven to the Customs area of the port.

On the way, Pandu explained that Customs refused entry for the truck, as the plate on the vehicle showing the chassis number, didn’t exactly match the chassis number on the registration document (an issue that first came to light a while back in Ghana), and so didn’t match the Carnet de Passage. So after about 40 minutes sitting with a high ranking customs officer, it was decided that as we would be shipping or driving back out of Namibia, they would release the truck as long as we obtained a declaration signed by a Police Official and also signed by us (explaining that we and the Police know about the problem). So back into Pandu’s car, and off to the Police Station in the Port area. Eventually after the Police Officer had been to visit the truck, and we had helped the other Officer with the spelling of the declaration, we left with our precious piece of paper. By this time though it was lunch time and no one wanted to know, so it was back to the town centre, and along with Andreas, and Mareike (Ze Germans) we went off and had lunch in a lovely cafe round the corner. We were all extremely apprehensive about what the afternoon would bring, but hopefully all would be good.

Just after 3.00pm, Pandu arrived back from the port and gave us the good news that all was good and we were clear to go and collect our vehicles. So after paying our Invoices for the very efficient Coastal Imports, we again jumped into Pandu’s little Toyota Yaris, and headed for the Port, this time having to stop and get a permit to enter properly. Then after quite a long drive through the Port we arrived at the compound where Colonel K was stored, it was fantastic to see the truck once more. On closer inspection it was immediately apparent that there was a problem, the tarpaulin that was covering the mountain bikes on the rear rack had obviously been taken off and retied down .

 Then we realised that Jac’s prized Specialized Stumpjumper had beed stripped of its forks, and a few other parts (parts that didn’t have one of the many locks holding it down). Then when we got into the cab, we could see that someone had tried (and thankfully failed) to gain access into our living accommodation via the cut-through. There were also a few minor items (i.e. anything that wasn’t fixed down) taken from the cab. You could see that someone had tried to unlock the door into the living cabin with a much larger key (probably the ignition key as that was the only key left on the truck during shipping). These are the risks that you run shipping with a Ro-Ro vessel. It could have been a lot worse!

But we were so happy to have Colonel K back, so no more hotels, and B&B’s, we finally had our own place again,  full of our own stuff. So we just had to drive back to Swakopmund, on the tarmac highway  to collect our suitcases that we left at Pebble Stone House, and then head for Tiger Reef Campsite on the edge of town.

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About 15km after pick up the Daf, we got pulled over by a Police speed trap, this confused me as the speed limit was 80kmph, and that is our maximum speed, but the police officer politely asked me to switch off the engine and exit the vehicle. The issue here was not speed but the fact that we did not have our headlights on (in broad daylight, on a dead straight road, and with many other vehicles not having their lights on). Eventually I paid the $700NAD fine (about £35.00), in cash at the road side, and got a lesson that on the tarmac (there’s not much of it in Namibia) alway have your headlights on!

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  Back at the campsite, we all celebrated being reunited with our campers with a beer or two.

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And to assess the damage done to Jac’s bike.

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 The suspension forks had gone, the spokes in the front wheel had been snapped (trying to get it out), the seat was gone, as was the seat collar, and the rear wheel was slightly twisted. The next day we managed to find a cycle shop just outside town and after speaking to the owner, who was very helpful, we realised that to rebuild the bike was going to cost somewhere between £400 and £550, and this was using a second hand fork. So after thinking about it over night we decided to look at buying a new cheaper model bike, and in another shop we found a Scott hardtail, that was a 2015 model that they wanted to clear to make way for the new stock coming in. So after doing a deal we agreed the sum of $8,000NAD (£380.00), this same bike in the UK is currently being sold at the reduced price of £799.00! This is crazy when these products are identical and are imported into both countries.

Two days later, Phil and Angie pulled up next to us on the campsite, as we had arranged, in their Iveco 4×4 Camper, and a plan was hatched that we would all drive up the Swakop River bed, and wild camp overnight in the Namib Desert, This was something that Andreas had done on a previous trip to Namibia, so we felt quietly confident that it wasn’t going to be too tough. Wrong!

After a couple of aborted attempts to enter the dried up river bed in different places, we reduced our tyre pressures, and we went for it. Now within a couple of hundred metres we discovered a few things. 1) Riverbed sand is very fine, and in places very deep, 2) Overland trucks weighing 9.5 tonne do not mix well with riverbed sand, and 3) you should always carry sand ladders now matter how much your truck weighs.

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After attempting to move forward (following the route of Andreas’s light and nimble Hilux), and us having a discussion as to what we were going to do, I decided that we need to get the truck out of the riverbed, and that the others should continue. So using four sand ladders/plates, we gradually edged Colonel K back to the harder track that we had come off of to get to the river bed. This took about an hour to cover a couple of hundred metres, in the midday heat, involving lots of digging and shifting of sand. We were very grateful once we got the Michelins on firmer ground. The others decided that we should all stick together and that we would find somewhere else to camp for the night, so while I re-inflated the truck tyres (using the onboard airline) they went to turn around and drive out. As soon as Phil attempted to turn the Iveco around it was obvious that he was also firmly stuck deep in the soft sand! Only the lighter Toyota was able to drive on the sand without sinking, and so with the help of a local guy and his kids (I think they thought we were mad going in the river bed here in these vehicles), sand ladders, and a pull from the Hilux, Andreas pulled Phil and Angie to firmer ground.

After stopping for coffee and cake at a farm/  lodge, we decided to drive into the Dorob National Park, and find a quiet spot to wild camp for the night, it wasn’t the riverbed, but it was a stunning spot miles from anywhere.

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The intense heat of the day soon disappeared, and after lighting a campfire (and cooking our sausage and potato’s on it), we all wrapped up ready for the chilly desert night to come. It really did turn cold, with quite a stiff breeze funnelling between the rock faces. Even once in bed, and under our lightweight quilt, it still took ages to warm up.

The next morning I decided to get up early before sunrise,  to get a few photo’s, and hopefully warm up in the early morning sun, so I went climbing up some rock formations, and up into the mist. It was beautiful in a different way, but still very cold.

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When I got back to the Truck Jac had made a hot tea that was very welcome, and Phil was returning from his early morning walk, he was carrying a bag that he found out the desert , which he took into their Iveco camper and proudly presented it to Angie. A few minutes later Angie decided, quite sensibly, to bring the bag (full of freebies for travel agents), over to last nights camp fire and check its contents outside the vehicle. A quick glance into the bag, revealed all sorts of goodies, a baseball cap, a small rucksack, a variety of booklets and leaflets, a washbag, and a very angry Scorpion! Yup, Phil had taken a Scorpion into their camper. They were both very lucky not to have got a very nasty sting from the little sandy coloured fella.

After a long breakfast we said our goodbyes, (after spending over six fantastic weeks with Andreas and Mareike in both Ghana and Namibia), and Jac and I set off on a “very much take your time” journey up towards Etosha National Park (hopefully before it starts to get busy), with Ze Germans heading for the Skeleton Coast, and Phil and Angie taking a quicker route up to Etosha. So after a quick look on the map we decided to head for the Spitzkoppe range of mountains.

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 We arrived at the Park’s entrance gate and enquired about camping, and we were told that there were a number of widely spaced camping spots, all available, and to just drive around until you find one you like. We were also given a basic map showing the tracks around the park, and also indicated the camping spots in relation to the mountains peaks. The cost was £6.00 per person per night. The guy at the entrance gate indicated which were his favourite places to camp so we headed there, it was about 3-4km from the entrance to the place that we eventually settled on. And what a place! Complete silence, apart from a few birds singing (that were very friendly), and stunningly beautiful.

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 A quick climb up the rocks behind the truck, revealed that we weren’t on our own here, there was a colony of Rock Hyrax living in the granite boulders, its amazingly this extremely harsh landscape manages to support life.

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After a bit of exploring on foot, we made up our camp fire and set about cooking dinner, this night we had chicken and vegetables stir fry, with baked banana in caramel sauce (done in foil) for desert.

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Then it was off for a walk again, this time to see the sunsetting over the desert floor to the West. The first thing that you notice as the sun goes down is the change in the colour of the Granite rock.

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 And then the sunset!

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 We stayed at Spitzkoppe for 4 nights and every evening we had the most fantastic sunset.

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You may have heard people talking about the African night sky, and indeed I’m sure that I’ve mentioned it while travelling through North and West Africa on this blog before, but I can honestly say that the crispness and clearness of the night sky at Spitzkoppe, is like nothing that we have experienced before, it was stunning (sadly my little camera is unable to show this in all its glory, so you will have to take my word for it).

As is usual when we travel in Africa (even if we aren’t moving that day), we tend to get up early and make the most of the day, and sunrise at Spitzkoppe can be just as rewarding as the evening. One morning the entire desert below us was blanketed in fog, with just the distant peaks protruding. The next day it was crystal clear.

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At Spitzkoppe we have done quite a bit of walking and climbing up the granite boulders, and during these times we have come across quite a bit of wildlife, including, large and small lizards, ground squirrels, small antelope (Dik-Dik), many birds, and even a snake (there are lots in Namibia). It always amazes us how so many creatures can survive in such a harsh landscape, and even the odd scrub takes root in the tiniest crack in the granite. It seems that the only moisture here is the frequent mist and fog early in the morning. There were even a few horses grazing on the sparse dry grass.

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Namibia is a fairly easy country to travel around and explore (especially when compared to Western African Countries), and the raw beauty, and harshness of its landscape mean that you have to respect the place or it will bite you. We saw Andreas and Mareike again while at Spitzkoppe, and the day after leaving them last time, Mareike spent half a day in bed suffering from sunstroke. The result of being outside without a hat. Drinking lots of fluid and covering your head here is so important. But saying that we love Namibia.

We have been away for just over 200 days and look forward to the rest of Namibia and beyond.

Thanks for reading.

V

 

 

    

 

  

 

  

 

   

 

  

 

   

 

   

 

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

 

 

  

 

  

 

  

Its time to leave Ghana, at last

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

V

A waiting game, more sun, sea and sand

After having not made the Glovis Sunrise to Namibia at the end of August (see previous post), we spent nearly a week at Big Milly’s Back Yard, and then travelled about 165km west along the coast to our favourite spot at Ko-Sa. The German couple that we met at Big Milly’s, Andreas, and Mareike, have managed to get a quote for shipping their Toyota Hi-lux camper, and have arranged to put it on the same ship that we are waiting for, the Glovis Cougar. This is due to arrive in Tema, Ghana on the 25th September, so fingers crossed this time.

So, much to the surprise of the staff at Ko-Sa, we returned for a third spell at this little piece of paradise near Elmina, with “Ze Germans” arriving shortly afterwards. Of course we were again given a warm welcome, and word soon went out amongst the local kids that the English in the ‘Big Truck” are back. This time, Ko-Sa is quite different with it being much quieter, especially during the week, with the beautiful beach being quite deserted until the local kids finish school in the early afternoon.

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A couple of days after arriving at Ko-Sa, we decided to visit Cape Coast, this is a large town about 40km towards Accra, and this particular day was it annual festival. Whilst not really knowing what to expect, we knew that it was going to be quite a big affair. After the usual ‘fingers crossed taxi ride’ (fingers crossed that it actually makes it there in one piece), we arrived at Cape Coast Castle, this is a similar (but some what larger) slavery fort like that described in an earlier post about Elmina Castle, again operated first by the Portuguese, then the Dutch, before finally the British. We had a guided tour, but both of us thought that it wasn’t as moving as our trip to Elmina Fort, perhaps because we had already been to a slavery fort.

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 While inside the castle the mood was generally sombre, with people reflecting on this very dark chapter of history, outside the walls it was a different story with lots of colour, and people getting ready for the festival (what ever that was going to be).

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After leaving the castle we walked back up the hill to a small square where there was jugglers, and acrobats, and then what was basically an open air spelling test for the kids, the prizes were mostly tee shirts from telecoms companies (but in these parts a new tee shirt is a big thing for these kids). The children, aged I guess, from about 5-12 years old, had to queue up in an orderly fashion, and wait to be called onto stage, if they stepped out of line in eagerness to win a tee shirt, they were hit with a stick until they got back into position! Though to a Western child of this age the words that they needed to spell were simple, such as ‘cat’, or ‘Ghana’, these poor kids struggled mostly, and when they got it wrong (over the microphone and loud speaker system), the crowd roared with laughter, and the ridiculed child had to stand on stage and wait for the next word to be put to him or her. So different from English children who don’t lose at something, they just come second!

After leaving the small square we headed further into town until we came across some very loud drumming coming from a extremely heavily guarded courtyard/building, there were armed soldiers and police everywhere, both inside and outside the building, The President of Ghana was in there waiting for the festival, to attend as guest of honour. We stood (we had “Ze Germans” with us), outside the courtyard, watching the drummers, taking in the atmosphere, and we were pretty sure we were going to get moved on very quickly. To our surprise, one of the drummers stopped, walked over to me and Jac’s, gave us some drum sticks and took us into the courtyard, we then had to try to play and follow the rhythm that they were playing. All the time under the watchful eye of the armed guards above and below us! I’m pretty sure the President of Ghana never noticed a change in the beat ha.

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Outside, the streets were filling up fast, and more and more security was getting into position, we decided to wait in the street a bit further up the road and see if anything was happening yet. Whilst waiting, Andreas and I were approached by a couple of young women that had a small street stall selling a drink called ‘Airforce Blue’, after a quick sample taste (not good), we asked how much it is for a small bottle, the reply was “2 Cedi’s”, I thought that they had misunderstood, and were quoting for another shot, but no, it was 2 Cedi’s for a bottle, that is 33p a bottle! So we both bought a bottle each (more on Airforce later!).

After a short stop in a bar of a beach hotel, we again came back to the streets of Cape Coast, the festival was now in full swing, and the place was packed. It seemed that all the local communities were represented by their Chief, who arrived driven in a huge Landcruiser, and then a small amount of people in traditional dress etc, all making there way into the huge ‘market place’.

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Security is a strange thing in Ghana, because the President of the country was here, the amount of armed soldiers and police was immense, but there were quite a few (as can be seen in the photo’s) people in the crowds with loaded rifles, that were fired randomly into the air! There were also quite a few people in masks, wandering around. Strange to us, but natural to these guys.

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Although there were very few ‘white folks’ in Cape Coast and the four of us stood out like a sore thumb, we never felt under threat, and as has been the case with all our trip so far, and especially in Ghana, we were made very welcome by the locals.

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We all had a great day at the festival, and on our return to Ko-Sa, all had a quick beer with an Aussie called Pat Davey, before dinner. Pat, is a real character, and I mean that in the nicest sense. He is travelling down the West of Africa on a KTM 690 motorbike, and so far on this trip he’s broken his collar bone in Morocco (and had to fly back to Australia for medical treatment), had a severe case of Malaria (nursed back to health by Mareike in Mali), been locked up in a Jail in Ivory Coast for 2 days (after ‘accidentally’ crossing the border), he’s now joined up with a Journalist for a UK motorcycle magazine called Bike. The plan for Pat is to ride across the DRC, West to East on the notoriously difficult and dangerous Kinshasa to Lubumbashi route, to make matters worse, it looks like because of his dramas to date, he’s going to be doing it in the wet season! Jamie, the journalist is riding a 20 year old bike until it gives up completely, hopefully they stay together until safely through the DRC.

That night, after a couple of bottles of wine, a few beers, several double rum and coke’s, the girls had gone to bed, the bar was locked up, and Andreas, Pat and I were drunk! Obviously the main topics of conversation were, bikes, 4×4’s, more bikes and travel, and a bit more bikes, but we weren’t ready for bed, and Andreas staggered off to his Toyota and returned with his 2 Cedi bottle of Airforce! Oh dear, things then started to get very tatty! Pat was trying to show us something (can’t remember what), and stepped back too far and fell down a short flight of steps, twisting his ankle in the process, once myself and Andreas had stopped laughing, we managed to pick the Aussie up and sit him down to finish his Airforce. We left the bar at 3.30am, and staggered back to our vehicles (in Pat’s case his one man tent). Just after getting into bed, we could hear Pat shouting, then Andreas’s, and Mareike;s voice’s, it turns out that the local kids had been fiddling with Pat’s bike the evening before and set off his SOS distress beacon, about 10 hours earlier! This meant that the U.S. Coast Guard has notified this already nervous family, that Pat may be in trouble, infact he was drunk in a bar with an English and a German. In the end no harm was done, but once again Mareike, had to sort Pat out as he was too drunk to phone anyone. All three of us suffered from bad heads and lack of sleep the next day, but Pat also suffered from a badly sprained ankle. That night will always be known as “Airforce Night”.

A couple of days later, it was time to say goodbye to Pat, who was going back to Accra to meet up with Jamie again, to rebuild his Kawasaki, and do some repairs to his own KTM. Pats bike really is a well sorted piece of kit, and sitting on it made me realise how much I have missed our KTM back home.

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 We wish Pat all the best in his on-going trip.

As a result of parking Colonel K under the trees at Big Milly’s for quite a few days, and then having a few days of cloudy conditions at Ko-Sa, (neither conditions good for solar power) our domestic batteries on the Daf were discharged by about 25% of their total capacity (we have 8no batteries, each 110amp, wired as 24v), so decided to start the generator and run it for a couple of hours to fully recharge them. Once started, the generator should kick the inverter/charger into action and use the 240volts from the Honda Genny and turn it into 24v for the batteries, this however was not happening. With Andreas’s help we checked that the voltage from the generator was ok at the box, and generally check the obvious things.

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 No luck, and so arranged with help from the owners at Ko-Sa for a electrician (with some experience of inverters) to come from Accra to try to sort it out. Ben, the Ghanaian electrician was due to arrive at Ko-Sa at 10.30am the next day, nobody showed up, and then at about 2.30pm a taxi with 2 blokes in pulled up alongside Colonel K (4 hours late, but this is Africa). It was a very large guy (Ben) and his mate, all the way from Accra (a round trip of about 350km) in a taxi! This was not looking good. I explained the problem to them, and showed them the inverter/charger in the back of a very small locker, Ben was definitely not going to fit in there!

After starting the generator up, switching on the inverter, Ben’s mate put his ear to the unit and swiftly proclaimed it was the generator that was at fault, I then explained once again that we have checked that the 240v is getting to the unit, and the generator is fine (its hardly been used). It turns out that there is an Eco-Mode on the Honda that keeps the revs low when theres no load on it, and for some reason (perhaps the revs are slightly lower now than when it was new) it wasn’t producing a strong enough current to switch the unit from inverter mode to charger mode. Once the switch was located on the back of the generator, it was a simple flick from ‘Eco’ to ‘Kill the Planet’ Mode and it was working perfectly. Now for the bill from Ben……. After a lengthy conversation with his mate (in a local language), Ben politely explained that they have incurred high costs due to the 350km trip, and as its nearly a whole days travelling they would have no choice but to charge us accordingly! Oh dear this is going to cost us dear…… “you give me 300 Cedi’s” Ben said, a quick calculation equates that to less than £50.00! We were happy with that.

Early one morning (it was just getting light at about 5.30ish), after spending the last few hours scratching and batting away ‘phantom insects’, Jac woke up to find the bed covered with hundreds of tiny ants! As you can imagine, we were up out of bed, sheets and pillows stripped off and out the door very quickly. We could see that they were coming through the open roof light over the bed, crawling through the insect blind, and then through our mosquito net. After getting rid of the little critters from the bed, I climbed up on the roof, and with Jac underneath, we slowly opened the blind to find hundreds of ants and ants eggs inside, lots of spray later (from us and our German friends), we seem to be on top of the situation, though there were still quite a few ant bodies dropping on the bed on regular basis.

All four of us are making ‘friends” here all the time, with the majority of the kids being very pleasant and polite. One day Jac’s was reading our guide book for Namibia, and soon she was surrounded by kids wanting to look at the pictures (the beaches in Ghana are all public), she was explaining what each animal was as she was turning the pages, when she got to the page with the reptiles on it, all the kids jumped back as they saw the photo of a Puff Adder, one girl, Mary, even started hitting the book, such is their fear of snakes.

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 Mareike, and Jacqui, also have a new friend, Bowza, the owners dog.

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V

 

 

 

   

 

   

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

  

 

  

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

Ghana, a frustrating time

As you may already know we are still in Ghana, and not in Namibia as expected! On our last post we had dropped Colonel K off at the Portside yard in Tema, and in four days time it was to be loaded onto the vehicle carrier, the Glovis Sunrise. The Customs here had other ideas, and at the “eleventh hour” decided that the truck needed to be put through a scanner. This was no problem apart from the operator didn’t arrive for work until 6.00am the next morning, and the Sunrise was due to depart at Midnight. Despite the best efforts of Portside, they would not budge from this, and so the Daf was returned to their yard. The first we knew about this was an email from the Managing Director, who said there was a problem and would come to our hotel to explain all. Despite being very upset and quite angry (this had cost us a lot of money in lost flights, and hotel booked in Namibia), we really appreciated Bas coming to see us and indeed buying us a few beers to calm us down. 

So next morning we got a taxi to their yard and collected the truck, Carnet de Passage, and all the keys (we also filled our water tank, which we had run right down to reduce the weight), and then discussed with Bas our best plan of action. At this point we had 3 choices, 1) we go back to our original plan and drive all the way down, 2) we wait in Ghana for another vehicle carrier, or 3) we turn around and slowly come home, possibly via Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, etc. The first option was now not an option, we have heard too many seriously bad stories about travelling through Nigeria for us to consider this. The third option of heading towards home brought us out in a cold sweat! So this meant we needed to contact the guy who organised the shipping who is based in the UK. The next Vehicle Carrier coming into Tema, Ghana is the Glovis Cougar with an ETA of 25th September, and despite looking at other options from maybe Togo, Ivory Coast, or Benin this was our best option. This means we have about three and half weeks to wait before returning to Tema.

After a quick call to Thomas at Big Milly’s Back Yard to confirm they had room to take the truck we headed there, on the way stopping at the very modern West Hill Shopping Centre to restock with food and drink. Shortly after arriving at Big Milly’s we met a German couple, Andreas, and Mareike who are overlanding through North and West Africa in a Toyota Hilux Camper, and following virtually the same route as us. They were also considering using a Ro-Ro Vehicle carrier and shipping to Namibia, so we explained the problems that we had endured, and discussed costs etc. They are now also booked on the Glovis Cougar. These are the the first Overland travellers on 4 wheels that we have seen since Agadir, over a hundred days ago!

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This time at Big Milly’s we stayed over a weekend, and the place is famous for its Saturday night Reggae Night. It didn’t disappoint, it was loud, busy and involved lots of drinking and dancing. The clientele was mostly made up of locals, and many of them were Rastafarians, all very friendly and quite chatty (there was also a strange smell in the air, which seems to come from what they were smoking ha). The evening started with some local drummers and dancers, and then from about 11.00pm until about 4.00am the live Reggae band started, these guys never once stopped for a break!

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This is a great place for people watching, both on the beach (it is right on the beach), and in the bar area, the place including the staff is full of characters, the kids on the beach are great fun, and as usual are quite inquisitive about tourists. And of course there are the fishing boats fighting their way through the surf daily.

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So we have been back at Big Milly’s for nearly a week, licked our wounds, literally in my case, having fallen over and put a deep gash in my foot on the edge of a concrete gulley (with nurse Jac doing a wonderful job of keeping it clean so far), and working out what to do with the remainder of our time here in Ghana. With the lost money on the flights, staying at Big Milly’s is helping our finances somewhat with the cost for camping, evening meal (tasty food), and a few beers, its about £8.00 for each of us a night. But we have decided to move West down the coast for a week or so, probably back to Ko-Sa, near Elmina, as we really like the relaxed atmosphere there, even though it is a little more expensive, at maybe £12.00 each a night (its all relative)!!! Anyway, lesson learnt, don’t book flights until the truck has been loaded onto the ship.

We have been away from the UK for 165 days now, and despite a few ups and downs, we are having a great time, and enjoying almost every moment! And even with the not so enjoyable times, we still manage to laugh about them afterwards.

I’d also like to thank all those that are viewing our blog, we have now had over 10,000 hits on the site, and its great to receive the (mostly) positive comments from you guys.

Thanks for reading

V

Ghana, Tema and lots of goodbyes

Whilst at Big Milly’s Back Yard, we bumped into the two English guys, Luke and Bertie again, these were the pair that had bought the cheap Chinese bikes in Ghana, and had spent 3 weeks travelling the Country on them. They had a ball on them, sleeping mostly in their hammocks with a tarpaulin over them to keep off the elements, or in cheap local accommodation. The bikes were still intact (mostly) despite giving them a real hammering by the sounds of it. It was great to catch up with them at the end of their trip and hear their stories. They were currently seeking buyers for the two bikes.

It was also the place that we had to say goodbye to Anouk, and Naomi, our Dutch companions for about 10 days.

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Having them with us for about 1,000km was great fun, and after spending so long on our own in French speaking countries, it was nice to have someone to talk to, even if they were from the Netherlands, we couldn’t really hold that against them ha ha.

So after treating us to a lovely lunch (thanks again girls), we said our goodbyes, and waved them off to their usual mode of public transport (probably more comfortable than in the back of Colonel K). They set off to the Tro-Tro point in the local village (these are the overloaded mini-bus’s that stop in front of you without any warning, usually not having indicators or brake lights).

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Our plan was to head North up the Togo border side of the Country, and have a few days up in the Volta Region, then we got an email from the Shipping Clearers in Namibia, saying that the estimated date in Walvis Bay for the ship was two days earlier than we expected, we then contacted the agent that we are using back in the UK, and he confirmed that the date expected for the ship to arrive here in Ghana was three days earlier! All these dates are provisional still, and can change at any time. We are also pretty confident that there is very little or no mobile signal up in the Volta Region, so we decided that we needed to remain in an area where we could at least send and receive emails on a regular basis.

Big Milly’s Back Yard is a great place, and very lively, but after 3 nights there, we needed to move on, so we rang a place just over 100km to the west on the beach, the bloke that answered the phone, said  that they could accommodate us in the Daf in their carpark/courtyard, so we said we would be there the next day.

As we were leaving Big Milly’s, they were setting up a huge sound system next to the bar area, its a lively place anyway, with most of the customers being local guys, with lots of reggae and hip-hop playing, but I would imagine that night it was going to be loud!

On the way to Koko-Bongo Beach, we got stopped at a checkpoint (there are many of these in Ghana),  and had Ghana’s answer to good cop/bad cop, in this case it was bad cop and down right rude corrupt cop! After looking bemused by my International Driving License, he asked me to get out of the cab, and whilst eating a hard boiled egg, asked “where are your side reversers?”. Now I was quite sure he meant side reflectors, but I just shrugged and said “sorry I don’t know what Side reversers are”. By this time he had smelled a bribe, and promptly marched me up the road to a Tro-Tro (mini bus) and pointed to a yellow reflective sticker running the full length of the vehicle, “oh reflector!” I said innocently, “yes reverser” he said angrily. After lots of arguing, and him eating far too many boiled eggs, he changed tact. “where is your fire extinguisher?”. Two seconds later Jac passed it out of the window, both cops looking at it for a long time, giving me the impression that we have the only serviceable fire extinguisher in Ghana, “warning triangles?”, Jac had them to hand also. More boiled eggs were consumed and eventually he gave up and waved us on! 

An almost repeat performance happened about 20km down the road, only this time rude corrupt cop wanted to know why we didn’t have a Ghanian driving license, he obviously did not understand the concept of International Driving Permits, but soon moved on to fire extinguishers and triangles, again, soon getting fed up and waving us on. At this point I should mention that unbeliveable as it seems to many, we have traveled down through North and West Africa without paying a single Cent in bribes (apart from some cigarettes to speed up our passage at Diama Dam, Senegal).

The Government officials in Ghana do like a Military Uniform and the Fire Service here are no exception, only this time they add a little red to the camouflage.

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We got to our destination of Koko-Bongo Beach only to find the entrance gates extremely narrow, and the place looking very run down, after leaving Jac to go and find someone in the premises, I went and had a look at the other slightly wide gates. No Chance, they had planted coconut trees inside the gates! We were then told that they were shut anyway! I was not happy, and we told him that we were told on the phone the day before that it was open and should easily take a large overland truck, He just shrugged his shoulders, not saying sorry or anything. 

I was so furious that I ended up flattening a small tree with Colonel K, as we struggled to turn round in the small dirt track. Further up the track, we considered our options and decided as we were only about 60km from Ko-Sa (where we were before Big Milly’s), and we knew we could get a phone signal there, we would head there. Once again we were made most welcome by the owners & staff.

The next day we set off up the beach towards the nearest village (we actually drive through it on the way to Ko-Sa), to get some bread, and a mobile phone top-up card. On the way we watched the small children playing with their home-made bamboo boats in the surf, I guess emulating their fathers, as most of the adult males seem to be working on the tiny fishing boats in these coastal villages.

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As we got to the village we started to hear the usual chants from the kids as soon as they saw us “Ubruni, Ubruni” or “whiteman, whiteman”, this is not used in an insulting or threatening way, but does greet you as you turn every corner. It is usually followed by “how are you?, how are you?” almost sung at you, and it is obviously the english greeting that they are taught in school. The other word that almost all the small children know in Ghana, is “fine”. This is used to answer almost any question, or statement that is put to them in English (this is the official language of Ghana, though most villages use their own local language), and can be quite funny if you ask them their name “fine” is sometimes the answer. But almost without exception the local people really make you welcome, and there is not the hard sell from these people that you get in the North African Countries. This is one of the 3 or 4 churches in this tiny village.

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We found a ‘shop’, and asked if they had any bread, the reply was “no, but we will send our daughter with you to show you where you can buy it”, so we set off with Elizabeth, that spoke better English than most girls her age (about 13, years old I guess), we made her laugh when we told her that she shared her name with our Queen, then she turned off the road and between a few buildings. Next it was a steep scramble up a rocky bank, past a few more houses, before arriving up above the village to a scruffy looking building with a couple of children playing and a woman cooking in a huge pot over a fire. Then a very smartly dressed woman appeared, Elizabeth explained that we wanted to buy some bread. This woman then had to unlock the building (obviously the village bakery), bring out the different types of bread, then we chose what we wanted and paid her, an awful lot of effort of her part for less than 60p! I’m sure this is ‘ubruni’ prices too.

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There must be an election looming in Ghana, and these poster’s are up in all villages at the moment.

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On the way back to Ko-Sa, we watched the villagers hauling one of the solid wood fishing boats up the beach, using rollers and wet planks of wood.

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Driving through the Sahara Desert was a dirty messy business, and all the cheap white tee shirts that I bought before coming out here have been ruined, the red dust coupled with Boots own brand Factor 30 sun cream had really taken its toll. Some were reduced to rags, some were discarded long ago, but three remained, stained around the collar and sleeves, but still intact. Until we met a woman tie-dyeing on the beach at Ko-Sa.

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After extensive negotiations, and much amusement of here behalf, we agreed that she would tie-dye my three whiteish tee shirts for 20 Cedi’s (£3.30), in patterns and colours that she thought fit. This was the result.

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Very hippie! Quite a crowd of locals had gathered, and seemed bemused that a” Ubruni” would have his western clothes dyed on the beach. They were left to dry on the sandy beach, then washed in the sea water, before being rinsed through with fresh water and hung up to dry. It seems that this particular lady appears from time to time with her buckets and various dyes to do all of Ko-Sa’s bed linen, sheets, pillow cases etc, all tie-dyed.

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So after a few very chilled out days at Ko-Sa, we said goodbye to Annalise, staff, and the goats and headed off to Tema (just east of Accra).

Tema is the port in which Colonel K is hopefully going to be loaded onto the MV Glovis Sunrise, a large freight vessel and be delivered to Walvis Bay in Namibia. I say hopefully as everything seems like unorganised chaos from the outside looking in. So on our our way to Tema, we stopped off at a large shopping centre and purchased two “cheap” suitcases (we were soon to discover that nothing is cheap in Accra), for taking our personal belongings onto the plane. The day after checking in at our hotel, we organised a taxi to take us to a specific Bank to pay our fees to the company that is dealing with the Customs here in Ghana, and who actually load the truck onto the vessel. It was a good job that we took a taxi, as we would never have found the Long Room branch of the bank, it is actually inside the port complex. I have never seen so many trucks (all with empty trailers), parked up at the side of the road, literally thousands of them, and many of them look like they have been in that position for weeks, waiting for a load/container to take somewhere. There were trucks from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast and Nigeria, parked up from the port to miles back. Our bill from the clearing company was in US Dollars (the main currency for shipping companies) and as we brought some dollars with us we decided now was a good time to use them up, so we took the details into the bank and the USD to pay in, the trouble was the account that had been given to us was a Ghanian Cedi account. So after waiting for about 30 minutes to find this out we had to start again with a new account number (their USD account). Nothing is simple in Ghana! Now at this point I must explain that banking here in Ghana is not the confidential affair that it is in the UK, when you are called to the cashier, its not unusual for someone to literally try to push in front of you, and if it doesn’t work (or the cashier tells them to wait) they just stand next to you and watch what you are doing! Sometimes having a quick sleep with their head resting on the cashiers counter!

After sorting the payment, we got Geoff our trusty taxi driver, to take us to the yard where we would be dropping off Colonel K the following day. The reason we did this was we didn’t have any GPS co-ordinates for the yard and addresses as we know them don’t exist in Ghana, The addresses here are more like “the traffic lights next to the Oil Refinery”. Again we would have been driving around the port for ages looking for it if Geoff hadn’t know where the yard was to show us.

After an early breakfast we took the truck to the yard and after giving the very friendly Ato a few extra details, and of course all of the keys (for customs clearance), we waved goodbye to Colonel K. Hopefully the Daf will arrive in Namibia in the condition that we left it in and all the contents still in the back.

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The next phase of our little adventure is nearly upon us and we are really looking forward to Namibia and beyond.

V

Southern Ghana, beaches, Cloggies, and forts

Before leaving Mole National Park in the north of Ghana, we bumped into a couple of English guys while we were filling up our water tank on Colonel K. Luke and Bertie decided that a motorbike trip in Ghana was needed, so they flew into Accra, walked into a bike shop and bought 2 brand new Chinese built, 150cc Royal “dirtbikes”, the cost was £530.00 inc taxes and registration fee.

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These guys were having a ball on these bikes, and what a cheap way to see this country.

You may remember from our last post, that we had offered a lift to a couple of Dutch girls that were back packing around Ghana for a few weeks. Obviously Anouk, and Naomi, would have to travel in the back of the truck as we only have two seats in the front, and we did warn them that it was going to be very hot and uncomfortable in there. With that in mind, I expected them to bail out at the first town big enough to have a bus station, well, 1,000 kilometres later they are still with us! These Cloggies are tough cookies!

The day we left Mole was a long drive, about 600km, and took us down the East side of Ghana following the border with Ivory Coast, through Bole, Kumasi, and onto the gold mining town of Obuasi.

On the way we passed a few of the old mud, and stick constructed Mosques, these were seen in both Burkina Faso and Northern Ghana

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 We also crossed the huge Black Volta river.

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 At one village we stopped to buy some fruit and veg from the street sellers, and everyone seemed extremely pleased to see us, including the kids, who were quite shy of us.

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So are decided to give the kids our badminton set (we bought with us from England), of course they had never seen a badminton racket, let along a shuttlecock! so Jac, and Naomi decided a demonstration was needed on the side of the road.

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It wasn’t long before there were so many laughing people around, children and adults, and we left the set with an old lady that was going to show the kids how to play.

We really missed judged our last 60km, with it taking much longer that anticipated, dodging potholes, and broken roads, and then arriving in the dark. We ended up paying to stay in a brand new, overpriced hotel, that had been built by the Chinese, like most things in Africa. It was also quickly evident that it was built with Chinese clients in mind. The menu in (the very empty) restaurant was virtually all chinese food. Despite the high price of the room (for Africa), it was not run very well, with service seriously lacking in most areas. Anyway we laughed about it and it was only for one night (though it may have blown Naomi, and Anouk’s budget).

The next day we planned to go to a beach near Cape Three Points, where they allowed camping and also had some rooms for the girls. As with the rest of Ghana the bush is very green and dense at the moment.

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The last 20km to Ezile Bay was on some very bouncy, sometimes steep, and sometimes slippery dirt track, and it took us about an hour to drive this (remember the Cloggies are in the back).

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 Ezile Bay is in a stunning location, with a very sheltered bay almost closed from the Atlantic Ocean, it is host to a small fleet of tiny fishing boats from the nearby village. Its a very rustic and remote location.

 

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Whilst staying here we decided to walk to the light house at Cape Three Points, this was about a three hour round trip and it was good to stretch our legs.

After paying our money at the “Tourist Information Centre”, we carried on to the lighthouse.

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 On the way back through the village, as usual the kids were fascinated by the cameras, and phones.

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The next day we arranged for a guide to take us on a walk into the rain forest on the hill above the campsite. He arrived equipped with flip flops and machete (everyone here carries a machete in rural areas), and he set off up the hill at a very quick pace, I think we were all thinking that a few hours of this, in this heat and humidity was going to be tough, but after about 40 minutes we arrived at the top and entered the very dense rain forest and he slowed right down.

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Next day we decided to move along the coast, but all the time we were at Ezile Bay we had had quite a bit of rain, especially the last night, and I was quite worried about the 20km back through to the tarmac, so I decided to drop the tyre pressures on the truck, reducing the front by 20psi, and the rear by 25psi. And it was a good job we did, it was super slick in places, with deep mud and puddles, and had to rely on engine braking only on the longer descents, and even then Colonel K was going slightly sideways. Then after about 10km, we heard a knocking sound coming from the back (this was our agreed signal to stop the truck if there was a problem with the girls in the back), it was Naomi, she was suffering from cramping to her hands, and feet, with her fingers completely locked up. It seemed that she was severely de-hydrated, so after a series of re-hydrating drinks, minerals, and lots of fluid she seemed to improve, and Nurse Jac suggested that she rode up front for a bit. And then after one more quick stop we reached the the tarmac. 

Three or four hours later we arrived at the fantastic Ko-Sa Beach near Elmina, this again is a beautiful spot, though here the sea is completely open to the vast Ocean, and swimming here is quite dangerous with some severe rip currents (as it is in most of West Africa).

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Whilst here we arranged for a taxi to take us to the old Portuguese and Dutch Slaving Fort at Elmina, well when I say taxi, I use the term loosely, it was an Astra Estate, most of the doors didn’t shut properly, all the electrics were hanging out of the dash, the passenger seat had collapsed, windows didn’t open (you get the idea).

The Fort is a very sobering place, and we had an excellent guide who explained the misery inflicted on the local people in this place before being shipped across the Atlantic to a different world.

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The photo below shows 2 doors, the one on the right was used to punish soldiers that had drunk to much, or other military crimes, (no one ever died in this room), the door on the left was used to punish troublesome slaves, put in there to starve (no one ever survived that room).

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The town of Elmina is very busy, and after a quick walk through the market and back, we had a drink and found our still waiting taxi.

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While at Ko-Sa, we walked along the coast to an village with the remains of an old British Fort, this was a stunning walk seeing very few people until we reached the villages.

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 Just before the main part of the village, you have to cross a small lagoon, the options were to either wade through, or walk further down and get rowed over in a tiny pirogue, now I need to explain that while the water is refreshed by the sea at each high tide, it was filthy dirty, with numerous kids doing number twos straight into the water, and many other unhealthy objects floating about! 

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 Anyway before we knew it, a group of about six children had waded across the water and were carrying a small boat down through the rubbish on the other side, they then dragged it over to us and offered us our very own personalised ferry boat service. With the thoughts of the horrendous slavery trade still fresh in our minds from the previous day, poor Naomi and Anouk were so embarrassed, especially as when they were in the boat being treated like royalty, a heavily pregnant woman waded past them in the foul water.

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 With all four of us safely ashore in the village, we told the kids that we would be back in about an hour, and could they take us back, they never asked for any money, and seemed so pleased to have helped us.

The old British fort is still in quite good condition, and amazingly there are still lots of huge cast iron cannons lying about the place.

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It was a Sunday and there were various church services going on (mostly in the streets), some seemed to be for funerals or blessing people that died in the last month or so, but one thing they did have in common was the unbelievably load music, coming from either a singer, and band or a mixing desk with massive speakers! It was very strange to us, and strange to them to see Anouk and Naomi, dancing with the kids!

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 When we got back to the “lagoon” the kids were gone, and the little boat was back on top of the rubbish, high up on the bank! Bugger! We would have wade back through the water, so we walked along the edge until we were at the mouth into the sea, the idea being the water should be a bit clearer here, mmmmmm not really. Shoes and socks off and through we went. 

After 5 nights at Ko-Sa, we headed towards the capital Accra, and we are now in a very lively place called Big Milly’s Back Yard, which is well known as a back packing and overlanding stop over, though of course we are the only Overland Vehicle here.

Our plan is to go back Northwards, but on the Togo side of the country up to the Volta Lake for a few days, then head back to the coast to catch our freight ship to Namibia (with us flying).

The Dutch girls fly home later this week, but it has been great having them with us (but don’t tell them that!)

V

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

     

 

  

 

 

 

  

 

  

 

 

Northern Ghana, elephants, thieves and a huge Mole

After a protracted stay in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, due to the Visas for Ghana taking three working days (though when we arrived at the appointment time of 11.00 am on Monday morning, our application forms were still sitting on the guys desks exactly where we left them, then it took him less than 30 minutes to process them!), we left the city and headed for the Ghana border post.

The road from Ouagadougou to the border is a good tarmac road, and passed through a National Park in the south of the country, it was very heavily forested, and the chances of seeing any wildlife during the day was very slim. But our trip has been full of surprises and this day was no different. We spotted a herd of elephants in a stream bed on our left. 

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 We watched them from the truck for about 10 mins, then the largest of the males decided that he didn’t like Colonel K and started to charge up the bank, Time to go, quickly!

 

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We also spotted another larger herd of elephants about 10km further along the road, but these were heading off into the dense bush (that is thick and lush at the moment). We were exceptionally lucky to see these elephants in Burkina, but it does show that they are there, and the dangers of meeting one on the road.

We crossed a large river on a very old bridge, which didn’t look strong enough to take the truck, the “new bridge” was being repaired

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 After clearing customs and getting our passports stamped for exit on the Burkina Faso side, we crossed to the Ghana side. It was weird, after spending over 3 months in French speaking North and West African Countries, all the officials spoke English. Nice but weird.

Before passport control, or customs, we had to have our temperatures checked and each fill out a health questionnaire (this is in response to the Ebola threat), and thank goodness it was in English. Then a very pleasant guy in military uniform took our photos, and scanned our passports, before presenting us to his boss. We also had to show our Yellow Fever vaccination certificate, this was first on our trip. After meeting us with a hand shake and telling us how welcome we are in Ghana, he asked us how long we wanted to stay in the Country, I said “90 days, and we have paid for a visa for 90 days”, his reply was “unfortunately that is not possible, and we can only let you stay for 60 days, the rules are different now you are at the border”. He would not budge on this, and if we want it extended then we would have to go to Immigration in Accra. In reality 60 days will be plenty, and at the Embassy the choice was 30 days or 90 days, but as we are learning, this is Africa! 

We had a short wait for the customs ‘top man’ to arrive, who apparently was the only one that could fill out and stamp the Carnet de Passage, but once that was done, we were good to go. The whole border crossing took approx 90 mins, and no bribes were paid, and on both sides we were treated with kindness and respect. The touts however were a bloody nightmare! As soon as we got to the Burkina border they were on to us, and wanted to “help” us through the system, at one point one guy on a motorbike started to get quite pushy with us, and even though we made it quite clear we didn’t want any assistance, or to change any money with him, he still followed us right through to the Ghana side, even the officials told him to go away. We refused to pay any money to them, but eventually we got a acceptable exchange rate from the CFA’s that we had left into Ghanian Cedi’s from one guy who was much more pleasant to deal with.

As with Burkina Faso, Ghana is beautiful and green, with lush vegetation everywhere at the moment

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We arrived late in the afternoon in the northern town of Tamale, and couldn’t find a campsite or anywhere suitable to wild camp, so we called in a hotel/lodge on the outskirts of the town, and Jac managed to talk them into letting us “camp” in the carpark (for a small fee of course). There was a lamp outside the truck, and it highlighted a massive hatching of large flies.

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 Next thing we knew, there were 5 or 6 children, running around and picking up the flies off of the floor, they were so excited, dancing and laughing, and putting them into small buckets. We’re not sure if they were collecting them for some sort of medicine or even food for themselves, but eventually the security man appeared and shooed them off.

The smaller villages in Ghana, are still the traditional construction, and many here make a living producing charcoal.

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 After about 150km we arrived at Mole National Park (pronounced Molie).

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 We paid the park entrance fees (based on the number of people and the type of vehicle) 95 Cedi’s (£17.90), and drove up to The Mole Motel, (the only accommodation and camping in this huge park) to enquire about camping. The lady at the desk told us that the campsite is shut, and not used anymore. It was obvious that she wanted us to pay for a room. Eventually she said we could park on the top of the escarpment near to the Motel (obviously on our own). What a spot! This is the view from the truck, looking out over the waterhole.

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 And this was our view about an hour after parking up.

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The campsite also has other residents though, Vervet Monkeys, Warthogs, and Baboons.

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Just after we got settled, an old guy turned up and introduced himself, he was the Chief from the local village, and used to work in the park as a Ranger (now retired), he gave us lots of info about the park, and warned us that the Baboons are a growing problem, and not to leave any windows open on the truck when we leave it. As the day went on the Baboons we getting more and more in number and getting bolder with us too. We had thrown stones at them, shooed them away, but still they hung about (at a distance, well about 10 metres from the truck).

Then just as our backs were turned (watching game at the waterhole), we heard a bang behind us as a large baboon jumped onto the roof of the truck. As we turned, we saw it disappear in through the roof light above the table. We were only a few metres from the truck, and I was up the steps very quickly to be confronted by two baboons, a huge adult female, and her youngster. Now, I promise you that an adult baboon inside the confines of Colonel K is a scary thing to face up to, especially as she had her little one with her! As I entered (in a rush), she was grabbing anything that she could see, I shouted and yelled at them, she jumped from the table, onto the kitchen worktop, then onto the bed, both her and me were screaming! She then spotted the open roof light above the bed, and she jumped for it only to misjudge it and fall back onto the bed, facing me again with teeth barred! This was looking like it might end in tears (my tears)! She then jumped again and made it onto the roof. The younger one went for the side window alongside the bed, and jumped out, but hanging on to the outside, with Jac shouting at it, then it dropped and ran away to it ’s Mum, now on the other side of the truck. The bugger had stolen our dinner!!!!

A packet of spaghetti, and a jar of Dolmio Bolognese sauce.

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And she wasn’t going to give it back.

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She sat and ate the dried spaghetti, and eventually opened the jar and ate the lot! She then picked up the little “un, and walked off.

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Lesson learnt, if baboons are about, close the windows, even if you are at the truck.

There were a bus load of school kids from one of the nearby villages visiting the park, and of course they wanted to see inside Colonel K. Its quite embarrassing for us really, as most of these families don’t even have toilets or a shower in their homes (they might have a communal one if they are lucky), and of course we have all these things built into a truck. They were fascinated, and so excited to go in and have a “tour”, we even had books. They were all really great kids and so polite and of course wanted to be “snapped”.

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We had to have a rethink for dinner that night, but at least the baboons didn’t find the de-frosting mince, so it was just mince, onion, and tomato with a bit of chilli of course.

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Next morning, we had arranged for a ranger to take us on a walking safari, so it was up early, and meet John (the ranger) over at the park information centre.

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 I hadn’t expected to see much on a walking safari (we had said 2 hours), but it wasn’t long (about 10 minutes after setting off), that we spotted a herd of young male elephants

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After watching these for about 10 minutes, we set off into the bush, and saw Kob Antelope, and a few Waterbuck.

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John also explained that the call of the Ibis bird, gave an indication as to where the elephants might be (it could also mean humans, which of course could be poachers). He called them his spies.

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At one point we could see Colonel K, parked on top of the escarpment in the distance, it proved to us what a fantastic spot we had parked in.

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 On the way back, we came across another herd of elephants at a waterhole (the one below the Truck), and it was amazing to get so close to these beautiful animals, and on foot.

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 Its such an relaxing place (apart from the baboons), that we have decided to stay for a third night and maybe take a game drive tomorrow, or maybe another walking safari. By the way, the walking safari cost us £8.00 for the two of us, for 2 hours, and beer from the Mole Motel (great name) is 94p for just over a pint! Rip off Britain? The climate here, whilst hot and humid (about 32c), is much more comfortable than what we have had for the last eight weeks or so.

There are two young Dutch women staying at the Motel at the moment, and they are going to travel the 500km to Kumashi in the back of the Colonel (we only have 2 seats in the front). I’ve warned them that it will be hot, sticky and extremely uncomfortable in there, but they seem to think its better than the public transport that they used to get here from the coast. Well we will see if they last the distance.

V

 

  

 

 

 

   

 

  

 

 

 

 

  

 

  

 

 

 

  

 

  

 

  

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