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Cape Town in 24 hours!

Sleeping in sounded so nice after such a long flight, but with only 1 day here in Cape Town, the both of us wanted to make the most of it and see as much as we could. For me it was the first time in this city so I was a bit curious what there is to see and that said, when our alarm clock went of at 7 AM, I jumped right out of bed and was the first one to finish, ready for breakfast.

The breakfast area wasn't all that big, just a few tables near the reception area and strangely enough, when we arrived, it even seemed like the food was already gone. We were a bit confused, but when the owner of the joint arrived with some bread and more stuff for a hearty breakfast, we were ready to dig in.

With a full stomach and all our stuff we needed to survive a day in the city, we asked for a map of the neigborhood and went into the unknown. 

Our hotel was closely situated near Long Street, so it wasn't too hard to walk around and see interesting things. The first thing we came across seemed to be an interesting park called The Company's Garden. Although this park wasn't all that big, it still seemed to be a heritage site, but I guess it had something to do with the fact that in the old days, this park was made by European settlers who found this an excellent place to harvest some veggies since it was near the water.

Nowadays you can stroll through this small park with loads of native trees and plants, but I guess the main attraction of the park are the squirrels. You can find them everywhere and since they get fed by us humans, they aren't scared at all. This was just so cool and together with the Egyptian geese we found at a local fountain, made already my morning, but I guess seeing the table mountain from a far all covered in its blanket of clouds did the trick as well.

As we left the park behind us, we slowly walked towards St. Johns Street where you can find a few museums like the SA National Gallery and the SA Jewish museum, but since we only had one day, we just skipped both of them and walked further towards Roeland Street and as we passed along the District Six museum, we came closer to the castle of Good Hope.

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I guess it wasn't really high season for tourists coz there wasn't much "ambiance" at the castle. A quick sneak peek of the courtyard made us doubt wether or not to visit the fortress and its contents, but as we still wanted to see so much more, we just took a picture of the outside and further we went in the direction of Darling Street which houses a beautiful building more known as city hall. It was really mesmerizing and this you could say from the African street market as well.

We had a quick stroll through the market and from there we ended up at Longmarket street, where we had a cup of Rooibos tea as well as a relaxing view on the small tourist market across the street.

It must have been a little more than half an hour later when we decided to go to Bo Kaap first and have a bite to eat later on.

As we crossed several streets, we first thought that we were lost but all of a sudden the more than colorfull houses reached our sight and what a view it was. This is really a bright area of the city and I must admit that I loved it instantly. Unlike the Castle of Good Hope, this was more a tourist attraction than any other coz we already saw a few other tourists walking around and taking pictures. There was even een photo shoot going. I guess happy colors makes people feel happy and it seemed I was not the only one with a smile on my face.

With all this going on, we still needed to see so much, but as it was already 12 AM, we decided to use something more faster and jumped on the hop on / hop off bus. There are a few tours going in and out the center, but since we only had a few hours left, we went for the blue Mini Peninsula Tour which is also said to be the fabulous scenic drive and this certainly was true as we hit the road driving passed the Kirstenbosch Gardens, the vineyards, Constantia and even a detour to the Imizamo Yethu Township.

Sadly enough we didn't have time for a more closer look at all those interesting sights, instead we got off at V&A Waterfront and went on a search for some food, which we found in a Belgian restaurant called "Den Anker". From here we had an amazing view on the table mountain which by now had lost his tablecloth and although it must have been fun to go up there, sadly enough there was just no time anymore.

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Instead we just enjoyed the sun rays and went for a walk on the Sea Point Boulevard. Our goal was Saunders rocks, but the lack of time made us strand at the Sea Point Pavillion, not that it was too bad, the views of the ocean were more than great. 

We took the last bus back to the city center and got off at Long Street, a few minutes later we were back at the hotel and ready for a nice hot shower, a change of clothes and into the night we went for some more food searching, which we found in a local burger joint which had really great burgers.

By the time we were back at our hotel it was already 11 PM and by the time I closed my eyes, it was way after midnight. I really needed to sleep coz tomorrow another early day awaited us. I must admit that we had seen a lot in one day, but Cape Town is just so big and interesting, that it is near to impossible to see it all in a day!

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in South Africa Tagged landscapes mountains churches buildings people animals flowers park monument market walk south_africa musea indigenous_people Comments (4)

another day on the dusty roads of the Namib desert


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The AC in our room did overtime, but on the other hand, the both of us slept like babies and I guess that was the most important thing there is. 

We weren't the only ones with a good nights rest as we met up with the rest of our group members at the breakfast table. It seemed we all looked a bit rejuvenated and maybe the "healing" powers of the water had something to do with that. Whatever the case, we all were looking forward to another day on the road and that was the one thing Norman needed to hear coz today we were going to do nothing else but driving, driving and more driving. Yep, there was that ugly word again!

At 8 AM sharp, we left Ai-Ais behind us and made sure the long and dusty roads of the desert were going to become our closest friend of the day.

From the moment we left our beautiful place at the river, it was the last water we saw for that day, unless it came out of a bottle. When you say desert, you are sure to see it when you are driving here in this no man's land, but somehow I liked it very much. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that it feels peaceful. Whatever it is, I can't explain it, but I sure liked it alot.

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About 2 hours into the drive, we made a quick toilet break and instead of going "bushie bushie", we stopped at a small and colorful place called Naute Kristall, which happens to be a distillery as well. Because of the dam nearby and the water we didn't see at all but happened to be there, the owner of the place figured out an irrigation scheme in the early 90's and planted some fruits like dates, pomegranates, prickly-pears and table grapes and also with succes I might ad. With these fruits, straight from the watered desert, they produce the finest spirits and boy do they deliver!

Trying out the different flavors made me smile from ear to ear and just like a few others it didn't take me long to dose off because of the alcohol. I began to think that our crew did this on purpose to make sure, the day would go by a bit faster and it actually worked.

As we drove on and on on the long and dusty roads, we made another stop a little after 12 AM. Having a quick lunch in the middle of nowhere is something we got used to and no one was complaining at all. I guess in a way we all enjoyed the calmness and the views of the country. I certainly did!

Back on the road again, we were in for another couple of hours and while most of us dozed off for another nap, some of us used this time to listen to some music, read a book or played some games with Norman and Rhyno. For some reason UNO became our favorite game of the moment. Me losing all the time made it fun for the rest of the players, why, I don't know, but at least we had some fun and time past by!

It must have been almost 2 PM when we had another quick break in the small town of Bethanie and although there was not much to see besides a gas station and people minding there own business, coming out of the local supermarket, we all got a bit more cheerful seeing the locals dance and making fun while listening to music. 

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Sadly enough we had to say goodbye and on the road it was once again. Every two hours, we made sure we had a toilet break and this time it was a quick bushie bushie one because we needed to arrive in Maltahöhe before dark and guess what, we actually did just that.

As we arrived at our final destination of the day around 5 PM, we were glad to be out of the belly of Chris and into the heath of this small town. Since we were situated just outside the center of town, the only thing left for us to do was settling in our room and go for a drink while the sun was setting.

The owner of the hotel and her staff made us feel very welcome with the delicious food they served as well as the warm and welcome songs they sang. It was really nice and although we sadly needed to go to bed early because of the big day which awaited us tomorrow, it was with a big smile despite the late night heat!

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Namibia Tagged landscapes people children food desert road_trip nature town rocks sand fun music africa road bush hot group dust heat tipsy indigenous_people overland_truck Comments (1)

a long day filled with highlights

Our alarm clock went off at 4.30 AM. This by no means sounds inhumanly early, but the truth was that we were already awake because of our nightly visitor we came across around 2 AM. 

Since it was so darn hot in the room, we at one point noticed that our blower in the room which acted like an AC was off. As we stepped out of our bed, we suddenly noticed something really big sitting on our mosquito net and here we went again. It seemed no matter which country we were at, cockroaches always seem to find us and these are just one of the species on earth me and Tania don't like one bit.

With a lot of drama, we managed to put it in the corner of the room, but needless to say, we didn't slept at all. In just a few hours we needed to get up anyway, so we closed our eyes and tried to sleep, but it didn't work. I kept seeing that ugly S.O.B. in front of me.

As our alarm clock went off, we sprinted out of bed, checked every corner as well as our clothes and guess what, our lovely friend decided to go to the bathroom. I just hated him so much coz the thing we noticed is that this species can fly and his wings were really big. I tried to do as much as I could in 10 minutes while looking straight at the ugly thing and I was out of there.

We met up with the rest of our group a few minutes later and as we told them about our nightly visitor, it seemed we were the only "lucky" ones. As we left the lodge about 15 minutes later, we were ready for a long day ahead of us, hoping that by the time we arrived back in our room, Mr. Ugly wasn't there anymore!

It was still dark when we left Maltahöhe behind us and because I was just so freaking tired, it didn't took me long to fall asleep only to wake up again about an hour later. We were still driving and as it became a little bit lighter, we also saw our first animals passing by, which was so incredible cool. I instantly forgot that I was tired the minute I saw my first oryx. I now understand why it is the national symbol of Namibia, because they look really majestic with their long spiky horns.

Whenever you see oryx, you are sure to see that other funny animal as well, the springbok. Although at first we only saw a few, minutes later we saw dozens. We soon learned that springbok are the MC Donalds of Namibia and although they got that name, I liked them so much just because of the lovely colors.

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Arriving at our first toilet stop around 7 AM, I must say that I was more impressed by the enormous weavers nest next to the toilets. It was gigantic and it must have been carrying hundreds of birds. These birds are real engineers when you come to think about it.

Sadly enough we couldn't stay because we needed to be at that other impressive site in Namibia, Dune 45, where we arrived about an hour later. 

Driving through the dunes, one was more impressive than the other and as we arrived at the infamous Dune 45, some of our group members were a bit disappointed because others seemed higher and more interesting. I guess they all changed there minds once we were climbing the dune, it is a real challenge, that's for sure!

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Most of the group went up the dune sprinting, but since I am not such a mountain goat, I stayed behind and soon I only saw many footprints and beautiful dunes surrounding me. Not that I minded one bit, since it gave me the chance to look around and take pictures at the same time. In the end we almost all arrived at the far edge of the dune except our more older group members who decided to stay behind and have a short walk alongside the dune instead.

It must have been a couple of hours later when we all finished our breakfast and although we could have easily stayed a little bit longer, as soon as we cleaned up everything, we had one last look at the dune we just conquered and went inside Chris to have a relaxing rest for about half an hour, as we suddenly arrived at Sossusvlei.

Sadly enough Chris couldn't bring us all the way towards Deadvlei and instead we were divided into two groups and got into some smaller vehicles. Soon enough we knew why. Driving through so much thin sand was the same as walking into quicksand. Our driver was really worth his money, he sure knew where to drive unlike a few others who were stranded near the road. With a quick help they were "on the road" as well and before we even saw it coming, we arrived at Deadvlei. 

We needed to go for a short walk and although it wasn't that far, the heath made it a bit more unbearable, but that was all forgotten when we arrived at the scene.

I already saw so many pictures, but once you see it in own person, it is just incredible! I guess you must love trees like I do to see the beauty of it all, but still, this is just such an unbelievable beautiful place that you can't but like it. Even Tania did and she had her question marks when she first saw it! 

Luckily there are rules to preserve these trees and I just hope that all the tourists who come after us obey them as we did so that we can enjoy this wonder of nature for a long long time, so please ... DON'T TOUCH THE TREES!!!!

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To be honest, I could have stayed there for the remainder of the day, but I guess for most of us, they would get bored very quickly.

As we arrived back at our campsite of the moment, Rhyno prepared yet another delicious hot lunch and as soon as we all gobbled it down because it was once again so yummy, we cleaned everything up, making sure we didn't left a thing behind and about 15 minutes later we were on the road again, direction Maltahöhe.

Since we still had an entire afternoon of heatnes in front of us, we made a little detour to the Sesriem Canyon where we arrived about a few hours later.

The canyon itself was once a fine example of how rich the region was when a river ran through it and people from all over the place came here to find some water. The name of the canyon says it all as it is named after 2 dutch words being zes and riem. When you translate it into English, it says six belts. These six belts were used to bring the water to the surfice. How crazy is that, back in the time you only needed six belts of oryx skin and suddenly water appeared. When you look at the canyon now, you only see rocks and sand. When you are lucky and there is a bit of wind, there is dust as well. Everything you need for a proper desert.

After a short guided walk with Norman and Rhyno, we met up with Alington again and I guess we were all glad to be out of the heat and once settled into the belly of our iron beast, we had time enough to relax since it took us a couple of hours to drive back to Maltahöhe where we arrived back around 5 PM.

Once back in our room, I really yearned for a cold shower, but guess what, Mr. Ugly was still inside and claimed the room all to himself.

This time he didn't knew me and Tania! He had bugged us long enough and if a simple shoe couldn't kill him, we resorted to more drastic means and got some poison. Getting some spray from the owner of the lodge, we were weaponed and licensed to kill. Needless to say, about 5 minutes later we became murderers, but the cold shower another few minutes later made me feel all happy again. RIP Mr. Ugly, I am sure we meet up again in another country!

Dinner was yet again served at the terrace of our lodge and the staff made sure we left the table with a big smile on our face. They sure know how to make delicious food here in Namibia!

It must have been almost 10 PM when I turned back to my room and went to bed, simply because I was just that tired. It had been quite an amazing day, but now my head needed a rest and within minutes I went to sleep.

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Namibia Tagged landscapes people trees animals birds food desert road_trip nature canyon rocks friends sand africa road bush tour hike hot group colors dust heat overland_truck Comments (6)

the road trip continues


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Unlike the night before, this time around I had a great night's rest and maybe knowing that Mr. Ugly was gone to cockroach heaven made me feel a little bit better. Waking up early in the morning and knowing his relatives didn't show up, made us feel save so to speak and as soon as we packed all of our stuff, it was time for breakfast.

Just like the previous days, we had yet another early leave coz another day on the road awaited us. We really needed to drive a lot and in a way I somehow underestimated this, but than again, Namibia is such a large country compared to Belgium, that the chance we have to do some more driving in the next upcoming days is more than real.

As we were driving for a few hours, the views along the road changed from desert like into something a bit greener. There was still lots of sand and of course rocks aren't far away either, but somehow the scenery changed a bit and even the climate with it. It was still hot, even early in the morning, but it was more bearable. Maybe we started to get used to the heat, who knows?

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If this was true we were going to find out in the next hour coz our guide Norman arranged us a guided tour with Boesman. Although he is not native to the country, this guy is so into the desert and the country that everyone started to call him Boesman (from the African word Bosjesman) and the name sticked to him. He lives in the desert in the vicinity of Sesriem and together with his Japanese wive he met a few years back and his two little girls, he really has a blooming business. He doesn't like the crowds, but when he starts talking about the desert and the life in it, you hang to his lips from the first till the last minute.

This guy really deserves a medal and he really made us learn a little more about the desert and everything that goes with it. He also tried to explain a bit to us how to survive in the desert, but I was praying to do Gods at that same moment that I never ever going to need that. Hearing about it, is more than enough. I know, I am such a softie, but at least I am honest about it.

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At noon, we said goodbye to Boesman and his family and found ourselves a great picknick spot just half an hour later near the road. Rhyno prepared us a quick sandwich lunch and after bushie bushie, it was back on the road again.

Somehow I always managed to fall asleep after Rhynos lunch and I began to think he put some sleeping medicin in it since I wasn't the only one. We woke up a few hours later when we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. A few snap shots and jumps later and we were back on the road for another stretch of driving.

About an hour or so later, we drove through some pretty interesting landscapes as it seemed that the rocks are all twisted. Norman called it a moon landscape, I don't know how you can call it, but it was sure interesting and it made for great pictures.

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Back on the road again, me and Tania had the honor to sit in front with Alington and while we were chit chatting about everything and nothing in particular, we all of a sudden realized that we were not alone anymore. The landscape changed from rocky and sandy to flat and we even saw the Atlantic Ocean. What an experience it was. After a few hours of driving we arrived in Walvis Bay and although it was nice to see a big city again, I somehow wanted to go back to the peace and quiet.

For the first time in more than many days, we saw traffic lights again and loads of traffic that goes with it.

Although it was already 5 PM, we were still lucky to have a bit of daylight left so that we could see the infamous pink flamingos, but as we arrived at the scene, the only ones we saw where the normal ones. We couldn't see one pink birdie till all of a sudden someone of our group spotted a few way back in the water. A short walk alongside the beach made sure we got a glimpse of them as well and they were beautiful. 

Sadly enough we couldn't stay there forever and in a way I didn't mind one bit because the weather here at the coast was quite a bit different than we were used too and just like some others of our group I was freezing. Can't believe that I was thinking that, but I sure did. It was COLD!!!

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Back inside Chris again, we drove for another hour towards Swakopmund, the final destination of our day and as we arrived in the dark, we quickly got settled into our rooms and off we went again for some joint dinner at the centre of town.

Norman found us an Italian place where you can eat all sorts of things, even game and of course, this was the thing we wanted the most. Till now we only saw an oryx, springbok and a zebra, which was truly impressive, but I can tell you now, that their behinds are tasty as well. I love the meat that's for sure and although I like to see them in the wild, sorry guys and girls, but you really taste delicious!

By the time it was 10 PM, we arrived back at hour hotel and sadly enough we had to say goodbye to 2 members of our group. Our Brazilian couple Renate and Renato were leaving us and were going to spend another week at Zanzibar, the lucky bastards!

Saying goodbye is never easy even if you have spend such a short time with each other and as tears came to the surfice, even our crew was a bit surprised that we cared about each other so much. Yep, we were a gang of softies!

Back in our room, it didn't take me long to fall asleep. Tania still wanted to skype home to let the home front now that we were still alive and kicking, me on the other hand, just wanted to sleep and for once it didn't take me long. As soon as my head touched my pillow, I was off to dreamland

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Namibia Tagged landscapes people animals birds food water restaurant ocean nature rocks city africa group colors heat mammals overland_truck Comments (2)

a day on our own ... do we survive ???

Wine ... nectar of the Gods and to me, the best medicin for a good night's rest, which was once again more than true coz I slept like a baby! 

Today we had a day off from traveling. Today, Chris our 4th crew member, needed a checkup and I guess our other 3 crew members needed a break from us as well, so with a day all to ourselves, we could do whatever we wanted. Most of our group members wanted to sleep in and do as little as possible, but me and Tania on the other hand, grasped every opportunity to see and do as much as we could.

Swakopmund is not only a coastal town, it is also a thrill seeking town, where you can do all kinds of fun and exciting things like jumping out of planes, horseriding, quadbiking, see some dolphins or in our case, go sand boarding.

There is still so much I want to see in the world and do as well and when I read that there was a chance to go sand boarding, I signed up immediately!

At 10 AM sharp a minivan arrived in front of the hotel and picked up me, Tania and 2 American girls called Samantha and Rinsy. I was just so happy to see that we weren't the only ones interested to do something fun in the morning and as we got to talking, we soon realized that they were going to join us on the rest of the tour. 

The ride towards the dunes didn't took that long and as we arrived, soon another minivan arrived as well. On board there was another couple from Australia as well as a Belgium one. What are the odds? Normally we don't see any Belgians, but on this tour we already met a few. Just like all the others we met, they spoke Flemish and we soon learned they lived in a town only 30 kilometers from mine. So funny and yet so cool!

While me, Tania, Sam and Rinsy went through formalities like safety and so on, the other four went through the same thing. It turned out that us four were going for the lying down version while the other four were going to do some standing up sand boarding. All in all it was quite a good mix.

Although I initially wanted to do that as well, they soon told me that the lying down version was more fun and 1,5 hours later I certainly had to agree with them! The going up part was really exhausting, but when you did it a few times, you certainly got the hang of it. The going down part was the best thrill there was. In the beginning we didn't know what to expect, but after the second run, the four of us got the hang of it and tried to go as fast as we could. Needless to say, we had a fun morning and made friends from the moment we stepped into the minivan.

It must have been already after 12 AM when the people from the sand boarding tour also prepared a sandwich lunch for us. This was unbelievable and very nice of them, not to mention it was delicious. Maybe the running up and sliding down made us extra hungry. We certainly all appreciated the delicious food.

By the time we arrived back at the hotel, it was already past 1 PM and as we went to our room, the main priority was getting rid of all the sand. I don't know where the sand was coming from, but I was sure glad to get rid of it.

With still an entire afternoon on our hands, we decided to go to the centre of town and see what was going on there. The owner of the hotel was nice enough to bring us to town and as we said goodbye, we first had a quick look at the jetty. The wind was still blowing and it was a bit more chilly than we were used to, but we adapt really quickly and as we ignored the temperatures, we just kept on gazing at the ocean and the beach in front of us.

Swakopmund is really a coastal town and it breaths ambiance. i don't know how to explain it, but when you are there, you instincitly love it, or at least I did. Walking through town, you don't exactly get the feeling that you are in Africa. It all looks very European and more like the time stood still about 100 years ago, but in a good way. When you hear all the German and Afrikaans, for me that is like walking on a beach in summer in my own country. Needless to say, I really loved Swakopmund.

As we left the beach behind us, we walked straight into the African market which was very colorful and from there it was onwards to the lighthouse and of course we needed to try out some Black Forest cake as well. It is said that the best cake in the country can be found here and they certainly weren't wrong. The leftovers we had were immediately taken away by the birds, so it seems everyone likes cake when you live in Swakopmund.

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Strolling through town, we soon realized that most shops were closed. This was quite a pity, but saver for us since we couldn't spend that much money. Instead we just walked through the different streets till it almost got dark. Tried to find something to eat for dinner and strangely enough we ended back at the same Italian place. It was fun to see that we weren't the only ones. The fact that not much was opened on a Saturday evening and the food yesterday was simply amazing made us realize we made the right decision and about an hour later, we even saw our crew coming into the restaurant. It seemed they loved the food as well!

The night was still young and after a yummy desert, the both of us decided to walk all the way back to our hotel which was situated in the outskirts of town. It took us less than an hour and as we tried to reach the homefront but failed, we resorted to packing all of our stuff coz tomorrow another day on the road awaited us.

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I guess it was almost midnight when I called it a night and while Tania was still looking at her mails, I quickly drifted off to the best country there is for tired people ... dreamland!

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Namibia Tagged beaches people desert flowers restaurant coast town adventure friends africa dune group dust adrenaline sand_boarding coastal_town Comments (5)

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