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End of 1st leg ...

sunny 30 °C

Hi Mum (and anyone else reading) ...

Currently in Livingstone, at the end of the first section of the trip. All going well, I havent been ill yet (have a cold tho), am taking my Malaria tablets every day, and am having a pretty good time.

It's the first time I've had the opportunity for a decent amout of time on the internet, so here are 3 weeks worth of happenings (condensed, you'll be pleased to hear!).

Generally I'd say the trip is going really well. The first week was a bit dull, with too much travelling time, and not enought to do. Since then, it's been much more fun.

The guys on the truck (crew and passengers) are a really good bunch.

We started with 3 crew and 22 passengers, but some have left at the end of this section. There are some new guys joining for the next section (which ends in 3 weeks in Zanzibar).

Here's a quick rundown of who's on the trip (in case I mention them later) -

Crew
----
John (the driver), Mark (co-driver), Dougie (cook, from Zimbabwe)

Passengers
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Dawn fab. girl from Canada. We really get on well. Unfortunately she's gone home now :(
Geoff really great guy. Travelling with Dawn. Everyone loves Geoff !
Niall one of only 4 of us doing the full 10 week trip. Very funny guy from Ireland.
Ross travelling with Niall. Really sound, gets on with everyone.
Susan from the US. Enthusiastic any wildlife ! Has left the trip now.
Stephanie from NZ. Doing the first 3 sections (to Nairobi). Very quiet
Emily really lovely girl from London. Also gone home now.
Helen also from the UK. She's going to Nairobi. Always prepared for any emergency
Christine from Canada. Doing all 10 weeks. Kinda outspoken, but usually makes sense !
Freddie from Norway. Very cool (but only 22).
Maja is Freddies girlfriend. They've both now left the trip.
Betina from Switzerland.
Fabian Betina's other half. They're going to Zanzibar.
Sean Top guy, also from the UK. Very sharp.
Sarah Sean's other (better?) half. They've both gone home, now.
Tatiana from Mexico. Very smart (starting a Phd at Yale soon!). We're seem to get on well.
Beth also Irish, going to Nairobi. Great girl, full of beans !
Fiona is travelling with Beth. She's more quiet, but quite witty.
Craig Ozzy guy. I'm sharing a tent with him at the mo. Going to Zanzibar
Suzanne really lovely Irish lass. She's left for home now.
David sound guy from England. He's left now to climb Kilimanjaro !

The truck we're on is called 'Christie'. It's a bit of a wreck if you ask me ! Also there isn't much room for 22 people, so we all have to get along :)

Most days on the trip involve some 'Truck time', which is better/worse depending who you sit with. I get along with everyone pretty well, but with some more than others (naturally, I guess).

Some of the seats face each other across tables, so we can play card games and Uno to keep ourselves amused on long trips.

Anyhow, here's what I've been upto/where I've been so far -

First week
------------
Nothing to exciting really. We went to the Cape of Good Hope, and then basically drove most of the time for about 4 days to get into Namibia. Even after a few days, it's pretty obvious who is going to get on best with who ! As far as I'm concerned, I get probably on best with Dawn, Tatiana, Emily, David, Geoff, Sean and Sarah. We play LOTS of Uno, which is a good ice breaker.

Camping seems OK (I'm getting into it - but it's not as good as a hotel!). It's been VERY cold some nights.

Washing plates/pots can also be a pain, especially for breakfast, because we use cold water (very cold sometimes), and have to then 'flap' the things dry. Oh for a dishwasher....

After the first week, there are quite a few more things to do on the trip, so I'll list them by place (in trip order) -

Swakopmund
------------
It's a pretty touristy place in Namibia. There are lots of activies to do, and we get to stay in a hostel. Shame it's rubbish :(

I do Quad biking in the desert, and Sand boarding.

Quad biking was brilliant. It lasted about 2 hours, and we finished at sunset. I'm sure it's very dangerous, but we did lots of cool jumps and sort of 'rollercoaster' moves up the side of the dunes.

San boarding involves climbing up sand dunes (hard work - really hard work) and then lying on a waxed piece of plyboard to slide back down (at about 80kph). Pretty cool, but the work involved outweighs the thrill factor somewhat !

We also had a good meal one night, followed by more than a couple of drinks ! I was among the last standing, along with the Irish 'mafia' (who all get along very well by now).

I also managed to buy some stuff to cope with the cold nights (a new sleeping bag, a beanie, and a nice warm fleece).

Spitzkopf
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Is a smallish (1000m high) mountain called the 'Matterhorn of Africa' (due to it's shape).

We went to see some bushmen cave paintings, which were OK, but nothing really fantastic.

The camp site here was really picturesque, and was set in a valley between 2 large rock formations.

Ironically, it was the warmest night so far, so all my new purchases are pointless.

Cheetah reserve
-----------------
We stayed on a Cheetah reserve the following night.

After we arrived, we went to see them being fed (bits of dead donkey, if you're interested). That was pretty cool.

The following morning, we saw a couple of tame Cheetahs, and were able to stroke them, get photos, etc. Everyone really enjoyed this, apart from poor old Dawn who had food poisoning.

Etosha Park
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We spent 2 nights in the National Park.

The first campsite is next to a watering hole, where we saw Elephants, Rhino, Zebra (loads of), Springbok, Oryx and Jackals.

We also did a few game drives. We did's see that much. The highlights were seeing some Jackals take down a Springbok (which then fought them off and escaped!), and seeing some lions lounging around.

We did also see some Hyenas with a kill, but the prey was dead b4 we got there.

The second camp site was also next to a waterhole, but there wasn't much to see.

Helen also ended up getting sick, but not as seriously as Dawn.

Bushmen camp
-----------------
The next thing we did was pretty cool.

We visited a group of 'San' tribesmen. They showed us some of the traditional hunting techniques, how they make bows and arrows, and even let us have a go with them.

These guys aren't allowed to hunt anymore, so the only way the keep their skills is to show tourists.

At night, they did some traditional dances. Unfortunately I was washing up at the time !

It was REALLY cold this night. In the morning there was ice in the water bowls we'd left out ...

Ngepi camp
-------------
We didn't really do much here, except get drunk !

We had a few drinking games to speed up the process. One involved pretending to be a chicken. I'll never forget Susans 'dance of the chickens'. Ever.

Ended up having a bit of a 'mini party' on the truck. Got pretty friendly with a girl called Leigh, who was working behind the bar (very lovely and very tall, from S.Africa). I got her e-mail, so I must drop here a line some time ...

Okavango Delta
---------------
In Botswana. We stayed here for 2 nights. Was a really enjoyable place.

The camp was on a small island, so we were taken there in 'Makoro', which are little dug out canoes, that the locals pole you through the reeds in. It was very cool, and felt very African !

We went on a sunset Makoro trip, plus a half day game walk on a second island.

I also got beaten at chess (kind of - he was winning when we had to go for dinner) by a 13 year old ! On the other hand, I did much better than Helen, who got mated in 4 moves...

On the 2nd night, we had a traditional Botswanan meal, prepared by the locals. This was suprising nice and involved some 'pounded goat meat'. They also brought along drums and there was a bit of singing and dancing. At the end, we all kind of joined in for a bit of a mad finale !

Ngepi (again)
--------------
We had a 2nd night at Ngepi (back in Namibia), but with an early start the next day, it was much more of a tame night.

I did finally see a hippo close up, as I was going back to my tent with Leigh and her dog. The dog went ballistic and ran of into the dark. When we shone torches, there was a hippo not 10 years from my tent. I think Leigh thought the dog was going to get squished, so she had to take her home. All the barking got Craig up, so I did have a witness !

Chobe Park
-------------
We next went to Chobe national park for a sunset boat cruise.

Saw LOADS of stuff here including Elephants (crossing the river by holding their trunks up), Crocs, Buffalo, Hippos.

The camp site was rubbish though. The showers had no lights and no hot water. They did have lots of insects though !!

Livingstone
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Instead of going to Zimbabwe, we came to Livingstone in Zambia, to see Victoria Falls.

We're here for 4 days in total.

So far I've done some white water rafting (very cool, very scary!), and a half day of horse riding.

We've also had a lot of goodbyes to say. Some harder than others.

Most people who were leaving went on our 2nd morning here, but Dawn and Geoff went a day earlier. I was pretty gutted to see them go.

The rest of us (nearly all) went on a sunset booze cruise that evening, which made for a really good send-off for everyone else.

Hopefully we'll be able to keep in touch. Hurrah for Facebook !!

Anyhow, thats where I'm up to.

Tomorrow we set of on section 2 ... it's going to be Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania. Next update will probably be in 3 weeks !!

Rich xx

Posted by richardn 05:11 Archived in Zambia Tagged backpacking

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Thanks God! Getting a bit nervous about lack of posting despite reasoning to myself that you would be unable to. Sounds very exciting and mostly great fun. xxx

by tess alps

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