Category Archives: Africa Overland

Check! From Cairo to the Cape

Eine deutschsprachige Version dieses Eintrages gibt es hier

 
 
 
 

Well, actually it should mean "from Spiekeroog (Germany) to the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa)"! We have managed it! After 344 days on the road and 34023 kilometres today, the 17th June 2016 at 11:51 o'clock, we have reached "Cape Point", the "Cape of Good Hope", together with Land Rover friends Cathy Calder and Ross MacLean Calder. What a great moment!

The "Cape of Good Hope" in itself is a great place. But, honestly, compared to Cape Agulhas, Agulhas has more "magic" to it ... also because when we were there, there were no tourists around and at the "Cape of Good Hope" we had to stand in line to take photos. ... But maybe, we are just a bit unhappy that this Transafrican trip for us now will be over so very soon.

 

Cape Agulhas - just magic!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A couple of days ago, on the 9th June we stood at "Cape Agulhas", the southernmost tip of Africa. This place is far less touristy than the "Cape of Good Hope"! Behind us there was the trip with all the great experiences and in front of us, down South, only the sea and Antarctica! You can't beat that feeling!

Our stay at "Cape Agulhas Backpackers" was just wonderful and again, both us and our daughters have made new friends there. We will come back there in only a few days! A truly magical place!

The backpacker's in Cape Agulhas is a wonderful place - especially if you travel with children!

Even more new friends!

Certainly we have succeeded! We have made our dream of an extended family overland trip through Africa in a Land Rover come true! It is great to know that each and every one of us is part of a family team and all the four of us have our share in the family's success!

But it is also clear that that we have made it on this adventure through Africa is not only the result of our own personal energy, endurance and commitment, but that of the complete "team" behind it.

First of all we have to give a big "Thank You!" to the innumerous number of wonderful Africans we have met on this trip. You are the most friendly, welcoming, warm-hearted and sharing people we have met in our lives! Africans of all skin color, religious and cultural background and origin have been the most important aspect of this trip! These experiences will for ever stay in our hearts! Africa absolutely rocks!

And Berlin is so far away!

 

Traveling is so great - meeting new friends again and again. Thanks, Ross and Cathy with Melissa and Aisha for being part of this wonderful day!

 

And then there is the "team" of people who directly helped us before and during this overland journey. Without the friendship, support, help and inspiration of all you people named below, we would not be where we are today ... So, we simply want to say "Thank you!" to you all for long nights of talking, dreaming and planning, for advice concerning overlanding, gear and converting the Land Rover, for constructing this blog, for on-the-road help, for a place to stay for the night, for sharing food, stories, knowledge and information, for traveling together ... and many other things, most of all for humanity, friendship and love. Thanks - and you'll be with us wherever we go!

the Jansen and Stahl families and all our close friends; Mohamed Abouda; Patricia & Rikki Abuda; the team at "Abu Simbel Clinic"; the staff at "Adigrat Vision e.V. Kindergarten" in Adigrat; the members of "African Overlanders"; the team at "Agoro Lodge", Adigrat; the members of "Australian Land Rover Owners"; Dr. Awimbo; Judy & David Batten; Jacqueline Belcher; Luisa & Graeme Bell ("A2A expedition"); Camille, David, Lucille and Felix Bellais ("DaCaLuF"); Uschi Berger ("Seabridge"); Irmgard & Max Beyer ("Dornhügel" & "Beyer Self-Catering"); Magdi Boshara; Mélanie, Arnaud, Liou, Jade & Alix ("Lafamille Bostrotters"); Ian Boyd and the team at "CMC Automobiles Ltd." in Arusha; Scott Brady ("Overland Journal" & "Expedition Portal"); Stephanie Bretonniere & Normand, Gaspard & Faustine Roux ("KUMP around the world"); The "Bundu Rovers Land Rover Club" in Kenya; Dr. Elke Busch; the Bürkert family; Erin & Malan Conradie and the team at "Cape Agulhas Backpackers"; Hans Derveaux; Dr. Karamba Diaby; Erato & Konstantinos Dolkas; Elisabeth & Augustine Douillet; the Ebeling family ("Spedition Ebeling"); the team at "Spedition Ebert"; Samuel Embiza & Genet Bizen; the team at "Eskaleh Nubian Ecolodge" in Abu Simbel; the crew and members of "Expedition Portal"; Georg Feil; the Freyer family ("Claratal"); Hugo Gaarden; Olga Gaumann; Hagos Gebremariam, Elsa Saarsema & their extended family; Beniam Gebretensai; Dr. Stefan Geuer; Nicola Ghaui ("Kisolanza Farm"); Lilli Gramberg-Danielsen; Jörn Gressmann and the team at "Fiume Bush Camp"; Marie, Thomas, Louison, Leonine, Oscar & Achille Gueudet ("6 en piste"); Laura Marleen Harder ("Petromax" & "Feuerhand"); Uwe Hasubek; Florian Fock and our colleagues at "Hermann Lietz – Schule Spiekeroog"; the members of "HUBB"; the members of "International Overland Families"; Claudia Janssen ("Wildjourney"); Zbynek Janousek, Martin Pouba & Kamil Prokop ("Around-Africa"); "John", "Bill" and the team at "JBK Land Rover Specialists" in Athens; Duncan Johnson ("African Overlanders"); Katie Jones; Dr. Christiane Kamps; Sami Kangas; Petra & Philip Kaupa; Dr. Hayelum Khsay; Dr. Matthias Krüger; Stefan Krummreich & Jasmin; Anna Lamaj; the members of "Land Rover Owners International"; Kirsty, Tommy, Sally & Indy Larmour ("Letters from the Larmours"); Dr. Claudia Lauterjung & Martin Schwarzwälder; the Leiste family; Kidane Lemlem and his family; Dr. Gerhard Liening; Lefteris Linos and the team at "Mani Beach Camping"; Prof. Dr. Dr. Matthias Löhnert & Dr. Dr. Susanne Löhnert; Dr. Andrea & Dr. Gerd Mader; Nermien Mamish, Fathy El Said and the team at "CSF" in Alexandria; Cathy Calder & Ross MacLean Calder, & Cameron MacLean Calder; Marit van Meekeren & Jan van Os; Ady Meili ("Fanello"); Debbie, Adriaan & Stefanus van der Merwe and Susan & Wouter Taljaard ("Eisgaubib"); Marina & Heinz-Werner Meyer; Ivar Mjøvik-Hoel; Adam Mkwawa, Chief of the Hehe, and his family; Kamal Muawad; Sheikh Mohammad Mubarak and his extended family; Jennifer Myrick Sparks; Ulla Nagelschmitz; András Németh; Dr. Marguerite, Dr. Hugo, Frankie & Ernest van Niekerk; the team at "N'Kwazi Lodge" in Rundu, Namibia; Christophe Noel ("Expedition Portal" & "Overland Journal"); Karl-Gunnar Norén; Tyseer Omer; Katja & Lennart Petersen; Amanda Philipps and the team at "River Valley Camping"; Florian Raasch, Micha Schäfers and the team at "Offroad Manufaktur Hamburg"; Ute Ramming-Spitzer; Jan Reiners & Kirsten Schiller-Reiners; the team at "Reise Know-How Verlag Peter Rump GmbH" (esp. Franziska Feldmann, Birgit Hempel, Peter Rump and Gunda Urban-Rump); Mika Riecken; Dr. Yolanda Rodemer Bernardo & Dr. Gerald Rodemer; Dr. Thomas Roos; the members of "SaharaSafaris"; Bara Sarr & Ngone Fall; Cleodene Sauls ("AASA"); Edgar Sauerbier; Mohammad Sayed; Birgit Schade & Gerald Aper; Dominik Schenke ("Cologne to Capetown"); Familie Smolana ("Alpengasthof Koralpenblick"); Familie Söker & Dieter Schwarz ("Druckerei und Verlag Söker"); Dörte Stähler; Ulli Stirnat & Lena Wendt ("A Journey"); Eulouka & Wynand Stolp with Ayla; Flora, Lars, Chantal & Erik Svensson; Jonas Taureck ("Petromax" & "Feuerhand"); Annette Theeron; Wil Tondok ("Reise Know-How Verlag Tondok"); Karin-Marijke Vis & Coen Wubbels ("Landcruising Adventure"); Wolfgang Vogel; Annelene Wagner; Sam Watson and the "Cairo Sand Rovers"; Anne & Dr. Stan Weakley ("Slow Donkey") with Sarah & Peter Weakley & Christel Koops; Brian Wilkinson; Silvia & Christoph Wintersberger ("Mankei-Travel"); the members of "Wüstenschiff"; Candelaria, Pampa, Tehue, Paloma, Wallaby & Herman Zapp; The people of Zikallay, Tigray, Ethiopia; Anna Zintich ("ADAC"); Friedhelm Zirkoli; Esther, Bas, David & Angél Zuidberg ("Migrating Mountains"); all our followers on Facebook and on our blog

From Krüger NP to the South African south coast – back in “real Africa”, a great school in Swaziland and relaxed time at the Indian Ocean

 

Krüger National Park ... was just wonderful!

 

After having left Krüger National Park, suddenly we find ourselves back in "real" Africa. Before we enter Swaziland, we drive through an Africa we know from Kenya or Tanzania: small villages, tiny shops and supermarkets not really well-stocked on anything ... and considerably more poor people!

The border crossing from South Africa to Swaziland is by far the easiest ever, we show our passports, have them stamped, pay roadtax and have long long chats about our trip and about our experiences in Africa. Really nice people! The last border crossings on our Transafrican trip are easy - actually, looking back, we didn't have "real" border-problems anywhere on this whole trip!

The "Kingdom of Swaziland" then is even more African. To our European eyes it is a bit "strange" to come to a country which is one of the last absolute monarchies on this planet. The king Mswati III. (title "Ngwenyama" meaning "Lion") reigns together with his mother Queen Ntombi Tfwala (title "Ndlovukati" meaning "She-Elephant"), and has to marry different wives from different clans to ensure the country's unity! Even though the king is extremely rich and can make expensive presents for his countless wives, the Swazi people we meet on the street or in restaurants seem to really love their king because he and his predecessors ensure a peaceful life in the country. Or are they just too scared to state a different opinion in the open!?

But, we are mainly here to visit "Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa", a school belonging to an educational organisation, which concept we think is one of the best school concepts existing worldwide (see the INFOBOX below for more information). "Waterford College" was founded in 1963 by a group of dedicated teachers led by the British teacher Michael Stern as a multi-racial school in opposition to South Africa's apartheid policies.

 

INFOBOX KURT HAHN and UNITED WORLD COLLEGES

The "United World Colleges" is an educational organisation which currently has 15 schools in 14 countries. The idea of the UWCs was introduced by the German Jew Kurt Hahn (who also founded "Schloss Salem" in Germany, "Gordonstoun" in Scotland and the first UWC college, the "United World College of the Atlantic" in Wales) on the background of the two terrible world wars.
Hahn's idea was to make schooling international to create a "United World". Thus, all schools and colleges are multi-national having students from between 50 and 90 countries to ensure an international and intercultural understanding.
Through scholarships the UWCs can choose from the students who apply for them instead of being open for only a limited circle of children from an "upper class" or "rich" family background. It is the student's motivation that counts in the first place!
As indicators for the need of a new education, Hahn discovered "six declines of modern youth", namely
the decline of fitness due to modern methods of locomotion,
the decline of initiative and enterprise due to the widespread disease of "spectatoritis",
the decline of memory and imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life,
the decline of skill and care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship,
the decline of self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers,
and the decline of compassion due to the unseemly haste which modern life is conducted. Even though this was "discovered" in the 1950s, all these aspects seem to be very "modern" and up-to-date to us!
Hahn's concept had four "solutions" to overcome these six declines: fitness training (training the discipline and determination of the mind through the body), expeditions (engaging in long and challenging endurance tasks), projects (interdisciplinal learning in context involving crafts and manual skills) and rescue service (e.g. sea rescue or fire fighting). ... Overlanding definitely involves many of these "solutions".

(source: Wikipedia ... and our brains)

 

Unfortunately, Anouk is feverish again, so we spend most of our first day in Swaziland in a private clinic in Mbabane, the country's capital. Luckily, it is not Malaria!

In Mbabane we stay at "Mvubu Falls Lodge", a very good recommendation if you want to stay near the capital of Swaziland.

 

Our house at "Mabuda Farm B&B" ... another very nice place to stay!

 

From Mbabane we continue to the East to a farm recommended to us by our Dutch friends Bas and Esther. We stay at "Mabuda Farm B&B" for two wonderful days and there bump into a German family of five who planned to travel southern Africa in their old converted Magirus truck (here is a link to their blog).

What a great truck!

We exchange guidebooks, ideas, travel experiences and plans ... and place the Transafrican travel bug deep into them ...

Kitchen-party

... and as usual we go to bed far too late!

 

New friends again!

 

Will they change their plans and travel home to Germany from southern Africa? We are impressed by the fact that they managed to be allowed to officially homeschool their three kids even though the German rules and regulations officially do not legally accept that! Mmh ... so it works somehow! New perspectives!

 
 
 

Another "Good Bye" to new friends!

 

Again, we make great new friends on our way! Wonderfull!

 

Misty family photo ... early in the morning - very early! ... After the kitchen party!

 

...

After Swaziland we plan some beach days at the Indian Ocean. Friends recommended "Mabibi Camp" to us.

 

Getting to "Mabibi" is not easy ... but sooo beautiful!

 
 

Indian Ocean beaches are just great!

 

Kids just love beaches! It is important to ensure some beach time every now and then when on an extended overland travel.

136 steps down to the beach

The campsites are extremely wonderful and the beach is just gorgeous. Because of the weather conditions (rain and wind), we decide to "upgrade" our accomodation and not camp but stay in one of the safari tents with ensuite bathroom instead. As the days are warm, we spend wonderful two beach days there until we continue to C(h)intsa near East London, where we are planning to stay with our friends Stan and Anne Weakley (here is a link to their wonderful and most informative blog).

Our "new home" ...

... Thank You, Stan and Anne!

Stan is on - yet another - overland trip, this time to Angola, but we spend some wonderfully relaxed days together with his wonderful wife Anne (our kids just love her!), Stan and Anne's daughter Sarah, and their son Pete with his partner Christel ... and the two cool dogs "Bella" and "Jackson".

 

Cool! Jackson and Bella!

 

Cooking, braaiing, exchanging travel experiences, strand outings, collecting seashells ... Another "holiday from traveling".

Pete and Christel ... going fishing

Rock pools

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

...

As for the completion of our Transafrican adventure we definitely "have to" go to Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope, after a couple of days, we continue on our way westwards. Also, we want to meet up with a couple of people there, old friends from home and new friends "from the road".

Our first stop on our way is Jeffreys Bay. We like the surfer style atmosphere there, but the place also is quite touristy and most people seem to be there because of the cheap factory outlets from Billabong, Rip Curl et cetera.

 

Landy children!

 

On our second day, we are informed that our booked shipping has been cancelled. After some more research, it seems that the South African government has forbid all RoRo-shipping companies to ship private vehicles from South Africa for June and July, completely! Really strange and disappointing! We had booked our flights home just two days earlier and had planned our last few weeks here in Africa ... and now, everythig is open again. What makes everything even more difficult is the fact that our Carnet de Passages expires on the 5th August, meaning that our Landy has to be shipped back to Europe before that date.

At the time of writing this blog entry, it seems as if the only chance to ship our Land Rover back home to Germany will be a container shipping from Cape Town to either Germany, the Netherlands or Belgium. Safer but also considerably more expensive! Also, with the help of the German ADAC and the South African automobile club AASA, we manage to get an extension for our Carnet de Passages (within one day!). We will share all our experiences, contact details et cetera on a separate blog entry soon.

To sort things out properly, we stay another night in Jeffreys Bay before we continue to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of the African continent.

Krüger National Park

Certainly, we had imagined beforehand that the "Krüger National Park" in South Africa would be one of the highlights of our Transafrican adventure ... The reality turned out to be even more spectacular.

With roundabout 20.000 square kilometres (half of Denmark or the Netherlands) the Krüger is one of the largest national parks is all Africa. For about 350 kilometres the national park follows the South African-Mocambique border and is immensely diverse in landscape, ecosystems, plants and animals. In contrast to the "Moremi Game Reserve" in Botswana, here almost all the roads are either tar or good gravel, which might look a bit "unromantic" at first glance, but is great fun to easily drive around for days and see a multitude of animals - even along and next to the roads.

 
 

And: we saw all of the "Big Five" (elephant, rhino, water buffalo, lion, leopard) here ... without booking a game drive but completely on our own using our Land Rover.

 

Our first Leopard! Beautiful and majestic!

 
 

"Our" Leopard's prey hanging in a tree ... that's how we found it. But really spotting the Leopard took us a lot of time - so well camouflaged they are!

 
 

Our first male lion(s)!

 
 
 
 

The Buffalo ... "Nyati" in Kiswahili, the name the kids gave out Land Rover

 
 
 
 

This guy didn't make it!

 
 

A Rhino directly next to our car ... quite scary actually! They are soo big!

 
 

And here are Elephants

 

Aheem!

Elephants don't seem to like Zebras!

 

... not at all!

 
 
 
 

Elephant skull

 

Apart from the "Big Five", we saw a multitude of other beautiful animals. Here is just a selection ...

First the birds:

 

A Saddle Billed Stork

 
 

A Lalic Breasted Roller

 
 

A Ground Hornbill

 

... And some more four-legged animals:

 

Hippos are cool!

 
 

Relaxing on the beach!

 
 

A Spotted Hyaena

 
 

A Bush Bock

 
 

Giraffe - we saw so many since Kenya, but still they are always impressively beautiful again!

 
 

Fighting Springbock

 
 

Warthog

 

Crocs are cool ... it's like looking through a window of time into the time when the dinos roamed this planet!

Accomodation in Krüger is quite good. At Letaba, we stayed together with our Dutch friends Jan and Marit in a wonderful house overlooking the Letaba River. At Skukuza and Berg-en-Dal we booked small rondavels.

 

Our house at Letaba Restcamp

 
 

A house with a view

 

Nighttime ... and a braai of course!

 

Our favorite dessert: braaid "zebra" banana with chocolate - great with Amarula!

 
 
 

Some of the camps have museums which we used for travel-schooling our kids.

 
 

We absoultely enjoyed every minute spent in Krüger!

Illegal in South Africa!

Listening to and reading other people's experiences, we actually feared entering South Africa a bit. From what we heard, people have been rejected because their passports didn't look "proper" anymore, some people did not have international birth certificates for their children (which we have), some had to show a flight ticket back home (which we didn't have) ...

In our case everything went extremely well. ... But before telling the story, you must know that when we arrived at the planned accomodation on the Botswanean side, we discovered that Anouk had quite a high fever (again!) and we were quite worried that it might be Malaria and decided to rather move on to South Africa because of the availability of a better medical service just in case than staying in Botswana.

So, in a way, we were quite stressed because of Anouk's state of health. The border though was the easiest border experience we had in Africa in months. Everybody was relaxed, nobody wanted to see our car and everybody wanted to talk about us having traveled through Africa ... in a Land Rover ... with two children. The passports were stamped, we got our border passes and off we went!

...

When we reached the newly planned accommodation though, Mischa checked the stamps in the passports - something he normally does right at the border, but this time was just too relaxed! ... He did not succeed in finding a South African stamp in Juliane's passport ... simply because there was NONE! JULIANE WAS AN ILLEGAL PERSON! We didn't know that human trafficking was SO EASY!

Again, bearing in mind the many stories of other overlanders who got into severe problems at the South African border, we quite nervously went back the roundabout 45 km to the border post.

But, by now, everybody there had heard of our story of having traveled from our home in Germany to South Africa in a Land Rover ... and ... it was just a matter of two minutes and the passport stamp was in Juliane's passport and we could - now completely legal - move on to find a decent place to stay for the night and take care of Anouk's fever.

...

What a day!

The Okavango Delta, the largest oasis in the world … and the Khama Rhino Sanctuary

 

The Okavango Delta - what a wonderfully beautiful landscape!

 

The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world, 15.000 square kilometres large. The strange thing about Okavango is that the Okavango River does not end in the sea, but seeps away in the sand of the Kalahari thus forming the largest oasis in the world.

 

A young giraffe

 

The Okavango Delta apparently is one of the last great nature paradises in Africa with hippos, crocodiles, aquatic antelopes, elephants, giraffe, zebras, lions, leopards, a multitude of birds and many many more interesting animals and plants set in a beautiful landscape. What an impressive ecosystem!

 

Wooden bridge ... adventurous driving with sand tracks, water crossings and the such!

 

Even the way to the Moremi Game Reserve where we are going to stay for the next couple of days is a bit of an adventure, as the gravel roads outside the park are full of potholes and before reaching the reserve, the roads are full of elephant-sh**, and gazelle and other animals are a common sight.

After entering the game reserve, the roads become more farm roads from a European point of view than "proper roads". But this makes traveling here even more adventurous and "real"! We are so impressed and enjoy traveling here so very much that indeed we forget to take photos. Anouk doesn't like driving here and gets "seasick" as the Land Rover is rolling like a ship while Sóley enjoys it so much that she starts singing her favourite pirates' songs. We drive through a nearly untouched nature ... more or less alone ... and behind every corner, you simply don't know what to expect, an agressive elephant, grazing gazelle or a roaring lion. Wonderful!

We stay there for three nights at "Xakanaxa" campsite. As the campsites are not fenced, as soon as it is dark, the animals take over that territory as well and elephants or hippos might wander through your camp as well as lions or leopards might. That's why you should not leave the car or tent at night and all night long the sounds of the animals are around you: a munching elephant, a howling hyena, roaring lions in the distance and a multitude of more or less silent footsteps. Especially with young children this can become quite stressful, as they should not be allowed to play alone and only near the car at all times. As soon as the sun sets, they have to be in the tent or car as they perfectly well fit into the predator-prey system of the big cats and hyena.

Still, during daytime we relax in the camp and enjoy the great view into the delta and visiting gazelle. We also really enjoy the game drives in our Land Rover and especially so the evenings around the campfire in the middle of the wilderness.

 

New friends: Marit and Jan from the Netherlands

 

An important highlight for all of us is the boat trip we do on the delta together with our new friends Jan and Marit whom we ment at "Audi Camp" in Maun" and planned our stay in Moremi with.

 
 

The African Jacana ...

... or "Jesus Bird" because it's "walking on water"

 

A Cormorant

 
 

A majestic Fish Eagle

 
 

Hippos, Hippos, Hippos! ... hiding Hippos

 
 

Aquatic gazelle

 
 

Wonderful landscape!

 
 

Beautiful water lilly ...

 

African wilderness, a boat trip, game drives, a campfire and great company ... what more does one need!?

 

The stars here simply are impressive! We stand in absolute awe!

 
 

The morning sun on a hippo-made waterway

 

Only the baboons are really a pain in the ***, as they don't fear humans or fire anymore. We are lucky to be able to chase them away and prepare the camp in a way so that the baboons couldn't steal anything from us. South African neighbors were not so lucky and their camp was raided completely. Apparently, baboons can even open tents using the zipper! And they do like South African red wine, too!

...

After Moremi we continue on our way down south and stop to spend some time at the "Khama Rhino Sanctuary" near Serowe.

The reception we recieve is not so very promising: a bored and uncommunicative lady behind the counter is rather unfriendly and we can't really understand why we have to pay an entry fee for the park for the day we arrive even though we cannot drive into the park AND have to leave the next morning BEFORE TEN! No 24h rule applies here which would have been more than fine for us. The manager understands the problems we have with this policy and we pay for 24hours ... Apart from the lady at the reception everybody here is exceptionally friendly and interested.

 

Our camp in the evening ... just great!

 

The campsite under a big tree is beautiful and on the next day we see a multitude of animals.

 

Water hole ...

 

A large Kudu ...

... not really sure if he likes us!

 

Warthog waterhole

 
 
 
 
 
 

I guess I know what these guys think of us!

 

So many animals at the waterhole: vultures, Hartebeest, Zebra, ...

... more vultures ...

... Zebra and vultures ...

... Eland ...

 

... and more Hartebeest.

 
 

Some Rhinos in the distance ...

 
 
 
 
 

The "Khama Rhino Sanctuary" definitely is worth visiting!

Border Crossing: Namibia – Botswana at Dobe (M74)

On the way to Okaukuejo in the Etosha NP, somehow it suddenly came to my mind that my passport might not be valid long enough to enter Botswana ... It was only a matter of minutes to find out that I was completely right and that

a) a passport has to be valid for another 6 months and

b) that my passport was only valid for another 5 months and two weeks!

Big Problem! Especially so as we have heard that bureaucracy in Botswana is supposed to be even worse than in Germany ...

Unexpectedly, a visit at the immigration office in Grootfontein made me relax again as the officer there told me that I could use my second passport (which we took for all of us just in case - with the kids this actually already had helped us a lot in Zambia) and that he would advise the border officials at Dobe to stamp out both the old and the new passport so that I could enter Botswana with the new passport which is valid for another four years. He wrote all that on a Post-It paper, stamped it ... and off we went to the border. Very nice and helpful, indeed!

...

In northern Namibia there are actually two possibilities to cross into Botswana (if you're not in the Caprivi already), Dobe or Mahembo/Shakawe. We chose Dobe, because it is off the tarmac. Dobe is about 315 km away to the east from Grootfontein (the first 50km are on tarmac on the B8 and the rest is on the C44/M74).

The border post at Dobe really is an isolated place ... they have about five cars (!) crossing the border there daily ... sometimes even less! So, all that customs and police wanted to do on both sides in our case was to chat with us for a while because their job there simply is extremely boring. Very easy! No problems! Passports stamped, carnet stamped ... and off we went. It seemed to be the easiest border crossing in Africa!

The only minimal downside was that the officials on the Botswanean side are allowed to give foreigners a 14 days visitors permit only (instead of the 90 days most tourists can get). If you want to extend, you'll have to go to the immigration office in any of the bigger cities just like Maun, they told us. As we planned to go to Maun anyway, we did not worry and went on.

The road on the Botswanean side which is marked a simple 4x4 track in many maps, actually is quite a good dirt road with some sandy stretches (no really deep sand though!) - in parts under construction, but no problem at all.

...

Extending the 14 days visitor permit and doing the customs clearance of the Land Rover in Maun turned out to be quite a difficult thing! First of all, it is not easy to find out where exactly in Maun the places you have to go to are. Immigration is at "Maun Administrative Services" (GPS: 19°59'08.78'' S 23°25'34,23'' E) and if you want to extend the 14 days, you have got to write a letter to the office explaining why you want to stay longer (which is obvious as the country is beautiful, so I listed all the places we wanted to visit). Then, they might give you up to 90 days alltogether (we got 30!).

Finding out where customs is was more difficult as nobody, not even most of the officials we asked, knew where exactly we could find that place. After a lot of asking around, we finally found out that we'd have to go to the "Burs" office in town ("Botswana Unified Revenue Services", Rath Tower Maun; sorry, I could not find the GPS data for that one). Checking our Carnet they discovered that the Namibian police made a mistake in stamping us out of Namibia as Namibia, Botswana and South Africa are all members of one single tax and customs union. So, if ever Namibian officials tell you they have to stamp your Carnet OUT when proceeding to Botswana or South Africa, stop them doing so! Well, so I now had to persuade the lady at the office to stamp us in again into the customs union just to be on the safe side ... After roundabout 1,5 hours I had managed to do so, paid road tax and got a receipt ...

The easiest and nicest border crossing on this trip so far, but not easy from a bureaucratic point of view!

Etosha

When this National Park was founded in 1907 when Namibia still was a German colony, its size was over 90.000 square kilometres. Today, Etosha is 22.000 square kilometres large with its centre, the Etosha Salt Pan which in itself covers about 5.000 square kilometres alone.

 

Nyati the Land Rover in the Etosha Salt Pan

 

According to the "San" ancestral history, this place was where a "San" mother cried for her murdered child ... her tears dried and later became the salt pan.

 

Right after the gate, we see the first elephant in Etosha ... directly next to the road. Impressively big!

 
 

And even more elephants at the first waterhole.

 
 

And giraffe ...

 

... and more ...

... and more ...

 

Sooo beautiful!

 
 

Rhinos at the waterhole at "Halali" rest camp

 
 
 
 
 

An African Scoops Owl

A Kudu

 

Springbock ... funny jumpers! We could watch them for ages!

 
 

Hundreds of zebra ... wonderful!

 
 

The first lioness we see ... you can't imagine how loud the roar is! LOUD!

 
 

Orxy at the waterhole ... already recognizing that something else is about to come to join them ...

 
 

... and then she comes ... sometimes patience pays off!

 
 

... only to drink! It probably is too hot for her to hunt - a pity! For US!

 
 

And then she crosses the road directly in front of us! So impressive!

 

A Blackfaced Impala ... just relaxing next to the road

A jackall resting in the shade

 

Blue Wildebeest ... Punk is not Dead!

 
 

And then suddenly there is a roadblock ... actually a large elephant bull and there is (another) car between it and the herd at the waterhole ... slightly NOT amused!

 
 

... and BIG, REALLY BIG! Quite scary!

 
 

Eehm ... never actually knew that elephants had FIVE LEGS!

 
 

Ostriches ...

 

Secretary Birds

A Tawny Eagle at the Okaukuejo waterhole

 

Sunset giraffe

 
 

Namibia is suffering under a draught ... some animals don't make it unfortunately!

 

We stay two nights in the park, one night at the "Halali" Restcamp and one at the "Okaukuejo" Restcamp. Both have artificial waterholes where even at night you can watch animals, but we like Okaukuejo better (better accomodation, better food and better service!).

Generally said, the state owned camps in Namibia (NWR Camps) are not as good as the private ones, which is very sad as Namibia could earn even more money with a bit more maintenance and a better service!

 
 

Meeting the “San” and “Himba” in Namibia

A "San" ...

... and a "Himba"

Yes, we actually are a really sociable family! We have experienced this since the very beginning of our trip. Meeting and getting to know interesting people who live different lives has been an important and extremely enriching part of our long travel to the south. It was actually in Albania where we discovered the first real differences compared to "our culture".

Most of the time these personal encounters have just "happened" by chance on the road, other meetings with "locals", but also with other travelers we have arranged via the internet beforehand, sometimes just like a "blind date", and other people we visited were either friends or friends' friends. Everywhere on this long journey through the Balkans and Africa, we have been recieved and invited with an immense cordiality, have been invited to peoples' homes ... actually with a warmth and openness we think has become rare in Europe unfortunately. An immense wealth of exciting stories and concepts we have been allowed to learn that way and this also was an important way of delving into and thus appreciating the countries and cultures visited in even more depth. We were really lucky to meet so many interesting people and be able to establish so very many intense relationships, even deep friendships during our travels. What a great gift!

Of course, one cannot "expect" that this happens "by chance" in every single culture visited! It is not "normal" that you meet somebody who is living so interestingly different just by chance while traveling through and it is also not a normal thing that that person directly invites you to his or her home, is able to tell and explain everything to you in English and at the same time takes care of you in a for the country characteristical way in all imaginable kinds of ways. Sometimes, one has to "use" pre-organised touristic offers, but this can affect personal encounters fundamentally.

...

Of course, we were also very interested e.g. in the way the Mursi live (you know, the people where the ladies use wooden dishes in their lower lips for body decoration) in southern Ethiopia. But what we heard from many other travelers who really "bought" these encounters was just outrageous. Unenthusiastically the ladies pose topless in always the same manner and position (you can actually compare photos on the internet ... and most of them look the same!) ... just to seize US$5 per photo directly. How damn unromantic! And how damn artificial and maybe even top-down instead of encountering people on eye level this is! This "touristic prostitution" we definitely did not want to support and thus even consciously left out the region Omo-Valley in Ethiopia. We did this also because we had experienced the difference between regions ruined by tourism and other rather "spared" regions during the two times we visited and worked in Ethiopia.

...

Long before we had reached Namibia and had even planned our Transafrican overland travel Anouk had a dream, a wish going far beyond any normal interest in a different culture: she would so very much like to "be" a "Himba"!

This dream developed quite early during the frequent reading of one of her favourite childrens' books, "Tippi from Africa", a book full of wonderful photos and stories seen through the eyes of a small French girl growing up in Namibia in a setting that provides many encounters with "Himba", "San" and wild animals (here is the trailer of a film made about Tippi). Anouk identifies with Tippi and would love to be as near to the people and animals in Africa as Tippi is. The great respect she has for wild animals doesn't make her expect (in contrast to the Tippi in the book) that she can really cuddle with them, but with other people she establishes contacts in absolutely no time at all! While we are planning to find out where we could meet "Himba" in a good setting we discover that Anouk mixes up the "San" and "Himba". So, we decide to try to meet members of both cultures.

Max and Irmgard Beyer from Grootfontein ... we were so very lucky to have "bumped into them".

The Beyer's Self Catering flat ... a great place to stay in Grootfontein if overlanders want to stop for a "holiday from traveling"!

Max and Irmgard Beyer in Grootfontein ("Beyer Self Catering", actually a great place to stay; email: maxbeyer@iway.na) are an immense help in organising how we can meet the "San" and "Himba" in a small group and personal setting. Of course, we know that this will be "staged" in some way, but we will try it and be open.

...

First, we meet the "San" who call themselves both "Bushmen" and "San".

 

"San" is beautiful!

 

INFOBOX: The "San"

Both the term "San" and also "Bushmen" could be interpreted negatively; especially the term "San" which is percieved as "politically correct" these days means "bandit", "alien" or "good-for-nothing" in the language of the "Nama", who together with the "Himba"/"Herero" and "Damara" eventually in the cause of the last two to three centuries have displaced the San from their original homes in southern Africa.

In comparison with us Europeans the "San" are rather small and have a rather light-brownish skin colour which differentiates them distinctly from fair-skinned people, but also from the rather dark skinned Africans living in the region of southern Africa. Probably the "San" are the descendants of an early population of the Homo Sapiens, but maybe they are the descendants of a group which migrated from Europe back to Africa a couple of thousand years ago. From a scientific point of view it seems to be proven that the "San" have been genetically isolated from other humans for tens of thousands of years.

In the more recent past the "San" were consistently persecuted, enslaved, actually really "hunted down" in the very sense of the word by European colonialists and have become nearly extinct.

Today still the "San"-culture and people are in great danger to be wiped from our planet completely, through supersession by other peoples, but also due to the negative impact of tourism and modern diseases of civilization, but especially so due to tuberculosis. At the time of writing there seem to be around 100.000 "San" living in Namibia, Bostwana and Südafrika; 2000 years ago there were approximately 300.000 to 400.000!

As everywhere in the modern world, indigenous peoples get certain areas as "reservations" ... only to be taken away from them as soon as people discover any natural resources. This also happened to the "San" in the central Kalahari.

The "San" are widely recognized as tremendously peaceful, friendly and "gentle". They have an immensely ample knowledge on the plants and animals of the southern African bushland, but also on astronomy. In addition to that they have a large variety of different games, myths and stories. They definitely are far more than just "simple people living in the bush"!

Together with the Australian aboriginals the "San" are representatives of the two oldest continuously maintained cultures on this planet (... at least until us Europeans came as "boat people" to their shores and founded colonies on their land!). As such they still only have none or only a minor role in our so-alled "western" history curricula at school. Instead the allegedly "noble" Greek, Romans and Egyptians are being taught! The travel writer Bill Bryson once called the Australian Aborigines "The World's Invisible People" ... the "San" seem to belong into the same cathegory! Completely unjustly!

sources: oral sources, Wikipedia, Reise Know How "Namibia" (Schetar and Köthe)

The Fiume Bush Camp

The reception area

 

The "Dining Room" ... just wonderful!

 

Our excursion takes us into the "Fiume Bush Camp" situated about 60km east of Grootfontein and run by Jörn Gressmann, a blond Namibian who grew up on his parents' farm together with "Bushmen" and even speaks their language (yes, that's the one with the many "clicks") fluently since his childhood days.

Jörn Gressmann, owner of the "Fiume Bush Camp"

INFOBOX Jörn Gressmann 

Jörn, born in 1980 in Windhoek, moved to his parents' farm with his mother when he was three months old. The original family farm, "Klein Huis", was bought by Jörn's grandfather in 1932; he is 3rd generation Namibian.

The farm of 10.000 hectares is a large property meaning that the closest neighbours live at least 10-15km away. So, Jörn grew up with the staff kids that lived on the farm. The staff belonged partially to the "San" people. Jörn calls them "tame Bushmen" because they partly lost their culture and maybe would not really be able to live in and from the Bush anymore. They left the bush because they wanted to change their lives for the better working on commercial farms and earning an income. Jörn's father forbade all the staff to speak Afrikaans or English with Jörn. Instead they spoke the local "San"-language with him.

Those where the people Jörn grew up with and as a result at an age of 7 years he could almost speak better "San" than German, his mothertongue. His toys as a young boy were a slingshot, scorpions and snakes.

That is why Jörn has a close contact with the "San" and his connection with them from his childhood days is a gateway to their trust and the basis for mutual respect.

 

The "San" couple Erna and Morris - the managers of the Fiume Bush Camp

 

For the management of the camp Jörn has found the very warm and welcoming "San"-couple Erna and Morris who really affectionately take care of their guests, spend time with them around the campfire and answer all their questions.

 
 

Very luxurious for a tent!

A tent with a view!

Our complete family just loves the great food served (warthog and oryx) and we sleep in luxurious tents with bathroom en-suite and a great view into the surrounding bushland. By the way: there is no WiFi here - deliberately because the visitors are here for personal encounters and not for losing themselves in the digital nirvana!

The following day is completely structured and shows us all facettes of the original life of the bushmen, -women and -children.

First, we go on a loong bush walk ...

... only that walking in clothes is far too hot for this environment!

Setting a trap for small birds ...

... an ingenious part of engineership!

And the "bird" ...

... is caught ...

 

... and dies!

 

Young boys and one of the fathers go hunting ...

... impressive at how far distances the "San" can actually hit their targets ... a long learning process for us still!

 

The bush is full of good food like this edible root.

 
 

Making fire the old way ...

 

... only is a matter of one or two minutes ...

We learn about different medicine plants, fruits and berries, bulbs and hunting methods, how they make fire ...

How to make a new bow.

Creating beautiful jewelry from ostrich egg and plant seeds.

... but also the versatile jewellery they make from natural materials and of course how to make bow and arrow.

 

Sometimes we are really impressed by Anouk's social skills - traveling definitely is very good for her!

 

Anouk doesn't have any fear of contact and feels as right as rain with the "San".

Anouk (6) and her new friend Kuna (12)

The kids playing chasey.

Her new friend Kuna (with two clicks in her name) just takes her with her to collect berries and play chasey.

The "San" love to play dancing games ...

...

 
 

We witness that in the "San" culture the whole family love playing together having great fun.

 

A campfire and dance evening with the "San" ... actually SHARING stories, because both sides are interested in each other!

 

Even though this is just a demonstration, the medicine man and dancers are absolutely "into it"!

Vibrations!

 

Another "natural" thing: the children are also around the campfire ... fast asleep!

 

In the evening we are shown a short part of the "healing dance" (which actually goes on all day and night long if somebody in the village is ill!).

 

Another great dinner - while we listen to the sounds of the "San" already dancing, chattering and having fun a couple of hundred meters away from us.

 

By the way, the "San" obviously dance a long time before we visit their camp because their laughter and loud chattering resonates through the bush while we are still in the camp enjoying yet another great dinner. Not everything here seems to be (only) staged! After dancing and sports we now are not surprised anymore why the small and delicate "San" look so sporty-wiry. In addition to that their friendly, happy and gentle ways are just very very touching to us.

Apart from us there are only two other (German) tourists present at this organised encounter - a group-size enabling very personal experiences for all of us (later on we find out that the group size here will never exceed eight persons).

...

Unexpectedly positively tempered after this great experience

we head off into the Kaokoveld to meet the "Himbas"

... after an impressive self drive safari through the Etosha National Park.

Our room at the "Toko Lodge"

As Max and Irmgard Beyer had suggested, we stay at the beautiful "Toko-Lodge". On the farm a group of "Himba" have established a more or less permanent settlement, mainly for tourist purposes just like on "Fiume".

INFOBOX "Himba"

The name "Himba" in the language of the "Nama" means "beggar". The ancestors of the "Himba", a people which from an ethnical perspective and from that of a linguist are the same people as the "Herero", migrated to northern Namibia and southern Angola from Betschuanaland (modern Botswana) about 400 to 500 years ago.

This maybe last half-nomadic people of Namibia and Angola today only has about 7.000 to 16.000 members. Being livestock owners the culture of the "Himba" today is endangered by sedentary farming following the European example, but also because of the legal protection of predators. In the past the "Himba" were - among others - suppressed and raided by the "Nama". The term "Himba", "beggar", might be connected with that because after the raids the "Himba" had to beg from their neighbors to be able to survive.

The "Himba", a really favoured and famous photo motif with tourists in Namibia, today still like wearing scarce attire if seen from a western perspective, made mainly from leather and animal hides. They are also famous for their artificial hairdos which are decorated with ocre just as the rest of their bodies are.

Just like the "San" and many other indigenous peoples worldwide, the "Himba" are extremely endangered through the negative influences of tourism and the influence of the "western" consumerist way of living.

sources: oral sources, Wikipedia, Reise Know How "Namibia" (Schetar and Köthe)

 

Immanuel, our "Himba" guide

 

We book a guided tour with the "Himba" Imanuel who is very fluent in English. Right before we set off he asks us whether we have brought along some presents for the "Himba" and enough money to be able to buy souvenirs. Still being notably irritated by these questions we walk the short footpath with him to the "Himba" village.

At the village entry he makes us stop for some explanative words ... or rather to give the ladies in the camp some time to dress according to what they know the tourists want?

 

Mmh, if they are always as decorated as this they have to construct huts with wider doors!

 

However that may be, Mischa discovers several women who quickly sneek into their huts while we are waiting here. A young "Himba" who has been attending school for years now tries to cover her breasts while the guide loudly tells her not to be so awkwardly shy and coy.

 

 

"Western" education unfortunately brings with it that people look down on their own way of dressing.

 

Our first impression reminds us on touristy places in Ethiopia.

Especially the children seem to be rather desolate! It doesn't take very long and Sóley wants to go back to the lodge. Our daughters have by now developed a distinctive natural sense for people and situations. Something simply "doesn't fit" here! Especially the pushy children simply scare her away. Juliane continues her village-discovery-tour together with Anouk.

 
 
 

Proud ... but also sad in a way!

 
 
 

With regularity another lady poses for another photo, even really pushes Juliane to take even more photos. Men we don't see here! Juliane asks the women to "make Anouk a Himba" to make Anouk's dream come true ... so off they go into one of the straw-thatched clay huts.

One of the characteristics of the "Himba" is that they don't shower or wash themselves because water is very precious here but anoint themselves with a mixture of animal fat and ocre powder and after that "smoke" themselves under a blanket using natural perfumes and tree saps.

 

The "smoking" procedure

 

Anouk courageously participates in everything and the "Himba"-children are extremely excited how a fair-skinned girl becomes one of them.

 

Anouk, our little "Himba"

 

In this situation we first discover some "real" interest in us, some real excitement.

 

The "village souvenir market" ...

 

But when we step out of the small hut, the other village people have made a large circle to put all their handmade souvenirs on display for sale.

 
 

A sudden child's crying distracts us, a mother follows her child hitting it and an emaciated village-elder rebukes her. That guests are witnessing this incident (the guide tries to stop her) doesn't seem to be disturbing her in any way.

With a strange and really sad feeling we stroll across the improvised market place. Nothing really catches our eye but the pleading looks don't let us go. The prices are simply ridiculous and outrageous! Juliane bargains because we don't want to disappoint Anouk. But the feeling that remains is that we are being scammed here - even though we spent considerably more money when we visited the "San". The difference is that the "San" never hassled or pushed us.

The "San" shop ...

... every item is labelled with a price and the name of the artist.

Sóley and Anouk ...

... are so happy with the jewelry they have got!

Of course, the "San" were also prepared for tourists wanting to buy their jewellery and other crafts, but the way they dealt with that was absolutely discreet: a small "open air shop" offered many beautiful pieces of art which were each and every one labelled with handwritten slices of paper displaying the name of the artist and also the price. When we bought items, one of the "San" wrote down each income and - apart from 85% of the money generated which goes directly to the artist - another 15 % go into a communal coffer which then can be used for extra expenses when e.g. one of the villagers is getting ill and has to go to hospital.

Jörn Gressmann has a bilateral educational interest with his "San"project: not only that us foreigners had the chance to really learn a lot about the culture of the "Bushmen", but also for the "San" this form of tourism is a good opportunity and cause why to go on passing on their culture to the next generations.

 

Hunting lesson for the young boys ... and the tourists - but not ONLY for tourists!

 

The kids learn about their own culture and also that their culture is as exciting and important enough so that other people come from far away places just to visit them and experience that culture. Of course, they also learn that they can earn some money with this ancient but still quite vivid culture. In general, we felt that they had real fun showing us everything instead of "doing a job".

But Jörn also wants to enable these children to feel "at home" in the western culture and be able to adjust to the "western" norms of education when necessary. Because of that he has established a small kindergarten for the "San"-children living on his farm so that later on they have better chances at school. For that purpose there also is a donation box in the camp very discreet in one of the corners. This integral approach to combine tourism and education is something we really like and we hope that this social model will catch on because it actually is good for all sides, the "San", the tourists and the farm owners alike.

We can definitely only recommend the "Fiume Bush Camp" to every culturally interested traveler in Namibia!

For our children (and us!) these two visits were great lessons in a wonderful outdoor classroom! We will never forget this! "World schooling" and "travel schooling" with teachers like this can give so much more than learning in a classroom!

 

Let's hope that there will be a place for indigenous people(s) ... if their cultures and knowledge gets lost all humanity will lose!

 
 

What will their lives be like when they have grown up?? - It's time to fully recognize indigenous peoples in their full rights!

 

Our “southern loop” through Namibia – From Lüderitz to Windhoek via the Fish River Canyon and the “land of the quivertrees”

 
 

From inspiring Lüderitz we take the long and lonely road down south to the shores of the Oranje River. By now we know that driving through Namibia means an ever changing landscape of immense beauty, but what awaits us between Rosh Pinah and Ai-Ais Hot Springs just tops everything experienced before.

Especially the road "C 13" in the Ai-Ais and Fish River Canyon Park is gorgeous:

The Oranje River ... a long oasis through desert and mountains.

... driving through wild mountains with a lush vegetation along the Oranje River bordering South Africa ...

... and then suddenly being in the middle of a completely barren "moon landscape", just to be out of it back in the canyonlands to soak in the hot springs at Ai-Ais.

Our camp at Ai-Ais

At Ai-Ais it is great to simply relax and soak in the warm water looking at the scenery around you.

Here we meet the Stolp family from South Africa ... traveling with another great trailer!

Mmh, yeah! Certainly! "Guinness is good for you!" ... But?! Really?? Like THAT??!

Simply great, gorgeous and wonderful! If you are in Namibia, don't leave out this region!

 

The "Fish River Canyon" ... does anybody really have to go to the so-called "Grand Canyon" in the USA??

 
 
 

"Setting our sails" to go on a northward course, right after Ai-Ais there is the Fish River Canyon, actually after the Grand Canyon in the USA the second largest canyon in the world. It being far too dry and hot to hike there with our young kids, we only see it from above ... still a very impressive sight.

 
 
 
 

Near Keetmanshoop, another roundabout two hundred kilometres to the north, there is the "land of the quivertrees". Quivertrees are members of the "Aloe" family and can reach an age of up to 300 years.

 
 

A large "weaver bird" nest

 

Can you imagine a better music lesson?!

 

A great campsite in the area is "Mesosaurus Camp", which is just like a wildcamp even though it is situated on a farm. Camping in the middle of a quivertree forest with a big campfire and a million stars above you, listening to the noises of the bush like jackals in the far distance ... just great!

 

A Mesosaurus ... fossilized for eternity.

 

What's that?! Yep, just what it looks like: dinosaur faeces ... shit! ... Doesn't smell though!

On the way to the fossil sites we pass this young lad's grave ... died only aged 27 shot by a "Nama" ... for a romantic colonial idea ... poor fella!

The name of the campsite is due to the fact that on this farm is a site where "Mesosaurus" fossils can be found. Having lived about 300 million years ago, these ancient reptiles (size up to 35cm) are a proof for Alfred Wegener's theory of the continental drift, as they can be found only in south-western Africa and south-eastern South America and thus proving an ancient connection of the two continents called Gondwana land.

 

Have you ever heard a white African play "Nkosi Sikele I Afrika" ON STONES!? ...

 

The senior owner of the farm is a great and entertaining guide absolutely enthusiastic about the topic. His tours are great for kids as well and provide a wonderful outdoor classroom.

Yep, you are right ... camping is "basic" just like "rucksack tourism"! Aah, it's a hard life!

 

Anouk makes friends easily wherever we go!

 

Driving through the outskirts of the Kalahari desert, we move on to the Oanob Dam near Rehobot, where we relax for some days at the Lake Oanob Resort before moving on to Windhoek again.

Just before reaching Windhoek, we stop at Claratal, a farm owned by friends' friends.

It is sometimes really funny how small the world actually is: we discover that Annette who owns the farm together with her husband Heiko used to work on our small island in the North Sea years ago and even named her son Arne after a student from our house at school ("family group" we call it). With connections like this it is really easy to feel at home in many places!

 

Anouk learns for her future!

 

... but Sóley loves the farm life nonetheless ... apart from hunting and butchering maybe!

That's the way "poor children" look when the parents are egoistic and go traveling!

Anouk is even more sure that when she is older she will have a farm, maybe in Namibia!

 
 
 

Driving lessons ... at least four people fit into the front row of a Land Rover!

 

A meteor rain ... now a sight in the middle of Windhoek

 

What Namibians call the "Coffee Machine" - the Sam Nujoma Memorial

 

Back in Windhoek, the cleanest and most friendly capital city in Africa that we have visited so far, we meet new friends we met in Lüderitz and old friends we met in Nairobi.

The van Niekerk's ...

... and their old Land Rover ... Old, eeh, means built in 1974, the very year Mischa was born. Yep, that's the way cars looked in the old days!

Why do some people think that travellers are less connected to people and alone, maybe even trying to "escape something"?! We are definitely not! And establishing new ties to people all over the world really makes you become a "world citizen" instead of the citizen of just one country. We definitely feel very connected to a lot of great people who have become really great friends in no time at all!

 

We're all distant relatives ...!

 
 

We did not meet Stefanus and Anette in Khartoum, neither in Gorgora. We did meet in Nairobi - for about one hour! Here in Namibia we spend loads of gorgeous time together! Great new friends for life!

 

After another time spent at our friend's farm "Eisgaubib", we move on to Etosha and the land of the "San" and "Himba", but that is another story!

Overland Cuisine – the “Dutch Oven” or “Potjie”

 
 

In this post we want to introduce one of our most valuable (and also the heaviest) pieces of cooking gear, the "Petromax Feuertopf".

These iron cast pots are also called "Dutch Oven" (mainly in north America), "casserole dishes" (in some English speaking countries) or "Potjie" in southern Africa.

The "ancestors" of these pots travelled with the first white settlers to the American "West", went across the sea with Jan van Riebeeck and today can be found in almost all households all over southern Africa.

 

Anouk's enamel "Quarter Potjie" ... She loves cooking veggies for our braai in that.

 

There are various different sizes and varieties and "relatives" of the Dutch Oven can be found in many countries, e.g. on the Balkans and even in Australia.

Special for our "Petromax Dutch Oven" is the flat bottom which is good for baking bread, and the lid, which can also be used on the fire as a pan. It is also possible to add hot coals onto the lid when the "Feuertopf" is in the fire to have heat both from above and below.

The history of the "Dutch Oven" goes back to the 17th century, when these pots were made in northern Europe, the best pots actually to be found in what today is The Netherlands. That's where the name "Dutch Oven" originates.

...

In Southern Africa, every family has their own traditional and favourite version of "potjiekos", a kind of stew, but unlike a typical stew, "potjiekos" is not stirred in the cooking process. Instead the ingrediences such as different kinds of meat and vegetables spiced with the typical Dutch-Malayan-Indian-African variety of spices are added one after the other in different layers which are not supposed to mix. The cooking process is generally slow using a constant but rather low heat (which is distributed equally by the cast iron pot). As only very little sauce or water is used (sometimes also beer or other alcoholic beverages), the ingrediences in the pot are rather steamed than boiled.

The atmosphere around a campfire with one or more "Potjies" bubbling along in the fire is very social and it always feels a bit like "witchcraft" with a big black pot in the fire.

 

There actually is a great variety of different meals which can be made in a "Dutch Oven": stews, pizza, bread, rolls, gorgeous ratatouille ... the list could continue endlessly here.

Stephanie from the French "KUMP" family presents her perfect Potjie bread ...

Baked potatoes from the Dutch Oven ... just add a layer of coarse salt on the bottom and put the clean potatoes on top ... after about 30 minutes they are just perfect!

We want to introduce three of our favourite dishes here:

 

We can tell you: these rolls for breakfast ... just gorgeous! Unbeatable!

 

Our freshly baked bread rolls which are great for breakfast ... See our post from Hungary in 2014 with a recipy for the rolls and also for Hungarian "Lesczo".

 

Veggie casserole - one of our favorite dishes!

 

At home but also when traveling we really like different varieties of veggie casserole. After greasing the pot, we add layer after layer of fresh vegetables (we actually prefer eggplant, onions, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers and tomatoes with already boiled potatoes) spice it well, add some cream, water or broth ... top everything up with loads of cheese (favourably Swiss cheese like Gruyere, but Cheddar also works quite well), close the lid of the pot and let it simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. If you want, you can also add a layer of feta cheese.

 

Everything you need for "Biltong-Sauerkraut Pot with Boerewors"

 

On "Eisgaubib", our Namibian friend's farm, we created a new "Germibian" potjiekos recipy we call "Biltong-Sauerkraut Pot with Boerewors".

 

Frying the onions ...

 

After the pot is put in the fire and greased with coconut oil, we first fry the onions, a bit later adding the sliced potatoes (raw), frying and stirring until the onions and potatoes are turning slightly brownish.

 

Adding the potatoes and frying until everything turns brownish

 

After that, you add a layer of sauerkraut, one with as much fine cut biltong as you like (we prefer spiced Oryx actually), and another one of sauerkraut.

After the first layer of sauerkraut add the biltong and then another layer of sauerkraut.

... adding more sauerkraut!

We don't add water or broth but a good mug of a fresh and fruity white wine (depending on how you like your sauerkraut, this can be from dry wine to sweet).

... let it simmer ... and relax with a glass of beer or good red wine for a while!

Fresh "Boerewors" ... that will add a lot more southern African flavour to the sauerkraut.

You close the lid and let the potjie simmer for about 40 minutes and then add the Boerewors on top to be finished within the next ten to twenty minutes (you can of course also braai the boerewors instead and just put it on top of the potjiekos when serving).

Ready to serve ...

Lekker ... Germibian potjiekos!

 

Have one or two glasses of "Camelthorn Weizen" to go with our "potjiekos" ... purely Namibian and certainly one of Mischa's favorite beers!

 

One variety for the cheese lovers is adding a layer of cheddar or other cheese (favourably Swiss cheese again) on top after about half an hour after having started the cooking process.

To make this dish more "traditional", one could start with frying meat (preferably Orxy, Kudu or beef) in the pot until it is brown, then add the onions and fry them together with the meat for a while, and then add a layer of potatoes and continue as above.

...

Even though our "Dutch Oven" is a really heavy piece of gear and consumes quite a large portion of the very imited space in our Land Rover, we still would not want to travel without it. The older it gets also the more patina it gets and the food prepared in it will be getting better and better.

Just make sure that you only use hot water and a sponge for cleaning and that you dry it immediately after cleaning and add another layer of oil inside and outside. It will last a lifetime!

...

 
 

When we are down in South Africa, we will certainly buy one of the typical round-bottomed "Dutch Ovens" everybody uses here in addition to our "Petromax Dutch Oven".