Tag Archives: Land Rover Friends

Back Home Again …

Until recently we still enjoyed wonderful South Africa ... having traversed Europe and Africa from North to South ... and just as if it was only a short holiday, we are suddenly back in our every day life at home. Time and space have definitely proven to be very relative during the last couple of months. The complete distance of 37.521 kilometres which we have at most times wonderfully dawdled away within 384 days, but which still was at times hard-earned, we have on our way back just flown by airplane ... from East London in South Africa via Johannesburg and Dubai to Frankfurt in only 22 hours! Unbelievable how we today are able to just "tunnel" vast distances like that and also the wonderfully colorful life down on the Earth's surface. We can literally "beam" us from A to B and thereby skip countless and wonderfully exciting parallel worlds.

Coming home after a year full of experiences, adventures and personal and deeply touching encounters with other people, after a year with a wonderful distance to our "normal" every day life at home emotionally to us seemed like a whole mountain-massif.

"How will we be able to cope with the system-constraints of our every day life after this vivid freedom which every day allowed us to do whatever we actually wanted to?"

"Will friends turn their backs on us because of envy and jealousy?"

"Will the constellations in the circle of friends of our daughters have become re-arranged completely without them with the result that they will have become outsiders and social loners?"

"Will we - after all the intense cordiality of the people we have experienced on the Balkans and in Africa - be able to cope with the German mentality again (which we actually have never really been able to cope with even before!)?"

These and other questions ran through our heads, especially so during the last two weeks in (South) Africa.

It was perfect that we had decided on a "gentle return" which enabled us as a family to relax from traveling, to talk and reflect and dream of further plans.

We spent 14 wonderful days in the beachhouse of our dear travel friends Stan and Anne Weakley (their absolutely great African travel blog is www.slowdonkey.com) who we met by chance on the road between the Simien Mountains and Axum in Ethiopia (here is our blog post from Ethiopia).

 

Juliane had just recovered from eight days of diarrhea then ...

 

We met them again by chance at Kilifi in Kenya (here is the Kilifi blogpost) and because of the intensive time we spent together they have become very close friends, for our daughters even something like "elected grandparents".

"Granddad elect" Stan ...

Baking ...

... enjoying Anne's Bobotie ...

... campfire cuisine ...

... and Braai ...

 

... and Potjie of course!

 
 

And Pete's gorgeous farewell dinner.

 

With freshly shackled Cefani rock oysters,

mussels

 

... and Stan's crayfish. Delicious! Fattening time!

 

So, we felt very much at home with them, went to the beach, went shopping, cooked and feasted extensively (thanks to Anne & Stan, Pete & Christel and Mischa), talked, talked and talked and enjoyed the time as an "African" extended family. ... Until the day came when Stan and Anne took us to the airport.

It was like saying goodbye to dear family members ... affectionate, sad ... "When will we meet again?" ...

On the flights back, the European fear of terrorism draws level with us. Because of what we had heard and watched in the news during the last twelve months we already had an uneasy feeling to fly back home to Germany, to Frankfurt, one of the hubs of air traffic in Europe which thus could be a highly endangered location for terror. And - as if we had foreseen it - somebody scribbles a security comment on our boarding passes. Somewhere a thorough security check would be waiting for us. Not for the first time, as Mischa had been suspected to be a terrorist already in 2006/07 at JFK airport when we came back from our honeymoon trip to New York and Costa Rica. This time it might be because we have been to Sudan and fly back to Germany with Emirates Airways via Dubai. America has a firm grip on worldwide air traffic and all passenger information!

What we did not know at that moment was the fact that at the same time when we left South Africa, several people were shot at a shopping centre in Munich by a man who at that time was suspected to be an ISIS-terrorist. Because of this a warning had been issued by German and international intelligence to thoroughly check all people traveling to Germany. Lucky enough, the flights were long enough so that by and by people found out more about what was really happening in Munich and the assassin turned out to be a mentally ill person. "Welcome back!" from "dangerous Africa" to "safe Europe"!

We arrived back in Europe one week earlier than originally planned due to the fact that on the trip our daughter Anouk dearly missed her 96-year-old great grandmother.

 

Good old gran with her four great-grandchildren. May she rest in peace!

 

So, we wanted to surprise both and secretly booked the flights one week earlier so that Anouk would have a full week with her great-grandmother. However, because of this plan, we found out what we were not supposed to find out: Anouk's great grandmother and "chief" of the whole family was on her deathbed. Just days before we came back to Germany she closed her wise eyes for ever. Together, we had cried and talked "at home" in Stan and Anne's beachhouse. Now, back in Germany, Mischa's complete family was waiting for us in great-grandmother's house. We spent moving days together and said farewell to a wonderfully strong woman who had seen so very much during her long life.

...

As a challenge for the new stage of life after our overland adventure and after many interesting encounters, we had decided to get an addition to the family.

 

Something had happened ... our daughters who feared dogs suddenly loved dogs!

Look at THAT!

 

At Cape Agulhas (here is the blog post), we had decided to buy a Border Collie puppie after we had discovered that our two daughters after some warming up just love dogs.

 

Border Collies are cool!

 

So, we informed ourselves about good dog breeders in northern Germany and on the way to pick up our Land Rover in Rotterdam, we managed to check one. As soon as you see those bubbly-fluffy puppies, all doubts vanish instantly. As the puppies at that time were still too young for us to directly take them with us, we had to leave "our" dog behind ... We left full of thrills of anticipation about the new family member and drove on to meet Marit and Jan, travel friends from the Netherlands, who would help us get our Landy "Nyati" out of customs in Rotterdam.

 

With Marit and Jan in the Okavango Delta

 

Well, imagine us sitting with Marit and Jan, whom we had last met in the Okavango Delta (here is the blog post) and Kruger National Park (here is the Kruger post), in a typically Dutch restaurant somewhere near Amsterdam when an email reaches us from the freight forwarders ... telling us that we can't collect our beloved Land Rover as the container it is in seems to be inhabited by a multitude of spiders.

 

At least Nyati is not alone in that container ... but SPIDERS!?

 

Thus, the whole container has to be gased to kill the animals. We can only get back our Landy after it has been gased and thoroughly aired. We react with a mixture of amusement and disappointment, but Africa has made us considerably more relaxed and what else can we do than proceed to the harbour of Neuharlingersiel in our rental car to sail back to our little North Sea sandbank called "Spiekeroog".

Having just arrived at the harbour in the "beeeautiful" rental car ...

... we are on board a sailing ship ...

 

... crazy Sóley loves it ...

 
 

... even though the weather turns bad in no time - "traditions"!

 

There, we are being picked up by Mischa's mother and her partner with their sailing boat. After a sunny cup of tea during the passage to our island, the weather veers, dark clouds appear and the sea is getting rougher and rougher ... just like on the very day when we had left home more than a year earlier.

 

That's how we had started one year earlier ... slightly younger ... but more relaxed!????

 

Christina, Sóley's beloved kindergarten teacher, gives us a surprise-welcome.

More unexpected friends ... thanks Lasse, Merle and Swaantje! Did you see the tears of happiness in our eyes?

But in spite of this "typical North Sea weather", friends who had found out about our "secret" homecoming, were waiting at the island's harbour to take over the ropes and take us in their arms again.

 

If good friends take on the ropes it might not be a bad sign at all!

 

What a warm and wonderful welcome! Just as we like it! Maybe, coming home will not be too bad after all!?

The few days we have to wait until we can move back in into our old house on the campus of our boarding school, we spend in the house of Mischa's mother to celebrate her birthday.

Our home is so unexpectedly beautiful!

Lazy Sóley!

On my first bicycle trip from the island's village to the boarding school, I amazedly observe how wonderfully colourful the blooming meadows next to the road are, the horses and birds and the evening mood. "How sad that I don't have the camera with me!", I think even though in our every day lives, we speed this way without realising its beauty focussed on the hamster wheel of work and lose the eye for this beauty.

The two weeks we have for "nest-building" go by so very quick and we take the chance to re-furnish our house even more snugly than it was before, not least because of all the "treasures" we brought home from this overland trip. Us adults finally again enjoy to have our own bath, bedroom, sofa and laundry machine and our two daughters are extremely happy to have their rooms back. Still, Sóley feels lonesome at night when she is supposed to sleep alone in her room. She says that these nights are more creepy than any night spent in Nyati's "belly" in the middle of the wilderness with lions roaring in the distance. At daytime, she is impressed by the multitude of books and toys she seems to have forgotten about. The room we had "on board" of our Land Rover for toys and everything else of course was very limited and it had become normal for the girls to play with sticks, stones, plant seeds, sea shells et cetera in the sand. Most other children they had met on the road didn't have more than that and it was a real highlight whenever Anouk pulled her "Double Dutch" out of her pocket.

Yes, very different worlds collided for us during our trip and when coming home and constantly challenge(d) us in our cultural adaptability. Really "classic" social rituals at home suddenly feel "strange".

After we had arrived just in time to witness our older daughter Anouk being officially "thrown out of kindergarten", we could now experience the school enrollment of our first child.

In my family the first day at school is a big family celebration and Anouk had sent invitations already from Africa. As it is usual for this occasion, Anouk got a multitude of large school cones full of sweets, toys and useful things for her time at school. After a relaxed weekend with the family, the first-graders were, as it is the custom here on Spiekeroog, blessed by the priest of the Protestant old island church and the school's headmistress during a powerful church service. Strangely, the religious background of the families present did not play any role in that. Here, everybody "has to be a Christian", obviously ... And maybe not a world citizen!

Our party with the "Bundu Rovers" in Kenya ... still one of our absolute highlight ...

... and extremely open and respectful regardless of different skin color, ethnic background and religion.

We remember our campfire night with the Bundu Rovers in Nairobi in the Ngong hills (remember "Once I had a farm in Africa!"), where all religions present were treated with a natural respect and everything from food to alcohol to the complete celebration was planned and put through not to offend anybody present. Is Europe as open, democratic and culturally considerate as it pretends to be?

 
 

The fire brigade gives the kids a lift and finally, after a staged odyssey, drops them off at the island school.

You ring that bell on your very first and very last day at school.

Proud parents!

After a "birthday marathon" now, our first steps into our boarding school life are there. What wears us out the most actually is the bio rhythm of our bodies ... not only have we exchanged South African winter with European summer with long days and short nights, but also on the road our complete life was more adapted to the natural cause of time, natural requirements like hunger, tiredness and safety. My watch, which broke right at the beginning of the trip, I never really missed. Here back home, it was one of the very first things I bought to be able to survive the neatly clocked everyday (work) life which is not following any natural and individual logic by a systemic order only.

 

Sailing with Stefanus.

 

A few weeks after the revival of our old work-routine, Stefanus, a friend, more like a new family member, from Namibia visits us. He traveled through Africa from England to his home in Windhoek in his brand-new Land Rover Defender together with a friend.

 

Jep, the same man! Would you have recognized him??

 

We met the mysteriously-unkempt Land Rover brother together with his so-called "sister" at "Jungle Junction" in Nairobi and later at his parents' place in Windhoek, on their family farm South West of Windhoek (here is the blog post) and later in Cape Town. Having a beer in the school's discotheque, the "Beathaus", we philosophy about our time in Africa and about the fact that sometimes the whole trip now feels like "a movie", something that tore us out of "normal life", has deeply moved and enriched, but suddenly is over and one is back in normality. But we completely agree that such a break with all its encounters, experiences, adventures and challenges, leaves deep and sustainable traces in peoples' characters. What impact these will have on the long run only time will tell!

Stefanus has brought a Zebra hide from their home-farm ... yes, all paperwork done!

And a Nguni hide as well - we will exchange that with a hide of one of our Galloway cattle.

After a wonderful late summer, the rough autumn winds not only sweep the leaves from the trees. It also takes the soothing joy of the reunion with it and leaves countless shades of grey with many people who only want to think in black and white. And there it is, "Bang!", we are again confronted with the cold, German mentality, which after having experienced the multitude of warm and welcoming encounters, cordiality and helpfulness, feels icy cold and bitter. But we already know this, have experienced that before and have expected this to happen, so that we can comment it with relaxed but maybe still sad smiles. But balancing costs an awful lot of energy!

Agulhas!

Deeply in love already!

Very helpful in that are our two daughters Sóley and Anouk who seem to take everything way easier than we do ... and of course our new Border Collie puppie "Agulhas", named after one of our favourite places in Africa, Cape Agulhas.

Yes, even though it is bad manners for Germans to say such a thing, we can be very proud of our family and of what we have managed to successfully do together! A new travel dream, idea, plan saves us from falling into a sort of limbo and motivates us to work for a wonderfully colorful future against all odds! And it is fascinating to wait what will evolve from that!

Oh, yes, and - of course - after some time and getting rid of the spider-pest, our beloved Land Rover Nyati finally arrives back home as well.

 

Yes, they tried to keep Nyati! But we stole him back from those crazy Dutch! Thanks Marit and Jan for your help and friendship!

 

Nyati is ...

... back home! Re-united!

Many thanks to everybody who have followed and supported us during the last year! All our love we send to you!

Of course, on this blog there is more to come, so "stay tuned"! Also, we look forward to launching our second blog www.Ocean-Gypsies.de . The "Ocean Gypsies" Facebook page can already be found here.

Cape Town and its neighborhood

 

Cape Town as seen from the top of "Table Mountain"

 

"Kaapstad", founded in 1652 by the Dutch "United East India Company", for us was one of the destinations much longed for ... What a thriving, beautiful, colorful and multi-cultural city! We are absolutely enthusiastic!

But Cape Town also turns out to be a city of contrasts and extremens: as true with many places, towns and cities in South Africa, here the world of tourists, of "the poor and the rich" and appalling poverty are cheek by jowl, European shaped South Africa and "magical Africa" directly clash, but also modern city-life and wonderful, nearly pristine nature are neighboring each other.

We are lucky to have the chance here to see and experience this city through the eyes of several quite different inhabitants and thus are allowed to witness the diversity of this cosmopolitan metropolis in Africa and learn about different stories, impressions, opinions, visions and schemes of life. Sadly, also typical for South Africa is the fact that we don't really have many opportunities to learn about the "dark skinned face" of the country as many sectors of everyday life in this country are still separated ... people do still not mix as they should here! One example for the fact that racism and prejudice still play a role in the mindsets of many inhabitants of this city and South Africa is shown in the expression and concept of the "coconut", a word used by dark skinned South Africans to describe other dark skinned Africans who have "white" friends ... they are "brown on the outside but white on the inside", just like a coconut!

Some (mainly Afrikaans-speaking) fair-skinned South Africans are planning to leave their home for Australia or Canada because they don't see a future here for themselves and their children. Other (mainly English-speaking) fair-skinned South Africans deliberately decide on staying. We will focus on the political situation in South Africa as we have experienced it in more detail in another post coming up.

...

In the Cape Town area we initially live with Wynand, Eulouka and Ayla Stolp in Somerset West, one of the neighboring towns of Cape Town.

The Stolps from Somerset West

Anouk and Ayla

The Afrikaans-speaking family Stolp are travel-friends we met in Ai Ais Springs in Namibia.

Afterwards we stay with the Calder family in Newlands, directly below the eastern cliff of impressive Table Mountain.

 

The Calders from Newlands

 

Kathy and Sóley at "Cape Point"

"Table Mountain" is just up the road.

 
 

The English-speaking Calders invited us via e-mail and virtually "picked us off the street" because they had followed our blog right from the beginning and also share the Land Rover passion.

 
 

For the coming (European) summer, we already work on common travel-plans for a trip through Scandinavia when the Calders will take their Landy from West Africa via Europe back to South Africa along the "eastern route".

Parallel to that we meet our old friend and fellow islander Johanna again here, who left Germany some years ago to study in South Africa and didn't leave.

 

Johanna and Lulama

 

Since her own volunteer experiences Johanna supports the "Weltwärts"-Program of the German government and mentors volunteers at the "Zenzeleni Waldorf-School" in the township "Khayelitsha".

The schoolyard ...

... and the playground - always the most important place for our kids.

Khayelitsha is one of the biggest townships in South Africa and has between 2 and 2.4 million inhabitants who mainly live in huts made out of corrugated iron, wood, cardboard and tarpaulins. During a visit in the township we were not only impressed by the sheer size of this place, but also by the poverty in which so many people live. At the same time the number of sattelite dishes on even the most ramshackle huts is impressive and all huts are connected by a web of power cables. Completely "strange" for our European palate and eyes are the "snacks" you can buy along the roads: chicken feet and sheep heads.

We also meet our Namibian friend Stefanus from Windhoek again, together with his brother's family who works as an eye doctor here in Cape Town.

 

The van der Merwes in Cape Town

 

Juliane meets her Au-Pair colleague Robyn again who she had met sixteen years ago in North Carolina.

 

Robyn, her family and us.

 

Apart from our favourite pasttime "meeting people", in Cape Town we finally are able to shop for things we need at home and also replace some of our excessively worn-out pieces of clothing.

Of course, sightseeing is also on the agenda: we visit and study the penguins in in "Betty's Bay" and "Boulders", drive the Land Rover to "Cape Point", take the "Cable Car" up "Table Mountain" and visit the "Botanical Garden Kirstenbosch".

 

Penguins in Africa! The "African Penguin", the only penguin nesting in Africa is also called "Jackass Penguin" because of its donkey-like sounds

 

Dassies ... very cute!

Boulders Beach is world famous for its penguin colony. We think that Betty's Bay is nicer because it is less touristy. - This is a rare photo without other tourists!

 

The cable car at "Table Mountain". Table Mountain with its 1085m above sea level is one of the "New 7 Wonders of Nature"

 

Looking down on Cape Town from the cable car

 

The "Boomslang" at "Kirstenbosch"

 
 

Beautiful "wine-town" Stellenbosch

 

On the way to "Cape Point" ... a small village without cars down at the beach.

On the way to "Hout Bay"

 

Together with friends at "Cape Point" ... For us "Cape Point" is the "geographical end" of our Transafrican adventure. Personally, we think that the sedately-remote Cape Agulhas, souternmost tip of Africa, is considerably more beautiful.

 

Overlanding in a Land Rover!? Would you do it again?

On this overland adventure, we drove 34.126 km through Europe and Africa in a relatively new Land Rover Defender 110.

Albania, July 2015

Albania, August 2015

Greece, September 2015

Sudan, November 2015

 

Egypt, October 2015

 

Would we do it again in a Land Rover? This question we have been asked by quite a few overlanders-to-be who contacted us during the last few weeks ...

Land Rovers are unreliable, right?

Well, ours definitely is NOT! We didn't have one "real" Land Rover issue AT ALL! The only Land Rover thing that broke was the central locking of the right passenger door ... That's it! Quite unreliable, right?! But we have to admit that we invested a lot of time in maintenance (i.e. checking bolts weekly and after rought tracks) and serviced the Landy every six to eight thousand kilometres ... just to "repair" things before they break!

 

Tanzania, January 2016 ... rough tracks around Ol Doinyo Lengai

 

Everything that really "broke" on the trip was of aftermarket origin, such as the keep of the double shockers (due to a really bad track we took and maybe a loose bolt that I had not discovered early enough) and the front prop-shaft (which still worked but made funny noises, so I took it out and had it repaired in Namibia). The other thing that happened was too few fuel in the Diesel (actually 50% of it was water) ... I guess any engine would have ceased to continue working then - even a Mercedes G Wagen! The funny thing is that the chip that everybody "demonizes" when it comes to overlanding vehicles, most probably saved the engine and thus prevented us from any real damage. So, we "only" had to drain the fuel system and clean the tanks.

The EGR valve we exchanged in Greece when it started making different noises ... before anything broke actually! At the moment the engine sounds a bit more like a "tractor ", but we will give the Landy a good service once we are back home.

Then to the "performance" of the car ... the Landy with a weight of more than 3 tons actually did very well on all kinds of terrain and in all kinds of situations, be it in the sandy desert, the mountains of Ethiopia, on rough tracks and the good tar roads in Namibia or South Africa.

 

"Bridge" in the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana

 

Even though people consider the td4 engine (2.4l) as not strong enough, we think everything is absolutely OK with that engine. The fuel consumption was 12,8l on average, which also is not too bad. Actually on rough tracks and in sand the fuel consumption even dropped considerably!

 
 

The most important thing with the Land Rover actually is that everybody, really EVERYBODY likes Land Rovers (including our two daughters who consider the car to be a "family member" called "Nyati", (water) buffalo)!

 

After Mischa handed over the Land Rover to Duncan from "African Overlanders" for the shipping, Anouk was desperate because she couldn't even say "Goodbye" to the Landy ... only Landy books helped in that situation!

 

Also, we experienced the "Land Rover brotherhood" (and "sisterhood") as some kind of "second insurance" and also as a great opportunity to meet new people. With what other brand would a manager of a garage take you home with him to stay for the night because your car broke down?

The Landy broke down about two kilometers away from the Land Rover garage in Arusha

... and Ian, the manager, took us home with him.

We have been invited by so many Land Rover people and the Land Rover groups on Facebook or in Forums have always been a great help whenever we needed it.

Land Rover friends Erato and Konstantinos in Greece

... Sam in Cairo ...

... Lars in Nairobi ...

... the "Bundu Rovers" in Nairobi ...

 

... Elisabeth and Augustine with their children in Arusha ...

 

... Hugo from Denmark in Rundu ...

... Nyati and Hugo and Marguerite's Landy in Windhoek ...

... the van der Merwes on the farm "Eisgaubib" south of Windhoek ...

... and with Kathy and Ross at Cape Point.

It is really great to be members of this international "tribe" and we are happy to help any other Land Rover owner just as we have experienced it since we bought this car in 2011.

 

A Land Rover collection ... why not!?

 

In some of the following blog entries, we will go through our Land Rover's conversion again in more detail and share experiences, what was good or bad and what we plan to have changed when we are back in Germany.

...

So, going back to the intitial question: Yes, we would definitely go again in a Land Rover and we will do so in overland trips for many years to come hopefully! This being said, we are not fundamentalist in any way on our choice of car, as there are definitely other cars on the market which are also great for overlanding! It is only that the Land Rover suits and fits us best ... maybe its edgy-shape goes along well with our characters!

 

A "lonesome Landy" at "African Overlanders" near Cape Town ... waiting for being shipped.

 

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

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!

Home, home on the range … A weekend on a cattle farm in Namibia

 
 

Our hosts in Windhoek, Debbie and Adriaan, invited us to come with them to their farm for a weekend ...

 
 

Their farm "Eisgaubib" is roundabout 110km away from Windhoek, but it feels like being in the middle of nowhere ... well, actually it really is. The farm is situated in a beautiful mountain area, the next neigbors live tens of kilometres away and it actually has a size five times the size of the island we live on, about 100 square kilometres. And this farm is not even one of the biggest ones in Namibia.

 

The small "farm shop" ... even people from other farms come here to buy things they need ranging from Coke to nails.

 

Originally, this farm was sold to it's first owner by the "state", when Namibia was still "Deutsch Südwestafrika", German South West Africa. Over the years, it had many owners and Debbie and Adriaan bought it to finance the university studies of their four children.

Wherever you go you meet old friends ...

... and this one ...

... and this one ...

... mmh! ...

 

... and this very special Land Rover Series 3/2 Zebra Conversion.

 
 

The "good ol' times" were really hard - for man and animals!

 

...

Farm life is not easy, but it is nice after a week's job in the office in Windhoek, to go into the open country and do some "real" work - and see the result of a hard working day at the end of it. Over the week the farm workers follow their daily routines and at the weekend Debbie and Adriaan come to stay, work and plan the following week(s).

 

A farm visitor not so welcome!

 

As at the moment, southern and central Namibia is suffering under a draught (after three years with less rain than usual), the farmers have a pretty hard life as their livestock don't find enough food in the open.

Fully loaded with fodder!

Distributing the fodder.

New farm worker!

Bone dry farm!

You can see that owning a farm is one of Anouk's dreams for her future!

Fear of dogs?? Gone!

So, every farmer has a special recipe to mix good fodder out of hay, molasses, shredded shrubs ... and whatever secret ingrediences else. This has to be distributed to the many fodder places on the farm. Sometimes, if a draught continues, farmers have to send their cattle to the butcher and reduce the size of the herd.

 

Back from work!

 

Out bush ...

A really big one ... could we "braai" it?

Unlike Germany, in Namibia, most livestock have large areas of land to grase and live ... Also, there is no stable where they are during nighttimes. To be able to defend themselves - and more probable their calves - the farmers don't cut the horns. Still, every once in a while the leopards take a calf or even a weak bull or cow. This wild life certainly is one of the "secret recipies" behind Namibias impressively good meat quality! You can have Beef, Mutton, Oryx, Kudu, Ostrich, Zebra and certainly a lot more different varieties of meat and everything is really tasty!

...

... rest!

 

... and solitude and silence!

 

But the evenings on a farm are absolutely gorgeous: after a day of hard work you see the sun going down, the surrounding mountains change colour every five minutes ... and it is stunningly beautiful.

 

Storytelling, braaiing, listening to the birds, braaiing, drinking, braaiing ...

 

The only noises you hear are the birds and the wind in the trees. What more do you need than that, and maybe a glass of good red wine or a whisky in your hand!? Someone has just started the fire for a later "Braai" and the fumes of the fire tickle your nose ... It doesn't take much time until it is getting darker and darker ... and then the stars come out ... We have never felt lonely or sad under the roof of the "Million Star Hotel", but being really part of "it". Nature can be so very wonderful!

... But, as the next morning - apart from Sundays - work is already waiting, nobody stays up too long.

 

Independence day cup-cakes!

 

... But, we have to leave this wonderful place (for a while!) and move on ...

Whaaaat?! Back home again!?

Impressive!

We were doing 70kmh ... AND THEY OVERTOOK US! ... EVEN THE YOUNG ONE!

 

Full of power and pride! Really Impressive ... and tasty!

 

Beautiful rock formations!

Wow, that is Namibia!?

Eine deutschsprachige Version dieses Eintrages gibt es hier

We had been looking forward to visiting Namibia for a very long time ... But, is Namibia really on the same continent as all the other countries we have visited during the last few months? As early as Zambia we had recognized that the appearance of the streets was much more cleaner and that life seemed to be following a more "organized" pattern than in many parts of East Africa (surely, this "order" is a two-edged thing!) ... But this impression definitely is topped in Namibia - right on the first few kilometres in the road: nearly "typically German", "fastidiously accurate" many roads and towns seem to be at first glance. Especially so Windhoek and Swakopmund (we will describe these two towns in detail soon). No, no matter how you look at it, Namibia cannot deny that between 1889 and 1915 it was a German colony. In contrast to Bagamoyo in Tanzania, the houses from that time are being maintained and smartened, roads bear German names, but also African ones; alongside South African and "traditionally" African dishes in many places you can get real German food. Even though to us non-colonialist Germans this seems really strange, still our daughters are especially happy about this ... finally, they can enjoy "Spätzle", "Apfelmus", German "Bratwurst" and so on.

 

Boerewors ... even better than German "Bratwurst"!

 

But even Mischa is very enthusiastic, because in Namibia - apart from German "Weizenbier" - you can probably get the best meat worldwide ... at incredibly reasonable prices. The barbecue-season, Sorry!, "Braai"-season is there finally! And when we are on the road we nibble delicious "Padkos" such as "Biltong", the famous dried meat, and "Droewors", a really delicious dry sausage made from game and beef. Lekker!

...

But how were our first kilometres on Namibian roads? From the Victoria-Falls near Livingstone in Zambia we enter Namibia in the so-called "Caprivi-Strip", named after the German chancellor Graf Leo von Caprivi. This stretch of land was planned to become part of a landbridge from German South West Africa (now Namibia) to German East Africa (now Tanzania), and when the European powers sat over the map to divide the "African cake", this stretch was one of the "cream puffs" the German chancellor could snitch. Today, this part of Namibia is officialy called "Zambesi-Region". We stop at the N'Kwazi Lodge situated a few km out of Rundu, directly on the banks of the Okawango River.

 

Dinner directly at the Okavango River ... really romantic!

 

As since shortly after we had crossed the Tanzanian-Zambian border our front prop shaft had made strange twittering noises (by the way, this is an after market part and not a Land Rover one!), we are very happy to have reached this place ... By chance, the owner of this lodge is also a Land Rover owner and advises us to take out the prop shaft and have it sent to the experts in Windhoek ("Propshaft Engineering") instead of driving there with a prop shaft we know is not working properly ...

Taking out the prop shaft ...

... thanks to the "4-w-n mechanics team" Anouk and Mischa!

 

No, the prop shaft is not moving smoothly any more!

 
 

We have our prop shaft back ... after only 47 hours! Get that, Deutsche Post!

 

We follow his advice and do exactly this. After only 47 hours after taking out the prop shaft, we have it repaired and back in our hands. Anouk and Mischa take care of removing it and fitting it back in. Pieter, the owner of the lodge is an immense help in organising all this! Thank you, Pieter!

 

A beautiful kingfisher!

 

Cormorants waiting for the fish ...

... still waiting!

 

... gorgeous!

 
 

Ah, yes, I forgot ... we briefly went to Angola, country # 16 on our list!

 

The "waiting period" we kill by going on a boat trip on the Okavango which is marking the border between Angola and Namibia, but we also have a great and delicious "Braai"-evening (while it is raining cats and dogs) together with the Danish globetrotter and journalist Hugo Gaarden.

Braaiing cats and dogs with Hugo ...

... another sad "Farewell"!

This again is one of these chance encounters which might be the beginning of great friendships. But on the following morning, we have to part with Hugo again - after having planned a meeting in either Germany or Denmark for this autumn.

After nearly a week at the N'Kwazi Lodge, another place we can only recommend to all overland travelers, we set course for "South-West" ... driving a "Nyati" which is running smooth and silent again.

 

A small African wild cat in the garden of N'Kwazi.

 
 

"Six en Piste" ... more new friends ... again from France!

 

We have a date with the French overlande-family Gueduet, aka "Six en Piste" and plan to meet at "Meteorite Campsite" near the Hoba-meteorite near Grootfontein.

What a beautiful light ...

... here comes the rain again!

"The French" have spent their last five years working in Cape Town and now travel trough southern Africa and South America for the nearly two years ... a family of six with a Toyota and an impressive offroad trailer made by the company Metalian from Cape Town.

 

Can we steal the French trailer overnight without them noticing???

 

We are impressed and this trailer will be our plan for our next trips when our Land Rover will not provide enough room for us two adults with two elder daughters. We definitely want exactly this trailer!

Roadschooling

We spend two wonderful days together, burn the midnight candle talking the night away and the kids play with each other boisterously so that in spite of differently planned routes we decide to find another camp for a couple of days together.

 

Our camp at "Zum Potjie"

 
 

Even Sóley has her tasks!

 

At "Zum Potjie" near Otavi we enjoy a lot of sunshine and impressively tender Oryx-Steaks from the Braai, relax in the pool ... and seem to have left the rain that had been following us for ages behind us finally. But sadly, this is where we part company because the "Six en Piste" plan to go up north to "Caprivi" and we want to go south and to the coast.

At an impressively great supermarket in Otjiwarongo we stock up on provisions to be able to wild camp several nights. But after only a few kilometres we find out that our alternator is not loading our battery any more. As around us there is only bush and small villages, we have to shift the helm and go to Windhoek full speed ahead because there we will definitely find somebody who can help us with our new car-problem. Our solar panel now is our rescue (in cooperation with the sun and the double battery system) and enables us to easily make the roundabout 270km (!) to Windhoek even without the alternator. But the backpackers that was recommended to us by other overlanders is completely booked out; something that so far on this trip has never occurred! But we have a contact in Windhoek we can call to find out which garage can help us fixing the Land Rover and maybe also find a good accomodation nearby. Stefanus van der Merwe, a Land Rover overlander from Windhoek, whom we had met at the Jungle Junction in Nairobi, had invited us to his parents home in Windhoek. We call ... and - as so very often on this trip - are recieved with great pleasure and warmth and are invited to stay at their home.

 

Debbie's "Children's Paradise"

 

Debbie, Stefanus' mother is nursery school teacher and has her own small play group in the courtyard of their house. Thus, our new "home" turns out to be a real "children's paradise". Because father Adriaan, also a real "Land Rover-Fan", is on a business trip, Debbie persuades us to stay longer until Adriaan is back to then look for a solution for our problem with the alternator ... and spend the next following weekend together with them on the family farm about 110km south west of Windhoek.

The old German church in Windhoek ...

... and the statue of Namibia's "founding father", Sam Nujoma.

Until then, we can use one of their "Bakkies" to discover Windhoek so that our Land Rover full of equippment is safe in the courtyard. This impressive warmness makes the decision making process easy and as a return, we try to give our best in doing culinary conjury tricks in return and prepare favourite dishes every evening. Ah, by the way: since we are in Windhoek our alternator miraculously is working without any problem ... we finally are not able to find the problem but still buy a spare alternator just to be on the safe side.

Very relaxed we can discover Windhoek, shop at "Cymot", a real paradise for overlander, anglers and other "bushies", and we also have our "manes" tamed. The German-Namibian (or is it the other way round?) hairdresser Sonja knows exactly what is happening in Germany, the home country of her great-grandparents, knows what weather is to be expected and what is on in politics.

This diversity of the people in Namibia and the origin of their families really fits the unmistakeably charm of this beautiful and diverse country, Namibia!

Halftime at the Ol Doinyo Lengai, the holy mountain of the Massai

Eine deutschsprachige Version dieses Eintrages gibt es hier

From Arusha we drive via Mto Wa Mbu to the Ol Doinyo Lengai. This tip we got from our "Huddle"-hosts Elisabeth and Augustin (more about "Huddle" see the infobox below). Just before reaching the famous Ngorongoro crater, we turn right and drive through an impressive landscape - Africa as pictured in children's books - and incidentally in the open grassland see hundreds of zebras, but also many giraffes, gazelles, ostriches and wildebeest.

 
 

It's a dream! ... Wouldn't there be this strange noise coming from the rear left part of the Land Rover which seems to be getting louder and louder. Mischa tries to find out where that noise comes from several times but can't detect the problem. But as driving is not really different to what it was before, we just continue ... a Land Rover is never really broken but also never really completely in order!

 

The Ol Doinyo Lengai, the holy mountain of the Massai

 

The Ol Doinyo Lengai, the holy mountain of the Massai, is majestically towering up from the surrounding landscape. In its crater according to Massai-tradition, "Engai", the god of the Massai, lives.

Approaching the volcano, we discover that its slopes are rutted by lava streams. Apart from grass and shrubbery, there is no other vegetation on the mountain due to its ongoing activity. The Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only remaining active volcanoe in the east-African rift valley and last erupted in 2008.

Near Engare Sero we find a good campsite. While Juliane is checking us in, Mischa again checks the underside of the Land Rover again ... and discovers that the upper keep of the double shockers is broken, one of the three bolts is loose and one missing completely. Finally, we have discovered the source of the strange sounds. "Why didn't I see this before!?"

Roads?

The "road" is impassable, so we drive through the riverbed!

All this must have happened during the last 100km which were rather an adventurous track, especially when we had to cross lava streams and rivers. The rather uncommon rainfalls during the last few days and weeks have caused washouts which, too, contributed to this adventure-oiste.

Well, so fitting the "halftime" - half of our (planned) Transafrican adventure is over exactly today - we have the first "problem" on our Land Rover on this trip which stops the immediate progress of our travel. But even this is no real problem, because the local people use this piste as well and for sure we are not special with our car issue. By the way, here people use considerably more Land Rovers than Landcruisers ... quite uncommon for Africa! We ask the locals and get a clear reply, "Landcruisers break down constantly and both the suspension and the engine don't stand the bad road conditions here!" We also see many new Land Rovers just like ours powered by the "PUMA"-engine (Td4/TDCi) which in Europe are viewed as not being fit for overlanding or Africa.

 

The helpful Rasta-Village-Fundi

 

The manager of the campsite calls the local car mechanic ("fundi") right after checking us in. Within 45 minutes, the "fundi" is in our camp, takes out the broken part including the shock absorbers, drives home, welds, comes back and in the dusk, adjusts and again attaches the shock absorber keep. As by now it is far too dark, Mischa persuades him to stop working and come back the next morning to finish his work. Next morning our "Nyati" is ready to go back on the road again. For US$ 30 the "fundi" drove the route village-campsite three times, welded, took out and re-fitted the shock absorbers and checked all three other wheels incl. the suspension ... and has earned good money for a village-fundi! But this is no problem at all! Win-win is what we would call it!

...

Halftime! Half of our sabbatical is "already" over, or "only"!? This depends a lot on the perspective! ...

Definitely, we think that this is a good point in time to make up an interim balance. What are our thoughts on over half a year traveling facing the half-full glass of our onward journey?

For years we had planned this trip. It was our most favourite hobby, maybe even the only one our everyday working life (and our way of dealing with it) has permitted. But plans are only rough guidelines and should not be taken too earnest to still be able to enjoy freedom to the limit. So, we tried to be as flexible as possible and half a year before setting off, even changed the continent to be travelled from South America to Africa.

Many detours on the route to Africa we had planned. We wanted to go via Turkey (Oh, how much Juliane had looked forward to visiting Istanbul!), Georgia and Iran, but then, we changed plans while traveling, because of the political situation, but more so because at the beginning of our trip, we needed less challenges and more relaxed time spent together as a family. The kids had to understand that this would not be a short summer holiday ... more exciting countries would come in Africa anyway!

 

Nighttime at the beach, somewhere in Albania with great company and a campfire ... what more does one need!?

 
 

Our beach camp in Lefkhada, Greece ... what a wonderful and relaxed place!

 

So we were content not spending too many kilometres on the road and staying at the beach or in the mountains instead. Signals that this was needed were quite common: e.g. at the beginning of the trip the girls threw up in the car several times which we did not know from our previous travels. Of course, this always led to a lot of work cleaning up the car afterwards and also to bad mood with children and parents. "This way we can't go through Africa for a complete year!" ... So we had to change to even lower gears to make ourselves ready for crossing the Sahara desert and everything else that would be waiting for us after that ... inside and outside!

Looking back, this was very important because the leg Cairo-Nairobi was very exhausting for all of us: even though it was exciting and enriching from a cultural and personal perspective, there was absolutely no room for relaxation!

Africa! So many things people had criticized before we set off. Traveling to Africa with children!? "Politically immature!", "You will travel through failed states only!", "Irresponsible!" ... For us, Africa so far is far better than her reputation! Only very rarely - maybe even less than in Europe - we experienced uncomfortable encounters. Never have we been threatened by anybody so far and nowhere did we have to pay a bribe. Ok, every now and then there is a policeman asking, "Do you have something that makes an officer happy?" ... We always offer our broadest smiles, they reply in the same way and off we go! Especially the Muslims in Egypt and Sudan (the words of people from our home-village, "Don't go to the Mussulmen, they are all fanatics and criminaly!" still ring in our ears) and their hospitality were simply impressive!

 

Our good friends Tyseer and Sheikh Mohammed ... we can't wait to see them again!

 

In contrast to that great hospitality, in Sudan catholic Europeans twice sent us away when arriving at their "tented camps" in the darkness of a late evening when we asked to be allowed to set up our camp in their fenced compound. They sent us off into the dunes ... in the middle of the night ... traveling with young children! A thing Muslims would never have done and never did do so during our trip!

 

Beautiful Tigray in Ethiopia

 
 

Approaching Lalibela in Ethiopia from the North

 
 

The beach at Pangani, Tanzania (Peponi Beach Resort)

 

Apart from really impressive landscapes and exciting cultures, it is especially the people of Africa that fascinate us, because in spite of ineffable everyday difficulties ranging from corruption to malaria, unemployment and lack of money they are nearly consistently friendly, happy with a positive attitude towards life and an immense ingenuity to find solutions out of nothing. But also, we notice the negative influence some NGOs and tourism have on the people.

On our route we initially wanted to go from Nairobi to Uganda and then on to Rwanda before continuing to Tanzania. Health issues made us turn around and recover in Nairobi with the help of modern medicine.

Also the topic "health" was something that kept us, friends and relatives busy before we set off to Africa. Finally, everything that affected us on this trip so far apart from "Botflies" were illnesses quite common in Europe: Sóley had tonsilitis in Egypt, all of us a gastro-intestinal virus (Juliane for eight days, Sóley two times, once in Greece and once in Ethiopia) and a common cold which in Juliane's case developed into a beginning pneumonia!

The hospitals we went to were all in all quite OK, in Nairobi even above the central-European standard, in Ethiopia and Greece rather ill-equipped.

The anti-malarials we take as a prophylaxis daily seem to be without side effects, maybe they lead to a slight proclivity to diorrhea and in Juliane's case might cause slight problems with the immune system. Maybe!

For Anouk after the Botflies the trip was "over", she wanted to go home! We called in the family powow and together decided to set sails for the beach, to Tanzania, and to spend more time together with other families with children of the same age as ours. This flexibility has paid off after only very few days and Anouk enjoys traveling again.

 

A sad Anouk missing old friends from home and new friends who traveled up north ...

 

Only that she would love to be able to take all new friends with her on our onward journey. This travel is a hard training for her concerning saying farewell from unexpectedly cordial people.

All of us learn a lot anyway, especially Sóley and Anouk; maybe not all the things we had planned beforehand, but not less precious concepts and skills.

 

Travel School

 

The amounts of English our two daughters now have are really remarkable. While Sóley freely peppers German sentences with English words and chatters on everybody around her, Anouk by now speaks a relatively fluent English. For a long time she had quietly listened to the adults and obviously recognized words from her bilingual audiobooks. Since Ethiopia she actively speaks English with her friends and during the last few weeks even developed a slight French accent because we spent a lot of great time with three French families. Especially for Mischa as a teacher this incidental acquisition of a foreign language really is impressive. In the right setting, teachers in the commonly perceived sense are completely unnecessary! "Learning by doing" in real life situations and real contexts with people around whom one can ask for advice and help when needed are so much more effective than traditional classroom lessons without any connection to the children's experience realm. Grammar is intuitively perceived, autonomy is encouraged and success comes completely on its own when people understand in communication situations.

 

No words - some moments are pure magic!

 

Sóley has become more relaxed and open and has come closer to Mischa whom before traveling she did not really accept. Also, both kids have grown together and the whole family-coherence has become more and more intensive. ... Never ever have we experienced family and family bonds as strongly as during this trip.

New friends: the Leiste family from Munich ...

... Team "Slowdonkey.com", Stan and Anne ...

Silvia and Christoph from "Mankei Travel"

International Barefoot Beach Camp with the Dacaluf family.

All the people we met on this trip so far have also positively supported the development of our children. You don't meet many other "overland-families", but with the few that are traveling in Africa at the moment, it is quite easy to arrange to meet up with the help of modern media to arrange a meeting (e.g. with the help of a Facebook group for Overland Families co-founded by us ), to travel together for a while ... sometimes this works out well, e.g. with "the French". But sometimes one has to realise that it doesn't "fit" and that it is better to go separate ways. Still, we don't meet as many other overlanders as we had expected.

With Sam, our host in Maadi, Cairo ... and his beloved Land Rover "Stella"

Samuel and Genet with their new-born son ...

 

... and Hagos - together with their extended families very close friends in Ethiopia.

 

Lars ...

... and Flora who hosted us in Nairobi.

 

The Douillets from Arusha, our "Huddle" friends.

 

Infobox: "Huddle"

Huddle is a non-profit and free of charge international network to exchange tips, info, houses for a trip, weekend or expatriation ... with trustful expatriates & travelers. If you want to become a member, you will have to be invited by a "Huddle" member (contact us if you are interested).

 

 

A great help in discovering and feeling at home in a new country, a new culture are the many wonderful people that invite you to their homes, native inhabitants or expats alike.

Some meetings and visits had been planned for a long time, some come about quite spontaneously, just because you meet by chance, such as our meeting with Ian, the manager of the Land Rover garage in Arusha, where we had to have our Land Rover repaired.

 

With Ian, the CMC manager who took us home to his place

 

In this sense, by the way, our Land Rover is a good way of meeting new people as Land Rover owners are just like one large family. We for example had a great time with Konstantinos and Erato in Athens or the "Bundu Rovers" in Kenya.

Fellow Land Rover owner Konstantinos ...

... and his wife Erato who helped us immensely in planning the shipping of our Land Rover from Greece to Egypt

 

Our BBQ with the "Bundu Rovers" in Kenya ... one of the greatest evenings around a campfire in Africa so far!

 

Still, in spite of modern media and communication methods, you can't plan everything even though Facebook and our travel blog are a great way of inforcing that. It is so very exiting whom you meet on the road just by chance, even though not all those encounters are positive! One negative experience were a group of older German overlanders who were downright racist and loudly discussed about and judged "mixed couples" ("When exactly does a white man take a "Bimbo-woman" and when is it the other way round?" or "Don't invite her to Germany, we already have enough of "them" at home!") ... still these people have traveled through Africa for years and years. Strange, very strange! And a shame, as all of us are ambassadors for our countries, cultures and the idea of overlanding!

While traveling and experiencing all the positive and enriching encounters, it becomes more and more clear to us that it is exactly the inter-personal exchange which is the most important part of traveling for us, more important than sightseeing, ticking certain touristy hotspots, wild animals, national parks et cetera.

But the many exciting encounters can also distray you from relaxing: quite often we sit around a campfire or table and talk with new friends burning the midnight oil while not reserving enough attention on the kids ... or on ourselves! For the kids this is no problem when there are other children around to play with. But still it is quite alarming that Juliane did not manage to set up the slackline or even read a book which is not a guidebook or children's book so far. Yes, even while traveling, one has to make sure not to go back in unhealthy everyday structures similar to those of the everyday work day back at home! The daily life on the road, especially with young children, can keep in top of you just as the daily working-life at home if you don't take care. So, we decide for the second part of our Transafrican adventure to reserve some more time for us as a couple and for each other, of course without neglecting our children at the same time. Generally, they should profit from that as well when the parents are more relaxed. This might be a model for the time when we are back home again

Home ... This inevitably leads to the question on what is going to be "after" the trip. Will we be able to go back to our "normal" lives? Into a life governed by clocks and watches and demands from the workplace? How will we be able to keep the joy of living, which we have in spite of all challenges this travel has included so far ... and make the transfer to our every day lives? What would it be like to drop out completely? How would we be able to make enough money on the road? How would we educate our daughters for their future, a future that could be just like our way of living, but still could follow completely different ideas? Continuously traveling could also become "normal" after a while ... a new "job"!

Would emigrating be a solution and start a new life in Africa or somewhere else? So far - apart from Australia - we can only imagine doing that in Kenya, maybe also in Tanzamia ... In this context, we are really excited about traveling to Namibia, Botswana, Swasiland and South Africa ...

Money. Another one of the more uncomfortable topics! A good and relaxed way of dealing with money matters we had to learn while saving up for our sabbatical during the last few years anyway.

 
 

Even though countries like Ethiopia have turned out to be more expensive than expected because free camping simply is impossible there, we are quite surprised that we have managed to live on a daily budget of roundabout 100€ just as planned beforehand (daily average: 100,72€ incl. shipping the car to Africa) in spite of many paid accomodations. Really an eye-opener was that we only spent 8,71€ per day on diesel.

 

"Life" includes all food, entry fees et cetera
"Traffic" are road tolls, bridge fees et cetera
"Other" are mainly pocket money for the kids

 

Roundabout half of the daily budget we spent on "life", meaning food, entry fees et cetera, which reconciles us with the basic idea that this travel should mainly be high-quality time spent together as a family. Yes, this plan seems to be proving to be successful! Also, in this context, it is good to know that a large portion of the money we have spent ends up with the "normal" people on the road in the countries visited as we buy most of our food et cetera in small shops, street stalls and on the market.

After these reflections - but also complete without them - would we do it again? The answer is a clear and definite "Yes!". And to go further: we will do it again!

...

On our way from the "holy mountain of the Massai" back to Arusha, the engine of our Land Rover suddenly stops several times when we wait at gates or at police checkpoints and when we try to overtake the engine doesn't seem to have enough power. Finally, about 2 km before reaching the Land Rover garage in Arusha in the middle of the evening rush hour the engine stops completely.

Our poor Nyati on a towing truck.

... being pushed by other peoples' hands ...

But, in Africa just like in Europe it is possible to get a towing truck within 45 minutes, have your car towed to a garage and have the problem diagnosed: bad fuel, "bad" in the sense of "too much water in the fuel "! It turns out that when we had fuelled up in Arusha before setting of for Ol Doinyo Lengai, we fuelled up with about 50 % water and 50% diesel (i.e. 40 litres of water! ... one third of our tank!), because obviously the tank of the gas station had rain water leaking into it (and we had a lot of rain in Arusha!). So, we have to take out both fuel tanks and drain and clean them completely. Luckily, there doesn't seem to be further damage to the engine ... also, because the computer chip stopped the engine before (it is not so bad after all to have a chipped engine!). Within only one day we are helped by professionals and even privately, we are "rescued" by our French internet friends and by the manager of the garage, who without further ado invites us to stay at his place until our car is ready to go back on the road again and thus provides an interesting insight into the "expat-world" of Arusha!

Still, our "halftime" was a bit complicated car-wise!

Bugs, Bot Flies and Back with Friends

Back in Nairobi, we first of all clean the beach out of the car and do some maintenance work (the prop shaft has been haggarded by the bad road from Mariakani to Nairobi and some other bits and pieces have become loose, nothing really bad actually!).

We have to take out and check the front prop shaft because it made funny noises. Lars is a proper bush mechanic!

Three Land Rovers at Flora and Lars' farm.

A great support in this is fellow Land Rover owner Lars Svensson who lives in Nairobi with his wonderful Kenyan wife Flora and his two kids Chantal and Erik ... We stay for some days at their place and really enjoy their company.

We pay a visit to the Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi.

An ostrich sneeked in ... just wants to show off apparently!

Giraffes like showing off, too! Do you see the big monkey on the thin twig in the background?

Moving on to Lake Naivasha, we meet the French "KUMP" family again. We stay at Carnelley's Campsite directly on the shore of Lake Naivasha where at night, we can hear the hippos enjoying the lake (and maybe also each other!).

Still, we want to go on further up north, because our plan is to go to Mount Elgon and then to Uganda. The campsite Kembu Farm in Njoro near Nakuru is really wonderful, just like a park on a farm. The Kumps have come with us and we enjoy another night together bbqing and exchanging experiences and stories.

Unfortunately, the next morning, we discover that one of Sóley's moscitoe bites has become infected. At a closer look, we see that the white thing in the middle of this small skin-volcanoe actually MOVES! Midwife Mischa presses and finally manages to help giving birth to a MAGGOT under loud screams from Sóley while Juliane is holding her! Aaargh, that is really scary! Closely inspecting both girls, we discover another one in Anouk's backside, so we finally decide to go back to Nairobi to have the two girls properly checked by experts in a hospital. For Anouk at this moment the trip is over. She feels totally dirty, homesick and wants to go home.

At "Gertrude's Children Hospital" it turns out that both girls have/had "bot flies", a nasty fly that lies its eggs directly on people's skin or on laundry hanging outside to dry. As soon as the eggs "feel" that they are in the right environment, they hatch and the maggot digs itself into the host's skin leaving open a small wound as its "breathing hole". There it stays until it is matured to become an adult insect. This normally is not dangerous, but pulling another living being out of your daughter's skin surely is not a really nice experience ... for both! Anouk's "subtenant" actually is about 2,5 by 0,3 cm!

Taking Anouk's situation and feelings seriously, we discuss with the kids what they expect from the next few months. They want to go to the beach. What they don't like about the trip is that they meet so many nice people, but have to leave them again, because both them and us have to go on traveling. So, we change our plans and do not go to Uganda and Rwanda, but to the beach in Tanzania via Arusha istead.

Finally, we manage the maggots (the girls don't even have nightmares) and experience high quality modern hospitals here in Kenya, in some ways even more modern than many hospitals in Germany are. Africa is not so bad after all, but Kenya and especially Nairobi certainly are very modern and have a very high standard in so many ways.

After having again stayed for some days with our Swedish-Kenyan friends Flora, Lars, Chantal and Erik, we go back to Jungle Junction to meet up with our friends the French "Dacaluf" family.

But, after having dealt with the maggots, the next medical situation is just lurking in a dark corner waiting to cause problems: Juliane's cough develops into what the doctors call an initial pneumonia, which makes us go to a hospital again. After the second antibiotic, Juliane's condition has improved and after having waited for the doctors to allow us to continue on our travel, we drive down to Arusha in Tanzania.

In this context, we have to thank our close friends and "international expedition medic team", Stan Weakley (South Africa) and Susanne & Mathias Löhnert (Germany) for their friendship and continuous support on our trip so far.