Tag Archives: Meeting Overlanders

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

Carribbean Lifestyle in Kenya?

As many international overlanding families are connected via facebook (especially through the Facebook group "International Overland Families"), for a long time we had planned to meet the "Dacaluf" and "KUMP" families from France. We finally meet in Kilifi north of Mombasa at the "Distant Relatives Ecolodge and Backpackers". This place really is special: you enter the place walking through djungle-like vegetation and suddenly find yourself in the middle of a Caribbean Rasta bar ... Carribbean???

 

The bar at "Distant Relatives"

 

Restaurant, living room, office ... and definitely nice!

The small shop.

 

Our beautiful camp on the nearly deserted campsite.

 

Well, I am sure that what we call "Carribbean" feeling or lifestyle originally is African. Very African and definitely touching the heart! What a place!

The Creek

The "Musafir" and the "Burning Woman" for New Years'.

A spontaneous sundowner party with life music ...

... what a wonderful event. Definitely makes you want to stay longer!

The campsite is spacy, the food is fresh from the sea and really great, there is a pool and down in the creek you can go swimming or spend some time on the "Musafir", a traditionally built dhow established by a group of volunteers who plan to do a project on it, sailing the waters of the Indian Ocean and following the idea that the connecting forces of the oceans have always been more important than the dividing ones ...

Meeting other overland families is really great ... they experience the same things, positive and negative and it simply is wonderful to be able to exchange ideas, material, experiences et cetera ...

 
 

Our Christmas we spend with the two French overland families and we also invite people we meet at Kilifi, a Dutch family living in Nairobi and a Canadian who is married to a Kenyan with their daughter. Later on, we are joined by an English/Ugandan father Christmas. Some days earlier, also Stan and Anne from "Slowdonkey" showed up and stayed for two nights, but they wanted to spend Christmas ON the beach and went to Tiwi down south.

 

Our English/Ugandan Father Christmas.

 

Happy Sóley!

What exactly does he tell her??!

 
 

We home cook 6 lobsters, 4kg of fresh prawns and 11,5 kg of fresh Baracuda, all bought freshly directly from the local fishermen ... what a feast!

Fresh fish from the local fishermen.

A spontaneous science lesson ...

The setting might be a bit "rustic" but who cares ... company and food are simply gorgeous!

... and everybody is extremely happy around here!

First, "fun and games" ...

... and then great food for everybody!

Here is the video the "Dacaluf" family made of this great evening.

On the second day of Christmas, we go on celebrating: it is our daughter Anouk's 6th birthday, the second she now has spent in Africa.

 

Anouk ... time goes by so very fast!

 

Pancake Gateau á la Findus & Petterson.

Friends

With her new friends from France, Kenya and the Netherlands she enjoys the pool and in the evening she has "open end" and we go to an "African Jazz" concert at "Distant Relatives". The children dance until late in the night.

 
 
 

Very tired for sure, but also very relaxed and happy - a great birthday party!

 

A few days later, we direct ourselves from the Kilifi Creek to the beach north of Malindi. The beach directly in front of the tented camp "Barefoot" simply is gorgeous: we camp directly behind the beach in the bushes and enjoy campfires at the beach and bbqing but also the great food cooked in the restaurant by Eddie and Selma, the owners of Barefoot.

Beach camp

Now, we are even three families!

With campfires nearly every night.

International Barefoot beach combers.

For New Years' we go to the Barefoot Restaurant and indulge in Eddie's 8 course (!) dinner. The kids have their own table and are allowed to occupy the kitchen and make their own pizzas.

Eddie and the kids make pizza.

The children' table.

 

... Oh my God, they look so mature ... did I miss something?!

 

Beach life

Great Fun!

 

I am a lucky man to have found a partner who enjoys traveling just as much as I do! It is great to know where you belong!

 

While we are at the beach we first hand hear the story of a public bus in northern Kenya, which is stopped by a group of fundamentalist Muslim terrorists who want to execute all Christians in the bus. But all Muslim passengers guard the Christians in the bus and the terrorists finally let them go. Still, two people die in this incident. We try to find out what the European media report and find ... only small notes: from what we know, both major German TV-channels only report of the incident either on radio or with a short notice on their website only! Why don't our media put incidents like this into the main news? They happen just as often as terrorist attacks, maybe even more often! The problem is that good news don't sell well and bad news are bestsellers! But this one-sided media coverage about Egypt, Sudan and Kenya has such a very bad impact on tourism here ... which is down to maybe 20% of what it was a few years before ... So very many families have to suffer and are struggling to feed their children ... this can and most surely will be a new breeding ground for even more terrorism and crime!

 
 

Anyway, we don't feel unsafe at all in Kenya and are really relaxed here. Kenya is a great place to be and all Kenyans we meet are most welcoming and warm people.

Unfortunately, after a few days Juliane develops a really bad cough which makes us go out of the beach wind and back to colder Nairobi to later proceed to Uganda and Rwanda from there. Sadly, we leave our new French friends, which especially for Anouk is really hard.

 
 

An Interview with the Zapp-Family … on the road for 15 years in an oldtimer car … with their four kids!

 
 

For some time now we have been in contact with the Argentinian Zapp-family, traveling the world in their 1928 oldtimer car with four children, all born while traveling. We have been supporting each other with up-to-date information and through establishing contacts in the countries visited. This really is a wonderful thing and many overland families are connected in this way - across all language barriers or other differences!

The Zapps have spent the last three years in Africa going up north along the eastern route and we are on our way into the opposite direction - from Europe to southern Africa. Unfortunately, we did not meet the Zapps at common friends' in Cairo as planned because our visa did not allow us to do so ... Thus, we had to interview them by internet.

 

Hermann and Candelaria 15 years ago.

 

4-w-n: Since when or whereby did you decide to go on traveling for an indefinite period of time, or was that the plan right from the beginning?"

The Zapps: Of course not!!!!!!! Imagine to think about it ... it would be impossible! ... What about money, family and kids?! ... We always dreamed to have kids ... and having kids on a journey ... was not an option! ... We just left to go just for a six months' journey. And it already took so much time for us! But the journey little by little was changing, changing us as well! We started to see things differently ... and we found ourselves doing what we always dreamed to do and enjoying it a lot. ... Then we felt the necessity to share it with our kids ... and they came along!

 
 

4-w-n: Many families with small children abstain from camping and overland trips, especially to countries far away from the normal tourist routes. What are your most important motives for doing exactly this? Is traveling this way not rather burdensome?

The Zapps: As we said we want to share with our kids the beautiful world we live in, the most beautiful world in the universe.

 

4-w-n: Do you meet many overland families on the way? In how far do your own experiences match with theirs?

The Zapps: We do meet some. but not as many as we would love to. The experiences are so similar: a lot of quality family time, learning from the world itself experiencing each culture and ways of living together ...

 
 

4-w-n: For the last 15 years, you have been living your dream ... does traveling and thus this dream become a routine like any other "job"? ... How do you manage to make sure it is not becoming just a different type of "job"?

The Zapps: Can't remember a routine in the last 15 years ... We are not in a job we are in a dream. For the last 15 years we have been living our Dream.

 

4-w-n: How do you earn money? Do you at all? Or did you find another way that enables you to continuously travel?

The Zapps: We do not need much. Poor is the one who thinks they need money to achieve something. To accomplish your dreams you need faith and the will to make everything happen. If you do have the money but not the will you have more chances to fail. [The Zapps have published the first part of their wonderful story in a book called "Spark Your Dream" ... here is our review on the book]

 

4-w-n: After three years of overland travel through Africa ... what is your impression of this supposedly "hardest continent" for overlanding? Was it dangerous sometimes?

The Zapps: We were so fascinated!!!!!! We were planning only to travel one year.... but it was so wonderful!!!!!! We never were in danger! ... Yes, there were some challenges on the road that we took to have even more fun!

 

4-w-n: You have just crossed the Sinai peninsula and media and politicians explicitly warn against traveling there. What were your experiences there? How do you deal with traveling to "dangerous" regions anyway?

The Zapps: The Read Sea!!!!! What a place!!!! The Mecca of scuba diving and snorkeling! We were there almost a month and just the idea to camp in front of the sea. wake up in the morning. get the snorkel and go out into a fascinating world of corals and trillions of colorful fishes ... that beats any bad news! We didn't see anything or experience anything but wonderful moments! Maybe we didnt like so many army and police checkpoints.

 

Candelaria disguised as a beduin woman.

 

4-w-n: Going back to the topic "overlanding with kids" ... what effect does your way of living have on the personality of your children ... and how do your kids see this themselves? 

The Zapps: Charles Darwin said that it won't be the strongest or the most intelligent who would be the one to survive but the one who can adapt. And I think this kids learn to adapt a lot. Then, it is so important also to be an open minded person. And to believe in dreams.

 

4-w-n: Do you teach your kids yourself or do they "attend" an internet school?

The Zapps: The kids follow a program from Argentina.

 

4-w-n: What are your future plans, e.g. thinking of secondary school qualifications of your kids? Is your plan to go on traveling and sending the kids to a boarding school or do you plan to "settle down" again?

The Zapps: Boarding school sounds horrible for us! Where family time is not so important! ... But yes, qualifications. Why is it that today it's more important to have a career than family and dreams? When people ask our son Pampa what he wants to be when he has grown up, he says, "HAPPY!"

How many kids dare to dream today? How many kids dare to be themselves today?...

Why is it so important to know of what we are going to live instead of for what we are going to live?

 

4-w-n: After all the distance you have created between you and what other people might call "normal society" or "normal life" - will returning be possible at all for you? Or do you plan not to come back anyway?

Did you find a "place" where you could imagine settling down again during your travels so far?

The Zapps: Of course, we will go back! We are normal! The change in us doesn't make us feel out of society! ... As a traveler, you learn to adapt a lot. And all humans are adaptables! We may not work in an office ... but we do want to go back! Best place ... is where your family is. And Cande's and mine families are in Argentinia!