Tag Archives: South Africa

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

 

Krüger National Park ... was just wonderful!

 

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

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

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

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

 

INFOBOX KURT HAHN and UNITED WORLD COLLEGES

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

(source: Wikipedia ... and our brains)

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

What a great truck!

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

Kitchen-party

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

 

New friends again!

 

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

 
 
 

Another "Good Bye" to new friends!

 

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

 

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

 

...

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

 

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

 
 

Indian Ocean beaches are just great!

 

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

136 steps down to the beach

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

Our "new home" ...

... Thank You, Stan and Anne!

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

 

Cool! Jackson and Bella!

 

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

Pete and Christel ... going fishing

Rock pools

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

...

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

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

 

Landy children!

 

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

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

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

Krüger National Park

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

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

 
 

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

 

Our first Leopard! Beautiful and majestic!

 
 

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

 
 

Our first male lion(s)!

 
 
 
 

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

 
 
 
 

This guy didn't make it!

 
 

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

 
 

And here are Elephants

 

Aheem!

Elephants don't seem to like Zebras!

 

... not at all!

 
 
 
 

Elephant skull

 

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

First the birds:

 

A Saddle Billed Stork

 
 

A Lalic Breasted Roller

 
 

A Ground Hornbill

 

... And some more four-legged animals:

 

Hippos are cool!

 
 

Relaxing on the beach!

 
 

A Spotted Hyaena

 
 

A Bush Bock

 
 

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

 
 

Fighting Springbock

 
 

Warthog

 

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

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

 

Our house at Letaba Restcamp

 
 

A house with a view

 

Nighttime ... and a braai of course!

 

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

 
 
 

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

 
 

We absoultely enjoyed every minute spent in Krüger!

Illegal in South Africa!

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

...

What a day!