22nd February – 25th Feb

After being literally confined to barracks for three days in Swakopmund on Sunday I finally felt better enough to move on.  On the way down the coast we passed through the coastal town of  Walvis Bay, which stunningly managed to be even less appealing than Swak.  The best thing about it was this sign urging one not to put one’s car keys into a martini.  Sound advice indeed.

As if you would!

As if you would!

 There was an awful lot of sand about before the landscape changed and assumed the look of the Wild West, scrubby rolling hills, we almost expected to be attacked by a whooping band of braves.  That night we camped out again for the first time in a few days and it felt very good to have a fire, admire the stunning sunset and look at the stars before retiring to the Hotel du Van.

Another beautiful African sunset.............

Another beautiful African sunset.............

The Safari Fascist turned his hand to Dune spotting in the morning and got me up at 5am.  We set off for Sossusvlei in the pitch dark, but I have to grudgingly confess that it was worth it, as this world famous Namibian Photo Opportunity was deserted when we arrived and the sight of the sun lighting these enormous red dunes was truly awesome.  

Blindingly beautiful sunrise

Blindingly beautiful sunrise

We climbed up the biggest dune and watched the light wash over the sand sea around us. 

An early start but worth it

An early start but worth it

After that we drove and drove for hours, ending up camped by a dam where as if to mock the earlier, sandy part of the day it absolutely threw it down overnight.  Our tent has an unattractive habit of storing up pools of water that take you by surprise in the morning and this was no exception.  Sean always cops it first as he gets up to make coffee.  Tee hee!

On the advice of the staff at the dam we avoided one road as it was expected to be flooded.  After driving for half an hour we found the road in front of us was under water, and another car had stopped and the driver was pulling debris and uprooted trees out of the path of his car.  He turned out to be Pieter, a German tourist and his wife.  He and Sean walked across the river to make sure it wasn’t too deep and Pieter, then I drove across.   It was all quite exciting as there were no other tyre tracks on the road so we were clearly the first people to have tried to make this journey this morning and we didn’t know what we’d have to face ahead.  But we soon found out.  We got to the point at which the road crossed the Lowen River and found that we were faced with about 100m of rushing muddy water.  Once again Sean and his trusty stick poked their way across.  The water came up to the bottom of Sean’s immodest rugby shorts, and he’s got long legs so it must have been quite deep.  Pieter manfully let me take the crossing first and with racing heart I drove into the water.  Well, buying Elsie a snorkel was almost justified at last, and apart from a brief point where my heart missed a beat and Elsie’s tyres seemed to miss the bottom we made it safely across. After the relatively minor crossing featured above we arrived at the Canon Roadhouse, where we enjoyed a celebratory beer and a very pleasant dinner with our German chums.  This place had the biggest bugs we’ve seen so far, Sean managed to find a scorpion by the loos as well as a gigantic hairy Baboon Spider and this little chap.

Eat your heart out Jiminy Cricket

Eat your heart out Jiminy Cricket

After another late and soggy morning we took a look at the big hole in the ground that is the Fish River Canyon.  What is it with me and sightseeing?? I just can’t muster any enthusiasm for cooing at big geography.  It was very big, and deep but we were prohibited from doing more than looking at it due to the amount of water at the bottom.

Ticking that off the list of Namibian 'must sees'

Ticking that off the list of Namibian 'must sees'

 And then we drove over the border into South Africa.

25th February – 3rd March

We had a slightly bizarre border crossing as the official who inspected our Elsie wanted to sing Joan Armatrading songs with me, and encourage us to start businesses in Johannesburg.  We camped on the banks of the Orange River, Sean took a swim and later caught a catfish.

Waving or drowning??

Waving or drowning??

The coast of the Western Cape is a region largely untouched by tourism, and for good reason.  The little towns that we drove to had almost nothing to recommend them

Spud U Like takes on a whole new significance in these parts

Spud U Like takes on a whole new significance in these parts

We did however start getting tantalising glimpses of vineyards and the bacchanalian festivities that lay ahead.   After a sleepless night by the side of a dam in Clanwilliam, caused by some ignorant and completely inebriated over privileged white kids we had a very jolly evening in the quaint town of Montagu, in the heart of the cape winelands.  We managed to watch the Ireland v. England Six Nations game in a pub owned by a Yorkshireman, in company with PJ and Tanya from Ireland.  Naturally they were extremely gracious when Ireland won, and we all got suitably over refreshed.

And then finally the following morning we reached the end of the road

Elsie runs out of road

Elsie runs out of road

It was very windy, and rather emotional.  After such a long time and so many extraordinary experiences it felt vaguely anticlimactic to just take a couple of snaps and head on.

Behind us, the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans

Behind us, the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans

Deciding not to go for Cape Town today we pootled along the coast admiring the beautiful, deserted white sand beaches and shivering at how cold the sea was.

I'm checking to see if my toes are still attached, as I can no longer feel them

I'm checking to see if my toes are still attached, as I can no longer feel them

And then the next day it was all over, we arrived in Cape Town, and we celebrated by having a long lunch at the Waterfront, where I more than made up for the six months of cheese deprivation I’ve suffered. 

We’ve done about 19,500 miles and almost every one has been a dream come true.

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