Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Run South

I return! It has been quite a while since I last updated this site - I simply could not be bothered sitting around for hours on end waiting for pictures to upload and then having them fail anyway in the last few seconds! However, now that I am in Bangkok there are WiFi signals in nearly every bar and not only that but they are nearly all free and very fast.

My route south from Rwanda back to South Africa was pretty much taken at a snail's pace. I would take bus after bus for two to three days at a time, snatching sleep while on the move and then follow such stints with several weeks of laziness. My first main stop once I got back from Tanzania was in Malawi. I headed straight to Nkhata Bay where I spent a few weeks trying to get a little fitter after my body decided to eat itself while I had Malaria! (I am down to 68kg from a stunning corpulent 85kg that I weighed in at as I left Gib.) The guys at Aqua Africa - where I did my PADI courses - were great with me and I popped over every couple of days to take out their kayak for a little paddle. Life was pretty uneventful other than one very sad incident that brought home some of the reality of the troubles people face in parts of Africa. I had a local friend called Simon who worked at Big Blue Backpackers, one of these people who is inspiring when you see how hard they work. One of the nights about a week after I arrived he was working late behind the bar and had agreed to cover security overnight for some extra cash. He was complaining of a bad headache at about 9pm but did not want to tell the boss as he did not want to lose the extra shift. When I popped in the following morning, the guys told me that during the night it had got much worse and at around 3am he went off to the hospital. By about an hour later Simon had passed away from cerebral malaria. There is not really much more I can say other than that he was one of the nicest people I had met on my travels, always with a smile on his face and checking that everyone was doing all-right.
After a few weeks I moved on via Lilongwe into Zambia on my way down back to Zimbabwe. I decided to take a few days break in Lusaka where I met up with a lovely lady called Alice Zulu who I had randomly spoken to on Facebook a few months earlier.
She gave me the guided tour of the area local to where I was staying which is always a massive help especially in the cities. After a few days it was time to move again with the next stop being Livingstone - just across the border from Vic Falls in Zimbabwe.

Once back in Zim I managed to organise a day out in the bush with the Lion Encounter people so I could see everyone again and especially the three new cubs that arrived just after I left last year. These young ones are much more docile than any of the other lions I have met, to the point that when you put your hand near the face they will sometimes lick it. I would have loved to go a few more times and get to know them better but at the moment my spending is right on the mark and I need to be sure to save cash for Thailand and of course any unexpected problems that may crop up.
My plan after Zimbabwe was to cross Botswana into Namibia although I would only have had a few days there before I had to head on south. I woke up at 5am to try and avoid the problems I encountered with lack of buses on my last attempt. Getting a taxi to the border however took some time as we needed to wait for enough people to fill it and by the time I had crossed the border it was already gone 0830 meaning that I had

missed the buses yet again. There was no turning back however so I sat on the side of the road to try hitch a lift and after a couple of hours finally a truck driver called Obi stopped and agreed to take me to Nata (my plan was to then move on to Maun on my way to the western border with Namibia). We trundled off down the road being wary of elephants that like to cross the roads in Botswana, but the run down was much slower than I had anticipated. Rather than arriving in Nata during the early afternoon as I had envisioned, we got there around nine in the evening. By this time I was more than a little tired and looking forward to the convenience of being in South Africa so after some discussion with Obi we agreed I should stick with him until the SA border some 400km north of Johannesburg.

We drove into the night with a nap stop at about 3am and hit the border by ten in the morning where I bid Obi farewell and set off to find out how to move on south. I got sucked into a conversation with one of the border guards where we managed to discuss religion AND politics, two subjects that I love to chat about but really are not always the best topics in most of Africa for someone as outspoken as I am! However I must have navigated that potential minefield decently as when I started to worry that I had left it too late to get to Joburg in a timely manner, the border guards told me not to worry and that they would get me a lift south. Within about fifteen minutes I was in a lovely BMW with a businessman Afrikaaner called Willem who not only took me to Joburg, but also dropped me off at the front door of the Hostel I wanted to stay at. Air conditioning and about 200kph all the way signalled my return to the easy life!

I had two weeks to kill before the flight to Thailand so I decided to visit Karina in Capetown again where I am not ashamed to admit we spent more than a few days sampling every takeout place in the area and playing Burnout on the console! A week of fattening myself back up and I took the bus over to Johannesburg via the coast for my flight on the 13th of April. So long Africa and thanks for the precious memories, too much has happened for me to write much more than a small taster but I hope that one day I can return and see some of the many things that I had no time for. Onwards to the land of smiles and lots of noodles - woohoo!


  1. Good to read about your trip back south and see more amazing pics again.
    These truck drivers come in handy sometimes don't they ;-)
    Glad you managed to chill out with Karina and get some munchy food down your throat before heading off east.
    Hope you continue to have an amazing time in SE Asia. Remember to try and get to the tiger sanctuary :)

  2. Good to have you back on Blog and we both really enjoyed talking to you earlier today. Hope your travels in the east are as good and even better than all that you expirianced in Africa.

  3. Brian good to here from you again, rumors were going around that you had been eaten by a lion :) I was wondering when you would be updating your blog as guys here at work really like reading about your adventures. Well hope you are enjoying yourself and hopefully we will see you soon.

  4. Hey guys, thanks for the comments. Still alive here and having a great time. I am now in Cambodia and hope to get an update up very soon