South Africa

Next stop was South Africa, our 18th country. We soon turned off what was probably our last gravel tracks of the journey through the continent and onto tarmac. Other highlights which need to be mentioned was the sight of a car travelling in the same direction as us and that we then came across a truck which we overtook. In our experience of Namibia, this was busy times.

The last border crossing of our trip was made at Noordoewer, which turned out to be the most efficient and ordered. Upon entering SA, you are given a card numbered 1 to 3. Pretty easy logic…each one represented either immigration, customers and police and all we had to do was move between booths. The only entertaining part was from two immigration people who asked for another name for England as they couldn’t find it on the computer, United Kingdom was soon found.

Gone are the days of the chaos of north Africa, the fixers and money changing touts swarming around the Land Rover and us having to lock our doors to stop them joining us in the cab!

With our card fully completed we entered South Africa at 1435 in the afternoon with very mixed feelings.

Some 120 kms down another very long and straight road we pulled into Springbok for an overnight stop. There we bumped into the people who we met at Henties Bay and were again staying at the same campsite as Team Alfie.

Later that evening, we were also joined by a couple of Austrians who had travelled a similar route through Africa in 1996 and were keen to see how roads, borders, bureaucracy etc. had changed over the years. Ingrid was impressed with the iron cooking pot and was surprised to hear it was bought from Ikea many moons ago. It was also reassuring to hear that they also hid meat at Vet fences. Even into their 70s there are still travelling around in their trusty Land Rover.

The ease of SA was apparent as we found a slew of well-stocked supermarkets.

Kms travelled: 360 kms.

 

Tuesday 22nd February/day 141. Springbok Campsite, Springbok – Clanwilliam Municipal Campsite. Odometer: 101544.

Today, we just needed to travel south again towards the Wine Lands and find a tourist information centre as we hadn’t got any information on us about where to go, what to see etc. A stop in Vanrhynsdop and a half-hour with a very helpful Tourist Information lady set us up with plenty of reading and planning. I don’t think we realised how many vinyards, wine-routes and towns there were to visit in the eastern areas of Cape Town!

The terrain was now changing. Rob was having to turn the steering wheel a bit more than once or sometimes twice a day, as in Namibia, to accommodate the novelty of bends in the road.

We stopped mid-afternoon at Clanwilliam in order to plan the next few days and also factor in our route to Cape Town in order to meet up with our friends Dave and Donna who we had first met in Cairo and rendezvous in time to watch the rugby!

Kms travelled: 365 kms.

 

Wednesday 23rd February/day 142. Clanwilliam Municipal Campsite– Burg River Resort, Paarl. Odometer: 101909.

Our wine-route was in place and so we were off early to explore the area. We are now within three hours of Cape Town but have no desire to make it there just yet!

Our first stop was Citrusdal, a town nestled along the banks of the Olifants River – where we drove through rows upon rows of citrus orchards. This was also a great spot for breakfast although Rob soon regretted ordering ‘bubblegum’ flavoured milk-shake and big breakfast and chips for breakfast.

Next stop, Porterville – a great spot for a cup of tea. Sarah tried the local Rooibus tea which turned out to have a very flowery flavour and decided she preferred her Twinnings, English Breakfast.

Just in time for lunch-time we arrived at Riebeek-Kasteel and our first wine-tasting. A visit to Kloovenburg Vineyards and Allesverloren Wine Estate where we tasted whites, reds, roses, pink sparkling wine and port. Along with the wine the two vinyards grow olives and fruit so there was a good amount of olive and jam tasting going as well!

Both visits yielded a few purchases so with Alfie now laden with boxes we headed south towards Paarl and our campsite for the night.

Another lovely spot was found on the edge of a river. A great excuse for sundowners and a bottle of our newly purchased rose wine. Chicken casserole was cooked in the iron pot on the braai.

It’s been a great day exploring the area and as we are now within a stone’s throw of our final destination we have time to slow down and take a few days of just tootling around driving through acres of vinyards and stopping off at any of the tens of wine-tasting opportunities available.

Kms travelled:

 

Thursday 24th February/day 143. Burg River Resort, Paarl.

Another day sitting by the river, sadly no grunting hippos to listen to, swimming in the pool and reading. Just wished the gardeners would take a break from the lawnmowers and strimmers!

Apart from the diary updates and reading, we watched a photo-shoot take place all day. We think it must be for a clothes magazine as there were the ‘perfect family’ scenes…picnic scenes, children splashing around in boats and paddling pools, family BBQ etc. all of which needed a full change of clothes and many different set items. We had hoped they would donate some of the props but sadly it wasn’t to be!

Kms travelled. 0 kms

 

Friday 25th February/day 144. Burg River Resort, Paarl – Mountain Breeze Campsite, Stellenbosch. Odometer: 102185.

What a lovely day!

We arrived in Franschhoek for a late breakfast and a wonder around the town. Both of which were fabulous. With a heavy French influence, Franschhoek is set amongst a backdrop of towering cliffs and terraced vinyards with a boulevard dotted with many street cafes, shops and galleries. We’ve read that it is well worth being here for Bastille Day as well. But for the moment we enjoyed the amble around despite Rob’s boredom levels increasing with each cry of “let’s just have a look in here”.

At last we found some Wifi so we could update the web pages with diary notes and photos. We found there to be a drought of Wifi/internet in Namibia and we were conscious that we were lagging behind!

Fun was had window-shopping for property as well, but we decided not to buy on this occasion.

The afternoon’s excursion was to Franschhoek Motor Museum where some 220 cars are on display, ranging from a 1898 motorised Beston tricycle, fantastic old Rolls Royce cars to more modern stuff.

It was a short drive through some great countryside to Mountain Breeze Camp near to Stellenbosch where we met another English couple who had ridden down on motorbikes. A good night around the fire sharing stories was had by all. Oh, and a couple of beers.

Kms travelled: 75 kms.

 

Saturday 26th February/day 145. Mountain Breeze Camp, Stellenbosch – Oatlands Holiday Village, Simon’s Town (Cape Peninsula). Odometer: 102260.

Today we met up with our friends from Dublin, Dave and Donna, who we last saw at Kim and Tim’s in Ethiopia. We were still trying to avoid going into Cape Town, as that would signify the end of the trip, so we decided to travel down the Cape Peninsula and explore the area.

We may have accidentally squeezed in two more wine-tastings this morning which made for a great start to the day. Firstly, a stop at the Ernie Els Wine Estate which is set overlooking the Stellenbosch area. The drive to the main building is through a lovely avenue of perfect grass and blue agapanthas. Tasting rooms are adorned with various trophies and pictures whilst outside you can test your putting skills with a hope of winning some wine. We didn’t try as we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves!

There are no end of wine estates in the area with only a short hop and a skip or a trundle away we arrived at our second tasting. Eikendel Wine estate had been recommended to us. Again, a lovely setting. We liked all of these wines and decided to buy a couple of bottles of sparkly in readiness for our celebrations once we had drive to Point Agulhas, the southern most point of the continent.

As the six-nations were also in action today, there was also a great need to find a bar which would be showing the rugby as well!

It was wonderful to meet up with Dave and Donna again and with the both Alfie and Mucky parked up, we headed for some food and drinks in Simon’s Town, a small coastal town. We found a bar showing the local rugby matches and they agreed to put the Six Nations on the small TVs with the local games on the main big screen. Result.

With the TV signal constantly dropping out it was tricky to keep up with the action. Then suddenly we’d won. Huzzar!

Much later that night, we arrived back at the camp. With the wind still blowing about force 10 (slight exaggeration) we managed to put the tents up but virtually no sleep as the wind was deafening and shook us all night. We made it to the morning suffering only minimal damage.

Kms travelled: 82 kms.

 

Sunday 27th February/day 146. Oatlands Holiday Village, Simon’s Town – Back-packers, Agulhas. Odometer: 102342.

There have been many memorable days during our adventures through the continent but today was memorable for two reasons and two very different reasons!

Having left Oatlands Holiday Village after a truly incredibly blustery night and a very refreshing swim. There was also huge relief that the roof-tent was still in one piece. We headed back along the coast towards Point Agulhas. We made a stop to see the penguins looking well, very penguin-like. It was a lovely tootle back along the coast watching the waves crashing, fishermen and people enjoying a saunter along the waterfront.

Memorable moment number 1: We happened upon a police road check, but having been stopped so many times now we didn’t think much of it. The interest occurred behind us as we drove off we saw a guy in a mini run over a police officer. Ooops.

Memorable moment number 2: The second memorable part of the day arrived later in the afternoon. With 31,620 kilometres behind us, 146 days in Alfie, through 18 countries and being accompanied by ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ blaring on the stereo, we arrived at Point Agulas, the southern most point of the Continent.

We had made it, achieved our target and felt pleased as punch!

The plan was to open a bottle of the Champagne* we had bought at Eikendel Vin-yard but  we decided to hold fire until we were in the safety of the campsite before cracking open the fizz!

(*Champagne – read sparkling wine as we know you can only call Champagne Champagne if created and bottled in Eperney. But the sparkling wine we had was just as good.)

The back-packers/campsite was great and we cracked open the bottle and toasted each other!

Kms travelled: 258 kms.

Feel good factor = jubilation level. Albeit, after the shock and wake-up call earlier in the day.

 

Monday 28th February/day 147. Agulhas Back-packers – Voortrekker Park Resort, Somerset West. Odometer: 102600.

A gentle morning before heading back up the peninsula to Somerset West where Dave was taking the Toyota in for a boost to the suspension whilst Rob and Sarah checked out a couple of camp-sites.

As we were now back in a town, we also took the opportunity to check out a 4×4 centre which sold off-road camping trailers. We have seen a fair few of these in the latter end of the trip and been very impressed but Europe doesn’t really warrant such a trailer but if we were to think of another trip….

A leisurely afternoon was had, albeit windy again which we hoped would subside by the evening.

We are now very close to coming home, therefore, time was spent sourcing flights, some of which would mean us flying half-way around the world and arriving back in Blighty some days later! None of which appealed. It is now only a matter of time before we drop Alfie with the shipping company.

Sadly, the wind did not give up and we had another night of high winds. Things weren’t really helped as a local guy explained that one of the trees had been blown down ‘just the other day’, Great! True to form, a branch did fall off near-by which rendered all hope of sleep for the rest of the night as we started to wondered whether Eezi-Awn had not only tested the tents for ‘gale-force’ but the strength of the material as well and whether or not it would protect us from a falling branch(es)/tree.

Kms travelled: 202 kms.

 

Tuesday 1st March/day 148. Voortrekker Park Resort, Somerset West – Mountain Breeze Caravan Park, Stellenbosch. Odometer: 102802.

With another sleepless night behind us we thought a justified treat was called for in the form of another couple of wine tastings (for girls only – sorry chaps) plus a return to the Mountain Breeze Campsite which we knew would be wind-free!

Lourensford Wine Estate, some 10 kms north-east of Somerset West was our first stop. With the heat soaring we took refuge in the cool tasting room where we enjoyed some fantastic whites and roses. The other attraction of Lourensford was a chocolatier and cheesery. Having worked through a handful (read ample) of cheese tasting we settled on a purchase of Gorgonzola to accompany the wine later in the day.

As we had enjoyed Eikendel so much earlier in the week, we took Dave and Donna back. The owner was there this time and was keen for us (girls) to try all her wines. The chaps were by this time starting to pace up and down a little but were still very well behaved. We didn’t keep them waiting for long, that would be too cruel!

Next stop, Shoprite and the camp-site for a much needed swim. With food done, Rob came across a flight centre in the shopping mall and thought it would be a good idea just to check flights. Ten minutes later, direct flights with Virgin were all booked. A booking in a four-star hotel within spitting distance of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront followed. We thought it was only appropriate to treat ourselves at the end as the realisation that we were only a matter of days away from being home again began to sink in!

The swim did take place and was much needed. Apparently, today was one of the hottest days for a long time and certainly felt like it too. Probably in the region of 40 degrees.

A great steak supper followed with some of the fantastic wines we had found earlier in the day. Above all, no wind. We all slept like babies.

Kms travelled: 37 kms.

 

Wednesday 2nd March/day 149. Mountain Breeze Caravan Park.

A day of lots of ‘lasts’, but before all this we said our goodbyes to Dave and Donna who were starting to head north to Namibia and Botswana. It’s been great to rendezvous again and catch-up with each other. We wished them safe travels for the next five months during their journey up the west coast.

Alfie was emptied, cleaned where possible and our ‘stuff’ sorted into the flight pile and Alfie pile. Rob was relieved to see that the Alfie pile greatly outweighed the flight pile!

Plenty of discussion was had around ‘why did we bring this?’ and kitchen-sinks. For all future overlanders we will be writing up a summary of what we did take which we used, what was superfluous to requirements and the ‘wished we had brought’ list.

Lunch was made up of the last of cheese, pickles, hams, all half-empty-jars etc – a right-ole mix but tasty all the same.

A call to the Shipping company confirmed the final details and drop-off point for Alfie.

Our last dinner was cooked in our trusty crock pot over logs on the open fire and we toasted each other and Alfie to a great trundle down a very long road.

We were greeted by many of the folk as we packed as word of our adventure spread through the campsite. It’s been great to meet so many friendly people wherever we’ve stopped.

Kms travelled: 0 kms.

 

Thursday 3rd March/day 150. Mountain Breeze Caravan Park, Stellenbosch – Protea Hotel, Victoria Junction, Cape Town

A momentous day.

The final sort and pack was completed by 10am and with good-lucks and waves from the lovely fellow-campers at Mountain Breeze we drove away to drop Alfie off.

A couple of hours later, with the paperwork all signed, payments made, keys and Carnet handed over, we left Alfie behind and headed for Cape Town for the last four nights of our trip.

With Table Mountain moving closer we arrived at the hotel, we checked in and were greeted with a welcome drink of pink fizz which was just ideal.

A really really good scrub, glorious fluffy white towels and a change from our travelling clothes into our ‘saved for the last few days’ clothes before we headed off to wander around the V&A Waterfront for the afternoon.

The W&A Waterfront in fact turned out to be very like Gun Wharf in Portsmouth or Ocean Village in Southampton but with a few African carvings and singing thrown in. Oh, and Table Mountain as a back-drop!

Kms travelled: 58 kms.

 

Friday 4th March/day 151. Protea Hotel, Victoria Junction, Cape Town

A leisurely hotel breakfast followed by sitting and reading by the pool all day. Some TV was also thrown in as there was a need to catch up on the world news and in particular Rob needed more info as to why the first F1 race has been cancelled.

Another stroll down to the V&A waterfront for some food and a saunter around the many many shops.

All in all a very relaxing day and our first day when we haven’t had to plan our next route or campsite stay.  A very odd feeling indeed.

Kms travelled: 0 kms.

Saturday 5th March/day 152.

Following another very slow start to the day, we walked up to the Castle of Good Hope and then back to the hotel for a swim as it was so hot!

We found a lovely restaurant at the V&A Waterfront and were able to listen to a German  brass band playing.  Rob’s favourite was their rendition of “Vot a Vonderful Vorld”.   Great fun.

 

Sunday 6th March/day 153.

Bimble, bimble, blimble. That’s all we achieved today!

 

Monday 7th March/day 154.

Today is our last day on the Continent. Having had a lovely few days at the very end of our expedition we have packed for the last time and will be heading home later this evening. A mixture of sadness and excitement all rolled into one. However, we are looking forward to seeing family and friends once again.

We will making our last update to our blog over the next couple of days. In the meantime we trust it has brought happy and informative reading.

8 Responses to South Africa

  1. Ernie Wells says:

    Well done to you both. Didn’t England do well.
    Congratulations on your trip completion. Info printed and passed next door.
    Ernie

    • admin says:

      Hi Ernie,

      Many thanks for the message! Great victory too!

      Thanks loads for the courier service too! Much appreciated.

      Trust Langbrook Close is well and will see you all soon.

      Rob and Sarah

  2. Jane says:

    Hiya, you’re nearly on your way back! Enjoy those last few days, I remember how surreal they were for us (we were in Japan, wanting to stay longer, but really excited about seeing everyone again…). Can’t wait to catch up xxxx

  3. Peter and Christine Messervy says:

    Congratulations! We’ve really enjoyed following your journey. Keep in touch! Christine and Peter.

  4. Katie and Steve Hughes says:

    A Massive Congratulations to you both – I cant believe how quickly the time has flown by here since we met in the pub car park. We have loved reading your stories and SO happy you achieved your dream.
    Love Katie and Steve

  5. Anne Harris says:

    Sarah and crew,
    At Ditcham, we have been watching your progress with interest and wish to send our hearty Congratulations on this major achievement. Please please come and visit us at school, you are an inspiration!

  6. Andrew Fenn says:

    Hi Rob and Sarah,
    well done both of you!
    im sorry we did not meet up again, we are still in CT doing the visa and shipping thing, probably will still be here in xmas time??
    sorry to say i have only today found your website. i read the last few days and its a wierd feeling to think that you have left and returned home!!
    i picked up dianes shoes yesterday and thought the hotel looked a grand place to spend your last days here. (they would not let me thru the door;=). thank you for collecting them, her flops are very worn now!
    Keep in touch, it was a pleasure to have travelled along side you, thank you for rescueing me in sudan….
    take care of each other and if we ever return to england we look you up…..

    Andrew

  7. Hey..I am still catching up on the read…and discovered that you are back in the country…I think…not read to the bottom of the last one yet.

    Well done guys, we would love to catch up for some tame camping soon. It might well be the childrens first ever camping trip if you catch us soon.

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