Twyfelfontein Region. 25 to 28 February

A beautiful morning in Khorixas greeted us after an incredible thunderstorm the night before. We are so pleased with our storm arrangements which work so well.
A detour off our planned route took us to Vingerklip, about 75 kms to the east.

It was worth the extra distance because of the beautiful landscape we encountered on way.

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Vingerklip surroundings

We photographed Vingerklip which is the only remaining rock formation of its type in Namibia since “The Finger of God” collapsed a number of years ago. 

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Vingerklip

We had coffee at the Vingerklip Lodge and chatted to a young German couple touring Namibia in style while taking their gap year. How differently we did things when we were their age. Got married, had children…. But now we are free to travel.

The rain the night before had left its toll, the road to Twyfelfontein had many washaways and we had to progress carefully.  We  suddenly arrived at a river in flood!

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Onlookers at river crossing

Three cars were stopped and the men were all looking at the river not knowing what to do. We decided to test the depth and Solveig walked through the flooding river to the cheering of the men on the bank.

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Solveig testing depth by walking across

It was difficult going, her feet sticking in the mud and water up to her thighs. She got to the other side so I had no choice but to follow her in the car. I took it carefully and slowly in low range trying not to make waves. I didn’t want to test whether the car was waterproof or not!
The countryside was awash with fresh new grass and masses of yellow flowers.

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Spring??

A beautiful sight which rivals Namaqualand in spring.
It was almost dark when we arrived the at the flooding Aba-Huab river. Solveig was not keen to walk this one as it was very wide and muddy on the banks (which were churned up by an overland bus that had got stuck earlier).  Fortunately a safari driver who knew the area came along and crossed at a better crossing than the actual road, and we followed.
That night we camped on the banks of the river in the Aba-Huab campsite, under a thatch shelter. We thought we were in heaven, such luxury! Every creepy crawly and flying insect thought the shelter was a good place for them too . We were horrified the next morning when we found what had shared the shelter with us!
Again we met some German travellers who gave us their details and asked us to visit them in Germany. We’re meeting gsuch nice people everywhere.
The silence in the morning was in such contrast to the night before when the raging river had sounded like the sea. The river had disappeared!  They call them ephemeral rivers here.

Twyfelfontein area is a World Heritage Site and we’re not surprised. We started our explorations by going to the Organ pipes.

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Organ pipes

We were surprised how different the rock was to everything else in the area. This rock formation was exposed by erosion in a river.

By visiting lodges for coffee at unusual places was well worth it from our contact with special people and also enjoying the luxuries reserved for the mega wealthy.  Twyfelfontein Lodge was no exception.

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Rock paintings at Twyfelfontein

Set in amoungst huge rocks with the pathway to the lodge leading through them and past the rock paintings and etchings.

There we met the manager who gave us such useful information regarding the road to Palmwag, our next stop. We had a lovely long chat with a lady from head office doing an audit, then treated ourselves to a light lunch of toasted gammon, mustard and mayo sandwiches with a huge delicious salad with coffee.

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While exploring we found Rock Agama lizards which we call Augrabies lizards there too!

We crossed the now dry Aba-Huab river and visited a campsite we had wanted to stay at the night before but were prevented from doing so by the flooded river. The owner remarked that you could tell the rains were good this summer as you couldn’t count the ribs of the cattle.

The road to Palmwag was hard going as there were many wash aways from the heavy rains the previous days. Sights and views on the way we’re amazing.

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Beautiful dunes

The dunes and rocks are covered in grass, bushes and pretty flowers.

Then our most dreaded event occurred. We had a puncture! Luckily we had a tyre pressure monitor fitted to our tyres (thanks to advice from Andrew St. Pierre White) and were notified immediately there was a tyre pressure change. I stopped as fast as I could. The air was still escaping from the tyre and it was saved from certain shredding. Luckily this happened at a small settlement and we received plenty of willing helping hands to change the tyre. They were bushmen from Riemvasmaak near Kakamas in the Northern Cape.  Amazing, friendly and helpful people. At first we were a bit apprehensive by so many helpers – unfortunately as South Africans we have this ingrained suspicion – we gave the men some money for their help, a necklace for the lady and pencils and a pen for the young boy. They were so grateful and NOT begging,  such a difference from the Himbas and Ovambos who are always begging for money, food or water, just because we happen to be there.

I had the tyre repaired at Palmwag 70 nail biting kms later.  A sharp stone had cut the side wall so I needed a gater and tube. This brings back the question of what is the tyre correct pressure? They could  only repair it the next day, so we decided to book in for two nights. We were grateful to be at Palmwag. We had wraps with chicken mayo, left over roasted veggies and sweet chilli sauce. Our meals are never boring!

The camp is in an oasis…..

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We were right on the banks of a small river. The ablutions had reed walls with an open front to the view.

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Ablutions with a view

There was also a swimming pool, bar under thatch and a restaurant. The first night there was a light drizzle and it was cooler the next day so we never used the pool. Caught up with a bit of writing and editing of pictures.

The Namib

We’ve made the transition from the beautiful green grasslands of the Kalahari  into the harshness of the Namib during the past week to find a new beauty.

The incredible silence surrounding one is overwhelming. The lack or absence of vegetation makes one so much more aware of the earth and its variety of surfaces. The rocks, the sands, the stones and the colours!

In the Erongo region at the Spitzkoppe we found semi precious stones all around us on the ground and at night the sky reaching down and touching us like jewels.

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Spitzkoppe

The dream community run campsite at Spitzkoppe has 12 private sites, each nestled between the huge ochre boulders.  There’s no electricity nor water, only a long drop toilet at each site.  Showers and flush toilets are at the park entrance a few kilometers away.

Afterwards we spent two nights in our favourite Namibian town, Swakopmund. We camped at Alte Brugge.  A lovely venue with grassed stands and private ablutions with kitchen area.
From our base in Swakopmund we were able to explore the whole area, including a visit to the Walvis Bay lagoon.

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Birdlife at Walvis Bay lagoon

We tried to locate the bird sanctuary at the waste water disposal  but it was closed. Fortunately bird life on the lagoon is incredible.

We had a special mission while in this area. Solveig will tell you more…

Goanikontes is an oasis in the Namib. Hopefully this won’t be boring and if it is,”sorry”. Little bit of personal history…..My father was a whaler in the Antarctic and was returning home to Norway when the 2nd World War broke  out, so he was stuck in Cape Town for the duration (shame!!).
He was already married to my Mom so they were apart for 7 years. When the war was over, he did not want to return to Norway (no work there) and I guess he loved CT.  He persuaded my Mom to join him.
One very brave lady – coming to a man she had not seen in 7 years, to a hot, black country and no family!!!!!. She actually blows me away now in retrospect.
While I was dating Ian – going back 48 years – he was looking through my folks photo album and looks at a pic from SWA and says to my Mom -Goanikontes? ??!!!!!. She was blown away, she did not think anyone would know of that place.  Anyway, it turns out my Mom landed in Walvis Bay and met my Dad there. They spent time in Goanikontes – was I conceived there????  So with these thoughts, going to Goanikontes was very special.

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Goanikontes

It is a little oasis about 45 kms out of Swakopmund.  We drove there in the dry Swakop river bed and passed quite a few typically German type desert getaways on the banks.

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It was beautiful to drive through the desert and then to arrive at a place that is so green!! Unfortunately they seem to have cut down all the palm trees, but there are lots of other trees. Goanikontes is also the place near to the “Mountains of the Moon” – an absolutely splendid magnificent sight of rock mountains and sandy undulating flats.

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Mountains of the Moon

We had a good night on our own at the camp in Goanikontes! !!OK so that’s my special story…….

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Near Goanikontes

Now for some ideas for ardent campers and travellers —Ideas to make life a little easier in the wild :
Hang your water bottles in bags in front of the Aircon to keep cool. Make the bag from plastic recycled orange bags??
Take lots  of hooks with you.

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Water bottle cooler

Buy water in rectangular plastic containers (5 ltrs) and when empty cut off top and use them as storage organiser, divider in your crates e.g all liquor bottles, all sauces and condiments and one for veggies.

Bought a special mosquito repellent that one sprays on fabrics – clothing, bedding and car interior. Got it at the Getaway show last year. The product is VITAL Protection AM2 . Distributed by HHL Technology, a Gordon’s Bay company! It really works well. The insects actually hover around outside of the car! It is claimed to last for 3 months or up to 30 washes!!!

OK last idea –  because of space constriction could not take deep salad bowl . So how do I mix a salad??

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Salad mixer and salad

 I received a magic triangular plastic container with a lid from Stella. Chopped all salad stuff into that, poured on olive oil, balsamic vinegar,  honey – put lid on and shook it all and voila – magic salad. No deep bowl needed!!! Wow being out like this and living with only the bare necessities makes you creative – thinking out of the box, Boer maak ‘n plan!!!!!

After Goanikontes we returned to Swakopmund to restock our supplies before heading off to Henties Bay. On the way we came across this amazing place Wlotzkasbaken, the town has no water or electricity. Each resident must supply their own.

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Creatively decorated houses

Henties wasn’t great, but the fact that there was a mighty thunderstorm didn’t help things. The saving grace was separate private ablutions again.

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Skeleton coast

The next morning we set off to the Brandberg area. A very long straight road to Uis with very sparce vegetation.

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Long Road to Uis

Further from the sea the vegetation improved slightly. The straight road had the occasional table and chairs at a roadside resting place.

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Roadside rest with Solveig and George near Brandberg

We passed a few donkey carts..

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Donkey carts. Popular mode of transport

  and a number of “Graft Markets” selling crafts made by the rural local population.

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And these Himbas selling their bangles

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Himba market

We reached Khorixas where we stayed the night just before another thunderstorm. This one was extremely heavy with lightning striking in our camp!
The camp is run by NWR and is well appointed with shady, grassed sites with braai, table and chairs, electricity and tap.
I’m finding it extremely difficult to get the blog completed because of difficult network connections so please be patient between blogs.

Wonderful contact with interesting people

We’ve met so many new and interesting people, each with their stories to tell……

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Red dunes at Kalahari Trails

The owner of Kalahari Trails, a private game lodge and campsite,  Professor Anne Rasa, a native of Wales, fell passionately in love with the Kalahari and moved here to head up a research  program on  meerkats at Twee Rivieren. 

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Kirri and her offspring

Recently Kirri, pictured here with her offspring and Andre, was in the news. Read about it at http://www.kalaharitrails.co.za. if you want to find out more.

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Sociable Weaver's nest

Our first night at the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was at Twee Rivieren.

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Cheetah near Twee Rivieren

We especially enjoyed the swimming pool at Twee Rivieren. It was so hot!!! We stayed there two nights before moving on to Nossob.

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Picnic site on road to Nossob

Nossob is a wilder camp than Twee Rivieren and we had Squirrels and Mongoose in our camp. We met so many  interesting people in the swimming pool again and heard all about their game spotting for the day. The world is certainly a small place…. While chatting to a couple from the Land Rover club in Cape Town he introduced himself as David Pike. A good friend of mine in Cape Town, Norman Bamberger, had a half brother by that name. We got my first dog,  Laddie, a Wire Head terrier from the Pikes in Somerset West. The same!!!!

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Waterhole 13 near Mata Mata

We met a lovely couple,  Roger and Julia Brown,  at Mata Mata. He’s a British Pro golfer and manages a club in Hamburg Germany. Each year when the season closes they come to Africa and travel overland for two months.
We sat under the shelter of our awning during a frightening thunderstorm, watching other campers having their tents flooded.  The Brown’s spent the night sleeping upright in the front seats of their car as if they were on a plane. Solveig met Julia the next morning at the wash line hanging out her duvets to dry. She said they were  very envious of us the night before!

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Secretary birds at Waterhole 13

After entering Namibia on 17th February at Mata Mata we drove through the beautiful red dune Kalahari to Mariental. Our landlord for the night at la Vida Inn and campsite, Gert van Zyl, came out in another unbelievable thunderstorm to invite us to stay the night indoors for free as he was so concerned for us. We were very comfortable in our car and under our awning and declined the offer. What a generous offer! His price was also the cheapest we’d had on our entire trip!

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In Windhoek at the Arebbusch resort we discovered that our extra water tank was leaking. We only had it fitted at Africa  Offroad a few months ago.  This angered us as we’d spent a lot of money having a “professional” job done! It had to have specialist welding done to repair it. Fortunately we were in Windhoek.
We met a French couple from  Dijon also driving a Patrol. They’d shipped their car to Djibouti a few years back and were doing the same as Sue and Pieter: drive for two or three months each year, store the car and return home, continue the following year to explore a few more countries. What a great way to see any continent if you don’t have the time to do it all at once.
We stopped at Okahanja to buy biltong and vacuum packed meat at Closwa.  The meat is so much cheaper than anywhere we’ve bought from for months. Juicy and tender too! While talking prices, fuel is a lot cheaper in Namibia than South Africa too.

Changing Landscapes

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Strandfontein

Whether its morning coastal mist or endless beaches,  we are both becoming more aware of the landscape and how it awakens a new sence of purpose and brings us closer to living in the now.

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Morning walk Dwarskersbos

A special part of this journey is having the time to spend as long as we like at a place.  To explore our feelings and get in tune with our surroundings.
We were surprised at how cold it could be in February on the West Coast so changed our route to take us inland to Springbok. Found it to be more what we’d expected for this time of the year.  Met two Austrian couples at the camp who were en route to Namibia. One couple had overlanded Africa 15 years ago.
We came across a number of BMW and Mini Coopers from Germany on the N14 between Pofadder and   Augrabies Falls. The cars were brightly covered in graphic decals and had all identifying marks removed or hidden. We spoke to one of the drivers and were informed that they were doing hot and high speed tests with the permission of the SA traffic authorities. He had driven in speeds in excess of 250kph already  that day!

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Harsh landscape

The landscape inland changed dramatically every 100 kms we travelled.  Solveig will give you more detail:

Life is good!!!
Well, we have not got very far. I am sure you are all thinking we are in Namibia already. No, we are in Upington. Hell hellhot! !!! 41 degrees!! On the banks of the Orange river – little cooler, slight breeze and shade under willows. A temperature somewhere between this and the coast would be more comfortable!

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Banks of the Orange

Ian working on Tortoise (car) replacing dual battery solenoid. Been having battery problems?!! Had a problem starting car yesterday. Anyway he is a Star and sorting it all out. Not a stupid man!! And his beard is getting softer…….
The countryside (that sounds sooo British) the terrain at Augrabies and surrounds is amazing. 

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Arrow Point

Outcrops of rocks, mountains, flat sparse areas, quiver trees, red sand dunes and then get near to the river there are vineyards, fruit trees (citrus, peaches,pecan nuts) palm trees -lush and Green. Amazing contrasts, water the lifeblood!!

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Augrabies rock formations

Met 2 very interesting people, a British couple, who have driven through Africa four times on a motorbike.  They have just brought out a book BEARBACK by Dr. Pat Garrod. They are both GPs and love Africa with a passion.
We brought our 365 day African Wisdom book with us (thanks Anka and Sven) and today’s message is

               The ritual requires us to speak through our heart
                The logic of the mind is an obstacle to its success

I hope you dwell on those words like we have….

Okay, now for some useless information
Orange river wine cellars largest in SA and second largest established
in Southern Hemisphere.
Upington airport has longest tarred runway in the southern hemisphere 4,900 m. Is it the heat and altitude at 850 meters?

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Augrabies Lizard - female

Augrabies Lizard – males have bright colours to attract females, compete for attention.  Other way around for us humans, thank heavens. Although Ian is quite colourful these days! !

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Colourful?

Moon Rock – has a smooth appearance caused by immense changes in temperature causing the granite to exfoliate.   It literally
causes layers to peel off like an onion.
The surface of the rock can reach 70° C on days where the air temperature is in excess of 40° while inside the rock, temperatures are in the 20’s. This massive temperature variance causes the “peeling”.

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Solveig at summit of Moon Rock

Solveig’s contribution.

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We’re on the road again……..Oh, my word, the wonderful world of freedom. Leaving behind a life of “stuff” and busyness and business. We are so trapped in our beautiful homes and surrounded by our material things.
Silver to polish???? Clean, wash, dust, ironing etc. etc. ……..How about no broekies, no bra,  no makeup, I do wear a dress, skirt or  sarong though.
One knife, fork, spoon each. One plate, one bowl. The liberating feeling and even letting go of “happy” pills and power surge mutis! Teaching me patience. The freedom to explore the beauty of nature (and oh my God, it really is beautiful) and chat and smile with strangers. No hidden agendas and not too preoccupied and busy!!

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Takes us 10 minutes to unpack and set up camp. What a pleasure, when we watch others taking ages to pack up all their stuff.  Each to their own I guess.
It probably won’t be all plain sailing, but are we enjoying the ride!  We have had all kinds of weather – hell hot, cool days, rainy and extreme wind which made car rock ‘n roll.  Felt like our cradle was being rocked!!!. Had lots of mossies and flies at certain places – training us for what’s coming. I think malaria is our only real concern for what lies ahead.  But practicing now with candles, tabard, peaceful sleep etc.  Oh and Doom for flies.

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Our world is amazing.  It is all beautiful and special.  The coastline stunning with huge rocks,  sometimes gentle sometimes wild seas. Who knows what the future hold but at this stage I am ecstatically happy, love my man. Hope his beard softens – 10 days old. Definitely no smooching! !!! Love the simplicity. Woohoo what a ride, red wine in one hand and ciggie in other (naughty, I know. …… maybe I can give up on the journey) shouting screaming ……   “WHAT A RIDE”

On the road again

We returned to the Helderberg area for a few days to attend Ian’s mother’s 90th birthday celebrations on Saturday 1st February.
It was a strange feeling to be “home” again with nowhere to stay.
We suprised (?) the Tuesday Talk group by gate crashing supper at Andrea and Michael’s on Thursday evening. They had prepared a lovely meal and we really enjoyed seeing our friends again. Especially Pieter and Sue van Oudtshoorn who were supposed to be in Panama continuing their North to South American journey.  But Pieter had snapped his Achilles tendon which delayed their departure until March.

We slept in Janne and Johan’s driveway that night and rocked and rolled all night from a hectic south easter.
The next day was beautiful. We played at being tourists in our home town by spending the afternoon on Bikini Beach, when along came Barbara Louw and offered us a flat for the night overlooking the main beach. Thank you so much Barbara.
We enjoyed a lovely evening and braai with Janne and Johan and downloaded a few movies to watch if we ever found ourselves with nothing to do!
We really enjoyed our stay in Gordon’s Bay. Had a breakfast at Java with Michael and Liv from Norway, snacked at Zest and supper at Al Fornos.  A perfect ending to another wonderful day.

Mom’s birthday was an emotional event. Great to see so many acquaintances, family, and her friends before our farewell. (again!)

Then off northwards at last! We’re taking the west coast route keeping to the minor roads along the coast.  A last look at Table Mountain from Dolphin Beach.

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Kite surfers at Dolphin Beach

So many kite surfers were enjoying the sea breeze. We continued to Langebaan for our first stay. That night there was a wind from the south. So cold it’s hard to believe it was February. The next day we moved on looking for a warmer place.

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Tietiesbaai

Not far was Tietiesbaai near Paternoster. What a heavenly place in the Cape Columbine reserve.

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Seekombuis

Paternoster was named by Portuguese sailors on their way to the east. They stopped here in search of food and fresh water and were so thankful to find water, they named the place after the prayer “Our  Father….”
There is a legendary pub in the Paternoster Hotel which won’t be forgotten in a hurry

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Paternoster Hotel pub

Also, The Voorstrand Restaurant shouldn’t be missed if you enjoy seafood served right next to the beach.  After lunch we begrudgingly left Paternoster.
As it was late, we only went as far as Dwarskersbos and stayed at the municipal caravan site. Not the greatest but a plus was its next to the beach. Both of us took a long walk the next morning. Didn’t swim though as the water was too cold. Surprisingly Ian really enjoyed the walk too!  We needed the exercise as a lot of time is spent driving.

Agulhas Revisited

The furthest East we travelled while on our two week trip up the  Garden Route, was Storms River Mouth where we stayed at the stunning National Parks Board resort.

Before our return to Cape Agulhas for our “official start”  we picked up our Satellite phone in Greyton from ZippiSat. Judy from ZippiSat informed us that we should be secretive about using the satellite phone in some North African countries as they were banned there because of terrorist activity. That night we camped in Struisbaai, about 5kms from Cape Agulhas, at a campsite right next to  one of the longest beaches in South Africa. In the morning Ian had a  short swim in the sea while Solveig went on a short walk on the beach

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Flag waving South Africans

Then off to the start of our incredable journey…. Cape Agulhas …. The 28th January 2014, coincidentally Anka our daughter in law’s birthday. Then we met Sven, a Norwegian visitor and chatted about our trip. We set the video camera on a tripod and captured our departure as seen here:

Afterwards we took George to a shipwreck near Suiderstrand,  a lovely resort about 5 kms west of Agulhas with tastefully designed  stone houses… A departure from the usual, even a fisherman cottage named “Southern Comfort”

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George at shipwreck

George loved the wreck and also the history of the lighthouse told to him by a wonderful lady at information.

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George at Agulhas lighthouse

She was so friendly and helpful to foreign visitors too, no wonder everyone sees South Africa as a friendly place.