21.04.2011 - 01.05.2011 25 °C
Due to a change in Oasis Overland’s departure date, I had a week in Cape Town before the trip started. This was good news as Cape Town is a lovely city.
I stayed on Long Street, the main street in the centre of the city. There are loads of bars and restaurants which I, and some people from my backpackers, enjoyed sussing out. The city bowl is very clean and westernised – I thought it felt like the centre of Auckland. After India, the orderliness, cool weather and lack of humidity was really welcome.
Lion’s head, across from Table Mountain.
Some newly made friends and I decided to climb Table Mountain one day when the weather was fine. This was autumn time in South Africa and the weather was very mixed. One minute there would be glorious sunshine and another it would pour with rain. Importantly though, it wasn’t too hot which made the hike very pleasant.
As we got higher, the clouds came over and the temperature dropped quite suddenly.
Then, as soon as we reached the summit, the clouds lifted and the stunning views unfolded.
We took the cable car down. Robben Island, the prison where they kept Nelson Mandela, can be seen out at sea.
Before I knew it, it was time to join the truck and meet the group who I’d be with for the next four months. We had a meeting one evening to sort out various pieces of paperwork and, in the morning, we set off. The independent half of my travels was over and I was delighted to just sit back and have all the logistics taken care of. I loved backpacking independently, however you eventually get tired of constantly having to pack everything away, negotiate how to get to the next place, root out cheap accommodation and find food. Month after month, it’s quite exhausting. Being on the overland truck, you dump all of your stuff in a locker and most of the annoying hassles are removed.
The first stop on our itinerary was the Stellenbosch wine growing region where we toured several wineries and tasted a wide range of wines.
In the Simonsig winery, our guide showed us a ceremonial way of opening a champagne bottle… with a machete to chop the top off!
A chameleon we found at one place.
Some of the wineries were beautiful and set in breathtaking surroundings. We sat around tables drinking wine in the sunshine. It was a great way for everyone in the group to become acquainted with each other.
The other side of Table Mountain.
Following our day of drinking copious amounts of wine, we had a full day of driving north towards the Namibian border. The scenery was very dramatic; we drove through fertile farmland and over winding mountain passes. That night we camped by a lake in a place called Clan William.
My Cape Town to Cairo expedition is the second half of a huge 40 week Trans Africa trip which goes from London all the way down the west coast of Africa to Cape Town, through fascinating countries like Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, DRC and Angola. About half of the people currently on the truck did this first, so already knew each other very well. We newbies who joined in South Africa were quickly made to feel part of the team however and I felt from day one that there was a fantastic group spirit.
The next day we continued to drive up though the northern part of South Africa’s Western Cape until we reached the border with Namibia. The landscape changed, gradually becoming drier and hotter as we skirted the edge of the Kalahari Desert. Over the border, we camped beside the Orange River at a very pleasant campsite with a lit swimming pool. As we were putting our tents up and cooking dinner, we had to battle with a dust storm. Suddenly, the pressure dropped and a wind swept through the camp, carrying half the desert with it!