Monday, January 1, 2018

Christmas 2017 and the year in a nutshell…………

Well we arrived back in Cape Town in the first week of December 2016, tired, sad but also excited about starting a new life in Kate’s lovely home. She too had had an extremely difficult year, travelling a lot for business reasons, losing her beloved cat, Max, and having burst water mains which resulted in serious flooding in the house. Somehow we felt that we were meant to return home share the stress of running a middle aged neglected house.

We had a lovely family Christmas with Steve and Kim, my sister and her family and the newest addition to the the family, a beautiful Siberian kitten, Star, to keep old Sam company.

The early part of 2017 was very messy - fairly extensive house repairs/renovations -
all of which were very successful and kept Rod too busy to mourn his Sheer Tenacity too much.

Then Kate was retrenched. South Africa’s downgrade to junk status caused an exit of foreign investors. So another reason for being very relieved to be home to share the the stress. She is now working for an incubator company that she was involved in years ago before she went into financial analysis.

Steve and Kim have also had a challenging year in Mozambique which has involved their being apart for much of the year. Never an easy situation. Steve gets back on Monday for a much needed spell of R & R with Kim and the dogs.

Its also been a year of trauma and ill health for many friends (I guess its our advancing years). We, thankfully, have been well apart from a few AF episodes and are keeping fit with a long daily walk on the golf course. Rod has started playing golf again and is doing his best to persuade me to pick up my ancient clubs and join him!

A real highlight of our year was a trip to the Timbavati. Friends of ours invited us to join their regular group for a week at Java Camp. We had a fantastic time which we really needed after at least 10 years of “no bush”. Our birding skills were a bit rusty but towards the end of our stay started returning. What made it even more tricky was the new names that were introduced during our long absence!!

We bought an elderly Landrover Discovery early this year. We decided to replace our ocean adventures with landbased ones. So October saw us heading for the Richtersveld for a week. We had an incredible time and Priscilla and Rod took the tricky rocky terrain in their strides.

2018 will have a few more adventures in store. The first being a trip to the Kgaligadi National Park, always a favourite of ours.

Rod has covered these two trips in detail with wonderful pics on his blogsite if anyone is interested in taking a look.

So wishing you all a peaceful Christmas and a really good 2018

Much love and our very best wishes

Rod and Mary

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Priscilla in the rugged Richtersveld

5 December 2017

After our fantastic Java Camp (Motswari) game viewing experience, we decided in October to tick off another of those “bucket list” items … to explore the arid splendour of the Richtersveld. The Richtersveld National Park is situated in the top NW corner of Cape Province, where the Orange river forms the Border between RSA and Namibia. It requires 4x4 vehicles and a high degree of self -sufficiency, as well as an opportunity to test “Priscilla’s” capabilities, and refresh some of my own off road driving skills!
The park is about 1000km from Cape Town, and our  elderly  Discovery TD5 fully loaded with roof tent, deep freeze, water tank, solar panel and all the other camping kit, has the aerodynamics of a brick ! We therefor decided to take it easy, and do 2 overnight stops. With an average speed of 90kph, we didn't really have much choice !
On the tar roads , against strong head winds, it can be a bit tedious …. But once we got off road, and dropped the tyre pressure down to 1.2 bar, Priscilla was in her element!

Sights like this remind one not to take this forbidding terrain lightly!

 We checked in at Senderlingsdrift, where a pontoon ferry crosses the Orange River into Namibia, and where we camped for the night.

De Hoop on the banks of the Orange River
Malacite Kingfisher sitting in an acacia beside the river
Sundowner time
Sheltering from a dust storm at dinner time
The following day we moved on to De Hoop Camp, situated on the banks of the Orange River, about 60kms, (and 3 hours driving), via a couple of quite challenging passes! We spent 2 days there, with the first night being quite full of campers with kids. It is the most popular camp as there is a safe swimming hole in the river! Fortunately, they all left the next day , to get the kids back to school in time for the next term.

"The hand of God" is a sacred Nama  site

 We spent the next four days almost entirely without seeing a soul! After a relaxing day walking and bird watching at De Hoop, we moved on to the Richtersveld camp, which is also on the banks of the Orange, for one day.

Some of the rock formations, and vistas, are amazing!  It looks like a prospecting geologists playground! Thereafter, we headed into the mountains, where we camped at the unusual Kokerboomkloof campsite, which we again had to ourselves !

Kokerboomkloof camp......Kokerboom is a Quiver Tree

 For our return trip we decided to again break new ground, heading first to Alexander bay at the mouth of the Orange river, then on to Port Nolloth, before stopping for the night at Kleinsee, where we were able to have our first hot shower in over a week! We carried on down through Hondeklipbaai, and on into the recently opened Namaqua National Park (coastal section). The road is no more than a sand track, but some of the camp sites were really special. The camp sites comprise rock  wind shields , a fire hearth for the braai, and new age long drop toilets!
We spent the night at the one closest to the Southern entrance, Delwers, which we had all to ourselves, apart from a quizzical Red Duiker with a hole through one ear! This bit of our coast will definitely see us back! We left via Groenrivier, which had some wonderful birdlife, before heading for home.
Our isolated campsite overlooking the Atlantic Ocean
Sundowner time again!

Priscilla passed with flying colours, and we are looking forward to our next adventure in her, which will be to the Kgalagadi National Park , in March next year. (Mary also gave me a pass for the driving skills!)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Our return to RSA

                                                                    7 August 2017

This blog is dedicated to all our fellow cruisers and friends around the globe, who were saddened, and somewhat puzzled by our return to South Africa…..saddened to learn that Mary’s ticker had taken on an alarming and potentially dangerous new beat, cutting short our cruising lifestyle, and leading to us selling our beautiful Sheer Tenacity in Australia.
Puzzled also, by our decision to return to a South Africa, plunged into financial Junk Status, recession, corruption and crime, by an unethical, and evil President, motivated by self -enrichment rather than social upliftment, aided and abetted by an intimidated and compliant ANC government without the moral backbone, to stop him!

Our new home with Kate, in beautiful Cape Town, and the proximity to all those family and friends we left behind, were of course the main reason. Thankfully, Mary’s ticker is responding pretty well to the meds, although she does complain about having a “flat battery” at times!
But… the call of the bush, and the proximity to Africa’s unique wildlife goes a long way towards compensating for our desperate political situation. Having said that, the rest of the world is not a whole heap better off either….. at least we have this trump card, as opposed to a Trump!

Mary and I were lucky enough to be invited to join a group of 8 friends who had booked out the Java Camp for a week, within the Motswari Private Game Reserve in the Timbavati area adjoining, and open to the Kruger National Park.

The photo’s that follow are just a small sample of what we saw, and why Africa is still so special!