Monday, November 30, 2009

In Botswana

Hello all,
we have just arrived in Maun in Botswana and will be heading for our camp soon. Tomorrow we are taken into the Okavango Delta by dugout canoe for 2 days, camping in the bush of the delta. We crossed the Kalhari Desert yesterday and today, a long, hot drive and I'm am profoundly relieved to be in airconditioning for a few minutes!
Last night we arrived at our campsite late. The usual campsite closed down a couple of days ago and they booked this one at the last minute. It had no facilities (here's a shovel and toilet papaer, there's the bush!) and it was raining while we were setting up camp but the site was pretty and our tour leader cooked up an amazing meal for us all.
The trck we are in looks like it has seen a few kilometres but has character! It is amazing how quickly the tour leader, Justin, and the driver, Phillip, can set up the camp kitchen and have everything organised.
The 20 people on the tour consists of our group of 7, a couple from USA and all the rest are Aussies...including half from Brisbane! Considering it is a UK based company I was very surprised.
I had better go now as this is very expensive.
Love to all, Kathie

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In South Africa

Hi everyone,
I am writing this in an internet cafe in Cape Town.
We had one day in Johannesburg where we went on a tour of Soweto, the Apartheid museum, Nelson Mandela's house and the Hector Peiterson memorial. Man's ability to inflict pain and suffering on their fellow man never ceases to amaze me. The museum brought me to tears but I am glad we went as it was important to understand the past of this country to be able to understand her present and future. Johannesburg is a city scarred by her past but struggling to get her feet and move into the future. It is not a pretty city but is certainly and interesting one.
The trip to Cape Town on the Shosholoza Meyl train was brilliant! The train is a bit rough around the edges, needs a coat of paint but has the most amazing ambience. The staff were great and the cabins and beds were comfortable. The dining car served meals either in the car or in your own cabin and they were basic and good value. There is something old worldly and romantic about train travel that I loved. We had 2 adjacent cabins with Evan, Tamru and Wubi in one and Jemma, Magno, Clive and I in the other. The 'boys' had an epic game of 'Killer Bunnies' that lasted 7 hours! We read, talked and drank coffee brought to our cabin while South Africa went by our window...not a bad way to spend a day!
Cape Town is amazing! It is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen and has a wonderful vibe. We went up the Table Mountain cable car the first afternoon here. It is breath taking! There is a pervasive silence at the top of the mountain, broken only by noisy tourists. There are 360 degree views of the Cape area. We were all developing RSI from taking photos!
Yesterday we went on a day tour around the Cape of Good Hope. Every corner in the road delivered another breath taking panorama....think Great Ocean road then multiply it by 10!
Today we went for a drive through the Stellenbosch winelands....not that we were interested in the wine but the countryside was spectacular. At a butterfly farm we saw beautiful butterflies by the thousands and I had a very friendly velvet monkey take a shine to me and climb onto my shoulder for a ride around the enclosure. We stopped at one winery that made cheese as well and bought a heap of gourmet cheeses, some italian and french breads and home made ginger beer and had a picnic lunch under some trees in the Stellenbosch valley..mmmmm!
Tomorrow we are planning to do all the stuff around town....township tour, waterfront shops, Bo Kaap district, green market, etc.
The one damper on all this has been some monumental issues with Visa's for Magno. I had assurance from the UAE consulate in Canberra that Magno could get a temporary Visa to go into Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the Abu Dhabi airport but they refused him entry amd he had to stay in the airport for the day. We have spent the last 5 days trying to get a visa for him to enter Dubai on our way back and so far we have had no luck. Everyone keeps passing the buck. Also we were told that there was a Malawi consulate in Cape Town that we could get a Visa for Magno at as he cannot get one at the border like we can (he has a Brasilian passport, we have Aussie passports). It has ended up with Magno having to fly back to Johannesburg tomorrow to go to the Malawi consulate (which is now there) as we arrive back there on saturday and the consulate will be closed.
Anyway, I had better go. I am not sure when I will be able to get back online.
Bye for now, Kathie

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

1 week to go!

It's down to one week till we go! I went to the bank this morning to organise the US$ cash we are taking and it suddenly hit me that this time next week we will be at the airport ready to embark! Time to check lists, pack bags, check lists, charge batteries, etc.
We are having a family Christmas lunch on saturday so we can share it with Hannah (who isn't going on the trip).
Cheers, Kathie