African beautyback

It all started three years ago when I set foot for the first time the African land.
The territory of National Park "Tsavo East", just on the border between Kenya and Tanzania, were accommodated in Lodge next to Lake Jipe, Lodge  which was owned by Alice (swiss), sold his business in Bern to open a new one in the middle of "nowhere . Her words are:
"When I first set foot in Africa, smell, feel in the air which makes, or to love or hate Africa for ever."
I have proved to be the first!
I knew even then that as soon as possible will be back again, this time in slightly different Africa, at least in part.

Botswana & Caprivi - Around the Delta

Tour, which started in South Africa (Johannesburg), traversed the Kalahari Desert, Botswana, Okavango River Delta, Namibia, Caprivi Strip, back to Botswana-Chobe National Park, Victoria falls, Zimbabwe, Botswana N'Tvetve salted pans and ended in South Africa but in M'Pumalanga provinces, Kwa-Zulu-Natal, GoldanGate and then looked again Johannesburg. That was a program for 17 days and approximately 6.000 kilometers, which we covered with BMW 1200 GS and a group of 11 bikes and 21 people with service 4 x 4 car.

After a bunch problems with organization and completion of visas for Namibia, and Zimbabwe (embassy in Vienna), South Africa (Embassy Sofia) on 13.08.08 with the Olympic Airways flight from Athens me and my older son Preslav landed in Johannesburg, where our hosts Darrell and Michelle expected us.We visited to the Embassy of Botswana, which was the last and most important visa, provided by courtesy of Michelle.
I received my bike, loaded it on the trailer, and went tp our Lodge in one of the suburbs - Krugersdorp about 35 kilometers outside Johannesburg.

Incredibly peaceful place in the heart of a private reserve of 1000 hectares.

My son couldn't believe what he is seeing, we walked around the zebras, antelopes, even in the distance buffalos.I rearanged the luggage, which I would need for the bike, we had a dinner and retired go to sleep which I missed in the past 18 hours.

We started in early 05.30h

Thursday 14.08.2008
Leaving Krugersdorp at six a clock in the morning and the outside temperature was 0 degrees celsius and after about a 30-km, we stopped at a gas station, where we had to gather the whole group.

The whole group was from South Africa and we were the only foreigners. Everyone has been listed to be presented, how to remember so many names? But they were extremely polite, speaking only English, however, that we were a minority.

After a bit chating and some photos, about an hour then headed northwest to Zeerust, in the last big town before the border with Botswana. Here we were joined by last pair, Wene and Louise with BMW LT.

That was the only LT in the group, all the rest were 1200GS, F800GS and 2 pcs. F650GS.

The further north we went, the higher the temperature was rising (about 25 Celsius). After the formalities at both border crossing (about 1 ½ hour), about 30 km after the border stepped on so-called "Trans Kalahari Highway" return path but with much better quality of asphalt.

"Highway" crosses the entire eastern part of the desert "KALAHARI", until the north-eastern border of Namibia.

It was here that I understood why the indigenous people of the desert in this part are called "Bushmen"-strange, but nothing typical about-desert vegetation and it serious, such as shrubs, trees, even the local grass.

According to South Africans, this is a consequence of water from the Okavango River (The Delta), which disappears in the mystical depths of the desert. After about 600 kilometers through the desert in the late afternoon (17:00),we arrived at the campsite "KALAHARI REST" located inside the desert of about 5 km away from the main road.

Campsite has everything you need as showers with hot water, toilets (perfectly maintained), a restaurant / bar, shop, swimming pool (with crystal water), so you feel perfect after a heavy, warm (we already rode around 30 degrees celsius) and dusty day. Of course after stretching tents, took a shower, basin and take a new clothes, and a cold beer at the bar.

On the way to the restaurant, strangely, as if from nowhere appeared a orphant giraffe, which was not awared by our son and my presence.

Nice evening with good chat around the pool, the arrangement of boots was so as to be inaccessible to snakes, scorpions and of course a dream coming very fast in silence surrounding them.

15.08.2008 Friday.

Breakfast, after which, around 09.00, we left and headed north again with the ultimate goal for the day - and Okavango river.

It was the longest day, mileage, about 600 kilometers headin north to the Okavango Delta. By every stop for cigarette or longer for lunch me and my son were expecting to see bushmens but we had no luck.

Shortly after lunch, my bike refuses a clutch. Darrell gave mi his personal 1200GSAe, while meeting with a truck company from which I took in my rent as they were returning from Livingston with 14 bikes on board, from which I get my "new".

The meeting took place at about 50 km away. .

So again in late afternoon, around 17:00., Arrived at "Drotsky's" Safari Camp, located about 10 kilometers from the main road itself part of The Okavango Delta-with its impressive 15.000 square kilometers area and amazing ecosystem.

The river was part of the lake-"Lake Makgadikgadi", dried up before some 10,000 y. Riding on sandy "road" was a real adventure for the serious BMW-so, but eventually after an hour struggle to better campsite, located just above river from which the sounds could be heard thousands of hippos and crocodiles. In relatively moderate woodland pitched tent with a nice shade, not far from the bathrooms and toilets, which were level again as we had a program here in two nights.

Restaurant / bar was also very good with a stunning view of the river and rich cuisine as well as African and international.

Long after I got the tent displaced by mosquitoes, could not sleep from all the surrounding sounds, it was strange for me because I felt I was in the jungle and continuous movement around the tent, and boots to give us less wastage by monkeys.

Saturday 16.08.2008.

I hardly can describe how much I enjoyed myself to "wake up" the sound of hippos family, bathing in the river literally 20 m lower in 05.40 around the tent. How small they are having fun, playing out of the water and of course the subsequent African sunrise. I would say that this is one of the things for which I would love to come back again and again if possible in Africa.

Breakfast / coffee / tea was long enough to enjoy the incredible view from the terrace of a restaurant-type tension-air.

One by one the South Africans started to arrive and accordingly began to count how many are wishing for fishing boat on the river because it was part of the morning program. I never was a fan of fishing, but my son was so keen to try, that I was curious to see how they fished the amazing "Tiger fish" and the opportunity to see King fisher eagle, crocodiles, otters, etc., do not even call for a moment doubt on our part in this walk.

The truth is that this morning in the hot sun burnt, but only one person catch big fish around 1kg. But it was "Tiger", never knew the name.No on behalf of that lens was cool to catch-views , animals, birds, and so after about 3 hours spent in the river returned to the campsite, where the shadows under the thick hot afternoon spent on beers, ice and mint and tonic.

Shortly before sunset, entered the river again, this time with something like a double deck pontoon, but also self-powered unit, but may was more like a mini-steamer to watch the sunset over the Okavango River and of course everything that flew, walked on land, swimming, etc., with the assistance of the owner of the campsite, which was naturally very up to date with all the ecosystem functioning.

Was indeed a magnificent sunset, and in this hour of the day, I had the feeling that everything was moving just hit the display.

The evening ran very fast after sunset and naturally it was time again for the gossip around the fire which is a barbecue-cooking meat from different types of antelope, part of the attraction of hosts . Mostly common was over the bar with beer and ice a lot of sounds coming from the river mostly.

17.08.2008 Sunday.

Again, breakfast, coffee, tea, but quite tight as 9.00 just before we left this magical place.Botswana / Namibia border was only after 30 kilometers.

Standard hourly border formalities and we were in Namibia.

The next hundred km. on the gravel roads we were within the National Park Mahango, but unfortunately did not see anything interesting.

Again, we turned east on asphalt, close to the town of Katima Mulilo,and right here as we crossed for the last time Okavango.

From here actually begins National Park Caprivi, as the speed limit is 80 kilometers per hour because of the frequent intersection of elephant herds.

Accompany us luck and a little before you reach the bridge over Kvando river in the distance we saw a family of elephants.

Shortly we then reached "NUMWI ISLAND", situated on a magnificent Zambezi river, which was also our campsite where we would spend the night.

Camping is a great low-cut green grass, bathrooms and toilets, a pool and a bar around him can say that would be a dream for quite European campsites.

For barbecue, and a pleasant evening it was then known ... again at the highest level.

18.08.2008 Monday.

The direction was south after breakfast, returning back to the Botswana-Katima Mulilo town, situated on three borders, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Here is the real beginning of the-"CHOBE NATIONAL PARK" and passing through there, Chobe river where it is located and our camping-"TORO LODGE". It was the worst maintained camping here, so I was forced to rent bungalow

19.08.2008 Tuesday.

Sunrise welcomed inside the Park, Chobe

Everywhere around us literally was full of buffaloes, antelopes, Impala, kudu, Spring Bock, zebras, elephants,  and finally couple lions

The car was stopped and then we started to take photos.The lioness became lazy and the lion went to the female not so lazy began to mate.

I could not believe my eyes, I saw a family in the lions' Ngoro Ngoro-"to eat after the shooting, in Tsavo East" another pair of lions, but never before to mating.

Only because it worth getting up early this morning in 04.30h.
"CHOBE NATIONAL PARK"-a huge national park with an area of 11.000 sq. km and the third largest in Botswana and home to one of the largest elephant populations (about 70,000) in Africa in general, and the only place where you can meet-puku antelope.
I went for lunch at the campsite, a little rest and then a boat cruise on the Chobe River, forming the northern boundary of the reservation "Chobe". Again, unforgettable crocodiles floating around the boat, crocodiles on the shore, some of them truly remarkable. Antelopes, elephants, monkeys, go down to the pond near the river, hippos feeding only our eyes and nose followed vigilantly really unforgettable three hours cruise.

Given the unpleasant Management campsite, Darrell and Michelle arrange dinner at Lodge close to our camp, but a completely different atmosphere.

  Wednesday 20.08.2008

Again, early morning one-hour standard after border formalities Zimbabwe. We entered the bus, which lead us to one of the seven wonders of the world, namely Falls-"Victoria Falls"-or the local language "Mosi-oa-Tunya" (The smoke that thunders), about seventy kilometers. from the border with Botswana.The thunder the water that falls from hight of 108 to form spray

The tour took us around two hours and a half. One of the attractions of the waterfalls is a helicopter flight for 20 minutes over the waterfalls, but entries for the week went along, so we headed to the next attraction, bungee jumping (if memory serves me 111 meters height) from the bridge, which divides Zimbabwe and Zambia. We try to lunch at a local restaurant in town, but totally unsuccessful due to lack of products in restorant. With monthly inflation of 2000% and banknotes 100bln. Zimbabwe dollars, what else can you expect? "There was a second attempt to purchase souvenirs from the makeshift market for souvenirs, again nothing.
So I found myself in an English former residence, which reminded splendor of the former Rhodesia in old colonial style, and now acting restorant. The panoramic view from the restorant to the bridge and gordge was amazing with the beauty and nature of Zimbabwe. One later we were back in Botswana

Thursday 21.08.2008

The direction this morning was south to salterns "MAKGADIKGADI" - "Ntwetwe Pans", is formed from salt lake vanished "Makgadikgadi, a few thousand years ago. These salterns have a total area of 16.000 sq. km and home to one of the largest populations of  Antelopes and Springbok, generally across Africa.
Settling in "PLANET BAOBAB", perhaps the coolest place in which we were nights so far.

Tents crucified, surrounded on all sides with boababs.

Back to salterns and entertainment over two hours riding bikes in the salt desert antelope with dangers arising around us. For first time I had to drive in salty sand

The decision was a higher rate and get really, 100% adrenaline to sunset.

Sunset above the salt desert is something memorable for a lifetime, the changing landscape from white to yellow and orange bordered on bizarre and surreal lunar forms ..... unique!

I came home in a camping lights, no problems, something that should not be done in Africa, due to constant movement of animals. Right up to the bar, chilling the high level of adrenaline that wonderful evening.

22.08.2008 Friday.

Shame really .... will have a second attempt!!

Saturday 23.08.2008

Breakfast, coffee, tea, and again south to the "Limpopo" River , the border with South Africa but in the second largest city in Botswana, Fransistown. The lunch waiting for us in a pleasant hotel complex with lots of greenery and a real sabbath day we became involved in typical wedding. It was a lot of fun to watch the party, which organized its typical dances and songs from African folklore.
Several hours later we were on the border, but we would spend the night camping in-"KWANOKENG" that to the side of Botsvana.

24.08.2008g Sunday.

Again, the standard hourly border formalities and welcome back to civilization-South Africa.Darel led us in the field of "Bushveld" and the wonderful ways of the mountains "Waterberg District Municipality" to the first location in which the last cup of coffee with our new friends exchanged their South African all possible mails, phones, etc.

Delighted by their hospitality, friendship and desire for their unforgettable sense of humor.One part assumed to Pretoria, Johannesburg to the other third to East London and we headed to M'Pumalanga province, for bikers paradise .........
Town in which we stayed is called Dulstroom located at altitude of 2100 , Extremely popular in South Africa in the crystal waters of the lakes around it, and trout fishing.

We saw and Bulgarian Art Gallery, but the obviuosly owner was on holiday.

The evening was pretty cool, but very pleasant, around the fireplace.

25.08.2008 Monday.

Today was the direction the province, KwaZulu-Natal.

The road passes through very picturesque villages, most of them located at a height of more than 2,000 meters, and the old time-"The Long Tom Pass", a name derived from the cannon "Long Tom" used by the British.

The pioneers who settled in South Africa used this time as the transport of any goods from Mozambique to Lidenburg, once the largest town in the province M'Pumalanga.
So then, about 500 kilometers we reached the "Hilldrop House", declared a national cultural monument in 1981. As house and estate of Sir Ryder Hagard-author of the mines of King Solomon, the house was built in 1875. With the surrounding estate of 10hectares . Present name of this place is wonderful "Haggards Hilldrop B & B" remodeled as Lodge-hotel in 1997.

Surrounding vegetation of palms and orchids at the mansion showed that going into KwaZulu-Natal, closer to the Indian Ocean.

26.08.2008 Tuesday.

Only thirty kilometers from the previous piece place started to climb serious altitude, but especially in KwaZulu-Natal in a highly scenic route, passing through the villages of Zulu. The kids were the most serious problem seeing us because they wanted to embark us while moving. In front of us (in two luxury cars) traveling high-Zulu delegation, because people everywhere worshiped and prayed in a deep sleep.

This, of course we do not know a lot of time wondering what it owes reverence ?!!!!!!!

Steep climbs to 3,000 metres , Downhill, fog in places, even rain and it pretty cool, after 300 km., arrived in Durban.
Cosmopolitan city of the Indian Ocean with a population of around 5 million. Populated mostly by Indian emigrants.They accomodate us in one of the resort suburb of Durban-"La Lucia-Natal" in a very nice family-type hotel, with indian natural flavor (smell of cinnamon) , overlooking the ocean, which was very unfriendly and the same the next day.

Inability to swim in the ocean we would use to visit a typical Zulu village, and of course to look at Durban.

Wednesday 27.08.2008

The day began with a visit to "Ushaka Sea World" - in Darban. Attractive aquarium facility in the Aquarium and Dolphinarium style sunken ship.

After a visit of a Zulu village, about 35km. Outside Durban in the mountains.
Were demonstrated our everyday rituals of the village, mostly ceremonial dances, etc.

The natural end of the day was one of many "sea" restaurants, great seafood and of course typical Indian sweets.

Thursday 28.08.2008

Lazy morning headed towards the "Free state" - "Golden Gate", a national park, such as our Rila and Pirin Mountains, with many dams and landscape very close to our mountain.

Spent last night in "Fouriesburg Inn" in the city Furiysburg of border with Lesotho.

I was surprised by the pictures in the lobby of the inn, I saw that in 2001, at the same time of year is around 60 centimeters of snow fell., Though it was Africa .........

29.08.2008 Friday.

Reluctant headed towards Johannesburg .... this was our last day in Africa, the evening fly to Athens / Sofia, suggesting a tight organization of movement, return the bike ............... .. and of course many unforgettable memories of beautiful places and magnetic and especially new friends.

Thanks for the unique experience of:
Darell Van der Merwe
Michelle Van der Merwe


Gillie Hine