Well here we go … my final days in Africa!
November 25th: Christmas day! Ok, let me explain. Back on day 63 in Botswana, we woke up to hear Jo exclaim in dismay, “Oh no, I did it again!” Turns out she woke up thinking it was Christmas only to find, of course, that it wasn’t. The fact that she did it ‘again’ is something you’ll have to talk to her about. Anyway, we decided that it would be a great idea to celebrate Christmas on the truck and so that’s just what we did! The Christmas Committee decorated the truck, a number of people were wearing hats and antlers, we had a sack full of secret Santa presents and Christmas songs were played all day on the truck. The Queen (a.k.a. Sue) gave a speech over dinner and Santa handed out our presents :) At least now I don’t have to worry about having a lonely Christmas in India!
We drove to Sossusvlei this day in order to climb Dune 45. I gave the climb a go but got so angry on the way up (you try climbing a dune – 1 step forward, 2 steps back!) that I packed it in and sat down for a while instead.
Long, boring drive day. Last bush camp of the trip at Nauter Dam. Last cook group too, yay!
Another long drive day through the desert. God, it was hot. Broke up the day by stopping off at Fish River Canyon for a few hours – supposedly the second biggest canyon in the world!
Killed a bit more time by unbraiding my hair for the second (and last!) time. At the end of the merciless desert we found a small haven by the name of Felix Unite River Camp. I jumped into the pool immediately, swiftly followed by lunch and a cold cider or two back in the pool. Can’t complain really! This would be the very last night we would spend in a tent. Hurrah! Sure, the tent became my home for a few months but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to miss putting it up and down. I would swap for a bed any day!
Today we said goodbye to Twiga, our truck, and our driver Pete :( Unfortunately the truck can’t cross the border into South Africa because of the fact that it’s licensed in the U.K. and something or other to do with its MOT. We piled on to a coach which, despite what we had been told, decidedly did not have air conditioning. This led to a very sweaty day’s drive down to Cape Town, with plenty of stops along the way for cold drinks and Wimpy. Our hostel in Cape Town – Ashanti Lodge – is super duperly awesome and has a stunning view of Table Mountain. A few of the girls and I popped out for a quick dinner then had an early night.
Officially the last day of the trip … really! I knew it would go by quickly even before I arrived but still can’t believe it’s the end. In some ways it feels as if it has flown by, but in others I think about just how much we have done in a few months and I am blown away.
Early start today to make our 9am ferry to Robben Island. The tour of the island was interesting and was certainly worth it just for the view of Cape Town with Table Mountain as its backdrop. We were given a separate tour of the prison by an ex-inmate and got to have a peek into what used to be Nelson Mandela’s cell. Finished off our few hours on the island by walking along the Penguin Boardwalk – cute!
Given that it was Emily’s birthday, we found a lovely restaurant on the V&A waterfront to celebrate, while a seal waved its flipper at us from the harbour. This was followed by hours of shopping, and I remembered just how bored I get after an hour of it.
Met the whole gang for dinner at a place called Arnold’s, which I am fairly sure Alun will not be allowed back into after our antics. It was great to get together one last time as a group but I absolutely hated the goodbyes :( Spending three months on a truck with people is so different to knowing someone back home for three months; on the truck we pretty much live together and spend so much time doing things together (no internet, TV or anything else to distract us!) that we become like family. So, yeah, sucked to say goodbye – even though I ended up bumping into most of them again over the next few days anyway – but on the upside now I have quite a few sofas to crash on around the world!
After the trip ended I decided to stay on in Cape Town for another six nights and here’s a round up of what I got up to:
Visited four wineries in the Stellenbosch area. If you are going there, all I would say is: Don’t miss Fairview! Not only is the wine fantastic but you can pretty much get as much of it as you want. PLUS there is cheese. Amazing, to-die-for cheese.
Shark Diving in Shark Alley, Gansbaai
What’s that? Going out on a tiny boat, in choppy waters and hopping into a cage with great whites nearby? Sure, why not! Glad I almost got hussled into this one or I probably would have chickened out. It was an amazing experience to see these creatures up close and I came away with a totally different perspective of them. They were quite peaceful looking, rows of teeth included.
If there’s one thing you have to do when in Cape Town, it’s climb Table Mountain. We were really lucky to get a clear day and took the opportunity to get the cable car up to the top. What a view! Expect scores of tourists though.
I look forward to having the time to go into detail on certain parts of my trip whenever I eventually get home, but until then I hope the day by day posts will be of interest!