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20.04.2011 - Mali – Home

Our time in Africa was short now; in a few months we would be back in Europe, back in the UK, back home. Read more..

South Africa

October 17th, 2010

Distance to Hel 1451 miles

Once into SA, we headed for Pretoria, both of us quiet in the car and slightly dumfounded to have driven this far. The following day Carl reluctantly collected his girlfriend Tash, whom he had both been enjoying a 6 month break from. Joking aside, after an emotional reunion we then started ticking off our huge list of tourist sights we had down for the 3 weeks until Tash’s return flight home from Cape Town.

In the first couple of days we visited local monkey and cheetah sanctuaries, enjoying the opportunity to view these animals up close and learn more about them before we tried to spot them in the wild. At the BushBabies Monkey Sanctuary we received an informative and interesting tour in which we were accompanied by Sarah the free roaming yet very inquisitive monkey and learning about the various species . Also, completing some research as a favour for a friend, we can reliably inform Kate that TJ will love his new home.

The DeWildt Cheetah Sanctuary proved to be a fantastic experience in which we had the opportunity to view the early morning Cheetah Run, whereby a Cheetah chases a mechanism that simulated the movement and speed of its natural prey. After viewing this majestic creature at its best, we were taken round the sanctuary where we learnt about the plight of the cheetah in the wild.

The most sociable of the big cats, the cheetahs made a huge impact on all the visitors. We left the centre and headed to the nearby Pancake House for lunch. A savoury pancake lunch isn’t recommended by any of us, but the deserts are what it’s all about and these did live up to expectations, as did the thick milkshakes.

In Pretoria we stayed with friends Graham, Sarah and newly born baby Alice who were quite brilliant hosts, setting the tone (and a dammed high standard!) for the rest of our time in South Africa. We had so much fun braai-ing (BBQ) away in great company, familiarising ourselves with South African wine and relaxing after the fairly tough schedule over the previous few weeks.

Having taken theirs and friends advice on visas we handed in applications to the Angolan embassy and headed West towards Kruger national park to meet our friend Shaggy (Gerhard). Within hours of arriving at his house the Braai was roaring and Shaggy explained that our best laid plans needed to change, as he had organised for us to do some activities at a local adventure centre for free and arranged a place for us to stay in Kruger Park for three days, also gratis.

Obviously such a large change of plan required lots of discussion, so we promptly headed to the pub and got the talking well underway. We decided to take Shaggy up on his offer and prolong our stay in Kruger, before heading back to Pretoria.

After getting up late thanks to someone spiking our drinks with alcohol the previous night, we toured the local Panorama route, taking in breathtaking views, waterfalls and huge rock pools.

Early the next morning, we were taken to Induana Adventure centre, where we flew South Africa’s longest zip line, white water rafted and hired fast and fun quad bikes, before heading home for a brilliant braai and a vineyard or two of wine.

As we’ve no doubt touched on before, this travelling malarkey can be really tough, as you struggle to cope with the seemingly endless hardships… In all seriousness, for us SA is our break, a mini holiday within our huge enjoyable but immensely challenging holiday.

Sunday morning and Shaggy joined us as we headed into Kruger National, and by 10.30 am we had the big 5 ticked off. An amazing first ever day on safari was well and truly capped off by a night drive back to the camp after Shaggy’s car had broken down, leaving us to spot our 4th Leopard and 6 hyenas, caught in the light spill from our huge spotlights.

After negotiating a road block orchestrated by 100 buffalo who weren’t interested in moving, we made it home, thanks to a lot of beeping, banging and shouting. We had just setup the Braai when suddenly, just 2 metres away, one of the huge hyenas appeared, sniffing at the small garden fence. Moments like this are the reason that safari bring so many people back; a primitive fascination with nature at it’s finest, whilst being really quite scared.

After two more days in Kruger it was time to head back to Pretoria and here, amazingly, we eventually found we had been awarded our Angolan visas. This had taken a lot of work and talking, not just from us, but we had visas!

To those who helped we owe a grate debt of gratitude, as without the nous and contacts of Graham and Sarah we wouldn’t have got anywhere. Thanks guys, as without this visa this trip wasn’t going much past Namibia!

We were slightly reluctant to leave Pretoria, having been thoroughly spoiled by Graham and Sarah but we struck out for Durban, heading directly south for the final time. We drove into the night following our late departure which was a result of the Angolans working on ‘African time’; a concept with more akin to the Arabic ‘Inshallah’ than anything Rolex could sympathise with.

 Distance from Hel: 817 miles

After settling in at Dave and Jane’s in Durban our first port of call was to visit the Peitermaritzberg Land Rover Experience. Here we met the incredibly experienced Andrew Brown, who runs the centre, the Defender Trophy and a whole host of other LR related fun events.

We joined a group doing some basic training and were quickly reminded of the LRE practices, many of which we use on a daily basis, but some of which we had forgotten. Many of these crucial small details such as bringing the clutch up to make certain the car is in gear before switching off on a hill, or allowing the car to stall on a failed hill ascent are there because these are lessons learned in the field where accidents have happened.

We were then handed the keys to a 2010 Defender and followed the group round a challenging course of which there are photos in last week’s mini blog solely about our time at LRE.

Andrew even offered to get our car serviced for free at a local garage, but unfortunately our schedule didn’t allow us any more time in Durban. This was just another example of people’s generosity associated with Land Rover. Some people mock referring to fellow owners as part of a ‘brotherhood’ but the willingness to help out fellow enthusiasts has been touching.

Back from LRE, Dave and Jane took the three of us for a tour of the complex in which they live, which houses a golf course and has the sea within 500m. Naturally, come 11am it was time for light refreshments and more south African chocolate milkshakes in the clubhouse.

Over the next couple of days we braai-ed away, enjoyed the beach whilst Tom even attempted to fish. We loved Dave and Jane’s company and continually questioned them about their eventful careers in the Police back home in Blighty. We capped off our time there with a long day trip to Rourkes Drift, site of the battle detailed in the film Zulu.

Unfortunately none of the original buildings remain, and the site looks little like the film set, but stone outlines show where the defences stood and put into perspective how small and intimate this space was in which just 100 British soldiers defended from 1300 attacking Zulus.

Keen to get to Cape Town quickly in order to see the sights, service the car and relax before Tash’s flight home, we burned up the 1100 miles in two days, pausing for a moment as we took in the sunset near to the Southern most point in Africa. En route we enjoyed a lovely evening with our good mate Trev’s uncle, Roy, who kindly offered us a floor to kip on as we reached Port Elizabeth at the end of the first day. Thanks Roy!

Three weeks on from when we entered SA, the speedo ticks over to 15,000 mile marker and we approach the half-way point of this circumnavigation of Africa. Here we are in Cape Town, a city which wouldn’t be out of place in Europe, bar the climate. Once the car is right as rain we shall be shooting back to take in Cape Augulas and heading inland to Hel before heading North to Namibia.

Since being In Cape Town, Sian arranged for Tash to do some horse riding, we climbed table mountain and have been whale hunting around the Cape peninsula and saw Cape point  and then started the car service which is proving a story in itself…..(to be continued!).

For those that missed it, photos of our time at LRE are available in the last blog. Also, on the new page on the right hand side do have a look at our ‘Country Summaries’ where we’ve tried to summarise our time and experiences in each African country we’ve travelled through thus far, in as few words as possible. Hopefully they will be of interest!

As some of our twitter updates have shown we’ve had an eventful time of it the last week, but a new blog is in the offing so do keep your eyes peeled for that this coming week.

Distance to Hel: 265 mies


  1. Our wonderful hosts in Cape Town, Rob and Sian at the Brai.
  2. Cheetah run at the cheetah sanctuary in Pretoria
  3. Tash scales the potholes on the Panorama route near Kruger National Park
  4. The potholes make Tom smile
  5. Elephants block the road in Kruger
  6. Shaggy, Carl, Tash and Tom at the end of a long day in Kruger where Shaggy’s car broke down
  7. Safari time in Kruger!
  8. The ‘Bridge of Courage’ in the monkey sanctuary, Pretoria
  9. Mist descends halfway round the Panorama route
  10. Elephant watering hole in Kruger
  11. Zebras on the Kruger plains
  12. Near Dave and Jane in Durban
  13. Penguins at Cape Point
  14. Carl, Tom Shannon and Tash scale Table Mountain
  15. The view from the top
  16. We’ve arrived in Cape Town!
  17. Sarah, the cheeky monkey at Bushbabies monkey sanctuary
  • Riders Retreat - mountain bike holidays in Morzine
  • Land Rover Experience
  • Watling Tyres
  • Draper Tools
  • Brit Part
  • hel
  • Koni
  • aalx designs
  • Bradt Travel Guids
  • Map Vivo
  • Antares - engineering with answers
  • EBC Brakes
  • Sentry Safes
  • Twisted Performance
  • X Eng
  • challenger 4x4
  • Goodwinch
  • K and N
  • Kenlowe
  • Waeco
  • Polybush
  • MM 4x4 Land Rover
  • Keith Gott
  • comma
  • Stigs stainless fastners
  • Tracmat
  • Alli Sport
  • BOSCH - invendted for life
  • Allparts - number 1 in car parts
  • Proppa
  • Goodyear 4x4
  • Aaron Radiator
  • Sign a rama
  • better Prepared
  • Devon 4x4
  • foley specialist vehicles
  • Labcraft LED lighting
  • Mammouth Premium
  • Plastor
  • Exmoor Trim
  • Terrafirma
  • sound reduction systems
  • aquarius
  • Master Lock
  • P and O Ferries
  • Dixon Bate
  • hibiscus
  • Ring Automotive
  • Roverland