Sunday, 9 April 2017

Durban - I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

On Friday 10 March, yes just over 12 hours after returning from the road trip, we were off again.  No rest and all that.  Anyway, this time we flew so it was an easier trip - Gautrain to the airport, flight down to Durban and then a hire car.

We headed to Pietermaritzburg to meet clients getting stuck along the way due to motorway accidents.  Witnessed a police car stopping in the middle carriageway (we were only doing 10 kph) to berate a taxi driver who was driving like an idiot (he was actually in between lanes 2 and 3 whilst the policeman ranted at him if that gives you an indication of the taxi driver's road sense).  You never quite know what's going to happen on the roads in Africa.  Although people complain of poor driving in the UK at least most people follow the rules.  Mind you I think that makes us complacent drivers.  In Africa you can never be sure when a pedestrian walking on the hard shoulder is going to cross, or when a taxi will suddenly scoot across a few lanes/stop, or when something is going to fall off the lorry in front.  Undertaking is common place so, in fact, everyone appears to be far more alert as you never quite know what's coming next...

Anyway, back to Durban and a wonderful avenue of trees.
2017-03-11 Durban trees
And a whalebone jetty on the recently developed waterfront at Umhlanga (the 'posh' bit of Durban where all the A list come and stay).
2017-03-11 Durban whale and sea 29
2017-03-11 Durban whale and sea 37
A cycad near Beverly Hills hotel (see above).
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 15.39.20
On the Sunday we met another old client of Martin's on Durban's seafront.  It was teaming.
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 09.33.32
The wind picked up and the waves increased - just what I like.
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 15.53.35
We went back to Umhlanga and saw the lighthouse (nearly as lovable as a trig pillar).
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 15.36.02
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 15.54.25
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 15.56.35
And the big seas forming.
2017-03-12 Durban sea front 15.56.17
2017-03-12 Durban waves    29
Wind in my hair.  Salt in my nostrils.  An ocean in my horizon.  This is what I love.
2017-03-11 Durban whalebone      8

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Back Where I Started - 4500 km Later

Our final drive was a slog from Upington back to Johannesburg.  We fueled up on breakfast fruit.
2017-03-09 Upington breakfast
And said "Merry Christmas!" to Upington which still has its decorations up.  [They're not uber early but late as there is an official banner wishing us all a peaceful end to 2016 and a properous 2017.]
2017-03-09 Upington Christmas
On the road at 0800.
2017-03-09 Upington to Jburg 02.32
It was a long day and even the novelty of road photos wore off.
2017-03-09 Upington to Jburg 50.31
I worked on my MSc and Martin drove, in increasingly busy and heavy traffic as we nearerd Johannesburg, which we hit (not literally) at rush hour which was a bore.  And so, 11 days after we started, our road trip was over.
Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 12.16.58
We covered ~4500 km (of which I gallantly drove a mere 100 km: how embarrassing), more fuel stops than I could count, 10s of cans of coke and bottles of water quaffed, nuts/fruit/vegetables munched, 7 different places stayed in out of 10 (a different one each night excepting for Swakopmund) and marvelled at storms, sand, sunsets and sunrises aplenty.  We met new and old clients, fished for work, caught up on old news, battled wearily with slow internet speeds, read numerous papers on spatial data sets and dreamed big dreams for our company.

I totally crashed that evening.  So whilst the others ate and chatted I slept.  Road trips are great but sometimes it's good to stop!

Seeheim - Upington

We stayed at Seeheim overnight on Tues 07 March at the Seeheim Hotel (the only one in the village).  Martin had stayed here before and last time he'd leapt into the pool to cool down only to be yelled at by the owners to get out of their drinking water!

It's an interesting hamlet steeped in history due to its location at the junction of key railway routes and the Fish River.
2017-03-08 Seeheim Hotel 44
From its development in the late 19th Century by Germans it grew due to trade (helped by a diamond rush) and in the 1940s it was a town with railway station, churches, shops, a school and 3 hotels.  However it declined in the late 50s and now there is just a railway (non-commercial line), a hotel and no shops.  The nearby Keetnamshoop is the main centre for this region.

View from my room.
2017-03-07 Seeheim
The hotel was wonderful and included a parrot which swore.
2017-03-08 Seeheim Hotel 35
And turkeys whose feeder was on the veranda's wall.  They had to jump up to feed which was a surprise during breakfast.
2017-03-08 Seeheim Hotel 30
And we're off.
2017-03-08 Seeheim to Upington 09.24.10
I was very grateful we'd covered 450 km the previous day as today we had just a similar distance plus border crossing.
Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.42.17
This way to South Africa.
2017-03-08 RSA sign
2017-03-08 Leaving Seeheim 08
We arrived in Upington during daylight.  Martin went to the gym and I did some work.  But it seemed foolish not to do this whilst sitting in the pool.

2017-03-08 Upington     2
And so another day sets and more travelling looms ahead.  But that's for tomorrow.
2017-03-08 Upington sunset

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Sesriem to Seeheim: the S's of Namibia

My tour of S towns in Nambia continued on the afternoon of 07 March.  Having seen Swakopmund,  Solitaire,  Sesriem I was about to visit Seeheim.

After the dune breakfast the plan was to chill at the campsite, have a braai, a dip in the pool and (as ever) catch up on emails.  However by mid morning we realised that the weather was on a repeat cycle from yesterday with the wind already picking up.  So the afternoon plans looked to be more like sitting in the bar with our Macs watching the sand blow past.  We had an uber long drive planned for the next day and decided, stuff this, let's move on.  450 km today and 550 km on the Wednesday sounded so much more sensible.  So we did an uber quick break of camp, threw everything in the bakkie and headed of.

We didn't get far as we stopped at Sesreim filling station to re-fuel.  As we did we bumped into some other campers with whom we'd chatted in the bar the night before.  Anya (German) and her friend (name never found out but he was Namibian) were hitch-hiking around Namibia and their promised lift was 3 hours late: they were stuck at the petrol station.  So we offered them a lift.  A quick re-pack of the car, threw most of the stuff into the back, and we had company.  What fun.

And we're off.
Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 10.59.52
We drove down the Gurib Valley.  Martin was amazed at how green it looked.
2017-03-07 Sesriem to Seeheim 3.00.20
2017-03-07 Sesriem to Seeheim 3.00.50
The mesas were amazing.
2017-03-07 Sesriem to Seeheim 5.23.54
So we stopped to have a better look.
2017-03-07 Sesriem to Seeheim 5.26.10
2017-03-07 Sesriem to Seeheim 5.23.03
2017-03-07 Sesriem to Seeheim 5.23.45
Back on the road.
2017-03-07 Sesriem to Seeheim 5.33.27
We dropped Anya and her friend at Maltahohe, grabbed a quick coffee and then we were off. Again.

Lots of ground water.  Very unusual for this area.
2017-03-07 Sesriem to Seeheim 6.45.13
A very typical African day with the heat building up into a huge storm mid afternoon.
2017-03-07 Sesriem to Seeheim 7.06.01
2017-03-07 Storm near Seeheim
Trundle trundle.
2017-03-07 Sesriem to Seeheim 7.30.28
A blurry Fish River (sorry!).
2017-03-07 Sesriem to Seeheim 7.57.28
And we rolled into Seeheim 20 minutes before they stopped serving food.  Perfect.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Sossusvlei Sunrise

On the morning of Tues 07 March we arose early to catch sunrise on the dunes.  0528 SAST (South African Standard Time).
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 42
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 52
0557.  So pink.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 58
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 60
0612.  Ah, hello sun.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 63
We parked at the edge of Sussovlei and hopped in one of the park's 4x4s.  Although our Mahindra was a 4x4 we weren't confident we wouldn't get stuck and it's pricey to get the rangers to tow you out.  Anyway, the ride was a lot of fun.
2017_03_07 Sussovlei
By 0624 we were walking towards Deadvlei across saltpans.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 66
Big skies.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei    0
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 67
As the sun was only just up the sand was cool enough for me to walk on bare footed.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 70
We sat on a log on Deadvlei and had some breakfast, spending 50% of our time squishing tiny gnats which kept biting us (small flies - big teeth).
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 71
Look at the pancake salt.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 73
There was a group photographing the shadows as the sun crept over the dune to our east.  As it nudged over a part of the dune they would all up-sticks (up-tripods I suppose) and scurry towards the next set of trees soon to be exposed by direct sun.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 75
A strong shadow line.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 76
And people sitting on the easterly dune watching us watching them.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 78
OK I'll zoom in for you: there they are.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 77
Deadvlei in the sun.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 79
A tree still the shade.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 80
These peeps were waving at their friend on the Deadvlei taking photos of them.  Lots of fun to be had on a sand dune.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 81
By 0658 Deadvlei was more or less all in direct sunlight , as were we, so headed back to catch a lift back to our car.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 82
This snake was only about 30 cm long but was still worth giving a wide birth to.  It's a venomous adder, Bitis Peringueyi, known as a sidewinder adder amongst other names.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 83
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 86
The oryx were strolling across the bare grounds as we drove back.
2017-03-07 Sussovlei Sunrise and Deadvlei 91
And that was a wonderful way to start the day.