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Posts Tagged ‘Trek’

The blog of my 2002 Namibia trip is back online

August 22nd, 2016 No comments

I am pleased to report that the blog for my month-long trip trip to Namibia with World Challenge Expeditions in 2002 is back online after being taken down temporarily since May. If you read the blog you will notice that there are some references to an anonymous group member, as opposed to naming the group member being talked about like I do most of the time, and that some photos have black boxes on them or are cropped to non-standard dimensions. Let me explain.

Some of you will know the details by now, especially with the worldwide media interest generated by his story, but a member of the group who travelled with us to Namibia was recently convicted of some serious crimes that he committed while living abroad. I won’t go into details, or mention him by name in this post, as I would prefer not to receive web traffic from the sort of people who might search for his name online. However due to the media interest over the summer I found it necessary to take the blog down to protect my own privacy.

I now feel that sufficient time has passed since his conviction and so, 14 years to the day from our final full day in Namibia on this trip, I have returned the blog to my site. Where possible I have found new photos to replace ones that he was featured in but where this was not possible I either cropped the photo or added a black box to cover him in photos where he was recognisable. I have also removed his name from the blog itself.

Our group

(Most of) our group

In the school hall

In the school hall of Oaseb Senior Secondary school in Gibeon

For the purposes of any media that may find their way to this blog, in the event of any future interest in his case, I have no information to give and will not be making any statement or providing any further information. However I will point out that the fact I have edited a 14 year old blog in ways described above should make my feelings about this issue perfectly clear.

The original text of my blog has been archived to my computer should it be needed by anybody, for a valid reason, although the changes to the content itself were fairly minor other than removing references to the one group member.

I am glad that I have finally been able to put my blog back online as this was an amazing trip, one which probably started my love of getting off of the beaten path and delving deeper into the culture of places I visit. Without this trip I would probably never have visited many of the places I have seen since, had some of great experiences that I have had or met most of the amazing travel buddies that I have met. Plus the people and scenery of Namibia are great as you can see from the selection of photos below.

Four Fingered Rock

Four Fingered Rock

Amazing views on the Waterkloof Trail

Amazing views on the Waterkloof Trail

Tallest sand dune in the world

Tallest sand dune in the world

Leaving Gibeon

Leaving Gibeon

If you have not read my blog from this trip then feel free to have a browse as I really enjoyed it. It contains details of our time improving the sports facilities of a school before travelling around the country seeing the sights and having fun. Sights and experiences from the trip include visiting Gibeon, Mariental, Hardap, Sesreim, Namib-Naukluft, and Windhoek in addition to trekking through Fish River Canyon and Dune Boarding in Swakopmund. It is a trip that I will remember for the rest of my life.

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Walking in Arslanbob

May 27th, 2015 No comments

The scenery is beautiful in this country, in fact it’s one of the main reasons I decided to pick this trip, so even though I’m not much of a trekker I decided to join the group for a trek in the mountains to see the scenery. After breakfast in the home stay we made our way up into the town and met near the Mosque in the town centre.

Walking in Kyrgyzstan

Walking up to town

The walk itself, for somebody that isn’t used to hills, was fairly challenging but not as challenging as the hill climb in Myanmar last year. It was about 4 hours long and took us up some hills, through a couple of villages and down some lovely paths to a view point. The view point chosen as our destination was a bit of an anticlimax considering how exhausted I was but I was glad I took part.

Walking

Starting the walk

Walking in Kyrgyzstan

Walking in Kyrgyzstan

Mountains

A good view of the mountains

Kyrgyz kids

Kyrgyz kids came to say hello

Walking in Kyrgyzstan

Walking in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz scenery

This is where our walk finished.

On the way back I had a string of bad luck including losing my sunglasses, falling over and hurting my ankle, getting wet from rain and then sinking up to my knees in mud that was hidden under some dry-looking ground so I was glad when I found out that the group leaders had organised some transport for us to get to the town quicker. Only a handfull of us decided to take up the offer of transport, and it was a fairly uncomfortable ride, but I was in an amount of pain by this point so it was very welcome!

Lunch today was in a restaurant in the centre of the town which, as we found out when we left, was built out over a gorge created by the local river. Food in this part of the world is nothing special but it’s filling and after a hard day of walking we were all glad to sit down, fill our stomachs and chat for a bit.

Arslanbob

Arslanbob market

Lunch

Lunch in Arslanbob

Lunch with added danger

The tables were over the edge of a gorge!

A few of the group decided to try to find beer, although this was extremely difficult as due to the high proportion of followers of Islam in the town, only one Russian-owned bar was serving anything alcoholic. I gave the alcohol a miss and decided to head back down to the home stay, somehow finding my way back despite not paying attention to landmarks on the way out this morning.

We relaxed in the garden of the home stay for a few hours, and I was able to wash the mud out of my trousers, but heavy rain cut short the social activities and we had to hide inside for a while until dinner was ready.

Walking back to the home stay

Walking back to the home stay

Overall today was fairly uneventful apart from the walk but it was nice to see some of the amazing scenery that this country has to offer!

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Our final day of sailing in Myanmar

March 8th, 2014 No comments

I’m writing a lot for this travel blog as the days go by which I didn’t expect. I was expecting to have a lot of sitting around doing nothing and relaxing, which we did, but there’s so much going on around us as well that I don’t want to forget as I’m having such a great time. Today was no exception and while it was a thoroughly exhausting day it was very special.

It was an early start this morning for two reasons. Firstly as I needed to get ready for the trek I was taking part in today and secondly as I wanted to see if it was my swim shorts I saw hoisted up the mast last night, and to take them down if it was. It seems my senses didn’t fail me last night as when I rose from my room this was what I saw. Sorry everybody but you’ll have to try harder next time.

Shorts ahoy

I found my shorts

There wasn’t time for a full breakfast as we were soon taken ashore by dinghy to start the trek to the top of the hill overlooking the bay. There were only a few of us taking part as we were warned in advance that the trek was more of a climb up rocks with the aid of ropes and was quite difficult but I wanted to take part so I didn’t end up just staying on the boat all week.

If you want to do this walk when on the trip make sure you take some proper shoes as you will need them. The terrain to start with wasn’t so bad, as we walked along a path that had been cut beside the worker accommodation, but it soon got steeper and more overgrown. I went through a lot of water as the gradient got steeper but I was advised to save some for the last half as it was even harder. This was true as the last few ascents were literally a case of pulling yourself up rocks and gravel with the aid of ropes. Some of the group found this easy but I’ve always found downhill to be easier than uphill even though most people say the opposite.

The bar

The bar at the resort

The start of the trek

The start of the trek

Trek

The trek was like this by the end

There were several times when I wanted to give up but I’m glad I didn’t as the views from the top were spectacular. You could see a large amount of the island all the way down to the bay containing the resort and our boat. There was another view point a bit further along the trail which allows you to see the other side of the island but this would add an extra hour to the trek and we didn’t have time for that so we just chilled at the first summit for a while enjoying the views, catching our breath, taking photos and watching the eagles that were soaring around the peak.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to waste as we needed to head off, and I was eager to enjoy the toasties which we had been promised for lunch, so I headed off at the head of the group and made my way down to the bottom of the steeper sections pretty quickly along with Ashu. I decided to wait for the others in case they were worried about us but Ashu headed straight down to the resort so he could make use of the wi-fi for the last time before we lost contact with the outside world again. I’m glad I waited as I was treated to a view of a pair of hornbills that were up in the trees.

MacLeod Island

The view from the summit of MacLeod Island

Me in Myanma

Me at the summit of MacLeod Island

At the peak

At the peak

Overall I really enjoyed the trek. It was almost at my physical limit, and was very hard, but was definitely worth it for the views. The rush down the hill was pretty exciting too although the others didn’t agree with me and they were happy when we arrived back at the beach meaning that the descent was over. We had to wait on the beach for a while for the others on the boat to see us and dispatch the dinghy but it was only a short ride back to the boat where we got our hands on our much deserved toasties. I was so hungry at this point!

Myauk Ni Island was our next destination today and it was a long sail so we set off as soon as everybody was on board. The journey today was a mixture of sailing and engines but we all just sat back and enjoyed the view of the islands going past. We didn’t see much wildlife, and we didn’t have anything exciting happen like yesterday, but this was our last full day on board so we were happy to just relax,

Finally we arrived at Myauk Ni which is a small deserted island in the middle of a big channel and we were all amazed how beautiful it looked. Even though it was small there was a really nice beach and the water looked clearer so we were all hopeful that we would see some marine life. We did, but I didn’t expect to see quite as much as I did after some disappointing days earlier in the trip.

Myauk Ni Island

Myauk Ni Island

When we entered the water we could see the anchor on the sea bed for the first time all trip so we knew our prediction about the water clarity was correct. However we were a little disappointed upon reaching the shore as we didn’t see much except a few small fish and urchins. We all snorkelled for a little while before taking a walk on the beach to see if we could find some better snorkelling sights further along the beach. During our walk we saw some fish traps, found Wilson, and got some great photos but were advised not to venture into the trees as Myauk Ni has quite a lot of snakes living on it.

As the island is small it didn’t take long to walk to the other end and both Ashu and myself were eager to get back in the water again so popped our snorkelling gear on and entered the water. The others decided not to join us which was a shame as we saw so much marine life – far more than the rest of the trip put together. The water was a bit murkier but, along with the usual urchins, we saw Parrotfish, Dory, Nemo and his dad swimming in and out of an anemone, angelfish and whole shoals of both large and small fish that I didn’t recognise. The highlight, however, was a stingray that we shadowed for a while before it disappeared into the murk.

Ashu started to get cramp in his legs so decided to walk back to the start of the beach but I decided to continue snorkelling while staying within reach of him to maintain the buddy system. I’m glad I did as the number of fish I saw increased even more. I saw a whole range of fish I didn’t recognise but while passing alongside the edge of a steep drop I could see shoals of large fish swimming below in the darkness. Unfortunately I couldn’t see what they were but they didn’t look like sharks so that was good enough for me.

We were ushered back to the boat by Mike as he wanted to make way for our anchorage in time to arrive before sunset. Tonight we spent the night at the same location as our first night and were once again greeted by a fleet of fishing boats although it was nice to be slowly eased back into the real world after a week of being away from everybody and everything.

Jill had issues with her credit card before the sailing started which was worrying for Marie as Jill had paid for her replacement passport on her card while they were both in Bangkok. They decided to use the satellite phone on board to try to call Jill’s credit card company but didn’t have luck and asked me for help. I had never used a satellite phone before so it was cool to get my hands on one although I didn’t have any luck either. I managed to get through but the reception was so bad and the line kept cutting out even though there was nothing but clear sky between us and the satellite. We decided to try mobile phones and it turns out we were just in range of the Thai phone masts (foreign mobile don’t work in Myanmar) so I loaned Jill my mobile and we were able to get the whole thing sorted out.

Dinner Time

Dinner Time

After dinner we gave thanks to the crew for an amazing week and gave them the proceeds from a collection I had organised to show our appreciation. They were all amazing people and great at helping us to have a good time whether we had been on a sailing trip before or not. I didn’t want to cut the night short as I was having a great time and knew this was my last night on board but we needed to leave at 6am to get back to Kawthaung so I decided to have an early night. I’m back in my cabin again and Ashu has decided to sleep out on deck so I should get a great nights sleep again. I’m not adverse to sharing rooms while travelling but this arrangement seems to work for us so we may as well stick with it.

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Swakopmund

August 21st, 2002 No comments

What a nice place Swakopmund has been especially compared to the last couple of nights we were at Fish River Canyon. I’ll give you no points for guessing who caused the problems again!

The Truck / campsite

The Truck / campsite

I guess the start of the problems weren’t specifically Dan’s fault. Remember that nice meal I told you about? It was indeed a nice meal but we had to wait over two hours for it. We all ended up eating everything that was food on the table, including the sugar cubes, but we needed some sugar and energy in us after the trek so not a bad thing. The frustration from this delay made Dan R even more of a pain than he was.

Later that evening me, Simon and Sam were relaxing in the tent trying to get to sleep when we heard movement then this weird noise. What had Dan done? He had found a hose pipe, connected it, put it under the top sheet of our tent and turned the water on resulting in a nice waterfall of water over all of us. One of Simon’s books got ruined, as did the film that was in his camera. Luckily I had a waterproof camera because of the sand, even though people did make fun of me for it, so the photos from Fish River Canyon were saved. We turned it off and saw Dan behind his tent laughing but were too tired to do anything so went over to the truck and slept there. That was one of the coldest nights sleep I have ever had and how Rod sleeps in there every night I don’t know. We woke him up and had to explain what was going on but he let us sleep in there for the night which was a big help.

A bird came to say hello!

A bird came to say hello!

The next day we just relaxed by the pool again all day. There were some hot springs too but they were too hot to paddle in this time compared to the ones at the start of the trek. A few people went to the indoor swimming pool but I was quite happy outside. Today was also the first day most of us were able to call home to get results from GCSEs, AS Levels etc. I decided not to ask as I wanted to open the envelope myself when I got home but mostly people did well. We were planning to have another meal in the restaurant but after the chaos the night before Rod cooked us a BBQ comprised mainly of Springbok. It was nice but certain people had too much beer and caused problems again. Sam and Simon escaped into other peoples tents which left me alone and at the mercy of the bog brush, which had somehow made an appearance again. Not a good night, but it was the last night we would have to camp this trip so I survived it.

We left early on the 18th for an all-day drive back up to Windhoek to stay at the Roof Africa Lodge. The other place we stayed at was better but this was a nice place to stay. We all went out for a meal at the famous “Joe’s Beerhouse” and all but one of the group ordered the Bushman Sostie – a shish kebab comprised of lumps of Ostrich, Crocodile, Zebra, Chicken and Kudu meat. I was a little hesitant but it was actually really nice! If you’re in the area I highly recommend this place for the great food and great atmosphere.

On the 19th we left Windhoek and travelled to Swakopmund before spending most of the rest of the day just generally exploring the local area and relaxing in the hostel. Duneboarding was organised for the next day and we had paperwork for that to sort out too. I had to go to the bank to exchange some more money as I had kept a bundle in both British Pounds and US Dollars due to the exchange rate slowly getting better all month!

The 20th was another highlight of the expedition so far – Dune Boarding. There is no greater way to soak up the atmosphere than to rush down sand dunes that face the Atlantic Ocean. I chose the slightly cheaper option of laying on the board rather than what was a converted snowboard. Not only was it cheaper but it was easier! We went down various slopes on our own before going down another slope in pairs which a lot of people failed at miserably. I was with Dominic and we didn’t fall off in a big pile even though I expected we would. The last run was the fastest, steepest and the sight of the famous “Sam Thomas falling off his board at top speed, rolling off across the sand and having his shorts fall down” incident. It looked painful but was impressive to watch!

Preparing for Dune Boarding

Preparing for Dune Boarding

Me Dune Boardfing

Me Dune Boarding

The scenery

The scenery

More scenery

More scenery

Me and Dominic

Me and Dominic

After duneboarding we had a picnic with the whole group which mainly comprised of us but also contained some Americans and Germans. I removed sand from places I didn’t know existed again but it was a great day. In the afternoon the team leaders went skydiving and the rest of us explored Swakopmund again. I had a KFC before returning to the hostel to watch the video from the Dune Boarding. I decided to purchase a copy, as well as a floppy disk with some photos on and also bought a T-Shirt. Apparently last night some of the group went out to a nightclub. They didn’t invite me which sucks, but most people didn’t get in and I’m not a nightclub person anyway!

Picnic after Dune Boarding

Picnic after Dune Boarding

A low-quality version of the video is shown below. It could take a while to load if you have a slow connection as it’s quite long. The first 1 1/2 minutes are a generic introduction introducing Swakopmund and the company that operated the day so if you only want to see the actual Dune Boarding you can skip to 90 seconds. (By the way I’m the person in what looks like a luminous blue t-shirt. It wasn’t that bright in real life!)

Today was another good day, as so many others have been while in Namibia. A few of us (Me, Dan Becks, the two leaders and Rod) went fishing to catch some fresh fish for dinner. I think we all caught at least one fish (I caught 2) but Rod caught something ridiculous like 17 which meant we all had enough to eat tonight. The difference in our catch was confusing as we were all on a small boat but we thanked Rod for his efforts! I don’t know what most of the fish were but I know dogfish was in there somewhere. I’m not much of a fish person but they all tasted nice, especially when cooked on a BBQ in the terrace of the hostel. Another highlight of today…. a ceremonial sacrifice of the bog brush which made up for me not being able to get back into the room for a couple of hours after fishing due to Sam and Simon going to the cinema with the only pair of keys for our room! It gave me a chance to wander the town and buy some local music and a Namibian flag though.

Fishing

Fishing

Swakopmund Harbour

Swakopmund Harbour

Our boat

Our boat

Tomorrow we head back to Windhoek for the last time before leaving this amazing country!

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Fish River Canyon

August 16th, 2002 No comments

We did it! Fish River Canyon has been conquered by a gang of kids from Kent, a Metropolitan Police trainee and a trainee teacher! At 85km it was a bit tiring but we saw some amazing things along the way.

We got up early on the 13th to begin the trek. We took a while to get ready which meant we didn’t start until a bit later than we wanted to but we made enough distance to an ideal camping location 7km into the canyon. Before we started Rod took group photos for us all and this is another photo that brings back such great memories as I type up this transcript.

Our group

Our group

Rod - the TRUCK driver

Rod – the TRUCK driver

It took a while to descend into the canyon. The trail was a bit crumbly under foot and you needed to watch where you were treading. One of our group was a little hesitant so I stayed back with him and Jez until we caught up with the others at the bottom of the canyon next to the river. We relaxed there for a bit before starting off on the main portion of the trek. We only progressed a few km on the first day, which was a lot less than we hoped, but where we stopped was an ideal location to spend the night. Our campsite was on a bit of an embankment with ditches that had been etched in the sand on either side. We had some sort of monumental WWI trench battle throwing sand backwards and forwards which was fun for a while but soon got annoying. We won anyway when me and Dominic went behind enemy lines and ambushed everybody from the flanks.

Bottom of the canyon

Bottom of the canyon

Our group

Our group

The next day we stopped at some hot springs and a building which somebody, probably from the UK, had painted “Sainsbury’s” down the side of. I didn’t get a photo of that but somebody else did – I’ll see if I can find it later. The hot springs really helped the feet which were starting to ache by now. While we were there we also saw a Horse although how he was there and how he survives is a good question! That day we progressed quite a bit and trekked about 23km and our campsite for the night was next to some bushes near the river on the bend of the canyon. It was really windy so we had to weigh the top sheets of the tent down with rocks to stop them blowing away. Although strangely enough even though the tents only just stayed in position the cutlery and plates that we had to abandon when the sandstorm came in were still there. I guess they had a low enough profile even when abandoned mid-way through a run from the river up to camp! We also saw our first rain of the trip although it only lasted 20 seconds.

Me at the Hot Springs

Me at the Hot Springs

Horse

Horse

My tent group

My tent group

Yesterday was our longest stint of the trek. We trekked about 35-36km seeing some really lovely scenery such as “Four Fingered Rock” and also the grave of a German soldier. When the country was a German colony the army had a huge battle against the Nama tribe who didn’t want them there. The battle took place in Fish River Canyon and the Nama were destroyed but only one German soldier was killed and he was buried at the scene. Our campsite last night was near the river but surrounded by bushes, which we thought was a good idea after the storm the night before, and it also provided us a good shelter from the baboons we saw 15 minutes or so before setting up camp. Last night was also the night most of the group decided to “sample the facilities” – ie digging a hole in the ground… but enough said about that. We thought it was going to be another storm due to the sky but nothing happened and it was a fairly calm night. This was just as well as Harley decided it would be a good idea to swim across the river yesterday when he took a shortcut that got him stuck on the other side of the river – his stuff was wet enough from that!

German soldier's grave

German soldier’s grave

Four Fingered Rock

Four Fingered Rock

Red sky at night!

Red sky at night!

Something I will really remember from that day is the Haribo incident. We were resting at the bottom of a hill that we were going to climb over as a shortcut when Will suddenly said “Do you know what I could do with right now? Haribo!”. He then went into his bag and pulled out a big bag which he had been saving and shared it out. Jez, our other leader, said the same thing but about Kylie Minogue but alas she wasn’t in there even after he pulled everything out all over the floor!

Dan R went one too far last night too so Jez got his own back by poking him with a big bit of wood then chasing him around the canyon floor. I didn’t take part even though I felt like it due to him being a complete menace to society so far this trip! We had a nice campfire going though which added to the atmosphere and he didn’t make this one explode !

Dan and the stick #1

Dan and the stick #1

Dan and the stick #2

Dan and the stick #2

This morning we knew the end was in sight as we only had 24km to go. The leaders decided it would be a good idea to give us some training so gave us one of the radios we had then set off into the distance without letting us get ready first. It was good to be out on our own but the group did get split up a few times. We all regrouped at the bottom of what we thought was a shortcut before heading up the hill a bit to try and get reception on the radios to contact the leaders. It turns out it was the wrong way anyway so we went back to the river and followed it along its course until we found our leaders waiting for us. After a few harsh words we progressed further before stopping for lunch.

After lunch we all headed off at our own pace. Some people were faster than others, then there was a group of people that finished a little later, followed by me, Dan Becks and a couple of other people. We were all pretty exhausted by the end but when we walked up those final steps and saw the campsite there was relief! We walked into the campsite, around the corner and saw the truck which was even more of a relief. Dan B screamed “trruuuuuuck!!!” and ran towards it which was something I didn’t have the energy for despite it looking like paradise.

Finishing the trek

Finishing the trek

Since getting back we’ve just cleaned up and relaxed by the pool. Unfortunately my electric razor has run out of battery so I had to get a disposable one from Simon and attempt to use it for the first time ever while in the shower. New experience but I managed it.

We’re going out for a meal in the restaurant tonight!

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From Namib Naukluft to Fish River

August 12th, 2002 No comments

Only a few days have passed since we left Sesreim and so much has happened already!

As I was the leader on the 10th when we transferred to Namib-Naukluft it was my job to make sure camp was set up in time for us to go out on a short trek that evening but unfortunately things didn’t go to plan. Dan seemed to have turned one or two people to the dark side and they just made life difficult for me. They took ages to set up camp and then took a long time to get ready for the trek meaning that it would be dark by the time we got back, which didn’t help. Although I did manage to get a photo of me with a bird eating out of my hand during the time I was waiting which is pretty cool.

Me feeding a bird

Me feeding a bird

After a while we were all finally ready for the trek. We had to do the 10km Olive Trail today as the longer Waterkloof trail takes 8 hours and would just not have been possible this late in the day. It was still daytime when we started the trek but the sun was rapidly approaching the horizon. The scenery was absolutely amazing as you can see from my photo below. The Naukluft region of Namib-Naukluft is a lot more mountainous than the Namib region, which Sesreim borders, and I saw some of the most amazing scenery I’ve ever seen while in the region.

Me on the Olive Trail

Me on the Olive Trail

Trekking the Olive Trail

The trek only took a couple of hours but it was dark by the time we reached the last part – a traverse along a rock wall over a dark pit full of water. I’m OK with heights but not the idea of falling from them so traversing a rock wall without being able to see what was below me was not fun. To get around we attached ourselves to the chain that had been attached around the side of the canyon with a harness and carabina and traversed it one by one, albeit slowly. Not one of the best parts of the week but it was worth it for the views.

This was scary!

This was scary!

On the 11th we headed off in the morning on the longer Waterkloof trail which was estimated to take 8 hours. Once we started Rod took a few people who developed pretty bad blisters on the night trek with him into town to get supplies. We continued on our trek and saw, once again, loads of absolutely amazing scenery including trees as far as the eye could see, a quiver tree, rock pools and also some baboons just ahead of us in the canyon near the end of the trek. There was a little bit of climbing up hills on this trek but nothing compared to that traverse on the Olive Trail.

Trekking the Waterkloof Trail

Trekking the Waterkloof Trail

Amazing views on the Waterkloof Trail

Amazing views on the Waterkloof Trail

When we returned back to the campsite we found that those baboons we saw had caused all sorts of trouble. After the others returned from buying supplies they were relaxing in the campsite when they heard a noise. They didn’t know what it was until a few minutes later when some baboons went walking past them carrying our medical kit. Will, one of the group leaders, chased them up a hill before throwing rocks at them to make them go away (but not before they ate half of our paracetamol collection). That wasn’t the only thing they did – they broke into the truck, ate all of our bread, threw Jon’s T-Shirts onto the ground and left some rather smelly deposits on one of the seats. That cause quite a few problems throughout the rest of the expedition, as did them peeing on one of the other tents in our group.

That evening we relaxed at the campsite and had an early night ready for a long drive ahead of us but the sleep was short lived due to a visitor that came past our tent in the night. I was half asleep when I heard some rustling outside. It made me alert but I didn’t know what it was until I heard the loud growl of a Leopard right outside our tent. Sam didn’t wake up but I’ve never seen anybody jump and sit up as quickly as Simon did when he heard it. It walked away after a couple of minutes and we all slept again but I was very nervous at the time as I didn’t know what it was planning to do.

This morning we made the trip from Namib-Naukluft to Hobas – the town at the start of Fish River Canyon. We passed through Mantahohe and Bethanie on the way and stopped at a petrol station for supplies, to use the toilet and to refuel the truck. We thought the toilet was locked until the attendant at the petrol pumps called us over and unhooked a key out of the tree above him and handed it to us. Hardly secure but it worked. Somebody bought a HUGE bag of what looked like wotsits – it was 12 inches square at the bottom and about 3 foot tall!

Look at those snacks!!

Look at those snacks!!

After stopping off for supplies we made our way to the Hobas campsite where we watched the sunset over the Fish River Canyon and had a nice BBQ to mark our last day before embarking on a long trek through the canyon that will take 4 days starting tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to it as I’m not the most athletic of people but it will be an experience I’m sure.

At Fish River Canyon with a beer

At Fish River Canyon with a beer

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“Table for 18 please”

August 8th, 2002 No comments

Right now we should still be in the school in Gibeon but we decided to leave due to the ongoing issues that I mentioned in my last post. We did as much as we could for the school and enjoyed every moment there but the Principal was making us feel less and less welcome every day and made it obvious he was looking for a financial contribution which we just weren’t prepared to give. One of our leaders made some calls back to the UK and we were told that within a couple of days somebody from the trucking company would be there to take us on to a temporary campsite while we waited for our main truck driver.

We decided to make the most of our time there. On the 3rd, the day after the BBQ, we had a last day of work on the school before making a castle and giant domino set with the remaining bricks. Harley made a video – I’ll see if I can add it on my site later. In the early evening we made a giant bonfire with any loose wood or dead plant material we could find by wandering the local area. All of the material was dry and easy to light and we quickly got a big bonfire going. Some of the kids joined us until Dan, the instigator of most of the drunken behaviour so far, decided it would be funny to throw a full cigarette lighter onto the fire which exploded and scared all of the kids away. Thanks Dan :(.

Later that evening after the bonfire went out the two American teachers at the school invited us out to sample the local nightlife. Most of us accepted, although we didn’t know what to expect, and we were taken into the centre of Gibeon in their cars. We didn’t spend much time with the teachers but they were great and were the only other white people to visit the town in the last few years – something we found out the second time we went to the post office last week. That day we stopped in the cafe next to the post office for some cold drinks and one of the kids said something to the lady behind the counter. She said “he says he wants some money for you burning his eyes out” before apologising and sending him out. We didn’t take offense – we know he didn’t mean anything by it.

Although back to the nightlife. Their local nightclub was basically a shack with a bar, pool table and DJ inside and a courtyard outside. The drinks were incredibly cheap as is everything in this part of the world and it was only the equivalent of 8p for a 500ml bottle of Fanta! Some of the others had beer but I stuck to the Fanta. We enjoyed the surroundings for probably about an hour before gunshots started sounding outside. Our leaders decided it would be a good idea to leave before anything happened so we walked the quarter mile or so back to the school. Apparently what was happening was there was a fight outside and the police arrested them both. One of them got away and went running off so the police fired some warning shots into the air to make him stop…. but better to be safe than sorry I guess!

On the 4th we were scheduled to have another football match but our transport arrived early to take us to the Hardap Dam resort – just up the road next to Mariental. It was only a small minibus so it had to make the trip 3 times. I was given the job of going into town to the one remaining phone box that worked to make the reservation. On arrival back in the school the kids were disappointed to see us go, and the feeling was mutual, but we told them due to a problem with transport we had to go to our next place now or we wouldn’t have got there at all. We took some photos with the kids, exchanged addresses, had the principal ask for money again and then went off to Hardap. We spent that night setting up camp and eating at the restaurant there. I was in the last minibus so got a lift back to the restaurant. The 5 or 6 of us that arrived first were the only people in the place so the waiter got a shock when we said “table for 18 please” although the others came along after a few minutes. After dinner we mainly tried to work out what these weird creatures were that were running all over the park. We found out later they were called “Rock Dassies” but we nicknamed them “Monkey Hamsters”

Leaving Gibeon

Leaving Gibeon

Leaving Gibeon

Leaving Gibeon

Hardap Campsite

Hardap Campsite

Monkey Hamster!

Monkey Hamster!

The next day we took a short trek to get used to the idea of trekking in the Namibian climate before our main trek of the trip. We had a group of Springbok run behind us, just as Will was moaning he hadn’t seen any wildlife, but they were too fast to get a photo. Apparently somebody saw a Scorpion and Baboons but I didn’t see either of those. After returning we relaxed by the swimming pool which was bar none the coldest I have ever been in! Needless to say we didn’t stay in long just mainly relaxed and enjoyed the evening before having curry for dinner and an early night.

Simon on Trek 1

Simon on Trek 1

Trek 1

Trek 1

On the 6th we took a longer (10 miles) trek around the other side of the park and over the Dam itself. We had random spam sandwiches for lunch before having to turn back early because a few of the group were starting to feel a little ill from the trek. We took it easy that night before taking a longer trek the next day – with full rucksacks to prepare us for the longer treks ahead. We returned to the campsite to find another World Challenge group had set up camp near us. We chatted for a bit before heading off to the restaurant again. I was a little more adventurous this time and tried Crocodile Goulash – the meat felt weird but tasted like Pork. That evening there was a bit of an incident involving Dan again where he decided to attack me with a bog brush – don’t ask. He denied it so we had a little mock court case to liven things up this morning. The whole thing was very pointless but was also very random which I like.

The Dam

The Dam

Sunset over Hardap

Sunset over Hardap

Eating Crocodile - I know I look bad - I was tired

Eating Crocodile – I know I look bad – I was tired

Some of us in the restaurant

We will be leaving for Sesreim soon – Rod just turned up with a big green truck for us all to travel in!

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