I’m getting a bit boring with marvelling at the beauty of South Africa – so I’ll bore you with Namibia instead. We left early from Langebaan as the sun rose over Table Mountain – way off in the distance. We were heading north for the Namibian border, over the Orange River. We saw little traffic all day – other than when going through enormous stretches of road works (cutely referred to as ‘stop – goes’). Luck was on our side and the really early start paid off, as we were hardly delayed at all by them – and don’t think we slowed our speed because of the road works …doesn’t seem to work like that round here.

We drove over mountain passes and straight roads that stretch beyond for miles (we only talked about Australian roads being long, straight and empty when I grew up – no one ever referred to the South African ones: clearly an oversight). We saw ostriches and flamingoes, dassies (like guinea pigs) and meerkats, wild goats and sheep. I have no idea what the latter were eating – it was wild rocky desert. I reckoned they must calculate their stock levels on how many acres per head, rather than the normal ‘how many head of stock per acre’. I don’t think farming out on these never ending wild and barren mountains is an easy life.. And then saw a combine harvester! What on earth was that doing parked up here? We did see ‘paddocks’ with large rocks and something that looked a bit like stubble in them – but I’ve no idea what on earth it was (need to ask my brother in law).

And finally we drove down into the valley of the Orange River and out of South Africa, green and fertile, grape vines and fruit trees. The heat hit us as we joined the queue in a cramped and airless room waiting for our papers and passports to be approved by the Namibian officials, and then another queue for the foreign car papers, and finally the queue to get through the border post. Thankfully we weren’t subjected to the car being emptied and checked over – unlike some of the cars ahead of us. Hugo was most concerned: we’d warned him that if he was cheeky and impolite to any of the border officials they might pull the stuffing out of his beloved teddy to check for drugs. He was aghast – and behaved impeccably!

And on we drove through hot dusty desert to Felix United. Gorgeous staff, thatched cabanas to stay in, chilled wine and cool beers overlooking the river whilst the sun set behind the mountains, a warm wind blew and the boys played (noisily!) in the pool. Bliss!

We are back at one of our ‘bases’ in the Cape. The boys are having a post-school swim in the estate’s swimming pool. I continue to marvel at the beauty of South Africa.

Having made friends with children at a harvest festival at one of the local vineyards, we followed up with a post school play date with Oscar’s new found friend Zara…at a garden centre/vineyard/piggery! Stunning grounds and gardens with play equipment for the children to safely occupy themselves. Public parks in towns do not as a rule seem to be the place to play…

We returned to Langebaan on the coast on Saturday morning and whilst the boys listened to stories and read books I continued to marvel at what a truly stunning country this is.
For a country where there is a state of paranoia, and a very complicated political (and consequently emotional) environment and where abiding by the road rules is hardly given a second thought it is an incredible place to drive. The roads are wide and fast. Wide hard shoulders means that drivers pull over onto them to allow you to pass/over take. You flash your lights to say thank you, and they flash to acknowledge you. Vehicles coming the opposite direction, if finding you on their side of the road don’t honk horns and gesticulate whilst shouting obscenities (as in Australia) but they move over towards the hard shoulder so that everyone can get through and get on with the day.

People pay attention when driving over here – you have to. I was marvelling at this as I drove at 130km/hour along the back road – not fast enough to catch up the pickup/ute/bukkie half a kilometre ahead of me, but clearly not fast enough for the Audi that came flying up behind and past me!

Meanwhile the rolling fields stretched for miles around me, wheat fields combined and in the process of being cleared of straw bales, cattle and sheep (with ostriches or donkeys grazing alongside them to protect the stock from African wild cats). It is a country of breath taking beauty.

We arrived in Kruger National Park yesterday afternoon – so just over 24 hours ago, and already we are all a little bit ‘bored’ by elephants munching on trees a few metres from us, zebras so close to us we could have patted them if we’d been daft enough to try, and impalas – so many I’m even prepared to try and eat one myself just to reduce the population size!! We have been blessed with an abundance of game – I just have to see some lions and my ‘tick boxes’ will have been more than ticked. There were a few moments when our voices became a bit stressed in the car; the elephant that started to walk rather determinedly towards us yesterday afternoon on our side of the road – a matter of metres away from us, and Gerhard was mentally planning a handbrake turn in reverse gear at high speed; the black rhino we noticed through the bush as we drove, reversed up to and watched as the rhino ambled through the undergrowth. I was confident that we were fine (on the whole) although I must admit that it did perhaps get a bit tense as he headed towards us in order to cross the road and was by this stage a mere 3 or 4 metre from us. But then Gerhard got me back by finding a couple of white rhinos late this afternoon who a) looked seriously prehistoric (they are truly remarkable) and b) looked a little unimpressed with their preferred path to cross the road being occupied by several cars. I was a little worried that this rhino might just flick us out of his way. So to be honest by the time we saw a black rhino taking a bath this evening with a leopard alongside we were all quite nonchalant – if the wild game isn’t within 3 metres of us, I’m not sure if we’re very impressed anymore!!

Sent from my iPad

Hobart vista from the Cliff-top Track, Meehan Ranges.

G

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