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  1. #1
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    Default Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Hi all,
    We have just set off from home on what we are calling our "Big African Adventure". I have received so much guidance from this group so I would like to give back by providing some form of rolling trip report. So I have started this tread - if this is in the wrong place let me know!
    Anyhow - we are heading away for just over 4 months. Not a long time by some standards, but what was achievable for us. We are one Aussie (Billy) and one Kiwi (me), and we are novice African overlanders - hence a few of my threads had subtitles along the lines of "help this novice not die"! Hopefully other novices might learn something from some of our inevitable mistakes to come!
    We are currently in Doha airport, enroute to Kilimanjaro airport in Tanzania for the first part of our trip. We have hired a 4WD with a driver/guide to take us through Tarangire, Ngorongoro crater and then the Serengeti for a total of 9 days. We wanted to see the wildebeest migration and the calving, but being novices it seemed easier to get started using a driver/guide. From there we head to Zanzibar for 4 nights and then to Cape Town and Franschhoek. We have about 10 days there, with friends coming to meet us as well, before we get the Landcruiser from Bushlore and hit the road. We have had guidance and assistance with a lot of the bookings from Doug Macdonald who is a professional guide in Zimbabwe who we have travelled with before and can highly recommend. We are mostly very excited, but partially terrified, so hopefully it will be quite the adventure. I will add posts here if that is appropriate, if you want to follow along. We also have a facebook page with the same name as the title of this thread where I'll post pictures and stuff as we go also.
    Cheers!!
    Julie

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Welcome Julie (and Billy). It looks as if you have set up a worth-wile experience,and I look forward to reading your progress reports from now on. I hope we have had some rain here before you reach Cape Town so that you can have decent showers!

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  5. #3
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by RodS View Post
    I hope we have had some rain here before you reach Cape Town so that you can have decent showers!
    Brisbane had a pretty severe drought a few years back, so we are pretty good at watersaving. I hope there is rain though, for all of you in Cape Town!

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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Julie, allow me to assure you that I and many others will follow your adventure with great interest. Safari njema.
    Stanley Weakley.
    Toyota Landcruiser 76SW 4,2L diesel.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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  8. #5
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Will follow with great interest....
    24 hours in a day.... 24 beer in a case.... Coincidence?
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    My blog: Our African Ramblings (https://safaribug.wordpress.com/)

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  10. #6
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Safari njema!

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  12. #7
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    We're heading off to Tarangire National Park today. Yesterday we met our vehicle and driver (Able) and did our grocery shopping for the trip. The supermarket in Arusha we went to was the Village Supermarket which had almost everything we needed but it seemed very expensive. I'm sure we could have found it cheaper elsewhere, but it just seemed a bit more familiar to go to a supermarket. We were also able to get a local SIM card at the Airtel office - 30,000 shillings for the card with a 5GB data plan and some calls. It would be lovely to just head off into the distance without telecommunications, but we have a couple of teenagers (one in Australia and one in Canada) who we need to stay in touch with. We have heaps of canned food, and a lot of bottled water so I don't think we'll starve!
    So, novice campers heading into the wilderness! Wish us luck.

  13. #8
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    You seem to have as much trouble sleeping as I do!

    Enjoy the trip.

  14. #9
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    So we're back in Arusha after our 8 days with the driver/guide. Our two nights at the Rivertrees Country Lodge was nice - time for shopping and recovering from our long flight was a good idea. Heading off to Tarangire first up, we stayed at the Mbweha special campsite where we were for 2 nights. The campsite is next to a dry river bed and was nice and isolated. Tsetse flies were a bit of a problem around the park, but there weren't any in camp. Lots and lots of elephants, zebra and giraffe, with plenty of lion sightings. An afternoon sundowner at the Tarangire Safari Lodge was a nice spoil for these novice bush campers. The park was mostly green with some dry areas but overall it is quite a scenic park and we enjoyed our stay.
    Our next destination was the Serengeti National Park - a big drive from Tarangire via the Ngorongoro rim. Instead of entering through Naabi gate we went a more southern route which was very scenic. I loved seeing the vast plains with the various game and occasional Masaai in their colourful robes. We got a little lost (I think, because Abel wouldn't admit it) and we didn't get to our campsite (Moru 4) until around 7pm. Unfortunately our special campsite already had campers there, who were as unhappy to see us as we were to see them, but it turns out we both had valid bookings. Two out of our three nights at Moru 4 were shared with others - not what we pay for when we book a special campsite, but when Abel complained at the parks office he was told that they are "special campsites, not private campsites" which I'm sure is news to us all!
    Anyway, Moru 4 is a lovely site amongst the rocks and we enjoyed that area of the park. Our first early morning game drive netted a lioness and her three cubs in beautiful light, worth getting up early for. We had lots of lion sightings in Serengeti but that was my favourite. The next morning we found a young leopard cub up a tree - she was maybe 4 months old. After some time in the tree she went hunting on her own and we lost her. One evening we had a leopard sitting on the rocks about 70m from camp. The wildebeest migration wasn't in that area, but there were literally thousands of zebra. At one spot we think there were around 10,000 animals which made for quite the spectacle!
    Our next campsite was Sero 4 in the central part of the park. It is a much more open site with a sweeping view of the plains. We had two nights there, and again on the second night another vehicle arrived with a valid booking. We had showers in the public campsite (cold unfortunately), and I learned that a bush shower with warm water is MUCH nicer than a cold shower in a grotty shower block! Again there was a lot of general game and heaps of lion sightings, as well as quite a few leopards, although mostly at some distance away up trees. One leopard on the ground attracted a lot of vehicles and we asked our guide to stop following her when she was being chased by multiple vehicles. We spent some time looking for the wildebeest, only to have them thunder through our camp at 1am on our second night sounding like a low flying aircraft. They stopped about 100m away and shining our torch into the night we saw many many eyes looking back at us. They all had something to say - "gnu, gnu" - so sleep was out of the question! Soon after their arrival came the calls of the hyena and then the lions. It was quite an experience! The next morning we found the large herd on the way to Naabi gate and it was a wonderful sight.
    Our final destination for this part of the trip was the Ngorongoro Crater. We stayed in Simba A public campsite. After setting up we headed to the Serena Lodge for a drink - it is a bit of a spoil to rock up to these fancy lodges and enjoy their bar facilities without having to stay there! Unfortunately it rained around dinner time and our tent got wet as the flap was open. We had a cold and damp night. Up early to get to the crater as soon as possible, we were rewarded with a pride of 15 lions on the move crossing in front of the car - a sighting we had to ourselves. We saw a lot of lions in the crater, with wildebeest, buffalo, elephants and hyenas all in good numbers. I tend to agree with some others who feel that the crater is somewhat overrated and too expensive, but it was still a nice day. We decided not to spend a second night in Simba A, instead leaving the crater around 1pm and driving back to Arusha, where we are tonight. Our guide organised for us to stay at McElly's hotel for $65 bed and breakfast and so we are enjoying a nice warm bed inside!
    So what has this novice camper learned from our first 8 days? Well, bush showers are nice. I can cook quite tasty meals in the great outdoors. Campfires are a delight, especially when you take red bananas, slice them longways and stuff chocolate into the slit, then wrap them in foil and cook them in the fire - delicious! I think the key to a really good camping experience is organisation - something that was quite difficult with the set up we had in the rental vehicle. There was no organisation basically - everything just had to go into and out of the boot of the Landcruiser, with no drawers or compartments etc. Our food stayed in the box the supermarket put it in for the duration of the trip. Our bags ended up on top of the fridge, or the picnic basket so everything had to be moved all the time. I am really looking forward to the Bushlore Bushcamper which looks so well set up! I also learned that camping in the rain kinda sucks, especially when the rain joins you in the tent. There was no awning on the Landcruiser, so nowhere to go except into the rooftop tent or into the car. Hubby and I are now itching to head off on our own in a couple of weeks time. Next up is Zanzibar.

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  16. #10
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Well better late than ever! Just got hold of this thread at this instant.Thank you for your time in reporting back.
    Enjoy your african adventure!
    Safari njema!

    AP

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  18. #11
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Asante sana, Julie, for posting on your adventures in Tarangire, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. Glad it all went well (with a little dose of TIA).

    Safari njema!

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  20. #12
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Nice report, Billy & Julie looking forward to the next one
    Audi A6 Avant Quattro V6 tdi ( Sold )
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    2 x Toyota Celica GT4 Gen 6 (Sold) sadly missed
    2 x Toyota Celica Gen. 5 ( Sold ) not missed as much as the above.

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  22. #13
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Zanzibar 4 - 8 March

    Not strictly 4x4ing, but still part of our trip so I thought I'd include it.

    We flew from Arusha to Zanzibar on a Coastal Aviation Cessna Caravan landing in the early afternoon. We stayed at Swahili House for 2 nights which was a lovely hotel in the heart of Stone Town. Stone Town is like an African Venice, with all its little alleys and walkways and we enjoyed our time there, although we were both a little unwell with tummy upsets. We aren't sure of the cause as we had been a bit lax with our usual "safe eating" rules, but as hubby was much worse than me and he had been the only one to have the raw fish at Emerson Spice restaurant, we think that may have at least contributed! The evening spent at Emerson Spice was very nice though and we had a great time. The restaurant at the top of the hotel has a great outlook over the city and while there was no colourful sunset, instead we got an incoming storm with rolling dark clouds and lighting. It became quite eerily dark and windy, and then the call to prayer sounded which only added to the atmosphere. One older couple left in a huff because it was windy, while the rest of us relished the atmosphere and enjoyed our meal. Luckily it didn't rain as we might have gotten quite wet.
    The next morning we did a "Historical Stone Town Tour" with a guide from Island Express which was interesting. It was $70 for the two of us for about 3 hours and we covered the markets, the Slave Museum, the Sultans Palace and the old fort. Hubby battled through the smelly fish markets despite his nausea which I thought was pretty champion! An afternoon sleep for both of us improved our overall wellbeing, before we wandered out into Stone Town again. We found ourselves on the waterfront where groups of young men take turns jumping/diving and cannonballing into the sea - it was great fun to watch. There's a video of it on our Facebook page (Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure). We had dinner at the Spice Route Indian restaurant, choosing mild vegetarian food with plain rice and plain naan!
    On the 6th we came to Matemwe Lodge on the north-east side of the island. It is a lovely beach resort and a real spoil. The local village is not far down the beach and there's plenty to watch with boats and fishermen coming and going in front of the waterfront chalet. I have no idea how much this place cost, as it was all part of the package put together by Doug, but it's probably going to be our most expensive stay of the trip. The food has been lovely and we went out snorkelling this morning. Not a complaint, as we are the world's happiest travellers, but the snorkelling wasn't that great. Too many people in the water meant a few fins to the face, the coral is pretty much dead and the visibility wasn't good today. Still, it was a lovely boat ride and we are glad we did it.
    Tomorrow we have a long travel day to Cape Town - via Nairobi and Johannesburg with a tight connection in Nairobi so I hope we make it!

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  24. #14
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Cape Town 8 - 13 March

    Again, not 4WDing but part of our trip.
    Our flights all connected fine so we made it to Cape Town after a long day of travelling. Because we were arriving late, we stayed at a hotel at the airport called Hotel Verde which was very pleasant. A shuttle picked us up from the airport and took us there. The next morning we headed to an apartment in the central city which I had booked through AirBnB - a lovely 2 bedroom with views of Table Mountain and Lions Head. Our good friends flew in from Australia to join us for this part of the trip. We were blessed with lovely weather and Table Mountain was visible for all but the last day of our stay. We did all the usual tourist things - Table Mountain, various walking tours with the Cape Town Free Walking Company guides, a tour with Camissa travel to the townships for a church service, Robben Island, a day trip to the Cape and another day trip along the coast to Hermanus. We enjoyed getting away from the crowds when we could eg the Betty’s Bay penguins are much more visible with far fewer tourists than those on Boulders Beach - what a tourist trap that place is! Overall we enjoyed our stay in Cape Town.

    Franschhoek 14 - 16 March

    We drove from Cape Town to Franschhoek via Stellenbosch where we had booked lunch at Clos Malverne restaurant. It was a really nice meal so would happily recommend it as a lunch stop. Franschhoek is a lovely quaint wee place. We are staying in the Corner House Guesthouse which is a nice central B&B. Yesterday we did the hop-on, hop-off wine tram, visiting 4 wine farms with lunch at Babel restaurant at Babylonstoren wine farm. That was truly delightful and innovative and we loved it! We were supposed to be on a balloon flight this morning but that has been cancelled because of the wind. We have a driver booked who will take us for more wine tasting today and then we have a pub meal booked, as recommended by one of the waitresses yesterday. Apparently it will be a traditional braai so we are looking forward to learning the proper way to do this!
    We pick up the camper tomorrow from Cape Town and head off along the coast. Can’t wait!

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  26. #15
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    17 to 23rd March

    So we picked up our vehicle, now affectionately known as “The Beast” from Bushlore last Saturday morning. It is a Toyota Landcruiser Bushcamper and we think it is perfect for our trip. Have a look at the website for the specs. It is so much easier than the truck we had in Tanzania, with room for everything to be organised, set up in 5 minutes and very comfortable. We have 2 x 40 litre fridges, so one is set as a freezer and the other as a fridge. There are 3 batteries and a solar panel so the fridges run all the time, and when we are connected to power we can charge all our devices. If we aren’t connected to power, we have an inverter to charge stuff. The bed is accessible from inside the back of the vehicle so we don’t have treacherous stairs to navigate to get in to bed, and we bought some “nocturnal liquid elimination management systems” to use for those night-time needs (google “uribag” if you want the specifics).
    We stayed close to Cape Town on the first night, making it as far as Hermanus and since then we have travelled along the southern coast of Cape Town, with stays in Jongfenstein, Keurbooms Lagoon, Storms River Mouth and Wilderness. We did a day trip over the Prince Alfred pass just for the adventure, and visited Jeffrey’s Bay to see where our Australian surfer had his shark encounter. Heading north we went via the Swartberg Pass which we enjoyed, coming across an old car rally at the top. We spent the night at Beaufort West at the Steenbok private game reserve campsite and then had a big driving day today to get to Upington. We are camped in a resort next to the Orange River, and hubby is having his first crack at a braai - we’ve watched several being done and have bought some equipment so have put aside our temptation to just panfry the Karoo lamb chops to see how we go!
    The “real” African bush is close now and we are excited!

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  28. #16
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    So, this wee novice camper feels she has earned her first camping stripe after coping with lions in camp! Story to follow...

    From Upington we headed out to Van Zyslrus as we were booked to visit the Meerkat Project the next morning. Van Zyslrus is an interesting wee town which reminds me of a cross between the Wild West, and outback indigenous towns in Australia! We stayed in the hotel there which we really enjoyed - the owners were very friendly and accomodating and the room was great.
    In the morning, after getting lost on the way, we spent a few hours with the lovely little meerkats and then headed to Twee Riverien. I felt like we earned an overlanding badge by coping with our first border crossing - coming from an island nation, border crossings usually occur at airports, so this is all new stuff to us! But, I feel that the border crossing at Twee Riverien is very tame and it won’t be this easy again!
    We had booked three nights at Twee Riverien and so settled into the routine of morning and afternoon game drives, and book-reading in between. After two nights we went and asked at the Botswana wildlife desk if there were any available campsites at Rooiputs and luckily there was so we headed off, excited to be having our first “real” bush camping experience. We settled into Rooiputs 5, spent a few hours under the A-frame reading books, visited by jackals and then headed out for a game drive. We returned just before 7 and started to prepare a fire and a simple dinner. The pasta was cooking on the gas and hubby was stoking the fire, when I looked out from the truck to see green eyes reflecting back at me (I had my head torch on), surrounded by a yellow cat-shaped face! Lions x 3! About 10metres away just watching us! I called hubby rather urgently, and when he also realised what we were looking at we both dove into the truck! They stayed looking at us for quite a while before moving off enough that hubby could go out and shut all the flaps of the truck and we settled in for the night. About 5am we woke up to their calls and looked out to see them playing with one of our camp chairs that had got left out in the rush to get inside! Fortunately they moved away by day light so we could retrieve the chair and head away. It all probably sounds rather tame to you experienced campers but for us newbies it was quite an adrenaline rush! We didn’t even feel comfortable having breakfast in camp, so we headed for the next picnic area and had it there!
    Our next stop, as luck would have it, was Matopi 1, the site of the leopard attack in January. One of our fellow campers helpfully told us that the leopard was still around, having been spotted in camp 2 nights before. That didn’t really help my nerves! But, I wasn’t going to chicken out, so off we headed, via Nossob, to Matopi 1. We were expecting a dreadful drive through thick deep sand, but the road was really much better than we thought. There was only one time, heading up quite a hill, that we could have become bogged, but we let more air out of the tyres and hit the slope with some momentum and made it up fine. We arrived in camp around 1 o’clock and set up camp. I found it hard to relax, always looking out for that leopard, and when the sun started to go down I could only feel comfortable sitting on the stairs of the truck. By nightfall we were inside, watching a movie on the laptop. Only in the morning, having survived the night without sighting a leopard, did I start to relax. I looked around, knowing that we were 11kms from the nearest other people, in the African bush, having undertaken quite the journey to get there, and I felt blessed and excited! I feel like our adventure has really begun.
    Last night we were in Monamodi 1. I did the driving today - a first for me, 4WDing in sand - and I loved it. We thought we were looking at cat prints on the road, but then we really spotted lions prints, and not long after two massive beautiful male lions on the side of the road! What a find. Again, all by ourselves, in the middle of nowhere - magic! I was much more relaxed at Monamodi 1 - vigilant, but not anxious about a specific leopard. We had another early night, but were then woken at 2am with snorting and the truck moving, as hyaenas scavenged some cans we thought were well lodged in the spare tyre rim (we had broken the rule about not having food or garbage around). That gave me quite the start too!
    We’ve had quite a long driving day today and we are now in Palm Afrique just outside Ghanzi. It is a lovely oasis after our few days in the bush and the owners have been lovely looking after us. We are the only guests tonight so it is lovely and quiet. Tomorrow our destination is Xade campsite in the CKGR - can’t wait to be back out in the bush!

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  30. #17
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    What an experience.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Hermanator

    Herman Smit

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  32. #18
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by JulieM View Post
    Rooiputs
    Matopi
    Ghanzi.
    Xade
    ....
    We are doing the same route in July/Aug this year, enjoying to read about your experiences. Be safe and enjoy!

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  34. #19
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Thanks! enjoy your trip and keep the reportage coming!!!

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  36. #20
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    Default Re: Billy and Julie's Big African Adventure

    Thanks for the read but you know the rule if there is no Photo's it didn't happen! Just joking enjoy!

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