The adventure starts....

Trip Start Aug 17, 2003
Trip End Jun 04, 2004

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Friday, August 22, 2003

On Tuesday morning, the overland tour started properly - with a 7am departure, just to ease us in gently!!! Through the still pouring rain, we drove down to the Cape of Good Hope - and certainly saw where the two oceans meet - as it was blowing a gale and the sea was going mad. I wasn't expecting a hail storm on the first day!!! We have all been taken totally by surprise by the weather - although it's winter, none of us were expecting it to be quite this cold in Africa!!

It did brighten up though, and we did get our first spot of wildlife watching - seeing baboons, an ostrich, an eland (type of antelope) and loads of dassies (a bit like marmottes without tails, which are unbelievably apparently the elephant's closest relative!!!)

When we left the Cape, we drove to Boulders beach, where penguins have been breeding for about the last 15 years. There were loads of them - quite a number seemed to be sitting on nests, and there were quite a few young-ish ones, just starting to lose their baby fluff.

We then drove north through pouring rain to our overnight stop, Citrusdal. Fortunately the trip leader realised she would have a mutiny on day one if she expected us to camp, so managed to find us a chalet to stay in instead... Which was much better, although scary to think it's the last bed I'll sleep in for 2 weeks!!!

A distinct added bonus about where we were staying was that it had hot springs. So we all headed off through the pouring rain to the hot baths. They were absolutely gorgeous - and it was a very weird sensation to be sat in bath temperature water, with sleet coming down on your head!!

The following day was 8 hours of driving to get further north, which was pretty tedious, but certainly saw changes of landscape - from the lush Cape winefields and citrus groves into semi desert - and so flat!!!

Yesterday we were in Augrabies Falls National Park, which is based around a waterfall on the Orange River. It falls into a pretty impressive gorge, but will no doubt pale into comparison by the end of this trip with Fish River Canyon and Vic Falls still to come. After spending some time at the falls and watching Cape squirrels, lizards, and lots more dassies, we headed off on a hiking trail through more of this rock/desert landscape. It changed quite frequently from riverside reed beds to rock to desert, which was pretty bizarre... Saw loads of dassies again, a couple of eagles, a big african water monitor (about 1.5 m long!!) and some klipspringers (little antelope).

Today we've had a couple of hours in civilisation with the chance to shop (buying thermals, blankets, hats, gloves!!) and email - and then we head off further north in the truck. We drive tonight to Twee Rivieren camp in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (between
SA, Namibia and Botswana) and start 2 days of game drives!!!!

With the weather apart, which we're all slowly starting to get to grips with (wearing all your clothes in one go overnight seems to do the trick), it's been a great start to the trip - can't wait to see what the next 4.5 weeks bring!!
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