Installment 20: What an amazing year – a little trip round up


Ben – So it’s one month since we arrived back home in Leamington, we’ve been talking about finishing the blog story off since sitting in Johannesburg airport.  What with catching up with friends and family and sorting the Disco out, and sorting the house out and job hunting and looking at a few possible wedding venues only now have we started.  These are of course all excuses, the main reason has been a lack of motivation, having come to the end of a most incredible year so so quickly, I don’t think we really want to consider having to round it up and finish it off.  

Anyway, when we last wrote we were with Cat & Sam still in Witsand watching whales off the coast. 


We spent a few more days with the guys working our way slowly east along the coast.  We dropped them in George where they took on a massive overnight bus journey all the way up to Pretoria.  After much umming and arghhhhh’ing we convinced ourselves it was no more expensive to keep our hired Toyota until we flew home than it was to get on a multitude of buses.  Highlights/most interesting parts of our last few weeks as we headed east then north:

 Writing CV’s in a Hippy Hostel on the coast of ‘the Garden Route’.

 Watching & photographing the antics of South African surfers off the coast at ‘J-Bay’ (Jeffery’s Bay)


Finding ‘real africa’ again in the Transkei.  It’s easy to forget in South Africa that this is Africa, posh cars & yachts & holiday homes a plenty.  In this ex-black homeland of the apartheid era you could be back in Zam’ or Zim’ or Bots.


Re-visiting the mountains of the Drakensberg, and seeing them without the dreary grey cloud enveloping them.

Staying for a few days at Hotch Potch, the house of friends Tony & Susan, where we were told we could stay as long as we like for free, and enjoyed a roaring fire and some ‘nights in’ preparing for UK re-entry! 

From Hotch Potch we drove the 3 hours or so directly north to Johanesburg Airport, avoiding the need to stay in the city again, which worked well as we really couldn’t find much there we liked when we passed through a few months ago.  And there we were, sat in departures eating an expensive and unexciting pasta meal and reading a copy of SLR photography that I bought mainly to finish the loose Rand coins in my pocket.


Time for some stats?  OK then….

– Total trip including the time in hired Toyota in SA: 352 days & 51,042 km

– Royal Leamington Spa to Cape town in the Disco:

– 324 days

– 258 nights in our tent (79%)

– 47,640 km

About 1021 driving hours 

– 5,377 Litres of diesel.

– 2 punctures

– 8000 photos (kept, plenty binned!) (when are you popping round for the slide show?)

– 15 African countries:  Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa (again!)


Jen – A question that we are often asked is “What was your favourite country?”, something we always struggle to answer as there were a few countries that stand out for different reasons so I’ve denoted these with a couple of stars


An unforgettable first night of bush camping in Romania with the huge freight trains thundering past every hour or so like the end of the world was coming.

The stress of blocking the Turkish toll barriers having not figured out the system and creating total chaos in amongst the irate truck drivers as we reversed out of the barriers.

The remarkable upbeat attitude of the Syrian families we met on the ferry who’d just left their homes with all their belongings. Their amazing positive outlook and jokey ways will never leave us . We think of Abdul and Mohammed a lot and so hope that life has got a little easier for them and their families.


‘Proper’ bush camping out in the stunning Western Desert with more stars in the sky than you can ever imagine



A definite favourite due to the most friendly people who were so welcoming and nothing was ever too much trouble to show us just how fantastic their country was.


Mohi spent the whole day showing us around Wawa and the Solub temple with breakfast, cups of tea and homemade cakes and didn’t want a thing from us in return.


The man who invited us to the mosque to meet his wife and kids and wouldn’t let us leave until we’d had 3 Sudanese coffees and 3 homemade doughnuts.

Stunning wilderness desert more amazing bush campsites.



The stark difference in landscape, scenery, culture and climate compared to anywhere else on our trip.


The crazy rock hewn churches near Hawzien carved into the rocks, along tiny little ledges and sheer drops of a few hundred metres below


The crisp landscape at 4000m of the Bale Mountains dotted with Ethiopian wolves



The whole ‘adventure’ of driving from the Omo Valley into Kenya along Lake Turkana. Beautiful turquoise Lake Turkana and the village of Liongoloani packed with bright colourful tribes

The Masai Mara:-

Getting to the park in the first instance with all the mud the small tracky roads could throw at us


Catching site of our first lions and spending all afternoon watching the blood soaked cheetahs recovering after their massive dinner with the meat sweats



Doing ‘battle’ with the grade 5 rapids of the White Nile in a tandem kayak with 8 foot waves crashing towards us


The stunning hilly, terraced landscapes and sereneness of Lake Bunyoni



The mind blowing views from the Usumabarra mountains and chilling out enjoying them in all their glory from Mambo View


The Sauti Za Busara Music festival on Tanzania



A country that is always talked about with regards to the stunning Lake Malawi but the main thing that stands out to us is again how friendly and welcoming the people were.

Relaxing along the shores of Lake Malawi near Chitenche and taking a slightly scary but amazing horse trek along the shores



The lovely green, tea coverd hills around Gurue


Catching up with Marcel, Marga, Tom and Fleur in their new home in Vilanculos

The amazing beaches around Barra Peninsula


South Africa

Catching glimpses of the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains between rainy clouds


The whole country is just stunning perched at a couple of thousand metres, with snow capped peaks and the fact that it feels like you’re thousands of miles from Africa makes it all the more special. Somewhere we must return to one day.



The relaxing way to enjoy wildlife spotting in Hwange NP, sitting back and watching so many different animals visiting the waterholes


The friendliness of the Zimbabweans, in particular the afternoon we spent visiting the studios of the Bulawayo Art Gallery


Day and night drives in South Luangwa and spotting so many leopards


Our little adventure from South to North Luangwa and of course the memorable bush shower complete with micro light fly past!



Back out camping in total wilderness of the Maghalihadi Salt pans with only the sounds of silence buzzing in our ears



Etosha NP – enjoying a National Park that is so different in landscape to any other park we have visited with such vast numbers of animals


Stunning desert wilderness in Koakoland, seeing desert elephants and a rather lovely proposal :o)


sea kayaking out in Walvis Bay playing with the seals


more stunning landscapes in the red dunes around Soussusvlei


South Africa

sandstone mountain landscapes around the Cederberg


reaching Cape Aghulas and Cape Town


watching tens of whales and their calves out in the bay from the beaches around Witsand

Ben – So there you have it, we’ll leave it there apart from possibly some extra photo’s as we sort through them all over the coming weeks, cheers for reading, Ben & Jen.

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6 Responses to Installment 20: What an amazing year – a little trip round up

  1. Jan Butler says:

    You two are just amazing, what an epic adventure and truly memories to last a life time! It’s nice to have you home again, for now anyway!
    With all our love xx

  2. SandAntz says:

    Ben and Jen, welcome home! Even the “summary highlights” page is a major overload of amazing experiences! What a brilliant journal. We would love to see you sometime soon, and yes you can bring the slide show! I am also the recent and proud owner of a 4×4 – but it hasn’t “lived” yet in quite the manner of your Disco.. Time to get it dirty, come and show me how to break it in somewhere in Yorkshire…! SandAntz xxx

  3. Anonymous says:

    A great read of your adventures and great pix too. Pity we’re not close enough to see your slide show. You have made my feet so, so itchy. I don’t know how you’re both going to be able to stay put after such a long and amazing trip. Glad to hear you arrived back home safe and sound.
    Hedi and Pete.

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