Ross & Emma
Having a great time - South Luangwa to Soususvlei
Hi beautiful people! Wondering who might be reading this after we went AWOL for 3 months! Here’s to you, our biggest fans :)
Thought we should pop a little blog up since we have had some worried / curious messages from people asking where we’ve gone!
The very good news is that we are now in Namibia having travelled over 20,000 miles aka a bloody long way. It is with mixed emotions that we enjoy the last few weeks of our trip.
Crossing the tropic of capricorn yesterday:
Here are some updates for you since we were last in touch...
The car has taken a big old beating. Pot holes are not our friends. Dust is most certainly our enemy. Sand. Well I don’t know where to even start with that one.
Also, the ‘get what you pay for’ thing has really proven to be an accurate concept. Take for instance our canopy. Thank One might ask, what are the things you want from a canopy when you’re say going through dusty climates, hot weather, rain, wobbly roads. Would you, for instance, like it to be waterproof? To keep dust AWAY from your food, clothes, bags? Maybe you’d like it to stay in one place rather than wobble about over the crenelated roads? Would you, now this is a big ask, like it to support anything on the top? Perhaps a spare tyre, roof rack for a Jerry can? Any of those? If the answer is yes, I would like to advise you against buying a 10 (or more??) year old CarryBoy off eBay for £200.
Apparently I’m not being kind enough to the car, my friend Yasmin tells me. Overly critical she says. But it has just been one thing after another these past few weeks. I think it’s a bit like getting to the end of a marathon and the last mile being really slow and tough and then your trainer falls apart just before you cross the finish line. This is what I think has happened to the car, bless it. It’s done so well for so long and now it can see the Cape of Good Hope on the horizon and it’s decided to just fall apart and cost us a fortune.
Things that have gone wrong with the car:
- Drove into a rock which tore a small hole in the car and ripped off the back bumper which subsequently had to be welded on. The hole remains.
- Hit numerous huge pot holes at speed and damaged our steering rack ends which we’ve now replaced
- These pot holes were (probably) responsible for us breaking our suspension (the biggest leaf of course) and then getting it fixed in the back of a quad bike adventure centre whilst we went out on said quad bikes
- Wore out our clutch to the point that when the mechanic removed it from our car it fell apart in his hands. Almost doubled our travel budget replacing it!
- Clogged our air conditioning so much that it was blowing hot air rather than cold. Brand spanking new filters are now in place so we can stop sweating all day whilst driving about (hard life isn’t it)
- Our lovely home made canopy has slowly collapsed and is now propped up by some Jerry cans, the East Africa lonely planet and an Ethiopian business magazine
- The once-sort of tidy-pick up part of the car is now in almost total disarray. We spend approximately 5 hours of the day looking for stuff. The boxes are caked in dust, there are burnt bits, chipped bits, wet bits, rogue pieces of pasta and battered cans of sweetcorn. We had an unfortunate incident with some loose cherry tomatoes and keep finding squished, mouldy ones in all sorts of surprise locations throughout the car. Excellent!
So yes, a big old beating. But it has done us so proud too. So I’ll stop being mean now. Yesterday we did some very cool off-road dune driving and the car was absolutely excellent. It got us up and out of all sorts of deep sandy situations even with three additional passengers. So after much to-ing and fro-ing we have decided we are definitely shipping it home to use for more overlanding / camping / adventures closer to home.
The snapped suspension leaf:
75% of the desert explorers staff fixing our car:
Some quad biking pics in the dunes with the Atlantic sea in the background:
We are doing GREAT. Nothing has gone wrong, LOTS has gone right! We got a bit bored of social media and our phones so just disconnected for a while, hence the lack of updates. Sorry everyone. We haven’t really found much purpose or enjoyment for the constant instagram /Facebook posts (finding content, writing some sort of ‘must see’ blurb, sensationalising, filtering, tagging) nor in reading others. For us right now, we found it detached us from the present a little too much/and led to comparison, fomo or other things that were only surface deep. We’re trying to get more of a balance between consuming (scrolling, watching) and creating. Not stopping consumption all together (nor judging any one else who does enjoy it) but being more aware of its impact on us. Ross is reading one of my favourite books at the moment - A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry & I’m reading Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. Both books have inspired some of our thinking on this topic!
One of our first ‘creations’ (inspired by our friend Todd) is making some little films of our journey like ‘A Day in the Life of the Kalahari Desert’ which is our first project! It’ll probably be ready late 2020 if we are lucky.
The sentiments from my last blog are still very prevalent and at the core of our experiences. We are trying to protect our last slice of time together, enjoying some wonderful experiences in Namibia & South Africa whilst also thinking carefully (from time to time, not too often) about how we best transition back to life in the UK. We have had lots of ideas about this and we’re really excited to come home.
Since we were last online back in Zambia, we’ve been to some phenomenal places and enjoyed some of our favourite experiences of the entire trip. We met some Scottish friends in Victoria Falls for a week holiday in which we travelled through Chobe in North East Botswana, saw ALL OF THE ANIMALS, drove on the Makgadikgadi salt pans (try to pronounce that one with all the clicks in the right places) and hung out in the baobabs. We did a mini expedition through the Kalahari where we wild camped with hyenas and lions on our doorstep, had sundowners on the car roof whilst watching black maned lions prepare to hunt, showered in the bush and (one of our most special wildlife experiences) were awoken at 2am by a pair of owls sitting at eye level in a tree right opposite our tent. We stayed up at watched them for ages - it was so magical. We had a great time ticking off all of the animals we spotted in our guide book. It made us appreciate animals of all sizes - not just the big predators.
Ticking off the animals:
I became mildly obsessed with snake bite first aid after we spotted a highly venomous puff adder by the road and didn’t have a bloody clue what we’d have done if it had bitten us. Now we know! We also went to the Okavango Delta, hung out in Maun for a while then headed along the Caprivi strip, tracing the Angolan border into Namibia which is where we now are! We had a beautiful time in Etosha. Our camp (Halali) had its own 24 hour watering hole and we saw rhinos there (my first ever time seeing one in the wild, making my big 5 sightings now complete!) EVERY NIGHT. Who is the boss between elephant and rhino? What about hyena? Now we know this too...send in a stamped addressed envelope for the answer. We then went down to Windhoek. We really liked the capital. It has a lovely fresh climate and is surrounded by hills. We did some trail running there which was great, although predictably I fell over...again. Then we went down to Sousvlei which is stunning. Red dunes, white, cracked and ancient dried up lakes, dead preserved trees, flat topped mountains and weaving, sandy off road tracks in between it all. Climbing sand dunes is definitely in the top 5 most difficult physical activities of all time. Ross delighted in recounting stories of Marathon des Sables to me on the way up (note: I had already heard these stories about 50 times, but what’s once more) “when I did MDS”... “Oh Ross, you did an ultra marathon in the desert? You’ve never ever told me about it!”
As I write this, we’re actually on our way back to Sousvlei for our second visit. We have driven a rather ridiculous W shaped route through Namibia but have loved every minute nonetheless.
We had a spectacular week in the very north of the country up in Kaukoland & Erongo. The scenery is vast, desolate and epic. We wild camped in dried river beds and underneath huge flintstones-eque boulders.
We are lucky to have another friend make the journey over to Africa to travel with us, and we’ve reunited with our Swedish friends to travel as a 5 for a bit. It has been really fun to cook round the fire together, stargaze, moongaze and celebrate the sunrises and sunsets together. We reconnected with the coast - last seen in Alexandria, Egypt back in December - and our old friend the Atlantic Ocean who brought some very English weather with him!
Some pics of the seaside & seals!
As usual, my quick update has become an autobiography! Hopefully it’s enough to fill in some of the gaps and reassure anyone who thought we’d fallen into the sea. Look out for the Cape to Cape blockbuster movie coming soon-ish, maybe.
With love x