Saturday, 21 June 2014

Elephant Brothers Playing Dead

The Bushdrifters trip from Port Edward to Sodwana Bay on the eastern coast of South Africa

After our ship adventure, we decided to do a bit of coastal exploration before going on to a very long trip that would have taken us through Swaziland, through the Kruger Park to Pafuri and then parallel with the Botswana border.  Then, our plan was to enter Botswana and visit the Tuli area to see what is there that may interest Bushdrifters.From the Tuli area, we planned to go to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and spend a week or so there before moving up to the Bwabwata National Park just over the border in Namibia and from there along the Okavango River to Ruacana and from there on to Epupa Falls.  We would then go through Kaokoland and Damaraland in Namibia down south to Palmwag and the through Etosha and Grootfontein to the eastern parts of Namibia to explore the Bushmanland areas before finally going to the Kgalagadi.All these plans had to be put on the future list because our third partner in the Website business died unexpectedly while in Sodwana Bay and we had to go home to Pretoria for the funeral and to get our business plans in order, so that we can go on the road again.The tour we made after the ship is described below.

Our camping site at Oasis in Uvongo.  This was a very nice campsite with friendly owners.  We had lots of  shade and the campsite was within walking distance from shops and restaurants.  We also walked to the beach and watched the surfers and bathers do their thing.  Altogether a very relaxing time.

Our next place a little distance to the North was in the St Michaels Sands hotel see on the picture above.  An oldish hotel that was very friendly, clean and well placed on the river and the beach.  We enjoyed a week here and used their restaurant, as well as the one on the beach and the third one within walking distance, just to the opposite side of the lagoon.

Next on the way was a resort recommended by the owners of Oasis in Uvongo, Mac Nicols in Basley beach.  This place was a real good quality place to have a holiday.  Set next to a lagoon formed by the river flowing into the sea with beautiful views on the sea as well as the lagoon and Ifafa on the opposite bank of the river.  Camping is very realxed here, since they offer campers tea while they set up camp for the campers.  All very nice and friendly.  They also store caravans for their owners who then do not have to tow their caravans when going on holiday.

They also have these wooden self-catering houses with a wonderful view over the sea and the lagoon.  We tested one of them for two nights and can report that they are real good value and provide a peaceful and enjoyable stay.  We, however like to enjoy that "outside" feeling and went camping for another few nights on one of their camping sites between the lush growth.  Here we met an Irish couple and their son who camped next to us.  We almost always meet very nice people wherever we go camping.  Campers are tops.

We took long walks on the beach, enjoying the fresh air and almost empty beach.  The sea at this point deepens very quickly and is therefore not very swim-friendly.  Visitors who wants to swim in the sea is therefore transported with a tractor and wagon to a nearby beach where they can swim.  The picture above is taken from a rocky part back towards Ifafa.

The swimming pool area where they also serve tea and scones twice a day.  This picture was taken before the holiday rush started.  The gardens in this resort are kept in a spotless condition and is pure heaven for Bushdrifters who want to do a beach and bush thing - especially out of season with the added benefit of cheaper out-of-season rates.

The lagoon is real beautiful with tame seabirds and canoes that can be used for exploring the wildlife around the lagoon right up to the beach.  There is also angling opportunities for those who like to catch a fish for the pan.

Camping sites are on grass with most sites having very good shade.  Clean ablutions and good security makes this a good choice for longer stays. 

From Basley Beach, we drove north, past Durban to St Lucia in the Isimangaliso Wetland Park where we camped in one of the best camping sites in the country.  Sugarloaf camp offered a number of tame species walking around the camp, completely used to humans.  This little bushbuck teenager came running right up to us and started munching the grass there by us.

From St Lucia, we went to Cape Vidal for a day and enjoyed the natural scenery so much that we decided to go a second day.  In the picture above, you see one of the many pools with hippos in the park.

Here you can see hippos and buffaloes in one of the pools in the park.

Zebras near a pool in the park.

A beautiful Kudu in the Isismangaliso Wetland Park in South Africa.

A view on one of the large lakes in the park.

Typical wetland scenes.

A large lake in the park

A rocky beach enjoy the rock pools or just to sit and think, staring over the Indian Ocean, watching the gulls diving and the kids playing.

Another swimming place in the park.  Boats and a bit further on, wonderful snorkeling.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

For us, used to the Kalahari after four months in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park's remote camps, to embark on a luxury trip on a mighty big vessel sailing that big, blue, huge dam with the restless water, was quite an experience.  Something totally different and not very Africa-like.
But, after a while we adapted and started enjoying everything the ship's crew threw at us.  From grand accommodation, to very tasty meals, to grand shows and wonderful cocktails in a number of bars and lounges with friendly waitresses making sure you do not run dry.
Being a camper, sometimes I sensed some people consider us campers to be the poor set on the nature travelling scene and I wondered what they would think if they could see us operating on this golden ship for a change.

Durban Harbor from the MSC Opera.  

Still in Durban Harbor getting acquainted with our cabin and the view.

Checking out the ship's offerings.  A mighty vehicle built for comfort and opulence.

The pools area where all kinds of fun entertainment is offered with passengers joining in the fun and games.

One of the eating places on the ship.  Here you can eat and drink day and night, free and nonstop.

Next day, we went to Mozambique Island near Maputu Harbor for a picnic offered by MSC on the Island where they have built some great facilities for such a day outing of fun and games.  At first, the sea was a bit choppy, but later on things improved and we were transported to the island with little rubber ducks like the approaching one you can see on this picture.  Quite a choppy ride, but great fun.

Some of the locals set up stalls on the island selling all kinds of trinkets and some potent rum and tasty 3M Beer.  Rubber ducks constantly travelled between the ship and the island, carrying people to and from the ship.  A real colourful affair with lots of jokes and fun among the passengers.

Passengers sitting on the decks under umbrellas enjoying some of the great food and the company of fellow passengers and some locals. 

Staff dishing up for hungry passengers.  All the food was prepared on the ship, except the braai meat and transported with rubber ducks to the island - a major operation. 

There was even a melon artist among the staff, dishing out some of the sweetest watermelon I ever tasted.  A very welcome treat in the hot weather. 

Arriving back at the ship.  For us it was quite fun to be on a half-empty ship until the others arrived.

Back in Durban Harbor!  The trip is over and we planned to explore the bush along the coast from Port Edward right up to Kosi Bay

So, how did two "Bushies" enjoy this kind of luxurious experience?  We both liked it very much, however Cari definitely enjoyed it more than I did.  She reveled in the fun and games (and the cocktails) and she did not even once compared the ship with our usual diet of wild animals, sand, heat sun, pitching camp, making fire at night, sitting around the fire under the stars, listening to the night sounds or any such things.  For myself, I enjoyed the trip, but I was glad it was over now and we could go back to our normal bushy way of life.

Our plan was to drive down to Port Edward on the Natal South Coast and return northwards and camp in some of the best camping spots up to Kosi Bay.  My next contribution which I hope will be soon, will cover that piece of recent history.  In the meanwhile, please go to my Youtube page and check some of the videos I have there.  They will help you understand what kind of wonderful life we lead and how easy it will be for you to join us in this wonderful parts of Africa.