Jasper`s trip through Africa (2011-09-20 - 2011-10-20)


Grijpskerk, 2011-09-11: Last week I got my vaccinations: Hepatitis A, DTP and Cholera, as well as the Malaria pills. Now I`m busy planning what to take with me and what to leave here. After looking in the Lonely planets of the area, I think I will bring my own tent because you can save a lot on camping. Most places will provide a tent if needed, but that will double the costs for a night of sleep.

Now some more about the trip. As you can see on the map I will cover quite a part of africa. Starting at the bottom in Johannesburg. I will arrive there in the morning and go straight to the Kruger park near Swaziland. After a few days I will go on to the Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Then towards the east to Lake Kariba and the Lower Zambezi National Park. After that the long trip to Lake Malawi (the 3rd largest inner see) for some diving. Finally I will go to northern Tanzania to the Serengeti, Kilimanjaro and, if there is time and money left, to Zanzibar. By then I have fly home from Nairobi (Kenya).

That`s it for now. I will try to update this page once every five days. The full story will be posted here anyway, along with lots of pictures.

I got there

Nelspruit, 2011-09-22: After 26 hours of travelling, I arrived at Nelspruit. In the afternoon I will have my first safari with one night in the park, but first I will tell you some more about the trip sofar.

Food at airports is very expensive, 13 euro for a beer and some warm snack, for the trip back I will buy in advance.... When I arrived in johannesburg, I was asked where I was going by some guy in a kind of uniform which said porter. After answering Nelspruit, he led me to the national flights part of the airport. So I told him I was going by bus he led new there. When arriving there he helped me to book a busride to Nelspruit and here it comes: asked 20 euro for his services. ( that is about 2/3 of what the busride costs). So I offered him 5 rand (50 cent) or nothing. He took the rands.

The bustrip was not eventful, but we went through some nice areas. After 15 minutes waiting we were picked up by someone of the hostel Funky Monkeys, A nice place to be.

That's it for now. Next time I will tell you about the safari and try to post some pictures as well.

Kruger and Vic Falls

Victoria Falls, 2011-09-27: Victoria Falls, 2011-09-27: So here comes the next episode of the big trip. Last time I was just about to go on safari in Kruger National Park. At about 14:00 we stepped in the car heading for the Kruger park. We stayed in a campsite on the border of the park at Crocodile river. Still in the afternoon, we had a game drive along the river to spot some animals, there I saw the first Elephants, Impalas, Warthogs, Giraffe, Kudu and Waterbucks. When we got back we had an excellent meal from the braai (south african barbeque). Then after some savanah`s (cider drink) we had to go to bed early because we had to get up at half past 5 so we could be at the gate at 8 `o clock. After 8 hours of game driving (with an good english style breakfast in between) we had seen hundreds of Impala`s, dozens of warthogs, about 25 elephants, 2 groups of zebra`s, about 20 Giraffe`s, some waterbucks, quite a couple of kudu`s, a very tiny owl, some vultures and hawks, some bushbucks, 3 rhinos and... 3 lions. After the great sightings we headed back to our basecamp for a good lunch and then back to Funky Monkeys.

Short explanation about driving in South Africa:
There is no speed limit enforced, although there are a few camera`s, the police wont stop you if you drive to fast. Noting this there is a lot of difference in speed on the same way so faster drivers signal with the big lights towards the slower drivers to move aside onto the side lane. When the faster driver is past, he will say thanks by turning on the alarm light for a few seconds.

But back to the story:
Back in Funky Monkeys another evening at the bar. I met a dutch guy and an some from the UK who are setting up an lodge in Mozambique. They where shopping for supplies in south africa and dropped off some Tipo, a great mozambican rum with vanille taste which is very good for mixing. And Viviane who`s from the States who was visiting her facebook friends, which she never met before.

The next day I started the very long trip to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), starting with a busride by greyhound to Jo`burg. While waiting for 3.5 hours, I was approached by about 20 guys and 1 girl, who needed money for the most different reasons. To name a few:
- Hello, I`m a handyman, my mom lives on a farm some 20 kilometres from here, and my dad has deceased. Please I need some money to get to her.
- Hello, I want to visit my family in Capetown, but the homeless organisation only gave me 40 rand to get there, do you have another 55?
- Hello, my bankcard didn`t work, and now I don`t have the 25 rand I need to sleep in the homeless shelter. My family have send me money by post, but It won`t arrive until the day after tomorrow.
- Hello, do you want to buy a phone?
etc. etc.

I had booked the next bus to Beitbridge (the border town) in the assumption (I was told so by the helpdesk) that I first had to get a visa to continue the busride. Luckily the assistant on the bus help me to get the visa so I could continue the busride across the border and on to Bulawayo. In Bulawayo I had to wait a few hours before I could take the nighttrain (thanks for the tip!) to Victoria falls. In those hours I tried some local food called sadsa. It is edible, but you have to like it...

Delay in Zimbabwe is a bit longer than in the netherlands... For a trip that should take 11 hours, we only had a delay of 6.5 hours... due to malfunctioning of the brakes... That had one big advantage: we were riding past the Huangwe National park in daylight, so we could spot some wild animals. I shared the sleeping cabin with some locals. One of them works in Telecommications, but spent a few weeks at home helping with the farm. He was working harder there (in his vacation than at work) The other is a rafting guide in Vic Falls. He and some friends helped me to the Shoestrings backpackers, a very nice laid back place.

In the afternoon I wandered a bit through town and here they have people who want to make you a billionair or even a trillionair by selling Zimdollar notes from just before the economical collapse was complete (nowadays you pay everything in USD). So now I am a billionair... Besides the Zimdollars, they also sell luck charms, woodcraft work, braces and marihuana. When you tell them that you won`t buy anything, they offer to trade your clothes for the nicknacks... After a 30 seconds of saying no to everthing the offer the usually try to trick someone else in departing from some money.

In the evening you could hangout in the backpackers at the bar and here I met some people from different nationalities who are doing about the same trip as me together. They left today but I`ll see if I will meet them again.

Today I got up early (it was getting hot in the tent) and got a really good breakfast at the inhouse restaurant. After that I went to town to book the Bungee Jump and went on a stroll towards the Vic Falls. The Victoria Falls is one of the seven natural world wonders. It is one of the largest falls with the biggest drop (107 meters). As the water is dropping in a small gorge, the water is spraying back to the top where it rains down again on the opposite side (where all the viewing points are) so if you need a shower, just go there...

After that I went to the bridge for the bungee jump (111 meters). It was a very good experience, but just like Mudflathiking (wadlopen), a thing you have to do once in your lifetime.

That`s it for now. Tomorrow I will go on to Zambia. Keep looking here for more stories!

Vic Falls (Zam) and Trip to Nkhata Bay

Nkatha bay, 2011-10-02: Hello there, I`m still alive and am now in Nkhata Bay, Malawi. But lets start at where I was on the last update. I was going to Zambia the next day. But first I had to spent one more evening in Victoria Falls.

This evening I met J, a local lawyer and Mike from the US. J invited us to go to a local party, but I was tired and decided not to go. J would throw a BBQ the next afternoon, so I would await that and cross the border after. The next day I packed my stuff and waited for J, who wouldn`t show up. In the mean time, I met Scott who just arrived from the Zam side.

After waiting long enough a passed the border and went on to Jollyboys in Livingstone. This is one of the best backpackers I`ve seen sofar. Great place to chill out a few days. After setting up my tent, I took a jump in the pool and got talking to some Girls who were on a break from their work at a hospital for their study and with Kevin (US) and Britt (South Africa), who were working at a cafe in Lusaka, but had a few days off. We decided to go eating at a local Mexican place, and would proceed there after taking a shower. So I took a shower and saw Mike again. He wanted to come along too.

While waiting for the other two, we met Mimmy, a local teacher. On our way to the mexican, we dropped off Mimmy. The mexican place was very quiet, so we looked for another place to eat and ended up at a pub/ nightclub and had some good food over there. At the table next to us where some white males who looked older than 60 with some black girls of about 20 years...
After dinner we got to the local market to buy some whisky to mix with coca cola, After a lot of bargaining, we were able to secure a bottle of red label. We went back to Jollyboys and finished the bottle. Then we went into town with some girls who had been to the same college as Kevin. I lost them quitte fast and went back to the backpackers. After some hanging around in the pool area I went to bed.

The next morning I dumped almost all my clothes to be taking for a laundry and got the free busride to the Zam side of the Vic Falls where I met Mimmy Again. We walked and talked a lot and got along really good. The Zam side of the falls has the better views, but less water is falling down. We walked a bit over the edge of the falls towards Livingstone island. But could not find the way ourselves. So a local wanted to help us out for some money, and we decided to go back and walk down to the Boiling pot. The views are very good over there. On the way up we were met by some agressive looking monkeys which probably wanted to have a look at my bag. After navigating through that Mimmy proposed to have a look at her house.

We went back to the backpackers, so I could refresh myself. As all my shirts were at the laundy, I had to buy another shirt to be fresh again.
We went to Mimmy`s place (which is much like a students den, with a lot of lace to get the shelves out of view) and listened to Bob Marley, Some of the music of ID (on which she started dancing :)) and watched some TV. After that we went for some drinks at a local hangout area, and got some pizza at the same Pub I went the night before. There we had a good time untill someone started yelling that we should go somewhere else because the pub wasn`t a whorehouse... (we were just having some food), Mimmy got quite upset about that. She knew someone of the staff and she sorted it out. But the relaxed atmosphere was gone.
Then we went back to her place and I spent the night there.

The next morning we went back to Jollyboys. I packed my stuff, had some breakfast and got to the busstation for the ride to Lusaka. Here we said goodbye.

Just before boarding the bus a spoke to Karen (Argentinia) and she said that she had been in Malawi for three months. So after boarding the bus at 10am I switched places with the person next to her and we discussed what I could do in the 6 days that I would be in Malawi. After that was sorted out we went on to pass the time with playing asshole, a varition of uni (like 'pesten') and I spy with my little eye something... And had a great time.

I arrived in Lusaka around 7pm and just like anywhere around here we were met by a ot of locals who want you on their taxi or want to change money, sell stuff or get you on the next bus. So was I, and after letting it known that I wanted to Chipata, I had someone taking me to the bus which was about to turn onto the road. Jumping in at the last possible moment, the ticket was booked and some space was made. Then I looked a bit around and saw some boarded windows, some windows with cracks and that the lights and airconditioning wasn`t working (although we had awco (all windows can open)) After 20 minutes on the road we stopped, some of the cables connecting the gearbox had snapped...) So we had to wait outside the bus (in the dark, in one of the suburbs near the airport) untill somebody repaired it. After 1.5 hours we could go on. During the waiting I met Andrew, who worked in the copperbelt, we talked a lot about politics all over the world. He was sitting a few rows in front of me, but at the end of the trip when the bus wasn`t full anymore, we could sit closer to each other. At this time a Geologist from Malawi also joined the conversation.

With this Geolist I got through the border fast. He knew someone there and we got a free ride to Lilongwe (the capital of Malawi) with this friend from him. There we stopped at a hotel to refresh ourselves and were picked up later to busstation. Here he got me on a ride to Mzuzu. He would go there too but had to wait for another friend. I saw him later at a roadblock (which the have here all around to protect forest areas). In Mzuzu I took a taxi to the bank, to withdraw some more money and then on the Nkhata bay to a backpackers resort called Mayoka Village where I arrived around 7pm hours. After refreshing from the 33 hour trip I got an excellent fish meal and at the bar I met someone from Austria who gave me some tips for Tanzania. I retired to the dormroom (which I have for myself at the moment) early to regain some sleep.

The next few days I will spent around the Lake and then I will go on to Livingstonia, to do some Hiking. The next Update will probably be from Tanzania next week.

Keep reading!

Malawi and trip to Zanzibar

Paje, 2011-10-11: Jambo (hello in swahili)

In the last update I was staying at Mayoka village in Nkhata bay. So lays start from there. After posting my story, I met Roger, he's from Ireland and is currently working as a pilote in Zambia. With him I went to the town to have a look around and to do some shopping. Back at the lodge, I asked around for a possibility to do some diving in the lake. As it turns out, all they several were at the festival 'lake of stars'. So I went for some snorkling instead. Lake Malawi is known for it's grey variety of cichlids. I didn't see all 400 different kinds, but there still were a lot of them. In the evening there was some live music from Monty Mick, a local sing and song writer, who just put his own lyrics(with lots of repetitions) on some well-known songs.

The next day I went on a village walk to see some local villages and to visit a primary school. On this school there are 700 kids in 8 grades. Besides the usual subjects they also learn English and agriculture from grade one. The kids were eager to get photographed and is was quite hard to keep them at a distance. In the afternoon there was time for some more swimming and snorkling in the lake. In the evening I learned to play bowls. These days I'm hanging out (eating and playing bowls) with Julia, who also came here to do some diving, and Frederike and Daniela who are on a break from their work at a hospital in northern Malawi.

The next day, we heard that the divers might be back, but they first had to take care of some business in Mzuzu and this could take a while, like everything in Africa. So we went on a free boattrip to do some cliffjumping (6 meters down) spot some fish eagles and to relax at a beach, were you also could play soccer with the locals. And to go to the best snorkling spot around. In the evening I met 2 guys who were at a party trip of 9 days, starting in Joh'burg, on to Harare, going to a party, on to Lusaka, going to a party, on to Nkhata bay, relax, on to Maputo, party and back to Joh'burg. And I thought that I was travelling fast....

The next day it was time to go to the Mushroom farm near Livingstonia. After a short hike, a long ride with a shared taxi, waiting for the removal of a tree, which just was knocked down on the main road, a busride by minibus (seats 24, but held 36 persons with a lot of luggage) and a hike of 10 km uphill (700 meters up), which I luckily could stop after 2km because I got a ride from the Ambulance, I arrived at the campsite with the best views I've ever seen. The tent pitches are situated on the top of a cliff, 700 meters above lake Malawi. Here I met Jessica and Michael, who where running the place while the owner was on holiday for 6 months and Nathalhi and James, who were travelling from north to south.

The next day I went on a hike of 1.5 hours to livingstonia. An old missionary village which was started by the Scottish. There are some nice old buildings here. While waiting for some rain to pass over, I met some Scots which were here for some aid related work. On the walk back, I visited the highest fall in Malawi (125m) and some caves. This morning I also had my laundry done. But it was still wet in the evening.

The next day I packed my stuff, including the wet laundry and a damp tent and set of for the hike down... again I had some luck and after a few km I was picked up by the Scots I met the day before. Down at the lakeside I got a ride on the bus to Karonga, a shared taxi to the border and a bus ( which wasn't packed for a change) to Mbeya. Here I stayed at the Moravian church hostel ( a tip from Nathalhi and James) and the next day I went to Mikumi. Here I wanted to stay a few days to do some safaries, but they were more expensive than I was prepared for. So I decided to go on to Zanzibar and to do another safari from Moshi.

After a night of sleep, I got on the bus to Dar es Salaam. After booking the boat to Zanzibar I met Kim, an orphan who was sponsored by some dutch people to attend the art school. He gave me a tour of the city. We visited the fishmarket, the botanical gardens and the consular area. After this tour, he of course showed me some of the artwork he made to sell some. I the artwork was done very nice, I got some for probably a way to high price.

Here in Tanzania the main language is Swahili. In the other countries I've visited you can use English everywhere, but here there are just a few people in the rural areas that speak English. (and I haven't been far from the main roads yet...

But back to the journey. The next day it was time to get to Zanzibar. After arriving, and saying no a lot of times to taxi drivers, tour guides and proppers for hostels, I got on the bus (a small truck with some banks screwed on the truckbed and a roof to store the luggage) to Paje to have a look at Kinazi Upepo, a lodge recommended by Marianne. It turned out to be a very nice place, so I will stay here a few days before heading back to Stonetown.

This morning I've booked some dives for tomorrow. And in the afternoon I will try some kitesurfing. Photo's will be added later as I don't have the option now.

Keep reading!

Zanzibar and Safaries

Arusha, 2011-10-19: Another update!

Last time I was about to go for some kite-surfing, but it was fully booked for the next couple of days. So I spend the time burning my legs on the beach. In the evening there was some live music from a band called Hakuna Matata, good musicians, reasonable singers, but the atmosphere was really good, lots of dancing, also by the cooks of the lodge...

The next day I dived two times, the sight was about 10 meters. I saw loads of fish, hard and soft coral, some big crabs and a yellow watersnake.

The following day I got up really early to watch the sunrise. After that I got to bed again and slept some more. After breakfast I packed my stuff and went to Stonetown. Here I got a tour of the town by a local called Sidney. We went to the site of the slave market. It turned out that the hostel where I sleep is situated right above the old slave quarters. After slavery was banished they built a church on the old slave market. Some of the features still remind of the old times. After the tour I got a haircut and a shave. In the evening I went to the foodmarket where they serve fresh barbequed fish.

The next morning I woke up very early because there was a mosque around the corner and they started at 4.30 for the first prayer. After some more sleep I went on a spicetour, it was very interesting. In the evening I tried the Sunset burger at the Africa house, it was very nice, as was the sunset.
On the way to the Africe house I met a local teacher, we had a nice discussion about whether aid should be given as money or as goods and education.
As I read 'Lords of Poverty' by Graham Hancock in the last two weeks, I favoured goods and education as the money will go to some big guys in the government and goods and especially education will help in the long term.
He invited me to have this discussion with his class, but I didn`t have the time, because next day I went to Dar es Salaam again.

This time I stayed in the Jambo Inn in Dar. The service and the rooms are a lot better here although you pay a little more. After checking in I booked the bus to Moshi for the next day. The taxi fare to the bus station and back was more than the trip itself but as the bus station is overcrowded with touts (people who want money for getting you on a bus) it is a lot easier to book a bus when you don`t have to drag your backpack around.
In the evening I had some drinks in a local bar watching a football game.

The next day I went to Moshi and here I booked a safari trip to Tarangire and the Ngorongoro crater for the next 2 days. This trip I did together with Nick (a builder from Hongkong) and Ben and Sarah (from Colorado, USA). Both safaries where good, but Ngorongoro was the best. In Tarangire, the batteries of my camera were gone, but I had bought some in Mbeya about a week ago. Sadly these batteries only hold on for 15 minutes... Luckily Ben had some spares I could use.

On the way from Tarangire to the campsite where we would spend the night we had a blown tire. At the campsite there we had a show of some acrobats doing some nice work (sometimes after a few tries).

In Ngorongoro we had lunch on a picnic site in the park. There was a sign: Don`t feed the animals. And so we tried. Ben was holding his chicken in one hand and a bird just grabbed it. A minute later another bird tried to do the same with my chicken. I still have a scratch from its claw.

After the safari trip I was dropped in Arusha, at the backpackers. Here I am just having a relaxed day before I fly back tomorrow from Nairobi.

The backpackers where I stayed in Moshi (Kilimanjaro backpackers) and Arusha (Arusha backpackers) are very nice. Both are owned by the same company and both have a rooftop bar and restaurant.

This was the last update from Africa. When I get back home I will add a lot of pictures and another short update.

The end

Grijpskerk, 2011-10-25: After I updated the site I went for a walk through Arusha, and of course I was accompanied by a local tourguide. We went to the market and there I stepped in a pile of mud. So my foot was dirty and my flipflop was broken. Immediately some random people started to clean my foot in the hope for some support, and I was taken by the guide to some back alley were a shoe repair man had his shop (a table in the street). A few minutes later, my foot was clean, my flipflop was repaired and the random guys and the shoe repairer had 5 euro to share.

At the time I was wearing my 'music is everywhere' t-shirt, and because of this I was brought to a music store (a proper building this time) and after some negotiation I could buy a CD for 2/5 of the asking price. Back to the market we went to see a Maasai doctor, lots of homeopathic stuff to cure about everthing. The poor locals can`t afford or don`t have much confidence in modern healthcare, so he did some good business.

At the end of the tour, when were getting close to the hotel, the guide started asking for his fee. This time I was prepared, and I brought only some Tsh worth 20 euro with me. As I spent half of it already, I only could offer him 10 euro for a walk of 4-5 hours. He started asking 200 USD, then got quickly to 150 USD as I was just a poor european... After 20 minutes of haggling, he got down to the equivalent of 30 euro. After showing him that I only had 10 on me, he was disappointed, but still accepted it.

In the evening I went out to a BBQ with some people I met the evening before. The BBQ was at a place which during the day functions as a garage and in the evening as a open air restaurant. Before we got out of the hotel we were advised to take a taxi, as the night before someone was robbed at knifepoint only 200 meters from the entrance. But as we were with the four of us and the BBQ was only 2 km away, we figured we could walk it. After finishing the good and spicy meal there was A power failure (as we had every evening for about 10-15 minutes). But we wanted to get some beer, so we walked back using our phones as torch.

The next morning I had to get up early to catch the bus to airport near Nariobi. The busride was like all the busrides and I got at the airport around 12.00. The airplane would be leaving before 22.30 so I was the first to check in. This provided me with the most spacious seat in the plane, right after the entrance, so I got more than 2 meters of space for my legs :). On the airport I bought the most funny book about the civil war in Uganda: The worst date ever, by Jane Bussmann, a must read. I finished it before I was home, the next day around 14.00

That was it. Photos can be found on my facebook account