Travel Stories

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End of 2016 season

September 12, 2016
We left Castelnaudary with a heavy heart after having lit a candle for our beloved little Bonnie at the collégiale de Saint Michel.   We had always planned to make our way back down to Toulouse, and then on to the canal de Garonne for rendezvous with friends at the end of the month.   We enjoyed our last days on the Midi and then had a few days in Toulouse to catch up on shopping and unvisited sights. We decided to go on the so-called Pastel tour.   Our guide was a very knowledgeable lady...
By Anne in Cassandra Encore

Game Galore

August 27, 2016 - Sun City, South Africa
      August 27   We’’ve had a lovely day today!   Up very early and after a quick cup of coffee and a rusk, we went into the Pilanesberg Game Reserve which is next door to the Bakgatla Camp Site.  It only cost us R60!!  Amazing!  What a pleasure to be charged Pensioners rates.   We headed for a water hole and hide quite close to the gate and had a pleasant hour watching the birds and a large herd of wildebeest and zebras and hartebeest come in to drink.  The water hole was very...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

On Our Own again

August 26, 2016 - Rustenburg, South Africa
      August 26   We all said our farewells early this morning and we set off for the Pilanesberg Game Reserve which is on our way South, about 500 km from Mapungupwe.   The map showed a straight tar road without many obstructions.  However, what they didn’t mention was the state of the R510.  To say it is potholed is an understatement.  It is so degraded that in parts there is no road at all and traffic has made a path along the side of the official road.   This all meant that our...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

An Interesting Day

August 25, 2016 - Thohoyandou, South Africa
    August 25   Today has been a very long but very interesting day.   We were up before sunrise as we had to be at the Reception area by 7 to meet our guide. And the drive from our camp is a good 45 minutes.  Added to our woes was the fact that there was no water at all in the camp this morning.  We think elephants may have stomped on the pipes that feed the camp.  We certainly heard them carrying on last night – lots of trumpeting and squealing.  We also heard lions and hyenas and...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

Back into S Africa

August 24, 2016 - Thohoyandou, South Africa
      August 24   We decided to leave Botswana at the Pontdrift Border post.   This meant a long dusty drive today along some good road but some of the roads were very degraded and also there were a couple of very soft sandy dry river beds to cross.  The scenery was lovely, however, especially towards the end when large sandstone outcrops started appearing and numbers of huge baobab trees could be seen.  There was also a lot of game around and when crossing one river bed we met a...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

Relaxing next to th Limpopo

August 23, 2016 - Francistown, Botswana
      August 23   So a sad farewell to Jodi and Alistair this morning as they leave us to meet up with their son and then rush home to return to work.  We’ll miss their company.  They have been wonderful travelling companions, so full of life and a really positive attitude to the vicissitudes of this type of travel.   We decided to have a quiet day today, but began with laundry.  We all had a washing line of reasonably clean clothes hanging up by 11 – not quite the standard we...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

The Tuli Block

August 22, 2016 - Francistown, Botswana
      August 22   Today was supposed to be a relatively short day getting to our camp site in the Tuli Block – the North Eastern corner of Botswana.  But we didn’t take into account that Francistown is in total chaos at the moment as they are upgrading the A1 and building a flyover right in the middle of town.   So we set off, stopping for shopping, and then got totally lost – eventually, I think, the GPS had given up on us and just wanted to jump out of the car!!  Our final...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

Baack to Botswana

August 21, 2016 - Francistown, Botswana
      August 21   We were up really early today as this was going to be our longest day of travel.   Set off before 7 on the rather degraded Hwange roads, although they were no worse than they were the previous time we visited about 3 years ago.  It is very dry at the moment, but we saw game, including elephant, kudu and a large herd of giraffe.   We stopped at Deteema Picnic Site where we had been on our previous visit.  It’s a lovely place, rocks and petrified trees abound and we...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

Vic Falls and Hwange

August 20, 2016 - Hwange, Zimbabwe
      August 20   So up early and we headed for Victoria Falls.  Although we have been there a couple of times before, their beauty and majesty are something that should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’.  The local name for the Victoria Falls is ‘Mosi Ao Tunya’ – The Smoke That Thunders.   Going early in the morning was an excellent idea, as the light was wonderful anad there weren’t hordes of tourists.  Although it is the dry season, there was a reasonable amount of water...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

And now Vic Falls

August 19, 2016 - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
          The border post between Botswana and Zimbabwe is at Kazungulu.  The border post between Botswana and Zambia is also at Kazungulu and this is a ferry which crosses the confluence of the Chobe and Zambezi rivers.   We arrived at Kazungulu and missed the turn off to the Zimbabwe border post and found ourselves heading towards Zambia.  That in itself was no real problem, the border posts being only about 3 or 4 km apart.  However, what was remarkable was the long queue of huge...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

Elephants galore

August 18, 2016 - Kasane, Botswana
    August 18   Today has been a quiet day catching up with laundry and lounging around the waterhole watching the odd elephant and warthog come in to drink and reading a good book.  Fortunately, all the facilities around the waterhole are in shade – the sun blazes down in the middle of the day and temperatures are always in the 30’s.  And this is mid-winter!!   The evening saw literally about 100 elephants coming in to drink – from tiny babies which are very carefully protected...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

Near Kasane

August 17, 2016 - Kasane, Botswana
      August 17   Leaving Muchenje, we stopped to have a look at the remarkable vegetable garden which is being cultivated there by one of the workers, Chanda.  A self-taught gardener he has made a wonderful space using organic principles.  The office at the campsite sells lovely salad packs and other fresh produce he produces.  We had a chat to him and he explained how he grows things from seed in the compost that he makes himself.  He controls pests with a mixture he makes from...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

Endings

August 20, 2016 - Burlington, Vermont, United States
So here it is, the very last installment of my gap year blog! I wanted to update all of you on what I’ve been up to since I got home, and my plans for the future. During the last four and a half months, I’ve spent time visiting with family and friends, especially during the Fourth of July weekend with my cousins up at our camp. My mom and I also went down to Bryn Mawr College for her 25th reunion, and it was really cool to be there with the alumnae when I’ll be a student myself soon....
By Beckie in Travels with Beckie

A Wonderful day in Chobe

August 18, 2016 - Kasane, Botswana
  Blog Day 13   August 16   So up early, no tea or breakfast, just packed up and went.   At the Ngoma Gate to Chobe Game Reserve we filled in the register and stopped for a ‘Pit stop’ in the toilets.  What a disgrace they are – no seats and in need of a good clean.  At least they flushed!!  We have found all over the place here that if something is broken, it is unlikely to be fixed.  The lack of management in many southern African countries is obvious.  But I suppose this is...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

Finding Accommodation

August 15, 2016 - Kasane, Botswana
  Blog Day 12   August 15   Another long drive today (about 330km) to Kasane which is a dusty border town where 4 countries meet – Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  It lies on the beautiful Chobe River.   We hadn’t booked any accommodation here, thinking there were plenty of campsites and self-catering places.  What we didn’t know was that they are holding ‘The World’s Strongest Man’ competition here this week and all accommodation is filled with huge muscle-bound...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

A Day on the Road

August 14, 2016 - Nata, Botswana
  Blog Day 11   August 14   Today we headed for Nata where we are camping overnight. And the car is going beautifully – no more overheating!   It was a long more or less straight road (about 300 km), the earlier part again through barren sandy land with livestock along the way.  At a certain point we had to cross a Foot and Mouth control point where we had to get out of the car and step in a disinfectant solution and then drive through a bath of the same solution for the tyres of the...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

A Day in Maun

August 13, 2016 - Maun, Botswana
  Blog Day 10   August 13   We were woken at about 4.30 by the people in the camp site next door packing up and leaving.  We suspect they were ‘bilking’ as they arrived very late, set up on a corner of someone else’s camp site and then drove off at 5.   The others who were going on the Mokoro (a kind of dug-out canoe that is poled along by the ‘driver’) trip also had to be at the reception by 8 to get their transport to the edge of the Delta.  We had a bit of a lie in and then...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

And on to Maun

August 12, 2016 - Maun, Botswana
  Blog Day 9   August 12   The road from Xhumaga to Maun is long and straight.  The countryside is semi-desert, barren and sandy and yet there are dwellings.  Goodness know what people do here to survive.  There is also all sorts of livestock wandering around and one has to be on the lookout for goats, especially which seem to bolt across the road when you least expect it.  The cattle seem to have a bit more road sense and will watch until there is a gap in the traffic before they...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

A quiet day

August 11, 2016 - Mopipi, Botswana
  Blog Day 8   August 11   A Day Relaxing   As we are not moving on today we had the opportunity to sleep a bit later which was a pleasure.  The nights are not so cold now but those extra few minutes under the duvet were lovely.  The view looking out from the open tent door into the pink skies caused by the rising sun through the magnificent blackened African trees was spectacular.   The lady who came to clean the ablution block offered to do our laundry – what a luxury!  So we...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

A Day of Rest

August 10, 2016 - Mopipi, Botswana
  Blog Day 7   August 10   The Khama Rhino Sanctuary is just what its name says – a sanctuary for the endangered white rhino. It was started on a large farm which was donated by a local farmer and has grown to           .  The game is protected by the army and on leaving one can see the lookout towers around the boundary.   We let the Rhino Sanctuary and drove to the Makgadikgadi Pans which are ephemeral pans which fill  is in the Makgadikgadi Game Reserve.   The road...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

A Dast of Rest

August 10, 2016 - Mopipi, Botswana
  August 10   The Khama Rhino Sanctuary is just what its name says – a sanctuary for the endangered white rhino. It was started on a large farm which was donated by a local farmer and has grown to           .  The game is protected by the army and on leaving one can see the lookout towers around the boundary.   We let the Rhino Sanctuary and drove to the Makgadikgadi Pans which are ephemeral pans which fill  is in the Makgadikgadi Game Reserve.     The road takes one...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

Womans Day in S AFrica and Things are Looking Up

August 9, 2016 - Serowe, Botswana
      So after a miserable night tossing and turning and worrying we chatted to Captain Kay (the manager of the camp) who suggested we go into Serowe to Dennis’s Garage as he was a ‘white man’ and a good mechanic and would be able to help us.  The car wasn’t overheating provided we didn’t push the engine which we saw as good sign.   So all of us travelled into Serowe, found Dennis and he said we should go back to Leif at Palapye who would definitely be able to help.  Before...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

The Day the Wheels Fell Off

August 8, 2016 - Serowe, Botswana
  August 8   The day the Wheels fell Off   So we had a lovely evening around the braai (Barbecue) last night.   Up early as we had a long way to go to cross the border into Botswana.  And set off when I suddenly realised that with all the drama when we were leaving we had left the documentation for the car at home.  This is necessary to cross the border.  I was in tears and Terry angry.  But after a chat with our dear friends (who were amazing with this dithering old couple) we made...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

A lazy day

August 7, 2016 - Mafikeng, South Africa
      7 August   Lovely to have a lay in for a change.  The night was cold but we were snug in our tent and woke to the sound of the sparrow weavers chattering outside.   We made a little fire to boil the kettle and had a leisurely breakfast all on our own in the bush.   Still no hot water, but the repair crew arrived and started to work on it.   Then by car into Mafikeng which is a dusty frontier town but big enough for shops to be open on Sunday – something you wouldn’t find in...
By Mary in Wandering Old Fogies

Bram and Bonnie

August 10, 2016 - Castelnaudary, France
We have been on the canal du midi since our return to France.  We still have all the same apprehensions about the depth of the canal and the skill of many of the boat hirers, but  it really is a charming canal.  The way that the canal follows the contours of the surrounding countryside is just enchanting, though a little scary when, as we did,  you come across two hotel boats in quick succession in a particularly winding section of the canal.  We have only gone as Far East as Carcassonne...
By Anne in Cassandra Encore

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