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Homeward bound

2006-07-27 12:48
DAYS 58 to 61: 22 to 25 July

SENGAL: Dakar - Kaolack - Tambacounda - Kidira MALI: Diboli - Kayes - Diema - Didiena - Kati - Bamako - Bamako - Segoué - San - Djenne - Mopti - Douentza - Timbuktu - Sévaré - Mopti - Dogon Country: Bandiagara - Sanga - Bankass BURKINA FASO: Ouagadougou - Kantchari NIGER: Niamey - Birni Nkonni NIGERIA: Kano - Bauchi - Yankari Game Reserve, Wikki Warm Springs - Maiduguri - Banki CAMEROON: Limani - Mora - Maroua - Garoua - Ngaoundere - Tibati - Banyo - Foumban - Bafoussam - Bamenda - Ring Road: Bafut - Wum - Bamenda - Limbe - Douala - Yaoundé - Mbalmayo - Ambam GABON: Eboro - Bitam - Mitzic - THE EQUATOR - Njole - Bifoun - Kango- Libreville - Lambarene - Mouila - Ndende - Doussala REPUBLIC OF CONGO (BRAZZAVILLE): Ditsandu village - Nyanga - Loubetsi - Kibangou - Pointe-Noire - Nzassi CABINDA: Cacongo - Futila Beach - Futila Beach DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC): Muanda - Boma - Mutadi ANGOLA: Noqui - Lufico - Tomboco - Nzeto - Caxito - Luanda - Porto Ambio - Lobito - Dombe Grande - Bentiaba - Leba Pass - Lubango - Cahama - Ondjiva - Santa Clara NAMIBIA: Oshikango - Ondangwa - Namutoni, Etosha - Tsumeb - Otjiwarongo - Okahandja - Windhoek - Grunau - Keetmanshoop - Noordoewer SOUTH AFRICA: Vioolsdrif - Springbok - Citrusdal.

We're on the home stretch- and now it-s all going too quickly. We-ve made it to South Africa, and tomorrow we hit Cape Town. But we-re debating whether to pull up the handbrake and head north again.

We've had such an adventure we-re not sure we-re ready for real life again. And up north it-s certainly warmer - we've been having some icy nights in our tents.

We've experienced an incredible range of temperatures on this trip - from chilly mornings through Namibia dropping to three degrees, up to Timbuktu's 50°!

From Cahama in Angola we toiled along the potholed non-road towards Ondjiva, improving the previous day-s performance only slightly - four and a half hours for 200km. (Good news is that road works have started, and hopefully in maybe a year's time the road with be a breeze.)

At one stop next to a monster baobab we decided to measure its girth: eight people with arms outstretched, touching fingers, couldn't do it - that was a 10-person baobab.

We crossed into Namibia at Santa Clara and suddenly the world changed: the road improved drastically, we switched to driving on the left side of the road, and we started seeing familiar shops and brand names.

We raced through Namibia on the major excellent roads, but still managed a fairly wild time. Our first night was at Namutoni Camp in Etosha, where we saw a sunset-lit herd of up to 50 giraffe scattered along a flat grassy plain near King Nehale Gate, and two lions at the camp waterhole.

A tame but thieving kudu provided the entertainment at our next stop, Gastefarm Elisenheim, a great camp about 15km from Windhoek. Any car or caravan door left open was an invitation to the kudu to investigate, rooting through our belongings looking for fruit.

After an obligatory dinner at Joe-s Beer House, Windhoek's quirkiest eatery, we set off next morning for Keetmanshoop and the Quiver Tree Forest Rest Camp, definitely one of the best camping places we've visited. It-s in a beautiful setting right next to the quiver trees (or kokerbooms), plus it's something of a menagerie.

Aside from a tame eland with skew horns, a three-month-old baby springbok, a truly enormous warthog, a parrot and sundry dogs, Coenie has three beautiful cheetahs that he feeds at 4pm every day. And while they-re eating, they-re happy to let you stroke them if you-re brave enough.

We had our passports stamped at the South Africa border with mixed feelings - happy to be home, but sad that this adventure is drawing to an end. But Jowell's Toyota and Coca-Cola in Springbok stepped in to celebrate our first night back on home turf.

They threw us a huge party, with a braai, home-baked bread and a vastly overworked barman, and treated us like heroes. Thank you Jowell's and Coke for a great welcome home!

The Jurgemeisters came thick and fast, and after bonding with large Afrikaans doctor, Saami had a cross-cultural epiphany from which he-s still recovering.

In fact we're all feeling mildly precious as we head for Citrusdal and our last night on the road.

Tomorrow we're on Table Mountain!

Adelle Horler and Geoff Dalglish

Visit the Toyota Timbuktu Table Mountain Web Log for updates and photos at http://blogspace.mweb.co.za, or go to www.mweb.co.za, click on Blogs, and look for Toyota Timbuktu Table Mountain.

With thanks to our sponsors Toyota South Africa, Megaworld, African Outback Products, Pertec, Garmin, MWEB @ Home - iPass, African Stuff, Toshiba and DataShuttle. Special thanks also to CFAO Toyota dealerships in Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso and to Cami Toyota in Cameroon and Toyota Gabon in Libreville for their enthusiastic assistance, as well as to Toyota and Coca-Cola in Springbok for a great party.

* Catch the television series on this expedition on SABC TV3 on Sundays, starting on September 3 at 5:30 pm.


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