South Africa - Part 1

Finally we are on the road again. Our car is on the ship since 3 weeks and at the beginning of January the time has come, we fly to Port Elizabeth in South Africa. After 11 hours flight with mask we enjoy the warm sunbeams completely unmasked, because here is high summer. For the first two nights we rented a B&B near the beach in Summerstrand. Here there are also first-class restaurants with a view of the sea and at prices that we can only dream of in Germany. For us this is of course a welcome opportunity to celebrate the start of our journey on the African continent. The next day we receive our MOMO undamaged. The first days we spend on a campground in Port Elizabeth to get the car ready. Here we also have our first encounter with a colony of monkeys that regularly rummage through the waste paper baskets and if you are not careful, as we were, they will sit in the driver's cab.

 Now we finally want to see some real wild animals and drive to the Addo Elephant Park, not far from Port Elizabeth. There we put ourselves on the camping site and make extended tours through the park. In three days we cover about 200km. On the first day we are very lucky and can watch two male lions eating their prey. At the different waterholes we often stay for hours and watch the elephants bathing. Sometimes a young elephant has problems to get out, then the whole family helps and pushes the little one up the steep bank. The somewhat larger ones practice already times in the district fight or dip themselves mutually under. A spectacle that you could watch all day. Otherwise we see water buffalos, kudus, lots of zebras, turtles and of course the endemic dung beetle which rolls balls out of the elephant dung and then pushes them in front of itself. In addition to the pictures, we have documented the Addo wildlife in a small video clip that you can watch here. Addo Elephant Park

Very close to the park is a small campground. There we meet with Verena and Wolfi for which we have some spare parts in the luggage. The two are already for some years on the way and have many good tips for us. In the evening we are invited by them to our first South African Braai, sit afterwards at the campfire, chat and enjoy the South African wine and the nice company. Unfortunately there is still a small technical problem, because shortly before the shipment, so about 1km before the delivery in Bremerhaven, there was a metallic noise somewhere in the middle under the car that we could not identify. The noise is now no longer there after the first 200 kilometers, but then it comes every now and then. So we are on our way to Port Elizabeth to visit a garage. Unfortunately we don't get far. On the way out of the campground there is a heavy bang in the back. There is nothing to see and so we carefully continue towards the main road. After a few hundred meters we see in the rear view mirror how the right rear wheel turns out completely. We can stop just in time before the wheel overtakes us. Now good advice is expensive. Kindly Verena and Wolfi stay with us and give moral and energetic support. We call the garage in PE. Towing is not possible, because then we would be too high and so the workshop master comes by with a service car and repairs the whole thing on the spot, so that we can at least drive again after a good 4 hours. 

It's weekend and the wokshop is closed. So we place our two trucks on a beautiful meadow parking lot in PE with view of the sea. Needless to say that we are approached by enthusiastic locals every 5 minutes. Until Monday we pass the time with long walks and experience a fantastic sunset on Saturday evening whih makes the sundowner even taste better. On Sunday afternoon we go out for a delicious sushi dinner before we go to the workshop on Monday morning. Verena and Wolfi have some work to do there also. The next day we say goodbye to them, because our workshop stay will last a little longer. Hopefully we will meet again. It was fun with you and thanks again for everything. 

A few Dollars poorer, we roll out of the garage on Wednesday afternoon. A short visit to the laundry and the supermarket and then we continue to the Sunday River near Colchester with the Alexandria dune area. There we spend the night on a simple campground at the river and take a long walk in the morning with a wonderful view of the dune landscape. 

For the next few hundred kilometers, the shock of the almost lost rear wheel is still on us and we get nervous with every rattle and hear noises that are not noises at all. But MOMO runs again as always and so slowly the tension decreases and we can change into the long-term vacation mode. Our next stop is the Mountain Zebra NP. The park is located in a magnificent landscape and was founded in 1937 to save the then almost extinct mountain zebras. We stay three days at the campground in the park, drive the different loops and do a Cheetah tracking one morning. There are currently 3 cheetahs and 6 lions in the park, all wearing GPS collars so they can be tracked. Two hours we drive with the ranger through the wilderness until we finally find an animal. It has hidden itself so well that we cannot see it properly even from a distance of less than 10m. Only a few points of the fur are to be recognized in the dense grass. It is a bit queasy to stand so close to a predator without a fence in between. For consolation the ranger takes us to an enclosure in a restricted area of the park where a female cheetah is being acclimated for two weeks before she is allowed to go in search of her three companions.  

We drive west and make a detour to Nieu-Bethesda, a sleepy artists' village. Directly across from the beautiful campground on a meadow area is a small brewery where we treat ourselves to a cool freshly tapped beer and a cheese plate made with much love at 35 degrees. The attraction in town, however, is the Owl House. Here the eccentric artist Helen Martin has created in 25 years of work a sculpture landscape of glass and cement. We say, well, you don't have to like everything and see the entrance fee as a donation for the Covid-stricken locals. 

A few kilometers further we come to the fourth oldest European town in South Africa with over 200 historic buildings, which makes the town more or less a museum. The town is surrounded by Camdeboo NP where we can drive part of the way and see some animals. Unfortunately there is a 3 ton restriction for driving through the Valley of Desolation and so we can't have a look at it. Instead we enjoy the good African cuisine and eat our first bobotie. 

On the campground we meet Edda and Helmut Tanner who are on the road with their Toyota bus for several years and whom we once just missed in South America. Later Silvia and Gert from Koblenz come by with their Steyr and so there is a lot to tell. After a few relaxing days we will go back to the coast and drive from Port Elizabeth towards Cape Town. You will find out what we will experience in the next blog. Until then, have fun reading and looking at pictures.  

Our Route - 700 Kilometer

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