05 September 2010

Killimanjaro, Tanzania Day 1

So, way back in January, my friend Katie from work asked me if i fancied hiking Kilimanjaro. I decided that this was probably an opportunity that I shouldn't turn down (even though it is a pretty expensive trip) so I started saving and training ready for our trek. We decided to use a travel company called Explore. This company seemed to offer a fair price for the trip, and they offered an 8 day trip along the Lemosho route. We wanted to do an 8 day trek as although the cost is slightly higher than the 6 day routes, it allows more time for acclimatisation, thus having a success rate of 97% in comparison to the 70% success rate of the 6 day routes.

As part of out package we traveled using Ethiopian Airlines. I cannot discourage anyone enough from using this airline.Not only was the customer service fairly poor, but we had to fly from London to Addis Ababa (wait for 4 hrs) Addis to Nairobi, then Nairobi to Kilimanjaro. The planes were very old, with 1970's style seat designs. There were TVs on the flight but these were situated in the center of the aisle and played some old sitcoms. On one flight we did see the first 30min of the new Prince of Persia movie, but the film was started just before the plane started to land!
If you do have the misfortune of flying Ethiopian, do not eat the lasagna, it isn't lasagna. It is a prawn omelette covered in chopped tomatoes.

When we flew into Kilimanjaro airport we went past the mountain. The peak of the mountain was level to the height we were flying. Everyone rushed over to left side of the plane to take a look. It was incredibly exciting to think that tomorrow we would be starting our ascent, but a pretty scary prospect as flying next to the mountain showed the real scale of what we had ahead of us!

When we got to Kilimanjaro Airport we had to show our Yellow fever certs and fill in some paperwork for immigration. By the time we were through passport control our luggage was already on the carousel. This was an absolute miracle considering the number of flights and connections we had taken!

Heather, our Tour leader, met us at arrivals. We were traveling as a group of 7 but met 3 of the other people from our trip. We traveled by minibus to the Ameg Hotel in Moshi. We drove through a fairly well populated area where the main crop growing appeared to be corn. We saw many nomadic hearders with their cows and goats. Some were in traditional Masai dress, whilst others wore western clothing and carried AK47's.

When we got to Ameg we were instructed to go to our rooms and unpack all of the clothing and equipment that we were taking up the mountain. We were to organise the items onto our beds. Samaou our lead guide on the mountain came and checked that we had the right clothing and equipment for the trip. Anything we didn't have we could hire from Moshi. I had to hire an inflatable bed role. The hire shop in Moshi was amazing. It was set up by a woman who enterprised the business by exchanging souvenirs for equipment with hikers who had finished climbing. Now the business was booming. The shop hired anything from poles to boots to sleeping bags, platypus water bottles and down jackets. The roll mat I hired was in excellent condition and cost just $15 for 8 days.
Once Samaou was satisfied that we had the correct equipment, we packed our bags and she weighed them. The bags cannot be any more than 15Kg as the porters need to carry the bags, their own stuff for 8 days up the mountain and camp equipment. With our company (Ashanti tours) the guides are not allowed to carry any more than 25Kg.

By the time these preparations were complete it was time for dinner. We had an introduction talk by Heather then went to Glacier's restaurant for dinner.

Exhausted after our flight we went to bed early straight after our dinner.


START: 05:30 HEIGHT: ~1200 meters above sea level (masl)
FINISH: 20:00 HEIGHT: 2900masl

We had breakfast at the hotel and left any stuff we didn't need for the hike with reception. We took two land cruisers to Lemosho gate. Here the Porters had their packs weighed and we were all signed in. As Ashante tours are a KPAP registered company http://www.kiliporters.org/ the porters are checked to ensure they have roll mats, proper shoes and warm enough clothes.

Once the sign-in was complete we took the 4x4s along a fairly hectic forestry road to the start of the trail. On-route we saw lots of the black and white Colubus monkeys hanging out in the forest. Once at the start of the trail, we ate our packed lunches and headed out for 3hrs of walking. Although we were walking very slowly I could already feel the effects of the altitude making my breathing heavier. The temperature in the forest was excellent for walking, and the tress, flowers and ferns were interesting to look at. The walking was not very taxing, and before we knew it we had reached camp.

The first camp on the Lemosho route was in the forest at 2900m. This is slightly too low for altitude sickness, but high enough for the body to start acclimatising to the altitude. This is the benifit of the Lemosho route over the Shira route. The Shira starts at 3500m, which is already high enough to get sick from altitude.

We were taught how to use the toilet tents (an absolute god send) before eating dinner in the mess tent. Over after dinner hot drinks Heather gave a talk about AMS (acute mountain sickness) and how to avoid it

1. Drink lots of water (at least 4 l/pay)
2. Walk slowly
3. Rest when at camp. Do not exert yourself
4. Eat lots, even if you lose you appetite
5. Take diamox. It improves acclimatisation 3-4 times. (I didn't have diamox)

The Symptoms...

Swelling retina (blindness)
Appetite loss
Gasping for breath when asleep
Urinating lots
HEPA high altitude pulmonary edema
HECA high altitude cerebral edema

We went to bed after the talk. I didn't sleep very well as I was now convinced that I had all of the symptoms of AMS following our talk, I needed to wee a lot, and the monkeys were being very noisy.

20 January 2009

Eloise’s 1980’s Trashy Drag Party

Once again we headed to Arniston on a Friday after work. This time we headed out confidently in Adrian’s new car, Francesca the Alfa 156 2l twin spark. Adrian let me drive the first stint. We stopped at Albertinia for a drink at Doppies Drankwinkle for old times sake!
By the time we got to Bredasdorp it was dark, even though Adrian and myself had been stretching Francesca’s legs. We were heading trough the town when suddenly Adi swerved to avoid something in the road. I looked at the shape in the road as we went past and said to Adi “I swear I saw that move” Adi agreed, and neither of us were sure what it was, so we turned back in case it was a person… Luckily it wasn’t a person it was a dog. Adi and Jimmy dragged the dog out of the road, as it couldn’t walk. It had peed, pooed and bled everywhere, although it only seemed to be bleeding from the mouth, and it was conscious. We stood around trying to decide what we should do. Mel opened the car door to sit down while we deliberated. As soon as the door opened the dog was on his feet, dragging himself to the safety of Adi’s brand new shiny car. I managed to grab the dog just in time to stop him diving inside, instead the dog hid under the car…not very helpful.

Now we were in even more of a quandary, we couldn’t leave because we would run the dog over again, but we didn’t have any phone numbers of vets to contact to come and get it. We decided to wait it out, surely the dog would come out eventually! Fortunately a nosey local came to see why we were stopped on the side of the road. They had the number of the local vets so called them to come and help us. Just as the local got out her phone, another car pulled over to ask if we had seen a missing dog. The family had realised the dog was out and gone searching for it. As soon as the dog saw its owners it dragged itself out from under Adi’s car. The family had some tarpaulin in their boot, so they wrapped up the dog and took him home.

After our mini adventure we arrived at Arniston quite late. Eloise, Coswell, Warren and Todd were already drinking and Braaing, but Cos got us quickly up to speed with some deadly cocktails!!!

Next day Mel and I went to Bredasdorp to get some prezzies and a cake for Eloise. When we got back we all hit the beach. Cos taught me how to body surf and Mel even got in for a dip…her bikini top was however a bit flimsy for the rough breakers, and I was flashed frequently!

Once back from the beach, the drinking re-commenced, as did a twister competition. I was fairly rubbish. Eloise and Mel got themselves into some interesting positions!

Soon after we started getting dolled up for the evening’s festivities. Mel was in charge of the trashy 80’s make-up, and I straightened Jimmy’s hair. All of the boys made very ugly girls, especially Todd. The most attractive girl was Adrian (or should I say “Deloris”) who had even gone to the effort of getting his ears pierced. I wish I could confidently write some stories about the evening, but I can’t really remember much. We had the police over telling us to calm it down slightly…they got the shock of their life wandering into the court yard filled with very ugly transvestites!!
I only snatched about an hour of sleep before heading to Bredasdorp with Mel, Adi and Gerrard so Mel could get some smokes. We went straight to the beach and all lay half comatose on the wet sand. From behind us we heard beautiful gospel singing, in Xhosa. A large group of people dressed in white robes, chanting walked past us down the beach. They were baptising people in the sea. We watched and dosed for a while, then went to the hotel for some coffee.

That afternoon we drove home. Mel and I sat in the back in a hysterical exhaustion most of the way, until finally we both passed out!

15 October 2008

Nan and Grandad's visit

My Nan and Granddad came to visit me this month.
I met them for a meal with Mel at Wilderness when they come through on their SAGA tour which took them to CTN, then they flew back up to Port Elizabeth, where I picked them up. They spent a few days here at Tsitsikamma, they went to the Elephant sanctuary but mostly just relaxed and recovered from their whirl-wind tour with SAGA.

We headed up to Colchester for a few days, and stayed in a place called the Happy Jackal. The rooms were lovely and so was the food, but the woman who owned it was one of those annoying ex-teacher types, who could only be taken in small doses!!
Anyways I spent most of my time revising for my FGASA exam, while Nan and grandad saw the sights. We went to Scotia game park. An awesome little game reserve where we saw a big male lion (who showed off with some roaring that was so loud you could feel it through your feet!), giraffe, white rhino and lots of Bokkies. Our guide Bertha was very good, and at the end of the drive they put on a traditional South African meal with spring bok, gen squash and mellies with Malva pudding for desert.

On the Saturday morning I has my FGASA exam at Shamwari game reserve. It went really well, so I think I passed. After that we headed to Woody Cape and took a walk around the mouth of the Sunday's river, which is stunning, and I spent few tranquil minutes sunbathing on the sand dunes.

We went for lunch at a near-by pub (called Grunters) then headed back for a lazy afternoon at the guest house drinking bubbly by the river.

Our last meal was spent at the restaurant/guest house next door. Nan and Granddad had ostrich steak, I had a divine smoked chicken salad. We headed to bed early as Nan and Granddad had a flight to catch early Sunday morning.

Sorry I don't have any pics as I let Granddad do the snapping! (Nan/Granddad, please can you send me the ones of us in small format, then I shall put them up!)

23 September 2008

Arbour week, Arniston, CTN

Arbour Week

During the 1st week in September South Africa Celebrated Arbour Week.

I went out with our Indigenous Forest Rangers to schools and into the community to plant trees and teach people about the importance of indigenous trees. Here are some piccies!!


Friday 12th September

My day at work was full of nonsense; I was arranging stuff for the next week’s international costal clean-ups and was generally pretty busy. I jumped at the chance to go for a massage when Loren from the Farm txt me and said she was going. Just before I had my massage, I got a phone call from Mel telling me to get my bum down to Wilderness as we were going away for the weekend, so after my AMAZING massage I jumped in the car, getting to Wilderness by 7.30pm.

We took Adrian’s “Black bitch” (his Honda) and headed to George to buy essentials for the weekend (meat, wine, shredded cabbage) then started on our journey. Before leaving George Adi’s car broke down, and then miraculously started to work again. So we started on the long journey to Arniston, deciding that we would turn back if the car broke down again before Mossel Bay. The car broke down at Albertinia (just the other side of Mossel Bay) we were stuck there for hours at “Droppies Drankwinkle” (a bar that smelt of urine and served warm, dusty beer!) waiting for a mechanic, who said there was an electrical fault. He cut a couple of wires and sent us on out way.

We arrived at Arniston at 1am, and braaied until 6am.

Saturday 13th September

At 10am, after not much sleep, we were woken by Adrian and Eloise wanting to go to the beach. I made bacon and eggs for everyone then we headed down to the sea in the back of Eloise’s twin cab. The sea was a stunning turquoise and the weather was fantastic. Eloise and I went back to get the wetsuits as the sea was cold but we wanted to swim. After a while swimming everyone apart from me, Jimmy and Warren went to the shop (and to look for Mel who was pining over pimple man). We stayed on the beach and built an amazing sandcastle using the bucket and rake set that Mel had bought for me from Wilderness Caltex.

We all lazed on the beach for the rest of the afternoon, then went to the nearest town to get supplies for the evening. When we came back, Eloise gave us a tour of the old fishing town of Arniston, and then we all went a frolicked on the sand dunes and explored some caves.

We watched the sunset over the dunes before heading back to the house.

We braaied at a more sensible time this evening. Some of Eloise’s friends from CTN joined us and brought a sound system and disco lights. Mel and I made it out mission to finish our bag of wine (possibly a mistake). We spent most of the night dancing along with Warren and Jimmy, before heading to the beach at about 1am. I went to bed at 2 as I wanted to get up for low tide to do some snorkeling with Adi, everyone else stayed up to play 30 seconds.

Sunday 14th September

Guess what? Melaney and I were the only ones up in time for snorkeling, so instead we took a walk to the shop to get some loo roll. We stopped of for a coffee at the hotel before heading back to the house. By the time we got back everyone else was up. We lazed about on the lawn in the sun before tidying the house and heading home. We met Susie on our way; she had been in Cape Town. Adi’s car was doing well up until just after Swellendam, where it lost power and smelt like burning electricals. We pushed his car to the side of the road and lifted the bonnet. All of the wiring from the battery had melted into one sticky black mess. Mel and Adi struggled for about an hour to separate the wire. A passer by gave us the number of a local mechanic. He took one look and told us that it would take a good couple of days to fix, so Susie and Adi went to Swellendam to buy some tow rope.

After spending a while platting the rope, we hit the road heading for Heidelberg (38Km away). I was driving Susie’s Yaris at about 35Km/hr, we couldn’t go any faster as the towing loops were on opposite sides of the cars and the heavy Honda kept pulling the Yaris’s tail to the left, especially when we were in the dips of hills (of which there are many on this section) causing the Yaris to fish-tail. On the way up a very steep hill, I had to change the Yaris down into first. The toque was too much and the rope snapped. At this point Susie and I refused to tow any further as it was too dangerous. Adrian called the AA, who towed him back to Swellendam (costing R800!)

We went home in Susie’s car. I stopped at Wilderness over night. Adi stayed at a hotel in Swellendam.

Monday 15th September.

I woke up in the morning next to what sounded like Darth Vader. Mel was ill and struggling to breath. I went to the caltex to get her some medicine, and then left for home. I stopped in Knysna to get a tyre changed on my car, then arrived at work by 10am.

So far as the black bitch goes…life is not good. The dealership in Swellendam could not source the parts, and wanted R4000 to tow it to George. Luckily for Adi his parents we on their way to Groot Brak Rivier so towed him. On the way the tow rope snapped, which also snapped Adi’s bumper. A week later, and finally the parts have been sourced; although it looks like the end is nigh as Adi has decided to sell it as soon as it is fixed!

Susie’s sad goodbye!

Friday 19th September

I finished work at midday and drove down to Wilderness to pick up Melaaney. Just before Sedgefield I got a call from Mum saying she had been in a car accident, but luckily she was ok, just very bruised!!

I took my car to “Wilderness wash” before I went to Mel’s house, as it stank of cow poo after a week of doing River Clean-ups in the community. By the time we had loaded the car etc. it was 3pm and we headed on out way. We swapped drivers at half way. The journey was fairly uneventful, apart from bumping onto a guy who had been stalking Mel on our night clubbing at Carouse when we stopped to fill up with petrol!

We got to Mel’s house at Table View at about 8pm. Her parents are lovely, and very pleased to see their daughter. Mel’s Mum had left little toblerone bars on the pillows for us! We had supper then headed to Long Street to meet up with Jimmy and Susie.

We went to Long St CafĂ©, where we drank a couple of cocktails, then went dancing at Pretoria’s (formally Jo’bergs). I spent the night at Susie’s uncle’s beautiful house in Lundudno so that Mel could spend some time alone with her folks on Saturday morning.

Saturday 20th September

We had planned to go to Kirstenbosh botanical gardens to watch the sunrise, but tequila had quashed that plan. Instead we got up around 9am and went to the beach. At lunchtime we went to Canal Walk Mall to meet Mel and grab some lunch. There was a flying display happening that was shaking the windows of the shopping centre as the planes were breaking through the sound barrier! After lunch, Susie went to say bye to her family and pack, Jermaine went to visit his family, and Mel went to her cousin’s son’s 1yr Birthday party. As I had no family to visit I went underwear shopping instead, getting thoroughly distressed as all the pretty bras only went up to a C cup!! After a long and arduous trek around the mall, I finally found success at good old Wollies (our M&S equivalent)

Mel met me back at the Mall and we shopped for a prezzie for Susie then headed back to Mel’s for supper and to make Susie’s card. We met Susie at the airport at nearly 10pm. She was very tearful. By the time we had all had a coffee it was time for her to board. It was horrible watching her and Jermaine say goodbye, and Jimmy did really well not to cry until after Susie had left. Jimmy had brought his friends, Darren and Darren. We arranged to meet Jimmy and the 2 Darrens at a club in Durbenville. We got to the club and it was rubbish, so we went to hustle at the pool bar next door and intended to go back to the club later when it got better. The boys met us at the pool bar and after just a couple of games we hit the dance floor. The “Power of Mel” was as always working the dance floor, and after plenty of tequila Jimmy was working the pole!! I was dezzie driver but it didn’t matter as I still pulled out the moves, and at 4:30 am when we were pretty much the only people left on the dance floor I suggested that we should head home!!

I stayed at Mel’s house in her sister’s bed, although Mel ended up joining me for a spooning sesh with about 5 blankets as it was freezing!

Sunday 21st September

Mel got up at about 9am to spend some time with her folks, I rolled out of bed at a more tasteful time of about 10:30. I met with Jill from Karongwe, who happens to live just around the corner from Mel, for a delicious carrot cake and iced coffee. We sat and chatted for a couple of hours, then I collected Mel and we wet to get Jimmy. We left CTN at about 4pm and Fabio got us to Wilderness by 7:30pm (I’m just waiting for all the speeding fines) We spent an hour at Mels to re-group (nap time for me) and have some jelly with fruit. I was home by 11pm and went straight to sleep!!!

27 August 2008


Mel and me "Crumping"

Mel and Jimmy dancing

Mel and Jimmy looking hot!

Sexy Mel

The Pose!

Friday 22nd August

After work I picked up Jimmy from Bloukrans and we headed to Wilderness via Pick n Pay. Susie was staying at the Park with her friends. We went to Bongos (a bar that serves amazing pizzas) for dinner, where we met Quintin, Mel and Lloyd the barman.

After dinner we went to Susie’s to have a Lekker Jol, and met up with a horrifically drunk Kevin (a colleague from head office). Mel and I arrived separately and by the time we got to the house Pauline and Sarah were already in bed. We stayed up an entertained Kev, until he went to his cottage. Mel went home, I slept on the sofa bed-not a good move, and it was very cold and very uncomfortable,

Saturday 23rd August

Saturday morning Susie, Jermaine, Sarah, Pauline and I went for a Mooch around Sedgefield Market. I bought a hakkie sack and some delicious cake!

After we were all supposed to go Canoeing, but I was feeling lazy so was going to sit in the sun and read my book. In the end I went to Mel’s house (which we managed to lock ourselves out of so had to get the neighbors ladder and break in through the window and watched DVDs. After we drove into George and had a hilarious afternoon drinking beer and playing pool. We drove back to wilderness to braai at about 7pm. All the girls were huddled around the fireplace and not looking like they were up for much. It had rained while they were canoeing so were feeling sorry for themselves. The would we bought from Pick and Pay was awful, so it took forever to make a fire. Jimmy, Mel and I gave up, went to the Caltex to buy some pies, then drove to George and went clubbing.

Everyone at the club was seduced by “the Power of Mel”; even a random lesbian told her that she “would do anything just for one kiss”. Jimmy had his work cut out pretending to be both of our boyfriends as we had a lot of attention being a white girl and a pretty coloured girl. At 3am I thought it would be a good idea to go home, as I had a meeting at 9:30am.

I dropped Jimmy at Susie’s cottage then stayed at Mel’s. She has an electric blanket. It was amazing. I want one.

Sunday 24th August

After the meeting that lasted til 1pm, Jimmy and I went to Mel’s to Braai the meat that we hadn’t eaten the previous evening. The braai wood from PnP was terrible so after 3hours of trying to get it to make decent coals, we cooked the food in the oven. We all lay in bed chatting for the rest of the afternoon. Jimmy and I kept trying to leave, but the electric blanket and “the power of Mel” meant that we didn’t leave until 9pm.

I dropped Jimmy home at 11pm, we saw a huge family of bush pigs, which I was very excited about!

Coffee Bay

Pauline Surfing

Me and Pauline on the beach

Dancing in the backpackers

Dancing around the fire

The glittery girlies
(Susie, me, Mel and Pauline)

Friday 15th August

Yesterday it was Melaney’s (a friend of Susie’s who works at Wilderness) 23rd Birthday, so they decided to take a long weekend off and go to East London.

Susie and Pauline had been staying at Addo so went on ahead and I got picked up by Mel on-route. I was supposed to be taking Friday off, but after 3 phone calls before 8am from the office, I decided I might as well go in. Mel also had to go into work and didn’t finish til 2pm, so got to me at 4pm. Thus the epic drive began.

It was dark and rainy by the time we stopped at Port Elizabeth for McDonalds, and then we got stuck in traffic for a while just outside Shamwari. Other than that, and a couple of occasions where Adrian nearly lost the back end of the car on the windy roads, our 10 hour drive on the N2 was fairly uneventful. We turned off the N2 at about 2am and drove along an 80Km stretch of nasty, uneven, potholed road, swerving to avoid sheep, goats, horses, donkeys and cows. We all just wanted to get there and (from Susie’s description) we assumed we were close. We were not. We hit a huge pot hole and busted the wheel rim, thus getting a flat tyre. So 3am, in the North of the Eastern Cape we had to get out and change the tyre. I have never felt so vulnerable, but luckily we didn’t get shot/stabbed/mugged/raped/hijacked. We put on the spare, let down the jack…and the spare was flat! We managed to slowly nurse the car to the backpackers as there was still some air in the spare. Nothing like a bit of excitement to start a holiday!

Saturday 16th August

The next day we got up late. Adrian, Pauline and I all checked out the Bomvu bay, then looked at the big sandy beach that stretched out the other side of the donkey field. Here I met a professional surfer who liked my Hardiedar impression and wanted me to go out surfing with him to watch for sharks, I was tempted but embarrassed by my poor surfing ability so declined. This turned out to be a good move as it started to rain in the afternoon. We spent the afternoon chilling at the awesome backpackers and making T-shirts. The barman took us to play with his 2week old puppies which were very, very cute.

In the evening there was a “full moon party” we all to a communal spooning power nap which was a great bonding experience, then fully refreshed we covered ourselves in glitter and headed out to the party. We danced around the fire while local drummers played, and ended up encouraging all the people staying at the backpackers to join us, then Jimmy and I practiced on this balance board whilst the others went with “zee Germans” to the beach. We danced all night long and had a fantabulous time.

Sunday 17th August

Next morning Pauline and Susie went for a surf lesson. My knee still hurt from the otter trail so I just went and swam in the 22degree water (it was amazing!) and took photos of the girls. The rain set in for the rest of the day, so we just chilled out and read our books. We tried all day to get someone to fix out tyre, but no one turned up.

We were going to leave at 10pm and drive through the night to get Adrian to the Airport for 5am. We went out in search of someone to pump up out tyre, but everyone refused as they said it was too dangerous to drive at night. Thus Susie and Pauline left with Adrian at 7pm (once we had transferred some petrol to their car from Mel’s) and Mel, Jermaine and I stayed another night.

We had a drumming lesson and then played pool on the horrifically bumpy table, which was so wonky the balls went in a circle. We then sat at the bar talking amongst ourselves and to the barman, doing Jagerbombs, flaming lambos and all sorts of other foolish stuff!

Monday 18th August

Monday morning we got someone to pump our tyre and left at 9am. Mel drove all the way home and we didn’t get to my house until 8pm. It turned out that when the tyre had got damaged, a hole was made in the water tank, and thus we had to keep stopping to refill the water so that the car didn’t overheat.

Mel and Jimmy had dinner and Moffee at mine before heading back to Jimmy’s house at Bloukranz. Mel wanted to drive back to Wilderness that night but we wouldn’t let her. Good job as the next morning I got a call from her…she had broken down.

13 August 2008

The Otter Trail

Natures Valley (end of the trail)

Day5 views

Top left: Pauline
Bottom left: Susie
Top right: me
Bottom right: Loren

Another pretty view


Bloukranz river at low tide!


This day is only 4.8Km from the rest camp, past the waterfall, to the day 1 hut. As it is a fairly easy day, Loren and I started from the reception at just after 2pm.

We confidently traversed the dangerous boulders and rocks with our heavy packs, which according to the trail guide we read should "feel like an extension of your body". With 5 days worth of food on my back, my 'extended body' felt grossly obese!

As the 1st day was so easy, I decided to drop my camera about 2km into the trail, so that we could walk back to try and find it...no luck with that, some tourists had picked it up, so I called the rangers and got them to accost the tourists as they finished the trail. The rangers dropped in on the morning of day 4 to deliver my camera, so unfortunately all the photos I am posting are from the last 2 days.

When we got to the huts the other group of hikers were already there. We sat with them (a group of business men and a business woman from Jo'burg) and spent the evening chatting around the campfire. This was very pleasant, and the peak of our relationship, as things soon deteriorated!!


We didn't start day 2 until nearly 11am as Susie and Pauline were being hardcore and walked day 1 and 2 together. They were supposed to start with us on the Thursday, but Pauline had flown in on Tuesday and the airline had left her luggage in Frankfurt. After 2 days of promising that her bag was on its way they finally admitted that they had lost it!

Anyways, we headed off on this, the day of death going up hill, then downhill, then uphill, where we saw a southern right whale lob-tailing, then down a steep gorge to the stunning Kleinbos (I think) river. Here we stopped for lunch for an hour and sunned ourselves on the riverbank. Loren and I went exploring up stream, which was absolutely beautiful! I ate Paprika chicken super noodles which were so delicious I thought they were worth a mention!

Stopping for such a long break was a big mistake. Our legs had now completely seised up, making the next steep uphill very nasty indeed!! The sign posts had said that Bloubaai, one of the famous beauty spots on the trail, was only 700m, so once at the top of the hill we started looking for routes down to the bay. We went down one route that took us to a small pebbely bay. This was not the right bay, but was very beautiful especially as the Indian Ocean was incredibly rough! The others sat on the rocks watching the ocean while I set about poking around in rockpools at the colourful cushion starfish when Pauline spotted an otter less than 10m from us in the milky surf. He was a big otter, and didn't seem too bothered that we were there. We were amazed that he seemed quite comfortable in the angry waves, a person would have been dead in no time!

Once the otter had wandered off up the shore, we went back up the hill from the bay, then kept going up and up and up then down and up then down to Bloubaai. At bloubaai we saw 2 illegal fishermen who I reported to the rangers. The Baai was very pretty, but by far the most memorable moment from the baai was Pauline's slow-motion fall onto her head (assisted by the momentum of her pack to unbalance her) and subsequent sideways roll into a rock pool, where she lay stranded on her back like an overturned turtle.

From Bloubaai we went up an even steeper hill, and from then on I can't really remember anything other than the pain of going up-hill, scrambling down-hill, and the immense relief of reaching camp.

Once at camp, Loren and I bathed in a bitterly cold stream. Our hut overlooked a stunning little bay. We lit the braai and sat talking and eating for the evening. We were joined by a small spotted Genet who sat and watched us, waiting for us to vacate so that he could search our braai pit for any scraps of meat. This was one of my favourite huts.


I was dreading day 3 as Susie had said it was the hardest day. We woke up to a warm sunny day, with a strong cooling head-wind. The other group set off first, and we left about 30min later. Today was all about timing as there were 2 big rivers to cross. We had overtaken the group just before the 1st river (the Elandsbos) and I went to investigate the recommended route. This route was underwater so we had to sprint across the beach then traverse a cliff face in order to rejoin the path. We passed this info onto the other group, who then (without thanking us) rushed off ahead. Amusingly for us their rudeness was repaid as halfway across a huge tidal surge came and got their boots wet!!
We crossed the Elandsbos and quickly overtook the other group before the "hill of death" which wasn't actually that bad. I owe this to the excellent stick that I had found. It was a peice of eucalyptus driftwood which was light, sturdy and smooth so I didn't get any splinters. I loved that stick as it took the pressure off of my thighs and bum muscles and made the uphill much easier.

We decided to take a quick lunch at the top of the hill (having learnt from day2) before pushing on to quickly reach our 2nd river the Lottering. We had walked quicker than expected so had about an hour and a half to kill before low tide. Susie decided that the river was crossable, so started to make her way across, only to get stranded on a large rock for about 10min as the tide came in. We found this highly amusing and taunted her while she balanced on the rock. She returned with a bruised ego suggesting that perhaps we should wait for low tide after all.

The other group showed up just before low tide, we had just prepeared ourselves to cross when one of their group members (desperate to get to the huts first so that they got 1st pick again raced across. We had started to pick our way across when we saw a tidal surge coming. I raced to the other side and looked back assuming to see Susie and Pauline close behind, I turned to see Susie practically being swept away and half drowned by her backpack.
As the surge had come up, Susie had been swept from the rock, with the man from the other group less than a foot behind her saying "you're slipping" without even trying to help!! Her flipflop got swept upstream, right past the rest of the group who just stood and watched it, so I had to go paddling back across the river and upstream to get it. on my travels I found a safer place to cross and helped the other group...and do you think they said thank you? no.

Anyway, we got to the hut way ahead of them as there was quite a steep uphill the other side of the river that they struggled with. We took great pleasure in choosing the huts, going into each and deciding on 'hut 1' as the door was broken on 'hut 2'.
The business women was clearly not happy about being not getting to choose her hut. She came storming into our hut and said..."did you leave us with a wet hut" I very untactfully stifled a giggle and answered "yeah" as a dripping wet Susie stood shivering in the corner, she gave me the death stare and told me that it was "not nice, really not nice". Thus the relationship between the two groups was over.

That night my stick disappeared, I think the other group used it for firewood...low blow...not nice!


God repayed me for being not nice today, as I woke up with a sore knee and no stick to help me up the steep uphill from out huts. My knee was really sore and I struggled. After putting on a bandage and finding a replacement stick (not half as good as the first, and it gave me a splinter!) it felt much better.

Today was almost twice as long as the other days, however it was much flatter. The uphills were quite short, however the terrain was quite difficult. Nothing very exciting happened during the day. I walked through lots of sploom (that foamy stuff on the sea when it is rough) at one river crossing. We had a long break by this river and did a bit of sunbathing. We got to the Bloukranz river about 2 and a half hours before low tide. We decided that we would have lunch on the beach at the river. Unfortunately the sea was so rough the beach was underwater, so instead we dosed uncomfortably on the rocks for 2hrs. Half an hour before low tide, the river was just as full. the rough sea was pushing up the river making it impossible to cross. We decided that the best option would be to take the escape route and get the rangers to drop us at the next hut. The other group had been there about 15min when we left. We tried to persuade them to come with us so that the rangers only had to make one trip. They refused, saying there was still 30min til low tide so they would rather wait.
The escape route was horribly steep but the views were amazing. The ranger took us via the Bloukranz forest station, where we dropped in to see Jermaine and steal a couple of bottles of wine.
Just as we were being dropped off the ranger said that he had got a call from the other hikers asking to be picked up. the ranger decided to let them walk to the N2, which would take them an extra couple of hours (hikers are supposed to meet the rangers at the N2, but we got picked up from the top of the escape route, perks of knowing the rangers!!)

Once at the huts we went for a nudist swim in the river at the huts before wrapping up in our thermals around the campfire to enjoy the wine. The other hikers arrived about 2hours later. They came to our braai and boasted about crossing the river. A blatant and unnecessary lie! We congratulated them over-enthusiastically, then bitched about them once they left!!


The final day was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and apart from a killer hill at the beginning, the walking was easy (plus our packs were much lighter having finished our food!)

I was filled with mixed emotions. I had really enjoyed the trail, eating what you carry, cooked over a fire you made yourself. Washing in streams was so refreshing, and it was nice not looking in a mirror for 5 days!! However...we smelt really really bad. We all needed a warm shower and clean clothes, and the trail is pretty intense so it was nice to have finished.

In conclusion...
1. The trail was physically much easier than I expected
2. I love my thermals, and my walking boots
3. The trail was a perfect length
4. The other group were not nice
5. Paprika chicken 2-minute noodles are very tasty!