14 May. So it’s onwards to our next destination, Namaqua National Park. We decide to break the journey up with a stopover around Clanwilliam. We set off early to enjoy the scenery on the way. This area is flat, flat, flat, with lots of farming on either side of the road as far as the eye can see, including ostrich farms and fields of squash.
The road is good and we make excellent time, arriving in Clanwilliam early enough to have a look around. The town itself has some lovely examples of Cape Dutch houses and the centre is dominated by the Five Roses tea factory, home of rooibos. Love it or hate it! We decide to stay at the municipal campsite, mainly because we can’t find anywhere else, and this turns out not to be a great decision. It is tatty, covered in litter and, despite security guards roaming around, we feel a bit uncomfortable and wary, so various “deterrents” accompany us into the roof tent. Fortunately they are not needed and we are up and out of there pretty quick in the morning!
Off the Beaten Track
The next stretch of our journey, to the entrance of the park, is about 280kms and for the most part this is on the N2, a straight road with Karoo on either side, barren looking land that is home to countless sheep. It is utterly amazing how they thrive on such dry, arid ground. We turn off the N2 onto a gravel road for the last 70kms to the gate. This is a truly remote area, occasional farmsteads set amongst the harsh landscape where the only green is the trees lining the dry river bed of the Groenriver.
After spending six weeks in the Cape Town area we were keen for our adventure to begin properly and Paternoster sounded like the perfect place to start. Our aim with this trip was to take our time; let the journey be part of the adventure and just go where we felt like and spend as much, or as little, time in an area as we wanted. After all, we had plenty of time and we didn’t want our journey to be a mad dash between tourist “have to see” places. We wanted to meet fellow travellers and local residents as well as see plenty of wildlife and have a few exciting adventures along the way. So we set off up the west coast of South Africa and headed for the remote village of Paternoster.
Until a few years ago this place was a little fishing village but its proximity to Cape Town and its beautiful setting and quaint cottages meant that it became a desirable holiday or short break destination. We were lucky – it was the end of the summer and not in school holidays so we were hoping for a relatively quiet few days to unwind after the stress of the last few weeks. We were not disappointed! What a beautiful village, and despite the popularity it has not lost its charm. It was dotted with cute cottages, most of which appeared to be holiday lets, restaurants and shops, all overlooking the beach with fishing boats of all colours.
After tearful goodbyes and handing over the keys to our lovely home we were on our way and ready to deal with the importing and licensing of Landy.
Of course Landy was still on the ship when we arrived in Cape Town and so we had rented a car and a cute little place in the village of Kommetjie on the Cape Peninsula for 3 weeks so that we could collect Landy and complete her kitting out whilst living in comfort.
Kommetjie is a pretty place with lovely sandy beaches which are popular with surfers due to some pretty good waves. The beach here joins up to the one in Noordhoek where the sand goes on for miles and it is perfect for walking. A stroll along here became something of a daily routine for us and, as we had arrived in April, we had some lovely warm days but the notorious winds were starting to pick up and the walk could quickly turn into a natural exfoliation experience. However the sunset over the ocean, creating wonderful colours in the clouds and on the water was something you can easily get used to. This part of the trip was very much a long holiday, no roughing it in the wild bush here!
And so the Land Rover was ready for packing, ready for shipping.
We now had storage space and we began to fill it up. We had eight sturdy plastic boxes and storage space in every nook and cranny we could find. Two of the boxes would be for food, two were filled with the clothes, one was full of medical supplies and toiletry items, one for shoes and other sundry items (including Julie’s hairdryer and straighteners!), another box would be filled with charcoal and the last would contain various replacement oils for Landy (well, it is a Land Rover- you only know its run out of oil because it stops leaking!)
Spare parts and a full tool kit were packed in as well as Bradt guide books for every country and wildlife books as well as all the other bits and pieces we felt we couldn’t live without.
We had booked a container and the car would be driven into it, with the roof tent strapped to the back as it was too high to fit in the container with it fixed onto the roof. So on 19 March Keith drove up to Tilbury, followed by our good friend Dom in his Landy to bring him home. All the paperwork had been completed and we left Landy in the dockyard all ready to load onto the Maersk Langkloof ship for shipping to Cape Town.
So all that was left for us to do now was pack up all our personal belongings in our house and get it ready to rent out, have a farewell get-together with our friends and family, leave our jobs and get on the plane. That sounds really simple, but the last few weeks were manic and as the day of the flight approached our excitement was tinged with apprehension. It was suddenly dawning on us – we were really doing this!
Landy at Tilbury and her ship.
We have put together a list of everything we took with us – see the tab above.