Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

We’ve held off posting much because this blog is meant to be about our overlanding adventures, but as we’re still sitting in Cape Town waiting for our ship, the Xin Pu Dong,  to come in, I think we should just post what we’re doing while we wait.

On the topic of Clancy, though, the ship he’s on is currently sitting just a few kms away from the Cape Town Container Terminal and it’s due to dock in the early hours of tomorrow morning. We’re still not sure when we’ll actually get to collect Clancy, but it’s getting closer.

Xin Pu Dong of Cape Town (the one on the right)

We seem to have spent the last few days visiting shopping centres, trying to find stuff we need for Clancy and for our trip. Fire extinguishers were fairly easy to find. Smoke detectors …. not so easy. Seems like they aren’t really a ‘thing’ here, whereas at home we could find them in the local supermarket and Bunnings hardware would have an entire section devoted to different ones.  We have found the butane cartridges we use to cook with, but the prices vary from an extortionate $5.50 per can to a more reasonable $2.50 per can. Greg has bought a few tools, but I have held off buying food and other essentials yet because I can’t remember what’s packed in the camper and I’m not sure how much space we’ll have when we have it set up properly. The number one rule when we packed the camper to ship was that all the storage space and boxes had to be either full or empty, so that stuff couldn’t rattle around and break.

On Saturday we got as close to the container port as we could, but at that stage the Xin Pu Dong  was 20kms out to sea and we weren’t able to see it at all. It was a gorgeous day though, and we had a wonderful view of a cloud-free Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. Forgot to take any photos. Yesterday we had planned to go to a market in the Company Gardens and then on to Kirstenbosch, Cape Town’s Botanical Gardens, but it drizzled most of the day so we postponed our visit to Kirstenbosch until today.

Gorgeous day with another perfect cloud-free view of Table Mountain. High temps here are mostly in the mid-high 20s. Not very busy at Kirstenbosch as it was a Monday, but it would have been nice to visit on a Sunday as they have live music acts on the Concert Lawn during summer. Kirstenbosch is the largest of 11 botanical gardens spread throughout SA. It celebrated its centenary in 2013, and there are 100 year-old plaques on trees that were planted before or when the Gardens were first established. Prior to this, the land had been, at various times, vineyards, farmland, orchard, forest and in  prehistoric times it formed part of the territory of 2 local clans.

Judy in front of a 100+ year old cycad

The land was donated to the nation by Cecil John Rhodes, who had purchased it in the late 19th century to protect the eastern slopes of Table Mountain from urban development.

The Gardens are beautifully set out with sections including a Fragrance Garden, a Braille Trail, Useful Plants, a Waterwise Garden, a Weed Garden that features many plants that are very common in Aussie gardens, Proteas, Ericas, a Garden of Extinction and a really superb Tree Canopy Walk which was constructed to celebrate the garden’s centenary.

We spent a few very happy hours there and could easily go back and see more bits that we missed the first time.

The Tree top walk in Kirstenbosch
One of the weeds in the Garden of weeds

Before we start

We’re sitting in Cape Town, waiting for Clancy the Camper to arrive. He is in a container on a ship, which is currently en route between Durban and here. The ship is expected to arrive in Cape Town this afternoon and we hope to be able to collect Clancy early next week.

Let’s backtrack a bit though, while we’re waiting. We have travelled in Southern Africa twice  – in Jan-Feb 2015 we rented a Corolla and camped around South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland. We liked it so much, we came back again later in the year, rented a 4WD and travelled around Namibia, Botswana and a bit more of South Africa in July-Aug 2015

Africa has somehow got under our skin, and we always thought we’d return, but in the last couple of years our sketchy plans have really taken on a life of their own. Greg bought a Landcruiser HJ75 ute in late 2016 and has spent the last 18 months or so building a camper on the back of it out of composite fibreglass. That project really could have had its own blog, but Greg will add a separate page or 2 with some information and photos. He has done an incredible job and built us a ‘tiny home’ on wheels so we can have more African adventures.

Our long-term plan is to keep Clancy in Africa and travel through some of the 54 countries that make up this incredible continent, heading in a sort-of south-to-north direction.

On this trip, we plan to drive from Cape Town through Namibia  to Angola, then head south through Botswana and finish up in Johannesburg. We have already sussed out storage for Clancy at a campground/guesthouse/car storage place near Jo’burg Airport. We stayed in a cabin there for a couple of nights earlier this week, got to know the owners and have already paid to store Clancy for 5 months when we finish this trip.

Our travel plans are always very … um …. imprecise, perhaps informal is a better description, but at the time of writing, our next trip will probably be through some of Eastern Africa – Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania. Eventually we want to travel through Western Africa, finishing our African adventure in Morocco. And then, who knows?

The only thing we are certain of is that Clancy will never return to Australia. Our friends Anna and Henry, the Backroad Vagrants, spent 17 days cleaning  Willie, their Landcruiser Troopcarrier, before shipping him from Vladivostok to Australia. And as Greg says, Landcruiser HJ75s are worth more out of Australia than in.

Clancy and Willie are currently sharing a 40ft shipping container. Fate and the Facebook Overlanding Africa group brought Anna, Henry, Greg and me together towards the end of last year when Anna posted, asking for information about shipping a vehicle from Australia to South Africa. Greg responded and many, many emails and several months later, we are very close to being reunited with our vehicles.

Nov 2016: Landcruiser HJ75 ute, before Greg transformed it into Clancy the Camper
Clancy the Camper parked outside our place. Steps lead to our small living area, lift-up flap to the right of the steps is storage area, and there’s also another flap on the driver’s side of the vehicle. Pull-out shade/shelter awning is fitted along the edge of the roof.
Our first trip in Clancy, at Redbanks Conservation Reserve near Burra, SA. June 2018
Living area set up as our bedroom. During the day it is 2 bench seats with a table in between. Storage areas to left and right of bed and also under bench seats