The Tale We Didn’t Tell at the Time

It happened a few days after we left Jo’burg, when we were heading for Botswana. We didn’t tell anyone at the time because we didn’t want our parents to freak out, but we did tell them as soon as we got home. And have been dining out on the tale ever since! Ha!

We weren’t laughing about it at the time, but nothing was taken and Greg was okay, so we’re regarding it as a lesson we needed to learn.

I did write a short post the day it happened, and have just added it to the blog

So … we were in Kuruman which is south west of Jo’burg. Not far from Kimberley where there are diamond mines. We wanted to get a spare tyre and were told about a place, but were warned to be careful. It was a pretty dodgy part of town with lots of people and cars. Another guy who was working in the car park also warned us to be careful.

I stayed in the car, Greg went and got the tyre and while I was momentarily distracted as he was walking back to the car with the tyre, some little bastard tried to reach in through the open car window on the driver’s side and grab whatever he could. He didn’t get anything and I then made sure both windows were up and both doors were locked while Greg went to another shop to see if he could get some inner tubes.

While he was gone, someone came up and begged for money, and someone else told me there was something wrong with the back of Clancy but I just ignored both of them and waited for Greg to get back so we could get going. When he got back to the car, there were a few guys near him and I thought I’d just wait until they went past and then unlock his door. But they were after his little backpack and tried to grab it. It had his passport, credit cards and wallet in it and there was no way he was letting his passport go!
If it had just been cash he might have. So he held on, got pushed to the ground and ended up rolling under the car and started yelling out ‘Help! Help!’. Good move – that got rid of the guys and got people to come and see what was going on. Meanwhile, I’m sitting in the car too scared to unlock the door because I thought if I did that, the guys would grab whatever they could out of the car.

So Greg rolled right under the car and came out on my side. Few scratches but that was all the damage, apart from a broken strap on his backpack. About 20 people came to see what was happening. In hindsight, I should have just leant on the car horn and made loads of noise. That would have either scared the guys off, or got people to us faster, so see what all the noise was about.

Lesson learnt – now when we’re in a town or village, we don’t carry a bag, we keep our passports hidden inside the camper, and keep our drivers licences hidden near the drivers seat because cops want to see them when they pull us over. We only carry enough cash for whatever we’re planning to buy, or take one credit card if we’re buying groceries or other large purchases.

We were really lucky.

Heading home

We’re on our way home. Currently sitting in our favourite airport, Changi

We’ve discarded stuff, cleaned up, packed up and left Clancy locked up in storage until we go back to Joburg in 5 or 6 months. We’ll be sure to bring keys with us next time.

Compared with the 90-ish kgs of stuff we took over with us, we are bringing a mere 10kgs home, plus our laptops. No checked bags, just one very light 5kg travel pack each.

We were very lucky that on this trip, our problems were minimal. 5 punctures compared with 12 on our last trip, and we had none for the last 4 weeks. Last time, we got our final puncture 2 kms from our final destination!  A minor radiator problem that a bottle of Bars Leaks fixed. Inevitable wear and tear on our dear Clancy, but that’s always going to be a feature of overland travel.

Here are a few random stats –

Nights we have spent in Clancy since Greg finished building him – 100, over our 2 African trips and the 2 trial runs we did at home.

Kms driven since we left Cape Town in mid-February – 13,800

Number of punctures in 14 weeks of travelling in Southern Africa – 17

Kgs of bread flour used to make our (almost) daily bread on this trip – 10

Number of butane gas cartridges used on this trip – 8. We were able to use our electric hotplate a lot more than we thought we would.

Thanks for travelling with us, it’s been a really great trip. See  you next time!

Stored in Johannesburg





















Manyeleti Game Reserve

Leon at African Bush Backpackers told us about Manyeleti and recommended it as a good place to spent a couple of days. It’s just west of Kruger’s Orpen Gate, but can also be accessed from the south via the R40 and some side roads. Our host at Hippo Waterfront Lodge recommended that we avoid the R538 between White River and Hazyview as it’s busy,  may have a lot of livestock wandering across the road and can take long time to drive a short distance . We’ve learnt to listen to advice from locals!

After we left Marloth Park, we spent a night at Panorama Rest Camp, a lovely campground near Graskop. It had a horizon pool overlooking the kloof gorge, good facilities including coin-operated washing machines and dryers (which we made very good use of) AND beautiful azalea hedges that were in flower when we visited. Some were 3+ metres high! We were planning on driving north to Blyde River Canyon, then to Manyeleti, but when we got up the next morning it was so foggy we could barely see a car length in front of us. So going sightseeing seemed a bit pointless, and we’ll add Blyde River to our ‘to do’ list.

We crawled down the R533 and heaved a quiet sigh of relief when we were low enough to be able to see a decent distance in front. Headed north on the R40 to Acornhoek where we stopped at a shopping mall and stretched our legs and met a very dapper Car Guard … bow tie, shiny shoes and a lovely man. When we got back to Clancy, he was standing close by, talking to a young Austrian woman. She took a photo of us with the guard, his son and his son’s friend.

Then along the R531 to Orpin Gate. The entrance to Manyeleti is on the right, just before the gate. We paid the day fee of R55 per person, got a map of the reserve and drove south to Main Camp. Manyeleti Gate is about 4kms south of Main Camp.

There are several private lodges/tented camps/other accommodation in the Reserve in addition to Main Camp, which offers cabins, rondevals, campsites and Senate, a tented camp area. We parked Clancy on one of the campsites, which is a large area with a cold water sink, braai and paved area. Ablutions nearby were okay and people staying at Senate share those. We paid R250 per campsite per night  – they charge per campsite, not per person. We only paid the day fee for our first day there.

The day we arrived, we went on an afternoon game drive, being very mindful that the camp’s gate closes at 6pm. Saw a huge herd of cape buffalo and wildebeest, antelopes, a couple of elephants. Next day we went out earlier in the afternoon and found a big group of elephants in some scrub. Largest group we’ve seen! There were 4 or 5 babies including one very tiny one, and I guess the rest of the females are pregnant. They weren’t too bothered by us, or rather, by Clancy, and we sat and watched them for ages.

Poor Clancy has had a bit of radiator trouble, a small leak, nothing too serious, but we’ll be bringing a replacement radiator to add to the spare parts collection. Greg bought a bottle of Bars Leaks when we were in Malalane, just out of Marloth Park, so he added  the contents to the radiator …. problem solved. Magic stuff.

We spent our second-last night at Elangeni Holiday Resort, just off the N4 west of Nelspruit, then drove the 250ish kms back to Joburg to the place where we store Clancy and camp when we’re here.

The hole in a radiator fixed with Bars-leak
Camped at Panorama Rest Camp
the horizon pool at Panorama Rest Camp
the horizon pool at Panorama Rest Camp
the horizon pool at Panorama Rest Camp, with full moon rising over it
The Car Guard, us, and his son and a friend at Acornhoek
A large herd of Cape Buffalo at Manyeleti
Levelling Clancy at Manyeleti main camp
Elephants at Manyeleti
The campsite at Manyeleti
More Elephants at Manyeleti
More Elephants at Manyeleti
More Elephants at Manyeleti
More Elephants at Manyeleti
More Elephants at Manyeleti
Cape Buffalo skull at Manyeleti
A vulture?
Camped at Elangeni Holiday Resort

Meeting new friends

Or: A Series of Very Fortunate Events

I’m sure that we will both remember our day with Lilli and Christa as one of the highlights of this trip.

Christa lives in Marloth Park and Lilli has been staying with her for the last week or so, having a break from camping, enjoying some home comforts and making a lifelong friend. We visited them at Christa’s on Thursday morning and spent several hours swapping stories and getting to know more about each other.

Christa’s place is a beautiful bush haven and she has so much wildife on her doorstep, it’s incredible. At this time of the year, before the rains start, getting enough to eat is very hard for herbivores, so she feeds them pellets which are approved by wildlife experts. They smell like grass, and probably have added extra goodies in them too. Many of the animals come right up to Christa’s back verandah and she hand-feeds some of them. The smaller antelopes are shy and hang back, but some of the larger varieties can become very friendly when there’s food involved!

Christa invited us back later in the afternoon to have ‘sundowners’ overlooking Crocodile River and Kruger, then back to her place for a braai. Fantastic, we’d love to! The previous day, they had seen some lions across the river, so we were hopeful that we might see some too. Christa belongs to a local Whatsapp wildlife spotting group that shares information about what is where. No messages that afternoon and we didn’t get to see any lions, but it was lovely to sit with our drinks and snacks and watch the sun go down. On our way back to Christa’s, we saw giraffes, and then so many different animals visited the back verandah, I’m sure I won’t remember them all. At one stage there were 4 different types of antelope there all at once. I even hand-fed a young Nyala buck! He’s the only one in Marloth Park and likes to hang out with the Impala girls. We  saw tiny bushbabies, zebras, a genet (small nocturnal cat that we had never seen before), and warthogs which Christa chases away as they are already fat and don’t need extra feeding. She makes a noise like a leopard and the warthogs run away!

We shared a lovely braai, more stories and left feeling like we now have 2 more like-minded friends. Lucky us!

I left a bag there and we had to go back and collect it the next morning. As we were leaving, Christa had a message from her Whatsapp group, letting people know that there had been a lion kill near the lookout. We had been there the day before, so headed back there to find a large crowd looking across the river at a group of 5 lions lying on some sand in the shade. Earlier in the morning, the lions had killed a kudu right on the fenceline separating Kruger from Marloth Park. The electric fence was wrecked and the dead kudu was lying just on the Kruger side. Because of the cars and people, the lions had gone back across the river, but would return to the kudu later. And then the scavengers would come when the lions had finished.

I am beginning to think that Greg and I are the opposite of lion whisperers – we just don’t have much luck seeing lions. The day after our sundowners with Lilli and Christa, they saw 7 lions!

Lillli’s car “Toyo” a 1988 HJ60 Toyota Landcruiser parked in front of Clancy, a 1987 HJ75 Landcruiser
Christa feeding antelopes from her balcony
Christa, Lilli and Judy
A giraffe at Dusk

A lion kill, with a dead Kudu and a wrecked fence
the lions sleeping off the Kudu kill across Crocodile river
Us having Sundowners with Lilli and Christa


Judy feeding a Nyala at Christa’s

Marloth Park, South Africa

After our first night back in South Africa at the Hippo Waterfront Lodge, we needed to figure out how to spend our final week here. We had this great idea that we’d just go into Kruger National Park for a few days, so we rolled up yesterday afternoon and discovered that all the campgrounds within driving distance were full … most of them up until the 15th! We later discovered that South Africans can visit Kruger for free this week, so our timing was particularly lousy. And yeah, our forward planning skills could be better too, but this is how we roll. (later edit: It turns out that this week it is free for South Africans to stay in Kruger, thus no campsites)
We did think that maybe we could go back to Bots and catch up with Anna and Henry if they were somewhere in southern Bots, but they’re heading to CKGR, so we nixed that idea.
Next thought was to visit Marloth Park, which adjoins Kruger and has a campground, other accommodation and lots of private residences in it. It’s kind of like a private, gated game reserve. We knew our friend Lilli had been, or possibly still is, here somewhere so thought it might be an interesting place to visit, and also maybe meet up with her if she’s still here. We have followed her overlanding travels for a while and nearly got to meet up with her in Namibia on our last trip, but we weren’t close enough to each other for that to happen. 
Almost as soon as we’d driven through the gate, an antelopey-thing zapped across the road in front of us. There is no shortage of wildlife here. We tried to get a campsite but the campground was full. Being mindful that it was getting late in the afternoon and we try very hard not to drive at night, we asked the receptionist if there was anywhere else in the park we could try. She suggested the carpark behind the service station which we looked at and decided against. Then we consulted our beloved iOverlander and found African Bush Backpackers just a few kms away. The person who had added it mentioned that they allowed her to park in their carpark and camp there, so we thought we’d give it a try. Success! Lovely, friendly, helpful owners, Leon and Sarah, who were happy for us to park Clancy, run a power cord from the office and use their facilities. And, for lots of extra bonus points, they know Lilli and she’s still here, staying with a friend not far from here.
Thus ensued many messages via Instagram, organising a time and place to meet up. 11am this morning, can’t wait!
The wildlife just wanders past the Backpackers – so far we’ve seen zebras, a warthog, a bushbaby (much tinier than I imagined) and a couple of different types of antelopey-things. Leon puts hay out at this time of the year as there’s not much to graze on. There were a mama and tiny baby zebra, only 1 or 2 weeks old. The rest of the females are pregnant, they usually deliver their babies in January, so this new little one was a bit of a surprise. 
Pregnant Zebras from the braai area of African bush backpackers
Pregnant Zebras from the braai area of African bush backpackers
Crocodile River bordering Kruger National Park, just down the road from African Bush Backpackers
the border fence Kruger National Park, just down the road from African Bush Backpackers

Kudu just inside Kruger
Camped on the driveway at African Bush Backpackers

Bots to Moz

We’ve been offline for a short while as we crossed back from Botswana to Sth Africa last Saturday, then made our way across the north-east of SA to Kruger National Park and crossed into Mozambique via Pafuri Gate on Tuesday.

On our last night in Botswana, we wild-camped north of Serowe on a disused road we found when we were there in March. We used the Martin’s Drift/Groblersbrug border crossing from Bots to SA for the 4th time. Martin’s Drift on the Botswana side was, as usual, quick, easy and predictable. Groblersbrug was the usual confusion of not knowing where to go because the Immigration section had been moved again, although being Saturday afternoon, it wasn’t as busy as we’ve seen it. There was a huge line of trucks waiting to cross into Bots, though – at least 3kms long.

We stayed at the Big Fig Inn near Tom Burke, just a few kms from the border. Lovely campground with grassy sites. The first grass we’ve seen in quite a while.  On Sunday we headed east towards Louis Trichardt. We’d driven along a really terrible stretch of road from Tom Burke to Alldays on our first trip here, so we wanted to avoid that this time. Google Maps offered an alternative, but neglected to mention that parts of it were dirt! Blrgh. Anyway, we reached our second campsite, Zvakanaka, just north of Louis Trichard and it was a lovely set-up too. We had a site with our own shelter, power, water, braai. Ablutions including a front-loading washing machine were nearby. Great views over the Soutpansberg mountain range. 

On Monday we did some stuff in Louis Trichard – groceries, tyre & inner tubes, hardware, more groceries, then continued east to our third campsite, Nthakeni, at Nkotswi. On the way, we stopped and fuelled up at Masisi, the last fuel source for us in Sth Africa, and in the part of Moz we were heading to, fuel supplies are unreliable. On our first trip to Sth Africa, we were heading to Pafuri Gate and were stopped by a roadblock at Masisi – the bridge over the river had been washed away, so we had to head south to another gate.

Nthakeni Bush and River Camp was an absolute gem. Located on the  Mutale River, it offers a range of accommodation and provides employment for local villagers. Our campsite had its own outdoor shower, (indoor) toilet and the best camp kitchen I’ve seen. Well-equipped, nicely laid out, it was excellent!

It would have been great to spend more time at any or all of the 3 South African campgrounds we visited, but …. places to go, borders to cross, a new country to explore …

Last camp in Botswana, unused road on ioverlander
Camped at Zvakanaka
the lizard ladder at Zvakanaka
Night-time and washing at Zvakanaka
Soutpansberg mountain range
Nthakeni Bush and River Camp
the river near Nthakeni Bush and River Camp
Nthakeni Bush and River Camp
Judy cooking in the kitchen at Nthakeni Bush and River Camp

An aggressive looking Cape Buffalo in Kruger National Park
Elephants in the distance Kruger National Park
Monkeys and Warthogs Kruger National Park

THAT was a really crappy day!

The bad bits

When we were parked at the Midas car park in Kuruman, several men tried to mug Greg and steal his daypack with his passport and other assorted items in it. I was sitting in Clancy, which was all locked up with the windows up, watching and listening in horror whilst trying to get the driver’s side door open.

We drove 15kms out of our way to a farm which, according to signposts, offered camping. When we go there 2 extremely disinterested women told us there was not camping but we could stay in the B&B part. No thanks. I commented as we were leaving that I felt like leaving all their gates open, but being a nicely brought-up country gal, I closed them.

Then we drove to the next place that offered accommodation and got a flat tyre just after we arrived. First of the trip.

The good bits

Greg absolutely would not let go of his pack and the would-be thieves got nothing. He rolled under the car to get away from them, yelled ‘Help’ several times and people came to his aid. As Mr Rogers would say … in bad situations, look for the helpers. They are always there. I think it was a very good thing that I didn’t get out of the car as that would have given the ‘thieves’ the opportunity to try and grab hold of as much as they could from the front of the car!

Greg got quite a few scratches and grazes on his arms and legs, but is otherwise fine.

We were able to spend the night in a nice cabin at the OppiKnoppi Guest Farm which gave Greg the chance to fix the tyre while I cooked dinner in the cabin. The hosts charged us a very reasonable R150 per person, around $30 in total.


On the Road, at last

I bet at least 50% of you now have that Willie Nelson song ticking over in your brain. Sorry about that!

We headed out of Jo’burg yesterday morning. Finally. We really enjoyed spending 10 days at Airport En Route. It’s the longest we’ve spent anywhere apart from home in … forever. We settled into a nice little routine of Greg working on stuff on Clancy – new roof box, diesel-powered heater for our living space that we can also use to heat our outdoor shower tent, water heater for our showers. When he needed things from the hardware, or we needed something from the supermarket, Greg would ride his bike to the shops. I cooked, read a lot and did my best to maintain the campers’ kitchen to the high standard the owners keep it. There’s something about a very clean kitchen that seems to make us want to keep it that way, and our hostess Marion thanked me for keeping it so clean, but she still liked to splash plenty of Ajax around.

Most of the time, we were the only people there, but a couple of nights before we left there was a family from French Guiana who stayed overnight. And where is French Guinana? Just north of Brazil, and east of Surinam. If you have read ‘Papillon’, you’d recognise it. It was a former French penal colony and our host David took great delight in pointing out that all their campers were from former penal colonies – ie, us and the French Guianans.

We’re on our way to the SA/Bots border crossing  at McCarthy’s Rest, north-west of Jo’burg. We drove through the centre of Jo’burg yesterday, we hadn’t meant to, but we got to revisit some of the places we got to know quite well when we stayed in an Airbnb in Maboneng on our first trip to Sth Africa. We were driving along and all of a sudden I realised we were in that trendy area. It looks better at night when all the pretty lights are on and there are plenty of people out and about, but it still looked good.

Last night we stayed at a campground just off the N14, at Barberspan Lake, 300kms west of Jo’burg.We had a lakeside campsite, and were the only ones there! There were only 6 campsites, but loads of A-frame chalets which were also all empty. I guess it gets busy during school holidays, at least I hope it does, for the sake of the owners and their staff.

Tonight we’re staying at the Red Sands Country Lodge, just a bit west of Kuruman. It’s an impressive set-up … lots of rondeval-style cabins, campsites with private facilities plus campsites without their own bathrooms, restaurant, bar, pool etc etc. We’re just staying in an ordinary campsite and using the shared bathroom, but we do have our own sink, braai and bench with power points and light. It’s very nice and at the lower end of what we pay for a campsite – R240, around $25.

We’re planning on crossing into Botswana tomorrow and have read various reports of what food we can and can’t take across. We know we can’t take fresh meat, and why would we when Botswana beef is so good and so cheap? But then we’ve read of people having UHT milk confiscated, no idea why, and fish and all kinds of other fresh food. Seems like it depends on whether the customs officer is hungry or not! When we crossed from Namibia to Bots earlier this year, we had apples and potatoes taken, despite a notice in the office with information on maximum allowed quantities, and what we had was nowhere near the limit.

Camped by the Barberspan Lake
Location of Barberspan Lake
Red sands lodge
Red Sands


Still in Jozi

Our plans to only stay a couple of days in Jo’burg while we get a few things done have sort of gone out the window. Greg has been building another fibreglass box on the roof  to hold 2 more tyres with solar panels covering them. It’s taking a bit longer than anticipated, but we don’t really mind. We like it here at Airport En Route, and our hosts Marion and David don’t seem to mind us spending some extra time here. There have only been a couple of other overnight campers – one family at the start of their trip and another at the end of theirs – so most of the time we have the lovely campers’ kitchen and bathroom to ourselves.

The weather here is gorgeous at the moment, especially considering it’s winter here too – up to 25C during the day, down to -3 a couple of mornings, sunshine, clear skies. It’s much colder at home.  The countryside here looks like Adelaide in summer – very brown and dry. A combination of frequent morning frosts and not much rain. Apparently it’s not usually so warm at this time of the year and the locals are worried that they may be in for a hot summer. I’ve been feeling like one ear is blocked, as if I’m still on a plane and when I mentioned it to Greg, he reminded me that we’re at an altitude of 1750m here! Which also explains why I thought it was taking longer to cook and bake stuff. It’s the altitude.

We returned the rental car on Sunday and now if we need anything from the supermarket or hardware, Greg rides his bike. It’s about 4kms to the nearest large hardware store and there’s a good shopping centre nearby.

While Greg has been adding, subtracting and modifying stuff on Clancy, I’ve been cooking, refining my bread recipe and doing lots of reading. It’s all been very laid-back and low-key and I’m sure we’ll be happy to get on the road to Botswana, but for now, we’re happy doing what we’re doing.

Some guys were repainting road markings on a road nearby. They were painting stop markings, but they didn’t use a stencil like we do in Australia, they paint it with a roller freehand, and it looks really good!
Adding the diesel heater into the storage area
Fibreglass panels most brought on the plane in pieces and fibre-glassed together
Making a mounting for the diesel fuel tank for the heater
The spare tyre storage
Mounting the inlet and controller for the diesel heater



Season 2 begins

We follow a lot of Overlanders on social media. Recently I read the final post of a guy who had been travelling for several years and he included the last lines from the movie, The Martian, in which Mark Watney says:

At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you… everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home.

Seems like very good advice for overlanders as well as astronauts.

We hit our first problem before we’d even landed in Jo’burg. On the flight from Singapore to Joburg, we realised that we’d forgotten to bring the keys to the camper part of Clancy. We’ve brought almost 90kgs of luggage and no keys. Excellent.  Actually, we’d forgotten to bring any keys at all, but we’d left a car key here with David and Marion at Airport En Route, the vehicle storage place/campground that has been Clancy’s home for the last 4 months. And from now on,the first and last items on our very long lists of stuff we need to bring will be KEYS!

It all worked out okay though. We were able to spend our first night here in an ensuite room at Marion and David’s, which meant we didn’t have to scurry 30m across frosty lawn to the toilets in the middle of the night. The next morning Greg got to work on the camper door lock and managed to lever it open, and we could then access the set of keys we’d left in the camper.

Greg re-installed the injectors he’d removed at the end of Season 1 to get refurbished, and that all went smoothly, got Clancy started without too much trouble and we’re now back to sleeping in the camper, but we’re using the nice camp kitchen here while we can.

It’s good to be back.

Clancy parked in the cold foggy morning in Johannesburg. Now we have to figure out how to break in…
Greg replacing the injectors in the 2H diesel
Unpacking everything




Starting to do repairs, a long list of things to do.
First nights dinner. South African Boerworst and these tiny potatoes that we see a lot in South Africa.
The days are cold in the morning but warm up and the days are bright and sunny getting over 20C
We thought about buying them but we didn’t. Bought 2 already-barbecued chickens instead