There were 17 of us that boarded the Nomad Adventures truck destined for Victoria Falls. We slowly got to know each other over the first couple of days and I had more faith than I had in my first group. No big personalities and surprisingly, I was the only Australian and the only person with English as my first language so I was unsure what to expect.
The truck was fairly different to the Intrepid one, it had storage lockers in the main cabin for us to keep our bags, USB sockets at every seat and a couple of seats facing the middle at the front which could use the freezer as a table. There was far less suspension so we experienced a lot of bumping around, something I was told would only get worse as the roads in Namibia quickly diminish in quality.
Our campsite hosts in Cederberg made us dinner on the first night, giving us the pleasure of eating inside which we wouldn’t have for some time. It was a nice braii, something I was happy to experience again before I finished my time in South Africa.
It wasn’t such an early morning on Wednesday which was good so we were able to pack down our tents in daylight. I was happy to find that they were a couple of feet bigger than the intrepid tents and they were also much easier to pack up and down, although we always came away with our clothes covered in dirt and our hands covered in a combination of rust and dirt.
We headed north and camped just south of the Namibian border by the Orange a River. We spent the evening watching the sunset from the jetty before having dinner around the campfire, sharing stories from our home countries and our experiences in Africa so far. We had the stars looking down on us and our tour guide, Geoffrey, showed us where different constellations were, those from Europe seeing the southern cross for the first time.
The following morning was spent canoeing down the Orange River itself, admiring the endless expanse of mountains surrounding us. I was better than my kayaking experience on the garden route but definitely noticed my muscle pain after the first half hour, with only 6km and a couple of hours to go. Thankfully we made it despite spending most of our time at the back of the pack and we got back to the campsite for lunch before we left for the border.
After 2 months I was officially leaving South Africa. I still can’t believe how much time I spent there but I’m so happy that I had the chance to see so much of it. I did everything that I was keen to do although missed out on going to Drakensburg and Lesotho, places I learned more about during my time here and was unfortunately unable to fit them in to my itinerary. I absolutely loved my time in SA, I’m unsure if I’ll ever experience a country with as much natural beauty, particularly in Cape Town where my favourite view was on the coastline where the ocean met the endless mountains. It’s a shame that the country upholds such a dangerous reputation, one that I think has been particularly exaggerated within Australia. In my time here I never felt unsafe. Provided that you take precautions and have your wits about you it is possible to have a safe and very enjoyable experience here and I’m disappointed to know that the reputation is the reason so many people don’t travel here. South Africa has given me so much and I’ve met so many great people during my time here. I urge everyone to experience what it has to offer. If it’s on your list, bump it to the top and go soon. If it’s not on your list, add it and you won’t regret it.