Monday, July 2

Angola - Strawberries

Brett: We left late and on Bruce's advice, headed inland towards Dondo for some varied scenery. It was a good detour, but we were all too lazy to do the extra 6 hour detour to see Pedras Negras (Black Rocks).  Annoyingly, the wire on the temperature gauge came loose - an easy fix, but doesn't help when I was already watching it closely. Just after dark, we found a reasonable spot (near Quibala) off the road to free camp - the first time we’ve struggled to find a freecamp spot in Angola - the damaged, deserted buildings and thick mist gave it a very spooky feel (S10 15.625 E14 48.31). At midnight, some guys drove in hooting and flashing their lights, so I came down to see what was going on. Despite the hooting they were actually quite friendly. I told them we were just tourists looking for a place to camp for the night and that we would be gone in the morning. They were happy with that, and with smiles and handshakes all round they left.

Mary: We had a really long day’s driving the next day. The scenery was great and different again, with lots of hills and mountains. We pulled off the road somewhere past Waku-Kungo – as usual the Kerr’s put our tinned-hot-dog-sandwiches to shame and whipped up a beautiful tuna salad with all the trimmings. Just as we finished our lunch a farmer drove past us. He stopped to chat and left us with a bag of beautiful oranges – people here are really welcoming of tourists. We camped 50km before Lobito in a brilliant spot among some baobabs (S12 21.615 E13 51.521). Brett made a spatchcocked chicken on the braai while I did a load of washing and we stayed up playing cards late into the night.

We found the Shoprite in Lobito and did a serious stock-up. We also found internet for the first time in ages at a hotel in Benguela, although it was quite expensive. We had lunch at Baia Farte, taking in the awesome views and then drove through several mountain passes towards a highly recommended free camp spot (S13 20.716 E12 38.792). The engine temperature went above normal on one of the hills because we were pushing it a bit harder than normal, but seemed ok on the 4x4 sections down to the beach. If it can handle this, it will make it home if we drive carefully.

Brett: We had arrived at in the dark and woke to awesome views of Binga Bay. We decided to leave Parc de Ioma for another time when the car is running better and headed towards Lubango. The Leba Mountain Pass is an amazing feat of engineering from the 1970s (that looks like 2 hearts from a certain angle) - our car didn't overheat, but we passed plenty of other cars that had. We had such a sense of what we have achieved on the trip when we saw an overland group tour heading the other way - Southern Angola is about as far as most people will go and we were coming from the other direction, having gone the whole way round independently. We camped at Fazenda Farm (aka Strawberry Campsite) (S15 0.464 E13 24.446) in Humpata where Garry and Erica were brilliant hosts. We highly recommend this place for overlanders - $10 is cheap by Angolan standards and we even got some free strawberries. We sat around a big fire with them and a group of friendly Capetonian bikers, including the eminent labour judge, Anton Steenkamp, who very kindly offered us all their leftovers – they didn’t have space to carry anything extra on their bikes.

In the morning, we checked out the Voortreker graves on the farm and then went to visit Christo Rei overlooking Lubango (the others are in Lisbon, Portugal and Rio, Brazil. We sampled the cafes in town and the great views at Tundavala. We filled up with cheap petrol ($0.60/l) for the last time and left town. We turned south at Cahama and camped in a field (S16 20.841 E14 15.174) with the sound of chanting coming from a nearby village. It feels like we are now quite close to home, and with the Kerrs keen to spend as much time as possible on the East Coast we have all decided to speed up a bit – it’s a pity though, especially since the visa was so hard to get – we would have loved to have had more time to explore Angola.

We look the rough road via Otchinjou and Chitado, which makes for a nice drive and has a few easy 4x4 sections. The Kerrs were hanging back because of the dust, but after a while of not seeing them, we circled back, finding them stuck in the mud at a really extreme angle. They had seen us wheel spinning in some mud (too lazy to engage 4x4) and decided instead to go around it. Just as they had done that, the ground gave away and they slid into the worst of the mud got properly stuck. They cleared the mud around the diffs and tried driving out, with a dozen or so bystanders hanging on to the high side of the car to try stop it rolling. They weren’t winning so we had a chance to pay them back for the beach rescue by towing them out.

The Angolan side of the Rucana border was quick and easy, but they did a very thorough search for drugs and guns searching in many typical hiding places, like under the landy seats. They also tasted our toothpaste, and smelled our shampoo and herbs. At the Namibian side, they reminded us to drive on the left and made us move our car to the left of the road before we could go into the building so that we didn't block the road (nevermind that we hadn't seen any other cars all day). Angola was the only country where we couldn't find 3rd party insurance - in Namibia, 3rd party insurance is included in the fuel tax. At the border, there was nobody around to stamp our carnet, but they guy at immigration told us not to worry about it, they wouldn’t be fussed when we exited Namibia (which was true).

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