Archive for November, 2008

No snow in Namibia

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Just in case you are wondering what is going on in Scotland, try Mike Pescod’s site. I’m sure he is out there in the ‘muck and bullets’ taking Scottish winter pictures for you all to see. Rumour has it he is planning on putting some bike racks next to the CIC Hut. Well done Mike, it will make descents to the glen so much easier! The next challenge should be No 4 Gully in descent by mountain bike.
Also Nick Carter who with Martin Moran appear to be starting the winter season in fine style. Sounds a bit hard for me lads, I’ll stick to sand dunes. Danny Goodwin has a decent conditions page as well.
I will be venturing out into the rain and snow after 10th December. In the meantime, if anyone needs any information on Namibia and the Etosha National Park , I am your man:-)

Both Namibian Wildlife Reserves and South African Parks have very good facilities, from simple camping to en-suite chalets. Campsite fees are expensive in the parks, as the plots are capable of taking large trekking groups, so our little Terra Nova ‘Voyager’ tent is not too profitable for the operators. We were paying in the region of GBp15 a night each, plus park entrance fees.

Apart from the parks, accommodation and meals work out much cheaper than in the UK and sometimes very much cheaper for good quality accommodation and meals. Of interest is the consultation that has taken place between Namibia and VisitScotland on the subject of Quality Assurance schemes in the tourist industry. Certainly, tourism is big business, especially at the high end of the market.

We prefer to be independent and have rented a small car for five weeks through Holiday Autos at less than GBp500. Petrol is around half the price of back home.

Namib Desert

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Just in case drivers are not aware of the hazard all around them. Never go into any sort of sand with a two-wheel drive vehicle. It’s the most gripping experience I have ever had. At the time we were over 100 kms from the nearest habitation and the temperature was over 35deg C. Luckily skillful use of the clutch and a low gear, plus plenty of luck dragged us through.

Quiver Trees

Weaver Birds nests often hold dozens of mating pairs and are many years old.

Namib Desert The highest sand dune in the world @ over 300 metres. I’d rather plough through deep powder snow any day.

Sossusvlei. A dried up pan which sometimes comes to life in heavy rains and can be visited by Flamingos, but not on this occasion.

The highest sand-dune in the world.

Very dusty gravel roads approaching the Namib Desert.

Hot and Happy. On the summit.
A bizarre find in the foothills above the desert. Duwisib Castle

Pleasant campsite.

The long road north to Namibia

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

The world is not round, especially in parts of Namibia, where it is extremely flat and very, very hot! We were driven out of Cape Town by the bad weather and settled into the long drive north to Namibia. Endless long roads and only a few birds nests (Weaver Birds) in the telegraph poles to add interest. A completely different landscape to any we have ever experienced. More to follow in the Namib Desert.

Check Spelling A custom-built perch, in this case for a Weaver Bird. Must play hell with the reception though.

Endless long roads, at times with no interest, although the distant hills do sometimes punctuate the simmering horizon. All the main roads are good, but head off into the less visited spots and expect to slow down on well-graded gravel surfaces. A normal 2WD car is generally okay for most of the time. A 4×4 would help in places especially near any deep sand.

Cape Town Storms

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Cape Town Waterfront and not a supermarket in site. Take note Fort William:-)

Unfortunately this wonderful view disappeared behind a cloak of very windy and wet weather a couple of days ago. The Cape Doctor is usually associated with a persistent dry south-easterly wind, so called as it clears the air in a beneficial fashion. However it appears that this Weather Pattern is serving up some unusual medicine as it is also accompanied by very wet weather. Just like home really!

The Volvo Round the World Ocean Race are in town for a couple of weeks before heading off on the second leg.
View from the foothills beneath Table Mountain, towards the main city and waterfront.

Approaching bad weather. But not all is lost, as there are plenty of bad weather options, not least of which is a Wine Tour!

Cape of Good Hope. Not quite the southern-most tip of Africa. That is agreed as Cape Agulhas

Western Cape

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Arrived in Cape Town yesterday. The journey along the so-called ‘Garden Route’ and through the Western Cape is very beautiful. Signs of a varied agricultural economy, set off with the distant backdrop of mountainous country all added to the journey.

Sheep and Ostrich farming appear as a regular theme.

Very inquisitive individuals and good to eat!

Plenty of grain produced in this region.

Never too far from the Indian Ocean.

Great White Sharks

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Staying in Mossell Bay at Park House Lodge Backpackers This is a very good backpackers. Clean and tidy, with a wonderful atmosphere and gardens, including a huge collection of Koi Carp. Offshore are more serious creatures of the deep and today Sue and I met them face to face, whilst cage diving Great White Sharks

The cage held six people and was strapped firmly to the side of the boat.

The view from within the cage.

Highest Bungee Jump in the World

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Worlds Highest Bungee Jump

Paramo with wings! Check the style folks. We also stayed in a great coastal backpackers at Coffee Shack and visited some beautiful and wild beaches. This one is known as Hole in the Wall for obvious reasons.

Hole in the Wall area.

Addo Elephant Park

Friday, November 7th, 2008

We spent a lazy day driving around this small park. No off-road vehicles required. Addo Elephant Park Plenty of Elephant herds at a number of good watering holes. You can find accommodation in the park or stay outside. We used Addo Backpackers where the servings of food in the restaurant are on a par with the wildlife!

Black Rhino

Raeburn’s Anniversary Route

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Hi Alan, hope you’re enjoying the southern Spring!We talked about this recently and thought that October ice climbing was a remnant of the pre-global warming era. Well, it’s good to know that it’s not all over yet!105 years to the day after Raeburn, Walker and Walker’s first ascension of this Gully on Creag Meagaidh, I repeated the feat. I must admit that it was marginal and scrappy lower down but nevertheless provided some interesting challenges and doubtful moments!Higher up things got better but the water was still running underneath and the hollow squeaky sound from the ice made me traverse left onto the buttress at the crux pitch.Nonetheless it felt like Winter and I was immersed in each difficulty that the thin conditions threw at me.The final pitch was easy as the NE wind had ensured there was no cornice and alas it was all over much too soon.I hope the pics turn out OK – You can see how much the ice is trying to form – Smiths and higher up Ritchies had a lot of ice forming.- it probably won’t last long though as things are due to warm up – but what a great start!I was too tired to do much today so went for a walk up Ben Vorlich – no pics as I left the camera in the car but still a really nice end to a birthday weekend.Best regards.

I guess this was the first October ascent of Raeburns gully this century – 105 years to the day after the first ascent by Raeburn, Walker and Walker.As you can see – lot’s of ice forming early in the season..It’s a great start to a hopefully long season!

Drakensburg Mountains

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Holiday time folks. Keep an eye on our travels through South Africa. Hopefully we will arrive back home in December to plenty of snow and good weather. If you have any Scottish mountain shots whilst we are away, please do email them on to me through the usual email link on our website.

We are spending three days in the Drakensburg Mountains staying at Amphitheatre Hostel before heading towards the coast and Cape Town.

Amphitheatre Hostel

Hostel sunset.

White-Necked Raven on the Drakensburg Plateau

Amphitheatre Backpackers Hostel

Yesterday on the rim of the amphitheatre above the Tugela Falls

Serious convection clouds followed by showers and short-lived thunder storms in the early evening, appear to be a regular pattern.