Life In Kruger National Park – No Words Just Pics


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14 May 2012

Today I will just post photgraphs from various locations in Kruger National Park which I have not published yet.

All photgraphs have been taken with a Canon EOS 550 & 120-400mm Sigma Lens

Enjoy the pics and comments are welcome ūüôā

3 Hippos at Lake Panic

Elephant Bull B&W¬†in Satara – Mananga 4×4 Trail

Zebra B&W – Lower Sabi

Southern Yellow Billed Hornbill – head-shot

 3 Hippos with middle one open mouth out of water РLake Panic

Hamerkop – Lake Panic

Hamerkop and African Darter – Lake Panic

 Goliath Heron РLake Panic

Zebra in Bushveld – Satara

PeAce Out
Ford Prefect
Hitchhiker of Life

Life in Kruger National Park – Skukuza Morning Bush Walk Review


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12 May 2012

A part of my move to Kruger National Park was a morning hike with my friends which we booked in advance, as there is nothing better than to walk early morning in the bush and do some game tracking.
Two of my friends did a multi day hikes previously and absolutely loved it, telling us great stories about their adventures.
Needless to say the whole party was very excited and we got going on Saturday at 5.15 a.m
We should have met the guides at 5.30 but no sign of them until 5.45 when they rocked up hang over from the night before, barking at one of my friends to put her cigarette out as we are leaving before a good morning or an apologies was even given by these two “guides”.
Then he introduced himself as Pilot but his “co-pilot” stayed nameless and running down in a very rude voice the rules for the hike:

Don’t talk
Don’t go slow
Don’t take pictures
Don’t touch anything
Don’t leave anything behind
My friend added: don’t bother us and good Pilot lost his plot completely at this point screaming at my friend that he has to stay here or shout up.
I reminded him that  we are paying customers, that his behaviour is completely out of line, so  Pilot got into his vehicle sulking.
We drove around 30 min from the camp and were told to get out and that we will be walking from now on.
At this point our 3 hour hike was already 45 min down and our two guides started to slender in a very casual walk through the bush.

These two seriously tried to avoid any wildlife and walking so slowly that your 100 old granny would have overtaken them!
They finally brought us up a little hill and now it was time for our snack breakfast which consisted out of Provita and sliced processed cheese and a small bottle of juice.
We were given 30 minutes to rest after our very exhausting hike of 30 min through the bush before returning in a loop back to the vehicle and driven back to the Rest Camp.

Summary: For ZAR 365,00 per person you did get 2 hangover guides, rude behavior and literally were robbed  by 1 hour of your hiking time  maybe walked 3-4 km but only due to the slow pace of the guides and every effort was made to keep us away from any wildlife.
Before you consider doing this hike take your money and donate it to the local orphanage or get the kids something they need or donate it to the  rhino anti poaching foundation.

I might be unfair and generalise our bad experience with 2 guides but for any visitor it would have left a very bitter taste in their mouth.
However if you have the time and do your booking for a 3 or 5 day hike a few months in advance or plan your trip to Kruger National Park around such a trip I can ensure you that you will have a great experience.
Oh and I still took some pics ūüôā

PeAce Out
Ford Prefect
Hitchhiker of Life

Life In Kruger National Park – Mananga 4×4 Adventure Trail Review


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10 May 2012
Hello All and as promised today the review of Managa¬†4×4¬†Adventure Trail near Satara in Kruger National Park which my friends and I did on the 30 April 2012.
Satara is 95km away from Skukuza the largest main camp in Kruger Park and the actual trail only 5km away from the Satara Camp.
The cut off time is 11.00 and you are able to make this an easy¬†day’s outing from Skukuza if you leave between 6.00 – 7.00 a.m. and take a leisurely drive leaving you enough time to do some incredible game viewing on the way, but be aware that on a speed limit of 50 km/h you will need good 3 hours to get there as you definitely will go slowly to watch the wildlife along the road.

Taking the H1-2 towards Tshokwane Rest Point, you will experience the ever-changing bushveld on which I have seen some amazing like the mating lions. Unfortunately Tshokwane was still under construction due to flood damage at the point of our travel and the shops and restaurant is closed at this stage but the Park has made provisions for toilets.

Should you make the trip from Skukuza ensure you take enough fluids and a few snacks with you as you will have very little time in Satara to stock up, as Tshokwane is closed until further notice.
From Tshokwane you take the H1-3 to Satara which is one of the bigger camps in Kruger National Park and the road is absolutely amazing with an ever-changing scenery ranging from dense bushveld to open grass savana.

We arrived in Satara¬†just before 11.00 a.m and checked in at reception to pay for our drive, unfortunately reception staff in Satara is very slow and it felt like we causing an inconvenience for them showing up at this time and were promptly told that we can’t go on the trail anymore. We¬†were hassling a bit and the manager finally allowed us to carry on, however we had to fill out the necessary paperwork inclusive an¬†indemnity form.

Due to the pace of the reception staff a formality which would have taken maybe 5-10 minutes per car we ended up spending nearly 20 per car, virtually leaving us no time to grab something to eat in the take-away/fast food outlet or the restaurant.
The cost of the Mananga Adventure Trail is ZAR 475,00 per vehicle,no extra cost per person and ZAR 100,00 deposit.

Satara¬†features public telephones, post box, restaurant, deli, shops, laundromat, filling station, communal kitchens and bathrooms, basic on-site first-aid assistance, cutlery and plate hampers available from reception, a day visitor picnic area and boma on the perimeter of the camp, an eco information centre and amphitheatre, and a swimming pool with a children’s playground but as you may have noticed no ATM.
The petrol station is only taking cash or South African Petrol Cards and you are not able to pay with credit card at any of the petrol stations within the Kruger National Park, so ensure you either bring enough cash when you are entering the Park or draw enough money in Skukuza should you come from there.

In general vehicles will consume a lot more petrol due to driving very slowly and the continuous stop and go to either watch animals or because you are forced by larger mammals who are occupying the road for what ever time they feel like.

So from the Satara Rest Camp it is 5km to the entrance of the 4×4 trail which is 48km long and has a very easy difficult level, actually in dry season you would not even need a 4×4 vehicle to do the route but your car should have some good ground clearance.¬†During the rainy season which is from September – February, as a non 4×4 vehicle will get serious problem mastering all the mud and dirt roads.

Your point of entry is open savanna and a great opportunity to spot lions and other cats before you come to a waterhole where a very large elephant bull has set up his territory. My guess he is good 40-50 years old, only has one tusk and is not to shy to give you a good fright by flaring up his ears and mock charging your car.
Watch his moves and behaviour as Kruger Park elephants are known to be aggressive.

In our case we switched off our diesel Landi and at the end we were less than 10 meters away from him, making it impossible to start the car as we would have spooked him without any chance to either out run him with the car or hide anywhere.
Yep maybe shouldn’t have bought it in a very bright yellow my good friend ūüôā

The route then takes you from the Mavumbye waterhole towards the Gudzani Dam which is open bushveld with herds of blue wildebeest, buffalo, zebras and impalas
Honestly most of the wildlife is posing for you while you take your pics, reminds me of Disney World. sometimes

After the dam we turned left at Gudzani Road as we were told that there is a pride of lions a few ilometers up the road and lucky we were, as they still had their kill from last night, however the other 20 cars around spoiled it a bit for us after being already 6 hours on the road with virtually no other people around us up to this point.

Driving back on Gudazni Road for around 10 km we turned right into the last  stretch of the Managan Adventure Trail through a mixture of dense bush, open savanna and grass-land before coming back to Satara around 15.00 hours.

We quickly collected our deposit which is used that you check in and that  you are not stuck in the bush somewhere which took as another 15 min thanks to the speed of the reception employees and headed back another 95 km to Skukuza hoping we are going to be off the road before the rangers are cruising and fining non authorised vehicles on the road as Rest Camp closing times are 17.30 during the early winter months.

Summary of the Managan 4×4 Adventure Trail:
For ZAR475,00 per car it is an absolutely amazing trip, easy to drive in the dry season and really to recommend.
The area around Satara is known for big cat activities with multiple daily sightings or lions, cheetah and leopards. We got 4 out of the big 5 that day only missing the illusive leopard, however the lion kill made it all up for us.
However it is a long drive from Skukuza to Satara and back and we spend 13 hours in the car that day, so for a family with small kids not really advisable, except you stop over at Satara and are willing to deal with rather slow staff (they called us at 18.00 hours and ask us how far we are to pick up our deposit which we did 3 hours earlier).
We seriously enjoyed the drive to and back to Satara as we had no traffic and you would have never assumed that the Park was fully booked over this long weekend.
The game spotting opportunities at Managa 4×4 trail¬†is amazing, however you are reminded and urged that this is a 4×4 trail and should not be used for a game drive.
Which brings me to one last point: For serious 4×4 enthusiasts this trail is just not challenging, not even in the wet season.

For the trip consider following:

Take enough water and food, Satara is very hot, even in winter with temperatures up to 40+ degrees celsius common
Ensure that your car is in a very good condition and not likely to break down, as you have absolutely no cell phone reception once you leave Satara.
Bring a decent camera, spare memory card and battery
Bring enough cash for petrol
Bring long sleeve t-shirt as the sun will be burning you and your passengers, except you decide you drive with your air con on all day
Remember that you are in a Nature Reserve of the size of Israel and distances are far.
Even you are allowed to leave your car whilst being on Mananga¬†4×4 Adventure Trail,the wildlife will eat or kill you if you run or if you taunt it.
And DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CAR when you leave the trail as the rangers will lock you up ūüôā

PeAce Out
Ford Prefect
Hitchhiker of Life

Life in Kruger National Park – Finally Arrived


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8 May 2012

Yes, it has been a while but with my final move to Kruger National Park, setting up the new house and getting all maintenance issues sorted out, I finally found the time to write a blog again.

Also I had to get myself a new camara, as my old one was just not worth to repair.
Never-less I got something like 400 pics through which I started to work through and a trip summary for you but lets start at the beginning.

26th of April I made my way to Kruger National Park with a whole bunch of friends who helped me to move all my stuff from Pretoria.
Even I sorted out a lot of things before hand I still managed to fill one 1,8 ton truck, 2 pick ups and a land rover.
In true style in the spirit of moving of adventure we took only back routes from Pretoria. It was an epic 12 hour journey via Lydenburg then up and along the Long Tom pass in Mpumalanga with a short stop at the Long Tom Pass Brewery which unfortunately was an absolute dessater.
We ordered some of their beer, which was sour and off, the food was cold and overpriced, which is a shame as the brewery is just after the highest point of Long Tom Pass and nested in a stunning setting.
My recommendation should you ever take this route, just smile and wave and drive past this place.
From there onwards you drive around 30km down the pass into Sabi¬†which is a stunning little town and then you have a 50km stretch to Hazyview the last “town” before you hit the Kruger Park Gate another 40km away.

After off loading all my furnitures and a few beers later we had a nice little party for the next few days which started with our daily routine by getting up in the morning, taking a camping chair and looking at our stunning view and waiting which animal will pass next. You can clearly see the animal tracks from our garden and during the next  few days herds of elephants where making their way past us.

Unfortunately my pet crock was nowhere to be seen during these days but hey 10-15 elephants every morning walking past your garden is also not bad.
After a couple of days, I somehow set in but did not unpack anything until the guys left, however we enjoyed the life in the Park but taking sunset cruises and chilling out, absorbing the madness of Kruger National Park on a very long weekend.

On one of the days we went over to the rest camp and could not find a parking spot, restaurants were full and tranquillity nowhere to be found in the midst of the buz of tourist. So we quickly went back to my little place to some piece and quietness.

When we arrived back at my place we where just in time to watch a herd of elephants taking their late afternoon showers in the comfort of my home with cold beers and now screaming tourist. One of the young bulls was kind enough to pose for me while I was test driving my new camera and zoom lens. I do have to say I like the continuous shot options and I might put together a short flash movie in the future.
While we sitting under the trees and watching these guys having fun, one of the resident Vervet¬†Monkey peed¬†into my friends head, apparently¬†it’s good luck, I think it’s just monkey pee. ūüôā Our short drives in the afternoon were pretty cool and at one stage, we had 3 young male lions walking past the car. Unfortunately I still had my zoom lens¬†on, the cats were less than a meter away from the car and by the time I changed my lens I only saw their back sides disappearing into the dense bush.

A few meters on we found a very luck Kudu cow, who easily could have been dinner for these 3 lions. However mating time is coming closer and all wildlife is moving closer together as winter¬†and the dry season are approaching. So I’m sure I will be able to show you some incredible pics in near future and I finally will get the hang of my equipment.
I still need to work through some of my pics then I will be able to give you a give you a travel report on the Satara 4×44 route which is a stunning piece of adventure.
As I’m writing this blog I have a fruit bat circling above my head.
Now I’ll ¬†leave you with an African Sunset in the bush until next time.

PeAce Out
Hitchhiker of Life

Life In Kruger National Park- Just Pic’s


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I know it has been longer than usual, unfortunately I still don’t have my camera back and had to go to the city for a couple of weeks and I have not found a story worth while sharing since I been in Johannesburg.

In meanwhile I will leave you with some pics from Kruger National Park

Life In Kruger National Park – When Lion’s Are Mating or When Camera’s Fail


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So today we got up relatively early (for my wife that is) but quite late for a morning game drive after a very disappointing night drive yesterday.
As mentioned in my previous entry, the Kruger Park is a circus at the moment and most wild life is so stressed in the late afternoons that you don’t spot anything anymore.
So off we went, kids in the back of back of the pick up, tablet, camara, video camara ready and hoping that we find some big game for nice pics.
Recently there was a lot of big cat activity in and around the Satara area and we decided to take this route in the hope to spot some big cats or game.

Halfway to Satara we found fresh tracks of buffalo and elephants and we knew we were on the right track, the roads still very quite compare to the Lower Sabi road and open savannah, perfect for big cats and other game.
We carried on slowly hoping to spot the wild life whose tracks we just found in the bush but we were not prepared of what we found instead around the next corner.

A young male lion was following a young lioness in the middle of the road. The sight was so beautiful that I stopped my car immediately and got my camara and video camara out, hoping we would either see the female chasing off the young male or what is very seldom being able to watch them hunt together.
So here I go, getting my camera ready, starting to shoot away, whilst the young lion, like most males in their late teens early tweens had only one thing in mind, mating with his beautiful female.
Believe it or not this happened right in front of our car, nobody else around at this stage and guess what! My camera made a big beep and went dark. I was ready to scream as these pics could have made my year, so I started to change my batteries and asked my wife if she is getting everything on video and the answer I got back from her was: Aehm we have a small problem here, the battery is flat.
I couldn’t believe our bad luck, both camera’s had been charged over¬†night and should be working fine.
I hissed at my wife to take the cellphone and take the video this way, at this point I  finished changing the batteries of the camera but unfortunately the young male was done as well.
Yep ladies, it is not just happening to the young boys the first time around but also to the king of the jungle.
So the lioness rolled over on her back, stretching all 4 from her and I started up the camera to take at least the pic of her laying on her back and guess what! Nothing! Absolutely nothing! The view finder stayed pitch black!
At this point I started to swear rather loudly at the camera and my kids got rather amused by the situation remarking that even lions deserve some privacy.
Wise Asse’s my kids, seriously!
However I was not prepared to give up that easily, checking the camera and all its settings, hoping that the lions would carry on as they do so often and that nobody else is going to show up at this point as it was already 7.20 a.m and the roads would get busy with travellers.
Round two came and went and still not pictures, in my despair¬†I started taking pics with my cellphone (thanks Apple for a 8MP camera, which takes longer to set up than a professional one) until my little one asked why I’m not taking Baby Droid (that what she calls my tablet).

Trust me at this moment I could have kissed her if she wouldn’t have been on back seat and the cats in front of me. Off I went switching on my Acer Tab with a 5MP camera, compare to Apple ready when you want it, and was taking pics of these two love birds.
Unfortunately a little bit too late to get all the action, but never less some serious nice close up’s of a very exhausted lion pair next to the road.
But the youngster was not done yet and ready to go again, however the lioness was not willing to get up or even trying to run away, as the male just would have had his way with her again.
My wife said he is looking with sad eyes at her but¬† I think he was watching her in a completely different way, more like, honey when can we go again! Unfortunately the first cars started to arrive and their occupants got very excited to see lions, which is completely understandable as you don’t find these big cat’s very often next to the road, especially not mating. You might ask me now where the video is. Well if you like to see one with a finger over the lens let me know and I mail it to you.
It definitely was the lion’s day but unfortunately not ours but hey, that how it goes, sometimes you win, sometimes you loose and maybe it was our creators wish for us not to interfere in these two’s mating ritual.
At this point more and more vehicles started to pull in and driving very close to the mating couple disturbing them in their natural behaviour, so we decided to make a turn and drive back as there is not much else for you to experience after this.
For me is nothing else left then to bring my camera to the shop for repairs and use my “Baby Droid” for the moment to bring you more insights of Kruger National Park.

PeAce Out
Ford Prefect
Hitchhiker of Life

Life in Kruger National Park – Wild Life or A Life Gone Wild


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Sunday 1st April 2012, another beautiful day in Kruger National Park and with school holidays starting, also the beginning of a very busy period in the park. Not only are a lot of European tourists in the park but also families from the neighbouring provinces are present and all only want to do one thing. They are here to observe the beautiful wild life of the park and enjoy some time in the rest camp’s after dark.

Whilst the South African Park Board is going out of its way to ensure that there are not only¬†enough rubbish bin’s in the park and on every day camp facility but also clearly marking their bins for recycling some “guests” just don’t get the message.
I spend 4 hours today driving around one of the main camp’s area as I found a large herd of elephants the night before to take some pics but instead I was horrified to find scene’s like this:
plastic bottles next to the road, paper in the bushes, sweet wrappers being eaten by baboons. The staff at the gate is actually handing out paper waste bags, so that if you consume your allowed food and beverages, you can place them into the bag and then recycle them on a rest stop. I just don’t get this kind of visitors who make the effort to drive a rather long way, spend a fortune to get into the park and on accommodation but rather selfishly through their rubbish out of the window.
I actually took 150 pics of rubbish laying on the streets or bushes in 4 hours!

Maybe I should post a rubbish pics page? I know that the Parks Board is doing the up most to keep the Park which has the size of Israel as clean as possible and I think you should punish these so-called visitors who through their rubbish into the bushes and next to the road like poachers and lock them up for a number of years!
African jails are even for local’s scary and after a couple of tourists and local’s get locked up, I’m sure we have a clean park again.

This actually brings me to  another point. The traffic these poor animals experience during holiday season is immense and must cause stress to them.
Yes some of you might say, well they are used to it! Trust me, some idiot last afternoon insisted to take his Nissan Nivara so close to a herd of elephants with babies that they are started to charge the vehicle. Most people living in SA (South Africa) or even watching Discovery Channel or Animal Planet or do some research on Kruger before coming here are aware that these elephants in the Kruger National Park are some of the most aggressive ones you can find in Africa.
Kruger National Park anyway had a rather rough start of the year so far with massive floods and now the damage which has been left behind. This picture of the bridge is pure water damage from earlier this year and the Sabi is good 7 m below the bridge! Now imagine the water masses which have done this damage and changed the natural flow of the Sabi River.
Well back to the animals and their stress, as well the damage done by¬†the amount of vehicles just driving through the park on a daily basis and I’m not talking about the organised tours from the park or other operators in the area but the sheer traffic I experienced today on the road is amazing. Having lived all my life in big cities I’m pretty used to traffic but today it was a circus. People parking in the middle of the road, blocking everybody else and causing traffic jams. I can hear the cars pulling in and out of the Rest Camp from our staff acommodation like
I’m living next to a highway. Guys, I have to confess that I’m also driving a big petrol swallowing pick up but in my defense I have¬†5 kids and I love to drive on offbeat tracks, not just in Kruger but all around Southern Africa.
Now you might ask me what the solution would be?
Well to start off the park could be closed off to all vehicles, meaning you are allowed to travel to your rest camp which becomes your home base and from there onwards you are only allowed to take organised tours like at Chobie National Park in Botswana.
Still a circus for tourists but¬†an organised one or you are only allowed to enter the¬†park with an electro car (I know I’m dreaming) but¬†stay for a moment with me on this point. Your car chases away a lot of animals anyway due to the engine noise, electro car= no noise and organised tours enables communication between the drives which¬† enables you¬†to get much closer to the¬†wild life.
Unfortunately it is not up to me to decide but maybe one day somebody takes up this ideas before it is too late.

Then check this out, on my way back I found this:

She reminds me on the British tourist late last year who insisted that he needs to go for a swim in the ocean near Cape Town despite the warnings from locals and the shark flag up. Result of the story: The shark took both his legs off and in her case a rather large land animal like a lion, cheetah, rhino or even elephant or even a herd of baboons, which are very common in the area where I took the pic ,take a bite of her or a good stomping.
So dear pale lady from  the norther hemisphere, good luck to you and I hope you are  a tasty treat to an animal.

Now as the sun is setting, time would be perfect¬†to go for a drive¬† and check out the local wild life I on the other hand will stay in my house watch my 2 pet croc’s checking out the hippo and wait until all visitors have to be in the camp as I do not want anymore traffic or be upset by rubbish laying next to the roads.

However I will leave you with a beautiful pic of an owl which I found  sitting in a tree watching me drive by last night and hopefully I will be able to show you some amazing pics in the next couple of day of real wild life instead of Life Gone Wild before I must to my treaded track back to Johannesburg for a while to take care of business.

PeAce Out
Hitchhiker of Life

African Adventure continued


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So dear friends, as promised more of last years trip through Lesotho to Coffee Bay (Eastern Cape).

As mentioned we left Fourisburg on the 21st in the morning and drove through the Golden Gate Highland Nature Park towards Phuthaditjhaba the last town in South Africa before you enter Lesotho at Ha Molisana.

Phuthadijhaba is a funny place, especially after you came through the Golden Gate Highland Park. All over sudden there is large town surrounded by mountains.
Nothing spectacular to see however the bottle store (off license) is worth a mention.
There you are in a town which is very rural but modern with a decent size shopping center. As we entered the store we immediately noticed how clean and stocked the place is. Very odd if you consider it was a long weekend and in Gauteng, South Africa the stores are more empty early in the morning.
So we got a little something something for the road and on check out I noticed the showcase with all kinds of very expensive Whiskies. I asked the shop attendend who in name’s sake would by a bottle of 30 yr Chivas for R4500,00 out here.
The reply was sweet and simple: The local chief and businessmen. I sold 6 bottles on Friday!.

Well cheers Phutaditjhaba I say to that. Good taste in Whisky you guys have up here.

We entered Lesotho via Ha Molisana surprisingly quick for an African border post.
Hehe flirting with the Customs Lady help as well to get my visa quicker.

Once in Lesotho the road was as follows: B161 from Ha Molisana for 70 km down and then turn left onto the A1. Easy!
Right, the B161 is a narrow dirt road with plenty of potholes winding its way down the Drakensberg.
The most enjoyable part is that you will see a good number of villages and kids, lots of kids as there where X-mas holidays.
Lesotho’s national children sport is to run next to the road and scream on top of your voice: Sweeetiiiees, Sweetiiiiees and holding your hand out.

As you can see, you need to look very serious when playing the national sweety sport

Yes and it doesn’t matter if you are sitting with your Gogo in the Maizefield, you still scream sweety

A drive which we thought will take us 2 hours turned out to be more around 4 hours due to the road conditions and of course the unbelievable nature and people you meet along the way.

We could see that Lesotho got a lot of rain the past few days, the little rivers on top of the mountains were full and strong, eroding a lot of land away, making living conditions pretty rough for the local population.

Neverless, Lesotho is and absolute jewel if you take your time, ever-changing colors of green and browns,the mountains all around you and the road an adventure on its own.
But hey, we got a nice big 4×4 pick up with plenty of space on the inside and listening to the tunes of Manuchau.
Believe me trips like these in cars which are not only comfortable but also perfect for the road is a huge plus point.

The beautiful view is more worth than a week in a 5* deluxe hotel, but guys make no mistake, this picture is taken high up,

At Ha Marakabei we reached the turn off to the A1 and the dirt road adventure was over, still good. Now it was time to get some kilometers behind us, as we still had god 250 km to go as we wanted to reach Sani Pass the same day.

So the African Adventure will continue soon with our adventure to the Highest Pub in Africa