The Angolan Rally
Got to the border for opening time at 8.00am very slow paperwork including them wanting a word for word copy of our entry visa for some reason, also our yellow fever certificates ,why when we were leaving the country I don’t know. Customs guy was so drunk( yes, at 8.00am) he did not notice we had no entry stamp on the carnet, it took him all his efforts and several dummy runs to line up and stamp the exit slip.
A few feet up the road then we were in Angola – all very smart and efficient, language a problem but thankfully everybody helped us. Then we sat and waited as our passports were passed round and round but not returned. Eventually we drove, with an immigration guy to the police station where it became clear they would not let us go on without a police escort – armed it transpired – to protect us from bandits. So we sat and waited and eventually,by late morning the escort arrived and off we go initially roads not too bad but we knew worse was to come, after a while we stopped at a police post and waited again.
Had a useful English/ Portuguese lesson with the officer in charge then the new escort x2 turned up. So we now had the equivalent of a small army all with AK47s or Uzi machine pistols and off we set at very high speed. Roads terrible going down a hill, as it was getting dark when the brakes failed completely – managed to stop ,found out brake pipe bracket was loose and pipe had sheared off. Hammered pipe flat to stop leak/ keep up pressure and off again into the gloom. Not long after, going up a steep hill we were horrified to see a red lorry speeding towards us on a road that was not wide enough for the two of us.
Emma -Its not going to stop !!!
Mike -No its bloody not !
Coming down hill we could only sit and wait as we had nowhere to go on our side – it increased speed as it came down and at at last minute he just veered off through the bush thankfully missing us. He had turned his engine off and was free-wheeling ( common here to save fuel) clearly without brakes. Hearts pounding we decided not to go to the enquiry some distance away in the bush ,so started off after our armed escort.
Last few miles were completed in the dark when we arrived at the police station we said we would stay there for the night as they still would not let us go alone.
Emma got lucky as one of the young guys fancied her – his chat up technique of jabbing her hard in the arm was not successful though.
Angola rally Day 2
Got up in the dark as the army assembled and off we went on a good tarred road – what joy, they finally left us in N’zeto but we had had an armed escort for about 300k by this point.
Local commander, who was very jolly instructed a policemen on a motorbike to help us get fuel – there was none in the garage,so he bought some off one of the smaller local dealers. These seem to be mainly women who anticipate shortages ,stock up ,then sell at a premium.
Landscape very nice, best described as Baobab forest, many trees still with large fruits.Road south was terrible for the most part, half way down the worst bit the brakes failed again this time the other front pipe had sheared off ,I then realised it was not loose bolts that had caused the problem but the fact that they had not been fixed back on by the guys who fixed the steering. Hammered that pipe flat and continued on with only back brakes. Not recommended on any road let alone rough tracks I can tell you.
Got to Luanda late afternoon, pleasant surprise as fuel was only 30p a litre and modern garages stocked essentials like beer and wine! Bush camped in a forest under a pylon clearing very peaceful
Angola rally Day 3
Travelled to Huambo about 390 miles, mountainous scenery , spectacular in parts, plenty of garages but no fuel. Wild camped in the bush and it was quite cold for first time since Europe.
Angola Day 4
Huambo to Xangongo about 425 miles Food supplies limited as shops did not have much, breakfast consisted of pineapple, biltong, peanut butter washed down with coke – tasty
Emma, tickled by the fact that little children seen to carry their own chairs to school so loads of kids walking along with brightly coloured chairs on their heads or quite elaborate hand carved versions in different styles.
Wild camped again as we sadly couldn’t make the border in time,before it closed for the night.
Day 5 The border
We made it ! On day 5 with several hours to spare,it had been a very stressful/hairy few days and we were so relieved,to finally arrive at the Namibian border
The last stretch of road in Angola had been great for a while. Quite a few shelled tanks etc still line the road – relics of the war. Quite warm during the day (30c) but locals dressed for Arctic conditions.
We are back to sleeping -bags again….and woolly socks for Emma.
The border crossing quite painless no real checks on Namibia side I walked out to go into a bank to pay vehicle tax and nobody batted an eyelid. There was the world again as we know it shops, supermarkets even a KFC (not that we like !) all quite surreal.
A Short journey later we were in Etosha National Park which on the first day indicated how fantastic it is , spotting 3 lionesses, 1 male and cubs having late lunch, zebra, giraffe, springbok everywhere, impala, Oryx, Steenbok, Red Hartebeest, Ostrich, Corey bustards ( huge) and plenty more besides………. Heavenly!
As we discovered on arrival, it is peak season here, hence the abundance of wildlife and as it is so dry all the animals congregate at the various waterholes,so you are guaranteed to see plenty of action (just like “The Lion King ”!!) We have seen Black Rhino, apparently extremely rare with only 3,000 wild in the whole of Africa and We’ve been fortunate enough to see 3 of those. Also a Cheetah mum and nearly fully grown cubs having lunch under a bush reasonably close but so well camoflaged hard to see and photograph.
Black faced impala( local sub species that only live around here), 2 Lionesses in the middle of road,elephant holding up the traffic,Jackal,spotted Hyena,yellow Mongoose,Kudu and a wildcat, which are nocturnal,so once more pretty lucky to have spotted one.
We were only going to stay for two or three nights,but ended up staying five as we couldn’t tear ourselves away!We Stayed at two different camp-sites within the park,both of which have fantastic facilities,hot showers and plenty of them,a huge area all to yourselves, numerous loo’s (I can’t tell you how good this is after nearly 5 months without one !!)
All this being the reason there’s been no action on “the blog”, we’ve been far too busy sitting at waterholes from dawn until dusk,but we have taken loads of photo’s,which I hope will speak for themselves…….wonderful
Have a look at our photos,it’s more than we can say