Category Archives: Africa 2016

African Adventure

The plan:

Fly to Cape Town.
Collect a Ford Ranger with a tent on the roof.

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Then visit:

  • Namibia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Zambia
  • Botswana
  • Swaziland
  • Lesotho

Including

  • The Fish River Canyon
  • Sossusvlei
  • The Skeleton Coast
  • Etosha National Park
  • Victoria Falls
  • Livingstone
  • Okavango Delta
  • Moremi Game Reserve
  • Isandlwana
  • Sani Pass
  • Cape Agulhas

and back to Cape Town. At least, that’s the aim, subject to luck and fortune.

You’ll be able to see where I am thanks to my SPOT satellite tracker. Just click “Where I am right now” at the top of this page.

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Off-road Africa… from the air?

In preparation for travelling through southern Africa I picked up the 3DR Solo drone.

Very pleased that my “upgradeable, future-proof” drone will now most likely not receive any software updates, warranty support, or replacement parts, after the lead developers and CEO of 3DR all suddenly left the company, and 3DR is now focusing on corporate customers for site surveys. Regular consumers are out of luck. Just glad that I bought after the recent 50% price drop, even if that “special offer” turned out to be a “get rid of them before they’re worthless” fire sale.

Now just hoping that my Solo makes it as far as Africa without getting broken, so that I can try to do some aerial filming.

Here’s a quick clip of one of my training flights back in England.

Day 1 – LHR

Ok, all I’ve done is drive to Heathrow, but let’s call this day 1 of the African adventure, just so that I have an excuse to see if I can get spherical panoramas working on the blog.

Complimentary upgrade to a club room at the always excellent Sofitel, good workout in an empty gym, complimentary glass of Erdinger with smoked almonds and honey glazed cashews in the Perrier-Jouet champagne bar, complimentary hors doeuvres and champagne in the executive lounge. I like the word complimentary. Later perhaps I’ll watch tv in the bath, just because there’s a tv in the bath…. And some people dont like travelling!

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

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Day 2 – Oslo

Day 2 - Oslo by Big Al!

Day 2 – Oslo, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr.

Beer and a view at the Radisson SkyBar.

Hotel gym has no weights and 3 fat people. Hotel pool is wide enough for about one person but deep enough for about ten…

Don’t care. Off to Africa tomorrow. Had fun today watching the GPS tracker in my suitcase telling me when it started moving and letting me know it was still with me as we taxied into the stand at Oslo’s Gardemoen airport. Not sure how much it will actually help me if my luggage does get mis-routed but it’s a cool gadget for something half the size of a matchbox.

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PS I first came to Oslo in 2011. Here I am 5 years later, same restaurant, same seat, same burger, same beer. Need to get out more…

2016:

Correction! In 2011 I faced the other way, the burger bun was different, and the tables were round. See, not boring after all. 

2011:

Day 4 – Cape Town

Day 4 - Capetown by Big Al!

Day 4 – Capetown, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr.

A long but luxurious flight on a Qatar 787 Dreamliner in business class from Oslo to Doha, then to Cape Town.

Champagne, Australian Shiraz, Martini, Baileys. Arabic mezze, seared fillet of fish with lemon and spring veg, white chocolate and ginger cheesecake. Great food, great service, great seat. Even the nuts that arrive withe champagne have been warmed and are delicious.

Quick visit to the Al Mourjad lounge at Doha airport, which is impressive, then another luxurious flight to Cape Town.

My luggage arrives intact, and Amos from Avis is waiting to drive me to the safari rental depot, where he spends the next 90 minutes taking me through the operation of all the gear on the massive Ford Ranger. Roof tents, gas stove, solar panel, water tank, compressor, table and chairs… There’s a long list and I’ve forgotten most of it already.

Massively relieved to have arrived and found the right vehicle waiting for me instead of some double booking nightmare, I then have a nightmare driving the enormous thing across Cape Town to the Hilton.

It’s huge. So big that it won’t fit into the underground parking at the hotel so I have even more nerve-wracking tight manoeuvring in busy traffic to eventually dump it on the pavement in front of the hotel entrance, where I tip the security guards to keep an eye on it.

Awkward not to be able to get into the private parking where I could spend time setting things up and learning how things work, but now it’s much more important that it gets through the night without being robbed…

A complimentary upgrade to a suite with a view of Table Mountain and Signal Hill, currently shrouded in cloud, eases my concerns, and there’s more relief when I unpack Solo to find it’s come through intact and it quickly locks onto GPS to declare “ready to fly”. 

All the initial hurdles seem to have been cleared and so tomorrow, if the truck is still there when I wake up, I have to pick up supplies and prepare for hitting the road towards Namibia.

And I have to get used to driving such an enormous vehicle.