All Change!

The second half of my African adventure beckoned. I was excited by the prospect of visiting Botswana, Namibia and especially South Africa. Before perusing the truck copy of The Lonely Planet, I knew precious little about the first two countries on our itinerary. I hadn't even realised, for instance, that Namibia once belonged to Germany (must have slept through that bit of my German degree). I was intrigued to see if a former German colony in Africa would look as surreal as the image in my head!

Waving goodbye to Livingston, we hit the road again in a shiny new truck, affectionately named Kwando after the African river. This time, the group was more international, with Germans and Dutch joining the UK and Australiasian majority, and our new tour leaders were two South African guys, Jacques and JP. I surprised myself by feeling quite unsettled for the first few days. The bonds, shared experiences and fragile familiarity that we had built over three weeks had disappeared into the Zambezi sunset. But it’s amazing how quickly such insecurities fade once you begin to get to know people again. In fact, before we knew it, the group had gelled far better than our previous one, and by the time we reached Namibia we were all enjoying ourselves so much that we didn’t want the tour to end!

From an organisational point of view, the Kwando regime was far more regimented, and at times reminiscent of a school trip (such as morning wake-up calls, in the form of vigorous tent shaking!) Overall, though, the more structured approach made a refreshing change, and the fact that nobody became ill on this part of the trip justified such measures as enforced hand-washing before cooking. The leaders were more integrated with the group, shared their duties more effectively and acted as guides rather than just organisers, which made a significant difference to our appreciation of the surroundings. Eyebrows were raised on the first evening when they announced that women wouldn’t be allowed to carry anything heavy including tents on their tour. What a marvellous idea. Sod the sisterhood, I have a bad back!

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