Across the dunes and the Tropic of Capricorn to the Cape of Good Hope

Tue, 26 Mar 2002 06:02:53 +0800

The last few days have been a pretty fast run due South.

On my last day in Skwakupmund, I tried my hand at sand boarding. "Stand up" is really snow boarding but on sand. "Lie down" is essentially toboggening. Not much control lie down but you can reach up to 60kph. I rather preferred the stand up although I was only starting to get a handle on it at the end. I am told that it is similar to snow boarding in powder.

The next day, we went off to Sossusvlei, in search of bigger dunes. No snow board this time, just feet but climbing dune 45 was still a lot of fun. The tour leader says that it is the second highest in the world. I don't know if it is, but it is impressive and I shot a full roll on the dune and it's neighbors. It is interesting how much life there is around the dunes. I expected it to be pretty sterile but it is not. There are trees at the base of many dunes. Some are doing well. Some not. One dune had a fair bit of grass growing up one side. Beetles with extra long legs run up and down the dunes, virtually everywhere.

The next morning we traveled to Fish River Canyon. This looks like a more drab version of the Grand Canyon. More gray, less orange. Though, not having been to the Grand Canyon, I couldn't tell how it compares in scale.

On Sunday, we arrived in camp just north of the South African border. About half of us spent the afternoon on what was supposed to be a lazy canoe down the Orange River. It wasn't. The wind was stronger than the current most places and it was blowing nominally upstream. I brought my camera along but, despite nice scenery, took no pictures. It was all I could do to stay out of reeds and pointed the right direction. Oh well. the Orange river area looks much like the Fish River Canyon but on a smaller scale.

After a transit stop last night, we arrived today in Cape Town, South Africa. This is the first time since New Years Day that I have ventured out of the tropics. I hadn't planned to do much in Cape Town but that may change. Madagascar is actually looking worse than Zimbabwe. Armed robbery on RN7 (probably the most imporant road in the country), acute shortage of aviation fuel in Antananarivo. International flights are drastically curtailed.

The British Foreign Service is the most verbose:

Zimbabwe doesn't seem to be getting better either.

I think I am going to talk to a local travel agent later today or tomorrow to see what can be salvaged.