Cape Town to Tanzania 2014

Solo trip for 12 months - Toyota Hiace 4x4 van

Home Sweet Home for a while

November 1, 2014  —  Québec
Lake Turkana - Kenya

I am back home... After 13 months living in my small van and driving in African territory, I was in need of some vacations. You are going to tell me that I am always on a vacation, but it is not really the case. Travelling is somewhat tiring; I have to drive, bargain, fix the car, visit, get lost, decide, and find my way.

On the other hand, there are nice safaris, some magnificent scenery, and also some memorable encounters with Africans or other travellers. However, after more than a year, even those great experiences had become fairly routine, in my opinion. When this occurs, a change of air and a different way of travelling are needed.

To reignite the desire to travel, I stopped several weeks at the same spot. I had the car repaired for the thousandth time and then I continued my trip... It didn't work, I was still fed up with going around. Thus, the only remedy left was to go back home.

There is nothing like going home to get the travel bug kicking again.

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The last 6 weeks

If you looked at the Google map of my itinerary in the last weeks, you probably noticed that I stayed more than a month in the neighborhood of the Victoria Falls (the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Livingstone in Zambia). In fact, I basically never wandered away all that time. What went on?

When I stopped in Victoria Falls, I was in need of a break since I was fed up with my trip. For two weeks, I stayed in that town. I enjoyed meeting other people travelling as well as the locals. During this rest, I had the car check for problems. There was a new sound that I didn't like.

The next section will give you a better idea of all the repairs that were done, but let's just say that it didn't go well and that this break got extended by three more weeks. Since my visa was running out, I crossed the border to get to the town of Livingstone, 12 km away.

Despite more than three weeks on this side of the borders, I still enjoyed my forced break. I met a lot of interesting travellers. Unfortunately, in these kinds of encounters, the end comes too quick. People leave and continue travelling. As much as it is fun to meet new people, it is sad to leave them.

So, after those two breaks near the Victoria Falls, it was time to travel once more... But I didn't go very far, after a few days I was back in Québec.

See the end of the story in the last section...

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Repairing the van

If you can remember, at the end of my Ethiopian travel, the van had a problem with the transfer box. This problem came to haunt me once more. The box had been replaced, but the new part happened to be not so good after a few months...

This story begins with some weird noise under the van. I am not sure what is causing the noise, but I get to the town of Victoria Falls to have it repaired. It is there that I spent my first two weeks. The mechanic tries to change the transfer box, but the clunk sound is still present. He changes some parts on the front wheels shaft and all seems to be perfect. Now I am ready to travel again and I leave Zimbabwe to cross the border and get to Livingstone, in Zambia. Life is good.

Once in Livingstone, I had a new set of tires installed in order to complete my trip. What the hell, I notice that the car is not repaired. The mechanic has simply removed the shaft on the front wheels. Well, it is life, I have been cheated big time. I am partly responsible for having chosen a very cheap garage and also for not checking the job when it was completed.

I then find a new garage to have the stolen shaft replaced. Obviously, the clunking noise is back in force. The transfer box is indeed bad again. Without the shaft, the box doesn't need to transfer any power, thus the problem is just hidden, but still present. Damn, it is going to take some time to find the spare part and repair it. While I am at it, I asked for an engine overhaul. These repairs have taken three weeks.

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Killing Time

What did I do during all that time? Not much in fact. Of course, I went to the Victoria Falls on both sides of the border. I also did a rafting trip on the Zambezi River. Moreover, I met a lot of people at both places where I stayed and I went to restaurants, drank some beers, and had some very interesting chat. There were a couple of cyclists in the same hostel as me and they stayed as long as me. Nathalie and Matt had a small accident and had to wait for a knee to heal. Nathalie needed stitches and the wound got infected later on. We shared some nice moments. There was also a brief meeting with a cyclist who has been going around for the last 20 years, some medical students from England, two nice French girls, a charming Finnish woman, and a lot of other people.

The most interesting thing I did is to go to a music festival in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. It was a mix of African and popular music with a lot of dancing. I was there with Emily, a friend from Sweden, and we spent three days there. There were very few tourists and a lot of very friendly locals. We met a lot of people and we ended up in bars till very late in the night.

On the last day, we went to a football match that ended up with the local team losing the match. The fans, angry because their team played very badly, started throwing rocks and bottles on the field and at policemen in charge of security. The police answered by throwing tear gas on the people. Then, everybody started a crazy run toward the exit to avoid these irritating gases... What a match.

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Time to Travel

Due to the numerous repairs on the van, I decided that it will be nicer to enjoy the vehicle for a longer time. Thus, instead of going back to Tanzania in a month or two, I will drop the van in South Africa, go back home, and then come back in 2015 to do another round in Africa. I wanted only to spend a month on the beaches of the Indian Ocean in Mozambique. After six weeks and also because of the heat, I thought it would be nice to do some diving and enjoy the wind from the sea.

Finally, I left the Victoria Falls to continue my trip on to Mozambique. At that time, I was very happy to leave Livingstone and to drive once more. It was the end of days of waiting and doing nothing.

Unfortunately, the week of my departure was election time in Mozambique. The embassies were closed for a week and the visa was not available at the border. I needed to wait a week for an embassy to open and up to another week to get the visa. Damn, again one very long and boring wait. In October, the hottest time of the year, the temperature reach 38 degrees. I had enough! The heat, the repairs, being fed up, the waiting. I don't want to stop anywhere, thus on a whim, I decide to go home.

I bought a flight for the next week. I drove the 1600 km to get to Johannesburg in a few days. I left the car there and here I am, back in Québec.

I plan to go back to Africa toward the end of March 2015 to complete my trip. The flight I bought is indeed a round-trip ticket back to Johannesburg.

Cheers!!!