Apr 25 2010

Angola – diary 2010-04-01 to 2010-04-04

2010-04-01 to 2010-04-04

With time ticking by it was 11am before we were eventually given the go ahead to continue our journey south. The Angolan officials were very pleasant and efficient in processing our passports and Carnets as quickly as they possibly could.

The views of the Congo River were still breathtaking and inspiring. The heat of the day was already upon us and the knowledge of only having 4 ½ days to traverse Angola made us as anxious as ever. We were uncertain about the quality of the roads and we had a great distance to cover. As we pulled away from the Immigration office we were thrust straight into the horrendous roads. The tar resembled that of a piece of Emmental cheese with holes stretching from one side of the road to the other. The following 120km took us over 5 hours of painstakingly slow 4×4 driving. Mvubu was put to the test and Kirk’s driving skills were exemplary. The road was not a complete disaster; we were afforded the opportunity to see a very long snake, a family of mongoose and a diverse selection of birdlife. Just before we hit the town of Tokosane we hit the most exquisite ‘Chinese Piste’- these are times when I want to kiss the Chinese. They had built this beautifully smooth piste where we could push to cover as much distance as possible before it became too dark. We managed to get to the town of N’Zeto just after dark where we found a bushcamp down a sandy track right on the beach. As we were driving towards the beach our headlights caught a jackal scurrying off to find shelter from these human imposters. The waves of the mighty Atlantic were crashing onto the sand and gave us a sense of being in the South. We could smell Namibia and if the road continued as it had been we would be there before we knew it.

As we sat enjoying our dinner we reflected on the beauty that Angola had to offer. The north is extremely desolate of people and is covered with thick vegetation. There is so much potential for development of farms in these areas and it had me guessing why it has taken so long to initiate these sustainability programmes. The civil war has obviously left some scars in the people and the land but the remnants are no longer visible.

Our alarms were set for 5:30am. We still had a fair distance to travel and the more we could do in one day the better. We aimed to get as far as Luanda on Day 2 and were successful in reaching that goal; in fact we made it 120km south o Luanda. We stopped briefly in Luanda where we visited Shoprite only to come running out with our tails between our legs. The prices were exorbitant and far too expensive for our likings. We bumped into a South African man working in Luanda and he reiterated our findings that Lunada is one of the most expensive cities in Africa. We managed to get a spectacular view of the natural harbour that is home to Luanda’s port where most of the countries supplies arrive from further afield. Luanda itself is a shambles. There is so much urban sprawl which has resulted in the development of shanty towns, which surround the city. The split between rich and poor was evident when we saw the presidents mansion perched upon a hill in all of its glory only to have a whole shanty town as his neighbour. The rubbish cascades down the terraces and creates an unsightly view of this once beautiful city.

The roads South of Luanda were exceptional with beautiful tar. We drove to another waypoint that directed us to the beach again. Here we set up camp right on the beach where we again were treated to an exquisite sunset. We took our bath in the ocean by having a swim, lathering up with soap (Kirk dropped the soap in the sand so I got an exfoliation too), rinsing off in the salt water followed by a quick freshwater shower. My hair was desperate for a wash but the loss of our 20L water container meant that we were on water rations until we reached Namibia. We were officially rouging it and loving every minute of it.

The following morning was much the same as the previous 2 mornings. We took to the road and drove along the beautiful coastline. The Atlantic was a sapphire blue colour and it crashed into precipitous cliffs giving Angola a feeling of true wilderness beauty. As we neared Lobito we drove through an area called Morro del Mocol which bore a resemblance to a Moroccan village in the Atlas Mountains. There was very little greenery and foliage and evidence of quarrying in the region. The road then took us to the port of Lobito which again was mesmerising as huge ships were anchored in the pristine waters of the bay.

The day was filled with magical wonders of nature. The heat of the day fed the clouds in the sky and we watched them grow bigger and bigger and bigger until they could no longer hold their load and released it in one of the biggest downpours we had experienced. It brought cars to a standstill – we had luckily pulled into a fuel station just as it started- and prevented Kirk from getting out of Mvubu to pump up the tyre. (a 3rd rim was leaking air) The roads turned to rivers, the storm water drains flooded and we were in the height of a mammoth thunderstorm. The experience was grand; we loved every minute of the grandeur of this natural environment. The rain soon subsided and we were able to continue on our way. We entered the town of Lubango, got a quick glimpse of the Christo Rei statue perched on the hill and then proceeded to find another bushcamp for the evening. We had covered a whopping 804km and were in desperate need of food and sleep. We found a great spot just off the road and again had an undisturbed night of peaceful sleep.

It was Easter when we awoke and probably the 1st Easter where I did not eat chocolate for breakfast or have a great big fry up to celebrate the holiday. Instead we were on the road by 6:45am and heading for the border. We were on the home stretch and our excitement was becoming difficult to contain. Nothing in life comes easy and the road to the Namibian border was far from easy. We were forced to drive on a muddy waste zone that was slippery and badly potholed. The pace was agonising and Mvubu was starting to show signs of fatigue. His rear shocks were starting to make horrible sounds every time we went through a big pothole and we were becoming increasingly aware of our very bad luck with our tyres so were watching those more closely than ever. The road was not showing any sign of improvement but after an agonising 120km we were rewarded with a tar road again. We made excellent progress and pushed on. The rain the previous evening had filled the flood plains of the Cunene and provided good fuel to maintain the grazing pastures.

 We filled up at Santa Clara and proceeded to the border. We had done it…1800km in 3½ days; some great roads and some that brought us to tears. We had crossed the unknown in 1½ days less than or allotted time and were rewarded with a great big fat juicy Wimpy Burger!

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