where is darran? v2 – Eva’s Backpackers, Sydney, Australia

Eva’s got their internet sorted out and I’m chilling in the tv lounge on the couch watching Friends with a scot, an italian, and two german chicks. Everyone is super cool at Eva’s, but more chill than what is typical of most travelling crowds. Today I spent most of the day at the library researching jobs, cell phones, and applying for an Australian tax file number. Tomorrow I am getting a bank account and continuing to look for longer term lodging.

The GiSTEQ PhotoTrackr got destroyed on the booze cruise. While looking for a replacement I came across something that I can use to geotag my photos, but can also provide real-time tracking of where I am. Right now I’m looking at the Globalsat TR-102. This bad boy has a GPS receiver and built in cellular network capabilities that allow it to send via SMS the location of the device on a set interval. You can have it sent to either a private service or a service like GpsGate.com to provide a visual overlay of your movements on Google Maps.

Down Under – Sydney, Australia

Sydney is the ish. Eva’s is super sweet. King’s Cross is full of backpackers and it is a good thing I got a lot of partying done in Africa because there is a deadly amount of partying at and around Eva’s. It is nice to be wearing clean clothes on a daily basis and I’m at the library right now because the internet at the hostel is weaksauce. Today is the day to find a cell phone, contact Bondifit and get connected with them, look for a bike, and continue the job and apartment search. Also, I am going to finish uploading the Africa pics/vids. Check em out. I’m also going to upload my boy Dave’s pics from Africa too.

Gabs to Jo’Burg – Johannesburg, South Africa

Gaborone was a night to remember. We went to a pub called the Bull and Bush Bar and Restaurant and had a great night. The food was good, the music was good, and almost everyone left their mark on the dance floor. Night life in different places is one of my favorite things to experience and in Gaborone you can definitely tell that no matter where you are people enjoy good music and good food. From our camp, we could tell the party lasted until about 3 AM, but everyone in our group cashed out around 1 AM.


Next, we headed to Pilanesberg and spent two days there. On the way to Pilanesberg, we stopped to pick up supplies for the next couple of days. While the tour leader was shopping, I picked up some lunch at Nando’s.


The facilities, organization, and atmosphere of Pilanesberg is incredible and far exceeds the facilities of most national parks I have visited Stateside and in Africa. However, Etosha still holds the title of being the best park visited while on tour. It was nice to spend a couple days here. The first evening some people went on an evening game drive and saw a cheetah eating an impala carcass. The next day the group participated in game drives and game walks in both the morning and the evening. I skipped both morning activities, helped clean the truck, rested at camp, and went on the evening games drive the second day at Pilanesberg. That evening after the game drive, we had another bar-b-que. This was the last night everyone would camp together and we had champagne to complete the experience.


The next morning, we left at 6 AM to head to Johannesburg. On the way, our tour leader Janet treated us to breakfast at Steers. Instead of eating breakfast at 9 AM, I skipped to lunch and ordered the #1 combo.


The burger and fries were delicious. I had wanted to sample African fast food since I arrived in Cape Town and this helped contribute to my sampling. Steers tastes similar to Burger King. We would arrive at our hotel around 11 AM and then the majority of the group took a tour of Johannesburg. We visited Soweto and toured one of the communities. Visiting the communities was a big eye opener to many people on the tour.


That evening was the last evening before the group would split up and some would return home, while others would continue touring South Africa. We ate at a place called House of Ribs and everyone crashed early.


The next morning, I woke up early to say goodbye to the group that was continuing on throughout South Africa.


Lesson learned: Do not lose spirit when parting with people who you have shared great experiences and bonded with, but may never see again. Instead, be thankful for being able to have met, shared, and bonded with each other. This is one of the biggest challenges when leaving.

Chillin’ on the Zambezi – Livingstone, Zambia

We are in Zambia now, camping on the Zambezi River. Last night we went on a booze cruise and pretty much everyone had an insane night. Ended up soaking my passport and wallet, breaking the Sansa Clip mp3 player, and breaking the GPS logger. Sobriety is the way to go. In the past week we went bush camping in the Okavango Delta, took a sunset cruise in Chobe, and did a morning game drive in Chobe. Saw two lions on the morning game drive from about 10 feet away. Hippos, crocs, elephants, impalas, and many other animals are abundant in Chobe. Later today we will visit Victoria Falls. Everyone has been really cool so far and today the group splits into those going north and those going back down south. Pics/Vids will come once a good connection is found.

Sup Maun – Maun, Botswana

We have made our way through Namibia, visited Etosha on the way, and are now in Maun, Botswana. Etosha has been the nicest part of the tour so far and we spent two nights camping inside the park. The first night we spent on the west end of the park and observed a watering hole that was just outside our campgrounds. During the day we took about an 8 hour game drive and saw a variety of animals including: oryx, jackal, lions, elephants, water buffalo, springbok, and giraffes. During the night the second day, we went on a game drive and came in touch with 3 lions. From our car, we were only 10 feet from the lions. Next, we are visiting the Okavango Delta and spending 2 nights at a bush camp. Just booked first accommodation in Sydney at Eva’s. Looking for jobs/apartments next.

Mouth of the Swakop – Swakopmund, Namibia

Coming to you from Swakopmund, Nambia today. After a week, internet is available once again. Here is the lowdown from the past week. We left Cape Town headed north towards Cederberg. We arrived in Cederberg a little before lunch, ate lunch, explored the area around our campsite, and eventually ate dinner.

A picture of our camp:


Something about the tour group:

The tour is participation camping style meaning that everyone is responsible for the chores that must be done. The group was divided into five teams and each day the duties of each team is rotated. The duties include cooking, packing the truck, cleaning the truck, keeping the ice chests clean, and day off. A team is given a day off after being responsible for cooking.

Back to the tour:

The next day we got up and headed out to the Garieb(Orange) River area. On the way to the Orange river, the truck broke down after stopping at a gas station in Bitterfontein. Our truck is a brand new Tata and the fuel line design is flawed. This flaw resulted in the exhaust burning a hole in the fuel line. Luckily we were in walking distance of the gas station, so we got our truck towed back to the gas station and waited for around 4 hours while it was getting fixed.

Our truck being towed by a very small tow truck:


The Winner’s tobacco advertises in Bitterfontein:


Playing donkey at the gas station:


This evening we stayed at a place called Drifters. The following morning a couple of members from the group went on a canoe ride down the Orange river before the entire group headed out to Fish River Canyon. This is when the tour started to pick up.

Sushi and Champagne while watching sunset and moonrise at the Fish River Canyon:

It is times like these the quality of your tour leader can be seen. We were not the only tour group to watch the sunset, but we were the only tour group that brought sushi and champagne to watch the sunset. Our tour leader Janet has got it together.







Namib Desert:

The next day we began on a 10 hour journey to the Namib Desert. A lot of driving, but the cool thing is a guy on our tour named Dave introduced us to a card game named Shibby or Shivvy that makes time fly. We renamed it to Shizam and have been playing nonstop while on the bus. We got to camp late, pitched our tents, and then began cooking dinner. Tonight we had a huge BBQ and went to bed early because we had to get up at 4 AM to climb Dune 45 in order to see the sunrise in the desert.

Bus Ride:






Dune 45:


Sunrise from Dune 45:


After sunrise we ate breakfast and went on a guided walking tour of Sossusvlei.

This included learning about the animals, insects, and geology of the area. Got a snap of the boys and I in a salt pan:


After the tour, we went back to camp, ate lunch, and headed off to Swakopmund. On the way, we stopped to assist another tour group that had broken down. Stopping is not a problem when you can play shizam. The roads are so desolate that you can play a game a cards on the highway if you please.


We have finally slowed down for a day and are spending two nights in Swakopmund. Not only that, but we are staying in A-Frame houses, sleeping in real beds, and taking showers in a private bathroom. Internet is available, laundry can be done, and much needed rest and relaxation can be had. Tomorrow we head out to Damaraland.

Lessons learned: Keep a daily journal to document your experiences. Trying to remember a week’s worth of history is difficult. A short pencil is better than a long memory.

Cape Teezy aka Cape Town, South Africa

Made it in last night around 10 pm sa time/3 pm stateside which makes it around 28 hours in transit. Luckily, I was able to sleep virtually the entire time. Flying from dc to joburg was long, but not as long as India. The food on saa is the best airplane food I’ve ever had and the service is great. I’m stayed at the Tulip Inn last night and will be there tonight again. It is pretty nice, in the middle of downtown, and the rooms are clean and beds well kept. Breakfast is included too.

It is overcast today and has been sprinkling on and off. I checked out breakfast, got some weak coffee, and then began the hunt for internet. Internet at the hotel is around 9 USD an hour, currently I am at a 2 dollar an hour place, but am looking to transition to a 1 dollar an hour place after this hour is over. The internet is slow and I have a 500ms ping to google.com, this place charges by the Megabyte if you exceed 30mb in an hour. maaaaaan, I’m used to burning that much in around a minute. Going to grab a South African hamburger and then see if I can get into a short tour of Cape Town. haven’t taken many pics yet, but have taken some pics and been geologging.

Lesson Learned: The kensington plug adapters do not work in South Africa. This is the first time they have let me down.

Close Call: Some peeps at the airport check-in in joburg pretended to be airline employees and tried to get me to give my bags. However, I realized they were frauds. Unfortunately, the people behind me fell for it. Not sure if they lost their bags or had to pay them to get their bags back. Seen something like this one before in India. Many of the sites require you to take your shoes off and people will make you pay them to get your shoes back if you are foreign. Workaround: take shoes off and carry them with you.