So I was in Cape Town and not really sure how I wanted to travel around Africa yet, and when I was looking around the internet a lot people mentioned these overland trucks. They take a bunch of travellers from point A to point B, stopping at all the highlights, and camping along the way. I was a bit torn because I knew that I probably wouldn’t like the pace of travel (too fast) and the lack of any type of cultural interaction, because you’re only hanging out with people on the truck and usually staying at campsites, away from the towns and people. On the other hand they sounded like a lot fun! You get to meet tons of new people, and not just for a few days at a time. Plus it sounded like public transportation in Namibia and Botswana wasn’t very good, as they are very sparsely populated countries and the best way to see them is to rent a car. So seeing that I didn’t have people to rent a car with at the time, I decided on booking the truck at the last minute.
So we all met at the office at 7am, March 3, to fill out paperwork and make payments and get ready to go. There were 24 of us altogether. It’s a bit awkward at first because you’ve got so many people who have never met before and you’re learning so many names all at once, which just go in through one in ear and out the other. But everyone seemed friendly and most people were around my age, mostly late 20’s to late 30’s. And Even one couple who looked well into their 60’s. We were all assigned lockers, which is where we’d put our big backpacks, did the introductions with our driver and cook, and headed off!
First stop: The Mall! Time to stock up on snacks and especially water. The 5 liter jugs would be bought many times over on this trip. I attempted to buy some anti-malaria pills but they wouldn’t let me without a doctors prescription, so that would have to wait. But we wouldn’t be getting into any malarial areas until northern Namibia, so I had some time. I think I was the only person on the whole truck who hadn’t gotten these in advance. But I already knew ahead of time which pills I wanted because I’ve taken them before, so it seemed silly to waste a day in Cape Town going to the doctor. I just had to find a pharmacy that would let me buy them!
After the mall we got one last photo of the city from across the bay, and then it was a full day of driving. Later that afternoon we learned what the term bushy-bushy was, which would be our side of the road bathroom stops, where you have to hide behind the bushes. Definitely helps being a guy in this regard! We reached our campsite around 5pm and learned how to put up our tents, which was pretty straightforward. They were big, sturdy canvas tents with thick metal poles, probably weighing 30 pounds?! Not exactly like the tents I’m used to camping. It was two to a tent, so I teamed up with Daniel, a Spanish guy, to be tent-mates. And as for the campsite, I was kind of expecting the camp sites to be just a large patch of dirt with just the truck, the tents and maybe a fire. But the campsites in general would be much much nicer than I had expected, this one having an enclosed area with a stocked fridge and toilets, wifi (crappy), a pool, and a little banquet room. So about half of us bought some beers and headed off to the pool. Not surprisingly this group of people would be the ones I’d be spending the better chunk of my time of the trip with!
After the pool it was time for some South African wine tasting and dinner, which gave us another chance to attempt and learn everyone’s names and nationalities. We had a good mix: A sprinkling of Canadians, Swedish, Norwegian, Spanish, Singaporean, British, and then six Dutch and six Germans. And one American! And out the crew, almost half were solo travellers and no group was larger than 3, which is a good set up for mingling and hanging out together as a group. It looked like it was going to be a good trip! We’d head up to the border of Namibia the next day, to do some canoeing (which was insanely hot), and then cross over the border into the dry nothingingness that is most of Namibia!