Cape Town to Windhoek

orange river exploring

felix unite orange river orange river cabin orange river

I thought it was about time I added another instalment to our Southern Africa trip – after Cape Town the next stage was a big road trip from Cape Town to Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city.  Our plan was to meet up with my parents in Windhoek, hire a second car, and then continue the rest of our holiday within Namibia.  Consequently we couldn’t spend too long on the drive north, the main places we wanted to visit were all beyond Windhoek, but the total distance between the two cities is around 800 miles and so it was a fairly major undertaking with four young children.  We decided to split the drive into two full days plus a couple of shorter ones  – it wasn’t hugely easy to find good spots to stop at appropriate mileages, there’s a lot of very unvisited and uninhabited country in this part of Southern Africa.

In the end we stopped at Springbok, which is not far short of the South Africa – Namibia border, for the first night.  It feels like a real frontier town which is in fact the case, it started out as a centre for copper mining operations. The main tourist attraction in the Springbok area is viewing the Namaqua when it is in flower – the area’s flora explodes into colour after the winter rains* – which we would most definitely have detoured to visit properly if the arid region plants had been in bloom, but our timing was a handful of weeks too early.

The following day we drove a shorter distance into Namibia and stopped at a camp on the Namibian side of the Orange River (photos above).  The border crossing at Noordoewer was uneventful and fairly quick although we did have to produce a mind-boggling array of paperwork and documents but thanks to my parents’ efficiency there wasn’t any trouble even with bringing a car we didn’t own out of South Africa and into Namibia.  There was a noticeable difference in administrative technological development between the two countries, with Namibia having much less up to date equipment and systems.

The camp had a very student/backpacker feel to it and perfectly suited what we needed – we spent two nights there, walking, relaxing and having a day off from driving (and doing some all important clothes washing!).   The big three children and John also spent a morning canoeing on the river.  They had a lot of fun but as we had hit a very cold patch of weather the day-time temperature was unusually cold and they were all quite chilled by the time they finished….even with wearing pretty much every available piece of clothing they each had! We had expected night-time temperatures to be very low, down to freezing at times, but hadn’t anticipated day-time ones as cold as they were.  At times the day temperatures barely lifted above the low teens centigrade, but they did hit the low 30s for a few days too, which felt wonderful in contrast!  I think the weather during our stay wasn’t entirely typical of Namibian winter temperatures but it wasn’t wholly unusual either – if you go in winter bring your thermals, especially for night!

At around this stage I became a little concerned how I would manage a further 2 1/2 weeks travelling if the scenery carried on as it was in southern Namibia (and had been for the last couple of hours in South Africa too).  John was in heaven, he loves desert and semi desert but it really doesn’t suit me – I like to have some signs of life even if it isn’t very green.  From my photos of the river perhaps you can see just how dry and barren the landscape was, greenery didn’t extend more than a few metres from the water’s edge, or beyond the reach of a hose within the camp.

quiver tree shadows

quiver tree and sociable weaver nest

Quiver tree with large Sociable Weaver nest

quiver tree sky quiver tree fallen

Leaving the Orange River we set off north for Keetmanshoop, a colonial town built up on the site of a spring and the main town between the border and Windhoek. The scenery gradually changed as we drove north to Keetmans (the local name for the town) with a little more vegetation making up the landscape.  It was still desert and arid but the presence of a few signs of life made me feel much more comfortable.  Keetmanshoop is a large town by Namibian standards and we made the main tourist trip of the area to view the Quiver Tree Forest, a national monument. The forest has around 250 individual Quiver Trees (actually an Aloe rather than a tree) and the name comes from the indigenous San bushman who use the branches as quivers for their arrows.  The Forest is special for having such a high concentration of Quiver Trees in one place, elsewhere they are very scattered across the landscape.

We enjoyed Keetmanshoop – we found a lovely colonial hotel to spend the night in (the only time we stayed in a hotel) which had great food and lovely staff, the Quiver Trees were beautiful and it was a hot day for a change!

Next day we set off on the last stretch to Windhoek.  We travelled through more mostly unpopulated country which became gradually more rolling and slightly more vegetated as we moved north to the capital……and I’ll catch-up on our travels beyond Windhoek next time!  Thank you for staying with me.  I’ll try to intersperse the last couple of holiday posts with some sewing!

*Namaqualand is home to the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world,  and more than 1000 of the estimated 3000 plant species are found nowhere else on earth


Reminisce Hat

truly myrtle

mirasol llama una yarn reminisce hat in llama una reminisce hat  slouchy hat reminisce in actionI have been road testing my new hat – the Reminisce Hat by Libby of Truly Myrtle. It was one of those projects that I cast on, knit up the first handful of rows and then rip them out about 4 times.  But once I got going it went very smoothly.  I think I’ll get a lot of use out of this hat over the winter – it is still mostly autumn-like here but I can feel the temperatures dropping almost by the day.

The Reminisce is a lovely pattern and I really like the yarn which is Llama Una by Mirasol bought from Meadow Yarn (such a lovely online shop.  I tend to look there first before checking anywhere else when I’m on the hunt for yarn).  I’d definitely recommend baby llama for knitting hats – very soft indeed!  I’m tempted to make another Reminisce but think I should concentrate on finishing other projects first.   I had to buy two skeins (I did hesitate and wonder if I could get away with just the one but I made the right decision in buying the second) and still have quite a lot of the second left, so I think I’ll try to make a simple beanie for Angus some time before the end of winter – maybe with a stripe or two of some other leftovers.  He wouldn’t like anything too bright but if I keep it fairly subtle I think he’d be happy.

Project details on Ravelry – here!

How are you?  Have these gorgeous autumn days been easing you in gently too?  I do hope so.  I was a little shocked last night at how quickly it became dark……..I think that will take a little getting used to now that the clocks have gone back for winter.






Eilean Donan Castle (on a very wet day)

eilean donan dornie eilean donan castle  loch duich, loch long and loch alsh loch duichardelve

Last week we had the very great pleasure of visiting friends who live within walking distance of Eilean Donan Castle.  Our friends live about a mile north of Eilean Donan and their house has huge picture windows looking south down Loch Duich to the castle.  It is one of those views – with hills, sea, sky and castle – that constantly changes and which you could never tire of watching.

We had such a lovely day, our friends are incredibly generous and kind hosts.  John and I weren’t allowed to do anything except relax and eat and the children were thoroughly spoilt.  In between eating and talking we had a walk in typical west coast pouring rain to visit the castle (I have to remind myself of the rain and midges whenever I visit the west – I absolutely love Scotland’s west coast but, having lived on the Mull of Kintyre for a few years when I worked in forestry, I have first hand experience of the weather and know it isn’t really for me).

The castle was fun a lot of fun to look around – the interpretation in the entrance hall was very well done, although the projection onto the stone walls completely confused Katie who kept trying to touch the ‘people’ who were talking!  The island has been inhabited since around the 6th century with the first fortification being built in the 13th century.  It was a stronghold of the Mackenzies and Macraes until it was partially destroyed in 1719 by Government troops because of the Mackenzie’s association with the Jacobite uprising.  Then in 1911 Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island and proceeded to restore the castle to its former glory based on surviving ground plans. It took 20 years of work before the castle was completed in 1932.

We’re only about 90 minutes drive from this particularly beautiful part of Scotland and John and I spent most of the trip home planning all the various camping and day trips we could make…….we could explore every weekend for years and never run out of stunning places within easy reach of our home.  The small factor of a busy family and the need for some time at home just ‘to be’ means we probably won’t make nearly as many trips in the coming years as our imaginations would like to suggest!


Thank you so much for all the entires to the Stitch Gathering 2015 giveway.  There was 41 altogether and Random Number Generator selected number 24 which was Diane B.  I’ll email you shortly for your address.  Congratulations.