Thursday, 23 November 2017

Africa Revisited. South Africa First Stop and Bobo Campers.

Arrived rather bleary eyed in Jo' Burg for the start of our great adventure. On our own this time and looking forward to our introduction to our van and roof tent. The arrival at the airport was pretty uneventful as we knew what to expect. We picked up our Sims Card previously ordered online, from the Vodacom office, so at least we could communicate with the world. We soon found a man waving a card with our name on it and we were off, first stop Bobo Campers, to meet our new friend a Toyota Hilux DC 4. The taxi dropped us off at the Bobo Depot about 40 minutes from the airport. We arrived just before a coach party of people on the Camping and Caravanning Club Worldwide Motorhoming Holidays Escorted Tour to Southern Africa. We were doing more or less the same trip. We were pleased we had booked a direct flight, as some of the other group of happy campers had come via Dubai and had had a much longer flight than us. After going through the formalities and being given a demo of how to put the tent up we were ready to go.

The van looked pretty good and as far as we could see everything looked in order. We did query the scratch marks on the back of the vehicle, little knowing we would soon find out how they were caused! We were slightly apprehensive when a faulty compressor was spotted and replaced and a little put out that the the skirt which should have been with the van to give us a changing area and shown on the Bobo Campers video, was " around somewhere, but no-one ever used it!" Dismissed with a shrug, we gave up that battle, was this a portent of what was to come? We were also a little concerned that the tent cover zip was broken so the tent could not be kept "dust free". Never mind this is Africa, we mused.

We were graciously told we had been given a 75% full tank of fuel ( you're so lucky!) and reminded to bring back a full gas bottle, which we could get filled at any camp site. The documentation for the campsites and vehicle were excellent and instructions on getting to the sites was very clear. We were also given a good pile of maps. We had brought our own Garmin SatNag with Tracks4Africa loaded, this turned out to be invaluable.

Here he is in all his glory Elisha Otis our new best friend. We didn't really connect with his name, so he just became "the van". All Bobo Camper vehicles are named after famous inventors. Elisha Otis was an American who invented the elevator.

A few more bits of paper to fill in, credit card zapped and with our bags safely stored in the van, we were let loose in South Africa on our own. We had spotted a "Pick N Mix" store just before the Bobo Depot so we headed back there for a few supplies. Soon we were out on the roads around Pretoria heading for our first stop Monateng Caravan Park. We soon found out what the scratches on the van were about. Velcro straps that secured the tent cover that blew around because the Velco was exhausted. Den had to brave the motorway twice to tie them down securely. Thanks Bobo Campers, we would have to find a better solution.

Monateng is a Sotho word meaning "place of joy". Well, shall we say it was a well run comfy site, we parked in the shade. Within 10 minutes of our arrival the cavalcade of motor homes arrived from Bobo. Yes it was the "other party", we were politely asked if we would move as there were 15 motor homes arriving and of course they all had to be parked together. We retreated to the bottom end of the field under a tree. We did have a few words with some of this group they were all very friendly, we would meet again.

Our first experience of putting up the tent was entertaining but we were sure we would improve once we got a routine. We did. We were somewhat disappointed to find on climbing into the lofty perch that the bedding was not as clean as we would like. looks like the travel wash would come in handy. We did actually at the next stop buy a new blanket. The fridge and storage in the back of the van was fine once we had found a place for everything.

The next morning in a flurry of activity the other motor homers left and we were almost on our own. We were there for three more nights and arranged to meet our brother-in law Harry who lived in Jo'Berg.  We set off to an explore and found Monateng had more going for it than we had originally thought. A lovely swimming pool and a 25 minutes stroll up the sand track was the main resort. More swimming pools, a restaurant, shops and other leisure activities. Things were looking up! There was a massive deck area overlooking the valley where there was game, sadly we didn't spot much. The toilet block was clean and tidy with the usual baths and showers. We always thought it strange that there were so many baths in South African ablution blocks and fewer showers. Some of the pitches 
( stands as they call them) had their own toilet and kitchen blocks.

A bit of a trek to the main resort but worth it.

Our first game spotting, well nearly.

A beautiful swimming pool, but a bit chilly for us.

There were game drives from here but we thought we would save ourselves for The Kruger. We did manage to spot some wildlife, the weaver birds were fascinating and very nosy.

Oh and it rained! Golf ball sized hail stones, a good test for the tent, no real big leaks. Was this really Africa and would the sun come out?

The answer is yes. The sun did come out. 

Our windscreen wipers broke and we had our first phone encounter with Bobo trying to arrange to get them fixed. We avoided snakes and a storm on the way back from the restaurant on the hill, did the washing and spotted some real game. We also met a lovely South African couple, Nic and Cara, who showed us what a proper braai should be like and very tasty it was too. Thank you so much for your hospitality, the honey and lemon and the tip about the electric kettle!

So it was time to move on. We had met with Harry our brother-in law twice and he had kindly taken us out for supplies. We found some cable ties for the Velcro straps, we bought an electric kettle and Harry reunited us with our coffee pot from our previous African adventure. We had survived our first stop, a mega rainfall and four nights in a tent. Off on the dirt road at the back of the camp. Harry had told us to avoid the main road as much as we could here as there had been many accidents where people had pulled out. We took the scenic view and our first chance on an African dirt road on our own.
  What's next??