Day 268: Say Hello To Janis

Wed. 8th May 2013

Janis outdide the Nomad officeThis morning we are introduced to Janis who will be our home every day for the next three weeks. Our luggage is stored in lockers at the back and we are in airline style seats 2 x 2 with an aisle in the middle. We have been told we will rotate seats every day so we all get a chance to sit at the front. We have signed up for the accommodated tour so will have the luxury of sleeping in hotels or hostels and not having to cope with erecting and dismantling a tent each day. Our crew is Zenzo the driver and guide, Tambi the all important cook and Marie the German translator, as this is a very mixed group.

Our new family learning about plantsThe first stop is Table View, which wasn’t, as the clouds have descended obscuring any chance of one last  view of Table Mountain. Up to now we have had brilliant sunshine all but one day, so this is a bit disappointing. But we have to remember how lucky we have been with the weather so far as it is autumn here now. Never mind, it is off to Bayview shopping centre for any last minute shopping [Ed. and coffee!] required before heading away from the city into the wilds of Africa.

In a mini old style hutNot too long though as we are due at Khwattu, a centre explaining about the San people who are thought to be the oldest inhabitants of Namibia before a Portuguese navigator Diago Cao landed briefly in 1484. He was followed by other Portuguese, Dutch and British Explorers. The centre also includes a mock village where we learnt about life in a village. Like in Borneo we were given a display of making fire by rotating one stick in a hole in a second one.

Ostrich shell jewelleryThe San people made use of ostrich eggs for numerous purposes. It has a thick strong shell and is of sufficient size to make a useful water bottle. Even the small broken pieces were used for jewellery. The village is surrounded by an area planted in local specimens which we were able to explore, making sure we avoided the poisonous plants. Having thoroughly scrubbed our hands in case we had touched any lethal plants we settled down to a pleasant lunch provided by the centre.

Vineyard heading out of South AfricaWe then returned to Janis and settled down to a siesta as we made our way north to the wine growing region of Piketberg and some sampling of their wares. The winery we visited was an organic one which exported most of its wine production to Sweden, which surprised us. However having seen the price of £3 a bottle and tasted their range it was not a patch on the Stellenbosch wines. A nice touch was that, courtesy of Nomad, we were each able to choose a bottle to take with us.

Cederberg MountainsAs we continued to head north the landscape changed getting drier and the plants more sparse. Our route took us over Piekenierskloof pass, which I followed on my phone map app every so often to relieve the monotony of the mere 230km drive today. At last we arrive at Citrusdal, close to the Cederberg Mountain range, for the night. It is an odd set up as supper was cooked by Tambi, our personal “mama” for the trip, which we ate in the hotel dining room. Nomad started by doing camping trips, which would have involved needing a cook and I expect to keep the costs down this aspect has been kept when they introduced the accommodated tours. If the hotels want the regular business Nomad bring each week then they have needed to accommodate this arrangement. It also saves time by serving everyone the same dish at a set time.

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