In April 1999 Stella, our neihgbour and also a tripleader with Afriesj, asked us if we had any plans for the summer vacations. We never plan this far ahead, so no plans where made yet. "Come and have a look at our presentation at Afriesj" she said. We did and two days later our first trip to Africa was booked. Thanx again, Stella.
Zimbabwe & Botswana 1999
With Afriesj we traveled for four weeks through Zimbabwe and Botswana, together with a group of 12 people, in an overland truck. As soon as we got out of the plane in Harare we felt at home. After a short drive to the first campground we got introduced to Eelco (the truckdriver) and Lilian (our host). They explained everything about the truck, the equipment, and the usual stuff you need to know on a trip like this. Great! Let the fun begin!
It was love at first sight. A fantastic experience with two of the most beautiful countries of Southern Africa. The trip had a great build-up and was becoming more beautiful every day. The same was the weather. We started with rain and even thunderstorms. The last weeks were all sunny and warm. We drove through so many game reserves and the "Big Five" where spotted in a few days. And like a great desert after a fantastic meal we coincidently ran into a group of four Cheetahs, something you rarely see in Botswana.
After the fantastic experience of last year, we looked for a good sequal. And because the trip in the group of last year was good, we decided to go on a similar trip. We booked with a different travel agent and that wasn't the best of choices. Anyhow, the country was one of unknown beauty.
After about two weeks on the roads, our truck got stuck in the soft sands of a dry riverbed. We al got out of the truck and soon the first people from the area arrived, both to help and to satisfy their curiosity. Dispite all the efforts, the situation wasn't improving. The truck sunk deeper and deeper in the sand. Around noon, a Suisse Landcruiser stopped and a Dutch couple stepped out, asking if we needed help. It was e bit of a retorical question, since the truck was in the sand up to its axes! Kees and Sandra both picked up a shuvle and started digging. They lent us their sandplates, helped gathering branches and rocks. Also with their help the truck was going only one way: down.
|It was getting late in the afternoon and danw was about to fall. I Asked Kees and Sandra why they where still helping instead of searching the next campground. Since we came from one, I knew it was still a long way. Kees replied very relaxed: "Why should we? We've got our tent on the car. We'll stay and make camp here in the wild. He showed their rooftent and we had a look in their car. And within 5 minutes Nicoline and I looked at each other and we had the same thought: This is what we want! We invited Kees and Sandra for diner and drinks. Sitting around the campfire we asked them al kinds of things. Sandra told us they where traveling for a year and they had one year left. Wow! It was a very pleasant evening and the next day we continued our digging job.|
In august Kees and Sandra are back in the Netherlands. Ever since we met, we followed their tracks through email and read all the stories Kees wrote. Being back in our small country, they organised a get-together weekend for all the people they met on threir trip. In October it took place and it was a great event. Nice weather, great people, lots of pictures and endless tapes with videos of the pistes they drove. And of course: we where even more enthousiastic.
In 2001 we skipped vacation. To be honest, we where already saving money, but not that serious. At the beginning of 2002 we made the decision. We are going to do everything we possibly can to go on a one-year trip. If we cut our expenses to an absolute minimum and put it all in a savings account, we can afford to go as soon as juli 2003! Still a bit uncertain we gently drop the idea on the desks of our employers. Their reactions are not negative....
In Januari 2003 we revise our whole financial planning and we're on the right track. We leave in August 2003. With this message we go to our employers and after a while they both agree with our plans. Nicoline can come back without any restrictions. I (peter) will see if ADSE still wants me, when we get back. Nohing is holding us back anymore. We have to start preparing immediately!
Africa, here we come!