Back On The Road…In Africa

After a hectic day sightseeing around London or going to the depressing football we had to make a mad dash to Heathrow to catch our flight to Durban via Dubai. We had hoped after such a busy day we would all sleep on the flights but apart from a few short naps no one really slept until Lucy fell into a deep sleep as we were landing in Durban! Her crying all the way through immigration after been woken helped distract them from as,I got for the return flight ticket which we did not have and could have been a problem. Instead they were really nice trying to cheer her up. It must have been all the excitement from the last few weeks combined with the excitement of going to Africa. It has been lovely back visiting family and friends but I think we were ready to get back on the road again. Checking the Internet we learned that the ship with the truck had docked in Durban 30 minutes before we had landed. Perfect timing. We headed to our hotel just outside Durban in Umhlanga hopeful that we would soon be reunited with the truck.  The next morning I headed to the shipping agent with all my documents and was assured they would quickly secure the release of the truck but that it would not be today. We spent the day relaxing in the hotel and visiting the very large shopping centre just next to the hotel which is supposedly the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Fortunately the hotel also had a good restaurant attached so we enjoyed some good meals there. We were not missing Argentina as South Africa is also famous for its great steak and wine. The following morning I received a note from the shipping agent. Everything was ready and I had to head down with them to the port to pick the truck up. At the port everything went very smoothly and I was quickly reunited with the truck. It was great to see our home again and all was well with it. The shipping agent had handled things really efficiently and all I needed to do was drive it out of the port and back to the hotel. This might sound easy but the first thing I had to manage was driving on the other side of the road from South America. As the truck is left hand drive this meant I had to ensure I was next to the kerb. Not that easy to start with especially on my own. Fortunately it was a long virtually straight road back to the hotel. On arrival you can see how happy the girls were to be reunited with the truck.   We had one last evening in the hotel and coincidentally a former colleague of mine from Russia had just contacted me saying he had transferred to Durban and if we happened to be passing through we should look him up. As we were leaving the next day Iain came over that evening for a drink and dinner. It was great to catch up and clearly living and working in Durban is a lot different than Moscow. Before heading off we had a couple of jobs to do on the truck. We needed some new front shock absorbers and I had contacted the nearest MAN dealer who had them in stock. As has been the case when we have gone to the MAN dealers along our trip they were really helpful. Not only did they have the shock absorbers but they fitted them there and then and also changed our headlights over so we had the right headlights for driving on the right hand side of the road. Now we just needed to find a campsite so we could finish unpacking and organising the truck for the journey ahead. In South America and especially in Patagonia we just camped up in the wild. We understood this would be more difficult in Southern Africa due to the amount of people and concerns about security and that most people used campsites. This though should not be that difficult as South Africa has a very big camping and caravanning culture. We found a campsite in Scottburgh a short distance down the coast. Mind you this was not the type of campsite we were used to... lots of facilities and loads of other holiday makers. We slipped into a parking slot and tried to fit in. At least it was set on a lovely beach.     Another thing we need to adjust to is that it is heading into winter here. After coming from late spring in Europe we were surprised to see that it got dark by 5.30pm. Mind you it was light at 6.30am. This meant we needed to get up early to enjoy the daylight. This had the added benefit of seeing a lovely sunrise.  It might have been winter but it was not cold. In fact our first few days were around 28 degrees. Not bad for winter. We headed further down the coast to a small nature reserve, Oribi Gorge. Here was our first test of whether we would struggle in the nature reserves with the size of our truck. Gilly and I have driven in Africa many times but always in Land Rovers or Toyotas. The reserves are clearly not designed for our truck and we are worried this will severely limit what we can do. At Oribi Gorge we could only just squeeze into the campsite before heading out for a walk to see the gorge as the sun set.          The next morning getting out of the campsite was more difficult. To get out we had to reverse about 600m down a tree lined narrow lane. A pretty fraught start to the today. We were heading across the Transkei to the Wild Coast. The Transkei used to be one of the Homelands during Apartheid and is home to the Xhosa people. It is also where Nelson Mandela was born. As we drove through the rolling countryside there was lots of traditional Xhosa housing and small scale farming.     Driving down to the coast we arrived at Coffee Bay. Coffee Bay is set next to a lovely wild beach. Unfortunately we did not enjoy it in its full glory as the weather had changed on the drive down and there was now grey cloud. Also it was a Sunday so everyone was out drinking. And whilst everyone was very friendly there were a lot of drunk people rolling around. We were also keen to see some large African animals and as our first real National Park was still more than 500kms away we decided to continue South West.          

3 thoughts on “Back On The Road…In Africa

  1. Hi guys;
    Wellcome in Africa.
    Just attached the newest (ok for you it is too late!) regarding the Birthcertificate.

    Enjoy your stay – dont worry about the coming cold front either- it will be warm just now again!
    Hamba kahle

    ome Affairs backtracks on new visa rules
    2015-06-01 14:14
    Cape Town – Department of Home Affairs Director General Mkuseli Apleni has issued a media statement that appears to backtrack on the contentious unabridged birth certificate requirement for children travelling in South Africa, which came into effect on Monday 1 June 2015.

    Apleni said the certificate is not needed when both parents are travelling with valid passports and visas for themselves and their children.

    “I must reiterate that where both parents are travelling with valid passports and visas the unabridged birth certificate is not a requirement since these additional documents would have been provided when applications were made for passports and visas,” Apleni said in a statement on the department’s website.

    Up until last week, the understanding had been that whether a child was travelling with both parents, one parent, or a guardian, an unabridged birth certificate was required.

    This echoes the concerns expressed by SA’s outbound travel, inbound tourism and airline industry associations – ASATA, SATSA and BARSA – who held a media briefing on Friday to discuss the key issues around the new requirements, including how biometric visas will affect the industry.

    According to the organisations, the Standard Operating Procedures V5, issued by the Department of Home Affairs, makes no mention of the unabridged birth certificate being exempt if both parents are travelling with the children, nor if it needs to be translated into English.

    The organisations also said the new immigration regulation brochure issued by the department one month prior to the implementation of these regulations is “ambiguous and unclear, raising more questions than answers”.

    READ: SA’s new visa rules come into effect as backlog and roll-out plague tourism stakeholders

    Apart from this Apleni also said that those who have applied for an unabridged birth certificate and are planning to travel, but have not yet received it, can go to any Home Affairs office to request a document that will allow them to travel with children through South African borders.

    He added that since Tuesday, 26 May, the department had been pulling out all the stops and managed to shrink their backlog of 4 000 applications for the unabridged birth certificate to only 800.

    “The 800 applications include where supporting documents are not available. We will continue sending reminders through text messages,” said Apleni.

    A summary of the new unabridged birth certificate requirement according to Apleni is as follows:

    – No unabridged birth certificate required when parents have a valid visa and passport for their children and are travelling with their children. When a child is travelling with one parent who is in possession of a valid visa and passport, a letter of consent is required from the other parent.

    – Minors who travelled prior to 1 June 2015 will not be required to produce supporting documents should the return leg of the journey occur after 1 June.

    – No supporting documents will be required in the case of minors in direct transit at an international airport.

    – In the case of countries that endorse the particulars of parents in children’s passports, or other official identification documents, these documents shall be acceptable for the purpose of establishing the identity of parents of the travelling minor. Example: Indian passports record the parents’ names on the passport. In this instance, the requirement of an unabridged birth certificate may be dispensed with.

    – Where any parent/s recorded in an unabridged birth certificate or equivalent document, are unable to consent to the travel by a child due to recent death, or mental or physical disability, persons acting on behalf of the child/children may apply for a special dispensation in lieu of the parental consent affidavit by directing a request and full motivation, together with all supporting documents (example, treating medical practitioners certificate), to the Office of the Director-General of Home Affairs, at the following e-mail address:

    • Thanks for this. And we are really happy to be in Africa. When we arrived we were toldwe would need birth certificates when we exited. Fortunately we were aware of this so have them with us. When we arrived in Durban the weather was fantastic. It’s pouring with rain now so looking forward to the sun coming back.

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