Chapter 25: The final leg(s)

This is the story of the last month of our trip, that is, our last border-crossing into South Africa and our final journey home...

The last few days of Namibia were spent meandering along the Orange River, and by meandering I mean slowly climbing over mountains on dirt roads. We found some good wild camping spots by the water and met some friendly animals. And by friendly I mean creatures that growled outside our tents in the night time and were actually quite scary.

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As it turns out, they were just hungry little jackals, and they probably didn’t even really growl except we say they did when we tell the story to everyone who wasn’t there. We had a very uneventful border crossing into South Africa because it turns out that there is almost nothing on the Namibian side for quite a distance and literally nothing on the South African side for about two days of riding, except a bit of sand and one tree. This non-excitingness continued as we passed through the town of Springbok, the only noteworthy event being Carla’s sighting of a hairy scorpion the size of a lobster. Some people camping next to us picked it up with braai tongs and after that we do not know what became of it.

We carried on cycling generally southwards and, as I mentioned in the last post, stayed at some very comfortable places in Lutzville and Lambert’s Bay, which had real beds and lots of plug-points and that type of wonderful thing. They even had kettles, which we have come to regard as magical objects because they do not require asking Dad to get the stove out of his pannier, Mom to get the paraffin out of her pannier, somebody to get water from somewhere and so on. Carla, who is quite culinarily-orientated (is that a word?), especially enjoyed this luxury.

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Then we met up with our good friend, Ken, to go cycle in the Cedarberg. The Cedarberg is a mountain range somewhere north of Cape Town. It’s primary features can be summed up as (1) beautiful and (2) everything that is difficult for bicycles.

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The combination of Ken’s company and the beautiful-ness just balanced out the everything-is-difficult-ness, but our legs were not happy legs by the last day of that stretch. Unfortunately, that last day was also the most difficult day. To cut a long story short, we ended up in Ceres with no place to stay and eventually realised we were going to have to ride over another mountain pass in the dark and find a spot somewhere along that cold and windy mountain to wild camp, which we did. And so our last wild camp on the trip was quite wild indeed.

The next morning we arrived in Tulbagh which cheered us up a lot, because there are at least seven nice coffee shops in Tulbagh and because we were staying with an amazing Warm Showers family on a farm nearby there. We spent two days with Jo, John, Matt and Spike, playing like little hobbits in the garden and being generally happy and comfortable. They even took us for a long horse ride (on which we wore our increasingly multi-purpose bicycle helmets) and everybody managed not to hurt themselves.

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After that, there was nothing left to do but ride back home to Cape Town. So we did, and we enjoyed luxury all the way in because of being lucky enough to meet up with and stay with very kind friends and family in Riebeek Kasteel, Jakkalsfontein and Blouberg. The last day was especially exciting because we were joined by some special cyclists (the youngest, Eli, being approximately 3) for our last few kilometres. And then eventually we were on the top of Chapman’s peak, with a steep 7km downhill to the café where our friends and family were waiting for us.

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And then we arrived, and everybody was very kind and congratulatory and we were extremely delighted to see them, and we all had a lot of coffee.

THE END.

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That was one week ago, and since then we have been settling in to life in the real world. This has involved wearing slippers because we can, visiting some doctors and our storage locker and shops and things, and even a fair amount of pannier-less cycling. Some changes have been easier to make than others.

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Finally, here is a map of the whole trip. This map is dedicated to Uncle Justin and Aunty Fiona, because without them we would never have been able to have done this ridiculous expedition at all. 

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