Armstrong Adventures travel blog

The Phoenix Expeditions truck. There were 6 of us aboard a truck...

Our campsite in Lilongwe, Malawi. Our truck is blue/white. Red Mercedes "Unimog"...

Dana whips up a little veggie soup on fold out table/gas stove...


The second overland trip was a big change from our first 3-week overland experience in both our group and what we are seeing and doing. Our first group of 7-8 people got along fine, but Snow and I never really felt like we connected or bonded with them. I felt like there was a huge age difference and really felt old, at 34! Though the average age of our current group is about the same as our first group--24ish--I don't feel as old and we've found we have much more in common with them. They are an extremely well traveled group and we've had fun sharing stories and adventures. We're looking forward to seeing the Australian women, Jules and Kylie, when we're in that part of the world next fall.

This trip was a lot more hands-on participation, which both Snow and I enjoyed more. The 6 of us did all the grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking on this trip, whereas on Nomad we had a cook along who took care of all of that. When we first found out we would be doing all the cooking Snow and I thought it will either be fun or a disaster. It's turned out to be quite entertaining. Since we only had to cook for 8 it wasn't that daunting and everyone was very charitable in their assessments of each other's meals. All the meals are cooked on a portable gas stove with 2 big burners set up on the back tailgate of the truck. The back end of the truck opened up to access the "kitchen", which was pretty efficient. It was a good work space for 2 people. Any more than that was a bit cramped, though we often had 4 of us trying to get things ready.

The grocery options were often very limited so we couldn't get too creative. We had one very frustrating shopping trip trying to find something to put in the sandwiches for lunch, but usually we could find the basics. Rice, pasta, or potatoes were the basis for every dinner. I relied heavily on the spice box and earned a reputation for dishes "with a bite". Fortunately, everyone thought that was great! Breakfast and dinners were pretty good (at Kande Beach on Lake Malawi Kylie and Jules served frenched toast for breakfast-yummy!), but lunches got very old. The lunch meat options in Africa are a bit dodgy in my opinion. I don't like bologna in the States and the African version--polony (no joke)--was scary. I don't miss those sandwiches.

We've really enjoyed camping. We've even opted to stay in our tent 3 more days here in Nairobi. Anton and Billy, our guide and driver, are here for a week before they pick up their next group. They offered the use of the tent while we are here for free. We just have to pay the $3/person camping fees. The Phoenix tents are pretty small A-frame tents which are a little more of a hassle to put up than the dome tents we had on Nomad. But, they are far more affective at keeping us dry when it rains. Rain was not an issue at all in Namibia, but it has rained (more accurately, poured) almost every single night on this portion of the trip. We have been very glad we had the more rain-proof shelter. But, we are now done with camping. We leave tomorrow for Uganda. Billy needs to take the truck in for repairs so we had to remove all of our stuff we were storing on it. Since the tent is so small it won't fit in it so we got a room for $15/night. We sent one of our sleeping bags home today wrapped around a 3' tall wooden giraffe for padding and we're giving our other sleeping bag to Anton and Billy to have an extra one on the truck. It will be nice to lighten our load a bit. We weren't orginally going to bring sleeping bags but when we found out we needed them for the overlanding we bought cheap ones for $10 each planning to get rid of them in Nairobi.

Overlanding has been a great way to see a lot of southern and eastern Africa efficiently and in a pretty short amount of time. Some of the places we've been to are quite out of the way and pretty difficult to get to on your own. I would recommend it as a fairly inexpensive, reasonably rough, but not too rough, way to see Africa. The only downside was the long hours in the truck. Considering the mileage we covered it is unavoidable, but it got a little old. However, with only 6 of us in a truck that can carry 27, we could hardly complain. We had plenty of room to stretch out, read, sleep, chat, listen to music, etc. The iPod was a huge hit with our group. We could hook it up to the truck stereo and let the playlists roll. It was helpful for killing a few hours on the road.

6 weeks of overlanding was fun, but we are very excited to set out on our own. Uganda will be a good place to start. We are hoping to get up to see the mountain gorillas and maybe do some river rafting since the Zambezi River was too flood to raft at Victoria Falls.

More soon!

Dana




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