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A short drive in the Southern Hemisphere


Well, the idea started as a straight forward year off from work travelling around the world. We started with a classic 'Around the World' plan but after some discussion decided there were a few places that we were not really that keen on and so, we settled on selected destinations in the Southern Hemisphere. A circum-navigation mainly by Land Rover based loosely around the Tropic of Capricorn.

The journey was split into three self contained parts on three different continents connected by a sea voyage or aeroplane flight, or possibly by both.  Florence always travelled by land (under her own steam) or by sea, Ash & Gill travelled by the modern miracle of air travel whenever changing continent although we were often found onboard one ship or another.  And as if the basic itinerary was not enough to satisfy the professional wanderer, we also added a few excursions along the way including Saint Helena, Cook Islands, Galapagos Islands and Antarctica.

We all sailed on 9th October 2008 onboard the RMS ST HELENA from Portland, England bound for Cape Town, Republic of South Africa.  We called in very briefly at Ascension Island (a matter of hours) but disembarked for nine days on St. Helena, a very remote island in the South Atlantic. Saint Helena is a British Overseas Territory whose only means of supply is by sea as even today it is still without an airport.  After this gentle sojourn, we again boarded RMS St. Helena for the remainder of the journey to Cape Town arriving on Guy Fawkes Day, 5th November 2008.

On arrival in Cape Town we packed away our sea legs and reorganised ourselves into a land based expedition.  After a short stay in the West Coast National Park during which we unpacked and repacked several times, we started on the dusty road north to the Kalahari Desert.  The African section of the journey focussed on the Southern tip of this great continent, visiting South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Lesotho, the general theme being “The Natural World” and focusing on the fauna and flora of the region.  In keeping with this theme, the vast majority of time was spent in the National Parks and Reserves of the countries visited.  In Namibia: Namib-Naukluft, Skeleton Coast, Etosha and Caprivi National Parks.  In Botswana: Kgalagadi, Chobe, Moremi and Makgadikgadi areas and reserves.  In Republic of South Africa: Kruger, Kgalagadi, Ai-Ai/Richtersveld, West Coast, Mapungubwe and Augrabies.

On 16th January 2009 we loaded Florence into a shipping container in Cape Town bound for Fremantle, WA and said goodbye to Africa on 19th January 2009 as we flew to Perth, WA via the UK to take advantage of cheaper RTW air tickets.

On the 2nd February 2009 we arrived in Perth, Western Australia, one whole month before our Land Rover arrived in Fremantle. We learnt to view most (but not all) shipping agents as reliable as estate agents or used car salesman. we were reunited with Florence in Perth/Freemantle and commenced a week of customs, quarantine, cleaning and roadworthy inspections before we could temporarily import her. After these formalities were complete we set off on our tour off the outback, straight through the middle to Ayres Rock and then on to Cairns for a swim.  The flavour of the Australian section was wilderness (with a dash of tropical splendour thrown in).  The overriding objective was to avoid getting bitten or stung by anything very nasty, we succeeded.  Originally we had considered circum-navigating the island with an excursion into the centre but because of the fires in NSW we decided to cut a very big corner, we'll go back another day to do that part.

On 3rd June 2009 we loaded Florence back into her container to sail to Valparaiso, Chile and then flew out of Perth en-route to Santiago on 11th June 2009, stopping off in Sydey and Raratonga on the way.  We had considered New Zealand for a rest but it was decidely chilly at that time of year so we changed our minds again and planned our excursion to Ecuador. We spent a week in the Cook Islands before flying on to Santiago where we did some fancy footwork and diverted to Quito for three weeks to fit in the Galapagos by motor cruiser and the Amazon Jungle by canoe. We finally got to Valparaiso by bus on the 20th July 2009, Florence's ship arrived at the port on the 31st and we got her out on the 3rd August 2009. We were on the road again on the following day.

We drove north through the Atacama and onto Bolivia, starting a large loop that included Patagonia and a trip to the Antarctic. This section proved to be the most enigmatic part of the journey taking in a variety of countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay), climates and conditions.  Each country has its own version of Spanish too. We spent approximately six months on the continent and went from the Equator to the Antarctic Circle (nearly).

On 11th December 2009 we loaded Florence into the container in Montevideo bound for Tilbury. We then crossed the River Plate to Buenos Aires for a week before flying back to Heathrow.  We arrived back in the UK on 20th December 2009, approximately 15 months travelling around the Southern hemisphere living in our Land Rover ambulance.

We were home for Christmas and the New Year with time to relax before getting a home and jobs in order to plan the next journey...