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Day 1: Cape Town, South Africa to the Cederberg Mountain Region with Nomad Tours

I didn’t sleep much last night; so excited and anxious about the tour of South Africa.

The First Gathering

Lunch beside the road

Our first lunch beside the road.  Time for introductions.

Darren and Rob drove me to the Nomad Tours office in Cape Town where everyone met at 8 a.m. to complete paperwork and start the tour.

Dropping me off, I said to Darren “Look! There are lots of older people here!” feeling relieved that I wasn’t going to be the granny of the group.

It turns out that two groups were leaving this morning – a fully accommodated tour (a bed every night) and a camping tour.  Guess where most of the people who remember the Bee Gees went?  Fully accommodated.  But I see that there are a few people my age or older in the camping mix.  Relief again.

When signing in, I scan the roster to see what nationalities are represented.  Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Germany, Germany, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Germany, Germany.  I see a German interpreter at the desk helping people complete the forms.

Unbeknownst to me, I have apparently booked myself on a “German Departure” tour.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have had “challenges” with Germans in the past.  Now I have conclusive proof that God: a) hates me, b) Is attempting to use me as a bridge between German and American culture, or c) specializes in the deepest of irony.

Yes, the past year of traveling has taught me some hard lessons about stereotyping and I’ve had the pleasure of friendship with Germans, like Max.  But that aside, if I wanted to hang out with Germans for 20 days, I would have gone to Germany or booked a German Departure tour.  Whoops!

As the token American, I could only laugh.   Ebony and Ivory, Laura.  Ebony and Ivory.  We can live in harmony right?

I survey the group, categorizing and making judgments about who might be a friend.  I’ve learned from experience that these snap judgments nearly always turn out to be wrong, but it’s human nature to assess and categorize instantly.  Seeing but one single man half my age, I quickly cross any romance potential off the list.  There are several couples.  An older man.  A guy in a full safari outfit.  He’s ready.

Hitting the Road

Learning how to put up our tents.

Learning how to put up our tents.

We leave the office and enter a beast of a vehicle, built specially by Nomad Tours for the rugged roads we will traverse.  It carries our tents, our kitchen, safety gear and 23 people.

We have two guides, Morrison and Mxolisi, both originally from Zimbabwe.  Mxolisi’s name is pronounced with a click on the “x” and will be challenging to learn, but I’m determined.

Our guides give a brief outline of what to expect.  I appreciate the clear rundown of what’s coming in the next hour and the next day.  Morrison’s primary message to us: Calm down.  You’re in Africa.  Calm down.  And we will do everything as a group.

I’m calm and damn excited simultaneously.

Our first stop is at the beach in Cape Town with a great view of Table Mountain.  Next, we continue to the mall where people stock up on needed supplies.  Next, we stop in a natural area near the beautiful Cederberg Mountains.  Here we have a tour that teaches us about native plants.

We continue on to Citrus Dal which is the citrus-growing region of South Africa.  Groves of orange trees spread in every direction.  And here is our first campground, a well-manicured paradise with the Cederberg mountains as a backdrop.

Morrison and Mxolisi teach us how to put up our tents.  We are coupled up.  My roomie?  The German interpreter.

While we clumsily assemble our tents,  Mxolisi makes us a delicious spaghetti dinner which we all enjoy while sitting in a circle.  This is like camp!  I loved camp as a kid!  Fun!

In future days, we are expected to wash our plates and help out with meal preparation and cleaning.

Everyone is asleep by 10 p.m.

At 1 a.m., I wake to the German translator, Nicole, asking if we should get a rain cover for the tent.  Thunder is roaring outside.  Lightning is clapping and zapping the whole sky with the brightest white light.  It is pouring rain.  The adventure has begun!

Disclaimer: Nomad Tours has offered me a discount in exchange for documentation of the experience.  I have complete freedom to share my thoughts truthfully.  All opinions are my own.

 Photos of the Trip from Cape Town, South Africa to the Cederberg Mountain Region:

 

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