// Nikon D7200 | -32.55175 : 19.36214 | alt. 621 m

After a few days driving on the long and boring main road of Namibia, I made it to Aus, final stop before the border.

Here we go, after 200 kms of very good road, I arrived at the Namibian border. The process is done very quickly, they didn’t even check the vin number of the van :p
Then, a few kilometers of dirt road and there was a small ferry crossing ! Kind of boat I took in Guatemala and Bolivia, but here we are in South Africa, so they have rules : no one in the vehicle, life jacket for everyone, and you have to sign a few papers. It takes just a few minutes to cross, nothing scary like in Guatemala (that ferry was taking water !!!:D)

First building is the national park office, because on this side of the border, it is a national park ! 100 nad for the ferry, and 60 for crossing a small part of the park. I’ve got only 120, and their credit card machine is offline. But after a small chat, 120 seems enough 🙂
Once done, next building is customs…..
Quick check on my passport, I’m hoping to get an extension and 90 days, but nope, my visa was still running, and I’ve got only 54 days left 🙁 Alright, I’ll try my chance at another border.
Then, final building, police control for the vehicle. And what a surprise, they have no idea what to do with the carnet de passage !
I have to guide these guys line by line, making sure I get all my precious stamps !
Final check of the van for the vin number, they have a lot of questions about the van itself and again…. why am I travelling alone ? :p I will have to invent a story one day….

It took a 1 hour in total to clear both borders, not bad, if only it could be like this for the rest of Africa !

But serious things were about to start, on the way out of customs, a sand storm came in and made navigation really hard ! I had to turn on my high beams to catch something on the road but it was pointless, and at this point, I could see the blue sky on top of me !

Out of this mess, I made it to the coast, and I had to stop, just to watch the ocean for a while. After all, I’ve been in the sand and dust for about 3 weeks now !

I managed to drive until Springbok, where I had to refuel, and when I went to get cash at the atm, VISA blocked my card…….
ok no panic ! Thankfuly, my french sim card was working here and I could make a phone call to visa to unlock my card ! A bit scary, I was not going to sleep on a car park for my first day, it takes a while in a new country to figure out if a place is safe or not, but there was too many people just hanging around.
Not feeling comfortable, so I made it to the nearest campground.

Next part is a proper introduction to South Africa : Cederberg wilderness area. My first national park in the country and a premium hiking place.
The main highlight is the wolfgang arch, however, that trail is closed at the moment due to a recent wildfire. Next option is the hike to Maltese cross, then summit of Sneeuberg (2027m).
I ask for map and advice at the park ranger office. She told me the obvious route to the top is not possible, and I have to take a loop going south, the return journey should take 6hrs…. Alright, I’m a bit surprised by what she said, and that was my first mistake, never believe a park ranger in South Africa (they are just here to collect your money), and get information by yourself somewhere else ! (they know shit about their parks)

So that park ranger just sent me on the longest possible route, and still today, I keep bitching about her.
The valley is beautiful, with interesting sandstone formations all over the place, it’s really hot as well ! After 40min, I made it to the maltese cross, which looks more like a giant fist 😀 Never seen a rock like this ! On the timer, I made it way faster than the park ranger said (40min vs 2hours), and I was feeling confident to make the top in no time.
I went for the big loop on the north side, walking, walking for hours. On the clock, I was now behind schedule, and still no sigh of the trail going up the mountain !
So I took a turn and went straight to the top ! No trail, so a lot of bush and rocks on the way, not easy to hike in these conditions.
Finally, after 5hrs, I was near the top.
At that point, the heat was so intense, my 2 litres of water and all food were gone.
The final section was really steep, and it was more about climbing than scrambling.
The thing is, I just had a few hours before sunset, and I had to find a different way to go down. I went on the south side, shortest route to the trailhead, and from there I could see a lovely trail going down. I could have been there in 2 hours only, but that fucking bitch sent me on the best way to get lost, or worst……

I should start my way down…… but I’m only 50m from the top, I have to try it…. and it didn’t go well. I slipped from a rock, and crashed down. I did my best with my arms to reduce the impact and save my legs, at least, I can still walk.
Sun is now going down, and this place is home to leopards.
At this point, I was in pain, and getting really nervous about this, and it was time to hike back, and not at the same pace : my leg is shaking, I cannot go really fast.

It took a few hours to make it back to the van, a few minutes only after sunset. I was hot and cold at the same time, frozen and sweating, obviously from dehydration, and I could not use my left arm and hand. Time to clean all the wounds, put band aids everywhere, and get tons of water (thanks Mike for the electrolytes !) I collapsed, exhausted.

Next morning, I was feeling better, but still not able to use my left hand at all, I did 5 kms of gravel road and that was it, I went for the first camping, which ended up being one of the most friendly and relaxing place in South Africa (Cederberg Oasis).
This is where I met James, who did the trans african a while ago and a lot of cycling. We spent the entire day talking with a few beers, it was such a pleasant moment, especially after this terrible day in the park….
Cederberg was a big slap in my face, a reminder than anything can happen out there, and when you are on your own, things can turn bad very quickly….

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