Cape Town. Week 3..

Greeted by howling rains and frigid temperatures, our three weeks (and counting) in Cape Town has coincided with a change in seasons. Yesterday, we were treated to glorious +30C temperatures and a real taste of summer. It really is beautiful here.

In Cape Town

Although we could not have chosen a better place to bunker down for 3 weeks, Cape Town so far certainly has been both cruel and kind.

The Good!

Last week we were lucky enough to meet up with Toast Coetzer, editor at Go! magazine, for some incredible tips on overlanding through Namibia and Botswana. It was great catching up on our travels after first meeting at Mushroom Farm way back in Malawi. Toast spends his days writing travel articles on Southern Africa and was an invaluable resource for routes off the beaten track and unique places to stay. Today he left for Namibia for a refresh of Go!’s annual Namibian guide and we are hoping to be hot on his heels in the near future. Along with a ton of recommendations from close friends and family who rave about Namibia, we are itching to get on the road again.

A 2nd chance encounter with Laurence Lindley – overlander extraordinaire – whilst getting the Purple People Eater serviced turned into a real treat. Laurence had just returned from an 8-week trip through Botswana, and we had an amazing time over drinks while he and Jo recounted stories of rogue elephants and deep sand driving (120L to drive 60km??) across the Kalahari. It also turns out that they were looking to replace some of their overlanding equipment and what do you know! Three impoverished 20-somethings were in desperate need for quality gear, and we scored a new roof rack (African Outback), Howling Moon roof tent, Eezi-awn awning, and tables and chair for a very generous price. Many thanks again and we can’t wait to get some photos up once our beloved returns from service.

And.. the bad.

For those of our more conscientious followers, yes, I can hear you joining the dots. If the Purple People Eater was getting serviced last week, how is it possible that we are still awaiting its return? It goes something like this.

Once upon a time, in a far away land (Tanzania), the PPE had some overheating issues. The overheating either caused or was caused by a crack in the engine’s cylinder head (the part that the pistons push against to generate power to move the car). This caused heat and gases to be released into the cooling system, dramatically reducing the engine’s ability to cool down. Instead of addressing the crack (a costly service – believe me!) a Tanzanian fundi realised that by locking the car’s cooling fan to the engine speed, the fan could provide enough cooling to offset the problem to prevent catastrophic failure.

This is obviously not a work around you want to travel with on a 30,000+km journey. It was likely the cause of our original piston problems back in Dar, and we realised this the hard way when we fixed the ‘broken’ fan, only to find that we had a serious over heating problem down the road.

Team JB

But we are in good hands – we have been working with JB Auto in Cape Town – an outfit with a reputation among Landcruiser owners as the finest 4×4 mechanics in town. It is through their hard work that we have managed to discover these potentially catastrophic issues, and watching Johann, Melvin, Quentin and JB at work relative to the Tanzanian fundis has been an enlightening experience. Once we get the car back from them, hopefully by the end of this week – we should be (touch wood) unstoppable.

Until then!



(es)Cape Town

After 24 hours in transit, I arrived in Cape Town to beautiful weather and an empty Prado car seat. Our first stop would be the Westin, courtesy of SPG, where we managed to get some gym, spa, and free champagne breakfasts in our systems.

Getting cozy at La Colombe!

After getting settled in at the Westin, we dined at La Colombe, rated one of Africa’s best restaurants and nestled in Constantia Uitsig, a beautiful vineyard in one of Cape Town’s winetowns.

Image courtesy of La Colombe

Inundated with all the recommendations we received from friends, our expectations were fairly high, but La Colombe managed to far surpass even those! From the artichoke veloute with lentil puree to the grilled Chalmar beef fillet, everything was perfect. Finished the night off with some “flat whites,” parsnip cake, and port.

Regular customers already!

We were also pretty happy to discover a Chinese restaurant in Cape Town, where we’ve managed to already dine twice in the past 24 hours. Some homemade won ton soup later, we checked out the local coffee culture at Truth CoffeeCult and got situated to do some work!

Next up: Robben Island, Table Mountain, and Cape Town nightlife!


Drakensberg Part 2: Cathedral Peak

I forgot to mention an interesting fact from our Amphitheatre hike in my last post: Tugela Falls, the 2nd highest waterfall in the world (Trivia: What is the highest waterfall in the world? no cheating), originates from the top of the Amphitheatre. The reason I forgot to mention Tugela Falls in my previous post was because it was thoroughly underwhelming during dry season. It was just a small stream of water.

The roaring Tugela Falls during dry season
















We briefly contemplated leaving the Drakensberg after hiking the Amphitheatre, but the hostel receptionist convinced us to stick around to hike Tugela Gorge – pretty but relatively uneventful hike – and Cathedral Peak.

Tugela Gorge

Cathedral Peak is a beast of a day hike that’s takes us up 1500m in elevation over 19km, with 4 scrambling sections. I will once again do a pictorial exposition of our hike.

Cathedral Peak is so far away it is barely visible from the trailhead. It is behind the mountain on the right.

A quarter of the way into the hike, Cathedral peak is finally visible. It is the tall one in the middle.

Nearly 3 hours into the hike, Cathedral peak is still so far away.

The last 200m of Cathedral Peak is poorly marked. In our stupidity, we neglected to take a map of the last section with us. Instead of taking the scrambling route straight up on the face of the peak, we went up the gully on the left of the peak that led us to a dead end.

Scrambling up the wrong route















Although it was a little demoralizing we didn’t summit Cathedral Peak after spending 9 hours on the trail, the amazing alpine scenery enroute still made it a worthwhile trip.

Follow my odyssey on Twitter @AlpheusChan