I have always loved maps. Mum and I look for excuses to go ‘the map shop’ on Longacre in Covent Garden just to stand on the map of London that’s printed on the basement floor. Sadly, I don’t think I would get much of London on the floor of the caravan!
Another passion of mine is Lonely Planet books. As soon as I have an inkling that I might be going somewhere I pick one up and spend hours reading through them. I continue to read them while I am away, re-reading sections just in case I missed anything. I am not by any means someone that relies on what has been reviewed and written in terms of restaurants, hostels etc. I use them to get a feeling for an area and a culture before I get there, then to understand the history of a building, landmark or tradition. I hate not knowing all the facts, I want to know the whens, whys and hows of things.
We have narrowed down our route to the west coast of SA because the boy has done a lot of the rest of the country and it seemed as good a place as any for me to start. The Midlands in (surprisingly) in the (northern) middle of the country but seeing as the caravan was in Saint Lucia which is almost the furthest eastern, northern point you can go, we are aiming for the furthest, most northern point of the western coast as an official starting point. To get there we have a few options, up and along or along and up (I hope you’re getting a sense for my geographical awareness?). My only stipulation is that I want to go the The Big hole. Yes, it really is exactly what is says and it is just outside Kimberley so that has given us our first stop off point a long the way west. After that, perusing the LP and map, a few words stood out; vine yards and hot springs, making our next stop of Kakamas on the Orange River a safe bet. Next it’s through Namaqaland, (where the spring time flowers are apparently a must see) and up and over to Port Nolloth, a small fishing town that’s ‘home to a motley multicultural group of runaways, holiday makers and fortune seekers.’ Sounds about right hey?
Despite my experiences travelling I really struggle to have a grasp of distance and the time it will take to travel to places. Luckily Google maps means I don’t need to be able to calculate anything but I was surprised that the ‘planned’ route is 1700kms with driving distances of about 5 hours between each of the stops. It really puts into perspective just how small the UK is and how huge this country is by comparison. Working the distances out just for these next few sections prompted me to look at how far it is from the top to bottom of the west coast…we have a long route ahead of us!
Right now, I am excited to ‘hit the road’ and get going but I may need a reminder of that excitement a few hundred kms in.