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March 14, 2013 / samwilson60

Blasting to Benguela and beyond

We left peninsula wanting nothing more than an uneventful day on the road and a quiet evening to catch up on blog writing and photo editing. For once, we more or less got what we’d asked for. The driving was so uneventful, and smooth, that we overshot all our potential wild camp spots and headed straight into Benguela.




We’d already done our research (thanks to Frederik in Luozi) so were quite happy heading straight to Nancy’s Guesthouse, the most affordable and appealing accommodation in town. It looked great and we were happy, if tired, when we pulled up outside. As it doubles as an English school, we were even fairly confident we’d be able to communicate! We were, and after a few hello’s and how are you’s, the girl at reception asked, in near-perfect English, whether we had a reservation. We’ve never had a reservation (if you ignore the unused ones made purely to get a visa). We panicked briefly but as soon as we said we were actually looking for somewhere to camp, the relief on the receptionists face was as obvious as ours and she hopped up the stairs to show us our rooftop.



It was perfect and we were ready to crash. We’d eyeballed Benguela as a place we’d potentially stay two nights, because there was apparently an internet café in town and we were desperately out of touch and out of date online. We were so comfortable at Nancy’s though, we both thought how awesome it would be if they had internet there and we could do all we needed from our rooftop. Bingo – they did! It cost a fair bit, but what it saved in time, energy, pointless drives around town and subsequent accommodation fees more than made up for the initial outlay. We’d used a few hours of credit before we even fell asleep that night, and when we found out in the morning that we’d used the last of the access cards, we were happy enough to skip town with what we’d already achieved the night before (sorry, didn’t get as far as emails!).

Not needing to spend all day trawling for internet cafes, we headed out of town and back along the coast. It was still perfect tar initially, then rubbish corrugations – albeit still with an awesome view.



We couldn’t have been that lucky for two days on the trot, and would actually have felt a bit weird blasting another 400km or so all the way to Lubango in a day. Instead, we set about looking for a place to call our own for the night. It was getting on and we’d decided to follow a track to a ‘wild camp’ marked on the GPS by another overlander – always a risky game to play, as you don’t know who marked it, why or when – and we nearly turned back a couple of times. There were far more people than we were comfortable with, and deeper sand, but we persevered this time and were really glad we had. We found a surprisingly secluded spot, tucked away in the sand mountains, in view of the sea and a herd or two of cattle. As with the majority of livestock in Angola, there didn’t seem to be anyone accompanying the cows and we had a peaceful evening, and subsequent morning, with no company other than the bats – lots of them, dive-bombing over our heads and unsettlingly close to our faces, but eating lots of insects in the process (we hoped) and providing more entertainment than alarm, overall!



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