namibia5Our first encounter in Namibia was driving through a park and seeing a hippo run for the cover of the water! Hippos are not normally out during the day and it looked like he had been caught naked! We’d not seen a hippo that close in daylight out of the water before, so it was both awesome and funny :)

We also saw some other bucks that had cool horns – can’t remember their names – before Will gave up trying to drive through the park (because of gates and massive potholes) and just went around. But we arrived at our camp early in the afternoon. So we had a chance to visit the quirky ablutions this camp had to offer!

– Poop a falls: a dunny up 3 flights of stairs with a beautiful view over the bush
– Lav-a-tree: dunnies surrounded by trees
– Garden of Eden: a dunny perched atop a platform amongst a beautiful garden
– His n Hers: one dunny with tiles, bathmat, basin, mirror and lid cover, another with the toilet seat padlocked up and nothing else
– A shower with the taps built into a log and the shower head being made of a bucket with holes in the bottom

We then went for a nice dip in the hippo/croc swimming cage (ie. the cage protected us from the crocs and hippos) on the Okavango River just outside the bar. A nice way to finish the day.

namibia1Next morning we left at an ungodly hour – 5am. It was barely worth going to sleep, but we did nonetheless. But it was well worth it, because we arrived in Etosha early enough to have a game drive. We saw springbok, a unicorn, other antelope and spent a good amount of time watching a herd of giraffe’s drinking water from a waterhole. We then had time to set up camp, go for a quick swim and check out the action at the floodlit waterhole.

We started the next morning early – when the park opened at 6.15am, we were driving out the gates. Our early morning game drive wasn’t too bad. We spotted jackals, giraffes, springboks, the usuals and then I spotted two male lions by the side of the road. They played for a bit while we took loads of photos then they got bored and walked behind our truck and away. It was a good game drive! We spent that afternoon swimming, eating ice cream and playing 500 after having a look at the old German fort the campsite was based around.

A few people dropped off that afternoon’s game drive to hang by the pool, but Kim and I were all for it. We saw the usual suspects and also half a dozen or so Dikdik’s. We did watch an amazing display put on by the guinea foul though. They all rushed, marching down to a watering hole (once the jackals disappeared) to have a drink. They all lined up in a row for their drink before quickly marching back up the bank into safety. We then watched more giraffes drinking (it truly is a funny sight) and got some good shots. We had covered a lot of ground and only left ourselves minimal time to hot foot it back to camp before the park closed (and before we incurred a fine). We made it in time to see the bird ‘show’ at the waterhole that we had missed at sunset the night before. It was incredible! Thousands and thousands of birds were flying in formations across the sky, into trees, into the swamp plants and circling again. It was a spectacular sight! There were also cat fish that were jumping around in the water making a load of noise! After we realised there were no animals coming to this waterhole to drink, we gave in and went back to camp for dinner. A quick drink at the ‘bush bar’ and we turned in for the night.

The following day, we had to pack up camp and move to another camping ground in Etosha due to overbooking. So we were gone when the park opened again for another game drive. This time we drove into the first waterhole only to find two lionesses drinking! What a find! Only problem was that one of them looked seriously injured, her jaw had been damaged and you could see her teeth with her cheek missing on one side.

After the game drive, we went for a swim and then I cut Ebron’s hair (he wanted a clean shave, but I did as close as the clippers would allow) and then Kim’s. He’d promised previously (mistakenly in the presence of witnesses) that he would let me give him a mohawk. I assured him I’d cut it off if he didn’t like it, so he let me go ahead! With the help of some supervisors, we got it even and a style that… err… suited!

namibia2We finished just in time for our afternoon game drive where we drove down to the salt pan to get some good shots after seeing some ostriches and other animals. Yes, but this stage, I’ll refer to them as ‘other animals’ as we’ve seen a great deal by now and I’m sure the details will bore one to the core! We finished the game drive by seeing a hyena and got back to camp to watch at the waterhole where a rhino was drinking – apparently he was there the same time every day. Freaky! We stayed to see another 3 black rhino’s before we headed back to camp for dinner. We went back to the waterhole that night as there had been leopard sightings the previous few days. We waited… and waited… and watched a lone dikdik drinking, then rhino’s, then a pack of NINE hyenas (one with a limp) and then more rhino’s. After over an hour, we gave up waiting for the leopard and went to bed.

namibia3Our time in Etosha came to an end the following day where we had an early game drive and had breaky outside fences (but within the park) which was a tiny bit unnerving. We spent some time at a waterhole where we watched a female ostrich bullying springboks and then zebras drinking near them. We saw some Oryx fighting, some zebras baring their teeth and some springboks play fighting. We had a good photo session – sharing our camera with Jonathan because he’d dropped his in Jo’berg, poor bugger. We then headed out of the park to our next destination, a cheetah sanctuary in Otjidirongo.

We arrived in time to play with the 2 1/4 tame cheetahs (one was a cub) who were adorable and wanted to play. They were good mates with a little fox terrier who was hypo to say the least! We set up camp before heading out on a drive through a paddock where another 19 semi-wild cheetah’s were kept. The story about this place was that the white farmers in Namibia would shoot these cheetahs if they found them on their farms, so these people kept them here and fed them, using the money from tourists like us to fund it. However, I was not impressed at all to see the elephant parts in their bar on display like it was art. Not happy at all. I was spewing that I’d bought a drink from them before noticing it.

namibia4We did get some good photos of the cheetah’s – including some with George’s 200mm 2.8f lens, awesome! We spent the rest of the evening playing 500 and watching comedy. When we left in the morning, a tame giraffe was outside their main building and we spent some time patting her and admiring her height even though she was still young. The days were getting hot by this point and given Kim and I were in the back seat of the truck, we were starting to feel it. We drove to Opovo and set up camp at the Kasenje campsite, owned and run by the local community.

That afternoon, we were driven out to a village of Himba people where we met the chief’s 6th wife, asked her permission to be there, learnt about their culture, saw them dance and took loads of photos. After the last experience of the village variety, I was not keen at all. Sure enough, I was grabbed and touched by the local girls, much to my dissatisfaction and spent the rest of the time pretending to take photos so they’d leave me alone, or barricading myself by people in our group. It only worked 50% of the time. They took us to the 6th wife’s hut for her to dress Rebecca up in their local clothing, including animal fat mixed with okre which they put all over their bodies to stop their skin from burning in the sun. My white shirt was covered in it from the girls who’d been grabbing me earlier. They also showed the group (minus me who was unable to stand the stench of cow poo on the walls of the hut) how the wives would get ready for the chief’s 2 nights with them – they would sit over an incense type thing. That’s when I found out they never… ever… wash. Ever. I had my dettol bottle out quick smart and avoided more contact at all costs! From then on, I heard every child coughing and noticed one of the children who was so sick he couldn’t stop from falling asleep on the ground at the women’s feet.

I debated with myself whether what Will had said that day sat well with me. He said that education had a way of eliminating cultures. I’m not sure if he thought that was a good thing or not, but something in me did not agree with the lack of education. Anyway, I was glad to have a shower that night (after washing my hands and arms a trillion times).

Next day we were warned that it would be a bumpy ride to the next stop. We had won the jackpot by being seated at the back for the worst drive in history (the back seat is the worst for the bumps). Not only bumpy, it was dusty. Extremely dusty and we all tried to keep the windows closed for as long as the heat allowed us to. We eventually succumbed to the dust and all the windows were open. Yummy. We drove until about 3pm where we stopped at Arango at a campsite called Xarangu and we were so glad for a swim, because it felt like 100 degrees in the truck. Mix that with dust to the wazoo and you get what we were feeling like!

We then climbed some rocks to watch the sunset which was lovely. On the way back, we met MacGyver, the baboon who was on a running leash – long story short, he was beaten up by his own gang of baboon and was taken in by the owners of the campsite. It’s a debatable story of whether to let nature run its course or bring human emotions into it by ‘saving’ him. All I can say is that I’ve never seen a more bored, lonely and sad animal in all my life. We also, however, met 2 meerkats who put on a ‘meerkat show’ for us by poking their heads up (one by one), looking around, then shooting back down again. We also met some peacocks, goats and loads of cats including a few friendly ones who helped my case out with Kim to let me get a cat when we get home. This cat sucked up to Kim and sat on his lap purring… all night and then came right back the next morning!

At dinner, we celebrated Anne & Allan’s wedding anniversary and listened to their stories about where they lived. It was great to have a chat around the campfire while gazing up at the star filled sky.

Next day we set off to see some 4,000 year old engravings on rocks in the Brandburg area. It was definitely impressive – giraffes, lions, Oryx and even seals and penguins. What was less impressive was our guide. Someone asked her ‘Why did they engrave those rocks up there’ to which she responded ‘because they had the shade of that tree’. Now I’m not sure about you, but I’m tipping this tree has not been around for the past 4,000 years. But anyway, these people would trip out and then carve these pictures to either teach their young what they hunted for, or to summon rain or something… Must Google that :)

It was pretty hot already by the time we finished at this place and our next stop was the ‘White Lady’ rock painting. We were told we would set off on our 2 hour trek late in the day to hopefully avoid too much heat. But in the end, a few were scared off by the heat and only 9 out of 19 of us went. We had spent the afternoon fully clothed and frequenting the showers to cool down – it was that hot.

So we set off in the truck only to hear a strange hissing noise about 5 minutes into the drive, followed by steam. Yep, a radiator hose had burst. So we pulled over and Will fixed it in record time. 25 minutes later and we were back on track, heading for the white lady :)

We braved the heat and it ended up being a lovely walk through a valley and river bed, with the rocky mountains shading us the whole time from the sun. We arrived at the ‘White Lady’ to hear how it was actually a man, whose legs were dusty (ie white). But the paintings were so clear – so long after they were put there! And the detail was amazing, especially a zebra that was there! We took some photos of Namibia’s tallest mountain and then headed back to the truck discussing evolution and the creatures we met along the way. We also learnt about the 4 clicks of the local language, which was VERY cool – though I couldn’t say it! Kim wants our kids to have a click in their name :)

After giving a ride to the guides, we headed back to camp where we watched a local group sing and dance for us. Kim got up for a boogie (not joking) and we were very impressed with the voice of the MC. But the funny part about it was they were singing us songs that were ads for drinks and washing powder! I guess Kim and his random rendition of ‘Snappy Toms’ isn’t so strange after all!

That night, Kim and I tried to watch Grey’s anatomy, only to have the battery die at THE most critical point. But all good, because the next day, we were up before sunrise to take some sunrise shots of some rocks and the mountain range. It was beautiful, but misty, so not quite what we were hoping for. We were then on to Cape Cross where we visited a seal colony. There were SO many seals and they were making such a noise (and a stench) that we spent quite some time listening to them – and trying not to breath in deeply.

That same day, we headed to Swakopmund where we spent the next 3 nights. I was so delighted about the fact that there were WASHING MACHINES (I have been hand washing for the last 7 weeks); I rounded up every piece of clothing we owned (except what we were wearing) and washed the lot! Only to find out that this place is COLD and misty, so it took longer than normal to dry. Some of it ended up smelling, so I had to do them again – luckily there was some sun on the last day!

Anyway, we had a group dinner the first night in Swakopmund where Kim showed the group what happens when an Asian drinks, then wandered around the shops (mostly in search of free internet, which we found) and ended up watching a movie (don’t bother going to see Knowing, it had potential, but it’s crap) before heading out for dinner at a Thai place. Yep, we are in civilisation now – a Thai place to eat food at! We met a lovely South African guy there who we chatted to about working in Australia, beating up people who tried to steal your cash and almost bleeding to death from a stab wound. Yep, we’re in Africa.

As others went off doing activities like sand boarding, quad biking and the like, we chilled out and took our time browsing the shops and relaxing. After Kim and me tying 1-all in a game of pool, I managed to stuff up the pool table and let the balls roll INTO the pool table itself. Not my finest moment, we made a dash for it. We finished up in Swakopmund with a pizza and movie in our freezing 2 bedroom bungalow with Stella and Jonathan. We turned on the portable oven/stove with nothing inside in the hope it would warm us up. Even the shower was luke warm at best. Brrr.

Next morning, we set off in search of heat and sand dunes. We drove by the yellow dunes which were lovely and all (especially given it was dunes one side and the beach the other) but what we were really after was the red dunes. Next stop, Sossusvlei. We got in near dark and set up as the sun was setting. We’ve seen so many sunrises and sunsets on this trip, but each one is worth it (though we’re starting to get VERY picky about the photos we keep of them). We have an early night because we will be leaving at 5am.

The alarm goes off at an ungodly hour… again… and we are on the truck and asleep again before 5am. We drive to dune 45 where we get out in the middle of the Namib desert and climb the knife-edge of the dune to the highest point. Lloydie boy leads the way and overtakes everyone to make it to the top first. We are glad, because we are at the top where there are no other footprints – makes for a good photo :) Strangely, I was coaching Kim to the top (normally he’s doing it to me), so I was busy taking photos as the others recovered from the climb. But we all sat there and admired the glorious sunrise over the dunes…

The best part was yet to come though. Lloydie and Rebecca bid us farewell as they take off running down the side of the dune. After observing no broken bones or twisted ligaments, we brace ourselves and then shoot down. It was like moon-walking! With our huge strides, we are reminded of snowshoeing in northern Norway! It was awesome fun and so effortless! Then we spot Stella and Jonathan at the top and take photos of them running down – twas sooo much fun! Stella also made sand angels :)

We have some breaky (Ebron has been wonderful and cooked us a hot breaky), before we drive further into the dunes to go for a walk. Our guide was particularly delightful and animated, making us laugh a hell of a lot. Not having much to show us (in the scheme of things), he made what could have been a boring walk very entertaining and informative. He showed us the beetles that live in the sand and play dead when you touch them, lizards that burrow down into the sand if you throw sand at them (he then caught it, picked it up and pretended to eat it) and also a spider and how it will fix its nest if you expose him. We also saw a 600 year old petrified forest amongst these big beautiful sand dunes.

He told us how the red sand comes from the Kalahari desert and the yellow sand from up north and each season the wind carries the sand from different directions. It was fascinating!

We got back to camp so hot we were in the pool in no time. I tried to shave George’s head with zebra stripes, but the stripes were too long and there was no number 2 guide in Will’s clipper set, so I tried 1.5, but it was too close and looked silly, much to our disappointment! I also cut Kim’s mohawk again, but ended up shaving it off a few days later as it looked better with the top bit shorter. I’m becoming quite the hairdresser!

That evening, we all loaded onto the truck to go to a nearby canyon for a short stroll and to watch the sunset. Another sunset :) Stella and Jonathan had decided to catch a bus straight to Cape Town so we had a few beers that night to say goodbye. On the way back to camp, I spotted 2 jackals eyeing off our camp. They hung around for ages and were quite tame, but we didn’t get in their way!

Another early morning – and it gets quite cold overnight in the desert – and we were off driving again. When we stopped for lunch, I had written a few emails on my iPhone and just needed some wireless internet to send them. I found a wireless network and asked around for the owner. It ended up being the owner of a grocery store who didn’t know his password, but brought me into his house to use his home wireless. He’d also forgotten that one, but we soon found it and I logged in and sent the emails. He told me about his son and daughter and when he bought the shop from his father and how long he had been working there. It was such a great show of country hospitality that it made me miss home!

We were soon off again and we stopped at a turn off 45km from Keetmanshoop where we let Stella and Jonathan out to hitchike. Will was a bit worried about them, so within minutes he’d flagged down a car and had them on their way safely :)

Arrived at Fish River Canyon with enough time to go for a short walk and see the sun setting. Yep, another sunset :) Got some interesting photos which is always good. That night, all of us were pretty keen for a shower and in fact this place had BATHS – what a delicacy! But we soon found out that there was not only no hot water, there was no cold either. After Lloyd and Will took their showers in the pool, I waited until after dinner to try again. Success! It was cold, but it was wet! Then I found out Rebecca had a roasting hot bath in the mens bathrooms. Bugger.

Next day we drove to Kotzehoop where we saw an amazing sight – green grass! It was like an oasis! It was right on the Orange River, which is the border between South Africa and Namibia. The campsite was pretty cool, we actually camped on green grass. But the rules of the campsite were something to giggle at. It was strictly prohibited to pee on the lawn. This guy was anal because he even specified that the nearest corner was also unacceptable! We were scared to brush our teeth near the lawn!

We were picked up after lunch to take a kayak trip down the Orange river, ending at our campsite. It was nice to get some physical activity in! It was also lovely weather (sun wasn’t too hot) and we had a good time splashing Marco and Carolina in their kayak (but we got more than we gave lol). Rebecca and Lloyd actually capsized while on the bank! Pretty funny. Except on the last ‘rapid’ where we hit a rock and almost went over as well!

We spent that night culling 1,200 photos (yes, outright deleting them) after deciding that 3,000 photos in 55 days was simply too much. Brutality is the key :) Saying goodbye to Namibia, we then set off for South Africa…

One Response to “Namibia”
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