Trip Diary - Africa

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Namibia

Wild, remote and unpopulated, were our first impressions of Namibia. Little did it matter that it took us 2 weeks before we realised we were using Zambian time instead of Namibian, an hour behind. We rough camped in the wilds of the Caprivi Strip, once overrun by fighting forces in the 80’s now a haven for wild animals and daring tourists.

We spent a couple of nights in Nambwe Camp, only accessible in 4x4. It is a small campsite with no fences in the middle of Susuwe Game Reserve. Sophistication extended as far as flushing loos and hot showers. We pitched our tent alongside a riverbank from where we could listen to the hippos and watch a varied array of birds. Later, the hasty twittering of these creatures signalled dusk silenced finally by the curtain of nightfall. For us, it is supper, hot shower and restful sleep until the first sounds of the bush with the glow of dawn. So it should have been, except that our sleep was interrupted by bolshie elephants tramping around our camp shoving each other out of the way in attempt to get at the last of the seed pods growing in the tree above our tent. We heard the campers next door unzip there tent and make a dash for their car, where they sat securely until the elephants had moved passed. We felt secure in our tent.

We left the wilds and arrived at Ngepi Campsite, recommended to us for their entertaining ablutions. It is a most amusing campsite and well worth a visit. There are several ablution areas, all of which are tastefully and humorously designed. All the showers are out in the open, all loos are placed in the bush and the bathtub looks out over the Okavango River.

Our next highlight was a visit to Khadoum National Park. Again, wild and with no ablutions, as they had been trampled and destroyed by elephants. We were fortunate enough to spend about three quarters of an hour following a spotted female hyaena and her 2 cubs. They were as fascinated with our vehicle and registration plate as we were of them. The children thoroughly enjoyed them.

Etosha lends itself to photography. There are large concentrations of game all through the park. The flat barren salt pan and regularly frequented waterholes make for brilliant photos early in the morning and again in the late afternoon. It was also the first time we saw Gemsbok. They survive well in the barren landscape….they are also the best venison I have ever eaten!

Another of our highlights was a visit to the Cheetah Guest Farm. Here, a farmer keeps 3 ‘tame’ cheetah and 29 wild, all of which he feeds donkey meat to everyday. Even though the 3 tame cheetahs have been hand reared from only a few days old, they are still highly instinctive animals and would pounce at anything up to a certain size. The children had to be very wary around these creatures and sit very still.

Omarumba River Valley, in southern Kaokaveld, holds the magic of Namibia for us. It is wilderness sparsely populated by the Himba tribe. There are few campsites to speak of which left us the option of rough camping again. After driving for most of the day through semi-desert vegetation along a sandy track with no sign of another person or vehicle, we set up camp in the dry Omarumba River. At dusk, we had the privilege of sharing our patch of riverbed with gemsbok walking towards the nearby water source, followed shortly by a herd of rare and much publicised desert elephants.

The following day we reached the point on the adventurers map, that we had been looking forward to for sometime….Van Zyl’s Pass. It is a rocky and rutted track descending down into the shimmering Marienfluss. It was a treacherous journey and our trailer broke a spring. However, it was a challenge we all enjoyed and the finale of the magic grassy Marienfluss made it all the more worthwhile.

On recommendation we camped at Purros Camp that supports the local community financially. Here we were privileged enough to be offered a lovely site under beautiful trees, frequented by the bulbuls, sparrows and starlings. In the evenings, the elephants would walk straight passed our tent, we watched them silently as they drifted past eating the fallen pods….idyllic.

Moving south, we camped in Windhoek, restocking the fridge and deep freeze and mending the broken trailer spring.

 Heading back into central Namibia, we visited the fascinating dinosaur footprints, 150 million-200 million years old, on a farm named Otjihaenamaparero. We then made our way westwards heading for the Skeleton Coast. We spent a couple of nights rough camping in southern Damaraland, such barren countryside. We followed the coast road down to Swakopmund, where we had so much fun dune-boarding. On our way south we stopped over in Keetmanshoop where we visited the fascinating Quiver Trees and the red dunes of Soussesvlei. Our final night in Namibia was at Hobas campsite at the Fish River Canyon. We really only got a glimpse of this magnificent canyon. One day we may return to hike through it.

All in all we loved our stay in Namibia and look forward to another holiday there some day.

Graham here: I just want to add one little tale of magic. While in Khadoum I had a look at the broken solar pump at a non-functional waterhole. There was a small (1m diameter) bush on the protective earth berm I was running up. Suddenly the bush growled at me, in fear my brain stopped and my legs carried on running. The bush exploded and a leopard leapt out, only 2 meteres away. While she flew through the air she had her head turned to me and looked me in the eye and gave 2 big growls. Awesome. For some reason I lost interest in fixing the pump at that moment.

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