Namibia

Day 105, 25th September 2009

Katima Mulilo: 151  miles

 

Q: Breakfast this morning was fresh Zambian coffee (which is really good) and eggs benedict … all served up under a tent on Livingstone Island, but, before we had our breakfast we went for a morning swim in the devils armchair. During the dry season it is possible to swim in a pool that is right on the edge of the main part of Victoria Falls. You have to brave the cold water, hippos and of course raging torrent of the Zambezi to get to the pool … well not really. You are mothered by the guide through a very calm part of the river and shown exactly where you can jump into the pool. The guide is the brave one as he sits precariously on the very edge of a 100m drop off the side of the pool while you have your picture taken.

 

Not a bad way to start your day and after another stop at the supermarket (we have been there everyday now) we were off towards the Caprivi Strip in Namibia. I have been looking forward to us getting to Namibia since we left London. There are areas in the North on the Angolan border which are supposed to be worth a visit …

 

A: The Devils Armchair is such a wonderful experience, once you dive bomb into the pool, the current gently pushes you to the edge of the falls. You sit on the edge of the pool with the guide and peer over to look down into the depths of the falls … scary. It was a gorgeous way to spend the morning and the breakfast was delicious. What a treat ...The boat ride back to the Royal Livingstone is wonderful and the falls create a smoke like effect that hovers above you. The sun came out just at that moment and there was a perfect rainbow from one side of the falls to the other. This is such a special place and quite mesmerizing. I'd definitely come back here again and again.

 

We set off to Katima Mulilo in the afternoon, the road is fantastic so the drive took us no time. We arrived at Namwi Island Campsite at 4ish. This camp is smack bang on the edge of the Zambezi and so excellently equipped for overlanders. We have the place to ourselves so enjoy a cold Savannah Dry and a beer on the rivers edge just by the beware of crocs and hippo signs … Eeek!

 

Day 106, 26th September 2009

 

Ngepi Camp Popa Falls: 218miles

 

Q: Breakfast will from now on always be cereal (any kind with brown sugar) drowned in tons of fresh milk …Namibian supermarkets also have fresh milk. Ngepi Camp at Popa Falls was only a 3 hour drive away so we started pretty late this morning but on route through Katima Mulilo another wonderful thing was discovered in the Pick 'n Pay supermarket. They sell biltong.

 

Namibia is definitely going to be one of my favorite places … fresh milk and biltong.

 

A: Ahhh biltong, I've never seen someone so happy to get his hands on a bag of dried beef!! Andrew began devouring piece after piece while I was still making my way through the first. My technique is all wrong I'm told. Holding this soggy sucked piece of meat in my hand Andrew finally takes pity and tells me the key is to bite with the grain not against it! Geez, it's so easy when you know how … Six months after we started dating Andrew and I were in South Africa together for the first two weeks of the new year. On our way to his parents second home in the Wilderness, we bought a huge bag of biltong and I managed to cut the side of my face on a particularly spiky. Just a little embarrassing and only now he tells me I'm doing it all wrong!!

 

Ngepi Camp is 4 km down a sand track and before it gets too challenging, you come across a sign with some helpful hints on how to tackle the road ahead. The camp is described as possibly the best campsite in Namibia. We've only been in Namibia a day and I agree, it's fantastic and so unique. We're in camp #8 overlooking 5 very vocal hippos on the river in front.

 

On the leaflet for Ngepi they talk of doing the Ablution Tour! Well, I've never in my life seen toilets, showers and baths like this. In our block, all the facilities overlook the river and are completely open so you have to keep your fingers crossed some chap doesn't come rowing past. The Ladies loo is a white throne while the Gents is a big wooden arm chair complete with a gold pully for flushing. The bathroom is spectacular with a beautiful wooden deck and a steel high back tub. The showers are cleverly disguised within a tree trunk where the water falls from a perforated steel bucket which they have called 'Unlimited Star' shower. They also have a 'Holiday Inn-side 5-Star' shower which is a stark white block with bright white tiles …very unique.

 

By the evening, the hippos had said their piece and the only sounds were from the frogs and birds.

 

Day 107, 27th September 2009

 

Ngepi Camp Popa Falls:0 miles

 

Q: This is a nice place. While I prepared my milky branflakes the hippos were grunting and the fish eagle was calling.

 

During the night we were woken up by a nag aapie (bush baby) who was scratching around in the thorn tree next to our tent. He was still with us in the morning snuggled into in his thorny nest under a few dried up leaves. The little guy looked pretty tired, but its not surprising, as he had been busy all night jumping from tree to tree looking for food, so I gave him some of my apple to make peace for waking him up. I don't know what they eat, but the apple remained untouched for the rest of the day. Ungrateful little …

 

By lunchtime we had managed to wash everything that was in our laundry bag (well almost everything) which included the usual 20 pairs of knickers. I do not seem to be allowed to wash any of them. Perhaps my work would not be good enough so instead I get the bed linen ... Someone also spent a few hours in the sun lovingly mending a pair of my shorts.

 

A: With all our laundry hanging all around our camping spot drying nicely in the midday heat, we decide to go for a dip in their famous cage pool. It's a a cage submerged in the Zambezi surrounded by a wooden decked walkway.

 

The water was pretty murky and after a stint living in Oz I was convinced that crocs wouldn't have a problem climbing over the edge into the swimming area. I let Andrew go first. Quite funny, I think he was keen to show his bravery after copping out of doing the bungi. He jumped in and no sooner had he entered he was paddling back at speed with eyes wide. Pretty brave and to be completely  honest, I never made it into the pool.

 

The idea of losing a limb didn't appeal to much and the half eaten fish stuck in the meshing was a clear sign for me not to venture in.

 

Day 108, 28th September 2009

 

60km outside of Tsumbe:  431 miles

 

Q: On our way to Tsumbe we went to go and see the largest meteorite ever discovered on Earth. Namibia is full of surprises. Being the largest space rock ever found, you would think that it would be gigantic and therefore most impressive … but unfortunately at 3m long and 1m deep. It is very heavy for its size being 80% pure iron so I suppose that makes it impressive. Can you believe that someone at a well known South African iron and steel producer tried to buy the rock to melt it down. Good thing that the farmer who owns the thing would rather have it in his back yard than to see it made into teaspoons.

 

We got to Tsumbe quite late in the afternoon. It is a very pretty little town with jacaranda lined streets. It would have been great if the camping area at the backpackers was ok … cause I could have had a Wimpy birthday breakfast if we had stayed. Instead we decided to head for another camping spot about 70km away.

 

A: We arrived at a place called Sachenheim Lodge, a pretty soulless camp but it was getting dark and we were both pretty tired. I quickly reheated some spag bol from the night before and we tucked in with a plastic camping cup of red wine each. After supper I headed in the direction of the ablutions to shower but made a little detour to the restaurant to organise two slices of cake for Andrew birthday in the morning.

 

Andrew keeps asking what I've bought for him, 'does it fly?',  'Is it remote controlled?' 'Is it big?'......No, no and no....

 

 

Day 109, 29th September 2009

 

Kunene River Lodge:  291 miles

 

A: Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Andrew....Happy Birthday to youuu!!

 

Q: 34. Unemployed … soon to be married … hopeless. I think if we were not on this journey seeing so many things I would be depressed.

 

Breakfast was a treat this morning. Soft cornfalkes (drowned in fresh milk and left to soak, just how I like them ...) and a slice of pink birthday cake and a candle. I also got a really cool wood carving of a bushman which I had admired when we were up in the Caprivi a few days ago and Angel must have sneakily got when I was not looking.

 

The day just got better as on the way through to Rucanna Falls we passed by one of the biggest baobab trees I have ever seen. It is so big that it has a cavern inside its trunk which over its 700 year life has been used as a hiding place for people and their goats and even as a church for the South African army when they were doing what they did up in Angola.

 

We made it through to Rucanna on the Angolan border where there is little more than a BP petrol station. It does have a small store that sells almost everything you can think of and after picking up a birthday ice-cream and some water we headed for Rucanna Falls. Pity there was no water falling over the Rucanna Falls as a combination of the hydroelectric plant and perhaps global warming means that there is no water to spare to make Rucanna Falls a waterfall anymore. We have seen pictures of the falls a few years ago where it looks incredible. The guide book even suggests that on a good day it would give Victoria Falls a run for its money.

 

A: We got the shock of our lives as we came around the corner of this dirt track. Stood there alone was a Himba lady. Her body was covered from top to toe in an ocre and butter mixture used to protect their skin from the harsh sun. The ocre is a stone found mainly in Angola which is ground into a fine powder then mixed with butter which is made from sour milk. The smell is quite distinctive and they had exactly the same aroma as the Hamer tribe in The Omo Valley.

 

They are uniquely dressed wearing a goat skin around their waist as a skirt and pretty much nothing else. Their hair is also caked in the thick occre mixture to form dred like plaits that have been extended to shouldar length using animal hair.

 

It blows my mind to see these tribes, totally unaffected by the western world. They live as they did hundreds of years ago.

 

Day 110, 30th September 2009

 

Epupa Falls Campsite:  64 miles

 

Q: As we left Rucanna Falls Lodge this morning, the manager with a wry smile on his face just said … "enjoy the river road to Epupa". Not sure what he meant by "enjoy" but as we headed off with Angel at the helm it took no more than 20mins into the journey when I realised what he was talking about. 

 

The road is little more than a track that follows the Keunene River which does get pretty exciting at times as you find yourself crawling up rocky ridges and through sandy riverbeds. The scenery all around is great and other than passing through the occasional Himba village and meeting a few Himba goatsman you really feel you have found somewhere very remote. We did get stopped by an old man asking if we had any matches or sugar for him … I suppose I would ask for the same thing living out here. I kept on thinking that if something happened to Donkey on the way that we could not fix, it may be a few days before we saw anyone who was able to rescue us.

 

Angel steered us safely along the bumpy 80km track through to Epupa in just over 7 hours where we quickly found found the campsite and went for a swim in the pools in amongst the palm groves that are just above the falls.

 

I like the town of Epupa. Other than our riverside campsite it has a windmill and shop. It won't be long before this area develops as the main dirt road to Epupa from the South has recently been improved.

 

A: I had a crash course in 4x4 driving today. The road was extremely challenging and one particular point I thought we'd be stuck for sure. The track changed from deep sand to a steep rock/boulder river climb. It was quite hair raising at times but Andrew kept his cool and seemed to have complete confidence in me … no sorry, the car. Donkey is just amazing and just seems to power through any terrain you tackle and we certainly put it to the test today.

 

Day 111, 1st October 2009

 

Opuwo:  143 miles

 

Q: The wind stopped howling just after sunset last night but this made it really hot so sleeping was tough. We have lost the ability to sleep in the heat since we left Sudan, but all my lack of sleep was forgotten when we woke up to what sounded like a thousand birds singing their morning song. Up early, I went into the village to try and find some milk. 2Ltrs of fresh milk lasts about a day at the moment …

 

The shop was not officially opened when I arrived, but a glazed eyed lady let me in. From the state of the area around the shop entrance I think that she operates the establishment as a shop during the day and as bar at night. By looking at the number of bottles of beer and cane spirit strewn all over the place we must have missed out on some party last night.

 

No fresh milk in Epupa … back to the UHT. I bought some maize meal to take as a gift to the Himba village that we had organised to visit today. Hopefully they will be a little more friendlier than the Mursi.

 

A: I carried the 5 kilo bag of maize meal towards a crowd of Himba ladies who were all gathered under a thatched roof out of the sun. They seemed particularly pleased we had brought such a large bag ... think it will keep them going for quite some time.

 

Our guide was really informative and told us some very interesting facts about the Himba tribe. We went into the chiefs hut where there were two goatskins lying on the ground - Himba mattresses..We were also shown a very intricately decorated goat skin skirt and headdress which weighed a tonne which is worn by the women on their wedding day.  Himba men can have up to three wives and the chief (who was 75) had filled his quota. His first wife was roughly the same age as him and his most recent marriage was to a 23 year old! Children in the tribe can be married as young as 9 ... they marry at this very young age and then return to their families until they are 15 when they then go to the husbands tribe.

 

Another amazing and quite odd fact is that Himba women are not allowed to wash. This took a while for me to understand and sink in. I must have asked our guide three times … 'so, they can't wash … what? EVER!" They squat over a pot with burning aromatic leaves and cover themselves with a blanket so the scent of the fragrant leaves makes them smell nice … no, sorry, better.

 

The children in the tribe were just adorable and loved looking at the photos of themselves on our camera and burst out laughing at the sight of themselves on a little screen. The began to pose and pull funny faces insisting we take more shots of them to see.

 

Just before we were leaving, a large bucket of food came out for the little ones and they all began to tuck in. It was maize meal made with sour milk … I couldn't help it but my nose kept crinkling while I watched them devour this sour mush. They must have liked it as one little guy was head first inside the bucket trying to scrape the last little bit out of the bottom.

 

Opuwo was a real tribal melting pot and driving down the high street is quite an eyeopener. We gave a lift to a teacher in Epupa Falls to Opuwo and she asked to be dropped off by the supermarket which suited us just fine as we needed to stock up. I was stood in the check-out queue and had a Himba lady behind me, a Herero lady in front and a Thimda in front of her all in very unique and different attire. A very surreal moment.

 

Day 112, 2nd October 2009

 

Ongongo Camp (close to Sesfontien): 118 miles

 

Q: If there is one memory of Northern Namibia, it will be the number of times you think that you need to stop and take a picture of where you are. It seems to happen almost every minute.

 

We arrived at the Fig Tree campsite in Sesfontien early in the afternoon and ended up having to leave as there was no water to shower under to cool off. It felt like our 120N$ to stay here was a waste of money plus the kids that were hanging around us were not very friendly so we decided to move to Ongongo Camp which had been recommended by everyone we had met. Ongongo is about 16kms from Sesfontien. By the time we had left the Fig Tree and found Hot Stick (the manager) who was in town getting boozed up with the rasta gang, the sun was beginning to set. More pictures … some of the best of our trip I think.

 

Ongongo is way better than the Fig Tree. Its biggest attraction is the natural warm water spring you can swim in.

 

A:  We've decided community run campsites in towns are to be avoided. It was a shame we didn't just head  to Ongongo Camp in the first place, it was beautiful. The warm water spring was a real treat and we were soon in our costumes and wollowing under  this warm waterfall.

 

The idea of making a fire wasn't too appealing so we decided to have pasta which turned out to be so delicious. Recipe … penne pasta, finely chopped tomatoes and onion with feta cheese, tuna and mayo and lots of salt and pepper … scrumptious.

 

Day 113, 3rd October 2009

 

Puros: 98 miles

 

Q: I thought that Epupa was in the middle of nowhere but as we arrived into Puros I realised that there are many places which are even more remote.

 

After lazying in the sun all morning at Ongongo we only got to Puros in the late afternoon which is not so good if you are hoping to stay at the Puros Campsite … there are only 6 places available to camp so you need to get there early. How could a campsite in a place so far away from the rest of the world be full? The manager let us stay anyway.

 

The Puros Conservancy is a good place to find the desert elephant and the desert lion. Tomorrow we will go looking for them on the track that goes through the Puros River Gorge to Amspoort and then back up the Hosanib River to Sesfontien. Finally my turn to drive … Angel seems to drive whenever there is an exciting track to follow.

 

A: Once we'd set up camp and Andrew had a fire started, we went to go and get some photos of the sun setting. We walked on a track which headed out behind the camp and into a beautiful open savannah. In the distance the hills were beginning to turn orange as the sun started to set. As we walked along, I heard a rustle in the bush and only feet away were two giraffe (who got as much of a fright seeing us as we did them) began to gallop off. Not knowing which direction they were heading, I shouted to Andrew who was ten paces or so behind me playing with the camera.  He almost jumped out of his skin only having heard the thumping of their hooves. He didn't know what it was, poor thing, and thought he was going to get stampeded.

 

We had delicious lamb chops for supper with salad.

 

Day 114, 4th October 2009

 

Kharowib River: 147 miles

 

Q: Angel was pretty miffed that I rushed her through her breakfast, but I was keen to get started so that we could look for lions in and around the Puros area before we made our way towards the start of the track that drops down into the riverbed and on towards Amspoort. Other than a very few big lion paw prints on the road (when very lost) there were no lions to be found. Typical. 

 

It came as quite a surprise when we came across our first elephant about half way up the track. I have never been so close to elephants deep in a riverbed canyon. They are however not the friendliest of ellies … we had to back off a few times as they ruffed their ears and kicked up the dust if we got to close.

 

The town of Amsport is on our map, on our GPS and seems to be a well know place in these parts … but it does not exist. We went to the place that says it is there … but it is gone. Swallowed up by the desert perhaps.

 

I don't consider us to be the most adventurous of off-road travellers, but on our rating of 1-14, I think Donkey came out with a 14.5 after today's performance. The river crossings (ok … more of a dribbling brook) went without a hitch and the scary soft sand was easy to get through. I think Landrover created this vehicle so even two 4x4 wet eared city-dwellers can drive it anywhere. 

 

A: In the Horasib river bed we came across a herd of elephants that were particularly terrifying. We needed to squeeze past them  but they didn't seemed to be in much of a hurry to clear the path for us. The decision was made to reverse and create a run-up to reach our maximum speed which … was a scary 5 mph (very deep sand) and try to scoot past them. It would have been a bad time to stall and with ellies taking chase from behind we made through and arrived at the other side unscathed …

 

I have since found out that they can reach a speed of 40kph when charging. They are so aggressive but I guess it's because they have historically been poached and rarely see friendly people. There are only 160 or so of these desert fellows left. Very sad!

 

Late in the afternoon we headed to a campsite on the GPS called Elephant Song but when we arrived it looked as through it was completely disused. It was then I noticed in brackets next to the camp name 'deserted due to lions' … we were out-a-here! As we made our way back to Sesfontein, we hit the deepest sand yet and we're soon engulfed in a huge dust cloud. We were unable to see a thing. Sand trickled down all the windows like rain and although we shouldn't have stopped, we had to. As the dust settled we realised that had we have gone any further we would have ploughed into a sand bank and would probably have been stuck forever.

 

We decided to try another camp close to Sesfontien on our map which turned out to be a real find, Khowarib Camp, a community run place just off the Khowarib river. There was a lovely waterfall there too which we decided to go and paddle in. Andrew stood underneath the falls and quickly noticed that there was a huge amount of sand falling with the water down the falls..too late, hair is full of it now, time for a shower!

 

Day 115, 5th October 2009

 

Etosha Safari Lodge: 278 miles

 

Q: When we arrived at Ngepi, we bumped into Nigel (formerly of London town but now back in JHB) and his new Pagero. He was meeting up with Simon and Verity who had come over from London to spend two weeks driving through Botswana and Namibia. They were going to be in Etosha around the same time that we were hoping to be there … so we made a plan to try and meet up on the 6th at Halali camp in the Etosha Game Reserve.

 

It was a long drive to get us across from the Khowarib in the Kaokoland and closer to Etosha, but we started early and managed to get into Outjo just after lunch.

 

Angel is eating way too much biltong. I hold back from taking a piece out of the bag for a lot longer than she does, so I find that I have to eat more than I want to just to make sure that things are kept equal. Good thing that she does not feel the same way about the Ultramel Custard … that seems to be left all to me.

 

A: Outjo was a great little town and while Andrew was in Pick n Pay looking to stock up the biltong, I has a lovely call from my dad. He loves to know where we are and follows our route on the map which I think sits right by the phone ready to mark out as we talk.

 

We pulled into Modjila Camp which seemed lovely. My only request was a pool as the temperatures are beginning to soar again so as we got there in the heat of the day, I needed somewhere to cool off. We were greeted by the manager and he answered yes to the vital question so we made our way to a spot on the brow of the hill which had spectacular views.

 

We were there for a few hours packing our groceries and giving things a bit of a clean when a car came by and a lovely couple from Capetown Rosemary and Peter who asked if we'd checked out Etosha Safari Lodge a few kms down the road. They went off to see if it was better for them as they had a ground not roof tent so needed a little grass.

 

By 4:30 we were both scorching and decided to go for a dip but just a few moments before the manager stopped by to warn us to pack everything away as they had had a few burglaries recently! Not too comfortable with the whole idea, we locked all our valuables in the safe and packed all our bags and boxes away. Then came the other shocker … the pool was more like a pond with what looked like fly larvae floating on top. That was it, I'd made up my mind we were leaving so I left Andrew to speak to the manager alone so that he could use his wife to be as the excuse!

 

We drove 15 km down the road to Etosha Safari Camp. Slightly more expensive but worth it. The pool was crystal clear and the camping area was a free for all so we set up just a little way down from Rose and Peter who were not too surprised to see us. Turns out the manager at Modjilo told them to be careful of snakes!

 

Day 116, 6th October 2009

 

Halali Camp (inside the Etosha Game Reserve): 65 miles

 

Q: Etosha has a similar system to most of the game reserves that we have been to so far on this trip. You pay for a 24 hours entrance but at a fraction of the price AND the campsites are very well kept with hot showers and running water and flush toilets and electricity … The Kenyan and Tanzanian wildlife guys need to come take a look and see methinks.

 

We entered the park at 1pm so as to drive slowly through to Halali where we were going to meet Si and Verity. On the way we saw rhino hiding under a tree to avoid the sun, elephants at a watering hole who had covered themselves with white dust (they looked very spooky) and all the springbok, zebra and eland you could want to see.

 

It was quite a surprise to find Simon preparing the ice box with beer and cold drinks when we arrived … I was really impressed but soon realised that he was only doing it as the fridge in their landrover had bust. Seems like on their 2 week holiday they have had more problems than we have over the past 4 months.

 

It was good to see them and to catch up. They have had a wonderful time in Botswana … seems like they were Nigel's Pagero backup and rescue vehicle most of the way. Nice.

 

A: Etosha was quite a surprise and the campsites were so amazingly set up. There was a pool, bar, restaurant, immaculate loos and showers and  also the most fabulous watering hole to view game well into the evening. After a catch up and a few beers by the pool we went over to the. watering hole for sunset but after a good two hours and just a few zebra and eland, we headed back to start up the BBQ.

 

Si took charge of getting the fire going so Andrew relaxed and have his meat cooked for him for a nice change! After supper we headed back to the watering hole where there seemed to be as little activity as there was earlier in the evening. Before we knew it it was almost 12, the latest we've been up since we left the UK! Way past our bed time so we went back to camp for a night cap.

 

Day 117, 7th October 2009

 

Etosha Safari Lodge: 85 miles

 

Q: I have not woken up jaded like I did this morning for a while. Over-consumption is not something that we are used to these days, but after a breakfast of bacon rolls (with HP sauce) we were ready to find some lions … the really big ones with the black mane.

 

I am still a little freaked out about the ferocious honey badger that was stalking our campsite last night. He was determined to make a meal of our dustbin last night and turned into an angry little critter when we tried to chase him off. I could hear him around our dustbin all night … scratching and growling. He should be age restricted … 

 

A: The little blighter just kept coming back for more and Si's attempt of throwing stones at him just kept him coming back for more ... One blow was sure to have knocked his front tooth out!

 

Our luck was in with the lion sighting today. A lovely old man whom we had met at Etosha Safari Camp stopped us just minutes into our drive and told us the exact location of 2 lions with 3 females and 4 cubs who had just made a kill. We found them around a watering hole with another 20 cars crammed in trying to get a glimpse of these beasts. The pride had split and we followed a lone female who had blood all over her face from the earlier feed. She came to within feet of the car and for some odd reason I put the lock down on the door, their pretty smart these guys!

 

Day 118, 8th October 2009

 

Brandberg White Lady Lodge: 224 miles

 

Q: Outjo just outside Etosha is now a place that I will never forget. A few great things have happened here … one: we found some more fresh milk after being in the wilderness for a week, two: biltong is very cheap and three: whilst standing in the road opposite the OK (the milk and biltong shop) I was asked to be half day old Chloe Garvey's Godfather. Not bad memories to keep from a town in the middle of no-where.

 

Congratulations William and Ellen … such great news. We are really looking forward to meeting Chloe in a few months time.

 

A: Andrew was so overjoyed to be a Godfather and was in the best of moods for the whole day thinking of his new duties. Well done guys, we're really so happy. Congrats x

 

We arrived at Brandberg White Lady Lodge at 4ish and once we picked our site and dumped our table and chairs there to claim it, we set off to the pool. I spent the afternoon creating our itinerary for our final two weeks before we reach Cape Town. Time has just flown by and we're both beginning to feel a bit down that it's coming to an end.

 

Andrew spends the afternoon sleeping by the pool and feeling a bit under the weather and thinks it might have something to do with a spider bite on his leg ... poor thing.

 

After dinner and on my way back from the loo I came across an over friendly springbok. He didn't run away as I got closer … he actually started walking toward me. This must be the tamest springbok I've ever met. He followed me all the way back to our campsite where he got an apple and a few peanuts. As a kind gesture we thought we'd take him to our camp neighbours so they too could meet him. BAD IDEA … turns out he doesn't like males and so tried to head ram our male neighbour who had to protect himself with his camping chair! Ooops!

 

He also had a little issue with Andrew but after some treats he seemed to accept him.

 

Day 119, 9th October 2009

 

Swakopmund: 226 miles

 

Q: We had met many people in Namibia who had told us about the elephants that come through the camp site at the White Lady Lodge. Other than our freaky little springbok friend, no elephants were in town. Pity … It would have been quiet exciting having an ellie nibbling on a twig above our tent.

 

The Brandberg mountain has over 40 000 bits of ancient rock art all over the place … this is according to our guide Grace. Grace is a very amusing and talkative creature. By the end of our 3 hour hike through to the Brandberg mountain to the place where the famous picture of the White Lady is, I think we knew everything about her.

 

It was quite amazing to sit a few feet away from the animal pictures that had been drawn onto the rock some 5000 years ago by our ancestors. I wonder if the bushman who sat painting under the rock all those many years ago had any idea that his artwork of a witch doctor (the White Lady) and all the animals would become so famous and precious that it could become a world heritage site one day (they are still waiting approval apparently … according to chatty Grace). I reckon that the rocky overhang where these pictures are was once a classroom where older bushmen taught the younger ones about how their world worked. I am going to bury my varsity notes into the ground somewhere … hopefully they will be found in a few 1000 years time and also turned into a national heritage site.    

 

After the rock art we headed towards Swakopmund via the seal colony at Cape Cross.

 

A: The road to Swakopmund was terribly boring, straight with vast white sand desert either side. Andrew was sleeping most of the way so no one to talk rubbish with either.

 

The seal colony was quite amazing, over 80,000 seals in one place making a massive stink. The smell aside, these guys were gorgeous, well, not the big daddy-os who seem to fight with everything that moved, but the little fluffy babies with the huge doe eyes are very cute.

 

Back at Swakopmund we settled in a camp called Sea Gulls Cry then went next door to what appeared to be the hippest place in town - Tiger Beach Bar. This place was great and being the second coldest place we've experienced since Kili, I was delighted to discover they served warm gluwien and calamari. 

 

Back at the car we powered up the laptop and watched a movie in bed trying to get warm under a duvet and sleeping bag. We are not used to the cold.

 

 

Day 120, 10th October 2009

 

Trans Kalahari Inn in Windhoek: 265 miles

 

Q: Brrrr. Swakopmund is cold … and this morning it was overcast and drizzling. From the warmth of the tent we had a quick debate as to whether or not we should make breakfast ourselves or try to find something in town where we could hide away from the bitterly cold wind. We ended up eating breakkie at the camp as it took me forever to shave … beard was long and blade was painfully blunt.

 

On the way out of town the cheerful petrol attendant told me that the weather was like this all the time in Swakopmund. Swakopmund is summer holiday central for Namibians … I'm not sure I would like to come here for a summer holiday if it is this bleak and cold all the time. He did promise us sunshine in 10-15km out of town as we made our way towards Windhoek.

 

Windhoek … another capital city. We have passed through almost every capital city in each country that we have been through since Turkey … oh except Tanzania. Windhoek is a sleepy village in comparison to Damascus and Kampala.

 

A:  It's more like a town than a city, very quaint and quiet. We did however struggle for a place to camp in town so we headed out on the airport road to try and look for somewhere more remote.

 

We ended up in a place called Trans Kalahari Inn that was run by a very German German. Whenever I spoke to him he insisted on answering me back in German. I had to giggle as either he was pro German everything or he had a very short memory of my nationality.

 

We watched the sunset from a lovely terrace by the restaurant then headed to bed but not before I could shout Dankeshun to the proprietor ...

 

Day 121, 11th October 2009

 

Melrose Lodge:  49 miles

 

Q: We got up early and headed over to Ollie's workshop which was only a few km's from the Trans Kalahari Inn. Other than replacing the brake vacuum pump and the inverter Donkey continues to keep going strong.

 

It was not long before everything was finished, so we headed into Windhoek to try and find an internet cafe. Windhoek on a Sunday is quiet ... tumble weed and squeaky saloon door quiet. Good thing that there was one shopping mall open which had an internet cafe.

 

A: Finally a chance to do some admin and catch up with friends on e-mail which we have not managed to do any since we left Livingstone.

 

Almost 4 hours later we're done so head out of town towards our next destination Solitaire. The journey is far to long to complete today so we figured we'd find somewhere to stay en route. About an hour into the drive we saw a sign for Melrose Lodge that had the all important tent sign underneath. Turned out to be gorgeous. We were the only people there and soon made friends with three beautiful dogs who remained with us until we went to bed.

 

Melrose Lodge have a resident cheetah Lulu who sleeps in a fenced off area not too far away from the campsites … what! Turns out she was brought to them after it had been caught on a farm having attacked much of the cattle. We'll check it out tomorrow ...

 

Day 122, 12th October 2009

 

Hakos Farm: 127 miles

 

Q: If you totally useless at spotting leopard (or just incredibly unlucky) in the world's most famous national game reserves such as the Masi Mara, Lake Nakuru, The Serengeti, Etosha or The Ngorongoro Crater, then you may have to pay someone so that they can show you one in a zoo. So … as we were still in Windhoek and because we were close to something called "The Big Cat Experience" we decided that another day in Windhoek to do some more admin and go and see our elusive leopard was a good idea. No trans-african adventure would be complete without seeing a leopard …

 

A: It was actually quite a magnificent experience and seeing there animals up close is just brilliant. Firstly we were taken to the area where they had five cheetah who were soon to be reintroduced to the wild. When we entered the cheetah enclosure, we were directed off the vehicle and into a pen which had a small waist high fence around it! Our guide then produced large pieces of meat and dotted them all around us.

 

Within a few seconds the cheetah came running down the hill and began devouring their lunch. The guide had many months experience caring for these animals and when I asked him if he had ever been attacked by them he went on a small mission ... Keeping low he approached them in an aggressive manner to which they hisses and growled at him and bashed their front paws simultaneously on the ground to warn him off. I was quite terrified for him and he too came back grasping his chest and breathing heavily from the fright.

 

Next we went to see the leopard, we were told to keep very quiet as they are very shy creatures. This guy was beautiful and as he ate his way around the small pieces of meat that had been laid across the the hill ahead of us, he slowly made his way to a tree that had a huge buck leg draped on one of it's top branches. Slowly he made his way up and began tucking in.

 

The final stop was at the lions - one male and one female. These two will never be released into the wild because they were in captivity for over 8 years and will never learn how to hunt for themselves. They were given to Amani almost two years ago because the farmer who reared them could no longer handle them and had them cooped up in a small cage. As a result of being in captivity, the male is immaculate not having been in a fight his entire life. He was enormous ... much larger than the lions at Etosha, with a thick glossy black mane. After they fed and as the sun set, they began to roar in unison to warn off other felines that could be in their territory.

 

Back at the lodge there was a lovely glass of bubbles waiting for us and a very inquisitive and tame peacock who insisted on trying to steal to nibbles that had been laid out for us!

 

Day 123, 13th October 2009

 

Betesda Lodge (about 25kms from the Nakaluft National Park Sesriem/Sossusvlei entrance): 160 miles

 

Q: It's no fun driving at night … especially with head lamps that are as dull as candle light. Donkey's brightest beam is not great, but I am sure that if we put proper headlamps onto the bullbar we would end up driving more often at night which is not cool.

 

Every time we arrive in the dark to a new campsite or town we usually wake up to a good surprise. Hakos' is set on the top of mountain which has an incredible view of the whole area. It also seems to be the place for star gazing fans and last night the stars were pretty spectacular.

 

On the way to Sesriem today we had to stop at Solitaire to taste what has now become a very famous apple pie. Solitaire is nothing more than dusty place in the middle of the namib desert which has a tiny fuel station (not one of the flash ones with a massive forecourt), a general dealer (who sells everything including biltong) and a bakery/ tea garden where you have to patiently stand in line to be served by a jovial father xmas looking bakerman. The apple pie is good … a single portion could feed a family of 5 quite easily. We sat under the trees sharing an apple pie portion drinking coffee whilst watching the mossies (birds) (i'm not sure what they are called in English) swimming in a pool of water which had gathered from a running hose that our baker friend had put out on the grass.

 

Just before leaving we found another one of Alex's (from Siberia) little orange stickers. I wonder how their journey has been … They must have reached Cape Town months ago. We must contact them as we have not heard from them since we parted in Dongola in the Sudan.

 

A: We headed to our campsite for the night that was recommended by Rose and Peter from Etosha called Betesda. It's quite a nice place but a little soulless. We arrived relatively early so went and sat by the pool for the afternoon and read. My mum gave me the best book before I left and I've finally got to read it, I can't put it down. It's such escapism … it's driving Andrew potty and he's started calling me worm!

 

Day 124, 14th October 2009

 

Aus Camping Site (across the road from the petrol station): 362 miles

 

Q: Up at 5am this morning hoping to catch the sun rising above the red sand dunes of Sossusvlei or Deadvlei or even Hiddenvlei in the Nakaluft National Park. It would have been a wonderful way to start the day but unfortunately the entrance gates to the Nakaluft National Park only opened at 630am (which is way after the sun has risen) plus there was a thick mist covering most of the dune sea which leaves you with little to see until about 9am once it clears.

 

So … the only good thing about us getting up in the dark was that we arrived at the Deadvlei parking lot ahead of the buses of tourists that flock to this famous Namibian attraction. The sun started to poke it's way through the mist around 9 where we found ourselves all alone on the top of the dune that overlooks Deadvlei. 

 

Dune top traversing is hard work … it takes a lot more energy than you think to keep yourself balanced as you sink into the soft sand with every foot forward. It took a while, but we soon worked out that it is better to walk just below the peak of the dune as you are not trying to balance yourself like a tightrope walker on the edge. Hopping down is lots of fun.

 

Today is also our four month travelling anniversary. Time has skipped by … amazing how much we've done in four months. 

 

A: All I have to say about today is "Naked Walk". Andrew can explain it to those who wish to know or see some photographic evidence!

 

Day 125, 15th October 2009

 

Klien Aus Vista Lodge and Camping (just outside Aus): 196 miles

 

A: We set off to Luderitz pretty early to go and see the famous ghost town that was the hub of the diamond rush back in the early 50's. Up until the early 60's this place was still operational until they found larger and more lucrative diamonds further down the coast in Oranjemund. The village of Kolmanskop was then deserted and has been quite spectacularly preserved in the sand dunes. The story behind how it came about was very interesting but I won't bore you with the details. We did find out some interesting ways the miners used to try and smuggle diamonds out of the complex … pigeon, catapult, inside watches, shoes ... you name it they tried it. They were however not very successful and more often than not someone was caught.

 

Q: The only thing I can say about Luderitz is that it is windy. So windy in fact, that this is the place where the world kite surfing speed record was broken … oh, and the waterfront seafood restaurant has good calamari and greek salads plus very cheap beer by the glass.

 

Our African adventure did not include a wetsuit so the visit to the beach excluded swimming and kiting. Not tough enough for 8 degrees. 

 

Day 126, 16th October 2009

 

Canyon Roadhouse Lodge (just outside the Hobas entrance to the Fish River Canyon): 308 miles

 

Q: It is somewhat surprising what a small town like Aus can provide. Firstly, the campsite last night was one of the best we have stayed at, secondly, herds of wild horses roam freely in the area and thirdly, Aus' general dealer was able to refill our camping gas canister. I thought that we were going to have to buy a new canister as our one from the UK and is different to the African version. The guy in the shop took a look at it and said he would give it a shot … and it worked.

 

The UK canister has been ruined by a health and safety inspector … the African version has a regulator attached to the canister which makes it easier to refill (and easier to let the gas out when not connected to anything that it is supposed to be connected to).

 

Without a gas refill, our daily coffee and boiled egg breakfast … and milk smothered cornflakes, would not be the same.

 

It took us most of the day to cover the 180kms to the Hobas Gate for the Fish River Canyon National Park. I have never been to the Grand Canyon in the States … but the Fish River Canyon at a fraction of the size of the Grand Canyon is a pretty spectacular sight all the same.   

 

A: The Fish River Canyon is a lovely place but I have to admit I thought it would be bigger. It's the second largest canyon after the Grand Canyon but it really is absolutely no match to it whatsoever. We went to a couple of the view points and  did managed to get some good pictures just before the sun set.

 

We then headed to the Canyon Roadhouse where we quickly lit a fire and BBQ'd the biggest lamb steaks we've ever set eyes on … delicious!

 

Day 127, 17th October 2009

 

Abiqua Campsite (border of SA and Namibia) : 126 miles

 

Q: We are very close to crossing into South Africa but first we stopped to spend a few days paddling down the Orange River. I cannot believe that we are almost there … our map shows that we have 700km to cover if we stick to the main road from the border to Cape Town.

 

A: Abiqua Camp is right on the rivers edge. The facilities here are superb so I did some laundry which as you know isn't my favorite activity! The remainder of the afternoon was spent relaxing on the waters edge and cooking up a rare steak for supper with my new favorite veggie - gem squash. They cost about a pound each in the UK so I'm trying to eat as many of them as possible while we can afford them! I think it was the best meal we've made this whole trip … all accompanied by a glass of Tassenbreg red wine - the cheapest plonk you can buy but we seem to have grown accustomed to it! Cheap date!

 

Day 128, 18th October 2009

 

Abiqua Campsite (border of SA and Namibia) : 0  miles

 

A: The whole day was spent relaxing in the sun, swimming in the river, reading and if you're Andrew - watching 3 movies consecutively! It was such a great afternoon and we cooked an awesome piece of steak on the fire later that evening accompanied by salad and a bottle of the most disgusting red wine we had purchased at the camp bar. I have to say, a cup of vinegar would have been more enjoyable!

 

Q: This place is very relaxing but the wind is HOT making it a very warm 35 degrees. This is why I was so lazy today. Other than playing with the camp's sheep dog I hardly moved from the rug in the sun. Zzzzz …