Crossing a border once again, this time on a ferry into
At the western end of the Caprivi and over the calm and beautiful border into
We took a guided bird walk with a really knowledgeable local man who had never been to school, but his best book in the whole world was a ‘Roberts Bird Handbook.’ This had been posted to him by a grateful New Zealander, and he had taught himself to read so that he could further his bird studies!!!! On his day ‘off’, apparently, he is seen striding through the bush, looking for rare birds (of the feathered variety), so that he can add a precious tick next to their names in his book. He says that all the people who he grew up with, laughed at him at first, but now, because he earns good money from taking people birding, they are begging him to teach them!!! There are many such amazing stories.
Ngepi lodge has become famous for their ablution blocks. There must be 10 different ones that they have creatively and humorously built using the natural bush, rock and trees. Some of the names of them are ……… Garden of Eden (a galvanised slipper bath on a raised timber deck amongst the trees and overlooking the river. (Lionel’s favourite) The King’s Throne (Toilet set into the seat of a carved wooden throne, overlooking and open to the river, and Brandon's favourite, hence the picture) and next door………… The
One morning in the sweltering heat, the guys were ordering drinks and I decided to have a swim. I was just about to dive in when I realised that it would be better to take a pic before I got wet, so walked back a little and was just about to click the shutter, when there was an almighty “THUMP” and the whole swimming pool cage jarred causing big waves in the river……….I got such a fright and ran back to the bar to tell them that a hippo was bashing at the pool,……….they, and the staff, looked at me quizzically, and thought yea, right, just another panicky female in Africa!!!!!! They grudgingly walked to the pool to be confronted by a huge hippo and mate cavorting in the water next to the cage, (I’m convinced I saw a painful lump on his head and I was sure that he had a almighty head-ache!!!!).
Etosha was next on our itinerary and we found that the camp-sites in the three camps were over-priced for the sandy and unkempt sites on offer. The reception staff at Namutoni were also very off-hand and uncaring. One evening an Ellie decided that the trees in the grounds of the lodge were enticing and stepped over the fence at the side of the waterhole. We had a bit of excitement while the rangers headed him back into the wild with a few shots fired over his head, putting paid to any other animals making use of the hole that night.
Halali camp, (also in Etosha), has a beautiful waterhole in the middle of a rocky outcrop which serves as an amphitheatre for viewing the animals. They supplied us with an endless spectacle, from young male elephants chasing off Rhinos (with much trumpeting, and when that didn’t work, resorting to the splashing of water with their trunks). The Rhino’s were fighting amongst themselves and also threatening the hyena’s. It was like a National Geographic Movie with animals coming and going all night!. I felt really sorry for Lionel as he wasn’t able to sit around and watch as he had a persistent cough that would have troubled both the animals and the spectators! We wanted to buy 6 eggs (medium) at the shop in the Halali camp ………. they were marked at $32.65 (a Namibian dollar has the same value as the S.A. Rand),………… the same eggs from the same supplier were marked $12.70 at the Namutoni camp shop!! I think that Etosha, sadly, has fallen into the bad policy of catering for the people who have £’s, $’s and Euro’s to spend, and the locals just don’t matter.
The Okaukuejo camp is by far the best and most creatively-planned, and the chalets and campsites are all well-placed around the water-hole. We had not booked our site (we never pre-booked and had never been turned away) and were told that the camp was full……..we took a chalet and it was great, but noticed that the camp was not full at all…………..we wondered if this is how they fill their un-booked chalets (which have just been renovated at great cost). In spite of these gripes, we enjoyed our experiences there.
With the border to S.A. being only 50km away we found our thoughts turning to home…………..and with family, friends, dogs, shopping malls, soft beds, en-suite bathrooms, washing machines, hairdressers, and good roads, all luring us onwards, we stepped up the pace. With two overnight stops, we arrived in beautiful
It was really good to catch up with the family and we all attended the Johnny Clegg concert on a perfect evening at Kirstenbosch.
Knysna is the most amazingly beautiful place to come home to, Everything was perfect, thanks to the best dog/house-sitter in
We have found that 3 months is long enough to be away, any longer than that, then one day just seems to melt into another. We had become a bit dis-enchanted (aren’t we spoilt) with the poverty, begging, constant heckling to buy curios, cruelty to animals, totally reckless driving and disgusting roads, not to mention day after dry day, of never-ending heat, making it difficult to sleep.
We loved the camping with the evenings sitting around a camp-fire accompanied by the night sounds, as well as the children in all their innocence. The early mornings, alive with the sound of birds and animals (we have seen more sunrises than at any other time in our lives.) and all the new, different and wonderful experiences that we encountered, the friendly and stoic local people, more than made up for the other short-comings .
We have rolled (due to the excesses of the ‘silly’ season), into 2010 with a feeling of thankfulness. Thankful that we were able to experience such an amazing journey,………….thankful that we returned safely without any major mishaps and most of all thankful for Gods provision and direction that was evident throughout the whole trip.
Thank you to everyone who followed our blog with such interest and encouragement!