A Travellerspoint blog

Southern Circle: Day 10

sunny 28 °C

8 July 2017

We had a discussion last night about whether to leave early today or to sleep in … and early won. So I was up at 5.00am, had breakfast at 5.30am and we were on the road at 6.00am. We left early for the one hour drive to the gates of Etosha National Park. There was a line up to get in but we passed the line and went straight through for William to check in to the park.

We spent about five hours driving around the park searching for animals. Seeing wild animals in their natural setting is amazing. We’ve seen some great things on this tour but this is what we all came for – this is Africa! Springbok, oryx and even zebras have become everyday animals while travelling along and today we saw plenty more but it was incredible to see hundreds of zebra at a waterhole. We saw kudu, impala, giraffes, wildebeest, ostriches, bustards and vultures. The great excitement of this drive was sighting a leopard. The leopard is usually the hardest of the Big 5 (elephant, rhino, lion, cape buffalo and leopard) to find but we find it first.

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We are staying inside the park at Hallali Lodge and arrived there around 1.30pm. We had a quick lunch at the truck and checked in to our rooms.

There was another game drive in the truck at 2.30pm and a few people decided that they’d had enough of bouncing around in the truck. My body is sore from sitting in the truck day after day but there’s no way I was missing a game drive. And it was worth it. We spent another three hours out in the park and saw the most incredible sight as a group of nine giraffes made their way to a waterhole. We watched as they carefully approached the waterhole and as a young male challenged for leadership of the group - it was a short lived battle between the two as the older male chased off the challenger. Eventually they made their way to the water and drank.

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We were back at the campsite by 5.30pm and quickly walked to the waterhole. The viewing area is made up of large rocks to sit on that are fenced inside the Hallali area. Just below the viewing area is a waterhole where the animals come to drink. There wasn’t much action at the waterhole so we went back for dinner. We were back at the waterhole after dinner. The water hole is lit by floodlights during the night and it’s fascinating to watch the animals come out of the darkness and cautiously approach the water. There was complete silence from the people watching as a couple of hyenas approached the water to drink. Then we were treated to rhinos coming to drink. In the silence of the night you can hear them drinking. Absolutely wonderful but I had to get back to bed to get ready for another early start.

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Posted by MissWalker 21:34 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

Southern Circle: Day 9

sunny 30 °C

7 July 2017

We were on the road again at 7.30am. After an hour we stopped at the petrified forest and had a guide to walk us through. The large area is full of rocks that were once trees - you can see the wood grain in the rocks.

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Stopped at a small supermarket in a run-down village … lots of people milling around and a very persistent guy trying very hard to sell trinkets. Along the way we finally saw a giraffe and some warthogs.

Around 12.00pm we arrived at the Himba village. I didn’t really like the Himba visit, it felt like it was all staged. They are very welcoming and want you to take their photo but there is a hard sell to buy their crafts at the end. The Himba people still live a nomadic life further north and the village was set us for tourists to learn about them. Some of the Himba volunteer to stay at the village (but it didn’t really look like they lived there). Traditionally the Himba women never bathe – they cover their body and hair with a mixture of animal fat and ochre and they use the smoke from herbs as a perfume.

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We had lunch at the truck around 1.00pm and arrived at Outjo (Etotongwe Lodge) around 4.30pm. Dinner was once again at the truck - chicken soup, chicken and vegetable stew with potato.

Once again the roads were dirt with deep ruts and rocks sticking out. The NOMAD trucks often get flat tyres … our luck is holding so far. The road also has a lot of dry creek beds and we have to slow to a crawl to cross them. One wider dry river bed had deep sand and William warned that we might get stuck there but he made it across without any problems.

We’ve been on the tour for over a week now and the routine of early mornings and long days is very tiring. Everything I have is covered in dust. But it’s strangely liberating to not care that I’m wearing my dirty clothes for another day, and it doesn’t matter because they will just get more dust on them.

Posted by MissWalker 21:09 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

Southern Circle: Day 8

sunny 34 °C

6 July 2017

Breakfast was at the B&B and we were underway just after 7.30am. The South African couple left the tour yesterday and two Australian couples have joined us, so the tour is now at the maximum of 20 people for the next leg.

We travelled for around two hours before stopping at a roadside market selling polished stones and jewellery. Then we continued up the road to Spitzkoppe, massive granite formations in the desert. A guide took us for a walk for one and a half hours – a very hot walk. He talked about the desert vegetation, showed us the rock art painted by the San tribesmen and took us to the arch.

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We had lunch at the base of the massive rocks, searching for whatever shade we could find. We were back on the road around 1.30pm.

Today the roads were even worse than before (hardly seems possible) and progress was slow. We had a toilet stop at a petrol station. There was a little shop with almost bare shelves but the freezer was full of Magnum ice creams, which were very popular with our tour group. Of course I had an ice cream – anyone who has travelled with me knows that I love a Magnum. It will be a lasting memory of this trip … eating a decadent ice cream in a very remote place in Namibia while watching people go past in carts drawn by donkeys.

After another long hot day on dusty bumpy roads we finally arrived in Khorixas and the Igowati Lodge. William said this was the worst accommodation on the trip but I really liked my room and the beautiful grounds. Dinner was at the truck – minestrone soup, springbok stew, cabbage and pap (gluggy white stuff that looks like mashed potato). At least the soup and cabbage were good. A local group came and sang and danced for us … for a donation of course.

Posted by MissWalker 14:13 Archived in Namibia Comments (1)

Southern Circle: Day 7

sunny 28 °C

5 July 2017

A free day in Swakopmund!

A leisurely breakfast at 8.00am. The owner of the b&b runs a shuttle service the couple of kms into town. Jude and I caught the 9.00am shuttle.

We walked along the jetty and around to the lighthouse, stopping at the local markets. I didn’t buy anything at the markets because the sellers were so aggressive that you couldn’t stop to look at anything. We had no plan for the day – we wandered in and out of souvenir shops, had a lovely schnitzel lunch, went to the supermarket for more water and snacks for the next truck journey, and had an ice cream while walking back to the shuttle pick up point.

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We were back at the b&b around 2.30pm and I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on loading photos and writing the blog.

After six very long days on the road today was a much needed recovery day.

Posted by MissWalker 13:24 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

Southern Circle: Day 6

sunny 30 °C

4 July 2017

We left Desert Camp at 7.00am. Despite the cold nights sleeping under a canvas roof I loved staying here because of the vast open spaces, the beautiful sunsets and the wild animals – we saw a jackal, springbok, oryx and a fox but I'm sure there are many more animals that remained hidden.

Today wasn’t a long travel day in terms of kilometres (around 230kms) but the road conditions were difficult and we had a stop for a desert walk with a local expert at 9.00am – supposedly before it got too hot but it was already 30C by 9.00am.

We all loaded onto the seats on the back of a 4 wheel drive vehicle and our guide Hans drove for a while before getting out to talk about the plants and how they survive in the desert. We stopped to watch the herds of mountain zebra and continued on the track. We stopped at some sand dunes and Hans lead us on a walk – he showed us the animal track in the sand (and he knew what each one was) and the spider holes hidden in the sand. He removed the cover of a spider hole and dug down until he came up with a curled up spider, a dancing white lady spider.

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He talked about how the sand dunes were formed and how the dry pans we saw yesterday were once part of a river that was cut off by the moving sand dunes. He also caught a tiny lizard and held it up as it latched onto his finger. As we walked back through the sand we could see that the spider had already made a new home. Despite the searing heat this was a very interesting stop with plenty of wildlife to photograph.

Back in the truck we drove for a few hours through a changing landscape, all of which was dry, dusty and barren. But it did change from having a little grass cover to rocky canyons, to flat stony ground with no vegetation in sight. We finally came to an area with a few trees and bushes spaced out. It was really hot and we needed some shade to stop for lunch – it was only a little bit of shade and we moved the chairs in close together for a quick lunch. While we were out doing the desert walk Clever had cooked up hamburger patties for lunch.

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Back on the road again for another couple of hours before we arrived in Walvis Bay (we made it to the coast of Namibia). Walvis Bay is a decent sized town but there’s no escaping the sand dunes. We had to go through a weigh station because there is a levy imposed on the number of kilometres travelled in the country. Then we headed to the lagoon, hoping to see the flamingos. The tide was out and the sun was low so it wasn’t ideal to see the flamingos but there was plenty there.

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We drove up the coast to the larger town of Swakopmund. A fog descended and blocked out the dunes on either side. We stopped for a while at the adventure centre for people to book activities for tomorrow – sky diving, dune buggies, sand boarding, dolphin cruises and light plane rides. I booked them all … only kidding. Tomorrow I’m looking forward to a free day!

After stopping off at the B&B we went back into town to have dinner at a restaurant - pizza. Another long day as we didn’t get back from dinner until 10.00pm.

Posted by MissWalker 13:08 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

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