Namibia 07. - 17.11.2008
Posted at 05:16, 10 November 2008 in Southern Africa
07.11.08 Gariep to Aus
Again a long days drive on dirt roads (gravel roads) throuth the Ai-Ais National Park. But the landscape is now very dry and deserted, only the mountains of the Huib Hoch Plateau striking out. Here we walked along the 2nd largest Canyon in the world, the Fish River Canyon - impressive and interesting with all the mineral layers, where the river has carved his way through.
We spotted a beautiful coloured Oryx, a large antilope with long horns - impressive! With music from a German radio station in the bus we stopped at a farm for lunch in the Gondwana Canon Park. Interesting enough, most people here are white or coloured, rarely black. This goes back to history with German ancestors settling down here in Namibia.
After driving all afternoon (in the end along the train tracks with a stop in Goageb) we arrived in the middle of nowhere: Aus. Again, a few houses make a village... Our camp in the "Klein Aus View" was called Geister Schlucht, and was situated within some boulder-hills, in the middle of the desert. Very scenic, very beautiful sunset - but very windy! We even spotted the wild horses they have here.
Dinner was then back in the Bahnhof Hotel Aus (hi hi hi... funny), but then back at the camp the guide started a nice camp fire and we sat around talking and drinking. Two of us finally decided to sleep outside - WOW!!!!! Millions of stars in the sky - very very special!
08.11.08 Aus to Namib Desert
Today we hit the Namib Desert - again very dry yellow gras landscape with the Blackback Mountain range in the horizon. Two jackals crossed our way, nicely striped. We also looked at a Nest of the Social Weaver Birds, huge nests they build on the tree branches. We drove over the Yaris Hochpass at 1'750m and enjoyed the scenery.
The long travel days give us enough time to catch up on sleep... so in the evenings we are ready to relax and have fun. This night was in the Nubib Nature Camp, again a farmer that built very cute huts in the mittle of nowhere. He took us out for a Nature Game Drive and we spotted Springboks, Oryx and birds - but only saw the leopards footprints, no life one yet...
I took advantage of the quiet area and again slept outside - its just wonderful to hear all the little noises under the stars. At 3am I just had to keep my eyes open and "catch the falling stars"!
09.11.08 Sossusvlei / Sisriem to Naukluft Mountains
A very early start today as we drove into the famous Sossusvlei red Dunes. At Dune 45 we started our climb up (ca. 150m in the sand - puh!) to then have lots of fun - and burnt feet - when running down again! We are a fun crazy little group!
With a 4WD we drove into the Sossuvlei Pan and got the impression of what it means to burn in the very hot desert... No thanks!
A little further the Sisriem Canyon then offered some shade, baboons again and an interesting little canyon with funny rock formations. Sisriem meaning 6 strings from top to the bottom where the water is.
The later afternoon then another great surprise - a superbe lodge (Namib Desert Lodge) with a swimming pool! You can imagine that it took as only seconds to get changed and jump into the cool waters! And with that started a long beer-drinking and fun shit-talking crazy evening (we are busy learning Africaans swearing words ;-) And we even saw some animals coming to the water hole in front of the bar!
10.11.08 Naukluft Mountains to Swakopmund
Apfelstrudel in lively Solitaire - another German remaing ;-) We drove on and crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, which I by now have already crossed multiple times on different continents, quite funny actually. On the way we stopped at some scenic places, as the landscape changed from the flat desert to a canyon-like mountain range (Carp Cliff at the Kusep River). Coming closer to the coastline we then entered the Skeleton Coast, a flat desert with nothing but yellow sanddunes.
A short stop in Walfish Bay to have lunch offered to put the feet into the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, before we then entered Swakopmund. First thing to do here is book all kind of activities. I chose Skydiving for tomorrow - yippie!
Now to tell you about Skydiving I actually just need 2 words: SO GEIL! (aehm... fuc...good). Even thou the jump was postponed, as Swakopmund often has a fog in the morning, so I only jumped in the late afternoon. But that gave me the time to stroll around the little city, shop a little and have a look at the curios market (local wood carving things).
But the jump... Once they dressed you and fixed your harness, your buddy does some little training on how exactly to "behave". Then a tiiiiiny little plane took six of us up to 10'000 feet. Slowly my stomach gets nervous in a cool way! And then... then they open the planes side, your buddy pushes you over the edge of the plane and for some seconds you are just hanging there in the nothing. Last moment for regrets - but not me... I was ready! So then the best moment of all: 30 sec of FREE FALL: Thats Namibia Life (our motto...). Oh what a feeling. The buddy then pulls the rope, and as we fall smoother, I was even able to fly the parachute by myself - doing some fun turns and swirls to get that stomache feeling going!
In the evening we all came together for dinner and some drinks to share the adventures. We also met up with some Township guys which some of us visited in the afternoon. A long party night full of great fun and laughter!
12.11.08 Swakopmund - Damaraland
After all that partying, a travel day on the bus was most welcome! We passed the Koenigstein, Namibias highest mountain (2'573m) and entered the Damaraland. Here now we met some typical African tribes, the Himba women (ocker skin, bare breasts and wearing some leather/straw things). And the Herero women dressed in long colourful dresses with a funny-looking hat. They honestly just live in a shatter on the street, selling puppets and making money from fotos the tourists take... The men then sell precious stones that they are mining themselves in the area.
We stopped in Twyfelfountain, a place looking like the Devil's Marbles in Australia! In the boulder-rocks there's rock paintings of African animals dated 5'000 or 6'000 years back. It was a damned hot walk... a wind blowing like a hot hairdryer!
Another stop was at a Petrified Forest, where some old trees from previous years were up to 45m - and now have turned to stone due to some kind of process...
After that hot and dry dusty day we all again were very excited to have a little pool at the lodge. African lodges are just so high in standard, I am really having a luxury trip here with GAP in comparison to other GAP trips of the same level. Enjoying it however ;-)
13.11.08 Damaraland - Etosha National Park
Leaving the Damaraland with a stop in Outjo to shop all we need for an African Brai (BBQ), we then head North towards Etosha. Meanwhile the landscape changed from rocks and yellow gras to smaller trees and huge termite hills. We entered the Etosha National Park and it did not take long to already spot some great wildlife at a waterhole: Oryx (still my favourite), Springboks, Zebras and Jackals took turns to drink. It is really funny to watch, as all groups of animals just patiently wait for the other group to finish, and only when that group has left, the other group moves in. Wouldn't it be great if we human beings could be so patient???
On the way to our camp in Halali we were looking out for more wildlife, but did not see anymore exciting animals (the springbok by now is common...). At the camp then a new taste of this trip, as we had to put our own tents up. Quite easy to do, but in this heat still a hot task. But again - there was a wonderful pool, and after setting up camp we all cooled off in the clear poolwater with an even cooler drink in hand - ahhhhh, thats a holiday ;-)
In the evening the GAP guide and driver worked their bum off and made an absolutely great African Brai (BBQ) for us. Mhhh, steaks from the grill, my favourite!!! For those who know what camping means, they can appreciate what it is like to just hang around the fireplace, chat, drink and enjoy the stars - and oh yes: the full moon....
Around midnight some of us then went to the waterhole that is lit up to check if any animals made it there. And WOW: the white rhino was just drinking water. What a huge animal. But it even got better; as soon as the rhino left the scene, a trumpet signal in the dark could be heard, and 2 min later the elephants marched in! Oh man, just assume, 11 animals of all sizes. And they enjoyed the water, you could actually hear them sucking it in with their trunks. They also played with each other and we just watched them for a loooong assume time.
14.11.08 Etosha National Park
Short night, early rise to go on a game drive (safari). A special open vehicle took all of us around the waterholes to spot animals. However... I did not really enjoy it so much today, the hot wind when driving is so dry, and with all the dust and lack of sleep - was hard on all of us. Nevertheless we very much enjoyed seeing Giraffes, Zebras, Wildebeest (Gnus), birds of all kind up to the Ostrich, Antilopes of all kind and the warthog (Warzenschwein).
Back at the camp then another cooling off in the pool with relaxing sunbathing at the poolside. Yes, even thou the sun is shining every day, I have not yet been able to work on my tan ;-)
Dinner we then took in the campgrounds restaurant, but more important was the visit at the waterhole again. Just in time again for the Rhinos, 5 of them this time, incl. a little one, so cute! All humans watching them sit quietly there and watch, and the animals do not seem to mind us behind the fence. Once in a while they check the scene, but mainly because of other predators, not us.
Now my favourite moment then: Lions! Yes, 3 of them made it slowly down to the waterhole - with a short interaction as the rhinos left. Fun to watch!
15.11.08 Etosha National Park - Windhoek
I slept like a baby after all the wildlife excitement. In the morning - by the way, EARLY mornings we do here, so 5 am getting up!!! Can you imagine me being up and even fit at that time??? Now that should actually tell you how much I am enjoying this trip ;-)
Well we took the tents down, cleared camp and left for Windhoek. So a very long welcomed travel day to catch up on sleep. A few stops on the way, but nothing more.
Arrived in Windhoek at 4pm, where my first mission was to update this blog ;-) So now I am off for a nice hotel shower and then a group dinner, as we here loose some colleagues and also gain new people to the group for the next part of the tour.
After the group dinner in a very funny touristy german-beerhouse-like place (with great steaks at a bargain price!) we had a Namibian/Portuguese party at the hotel, as they celebrated their religious San Martin holiday... There was really good party-music, so we danced and partied until early hours!
16.11.08 Windhoek - Gobabis (Kalahari)
Finally we did get a day to sleep in - ahhhhhh. But guess what, at 8am I was up already, seems to be the habit lately to get up so early... A short stop at the shopping center to have breakfast (don't really need to buy anything), and then we left for Gobabis in the Kalahari desert. Quite a boring driving today, the landscape being the same all the time - so sleeping in the bus has become a habit :-)
But we arrived quite early at our lodge and - oh my god! - like in the movie Out of Africa this lodge offered little huts with view into the wilderness, where Gnus, Antilopes and other animals just walked across! We just sat outside of the huts, enjoying cool drinks while the African Wildlife paid a visit.
Later in the afternoon then an excursion: go to visit the real (?) bushman. Now if you have ever seen the movie "The Gods must be crazy" - this is the people from that movie!!! The funny clicking talking again, the way they move to copy the animals (and we had to guess what they were) - it was actually a very entertaining and social event, that I really liked. We only could talk to the chief, as only he spoke a little English, as for the others it was sign-language. And with the kids, oh, just lovely... a little tickle here and there and they would giggle and play with us. Really a good experience!
Back at the camp then they grilled a lamb on the open fire for dinner (they actually burnt it in the fire...), we sat around the fire eating and watching the wildlife around us again. Now.... this is the 'nice' wildlife, but I also have to mention all the creeeeeeepy things in the little huts. Not just spiders, no: MEGA spiders, scorpions, bugs in size of a hand... flying - buzzing all around. Aaarghhh... But hey, that's AFRICA LIFE!
17.11.08 Gobabis - Maun (Botswana)
A long travel day ahead of us, 620 km to Maun in Botswana. The border controls went smooth, everyone from the group got through without a problem. You just have to be patient... african way ;-)