Namibia · 11 Days · 94 Moments · January 2016

Al Bates

Overlanding in Namibia

22 January 2016

More torrential rain tonight but luckily we were near the bar so could eat and drink in there. More top quality banter. It keeps on getting better. We also met an Egyptian guy who works at a dog hotel in Egypt and has a pet monkey and crocodile. Random. We were joined by this cute little guy, makes a change from spiders and scorpions! The fixed truck arrived at 11.30 pm with a new bearing. Fingers crossed it will be plain sailing from here. This is the last post for Namibia! Tomorrow morning we drive for a few minutes to the Botswana border and start the long drive to Maun.
Where we're camping tonight is on the bank of the Kavango river which is choka-block full of hippo and sometimes crocs. So this evening we embarked on a hippo cruise. We also saw the Popa Falls which were cute. We saw lots of hippo, and lots of hippo teeth!
Time to celebrate everyone arriving alive. Alex the Iranian doesn't drink much so it wasn't long before he was striking unusual poses in the pool. Very amusing.
Jb and Jp returned as heroes. (Mums and Grandmas, don't read on...) Turns out only one truck (backie / ute) went back for them and this one only had one seat. So Jon piled in the back of the truck on top of the kit with Munja and Manda like a true African (I mean he almost has the tan for it). The truck hurtled down the road at 110km/hr so Jon returned with a new hair style. He told us there were kids running out of their homes to wave at him. I imagined them running back shouting "mum mum I just saw a white guy in a purple tshirt on the back of a backie!!". You'll be pleased to know he didn't dare let go to wave back. Ha, this is Africa!
Once we arrived at camp, the ordeal was clearly too much for some and half the group upgraded to lodges. Not us staunch young things. Gayle (the lady Yank) helped me put up my tent and I hers (as jb was missing in action). Gayle seemed to have been transporting this bad boy about. Ugh! Once the triple entente was once again erected we waited patiently for Justin and Jon to return. We felt very sorry for them, so sorry we had to all order a double rum and coke and sit by the pool.
Three trucks arrived to load on our stuff and take us the 20 mins drive up to our camp. We all squeezed into tiny non seated trucks. Apart from Justin, Jon, Manda and Munja who couldn't fit so stayed behind for the next round. Matt was set to wait all afternoon with the truck whilst a spare part was couriered from Windhoek, the capital, very very far away. Africa guys piled on top of our kit to stop it falling off. In my truck was a Sweed, a Dutchie, an Iranian and me the Brit. I'm sure that's the start of an amusing joke. We had to turn back once because a roll matt came flying off, thankfully not anyone's kit.
Our long straight road allowed us a smooth journey. We stopped about 40km from rainbow lodge for the famous bushy bushy. As we weren't far I didn't partake. However, ten minutes back down the road the truck started to make a significant clicking noise. Matt pulled over to check it out. We assumed it was a locker open. When we could see our guides all on cell phones scratching their heads we realised there might be a bigger problem. Manda returned stoney faced to tell us the bearing on the drive shaft was damaged and we could go no further. Munja whacked out the lunch on the side of the road with the cattle watching us intently. We sung 'always look on the brightside of life' and waited for the rainbow lodge staff to come and rescue us. The rain set it and I started to need bushy bushy. The perfect opportunity for the she wee debut I thought. Details aren't required for a public blog but lets just say, more practice required and thank god I had left out spare shorts...
This morning we have our last long drive in Namibia. About 400km to drive but thankfully on long straight smooth roads. So no African massage today. Hurrah. We saw these workers on their way to work, they cheered when we came past !

21 January 2016

After dinner we saw the evening out back at the triple entente. Australia joined us, armed with a tin mug of vodka. Much quality banter took place and Justin described the chat as being "like the comment section of unilad's facebook page".
The sky, once again, started to rumble. We set ourselves up under our tent verandas with a beer to see the rain in. Typically the rain only arrived once we were dishing up dinner so once again took refuge in the truck.
Tonight's camp set up has been dubbed the triple entente - America, England and Sweden united by hammocks and beer.
Hammock set up was this evenings relaxation tool. Henrick also has one so we made hammock city. He also has bought a booze box known as the bucket. Like most Scandinavians he likes a drink. Tonight was whisky. He has bought a glass with him too. What a lad.
Finally managed to convince Justin, our new Yank friend, to do some stunting. Woo!
Straight in the pool. But first a scorpion selfie. This is clearly a dead one, I'd be nowhere near it otherwise! I saw it on the bottom of the pool floor and Henrick fished it out. We were planning to put it in someone's tent but then decided we weren't that cruel.
We stopped off in Grootfontein for supplies. This bottle of wine reminded me of my Dad and I wished I could have sent it home 😉 Kidding, of course. He doesn't drink chardonnay. We didn't have a hungry lion as lunch was awaiting.
We left Etosha at the respectful time of 7.30am. We had a lie in at last... We had our feet disinfected at the check point as we're now entering farming country. Quite a change of scenery, loads of green trees and a few rolling hills. Quite spectacular. Its still very warm but the sky keeps a threatening look.

20 January 2016

After dinner we could resume outdoor sitting with a beer. We spent most of the evening telling smutty jokes. I pulled out the classic two priests in the bath joke. I've been telling that that one for years but it still got a big laugh. The elephant "can I have a bun please " joke wasn't so well received. We also spent time chasing off Jackals who come into the camp looking to steal your food. Almost had a Jackal in a tent. They're quite cute but cheeky buggers.
Dinner tonight was eaten inside the dry truck. We celebrated Manda's birthday with cake from the restaurant, a tshirt from the gift shop and someone had randomly (on the off chance) bought a birthday card in Afrikaans.
The sky turned a little angry and rather dramatic on the drive back to camp. Back at the ranch the wind picked up so we set about securing our tents. Then. The rain came. I have no photographic evidence as thankfully all electronic devices were in the dry in the truck. I was also stuck hiding in our tent during the torrential downpour. For much of Namibia this rain will be extremely welcome, it's been so dry. It lasted only about half an hour but created huge puddles everywhere. Sadly, for us, this meant the animals won't bother going to the floodlit waterhole tonight. But lucky for them there is plenty of water to drink.
So it turns out the elephants are on holiday. Either that or they're hiding upside-down in a pot of custard having painted their toes yellow. Mind you, I haven't seen any custard either. These warthogs made up for it and provided the perfect opportunity to sing "when I was a young warthog". More babies too!
Down to the watering hole where the elephants usually hang out. None there... Just these Impala. You see so many of these but the baby was very cute. Bambi! This is pretty much the lion's evening buffet.
After a lazy afternoon, and the discovery that it was Manda's birthday, we were back out in the park. We have three more of the big 5 to see - elephant, leopard and buffalo. Buffalo is a no go in Etosha but elephants are supposedly prolific. Leopards don't come out often. Again, all quiet and by this time we're getting quite picky. Still, we stopped to see these cheeky giraffes.
Another one...
Aunties or older sisters maybe?! Beautiful animals.
We set up camp inside Etosha and we were greeted by this little cheeky skink.
Here is daddy...potentially.
After hours of not seeing very much we spotted a little animal playing on the road. As we got closer... I thought surely not... Then Matt our driver shouted over the tannoy "cubs!". Simba! How gorgeous is it. I call it an it because it's less than a week old so we don't know if it's simba or nala yet. It "growled" at us and we had spent quite a bit of time watching it play. It was very close to the truck too. It all ended when one of the Dutch ladies asked if anyone had a spare empty bottle because she was that desperate for a pee. So we had to drive to the toilet block. Something to do with their coffee addiction... When we returned they had gone. Typical. Still, so lucky to see this little one! Manda can't remember the last time he saw a cub and thinks this is the youngest he has ever seen in the wild. Truly amazing!
We suspected this morning we would see nothing. Over night we had some downpours of rain and the park this morning seemed totally deserted. Etosha national park is 22,000km squared, so quite a lot of room for the animals to disappear into. We had packed up camp (just outside Etosha Park) at 7am. We headed off for a game drive this morning and are due to set up camp inside the park. This was the first animal we saw. Can you see him? A very lazy sleeping lion who refused to raise his head! I'm pretty sure he did have one though. Also a cheeky Oryx. We've seen loads of them and eaten them.

19 January 2016

The watering hole!
Poor giraffe, lucky Jackals.
White rhino!
Tawny Eagle posing for an African scene.
This reminds me of me and Jon. Jokes. Very proudly, I spotted these guys. We have a system whereabouts if someone spots an animal we shout "STOP!" And then we buzz down to Matt to stop. When I spotted these guys, I stood up excitedly, shouted stop, the breaks slammed on and I went flying across the truck... Landing head first into Justin's lap and jammed my leg into the corner of the freezer. My loose shorts meant I flashed the majority of the truck my knickers. Lol. So worth it. A confused convo later on resulted in some people believing the huge bruise on my thigh was caused by Justin's crotch... Awks.
Oh look... Fecking tourists!
Kudo. We ate one of these last night. Tasty.
Baby Zebra!
This was incredible, we saw three lioness stalking towards a herd of wildebeest. We followed them along but the herd ran off.
Big kitty.
Today. Game drive. We did pretty well as you'll see... Not much more to say. Just look at the snaps. So beautiful! Timings are wrong due to cropping images...

18 January 2016

And a stunning sunset...
What a spot for dinner 😊 Brummie Ian even bought a Swiss roll for the occasion. ( You can take the brummie out of Birmingham...)
Every day Justin does "burpies" (jump, squat, push up) to keep fit. Alex has been joining in in his boxers. It creates quite the scene. I stay in the pool and drink gin.
We arrived in our camp in etosha. Gin o clock.
We stopped for a wee in the world's most strict toilet! This was behind the door... Rule number 3 is my favourite for sure.
The truck. Grumpy. Then happy.
Time to buy tonight's fire wood from the side of the road. One stack was a couple of quid.
An exciting sign. Also, I'm generally quite pleased about the timing of this photo. This is one of probably 10 other vehicles we passed today on a four hour journey.
On the road and stops for amazing views (again...) Munja likes Jon I think. It's probably because he eats thirds every meal 😉
Up this morning early as usual. I wandered over to see our token sweed. Henrick nonchalantly said "so. It's true. You do get scorpions hide under your Tent " and gestured casually towards this bad boy. This is very zoomed in because I obviously ran off (shouting scorpion!!!). It's probably about 10cm long. It's a poisonous one too. What drama!

17 January 2016

We arrived at our camp in Uis which had basically an Olympic size swimming pool and massive bar. Also had two African Grey parrots who liked having their necks scratched. Kind of cute. Hard life...
Today we drove back inland to spitzkopfe. Aka big pointy stone! A local guide met us there and took us on a rather warm walk to see the bushman paintings which date between 4000-200 years ago. The bushman used these to communicate their whereabouts, so basically like old times snap chat. Apart from these messages stayed there thanks to a clever concoction of ostrich egg white, orca dust and animal blood. Apparently causes quite a persistent stain on the rock. Quite amazing to see. Our guide spoke in the old click language (and English!) which is pretty much impossible to learn! We had an tasty lunch as always under the trees with lots of birds.
Breakfast with the birds again. Ian the brummie fed it some tea. We're off again into the wilderness. Back to camping wooo! Likely no more WiFi....

16 January 2016

A few shots of our container luxury! Back to the tents tomorrow.
The rest of the day was very restful. We ate cake and I had a bubblegum milkshake to match all things blue. We had a last meal in swakopmund watching the Sunset! We also met a young American woman who's joining us for the rest of the trip - bringing down the average age some more!
Just bought a bracelet off one of these semi nomadic ladies. They filled my arm up with bracelets before I chose one to haggle for!
Cheeky trip to the aquarium
Breakfast companion.

15 January 2016

The evening escalated in visiting the only "night club" which was rather amusing. We all had a pink shot, here handed out by Matt our truck driver. 70s classics got the "oldies" dancing and it descended into a dad dancing frenzy. It was a bizare blend of people in the establishment, it was sort of a mixture of a school disco and your mum's friend's 50th birthday party at the local town hall. I whipped out the selfie stick. I was informed by Matt that I had embarrassed and disgraced them all as over landers. Lol.
Munja has a break tonight from cooking so advised we would be attacking the menu instead tonight. We both chose a Oryx pizza. Yes the animal with the massive horns we took a selfie with yesterday. He was tasty. Other members of the party had other game, a platter of Oryx, Kudo, Springbok and Zebra. So many pretty animals! I tried a bit of each and I'm afraid to say they're delicious.
This is tonight's luxury accommodation! No tent! We're in the red crate.
A couple more beverages. Made the most of the sea front. Double G&T works out at about £2 so it was rude not to have one.
Arriving in swakopmund the "non Dutch speaker" cohort wandered into town to find some grub. This the village cafe which was rather quirky. So far the people of swakopmund are the friendliest and most polite we've come across. They seem extremely well educated here.
We arrived in swakopmund via the coast. It was bizare seeing so many buildings and a roundabout! Not only that but it feels about 20 degrees cooler and it's cloudy. Nevertheless we planned purchasing a few beach houses along the way.
Normally when we're driving along in the middle of nowhere with no facilities Manda will invite us to go "bushy bushy". Today there are no trees or bushes so we were invited to go "rocky rocky". The landscape is like the moon.
On route to swakopmund we stopped off at the tropic of Capricorn. Perfect opportunity for a group photo. That's... One south African truck driver Two Zimbabweans (chef and guide) Six Dutch Three Brits One Sweed One Aussie One Yank One Iranian (that lives in America!) And we have one more Yank joining tomorrow. All but Jb and I are travelling "alone"
First stop this morning was to solitaire which is, as Manda described it, in the middle of nowhere. He was quite right. However it claims to be "world famous" for its apple crumble. Yes a bit of a wtf moment. Crumble? In Africa?! We're in the middle of the desert hundreds of km from everything. The famous bakery was run by the late "Moose" who died in 2014, presumably of heart disease... His daughter now knows the secret recipe. Dean family will know how I pronounced Moose (private joke that can't and shouldn't be explained). We admired cacti, used the facilities and had a slice of unusually timed apple crumble (it's 8am but jb recons it's never too early for cake). JB enjoyed it but said he didn't think he was so much of a crumble connoisseur to declare it world class.

14 January 2016

Having smelt the presence of baboons on our way back they descended onto the road. Big ones and small ones. Quite extraordinary though was that a few of them were going ape (literally...) over something in the rocks. We realised it was a Jackal! They chased him off up the mountain. I managed to snap it but it was dusk so not very clear. Plus the Jackal has clearly adapted to blend into the rock! I've circled him in one of the pictures as I clearly think you're all blind. Manda said he had never seen that before! Back at camp I made sure the tent was secure. I didn't want one of them getting in there, putting on a pair of my knickers, slipping into my sleeping bag, taking selfies on my phone and logging in on facebook as me.
This evening's little excursion, just up the road, was a walk through a canyon gorge. Good photo ops. It did smell a little fragrant as apparently baboons go down there for midday parties. I imagined them hiding in the crevices.. "If you have any poo... Throw it now."
Yep. Not keen.
In our camp is a not-giving-a-shite Oryx (for the record it's very wild. It wandered in) So we had a selfie with it. The "other" brit on our trip is a brummie named Ian. He came across this Oryx and froze. Which meant he was late for our evening trip. When he got onto the truck he was quite shaken. (Read in brummie accent to appreciate amusement) "uhhh am so sorrey. I was walking back and I came face to face with this beast with enormous horns. It was just starting at me." White as a sheet and quite high pitched. He was most put out when everyone else said "yeh it's been there all afternoon Ian..." And me shouting "and we got a selfie with him! I named him Orlando!"
Back to camp and the weaver birds nesting above us went mental at lunch. They're quite fascinating! The bigger bird is a Pygmy Falcon which actually acts as their body guard in return for lodging in their apartment sized nest. Ain't nature weird. Oh. Also the Brits and a Swede beat the Dutchies to the pool. Good news.
Riding the dune buggy!
What would it be without a cheeky shoulder sit in sweltering heat?!
We drove through Sossusvlei and got on a safari vehicle to take us further into the sand. Manda explained how the river used to run to the sea until the Dunes blocked it's path. This created Deadvlei. The hot walk to the Deadvlei was worth it and we met this cute little guy. Manda literally pulled him out of the sand!epic! Epic sights but there's always that group of yanks isn't there? We had a particularly loud group of four elderly ones arguing about which films they like. Look at the fecking surroundings and shut up... We all thought.
Time to come down....
As I'm a terrible daughter I realised about 4 days ago I hadn't sent my beautiful mummy a birthday card ... And couldn't do anything about it at this stage. So hopefully this makes up for it a bit! We celebrated mums birthday with a cooked breakfast at the bottom of the Dune, closely watched by this huge bird. Munja is onto Jon, he made him eat two extra eggs as he said he knew he would have the appetite!
Rather sandy
This morning we made an exceptionally early start and were away by 6.15am to drive into Sossusvlei. As the sun rose we arrived at Dune 45 to conquer it! Standing at 250m it was hard work climbing to the top, especially with all that sand! Jon almost died. But luckily didn't and running back down was a lot easier!

13 January 2016

We arrived at Sossus Oasis late afternoon in the boiling heat. The Dutch were first in the pool again... Brits must try harder. A relaxing evening around the not lit campfire with a beer was required. Munja, our epic Zimbabwean chef, cooked a traditional African meal which included cabbage cooked in peanut butter. Delicious! Favourite catchphrases from him so far are " Attack the table" and his reply after thanking him for the delicious meals "thank you for eating" ( read in a African accent and you'll hear the warmth!).
Back on the road this morning very early. We had 600 km to travel... On dirt roads! First excitement was seeing wild giraffe, springbok, kudo and I saw a bunch of baboons. (I started singing baboon baboon baboon baboon... If you know jons favourite cricket music, you'll know what I'm on about!!). Unbelievably remote out here, so few people. We stopped at the only town halfway, Bethanie, which was hilarious. We bought biltong from the butcher (the only thing in there) and admired their size of cheese balls. You buy cheese balls in bulk it seems! Oh and the word slaghuis made me laugh like a 12 year old so it's included here.
On the road... Cheeky ostriches and Giraffes! Plus the houses where the Namibian tribes live. Miles from anywhere.
Desert camping at its finest... First light. About 6am.

12 January 2016

Canyon sunset. Stunning.
What an evening.
Moving swiftly on from the grim situation... The canyon was spectacular and truly magical. The photos never quite do places like this justice. We stayed for a couple of hours to watch the sunset. We were prepared with a bottle of porcupine ridge (but didn't have wine glasses, water bottles did the job). Tonight was a night to feel totally alive.
Rescue helicopter Thankfully not for us ...
Back on the bus again to check out the fish river canyon, the biggest after the grand canyon in the states. On our way we given the news that two women had been found dead in the canyon. Presumed to have fallen off the edge. They had been missing since last Thursday (5 days ago) and tonight there was a whole forensic team in masks to pick up the bodies. Which we saw dangling from the Helicopter. In the valley of the canyon they said the temperatures reach well into the high 50s. I expect that was a very grim operation. We decided to stay well away from the edge.
Travelling in style!
We reached our camp at the Canon Roadhouse near the fish river canyon later afternoon to set up. We pitched our tents in 40degree heat on the sand. We had to put rocks in the corner of the tent to stop it from blowing away! We remembered Joe and Wendy's advice to pick up the rock away from you in case of any creepies chilling underneath. Luckily there were none! With the slight excitement of finally having WiFi we informed all the rellies we weren't dead. Quite the opposite in fact! An amazing bar decorated with old and dead cars. We thought of our friend Bill when we saw the shell sign!