Day 43, 11 March 2011
Sand boarding today! We got up and dressed in our grubbiest clothing as we predicted that it would get trashed. After a quick coffee away we went in one of the vans toward the dunes of the Namibia desert that were only about 20 mins out of town.
After a brief drive we saw the dunes, they were pretty impressive. We were given an initial demonstration of how to use the ‘Kalahari Ferrari’ (a 3 x 5 sheet of particle board), and away we went, walking up the dune. It was bloody hot. We secretly laughed when we found out we got the ‘cooler’ walks up the dunes and the sand boarders we going to have to walk up the longest dune with snow boarding boots on, carrying their boards.
They said that we would start on the easy incline dunes (W – I disagree it was very steep!). Toward the end of her first run, W dropped her hands to stop instead of stopping with her feet and as a result covered herself in sand.
We did a few other cool runs and then tried the tandem. W volunteered the front position purely on the basis the first person had to be flexible and keep the back break person under control and encourage them to keep the breaks ( ie hands) on the ground. It sort of worked but instead of breaking I made us go faster.
Then I accepted the challenge of jumping the board off the sand boarders’ jump. I managed to get over the jump and roll, but managed to break the board on landing it. The guys running it didn’t mind – they said it would have been a fluke if I didn’t.
We graduated to the fastest speed runs where they actually use a speed gun to note how fast you get. I managed to beat our tour leader with a speed of 75 km/hr, W clocked a respectable 71km/hr (W-It is as fast as it sounds). We had a great time doing a few more speed runs, then had lunch and a well deserved beer at the bottom of the dunes. We were a mess – sand everywhere.
The afternoon was spent catching up on more emails and admin and then we went home to chill out. After a few games of Euchre we headed out to a bar to meet everyone else – had a few beers then stumbled home.
Day 44, 12 March 2011
Today we drove to Spitzkoppe via the Cape Fur seal colony. The smell of a couple of thousand seals is burned into our nasal passages for the rest of time. Although the pups with their big brown eyes do look very cute, if only for the smell!
We went on to the bush camp at Spitzkoppe. As soon as we set up the tents down came the rain and wind. The rain was very intense to begin. It poured off the volcanic rocks and then formed makeshift rivers, right through the middle of the camp
The canopy attached to the truck started to lift itself off the hooks and those that were smart took shelter in the bus. W and I decided to be adventurous and run around in the rain, making sure that the tents were secure and cleaning up floating rubbish. We followed one of the water paths and found a waterfall, a bit brisk, but the water pressure was great.
It eased off and we eventually setup camp and turned in early. It rained on and off throughout the night, but we managed to stay mostly dry.
Day 45, 13 March 2011
We started early and surveyed the damage, we managed to stay relatively dry- our bags were a bit damp though. We packed up and had breakfast and then made a move.
We were warned at the beginning of the drive that when given the command, we had to hold on or brace because the road could be bumpy- always encouraging. A bit of a drive and we made it to Etosha national park.
We setup tents and bits of gear to dry off and went on an afternoon game drive. W and I were looking for the animals we hadn’t seen close up, ie rhinos and leopards, but everyone else were still at the wow, a zebra stage. It is wet season at the moment so the grass is long and there is lots of water around, so it is very green and very hard to find the large animals.
We tried the watering hole later near the camp and continued out into the savanna. We saw some giraffes, springbok and some birds. We feel bad as W and I are still comparing the animals to what we saw at the crater and Serengeti.
The rules about getting back to camp by sunset are quite strict. If you don’t get inside the gates of camp by 7.30pm for lockdown, apparently it’s a US$500 fine.
Dinner was the ultimate indulgence, burgers and chips. I had two helpings. We went to the bar and I killed my target in the game of murder with a towel and then found out they had my name, so I had committed suicide! We had a nice cold beer to calm me down and charged the laptop and now bringing the blog up to date.
Day 46, 14 March 2011
Game driving day. I, (C), am back on kitchen duty.
It was a reasonably early start so we could get out looking for animals early. We followed a big salt lake and kept branching off to the water holes. We saw bits and pieces – but generally it was a long hot boring day in the truck.
We stopped by a lookout point on the salt lake and set up lunch. W went out onto the salt lake and came back claiming it ‘was very warm’. After lunch we were back on the truck to continue to hunt for animals – but most of us had a snooze.
After a lot of driving (a lot more giraffes, oryx and springbok) late in the afternoon we stumbled upon a rhino, which was lazing in the afternoon sun. Initially we thought it was dead, but occasionally it would stir.
We continued on and saw lion, but he wasn’t moving very much either. Luckily we spotted a pride of lions at the last moment before we had to get inside the camp gates before curfew.
Day 47, 15 March 2011
Today we left Etosha and spent some of the morning in Tsumib doing some grocery shopping. A window on the truck smashed in Spitzkop so the leaders tried to find replacement glass with no luck. Eventually we made it to camp and set up. We set off to go to the bushman tour but as we drove along the highway we were stopped for the best part of 15mins whilst a police officer inspected our vehicle. We all think she was trying to get a bribe.
It was a graded road most of the way but then we hit the sandy strip. Holding on was fun.
The Bushmen tour was very interesting. I think we’ve explained that the Sun Bushman were the local native people, but now have been forced to move into society. The tour was about their traditional ways. We were a bit taken aback when the guide turned up with little more than a square inch of leather covering his privates. We were shown how the Bushmen found the traditional plants and what they were used for. About half way through the tour it started to pour so we were herded in the makeshift reed shelters. We followed the locals and divided males and females into each shelter.
(W – it was really interesting to be squashed into a space with 11 women and four babies – none of whom spoke any English – and some were all topless). Apparently the locals were very envious of wendy’s long hair and kept on stroking it and draping over their own heads and admiring themselves.
We bought some souvenirs, W chose bracelet and I chose a traditional Bushman’s ‘multi-purpose tool’. It is hand axe with rotating blade, knife in the handle and also able to be used as a pipe. Customs may have field day with me though.
After we finished we heard them singing about their good fortune with sales.
We jumped back on the truck and headed towards camp.
Whilst we were away it had poured with rain at camp. The tent was fine, but walking towards the tent took longer as we had to detour on high ground and not get stuck in the mud.
During the night it rained again and we had to shut the rain fly completely, it makes everything very dark and very disorientating.
Day 48, 16 March 2011
Today was predominantly filled with driving and finding a window in Rundu. W & I
walked around town and tried to catch up on some internet. Oh! how we miss the internet at home! The speed, the security and the ease of use!
We found a coffee shop and W found two new doggy friends.
After a nice piece of carrot cake we headed off to post the postcards. I was told that it was a 15 min walk. We no longer trust Africans’ sense of distance. It was a 25 min walk and time was against us as we had 20mins to get back to meeting point. But when we got there we found it bustling and we had to line up behind about 7 people just to get postcard stamps. You better appreciate the postcards people!
Anyway, with about 10 mins to go we got the stamps and then posted the cards and ran back to the truck.
Whilst we were away the dragoman tour truck coming from north Africa also arrived in Rundu. We hitched a ride to our truck and inspected their vehicle, we definitely had the better truck! We spoke to their passengers and compared experiences.
They also stole Mash, our cook, due to their cook having visa issues. No one was very happy about that. Apparently they had also been shot at by bandits in northern Kenya and been bogged quite few times. Sounds like fun?
When we were back on the road (with a piece of Perspex for the window) we were told that we couldn’t make it to the camp was flooded and the other tour group had gotten bogged that morning. So we headed off to ‘rainbow camp’.
Our tour leader, Jennie, has now also taken on cooking duties until we (hopefully) get Mash back.
We planned for a rest day the next day to help people get the laundry done and recharge, so dinner was relaxed and few too many drinks were consumed. Afterwards everyone went to the bar. People had stocked up on bags of goon and started trading and mixing white and red wine – not a good idea. We escaped at a reasonable hour – without having had too much goon (maybe you do get more sensible as you get older).
Day 49, 17 March 2011
6mth wedding anniversary! We can’t believe all that palaver was only six months ago.
The golden rule about not mixing drinks is a very good one. The morning afterwards there were plenty of examples of why you do not mix red and white goon and shots. Enough said.
We’re now catching up photos and writing the blog and generally recharging (Including the computer and our own batteries).
A relaxed day, W is practicing her Spanish – can’t believe we only have a week until we’re in South America!
W - Later that day we went on a sunset cruise, on the Okavango river on a very basic boat. It took us up to see the Popa falls which, because it is wet season, were not very much more than some rapids. Our guide then took us down to the hippo area and we got quite close to a few big hippos. You cannot see much of the hippos except for their eyes and ears, but you have to assume that most of the rest of them (even some other hippos) are still under water. We did get to see a few playing in the water. Our guide also let us know that his friend was doing a tour in a smaller boat that was knocked over by a hippo and as they were swimming to the shore one of the tourists was taken by a croc….I was happy to get safely back to dry land.
We had a quiet night, celebrating our anniversary with a gin and tonic, looking over the river and listening to the hippos.