In this post I’ll provide an overview of the whole journey.
We all met for the first time at Windhoek airport and waited for the light aircraft pilots to take us on to Hobatere.
The high winds and the vision of the old Cessna 210’s didn’t do much for the confidence and during the flight the pilot decided he would reduce height to 5,000 feet to save fuel. Spectacular, but bumpy.
We transferred to the campsite. Luckily everything was set up as it was now dark and after sorting out our tents and kit and receiving safety briefs, we spent a leisurely evening around the fire.
The next two days were spent at Hobatere watching the waterhole, catching up some tracking theory and walking from Kopje to Kopje. This was the Mopane bushvelt and it was not easy to see the wildlife who were incredibly well camouflaged.
The animals at the waterhole were a little skittish. On the first day there were reports of lions about and they seemed to sense this. We were only allowed to go about in pairs.
After two days, we loaded up the kit and made our way through Etosha National Park. The flat pan area alone is 4731 sq km and holds a high concentration of wildlife. Every 10 or so kms there’s a waterhole although most were dry. This was an area were you can literally just bump into wildlife and it took us 7 hours to traverse the changing bushvelt and plains, shouting for the driver to stop at any opportunity.
We stopped en route for lunch in the secure tourist lodge area of Okaukuejo and ended the day at Halali, still within the confines of the National park.
Our road transport was a weary looking adapted Land Cruiser that used rocks under the wheel for a hand break. I was surprised we only had one flat tyre after driving on rough roads for 90% of the journey. This is a land where Cruisers and Hilux are king.
After a night in Halali (including a swim in the pool) and a good few hours watching the animals at a floodlit waterhole, we packed up in the dark and as the dawn broke, we made our way through the last kms of the park to Namutoni and on into Bushmanland.
We stopped a couple of times on the way to stock up on provisions and petrol and to visit one of the best outfitters in Namibia – Greensport.
Greensport appear to provide the tour companies with the kit. It’s heavy, tough, solid and suitable for the environment. Fortunately for Dave, who was on the verge of buying one, we had a severe storm on the last night which flooded the tents. After bailing out two inches of water he decided that it might not suit the UK environment. It did keep the scorpions at bay though.
Grootfontein provided an interesting spectacle of being escorted to your vehicle with your shopping by a bloke with a baton. It was also difficult to eat an ice cream at the petrol station without giving half to one of the kids who had swarmed around the vehicle hoping for some sweets.
The next 5 days were spent with the Ju/’Hoansi san bushmen at Grashoek near Moroelaboom. This area is on the the western most area of the Kalahari and is on sandy bushvelt and closed-in bush shrubs.
Everyday, we met up with the bushmen who showed us shelter building, bow and arrow making, jewellery making, hand drill fire-starting, foraging and tracking.
The heat was unrelenting and initially, we were drinking 4-5litres of water per day although this reduced to about 2-3 litres per day as our body’s adapted. It was 38C in the shade and 120F in the sun. Protection from the sun by sun block and wide-brimmed hats were key and so was good hygiene. Only one member had a stomach upset. That was well contained and he was fit after 24 hours.
Some things never change, even in the Southern Hemisphere and the final night brought the infamous storm. After a virtually sleepless night we loaded our soggy swags and canvas onto the trailer for the return trip to the capital, Windhoek.
Our final night in Namibia was spent in the luxury of a lodge with a slap-up meal of steak, chips, beer and wine.
During the journey we were provisioned with fresh produce with the assistance of a large portable fridge fixed in the vehicle.
Breakfast was cereals and toast; lunch was open type sandwiches in the German style or scrambled egg or porridge and dinner usually involved game sausage or steak with salad, pap, mashed or baked potatoes all cooked by our cook, Bernard.
Next Namibia post – The Wildlife.