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Saturday, 17 October 2009

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Going home ..

Breakfast- shit. I guess you get what you pay for and we've been paying allot.
Drove into town which just added to my already growing stress levels. Hung around for a bit and had some lunch while watching guys trying to hustle people. Interestingly they where hassling more Africans than tourists.

Dropped the car off at the airport and they didn’t spot the crack and signed all the forms. Result. They commented on the state of the thing. Bearing in mind we had it valet'd it could have been 300% worse.

Gave a pair of shoes to the guy just hanging out. He had a Manchester United hat on so couldn’t have him wandering around bare foot.

Enquired about a seat upgrade. N$300 per person! So much for last minute deals at the airport but at least by bag has gone down by 5kg's and they didn’t charge extra. So 10 hours of shit leg room and then an onward flight to the UK and a pain in the arse journey on Boris's tube network.

I hate going home.


Stunning scenery, stayed in some fantastic places, met some really nice people and pretty much managed to see every animal we could have wanted to be setting off. Sure we did the luxury route and I very have conflicting feelings about that. Including not being able to deal with the poverty and the 'Africa' part you encounter when coming here. eg. I wanted to give those shoes away for a week but couldn’t. I saw kids walking bare foot but still I didn’t want to insult them by offering them my seconds. I think that’s bullshit. There’s such a range of poverty here that even the people that have jobs and appear OK really struggle.
I know where all my old clothes and stuff are going now.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Erongo Wilderness Lodge to Terra Africa BnB, Windhoek

Last day, current managers Mike (former owner) and Carol where excellent hosts and we really regretting not booking three days as our last place top on the Namibian road trip.

Slow journey to Windhoek - ROAD WORKS !! .. BnB Terra Africa. Cheap and cheerful. This was a last minute booking when Air Namibia cancelled the UK flight. Got a large room, TV and WI-FI, back to 21st century reality.

Ate at NICE - Namibian Institute of Culinary Excellence. It’s a Jamie Oliver ‘15’ type place run by the same people as Walverdans. Food was OK, if anything they are trying a little too hard with the presentation. I sound like a food ponce.

They were selling the sepia photos of the chefs at Walverdans. Wasn’t sure on which size to buy so will see if they can be bought on the internet.

Unfortunately for Max there was a price guide for staying at Walverdans in the back of the menu.

I can already feel my return to home/work stress levels rising.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Up early for a guided walk up to the highest peak. About 2 hours. Spectacular views and excellent guides.

Spotted some, what we thought where black stoats up at the room and around the dining room. Later found out these where Black Mongoose, extremely rare and only just discovered. Don’t I regret idling over to get the camera and missing the shot.

More relaxing, this place is so peaceful.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Ongama Tented Camp to Erongo Wilderness Lodge

All tarmac roads. We spotted two speed traps which I think maybe one of them got us. We'll see. At least they don’t hide in the trees like South Africa.

Had lunch on route at Omaruru at a funny old museum/curios/cafe place. There’s lots of hunting lodges in this part of the country. Shame on them.

Erongo is set up in the rocks, similar to Mawani. Same basic design as the places we've stayed, based around a tent with add-ons. We've somehow ended up in the honeymoon suite with the best views and a private outside plunge pool al-be-it the longest , but it’s worth it.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Late breakfast and sat reading in the lounge overlooking the water hole. Lovely and peaceful. Booked the PM drive, after confirming room 4 - Bride and co where not on it. Interestingly the manager didn’t seem too shocked by this stipulation.

In hindsight we think our ‘encounter’; I say attack, by the Elephant yesterday was because we got too close. Maybe that’s why one of the other guys at the water hole was such a moody prick when we bumped into him at one of the rest stops. Excitement got the better of us. So sorry Elephant, and moody prick - shame, I would have liked the photo you probably took with us looking completely shit scared.

Went on an afternoon drive around the reserve which was only Max and I which was a really nice end to our animal viewing part of the trip. We actually saw sweet f.a large game. Some birds, one species which impale their food before feasting on it. The butcher bird - nice. And a family of Ringed Mongoose which had taken over an old termites nest and happily posed for pictures. Nice drive though.

Termites - Queen, King, Workers and Soldiers. Each year around December, the Queen produces millions of Kings and Queens which then leave the nest to build others. Feeding frenzy, birds, animals, humans - all make the most of this event. Workers feed the other termites by feeding from the fungus garden they build in the bottom of the nest and then 'poo' into the mouth of the other termites. Termites produce zero waste.

Hammer head bird - superstition surrounds this bird. If it flies directly over you then apparently a member of your family has died. They build massive nests containing anything they can find, which last up to 70 years. If you break a nest you will catch a mental disease.

Weaver birds, not the social ones, will nearly always build their nests on the west side of a tree. Namibia's prevailing weather comes from the east so this protects the rather hap hazard nests.

Dinner was better but the fish was still causing rumblings.

so all in all the camps not managed to jump ahead of the other two in my rating though. The tent is by far the best and the water hole is great. But taking into account privacy and ambience I think it comes a very close 3rd, just behind Mawani, Walverdans is #1.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Halali to Onguma Tented Camp

Got up early again to go out for dawn. Made it this time but didn’t see anything of any note.

Checked out and drove to the East of the park heading for Ongama Tented Camp. Nothing much to see on the drive as we started to think our game spotting luck had run out on the first day. We took a scenic route via the salt pan.

In the distance, is that an Elephant! .. Fuck yes. Foot down, bumping through puddles (it rained again last night) following the road around the pan, taking us in the wrong direction, shit, more panic, more foot. There’s the water hole, oh shit that’s a big fucking Elephant. The road around the water hole was all the way around. The Elephant - a big bull was in the middle with 2-3 cars parked on the other side. We crept in, turned the engine off. Mr Elephant spotted us and decided to investigate. Hmm he's coming over here, no its OK he's going to cross the road. No he's coming right here! He stopped maybe 3-4 Meters in front of our car, there’s no way for us to go past and no way for us to reverse quickly if he's pissed. He just checks us out, seemed like hours, and stands there almost at the end of the bonnet. Panic starts to set in, what do we do!! .. Can’t take pictures the screens too dirty and he's TOO close for the lens on the camera. He stands, and stands, waves his ears and then ambles of to the right. My heart was doing cart wheels. SHIT we didn’t take a picture. We start to follow parallel with him in the scrub and then we go forward and wait. He walks out onto the road, this time we're facing the right way so hopefully got some great shots.

We leave him alone and head off. 20 mins later, look another!! .. This one, even bigger, was also crossing the road but he decided to scare the crap out of the car nearest him. We help right back after the previous close encounter. My pants couldn’t handle it. The guy did exactly the same. I think it must be a game they've worked out. See if they can get the cars to back off. Check this YOUTUBE clip .. Got some more great shots. Hopefully.

Arrived at Onguma. It’s the third camp of the top three Namibian places to stay along with Walverdans and Mowani and I think by far the best tent. Will it top Walverdans ? Will wait and see. I think Ben and his family might help keep that one top. The tented camp faced a water hole and is on the reserve which is completely open to all the animals. Lion, Rhino, Leopard etc so after and before sun rise everyone has to be escorted by staff.

Mike and Margaret from Walverdans are also staying here and unfortunately so are the Older German ladies and their guide - the knob. They have now been renamed to Bride of Frankenstein (she has the worst plastic surgery), Chucky and Herr Porno (He looks like a failed 70's porn star).

Dinner service was very good but given the choice of Kudo fillet or King Lip I went with fish - wrong. The fish wasn’t cooked, it had thrown me so declined a replacement. The fish came back with a vengeance this morning.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Okaukuejo to Halali - Etosha

Set the alarm for 05:00 to have some tea and biscuits by our personal water hole before the gates open at 06:45 and then go for a morning drive. Needless to say the alarm went off, I sat bolt upright looked at the hole and we both fell asleep until 06:30 - bugger.

We stormed out and within 1km of the gate we spotted a male lion, full mane - the works. Tucking into what must have been a pretty fresh kill. We sat and watched for 45 mins and then pretty much drove the same route as yesterday afternoon. Some Elephant in the distance.

Made the drive to Halali which is a smaller camp and supposedly newer. First impressions are it’s not as good. The water hole is a slight walk away and it’s not even right outside our window! What kind of place is this ! The bungalow is OK, clean and has everything we need.

Little to see on the afternoon/Evening drive.

Dinner - The novelty of the food has worn off. That didn’t take long. Coupled with the fact we asked to eat inside and they turned the AC off meant we ate what was possible, mainly the rice and left sharpish. Paid a visit to the water hole where a young white rhino was just making off. Stayed there for an hour or so and went to bed.