To Botswana

 Posted by Elizabeth at 7:19 pm
May 102011
 

We left Roys Camp and headed towards Popa Falls, stopping in at Rundu for fuel and money which is the largest town we have seen in some time having 4 supermarkets and all types of shops and banks.

Popa Falls, which are really just rapids, were not to be seen as the river is in flood, although the water is starting to drop now. Ngepi Camp was our overnight stop but unfortunately we could not get to the riverside camp sites as the road to them was too flooded. Getting into camp was a bit of an adventure in itself. The camp is about 4km off the The road to Ngepi Campmain road, and maybe a kilometre or so away from camp we suddenly ran out of road with just an expanse of water in front of us. A camp employee was stationed by the side of the road and informed us to engage 4wd and drive between the stakes, which made a curving track in the water, and we would be fine. That bit was 150-200m and we managed fine, although it was reasonably deep being above the side steps on our car, which conveniently gave the car a bit of a clean and got rid of some mud. Then around the next bend there was more water to cross. This time not as deep but it was across the river and flowing reasonably fast. The last bit was directly in front of reception where we had to cross a large lagoon that was also reasonably deep and then park up on the bank and climb out. So our first proper water crossings were to get into camp, not as I imagined it would be!

The road to Ngepi CampThe road to Ngepi Camp, Popa FallsThe road to Ngepi Camp, Popa Falls

The camp itself is known for its quirky toilets and showers. They are all open air built in amongst the plants and trees. The pictures explain it.

Ngepi Camp, Popa FallsNgepi Camp, Popa FallsNgepi Camp, Popa FallsNgepi Camp, Popa Falls

Last night was the first night we have heard hippos, we still haven’t seen one though. The river that the camp is on is full of them and they do come into camp, but not last night.

Today we travelled through Mahango National Park to get to the Botswana border. Lechwe, Mahango Game National ParkIf you are transiting there is no cost, so of course we were transiting but just happened to accidentally take the river road and do a game drive rather than the direct route through the park – bargain! We saw some new animals for this trip, some Tsessebee, Sable Antelope and Lechwe along with the usual impala and zebra.

Entry into Botswana was easy and took all of 10 minutes to leave Namibia and be in Botswana. The total cost for road tax, insurance and the road fund was 100 Pula, however as we didn’t have Pula we could pay in Namibian dollars, but it would be $160 (it was still only $23). Given that the Pula and the Namibian Dollar are almost equal that was a pretty big rip off and a great way for the government to make more money, but what can you do when there is no currency exchange at the border?

We are now at Tsodillo Hills where there are a large number of rock paintings done by the San people thousands of years ago. We will do the walk to see them in the morning with a guide. Things are definitely getting more rustic now and I think our luck has probably run out with civilised, clean amenities with hot water! The amenities are not particularly clean, and even though there is supposedly solar hot water, there was not a bit of warmth in the water (lucky it is still pretty hot at the moment). I also had to tackle wasps and other flying bugs in order to go to the toilet this afternoon – peeing in the bush is just so much easier some times!

Tomorrow we will head to Maun to try and get the car serviced, get money and food and try and reserve camping sites in the Kalahari (fingers crossed we are successful).

Etosha – Day 3

 Posted by Elizabeth at 5:05 pm
May 082011
 

Etosha National ParkAgain we left camp early and our very first sighting just a couple of kilometres away was a lion, lioness and 4 very small cubs. They were all sitting in the short grass out in the open just a few metres from the road so it was perfect viewing. We watched them for some time as the cubs drank from their mother, played and tumbled around with each other. When we arrived there was one other car and they left not long after so we had them to ourselves for nearly the whole time. A definite highlight!

 

Etosha National ParkEtosha National ParkEtosha National Park

Hoping there would still be the same concentration of animals as there was yesterday afternoon, we headed back to the same area, but there was not a single giraffe to be seen. Just some zebras and the occasional wildebeest and springbok. We followed a spotted hyena for a while to see whether it would do anything interesting, but it finally disappeared into the bush, so no luck there. Apart from that we just saw the usual springboks, gemsboks, black backed jackals, wildebeests, giraffes, zebras, impalas and birds.

Spotted Hyena, Etosha National ParkKudu, Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park

After leaving the park, we dropped in to see the Hoba Meteorite near Grootfontein. It is a pretty big lump of metal, which apparently weighs 54,000kg and landed on earth 80,000 years ago. You can actually see that it is made of metal and is worth a quick stop to have a look at.

Tonight we are staying at Roy’s Camp. A quirky place where the owner definitely has some creative talent and has made his mark from the campsites, to the amenities, the bar and pool. One of the ladies showers has a tree trunk in the corner, the pool uses an overflowing bathtub as a fountain and there are metal laundry tubs embedded in the walls with plants growing in them. We have a nice shaded, grassy site and are using their gas to cook a stew for a few hours for dinner tonight (better than using our own gas!).

Etosha – Day 2

 Posted by Elizabeth at 7:50 pm
May 072011
 

Banded Mongoose, Etosha National ParkWe left camp about 6.30am and headed off on a game drive towards Namutoni Camp where we would stay the night. There weren’t too many animals to be seen except a couple of giraffes and zebras, although we did manage to see a large group of Banded Mongoose running around. Just before camp we saw a lioness and a cub, but they were lying deep in the grass and you couldn’t see them very well at all. People also said that there were some cheetahs lying in the distance on the other side of the road, but neither of us managed to spot them, even with the binoculars. Around the same time other animals started to appear and we saw more giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, gemsbok, springbok, impala and various birds.

Impala, Etosha National ParkWildebeest, Etosha National ParkGemsbok, Etosha National Park

After lunch and a rest in camp we headed off for an afternoon drive. A few kilometres from camp there were animals everywhere. I think there must have been a giraffe convention going on as I haKudu, Etosha National Parkve never seen so many of them in such a small area, they were absolutely everywhere! There were also heaps of springbok, zebras and wildebeest. We also saw a couple of warthogs, impala, kudu, ostriches and for the first time some Damara Dik Diks, which are tiny, cute little antelopes. A couple of the waterholes had a right party going on with a variety of animals converging on them, including wildebeest, zebras and impalas.

Etosha National ParkSpringbok, Etosha National ParkEtosha National ParkWarthog, Etosha National ParkEtosha National ParkDik Dik, Etosha National ParkImpala, Etosha National ParkEtosha National Park

We visited the waterhole in camp again, but there were only a few zebras to be seen. I was way too tired to keep my eyes open, so we didn’t stay too long. This being on holidays is exhausting work!

Etosha – Day 1

 Posted by Elizabeth at 6:19 pm
May 062011
 

Black Backed Jackal, Etosha National ParkWe were woken around 4am this morning by hyenas calling. There must have been quite a few of them and close by as it was very loud and went on for some time. We also had a jackal going through someone’s garbage bin during the night making a racquet, as even though Okaukuejo Camp is fenced there are still jackals wandering through the camp.Lion, Etosha National Park

During our morning game drive we saw quite a number of animals including a few black backed jackals, some red hartebeest, gemsbok, a hyena and giraffes in the distance, heaps of springbok, some impala, a few kudu, ostriches and lots of birds. As we were heading back to camp for lunch we came around the corner and there were two male lions sitting very conveniently on the side of the road. One sat there cleaning himself making him look just like a big pussycat, not so sure though that I would want to give him a pat. They sat there for quite some time but eventually a car annoyed them so they took off into the bush.

 

Red Hartebeest, Etosha National ParkSpringbok, Etosha National ParkLion, Etosha National Park

Our afternoon drive was pretty unsuccessful until the last few kilometres when out of the bush came a lioness, then a few minutes later a lion and then another one until there were finally 6 all together. They came out of the bush, walked about 2 metres from our (checked out something on our car which we have no idea what it was they were looking at) and then laid themselves on the road. One of them decided to plonk itself down about a metre from my window, needless to say my window then went up! It was pretty cool and made us late back to camp as they shut the gate at sunset, but they didn’t say anything and we weren’t the only ones who were late.

Impala, Etosha National ParkLion, Etosha National ParkLion, Etosha National Park

After dinner we walked down to the floodlit waterhole at Halali Camp. Talk about perfect timing – when we arrived there were 4 rhinos drinking and eating. 2 of them were having a bit of a tiff with each other on and off. They hung around for ages drinking and eating and again it was an excellent experience. The one annoying thing though was that 2 groups of people decided that silence didn’t apply to them, so they talked incessantly in supposed whispers and kept giggling the whole time. Some people are just so ignorant and rude!

To Etosha

 Posted by Elizabeth at 9:14 pm
May 052011
 

Wayne’s finger was significantly better the next morning, although it was stiff, his lower arm had altered sensitivity and he was only able to partially use it. Today it is better again, but he is still having some trouble using it, but the pain has gone, which is good.

We left Purros and headed towards Sesfontein, again travelling through pretty scenery. We had planned to take the river bed route, but were told that it was too muddy, and given that we hKhowarib Slucht Community Camp for lunchad already seen the desert elephants, and Wayne’s finger meant there was no way he would be able to dig us out if we got stuck, we decided to take the easy and much quicker route. We saw some Springboks and a giraffe in the distance and a couple of ostriches, but nothing exciting along the way. We were going to spend the night at the Khowarib Slucht Community Camp, but as it was only just midday when we arrived we decided to stop for lunch and to head on further to shorten the following day. The camp itself though was nice. The site we used for lunch had a great view over the river and an excellent stone building to use as a shelter. It would have been a very pleasant place to stay.

Our original plan from there was to travel through the Khowarib Slucht riverbed 4wd trail, but we could not find out any information as to whether it was ok or not, and again we did not want to get stuck and be unable to get out, so we took the easy route and spent the night just outside Kamanjab at the Porcupine Camp. The camp was once again quite nice. We had a large site and the sites are reasonably separate from each other. The amenities are all outdoor, with large screened areas for the showers and water heated by a donkey.

Porcupine CampThe amenities, Porcupine CampShower, Porcupine Camp

Yesterday we noticed that there seemed to be something wrong with our brakes. The pedal needed to be pushed down too far and it was soft, and the handbrake needed to be pulled up too far, so we stopped at the first mechanic which we found in Kamanjab. One pad in each rear brake had worn down to the metal and needed replacing and they were full of mud. Luckily they had 2 relined pads that they have used to replace them, which should see us another 10000km, but we will need to organise something else as it will not last our journey. Air had also got into the brake line. Being Africa, it took 5 and a half hours to fix but only about $250 (but we will get that reimbursed).

As we had been up north for a quite a few days we desperately needed to shop, so we stopped in Outjo and restocked, although we could only buy meat and dairy products for the next 5 nights as we will then be in Botswana and we can’t take meat and dairy in with us. It was then finally off to Etosha. We arrived at the gate about 5.40pm, which is just after sunset and the gate closing. The guard was still there and directed us to turn back to a camp outside the park as we did not have a booking and it was too late. After a bit of begging and explaining we were late due to car issues, the guard finally dialled Okaukuejo Camp for us, who advise me that yes they had a site and it was fine, so we managed to make it – just!

Given it was about 6.30pm when we got to our site and after the last hectic few days we decided to spoil ourselves and eat at the restaurant for dinner. They had a pretty good buffet, which included Kudu (which was very nice) and with drinks it only cost about $53 and I think we deserved a night off!

Last night was the first night we heard the lions roaring this trip, which was exciting. The camp has a large floodlit waterhole, but unfortunately there was nothing to be seen, presumably because there has been so much late rain they have many options for water. Tomorrow morning is our first real game drive of the trip, which we are both looking forward too. Hopefully we will see the lions we have heard.

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