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SOUTHERN AFRICA 2018 AUSTRALIA AND BACK TO AFRICA

I just had to come back and see more! Another 3 countries in 23 days!

sunny
View EPIC AFRICA 2017 on Tracy87's travel map.

After my Epic Africa Trip last year I just had to see more of this beautiful continent. The journey started where last  years ended in Victoria Falls.  Once again traveling with Intrepid through Botswana, Namibia finishing in Cape Town.  And if feels good to be back.   Through out my travels last year the amazing people I met never said "goodbye" it was always "see you later"   Africa never leaves you heart they would tell me and how right they were!  I can't wait to set up my tent!

OCTOBER 30TH 2018

Well there is a first time for everything... Checked in all the way to Johannesburg, not collecting my bag in Sydney like last year just a relaxing two flights of 16 hours flying and a 3 hour stopover, no worries!

And I mean no worries, this time I have enough cash, and card for back up, no locked credit cards this time Africa!  I even have all my visa passes in order (A day in Canberra at the South African Embassy and a rude consulate staff later...)

I got this!

After a quick flight to Sydney I am boarding my Johannesburg sector and I have a row to myself, WOW what did I do to deserve this!  I am just settling in going thru the movie list when the cabin crew comes over and asks me if I am the staff traveler, when I say "yes I am"  thinking "oh here we go they are gonna move me"  he gives me a load of goodies from business class, seriously what is going on... (When you travel on a staff ticket you are thankful for a seat, I wasn't expecting goodies too!)

STILL OCTOBER 30TH 2018

I think I snoozed a bit, which isn't like me as I never sleep on airplanes, it's a thing!  My neck is stiff and we land in an hour.

Passport control goes smoothly, this time I get to collect my bag and actually leave the airport (For some unknown reason New Zealanders need visas for South Africa) 

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I am back!

My bag is one of the first ones off, the travel gods must be looking out for me this trip and as I walk outside to the bus terminal the heat hits you like wall... OH Africa I have missed you!

Finding the transfer pick was easy and my driver is already waiting for me.  He has a big smile and insists on loading my bag.  We chat on the short drive to the hotel.  The Aviator is just on the outskirts of Johannesburg and is in a gated complex.  The outside doesn't look like much but it is lovely on the inside.​

Check in done and I find my room,  oh it's lovely, a shower, a cup of tea, and then I sort out my bag.  Not that I need to, but hey, I can't help myself.

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My Room!

So after a long flight I try to get some sleep, but I can't and its not for want of trying, I wish my bed at home was this comfortable. I guess I slept more on the plane than I thought, so I watch TV snooze some more, watch TV, urgh it's like an endless circle. 

OCTOBER 31ST 2018

I wake up really early and I have a headache, I knew that stiff neck I got on the plane would come back to haunt me, but you know what I don't care today I am going back to where the last trip ended Victoria Falls!  

So I suck it up, put on my big girl pants and head down for breakfast, I am in Africa headache be damned!

OMG the breakfast is fantastic, who doesn't love a buffet, I love the fresh fruit juices, everything is so delicious.

After filling up on the lovely breakfast it's time to go back to the airport...  Let the adventure begin!

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Breakfast!

Ready to go and it's back to the airport.  Check in is easy, and I chat to a group of ladies at the gate while we wait to board.

I was expecting South African Airways to be a bit... well of better quality, but hey it's a seat!

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Let's go already!

The flight wasn't too bad,  but the decent into Victoria Falls is a bumpy one, even I grabbed the arm rests, but they nailed the landing!  The customers officer wasn't very friendly at all, and took his time issuing the multi-pass visa, admittedly I began to get a little nervous!

When I get thru customs I sit with the ladies I met in Johannesburg while I wait for my driver but, no!  But luckily the driver from Horizons Tours was happy to help as he overheard the ladies discussing my predicament.  He called the campground and got it sorted, piling my bags into the van.

Once at the campsite I check in and I think I actually have the same chalet I was in last year.

I dump my bag and change out of my jeans.  I head back to reception and book a safari, so I head to the pool and have a cold Zambezi beer while I wait for my driver.  

After a while I get concerned and head back to reception, it turns out I have been forgotten...  Damn It!  the driver had issues with some customers at another camp who made him late and he forgot all about me and headed straight out, so I am going tomorrow instead.

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Where one journey ended, another begins!

I head into town for a wander and find The Three Monkeys where we had our last group dinner together and have an early dinner.  

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Where to go what to see!

The steak I have melts in your mouth, but the second beer I have makes me sleepy, I guess I am still getting used the change in time zones and the scattered sleep.

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Wonderful food!

So I head back to camp and relax with my book, I didn't want to but I zonked out and woke up just after midnight,  it's a good thing I have that book.

Posted by Tracy87 06:34 Archived in Zimbabwe Comments (0)

A SPECTACULAR NATIONAL PARK & ENDAGERED SPECIES!

ZIMBABWE TO BOTSWANA & BACK AGAIN

sunny
View EPIC AFRICA 2017 on Tracy87's travel map.

NOVEMBER 1ST 2018

Woke up so early, why can't I be this wide eyed when it comes to early shifts for work?  I guess I am hyped today I am heading across the boarder to Botswana for a day trip to Chobe National Park, Oh how I have missed being in the wilds of Africa (I know that the tour encompasses this park, but hey... so I go twice!)

A quick shower and an even quicker breakfast, they are busy and it took a bit of time so I practically  eat and run.

Our guide today is Pride (yes that is his name) and I am joined by 4 others from different hotels and resorts.  They seem nice enough.

The long straight road to the border is lined with trees, they must have had some rain as they are quite green and lush.

Suddenly he slows down and there coming through the trees are 3 Elephants and one is a baby.

Each Safari I go on I try to guess what the first animal I see will be, my guess for this morning was Zebra, how wrong I was... but I never thought it would be this!

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OMG Look at the little face, could it be any cuter!

There on the side of the road, just chilling munching away on the tree leaves.  They just look at us unfazed, this is their domain, and they know it!

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Aww don't hide again
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What a sight!

The baby is just the cutest thing trying to copy Mum trunk waving in the air.   I am grinning so hard my cheeks ache and I love it.

They just go about their business while we stare and cars drive by without a second thought.   

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Trying to copy Mum!
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Aww... Where did you go?
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Aww... There you are!
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Cuteness is a baby Elephant!

Pride tells us we will see a lot more Elephants in Chobe NP, but when he starts to pull away I sigh, this is the perfect start to the day.

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Trunks Up!

Pride tells us we will see a lot more Elephants in Chobe NP, but when he starts to pull away I sigh, this is the perfect start to the day.

The road is long and straight, and there is nothing to do but watch Africa roll by.  We don't see anymore wildlife along the way but you can see where the Elephants have been.  Some trees have been striped of leaves and their branches torn from the trunks.

There is a smell of smoke in the air as we come across a burnt area.  Pride tells us this area was burnt by poachers, they burn areas to trap the Elephants, this makes me so angry and very sad.  I reply to this by saying "They should cut their hands of and see how like it, at least then they can't shoot a gun!'

We get to the Botswana border crossing, it is very big, just a simple structure, it is a jumble of trucks, dusty and chaotic, just how I remember it! 

We show them our passports, get a stamp out of Zimbabwe and then walk a few minutes to another simple structure and get a stamp in to Botswana.  (With a multi pass I can to this again!)

We drive thru the town of Kanse, it is dusty and hot.  The housing is humble and some in different stages of construction.  

We by pass the center of town and head up a hill which opens up to another wide, straight road.

There is a group of 4x4s parked on the side of the road, which can only mean one thing,  wildlife sighting!

We pull up beside them and I can't believe my eyes....

Painted African Wild Dogs.... WHAT!!!! 

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A sight I never thought I would get see!

There is a pack just lounging under the trees,  I had hoped I would see them, but being one of Africa's most endangered species I never thought I would get to see them!   

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Am I really Seeing this!
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Unbelievable!

And they are a beautiful sight!  There is more than 10 of them, their gorgeous multi colored fur and big ears.... What an amazing scene!

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You can see where they get their name!
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Those Ears!

Africa you never stop surprising me!

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Such a privilege!

They are bigger than I thought, their long legs built for the long distances they cover when hunting.  

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Look at those gorgeous faces!
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Play time!

Their coats are a beautiful patchy mix of black, tan and grey.  Each one has individual striking markings. The only thing they have in common are those large ears.

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That's one happy face!
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Contentment!

Unlike most group animals Painted African Dogs have a Alpha male and female pair, that lead the pack.   Their territories span large distances and loss of habitat is a major reason for the decline in numbers.  But thanks to conservation efforts their numbers are slowly growing.

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They are mesmerizing!
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You can see why they are called 'Painted' Wolves

Some of them are just content to laze about others have boundless energy, I love watching interact, the playful fighting and affectionate nuzzles.  

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So Striking!

One of the adults sits up watching the 4x4s as if on guard, the younger ones haven't come into their full color and still dark and speckled, maybe it lightens as they get older.

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Beautiful!

I am so busy watching the young ones at play I nearly didn't see another group a little further back I would have missed them if they hadn't started moving about.  This is a big pack, generations of a close knot family.

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I am so amazed!

It is difficult to take your eyes off these fascinating creatures, but Pride starts the truck and with one last look we are back on the road.  All I can do is shake my head in amazement,  what a start to the morning and we aren't even at the reserve entrance!

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What An Awesome Sight!

The entrance isn't far and after a quick sign in we make our way into the park.  After driving on a long straight sealed road we suddenly turn off and make our way down winding hills to the river.   The track is sandy and bumpy but who cares, it's a wonderful sunny morning and I am back in the wilds of Africa.

A  gorgeous view of the Chobe river opens up before us, I can't wait to get down there!

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The Chobe River!

Elephants are roaming thru the trees on both sides of the road.  The landscape reminds me of an apocalyptic world that is trying to rejuvenate.  Green patches are trying to flourish in the sandy earth.

We round a sharp bend and the sparkling Chobe River opens u before us.   A large grassy island splits the river in two.  Making it the land border between Botswana and Namibia.  The Chobe River begins in Angola joins with the Zambezi and makes it's way thru the African continent until it flows to meet the ocean.

For years Botswana and Namibia have argued over this lush green island.   Namibia claiming as theirs as they need it for farming,  Botswana saying it is part of the National Park.  The argument was finally settled buy the United Nations court in the Hague who decided that due to the lower water levels on the Botswana side of the island and so now a lone Botswana flag stands tall in the middle of the island.

We follow the river and pass a herd of Impala grazing at the waters edge. 

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What a beautiful morning!

Suddenly we turn off driving down the river bank onto the shore.  This is truly a beautiful place.  Hippos dot the waters surface, birds of all colors and species flock the rivers edge,  Water Buffalo roam in the distance.  I can't think of a better way to spend the day.  I feel so relaxed, this is my happy place... surround by Africa and it's beautiful wildlife!

We pass a Hippo standing at the waters edge, it simply looks at us and goes about it's business.

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"I'm not alone I have friends!"

Driving along the ivory sandy shore we have to stop suddenly as a herd of Elephants make their way out of the bushes and cross to the waters edge right in front of us.  They are so close we can see every detail. 

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Saw them before we heard them!
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Generations cross before us!

Ears flapping, trunks swaying, their large feet make no sound as they stride right past us, there is at least 4 generations in this little group and the smallest is  so adorable sticking close to Mum. 

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That face, those ears!
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Off to cool down!

They give us a quick glance before and continue on.

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Family fun time!

They head straight for the water.  Pride turns the truck so we can watch them bathe, the splashing and spraying can be heard from the truck. 

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What a sight!
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They look happy!

I notice that one of them is missing a tail, poor little one, it's just a juvenile still growing.  I ask Pride what could have happened, he thinks maybe  a Croc or a Lion.  But it doesn't seem to worry her, but sadly it's a fact of life in the wild.

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Poor Baby!
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Happy Family!
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Simply wonderful!

These beautiful creatures need to fill up on as much water as they can.  The family will walk long distances during the day in search of food.  Lead by the eldest female who follows the paths that her mother, grandmother walked before her.  What amazingly intelligent creatures they are.

These beautiful creatures need to fill up on as much water as they can.  The family will walk long distances during the day in search of food.  Lead by the eldest female who follows the paths that her mother, grandmother walked before her.  What amazingly intelligent creatures they are.

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Wow!
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Family Portrait!

I love watching the little ones, they just haven't quite got the hang of using their trunks yet.  They copy their Mums learning on the go, and it's so adorable.

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Do what Mum does!

It is difficult to take your eyes off this herd as they enjoy their swim.  They look so happy, and I swear sometimes it actually looks like they are smiling.

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That look of contentment!
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Watching us watching them!

They make their way out of the water, there is a large mud puddle right beside the truck and to my surprise they come straight to it.  

They are so close to us that when they splash themselves I can feel the droplets of mud on my arms as I film, Elephant mud it's great for the skin, I hope!

Ripples of laughter fill the truck as the little ones throw themselves down and uncontrollably roll around.  They look so awkward and uncoordinated.   You can tell by the look on their faces that they are having fun, legs and trunks waving chaotically in the air!

It is sights like these is why I came back, you can't buy memories like this, so beautiful they make my heart and soul happy.

It's not just for fun they cover themselves to protect their skin from the sun, like our version of sunscreen!  But it sure is fun to watch!

Slowly one by one they make their way back into the bush.  Crossing in front of the truck as they disappear. 

One of the younger ones lingers and watches us with curiosity, I wonder what she is thinking as turns and looks at us, stepping around rocks waving her trunk.  She follows the others and makes her way into the trees.  I know I say this a lot, but, Africa I love you! 

We are about to turn off onto a track when we spot a sad sight, an Elephant has died and perched on the carcass is a Vulture, this is the first time I  have actually got to see one up so close.  They are not handsome in anyway, but kind of fascinating.  

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Those haunting eyes!

Some how I thought they would be bigger.  But those talons and that hook on it's beak looks deadly.  The shape and the darkness of those eyes gives it an evil look, but hey they have their place in nature as the wildlife cleaners!

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That beak can rip things to shreds!

When you look closer, there is a large Nile Crocodile, staking it's claim to the prize.  It's head resting on a leg. 

At first it is sleeping but when a Marabou Stalk gets to close it opens it's eyes which is enough of a warning to sending it scattering, and I don't blame it that look is creepy enough to send anyone running! 

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They are so creepy looking!

It seems such gruesome sight, but without these scavengers cleaning up rot and disease would spread.

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Those evil beady eyes!

I ask pride what caused the death of this lovely creature, he tells us that the numbers of Elephants in the area is high and that can cause disease to spread, it seems that this poor Elephant succumbed to a type of anthrax only found in Elephant populations.  Poor thing!  

Pride starts the engine and we make our way in land.  We stop for a cold drink, oh and the 'Bush Toilet'!  We are standing around chatting when an Elephant saunters past in the distance and the conversation stops abruptly as we watch it disappear.

We are off again and heading through the bush.  Baboons and impala are everywhere, catching shade from the hot mid morning sun.   They simply look at us as we drive by without a care in the world.

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Sweet girl!
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Baboon Family!

The baby Baboons look so quirky with big ears and skinny limbs. The Mum just looks at the truck, not bothered at all.  They just much away.

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"Hey there funny face!"
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Mum!

As we make our way out of the cool bush the landscape becomes dry and sandy, with only thorny scrub showing signs of life.  

Suddenly as out of nowhere the largest herd of Elephants I have ever seen makes their towards the river. 

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She leads they follow!
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They are amazing to watch!
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Aww the little ones!

They cross in front of us.   This is unbelievable!

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Don't be shy!
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There's more!

They are lead by a large female, she stops and looks right at us, as though she is checking that it is safe to pass. 

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What are you thinking!

She is stunning!  When you look her in the eye you get a sense of the wisdom behind the stare.   What is she thinking when she looks at us, small humans gaping in awe!

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Cautiously Curious!
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Those eyes, those lashes!

Then slowly more make their way across the open sandy track.   Generation after generation!

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What a beautiful girl you are!

There are more in the distance wandering thru the scrub.

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Oh Wow!

What amazes me is how quiet they are, you can't hear their footsteps at all, the only sound is the breaking of fallen branch or the rustling of the bushes as some of them brush past.

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What a pair of beautiful ladies
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Double Trouble!

We are watching these silent giants when the stillness of the landscape is broken with the distant sound of that famous Elephant bellow, it makes me gasp in awe!

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You are amazing!
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Aww don't be shy!

Once most of them have crossed the road, some them huddle under the shade of a tree. 

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Nothing gets in their way!

They form a protective circle around the smallest of the herd.  It flops down and rests snuggled safely between the adults legs.  Every adult in the herd does what they can to protect and even parent the little ones, just like a family.  How amazing and intelligent these creatures are. 

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Safe and Sound!

The drive takes up into the hills, and we are given another spectacular view of the river and the open plains of the reserve below. 

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Let's go down there!

The drive takes us down and the trees start to thicken and the sandy earth turns a copper color. 

We have to stop again to let yet more Elephants cross the road.  A Mum and a little one are heading out back into the bush for the afternoon.

Aww it's little legs are working overtime to keep up, it's so adorable!

Then just a little further along we see a group of Elephants huddled around a single tree, it is quite the sight all them squashed together.  I ask Pride if it is a way to protect each other, but no, they are just trying to get some shade.  Why didn't they find a bigger tree!

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Sticking together

Just when I think we won't see anymore Elephants, and not even 10 minutes along the bumpy sandy road we are forced to stop again.  

Another herd is making it's way across the road!  They are everywhere!  Crossing in front of us and behind us, disappearing into the trees as they make their way to river.  

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Keep up little one!

They are moving at quite the pace.  They don't bother to stop and look at us.  They can smell the water ahead.  

When said we would see more Elephants I thought ok... but this many!  Surely we have seen every Elephant in the reserve this morning!

But no I was wrong!  As the trees thicken we come across more resting in the shade.  Some have formed tight groups in circles under tree canopies, others are wandering around the among the bushes. 

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Chillaxing!
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She looks happy, doesn't she!

Their large ears flapping to keep them cool.  Babies nudging at Mums legs.  They look so content, even happy!  This day just can't get better, can it?

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Simply Spectacular!

We start to make our way back to the gate, Baboons screech out warnings as we drive by.  A handsome Fish Eagle perches in shady branches watching for the slightest movement as he hunts.

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African Fish Eagle!

I have missed this!

Impala scamper or stare as we head up out of the bushy hills, as we reach the top we are given another fantastic view of the river and reserve below.  Elephants have gathered in groups on the shoreline, what a perfect sight to end the morning!

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Now that's a view!
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Wow!

The landscape becomes thick with trees and we get an 'African Massage' as we make our way to the gate.  beautiful birds flutter about the truck.  

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Lilac Breasted Roller!

During the drive out of the park I can't stop smiling it has been a wonderful morning/  African Painted Dogs, Elephant galore, what else is store.

The drive takes us back along the road we came in on.  There are small buildings at the entries to the reserve, Anti Poaching Units,  how sad that they are needed.

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Sadly Needed!

The African Painted Dogs have moved on from their shady spot on the road side.

We drive into Kanse and pull into a hotel complex on the river shore for lunch.  What a lunch view it is.  The restaurant is right on the river and a wonderful buffet lunch is unbelievable!  Five courses from soup to salad, roast to desert!  

We sit at a table by the pool and get to know each other, we have been so enthralled by the mornings game drive we actually haven't  had a chance to really get to know each other.  I am spending the day with a young couple from Rome, a couple from Houston, and the Chinese couple that are in the truck with us have disappeared, they have joined a large table of their own fellow country men.

We chat over a delicious lunch and even more delicious iced tea. 

I am disappointed to see typical rich Europeans lounging by the pool clicking their fingers at the staff for service (that really annoys me as someone who has worked in hospitality it is so insulting) why would you waste the day by the pool when Africa's wonderful wildlife is out there!   Maybe it is just me but I would rather be out there exploring than working on my tan.

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The Resort!

Pride rounds us up and directs us to the resort jetty, and introduces us to our boat captain TK.  We pile onto his boat and I find a spot by the railing and settle in camera at the ready!  

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The Chobe River, off we go!

Slowly we make our way along the winding river into the heart of the reserve.  Holiday homes and small resorts dot the entrance, yeap I could live here!

Impala and water buffalo graze on the large grassy island in the middle of the river.   Huge Nile Crocs sun themselves on the muddy bank.  Their olive and black checkered bodies not moving an inch.  They are creepy!

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Stay right where you are!

Suddenly there is a splash of water as two of them jostle, all beady eyes and teeth, they are huge and they still are full sized yet!

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That's close enough!

What a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.  We watch Water Buffalo swim from one island to another.  There are large herds of them enjoying the fresh green grass.  Water birds wander around these huge beasts hanging out together as if they are friends.

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Unusual Friends!

This place is amazingly full of wildlife.   Hippos lounge on the waters edge using the grassy bank as pillow, opening their eyes to sneak a peak at the intruders. 

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Lounging Hippo!
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"Hmm Humans!"

While  others suddenly appear as the emerge to surface and watch us float by the only movement is a flicker of an ear.  I love the way they sound, like a grunting laugh, it always makes me smile.

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"I'm watching you!"
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"Oh just more tourists!"

We glide close to the bank of the river and come eye to eye with Water Buffalo, simply stop eating look up snort and go back to eating.  They are actually kinda sweet looking in their own weird way. 

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Weirdly Cute Looking!

I love their funny floppy ears and sad eyes, but those deadly horns are the reason why they are part of the big five (Big five are Africa's top five deadliest animals). Unfazed by the boat they simply ignore us.

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Those Deadly Horns!

The further into the reserve we go the more dense the population of wildlife.  Hippos are everywhere, you don't realize how huge they are until you see them standing out of the water up close.  I saw them last year on land but from a distance.  They are huge seriously you wouldn't want to get between them and the water.  No wonder they are Africa's number one killer!  They will knock us over like we were nothing.

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Stay out of their way!

Herds of Waterbuck roam on the grassy island.  I haven't seen so many in one herd before.  I love their fuzzy brown coats and the white markings. 

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What a cute couple!
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Wonderful!
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Lovely ladies!

They look like they have white eye make up on and that white circle on their behinds. Because of this white ring   the Afrikaans name for Waterbuck is “kringgat” which translates as “circle bottom”. 

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Handsome Boy!
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Pretty!
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That famous circle!

As the afternoon cools down herds of Elephant have made their way to the rivers edge.  They have come out of their resting places amongst the trees to enjoy an afternoon cool down.  There are so many, too many to count.  

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What a delight!
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Afternoon Refreshments!
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The whole family is here!

TK tells us that the numbers of Elephant here have grown too large and there is talk of how to thin the herd, this makes me so angry and sad, he must have seen the look of shock on my face when he tells us they are thinking of letting hunting resume in the park, and I am not alone in my pretests.  He continues by saying that seven villagers were killed by Elephants this year, but they wont attack unless provoked, so what did those villagers do to the Elephant to make it attack, after all this is their land too!  I really hope that hunting is not the solution as it makes my blood boil with anger to think a human finds joy in taking the life of any creature.

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Afternoon Catch Up!
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What do you call a group of Elephant Bums?

I try to push this information to the back of mind, and instead enjoy watching these beautiful creatures as they innocently go about enjoying their afternoon.

The boat pulls closer to the shore and Hippos have joined Water Buffalo and come out of the water in the coolness of the afternoon to feed. 

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Hungry Hippos!
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Wading Buffalo!

More herds of Elephants have  come down to the waters edge, and kick up dust as they silently wander to the waters edge.  All other animals move out of their way, they truly are the majestic rulers here!  Watching them makes my heart melt with joy.

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So Majestic!
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They are Magnificent!

As we get closer to the river bank we see Giraffes for the first time  today.  They are slowly making their way to the water. 

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Hey there gorgeous!

Every so often they stop to feed on the shoots of fresh grass.  Spreading their lanky front legs to stretch downwards.  It makes them look so awkward! 

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Looks a little awkward!
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Giraffe yoga!

As the boat turns around I get a better view of the park, I was so engrossed watching the Giraffes and Elephants that I nearly missed the Hippo that is sleeping right beside the boat. 

It's only when he snorts at us for disturbing his peaceful rest that I see him large as life wallowing in water.

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What big fella!

There is just so much to see, it is hard to know where to point the camera.

We slowly make our way back to the resort, it is so peaceful watching this wonderful scenery go by.  The sights and sounds of this continent are truly beautiful.

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Joy Riding African Style!

We slowly make our way back to the resort, it is so peaceful watching this wonderful scenery go by.  The sights and sounds of this continent are truly beautiful.

There are so many Crocs in this river, some are showing off there large teeth.  Some are barely visible in the water with only the ridges on their backs giving away their presence.

Sadly the resort jetty comes into view and we are met by a new driver who is taking us back to Zimbabwe.

Once again the border crossing is easy as we stamp out of Botswana and becomes chaos on the Zimbabwe side as we get  another stamp into Zimbabwe. They open another window for us as there is double the amount of trucks trying to cross this evening.  Truck drivers try to push in in front of us but we stick up for ourselves and our driver soon puts them in their place.  The customs officer is actually quite abrupt to the point of being mean, he asks how long I will be in Zimbabwe for and I think "For F..k sake I don't know I may do another safari" but instead I smile and politely say 3 or 4 days and he slams down a the stamp a lot louder than it should have been, causing our guide to give a glare!

Once I am dropped off in town I head back to camp and pass Victor our guide from last year, he seems surprised to see me and is shocked when I answer yes to Are you joining the trip?"  I told you I would be back!

I have a quiet dinner at 'In Da Belly' of warthog schnitzel (Hmmm we didn't see them today!) by the pool and the African dance troop is back tonight.

It's been a long wonderful day so I head to bed.  I am up early tomorrow for the next adventure.

NOVEMBER 2ND 2018, DAY 1

I woke up just after midnight  and as I open the door to head off to the toilet, I hear a voice in the dark "Hi are you Tracy? in my sleepy state I must have answered and he informs me that I being picked up at 6am not 6.30 am,  jezz I nearly had a freakin heart attack, a note under the door would have been better for my nerves!

I try to go back to sleep for a bit but wake up again really early and read for a bit before I meet my driver.  I am really excited today is the official start to the tour and I am going to a private reserve this morning that protects Rhinos.

A quick coffee and my driver is here on time.  And it looks like it is just me for the whole morning, at first this made me a little nervous, but hey I go with the flow he seems chilled and I get the truck to myself.

The drive to Livingstone National Park doesn't take long and even at this hour of the morning the traffic is flowing.  

It rain a little this morning and there is a damp chill to the air.

With no border crossing as a quick sign in at the gate we out into the reserve.

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My Ride!

The soft sandy landscape is part of the Kalahari Desert, and is a burnt orange color. Most of the trees are dry and brittle then in stark contrast there are lush green African Acica trees in bloom.

My driver John spots Rhino fresh Rhino footprints on the track, yeap a good sign!   We make our way down into a small valley and the trees have become fuller and greener.  The grass is long and still dry but new green shoots are begining to appear, vegetation grows quickly in Africa, making the most of rains when they come.

Then right there on the side of the track is a lone Zebra and she is heavily pregnant.  What a beautiful girl she is!

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Beautiful Mother To Be!

She doesn't run, simply stares at us.  Her full round belly is so prominent, she shakes her head and ears flop about.  Being in such a secure reserve she has become used the 4x4s and the tourists that stop and gawk at her.  What a lovely sight, the next generation.  I ask John if there are any predators in the reserve,  and he says occasionally Lions and Hyenas will come thru. 

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Hello there Mama!
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Eating for two!

We watch her for a while and then John starts the truck and we move on...  Stay safe Mama! 

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Let's leave her in peace!

The morning is is still a little grey as we wind down the hills.  John suddenly stops and for the life of me I can't see what he is looking at.  He points to a tree and says "Go Away Bird" it takes me a minute but I finally find it, it looks similar to the Galahs at home but without the pink markings.  They get their name from the noise they make, it sounds like they are saying 'Go away' and they actually warn animals of predators when they are in the area.

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'Go Away Bird'

Up on the horizon we spot a Rhino in the distance.  So we head up out of the valley and the landscape opens up, and there on the hill top is a small family of three Black Rhino, a Mum and a wee baby boy, the third is the older sister.

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A wonderful little family!

What a sight, he is all of 3 months old!  Sticking close to Mum he follows her wherever she goes.  Her daughter keeps her distance, at 3 years she is still too young to head out on her own, but Mums attention is keeping the baby safe and fed, the little one is still nursing and like all babies requires around the clock care. 

So big sister stays close until she is about 5 years old, learning all she can for the next few years before she makes her way in the world hopefully starting a family of her own.

He is so cute and chubby, his little ears twisting as he investigates the surroundings with mum.  His short stubby legs sometimes having trouble keeping up.  What a fantastic morning.  You have smile at this wonderful scene, he is the future of these wonderful creatures.

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You little cutie!

While Mum and little one keep their distance from the truck, big sister is a little more curious.  We slowly follow them and when they stop we watch the dynamics of this wonderful little family.

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Is she laughing at us?
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Big sister stays close!

Big sister come closer to the truck to check us out.  She is beautiful just like her mother. She turns away before getting too close and we follow her along the road for a bit.

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Happy Gir!
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You are so beautiful!

Mums horn has been trimmed for her protection but her daughters is quite spectacular, sadly this her in danger of poachers.

We watch them walk around the truck, the little ones bum wiggles has he waddles, his little tail wagging excitedly.

Big sister hangs behind keeping far enough away from her little brother to have space to play, but every so often she watches him and mum, you can see the family bonds are are strong.  Rhinos are very emotional creatures they feel thongs deeply like we do, babies that have lost their mothers have been known to die heart broken from the loss of the maternal bond.  Maybe it is me, but it seems that they show their joy with facial expressions just like us!

The little one comes up to the truck and checks us out curiously, they are right beside me, so close I could reach out and touch them.  He sniffs the wheel while mum stands protectively by.  He waddles away tail wagging mum stops right beside and looks straight at me... I am holding my breath the camera shakes in my hand as I try not move, not thru fear but with awe... she is magnificent!  

She lowers head slightly and slowly follows her baby heading into the bushes. Finally I exhale!

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What an amazing experience!

The truck engine starts but we  can't go very far as big sister is blocking the road, she is in no hurry casually wandering along in front of, she can block the road for as long as she wants!  

WOW what a morning, last year I got to walk with White Rhino and met an adorable little baby, this year Black Rhino and there are definitely differences, not just in the shape of their mouths but in size, the Black Rhino seem a little smaller.

I feel so blessed to be able to meet these beautiful creatures in the wild, and am thankful that there are people out there who dedicate their time, and in some cases risk their lives to protect them for future generations.

Big sister slowly makes her way off the track and heads off following her family.

 

We drive down into a narrow valley and follow a river, the water level is still very low and Egrets and Impala gather on the dry muddy shoreline.  We pass a lone Warthog that stops and stares at us as still as statue.  These weird looking things always make me giggle.  He shakes his head before dashing off into the scrub.

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Hey there funny face!

We suddenly pull onto the side of the track and John unpacks a flask, and sets up morning coffee on the hood of the truck.  Instead of milk he uses Amarula  Cream.  I joke that it is a bit early in the morning, but it tastes fantastic.

As we make our to our breakfast spot we pass a male Nyala stretching up into the trees to eat. this is the first time I have seen one they are huge, it looks like someone poured white paint on it's back and it has dribble down it's side.  They have these cute little fluffy tails.  I wish it would come out of the tree so I can get a better view of those twisting horns.  But he is too intent on breakfast so we continue on.

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Male Nyala

We arrive at our breakfast spot.  It is a little open open restaurant over looking a river.  I actually wasn't expecting this, I thought it was just a game drive.  Impala shade themselves under a large tree and a lone Zebra watches us without a care in the world.  

Breakfast is a 2 course meal  of fresh fruit and a full English breakfast served by this wonderful women.   The two of them are chatty and funny.  We talk about the animals and how life has changed in Zimbabwe since Robert Mugabe was stood down.  People now aren't as reluctant to talk about him now as they once were, or maybe they feel safe in the middle of bush that no one is listening.

After a wonderful breakfast we head back out into the park, we are slowly making our way back to the main gate when we stop suddenly.  A Leopard Tortoise (one of the small five) is making it's way across the track.

We get out of the truck to take a closer look, and you can see where it gets the name.  The markings on it's shell are beautiful.  He explains that you can tell the age of a Tortoise by the number of rings on it's shell.

We help him along his way by putting in the undergrowth taking care to keep him going in the same direction we found him in.  Slowly he makes his way safely into the bush.

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Leopard Tortoise

As we drive we talk about he Rhino numbers here in the park.  In 1996 when they were first introduced into the park there was only 2 breeding pairs now there are 18 including our little one.

Poaching is still an issue and in Zimbabwe they have a shoot to kill policy... good!

There are no Elephant in the reserve because they are in direct competition with the Rhino for food and since it is quite a small park it is dedicated to conservation of Black Rhino.

It was once a hunting park, but the founder of the reserve who bought the park saw the importance of protecting the animals and turned it into a sanctuary reserve.

The landscape is amazing and the morning sun makes the contrasting colors of the sand and dry bush seem more vivid.

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The road ahead!

With the game drive coming to an end we finally see a Giraffe wandering on a distant hillside.

By the time we reach the gat the day has become hot and bright.  Sadly we reach the main road and by the time I am dropped off at camp I have had and extra hour and a half of game drive, it kinda makes up for forgetting to pick me up on the first day.

I pack up my rucksack and take it over to the Intrepid truck and Victor is there, he is still shocked that I am back and just laughs when I remind him that I promised I would be.  We chat for a while and since there is an odd number of females on the tour he has given me my own tent for the trip.  He introduces me to Bon our driver and Emmanuel our cook for the trip.

Once I hand in my key I spend the rest of the afternoon by the pool, and head back to the tent in tome for our trip meet at 4pm.

We introduce ourselves and it seems like a great mix of nationalities, ages and personalities.  I will remember all there names at some stage I am sure.

After the meeting some of us head into town for dinner at the Shearwater cafe, I spent a lot of time at this place on the last days of the tour last year... free Wifi!  It hasn't changed at all, except for the singer who is bad!... really bad!  There are 4 little local boys dancing and they are very cute, someone buys them a coke each and we are mortified when they open the bottles with their teeth and they just give us big smiles.

After dinner some go to the bar, but I am still jet lagged and have a few early mornings so I head off to my tent, tomorrow the tour begins!

Posted by Tracy87 02:00 Archived in Zimbabwe Comments (0)

THE TOUR BEGINS & THE REURN TO AN AMAZING PLACE!

Zimbabwe to Botswana

sunny
View SOUTHERN AFRICA 2018 on Tracy87's travel map.

NOVEMBER 3RD, DAY 2

We have our first breakfast together as a group before we head off to Vic Falls.  Everyone is chatting excitedly as we pile into the truck.  It is going to be another hot day.

We drive thru town to the Falls and Victor organizes our entrance.  I know I was here last year and could have opted to do something else, but they are spectacular and well... it's free, included in the trip.

I decide to walk thru by myself, it's nice to be in own company for awhile since I will spending the next 20 odd days with a group of people!

The Falls seem fuller this year the mist is higher, but due to slight cloud cover there are none of those famous rainbows. 

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Back Again!

I follow the path and it is quite refreshing to feel the spray on your face in this heat.  There are tourists everywhere and it's difficult to get some time alone.  But you can't beat the view.  They must be fuller than last year because they are definitely louder.

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They are spectacular!
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Sadly no rainbow!
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Misty!

I chuckle to myself at the typical tourists with their plastic $2 rain coats, like a bit of water ever hurt anyone, wouldn't want to spoil those 'Safari are us' outfits!  Anyone would think they will dissolve.

Although there is definitely more spray than last year. 

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That way!

It is a nice way to spend the day, but since I have been here before I don't go to the very end of the track but instead enjoy the sound of the rushing waters and the beautiful view, it is definitely fuller than last year.  The sound is deafening, now I understand why the original name is "Smoke That Thunders" the name is fitting!  

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Smoke That Thunders!

The little rainforest that line the falls is a nice peaceful walk, a bright red bird with a long gorgeous flowing tail longer than my arm swoops past my head, I try to find where it landed but no luck.  

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Wet in here!

I walk to half way, last time I was here it was practically dry, this year it is flowing.  I don't understand how people can sit in the devils pool.  I watch them so close to the edge and it freaks me out, with all that water flowing you wouldn't catch me doing that that knowing my luck  I would get washed out over the edge!  It is a different Falls when the water is tumbling so ferociously!

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It was dry the last time I was here!

Making my way back thru the little rain forest, pretty little birds flutter about but no sign of my beautiful red long tailed bird.  How do bird watchers have the patience to photograph these little buggers, "will you stay still for just a minute... jezz!"

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These guys are everywhere!
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Looks like a little punk rocker!

I meet up with some of the group at the café and we sit for a while before heading back into town.  OMG right there on side of the main road is a group of Elephants, 3 of them just chilling on the side of the road!  WHAT! I knew they came into town occasionally but hey thought I would never see it!

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Right here on the edge of town!

We visit the curio market it is huge and there is a lot to look at.  I love the women's market and buy some things for my niece.  The women are lovely and leave us to browse without crowding us, unlike the hawkers on the street that try to sell you Zimbabwe notes (they aren't worth much these days, everything here is in US dollars) they let's just say are overly persistent. The main market is open air and hot, the men aren't as polite as the women and get a little too pushy for my liking.  I don't really see anything that catches my fancy so I sit and wait for the others.  

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A spot of shopping!

By the time we get back to camp I can't be bothered going to the tent and changing into my swimmers, so I plonk myself down in the bar and and watch a rugby game that's on.

After the game we head back to the Shearwater café for dinner, thank goodness that singer isn't on again.

Walking back to camp we are once again confronted by the street hawkers, maybe I am tired or maybe they just don't seem to take no for an answer but I give them a stern "No, thank you that surprises even me and walk off.

We sit in the bar for bit before heading off to bed, I was looking forward to good nights sleep but another tour group has set up next to them and their constant chatter is keeping everyone awake, don't they realize tents aren't sound proof!  

Even when some of us shout at them to 'shut up' they don't stop.... oh it's going to be along night!

NOVEMBER 4TH 2018, DAY 3

After a terrible nights sleep, no thanks to our noisy neighbors we meet for breakfast and Victor gives us the run down for the day.  Tents down and everything packed away, the missing 2 from the group arrive.  Once everything is packed into the truck (it still amazes me how everything fits into one vehicle) we finally hit the road!

It is back to Botswana and the same border crossing as yesterday.  And once again we spot Elephants on the side of the road, which causes excitement thru the truck, spotting your first Elephant in the wild is truly an unforgettable experience.

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They're Back!

The border crossing is just as hectic as it was yesterday, trucks everywhere.  Everything goes smoothly the queue at arrivals into Botswana is quite long but we get thru quite quickly.  We have to wait a bit for the truck to be cleared and then it is a short drive to Kansane where we are staying for the next few days.   We stop for some shopping and to the money exchange.  This little bank is quite crowded and it takes awhile but hey this is Africa!  

Coffee in hand I wander around the shops.  

Botswana has very good infrastructure.  The government  puts great effort in to building up community services, hospitals and doctors visits are free, as is education.  If students get good marks at the end of high school the government pays for students to go to university, they can go to any university in the world as long as they promise to come back to Botswana.

What a great way to build up a nation with a professional work force.  Botswana may be a small country but in some ways we could learn a thing or two from their example!

We are rounded up and take a short drive to the Chobe Safari Lodge (where we stopped for lunch yesterday) and after setting up our tents and preparing lunch we head to the lodge and sign in for an afternoon safari!

Warthogs wander thru the grounds, the baby warthogs are quirky and scatter for Mums protection as we walk by.  

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Warthog Babies!

All signed up and there's time for a cold drink at the bar.  If it wasn't for the screeching coming from the swimming pool it would be a peaceful way to while a way the afternoon,  watching the local fisherman paddle their way up and down the river.

We make our way to the entrance where our trucks are waiting and we are split into 3 groups.  The drive to the park entrance takes about 45 minutes, and there is no sign of the pack of Painted Wild Dogs.  At the entrance we wait to sign in everyone is getting excited as our driver finally sets off.  We drive on a tar sealed road before taking a sudden turn into the dry thick bush.  As we make our way down into the valley the view of the river opens up before us glistening in the afternoon sun.

Further into the valley and out of the trees, the dry copper grass is as high as the truck door and we have to stop to let a large herd of Elephants cross in front of us as they make their way back from the river into the bush.  This is truly their domain, the large numbers dominate the landscape, their spongy feet stepping soundlessly as they swagger past.

I just can't get enough of these amazing creatures.  Some of them look directly at us as they cross the road in front and behind the truck disappearing into the dry bush, it is hard to know where to look.   The group is in awe whispers of amazement fill the truck.

Slowly the last of them saunters off disappearing as silently as they appeared and our driver starts the truck.  We wind our way down towards the rivers edge and stop on an opening over looking the river.  A small herd of Impala are eating fruit from a large tree, the warning screeches of Baboons echo from tree to tree as we stop.

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Friendly Relations!
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Get by with a little hel from your friends!
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Even the boys are pretty!

At closer look there are Baboons everywhere, the troop is filled with families and the mothers cling tightly to their little ones.  the pretty Impala are not bothered by our presence, they simply look at us and continue to eat.  The Baboons are throwing the fruit from the tree and it drops with a thud to the ground.  Little blue Guinea Fowl run around excitedly pecking up the seeds left behind.

It is a fantastic symbiotic relationship between species each living in unison for the benefit all.

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Double Trouble!
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Taking a peak when Mums not looking!
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Mums protection!

We depart from our odd little family tree and make our way along a bumpy track, there's that African massage again!  

A lone Elephant stands as still as a statue in a glassy clearing, he seems to have such a sad lonely expression as he ignores us completely.  I feel sorry for him surrounded by family but all alone, maybe I am reading it all wrong and out there in the bush unseen by human eyes he is surround and is just feeling the heat of the afternoon as we all are.

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Hope your not lonely!

Further along a small herd of Kudu stare at us with trepidation as we stop.  Their comical big ears twist in the breeze listening for sounds of danger.  I love the mohawke of spikey hair on their backs, like the dye has run down their bodies leaving  blonde streaks.
Birds flitter from Kudu to Kudu picking the ticks from their backs giving the Kudu relief from ticks and pests, a perfect friendship!
The males twisted horns are smooth as shiny granite stone.  They seems so bulky and awkward but they are one of my favorites, the punk rockers of the Antelope world!

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How well they blend in!
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Those Ears!
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It's good to be tall!
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Every lady needs a personal grooming crew!
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Love the beauty spots!
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The proud male of the herd!
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Handsome fellow!

Finally we make our way to the river bank, a family of Warthog ignore us, too busy rolling around in the mud grunting with delight.  This really is an amazing place, if you want to see the weird, the beautiful and the spectacular of the animal kingdom this is the place to it.

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"Oh Yeah that's the spot!"

Elephants are out in their multitudes, having come to the river to cool down in the afternoon sun.  

A large female watches us cautiously, even walking beside our 4x4 following us, checking us out!   

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Afternoon Swim!
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Afternoon Swim!
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What a place this is!
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"What you looking at?"
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Gossip at the waters edge!

Watching them is so delightful their huge bulky bodies so clumsy,  the little ones have no control of their limbs and it is hysterical to watch them trip and clamber about.  I could watch this all day everyday! 

Walking past our happy herd is a lone Sable, head down looking very forlorn, his magnificent horns curve over his spikey black back.  Hos haunting black and white face is hanging low and his bottom lip has been torn to a hanging shred, the poor thing.  Our driver thinks it may have been a Croc attack when he was trying to drink.  This is the first time I have ever seen one and my heart goes out to him.

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Our poor injured Sable!

Slowly the Elephants stumble out of their mud bath and wander up the river bank.  They are so close to the truck I can see every crease in their skin.   It still amazes me how quiet they are, these larger than life creatures. 

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Heading back to the bush, dinner awaits!

Ears flap and trunks sway as they briskly dash into the bush, one young male actually stops and looks at us his ears flare our wide before he ducks out of sight into the bush.

We leave the river bank and follow the river until the scraggly bush opens up to a rolling grassy plain the color of copper and brass. I didn't see this part of the reserve  on my first visit and the plain opens up as far as the eye can see.  The track leads us to a single large tree standing proudly as the only source of shade in the open wilderness.  A lone Jackal is walking parallel  to the truck, it stops and turns looking back every so often it's ears twitching listening for danger, a rustle of prey or both. 

This is the closest I have seen one of these little Black Backed Jackals, there is something about these little things that I just love.  The beautiful spots that decorate their back or the permanent curios look they have on their faces, but I get the feeling that as scavengers they highly under rated.

We look in the direction he is scanning and there on the horizon barely visible in the tall grass is a pack of African Painted Dogs.

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I love the little Black Backed Jackal!

We drive closer, some of the older ones are lounging in the sun some of the younger ones are playing boisterously, fighting over the remains of an Impala kill.  Their big bushy tails swinging with excitement, and those ears so large that sometimes they are all you can see in the long grass.  Their colorful patterns are individual to each Dog, watching them in fascination it looks like they are smiling as they play and nuzzle each other, what a family and to see them twice...

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A Stunning Sight!
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Trying to blend in!
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Simply unbelievable!
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Simply unbelievable!
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Always alert even when resting!

We get as close as we can, these energetic Dogs never stop moving.  We can hear their little yelps from the truck.  Watching them is so mesmerizing.  The pack is lead by an Alpha pair and the female is the true pack leader, her daughters will one day head out to start a pack of her own.  But they hunt together as one, running after prey like they are running a relay race when one tires the next one picks up the pace until they catch their target, enabling the cover vast distances, the long distance runners of the animal kingdom.

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Gorgeous!
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Trying to relax!
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Those ears!
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Mesmerizing!
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Back to action!

Suddenly something in the distance has the attention of the adults and they stand to attention noses pointing to the horizon and one by one they head out, the younger ones at first are oblivious to what is going on their focus is still on the Impala remains.  One of them is dragging it away triumphantly from the rest of the young gang whose attention is now on the the rest of the pack as they sense something more exciting is happening.

One by one they take off following the pack leaders and as they disappear our driver starts the truck and as we watch them fade into the horizon we slowly back to the river bank.

The lone little Jackal is closer to truck he has been circling the pack of Painted Dogs hoping to get a  morsel of left overs but was chased away by the boisterous pack.

His head is down sniffing the ground, paying us no attention, his focus is elsewhere.  In the distance a second one is making it's way down a rocky slope, so my little friend is not alone they have a mate.

It is darker than the one I saw in Nakuru NP, Kenya.  It's two black racing stripes running prominently down each side of his back, it's golden tan fur ending with a multicolored bushy tail.

After stopping to sniff around head it trots out in the direction of it's mate and soon disappears into the landscape.   

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There's just something about them...!
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...that makes me smile!
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...that makes me smile!

As we wind past the river we pass another herd of Elephant coming out of the water and making their way back into the bush in the cool of the on coming evening.  Their large feet kicking up dust as the saunter majestically up the river bank.

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You can never see too many Elephant!

We leave the river behind and make our into the flat sparse sandy landscape.  Clumps of thorny bushes the only vegetation.  Weird spotted birds with red beaks scatter from our path as we slowly make our way along the bumpy track.

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Red Billed Hornbill!

The setting sun gives the sparse landscape a lovely soft orange glow but in this desolate dry part of the reserve I wonder how anything survives out here.

Suddenly we come to a holt and there right beside the truck is a lone male Lion sitting in the shade of a scrub bush.  He is magnificent.  His large gold and black mane rustles in the breeze.  

He turns and looks at us as stare in awe.  Then slowly as if we weren't even there closes his eyes and ignores us completely.

His paws are massive, and his chin looks like it has been dipped in ivory paint.  Every time I see one I am left speechless at their size and power.  They never stop amazing me, all you do is stare in bewilderment and astonishment at this majestic beast, no wonder they are the Kings of Africa.

The sounds of cameras and whispers of awe cause him to open his again he looks straight at us then turns away as if to say "whatever" or maybe "You are lucky I have eaten!" 

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The King of Africa!
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Majestic!
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The size of those paws!
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"Just ignore the humans they are of no consequence!"
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"Argh NO they are still there!"
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"If I ignore them they might go away!"
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"Good they are leaving now I can rest in peace!"

I wonder if he is a lone bachelor or if there is a pride of females hidden out there somewhere  hiding in the undergrowth somewhere.

As we drive away I ask the driver about this and he looks at me as if I have just asked him "what sort of animal is that?" I really didn't think it was a stupid question and his reply was rude and condescending and the others in the truck looked as shocked as I was.  For a while no one speaks including the driver.

As we make our way back into the bush the trees become greener and a small bachelor herd of Kudu stop stare at us, the white stripe across their noses looks like they got sunburnt with their sunglasses on, black twisting horns standing proudly high above their heads.

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Kudu Bachelors!

As we drive out of the bush the river opens up and a pair of Giraffes seem to glow in the early dusk.

They look so awkward as they spread their front legs to bend down and try to nibble at the short tufts of grass.  So gangly I love them and their large brown eyes lined with lashes that we pay good money to adorn.

They stare at us for a bit then stride off towards the river in their nonchalant way.

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Giraffe Yoga!
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Gorgeous things!
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Yeah you know it!
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Surveying the surroundings!

Leaving the river behind we head back to camp the drive is chilly in the evening setting sun and the sky turns a beautiful dusky pink, but it makes the water starved trees look almost haunted as we drive up and out of the park.

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Wish my camera captured the how stunning the colors truly are!

As we reach the the grassy sloping hills at that mark the end of the dirt tracks more Giraffes are out wandering the hillside in the cool air.  Their long necks picking at the tree tops.  There isn't much to choose from until the rains come, but for them height is an advantage.

We watch them for a while but our driver who it seems is forever in a hurry revs the engine as is his way indicating it's time to go, and we make our way out to the entrance of the reserve.

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What a way to end the day!
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Lashes women would die for!
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Goodbye gorgeous!

The evening has a chilly bite as we drive back to camp and everyone is quiet.

Once back at the resort we help prepare dinner then sit around chatting as we eat.  Victor is his usual entering self and is in undated with questions as we get to him and each other.

It starts to get really chilly and it has been a wonderfully long day.  So after a wonderfully hot shower I say goodnight to my travel companions and the 2 little Bushbuck that are hanging out by my tent.

I can't wait for tomorrow...

NOVEMBER 5TH 2018, DAY 4

It's up early this morning for another game drive... YEAH!  At the resort entrance it is a bit chaotic, I talk to Victor about the driver yesterday and the way he spoke to me and I ask if I can join another group, he is fantastic about it and I jump in with a different group.  Soon enough we are on our way.

No sightings along the way but the day has just started.  At the reserve entrance there is a bit of a queue to check in, so we chat getting to know each other, there is a chill to the air but the sun is shining it is going to be another spectacular day.

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The Gang!
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Good god I hate having my photo taken!
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The Layout of the Park
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Departure... Finally!

Finally we turn off the road into the reserve and make our way to the river.  The morning is a little grey and there is a nice chill to the air (it's going to get hot later!)

Giraffes roam the hillsides blending in so well with the landscape that if they we standing still you wouldn't know they were there. 

Birds flitter about in the early morning light.  A fantastic array of colors swoop around the truck, keep still... so I can get a photo!

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Little Bee-Eater, so cute!

We have to stop to let a herd of Kudu cross the track, they are no hurry what s ever, but hey who cares, this is Africa and they have the right of way, better than morning traffic on the way to work.  

The drive thru the skeletal landscape brings us to the river.  I am still in awe at the survival skills of the wildlife, it is so baron the lack of new growth on the trees and how dry it is, nature truly is astounding how it adapts to survive!

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Bring on the rain!

Our drive takes us to the crossing where we saw the African Painted Dogs yesterday, avoiding the shoreline of the river.  The only thing we see on the way is a solo Tawny Bustard taking an early morning strol.

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Bird on a mission!

The morning begins to warm as we wind our around the river., and there they are, right where we left them.  I am so sure there is more of them, the pack seems to have grown in size over night!

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Play time... Learning time!
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Love those wagging tails!
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Boundless energy!
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"Hmmm what's over there!"

The pups and younger ones are boisterous and energetic, they are still playing with remains of last nights Impala kill, there isn't much left but a straggly leg, but it keeps them entertained. 

The older ones lounge in the long grass keeping a vigilant eye on the pack and their surroundings.  Vultures wait patiently in the distance for scraps but I think they maybe out of luck!

Something in the pond catches their attention and suddenly everyone is up and focused on  the rippling water, some of the bolder ones inch closer to the edge, but caution takes over and they turn back, wonder what it is?

You can faintly hear their squeaky yelps from the truck, watching them you can't help but laugh at their antics, tails wagging excitedly, ears twisting and twitching, they are amazing.  

We still cant see what has got them so jittery, a Croc maybe!   But soon they loose interest and it's back to play.

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You can see where they get their name!
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What's going on over there!
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Back to play!
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A quick stop...
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... and they're off again!

They come a little closer to the truck as one of them is so focused on keeping the leftover leg from the others he hasn't noticed how close he has come to us.

They really are fantastic to watch, their limitless energy.  The strong family bond shows thru in their interactions, each one relying on the other for safety, skill development and the healthy future of the pack.  I could stay here all day!

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"It's Mine!"
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"You gonna share, or what?"
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They are amazing to watch!
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What a morning!

The engine starts and there is the sound of disappointment fills the truck our driver just grins and slowly  drives back towards the river.

A lone Jackal sits in the long grass waiting patiently for the Dogs to leave their meager scraps.  His long ears flat against his head, eyes closed, he looks kind of sad.  At the sound of the truck his eyes snap open, he looks at us and turns away as if to say "oh tourists".  This is the closest I have seen one of these little guys, as they are usually quite skittish and always on the move.  They aren't the most popular animal in Africa but I like them!

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Awww, cutie!
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I think your adorable!

We stop in a clearing on the riverbank for morning tea, the drivers have it sorted fresh baked cookies and hot steaming coffee. Thanks guys and big thanks to the wives for their wonderful cookies!

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Morning Tea!

Under a tree a Water Monitor lazes in the sun, I was expecting it to dash off at our presence but it ignores us, simply enjoying the warmth of the morning!

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Catching some rays!

It's a nice spot, fisherman in their Mokoro Canoes make their way along the river, how they feel safe in those things, I mean there's Hippos and Crocs in there, it's not exactly the safest place to work!

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Not the safest place to work!

On a small shady beach a group of Hippos lazy under the trees without a care in the world.  They have the good life,  swimming and sunning themselves all day, no one bothers them and no one judges you for being chunky!

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Lazy Lot!
 
With morning tea over we head back out, this time we drive away from the river thru the sandy dry bush.  We are slowly making our way back the main gate.  

Just when I think we wont see much the 4x4 in front of us stops, causing our little convoy to grind to holt. 

And as if from nowhere a herd of Elephants cross in front of and behind us, it's hard to know where to look they are everywhere!  They are in no hurry as they make their daily migration to the river, even the little ones are keeping up easily.  The dust kicks up around them as they casually stride by, they don't even bother to acknowledge our presence.

This continent is never boring!  

We keep going and find ourselves at the bottom of the of the hill that takes us to the main road.  The driver from yesterday as pulled off the track and  everyone is leaning over the side of the truck.

We pull up next to them to see what the fuss is all about and there in the shade is a male Lion.  He is fast asleep and he is huge!

His handsome mane is ringed in black with the cutest white chin, he looks so peaceful with his tucked in, like a dangerous house cat!

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Handsome Boy!
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It's a hard life being King!

Even though the driver from yesterday has parked his truck directly in front of them, he hasn't noticed the rest of the pride lazing in the trees  up on the hill, how he could have missed them... I tell Victor who gets his attention and points them out, letting him know who it was who saw them, he is not impressed to be shown up by a tourist!

There is another large male, his ,mane is lighter in color, 3 fully grown Lioness, a juvenile Lioness and tucked behind a tree you can just see a little cub, it's face hidden from view. 

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A second handsome boy!
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The Queen!
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Sleepy young Lioness!

They are so beautiful, this little pride, just when you think  Africa cant produce anymore surprises, it proves you wrong!  And I am addicted, with sights like this who wouldn't be!

One of the Lioness watches us, staring straight at us, the male doesn't even bother to open his eyes.  The young female  is so sound asleep she doesn't even stir, simply opens one eye and goes back to sleep.

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The royal family at rest!

Our lone male stirs and sits up, stretching those massive paws out in front of him.  His mane is fuller than the one with the Lioness, our driver thinks he could be the Alpha, as he is bigger making him the older male. 

He doesn't bother to open his eyes, he reminds me of sleeping Sphinx, so relaxed, but so powerful.

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And what a King he is!
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The power in those paws!

Victor indicates that it's time to back to camp and there's those groans of disappointment again!

Once we drive out of the reserve and the shade of the bush, the morning heat hits you like the opening of an oven door.  We don't see much on the way except a pair of gawky Southern Ground Hornbills rustling in the undergrowth.  

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The Sothern Ground Hornbill, a weird looking bird!

When we get back I find a pair Bushbuck by my tent, they make no effort to run away as I approach but look at me before casually sauntering off when I get to close.  I guess they are used to people but still remain weary, which is a good thing!

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Hello neighbors!
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Well aren't you just so sweet!

We all help with lunch and after packing up I head to my tent to grab my bag and I have another visitor, but this one isn't as pretty as the last and this Warthog dashes off quickly with it's antenna tail in the air when it hears me coming.  

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A camp visitor!

The dusty air from the many game drives I have done in the past few days has irritated my eyes, and I can't put it off any longer as they are so damn itchy, so there is nothing for I take a walk into town to find the nearest Pharmacy.  

It's actually a nice walk despite the heat.  Bougainvillea are in full bloom everywhere and the main street is busy with tourists and locals alike wandering along the shops. 

With eye drops in hand, thanks to the help Pharmacist I head back to camp. 

I take some time out to explore the campground and find a great little viewing platform on the rivers edge and enjoy the quiet and the birdlife!

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The View!
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A White Browed Robin Chat!
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An African Darter!

We have the afternoon free so it's to the pool I go, and it feels so refreshing.  I chat with some of the other ladies in the tour group and simply relax.

Victor starts to round us up when it's time for the next activity, a boat cruise on the river, I know I have already done it but hey, let's go!

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Back for another afternoon cruise on the Chobe River!

Not even 5 minutes after we leave the dock, we find a small herd of Elephants on the riverbank, right beside our camp!  OMG hope they are still there when we get back, what cool camp visitors they would be.

There are 2 large females and 2 of the cutest little calves, all ears and swinging trunks.  What a great way to start the afternoon!

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Right by our camp!
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Aww don't hide little one!
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Elephant Bums!

The sky turns a little grey  as we slowly make away along and the first thing we see a group menacing Nile Crocs slithering along the muddy bank.  They are ugly, but I guess they have their place in natures food chain after all they are the rivers garbage collectors!

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Creepy!
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That's close enough thanks!

Water buffalo cross the river in front of our boat, there is now way I'd be getting in that water!   

They are every where along the shore these sleepy looking old men.  It's not to you get up close that you get a real sense of how huge they are, no wonder they are one the big 5 (one of the most dangerous animals in Africa) those horns look deadly!

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Does he look like he's smiling?
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Rolling Buffalo!

Hippos are everywhere, eyeing the boat cautiously, sudden ripples appear on the surface of the water and they announce their presence with a snort and a spray of water.  They lounge in the mud half buried, their skin glistening in the early evening light.  We pull up close to a pair who watch us with dark beady eyes, that seem to small for such large beasts.

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"Don't mess with me!"
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"I'm watching you Humans!"
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"This my friend he's an African Jacana!"

When one of them yawns and you get a good look at the size of those teeth, jezz you really do not want to upset one these guys!

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"This my friend he's an African Jacana!"

Watching the wildlife pass by, with Gin & Tonics in hand the conversation takes a comical turn when se start to give the animals names and make up conversations between, I can see it's going to be a fun trip with girls, Nicol (Germany), Etta (Sweden) and Lynn (Canada) as their sense of humor is as weird as mine!

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"Psss, hey Cyril!" "Yeah Bob!" "I know where you can score some really choice grass!"

Elephants are slowly making their way down to river, Impala, Waterbuck dot the waters edge.  It really is a lovely place.

The boat turns around and we head back to the jetty.  Giraffes have come out of the bush a leisurely stroll thru the bushes stopping occasionally for a nibble.

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"Don't I have the cutest bum!"
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"Did you get my good side?"
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Giraffe Pose!
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"Bored now!"
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"See ya Later!"

A safari group have made there way down to the riverbank and they haven't even seen the Giraffes, and it makes me wonder what did we miss when we were out, how nature blends in with itself!

We arrive back at camp and everyone is chatting excitedly thru dinner.  

We have to organize our gear ready for an early start, tomorrow we leave Chobe and head off the Okavango Delta.

I try to get an early night but the sounds of multiple snorers is keeping me awake!

Posted by Tracy87 00:36 Archived in Botswana Comments (0)

THE OKAVANGO DELTA

Botswana to Namibia and back again!

sunny
View SOUTHERN AFRICA 2018 on Tracy87's travel map.

NOVEMBER 6TH, DAY 5

We pack up our tents before breakfast, I am a little slow getting going this morning, didn't get a lot of sleep.

The morning drive takes us to Kasane.  

We stop to stock up on supplies and help Emmanuel (our Chef) with the food shop.  We have to take everything we need into the Delta as we are camping on an island with no facilities!

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On the road again!

It is a long drive today and I kill time trying to catch up on sleep but as much as I try it doesn't happen.

The border crossing between Botswana and Namibia goes without any issues, in fact it's rather quiet considering it's midday.  We have to wait for the truck to get thru it's checks and so we sit in the shade, of which there isn't much and chat.  We seem to have a really great group everyone is getting along really well, and we are such a diverse bunch of  nationalities.

Finally we are back on the road, and the roads seem long and endless.  Namibia's road infrastructure is well set up and modern.  We pass thru small town and villages, the children wave as we go by with big wide grins.  You can't help but smile back!

We finally arrive at our campground in Bagani.  It is a lovely spot right on the river.  

After setting up our tents, I try to set mine up as far away from the others as possible, to avoid the snorers!

Victor gets cheers when he announces there is no cooking and flapping dishes tonight as we are being treated to a group meal.  

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All set up!

There is time to relax before dinner, so a swim to pass the time. 

The restaurant over looks the river and we are given another of Africas beautiful sunsets before dinner.

This is the first proper sit down meal as a group.  It is a perfect idea as it really gives us a chance to get to know each other.

The food is delicious and the drinks are cheap.  Everyone is relaxed and happy and why wouldn't we be...!

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Another Stunning Sunset!

I take my leave and try to get to sleep before the snoring starts, it has been along hot day in the truck and the night air isn't much cooler, but having my own tent sure is a bonus!

NOVEMBER 7TH, DAY 6

After quite a good nights sleep, it was pretty quiet at my end of the camp!  We are up for yet another early start, we are crossing back into Botswana today (more stamps in the passport!)

After breakfast we head out on the same road we came in to the same border post we went thru yesterday.  We sign out of Namibia and back into Botswana and like yesterday it is pretty quiet and doesn't take long before we are back on the road.

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Another long, hot day driving!

Everything is dry and dusty, and as we drive thru little villages they seem empty except for the occasional local walking in the hot mid morning sun.

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Passing small villages along the way!
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It's just so dry!

We stop a Ferry crossing and the locals are milling about waiting their turn to cross.  The Ferry is quite small and can only fit 2 small trucks or 4 cars on at a time and since our truck is quite large we have to wait our turn as it will take up the whole platform. 

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Ummm, Our truck won't fit on that!

We sit under the trees watching life go by, one of the girls buys this orange type of fruit with a hard skin, the locals call it 'Monkey Brains' and when it is cracked open like a Coconut you can see why. the flesh inside is a muddy brown color which looks like... well rotten brains!  It is very sweet with a sour after taste, ok not a fan!

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Aptly named Monkey Brains Fruit!

It is quite a long wait as the queue to cross is getting longer and they are moving the smaller vehicles first.

Most of the locals are curious, and watch us smiling.  A group of young boys start asking us questions and are excited to chat with us, it's a fun way to pass the time.

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Chatting with the locals!

Finally it's our turn, we watch as Ben expertly maneuvers the truck onto the Ferry, we clap as when he has somehow managed it without incident, I guess this isn't the first time he's done this!

The Ferry is powered by 2 large boat out board motors on each side, which turn in parallel to change direction, simple but effective.

The crossing only takes 20 minutes and the real challenge for Ben is reversing off the Ferry and once again his expert driving skills don't let him down!  

The drive to the Delta is quite long, dusty and a little bumpy.  We drive thru little villages and little farming homesteads appear as if out of nowhere.  They are very well kept, swept clean of leaves and debris, their owners taking pride in their homes.  

Little traditional style huts made of wood and thatch, orderly  wooden fences keep livestock safe.

We spot the occasional local out grazing their Goats and Donkeys on the side of the road while they find shade under trees.

It is a dry dusty landscape, but in the distance a line of green appears winding it's way thru the countryside.

Just as we get to the Delta a lone Elephant appears in the distance roaming thru someone's farm.

We park in the shade of huge tree and our Mokoro guides are there to greet us. 

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That's where we're going!

They line up, then introduce themselves one by one, some of them seem so shy.  Victor and the head guide give are a rundown on what is a head and I can't wait, staying on an island in the middle of the Delta, AWESOME!

We have lunch together before we get organized with our day packs for the next few days away.  

We help Emmanuel load up the Mokoro with the kitchen and food supplies we will be needing and he secretly tells me he is always nervous about being in the Mokoro.

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We're getting in those!

A lovely women named OK asks if she can be our guide for the trip, my partner Leslie and I are happy to say yes, as some of the others look very young and OK has a wonderful wide smile and kind eyes.

We head down to the shore and OK helps us get into our Mokoro, a long shallow, hollow canoe.

They are traditionally made from the African Sausage Tree, but the government funds the the Mokoro guides to use fiberglass to help save the trees.

OK folds our sleeping mattresses in half and using a stick thru the middle makes a very comfortable seat for us, so simple, so clever!

It is actually a lot easier to get in than I thought, no wet feet, no falling over!

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Let's go OK!

Once in and settled, there's nothing for it but to set back, relax and enjoy the ride.

We leave Ben behind with the truck.  Victor and Emmanuel are coming with us along with all our camping gear, everything amazingly fits in to the Mokoros and we all set off!

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Come on you lot!

It is so peaceful and quiet the only sounds are the birds and the swooshing of water as we glide thru the reeds and lilies.

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So peaceful!
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What a view!
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What a place!

Large cows wade in the water around us eating the grass, flowers bloom adding spots of pink, purple and white on the glistening water. 

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Sharing the water ways!
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What a way to spend the afternoon!
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Up ahead our Island stop for the night!

OK tells us the yellow lotus flowers, have a blub under the flower that collects water, the local villagers call them 'Eye Drops' and would use this water to help with eye complaints.

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Beautiful!

OK points out the varieties of birds, her knowledge is amazing.  

As we get closer to the island we are spending the night, a lone Bull Elephant is wading thru the water in the distance, he is almost glowing in the afternoon sun... WOW!

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Hey there buddy!

We arrive at our island in the Delta, what a great spot, no facilities here!  

After setting up the tents our hosts introduce us to our 'bush toilet' and it's pretty much a toilet seat attached to a metal chair frame over a hole in the ground with a shovel and a toilet paper holder, when the shovel is missing it means the loo is occupied, when your done put the shovel back!  Better than squatting!

We help Emmanuel set up the kitchen and afterwards we are taken on a sunset cruise! 

Our guides take us a round the island to an open lagoon of deeper water and the first thing we see is 2 Elephants wading thru the shallow water, they are slowly making their way to the back of an island, our island!

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He's heading for our island!
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He's huge!
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No shortage of food here!
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This is AWESOME!
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Ohhh I think that's close enough!
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You are magnificent!

Hippos watch us their heads appearing above the water line, little ears twitching and snorts of warning as they disappear.

OK tells us that the water level is still quite low for this time of the year, but it is better than las year. 

We glide further into the lagoon and even more Hippos emerge in front of us.  I love the grunting laugh they make when they call to each other and as we approach it louder and more frequent.

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Quirky things!
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Watching cautiously!
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Are there more of you hiding somewhere?
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Close enough buddy!
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What a beautiful place this is!

As the sunsets the sky turns a glowing pink and gold, the Elephants have come closer the to edge of the lagoon. so we glide closer, you can hear the tearing of the vegetation when they eat and the swooshing of the water with every move.

They seem to glow in the dusk light, they are unperturbed by our presence as they wander closer to solid land.  

This continent never ceases to amaze and delight me...  I love it!

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What a way to spend an evening!
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Getting closer...!
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... and closer!
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Elephants & a sunset it doesn't get better than this!
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Making their to solid ground!
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We are sharing our island with these guys!

A Croc emerges on the surface of the water and barely leaves a ripple as it disappears below.  

As the sunsets lower and the surface of the water begins to glow orange the Hippos bob in and out of the water long enough to watch our movements.  

It is a weird feeling being at eye level with them, Ok takes us in closer and one to our left starts moving towards us before disappearing under the water, when it reappears it is so close that as a precaution OK moves our Mokoro backwards out of it's path, and I suddenly feel very insignificant and exposed in this little canoe!

She smiles and reassures us that we are perfectly safe, if you say so, then I believe you!

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Taking a peek !

We sit and watch the African sky turn a blazing gold before we head back to our little island, you really can't beat an African sunset and tonight we aren't disappointed!

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Making our back to the island!
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A Delta Sunset...
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... is glorious!
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A blaze of gold!

Back at camp there is a roaring fire and dinner is ready thanks to our hosts who have given Emmanuel a hand. 

The night sky is a blaze with stars it's like fireworks have gone off and never died out, them seem so close that you reach out and touch them. 

During dinner we chat with the locals and Victor has told us that we must prepare a presentation for our hosts in form of a song, story or dance.... WHAT!?!?  So this makes everyone a little nervous, there are a lot of different nationalities in our group this could be interesting!

After dinner our hosts line up and treat us to a traditional song and dance.  Victor translates for us.

The first song is sang at traditional weddings and is about love, each of the girls is asked to dance, it is a lot of fun and the song is very melodic and beautiful, unlike my dancing skills!

The second song is a traditional football song, they love their Soccer!  Each of the men in our group are encouraged to join in, and this song is accompanied by a lot of foot stamping and clapping and done with a lot of enthusiasm!

When they start their third song we feel this strange presence behind us, turning around to see a man dressed in black crawling on his hands an knees, another is dressed in brown camouflage coat covered in grass and straw, a third appears dressed in their traditional costume, it is a story of foreign soldiers coming to Botswana.  It is difficult to figure out but it is amazing to watch.  Even Victor has joined in with the festivities.

Now it is our turn!  Farren a fellow Kiwi and decided to do something traditional from NZ and I swallow down my nerves and after some coaching from him do a traditional Maori welcome (badly!) and Farren does the Haka, he does it really well going right to the eldest  gentleman of the group, this earns a massive applause from everyone.  After he explains the meaning  and what it is used for, Victor translates and once they understand the meaning we get a second round of cheers from our hosts.

The only Irishman of the group sings Molly Malone and is joined in by those of us who know the words, good on him for getting up and having a go solo!

The Aussies sing Waltzing Matilda, and while the group is discussing what to do next, there is a sense of disappointment amongst the crowd, so I ask Victor to translate for me and with shaky hands I tell and mime the traditional Maori legend of how 'Mama Earth  and 'Papa Sky' were separated to form the the earth and how their son Maui slowed down the sun by capturing the sun.  They seem pleased with my efforts and clap and stamp their feet with approval.

For a finale as a group we sing 'Wonder Wall' (I don't know the words as I am not an Oasis fan) Then we get them up to do the Macarena (which I also don't know) we must have looked silly, but oh well it was fun and they laughed and clapped, so that's all that matters! 

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The entertainment is fantastic!
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It was so wonderful...!
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Even our tour guide Victor joins in!
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They watch us try to entertain them!

After a long day driving and the wonderful afternoon exploring the Delta and of course the nights entertainment, tiredness gets the better of me.

My bladder on the other hand has other ideas so I head off for the 'bush toilet' some of the others are still up enjoying the fire.

So I am sitting on the loo minding my own when there is a rustle in the bush, at first I think 'oh it's only one of my fellow travelers' when suddenly one of the Bull Elephants appears in the clearing, WTF... and with my PJ pants around my knees and my bare butt exposed to the African night my only thought is 'Where's my camera!'   He just looks at me and disappears into the night among the trees.  with business done I go racing back to camp to tell the girls what happened but would anyone believe me...!

NOVEMBER 8TH, DAY 7

Another night and the chorus of snoring has kept me awake!  I am so tired even my tired is tired!

I can hardly keep my eyes open this morning, I even tried listening to music to drown out the snorts and grunts, but that didn't work!

No camp visits from Hippos or Elephants during the night, don't know if I should be disappointed or relived!

We are up early for an island walk.  After a short Mokoro ride we come to a large grassy island, the Hippos are out in the lagoon and all you can see are their little ears flicking above the water.

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A morning excursion!

Reaching the island and are split up into 2 teams, out guide is 'Wizzy' and for someone so young he knows his stuff.  

We follow these deep tracks known as Hippo Highway, when the Delta fills up with water this is the route the Hippos take to get to the center of the island when they come out of the water to feed at night.  It is a well trod path!

He points out different footprints from Hyena and Black Backed Jackal.  

In the center of the island is a large Sausage Tree, it is quite cool, he shows us what is inside the large fruit that only Elephants eat, it is the only thing that they eat that humans can't.  He explains that Elephant poo is suitable for human consumption, yes their poo, Sausage Tree Fruit aside everything they eat we can eat, but I am not willing to test that theory!  But their brick like poo when burnt is great for keeping mosquitos away, can I have some for outside my tent please!

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Wizzy' our Delta guide!

He teaches us how to get the height of an Elephant from it's footprint, wind a piece of string around the footprint twice and the length of string is the height of the Elephant... clever!

It's time to head back and we meet up with the others, and slowly make our way back to our island.

What our tents have been packed away for us, spoilt!

We pack our things into our Mokoros and off we go!  We are heading off to another island for the night, this one has a campground with facilities. 

It is so nice being out here with the only the sounds of the birds and the rippling water, so peaceful!

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his is the life!

The sun glistens on the water the Cows and Donkeys of the local farmers stare at us as we glide by. 

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Delta Donkeys
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No shortage of grazing here!
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What a way to travel!
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So peaceful!

We joke with OK and ask us if she will take us to Cape Town, beats sitting in the truck!

We pass Ben and the truck both are where we left them. 

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Beats being in the truck
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Delta Traffic!

Some of the others have a go at driving, but me I leave it up tp the expert, plus I have seen what's in and under the water, don't really feel like being a Crocs lunch!

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The best guide in the Delta!

The camp ground is basic but comfortable, flushing toilets and hot showers.  It is the small things!   But we are still in the wilds and we are told to be careful as Hippos and other animals can come thru the camp at night!

We have lunch in the bar out of the heat before choosing our tents, I find the one as far away from the boys as possible, hoping I wont be able to hear them.

They roomie and large with a real bed!  Unpacking involves throwing the bag on the bed, and I head back to the cool of the bar as the tent is so hot stuffy.

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My stop for the night!

We spend the afternoon relaxing each of us doing our own thing, it is too hot to do much, so we relax in the cool of the bar.  The temperature evening drops a little brings on a lovely breeze, and it is a nice time to explore!  So with warnings of wildlife I  check out the campsite and have a shower, yeap I needed it!

Before we are called for dinner, I have no duties tonight as I am on truck cleaning (we have 4 teams and a roster to help with the chores) and there is no truck!

So I sit on the sandy bank and watch the sunset... and once again I am not disappointed!

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Another glorious Delta sunset!

After another fantastic meal, we chat for a bit, but since I didn't get much sleep I head to bed, not even a Hippo at my door will wake me up.

I fall asleep to the sounds of laughing Hippos!

OCTOBER 9TH, DAY 8

Up early what a fantastic sleep!

Everyone at breakfast is talking about the Hippos wandering around the tents, I never heard a thing!

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Waking up to this view!

After breakfast we pack our gear into our Mokoro and make our way back to the truck.  It is a short journey and the morning is warm a beautiful.

We thank OK for being such a wonderful guide, she has been amazing, such a lovely lady and with hugs we say goodbye to our new friend.

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Saying goodbye to our friend OK

Once the truck is all packed up our Delta guides treat us to a song to say farewell, 'Oh Africa'.  We are encouraged to join in for the second round and we are nowhere as good as they are.

What a fantastic place and what amazing people!

Back on the truck again and we drive back to Namibia.   We catch the ferry again, but the wait seems longer today and once again Ben shows off his driving skills, but this time he has to avoid large rocks and pot holes to get the truck on!  He just smiles his way thru!

We go thru the same border crossing we have been thru twice already and it goes smoothly!

The Rainbow lodge is waiting for our arrival, and once we are all set up we have lunch by the river.

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Consider me warned!

We have the afternoon to ourselves, and the pool is very inviting, so some of us spend the rest of the day enjoying the quiet as most of the others have gone on a boat trip.  

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The Rainbow Lodge!
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A great place to stay!
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I am heading there for the arvo!
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Thought it was real going to the loo in the middle of the Night!
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Men's Loo!

The open air bar has a great view of the river, it's nice place to sit with the girls drinking ice cold Gin & Tonics, we watch kingfishers swoop and dive for a late afternoon catch, they are entertaining to watch, such clever things! 

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Pied Kingfisher!

The quiet is broken when the others return!  Soon Victor calls us for dinner, and we sit in the bar for a while chatting, before heading off to bed we have another one of those early starts in the morning!

Posted by Tracy87 07:12 Archived in Botswana Comments (0)

AN EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE AT A LIVING MUSEUM

Namibia

sunny
View SOUTHERN AFRICA 2018 on Tracy87's travel map.

NOVEMBER 10TH DAY 9

We depart straight after breakfast and the drive feels long as it is so hot.  We stop in Rundu for .supplies and to change money.  The Bureau de Change has run out of money, so it's off to a bank to see if we can change US$$ but they can't as their system is down, so I find a second bank and wait patiently in the queue, when I get to the counter the lovely young girl apologizes and tells me I didn't  have to wait and sends me to Mario, who thankfully can change our cash.  Gotta love this continent! 

We have run out of time to  get much shopping done before it's back on the truck!   

Today we stop a nd have lunch under a large tree on the roadside. 

It is late afternoon when we reach Grootfontein, we drive straight thru.  It seems smaller than I pictured it.  I thought it was going to be quite a large sprawling city like Bulawayo, but it is modern, clean and quite green in the dry surrounding landscape.

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Just passing thru, Grootfontein!

Our camp is on the outskirts of town 'Roys Camp' is pretty cool, and yes it has a pool!  

Tents set up we head for the pool, the bar is lovely, big open air traditional wood and carvings with huge thatched roof. 

The pool is fantastic, Roy has used old farm equipment and recycled other items to make fittings and even the pool filter, it's pretty amazing!

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The Pool!
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The Bar!

I head back to help Emmanuel with dinner prep, and after he sends us away, we sit and a few drinks, cold beer hot dry day just what is needed!

Everyone is quite quiet during dinner, it's been a long day.  I head off to bed but can't sleep, still struggling with the itchy eyes...  thank goodness my neighbor in the next tent is a nurse!

NOVEMBER 11TH DAY 10

After breakfast and some advice from nurse Lynn (forget the drops cool water washes will help, and she is so right) we are rounded up into the truck and head out into what seems to be the middle of nowhere along a bumpy dusty road. 

When we arrive at the Sans Bushmen Living Museum we are met by a lovely lady and gentleman  with big beaming smiles and shining laughing eyes, in traditional dress, which is really just animal skins held in place with beaded string and just enough to cover their... well private parts and adorned with jewelry of shells and seeds.  They are so... tiny (no offence I just can't think of a  better word) and adorable!

They are just how I pictured them I remember reading Wilbur Smiths book 'The Burning Shore' and his description of these noble people were so intriguing!

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The Sans Bushmen!

They take us to the museum entrance and explain that this is a living museum to showcase how they traditionally live, they were once a nomadic tribe who would walk across the continent, one of Africas oldest tribes estimated to be 20,000 years old.  But with modernization it is a lifestyle they can no longer follow, of the 30,000 that live in Namibia only around 2000 of them still live by their traditions.

When we enter we are introduced to An the elder who is our guide for the morning.  Henry who greeted us when we arrived is our translator.

Women and children sit under trees, the little ones cling shyly to their mothers.

They try to teach us their language which is made up of clicks and they laugh at our efforts.

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Such amazing people!

The tour of the village is wonderful, their huts are so simple, because of their nomadic lifestyle they have to carry everything they own with them, so they relied on nature for all their needs. They never waste a thing, having a deep understanding of nature and ecology they live in harmony with their environment.

An and Henry take us on a little bush walk, pointing out which plants, leaves and roots they use for medicine, poisons and food.

They are carrying a little a skin cover cylinder and a bow, inside this cylinder is everything they need for daily life on the move, their basic tools.

With nothing more than a little metal disk (they once used bone) in the sand, dried grass and what they call the female stick An with little effort makes a fire taking the smoking grass in his hands and blowing on it till flames appear.

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A lesson in fire lighting!
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The amazing An!
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Result!

With the fire safely extinguished, An shows us how they used to track and hut.  With their little bow and arrow they would find the spoor of the animal, then testing the direction of the wind with sand would make their way down wind from animal so they wouldn't catch their scent.  Crawling along the ground would quietly get as close as they could,   They shoot the animals twice one in the body and once in the leg so it leaves clear drag marks for them to follow.

The shaft of the arrow would fall out leaving only the arrow head.  This is how they knew they had made the shot.  Then the poison on the arrow tip would take time to work thru the animals system and they would follow it sometimes for days until it died. 

He shows us his little hunting kit, the tiny bows were made out of Giraffe bones because when wet they soft and malleable and hard as rock when dry.   Henry shows us the tree where the Butterfly Lava is found, this is what makes up the poison.

His  display earns him a round of applause and he smiles with pride.  

I know that it was survival but my heart still breaks for the animal thinking of it suffering the poison, which is so potent that it was handled carefully and expertly as the slightest touch could kill.

They show us the various tools they use from their little survival kit. 

Using a circle of sticks, string and fruit to set up a snare, or and axe made of stone to cut wood

They are so proud to teach what they know.  It amazes me that they could survive by carrying so little, what an extraordinary people they are!

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Such a great morning!

With Henry as translator An tells us that the tradition hunting and roaming across Africa is long finished borders were formed between countries and National Parks were put in place to protect the animals.  

They now live in villages with their own schools so the traditions. like we have experienced here are passed down to thru the generations.

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An!

Once back at the village the women and children watch us as Henry shows around the little huts.

One women takes me by the hand to show me her home and teaches me how they make the jewelry all the women and children are adorned with.   Her smile is infectious and she is so proud of her humble home and I feel so honored to be invited in.  

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Her smile is infectious!
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Such a lovely lady!

The ladies treat us to some dancing, even the children join in.  They seem shy as they sing and clap.  They are so beautiful!

An can't help himself and with a big smile joins in the fun.  

What a wonderful morning this is, these amazing people opening up their homes and showing us their lives.  What a blessing!

They are happy to have photos taken with us and we get the thumbs with, literally!  The girls giggle and those smiles... 

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So honored to meet them!
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An and Henry!

The tour ends in the open air gift shop, everything is labeled with the name of the person who made each item so the proceeds go directly to them.  Rows of jewelry and hunting kits glitter in the sun.  Australia has such tough rules about what you can bring in, but I can't help myself and buy a small version of their carry kit, hope it makes thru customs!

An and Henry walk with us to the truck and wave us goodbye.  

What a wonderful morning!

The drive back seems bumpier than the drive to the village if that is possible.  The straight road takes us thru a dry dusty landscape with the odd green tree trying it's best survive.

After lunch and some washing that desperately needs doing, we spend the afternoon by the pool.

Workmen are rethatching the roof and watching the process is quite interesting until one of them falls off the roof actually landing on his head!  Luckily Lynn is there to help out giving him a good check over before allowing to go back to work.

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Working up there in this heat...!
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Fantastic job guys!

After another great dinner we sit around chatting, poor Victor is asked some unusual questions about life in Africa, he answers as honestly as he can, about marriage and multiple wives, how it works. I feel kinda sorry for him but he explains everything well, the first or older wives have a big part in choosing new wives so there is harmony among the family unit.  To us it seems odd but to some it makes perfect sense!

It gets late and off to bed, tomorrow we are on safari again!

Posted by Tracy87 23:34 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK A PLACE FULL OF SURPRISES!

Namibia

sunny
View SOUTHERN AFRICA 2018 on Tracy87's travel map.

NOVEMBER 12TH DAY 11

If only I could get used to these early mornings!  A quick shower, breakfast and we are off!

It's a 4 hour drive today and we stop in Tsumeis to stock up on supplies, it's a cute little town very clean and well kept.  You can still see the remnants of the old mining industry that once thrived in the area, 7 different types of minerals and ore were found here and it still is a big part of the areas economy.  The café makes a fantastic latte!

The drive to Etosha is hilly but the roads are modern and well laid out.  The landscape reminds me of home a little!

Once we arrive at the Park entrance Once we arrive at the Park entrance, gate 3 and stop for refreshments the sir hits you when you step off the truck, it is hot!  

With guide books in hand we head out into the reserve, it is dry and rocky, the rains have not been to these parts for a long time, the ground is a fine grey dust, the trees are brown and bare.

The afternoon game drive to our first campsite is bumpy, but with the windows down and the breeze flowing thru the truck I can't help myself, I am grinning like a little kid.

Impala wander thru the dry trees how do they cope with the heat!

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Impala...
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Hellooooo!
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A herd of bachelors!

Giraffes stride thru the bush stopping to look at us, they are taller and darker than the ones in Kenya!  The food source seems so scarce here I wonder how the animals survive!

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Hi gorgeous!
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Aww look at those lashes!

There's a first time for everything in Africa, and this is my first Springbok, catching shade under a prickly dry trees, with ghostly white faces and black stripes, but it's too hot for them to do their famous spring, they are waiting for the rain, and it doesn't look like that's happening any time soon.

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First time I've seen one.. Springbok!

Blue Wildebeest laze in the heat like spindly old men, they are much darker than their cousins in the Serengeti but still as weird looking! 

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Blue Bearded Wildebeest!

We drive to our first water hole, this one is teaming with bird life.   Grey Water birds on long stick like legs! 

Vultures gather at the waters edge. their black beady eyes seem too large for their little heads and they are so scrawny, natures garbage cleaners! 

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Show off!
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Natures rubbish collectors!
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Flocking together!
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Blue Cranes!

What a great start to the day we have only just begun!  

We stop for lunch at the Namutoni Campground named after the old fort built in 1902, the campsite is modern and clean and I wish we had time for a swim!  This campground is built on the site where the 2 European explorers John Andersson and Francis Galton camped in 1897 when they first discovered the Salt Pan that Etosha is famous for.

We have lunch in the shade but it really doesn't do much to quell the heat. 

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Stopping for lunch!
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The Namutoni Fort!

Once everything is packed away, we head out into the reserve for the afternoon windows down and cameras at the ready.

We stop at another waterhole but there isn't much to see, a lone bird of prey and a few Egrets.  

So Ben turns and heads back the main trail!

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Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk!

The second waterhole seems to be where everyone is hanging out.  Zebras are slowly making their way thru the bushes checking their surroundings cautiously as drinking is when they are at the most vulnerable to predators.  

A lone Giraffe is hanging back watching us closely.

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Hey there gorgeous!

A Kori Bustard (such an unfortunate name!) strides around the waters edge.  One of Africa Small Five a Leopard Tortoise suns itself on a rock in the water.  

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What did the Kori Bustard say to the Leopard Tortoise...?

One by one the Zebra have come to drink, side by side in perfect formation.  Feeling safe as drinking is when they are at their most vulnerable to predators.

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A Perfect Line Up!
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There's always one straggler!

Leaving them in peace we continue on further into the park.  The landscape changes as the dry bush thickens, and large thorny trees appear.  A small group of Giraffes roam by the side of the track,  their height giving them an advantage when it comes to eating, how they get around those large spike like thorns without hurting their mouths is amazing to me!

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Yeah you know your cute!
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It's good to be tall here!
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Watch those thorns!
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Only the best green stuff will do...
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... when they can find it!

The drive becomes windy and bumpy, the sparse dry trees give shade to more scrawny Wildebeest, the only grass available is dried clumps dotting a grey dusty landscape.  They don't move much just the odd flick of the tail to swat away the flying bothersome insects. I feel kinda sorry for these funny looking beasts sitting out in this heat.

They are actually quite impressive with their mohawked manes and black faces, it makes them look like they are wearing a mask. 

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Aww the baby of the bunch!
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A little relief from the heat!
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Too hot to bother!
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Too hot to bother!

Ben suddenly has to stop to give way to a little Leopard Tortoise who is on the side of the track.  The little fella is on a misson and just waddles a long without a care in the world!

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And off he goes!

As the bush becomes denser more Zebra appear, I am beginning to think these and Wildebeest are the only ones crazy enough to be out in this heat, not that I am complaining, I am enjoying just being here, and hey who doesn't like a cute Zebra bum sighting!

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A cute face!
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A cute Bum!
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Double the cuteness!

We don't see anything for a while, when suddenly among the trees is a White Rhino, he is magnificent!  He watches us for a while and sensing that we are no threat relaxes and just wanders slowly thru the scrub.

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A magnificent White Rhino Bull!

As he gets closer to the truck you notice his horn, it is magnificent!  This is the first Rhino I have seen with a full horn, all the others I have seen have had them cut down for their protection, but this guy... WOW!

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Only a Rhino needs it's horn!
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He is amazing!
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He is simply breathtaking!

He wanders back and forth amongst the trees, every so often stopping to look at us.  He is weary but not too bothered by us.  Everyone in the truck is silent except for the occasional whisper of awe! 

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He just watches us...!
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He is cautious!

He slowly begins to wander away amongst the scrubby bush stopping to chow down on the long dry grass, so we leave him to his own devices.  I really hope that he stays safe!

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Hope stays safe!
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We leave him in peace!

A grassy plain opens up as we round a sharp bend and a lone male Ostrich is striding thru the thorny trees all legs and neck, but quite regal in its lanky gawky way!

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Ostrich on the go!

Another first, a male Oryx, he is unbelievable, they are solid and strong and the striking black white face that looks like it has been carefully painted.  The long piercing antlers that can grow up 1.5 meters long and can kill a Lion.  When attacked they back themselves up against a tree and use the antlers to stab their attacker... ouch!

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So wonderful!
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Striking features!
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My first Gemsbok Oryx

The plains are dotted with Zebra, Springbok and Wildebeest as far as the eye can see.  I will never tire of views like this, I feel content as we slowly drive past these amazing sweeping views.

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I love views like this!

We turn off the main track and make our on a bumpy windy track.  Victor has a thing for birds and we stop to check out this cheeky curved beaked bird sitting in a tree, it isn't the prettiest bird in Africa but it is quite comical... oh yeah it's Zuzu from the Lion King, hah!  That's why Victor is so excited!

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Zuzu the Hornbill!

The truck stops at another water hole and to our amazement sitting in the water is a Hyena, just enjoying a good soak in the cool water on a hot day, it has the most content look on it's face.  Just when you think you can't be surprised, Africa proves you delightfully wrong!

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Oh Wow!
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Total contentment!

Ben maneuvers the truck as close as possible to the water hole, our Hyena just opens one eye and looks at us, too content to bother.  It's tongue is sticking out and it looks so sleepy.  I think it is so cute, these misunderstood creatures have sweet faces and the pretty spots on it's fluffy furry back.  Awww!

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Nothin like an afternoon soak!
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Hope we haven't disturbed you!
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You're so cute!

What a sight!  After a while it stands up and we realize that she is a heavily pregnant mother to be!  Oh the poor girl looks so uncomfortable.  Victor thinks she is not long before she will give birth as she is very slow and cumbersome.  Now I feel bad for disturbing her peace and quiet.  She stands in the shallows for a while watching us watching her... Thank you Africa you have done it again!

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Future Mama!
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What a wonderful thing to witness!
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Poor girl looks so uncomfortable!

Slowly she clambers out of the water and makes her way into the bush, she stops every so often to turn and look at us, poor girl we did disturb you, so sorry Mama!  Victor thinks she will be making her way to a den where she can hid from other predators, they are pack animals but when a female is pregnant she isolates herself to give birth, and she looks like she doesn't have long to wait, how awesome a new generation! 

We leave the water hole and head for camp, out in the distance Zebra walk in single file like they are playing a game of follow the leader, Springbok ignore us to busy eating, Wildebeest huddle under sparse trees.  Ben doesn't stop as time has got away from us and we have to set up camp before it gets to late.

We arrive at Halali our campsite for the night.  We check in and it is busy, some of us are going on a night game drive and the queue takes a while, but once that is done we set up and help with dinner.  It is the quickest dinner of the trip as we are behind schedule and our drivers are waiting for us. 

We are, of course the last ones to get organized, and as the gates close at 6.30pm so the big animals can't wander into camp we are in a bit of a rush!

Our drivers name is 'Happy' and our spotter is at the ready with a search light, it is dark by the time we head out.

The first thing we see is a Hare, , then another, oh wait another, it becomes a running joke in the truck, as we seem to stop for Rabbit and Hare that crosses our path.

A Steenbok runs across our path and we get the odd glimpse of Springbok among the bushes.

We turn off to towards a water hole and an Africa Wildcat darts into the bush, WOW these little Cats are rarely seen, and he is so quick there is no photo op with this one, but hey I never thought I would actually see one!

As we pull up to the waters edge there is a growling sound from behind the truck....

OMG a pride of lions... just walk straight past us... and they are in no hurry at all!

Lead by a Lioness, she turns back to the rest of the pride, a huge male as tall as the trucks side mirror, a young male and 2 more Lioness, they just saunter past without even bothering to acknowledge out presence!

And this why I love Africa!  It's experiences like this that blow your mind and keep me coming back, yes I am addicted  and I want to see more!

They flop down to rest right in front of us, one female stays alert constantly scanning the surroundings the others just close their eyes and chillax without a care in the world.

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She is so beautiful!
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The Alpha and the young fella!
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How amazing is he!

They settle and when the lead female finally rests the Alpha gets up moves over to her and with a a gentle nudge to her face sits down beside her with eyes closed like a sleeping sphinx.  The 2 younger Lioness lay down together keeping their distance, the young male stretches out without a care in the world, with the typical nonchalance of the young!

A small Steenbok approaches behind them no more than 5 meters away stops looks at them and sensing that they are of no threat darts away into the night, not big enough for a meal... but they do like to snack!

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He is simply breathtaking!
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The young male...
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The handsome King needs his rest!
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Not a care in the world!

The Alpha finally rests his head on those huge paws, and he looks like any other cat, except he can take a grown man down in one strike like a we were a mouse!  

The spotter moves his light across them and I think to myself "let them sleep" but I can't take my eyes off them, they are simply glorious, so powerful, so magnificent!

We tell our driver that it's ok to go, let them sleep, we don't want to bother them anymore.  The light is clearly annoying them, they twitch and the Alpha shakes his head in frustration every time the passes over his sleepy head.

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The power in those paws!

But he doesn't listen and we linger for a while, I get the feeling he is trying to kill time before heading back to camp as we only have half an hour left before we must be back .

Finally he starts the engine and I hope we haven't disturbed them too much as they try to rest, it's not an easy life out here even for those at the top of the food chain,

As we are making our way back a sudden stench of death and decay fills the air and to the side of the truck the light catches a glimpse of 3 Hyena running in a clearing amongst the bushes their eyes glowing in the dark.  

But because we are now running out of time we don't get to follow them and miss a chance to watch them.  This could have been the best chance to hear that famous Hyena laugh.

We get back to camp and those who stayed behind are raving about what they had seen at the water hole, I will admit that the listening to their sightings of Rhino and Elephants coming to drink I had a pang of regret but then I would never have seen the magnificent pride of Lions or the elusive African Cat and this is Africa, seeing the wildlife here is a blessing not a privilege.  Although I am annoyed that our driver was busy on his phone for most of the trip.  But hey it was a good night!

It's been a long day on bumpy tracks and so with a good night to my tour buddies I head to my tent!

NOVEMBER 13TH DAY 12

Another early morning and a quick breakfast.  With tents down we are out into the reserve for a morning game drive.  It is going to be another hot dry day.  

The plains have a copper glow as the sun beats down on the dry grass. 

Thorny trees become thicker and small bachelor herd of Steenbok are the first thing we see.  They are pretty little things with tiny antlers and big brown eyes, so cute!

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Steenbok!
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How cute are you!
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How cute are you!

Slowly the trees disappear and the grass thins, and the flat horizon opens up with views that never seem to end. 

We come to the  Etosha Salt Pan and it shimmers in the hot mid morning sun.  Ben drives  into the Salt Pan and we stop at the lookout and stretch our legs. 

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The Salt Pan!

It is so vast, at 4731 km² it looks like it goes on forever.  The greyish salt is dusty and dry, but when the heavy rains come it floods from the Okavango Delta in the north, and the porous  bedrock in the south as permanent water springs, which is hard to believe when you look out into the vastness! 

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A morning stop at....
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....a place you don't want to get lost in!

We take time to soak up the views, have a little fun and fill up our water bottles before we are back on our morning game drive.

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Ben and Emmanuel...
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...our crazy team!
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They made the trip more fun!

As we leave the Salt Pan a scraggly herd of Wildebeest graze on what little there is in the sandy earth, which isn't much!  They are so crazy and awkward looking, there is a legend in Africa, that when god was making the animals he had some parts left over and created the Wildebeest, and looking at them it looks kinda true!

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Surely they could find a better breakfast spot!

It seems the further into the reserve we go the drier it becomes!  A small herd of Red Hartebeest look up at us we stop.  They are stocky, their copper coats shine in the sun,  proud twisting antlers that give them their name, they may not  be pretty like the Springbok but they are impressive!

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Red Hartebeest!
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Quite impressive!
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Can you see how they get their name?

The landscape has become a little for flush with grass, a lone  Jackal roams the plains on the search for leftovers, I think he is in for a long search, poor fella!  

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On the search... good luck my misunderstood friend!

Herds of Zebra and Wildebeest dot the plains, safety in numbers, at least here there seems to be something to eat, as meager as it is!

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The Weird and the Lovely!

The landscape becomes eve harsher as the ground becomes rocky and dusty, the only things cling to life are the scraggly thorny trees. 

A semi dry river can be seen in the distance lush green trees finally making an appearance in the dryness.

But herds of Zebra slowly make their way to find water, blocking the road and you hear giggles thru the truck as the typical "Zebra Crossing" statement is made.  It's not my first, but it still fun to watch!

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On the move!
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Keep going...
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... there's nothing here!
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Such lovely things!
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Come on you lot!
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"Who do you think has the cutest bum?"

Another little Jackal follows the herd, I wonder if it the same one.   It is so close to the truck that you can see it's lovely spotted markings on it's back, it looks so hot bothered but it continues on it's mission and soon disappears into the landscape.

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Hi cutie!
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So hot and tired...
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... he must keep going!

As we leave the river bed behind a empty grassy plain opens up the sweeping view seems void and endless.

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Etosha Savannah!

Just when you think that this place is void of life the herds appear again, finding a small water source in the middle of nowhere, helping life to cling on on this harsh environment.

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The smallest pond draws in the herds!
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Herds that drink together, survive together!

Even a Kori Bustard has managed to find is way to this small water source, skirting around the edge of the herds avoiding heavy hooves waiting it's turn to quench it's thirst.

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Waiting for his turn at the waterhole!

As we make our way to the next waterhole that Victor promises will be worth the visit, two male Ostriches are striding along without a care in the world.  I haven't seen these guys since I was in the Serengeti and even then they were quite a distance away.  They are so gangly and funny looking, their thick black feathers rustle as they walk, twisting their tiny heads on scrawny necks scanning their surroundings.

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Bachelor Boys!
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Quite fluffy aren't ya!

The track starts to twist and turn and we make our way down a bumpy hill, a man made waterhole opens up below and Victor wasn't wrong... it is teaming with life!  

There are Elephants everywhere!   What a sight!  Too many to count, of all ages, sizes , spraying themselves and enjoying a late morning cool down.

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Wow, now that's a sight!
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So Many!
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Elephant Bums!
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Like they are catching up on the gossip at break time!
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What way to spend the morning!

It is hard to know where to look, let alone focus the camera.  Giraffes are making their way closer, Zebra, Springbok, Impala, Hartebeest, Oryx are all there, taking their turn to drink.  Elephants rule at the waterholes which considering their size is understandable.  It is an amazing sight to behold, Oh Africa... THANK YOU!

But it's the Elephants that steal the show.  There are so many ,it's like they have all come together for a good catch up and gossip while sharing a drink!   It is quite spectacular!

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Cute little ones!
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Elephants rule here!
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Family Gathering!
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Spectacular Giants
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What a sight!

There is one little one who is having the time of his life playing in the muddy water.  He is in his own little world kicking and splashing.   Every time any of the other animals attempt to come down to drink with ears flapping he lets out a loud trumpet and runs at  them and they flee in fright.  He has all laughing in hysterics.  

One of the older Elephants comes over, walking up behind him puts a trunk on his back and maneuvers him away from t he water, just like a mother telling a child to behave! 

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The waterhole trouble maker!
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Just having fun!
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Terrorizing the locals!

Giraffes come over from behind the truck slowly and cautiously making their way to the waters edge, they are very skittish as they tend not to drink with the others, they share secret signals among themselves. 

Even a herd of Kudu  have come for a morning drink.

A lone Oryx hangs back until there is a quiet spot to approach.  I could stay here all day!

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What a place to stop for the morning!
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Handsome boy!
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So many in one place!

You cant help but watch the baby Elephants roll in the water their trunks swinging uncontrollably in their excitement.  There are no bones in the trunk, it is all muscle and they have to learn to use it for communication, eating and drinking, this takes a lot of practice.  When Elephants sleep they will hang their trunk over one of their tusks.

One bull Elephant is feeling... well... a bit frisky and his version of romance is trying to caress another on the back with his trunk,  but his efforts are denied, probably because it is another young male, but he doesn't give up!

Some of them are stretching just like we would, Elephant yoga! 

It is hard to stop watching it is like something out of a David Attenborough documentary, But Ben starts the truck and there are soft groans of disappointment as we leave!

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Close knit families!
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Sticking together!
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That's enough of that!
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Looks like they are sharing a secret!

We drive up out of the little valley and a dry grey landscape spreads out as far as the eye can see.  It is so dry and dusty tufts of grass try to grow in the heat.  We come to a waterhole in the middle of nowhere, a flock of male Ostrich are drinking in synchronicity, it is actually quite funny to watch their skinny necks bobbing up and down.

Just when we think there is nothing more out here in this vastness, we come to another waterhole in the middle of nowhere, 2 large Bull Elephants facing each other lazily drinking like 2 old men at the pub!

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Two old boys at the local waterhole!

They are covered in fine grey dust giving them a ghostly look, this is why they have earned the name 'Ghost Elephants of Namibia'.

They hardly move except for the dipping of their trunks in and out of the water.

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'Namibian Ghost Elephant!

Springbok watch them cautiously from the opposite side of the pond.  

Zebra have come to drink, and even a couple of male Ostriches have managed to find this meager water source in the middle of the dust, how do they survive out here, in this apocalyptic landscape. 

The 2 old boys leave them in peace, with sleepy eyes they ignore their surroundings.

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The old boys chillaxing!
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Plains Zebra makes an appearance!
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Relief for all from the heat!
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The local where everyone is welcome!
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Here come the weirdos!

A third Bull Elephant is making his towards them.  Where did he come from?  Finally the 2 old Bulls move to check him out as he approaches.  

He is younger and respectfully hangs back until he is given permission from the older Bulls that is ok to approach.  He drinks from the opposite side keeping his distance from his elders.

All of a sudden another young Bull comes over,  he also has appeared out of nowhere.  

Watching them interact is amazing, slowly from behind the truck a fifth male approaches but he hangs back from the others.

A loud trumpet fills the air as the young one gets a telling off and warning step forward from the third Bull who is between him and the 2 elder Bulls.  He has just learnt a lesson in respect!

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Here comes another lonely boy!
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"Can I join you gentlemen?"
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And another lonely boy arrives!
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Amazing!
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All the boys!

​There are no females here as once males reach a certain age they become to big and boisterous around the calves and are made to leave the herd, to make their way out in the world on their own.  It is situations like this when the young males learn about life on their own, wisdom passed down from their elders.

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Sleeping Giant!

The morning is getting late and so we head to our next campground for the night, 'Okaukuejo' and it is really nice.  

Putting up the tents is hot work in the midday heat!

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Campsite for the night!

Huge Weaver Bird nests smoother tree tops and cute little Ground Squirrels watch us prepare and eat lunch hoping for a morsel.

The campsite is next to a large waterhole, and it is void of any wildlife except birds.   It is going to be amazing at night!

So it's a cold beer and a swim.  The air conditioned bar is glorious and once we have plonked ourselves down the swim is forgotten and we stay put for awhile, enjoying the cool air and cold beers!

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Aww these cuties are our neighbors!
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Weaver Bird Nest!

At 5.30 some of us meet at the truck for a late afternoon game drive.  The campsite is situated in the middle of a large plain, the odd tree dots the horizon.

And no sooner are we out of the gate we spot 2 Lioness lazing under a tree.  

One of them looks at us yawns, rolls over and ignores us.  The other sits up looks at us and then stares out into the horizon, I wonder what she sees out there with her sharp eyesight. 

I know I say this a lot but I can't get enough of watching these beautiful cats, they are so enchanting! 

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Etosha Queen!

The 2 of them seem so relaxed.  They are so pretty with big brown eyes, long white whiskers and adorable fluffy white chins.

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"Don't ya just wanna tickle that chin!"

We are so close we can see the faint spots on their back legs and every battle scare.  They have a dark ridge running down their backs. 

They are both stunning!

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Awww... WOW!
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Not bothered by us at all!
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Beautiful!
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Sleepy Girl!
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What does she see out there?
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She is stunning!

We watch these 2 beautiful girls for a while.  One of them is grooming herself, just like any cat she is meticulous, I am amazed at how content they both are in our presence.   

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She just lays down...
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... and starts grooming herself!
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A twitch of her ear is the only movement!
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So wonderful to watch!
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She doesn't even stir!
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The Queen at rest!

They really aren't bothered by us at all!

Finally we see what she was looking at.  There are 3 more Lioness wandering in the long grass, they blend in with the dry grass so well, when they lay down they disappear completely, no wonder they are such good hunters!

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How amazingly they blend in to their surroundings!

We drive a little further up the road, and if Victor hadn't spotted him we would have missed him completely.

A young male Lion is stilling next to kill, there isn't much of it left mostly bones.   

Unlike in the Serengeti were the Lions food source is in a densely populated area they will leave a kill once they have satisfied their hunger.  But here their prey is spread over a vast area so they sometimes go along time between kills, so they guard the leftovers, well... pizza is still good the next day right!

Our young male is guarding it against scavengers, it seems to be the remains of an Oryx the horns and the face can be seen sticking out of the grass, awww poor thing but it is the circle of life.

This boy has only the beginnings of  a mane, scraggy and golden, I wonder if this is a young pride or if there is a larger Alpha out there somewhere that we can't see!

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Keeping guard...
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... over the leftovers!

Ben starts the truck and we continue on I cant help but hope to see a Cheetah as this is the perfect hunting ground for these elusive cats, wide open spaces with herds of Springbok and Impala scattering the horizon.  

But suddenly there is a loud pop and Ben slows the truck down and all you can hear is a thudding sound.  We pull up on to the side of the road and Victor and Ben take a look.  We have a flat tire.  Luckily for us there are 2 tires on each side of the axle and we slowly make our way back to the campground.

Once back at camp I help with dinner prep and then take a Gin and Tonic with me to  waterhole to watch the sunset.

I find myself  bench seat and settle in with camera at the ready.

It is a beautiful way to spend an evening, as the sky turns from a beautiful pink and purple to a flaming orange, the dusk gives the water a wonderful orange glow.

Giraffes are making their way down to drink, spreading their front legs awkwardly to bend down, perfect mirror reflections are cast on the still water.

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Casting perfect reflections!
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What a Sunset!
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More, more come to drink!
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It's a perfect evening!
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Beauty in the awkwardness!
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They just keep coming!

A lone Jackal comes down to drink.   As he is scampering up the rocks he finds a bird carcass  and has difficulty dragging it up the rocky incline.  He is joined by his mate and the run off together out of sight.

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Awww... My little friend makes an appearance!

Birds hop from rock to rock avoiding hoofs, a mohawked African Hoopoe is so cute with reddish feathers and long beak, I like him! 

A White Tailed stride walks along the shoreline like he owns the place. 

But as lovely as the bird life is, it's the mammals that steal the show!

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An African Hoopoe!
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A White Tailed Strike!

A herd of Plains Zebra have found their way and after scanning their surroundings are comfortable to come to the water and take a drink.   One by one they line up and dip their heads casting perfect reflections on the water!

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One last check before they can relax!
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Another perfect line up!

More Giraffe have made their way, their silhouettes casting long shadows.  

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You would look awkward too if you had extra long legs and neck!

As the sunsets deeper they quench their thirst in that awkward way they do. 

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Perfect yoga Giraffe poses!

Finally it's time to depart and slowly they start to disappear!

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And off they go!

A lone youngster is hanging back until his mother turns back and gives him a look and an unseen communication of  "Hurry up, come on you" and he quickens his pace to catch up and they slowly disappear into the horizon.

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Mum gives little one the hurry up!

You can't beat an African sunset, but this... this is beautiful!

The sky turns from pink to purple and them deepens to a rusty orange, the animals make it so much more spectacular.

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What away to spend an evening!

One by one they all disappear into the dusky night and it's time to head back for dinner.

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Just when you think an African sunset can't get any better!

Another fantastic meal.  The team talk takes longer than expected, and all I can think is I wanna go back to the waterhole.

It turns out that those who missed the afternoon game drive are upset about  missing out, as they didn't know about it.

I don't know how, we spoke about it at breakfast and again at lunch... oh and the morning game drive.  I wonder if they would be this upset if we didn't see Lions.  It reminds me of work when passengers miss a flight and it's everyone else's fault but their own!

Finally, I head back to the waterhole with a cup of tea in hand and a lone Impala drinks at the waters edge, little girds are swooping everywhere, catching insects in the air, all is quiet.

A lone Bull Elephant makes an appearance as if out of nowhere, slowly he makes his way to the waters edge quenching his thirsts after a long hot day roaming.   He is oblivious to us until some idiots photograph him with the flash on.   He shakes his head in frustration, looking up straight at us.

I watch him for what seems like minutes but my tea has turned cold and I look at my watch, it has been over an hour. 

He slowly departs the same way he came in, his huge feet not making a sound as those spongy pads on his feet absorb the every step his large steps make, and that is how something so huge can appear so silently.

I wait a while long in hopes of seeing something more, but it remains quiet, so I make my way back to my tent and sleep!

NOVEMBER 14TH DAY 13

I am woken up by an almighty roar, it sounds like it is right by the camp, I sit up then snatch up my camera put on my jandles and run out to the waterhole.  I pass some German tourists who give strange looks, haven't they seen a women in PJs before.  

The sun is starting to rise but the waterhole is still dark but empty of wildlife, that Lion roar sounded like it was coming from here... I was so loud... so close!

I sit for a while and the light comes to start the day, I am now wide a wake that roar is the best alarm ever!

Disappointed I head back to my tent, shower and pack.  Today we leave this amazing place. 

During breakfast my tent neighbors ask if I am ok as all they heard at 5am was the Lions roar and me saying "I'm up!"

Finally we are all packed up and back out into the reserve.  We dead out on the same long dusty road where we saw the Lions yesterday.  

Victor is making fun of me about this morning, but says that the Lion could be miles away as they can be heard over long distances, but I had to go an look for myself, he just laughs at me.  It's OK it is a sound I will never forget!

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Heading out into the dusty wilds!

To my amazement they are still there, the pride has come together, the young male and 3 Lioness, lounging in the shade of the only tree for miles.  Further back there are another 3 Lioness laying together one of them sits up as we approach.

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WOW... The pride is still here!

He lifts his head up and looks at us and then plonks back down.  He is so young his mane hasn't reached maturity and is short and scruffy.  His large amber eyes blink with tiredness as he stretches out and goes back to sleep.

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They look so chillaxed!

One of the girls gets up and makes her way thru the pride, rubbing heads with each of the other girls, before sitting down to keep watch over her family, who just laze about without a care in the world.

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What a beautiful girl you are!
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Communication thru interaction!
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I love watching them!

The male simply continues to sleep, ignoring the world around him.  The only movement he makes is the flicker of his ears and tail at intrusive insects.

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Lazy boy!

Some of the girls just sleep opening the occasional eye, the rest of the girls stir some sit up some simply yawn and roll over.  What an amazing young pride this is.

They look at us, their beautiful faces stare at the truck for a while before they decide we are of no interest to them and just ignore us like we aren't even here.

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Some just continue to sleep!
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Some watch us and others ignore us!
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Others look about with curiosity!
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What a family!

He sits up the stirrings among the ladies has peaked his interest.  He looks at us with those gorgeous amber eyes, and simply closes them content with his surroundings.

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Such a handsome young fella!
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What an amazing pair!
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They are just so unbelievably relaxed!

We are so close we can see every detail, he has thorns embedded below his ear, they don't seem to bother him in the slightest.  He has a scar that runs down the side of his nose and his mane is all knotted and mangled, it looks like he has been in a few scrapes.  But he is still a handsome boy.

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WOW!

What a beautiful young family, watching the harmony between them is wonderful.

These ladies will rely on him for their protection, they will hunt together ensuring that he is strong, he will always eat first to keep his strength up, to defend the pride against other males and predators.  Only when the prey is too big will he join the hunt to help the Lioness to bring home the kill... working in perfect harmony.

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"What you looking at!?!!"

Victor indicates that it is time to go, the the traditional "Sawa Sawa" which is Swahili for "OK OK", we really don't want to go but we have been here for a while and I guess  we have a schedule to keep. 

With one last look at this beautiful young pride the truck starts and we pull away heading out in the reserve once again.

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Grow and prosper precious ones!

Victor indicates that it is time to go, the the traditional "Sawa Sawa" which is Swahili for "OK OK", we really don't want to go but we have been here for a while and I guess  we have a schedule to keep. 

With one last look at this beautiful young pride the truck starts and we pull away heading out in the reserve once again.

We are leaving this wonderful place today, so this is our last game drive of the tour, I am still holding out a smidge of hope that I will see a Leopard or Cheetah.

As we slowly make our way to the main gate the landscape turns rocky and grey, with very little grows here with the exception of thorny bushes.

We stop at our last waterhole, except there isn't much water here, but it is teaming with wildlife, Oryx, Impala and Kudu skip over the rocks vying for the small puddles of of water. 

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Oryx and Black Faced Impala hang out together!
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And along come the Kudu!
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Herds that stick together survive together!

A small herd of Zebra have made their way thru the hot baron landscape, their heads hang wearily in the heat.  It can't be an easy life out here.

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Awww poor things look so hot and bothered!

They all mingle together peacefully, but somehow they stick with there own kind.  They all seem relaxed, which seems to indicate that there are no predators in the area.  

When Ben starts the truck I feel a little sad as this is our last stop in this amazing place, I could spend the rest of my holiday here. 

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The Bachelor Hangout!
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"Hey mate, it's a bit crowded here today"
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Two Antelopes which couldn't be so different!
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Those markings are amazing!

As we approach the main gate I make a silent vow to come back here.

Today we drive to Spitzkoppe no one wants to have the windows open, maybe they don't want to ruin their hair, so all the windows are closed, which I find really annoying, as it is my turn to sit at the back and it is so stuffy!    So I suffer in silence!

I can't help it if I like the wind in my face when I am driving.

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Namibia passes by!

We stop under a huge tree for lunch, the landscape is so arid, like a rocky desert.  Everyone is hot, tired and quiet.

With lunch over it is back on the truck and thank god for Victor who  says it's too hot and opens some windows.  

We drive small remote villages, out in the middle of nowhere, how do they manage out here?

Small neat, clean towns have a hint of their German past in the architecture.

Slowly large rock formations appear on the horizon, the Matterhorn of Namibia slowly rises as we closer!

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Namibian Matterhorn!

We get to stretch our legs as we stop a small outdoor market selling semi-precious gems and jewelry.  All the stones are mined in this area.  The local ladies are welcoming and friendly, they leave us in peace to browse.  I restrain myself and keep the spending to a minimum.

But soon Victor is giving us the hurry up, and we are back on the truck.  The drive to the our camp for the night is the shortest of the day and as the Spitzkoppe comes into full view we stop to enjoy the magnificent sweeping views.

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Spitzkoppe!
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They have an amazing reddish glow!

Once at the base of the Spitzkoppe, we have to check in, this takes a little time so we make use of proper toilets before we head to our no facilities campsite.

The drive takes us thru beautiful burnt orange rock formations and sparkling rust coloreds sand that glows in the late afternoon sun to our designated campsite in the wild.

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What a spectacular landscape!

Our campsite is at the base of a huge smooth granite rock formation.  We help set up for dinner and some of us put up tents while others have opted to sleep up on the rocks, me I like the comfort of a mattress.

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Camping in the Namib Desert!

Some have gone for a hike, the rest of us, climb up the rocks to watch the sunset, in parts the rocks look like someone has tried to create art by balancing pieces in weird formations.  The rock is speckled with black and white and sparkles in the late sun.

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Natures Artwork!

Furry large Hamster like animals scatter on the rocks as we approach, Rock Dasssie, they are kinda cute, very skittish and soon disappear into cracks and crevasses.

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Rock Dassie!

Sitting on the top of rock the sun is setting and the sweeping views of the desert spread out forever, the sky  turns from a dusky blue edged with gold. 

It is so peaceful up here but that silence is broken when the others return chatting away  non-stop, oh well, lets just enjoy the view!

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Spitzkoppe Golden Sunset!

I am enjoying the tranquility up here in the desert, watching the sky change color, the night air is comfortably cool and it feels so peaceful.  

The night sky glows a fabulous gold and orange the night sky looks like it is on fire, it is so beautiful, it is one of the most glorious sunsets I have ever seen!

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Fire in the night sky! 

The sun is big golden globe slowly disappearing, as it does the rock formations in the distance form 2 peaks and for a moment it's as if the world is holding up the sun, so as to hold on to it as long as it can.

This truly is an amazing planet, that we get to watch scenes like this, as I look out I wonder what other spectacular sights and scenes are out there that make you feel so small and significant.

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[i]It is like the world is on pause! [i]

With the disappearing sun we make our way down, and we have dinner around the fire. 

We all chat for awhile having a few drinks, those who are sleeping under the stars make their way up the rocks.  Some of us stay and chat with Victor.   

I actually don't remember how much we drank, but I do remember I managed to make to my tent and somehow without falling over!

Posted by Tracy87 07:59 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

THE SKELETON COAST & A RELAXING CITY BREAK

Namibia

sunny
View SOUTHERN AFRICA 2018 on Tracy87's travel map.

NOVEMBER 15TH DAY 14

It is going to be a long day... thru the rocky Namibian desert.  

At least the air will flow thru the truck today as 2 of the girls, when trying to close the window, let it slip and it smashed to pieces when we got to camp last night, glad it wasn't me this time! (Sam and I did the same thing last year, actually the same window!) 

As we make our way thru to the Namibian coast, the landscape turns to harsh dry beige desert.  There are no signs of life out here, you really  wouldn't want to get lost or break down!

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So Desolate!

Staring out the window, I wonder how the Sans Bushmen survived out here as they travelled their pilgrimages across the continent.  What an amazing people they truly are! 

Even thought it is only a 4 hour drive it feels longer. 

The desert passes by a never changing landscape of dust, sand and rock, until suddenly becomes rocky, winding thru rocky desolate hills.

We stop at the top of a hill of shingle loose rock, Ben has to check the truck as the loud thud we heard earlier has got him a bit worried.  It is nice to stretch our legs for a bit, but I hope it isn't too serious as it is not a place you really want to be stuck in!

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Lets not stay longer than we have too!
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There's nothing out there!
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The road ahead!

It doesn't take long and we back on the road again.

Finally the ocean comes into view, but it still seems long drive away.  The sandy flat desert stretches on forever.  

We stop at the Tropic of Capricorn.  It  is one of the five major circles of latitude marked on maps of Earth, between the Antarctic Circle and the Equator.  

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So there it is!

We are heading for the shores of Cape Cross, but the drive seems to take forever, maybe because we are all hot and tired, everyone is very quiet today.

This landscape seems never changing!  But the smell of the salty ocean starts to fill the air finally we reach the ocean.

The wild Atlantic Ocean seems hazy, the coastline is eerie and quiet, the southern part of the Skeleton Coast.  

We stop for a break at the Cape Cross Seal Colony.  You can smell them before you see them.  

The coastal air is cool and it is famously windy.  

After checking in we walk down to the rocks, there are thousands of Seals everywhere, babies are bleating like lambs crying out for their mothers, they are cute shiny and black. 

But it is heartbreaking, they cry out for their mothers who have gone out to feed.  They are so young and still blind from birth and when the poor things approach an adult that's not their mother they get nipped at, or even violently thrown aside.  I just cant watch it, this violent scene just makes me want to cry so I head o the truck. 

This violent cycle of life is hard to watch after seeing animals like Lions, Rhino and Elephants being so protective of their young.

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Catching some rays!
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Poor little ones...
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... have such a hard life!
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They do stink!
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A sweet moment!
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"Are you my Mum?"

Finally we leave this sad place.  The roads are actually really good, straight, modern and in the middle of no where.  

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Stop... for what?

Further along the coast we stop for lunch next to an aging ship wreck that has been ravaged by time and weather. 

We are on the southern most tip of the Skeleton Coast, I wish I could see more as it is on my bucket list.  But it is now  a private reserve and can only be seen by plane and that costs a lot of $$$.

Skeleton Coast National Park is one of the most inhospitable places within the oldest desert on earth in Namibia. The eerie coastline has long been considered a dangerous area for naval vessels due to the persistent foggy weather and unpredictable Benguela current.

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View towards the North!
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View towards the South!
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The Skeleton Coast lives up to it's name!

After lunch we have time to explore the beach a little.  The tranquility is broken by t he constant hawkers trying to sell trinkets, they just don't take  no for an answer.  

But our stop is a short one and we are back on the truck and headed for Swakopmund.

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Someone has a sense of humor!

The roads stretch on and on, but finally we reach Swakopmund, and it feels good to out of the truck!

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Road to Swakopmund!

Our first stop is to book activities a lot of the group book a quad bike tour in the dunes or fishing trips, I know I should do something but I do all these things every time I go home to NZ, and the plane ride over the Skeleton Coast is a bit over my budget, but I am sure I find something to do!

We are all going out for a group to celebrate a couple on the tour who have the same birthday.  

After a lovely hot shower we walk round to the Old Steamer.  It is amazing, and the buffet, OMG fresh seafood, there is just so much to choose from.  The food is soooo amazing!!!

Octopus salad, fresh prawns, melt in your mouth freshly caught fish, soft and tender beef ribs, oh and the caramel mousse that is so divine!

The night is great, everyone eats too much, the wine flows and the laughter is boisterous.

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The Old Steamer!

With full bellies we waddle back to the chalet.   The hope that I am going to get a good nights sleep are crushed when my roommate starts snoring... and I thought it was jus the boys!

NOVEMBER 16TH DAY15

For the next few days we are free to do as we please.    And since my roomie kept me awake with her snoring so this I morning I am happy with a sleep in.

Once I feel human again Nicole and I go into town to explore.  We get some good advice from some of the other girls and go for a pedicure.  While we wait for our appointment we have breakfast at this lovely little out door café.

The pedicure was worth it, and it feels great to be clean again after our days in the dust! 

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View from the breakfast table!

We do a little souvenir shopping, and enjoy just walking around the city.  We find ourselves in the Brauhaus for lunch.  It is apparently one of Swakopmunds most popular restaurants.  Monique and David are there and they are raving about the wild meat platter which has a choice of Oryx, Kudu and Zebra, the shock must have shown on my face, because they suddenly changed the subject, Zebra I cant, I just cant!

After asking the waitress if the wild meat is hunted and getting total reassurance that it is all farmed we order the Kudu and the Oryx and when it arrives we swap a piece of each.  They are both delicious but  I like the Oryx it has a real strong taste!

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The Brauhaus!

After a lovely lunch we head down towards the beach and find a fantastic little ice cream café, OMG handmade cookies & caramel... sooo yum!

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Best Ice Cream in Swakopmund!

We walk along the boardwalk past brightly colored German Colonial buildings, the trip notes said the local kids are good at football/soccer, and they weren't wrong we watch them for a while playing in bare feet on the hard dusty surface. 

Such a pretty town, with wide streets and it is so quiet!

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Beach Views!
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I'll take the top floor!
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How Quaint!
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A glimpse at the past!

The local school has a great painted wall, the kids have added their art work to make it vibrant and you can't help but spend time walking around it and looking at it in detail.

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Wow the art work is fantastic!
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The kids are so talented!

By the time we get back to the chalet, it is dark.  

The boys went fishing for the day and are sharing their catch with everyone so we are treated to a group BBQ, and Victor, Emmanuel and Ben have joined us.  the fish is delicious and the company is fantastic.  

I opt for an early night in hopes that I beat my snoring roomie to sleep.  I dig out my ear plugs and hope for the best!

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Fresh fish BBQ...
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... with the gang!

NOVEMBER 17TH DAY 16

If I was hoping for a sleep in I was wrong,  2 of the girls are off to do their desert quad bike tour, and were a wee bit on the noisy side.  So with coffee in hand i sit outside and enjoy the cool morning air.

After a reorganization of my gear and some clothes washing, I head into town the walk along the beach front is very peaceful this morning. 

I find the light house and there are a lot of restaurants and cafes  and since I missed breakfast this morning it is time for an early-ish lunch, but there are so many to choose from and it's hard to pick, they all look so inviting.

After reading all the menus, it's the Ocean Cellar, which has an amazing seafood buffet and menu.  They are still setting up the buffet so it's not available yet, so off the menu it is! 

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YUMMM!

I order the seafood platter and it when it arrives OMG this is for one are you kidding it's huge!  How am I spose to eat all that!

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For one the menu said!

It is absolutely delicious!  

Little Weaver birds are my companions for lunch, they sit on the table watching and I can't help myself I have to feed the little cuties and they pick food out of my hand.

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My cute lunch companion!

After paying the oh so hefty bill of $85 Namibian Dollars equal to about $10 Australian, yeap all that for just $10 bargain!

I take a walk and find a arts and craft market, but I think I will leave that for the afternoon.   And instead explore the lighthouse and parliament
buildings.  

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The Lighthouse!
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Municipal Buildings!
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Wide open streets!

I make my way to the city center, browsing thru some souvenir shops, it is so nice to have time to myself for a change.

I treat myself to another one of those handmade ice creams, hmmm... white chocolate not as good as yesterdays but still delicious.  

My walk takes me along the beach front again, past the jetty, unlike yesterday the wind has died down and the ocean is quite calm.  

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The Jetty!

Victor told me about a little inlet near the aquarium that when the water is at the right level Pink Flamingos can be seen there.

So I make my way along the beach and trek over the sands, but alas they are not here, so I sit on the beach for a while before making my way back to the chalet.

I find a little café hidden in a little courtyard and enjoy a latte and the quiet.  Unfortunately that peace is broken when one of my travel companions makes herself comfortable at my table.  She has done nothing but complain since we left the Delta and continues to do so now.

I ask the café owner where we can go to see the Flamingos and she offers some advice and arranges a driver to take us out there at a set price (yes I will out up with the whining  if it means I get to check another item off my my see list) but when he arrives the price negotiated has suddenly changed and doubled, I will not be taken for a fool so I easily decline.

Back at the chalet and the girls are back, Nicole and arrange to go to the market later.  I try to have a wee nap before heading out again for the afternoon, but for some unknown reason one of the girls is shuffling back and forward down the hall and her constant footsteps keep me awake.

Nicole and I walk into  town and visit the Arts and Craft Market.  

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A spot of shopping!

We try to have a peaceful browse thru the displays but the constant "Come to my shop" or "I give a special price for you", we would have been more inclined to stay and shop if we were left to our own devices.

Walking to find a café we come across the weird little spotted Guinea Fowl that seem to be everywhere on this continent.  Attempting to take photos of these blue headed feather balls sends us into fits of giggles, they are so jittery. 

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Helmeted Guinea Fowl!
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Patience Nicole!
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Funny looking things!

We give up and head towards the city center when we hear jazz music and decide to stop at this great little wine bar with a view of the lighthouse.

The atmosphere is relaxed and casual, this little place is full and lively.  We share a chilled bottle of local Sauvignon Blanc or two and enjoy the music for a while.

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Great little jazz bar!
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Enjoying a chilled wine!

Deciding to get something to eat we bump into some of the younger ones as we leave the bar they are looking for somewhere to get a drink our recommendation of the bar are met with expressions of "oh how boring" oh well there loss!

We head to the Brauhaus but it is packed and not a free table in sight.

But we discover this little American themed restaurant.   It is a great little place, if you didn't know it was there you could walk right past it, in fact we did the first time. 

The place is busy and full of locals. we find a table tucked in the corner.  We ask the waitress about the meat platter and she laughs when I ask if we have it without Zebra.

Everyone except us is speaking German and the chef seems to know everyone personally.   

When the chef brings our meal he introduces himself and lets us know that the Zebra has been replaced with Springbok and assures me that it is all farmed no wild animals are part of our meal.  The food is fantastic and we order 2 San Pedros coffee with Amarula which is accompanied with Amarula ice cream compliments of the chef, which is so delicious!

For the second time since we got to Swakopmund we waddle back to the chalet with full happy bellies!

I dive into bed and crash  out tomorrow we leave for the desert.

Posted by Tracy87 01:05 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

THE NAMIBIA DESERT & AMAZING CANYON VIEWS!

Namibia

sunny
View SOUTHERN AFRICA 2018 on Tracy87's travel map.

NOVEMBER 18TH DAY 17

After a nice little sleep in before loading the new truck, it's a quick breakfast and we are on the road once again.

We leave the comfort of the main roads to dirt and gravel  that make the drive slow going.

Despite the heat and dust we pass thru some magnificent scenery, sparse rocky hills changes to flat farmland and dry sandy plains.

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Sandy plains...
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... remote farmland!
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Signs of life out here!

We stop for lunch at a remote tourist stop in the middle of nowhere called Solitaire, it reminds of something out of a western movie.  

It is so damn hot out here, the wind doesn't bring reprieve from the heat it just makes it worse. 

After lunch we head to the shop and café and stock up on supplies of ice cream, cold drinks and snacks before we get in the truck again for the final drive of the day.

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A stop at Solitaire!

After a long hot drive into the desert we finally make it to camp. 

The wind has really picked up and the sand gets into everything, and looking around we really are in the middle of nowhere surround by nothing but sand dunes.

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Campsite in the desert!

After helping prepare dinner I jump in the shower it feels good to wash the sand off, but no sooner do you step out into the open air the sandy wind hits you again. 

the desert starts to cool with the setting sun and we have dinner around the fire, it's been a long hot drive so I head to my tent and read a bit before finally settling in to sleep.

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Desert evening!

NOVEMBER 19TH DAY 18

We roused awake by Victor and it is still dark, we pack our tents under camp lights, this morning we drive to Dune 45.

Our arrival is timed perfectly as the reserve entrance is just opening.  We make our way to the base of the huge orange copper colored dune. 

It is called Dune 45 as they are numbered in order along the Tsauchab River and it just so happens it is exactly 45km from the edge of the Namib Desert. 

We are parked on a dry river bed, and while the others climb up the dune, I stay with the Intrepid team and enjoy the sunrise, the cloudy start to the day mutes the color changes of the sand but is still a beautiful way to start the day.

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The start of a new African day!
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A beautiful way to begin the day!

We are parked on a dry river bed, it is hard to imagine it teaming with water.  It spreads out stark white in the rusty sand.  Spindly dried trees are trying to grow in this harsh environment. 

This desert is the oldest in the world, 80 million years, it is hard to believe there was once water here.

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Namib Desert!
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Such a place of contrast!

It is so beautiful and peaceful out here, I help Emmanuel with breakfast and then sit with a coffee and just enjoy the tranquility of natures surroundings.

Just sitting and watching the colors of the sand change from a coffee color to a lovely bright orange as the sun comes up and the clouds thin is a great reason to be up in the middle of the night.

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Top of Dune 45!

The quiet is broken with the return of the others, most enjoyed the view but complained it was crowded at the top with the other tour groups, glad I didn't go up there, mind you with my fear of heights I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it anyway.

With another of Emmanuel's fantastic breakfasts in our bellies we drive to the pick up center, while we are waiting for the arrangements to be made we have time to wander around. 

There is a queue for the toilets a mile long, so I decide to make use of the "bush toilet" or more of a "sandy dune toilet".  I am minding my own business so to speak when a lone Oryx appears from the desert and just stops and looks at me (what is about me, toilets and wildlife on this trip!)  He is less than 5 meters away and just stands and stares at me. 

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Bush Toilet Visitor!

Slowly I reorganize myself and my movements don't alert him, so I quietly watch him.  Seeing him up close those striking markings and those long curved horns.

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"Some privacy please!"

A stupid man comes noisily striding over trying to get closer to take a photo, the Oryx is startiled and he puts his down and begins to charge, I stay crouched and very still the man turns and runs, the Oryx chases him for a couple of meters before skidding to a halt, he shakes his head, he looks at me and sensing that I am of no threat to him turns and walks away.

When I turn to walk back to the group this man is laughing, this infuriates me and I let him know, "You idiot, this is a wild animal that can kill a Lion to protect itself when it has to show some respect!"  With a look of shook he tries to say something but I don't give the chance.

Our 4x4s are ready, our group is separated into 2 vehicles and as we drive further into the desert a little race begins to take place, as we over take each other, taunts and laughter can be heard from each 4x4.

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Race thru the desert!

If we went 300km east and west we would reach the edge of the Namib Desert.  We are in the center on the dried Konkiep River bed, which begins in Angola, today it is hard ivory patches, dry and dusty.

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The once Konkiep River!

Some of opt out of climbing the dunes and follow a inward track to a vast ancient dried lake.  It is so wild out here the contrasts of nature a nd the colors.  Dried trees stand stark and dark on the sand.  It is a lovely haunting place, and it is nice to sit and to simply enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

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A strange....
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haunting....
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.... wonderful place!

Walking back to the 4x4s across the dry river bed it remains me of an ivory Tortoise shell, from a distance it looks rough but standing on it up close it is smooth with slight grooves and swirling patterns.

While we wait for the others it's nice to explore the surroundings, when you look out into the vastness, the rolling dunes go on forever. This ancient desert that unbelievably hides pockets of life. 

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Sea of sand!

Once there is enough of us to fill a 4x4 we head back to the truck.  The Oryx is gone, and the only wildlife around are little blue and grey Sparrows.  

Emmanuel makes us a coffee and we wait for the rest to arrive, it's not long before we are back on the dusty roads, it seems like out here in the middle of Namibia the roads are all gravel and sand , it makes the drive seem desolate and slow.

The scenery changes from crumbling rocky hills to flat sparse farmland of hardy trees and scrub.  Why would anyone want to live out here.

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It's so desolate!
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What a way to live!
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It seems to go on forever!

We stop in the small town of Bethanie for a shopping break, this little town has a lot of churches, a very religious society the colonial Germans once were, staunch Lutherans.  It is one of the oldest settlements in Namibia, set up by Missionaries, why would they want to start a township out here?

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The Old Lutheran Church!

This little old town has The General Store, must items are sold in bulk but we manage to get a few supplies, but the coffee shop makes a great latte, and has a lovely array of German cakes and slices, some of which I haven't had since I lived there.

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The main store in town!
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A great coffee stop!

We don't stay for very long before we head to our campsite for the night.  It is very basic but comfortable, the hot shower feels amazing.  We have a few drinks before we are called for dinner,

It's been a long hot dusty day of driving, and we were up before the sun, so I head to bed early...

NOVEMBER 20TH DAY 19

After a nice little sleep in and a relaxed breakfast, we begin our travels south into the vast Namibian Desert, the landscape doesn't change much from yesterday and we make it to our next campground in time for lunch.

It is so hot here and after setting up our tents is hard work, but we are distracted by a Kudu that has come for a visit.  He comes right up to the truck and stops and stares at us.  He is a little skinny, you can see his ribs, but he is spectacular, being so close you really get a sense of how big they are, and those markings are amazing.

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Hello there handsome!
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... and off he goes!
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See ya later, thanks for the visit!

Watching Victor and Emmanuel trying to set up for lunch, has us in fits of laughter as they have to cope with Long Winged Starlings trying to steal a morsel or two off the table.  They seem to really like the butter!

They spend half their time trying to shoo them away, they are everywhere and not shy at all.  They even watch us as we eat from the trees and at our feet, there is so many of them!

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Lunch Companions!
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Hoping we will share!

We have the afternoon to ourselves and the swimming pool is very inviting in this desert heat and it is a welcome relief.

Victor rounds us up for the drive out to Fish River Canyon, we are going to be there for sunset.  Ben drops us off at one end so we can slowly make our back to the viewing point for sunset and drinks.

WOW what a view!  Victor tells us NOT to climb down as it is a 5 day hike to get to the bottom and if we get lost or fall there are no rescue helicopters in the area!

Visitors have made little stone pillars on the path to the first viewpoint and I add my own to the array, there is even a circle pattern that someone took the time to construct it looks pretty cool actually!

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WOW what a view!
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Little pillars everywhere!
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Thought this was kinda cool!

The  canyon is huge, and at over 550 meters deep you certainly don't want to fall.  It twists on itself and the Fish River glistens below winding thru the valley, it's not very full at this time of the year and is dry in places.  It is the longest river in Namibia flowing thru the 160km long canyon.  

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View to the north!
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It's a spectacular place!
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View to the south!
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No climbing down!

The rock formations in places look like they have been squashed flat, but it is a geographical tear in the earth formed about 650 million years ago.

The colors change as the sun lowers on the skyline, an array of coppers, tan, dark brown and bronze show in the layers of colorful streaks running thru the canyon walls.  In parts the canyon looks like rough giant  out stretched fingers.

We follow the path along the edge, the rocks look burnt like lava has been dripped to burn perfect spots on earth.

Sparse palm like trees stand lonely in the rocky landscape.

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A lonely sign of life!
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Hope he comes back for us!

Ripple patterns appear on the rock walls below where the river has left it's mark over the millions of years.  This is the second largest canyon in the world and seems to go on forever.  

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Trying not to look down!

In the distance across a plateau that sits in the middle of the canyon mountain peaks stand tall in the hazy skyline.

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Such an amazing landscape!

But it is the view below that captures your attention.  As we follow the path you can't help but look down, the ravine changes with every twist and turn.

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What a fantastic....
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... world we live in!

When we arrive at the lookout point Victor and Ben are there with the truck and other overland groups are there.  

Settled in for our sunset viewing we open our wine and set up our little picnic, and enjoy the evening views.

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Enjoying the view!
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What a way to spend an evening!
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Sunset drinks!
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Great views, great travel companions!

As the sunsets it turns the sky a lovely dusky pink and the canyon seems to glow in the early evening light.

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Another beautiful evening!

The sun sinks on the horizon and the sky glows a bright gold, no matter where you are Africa always puts on a spectacular sunset and this is no exception!

Once the sun disappears we head back to camp, it's been a wonderful afternoon.

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Golden Glow!

When we get back to camp the fire is roaring and Emmanuel has prepared a lovely BBQ dinner.  

Everyone is relaxed and happy and tonight we don't have to worry about getting up early in the morning!

Posted by Tracy87 02:18 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

FROM THE ORANGE RIVER TO A FAMOUS MOUNTAIN!

Namibia to South Africa

sunny
View SOUTHERN AFRICA 2018 on Tracy87's travel map.

NOVEMBER 21ST DAY 20

Another sleep in today and we head further south, today we head to the Orange River.

The landscape is dry and flat, dusty mountains stand hazy in the distance.  It is going to be hot dusty drive this morning.

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Still so desolate!

Suddenly as we get closer the mountain ranges green appears, vineyards as far as the eye can see.

We stop a small shopping center that makes up the village for the workers in area.

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Finally some greenery!
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Vineyards for miles!

Right next to the shopping center is a shanty town, a mish mash of  of temporary housing for the workers in the Wineries and Mines in the area.  And after passing some pretty grand houses sitting pretty in the plantations, you really see the contrast of the white and the native population.  I know it is typical of any country with history of colonialism, but to see the stark difference and the lack of equality upsets me.  But as Victor says 'Change takes time'

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The workers quarters!

The landscape switches from copper dusty hills to more emerald green vineyards and soon we turn off the main road and towards the river where our campsite is located.

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How do they grow anything here?
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But they do!

We are staying right on the river and we are camping on grass, it feels so soft under bare feet, I know that sounds corny but we have only had dust and sand for days... it's the small things! 

Before lunch we organise a group kayak on the river, I am looking forward to getting into the water!

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So good to be by the water!

After lunch we take a minivan to our launch spot on the river.  We partner up and lucky for me I have Farren so it's team New Zealand.  It's been a long time since I have this and I am glad I have someone who knows what they are doing.

Once we are in the water and settle in I actually begin to enjoy the scenery that is slowly passing us by.  

I think I am doing an ok job keeping up with Farren, but I am pretty sure he is doing most of the work.

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This is fun!

Black Storks sun themselves on the riverbank,  wings spread wide to cool themselves down in the afternoon heat.  Kingfishers dart over the water looking for a catch.

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So good to be out on the water!

A couple of the girls get stuck in the reeds, and a splashing competition begins, luckily for me I have a good partner and team NZ are the victors.

We hit our first set of rapids, nothing too raging or scary.  As we have guides to take us thru criss crossing across the river.

A group of boys are out swimming and help the girls out of the reeds that they have managed to get themselves tangled in again. 

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Follow the leader!

With the first set of rapids behind us the river becomes calm and it is so peaceful out here.  Fish are streaking thru the reeds and a Heron does a dive beside but misses his mark sending us into fits of laughter.

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Tranquility on the Orange River!

We find this little black plastic parcel floating in the water, intrigued we turn around and scoop it out of the water, all it is polystyrene, not wanting  to leave rubbish in the water we keep it with us. 

A fisherman is out throwing a net, he sits on a tractor tyre, we stop and chat with him in broken English he hasn't caught anything yet.  It turns out the little polystyrene parcel is a buoy for the net and we ask him if it is his, he shakes his head but we offer it to him and with a thank you he is all smiles and laughter, as we say thank you and goodbye.

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Afternoon antics!

We stop at a sand bank and have a swim, the water is lovely and warm, it feels so wonderful and relaxing. 

We sit on the sandy shore letting the water flow over our legs chatting, we are actually in South Africa, the river is a natural border between the 2 countries.  Once used to transport gems and diamonds from the desert, pity didn't find any on our travels.  I remember it being in one Wilburs Smiths books and promise myself to re-read them when I get home.  

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South Africa a paddle away!

Back in the kayaks we head up river towards our campground.

We pass more fishermen out on their tractor tyres, they smile and wave as we glide by.  

As we come to our last set of rapids Farren decides to stand up as the water starts to churn.  Crazy bugger, sit down but he doesn't listen to me as the others taunt him, but as the kayak begins to rock and he finally comes to his senses, I promise not to ruin his rep by telling the others he got nervous.

After the rapids the campground comes into sight, I don't want his to end but we can't stay out here all day.

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Does this have to end!

We glide back to the campground, disembarking is a bit of a struggle in the mud and rocks, but it was a fun afternoon.

We are greeted by the others and sit by the pool having a well deserved cold drink.  The pool is lovely and warm and very relaxing and when the evening air starts to cool it's an indication to get out and change.

I get the feeling I will have aching arms tomorrow so a hot shower before dinner.

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The view from my bar stool!

Dinner once again is fantastic and we sit around chatting, soon the trip will be coming to an end and it makes me feel a little sad, this is a great bunch.

Today was fantastic and I am pretty sure I am going to get a kayak!

NOVEMBER 22ND DAY 21

Departure is early this morning, we have quite the drive today to the Western Cape.

The landscape changes from lush green vineyards to dry and sparse. Hazy rust colored mountains sit lazily on the distance horizon. 

We pass some unusual houses out here in the middle of the desert, they just appear out of nowhere, what a crazy place to live!

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Desert Dwellings!

We have a border crossing today and once we have checked out of Namibia and we approach the South African check in Victor talks to me, he is still nervous about New Zealanders crossing, as we have to have a visa, he knows I have one but he wants me to go first in case there are any problems.

The border crossing is quite small considering and as Victor asks I go first, he is at my side and I gret the lady behind the counter with a smile, when she sees my passport her face changes from friendly to disdain, she looks at me and asks "How long you staying in South Africa?" I try to keep smiling and answer her. She gives me a look, no smile asks why I am here? Where have I been?  She is actually quite rude, but  continue to smile and she slams the stamp down in my passport and shoves it back at me.  WOW, what do they have against New Zealanders?

One of the Australians is behind me and her tone is friendly and light the opposite to how she treated me, Victor talks to me outside he is amazed at her attitude and makes a joke out of it, but I didn't find her rudeness amusing.

Once everyone has gone thru the border process we have to wait for the truck to pass inspection, it is hot and dusty and I will admit the way I was spoken to has put me in a bit of a bad mood.

So I just watch the arid scenery pass by.  But the long straight roads and the never ending desert scenery does little to lift my mood.

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Long desert roads...!

The day seems to drag on, this is not the most interesting drive of the trip the roads are long and straight, and the scenery doesn't change much.  The mountains slowly get closer but it seems to take forever like time has slowed down.

We have lunch in the car park of a shopping center in this small village.  There is time to by snacks and drinks before we are back on those long desert roads.

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... they seem endless!

I actually have asleep which for me is unusual I don't sleep when traveling ever!  When I wake up rugged mountains stand tall, one set looks like a sleeping man the other could be mistaken for Table Mountain nearly perfectly squared it looks like a giant cake.

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It does look like a cake, right?

Finally we start to see green as we get to the Western Cape, it's quite a lovely region full of Vineyards and farmland.  We drove down into Klawer (which means wild clover in Afrikaans)  We turn off onto a bumpy track and pass tractors and trailers bring men in from the fields. 

Our campground is in a family owned vineyard and as we pull into the driveway we are greeted by excited dogs and their owners.

We have a fantastic view of the valley below and the surrounding hills.

Once camp is set up and  we help Emmanuel with the dinner prep we head up the bar for  an evening of wine tasting.

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View from the tent!

Our host takes his job very seriously, he gets a little impatient waiting for us to settle down.  

The Winchester Vineyards produces a small amount of bouquet wines, they have only 2 acres of vines.

We try a Chenin Blanc first, a lovely crisp white, I really like it!  We try 2 Rose we try next is nice a bit sweet but quite refreshing.  The Sparkling Rose named after the owners wife is too sweet.  Last we try their speciality liqueur called a Rusty... um something I forget, a mix of herbs and Rooibos tea, like a sweet sherry with a tea after taste... yeah... na don't like it!  Farren is happy to finish mine and some of the others.

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The Wine Tasting!

We are treated to cheese platters after the tasting and we sit around chatting, hoping to finish the bottles but no such luck.  I treat myself to another of those lovely Chenin Blancs before we head down to dinner.  It is weird to think that tonight is our last night as a group once we get to Cape Town we all do our own thing, a little sad really I have made some good friends on this trip.

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Cheers to new friends!

As the sunsets behind us the surrounding hills seem glow, the moon is out in the hazy blue sky. 

What a great way to spend our last night as a group together!

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The hills are aglow!

Our last dinner is around the campfire, what a great way to enjoy our final meal together.  We all head back up to the bar including Ben, Emmanuel and Victor, we all talk over each other and Victor asks us each what the highlight of the trip was and we all agree you can't just have one on this amazing continent. 

The laughter is loud and when we sing the Delta Song the other 'posh' tour group gives us evil glares.

Everyone teases me about the border crossing, fancy letting a Kiwi in, LOL but Victor backs me up, all I can say is it must be because South Africa can't beat us at rugby and it's all jealousy!  But hey good on me for staying cool and polite, I really didn't understand why, no need to be rude ah!

Some of us head down to the campsite and sit around the fire, oh my god why does the campsite have to be on a hillside so many stairs!

Etta, Lynn, David and Monique and I raid our alcohol supplies, oh watermelon bacardi breezers how I wish we could buy these at home!  

Ok I will admit, maybe I drank too much, OMG those stairs aren't good when you need to go to the toilet, I can't count the times!

So after an evening of too much to drink we stumble to our tents...

NOVEMBER 23RD DAY 22

Well I will admit I am feeling a little worse for wear this morning, but I am not the only one!

It is our last Emmanuel breakfast and he somehow knows that   everyone needs a good solid breakfast to soak up the festivities from last night!  And his breakfast is just what we all needed!

Today the tour finishes and this breakfast is our last meal together, and we are all a little slow in packing up this morning, glad I am not the only suffering this morning!

The drive to takes up most of the morning, about 6 hours and everyone in their own way is trying to get over last night.  So when we stop at a shopping center at a very modern shopping center in god only knows where, I get the largest coffee I can, as well as a top off to breakfast!  Lynn, Etta and I shake our heads laughing as we shop wondering why we did this to ourselves!

With a second extra large coffee in hand we pile back onto the truck to settle in for the trip to Cape Town.

We arrive on the outskirts of Cape Town around lunch time, passing a shanty town that is surrounded by billboards advertising the latest consumer item, what a contradiction in status.

As we get into the center of the city the traffic becomes crazy!  Ben does a fantastic job maneuvering the truck thru it all.

What a city it is busy, colorful and dynamic. 

You can't help but  stare out the truck window in awe Table Mountain dominates the landscape, standing tall above the sprawling city!

After a lot of twists and turns we finally make to our accommodation in the heart of Cape Town, and Bens parking ability earns him applause.

Unloading our gear from the truck is a nightmare, everyone is trying to get their bags out at the same time, so I sit back watch the chaos and wait till everyone is done.

The lobby looks like a bomb of bags and backpacks went off as we wait to be given our room keys.  

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Once in Cape Town, my last stop!

Since we are a little early and our rooms aren't ready, we have our bags stored and Lynn and I go for a walk to explore and find a place to have lunch.

It doesn't take us long there is a fantastic cafe just down the road, bright modern and open, their own brew coffee is so good I two of them, and the smoked salmon panini isn't bad either!

With lunch over we decide to take a walk to find where we can catch the sightseeing bus.  But trying to cross the road is a feat in itself.  Road rules, what road rules, we wait at the crossing for the go to cross and when the light to cross comes on we still can't, the traffic doesn't stop, they don't believe in red lights here.

A city security guard (yeap, the city has appointed security guards for tourists) notices our plight and helps us to cross the intersection by halting the traffic, all we can do is laugh with embarrassment and thank him for his help.

Walking down one of Cape Towns older main streets the old colonial architecture is gorgeous.  Restaurants, cafes mix with shops overloaded with stock that spills out on the pavement.

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Love the Architecture!

The vibe is busy and friendly, music fills the street from bars and restaurants, one thing I notice is the security personal that is around, not police but city security!  Is it really needed?

We pass the parliament buildings, which are tucked away off the main street in a pretty little gardens in a sunny open square.  

This busy vibrant city is easy to fall in love with, although the people seemed a little.... umm closed, they don't acknowledge each other with a smile as much as I have seen in other African cities.

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Municipal Buildings!

We bump into Trevor and Jackie who are having lunch and chat for a bit. We arrange to have drinks later at the backpackers. 

The bus stop we are looking for seems to nowhere in sight, so we ask another security guard and Victors directions are pretty good, just a little further down the street than he stated, but hey it's a great city to get lost in!

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WOW, yeap I could live here!

Having found the bus stop we head back to the backpackers as our rooms will be ready.  Once again we have trouble trying to cross that bloody intersection, but we manage to make it unassisted this time, yeah for us and yes we are quite pleased with ourselves.

As we hoped our rooms are ready, but dragging the backpack and extra bag I had to buy for all those little purchases is not easy, and I am on the 4th floor!

But it is worth it as I have a fantastic view of Table Mountain from my window!

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The famous Table Mountain!

My room with the amazing view is great, and after dumping my bags and a bit of sorting it is nice to have a shower, after the hot dusty morning drive.

I head down to the garden bar and wait for Lynn and Etta, we have a coffee before heading out. 

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My Room!

Lynn and I make our way to the bus stop once again fighting the traffic to cross the road, and if it's possible the traffic seems worse. 

The sightseeing bus is there when we arrive and we purchase an all day ticket, so we can hop on and off as we please.

It is hot up on the open top deck but you can't beat the views!

The tour takes us past these wonderful colored terrace houses, each painted in bright funky colors, they look fantastic, I love how Africans embrace color, so fun!

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So Fabulous!

As we make our way thru the suburbs up to table mountain, I notice this little car with people sitting in the boot holding the door down, how many are in there, where I come from the police would be all over that as some sort of traffic violation, but hey here anything goes when it comes to the traffic!

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How many are in there!?!

The winding drive up thru parks around the base of rocky peaks, gives you amazing views of Cape Town which spreads out below.  

The sprawling city is edged by the beautiful blue ocean and stretches off into the hazy distance.

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What a view!

It's not an easy drive, there is traffic everywhere, buses jostle to get past each other, but the slow going gives you time to enjoy the views below.

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Lions Head Mountain!
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Getting higher up!

The bus park is a short walk from the base point, it is so crowded and the queue for the gondola is massive, so we opt out and instead grab a cold drink and enjoy the scenery that is so spectacular! 

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The Iconic Table Mountain!

Leaving the crowds behind we head back to the bus stop, we are a little confused as to which bus to get but with help from one of the drivers we finally find the right one. 

The drive down takes us around the base of Table Mountain and you really get a sense of gigantic the mountain is.  At the top is the little gondola hut but it is so high up you cant see the people milling about.

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The Top!

We drive thru towering pines and pass Lion Head Mountain, maybe it's just me but I don't see it, maybe it looks like a Lions head from the other side.

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Lions Head Mountain!

The winding road down out of the trees opens up to beautiful views of the coast,  The Atlantic Ocean sparkles bright blue below, suburbs sprawl up the mountain spreading around the coastline.

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Beautiful Bay Views!

Devils Peak (part of the Table Mountain range) towers above the beach suburbs as the bus turns and we make our way to the beach road.

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Devils Peak!

The coastal suburbs are a mix of modern and colonial buildings, the streets are so narrow its a wonder that the bus can maneuver itself around the tight hilly corners.  

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Heading to the beach!

The beaches open up on one side and restaurants and cafes line the street on the other.  People are everywhere enjoying the hot sunny weather,  it is a lovely place to live but I am guessing by the look of some of the fancy apartments it isn't a cheap place to live!

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Cute suburbs...
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... with a glimpse of the past

As we follow the coastal road the Atlantic Ocean is a shimmering blue, the white sandy beaches are filled with people. On the opposite side of the road venders sell ice cream and drinks, what a lovely place to be on such a lovely day.

Restaurants and cafes line the boardwalk and even the local hospital has a fantastic beach view.

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The Local Hospital!

The road winds past high rise apartments all built thru the different eras of architecture from modern to Art Deco to old colonial.  I am thinking the rent is a lot higher than mine!

The road takes us up and around to quieter suburbs and the sweeping views we leave behind are fantastic!

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Leaving the beach behind!

The road winds past high rise apartments all built thru the different eras of architecture from modern to Art Deco to old colonial.  I am thinking the rent is a lot higher than mine!

The road takes us up and around to quieter suburbs and the sweeping views we leave behind are fantastic!

Even the little light houses are quirky.  the houses here are more gated and there are less of the high rise apartments, probably because there is no sandy beaches just sweeping ocean views from the cliff side.

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A little lighthouse!

We pass the stadium as we wind around to the main port.  There are bars, restaurants and markets, it looks like a trendy place to go out and it is busy!

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The Waterfront!
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The waterfront clock tower!

After passing the Aquarium we head back into the center of the city and we pass the University, before we hit the busy inner city streets again.

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Cape Town University!

The old church spire dominates the sky line as the architecture changes from modern of the industrial suburbs filled with embassies and showrooms for expensive cars that most of us cant afford to the colourful colonial buildings. 

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The old church!

The streets are vibrant and busy, I love the atmosphere of this city.  We debate whether to go around for a second ride and stay on the bus and sit back and enjoy the views for a second time!

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Gotta love the way the embrace color!

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Such a vibrant city!

The streets are crowded with the locals leaving work for the day as we walk back to the backpackers.  Crossing that intersection at peak hour traffic should be classed as an adrenaline sport, it's crazy!

We sit with some of the others from the group and have a cold drink while we wait for Etta to get back and as soon as she does we  head off looking for somewhere to have dinner, on Victors recommendations we find a side street not far lined with restaurants and opt for a middle eastern restaurant the atmosphere is fantastic and the food is amazing. 

It is our last night together as Lynn and I are flying home tomorrow we make the most and really make an evening of it.

When we get back to the backpackers  I sort out my bags and check the staff travel loads for the flight home, and it is not looking good!  So I make a plan B to purchase a full fare as the loads for the next few days gets worse, and I really don't fancy being stuck in Joburg for days on end!

Feeling a bit nervous about my flight home tomorrow sleep eludes me for a while.....

NOVEMBER 24TH DEPARTURE DAY

It is so nice to sleep in and to have a real bed.  Opening the curtains Gable Mountain stands vigilant over the city like a protector, what a view to wake up to! 

Due to the strict water restrictions Cape Town is under the shower this morning is strictly under 5 minutes.

A small breakfast and a large coffee at the garden restaurant, I say goodbye to some of the group that are here this morning before my driver arrives.

He is a friendly smiling local and I share my ride with 4 others and the drive out of the city is hectic at peak hour morning traffic.

But as we get to the outskirts of Cape Town we pass a Shanty Town that is on the edge of the city, the irony of the billboards advertising BMWs and IPhones that tower over these humble abodes is not lost on me!

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The reality!

It takes about an hour to get to  the airport and finding my around is quite easy, as it's not as large as I thought it would be.  Check in is a breeze and while I wait to board I have a coffee and read my book.

Hmm South African Airlines I thought it would be ummm how do I say this... a bit nicer, but the staff are friendly and it's not a long flight.

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Goodbye Cape Town I hope I will be back again!

I arrive in Joburg with 3 hours to spare before my flight, I head to international and head to the Qantas counter, my stomach is doing turns and I am nervous about the staff loads, I am given a stand by ticket and it doesn't help my nerves, so I get a coffee and try to read my book while I wait!

Finally it is the moment of truth and I head back to the check in counter, and I am so relieved when I am handed a boarding pass, I really don't know how I got a seat but I did!

I do a spot of last minute shopping before we board, this airport is a fantastic for souvenirs! 

Once on board I settle into my seat and for the first time today truly relax!

Home I go!

Posted by Tracy87 04:56 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

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