Sunday, 18 September 2011
North of Namibia
Well... we finally were able to get a car sorted here in Windhoek. Took a little bit of doing but in the end we were able to get everything settled. After some indecisiveness, Robyn (the Aussie girl) decided to come along with us. Our guest house promised that Budget rental car would not give our car away so we were off. We woke up early Sunday morning, packed and picked up a car. We got insurance coverage that included EVERYTHING because we knew that two main road ways that bisect were all that were paved, the rest is gravel. This of course can cause problems with rock chips on the windscreen. Total coverage in Namibia does not mean everything. For example, the undercarriage, wheels, tires, and water and sand damage along with excessive dirt (whatever that means) are all not covered. We packed up and were about to set off when a Welsh Guy Chris (after vascillating for the better part of 36 hours finally decided he would join us)... The drive out of town turned into a pretty straight shot due North. The road made only a few gradual turns the first 200 km's as we zipped past the flat desert landscape. We were making good time as many cars seemed to breeze by us when suddenly off in the distance a policeman appeared in the middle of the road. He flagged us down and when we pulled over, he informed Jeff, who at the time was driving, that he had been speeding. Even though seemingly many cars had passed us , WE got pulled over. He asked Jeff to exit the vehicle and walk to the other side of the highway where his radar sat perched and showed that we were going about 9 kms (5 miles) over the speed limit. The officer opened a ticket book showing that the fine could be up to 2000 Namibian dollars (approx. 300 US) OUCH!!!! At that point, Jeff asked the cop if there was anything he could do to avoid paying such a stiff penalty. The cop himmed and hawed and said "probably not", Jeff said isn't there some way we can take care of this here in Branard? (Fargo reference)... The cop played dumb and said what do you mean and Jeff pulled out a 100 dollar note (Namibian) and said maybe this will take care of it. The cop took the money, thanked Jeff and once again we were off. After a couple more hours we found our way into Etosha National Park. Erika went into reception and tried to secure us a campsite spot. At first she was told the site was completely full, but after some sweet talking she was able to procure us a nice site for the night. Etosha is unlike many game parks. First it is extremely flat, as it is set flush against the Etosha pan. A dried salt lake that only fills during the rainy season. The main attraction to Etosha is the fact that there are many water holes set throughout the park. One only has to park the car next to one of these water holes and wait...... Eventually the animals show up... and boy do they ever!!! We saw amazing amounts of zebras, springbok, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, and even huge prides of lions. We spent hours just sitting by the various local holes just watching in amazement as one group of animals after another came slowly, cautiously up to the water. Many knew that the predators lurked somewhere out in the bush. Sure enough there were many jackals, cheetah and lions waiting for the right moment. Four full days of watching these incredible interactions went way too quickly. We were fortunate enough to see lions not only hunt but kill several animals. Gruesome to watch but a definite part of the life cycle. After leaving Etosha we headed toward Damaraland. A very interesting part of Namibia. Extremely desolate and with little or no water it is amazing to think that people can actually live out in this harsh environment. We spent a couple of days around an area called Kamanjab. Sleeping under a million stars with the only sounds being the occasional bird or stray jackal howl. After a couple of days we headed south toward the coast along a very rocky and bumpy gravel road. There was little sign of life aside from the occasional patchwork shack alongside the roadway. Usually these had a few people trying to sell various souveniers. Many were manned by a curios tribe called the Himba. These people are what one may imagine when they think of "African tribes" The woman wear only a small loin cloth covering their privates. They are all bare chested, with an orange ochre covering their bodies. Their hair is braided with the orange tint also. The children also only wear a small g-string type outfit. It is quite fascinating. These people are so very primitive and poor. Seeing them along side the road in the middle of nowhere is disheartening. We purchased a small bracelet so they could make probably their one sale of the week as there did not seem to be too many if any cars on the road. Of course the last 20 k before we reached the coastal road we passed a group of 4 motorcycles, one which shot up a huge rock and of course it hit the wind screen... Thank goodness for insurance!! Luckily we made it to the Town of Swapkomund. A strange German town straight from Hansel and Gretel set on the coast of Africa. Replete with German bakeries and shops it was like a time warp. The town along with most of the coast was covered in a fog so it seemed like we were back at home except for the Konditeri!! After a week we were able to make it back in one piece, one chipped window, and a bribe later at least we were safe!! We are now planning somehow to get to the huge sand dunes that are south of Windhoek. Not sure of how we are going to get there since there is NO public transport but we will figure out a way. We will let you know.