After our southern tour, we arrived back in Windhoek on Thursday 29th August, and checked into the same hotel. We spent the afternoon trying to catch up with various things on the laptop, but as the wifi was very slow, we did not get far, and were not able to put up our last blog. In the evening we had dinner at Joe’s Beerhouse, with five others from our southern trip.
Next day we set off on our second camping tour of Namibia. This time there were only six of us: ourselves, two German girls who had also been on the southern tour and a couple of Dutch women. Ian had the dubious honour of being the only man, apart from the driver/guide and his assistant.
The tour followed the same pattern as the southern tour. Once again we spent a lot of time driving between places of interest. And once again the evenings and nights were mostly very cold. Getting undressed was unthinkable. On the first night Sandie was wearing five layers of clothes, two pairs of socks and a woolie hat; she had a blanket on top of her sleeping bag but was still frozen. She wished she had stuck to her general rule of camping only in warm places such as Florida and the south of France!
Our first destination was the Okonjima Game Reserve. Our afternoon game drive was supposed to start at 3, but owing to various hiccups did not begin until 4.30. This did not leave us much time before sunset, but we were able to see several cheetahs, as well as a leopard eating raw meat specially placed in a tree for the entertainment (?) of the tourists.
Next we were off to Etosha National Park, the biggest in Namibia. Near our first campground was a waterhole where we were able to observe three elephants at close quarters. Later we went on a drive and spotted lots of animals, including gnus, zebras, giraffes and hyenas. The climax came when we visited a waterhole at sunset, and saw a large herd of elephants (approximately 50, we estimated, including babies) coming to drink.
We spent the whole of the next day in Etosha, and saw many more animals. We stopped at several waterholes. At one we saw a herd of elephants wallowing in mud; at a second there was one elephant surrounded by many other animals; and at a third we saw a rhino posing beautifully to create a perfect reflection.
Places of interest
After leaving Etosha we headed south again, by an indirect route that enabled us to visit several places of interest. The first was a small village inhabited by Himba tribespeople from the north of Namibia. A guide showed us round and explained the Himba customs – such as knocking out the three lower front teeth of young people when they reach their teenage years. The Himba women paint themselves with red ochre and use it to decorate their hair. They formed a circle while we were there, and did a ‘hard sell’ of souvenirs.
The next day we drove through some wonderful scenery, crossing the Grootberg Pass. We visited Twyfelfontein, said to be one of the largest collections of rock art in Africa. The engravings of animals were interesting, although we were even more impressed by the landscape in which they were set.
Our last two campgrounds were very basic in terms of facilities, but in attractive settings, surrounded by lots of fascinating rock formations. As we arrived early both days and had time to spare, we were able to walk around and take plenty of photos. And the nights were thankfully not nearly as cold as at the other places we had stayed.
The end of the tour
On the penultimate day of our northern tour, we headed for the coast. En route the weather and the scenery changed dramatically. Although the nights in Namibia had been cold, the days had been consistently hot, with deep blue skies and bright sun. On this journey the sun disappeared and the sky changed from dark blue to pale grey. The landscape became totally flat, barren and desolate, with off-white sand that almost matched she sky. It was hard to believe that we were in the same country.
We made two stops on the so-called ‘skeleton coast’. The first was at Cape Cross, to see the large colony of Cape fur seals. It was impressive to see hundreds of seals, and the Atlantic waves crashing against the rocks; however, we tended to take some photos and then hurry back to the bus, because the weather was so cold. Later we stopped close to a shipwreck (one of many along this coast) for lunch.
We stayed overnight (in a guesthouse, not a campground) in the town of Swakopmund, reportedly Namibia’s premier seaside resort, but with few tourists in the early spring. We walked around the town, taking photos of the German colonial architecture and the waves threatening to soak those brave enough to walk out on the jetty. In the evening we had dinner as a group, our last meal together as the Dutch women were staying in the town, rather than returning to Windhoek as we did the next day.