An April 2007 trip
to Namibia by Linda Hoernke
Quote: Namibia was part of a month-long trip through southern Africa. The people, the land, and the animals make this a trip of dreams
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Protea Hotel Zambezi River Lodge
+264 (66) 253 149
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 14, 2007
The driver in his 4x4 Landrover sped down the dirt road and over a series of bumps…at times we actually became airborne. We reached a point in the desert where two huge balloons were being filled and the light of day was bringing the views into perspective. We climbed into the basket of one of the balloons and it slowly lifted off the floor of the Namib Desert. We floated above the landscape where the sun began casting shadows across the distant dunes. The balloon rose and I noticed movement across the desert floor. A group of oryx were foraging for food. The land is flat and extends as far as the eye can see. There are strange circles in the landscape caused by either a dying plant or a fungus. Or, as our balloon pilot states, "the fairies made them." He is quite a character…looks like he could be a relative of Crocodile Dundee. We sail silently toward a stretch of trees that turn out to be a dry river bed. Ostrich run from the shadow our balloon is casting. The dunes glow in the morning sun and we drift over small hills and waves of sand. We follow close to the ground and land in the middle of the desert. A few trucks show up driven by local Namibians. They park and start running around, unloading the trucks. They were so organized I was amazed in watching them pack up the balloons, set up a long table with linens and china, fill the table with all sorts of food and pour champagne into crystal glasses. We make a toast to each other and to our trip together before sitting down to croissants, fresh breads and jams, fine cheeses and meats, crepes and fresh fruit. The best part was the atmosphere.
Reservations can be made through:Namib Sky Balloon Safaris, P.O. Box 5197, Windhoek, NamibiaPhone: +264 63 68 3188Fax: +264 63 68 3189E Mail: email@example.com
Ngepi Camp is situated on the Okavango River, the third largest river in Africa. We reached the end of a dirt road and unloaded the truck to carry our packs and camp gear to the edge of the Kavango River. Members from the Ngepi Camp were there to cart us across the river to the camp since the river had flooded the road. We traveled by traditional mokoro canoe until the boat couldn’t go any farther. From there we carried the gear above our heads and waded to shore where we had to hike up a short trail to our campsite.
The campsite is beautiful and they have a number of activities from a walk to a village to fishing on the river or birding to view the over 500 species of birds that inhabit the area. The camp can arrange boat safaris on the Kavango River along with truck safaris into the Okavango Delta. They also have a nice open air bar to sit and enjoy the company of the other campers. Once the gear was in place and our tents up, some of us went for a walk to the village of Divayi. A very poor village on the edge of the river. The children were happy to see us and we walked through their way of life. Children fishing at the rivers edge and mothers cooking something in little pots near their reed and adobe homes. One of our group brought a bag of balloons of which we showed the children how to blow them up. It was great fun and we all found laughter as our common language.
Back at camp I swam in an area of the river that was enclosed by a cage. The current of the river was so strong that I kept swimming in one spot. Signs on the sides of the cage warned of hippos and crocodiles in the waters outside the cage. After dinner, a group from the village we had visited earlier came into our camp. They formed a half circle…the men started drumming and the women danced, sang, and clapped hands. They invited us to join their circle and most of us were clapping and dancing with them. A night where a little bit of Europe and America was joined with a little bit of Africa.
Directions: Take the B8 from Rundu towards Katima, 200km; 10km south of Divundu on Mohembo border road turn off left for 4km.On the Windhoek - Vic Falls Intercape bus route (called Bagani on the ticket), get off at Divundu and call for a FREE pick up.From Maun, head north via Shakawe through the border post, 15 km., Ngepi on the right.
We camped at the Sesreim campsite and drove the three miles to a small slot canyon by the same name. It was an important source of water for early inhabitants and even during dry times there is water in the far end of the canyon. Early explorers used to lower a bucket down to collect the water. The canyon was formed by the Tsauchab River rising in the Naukluft and Zaris Mountains and flowing through to Sossusvlei.
We explored passageways into the slot canyon on foot. Our journey through this canyon takes us back 10-20 million years where the limestone walls rise above us. The canyon is small but the home to many birds. We hike through the narrows that end at a box canyon with a pool of water that mirrors the canyon walls. There are large logs and sticks wedged in the walls above us...put there from rushing water the last time this canyon flooded.
The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world next to the Grand Canyon. There was a full moon last night over our campground and it was just being replaced with the sun when we were on the road driving to Fish River Canyon. We drove to a view point where the gorge fell away in a sheer drop. The Canyon was created by a collapse of the ground caused by movements in the earth's crust. We walked along the rim and watched the sun begin to fill the canyon. Most of us wanted to stay longer…the sight was so impressive. There are longer trails that you can backpack into the canyon to explore more of this spectacular area.
Located in the Namib-Naukluft Park, Soussuvlei has the highest sand dunes in the world. The best time to visit them is early morning to catch the suns rays coming up over the dunes. Sossusvlei is a depression in the land that is covered by sand. The sun rises over the dunes casting shadows across the land. The colors are deep red and the patterns in the sand are only broken by the tracks of beetles and small animals. They glow in the morning light with hues of red and orange. Our group hiked through an area of tall grass dotted with the silhouette of a few trees. We crossed a small dune and dropped into an area of crusted dirt and rock with twisted logs forming a pattern to decorate the dunes.
I followed a few of the people up the side of the tallest dune but only make it 2/3rds of the way. I hiked up a smaller dune...the sand was fine and I slid backwards. They call this part of the dune its slipface. I finally reached the crest and walked along the edge to the top. The wind was blowing grains of sand off the crest, building and reducing each dune with time. We stopped to rest and look through the veil of fine particles before continuing along the crest to the top. We climbed Dune 45...so named because it is 45 kilometers into the park. The wind was blowing the sand into wisps off the top of the dune. Some of our group climbed to the top but I walked around the base photographing the scenery. The strange dead trees jutting from the landscape and contrasting against the red of the dunes. More beetles and a jackal scampered by. So much life to an area that is considered desert…a photographers dream.
Etosha translates to mean The Great White Place. Located in Namibia, Etosha Pan became a park in 1907. We entered Etosha through the Anderson gate at the east end of the park. Set camp up at Namutoni. We walked to a flood lit water hole and sat and watched. There was a rustling in the reeds and two wildebeest appeared…next were a couple of black backed jackals. They are the thieves of the African animal kingdom. One came into our camp and stole a plastic bag. Another ran away with meat, another group was getting ready to cook and another…he took a shoe that was sitting outside a tent. Took a slow drive through the park. Zebra and gemsbok were eating and we could see a leopard in a tree in the distance. The wildebeest mingled with the zebra. A small bat-eared fox stuck his head up from the tall grass and black backed jackels ran about. We saw two rhinos in the brush and the little white birds that accompany them. The weavers were darting in and out of their nests on the trees and ostrich were walking through the plains. I noticed that one of the ostrich were a much darker color and found that these were the males.
The following day we drove to Okaukuejo, our campsite within the park for our second night. The site was sand and not much to see but within walking distance of a water hole. We set up camp and walked to the pool at a nearby resort where we all spent the next few hours. There was another game drive scheduled but I decided to skip it and spend the time at the pool. On the way back to the campground I stopped at the water hole. I was the only one there. I could hear a noise in the distance and noticed a huge cloud of dirt coming toward me. All of a sudden I realize what was stirring up so much dust…a herd of elephants running toward the water hole and me. The scene was so amazing. They stayed in the water hole for almost an hour. I watched the young elephants lift the water in their trunks and then try to coordinate the trunk into their mouths. Most of the time they missed just like a small child trying to put food in their mouths for the first time.
The sun was starting to set and the shine on the backs of the elephants picked up an orange glow from the water. It was dark when the elephants walked back into the bush. I returned to camp and revisited the water hole after dinner. They had flood lights set up to make it easy to view the hyena, jackals, and birds that visited. Wildebeest came down to drink. The scene of the elephants running toward me will always be imprinted in my mind…this is what I came to see.
That night hyenas and jackals were running through our campsite howling and screaming and making all sorts of noise. They were brushing up against the side of the tent and kept waking me up. In the morning, I crawled out of the tent to find they had left their scat all over the place. Looked like they had a party. Packed up early and walked to the waterhole one more time before leaving Etosha. A few wildebeest came for a drink. One was running toward the water at full speed when all of a sudden he stopped and laid down. I can only guess that he figured he ran far enough and decided to take a rest before continuing on. Five zebra showed up and followed the trail around the water. Their reflections became distorted from small birds drinking at the waters edge. A springbok walks past and a few hyena can be seen in the distance as the pink lavender sky lit up the land from the rising sun.
Back on the truck we drove through Etosha and toward Damaraland. We spotted giraffe in the bush and more impala before leaving the park.
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