A campsite with a difference.
02.12.2007 - 03.12.2007 40 °C
From Waterberg we hitch up the wagon early, head through Otjiwarongo, a town I always think is pretty and charming, and on to Outjo and finally after a long, drive we find ourselves with the option of turning off the main road to head to Tandala Ridge our next campsite or going straight to Etosha for a couple of hours. Of course Etosha wins.
Etosha is one of my favourite places ever. The much discussed renovations are evident right at the Anderson gate as we arrive. Very flash new gate house, slick park permit obtained and we are in the park and heading up the familiar long straight stretch of bitumen to Okakuejo. Immediately we all go into game spotting mode - eyes pealed, heads swivelling. It is really too hot in the worst part of the day to see much but we don't care its just great to be back here. The park is looking so dry and arid and desolate, it is after all, early December and no rain has fallen here yet this season. A visit to a couple of waterholes doesn't reveal much until we see a black rhino - the first we have seen during daylight hours! Reluctantly we decide after a while to head back out and make our way to Tandala. We turn off the main road about 20kms south from Etosha and head another 48kms down a well graded gravel road. After what seems like ages and in the middle of nowhere we eventually see Tandala's gateway signposted on the left. We head in and continue up a very rough stony steep track until we come out on top of a small plateau. It is 39 deg C and the car is sounding on the verge of boiling as we hop out at the top behind Tandalas two b&b chalets. The owner's beautiful chalet residence is right there too and we are greeted by our host and invited to have a much appreciated cold drink under the thatched roofed patio. The view from the ridge is stunning. Really it is awesomely beautiful. We can see for miles and miles. Tandala is 5000 hectares of reclaimed cattle farm. Re-stocked with various species but nothing much that will eat you ie. no lions or hyaenas it is owned by retired Alaskan biologists who are lovely warm and humorous people with a great passion for and knowledge of their surroundings there in Namibia. After a drink we are given directions back down the track to the 'campsite'. We had actually passed it on the way in, but I had given it a cursory glance and dismissed it as the campsite as it looked a bit, well, bleak! the site is situated on what was evidently the original farm homestead and outbuilding which have since been demolished. The ablutions, one shower and toilet (very clean and tidy) were remnants of an old farm building and a large cement slab which may have been a shed floor extended out with a huge shade cloth awning over. a handy kitchen sink was provided in this area. The pitch sites were dotted around under shady trees with a tap and fire drum and a couple of cement picnic table/seats, but no lawn or garden anywhere. Given the horrendous heat we backed the car under the shade awning (we were the only ones there) and settled in. Early next morning, Ben the nice camp assistant come guide and handyman took us on a drive around the property. Tandala is a geologists dream with numerous fossilised stromatolite sites, paleolithic stone tools and rocks of every kind.
After surviving an even hotter day sitting around camp with wet towels over our head (!) we headed up the hill to the chalets to see the resident african wild cat and the adopted bat-eared fox. The wild cat is still wild but comes for a titbit at dinner time each evening. Right on cue he turned up took his treat and disappeared back into the bush. Very much like a normal domesticated cat, grey in colour with slightly longer legs. The bat eared fox was a rescued orphan reared by the owners. She grew up and then eloped with a wild male who turned up when she came into heat for the first time. Two months later she returned and promptly gave birth to three cubs in the bedroom! Both mother and cubs are very cute and when she comes out to eat her dinner on the porch we are lucky to see her up close and even have a pat while the cubs hide under the bed. We make our way back to the campsite and some kudu come by to drink at the nearby trough. That night the solitude and absolute quietness and stillness are really evident as we lie in our tents. At dawn nervous hartebeest file past to the trough and then gallop off as we emerge from the tents. The animals here are not yet used to people and vehicles like they are in Etosha.
We decide that we actually really like this place. It is quiet and peaceful and there is a lot to see here if you take the time to look and observe and tread lightly.