07.12.2007 - 09.12.2007 39 °C
Having spent 3 days based at Etosha Safari Camp on the eastern side of Etosha we spent a good part of the day travelling across the park. Again another incredibly hot day and very little game between Okakuejo and Halali. We were keen to compare the new upgrading work at Halali with what we had seen at Okakuejo. Halali had been done in a slightly differently style but still very impressive. Designer bathroom ware in the ablutions once again had me doing a double take. The grocery/curio shop was much better than Okakauejo - a lot more space, stocked a lot better and presented very well. The grocery choice was quite good and an adequate supply of meat. (at this point I made a fundamental error)
Being 39ish degrees we didnt hang around long, however we did take time out to complete one important task. On our first trip to Namibia in 2001 my partner took a spontaneous photo of our son walking along barefoot (!) on the gravel road in the campground at Halali. Each subsequent visit we have taken a photo in exactly the same place and so we have a set of photos of Alex at different ages. I don't know how much of this garbled story the 'security' man at the entrance to the campground understood but he let us in anyway.
So we trundled on to Namutoni. The changes at Namutoni were perhaps the most dramatic at first glance. You can no longer drive up and into the inner area of the fort where you used to be able to stay in the rooms. There is now a large decking boardwalk from the reception/booking in office right up to the fort. The inner area of the fort has been paved and is one large courtyard. The former accommodation rooms have been used for a new bistro and the grocery/curio shop and other as yet unknown and unfinished purposes. (They have done a good job but the grocery shop is tiny and everything is jammed in which must surely indicate a temporary home because it is almost unworkable.) None the less we had decided to get our supplies here having passed over the offerings at Halali in some moment of delerium. Unfortunately my diet isn't big on canned snails, bamboo shoots or sauerkraut (all of which were on offer). I tend to like the bland stuff like bread, a bit of fruit and veg and the odd bit of protein in the form of meat (other than snails). Well I managed to get the last loaf of bread but when I asked where their meat was I could have been asking for caviar and truffles. We couldn't even go vego - none of that either except for a few cans of peas! I have to say that I did get a bit antsy as we had nowhere else to restock and I was forced to confront my own stupidity when my son repeatedly pointed out that we could have got plenty at Halali!
Muttering under my breath and clutching my loaf of bread we headed out of the park to our new digs at Onguma Safari Camp. The road into Onguma is IMMEDIATELY to the left as you exit the Von Lindquist gate. A few kilometres in and you arrive at Reception. I can honestly say that the welcome and service we received on arrival was the most friendly and efficient of anywhere we stayed in our whole trip. Onguma is a class act and run the campsite, the lodge, Plains camp, Bush camp and the Fort - priced accordingly in ascending order - we are talking very big dollars for the top end stuff. Despite the fact we were only campers we were treated like 5* guests. On explaining our dilemma with the food (we had nothing to cook for tea) and asking if we could eat at the lodge's small restaurant, the receptionist explained that as there were no guests that night at the lodge the restaurant was closed. He then immediately asked if he could ring Mokuti Lodge nearby to book a table there. Which he did, and we went, and it was bloody good! The campsites are excellent. Each pitch has a rectangular area surrounded by logs which hold down a shadecloth type of material that you can pitch a tent on and not be in the dirt! Each site has its own toilet and shower and washing up area. It really is fantastic. Campers are free to use the very nice pool area which is in the lodge garden a very short walk away. The thatched restaurant and bar area are beautiful and we enjoyed the hot afternoons sitting up on the raised bar area in the biggest armchairs ever sipping alcoholic beverages!
So our three days there were all too short and worked well as we rose early each morining to get to the park gates on sunrise, a few hours in the park, back for our above mentioned regime and another late afternoon drive before tea.
Onguma is a place I will definately return too. Camping is $N80pppn and worth every cent. Next time I'm staying at the lodge for an even more relaxing experience.