A Travellerspoint blog

What are the chances?

Paths cross....

sunny 38 °C

I put my hand up to being a travel forum tragic. Usually I hang about at LonelyPlanet on the Africa branch and it was through this that I happened to start up a short correspondence with a man from Queensland who was planning the same holiday as us (only in reverse) with his wife and two teenage daughters. We just swapped notes a couple of times and jokingly noted to look out for each other in Etosha as we determined we would be there for 2 or 3 days at the same time.
On our first full day in Etosha we stopped at the 'internet cafe' on our way out of Okakuejo camp to send an email home. My partner Rob, son Alex and I clustered around one computer and me being the only competent typer, spent 15 minutes composing a message. This was actually quite laborious as I had done a fairly good job of nearly cutting the end of my index finger off the night before while preparing tea using a leatherman tool which is actually a lethal weapon. Anyway, we had nearly finished when Rob, looking at something near the computer, says, 'That's not your purse is it?' I look where he is looking and there is a wallet sitting there near the keyboard which we have all failed to notice for the last quarter of an hour. I pick it up and tentatively open it to see an Australian Drivers License of a gentleman from Queensland, first name Tim. 'I think the name of that guy I chatted to on LonelyPlanet was Tim', I say incredulously and before we ran out of internet time, I log into LP and check my old personal messages and sure enough the guys name is Tim. 'It must be him there can't be too many Tims from Queensland here!' Like an amatuer super slueth, I head over to the office and ask to look at the check-in book. There it is, a Tim X at Campsite 8. Supremely pleased with myself we head over to the camping area and find Campsite 8. In true carefree Australian style everything is there including backpack, shoes, books, tent etc all lying around and noone in sight. Heading back to the pool area I take surreptitious glances at Tim's driver's license photo. We decide to spend some time at the waterhole and go back to the campsite later. As we walk through the pool bar, I catch sight of a grey haired guy who looks up and makes eye contact and even lifts a hand in a tentative acknowledgement. Getting round the corner I tell Rob and Alex to go on ahead telling them I'm going to chance it and check this guy out. I round the corner of the bar and there is an affable faced man with two very pretty teenage daughters and his lovely wife. Looking up he says, 'Danielle?' '
Tim?' I reply. To which he nods.
I hold out his wallet, 'I think you're missing something?'
A look at the wallet and then a look of amazement passes across his face and those of his family. We all laugh and smile amid introductions and explanations about the lost and found wallet. Pulling up a seat we order a round of drinks. They say its a small world, but what are the chances?

Posted by threedogs 01:20 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

Here a 'bok, there a 'bok, everywhere a 'bok 'bok

Etosha National Park

sunny 40 °C

Leaving Tandala Ridge we drove the half hour or so to Etosha's Anderson Gate. I really love Etosha, we have visited twice before and there is always the anticipation of what you might see around the next corner or at the next waterhole. We were also interested to check out the new renovations at all the camps. For the first time we had opted to stay outside the park - on the west side at Etosha Safari Camp and on the east side at Onguma Camp as NWR has drastically increased the camping fees inside the park.
I have to admit that on inspection the new reno work looks amazing. Gone are the tired old shabby chalets and in their place are very swanky new bungalows. (Well actually they are the same ones but you wouldn't know it) The decor and even the landscaping is outstanding. I checked out the campsite ablutions block and came out gobsmacked. From grubby barely functional pre-reno, to four star - seriously. At Okakeujo the showers/loos are all polished charcoal cement and large pebble finishes with big trendy square above bench basins and the top quality tapware. Very impressive. I wanted to take a camera in to record this for posterity but thought better of it in case I got arrested.
Once again the weather is extremely hot and the wildlife are largely resting up in the shade but you are always guaranteed to see the usual suspects: springbok, springbok and more springbok. Supremely adapted to arid conditions, Etosha boasts a very healthy population, together with zebra they are the most numerous large mammals. Gemsbok and Ostrich also tend to ignore the heat seemingly impervious to the extreme temperatures. We often saw gemsbok out in the middle of a pan in the blinding 40+ heat with no cover or water for miles.
When the heat got too much in the car we retreated back toOkakuejo camp for a cold drink and wandered over to the waterhole where we could sit under a shade tree and watch the endless procession of thirsty animals. A herd of elephants with quite a few very little babies came down and as always they are a delight to watch as they slake their thirst and then proceed to play and spray themselves with mud and generally churn up the water. Reluctantly we headed off late afternoon for Etosha Safari Camp, 10kms south of Anderson gate. (Before driving out past the reception area we decide to use the internet facilities to send a much awaited email home. What followed was a story of fate and karma, but you'll have to read the separate entry to find out! ) The camp has chalets, a pleasant small restaurant and bar, pool and a good camping area with an oasis of green lawn in the centre, clean ablutions and a kitchen sink and laundry sink available for use, all for around N$50 pppn. Food very good standard. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to stay outside the park within short drive.

Posted by threedogs 00:05 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

Tandala Ridge - a diamond in the rough

A campsite with a difference.

sunny 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.

Posted by threedogs 18:35 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

Waterberg Plateau

Heading off....

sunny 40 °C

Feeling remarkably refreshed after a night's sleep at Rivendell Guest House in Windhoek, the first thing was to pick up our 4x4 from Value Car Hire. We had gone out on a bit of a limb as Value Car have very cheap prices and slightly older vehicles. Would we get a dud? Things went relatively smoothly and in a short time we were hopping into our 2003 Nissan dual cab 4x4 with two roof top tents and full of the requisite camping gear. Next port of call - SPAR - that is the supermarket. No sooner had we parked and got out than a guy fronts us, 'hello, where are you from, whats your name?' Whoops, without thinking Rob tells the guy his name. We get in the supermarket and I start castigating Robert for being a bit slow - 'you know you're going to have a Makalane palm nut with your name on it now waiting for you to return!'
'Oh, shit'
We have our share of carved nuts from our first two trips when we fell into every tourist trap imaginable!
Not to worry, having stocked up on groceries we managed to placate the nut carver and headed out of the city. Had only gone a short distance when a screeching noise starts coming from under the bonnet of our car. Second 'Oh, shit!' for the day. Quick U-turn, back to hire car company and in 40 minutes a belt on the air-con unit was replaced and once again we were heading off.
The drive from Windhoek to Waterberg is pleasant couple of hours or so with no more ominous noises from the car! Just as well the problem with the a/c happened before we left Windhoek because it is a stinking hot day, maybe around 40 deg C and the a/c is working overtime. We arrive at Waterberg mid afternoon and find a camping spot in a very sparsely populated camp ground. Time to set up camp for the very first time and see what gear we have. The roof top tents are a cinch to put up but the camping gear is a bit undewhelming. It consists of a green bag with plastic cups, plates, bowls and cutlery plus a knife, large spoon etc. 4 folding chairs and a very ordinary metal folding table. The 'cooker' is a gas cylinder to which you screw a single round burner on top. We also have a large plastic container of water and a braii 'thing' which you put your boerwoers and chops in and place on the braii. The sleeping stuff is 4 pillows which a dog should be sleeping on and 4 sleeping bags which are of course completely too hot to use. Fortunately we brought some light sheets from home.
Despite the beautiful landscape dominated by the plateau rock face behind us it is still too hot to even bother walking to the pool a few hundred metres up the hill, so we sit drinking Windhoek lager until sunset, cook something unmemorable and when the mozzies get too bad, jump into the roof top tents for our first night camping.

Posted by threedogs 18:27 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

A Marathon of flights

Just getting there......

sunny 36 °C

Being the hard nosed bargain hunter that I am I tracked down a pretty good fare for our trip from Adelaide, South Australia to Windhoek Namibia on Singapore Airlines and one of their partners, British Airways. I figured the LOOONG transit times and extra flying hours to go via Singapore would be justified by the $500 difference in price from Qantas or SAA. I was wrong.
Truth be known I think I am just getting older and less tolerant of discomfort - not that Singapore Airlines were bad in any way, in fact far from it. Their service was excellent but after 30 hours in transit we eventually arrived at Rivendell Guest House feeling like we were having an out of body experience! We have stayed at Rivendell GH previously (last homely house before the wild) and I love its relaxed atmosphere. Rooms are nice and light and airy either in the house or out next to the pool. You are free to self cater using their homely kitchen and an honour system lets you access cold drinks anytime from the kitchen fridge. Coffee and tea are free - self serve. Cooked or continental brekkie is available around the big dining table and it is nice to catch up with other guests from around the world. The inviting pool is great on a stinking hot Windhoek day! You can also book tours both day and longer trips. A great place to stay at the start or end of your Nambia holiday.DSCF1417.jpg

Posted by threedogs 17:28 Archived in Namibia Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

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