Sylvia Ferguson, Sedgefield, South Africa
More journal entries by Sylvia:
Caprivi – 1st leg of our Namibia Adventure | Etosha to Waterberg Plateau – 3rd leg of our Namibia Adventure | Waterberg to Epupa - 4th leg of our Namibia Adventure | A delightful Day on Knysna Lagoon (South Africa's Garden Route)
Editorial Note: Namibia's rich history provides a mixing bowl of cultures, customs and German architecture. The nomadic Himba people live as they have for centuries, dressed in goat skins and jewelry fashioned from leather, metal and shells. Etosha National Park's vast salt pans, savanna and woodland provide host to wildlife's Big Five and the adventure of safari.
Ngepi to Etosha – 2nd leg of our Namibia
Sylvia Ferguson, Sedgefield, South Africa
Etosha is rated to be one of the greatest game parks in Africa. Originally when Etosha was proclaimed a National Park by Governer Von Lindequist in 1907, it was nearly 100,000 square kilometers. In 1970 it was reduced to 23,000 kms in order to provide a homeland for the Damara people. The extensive pan is over 5000 square kms in size and gives Etosha its unique character. Although very shallow, after good rainfall it draws large flocks of flamingoes that cover vast areas of it in a sea of pink. Waterholes along the pan attract great numbers of game and give visitors front row seats to a spectacular wild life show as they come out of the dry plains to drink.
It’s 30 July and mid-winter in South Africa, but here in Namibia as we turn left at Rundu and leave the Caprivi to journey southwards towards Tsumeb, its a bright winter’s day – we need our sunglasses! The B8 good tar road is straight and unimaginative, the bone-dry bushveld not that appealing after the refreshing watery scenery we’ve just left behind us.
Today the journey seems interminable. We rarely see another vehicle and there’s nothing much moving in the bush either. We take it in turns to drive and Wayne snoozes whilst I’m driving. When I’m the passenger, I’m ever hopeful there’ll be something to see and I don’t want to miss a thing. 440kms later we are glad to reach the turn-off to Roy’s camp. This is an overnight stop.
Roy’s Camp is in a beautiful bushveld setting. This is because the owners have gone to a lot of trouble to make it charming. Christine, the receptionist walks us to the grassy treed campsite and allows us to choose the one we’d like. I thought this was a nice personal touch! Once we settle the bill, she hands us a brochure of 2 walking trails to be done around the camp - just what we need after nearly 6 solid hours of sitting in a hot car. The alternative of course is driving with the windows up and air-conditioner on, isolating ourselves from the countryside outside – NOT why we came to Namibia!
Roy's Camp and Walking Trails, Northern Namibia
After setting up camp we decide to walk the Dik-Dik trail. In the brochure the route has the trees numbered methodically in the sequence in which we come across them and identified according to their national number. Their names are given in English and Afrikaans along with their botanical names and some of their uses, such as “good for jam making” or “heals wounds”. A list of mammals, snakes and other reptiles is included and the commonly spotted birds. In this instance, the German names are given too. I thought this a wonderful little brochure and I appreciated the owners’ efforts to share their knowledge of the area with visitors. I would have liked to do the second trail and was sorry we hadn’t booked for 2 nights!
The bad side of our stopover was that our blow-up bed had sprung a leak and deflated within hours. We are clearly not conditioned to sleep on hard ground and we had to pump it up twice to get through the night! In the morning Wayne examined it carefully, found the puncture and sealed it with duct-tape. We decide nonetheless, to buy two single robust camping mattresses in Tsumeb as backups. We also buy headlights that allow us to be hands-free around the campfire and when walking in the dark. We can also read with them in our tent. Finally at the local supermarket we shop for fruit, veggies and meat as we have 7 days with no town close by and provisions are always more expensive in game parks because of transport costs.
At Grootfontein, 56kms south of Roy’s Camp we turn off the main road and cut across to Tsumeb heading in a north-westerly direction to the east gate of the park, the Von Lindequist Gate. We are not staying in the park to begin with but just outside at Onguma Safari Lodge. It’s cheaper and luxurious compared to the park’s offering.
Onguma Safari Lodge, Von Lindequist Gate, Etosha - Camping and Facilities
Even so we are surprised and delighted to find the beautiful campsite awaiting us. We have been allotted an attractive secluded spot where the tent area is prepared with its own groundsheet and there is a raised cement table for the fire together with a free bundle of firewood for us. To top it all each campsite has its own ablutions – a small but well-designed rondavel with a shower, toilet and basin, an outdoor washing-up area and electrical plug points – great for our fridge, electric kettle, tent light and everything that needs charging from Wayne’s toothbrush to the camera batteries – luxury indeed! Last but not least there’s a cool storage space, safe from opportunistic animals like baboons and jackals, for our foodstuffs. It’s quite the perfect mix of enjoyable creature comforts and outdoor ruggedness that allows us to be close to nature. Inquisitive birds hop tamely around the camp and engaging squirrels amuse us as they shimmy up and down the trees with sudden bursts of energy. Towards evening we find that a short walk along a bush path takes us to the Lodge where there’s a well-appointed restaurant and viewing deck overlooking a waterhole where wildlife and birds come to drink and a swimming pool - the water’s cold but we enjoy a swim!
In this idyllic setting we have a restful night (No more flat mattress!) and rise early to go into Etosha. We find we’re even earlier than we think because we are unaware that Namibian clocks have been put back an hour for wintertime.
Read about our other adventure travels in Namibia:
Caprivi – 1st leg of our Namibia Adventure
Etosha to Waterberg Plateau – 3rd leg of our Namibia Adventure
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