Going to Etosha NP

We have a long day ahead of us, and it is not one I particularly looked forward to. As we don’t have a spare tire, we have to go 270kms without one to the nearest (!) location where we can get a fresh tire. Wow. Oh, and as its Namibia, we probably don’t have cellphone reception everywhere.

The latter actually didn’t prove to be right, as we had great reception during the drive, so that was a good thing. The not so good thing was that the first 120km were not the best of roads, and progress was slow. But it was steady, and we made it through arriving at Kamanjab to find the tarred road. As promised by the maps. From here on, it was only 150km on a fairly new and very straight black two lane road where the speed limit was a whopping 120km/h, so progress was good there!

Around 11:30 we found the place selling tires, and Jan made sure that our new tire was fitted in a flash. The spare tire which had gotten rather dirty on the gravel roads even was meticulously cleaned by his guys and looked brand new when it was put back in the trunk. So, 2250 Namib Dollars poorer but a new tire richer, we were confident that the rest of our day would go swimmingly. And so it did!

We drove the last 120km to Andersons Gate of Etosha National Park and have spent the remainder of our day in the park. Straight off the bat, we’ve seen Giraffe, Elephant, Springbok, Zebras and Black Faced Impala, so we were off to a great start. And right at the end, when we were driving back to the gate as it closed at 17:30, we found ourselves a Black Rhino! So cool!

On the weird list, we also ticked off the Cory Bustard, the Northern Black Korhaan and the Spotted Thick-knee. I’m a happy camper right now!

A day in Damaraland

A full day of Safari is what we have in store for us today, as we have booked a full day trip in Damaraland. That means spending the day carrying cameras scanning the scenery for animals from an open vehicle.

This time, it did have a roof, which was rather convenient as the sun is relentless around here. The main goal was to find the elephant and rhinos living in this desert, but we failed spectacularly at that. We did find loads of Oryx, Hartmans Mountain Zebra, Springbok, Kudu and Giraffes, so it was a good day after all.

We spent the rest of the afternoon arranging for our tire to be swapped, which can only be done in Outjo. That is 120km on gravel road + 150km on a tarred road; otherwise known as a long trip. More on that tomorrow!

Driving through Damaraland

Not only our day starts with breakfast, apparently the day starts the same for Rock Dassies! An entire family was feasting in the green gras and the greenish trees surrounding the lodge in the early morning sun. If only they could enjoy the scenery like we do!

It is moving day for us, and we are destined to drive only a small distance through Damaraland to Palmwag, starting at Twyfelfontein. As we didn’t have time to do the things to do around here, we have them scheduled for today. Palmwag is a really deserted place, with only the lodge in the wide vicinity. So, off we were to the Burnt Mountain, the Organ Pipes, the Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings and finally the Petrified Forest.

Not all destinations are as envigorating as their names would make you believe, the Burnt Mountain is a really dark oversized hill and the Organ Pipes are an odd geological phenomenon where long vertical rocks were formed and are now exposed as a rives ate through them. The other two destinations can only be visited with a guide, and we started at the Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings. The region has been inhabited by the San people for thousands of years, and the engravings found at the site are estimated to be between 2000 and 6000 years old. Yes, really, really old. They are chiselled out of the soft sandstone rock, and do not fade like the paintings in Australia. As such, the are really well preserved and look very accurate. They depict the animals the bush people hunted, and include oddities such as a Seal, a Penguin and a Flamingo. Mind you, we are in the middle of a desert here, the sea is 150km in a straight line away. The San have seen those animals during the hunting and salt gathering trips, and created the pictures to show others what they’ve seen. This site is a World Heritage site, and has been since 2007, so it’s only a young addition to that list.

The official Petrified Forest has logs washed down in a giant flood 280 million years ago, which started somewhere north of Angola. They are Pine logs, which didn’t grow in Namibia back then, but were only found a few thousand kilometres north. That must’ve been a gargantuan flood! Several unofficial Petrified Forests can be found along the road the the official one, but we were advised to visit the state supported one as the others are usually villagers trying to gain money off of naive tourists. Our guide did not speak highly of them, and applauded us for choosing the official one. Yeah, right. 😉

We also had a setback today, as the left front tire blew out and had to be switched. This was done quickly, but it left us without a spare tire in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Also, cell phone reception is spotty, so getting hold of someone at the rental company proved to be difficult. We finally managed, and had to call back on Monday to get accurate directions on where to go to get a new tire. So, more tomorrow!