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Wild Adventure – Namibia and Kgalagadi – Day 3 Springbok to Ai Ais

Wild Adventure – Namibia an Kgalagadi – Day 3 – Springbok to Ai Ais

29 October 2018

This morning we were all up at 7 getting ready for departure.  We had rusks, cereal and coffee for breakfast and The Earl and I set off ahead of The Mools as we would be travelling a tad slower.  It’s a good thing we did this because as we neared Steinskop we became aware of an awful knocking sound on the rear right of the car.   We contacted the Mools who had not yet left Springbok and told them we would turn into the Steinkopf to have it checked out.  Well, the mechanics at the local garage didn’t have a high lift so we had to head back to Ford in Springbok.  The Mools had just left but turned back saying they thought they should rather wait for us.

I phoned ahead to tell the mechanics that we needed emergency assistance and they were quite willing to see us immediately.   The Mools had a flask of boiling water and we found a shady spot, set out my cups on a chopping board, hauled out the cookies and rusks and had a little coffee party next to the forecourt!

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Preparing to picnic in front of the workshop!

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The Ford in the air

Luckily it was an easily sorted problem – the paper label had come loose from the prop shaft and was hitting against it making an unholy noise.  With that sorted were back on the road by 10:30.

We reached Vioolsdrift just before midday and the border crossing went smoothly.  It was not at all busy

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Then we were in Namibia!

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We filled up with fuel then drove through the desolate landscape of semis dessert.  The rocks are phenomenal!   Sometimes it looked like a pile of boulders had been poured onto  the side of the road by a huge dump truck.  It felt like we were driving on another moon like planet.IMG_1410IMG_1408

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Check in at Ai Ais went smoothly and we set up camp under some shady trees.   By five we were ready for our first swim in the hot pools

The wind got up in the evening so we decided not to braai and instead ate at the restaurant.  Pat had Schnitzel, I had chicken breast with cheese sauce and the men had rump steak.  The steak was a bit sinewy but very tasty.  We all enjoyed our meal but had to fetch our own wine as they had run out of the type they sold by the glass.  That saved us R40 each!

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Our first day in Namibia went well!  More of our adventure to follow.

 

 

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Share Your World 30 January

Here are my answer’s to Cee’s Share your world 30 January 2017

What is the most incredible natural venue that you’ve ever seen in person?

I am privileged enough to be able to visit many incredible natural venues in my own country and neighbouring African countries.   It’s the birds and wildlife that attract us to visit over and over again.  But the most unusual natural venue I visited in 2015 was Sossusvlei which is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia. Those magnificent Red Dune are mind boggling.

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We climbed to the top of this one

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We took an hour and a half flight over the dunes and looked down on our lodgings – our hut is the first one in the row this side of the main buildings.

How many siblings do you have? What’s your birth order? 

I have two brothers and a sister.  I am number two. Big Brother is three years older than I am. My sister is two years younger and Baby Brother is seven years younger than I.

If you were a shoe, what kind would you be and why?

Well I would not choose to be a shoe!  But I love boots – so that’s what I’ll choose as long as they’re made from real leather and don’t have killer heels.

What is the strangest/weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

Several years ago we stayed at Lokotula Lodge, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe – another phenomenal natural venue.

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Earl and Me with The Victoria Falls thundering behind us – September 2002.

On our first evening we ate at The Boma which is an area enclosing guests under the glittering African sky. There were sumptuous braaied (barbequed) meats to choose from the buffet and we tried a whole variety including warthog – you can read my story about that here.

As we were wandering around choosing our dishes one of the servers said, “Would you like some mopani worm?”  “No thank you,” I replied.  “But you must,”he insisted and not wanting to offend him both my hubby and I swallowed one each.   It really wasn’t bad but not something I’d rush back to have any time soon!   Well, we continued with our meal and when one of the hostesses came to enquire how we’d enjoyed the food, we told her that it had all been delicious.   “Did you have mopani worms?”she asked.   We replied proudly that we had and she promptly wrote out a certificate for each of us.  So we have proof!

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Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

This week I am grateful for my precious husband, the wonderful friends we have made in our new home, Struisbaai and of course for the family and friends in Cape Town and the rest of the world too.

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Young and in love – On our Wedding Day – 1987-01-30

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Still in love thirty years later – 2017-01-30

We don’t have many friends in Struisbaai but last night we invited them all to help us celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Looking back on our years together brought home to us how much we have survived and how much we have been blessed.   They have certainly been dramatic, exciting and adventurous years and we would not have changed a thing.

We don’t plan ahead so I am just looking forward to the surprises that are bound to happen in the coming week.

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Namibia – Saffies and Aussies on Safari – Day 10

Thursday 11 June 2015 Namutoni to Halali

We are packed and ready to leave after our usual excellent restaurant breakfast.

It is a zebra day today.  We see them in huge herds and wonder if they are having a convention!

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Mom and baby zebra

Mom and baby zebra

Lots of wildebeest too

Lots of wildebeest too

At one waterhole we see a hyena

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and at Kalkheuwel we find a young elephant that has met his end.

Poor thing

Poor thing

We wonder what could have caused it – we cannot see his head but the rest of the body doesn’t seem to be injured.   As we are on our way to the next camp there is no chance that we can return to see what will take advantage of this freely available carcass.

At 9 o’clock just before Batia Water Hole we find 3 cheetahs lighting in the grass – well camouflaged making photography difficult.

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We continue on our way and find rhino, impala, kudu and a vulture on a nest.

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We arrive at Halala at midday after visiting Goas which gives us a good show of elephants bathing and other species drinking.

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After unpacking and settling in Erich and Wendy have a snooze while Earl and I go to the camp water hole.  We see a few impala come down and there is some bird activity.

Golden-breasted bunting and violet-eated waxbill

Golden-breasted bunting and violet-eated waxbill

At 3:30 we go back to Goas. There is very little happening at first but then Wendy calls– here come the elephants.  It is fascinating watching them come down all in a line.  They come extremely close to the car parked in front of us and I think the occupants are quite nervous.   A male comes to join the females but they ignore him and when they leave he does not follow.  We feel sorry for the poor lonely guy – but this is the way it works with elephants!

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005 Elephants 004 Elephants at waterhole

There are interesting birds to watch too.

Red-billed francolin

Red-billed francolin

Double-banded Sandgrouse

Double-banded Sandgrouse

Yellow-billed hornbill

Yellow-billed hornbill

We get back to camp with 8 minutes to spare before gate closing time.   We go t straight to the water hole and are delighted to find two black rhino drinking.    We are there just in time as after 10 minutes they leave.  Some zebra start to come down but change their minds – it might be because a tawny eagle is in their way or the coming and going of the sandgrouse might make them nervous.

At quarter past six we leave to get ready for dinner at the restaurant.   Our neighbours come to ask if we have a torch as they’ve spotted a honey badger raiding the bins.  This delays us a bit but we manage to get photos of the cheeky creature.

Naughty Honey Badger

Naughty Honey Badger

One is on our stoop when we got back from dinner, giving me quite a scare!

We find that we can self-cater at this cabin and will make a plan to do so tomorrow.  It is very basically equipped but we have our own utensils. Unfortunately the camp shop is poorly stocked but we should be able to get meat and canned vegetables.

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Namibia – Saffies and Aussies on Safari – Day 9

Wednesday 10 June 2015 – Namutoni

We are second car out of the gate after handing in our laundry at reception on 6:10 am.   The gate is meant to open at 6:25. It is light and Earl persuades the guys to open a tad earlier so were on the road by 6:15.

Giraffe are the order of the day today and we see them everywhere.  They are my favourite animal as to me they are a true iconic African creature.  There is nothing nicer than seeing a landscape dotted with tall giraffe.

In Etosha they seem to be darker and dustier than the Kruger giraffe.  I know the males are darker and get darker and darker as they age too.

Sunrise

Sunrise

In Etosha they seem to be darker and dustier than the Kruger giraffe.  I know the males are darker and get darker and darker as they age too.

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Of course Earl and I stop to see every bird and this confuses our guests.  “I can’t understand it,”says Erich “You stop for a tiny little bird but drive straight past a Wildebeest.”  After that we stop for every impala, springbok, ostrich and wildebeest and try to see the park through the eyes of a novice to the wilds of Africa!

Stopping for a wildebeest

Stopping for a wildebeest

A beautiful male ostrich

A beautiful male ostrich

A friendly jackal

A friendly jackal

Steenbok

and a cute Steenbok

We continue and stop off at waterholes and have some interesting sightings.

An immature Gabar Goshawk

An immature Gabar Goshawk

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African Harrier Hawk

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We return to camp just after 8 for breakfast and do not go out again until after lunch at 1:00 pm.

Earl and Erich nap for a while.  Wendy goes to buy gifts at the curio shop, I go to the waterhole and walk around camp but I’m disappointed at the lack of birdlife.  Then Wendy and I join up and spend some time at the pool.  It is hot but the water is freezing.  Wendy and I chat on our lounges and then she says, “That water looks so inviting. I think we should at least attempt a swim.”  “Is that a challenge?” I ask  She smiles.  I get up and made my way to the shallow end and she follows.   I can’t believe how cold it is but Wendy goes down one step at a time and I can’t let her outdo me.  Soon we both plunge in and I gasp and yell at the chill!  We swim two lengths and then get out.  It is very invigorating but how crazy are we!  A young German couple look at us in disbelief – Wendy pipes – When you get older you tend to do crazy things!

E came along and I walk up to give him a wet hug but he yells and won’t let me near. I plunge back into the pool and he takes a photograph!

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Me in the freezing pool

Drying off in the hot sun

Drying off in the hot sun

Our afternoon drive is just as exciting.  As we make our way to the Kalkheuwel water hole, I shriek when an elephant suddenly appears on the road in front of us.  He raises his trunk, trumpets loudly and charges toward us.

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Earl goes  into full speed reverse. He keeps his cool and as he says – Stop being naughty – to an elephant who clearly can’t hear him.  But he must get a mental message because with one last trumpet he charges into the bush.   “I think I might need a clean pair of underpants,” Erich declares.  Phew – we all laugh nervously.  Our adrenalin rush for the day.

Some creatures we see before we return

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swallowtailed bee-eater

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Female weaver

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Lilac-breasted roller

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Kori Bustard drinking

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We visit the waterhole when we return but there is not much happening so we have sundowners and then go to dinner – another buffet.

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Namibia – Saffies and Aussies on Safari – Day 8

Tuesday 9 June 2015 -Namutoni

We are up early to get the car is packed and ready for our after breakfast departure.

We start our slow trip up the dirt road and stop to watch birds including purple roller,IMG_4246

pied babbler

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Marico Fly-catcher

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and yellow-billed hornbill

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We are some kilometres away when it suddenly strikes me that I have left my expensive ski-jacket in the cupboard in our room.   There is a quick u turn as we race back to get it.

On the way back we see dik dik in the bushes.

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The Waterberg Plateau

The Waterberg Plateau

Termite Hill

Termite Hill

Finally we arrive at Namutoni.  On hearing my name the receptionist says – We have had a call from Sossusvlei – It seems that you have not paid for your two guided drives.  I am a bit taken aback as when I checked out I’d asked Herbert if all was in order and he’d assured me that it was. Earl goes straight into panic mode and thinks I have lost the receipt. But I only find receipts for dinners so he has to concede that the drives which should have been put onto our daily bill have been omitted. Yes – I should have checked the amounts but I’d simply written down the amounts paid by card in my meticulous records.

After calming down, we settle into our comfortable cabins, have a cold drink and then go out in the Land Rover.

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Luxurious Bathroom

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Comfortable sleeping quarters

We have a successful afternoon and see black-faced impala,

Black-faced Impala

zebra,

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giraffe,

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lots of kori bustards,

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northern black korhaan,

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grey hornbill,

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double banded courser,

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a single bull elephant,

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parent Burchell’s sandgrouse with 2 babies,

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and a black rhino hiding among the foliage of tree he was browsing.

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It is a good start to our stay in Etosha National Park!  When we get back to camp, Wendy and I browse around the fort shops and late we have dinner in the restaurant – a buffet which is acceptable.

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Namibia – Saffies and Aussies on Safari – Day 2 and Day 3

Wednesday 3 June 2015  Ai Ais

We are all in the pool by  quarter to 8 this morning.   Erich and Wendy are earlier than we are.  They’ve had tea on their stoop and had watched the sun rise!  The water is divinely warm.  My eyes are itchy from allergies and I am sure the water is making them feel better or is it a placebo effect?  Whatever, I feel great relaxing in these soothing waters.

After our swim we go off  to breakfast and sit chatting till 10.   Then we go  for a walk around the lodge, admire the scenery and find some birds.

At 1 Earl and I go for an hour-long full body massage which is divine.  Erich and Wendy each had half-hour back massages.   Afterwards we have a long afternoon nap.  When we wake up we go for a lovely, long swim in the hot baths.  I stay in a lot longer than Earl and chat to a Grade 11 girl who had just completed the 6-day hike of the Fish River Canyon.  She tells me it was amazing but she is exhausted and every muscle is aching.

Earl comes to call me.  Stuart and Janet have arrived. We knew they were doing a similar trip to ours at the same time and had planned to meet them in Etosha. They aren’t meant to be here but had started off from Cape Town later than planned so decided to spend the night at Ai Ais. They join us for drinks and then dinner and it is a super evening.

Relaxing in the pool

Relaxing in the pool

Ai Ais

Ai Ais

Outdoor pool

Outdoor pool – Hot but the air is cold!

Baboons are a problem

Baboons are a problem

Mountain Chat

Mountain Chat

Swallow-tailed bee-eater

Swallow-tailed bee-eater

Dinner

Dinner – Earl, Stuart, Janet, Wendy

Thursday 4 June 2015 Ai Ais to Africa Sa fari Lodge

We wake to a rainy and cold day!  This is not meant to happen in the month of June!   After showering and packing we go to meet the others for breakfast at 7:00 am.   After breakfast we all head to the Canyon Lookout. We have to pay R60 per person to drive to the lookout point but it is worth it. It’s just a pity that the weather is not clear. Still we get excellent views of the canyon and don’t mind too much about getting wet.  Earl and I were here 20 years ago in brilliant sunshine and no fences.   It is a little different today but the views are the same.

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We then bid farewell to Janet and Stuart who head to Luderitz while we make our way to Mariental where we will spend the night at Africa Safari Lodge.  The weather improves and there is no rain when we arrive at Keetmanshoop.  We stop at the Spur for lunch and I buy a Namibian Sim Card at the local phone shop. My package is amazing – I pay in R295 in cash and dial in for whatever I need for a week.  Each week I renew my contract until my balance runs out.  I get Facebook, the internet, Whatsap and a number of free calls.  whenever I return to Namibia I use the same sim card and top up my balance. I do not have to RICA!

We arrive at Africa Safari Lodge at 3:00 p.m. It is lovely.  We have ‘tea’ on the stoop and then an afternoon nap.

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When we wake up it is dark and we find a rhinoceros on our front lawn!

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Dinner is superb.  We start with Sweet Chilli Calamari and Greek salad and then have gourmet Oryx steaks with mushroom sauce and mash potato.  To die for!  Dessert is Apple crumble and ice cream.

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Our room was is really comfortable. The bed is made from a concrete slap on which is a very comfortable  mattress with down duvet.   There is a television and we watch a skop, skiet and donner movie before dropping off to sleep.

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Ai Ais, Namibia – Saffies and Aussies on Safari – Day 1

A year ago our Australian friends, Erich and Wendy asked my advice on what to do and where to go in Namibia, a place they have wanted to visit for many years. Earl and I decided that we wouldn’t mind another trip to this amazing country so we decided to go ourselves and asked them to tag along.   Our itinerary of 26 days included Ai Ais, Africa Safari Lodge near Mariental, Sossusvlei, Windhoek, The Waterberg Plateau, Etosha National Park and then on our way home we spent 9 days in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

We are now back and what an adventure it has been. I am in the process of sorting out the hundreds of photographs and will try to publish one episode per day but forgive me if I fall behind 🙂  Some of the trivia and information mentioned in my posts are taken from park pamphlets, brochures, books on the area and Wikipedia.

2 June 2015 – Cape Town to Ai Ai

Finally this day has arrived. I love the excitement of the pre-dawn start to a long journey. I settle down in my seat – pushed far forward so Erich has space for his long legs behind me.  I scribble down our departure time on my pre-prepared chart – 4:30 am – The kilometerage registers 119632. What will it be when we return?  I know my neat chart with its recordings of costs and stops will look the worse for wear when we return too! Cape Town is cold and rainy and we look forward to warm, dry weather and the healing waters of the Ai Ais hot springs.   Perish the thought – the cold and rain continues.  Our first stop is a freezing Klawer and our hot Wimpy breakfast and coffee is sooo welcome.   It is strange to see pelting rain soaking into the dry Karoo earth.   The weather only improved around Springbok.

Earl is not at his best at border crossing so I make sure that all the documentation is ready and hand my list of items to be taken across the border to the grim-faced officer at Vioelsdrift.  Within minutes he has dismissed most of them as unnecessary and pins my list to the form he has filled in – no problem!  The whole procedure is over in 40 minutes and by 2 pm we are in Namibia!

It is interesting to see wine farming taking place on the banks of the Orange River.  Aussenkehr is such a farm. It is planned to develop Aussenkehr into a town. 6,000 erven have been surveyed and water and sewerage systems have been built.There is less than 50 millimetres  average annual rainfall but the farm includes 15 kilometres of riverfront and has a government-approved quota to draw water for irrigation from the Orange River.

Vineyards of Aussenkehr

Vineyards of Aussenkehr

Straw houses we passed on the way

Straw houses we passed – Aussenkehr

We bought wine and beers from the Aussenkehr Spar - which is in the middle of nowhere

We bought wine and beers from the Aussenkehr Spar – which is in the middle of nowhere and serves the farming community and straw house dwellers.

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The road we travel

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Moonscape

We arrive at Ai Ais at 3 pm Namibian time, taking the new dirt road which is a tad quicker.   The weather is overcast and there are a few drops of rain and it is really cold.

The local Nama people call the springs Ai-Ais which means  ‘burning water’. This lovely natural hot-spring is situated at the southern end of The Fish River Canyon, in the Karas Region of southern Namibia. It is part of the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

We have room A3 and A4 which lead onto the indoor pool area.   We have a swim and then a rest before going for drinks and then to supper at the restaurant.  We all have eland steaks which are rather nice.  They are served with rosti, butternut and green beans.  Then its off to our comfortable beds decked with down duvets – so welcome after a hard day’s travelling.

The indoor pools

The indoor pools

Dinner

Dinner

The restaurant

The restaurant