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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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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