The Toilet of Eden

20121203-214226.jpg

The Toilet of Eden

Enough said. Paradise in the Caprivi.

@ Ngepi camp, Divundu

 

Advertisements

Etosha National Park, Namibia

After a brief stopover in Windhoek, we put the pedal to the floor and made it to Etosha National Park right before the Andersson Gate closed.

At the gates!

We hurried to set up our tents at Okaukuejo rest camp, and promptly rushed over to the flood-lit watering hole, hoping to catch some game at sunset. A troupe of giraffes greeted us, soon to be followed by two black rhinos.

A late night drink

After an uneventful morning drive the next day, we returned to Okaukuejo on a lark. Rewarded with a packed watering hole and our first sightings of elephants, we decided to prolong our stay. And good thing we did, because one of the most beautiful sights awaited… a sunset that lit the sky into blue, purple, and pink; elephants, rhinos, giraffes, and various antelope drinking together, their mirror reflections crystal clear in the water.

The following day, Etosha continued to mesmerize us.

Zebra crossing!

We watched this little scavenger fend off 3 others before finally eating his lunch

An elephant venturing close at the watering hole

Within trunk-touching distance!

One day we noticed elephant dung on the road (“Looks fresh!” — Alpheus) and decided to follow their trail. Our search mission ended with a family of elephants playing in a deep pool, with a baby in the midst.

Splashing around in the kiddie pool

By the last day in Etosha, our only disappointment was the lack of lions (we’d given up on leopards long ago). On our last game drive, Eugene had barely yelled, “Where are the lions?!?” when we drove around a bend and saw two male lions crossing the road (followed by a cute jackal). And as we followed their path, there stood a lone petite springbok antelope a mere 100 meters away–as still as a leaf, with its tail down and eyes fixated on the predators until the lions were out of sight.

And with that, our luck changed. In our remaining 2 hours in the park, we managed to find three more lions, including what may have been a pride lazing in the bushes!

“Too hot to do anything but sleep…”

And so ended our tour through Etosha National Park. Next up–Epupa Falls!

Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

We finally found refuge from the blistering heat of the Namib desert by heading for Namibia’s West coast. After three weeks of 35 degree (and counting!) temperatures, the crisp air of the Atlantic meeting the desert dunes on the Skeleton Coast was a sight to behold. Named after the numerous shipwrecks that litter the coast line, the latest of which having washed ashore only months prior after catching fire out at sea, the waters off the coast are fertile fishing grounds for angling fanatics.

Watching over shipwrecks on the Skeleton Coast

We were fortunate enough to meet Paul De Witt, owner of Skubbebar at Henties Bay, who was kind enough to take us out fishing for the day. Despite our complete lack of experience, Paul’s helping hand found a 67cm Cob fish on the end of Christine’s line

Beginner’s luck!

and a slightly smaller specimen on the end of Alph’s!

Paul & Alph: “Not a good eating fish” – but a HUGE smile, nevertheless

We finished off the day feasting on Christine’s tasty catch, plus some of the finest calamari known to man and a German delicacy known as Eisbein (pork knuckle) at Skubbebar. The best we’ve ever eaten with some fantastically gracious hosts. Thank you, Paul and Petro!

Skubbebar – fantastic food and the friendliest of hosts

Only 50km north of Henties Bay is a little known lake with salt content higher than that of the Dead Sea. The next day we were lucky enough to have a dip in it’s murky green waters, and the bizarre weightlessness in the water quickly became a highlight of the trip.

Gravity / buoyancy defying

Hopefully we’ll get to experience it again in the real Dead Sea, if we ever make it out of Africa!

But until then – it is back to the sapping inland heat and up to the famous Etosha National Park.

– Eugene

46 degrees and counting..

We were greeted by the Namib Desert with an overheating car and 46 degree temperatures. In heat like that, your body screams at you and forces you to seek respite.

Desert Lion – “Too hot! Back to sleep”

We took a note from Aslan’s book and our time in Sossusvlei was characterised by 4am wake ups to explore sunrise against the dunes and midday siestas in the Sossusvlei¬†lodge.

Sunset in the Namib Desert

Most visitors to the Sossusvlei area hike dune 45, favouring the gradual ascent in the soft sand. On the advise of Toast Coetzer we hiked the dune directly opposite. Not long in, heaving for breath, we quickly realised why dune 45 was indeed so popular. The soft sand of the dunes is a lung buster, and despite the coolness of the early morning, the steepness of the ascent was incredibly unforgiving. For most of the way up, we climbed in sets of 40 steps, before our point man, making fresh tracks in the soft sand, would capitulate. We leap-frogged for over an hour and a half, with the burning sun rising against our backs, but the view from the top was spectacular.

Moon walk – Fresh tracks, with Dune 45 the S curve on the right side

The view that morning was one I will never forget. From the peak of the 5 million year old sand dune, looking down upon the vast plains and tracing out ancient riverbeds, I can only imagine a similar view from the heights of Space.

One day, perhaps!

– Eugene