Montag, 28. Juli 2008
Samstag, 3. Mai 2008
To round off the afternoon we went for a sundowner drink on the deck of the Royal Livingstone Hotel and enjoyed some nice South African white wine before we headed back to the Zambezi Sun for a huge dinner buffet.
The next day was pretty chilled out and we spend the time around the Zambezi Sun and our campsite where we showed Lynn’s parents how we are living at the moment. Our camp was not in the best state since we had our tent completely flooded two nights before and were still busy drying out everything. Moreover there was a troop of monkeys which raided the campground the day before and used our tent as a jumping castle and stole some of our laundry. Late in the afternoon we enjoyed another sundowner, this time in form of a cruise on the Zambezi Queen. The cruise was not as nice as the one on the Chobe but we still had a good time and were quite amused by an old American who was telling the local ladies how rich he is and that he is travelling around to find the right woman since he does not have any relatives to whom he could give all his fortune. We did not find out if he could land with the ladies with that one but it was a good amusement. The cruise was followed by another excellent buffet in the Zambezi Sun and a good rest in a finally dry tent.
Lynn’s parents left for Botswana this day and we were making our last arrangements before we headed off for Lusaka the next day where we had to go for our Malawian Visa. The ride to Lusaka was pretty easy except the potholes after Livingstone and we arrived at the ChaChaCha backpackers (Kwacha 20000 pp) in the afternoon. The backpackers has a little garden in which one can pitch his tent. Nothing to write home about but at least it was located in Lusaka’s city centre so that we could walk around town a bit. Since we arrived on the weekend we had to wait until Monday to go to the Malawian embassy and spent our time with reading and a nice pizza feast at Debonairs.
On Monday we got up early so that we could walk out of the embassy with our visa in hands but this proved to be a wrong assumption. First we had to fill out the usual paperwork and then wait for the lady which was sitting in a little glasbox and doing nothing. When she finally came she informed us that we would have to give her one passport pictures, which of course we did not have with us. So we were on to find a place to get our pictures. First we stopped at sort of a local marked and asked our way around. Unfortunately no one could help us there so we went on to Cairo Road, the busy main street of Lusaka. There it did not take long to find a Chinese photo shop which could do the photos for us in like 15 minutes. Back we were at the embassy to hand in the pictures where we were informed that it takes three days to get the bloody visa. In the end we managed to get the visas the next day which was reasonable since we did not think about leaving Lusaka the same day anyways.
We were packed and going early since we had a stretch of more than 500 km to tackle to get to South Luangwa National Park, our next destination. We drove all day and the road was very good for the first 300 km but after that the potholes started and our speed was reduced drastically. Since we still only have the MapStudio map which is not exactly the most accurate we did miss the turn off to South Luangwa and decided not to take one of the small side roads as it already started to get dark by this time and we did not want to get lost in the dark. Therefore we changed our route and decided to go via Chipata. We stayed in a local rest house along the road. The mattress was terrible and it did not help that we put our own camping mattresses on it either. Moreover there was loud music playing until late at night. It was not the most comfortable place to stay and we were gone early in the morning.
It was about 100 km’s to Chipata where we refuelled (luckily for the last time considering the fuel prices in Zambia). From Chipata to South Luangwa is about 130 km’s on dirt road. Most of this stretch is in a good condition but there are about 20 km which are riddled with potholes. One check point and two hours later we arrived at South Luangwa National Park. Since it is not allowed to sleep inside the park we decided to stay at Flatdogs Camp (US$5.00pp for camping) which is just at the opposite side of the entry bridge to the park. The camp is situated on the banks of the Luangwa River overlooking a hippo pool and there is no fences so you can see elephants and other animals wandering around the campsite. We slept at one of the most basic huts of the camp since we did not sleep a lot the night before.
Another early morning wake up lead us into the park (US$30.00 pp 1 US$15.00 for the vehicle) and right upfront: It is a stunning place. The park is filled with boks such as Impala, Puku, Waterbuck, Bushbock, Kudu just to name to most common and has it’s very own kind of Thornicroft Giraffe and Zebras which are only to be found in the Luangwa Valley. We spend the whole day exploring the park with it’s rivers, lagoons and lakes. During the day we came along some guys of a Wild Dog project. They told us that the wild dogs where around this area the night before and so we started to look out for them as well. Unfortunately we did not find them the whole day. Later that day the guys from the Wild Dog project pointed us to some lions (two adults and two pups) we spend some time watching them before went for another unsuccessful search of the wild dogs. We went back to the lions before we left the park and got a good show by the youngsters. After just lying around they started playing and ended up climbing up a tree which was a really funny sight since the branches were not really strong enough to support them and the two lions were having a hard time not to fall from the tree.
Unfortunately it was already late and we had to leave the park. This night the whole campsite was full of hippos which were grazing peacefully between all the people which I suppose did not have a very peaceful sleep with these massive neighbours around the tiny tents.
The next day we wanted to go up north to check out what this area of the park has to offer. The track went through thick bush and besides the attack of thousands of Tsetse flies there was nothing to see. Our plan was to go up north until we reach a big river which was indicated on our map. After an hours drive we could make out the river in the distance. Before we reached however we came to one of the remote bushcamps and had to find out that there was no way that we could get further on. A bit disappointed we had to backtrack the same route which we were coming up already. Once back at the Mfuwe core area we spent the whole afternoon in this more or less tsetsefly-less area.
Beside the more usual sights we did come along a huge hippo family which was eating its way through a pool of water cabbage and later in the afternoon we hit the jackpot again. Not the wild dogs but a lion pride of 11 individuals.
We spend a long time with them before we headed back to our camp at around 5 where we cocked a nice dinner and enjoyed the sun set over the Luangwa River.
Our last day in Zambia arrived and we drove back to Chipata and towards the Malawian border. This border post is pretty easy and none of the dodgy scenes which you might come along at Kazangula was around. We exchanged our last Zambian into Malawian Kwacha and went through all the paperwork at the border post. Just after the border there is a little building in which you have to buy the 3rd party insurance which cost us 4000 Malawian Kwatchas (for one month) after some negotiating. From the boarder it is a drive of about 130km to Lilongwe. We thought that the roads are in a sad state in Malawi but that was not the case at all and it took us a bit more than an hour to get to Lilongwe. We checked in at the Mabuya Backpackers in town since it was the weekend, we had to wait until Monday to apply for our Mozambique Visa.
The Mozambique High Consulate is very straight forward and we received our visa the very same day. We did not do lot beside stock up on groceries and hang around the garden of the backpackers where we met a German couple which we were taking along to the lake the next day. It is an easy ride through a nice hilly terrain to get to Salima and Senga Bay on Lake Malawi. We went to Steps Campground (Kwacha 1000pp) which has it’s own private beach, where you can pitch your tent. There are huge boulders on one side of the beach and on the other side is the old Livingstonia hotel building. Beside the two of us and the German couple there was no one else on the campsite which was quite idyllic. We came along a fisherman when we wanted to get for a drink at the hotel bar and bought two butter fishes which came directly out of the lake. This evening I learned how to prepare and more importantly how to take out all the guts of a fish. The dinner was absolutely great. The only downer was that a 30 PAX strong overlander truck arrived and those guys swarmed out like the bees and pitched their tents all over the place. The idyllic atmosphere was gone a bit but luckily the overlanders just started their trip and have not yet been too much of a noisy group. After a very windy night on the beach we had a full day of relaxing in front of us some swimming in the lake, shopping in town and reading on the beach was all that we had on the itinerary. For dinner we had again fresh fish from the lake.
From Senga Bay to Monkey Bay/Cape Maclear is a drive of about 130 km from which half of it is on a good tar road. There is a seventy kilometre long stretch that goes along a road project which apparently does not see enough funding. There is a huge graded dirt road which is waiting to be tarred. Unfortunately one is not allowed to drive on the spotless stretch of dirt road so you have to go along a bumpy ride just next to it. Before you get back to the lake one has to drive through a beautiful terrain of hills and subtropical fauna. There is a small marked in town from where we got fresh fruits and bread before we checked in on the campsite of the Funky Monkey Backpackers (Kwacha 400pp). The view from the campsite is stunning with the huge lake and two big islands in front. After we had pitched our tents we had good fun by watching some South Africans. They came up to Malawi in two 4x4s and a big truck which was their luggage vehicle. Needles to say the truck had a tough time on the sandy campsite and got stuck pretty quickly. Those guys however new their game and the truck was recovered in no time and tons of mattresses and more braai equipment than you will find at an Outdoor Warehouse was unloaded and set up. Those guys were quite a funny group and we had a good time chatting away the evening. Apparently they are on a business trip and want to buy forest from the Malawian government which they then want to cut, send to South Africa and replant again.
|South Luangwa to Lake Malawi|
Freitag, 18. April 2008
The next morning we left for Zambia. As there is no bridge over the Chobe River we had to take the pontoon. We always thought that they are planning to build a bridge but by the time we arrived we were told that the responsible minister of Zambia decided to sponsor two more ferries instead of building a bridge. At the moment there are two pontoons from which most of the time only one is running. The best part is that each ferry can only take one big truck, and in the best case four vehicles. So be prepared to wait… I was told that the truck drivers sometimes wait for 2 weeks until it is their turn cross! There is a long queue of trucks, but if you have a small vehicle, you can just pass them all, otherwise you are stuck for two weeks as well. As soon as you passed the Botswana border, there are several guys who offer you help to fill in all the paper work on the Zambia side. They say it will cost you only ZAR 10.00 but we compared it with a fellow camper who took their service. He ended up paying three times as much as what we paid doing everything ourselves! After an hour it was our turn to board the pontoon (which you are not allowed to call ferry or boat without starting an argument with the locals). Only the driver is allowed in the vehicle, in case the boat sinks! The passengers are only granted permission to board once all vehicles are parked. As the river was quite strong, the pontoon had to turn twice, otherwise it will turn over. This apparently happened before and a lot of people died in the incident.
After the short ride, we had to do all the paper work. You end up paying US$ 20.00 for the pontoon (this has to be paid on the Zambian site)
200’000 Kwacha (can not be paid in any other currency. Fee depends on the engine size) for the Carbon Emission Tax (this has to be paid in the same building where you get your visa)
10’000 Kwacha for the Council District (this has to be paid in the police office)
112’500 Kwacha for the Third Party Insurance (in one of the small little wooden block huts just in front of the gate)
Once we have mastered the paperwork and paid the fortune we were ready to leave the dodgy place. From here it takes about 60km to Livingstone, where we stayed at the campsite of the Livingstone Safari Lodge (US 6.00 pp). It’s nothing special, but was alright to crash for the night. As we will meet Lynn’s parents in a week’s time, we decided not to visit the Vic Falls yet but to explore Zambia a bit. Be prepared to pay a fortune for Petrol which is more than twice as expensive as in South Africa. In Livingstone they currently charge between 7500 and 8100 Kwacha per litre, in Lusaka it’s between 7000 and 7300. The cheapest option is to buy the petrol from some street guys, but you are never sure if they have mixed it with water and whether they supply you with the right juice. We bought a couple litres and didn’t have any problem, they can beat the petrol station prices, as they smuggle it with the Pontoon from Botswana.
As our GPS is still broken, it somehow can not find any satellites (!*%#*!), we had to trust a good old road map to find our way to the south gate of the Kafue National Park. It was quite tricky, as the map only stated one road and there were plenty! The good thing is that there are always the very friendly Zambians who pointed us in the right direction. We were quite amazed to see that many of them are riding a bicycle; I guess it’s because of those unbelievable high fuel prices. We arrived at the gate just after 3 pm. The ranger offered us to camp just outside the gate so that we did not had to pay for the night and could go in first thing in the morning. Unfortunately we only figured out that 70% of the park is inaccessible once we were inside the park. Most of it is flooded, the North Part is even worse. So we drove the only road which was accessible through the park and did not see one animal. The only exception were hundreds of Tsetse flies, they somehow chased our cruiser all the way trough the park! It was quite frustrating, but the drive was nevertheless good fun as on many parts the road is washed away and bridges are broken. The best time to visit the park is between August and November, when even the North is accessible. We left the park on the same day and drove up to the M9 towards Mumbwa. The afternoon which we spent outside the park was much better than inside the park, we did not see any game, but could get a good insight into Zambia’s everyday life. It was just beautiful! We arrived at our camp spot (which was at a National Park gate, where the ranger let us sleep behind a hut) after dark. He said that he makes sure that we are safe and since he was armed with AK 47 that promise seemed reasonable. It was a 15 hours driving day! We got up early, (as we had to leave before 6.30 a.m. so that the ranger did not get into trouble with the next shift) and headed for Namwala. We thought it will be a shortcut through the Kafue Flats back to Livingstone. After 4 hours of driving trough remote villages and crossing several so called Zambian bridges we reached a village just before Kasanga. There the pontoon goes over the Kafue River to Namwala. Unfortunately a tributary of the Kafue River cut the last stretch to Kasanga and there was no way to cross so we had to head back to Mumbwa. Without GPS this was quite tricky, as there are hundreds of roads leading to some remote villages and kraals and dead ends. Again with the help of some friendly villagers we made it back to Mumbwa. The funny thing is that if you ask three people in a village of 20 inhabitants you will get three different directions.
It was just after 4 pm when we returned back on the main road and so we decided to drive the 150 km to Lusaka. We would have made it easily before sunset but just after Mumbwa the Cruiser started to stutter and uphill there was hardly any power coming from the engine. There was no way we could drive to Lusaka like this. Some locals told us that there is a service station in Kasalu (the next village). We headed for that one, but couldn’t make it that far before the Cruiser stopped all together. Luckily the car just stopped pretty much outside the house, where the mechanic lives. And to our luck, he just drove into the main road the very same minute we stranded and found us. He’s name is Joe Madraya (+26 0977220149) in case you need help on that side of Zambia. He took the whole caburator apart as he thought there might be sand in it but in the end he figured out that it was the ignition coil which wasn’t cooling anymore.. As he did not had any spares, he told us to splash some water over the ignition coil and rewired the immobilizer for the moment. This seemed to work perfectly and after 3 hours we continued our journey to Lusaka. We arrived again, very late and stayed at the Eureka campsite just 10 km south of Lusaka (10 000 Kwacha per person). Our mission was to bring the cruiser back to Livingstone to get it fixed and chill there until Lynn’s parents arrive. After another 300 km, the engine oil gauge suddenly dropped to low. We were afraid to drive any further, but since we were in the middle of no where, we were forced to drive at least until we had cell phone reception. We called Joe and he told us to check if all wires are still connected to the oil filter. We found a little tiny one loose, but somehow even when we plugged it in, the gauge was not moving. As the engine still sounded fine, we continued towards Livingstone. In Zimba, some 80 km before Livingstone, the cruiser started to stuttered again. We stopped and consulted a mechanic, but unfortunately he was completely pretty drunk and could not even open the bonnet without our help. We purred water over the ignition coil which worked again and made it over the pothole riddled road to Livingstone. This time we stayed at the Waterfront Campsite (US 7.50 pp), which has two fire places, running water as well as electricity on each campsite. We made this our home for the next couple days and until the cruiser was fixed. As it was the weekend, we have to wait until Monday to bring it to a workshop. After two rather lazy days we went looking for a mechanic and found help at the BP workshop (they normally don’t do electrics but could help us anyway). 5 minutes later our engine oil gauge was working again. It was just that tiny cable which had to be cut off and plugged in properly. We bought a new ignition coil at Autoworld (50 000 Kwacha) and went back to the workshop where they installed it. We are going to test it in a couple of days once we drive back to Lusaka, from where we go to South Luangwa National Park and then continue on to Malawi. So far, Zambia is the most expensive and most rural country we visited in Africa. The spar juice, meat, veggies... costs twice as much as in all neighbouring countries… Hopefully Malawi gets a little cheaper again, otherwise we have to end our trip too soon.
Somehow I couldnt upload any pictures to the blog, but on Picasa. To view the pictures click on the picture below:
|Chobe & Zambia|
Montag, 7. April 2008
In Nata we stayed at the Nata Lodge Campsite (P 45.00 pp). The campsites are quite big and one can use the facilities of the lodge. Our tent neighbours were a couple from Switzerland. So we spend the afternoon at the pool bar exchanging news from back home (since we haven’t been in Switzerland for a long time our news mainly consisted of Cape Town gossip). We had a good time but by the time we returned to our tent, a huge Botswana family took over our campsite! It was the Easter Weekend, but there were still empty campsites, so we don’t really know why they wanted to be so close to us, especially since the did not even have the courtesy to greet us. We could hear them snoring during the night and in the morning when they packed up they even took some of our stuff. Luckily we found out just before they left and became everything back. We spend the next day at the Nata Bird sanctuary; it was quite a fun ride, as most of the park was flooded. We took the Swiss couple along, so we could go more off-road than usual, as we had a backup car. The cruiser handled the mud brilliantly. The Nissan of our new friends got stuck once so we had to dig a bit but also no serious problems there.
From Nata we went due east towards Gweta where we stayed at Planet Baobab (P 49.00 pp). They have quite big campsites as well as nice bungalows but the highlight is their huge pool. We spent three nights in total in Gweta. We took the first day to explore the Ntwtwe Pan. From Gweta we took the road towards Kubu Island until we reached the pan. Once at the pan we drove along it and tried to follow the roads which were indicated on T4A. However this seemed to be impossible since all the tracks were either washed away or overgrown. Once we left the pan we took a drive to Greens Baobab, a massive tree with a diameter of 25m.
From there we finally found a track back to town. In fact there were a dozen of main and small side tracks so we decided to always drive in a north easterly direction which lead us back to Gweta. We gathered quite some new data for T4A. The next day took us to Nxai Pan. The roads here have been in excellent condition, except the 30km access road which was once again very deep sand. We came along a huge herd of zebras. Unfortunately no predators. I guess it would make sense to stay overnight in the park as there are lots of lions and cheetahs around.
After a last dip in the pool we went off towards Maun where we once again enjoyed a lekker lunch at Hilary’s close to the airport. We decided to check out the Old Bridge Backpackers (P 30.00 pp) which apparently Prince Harry chose as his Maun homestead. We met some Brits earlier which could not believe their luck in seeing their favourite royal there. The place is really lovely, just make sure that you get a campsite next to the river. Our plan to go into the delta only now was a good decision as it did not rain in the last two weeks and we hit the road for Moremi. The ranger at South Gate was not too sure if there is space at one of the campsite since they are always fully booked like 12 months in advance. However he chatted to the guy at North Gate and it did not seem to be a problem to get a campsite up there (pitch and bitch always seems to work in Botswana). The ride up to North Gate was not too spectacular and we were already wondering if there are any animals in the park but big herds of elephant and lechwes proved us wrong, later in the day. The chap at North Gate was very helpful and booked us in for the night and gave us a permit for Xakanaxa on the next day. The road from North Gate to Xakanaxa was once again in good shape there apart from one deep water crossing. All the mud pools could be avoided by little detours. We decided against a boat trip since they wanted to charge the two of us for the whole boat which would have been 300 Pula per hour. It would be a good deal if you are more people than we were since you can bring along up to 12 people for the ride. The area around Xakanaxa had still quite a lot of water and many ways could not be driven but we could still enjoy nice and long game drives since there are lots and lots of tracks up there. The next morning we drove via 3rd bridge back to South Gate.
Some of the bridges in the South were badly damaged and we decided to rather drive through the rivers than over the scary looking bridges. In the afternoon we went back to Maun and the Old Bridge Backpackers. Another night at the campsite and we were off for another highlight. We booked a 1 hour scenic flight over the delta. The 1200 Pula for a 3-seater plane were definitely worth it and we saw herds of elephants, buffalos, different boks and giraffes. All of this in one of the most beautiful sceneries ever.
Via Chobe back to Kasane was next on the itinerary. We decided to get our bookings at the Wildlife Office in Maun this time and got a reservation for Savute and Ihaha. Savute and its surroundings are great. We did not spot the huge lion pride but could enjoy two lionesses in the evening until we got charged away by an elephant who did not want to share the close by waterhole with us.
The next morning brought us up to Lynianty and from there back to the Chobe riverfront. Ihaha campsite is right on the river and offers stunning sunsets. Animal wise our highlights were a fight between two water monitors and a huge phyton which crossed our way. This time Chobe amazed us with hundreds of Elephants – but somehow they only appear after lunch time. In Kasane we went back to Chobe Safari Lodge (the camping fee increased to P 65.00 pp on the 1st April). The campsite turns out to be a little zoo. Last time there were hippos, pythons, monkeys. This time there are lions and elephants at the gate and monkeys, water monitors, warthogs etc. are present all day long.
Our plan is to head from hear towards Zambia. We will keep you posted!
Cheers, Lynn & Matt
Donnerstag, 20. März 2008
With fresh spirits we headed for the Waterberg Plateau Park and were once again shocked about the rates of Namibia Wildlife Resorts and decided to keep our boycott upright. Just 8km down the road we settled for the night at the Wildnerness Waterberg Campsite. (120.00 per person per night). It was still quite expensive, but they offer some fair priced activities and the camp sites are really nice and neat. More over you do not have to pay the park entrance fees even though you can hike the top of the plateau. The resort offers game drives and guided walks, but there are also some hiking trails where one can go by himself. We spend two nights there. On the morning of the second day Matt enjoyed a guided scenic walk (N$ 75.00 pp). The local guide had a great knowledge about the local flora, fauna and history and it was a pretty good outing. On the plateau is a lot of wildlife, but they only saw leopard and buffalo tracks.
Our original plan was to go north towards the Caprivi Strip, but due to the heavy rains we though its better to wait a while before crossing back into Botswana again. Instead we headed towards the Kaokoland! We were aware that it will be wet and we might not get through, but we both really wanted to explore it at least a little.
Our second battery starts to give us trouble again. It somehow does not charge properly – so no more cool drinks. We changed the battery already in Windhoek, as we were told that the one we just bough in Cape Town for a bloody fortune was faulty. Well that wasn’t the case… We went to see two mechanics in Kamanjab but they both told us a different story – one said that the alternator is broken, the other said that something on the wiring between the two batteries is wrong and therefore the second battery only charges very slowly. We decided to leave it as it is and sort it out later. We spend the night at the Porcupine Camp (N$ 45 pp & N$ 15 per car) located just outside Kamanjab on the road towards Palmwag. The sites are quite nice with an outside shower and toilet. In the evening just next to the reception they feed the porcupine so you have very good chances to see them. We don’t really like to see people feeding wild animals but the owner gave us a reasonable explanation why they are feeding them. During our time at the campsite we came across two not so welcoming guests: a young zebra cobra and a scorpion.
Since it did not rain during the night we decided to leave for the Falls. It was 180 km, but already after the first 10 km, we found a car stock in a deep mud pool. We could easily cross it with the cruiser and helped the other guys out. That wasn’t really a wise decision, as we could smell our clutch for the next 60 km! There must have been quite a lot of rain during the last couple days as it was very wet and the road was very badly damaged in some places. After several not so hectic river crossing we reached Okangwati. Here the river is very wide and quite strong. The last part is tarred but the first 50m are deep sand in the riverbed itself. We found some car tracks, so there must have been at least someone else who crossed the river this day, but we were a bit anxious as we were driving alone but still keen enough to give it a try. There is quite a big village and we were sure that for some (not so) cool drinks they will get us out in case that we should get stuck. We walked the river several times and finally Matt brought us safely trough! It was quite fun but I did not look forward to it to cross it again on our way back…80km further up we finally reached the Epupa Falls. On the campsites were two other cars, one full with guys from Israel and one with a German couple. They arrived a day earlier and were even more worried about the river than we were. The falls were stunning and huge, the scenery around it is just beautiful.
There are quite a few hiking trails along the river and since it flows so strong we were told that the crocodiles are all further up the river. Good to know since you camp right on the river’s edge. The Kunene River was quite high and some of the tented rooms were even flooded, luckily the campsite not. I forgot the name of the campsite (Ongungupa or something), but it’s the second one the one without a fence. It was quite nice (76.00 pp), but you should prebook during high season to get a campsite at the waterfront (sites 1-5). The others are in the back from where you can’t really see the river. As it looked like it was going to rain, we decided the next day to head towards Ruacana. We were told not to take the road along the river during the raining season, so we drove all the way back and wanted to go via Swartbooisdrift to Ruacana or as far as we could make it. The Israelis and Germans were leaving too this day. On our way towards Okangwati we could see that it did rain a lot during the night, some of the small rivers had a lot more water than the day before and the road was even worse. We arrived at Okangwati around lunch time and were shocked how deep and strong the river was today! It was twice as deep as the day before and very strong. The good thing was, we could see that it was slowly sinking. A local guy was also inspecting the river and told us that he will try to cross the river further up. We followed him but as soon as we came to the crossing point we could see that the river up here was even stronger. We walked through but it was all loose sand underneath, so we all decided to go back to Okangwati hoping that the river was still loosing its tense. By the time we arrived, the Israelis gave it a try and were stuck deep in the middle of a sand bank. (It was quite fun, because we told them before not to drive over this very same sand bank but they tried it anyway and got stuck). There was no way that another car could help them getting out. They drove themselves in deep shit. We told them that they should jack the car out, but one of the Israelis thought he knew better. He drove the rental car Hilux of the German couple into the river and tried to recover his Cruiser with an old rope. It did not work. The local guy had a winch, but that didn’t help either. After 2 hours of convincing him to use his jack, he finally agreed. As the whole village was there to help, we decided to continue our journey to Ruacana. The river lost a lot of his power during the recovery time, so we could easily drive through. Just after the turn towards Swartbooisdrift, we found another car stucked in a small riverbed. The road out of the river was very steep. We decided to help the Himbas to get their car out. It was a very old Toyota Hilux not even 4x4 loaded with hundreds of kilos of maiz, beer as well as a huge generator. After empting the whole load of the car it was recovered in no time. It was quite a spectacle! By the time we walked back to our car the Himbas started to scream, so we looked back and just saw a flesh flood coming down the river. Luckily their car was out! For us it meant that we had to head back to Opuwo and take the main road to Ruacana.
n our way to Opuwo, we came across the Israelis again. They made it finally through the river! But just before Opuwo, in the same mud hole where we recovered a car yesterday were two vehicles stuck. Everyone helped pushing them out, once they were on their way, we drove through.
In Opuwo we filled our tank. Our petrol consumption to Epupa was about 20l/100km! We continued along the main road to Ruacana and arrived there just after 19h00. We stayed at a place called Eha Lodge (N$ 45.00 pp) which has a big camp site and is about 16km from the Ruacana Falls. As we arrived so late and had a very adventurous day we gave ourselves a treat and had dinner at the restaurant. (N$ 100.00 pp for a 3-course set menu and the drinks are cheap! 7 Nam Dollars for a Savanna) In the morning it started to rain, so we slept in. Around lunch time we visited the Ruacana Falls, but I must say that I prefer the Epupa Falls. The Ruacana Falls are massive (at least during rainy season) but the whole landscape around Epupa is so much nicer. At Ruacana are only limited walkways so you can’t really enjoy spending a lot of time there. Since the Falls are located between Angola and Namibia, you have to cross the Namibian border but not go through to the Angolan border post.
The next morning was a rainy one again and we had to pack up our camp in the rain. Due to all the water we could not take the road in the north directly to Rundu but had to go down the B1 in direction Tsumeb. On the way we saw that we are not the ones that were hit worst with the rain but whole parts of Oshakati and Ondangwa were under water.
The whole scenery around the B1 looked a bit like the Okavango Delta in full flood. At least the cattle seemed to enjoy it and the locals make the best out of it and are busy fishing along the “flood plains”. This day we set our camp a a place just north of Etosha NP. On T4A it was indicated as Ohashana Resort and Campsite but it turned out to be some sort of training centre of the Namibian Ministry of Acriculture. Neverthless there are campsites available and one can use the showers and toilets on place. The best thing about it is that it only costs N$ 30 pp and it’s only about 15 kilometres from the northern gate of Etosha.
Our next stop was in Rundu. We both thought that Rundu is as small as every other town, but we were wrong. Its quite big and their busy building a fairly big shopping mall. We restocked and enjoyed a sunny afternoon at the Ngadu Safari Lodge (N$ 50.00 pp) camp site. Unfortunately soon some Overland truck came and the peace and quiet was gone. The next morning the whole place looked like a real big mess, so we decided to pack our things and drive on. We headed for Bagani where we spend the night at a nice community camp site N/Goabaca Campsite (N$ 60.00 pp) just opposite the Popa Falls. It was quite nice, especially because every campsite had its own sundowner deck, where there was enough space to pitch the tent in a safe distance from the river. Before we got there however we checked in at the Ngepi Camp (N$ 75.00 pp), which had great toilets and was very nice, but Lynn didn’t felt safe as the river was only 2 meters away from where we were supposed to pitch our tent. We could hear and see the hippos all the time so we decided to travel on. Again the weather was not very nice, since we left Windhoek pretty much every day it was raining. Early in the morning we continued towards Kongola. Unfortunately we did not spot any elephants in the Caprivi Strip but came across many chameleons. Kongola was out of petrol, which sucked especially because the next day the petrol will rise by 31 cents per little… Shit happens. We stayed at Namushasha Lodge (N$ 55.00 pp) the campsite is nothing really special, but the lodge is very nice. They all have a beautiful deck facing the river. If you are not on a budget like we are, it is definitely worth to try. Short after pitching the tent it started to rain again. We decided to use the lodge facilities to stay dry and spend the whole afternoon there, as it never stopped raining. Apparently it hadn’t rained as much as this year in 50 years! We even got ourselves a treat and ate in the restaurant, which was quite expensive, but yummie.
After another wet night we packed our stuff and turned left Namibia. We really enjoyed the 5 weeks that we spent there. We took the Ngoma borderpost and the crossing went without any problems. The Botswanan border official gave us another 30 days in Botswana so we have enough time to explore Chobe, Moremi and maybe Nxai/Magadigadi Pans (dependingon the water). On the transit road from the border to Kasane we came along our first Sable Antelope and were quite impressed with the huge horns it had. We hoped to escape the rain by going to Kasane. It looked really good but unfortunately it started to rain in the late afternoon as well. They had nice weather for over 2 weeks, but as soon as we arrived it started to rain. We stay at the campsite of the Chobe Safari Lodge (Pula 55.00 pp) which is conveniently located. They have 24 hours security to make sure everything is safe. Lynn felt really good, especially as we saw the fences around the camp and even in the water to keep the crocs and hippos away. The next morning we woke up and were told, that a hippo broke the fence and was running around the campsite. It was only 6 meter from our tent! We did hear a hippo calling during the night but were relieved because we knew that there was a fence. The guys fixed the fence the next morning and everything went back to normal, we stay here for another couple nights and hope that the hippo won’t return…
We spend a day at the Chobe Nationalpark. Luckily we picked the right day and there was sunshine all day long! We got up early, at least we thought so, but as we headed towards the gate, we saw that they opened it already at 5h30, so we were an hour late. This wasn’t such a bad thing as we would have stayed in queue anyway to get in because of all the game drive vehicles. The first two hours we saw them everywhere, but luckily they disappeared after the morning and only returned short before 4 o’clock. Already on our way to the park we saw an african civet, which was very nice as we haven’t seen any before. In the first hour we came across two lionesses and lots of impalas. But no elephants at all, which we thought was quite strange for Chobe. The rest of the morning was quiet.
Around lunchtime the animals returned from the thick bush and high grasses and we saw elephants, hippos, crocs, kudus, sable antelopes, kudus, giraffes, baboons, buffalos and lots of birds. The road was quite wet but that made the thick sand a lot more compact and easier to drive. The next morning we had a huge troop of vervet monkeys and warthogs visiting the campsite and it was sunny again! It almost seems that the rain is over…
|On the road again|
Mittwoch, 27. Februar 2008
Luckily this time the luggage arrived and we left
The next morning the weather cleared up and we were greeted by a nice sunrise. After the breakfast we headed on over the
In Solitaire we went to refill our tanks and tried the famous apple pie. We were not too impressed and I am sure there are lot of people out there who can bake a better pie than this. Neverthless we enjoyed the pie since we are living from camp food for quite a while already.
Just past Solitaire we went to see the petrified dunes and took the opportunity for a site inspection at the Namib Desert Lodge (Since one day we have to go back to join the rat race it is always good to do some research while on holidays I guess). The Lodge is a nice place for tour groups and the petrified dunes give it a nice backdrop. After this we were on our way to Sesriem. I always thought this is a little village but I had to discover that it is only a petrol station and the office of Namibian Wildlife Resorts. My mind finally arrived in
The next morning we were off to the Sossusvlei. I think it is quite strange that once you enter the park you hit a perfect maintained tar road in the middle of nowhere. The scenery gets nicer all the way to the vlei and the dunes become higher and higher as well. Once we arrived in the Sossusvlei we made us lunch. The ladies decided to relax a bit in the shade while Jonathan and I went for a hike to the Dead Vlei. The short walk to the Dead Vlei paid off and we really enjoyed the surreal looking pan with all the burnt trees and the huge dunes around.
Late in the afternoon we were back at the camp and had some time to freshen up before we went to the Sossuvlei Lodge for dinner. The buffet which they serve is huge and you get a nice variety of game, lamb, pork and beef. A real treat! After the luxurious dinner we had a short night before us since we had to get up before to go for a balloon ride (thanks to Eric who invited us for this).
The early start was definitely worth it and we enjoyed the desert from a totally new perspective. The pilot and his apprentice definitely knew what they where doing and besides flying high above the ground they where also up for some dune shaving (flying the balloon along the edge of the dunes). Besides the usual suspects (Oryx and Springbok) we also saw a big African Wildcat running through the dunes. After about an hour we landed in a Valley called Discovery where we were greeted by nice champagne breakfast.
The ride back to Sesriem was on an open game drive vehicle. Very windy but also quite refreshing and the colours of the landscape where just great. So far this was definitely one of the more beautiful places on our trip. After checking out of the camp we went back to Solitaire and through the
The plan for the next few days was to go via Messum Crater towards Damaraland. While driving through the Messum Riverbed we came along some Jackals and Springboks and of course a lot of huge Welwitschias.
I expected a rough ride but the trails have been in a very good shape and we made our way to Uis in one day. The night was spent in the Brandberg Restcamp (N$ 50 per person). The restcamp has a huge swimming pool and a very friendly owner. In the morning we have been approached by a lot of locals which tried to sell us some minerals and they managed to convice Jonathan to buy a tiny piece of stone for 10 Dollars. We had to fill up our cars before heading into Damaraland and again everyone was trying to sell us something at the petrol station but this time we just made it without buying anything. We drove halfway aroung the Brandberg on some tracks which where indicated on T4A. Damaraland is absolutely stunning and we liked just cruising along. We wanted to cross the
From there it was only about 5 metres to reach the riverbank but in the middle of this small stretch the back wheel started to spin and digged itself into the river. Jonathan came to the rescue and recovered us back onto the sandbank. By the time Jonathan was on the sandbank there were already about 15 locals He dediced to cross the last stretch a bit further up the sandbank but did not even make past the sandbank without getting stuck. So this time we helped him coming back out again. After this we decided to turn over and go back to the side from which we came and drive up to the bridge. From there we took the main road all the way to the Aba Huab Campsite. This campsite is really pretty and lies directly on the banks of the (dry)
Since we sold the rock engravings, organ pipes and burnt mountain to our overseas tourists quite often while working in
Later that morning we headed further up north until we reached Palmwag. We were greeted by some very friendly locals at the vet fence and thought that they are the officials there. After we told them about us and our family they suddenly gave us some nuts with animals and all the names of our family members on each one of it. It turned out that those guys just wanted to do some business and where no officials at all. This took us by surprise and I ended up buying five of those bloody nuts for 120 Nam Dollars. I must say I felt quite a bit ripped off but soon discovered that I still made a bargain. Jonathan bought 2 of those nuts for 100 Nam Dollars and also entered a soccer bet for a local game which might be taking place by the end of the month. So he spent another 150 Nam Dollars for a bet of which he will never know the outcome. We wanted to spend the night at the campsite of the Palmwag Logde and paid the 90 Dollars per person. A bit later there was a thunderstorm coming up and the ladies decieded that we are going to sleep in one of the bungalows. They made a deal with the GM of the lodge which Jonathan and I still don’t understand but apparently it was another Palmwag bargain.
Next morning we got up early for a drive through the concession but after some thinking we decided to just drive along the main road. This paid out and we encountered lots of giraffes, oryx and sprinboks. The giraffes looked completely wrong in this landscape which only consists of some small bushes and millions of red granite rocks. Since we are in the rainy seasons the elephants have wandered off and were not to be seen around Palmwag. We originally wanted to go up to Kaokoland after dropping of Carine and Jonathan in
This afternoon we drove towards Etosha NP and booked us onto the campsite of the Etosha Safari Camp 9 kilometres outside Etosha. With 50 Nam Dollars per person per night this is a really good alternative to the NWR restcamps inside the park. We went for a drive inside the park this evening but did not see too much besides the usual boks and jackals. The highlight of the next day was a sighting of 3 lions just next to one of the pick nick spots. Unfortunately the lions wandered off as soon as they saw us coming.
From Etosha Safari Camp we went through the park and stopped at Halali for the night. While we were pitching camp there was a staff member coming to us and told us something about alk or so. No one understood what he wanted until he grabbed Jonathan by the arm and took him to a nearby tree. This time Jonathan did not get ripped off. The good fellow just wanted to show us a scoops owl which was hiding in a tree close by.
In the eving we have been visited by a honey badger which was strolling through the restcamp in search of some food.
The next morning was a bit of a disappointment and we saw hardly any animals. Just before we reached Namutoni our luck was about to change. Carine spotted three lion cubs hiding in the bush close the the road. After we had a closer look it turned out to be three Cheethas lying there. We spent some time looking at them hiding in the thick bush until the first one decided to get up and wander along.
Soon after the two others also came out of their hide and crossed the road. This gave us the good spirit back and we were again full of motivation for the rest of the day. There have been some good rains around Namutoni and the whole pan which is supposed to be completely dry was a huge lake. This looked absolutely stunning and around the water there were lots of animals to be seen. Late in the afternoon we decided to do the loop at Fisher Pan which was a huge lake as well. We came along three elephant bulls which where fighting with each other in the middle of the water and a bit later we watched a heard of elephants playing in the mud at the edge of the pan. Just before we came back to Namutoni we spotted a Rhino with his calves. In the end a very rewarding day.
The night was spent just outside the park (we forgot the name…). It is quite a luxurious campsite and once again much cheaper than staying inside the park.
The next two days where more or less spent by driving down to
Once we arrived in
It looks as if there is no way to get that bloody debit card here in Windhoek and we most likely have to go down to Upington or Springbok to get a new one at one of the ABSA branches there. Since we intended to go up to Caprivi from here it is a bit of a hassle but we’ll see.
In the meantime we sorted everything out! After one week stuck in Windhoek we will finally get our bankcard tomorrow (04.03.08) and can continue our journey. Thanks to Anita and her family as well as Landi for all your help! As usual, we'll keep you posted.
Samstag, 9. Februar 2008
On day 4 we took the Trail to the Botswana side. The drive is very easy for a Landcruiser, but on our way we helped out some German tourist who were pushing their Hillux Rental car over the dunes (it wasn’t even steep!) They did that already for the last 2 hours and were very pleased to see us. We checked their tyre pressure. 2.5 bar!!! No wonder they couldn’t drive in this sand. We deflated their tyres to 1.2 bar and off they went, no more pushing. We wanted to overnight at the Matopi 2, but we arrived there so early that we decided to go further. The park was empty so we thought it wouldn’t be a problem to stay at another camp site. As Lynn was very afraid to sleep in the tent on the ground without any fences around the camp site, we slept in the car. It was horrible, about 40C! We turned the aircon on and slept with ice bags next to us, but it was just not comfortable. The next morning we went to the entrance gate to check where we can sleep for the next night. No one was there. We waited quite long, until some rangers showed up. They went looking for the lady which was not very happy that she had to work. Apart from us there were two more vehicles on the Botswana site. She told us were we can pitch our tent, so we stayed at the Mabuasehube 3, from where we enjoyed a great view over the pan. We decided to sleep in the tent and hoped that no lions will visit us. (Lynn is considering a roof top tent.) We did not see much game on the Botswana side and had no visitors at night (as far as we know…). We left the park as our car drank way too much petrol – the fuel gauge was already on half. Outside the park was deep sand and the next petrol station in our direction was 140 km away. We floated over the sand until we finally reached Hukuntsi, just in time before we had to use our jerry cans. Luckily they accepted Rands, as their ATM was out of money. We continued towards Kang and hoped to find an ATM with cash… the first two places were out of order, the third place could get us 400 Pula before it ran out of money. From Kang we drove to Ghanzi were we stayed for two nights at the Thakadu Camp (Pula 40 per person) which was very nice. We continued our journey to the Central Kalahari National Park. The road was surprisingly in good condition (hard as rock). We didn’t even have to deflate our tires. The bush was very thick and the grass high, so it was quit hard to spot any animals outside a pan. We spent one night at Piper Pan and have been quite lucky in the early hours of the evening. There were giraffes, bat eared foxes, lots of jackals and bocks. It was the first time that we saw the foxes so that was quite nice.
The next day we went up to Deception Valley. On the way were massive herds of Gemsbok and Springboks but we did not spot any predators during our whole stay. The park was empty, apart from us where only guest from the Wilderness Expedition Camp inside the park. It was a weird feeling being the only humans in this huge area. On the day of departure it started to rain and the roads turned quickly into mud pools. Our car was covered with mud by the time we reached Rakops. The petrol station in Rakops by the way has disel and petrol and is no longer hand pumped – but the next ATM is only in Maun. So we continued towards Maun where we stayed at Audi Camp (Pula 42 per person and Pula 60 for electricity per night). We just chilled out at the camp, as the weather wasn’t too good. Next stop was Ghanzi again before we headed towards Namibia where we will meet Lynns sister and her boyfriend. We are currenly in Windhoek and it is raining. :( The weather forecast doesn’t look too good, hopefully it will soon clear up.
Matt & Lynn
|SA - Central Botswana|