Namibia 2005

Self drive Photo Safari July

ROUNDTRIP - Windhoek, through Etosha national Park from east to west, Twyfelfontein, Swakopmund/Walvis Bay, Sossusvlei, Naukluft Mountains, Windhoek

Fast facts on Namibia

Size: 825,418 sq km
Capital: Windhoek
Population: 1.8 million
Currency: Namibian dollar
Time: GMT+ 2hrs
Language: English, Afrikaans, German, Oshivambo, Herero, Nama

We booked our photo safari to Namibia with the Expert Africa team (http://www.expertafrica.com/)  and they are highly recommendable! Prior to departure we had the tickets, a detailed itinerary, all the accommodation vouchers (everything pre-booked), maps and books needed. Our contact person - Maruska Adye - gave us excellent advice, lots of good information and had herself hands-on experience from Namibia after having visited the country several times.

We chose to go on a self drive trip. Self drive trips mean that you have a great trip planned and still have the freedom to create your own adventure at your own pace. And furthermore - you can bring along more of your photo gear needed, since you don’t have the normal baggage limit of 12 kgs/person of the smaller planes used for fly-in trips. Which, of course, suited us perfect!

 

 

 

15.7      Stavanger - Windhoek

We started off from Stavanger, Norway July 15 via Schipol, Amsterdam to Heathrow. Then 10 hours Gatwick - Windhoek, the main capital of Namibia.

 

16.7      Windhoek - Ozombanda Guest Farm

We picked up our car at the airport. No hassle at all. It was a 2x2 Toyota Corolla. I was a bit sceptical about not hiring a 4x4, but as it turned out we actually never needed the 4x4 feature. Driving in Namibia was easy, the roads (mainly gravel) usually good – and empty. After a short sightseeing and lunch in Windhoek we visited the supermarket and stocked up with food, water and a spare can of fuel. On our way to Etosha our first stop was Ozombanda Guest Farm, a two hours drive north of Windhoek, just west of Okahandja. The farm is run by Volker and Monica and is a genuine working farm that has been in their family for several generations. They have moved cattle off some of their land in favour of game.

On our evening game drive - just the two of us and Volker with his son-in-law - we found Kudu and Oryx and a lot of birds, among them The Bateleur Eagle. Our first evening in Namibia we (being their only guests that night) had an excellent barbeque together with the whole family, 6 dogs and 10 cats..! 

 

17.7      Ozombanda Guest Farm – Namutoni Rest Camp, Etosha National Park

After a very good night sleep we woke up and met Volker in the garden waiting to show us an interesting little fellow – a poisonous Scorpion in its winter hibernation. Actually much smaller than I had imagined. We had a great breakfast with home made bread, butter and jam and smoked oryx with egg&bacon. Everything produced on the farm! I even got some porcupine pigs from Volker as a farewell present. What a great hospitality!

The distance between Ozombanda Guest Farm and Etosha is 770 km and on tarmac. On the way we dropped in to Omaruru. Here we found - besides topless girls shopping in the streets (of the Himba tribe) - a very special woodwoorking workshop making among other things full sized elephants and giraffes. Luckily the shop was closed :-) After fuelling in Tsumeb and more water for thirsty travellers we finally reached one of the main gates to Etosha National Park.

Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa's finest and most important Game Reserves. Etosha Game park was declared a National Park in 1907 and covering an area of 22 270 square km, it is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, surprisingly, one species of fish! Etosha is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The pan is part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed around 1000 million years ago. The Etosha Pan covers around 25% of the National Park. The game viewing in Etosha National Park is excellent, the best time being from May to September - the cooler months in Namibia. We had perfect weather conditions all the time!

 

 

After paying the entrance fee to the park, it took us only one minute! before we spotted our first Giraffes on our way to check in at Namutoni Rest Camp. The Giraffes were quickly followed by Impala, Kudu, Eland, Dikdik and Springbok. The place was teeming with animals just beside the road, and we hadn't even visited a waterhole yet! After checking in at Namutonis we took a quick trip to the waterhole "Klein Namutoni". Here we saw our first Black Rhino before returning to camp. The gates closes at sundown, about 17:30 and opens 06:30.

The Namutoni Rest Camp is the eastern one of the three rest camps inside Etosha. We stayed in one of the appartments, accomodation only. It was clean and ok, but not luxurious. We had what we needed, no more - noe less. It didn't reduce the quality of our stay though, cause we were hardly there for anything but sleep.

The downside of staying at Namutonis is that the spot-lit waterhole here does not get nearly as much activity as those at either Halali or Okaukuejo.

 18.7      Namutoni

Up early and out for a morning photo shoot 06:45. The temperature was pleasant - but very dry and dusty which was our biggest challenge concerning the photo gear. We had a couple of nice trips round Fishers Pan, with lots of game, big Road Runners, The Yellowbilled Hornbill and our first Elephant - close up! He was a lone and friendly bull who was very photogenic :-)

We returned to camp lunchtime to empty our cameras and fill ourselves...

We visited a couple of other water holes, but again "Klein Namutoni" gave us best value where a Lioness came noisily to drink just before we had to leave to reach the gates. Impressive sound! Other nice water holes to visit around Namutoni were "Tsumcor", "Kalkheuvel" and "Chudob".

 

 

19.7      Namutoni / Halali

Up and check-out before 07:00. We visited "Ngobib" and were close to crash into two Elephants! A total of 7 Elephants on the trip. We got some good shots (and shaky nerves). On the way we drove through typical cat land, but we saw none but a scavenging African Wild Dog. At "Goab" we saw lots of Black Faced Impalas, Zebras, Elephants and our first proper spotting of Red Hartebeest. And finally an old male Lion with a gorgeous mane and his harem of five Lionesses. They were dozing in the middle of the day. We drove to Halali for check-in and met a Warthog grazing on the lawn... We took a refreshing dip in the pool (which was surprisingly cold..) and had some lunch before we visited Halali's waterhole "Moringa", which unfortunately was empty for the moment.

 

Back in "Goab" we placed ourselves by the upper waterhole, waiting for action. Suddenly we saw a big paw that moved half way hidden behind a log close to the car. It was one of the Lionesses we spotted earlier. I got my Lion jawn picture that I wanted! Ian even got pictures of the male Lion having a quickie with one of the Lionesses, too far away to be any good pictures though ;-) We spent the whole afternoon at "Goab". Lots of game and birds and a magnificent male Kudu half way hidden among the trees. A waterhole well worth visiting despite its density of cars...

In the evening we ate at Halalis outdoor restaurant, where grilled oryx was on the menu. Ok restaurant with a variety of meat and good desserts. Before going to bed we visited "Moringa" again - Halali's secluded and scenic flood-lit water hole - where a mother and baby Black Rhino were the highlight of the evening. Halali is the newest accomodation in the park and is strategically located halfway between Okaukuejo and Namutoni. It is surrounded by some of the most popular water holes in the Park. The resort has a swimming pool, restaurant and kiosk. It was a bit noisy though, packed with other tourists while we were there.

 

20.7      Halali

We explored new areas around Halali on our morning drive. We went to the waterhole "Rietfontein" and took the detour back via Rhino Drive. This was a wooded area where we spotted no game at all. All we had was a glimpse of a rather scared Secretary Bird. Some stretches of the way the vegetation was very dense, so it's possible that there were animals there. If so they were all very well hidden. Back in Halali we visited "Moringa" again, to find over 25 Elephants playing, drinking and having fun!!! The baby Elephants were lovely, and they put up a great water show for enthusiastic photographers :-)

In the afternoon we took a trip to Viewpoint Etosha Pan where we had a fantastic view over the pan. Its size is amazingly 4731 square kilometers!! "Etosha" means "The great, white place". Easy to believe standing on the edge looking into eternity... - deserted, hot and completely silent! Wow what an unreal sensation!! Must be experienced! We were fortunate enough to be there all alone. No other cars. The silence was complete! Definately a place to visit - preferably in the afternoon or early morning.

Our first and only accident...

On our way back from the Etosha Pan we had our first and only accident on the trip. Having spent too much time we were - as always - in a hurry of reaching camp before the gate closed... Driving on gravel can be challenging, and suddenly our car hit a pot hole and we were airborne.. When the car landed on the road again (still in full control - luckily) our spare can of fuel popped open and we suddenly had 25 liters of petrol sloshing in the trunk of the car. WHAT A STENCH! We had to stop and empty it, but had nothing to scoop it up with. Luckily some other car came by and they lent us a bale and were going to tell the people at Halali's. We were so dizzy and nauseous by the time we had finished emptying the trunk that we could hardly drive the car. We reached camp with a tremendous headache, left the car open and took a long walk... before washing the car out with a hefty soap...

 

21.7      Halali / Okaukuejo

The car still smelled awful, but after another car wash we were on our road to Okaukuejo. We spotted some game along the road, and when we visited "Rietfontain" for a second time we found 4 Lionesses and their cubs dozing in the sun. Unfortunately there were quite a distance between where we had to park the car and the waterhole so we didn't get any good pictures. We found this strange colored Zebra though - the black sheep of the family :-)

When we arrived at the Okaukuejo Resort we took a dip in the pool. It was as cold as the one at Halalis, but really refreshing after having spent ours in the car. Okaukuejo is situated at the southern center of the park and is the oldest tourist camp in Etosha. It currently functions as the administrative hub of the park and houses the Etosha Ecological Institute from where research and conservation management is conducted. The camp area is well laid out with a range of comfortable chalets and bungalows, each with a private bathroom, kitchen and outdoor patio and braai (barbecue) area. From wherever you stay you have only a short walk to the floodlit waterhole, which in my opinion is the best of the three camp waterholes regarding to viewpoints and comfortable benches/seating for the spectators.

One of the more interesting waterholes in the Okaukuejo area is definately Olifantsbad, where we spotted a young male Lion courtesing a Lioness. She was just outside our car window, and Ian got some nice pictures of them both. In the evening we spent some time by Okaukuejo's waterhole, with Elephants, Antelopes and a Black Rhino visiting before having a nice braai for supper in the evening.

The resort is full of Ground Squirrels which can be fed by hand, and they were really sweet. All three camps inside Etosha are well suited for children, and we met a lot of couples with children from the age of approx. 8 years and upwards.

 

22.7      Okaukuejo

Up and out 07:00! We take a trip to "Olifantsbad", "Aus" and "Pan View" and back but don't see many animals. One or two Elephants and Hyenas, but that's all. We return to Okaukuejo for lunch and a photo session of the Ground Squirrels and the African Hoopoe in camp. After lunch we take a trip to "Okondeka" where we meet a flock of approximately 250 Blue Wildebeest along the road. We also see the spectacular Secretary Bird (a bird of prey) which is instantly recognizable as having an eagle-like body on crane-like legs which increases the bird’s height to around 1.3 m! On our way back to camp we see a lot of birds and a dying Oryx surrounded by Hyenas and Vultures waiting for their supper to die..

For dinner we have another go at the braai and take a late trip to the waterhole inside Okaukuejo, with Elephants, Giraffes, Rhinos and Jackals. This is our last evening in Etosha and we are really sad to leave. An advise to all of you is to stay at least 2 nights at each of the three campsites to have enough time to travel around, not rushing it. The over all impression of the Etosha National Park was excellent! Lots of game, the accommodation as expected, easy to find your way around, the roads clearly marked and with decent road surface. Everything very well organized. All in all a very memorable stay!

 

23.7      Okaukuejo - Twyfelfontein

We're sorry to leave the park and the animals behind, but the rest of Namibia is waiting. On our way from Etosha we drive from wooded areas around Okaukuejo through stonedesert and mountains. Here one of the funny African road signs, "Caution - In case of heavy rainfall, bridge is under water" :-) The colour of the rocks are spectacularly red, especially seen against the clear blue sky. It's the Etjo sandstone which gives the lovely colour and texture of the rock.

On our way to Twyfelfontain Country Lodge we pick up our first hitchhiker who's car was empty for fuel. There are no official transport in these areas, so you either drive your own vehicle, hitchhike or walk. It is looked upon as very rude not to pick up hitchhikers in Namibia because of the limitation of cars and the more or less none-existent public transport.

The Twyfelfontein area, being a very vulnerable and delicate ecosystem, is renowned for some of the best examples of Bushman paintings and rock engravings in southern Africa. You will find over 2000 rock engravings here where the oldest ones are approx. 5300 years old!

The Lodge is situated in the heart of the Twyfelfontein Uibasen Conservancy. In construction utmost care was taken to reduce the visual impact on the environment and to blend into the mountainside with the use of thatch roofs, natural stone and paint colors toning in with the surrounding rock formations. The entrance to the main building and reception lies between big rocks with bushman petroglyphs surrounded by the lovely Namib Edelweiss (left).

The Twyfelfontain area is very dry and hot. After a photo session in the afternoon, where we get some lovely pictures of the scenery with perfect light conditions we have dinner in the open-walls restaurant, and it's still 32 degrees at midnight when we have a dip in the pool (toghether with a huge amount of Bats using the pool as their local water supply... :-)

 

24.7      Twyfelfontein - B&B Sea Breeze, Swakopmund

Up early the next morning to get some pictures of the famous African sunrise. It was stunningly beautiful! We also visited The Organ Pipes, a very special rock formation. This mass of perpendicular dolerite pillars are located down the river bed and formed by the intrusion of volcanic rock dolerite about 120 million years ago.

We also visited the other attraction in the area, The Burnt Mountain. The Burnt Mountain is located another couple kilometres from the site of Organ Pipes and is visible from the road. The Karoo limestones which formed the mountain were deposited around 200 million years ago. About 120 million years ago, the same period when Organ Pipes were formed, volcanic lava intruded limestones and caused metamorphism giving the mountain its distinctive colour.

 

We left Twyfelfontein, and the trip through the desert/semi desert was especially interesting for Ian who was driving most of this day. This long strech of road had partially one of the most uneven surfaces we met on the trip. Here (left) one of the local souvenir shops selling handmade curiosities of variable quality. The whole day we didn't see any other person along or on the road but one guy who stopped us and asked for some water, which you also should share if you have any. We stopped in the city of Outjo and visited the bakery (yumm...) and one of the curio shops. Here we found lovely, handmade animals. Really nice woodwork! We bought ourselves an elephant and a lion and a very nice book of Namibia.

The trip from Twyfelfontein to Swakopmund was very long, specially if you have in mind the driving conditions. Between Uis and the coast we had to drive through this barren landscape, a perfect stone desert. It was so bizarre that we had to stop for lunch along the road to experience the total silence of the place. It felt like you were completely alone in the world. No people, no cars and no help for hours if you had experienced an accident.. The only thing alive we saw for miles were some Ostriches in the distance. This is no place for people with agrophobia...

After hours in the car we finally reach the Atlantic coast and the coast road, and the first civilized place we met was the town of Wlotzkasbaken. The road takes you along the coast either north against The Skeleton Coast or south to Swakopmund, which was our goal.

On our way we passed several lichen fields, plants which live from the fog and moisture of the air. The lichen fields along the Namibian coastline are known to be unique worldwide. On our way we also passed several salt companies and a guano company.

In Swakopmund we suddenly met the first change in weather conditions since we arrived in Namibia, thick and wet fog, poor visibility and it was cold! After driving around in the fog we finally found our accommodation, the B&B Sea Breeze. The B&B is run by a nice, italian couple, Giancarlo and Oscar. Early to bed after a very good zebra dinner at one of the restaurants in Swakop!

 

25.7      Swakopmund

We started the day with great english breakfast and good coffee, which was one of the few things I missed on the trip. Typical for our stay in Swakop was the foggy weather! Swakop is known to have between 97 and 216(!) days with fog every year! We took a trip downtown for window shopping and bought two "special for you" decorated macalani nuts from a guy on the beach who really knew his handywork. The nuts are lovely!

We had a go at the local Pizza Hut for lunch and headed afterwards in the direction of Hentiees Bay, to the large Cormorant colony where the guano company is situated. Here the fog was gone, but what a terrible stench! The company has built wooden platforms in the sea where Cormorants sit and defecates, in order for the guano company to harvest and sell the guano. There were thousands upon thousands of Cormorants there. We also found a large group of Pink Flamingos wading in shallower waters.

Along the Atlantic coast there were a lot of fishermen fishing for Marlin, Tuna and Butterfish. Long rods and huge bait was necessary to catch fish in those big waves.

We returned early to the B&B, a bit tired after yesterdays long trip. We got the honeymoon suite, and spent the evening in our room naming and catalogueing all our pictures. We had a few... Some of the best pics you'll find under our soon-to-come Photogallery located at our frontpage.

 

 

26.7      Swakopmund

Eco-cultural day! The fog was still dense, but we decided to try the scenic tourist route Welwitschia Drive outside Swakop, which ended up beeing a very good choice for the day. Just a couple of miles east of town the fog disappeared! The Welwitschia Drive, which is 50 km long, took us through beautiful moon-like barren mountain landscape, a camp from World War I, Swakop valley where we spotted our first Baboons and the strange plant Welwitschia Mirabilis which has given name to the route.

This Welwitschia is a plant of remarkably bizarre habits and survives in very harsh localities where the annual rainfall is often less that 25 mm and where the coastal fog is equivalent to about further 50 mm. The Welwitschia's oldest living specimens are estimated at 1500 to 2000 years and are capable of surviving severe conditions of stress. This Welwitschia is 1500 years old! One single specimen can weigh up til 1000 kgs! You only find the plant in the Namib desert!

On our way back to Swakop we had to enter the fog again. It lay like a thick belt along the coast from Walvis Bay, through Swakop and furher north. We had a quick lunch and then headed north to the Seal colony situated at Cape Cross. It was a long and monotonous trip, but well worth the effort when we arrived - just outside the fog belt! Remember to bring along money for the entrance fee... (we forgot, but were forgiven :-) At Cape Cross we found thousands of Seals, and so close that we could touch them if we would. Fantastic! We got some lovely pictures of the Seals and the Jackals hunting for Seal babies. The odour was somewhat interesting, but nothing compared to the Cormorant colony..

Cape Cross lies in the southern part of The Skeleton Coast which is one of the most treacherous coastlines in the world due to strong crosscurrents, heavy swells and dense fogs caused by the ice-cold fast-flowing Benguela Current. Rocky reefs and sand dunes that stretch into the sea spell disaster for any vessel that get caught up in the gale-force winds and all-enveloping sea fogs, reducing visibility to virtually nil. We didn't go further north along The Skeleton Coast than Cape Cross, because you'll have to have a special permit to get there, and we were not terribly interested in going. It should be an interesting area though if you're in to ship wrecks..

A short dinner at our favourite restaurant before we fell dead asleep. A really busy and interesting day indeed!

 

27.7      Swakopmund - Kulala Desert Lodge, Sossusvlei

Swakopmund is The centre for adventure activities in Namibia, like sandboarding, quad biking and dune carting. None of these activivies were available when we where there though, because of the poor visibility. The same goes for whale watching from boat in Walvis Bay which we also planned but couldn't do. So we had to leave Swakop with unfinished business (but hey - then we have a reason to come back :-)

A long trip is ahead of us, starting from Swakop where you have the Atlantic Ocean on your right and the big dunes of the Namib desert to the left of the road. Many places the dunes cross the road, so you have to be careful driving. The trip takes us through magnificent scenery, often the road seems to go on forever and ever. We drive through very dry areas, where none of the rivers carry water. Funny sight with all the bridges crossing gorges with no water in them.

On this strech we cross "Tropic of Capricorn". The Tropic of Capricorn, or Southern tropic, is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. It is the parallel of latitude at 23° 26′22´ south of the Equator. It is the farthest southern latitude that the sun can be seen directly above you. This is being in the Zenith. The sun is only in the Zenith for one day in the Tropic of Capricorn.

Late afternoon we at last reach Sossusvlei and the famous dunes of the Namib desert lies in front of us. We arrive Kulala Desert Lodge, and what a luxury!!! Kulala Desert Lodge is one of Namibia's best situated lodges in terms of its proximity to the sand dunes at Sossusvlei. As Kulala Lodge has a private entrance to the park the Sossuvlei excurison can by-pass the main park entrance at Sesriem. There are 12 Kulala's, or "tents", each one placed on a private, wooden deck facing the dunes of the Namib desert. The Kulala's have an additional feature which was really neat - you can (when it's warm..) sleep outside on the roof of the bathroom part of the Kulala with only the stars above you. And the night sky in the desert was stunningly beautiful!

This was our definately best accomodation during the whole trip, and I am really glad we stayed for 3 nights. Very pleasant personnel, very nice restaurant, a pool(!) despite of the extreme lack of water in these areas (their waterpump pumps water 7 km, which is the nearest water source) and a breathtaking view over the famous dunes.

Kulala Desert Lodge had just won a prize because of their accomplishment of running the lodge the African Ecological way, with the lodge itself built in an African style using a combination of clay and thatch.

 

28.7      Kulala Desert Lodge

Wake-up call 06:30! Quick breakfast before we leave with our private guide over Kulala's own land and through their own gate into Sossusvlei. What a guide! A pitch black African Herero, who was exceptionally nice! He really knew the story of the Kulala Desert Lodge, it's land and the history of the Sesriem area and Namib desert.

One of the main activities to do is the (very) early champagne breakfast balloon flight over the area - here one of our neighbours at the lodge landing close to the road.

Stretching 1,200 miles in length, but averaging a width of only 70 miles, the Namib Desert is home to the highest sand dunes in the world which are over 300 meters! The dunes are bright orange and are blown into razor-sharp ridges by the sand-shifting wind. The Namib Desert, and this particular area, is also considered to be the oldest desert in the world, having endured arid or semi-arid conditions for at least 80 million years. Its aridity is caused by the descent of dry air cooled by the cold Benguela current along the Atlantic coast. It has less than 10 mm of rain annually and is almost completely barren. We got some amazing pictures of the sand dunes, and they are a challenge to conquer on foot!

Arriving Sossusvlei, we parked the car, packed our bags with lots of water and started to walk towards our main goal, Deadvlei. In Deadvlei you'll find 750 years old camel thorne trees on a plain which once was filled with water. The trees are dead, but are kept the way they are because of the very dry conditions. The trees with their surroundings were very photogenic, so I spent some time with my camera there in the heat of the sun. Wow was it hot...

After visiting Deadvlei we had a delicious lunch in the dunes under a tree. Our guide had brought a cooler with chicken, bread, salads, cold Coca Cola(!), coffee and lots of fruit. Perfect! We didn't climb any dunes, but were entertained by several people who did. Hard work!

After returning to the lodge we had a nice, late dinner under the stars in the outdoor restaurant (a little bit chilly - lovely!) And after dinner we finished the day with a night walk with our guide along the (former) river Tsauchab's dry river bed, talking about life in Namibia in general. The Milky Way and the planet Saturn is amazing seen from the middle of the desert with no light pollution!

 

29.7      Kulala Desert Lodge

We woke up to a strange noise 06:00. What on earth is this..? We learnt very soon that it was the morning balloonflight that past just over our kulala, somewhat out of its normal route. The balloon has to travel with the wind, and this morning the wind abrubtly changed with the result that the balloon finally ended its trip far off the road. How the people got back I don't know, but it took a very long time. It was a lovely sight though, with the morning mist and the sun just coming over the dunes.

We relaxed on the lodge all day. It was really pleasant. We stayed by the pool or in the lounge area talking to the other guests, among them a spanish woman working for one of the travel agencies staying at Kulalas with a group of (noisy) german tourists.

I found a book in the lounge about Botswana written by a couple that had lived in The Okavango Delta for several years as photograpers and writers. They had taken the most amazing pictures of wildlife that I have ever seen. And the Mombo Lodge, situated on an island in the delta, was as taken out of my dreams of the perfect place to stay for a wildlife photographer. I decided there and then - this will be my next African travel destination!

I had my first really relaxing hour by the pool - for the first time in bikini to enjoy some of the African sun. The water in the pool was freezing(!) - I experienced that the day before when we returned from our trip to the Sossusvlei dunes. I just jumped into the pool, without considering why none of the other guests stayed there.. Checked the temperature afterwards. 14 degrees celcius.. BRRR...! And of course, everybody had a laugh when I shot up as a projectile - barely touching the bottom of the pool.

We did nothing that day, just enjoying nature, the quietness and the tranquility of the place. We had another dinner outside under the stars. Before going to bed we were convinced by two of the staff to have a look at their two, new pets - fluorecent Scorpions! (I really don't like those creeps...)

 

30.7      Kulala Desert Lodge - Büllsport Guest Farm, Naukluft Mountains

Ouch... Woke up this morning with a bad stomach ache and felt really sick! Instead of joining Ian to take pictures of the beautiful sunrise, I stayed in bed :-( He came back very cold, having spent over 1 hour outside, and the temperature was down to juust over 0 degrees celcius. That night we had our first frost night! No wonder the pool was cold despite of the temperature over 32C during the day...

We checked out close to 11 o'clock, with me still feeling bad. We picked up a hitchhiker along the road (who smelled really awful), and he was unfortunately going all the way to the Büllsport Guest Farm, which were our destination. It was a rather long trip, me not feeling well and not very much to see along the road. We arrived Büllsport in the afternoon.

Büllsport is both a B&B, a horse farm, a gas station and a shop and is run by a german couple, Ernst and Joanna Stauber. The farm is one of the oldest in Namibia, with an interesting history, lots of game and a diverse plant and animal world. Horses are their speciality, and that's why we chose to stay here. I had taken riding classes in Norway before our trip to Namibia just to be able to take a horseback ride in the Naukluft Mountains. I went early to bed hoping that my tummy would be better the day after.

Here is me and one of the farms smaller cacti :-)


31.7      Büllsport Guest Farm

Hurrah! Feeling well again. A bit shaky - but hey! Early breakfast 07:00 and out on a hike! The walking trip today goes to The Naukluft Mountains and Quivertree Gorge, which lies on the enormous land area that belongs to Büllsport Guest Farm. We were driven by car via a viewpoint to the beginning of the trail by the old, german caretaker of the Büllsport Guest Farm. I really got to practice my german with him, because he didn't speak english but a few words. We had rather interesting conversations... among them his explanation of something he called "The Bushmans Wonderbush". A - for me - dead grey bush which transforms one hour after you put it in water! Then it turns instant green and can be used as tea, and it smells really good! (I just say, imagine that being told me in german... :-)

When we descended into the gorge, we heard a load, barking sound. I was told afterwards that it probably was a Leopard.. Down the Quivertree Gorge we see our first Rock Hyrax's (Dassies), Klipspringers and a Black Eagle. And of course, a lot of Quivertrees. We also meet a flock of Baboons, some African Frog and a Grey Heron. There is actually natural water springs coming out of the rock down the gorge. The water is so clear you can drink it.

At the bottom of the gorge we get picked up by Isaac again in his big, open jeep. He is waiting for us with cold Coke. Heaven! ...after a 3 hours long hike.

Coffee and cakes with the Staubers and 10 newly arrived tourists for lunch, and then out on our planned horseback riding trip. I got a horse called "Ute". She was a big-as-a-mountain African full-blood, pregnant and not very willing to do anything else but walk and a little bit of trotting, which suited me (and my poor skills) perfect! After half an hour Ian and Tanja disappeard in the distance (I guess a bit bored waiting for "Ute" and me) so Martine and I had a nice walk with the horses back to the farm on our own.

I was really proud of myself having done this, because I really don't like horses that much. I guess it was my first, and probably last, African horse.. :-)

For dinner we had Oryx on the barbeque with all of the other tourists. Really nice!

 

01.08      Büllsport Guest Farm - Hilltop House, Windhoek

All good things come to an end.. and we have to leave the Büllsport Guest Farm to start our trip back to Windhoek, where we will have another night before we are heading home again. We take farewell with our new horse-friends, (with a somewhat tender butt after the horse trip the day before). The trip from the farm in the Naukluft Mountains back to Windhoek takes about 2,5 hours. We stop only to have a look on a big dam some 25 kilometers from the capital.

We find the Hilltop House situated, yes on a hill, and it is another nice accomodation. We take a trip downtown for some shopping and a combined lunch/dinner. Windhoek has a population of 230,000, and is a major trade centre of sheep skins. The capital has a long and interesting history, and it has been ruled both from Britain and Germany. You can still see the old german colonial influence on the buildings in the old part of the city. You'll find a lot of smaller markets and indoor shopping centers, where the markets are definately worth to visit. The population mix in Windhoek is very interesting, with older Herero women in their traditional costumes, businessmen in their suits, Himba girls wearing nothing more than a small skirt and their bodies greased in oker and tourists like ourselves.

The diversity of Namibia has characterized the whole trip. Not only the people we met, but also the wildlife, the breathtaking landscape and scenery, the weather differences - the whole culture. The last evening is here, and it's really sad to leave this amazing country. Tomorrow we return back home..

 

02.08      Windhoek - Gatwick, England

03.08      Heathrow, England - Stavanger

 

 

 

 

 

 

My photo gear

Camera: Canon 350 D
Lenses: Sigma 18-200 and Canon 70-300 DO with 1.4 Extender (definately most used - I wished that I had a 500mm...)
Other: Bean Bag, Several memory sticks, a portable PC - and a lot of patience continously naming and catalogueing a total of about 2500 pictures taken on the trip :-)

 

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