Excellent Food, Animals, Scenery, and Incredibly Nice People
I wish I was back there. I think I fell in love with Africa. The magnificent food, the amazing animals, the wonderful people. The mind-blowing thing is that there is absolutely no one there, especially when we were with Tarry (coming up later). We saw quite literally no one for five days except ourselves. Did you know that Namibia has more seals than people? Every step I took, and not only for Namibia but for the rest of Africa, a new incredible sight greeted me. Every step I took, an animal awaited me. Every step I took, I got closer and closer to that delicious food. Even the camp food was absolutely delicious, from sandwiches to apple crumble, from pork fillet to something making me long to go back.
The second our plane touched down in Windhoek (capital of Namibia) we were launched into our three week-long safari. The first animal we saw was a warthog, which I have had a soft spot for since, even if it is in the Ugly Five (Warthog, Marabou Stork, Spotted Hyena, Lappet-Faced Vulture and Blue Wildebeest).
The first stop in Namibia was Windhoek, but only to shop up and grab a 4×4. The next day we woke up and started shopping for the following drive through Namibia. We got everything from tissue paper to a speaker, snacks to lunch. After that day, we drove eight-and-a-half hours (that’s right, incredibly long right?) to our first lodge/camp of the trip, Wolwedans Private Camp. What we found out was that in Namibia they pronounce w as v, so more like Volvedans, and Vindhoek. A lot of places have a W in them, and we often got told we were pronouncing it wrongly. But let us continue.
When we arrived, I didn’t know we were in the ‘private camp’ which is like an open air house just for us. We had a cook and a butler, and I had my own ‘tent’ which is code for a luxurious pavilion complete with a stargazing deck and windows made of canvas and mesh. You can decide between sleeping with the windows rolled up or down, which we thought was amazing: we had never been somewhere this wild and wonderful. The private camp also had a ‘cold tub’ which is a hot tub that is cold – quite refreshing in the heat. Oh, and the good food was another example of good food in Africa.
While we were here we saw Oryx. I didn’t know what they were until we got here. We saw thousands of them. We also saw Burchell’s zebras, ostriches, and various insects and arachnids. My favourite animal that was here was the Dancing White Lady, a white spider that makes a trapdoor-type web inside the light-rust coloured sand. They are the size of my palm. I’ve got a photo somewhere in our vast collection of photos that I will include.
The next place our trip took us was a place called Sussus Dune Lodge, and in my opinion it was not the best, but if you are planning to go, apparently the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, which is very close by, is excellent. We were supposed to go there, but it was full. But anyway, it was actually fun when we climbed the second biggest roving dune on the planet (biggest roving dune is Dune 7, also in Namibia), in the oldest desert in the world, which is the second driest desert in the world.
We had to wake up at 5:30am to beat the sun’s heat – once the sun came up it was scorching hot. We started climbing the near vertical dune diagonally, then mummy and I went up the rest by the ridge (dada and the girls went back down). It was so much fun, and on my left there was an incredible, almost vertical, drop to a pure white clay and salt pan. It was like walking on a side of an incredibly large volcano crater. Once we got to the top, we slid down! Except it was more of a run than a slide down, because the sand wasn’t packed firm enough. However, a few years ago, in the Atacama desert, first place for driest desert on earth, dada, Nicky, and I quite literally rolled down a pretty much vertical sand dune used by daredevil sand-boarders. I got my undies full of sand, and when I took my pants off, the bath at the lodge got clogged up! But that was a long time ago, in 2012, and not in Namibia nor this trip. Back to the nearer past. It was lots of fun – but without the sand-in-undies experience.
The next place was actually a town. That’s right, a town after a week in the middle of nowhere. It was quite interesting transitioning from gravel roads to tarmac, then dunes to houses, and a civilisation of seals to a civilisation of people. Swakopmund, or in short, Swakop. We spent two nights here in a good hotel right by the ocean, called The Strand.
On the first day we went out onto the water in a boat, and we all really enjoyed it. We took the boat from Walvis Bay, a 20 minute drive from Swakop. We got there and headed to the Mola Mola office. A Mola Mola is a sunfish, if you were wondering. We met the captain, Jacques, and headed out to the tip of a peninsula to see the lighthouse, seals, and a nearby pelican colony. Just as we were leaving we found ‘Necklace’, a rescued seal now very friendly with people – she was saved from a fishing net, leaving her with a mark around her neck, thus her name. She actually jumped onto the boat, and then Jacque got some fish from the storage compartment, and showed us how Necklace eats – if you throw the fish at her tail first, she’ll flip it so it goes head-first. Amazing, eh? Seals do it so the spines on the body and tail don’t cut them. So then we got ‘Lady Gaga’ on board – a Pelican. We also fed her some fish, and once she had flown away, we opened up the taps. Or rather, I opened up the taps. I had heaps of fun navigating, steering, etc. It really is fun to drive things. When we got to the lighthouse, an overpowering smell of salty wee and poo came (it’s the only way to describe it)! There was just so many seals, so many. You could think the ocean and sand was brown/black. And the lighthouse, in the midst of the Cape Fur Seals was like a chessboard. We learnt that black and white lighthouses are surrounded by more than one side of ocean. After the lighthouse, we went to one of the main breeding grounds for pelicans. We had lunch at sea before we headed back to dock.
While at Swakop, we went on a ‘Living Deserts’ Tour, which is a tour were they take you out to the dunes, and look for small animals. We looked for a dune gecko, another Dancing White Lady, and a beetle that plays dead as a survival tactic. And finally, can you guess? No, not a million dollars, but a Peringuey’s adder about to give birth. A Peringuey’s adder is a small and venomous sand-coloured snake, able to kill anything that is small, like a lizard, by hiding in the sand with only its eyes sticking out. Our guide, Douglas, was saying that a birthing is so rare to see that almost nobody except an Ophiologist would see, and even then, it is only when they stumble across one. It was absolutely incredibly brilliantly wonderful. We saw the baby shed its ‘birthing sac’, a translucent white sac that makes giving birth a lot smoother. The mother was about to deliver another, but as we had disturbed it, it hid in the sand and did not give birth with us there. After that we went dune climbing in the truck. We reversed away from the dune, then went full throttle up the dune.
The next day we flew to Sesfontein, to endure some of the best days of the trip…