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Sesriem to Etosha

February 26, 2016

From Sesriem we headed towards the west coast of Namibia and the town of Walvis Bay.  This route took us through the Namib-Nakluft National Park which is made up primarily of the Namib-Nakluft desert.

Sesriem to Walvis Bay

The route took us through Solitaire, a small settlement out what appears to be in the middle of nowhere.  Solitaire is a small centre servicing not only the tourists passing through on the roads but also the local farming community.  Like many of the small settlements we passed through they always provided a welcome relief from the desert surroundings and usually specialized in some tantalizing treat.  In Solitaire’s case it was cinnamon buns and good coffee.

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Welcome to Solitaire

Neat and tidy as usual, fuel, repairs if necessary, bakery, coffee shop and even a non-profit organization.

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No it’s not, by any stretch of the imagination, Sania, the carnivore, although we tried our best to turn her into one! It was actually an organization focusing on the rehabilitation of leopards

There was also a pub but closed when we were there but the small hotel was open.  There were great little gems dotted around some of which are in the  below.

Solitaire collage 2

David Bowie had just died the day before and this was posted on the blackboard of the gas station.  The stickers covered all the windows of the gas station. The cactus couldn’t be more representative of the area and the vehicle is just one of the many types of privately owned tourist vehicles we saw on the road.

Solitaire was the last stop we made before dropping down to the Namib-Nakluft desert and heading across to Walvis Bay. But before that we had a stop at the Tropic of Capricorn.

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Sania, Rob, Connie, Tony, Sierd, Elsbie

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Starting the crossing of the Namib-Nakult desert

So this brings me close to explaining where I finished the previous post. There was never much traffic on the roads we travelled and we always travelled in tandem never losing site of the other vehicle other than for a short while.

Along the route to Walvis Bay I was driving the lead vehicle.  We had lost sight of the vehicle behind with Sierd, Rob and Sania.  I stopped at a large rock outcropping waiting for Sierd to catch up.  Sitting there chatting we decided to turn into the road leading to the rock outcropping.  With no-one else around I put the truck into reverse to back up to the turn off.  Not looking I continued in reverse until I backed into Sierd’s truck not realizing they had caught up and parked behind me.  The result:

Car crash

Upper left – Connie looking disgustedly at some damage, the towing vehicle, Sierd’s disable vehicle X 2

Yes, a disabled vehicle and the other a back drop-down gate that was badly dented.  After a few phone calls and a few epithets thrown at me we sent one truck on to Walvis Bay while Rob and I waited in the truck for the towing vehicle. Thank god for cell phone coverage.

Within 90 minutes we were off to Walvis Bay in the tow truck and another couple of hours ensconced in a hotel. Numerous phone calls to Bushlore resolved our dilemma.  Bushlore could not have been more understanding. I give them high marks for responding quickly and making arrangements for us to be back on the road. Yes, there were some expenses incurred but we lost a bit of time for sightseeing and got to experience a different Walvis Bay what with visits to wreckers yards, truck dealers etc.

Two replacement trucks were delivered to Walvis Bay and we were on our way once again. One truck was slightly different this time and an improvement.

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One of the replacement truck with a brilliant galley.  Take note of the fridge on the right hand side. A great feature of all the trucks we had.  Small but efficient and kept everything cool – mostly wine!

Walvis Bay only got a quick look around as we resolved transportation issues and after two nights we were on our way north towards Swakopmund and Hentiesbaai. We spent only a short time in Swakopmund before heading the Hentiesbaai, a very small German holiday settlement perched between the dunes of the desert and the cold-current washed west coast of Namibia.

Fog was a constant companion on the west coast with the cold current moving north through the ocean from the Antarctic where it meets the heat generated by the Namibian mainland.  Fog rolls in from the ocean very similar to that found on the west coast of Canada.

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Hentiesbaai camp-site – flat, featureless but close to the small town.  Each camp-site had its own ablution and cooking block. It is a fisherman’s delight being close to the ocean and the main road that runs up the west coast

It was cool and damp which was a relief from the intense heat and dryness of the interior. However, Etosha, the holy grail, was waiting and off we rushed inland.

Hentiesbaii to Twyflfontein

Before getting to Etosha we have a scheduled stop in Twyfelfontein, a place that has been inhabited for some 6,000 years and is the site of some spectacular rock engravings.

So, back across the desert and up into the hills around Twyfelfontein.

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Sierd and the bionic woman, Sania, off to the side of the road searching (see pic below) for gems purported to be lying in the desert for the picking.  If they only knew what they were looking at.

Namib-Nakulft desert panorama

Testing out new cars

Sania and Sierd testing out the durability of desert vehicles.  Perhaps left over from the filming of the most recent Mad Max film?

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And then, with a new desert car, a trip to the mall

A real treat awaited us in Twyfelfontein. Not only were we approaching a World Heritage Site but after a search we found an amazing private campground that was linked to a hotel. The campground was nestled amongst large boulders with consideration given in design to limit the visual impact yet provide a comfortable camping spot.

Twyfelfontein campsite

Great view over the valley. I’ve never been to New Mexico but this is the landscape I envision for that area of the world.  Stunningly beautiful

Only one night was spent here unfortunately.  We spent the following day taking a walking tour of the World Heritage Site. Unfortunately the photos of the engravings don’t show well. Our tour guide walked us through the site providing an excellent narrative of the history and the importance of the site. One reason for its existence was the water hole which acted as a magnet to the indigenous populations.  Today things are drying up and the fauna changing.

On to Etosha and the main southern entrance to the park, Okaukuejo.

Twyfelfontein to Okaukuejo

Etosha is part of a large wildlife park which, at the time of the year we visited, was supposed to be in the middle of the wet season.  However, with a 3 year drought persisting the large salt pan which makes up a good part of Etosha was dry.  This is an advantage as it concentrates the animals into those areas that still do have water available.  In a normal wet season the animals are supposed to be scattered as water is more widely available.

I don’t pretend to be a wildlife photographer so here I am only giving you a taste of what we saw in terms of animals.  Both birds and other wildlife were in abundance, the camping was good with empty sites, viewing water holes a short site from the campsite and cold beer at the restaurant as well as a swimming pool to gather around in the hottest part of the day.

We spent 4 days in Etosha – two nights at Okaukuejo and two nights at Halali.  We usually got going early in the morning and drove out of the campsites to see a few animals amongst the numerous back roads and then returned for lunch and a huddle around the pool.  Then in the late afternoon some left in trucks again to catch the last of the light and the animals.  Dinner around the campfire and then over to the waterhole to watch the animals under lighted conditions.  There you could stay all night with a constantly changing scene with different animals coming and going.

So, here’s Etosha

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The beginning

Etosha salt pan panorama

Etosha Salt Pan

Elephants – always a pleasure to watch.  And the African elephant is massive.  They tower over most animals and seem to move without worry unlike most others who are always on the lookout for predators

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Party time at the watering hole

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Always an interesting mixture of animals vying for space and wary of each other

 

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A grand old dame

Lions – a gem but not often seen by us.  They were elusive but could sit and watch for hours

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Time to relax after a tasty meal

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Out looking for dessert

Giraffes – incredibly graceful. We generally saw them in larger groups and they were majestic to see moving over the landscape

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Always an interesting mixture of animals vying for space and wary of each other

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Wary is the word. Always watching and sometimes hours to get to water even though it’s a short distance away

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Always time to relax

And believe it or not this is what giraffes eat. I’m not sure how that works but sure isn’t something I want to tangle with

Camethorn

Camelthorn

Zebras – they are incredibly picturesque and compete with elephants as the most enjoyable to photograph.  They are also very numerous

Zebra x 3

Looking good

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Ecstasy

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Lovely mane

Rhinos – powerful.  Not large when compared to an elephant but when you think of them charging the car, which they will do, then you play it careful

Power personified

Power personified

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They love to roll in mud

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A variety

Misc animal collage

 

5 Comments leave one →
  1. cpbl permalink
    February 27, 2016 11:43

    Wow… you saw nearly everything large one could hope for! I’ve wanted for many years to visit the Okavango delta… Lucky you all. Happy birthday to Connie next week!

  2. Anne Boldt permalink
    February 27, 2016 12:45

    You must have a very good telephoto lens as I can’t believe you were that close to that mean looking Rhino!
    Annie B.

  3. Bob Townsend permalink
    February 27, 2016 18:19

    Thanks for all of the blogs. They are really enjoyable, and I almost feel that I am there. The only things that would be better is that if I were there, too. If I were there, I think that I could do without that little crash while backing up!

  4. Wayno permalink
    February 27, 2016 19:36

    This is an awesome installment in your most enjoyable travel journal. Love it, thank you so much. I won’t mention that if there was only one pillar in an empty parking lot, you’d hit it mate… lol.

  5. March 3, 2016 18:38

    So glad you enjoy this splendid discovery. G.M.M.

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