Posts Tagged ‘Namibia’

We’re not out of Africa yet, we’re in Egypt, which has a distinctive Northern African/Middle Eastern feel. And so it feels as though we’ve left Africa behind us now, although the continent will surely stay with us for years to come.

We’ve covered roughly 20,000 km overland, across 12 different countries (excluding Egypt), not really knowing what to expect as we moved from one to the next. We enjoyed every country we visited, but a few definitely stand out in our minds, namely Namibia for its spectacular desert scenery, Malawi for it’s warm and friendly people, and Ethiopia for it’s unique culture and breathtaking mountains.

Here are some of the small things that will remind us of our time in Africa:

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After much delay, here’s the long-ago promised video of us sandboarding in Namibia! You can check out the original post here for all the details on our day on the dunes.

Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is the biggest park in Namibia, and one of the largest in Africa. It surrounds the Etosha Pan, which is a large dried up lake bed, at least according to the most accepted theory. If it still held water, it would be the world’s third largest lake. The park is home to all sorts of wildlife, and we got to spend two days driving to water holes and through expansive landscapes looking for animals. We hoped that, with luck, we’d find a few. And indeed we did — although I think “a few” is a wildly inaccurate understatement…

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Cheetah on the prowl

On our way to Etosha National Park in Namibia we made an overnight stop at a cheetah rescue farm. The cheetah refuge was set up in an effort to encourage farmers to trap and remove cheetahs from their land rather than shooting them on sight. Cheetahs are notorious for killing livestock, which of course is the livelihood of so many of the local farmers, so the dilemma is apparent; unfortunately, since the farmers have guns and the cheetahs don’t, it’s also equally apparent who is losing the battle. The cheetah refuge is run by three brothers who are trying to encourage farmers to use live traps, whereupon the cheetahs are transported to the farm and are introduced to a new home. The farm itself has over 7000 hectares of land dedicated as cheetah habitat, and they live in a semi-wild fashion where they are fed once daily by the brothers and otherwise hunt for any game that is unfortunate enough to find itself wandering into their territory. There are currently about 20 cheetahs on the farm, along with three “tame” ones that were found very young and brought up with close contact to humans. These three live in and around the house with the brothers and their dogs, and we got to visit them right up close. But I’m getting ahead of myself – first I have to write about our first giraffe experience!

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Sunrise at Spitzkoppe

After visitng the mega-opolis of smelly seals at Cape Cross, we headed to Spitzkoppe to set up camp for the night. Neither Andi nor Grant, who have been leading these trips now for 10 years, had been before, so no one really knew what to expect. What is it? It’s an area containing spectacular sedimentary sandstone rock formations protruding out of nothing. We were impressed.

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Awrf! Awrf!

After three days in Swakopmund, we were back on the dusty road headed north towards Cape Cross. Cape Cross is home to a colony of cape fur seals that live there year round. We pulled up in the truck, and before we’d even disembarked you could hear them in the distance. It’s hard to describe with any justice the sounds coming from the beach; there was a mix of barking, braying, screaming, bleating, mooing, coughing, and wailing. It was simultaneously offensive and hilarious. The next thing that hit us was the smell. As we got closer to the beach, a heavy, sticky odor started to wrap itself around us, as if we could feel it embedding itself in our clothing. We pressed on, and as we walked out onto the viewing walkway we caught our breaths, and not because of the smell. In front of us, and as far as the eye could see in either direction, were seals. Hundreds of them. Thousands, in fact. They were everywhere: in the water, on the rocks, rolling in the sand, sleeping on top of each other, arguing over territory, looking for their young, and keeping a wary eye on us. We found out that this colony is usually between 80,000-100,000 seals, and to be in their presence, it was no stretch at all to believe it. I may have even guessed a higher number had I been put to it. It was astonishing.

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air time

Yesterday morning we piled into vans and drove out of Swakopmund and into the dunes. It was time to try some sandboarding! There were about 12 people from our truck that went, half of whom did stand-up boarding (on snowboards) and half of whom did lie-down boarding (on thin pieces of plywood). The snowboards were slightly modified for sand: the base was covered over with a slippery, more durable material, and they required a quick polish with wax after every run to keep them fast and smooth. The downside of sandboarding is that there is no chairlift, so you have to walk up the dunes after each run. The upside of sandboarding is that it’s AWESOME!

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Gemsbok in the wild

After leaving the wineries of South Africa behind us, we crossed the border into Namibia and began to put some serious mileage behind us. On our first night in Namibia we were introduced to bush camping, which is something we’re going to be doing a lot of. Basically, the truck drives all day until the sun is dropping towards the horizon, and then finds a convenient spot off a side road to pull over and set up camp in the desert. We’ve bush camped three times so far, and they have all been in the most incredible settings, with bright moonlit nights. We’ve started to do yoga together regularly, and I have a hard time imagining a more peaceful setting: at our last bush camp, we did yoga in the middle of a vast desert landscape, while Barbara-Jeanne played music for us on her ukelele. The sun was setting in front of us, while the moon was rising huge and red behind us, and a distant lighting storm played along the horizon and the stars began to come out above us. Not bad at all.

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