May 19 2010

Namibia – diary 2010-04-04 to 2010-04-24

2010-04-04 to 2010-04-05

We arrived in Namibia worn out and exhausted but elated with our progress over the last few days. The unavailability of affordable fresh produce for the duration of our border dash had meant that we had been living on tinned food. We had perfected our Spaghetti Bolognese made with Bully Beef and we had perfected a cheesy tuna pasta made with packet sauce. We were all desperate for some wholesome fresh fruit and vegetables but before we went shopping we treated ourselves to a juicy Wimpy cheese burger and cream soda. It went down a treat and our lack of breakfast resulted in both Kirk and me wolfing it down in a matter of minutes.  Being Easter Sunday most supermarkets were closed when we were ready to shop but we managed to find a local supermarket that stocked just about everything we wanted. We bought some boerewors and salad stuff and made our way to a rest camp 80 km down the road. Kirk was leading the convoy of 3 cars and just as he had uttered the words ‘we must keep an eye on our speed’ we were pulled over by the traffic police. We were doing 85km in a 60km zone and were now faced with a fine. We couldn’t believe our luck…after travelling over 20 000km through West Africa, and not being stopped once by the police for a traffic infringement, we were now faced with this! Kirk tried to pull all the usual tricks out of the bag such as, ‘When was the radar gun last serviced?’ and ‘Can I see your operation certificate? But they proved fruitless as the officer could provide both of this detail. The last straw was me seeing the other officer giving a speeding motorist a wagging finger rather than pulling him over. I stepped in and argued about their inconsistency and that we were being treated unfairly. In the end Kirk was told to go and pay the fine at the police station whilst I waited with the traffic police as they were holding his licence until he returned. This proved to be very entertaining.

In the time that Kirk was absent, the traffic officers must have pulled over at least 15 motorists for speeding. Each one was dealt with in the same manner as we were and were issued tickets. One guy was caught doing 125km in a 60km zone. The Officer explained to me that this was an immediate lock up and he would have to pay N$1000 bail or spend the night in jail. He would then have to appear in court where if he pleaded guilty he would be issued a fine. They are seriously uncorrupted in Namibia and when a mini van failed to stop at the officer’s request they were pursued at high speed by the traffic police, sirens and all, and brought to justice. He too was going to ‘lock up’. Kirk eventually returned and we were free to continue on our way to the campsite. The rest of the crew had continued along and we met up with them at Ondongwa Rest Camp which was in flood. The rains we had experienced the previous evening in Angola had also wreaked havoc in Namibia. We were wading calf deep between our cars and the paved area. This didn’t manage to put a damper on our spirits and we enjoyed boerewors rolls with salad for dinner. We were in civilization and relishing every living moment of it.

The long days of driving had taken their toll on all of us and after a hot, steaming shower, feeling cleaner than ever, we fell into bed only to wake up early the next morning to make our way to Windhoek.

We were on the road again before 7am as we had over 700km to travel. The road was perfectly tarred and apart from the numerous police road blocks we managed to enjoy a scenic drive that bypassed Etosha and many other smaller game farms. This afforded us the opportunity to do a fair bit of game spotting which included many Thompson Gazelle, Wildebeest, Warthog and Baboons. We stopped in very briefly at Otjiwarongo where we got some lunch. The drive through West Africa had done some serious damage and we were now craving all the bad things that we had done without for so long. Shoprite had a good array of unhealthy snacks and we left the shop armed with 2 pies, a bag of Niknaks and Big Corn Bites, 2 bottles of cream soda and copious amounts of dried fruit. At least there were some healthy snacks in amongst all of the junk. Kirks weight loss of almost 20 kilograms meant that he could afford to pig out.

We made it into Windhoek in good time and managed to secure a camping spot at Backpackers Unite. We treated ourselves to dinner at Primi Piatti and then made our way back to the backpackers only to flop into bed in anticipation of a very busy week to come. Mvubu needed to have some work done and we knew it was going to be a time consuming affair.

2010-04-06 to 2010-04-09

We were up at the crack of dawn and made our way to various different places where many various people helped us by pointing us in the right direction. It turned out that Mvubu needed to have his prop shaft repaired, a new steel bracket welded for the auxiliary fuel tank, new brake springs and rattle plates installed, the rear shocks replaced, the leaky rims needed to be welded and he needed a general service to check that all the drive shafts were operating well and that the exhaust was alright.

The removal of the prop shaft revealed that the rear diff was leaking therefore that needed to be fixed, as well as the fact that the exhaust had blown a gasket and that needed to be repaired. It was a trying time and in the end we managed to see a little bit of Windhoek’s Town Centre as well as get to know all of the industrial areas and workshops like the back of our hand. We were successful in getting all of Mvubu’s affairs seen to which meant that we were free to explore Namibia without the stress of having to do car maintenance and admin. Kirk was extremely pleased to have negotiated the replacement of all 4 Old Man Emu shocks at no expense. They are guaranteed for 2 years or 40 000km which we had done neither of. The West African roads had been tough on the suspension but with all 4 shocks renewed, Mvubu left with a spring in his step. I tagged along with Kirk for all of these jobs and got to know the ins and outs of Mvubu’s anatomy. It is good to know that he is in tip top working order and will be able to carry us for another 50 000km. The guys at Powerflow were a wealth of information and were so friendly and helpful. We were overwhelmed by the friendliness of the Namibian people and were excited to get out and explore the rest of the vast wilderness that Namibia had to offer.

As a treat for being a good bystander through all of the boring mechanic stuff, Kirk treated me to a fix of clothing shopping. I visited Mr Price and bough 3 new items to add to my travel wardrobe (all practical purchases I’m afraid – no high fashion!) – Man I have missed shopping!

Windhoek is a beautiful city and has a very quaint feeling about it. Most things are within walking distance of each other and the city centre is geared for tourists. We left the following morning $N10 000 (R10000) lighter in the pocket but pleased that we wouldn’t have to worry about car maintenance for a while.

2010-04-10

Kirk and I had slept well…after spending most of the evening packing the car and sorting out the copious amounts of groceries we had bought we felt slightly more energised and were excited to be heading to Swatkopmund. The B2 took us through the Kalahari Desert where the heat was unbearable at times. Namibia’s west coast has a stark beauty about it and it was surreal to be travelling through this dry barren desert via the Trans Kalahari Highway with mountains surrounding the barren, flat landscape. We bypassed the Rossing Mountains which are home to a huge Uranium open cast mine. We were intrigued by this and so took a slight detour into the mountains where I was afforded the opportunity to snap away at a disused mine and again build on my Geography resources.

We arrived in Swatkopmund just after lunchtime and were amazed at the change in temperature. The cold Benguela Current creates a cold, dry barren climate on the west coast of South Africa and we were experiencing it first hand. Christine and Joe had caught up with us and we settled in for an evening of a Lamb Potjie and camp fire. For the first time in ages we pulled out the winter woollies and wrapped up warmly against the bitterly cold ocean air.

2010-04-11

We were all in the mood for a little bit of adventure so we visited the NET offices in Swatkopmud, purchased a permit for the Namib-Naukluft and headed south to Walvis Bay. The drive was once again stunning. Huge salt works border Walvis Bay and the desert dunes which made for the most arresting scenery. Kirk was in his element at the prospect of pillaging as much free salt as possible. Unfortunately it was mixed with a lot of sand so we gave it a miss and left him to lick a few salt crystals instead. Our first dune attempt was foiled by the lack of speed, too much air in the tyres and Mvubu’s weight. It was quite a steep dune and after 3 attempts we decided it would be better to drive around the dune and get to Sandwich Bay before high tide. Again I emphasise the beautiful scenery. The dunes towered above us…this was real desert and these were the dunes we had longed to see in Timbuktu and Mauritania. These were David Attenborough dunes and we were excited at the prospect of getting up close and personal with them. We navigated ourselves along some old tracks that led us to the base of a dune field. Kirk wanted to get up as far as possible so that we could get a photograph of all of us surrounded by dunes…this is when we ran into the first bit of trouble. Mvubu managed to get stuck in some soft sand for the reason that there was an incline in front of us as well as behind us resulting in the inability to get enough speed to get out of the depression of sand. Kirk managed to dig Mvubu in and he was resting comfortably on his rear axle. We were all on our hands and knees digging to China but the sand was so soft that it didn’t help at all. We tried to go backwards and forwards but were making absolutely no progress. The sand ladders were the only solution and it would be the first time we would use them. They worked a charm and in no time at all Mvubu was free to ride the crest of the dunes once again! Time had unfortunately ticked on by and the tide was nearly high which meant that we would need to find an alternate route to Sandwich Bay. Again we followed some fresh tracks through some hair raising dune driving. It was spectacular and much fun until we were faced with a very difficult situation. The driver of the fresh tracks was obviously driving a light vehicle that was not encumbered with ones worldly possessions and he had managed to manoeuvre his vehicle along the crest of a very steep dune at an extremely precarious angle. We were just not willing to chance the risk of toppling over and being stranded for days on end in the desert. We decided to turn around but Mvubu was having none of it. He decided that enough was enough and would not start. We had been experiencing a problem with the starter solenoid since Burkina Faso and it was up to its shenanigans again. It was a trying moment but in the end he started up again. We again had to use the sand ladders to turn around and get out of the forbidding position we had landed ourselves in. Our nerves were shot and with lunchtime long gone we decided that it was time to make our way back to the sea, make some lunch and watch the tide. This was a welcome break for all of us and whilst enjoying potjie rolls we were joined by 2 jackals that were very inquisitive and not afraid of humans at all. This afforded us the opportunity to snap away and get many photographs of these mysterious creatures.

The tide had subsided somewhat and we were able to make a dash to Sandwich Bay. It again was a hair raising drive that left me feeling frazzled and very stressed out. Beach diving is my absolute worst ad Kirk knows that I freak out every time we get too close to the waters edge or hit soft sand. I have seen far too many vehicles submerged in sand and watched as the waves engulf the poor car. If that had to happen to Mvubu, we would be stranded! The reward at the end was worth all the stress. Sandwich Bay was spectacular. The dunes cascaded right onto the beach and were streaked with various different colours. Flamingos stood in the lagoon below the dunes which made for the most beautiful photographs. The adventure was most certainly happening and the excitement of the day’s events had left all of us utterly exhausted. We made our way back to the campsite where we enjoyed a braai and reminisced about the day’s activity. Sandwich Bay is so named because you literally are sandwiched between the dunes and the Atlantic Ocean to get there.

2010-04-12

The Skeleton Coast has always been a place that Kirk and I have longed to visit. The image conjured up in our minds was that of a barren coastline scattered with ship wrecks and covered with an eerie mist. We were quite disappointed to find out that we were not permitted to drive up the entire Skeleton Coast and that we were restricted to only staying on the relevant roads in the Skeleton Coast Recreational Park. If we wanted to drive up as far as the Kunene River we would have needed to have booked into one of the very expensive, very exclusive safari lodges as these people were the exclusive concession holders. This was unfortunately out of our price range so we decided take a slow drive along the coast passing by a relatively new ship wreck, Cape Cross and the seal colony and finally reaching the Skeleton Coast Recreational Park gates. The drive up took us through vast areas of salt pans. The road was good albeit corrugated at times but the stark landscapes were enough to distract anyone from the bone shaking roads. We entered the creepy looking gates that resembled something from a theme park and drove into the Recreational Area. The roads were set away from the coastline which made shipwreck viewing quite difficult. We were not allowed to get out of the car and so were restricted to really exploring the area. We drove straight through in 2½ hours. The scenery started to change as we headed inland with the salt plains growing into mountains and the stark landscape showing signs of vegetation and life. We spotted a few Gemsbok, Springbok and Zebra grazing on the sparse plants. The temperature also changed significantly as we ascended the escarpment. The cold air f the Benguela was a thing of the past and we were now suffocated by the hot dry air of the Highveld. A storm was brewing on the horizon and the lightening was a scene to behold. We stopped off at one of the many campsites along the road to Korixas just in time to watch a spectacular sunset. We settled in for the evening, enjoyed a tuna salad for dinner and just as we were finishing up the heavens opened and we experienced a true convectional thunderstorm. We took the opportunity to shower in the Donkey heated (an old fashioned style of heating water where fire heats the water which is then piped into the shower.) showers and when we were done the clouds had cleared up and the stars were shining brightly.

2010-04-13

Kirk really does struggle to sleep in and he had us both up at sunrise. I took the opportunity to cook us a breakfast of fried egg on toast and after packing up we headed into Korixas. We had lost mobile phone reception way back at Mile 108 before heading into the Skeleton Coast Recreational Park and had not been able to get hold of Joe and Christine to let them know where we would be so our best bet would be to get to the nearest big town and take it from there. Korixas was a small town but had the bare essentials; diesel, bread and mobile phone signal. We got hold of the others and headed 60km down the road to the turn off to explore Southern Damaraland. The scenery was again spectacular. This is the real wilderness with very few settlements and no fences which allows the animals to roam freely around the area. We stopped off at a place called the ‘Organ Pipes’. This is a huge basalt deposit which resembles that of organ pipes. It wasn’t that spectacular but again an interesting spot from a geographical point of view.

The day had been long with plenty of driving and the time had come to decide where we would rest our heads for the evening. We headed north from Korixas and scanned the land for a suitable spot to bushcamp for the evening. This proved to be quite difficult as most of the land is fenced as they are privately owned beef ranches and game farms. We spotted a break in the fence along a B road and found a great spot to camp. It was like camping in the wilderness as we had antelope around us and a vast array of birdlife. We made a warming bonfire, cooked some meat and enjoyed another wholesome meal finished off with grilled marshmallows.

2010-04-14 to 2010-04-15

Before leaving our bush camp we were fortunate enough to see a chameleon tottering across the sand. He was completely unperturbed by the close proximity of us to him and carried on his merry little way. Today we were heading for Northern Damaraland and Sesfontein in the hope of seeing some mystical desert elephants. We stopped off at the small town of Kamanjab where we visited the local butcher. He had massive stocks of game meat and biltong. We bought some drywors, biltong and a kudu fillet. Believe it or not, game meat is cheaper than beef in these parts of the world so we cashed in whilst we could. We drove to Grootberg and then Sesfontein where again we bypassed some concession areas that were full of game. Antelope by the hundreds, giraffes and zebra but no ellies or rhino. Sesfontein was supposed to be the local hangout for the elephants but on our final quest for these nomadic creatures we came out empty handed; although come to think of it, we did have plenty of fun playing in the mud. Whilst traversing some flood plain in search of the ellies, the rain from the night before had soaked the ground and had caused some inconspicuous muddy sections. Mvubu managed to get very very stuck! Namibia was becoming a problem! We had travelled down the West Coast of Africa, through desert sands and tropical rainforests and not once was there a need for any of the recovery gear we had lugged from England. This muddy affair had finally called for the winch! With Joe and Christine’s car pulling from the front and Mvubu engaged in low range with all the differentials locked we managed to get Mvubu’s heavy body out of the wallowing mud! It was a good start to the morning and certainly had us more and more weary about what Namibia had in store for us. We headed north again in the direction of Opuwo to stock up on some groceries. Opuwo has a strange air about it. There are so many diverse cultures roaming the streets. The most obvious were the Himba ladies who paint themselves in a red sand and animal fat concoction, have hair braids smeared in the same paste and roam around bare breasted with a variety of necklaces and bangles made from animal skins and leather. They were a striking sight and reminded ourselves that we were still in Africa in the land of the traditional Himba herders. Opuwo was also full of the Herero ladies who unlike the Himba ladies wore a full on Victorian style attire. These dresses were made from yards and yards of fabric that flared from the waist down. Quite elaborate for the extreme heat that the Namibian summers bring. The history behind this is that when the European settlers arrived in Namibia back in the early 1900’s they were appalled to see the Herero ladies walking around bare breasted and half naked so they decided to dress them in the European style clothing. This has stuck for many decades and along with a strangely shaped headdress they do look as if they have stepped off the set of a 1900 settler’s movie. The Himba tribes are similar to those of the Masai Mara in that they are nomadic cattle herders and originated in the West so the Himba ladies were not influenced by the European settlers.

After this cultural extravaganza we took a slow drive towards Ruacanna  and settled at Eha Lodge – a well positioned campsite with excellent facilities. We cooked the Kudu steak on the braai and prepared ourselves mentally for the journey that we would be faced with the following morning. We had been told that the road from Ruacanna Falls to Epupa Falls was impassable as the Kunene River was in flood. We were excited at the prospect of more adventure (we hadn’t quite used all of the recovery gear yet) and so decided that the following day would be the day of reckoning.

2010-04-16

Ruacanna falls were very impressive. It was dammed as part of a hydro-electric scheme many years ago and most of the year the falls resemble that of a trickle but with all of the slew gates open it was an extraordinary sight. The river was in flood and the powerful water was plundering into the Kunene River below. We knew that it would be a challenging day for everyone and so after taking a few photos we set off in a westerly direction along the banks of the Kunene.

The route started off easily with only a few shallow river crossings that didn’t seem too big a deal. We were beginning to wonder if all of the hype that people we re making about the route to Epupa was because they had not experienced on the scale that we had. After having travelled down the west coast of Africa you sometimes have to take what people describe as a bad road with a pinch of salt because we have experienced roads that probably should not be classified as roads as they were in an appalling state. After our 3rd shallow crossing we came across 2 vehicles that had driven from Kunene River Lodge. We asked them what the road was like and their response was; ‘Interesting!’ We asked them to elaborate a little and the driver of the front vehicle said that the one crossing had water coming over his bonnet! This was a bad road after all. We continued on and followed the tracks made by the other 2 vehicles which made our lives a little easier. There were many diversions going up steep hills rather than taking the original road which was now flooded. At the sections where we needed to cross through deep water, Kirk would happily send me to wade through the water to see how deep it was. I, being naïve and not considering what could be lurking in the depths of the murky water, happily waded, thigh deep, through the water. Kirk would then follow in Mvubu and I would act as the photographer and be happily content when everybody was across the deep water. We reached one section of the river that had a very steep bank and then plunged into deep water. Mvubu is slightly top heavy with the roof tent and roof box and with the angle being very precipitous his back wheel started to lift off the ground. Christine, Joe and I all jumped onto the bumper in the hope that the additional weight would prevent Mvubu from tumbling into the water sideways. It worked and Kirk steered Mvubu through the water and safely onto the other side. My nerves were shot and we were only 1/3 of the way through the ‘adventure’. I gathered all of my wits and prepared myself for the next challenge…another deep river crossing. After seriously considering the possibility that there could be some crocodiles lurking in the depths of the water, I made Kirk walk beside me and then made him walk back on his own. Cruel I know! Mvubu managed to get through the next crossing in a matter of seconds with water just reaching below his headlights; TIA (Joe and Christine’s car) had other plans. Without a snorkel we knew there was a small possibility that she would stall midway but if she created a big enough wake in front of her then there would be no problem. She was not happy and decided to loose power mid water. Again it was out with the recovery gear and Mvubu had to tow her out onto dry land. The air filter was a little bit soggy but no water had gotten into the engine so after a little bit of coughing and spluttering she was good to go again.

 It was about 10 minutes later that we were faced with yet another obstacle. This one was a river crossing of mammoth proportions. I had walked the river and the water had come up to just below my bum, it was going to be a difficult crossing. Joe and Christine couldn’t turn around and we were ¾ of the way through and so we decided it would be best to tow them through the water. We stuffed plastic bags into the air filter and after careful consideration of which route to take, Mvubu leapt into the water and tugged TIA through. We had made it! The cars had been given a superb under body clean courtesy of the flooded Kunene but we were exhausted and in desperate need of a nerve calming drink.

We found refuge at the Kunene River Lodge where we camped up for the evening. It was the perfect setting to end our very eventful day – The Kunene River lapping at the shores as the sun set on the horizon.

2010-04-17 to 2010-04-19

After a restful night of dreamless sleep we rose to another spectacular morning. We said goodbye to Gert at Kunene River Lodge – who assured us that there was only another 4km of bad road to cover before hitting a good gravel road. We were pleased to hear this and set off with peace of mind and me being very grateful that I didn’t have to make another, crocodile fearing, river crossing.

The road to Epupa Falls was just dreamy in comparison to the route we had taken the previous day. If the road was passable we would have preferred to drive the route along the river but due to the flooding it was impossible and so we had to stick to the conventional road that delivered us to Epupa in 3 hours. The falls again were a notable sight with the water gushing over the edge and plummeting into a pool below. It amazed me to see Baobab trees rooted into rocks on the sheer edge of the waterfall and not to be uprooted by the force of the water. We see up camp at Epupa Falls Campsite in time for lunch and a relaxing afternoon. The Campsite had a fancy new deck that had a flat screen TV and was showing the Sharks vs Lions Super 14 rugby match. This being the 1st rugby match we had watched since leaving England was a treat and even better with the Sharks being victorious over the Lions. Whilst watching the rugby we met Pam and Warren, manager and contractor of a new lodge being built on the top of the hill overlooking the falls. They invited us up to their place for sundowners after the rugby which we thankfully accepted and took a drive to watch the sun set behind the mountains. With good company and conversation passing the hours by the evening turned into a late night and saw Kirk and me walking down the hill to our tent close to midnight. We promised to return in the morning to help Warren with his solar panels so that they could have a regular supply of electricity.

The previous evening’s consumption of beer and wine had made us both weary and we gingerly stepped down from our tent whereby I made us omelettes and toast for breakfast washed down with cream soda. We said goodbye to Joe and Christine and wished them well for the rest of their travels and headed back up the hill to Pam and Warren where Kirk lent a hand in getting the solar panels to operate. We were invited back for dinner that evening and returned down the hill to prepare a salad and pack up as we were to spend the night at the new lodge. Dinner was lovely. Pam had spent most of the day in the kitchen preparing an array of dishes and I gladly lent my hand at assisting with the pastry for the apple pie and stirring various different pots at different times. It was great to cook in a proper kitchen again.

2010-04-19 to 2010-04-24

The next few days saw Kirk and me driving to Etosha where I would spend my 29th birthday. The pans at Etosha were still very wet from the late rainy season and the grass was still very high so game viewing was something of hit and miss. We entered the park relatively early and drove along the various routes but were not fortunate enough to see much of anything. We headed to Leeubron after lunch and were struck with our 1st bit of fortune, a lioness with her 3 cubs. This was just too beautiful and we spent half and hour watching the cubs wean and play. The lioness was not too concerned by our presence and was happy for us to photograph her and her gorgeous babies.

With our enthusiasm restored we decided to go in search of elephants. We drove to Anderson’s Dam, situated quite far west in the park and on our way there through hordes and hordes of Antelope, Gemsbok, Wildebeest, Giraffes, Zebra and Warthog, we spotted a lone bull elephant making his way to drink at the watering hole. We parked downwind from the beast and patiently willed him along to the water. After 20 minutes he eventually took his first drink from the dam and we relished every moment of him dousing himself with water. Time had ticked on and we had to get to Halali Camp, 78km away, before sunset. We had to pass the elephant on the road which didn’t go down too well with Mr Ellie. As we drove past he got defensive, trumpeted his trunk and came charging at us. I was told to take photos whilst Kirk drove away as quickly as possible.

We made it to Halali in the knick of time and settled in for the evening. After dinner we visited the spot lit watering hole whereby we were fortunate enough to witness 2 black rhino going about a mating ritual. In the distance we could hear another rhino coming to drink and when he arrived the 2 males started ‘fighting’ over the female. We could have watched for hours and hours but after an hour of flapping away at the mosquitoes and bugs we decided to call it a day and head back to our tent. The noise of rubbish bins being pushed over became more pronounced when we arrived back at our campsite; a mischievous little honey badger was raiding the bins to salvage any edible scraps for his dinner.

The following morning saw me 1 year older and both Kirk and me out of the Halali gates into the park by 6am. We again were very fortunate to see a pride of 7 lions at a watering hole and a lone elephant making her way across a plain. We headed out of Etosha at lunchtime and made our way towards Grootfontein and eventually Roy’s Camp. When we arrived we noticed that Neil and Catherine had also arrived at Roy’s Camp earlier that day. We caught up with them and enjoyed a braai for dinner and celebrated my birthday with a good bottle of South African Merlot.

2010-04-22 to 2010-04-24

The following 2 days saw us exploring the Caprivi region. We said goodbye to Neil and Catherine and drove towards Rundu. It appears that Kirk and I are afraid of running out of food because every time we spot a Shoprite we just cannot resist going in to either gawk at the food or buy copious amounts of meat and fresh veggies. After our shopping we headed to Rainbow Lodge where we settled for the evening. The camp was set right on the Okavango River which was also in flood. The water had engulfed 2 of the campsites and it was alarming to see a bold yellow sign saying ‘Beware Crocodiles!’ Apparently the owner of the camp had lost his Bull Mastiff 2 weeks ago to a 4 meter crocodile. We were very weary and stayed a good distance away from the water. As luck would have it, whilst cooking dinner and sitting around the campfire 2 crocodiles decided to come and visit us and were lurking in the shallows of the river with their red eyes catching the light of the torch. Once more, the sound of hippos grunting in the background was enough to give any faint hearted person a coronary. I certainly would not be visiting the loo in the middle of the night!

Our natural alarm clocks kick in at around 6:30am and so we go about our morning routine of coffee, breakfast, packing up the tent, ablutions and finally saying goodbye to the people we have met. We set our noses east and headed for the border town of Katima Mulilo. This would be our last stop before crossing into our 17th African country, Zambia. We decided to head along the banks of the Zambezi River in search of a campsite that could offer us some sort of fishing activity before we left Namibia and Island View looked to be the perfect location for that. We drove along the raised road and noticed that the water was flowing exceptionally fast and had flooded several villages. Again the late rains had flooded the Zambezi and the villagers were being housed in temporary army tents until the rains and river subsided. The locals used the high water level to catch small fish with their nets and it was interesting to see them commuting by boat between villages that were on higher ground.

The road to Island View had been washed away and it was only accessible by boat. We were not prepared to leave Mvubu at the pick up point and so decided to find another place to camp for he evening. The only unflooded option was the Zambezi River Lodge, a Protea Hotel chain that offered camping. The campsite was gorgeous, right on the banks of the Zambezi. We completed a few chores before enjoying a quiet evening gazing across the mighty Zambezi into Zambia, our next African country.

Namibia had been a wonderful country to visit. It provided us with a little bit of luxury as well as a lot of adventure. It was a comforting feeling to know that we would be returning to explore the southern sections near the end of our African adventure.

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