Continue reading for the third and final part of Liz’ Adventures in Namibia! Enjoy!
Day 9: Khorixas Lodge to Etosha National Park – Okaukuejo
After breakfast, we drove about 50kms to the Petrified Forest. On paying an entrance fee, we followed a track through the space vegetation coming across a number of petrified tree trunk like objects lying randomly around the place.
I for one had envisaged a “forest” of standing petrified trees and although the history is somewhat interesting was disappointed with the site (particularly after enduring some particularly bad gravel roads!). We later discovered that the petrified trees were said to be washed into the area during floods! After returning to Khorixas we dropped into a garage and had our tyres checked (for damage from the previous days adventure!) We rejoined a tarred road (hurrah!) to Outjo where we stopped for supplies ahead of entering Etosha National Park.
After filling the car with the next three nights supplies including Kudu steak, (since visiting Namibia I have gained a great affection for game meats!) we continued our journey onto the Anderson gate of southern Etosha. A smooth journey through the park stopping for a couple of giraffes and a secretary bird we arrived at Okaukuejo camp. The camp has a great selection of accommodation ranging from camping to divine Waterhole chalets overlooking the bustling waterhole. We promptly set up our tent next to the far edge fence of the camp while mum and dad checked into their Bush chalet just a short walk from the waterhole. We quickly set off for a sunset game drive and immediately came across Zebra, Giraffe, Wildebeest & Springbok. We returned to camp and climbed the lookout tower to get a 360deg view of the park and watch yet another beautiful African sunset watching as the rather ungraceful giraffe plodded off into the distance.
We had yet another braai which was disturbed a few times by begging Jackals and then we all went to the waterhole for the evening’s entertainment. Giraffe, Elephants, Rhino (with babies!) Gemsbok (the yummy dinner of the night) and even lion came down to the water – magical! My parents retired just after midnight and Doug & I continued to enjoy the nature and starry-lit sky. On our walk back to the tent, we somehow lost our way and I started to panic when I noticed we were being followed by Jackal. After finding our bearings and feeling a tad vulnerable I ran back to camp leaving Doug behind to fend for himself if the Jackals were to attack! When we clambered into our tent the sounds of lions playing rather too close startled me. I fell into an uneasy sleep with the sounds of lions and jackals increasing my anxiety. A wonderful day finished off with a touch of nature at its best!
Day 10: Etosha National Park – Halali
Up at 5:00am for our first game drive of the day before returning to the rest camp for breakfast, packing the car and the drive to Halali rest camp with further game viewing on the way. Having visited Kruger National Park (SA) on two occasions, Etosha compares very favourably with the density of game that can be viewed. After checking in at Halali rest camp, we had a very welcome draught beer at the bar followed by a swim in the pool – most refreshing!
We had a further game drive still pursuing the elusive big cats and we visited the lookout point on the Etosha Pan, a vast, empty space taking up 25% of the national park. We then returned for another braai followed by a stint at Halali’s waterhole (not quite as productive at Okakuejo’s waterhole but still has its charm) entertained by a family of Rhino. The highlight of the day was a close sighting of the elusive spotted Hyena as it wandered past the car.
Day 11: Etosha National Park – Okakuejo
Another 5am start for a stunning sunrise game drive – plenty of rhino (black & white), springbok, giraffe, zebra, eland, gemsbok, warthog, wilder beast, elephant and a wild cat – a great start! After a quick breakfast (all eager to continue with the safari) we packed up and set off for our second night at Okaukuejo. During the drive, we saw Jorge again (the Jenman guide we saw on day 4) who told us of two lion sightings they had had this morning at two different waterholes.
We quickly made our way to the first waterhole where, as Jorge had said, there were three lions lazing under a tree! The lions were quite far away so we quickly continued onto Salvadora waterhole (Jorge’s 2nd suggestion) in the hope to get a better sighting! After an hour or so of seeing nothing but a dead zebra we came across several vehicles parked and people pointing excitedly into a clearing. We could not see anything as we all scanned the horizon until suddenly we noticed a lioness lying next to the car. Imagine our surprise when she got up and started walking towards us! As she got closer we thought it a good idea to close the windows – but we need not have worried as she disappeared into a culvert under the road, presumably to join the rest of the pride who were sheltering from the midday sun. This was the best lion sighting I have ever had and I finally felt satisfied with our safari adventure. Thanks Jorge!
A final dinner at the Okaukuejo restaurant followed by a visit to the waterhole was a great ending for our 3-day safari in Etosha – definitely the highlight of the whole trip! We fought sleepiness as we enjoyed the varied animal life at the waterhole including five lions passing by! Doug snoring signalled time for bed lest he scared the animals so we all turned in.
Day 12: Etosha National Park to Bush Pillow – Otjiwarongo
After our last 5:00am rise and game drive (still eager for more big cat encounters) we had breakfast, took a last look at the waterhole – two elephants being the main attraction, then we checked out and said goodbye to Etosha – the last three days being the highlight of the holiday! The drive to Otjiwarongo was uneventful, even pleasant as we were now on tarred roads all the way. We arrived at Bush Pillow Guest House somewhat exhausted after 3 days of game viewing. Here we snacked (all braai’d out!) on pizza, cheese & biscuits, watched DSTV in our room and caught up on sleep!
As we entered the town of Otjiwarongo I was sad to have left the wilderness of Etosha at the sight of factories and shops – I kept expecting to see a springbok leap across the road, searching for the ever elusive big cats in the bushes on the curb side. Doug and I explored the town, its attractions seeming to be petrol stations and churches. We were glad to come across a takeaway shop for pizza –yey to junk food! (The first takeaway shop we had come across said that pizzas needed to be ordered with 24 hours notice – they must be very good pizza’s!)
Day 13: Bush Pillow – Otjiwarongo to Chameleon Guesthouse – Windhoek
After a lie in (much appreciated after 5am starts! We began our journey to Windhoek. We stopped at Okahandja for biltong from a renowned supplier. On arrival in Windhoek the first stop was the famous brewery, home of Windhoek & Tafel beers! We sat in the car and savoured the moment before asking whether a tour was possible – apparently this has to be arranged in advance but no matter we preferred to drink the beer anyway – the visit was of passing interest! We checked into the Chameleon Backpackers and chilled by the pool. We also managed to return our battered (but much loved) Nissan Tiida back to the rental firm and request a new one for Elizabeth & Doug’s long drive back to Cape Town. For our final evening together, we celebrated at Joe’s Beer House (a Windhoek legend) which seats 600 people, and ate some of the animals we had seen in Etosha – a great ending to our adventure!
Day 14: Windhoek to Home
The end of a holiday is always bleak, but never have I had such a holiday downer as waking up at 4am to drive over 1500kms back to Cape Town. Mum and dad took the intelligent option and flew back, whilst Doug and me spent the next 16 hours in the car staring blankly out at sand, driving on roads so straight they make your eyes burn. We did it though, with lots of sweets, steak sandwiches and coffee to guide the way. It was worth the trouble, I had a great 2 weeks in Namibia and I can say for all of us that it was definitely a once in the life time holiday, which we will never forget!