Finally… here is part 2 of the Great Trans African Safari (that Laurina took a group of safari travellers around on)… we are sure that you have been eagerly awaiting to read the second part of this holiday adventure and here it is! This takes you from day 12 until the very end… Most of you are also probably wondering about the song – well you did read a bit about it in the prior blog (part 1)… But did you know that this song has a great deal of sentimental value to Laurina? This all came from the last day of the tour. Laurina dropped them all off at the airport and as they were all saying their goodbyes they started singing ‘Skinnymarinky dinky doo – we love you!’ to Laurina. Needless to say she was in tears and loved it! And that is the sole reason for the name of the blog… So Skinnymarinky dinky doo, Skinnymarinky doo… la la la la…
12th October: Swakopmund to Hammerstein
Soon after leaving Walvis Bay on the coast, we ran out of sealed road, and we were back in the dusty and hot interior. As we drove south, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, and technically out of the ‘tropics’. It was still pretty hot though, especially at Solitaire, where we fuelled up and ate our picnic lunch. At Hammerstein Lodge, we toured the animal enclosures and walked amongst the leopards and caracals. – Michael.
We were up well before dawn, and had a quick snack of rusks and coffee, and we were off to the dunes. The previous day, we had made a detour to the Sesriem Dunes park-gate to buy our entry tickets ahead of time. The Sesriem gate opened at dawn, and with our entry ticket in hand, we were able to bypass the queue and enter the dunes without delay. By the time we got to Dune 42, the sun was up, casting wonderful shadows over the landscape.
At the end of the road, we boarded a pick-up truck for the last few kilometres into Sossusvlei. And then a guided walk into Deadvlei to see the 900-year old hulks of dead trees. And we took another detour on the way out, to walk into the dried-up Sesriem Canyon.It was lunchtime by the time we returned to Hammerstein, and the sun was high in the sky.- Michael.
14th October: Hammerstein to Windhoek
A beautiful day, en-route from Hammerstein to Windhoek. We missed the correct turnoff near Solitaire, and failed to take the C24 road to Rehoboth. No worries, we took a more southerly route (on an unsigned road), and arrived in Windhoek in good time.
We spent a lazy afternoon by the pool at Villa Verdi. Later that evening in Windhoek, we experienced the only rain on our trip. It poured hard for about 30-minutes, and then it was over. – Michael.
While Laurina prepared our evening meal at Waterberg Lodge, we went hiking up on to the Waterberg Plateau. On the way back to our accommodation, we encountered a group of tiny Dik-dik antelopes frolicking along the pathway. Baboons and mongoose were also vying for a share of our dinner that night. – Michael.
16th October: Waterberg to Tsumkwe
Our breakfast spot at Waterberg Camp was the old colonial German ‘Rasthaus’ building overlooking the Namibian veldt. Imagine our surprise when Neil and Marlene were told that there was an incoming call for them on the kitchen phone! Just a friendly call from relatives in Canada.
Our destination was Bushmanland. On the way, we stopped in Grootfontein for supplies and then set off along the long and straight C44 road towards Tsumkwe.
The two photos taken along the C44 road are typical of scenes elsewhere on this trip:
– At each ‘loo stop’, it was ‘women to the left’, and ‘men to the right’ side of the road.
– Just past a veterinary checkpoint, we passed these ‘owners of shade’. This was a term that we later learned from the owner of the Tsumkwe Lodge.- Michael.
17th October: Tsumkwe/Nhoma Bushmanland village
We left Tsumkwe Lodge early, and drove 80-km north to visit the Bushmen at Nhoma village.
This was one of those memorable days when I took hundreds of photos. I’ve tried to capture the images of that day in just a few pictures.
About 10-km before Nhoma village, we stopped by the side of the road, and 4 bushmen appeared out of nowhere. We spent the rest of morning walking with them in the bush: lighting campfires, setting traps, looking for animal tracks. After several hours, we returned to the vehicle to drive on to the village: 2 bushmen on the roof, and 2 inside the vehicle!
A welcome lunch was waiting for us at the Nhoma camp, followed by an afternoon siesta in the camp’s tents. Later on, the villagers entertained us with singing and dancing.
We drove back to Tsumkwe in the fading light, for our last night’s sleep in Namibia. – Michael.
18th October: Tsumkwe to Okavango Delta
The Botswana border post was only about 50-km east of Tsumkwe.
This was a newly-opening crossing point, and was very quiet; I think that only a few vehicles passed through here each day.
The border itself consisted of three fences, each with a locked gate. The Namibian exit formalities having been completed, we were allowed through the first gate. Then, after we had stepped through the usual chemical shoe-bath, we were through the second gate. Then finally the third gate was opened, and we all took shelter from the sun in the tiny Botswana Immigration hut. More paperwork was completed and we were off!
The road from the border to the nearest town was quite challenging. For one thing, the road wasn’t shown on any maps. And there were absolutely no directional-signs of any kind. And so Laurina had to choose which of the many sandy tracks to follow away from the border. She chose well, and 130-km later, we reached the sealed road at Nokaneng.
We were soon at the village of Etsha 13. There we unhitched the trailer and let some air out of the vehicle’s tires, so that we could make it over the very soft track into Guma Lagoon Lodge. – Michael.
19th October: Okavango Delta
What a lovely day this was! So relaxing! We spent the day in mokoro dugout canoes, slowly exploring the islands of the delta. We searched for elephants and hippos, but none were around. However we saw many different types of birds, and the hint of a few crocodiles amongst the reeds. Back at Guma Lagoon Lodge, it was time for a cool drink on the deck as the sun went down. – Michael.
As we left Guma, we stopped at Etsha 13 to pick up the trailer, and to rearrange the luggage. Lots of kids came to watch the excitement. We shopped, fuelled-up, and had lunch in Maun, and then headed north to our next stop, Mankwe Bush Lodge. – Michael.
We drove north out of the Mankwe Bush Lodge, hoping to see wildlife. After a false start, getting lost on the trails around the camp, we found the correct turnoff (on yesterday’s night-drive, we had wrapped toilet paper around a tree, to signify where to turn off for waterholes). This was at the very south end of Chobe National Park, near to where it abuts on to the Moremi Wildlife Preserve.
We had seen lions last night, but they were long gone. A family of hippos was swimming around in a deep waterhole. After waiting for while, we saw (and heard, and smelled) elephants approaching from the north. There were dozens of them coming down to the water for a drink and bath. The elephants quickly chased the hippos away from the deep water, so that they could roll over in the water.- Michael.
22nd October: en-route from Mankwe to Planet Baobab.
The first hour driving from Mankwe was on gravel surface, but once we reached Shorobe village, we were back on sealed roads.
We stopped just inside the village at the Babomoso Basketry Co-op. Annette had spotted their roadside sign a couple of days ago as we headed north. The co-op had a good selection of excellent baskets and other wares; this was a good place to buy souvenirs, as the money obviously stayed with the locals.
Through Maun again, to fuel up, and to shop. Then it was eastwards across the plain towards the village of Gweta, and our next night’s stop at Planet Baobab.
There we met several interesting people. Whilst swimming in the pool, I talked to a visiting pharmacist from Angola; he explained to me that the principal cause of death in many African countries, is not recorded as AIDS; in many areas for instance, most people officially die of TB; at least that is what the record shows; the fact that they contracted TB because of AIDS is not officially noted. And later, we had dinner with a travelling Brit, a professional sailor who was in between sailing races, and was taking time out away from the ocean. – Michael.
23rd October: Kasane & Chobe river cruise
Today we travelled all the way on sealed roads! Full of potholes, but not as dusty as other roads we had experienced. From Planet Baobab, we first headed east to the town of Nata where we re-fuelled. Then north to Kasane where the Zambezi and Chobe rivers meet up, and to our destination: Toro Lodge.
This was our last evening in Botswana, and we went for a sunset cruise up the Chobe River. I was surprised at how much wildlife we saw, and so close to the town. There were crocodiles, water buffalo, many birds, and of course lots of elephants.
Our boat broke down on the way back, and we had to wait a little while for a replacement. This turned out to be fortunate, as it gave us time to enjoy the sun setting over the river. – Michael.
What a long line-up of trucks waiting for the Kazungula ferry! It stretched back almost to Kasane.
Fortunately, Laurina knew the score, and we drove past all of the trucks, and down to the ferry ramp. A friendly word with the ‘load-master’, and a gift of some peanuts, and we were quickly loaded on to the next sailing. This ferry crosses the Zambezi where four countries meet: Botswana (from whence we came); Zambia (to where we were headed); Namibia; and Zimbabwe.
We were soon back at the Livingstone Safari Lodge, from where we had started 24-days and almost 7000-km ago. There we met up with Dingx, the young Zimbabwean T-shirt maker, who had brought our custom-designed T-shirts to us.
For our final evening together, we took a Zambezi dinner cruise, for a final look at the river and to see some more wildlife. Sure enough, there were elephants on the bank, and yawning hippos in the water.- Michael.
We said our goodbyes to the staff at the Livingstone Safari Lodge, and Laurina drove us to the airport for our flight to Johannesburg.
There we split up, some going to Cape Town and some to London, before heading home to Canada. Laurina stayed on in Livingstone, to await another group from Jenmans.
What a great trip! It all passed too quickly. – Michael.
On behalf of the marketing department, a special thanks go to Michael and the rest of the tour for letting us use their information (emails) and their pictures for this blog!!! Thank you!
Click here to see the tour they went on