Published: September 22nd 2012August 27th 2012
While still adjusting to the time zone change it is actually easy to wake up early in the morning to be almost the first for breakfast. As almost everywhere on our trip there is a cold breakfast buffet with cheese and salami which we use to make sandwiches for the day, coffee and tea, guava and orange juice and choice of eggs prepared as desired as a warm breakfast. There is a nice view of the plains from the restaurant and a few historical photos from the German times. After breakfast we return to our cabin and enjoy the view of the Waterberg mountain under which the camp is built while packing. We have decided to first check out and then to hike the trail as the check out time is 10 AM and we are not sure whether we are able to return from the hike by that time. As we get down to the visitor center we stop at the gas station and the attendant after repairing the tire yesterday is interested in seeing whether the repair holds so we get it out and it seems it is fine. He then insists on changing it back instead of the spare tire and we are confused as why he changed his mind from yesterday when he actually recommended we go with the spare to the next town. However he insists and says that all the shops are closed and when we point out that it is Monday he starts saying that "Monday is like Sunday" which we don't understand. We believe him though so we change the tire back just as the neighbors from the cabin pass by and inquire on whether everything is fine and when we relate what the attendand has said they are confirming that this Monday only there is a national holiday and everything is closed. So we trust the repaired tire and after checking out we go to the start of the hiking trail.
The national park has quite a few hiking trails but only one actually goes to the top of the mountain and we want to see the view from the top which is supposedly great. The trail is quite well marked with signs on the rocks and it starts easy. There are lots of birds all around us and we can hear the baboons screaming in the distance. But relatively soon the trail starts to become steeper as we follow the other hikers around the cliffs towards what appears to be steep scramble up to the rim. As we approach the rim there are nice rock formations that we admire as our path weaves through the stones up, always up.
The climb isn't that bad though and we arrive at the top only to find it literally overun by other tourists which was unexpected given the fact that we haven't seen that many on the trail. The views are great even though a bit hazy (which appeared to be common in the first days in Namibia). We walk around a bit and enjoy the view and then it's down on a different more direct trail back to our car. The whole slope is full of trees and interesting plants which is unusual as typically the area is more savannah - like.
And then it's off towards Onguma Bush Camp our next accomodation which is at the entrance to Etosha, the most well known national park in Namibia due to its varied and rich wildlife. As we start towards it we get a few drops of rain and there are clouds everywhere which we think it is unusual given that it is the dry season. After reaching the pavement and the B1 the going is much faster and we reach Otjiwarongo the major closeby city relatively fast. As the gas station attendant has said most shops are closed but there are people celebrating or hanging out everywhere. Here as we try to identify which road to take we observe for the first time a major naming feature for the Namibian north - lots of city names start with O. We have to choose between Otavi followed by Oshivelo going to Omuthia, Onyati, Onankali, Ondangwa, Oshikango and the Angola border or Outjo, Okaukuejo - yep lots of cities starting with O. Most major cities seem to have a roadblock at the entrance or exit however today we are mostly waved through or they are not even manned in our direction as the majority of traffic is in the other direction with people returning to Windhoek at the end of the long weekend. Still we are stopped once asked where we are going and asked to show the driver licence but that is the worst it gets. Along the road we see many animals mostly warthog, baboons and a few birds mostly guinea fowl and hornbills.
As we get close to Etosha NP we are searching carefully for the entrance to the Onguma Private Game Reserve but we shouldn't have worried as it is very obvious and it even has a guard at the entrance. After finding us on the list and after us completing all the necessary information on his checklist we are allowed in but our camp is still 12 km down the road. So we drive carefully as the dirt road is not in great shape in places and the road curves and then goes straight next to the border to Etosha. Barely a couple km in we see lots of antelopes grazing on the Etosha side and immediately after we notice an elephant. This is really exciting even though he is on the other side and in Etosha and at a distance so we take quite a few pictures and move on but we do not get far before seeing lots of zebra on the plains. And then antelopes. And then warthogs. And a bustard. And so it goes as we stop almost every a few 100 m to see an animal or bird and to take pictures. Even though we expected to see animals in Etosha we didn't expect the abundance even on this short road and are really enthralled about them.
When we get close to the Camp we get to the fence that encircles the camp for safety and after opening the gate we drive the short way to the reception. As we are pulling up we are offered two fresh glasses of guava juice and then again we go through the now known ritual of signing in. Afterwards we get a tour of the facilities pool, restaurant, reading room, waterhole overlook room and of course the waterhole where we see in the distance two elephants that supposedly just drank from it. Our room overlooks the waterhole which is what we wanted as we can watch for animals and birds from our room. The room is great it looks like a yurt but it has all the modern conveniences (except TV). It even has Wifi so we can check our email.
While we watch for animals the sun is setting and given the clouds it is a beautiful sunset so we take lots of pictures as the sun falls towards the horizon. Also the wind starts to pick up it almost feels like there is going to be rain. Actually we see lightning at the horizon but no rain yet. Before dinner we go to the reception and book a night drive to go after dinner but we are not sure whether it will be held given the weather.
We are almost first at dinner but still it takes a long time to get served the whole menu. As main dishes we get pork and beef so the food was not as exciting as we were hoping for Africa - still it is good as well as the soup and the dessert.
And then it is off to our nighttime adventure. To our surprise and delight we are the only ones on the tour and there are 2 guides one who drives and one that relentlessly moves a strong searchlight from left to right searching for eyes of night creatures. The safari is 1 1/2h long and we start seeing animals right from the beginning, lots of antelopes (including a sleeping impala) and zebras everywhere even on the roads as we are driving towards them. We tell the guide that we want to stop for any animals and he mostly does that. Halfway on our trip we see a genet (a small cat) then a few white owls and then the highlight of the trip is a bushbaby which looks almost like a plush toy. We also have a chance to see a bushfire on the farm that we also noticed at dinner but the guide tells us it is a controlled burn. Given the wind all around us we hope that it doesn't get out of control at least until we leave the area. After we get back and tip the guides we finally go to sleep as tomorrow is the day we are driving through Etosha and hope to see as many animals as possible.