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Published: March 2nd 2012
Barbe And Antonia
On The Road to the Waterberg Plateau
Sorry for the late post folks; there was not much internet in the Namibian desert hinterland and then we got caught up with the amazing high life of Cape Town (more on that in a future post). Quick note - we posted more photos on our last post (Overland 1) so check 'em out. And now, on to our continuing safari.
One word. Rain. Did I mention we are in the rainy season in southern Africa? Did I mention how much I hate camping in the rain? Rain, rain and then we hit the desert and got roasted; and then it rained again. Sigh. Africa is an amazing land of contrasts, even with the weather. Either that or many of us on the overland truck were beginning to believe that we were cursed. It was bad enough that we got rained on in Maun, in Ghanzi, on the road to Windhoek, but the wet stuff continued to follow us on our journey like a hyena relentlessly following wounded prey; it just would not quit and sunk its teeth into us every chance it got.
Anyway, we landed in the Namibian capital of Windhoek - a city unlike any we
had seen in Africa to date. Tarred roads, traffic lights, little or no litter and as we approached our hotel we grinned at each other like giddy children on Xmas morning and the excitement rising from the group was clearly palpable - you could have cut it with a knife. It was a real hotel, which meant real beds with real sheets and real 'private' showers and restaurants to choose from. It was like a gift from the gods.
So that night we enjoyed big city ablutions, bed and food amenities and then next morning hit the road for the jewels of northern Namibia - the Waterberg Plateau and Etosha National Park. Little did we know what meteorological tortures awaited us.
As we travelled north, the Waterberg Plateau Park majestically came into view from the truck and presented the 200 plus metre red cliffs rising from the surrounding plains. A nice campground with lovely toilet/shower facilities (a common and welcome trend in Namibia) greeted us and we split up and set off into groups doing hikes up the plateau for the view or game drives up to the park up the plateau to hopefully find rhino. We set
off with sister overlander Antonia on the evening game drive with high hopes.
The drive started off well with good views of various birds, giraffe, eland and kudu. As we began driving to find the local rhino population, the increasingly dark and threatening clouds split wide open in a wild show of lightning, thunder and worst of all a huge torrent of rain. Our courageous guide Baria blasted though the red roads rapidly turning into red rivers of water and mud to get us back to the campground as the light faded and darkness descended. Drenched and cold, we finally arrived and the three of us scampered to take refuge in the park center's women's washroom as the rain continued to come down in sheets and prevented us from proceeding to our campsite and companions. As it turned out this was actually a good spot to hang out and wait out the storm.
When we finally were able to move out from our bathroom shelter and made our way to our campsite, we discovered our mates in various makeshift shelters - the campsite washrooms, the truck, the campsite bar (the lucky sods). At the campsite itself we found
our CEO Chris valiantly working to make a pasta dinner under a tarp and with his feet anchored in sludgy red mud. OMG I thought, what have I got myself into, as my fleece sweater afforded me the ability to stay warm and slog through the water and mud to assist Mon and Antonia with showers to get warm, dry clothes, some food, tea and into somewhat dry sleeping bag beds. By the time I finally lay down I was completely exhausted and clearly recalled why I no longer liked camping. But there was no use dwelling on this bit of bad fortune as there were several more camping days ahead so I firmly told myself to buck up and get over it.
And just when you think all bad things come to an end, they don't really. The next morning dawned still raining and as such we packed up and set out for Etosha National Park. We arrived in reasonable time at the Von Lindquist Gate (east end of park) and the Namutoni Campground and enjoyed the curious experience of an afternoon game drive in, of all things, our overland truck conducted by our driver Lourens and guided
by Chris. It proved much better than I first imagined, with good views of giraffe, zebra, our first springbok, a few, rather predictably reclining lions and a lovely view of the Etosha Pan.
That night it rained again. Not as much as the night before, but in a campsite with even worse drainage leaving us with our tents sitting in an inch or more puddle of rain, and even worse, our "dining area" beside the truck was an even deeper lake. Needless to say none of the wet clothes or towels from the previous day had any chance to dry. Sigh again and tell myself 'oh well.'
The following day we spent a good part of the day doing more game driving and as an extra treat, I sat up front in the truck with Lourens. We had good fun trying to spot game for the group (including an elusive cheetah) and maneuvering though rain swollen roads and chatting about this and that. During the drive we spotted gemsbok (oryx), various birds and the cheetah and in late afternoon arrived at the Etosha National Park Okaukuejo Campground where we enjoyed a nice pool, laundry facilities and a night
lit waterhole, though with all the water around it did not see much action.
Next day we drove on to Damaraland and the Namibia Petrified Forest where over 200 million years ago a forest was uprooted and swept away by flooded rivers and subsequently covered by sediments and then uncovered by erosion. We enjoyed an informative tour of the forest fittingly in the searing desert heat and then took shaded cover for lunch. Then it was on to Namibia's first UNESCO World Heritage Site (in 2007) the rock engravings at Twyfelfontein and the Aba-Huab Campground. After camp set up, we took part in a hiking tour of the site; see the pics - they speak louder than any words I could write to describe them. As I am especially fond of animal depictions in any medium, I found these to be both remarkable and endearing in their clarity and simplicity.
After an amazing and noteworthy night without rain, we arose and broke camp before sunrise (a recurring event on our trip) and made our way through the stark and bone dry Namib Desert to the Atlantic coast where I put my feet in the cold ocean and the
community of Swakupmund or as it is known by the locals and those in the know, Swakup. Come hell or high water, we would be under a roof again and in clean sheets on real beds so the weather could do what it bloody well pleased.
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