NamibiaPosted by Malin Wed, June 13, 2012 13:47:22
arriving in Africa we have only visited one park (Addo Elephant National Park)
to look for animals. Now it was time to visit Etosha, “one of the world’s
greatest wildlife-viewing venues”as Lonely Planet described it. We had heard
that camping in the park is quite expensive and it would be worth camping at
one of the campgrounds just outside one of the main park gates and go in for a
day visit, from sunrise to sunset. But someone had recommended us to stay in
the one of the park campgrounds, because then you could watch the animals at
the flood lighted water hole at night. We thought it might be worth seeing a
water hole at night one time and paid the 50 USD for one night camping at the
Okaukuejo Campsite and 21USD entrance fee that was valid for 24 hours when you
camped in the park.
In the park
we started driving around different loops and we saw mostly zebras and
springbok, but springbok does not really count since you see them all over the
place outside the parks as well.
Compared to Addo we did not see many different animals our first
afternoon in the park, and we were not really too impressed. Back in camp we
went straight to the water hole and we saw our first elephant in the park.
As the sun
set and we were cooking dinner the black backed jackals turned up in the
campsite and they came really close to us. If people left any of their cooking
equipment or food on their table the jackals would walk over to the table for a
dinner we brought a wool blanket (it is colder in Africa at night than we
expected, but then it is winter time) and a bottle of red wine over to the
water hole, and we were ready for an evening of wildlife viewing.
It was really
nice and quiet and it was really great to see elephants, zebras, giraffes and
rhinos approaching the water hole out of the dark night. In total that evening
we saw six rhinos coming to drink water. It was great.
morning we were on it again starting the drive around to the different water
holes in the park. This time of year is the dry season and animals gather
around the water holes, so that would be the best place to spot wildlife. This
morning we saw many more animals than the afternoon before. We also got to
another part of the park where we could see out over the 5000 sq km Etosha salt
pan. It looked hot and dry.
drive in the park we did not see any of the cats or hyenas. All in all the stay
in Etosha was ok, but we still thought Addo was better. With one hour left on
our 24 hour permit we decided to go back to the Okaukuejo water hole and eat
lunch there. It was not just us that had decided to have lunch, it looked like
all the cud-chewing mammals in the park had decided to visit the same water
hole as us. We could hardly believe our own eyes when it came to the amount of
animals there, it was just incredible.
As soon as they were done drinking the
animals headed off, but there were even more animals coming in. So the Okaukuejo
water hole made the whole stay in Etosha worth it for us.
park like Etosha or Addo to see “wild” animals is kind of contradicting. The
animals are wild, but they are in a fenced off area and they cannot migrate
like they normally would. Etosha is more than 20,000 sq km and that is quite
large, but there is still fences around it. Etosha National Park is also
divided into two sections, and the western section that covers one third of the
park is served exclusively for tour operators and the eastern two thirds are
open to the general public like us. When we visited now it was low season and we
did not even have to book a campsite in advance, and there were still free
campsites the night we were there. But still, at the water holes where the
animals are you are never alone, you always share the spot we a few other cars.
At the water hole in the afternoon and evening it was quite entertaining to
look all the different people and their camera equipment. We realized we need a
serious upgrade when we looked around us. In the evening it was definitely a
higher number of living creatures behind the fence than in front of it.
wanted to write short about this part of seeing wild animals in Africa. We all
see the amazing animal photos of wild creatures and we all try to take the most
amazing photos for our self, but what we don’t see that often is the scene
behind and around the camera. This is not to say that we do not like the parks,
we will visit a few more over the next weeks because it is the best opportunity
to see many animals close up. But if we end up with a few good photos of
wildlife then you know that it was probably another twenty people that got the
same image on their cameras too.
NamibiaPosted by Espen Sun, June 03, 2012 23:29:39
Malin was up early on Monday morning, found the daypack in the back of the car, and went over to the local supermarket to fill up with freshies, meat, and drinks. I was told to get the he## out of bed, and to make sure the diesel tank and an extra jerry can was full, and to get ready to drive. The evening before we had read up on the Kaokoveld, Epupa Falls, Van Zyl’s Pass, and been through all the roads in Garmin Map Source on the laptop. Kamanjab to Epupa 440 kms on mostly good roads, from Epupa to and over over Van Zyl’s Pass on really bad roads, 150 kms, and at last up Marienfluss and back to civilization on medium roads, about 350 kms. We bought food for about 5 days (and we do of course have more dry food in the car as a backup) and filled up with 165 liters of fuel. On normal roads this would take us at least 1100 kilometers, but a lot less when driving in low range and in soft sand. We also got a few extra Namib Dollars from an ATM, and then we drove towards the border of Angola.
In our maps the last fuel station on our route north is in Opuwo. We stopped and topped up the tank before continuing north. The roads became smaller and smaller, and the people along the road was almost only Himbas. It is funny that the women keep their traditional way of dressing, but the men have all jeans, t-shirts, and pilot style sun glasses. What wasn’t so nice was all the people along the road begging. In the afternoon we pulled in to the municipal camp ground in Epupa Falls after about seven hours driving. It looked like an oasis after driving most of the day in a very dry landscape. Kunene River flow west and eventually in to the Atlantic Ocean, and it forms the border between Namibia and Angola.
We had been a little concerned about malaria as it could be present in this area, but fortunately we never saw a single mosquito. Barbequing and sitting around the fire in the evening was not a problem even in shorts and sandals.
The next morning we packed up camp and started driving towards Van Zyl’s Pass. This is an absolute must do road for all South African and Namibian overlanders. Our plan was to go all the way across in one day, but the road wanted it different.
The road leading up to the pass was quite bad and worse than we had imagined. The surface was very rough and with lots of sharp rocks sticking up. To avoid damaging our tires we used low range quite often and tried as best as we could not to hit the sharpest ones. When the sun was setting we still had a few kilometers to the start of the pass, and we realized that crossing the same day in the dark was not a good idea. A nice flat, grassy field in the middle of nowhere became our home for the night, and it must have been the quietest night in Africa so far. Not a sound the whole night.
Early next morning we hit the road and went for the Van Zyl’s Pass. And now I see that the roof top tent originally must have been designed for Africa. Even before the sun is up the air is so dry that the tent is dry and ready to be packed as soon as you wake up in the morning. In most of Americas we had to wait for an hour or two after the sun hit the tent before everything was dry enough to be packed up.
Van Zyl’s is a road that takes you down from a plateau on about 1300 meters to grassy plains 700 meters further down. It winds through a hilly landscape, down narrow valleys, and with sometimes steep traverses. At several spots along the road the line has to be chosen carefully not to risk both vehicle and crew.
From a view point almost at the end of the Van Zyl’s Pass.
I’m not really sure how steep this looks at the picture, but I can guarantee a significant pulse. I also realize that we have a scary combination at this time of high weight, relatively high point of gravity, and way to soft coil springs in the back. We were uncomfortably close to our tipping point / break over angle when crossing some sections where one side of the road was significantly lower than the other. Air bags for the suspension with a possibility for individual adjustment would be very nice to have when you carry a lot weight and want to drive rough roads.
We found our way down, and right behind us came also two other vehicles with a couple of adventurous South Africans. They also made it through without accidents. A bit further down the road however, we came across two other guys in a Landcruiser that had hit and punctured their fuel tank on the way down, and had had to drain 150 liters of fuel into an old drum along the road to temporarily fix the tank and fill the fuel back in. I think they were just done when we met them.
The landscape changes totally after leaving the mountains and driving out on the plains. Back in lion country and with a stunning view. We are driving north in a wide valley called Marienfluss, and after about an hour driving on a two-track on sand surface we are back to the Kunene River and the Angolan border. Looking for a camp by the river, the landscape changes totally again, and we pitch the tent among palm trees.
A little low on fuel (we were not supposed to drive all the way back up to the border), we sit down after breakfast with the Garmin Map Source and look through different alternative routes back into Opuwo. We are looking for the one with the shortest driving time, as this would normally mean lower fuel consumption when on bad roads or offroad. We drove south to Rooidrum (“the red drum”) and on to Orupembe where we turned east towards Opuwo.
In a full day of driving we saw one other vehicle. As the sun was setting we pulled in to a lodge/camp in Opuwo, and as we left the main road the fuel lamp came on. Perfect timing and perfect fuel calculations. And we had one full jerry can left with diesel. 740 kilometers on 125 liters. Not too bad considering the bad roads and several hours in low range (and air condition….).
320 kilomters was left to drive from Opuwo to Kamanjab, and on this drive we wanted to drive through the Khowarib Schlucht (gorge).
The drive is mostly along and in the mostly dry riverbed. We were hoping to see elephants, but hey were obviously booked elsewhere this day. It was still a very nice drive. Now are we again back at the Oppi-Koppi-Kamanjab and plan our next moves, and it will include a visit to the Etosha National Park before crossing the border to Botswana.
NamibiaPosted by Malin Sun, May 27, 2012 22:27:48
At the moment
we are in Kamanjab. Since crossing the border from South Africa we have driven 1850
km on Namibian roads and of those about 100 km is on paved roads. Our guidebook
says “Namibia has one Africa’s lowest population densities” and it has been a
lot of open space. The largest city we have driven through was Swakopmund with
42,000 inhabitants. Most of the distance has been in the Namib Desert, the
oldest desert in the world.
It has been
an incredible landscape to drive through and one of the highlights was Sossusvlei
with the red sand dunes. Some of the dunes are as high as 325 meters.
Sossusvlei is Namibia’s tourist destination number one and most people would
like to be there for the sunrise so the dunes are even redder. At sunrise we
were 300 km away, but we arrived there in good time before the park closed so
we got the sunset instead. There were a few other vehicles in the park, but it
was a great time to visit as we had it almost to our self.
Sossusvlei you can travel on the main roads in the Namib-Naukluft Park, but to
be able to drive on all the small roads you see on your map you have to buy a
permit. Permits are sold at Namib Wildlife Resort (NWR) in Sesriem or one of
their other offices depending on where you are. A day permit costs 40 Namibian
Dollar (ND) per person and 10 for the car, total of 12 USD. We booked to stay
at a basic campsite at Bloetkoppe, that is in the Namib-Naukluft Park, for one
night, and then our vehicle permit was automatically valid for two days.
campsite at Bloetkoppe.
landscape” we drove through on our way to Swakopmund.
Swakopmund we wanted to drive north on the Skeleton Coast. The “Skeleton Coast”
is divided into three sections. The first 200 km north of Swakopmund is called
the National West Coast Recreational Area and there you can enter for free.
Middle section is The Skeleton Coast Park that stretches from Ugabmund to Möwe
Bay. To enter the park you need a permit from NWR and you need to have a
reservation to stay at the campsites. If you have not booked a campsite you can
get a permit to drive from Ugabmund to Springbokwater, roughly half of the Park
in a day. A permit for the two of us and the vehicle for a day would cost 170 ND,
about 22 USD. The northern third of the Skeleton Coast is called the Skeleton
Coast Wilderness and the entire area is a private concession, and to enter that
part of the Skeleton Coast is not for our budget. We were considering buying
the day permit for the middle section, but it would have ended up being a bit
of a detour for us.
As we were
driving north along the first section and the fog rolled in we said it was
enough of the coast and turned inland.
night in Uis we asked the GPS for the shortest way to Twyfelfontain. It was
probably the shortest way, but definitely not the fastest. As we were driving
along this road we realized we had not really checked what kind of road it was.
When we later checked, it said deep soft sand and serious 4WD needed.
It was not
that bad, but at one stage I gave up the driver’s seat to Espen as he is better
to drive in soft sand than me. The drive was the best we have done so far in
Namibia. Great landscape and just us on the road.
In one area
we saw a lot of elephant dung, but not the desert elephant itself. At a water
hole we came across our first giraffes and a few kilometers further our first
rhino. And it was all for free, not in a National Park where you have to pay
later than expected we arrived at Twyfelfontain and had a look at some of the
2500 rock engravings that has been discovered in the area. The engravings and
paintings were probably done by San hunters for as long as 6000 years ago.
Fascinating to see 6000 years old engravings of the animals that we had seen
along the road the same day.
we are only halfway through our trip in Namibia so there are probably more nice
drives ahead of us.
NamibiaPosted by Malin Sat, May 26, 2012 13:09:03
We had a
pretty long day ahead of us with about 450 km to drive and some sightseeing on
the way. Since crossing the border from South Africa to Namibia we had also
crossed a timeline and we had to adjust our watches one hour back. By “keeping”
Espen on South African time in the morning I managed to get him out of bed at
07.00 (told him it was 08.00). After an early breakfast the plan was to jump in
the pool for a morning swim since we camped at Ai Ais hot spring.
But plans do
food drawer we saw the evidence of an uninvited visitor. A rodent had chewed on
Espens breakfast cereal, a packet of Wasa crisp bread and a few other items.
Then we could see other pieces of evidence in the car as well.
To deal with
this we needed breakfast. Found some untouched food that we ate and Espen had
his coffee, and then we were ready to find who had got into the Patrol.
bags, more stuff, and eventually the food drawer came out of the car, and then
we could spot some movement. It was a mouse. By using a stick we managed to get
the mouse out of where it was hiding, but it just found a new place to hide. We
thought we had control, and we tried to block off possible escape routes before
we forced the mouse out of its hiding place behind the aux batteries.
was quick and found another way. We tried again, but the mouse escaped us again,
and this time we could not see where it went except from forward in the car. We
hoped it had jumped out of the car without us noticing. Just to make sure we
kept on checking and hitting on places where it could hide to scare it out, but
we did not see it again. Then we just had to pack all our stuff back into the
car. Our early start turned out to be a ten o’clock departure and the swim was
Ai Ais Hot
Spring is next to Fish River and is the exit point for the five day hike of the
Fish River Canyon. We drove up to the best viewpoints of the Fish River Canyon
and it was pretty impressive.
It was not our intention to do the hike so we
continued our drive north. Somebody had recommended us a Roadhouse just up the
road, and it was a fascinating place to have some refreshments.
Namibia it gets dark at 17.30, so at 16.00 and after a 300 km drive, we started
to look for a place to camp. We found a nice campsite in the small town off
Bethanien. There hadn’t been a sign of the mouse all day so we hoped it had
jumped out, but to be sure we had saved the packed of breakfast cereal that it
had enjoyed last night. As I was cooking dinner I could hear a noise in the
car. Running quickly to the passenger side of the car where I had left the
breakfast cereal I could see the mouse sitting next to the bag. Before I was
able to get it out it ran and hid underneath the dashboard. After dinner Espen
made his own trap using a piece of a plastic bag that made a lot of noise,
breakfast cereal on top, and covering this was a pot held up with a stick with
a string attached. With the string Espen could sit outside the car (drinking
beer, he claimed) while waiting for the mouse. It took only a couple of minutes
before we could hear the mouse. It must have been starved because it had
nothing to eat all day as we spent a lot of time driving. Espen managed to trap
the mouse and we released it outside the car.
It looked pretty confused as it was
running around, not finding anything familiar after travelling 330 km in a car.
It found a place to hide in a fence on our campsite and we felt so sorry for it.
Hope it will be able to adapt to its new surroundings. We are at least really
happy that it only travelled with us for a day.