Day 10 – 13/08/2017 Maun, Botswana to Rundu, Namibia
Had an early rise to rooster’s crowing, dogs barking and a fat headache. I wasn’t at all surprised with all the shaking from the previous day’s travelling to and from the game reserve.
We have a big day ahead of us, so must get my act together quick smart. First to negotiate the ablutions, then breakfast, pack the car and off to an early start.
Today we were are heading off to Rundu at the northern border of Namibia and Angola. We left Maun as the sun was rising, travelling west towards Sehithwa where we turn north making our way towards Namibia. This road runs parallel with the Delta and at one point you can see a small portion of it.
If we thought the previous days roads were bad this stretch proved to be one of the biggest challenges of all. The potholes had potholes and in some cases sinkholes! This stretch of road was very slow and tiring as you really had to have your wits about you. It was quite comical to watch the big tucks in front of us as they swerved from one side to the other as they tried to negotiate the potholes. Making quick decisions was essential. Dodging in between the gaps if it was big enough or hightailing to the left or right extremities. Some of the vehicles didn’t care and just ploughed straight through regardless. Can’t imagine how long their tyres lasted? The edges of the tar road were so badly deteriorated that it was safer and more comfortable to drive off the road on the verge. Some of the verge tracks were also well worn and almost in need of repair!
The turnoff to Tsodilo
Just after Etsha we turned left onto a dirt road and headed west to the Tsodilo Hills located near the Namibian Border in the Okavango Sub-District, about 40 kms from Shekawe.
On the road to Tsodilo
The roads were unsurfaced and corrugated but hard, so it wasn’t too bad. We arrived on the outskirts of a very small village. This area was sparse and very dry with a few baobabs scattered, some livestock and a few people.
The village near Tsodilo – The horse and donkey are tethered around the neck
We saw a sign saying Tsodilo but couldn’t see the entrance to the park. We then noticed a gated entrance just a little way back and assumed that must be the way. The hills in the distance looked absolutely majestic in this otherwise sparse landscape.
Tsodilo Hills in the distance
As we arrived in the car park we were met by our (San) guide who took us on a short one hour tour along the Rhino (in name only) Trail. Rhino must have roamed this area at one point in time but were no longer present. Our guide told us that they are planning to re-introduce a variety of game back into this area.
I was extremely excited to be here and felt really privileged. This place reminded me so much of where I grew up in Rhodesia so many years ago. This was so strange as it was geographically nowhere near it. The rock paintings here were not dissimilar to Australian aboriginal rock art.
Tsodilo is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage sight with one of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world. It has been called the ”Louvre of the Desert”consisting of three main hills known as the Child Hill, the Female Hill, and the Male Hill and an unnamed knoll. Some of the paintings have been dated as early as 24,000 years before present day. Declared as a National Monument in 1927, Tsodilo is revered as a home of ancestral spirits and a place of worship by the Hambukushu and San people.
Our San guide
Our guide was very enthusiastic and keen to share his knowledge with us. I took photos, a couple of videos and he then lead us along a dry sandy pathway skirting the side of the rock face to a nearby cave. We walked through a narrow space between some enormous rocks to the cave. Here he pointed out little round shaped indentations on the rock floor of the cave. It is believed these were created by grinding by the bushman.
Sadly time passed too quickly and we had to head back. After a quick look at the museum and paying for the tour we walked back to the carpark. I could easily have spent a day or more exploring this very interesting and spiritual place. I felt like I belonged, it was really strange.
Rock art of the San people
Before leaving we decided to have a light lunch under the tree where we had parked our car. A friendly dog came and laid near us. It wasn’t until we looked at him closely that we noticed his back foot was missing. It didn’t seem to bother him and he somehow managed to get around quite well considering.
The friendly dog with a missing foot
After lunch we packed up and headed back to the main road anxious to get to the border post before closing. It was tricky to estimate the time it would take us to get there. Even though it wasn’t that far we had know idea what condition the road would be in from that point onwards.
A tree in full blossom spotted on the side of the road
On the way to the border there were a lot of warthogs grazing on the side of the road, a few ostriches, donkeys, goats, birds more donkeys and horses.
An eagle taking flight
Goats on the side of the road
Horses, donkeys, and a man with a gun
Ministry of prayer spotted from the car
Luckily we made it to the border in good time. It was very quiet and we got through very quickly. As we left the border post, for the next 30-50 klms we travelled on a dirt/gravel road through the Bwabwato National Park. At this time of day, late afternoon, there was quite a lot of traffic mostly heading into Namibia. The road was fairly good as dirt roads go but unfortunately all the dust made viewing difficult. All the cars raced past us at great speed, obviously on their way home.
Dusty road and speeding cars
Not a sign you see every day!
We had hoped to see many animals, but we only managed to spot a Roan Antelope, Sable in the distance very well camouflaged and a Kudu.
Roan antelope and a Sable
Once through the park we missed the turnoff and landed up at the ferry crossing. We stopped briefly to take a few photos and watch the ferry prepare to launch.
The ferry getting ready to cross
A vendor at the crossing
After a few photos we doubled back and found the correct road. It wasn’t too long before we were back on a surfaced road which was excellent. This was very welcome and oh so comfortable. We passed through numerous villages with some vendors on the side of the roads displaying their goods. Pottery, thatch bundles and bundled wood for burning.
We read that the Popa Falls were quite near but couldn’t see any signs. We were driving alongside the Kunene River river which is about 1,050 kilometres (652 miles) long. The Popa Falls are near the town of Divundu, 200 kilometres east of Rundu. It turns out that these falls are not falls at all but small rapids which we did spot as we drove past. It was getting late so we didn’t have time to stop.
The sun setting on our first day in Namibia
Arriving in Rundu after dark we made our way through town. Rundu was much larger than I expected and luckily ‘Lady Jane’ took us directly to our accommodation at a guest house. It was very new and clean and the staff were extremely friendly and welcoming. The small guest house was surrounded by a very secure high gated wall, with a 24 hour security guard on duty. We checked in then headed off to have dinner at a local restaurant. Very pleasant ambiance and good food. That night the hot shower felt fantastic! After making a few notes I fell into bed and a deep sleep came swiftly.