Day – 11 14/08/2017 Rundu to Outjo, Namibia
Woke to a lovely sunny day and a very welcome alfresco breakfast supplied. The table was set outdoors in the small courtyard. Lovely continental breakfast plus anything else we wanted, toast, a variety of jams, tea and coffee. Just what we needed for the next leg of our journey.
After breakfast we packed the car, filled the tank up with petrol and left for Outjo, situated just below the Etosha National Park. As we hit the open road David asked me “What can you see?” We were the only people on the road, no fences just a straight open road. He said, “An open road and a full tank of petrol”. That became a standard line from then onwards.
It was a good tarred road and a beautiful day what more could we ask for? We saw lots of warthogs grazing on the side of the road. The first road sign David saw he mentioned to me that it looked like a ‘funny looking bulldog’ and thought there might be some kind of kennel or dog breeding program somewhere? I was rather perplexed so I asked him to point out another sign if he saw it again. About 10kms on we spotted an identical sign. It turned out to be a sign for warthogs! After great hilarity at David’s expense he renamed the warthogs, ‘Namibian Bulldogs’!
‘Namibian bulldog’ sign
The trip until now was pretty uneventful until we came across a sign saying ‘Meteorite!’ Well we just couldn’t resist. David said he thought it might be the sight of the largest meteorite in the world. We left the main road and travelled about 30 kms on a gravel road.
On further investigation we discovered it to be the Hoba meteorite which is indeed the largest in the world.
Me sitting on the Hoba
Namibia is world-famous for its meteorites. The Hoba Meteorite is the largest single meteorite known in the world today. It is situated on the edge of the Kalahari plain on the farm ‘Hoba West’ not far from Grootfontein in the Otjozondjupa Region. It was first described by Johannes Hermanus Brits in 1920 and declared a national monument in 1955. The meteorite weighs approximately 60 tons consisting of iron, nickel and cobalt with traces of carbon, sulphur, chromium, copper, zinc, gallium, germanium and iridium. It is estimated that the meteorite fell to earth less than 80,000 years ago. The estimated age varies between 190 to 410 million years.
Close up of the Hoba meteorite
The meteorite is dark brown in colour and cold and smooth to the touch. Absolutely amazing! I couldn’t get over the fact that this enormous chunk of iron, fell from space and landed here on earth so many years ago and still exists for us to see today. Spectacular and quite surreal.
Instead of kissing ‘The Blarney Stone’, I kissed the Hoba instead.
Just as the sun was setting, according to ‘Lady Jane’, we were nearing our accommodation for the next two nights. We turned off the main road onto a dirt road which just didn’t seem right. It was in the middle of nowhere. We passed an entrance to what looked like a farm and in front stood a couple of old rusty vehicles. I asked David to stop so I could take some photos. I love old rusty objects so this combination was irresistible.
One of the rusty cars
Soon after ‘Lady Jane’ told us to turn off onto another dirt track. By now we were both convinced she was once again taking us on the ‘Scenic Route’. We passed through a gated entrance and travelled up a rather bad road. Much to our relief there was a building nestled up against a wonderfully picturesque granite outcrop (known as a koptjie.) We had arrived at the correct place at 6:30pm just as the last rays of sun disappeared behind the horizon.
The picturesque landscape
‘Lady Jane’ got us there!
Watching the sunset from the deck
A lovely young lady came down the stairs to meet us with a baby on her hip. We checked in and were taken to our accommodation. This Lodge is run be a family and they welcomed us to join them for dinner a little later that evening. After a shower I headed back to the main building to relax. We all sat outdoors on the deck under the sparkling stars. Wilma, the mother of the young man running the business was visiting from Cape Town and she came to introduce herself. During our conversation Wilma told me how she supplies the woman at a local squatter camp with fabric and thread for them to embroider. The fabric is then made into table cloths, pot holders etc to sell. This not only helps them financially but develops their skills for future business prospects. It’s so hard for these people in the squatter camps to pull themselves out of poverty. Life is extremely tough and it is heartbreaking to see the sprawling squatter camps throughout Namibia.
We waited for a few other Japanese guests to arrive before dinner was served outdoors. It was delicious. A real feast was laid out for us, soup, chicken and chops cooked on an outdoor fire (braai/barbeque). Served with a variety of salads, garlic bread and potatoes in their jackets stuffed with sour cream. A very yummy marshmallow tart was served for dessert.
It was early to bed for me. I was excited about our visit to the Etosha National Park the next day. It was going to be another early start and it wasn’t long before I drifted off.
12 -15/08/2017 Etosha National Park
Up at 6:30am, quick breakfast, muesli in a cup with long life milk in the room. David really wanted to see a cheetah. We were told they had them at the Eldorado Cheetah Park on the way to Etosha. We weren’t sure if we were going to go or not as they were in captivity but seeing them in the wild was not guaranteed. However when we saw the sign we decided to turn back and go and check it out. The first thing I noticed was a room mounted with animal trophy heads, which did not bode well for them.
The Eldorado sign
We were informed that the animals in the park had all been given safe haven after the threat of being shot. The animals were causing the locals grief hunting their livestock. Human animal conflict is a real problem in Africa. As the animals habitat shrinks and the volume of people increases major problems occur with the loss of livestock and danger to the people. Supposedly the offending animals were darted, captured and relocated at Eldorado.
Eldorado has a variety of animals and they could accommodate us with a quick paid guided tour. We didn’t want to spend too much time there as we only had one day in Etosha.
The animals were kept in fenced areas which were fairly large. The first animal we came to was a Brown Hyena also called a Strandwolf. This was the first time that I had seen this animal and I was really excited. Unfortunately he was cowering in a corner with a large gash in his neck, covered in blood. Apparently the brown hyena was kept in a different enclosure to this one which is where the spotted hyena is kept. The Brown Hyena dug his way out of his enclosure and into the spotted Hyenas enclosure to pick a fight! Looks like the Brown Hyena came off second best suffering quite a beating.
The spotted hyena was strutting around quite proud of his conquest, definitely the dominant of the two. I was assured by our guide Philemon that the owner was in town collecting antibiotics for the injured animal.
Philemon lead us round the perimeter of another fenced off area to where a female leopard was kept. This female has been here for seven years and Philemon has been her keeper throughout this period. At first we couldn’t see her. Philemon called out to her in Afrikaans and asked her to go and sit on the log. The next minute she appeared. A truly magnificent animal in peak condition. She casually sauntered out of the long grass over to a fallen tree, climbed up and sat there happily posing for us. What a photo opportunity. It was quite difficult to fit and rest the camera in between the small wire gaps.
I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to see this leopard out in the open for such a long time. Although in a fairly large enclosure she is still a wild animal and only responds to her keeper. I could have spent all day observing her. When she was ready she casually climbed off the log and swiftly disappeared into the long grass.
Superb female leopard
The next treat were 2 caracals, another animal I had never seen before. The caracal is a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and India. Both these animals were very skittish. Although Philemon was feeding them through the fence they were not happy, hissing and swiftly running off to eat under the trees. I did manage to take a few photos but it was difficult. They didn’t stick around after feeding and melted into the bush.
A handsome Caracal
While walking to the next enclosure we could hear a free roaming lion roaring in the distance. The chances of seeing this animal was pretty slim.
The last animals we saw were 4 stunningly sleek cheetahs. As Philemon called them to come and feed they slowly emerged one after the other. Absolutely exquisite animals. They took my breath away. The last time I saw a cheetah in the wild was on my honeymoon 35 years ago in the Kruger National Park.
The cheetahs were extremely vocal with high pitched squeals as they furiously competed for the meat that Philemon was feeding them. The sound is not at all what I expected. After feeding, the cheetahs flopped down and lay preening each other just like domestic cats. It was so magnificent to see. When they had enough of us they sauntered off back into the bush.
It was now time to go. What a treat to see these animals.
We arrived at the Etosha, Andersson Gate at 9:30am. There was a queue and it took about thirty minutes to get through this gate and then drove approximately 10 kms to the main building to pay. There was another queue there and we were back on ‘African’ time.
Entrance to the Andersson Gate
The Park, located in the Kunene region in north western Namibia was proclaimed a game reserve on March 22, 1907. Etosha spans an area of 22,270 square kilometres and got its name from the Etosha pan.
A Himba woman
At the gate there were a few Himba woman selling their craft. The Himba are indigenous people living in the northern Namibia, in the Kunene Region.
What a magical place, so stark and dry yet mysteriously beautiful
Not far into the park we could see a lot of cars parked in the distance. We made haste to see what was there. At this particular water hole there was an absolutely magnificent variety of animals starting off with a female Gemsbok and her baby. The giant Gemsbok/Oryx is a large antelope native to the Kalahari. This is one of the animals I have waited so long to see. So many times I have viewed them in books not dreaming I would actually get to see one in real life. Oh my word, I thought I was going to have a conniption!
A female Gemsbok and her baby
As the other vehicles pulled off we moved around the waterhole to have a closer look. We could not believe our eyes! Gemsbok, Kudu, Zebra, Buffalo, Springbok, Giraffe, blue wildebeest, and Ostrich all in the one place! I didn’t know where to photograph first. What a sight! All these animals drifted happily among each other, down to the waterhole and some lingering before moving off into the distance. Once again I could have stayed at this spot all day. But move on we did.
Giraffe, Springbok, Zebra and Ostrich
There were various trails to take and we opted for the Rhino Trail hoping we would spot one. We didn’t see many animals at all on this trail except for one elephant and a few birds. By now it was nearly midday and it was hot and dry. It took some time to make our way back to the main road in the park.
An elephant having a dust bath
On the way back to the gate we came across large herds of Zebra, Buffalo, Ostrich, Kori bustard, Lilac breasted roller, Crows, Red Hartebeest, Ostrich and Gemsbok.
A fabulously satisfying but exhausting day in the magnificent Etosha
Our accomodation was about an hours drive from the gate and we exited at 6:30pm. The day was complete. Thank you Namibia!
After another delicious meal, great company and early to bed.