31 December 2009 – 8 January 2010 Livingstone – Swapkopmund
Once again we were far away on New Year’s Eve and wondered what to expect. We spent the last day of the year not “looking for a man with as many noses as there are days left in the year” as my old dad used to say but catching up with the usual stuff, followed by lunch by the pool and snoozed away the afternoon saving our energies for the party that night.
There were about 100 people in the restaurant for dinner – a full house. The band played, the disco kept us dancing and the champagne was cold – result. Sorry Lesley if you think we are getting a bit lazy with the old roof tent but it was New Years Eve and it was also the eleventh anniversary of the night we met!!
On 1st January we had a recovery day by the pool – what a start to the New Year – just lazing around in the sunshine. Some of our South African neighbours were looking a bit worse for wear – they really can party and we had left them to it in the early hours of the morning. However, they got a second wind and the noise from their chalets kept us awake for most of the night – never mind though it only comes once a year! www.chrismarhotels.com – great stop over – well done.
Happy New Year from our Mew Years Hideaway.................................................................................
Saying good bye to our New Years hideaway we headed for Botswana, crossing the Zambezi on a pontoon. As usual our UK registration attracts attention an JC struck up a conversation with Maxwell – a local boy who asked him how the Queen was and when he learnt she was very well as far as we knew he asked him if he knew Alex Ferguson!! Well at least England is renowned for something!
After the scrabble of the exchange men, customs helpers etc etc, the Botswana border was bliss – no fuss and well organised officialdom. The only problem was that for the first time we couldn’t pay in dollars, we needed insurance, and we needed Botswana Pula – oh for a money changer! We managed and once sorted we headed for the Chobe National Park which really was the highlight of our tri so far. Previously we had seen a few elephants on the road and thought we were lucky. In the park we saw hundreds of them together with giraffes, zebras, baboons, buffalo, hippos, springbocks, impala and many others. What a day the scenery was spectacular, the road was good and the animals were absolutely amazing.
Memories of a fabulous day in the Chobe National Park................................................................................. Any ideas??????
Grinning from ear to ear as we left the park we ran into a police check where we confused the policeman completely with our LHD car. Vehicles here drive on the left and the policeman approached me sitting on the right, asked for a licence, we handed him JCs and he responded “who is this?” I replied “ it’s his” and “where is yours he said” obviously he had not noticed that the steering wheel was on the other side and I was definitely not the driver. He was very very embarrassed and quickly waved us on – all we could do was laugh!!
We returned to Kasane and started looking for accommodation. After trying three campsites with no spaces we finally realised that other people were on still on their Christmas holidays! With no camping available anywhere we found the Garden Lodge – a wonderful small place on the banks of the river with excellent staff and superb food – JC had ostrich!. www.thegardenlodge.com. As I wrote up the diary that night we were lying in a large bed covered in mosquito nets. JCs said that he felt like a piece of meat under one of his grandma’s muslin fly covers!!!
Leaving Kasane and the Chobe behind, we headed South continuing to see elephants along the road side. There were some very large farms along this stretch with maize crops and stubble as far as the eye could see on one side of the road and savannah land surrounded by electric fences to keep the game from wandering on the other side. Today’s police check was interesting – we were asked to leave the vehicle and go and sit with the police who wanted to give us a New Years message?? This turned out to be a road safety message and a bottle of water. As we sat chatting to them and they found out where we had been, they decided we should know all there is to know about road safety, wished us a safe journey and waved us on our way – warning of us of elephants on the road ahead!
Back to the big farms..............................Getting straighter Alan............... Don't see many of these on the Westwood.......
We crossed the Makgadikgadi Pans and were a little disappointed having expected to see sparkling white salt pans with flamingos like we had in Chile. In the searing heat we thought we were hallucinating when we saw a large pink aardvark in the bushes! No we weren’t - it was Planet Boabab camping but it was too early for us to stop. We got rid of JC’s cheap flip flops which he bought in Cairo here when three small barefoot boys came up and asked us for money or shoes!!
A Mirage????????????? Just for Faye..................
Finally we stopped in Maun, on the Okavango Delta. The Sedia hotel has a large camping are to the rear with good facilities and use of all hotel amenities, including a large swimming pool. www.sediahotel.com. The Okavango Delta is a palm shaped 16,000 sqkms maze of lagoons, chanNels and islands. The waters of the Okavango River rise in Central Angola, flow south east and spread 18.5 billion centimetres of water annually across this flat landscape, most of which is quickly swallowed up by the Kalahari sands leaving the rest to form this amazing network of water. Travel around the delta is done on the traditional mokoro which is a shallow dugout canoe formerly hewn from ebony or the trunk of the sausage tree but more recently made of fribre glass. The mokoro takes two passengers and a poler. www.afrotrek.com have an office at the hotel and arrange day trips on the delta as well as various other very well organised activities. As we made enquiries about going out on a mokoro the following day, the temperature at 6pm in the evening was still 37c, the trip was a whole day and JC decided he wouldn’t be able to manage a full day confined to a narrow boat in the blazing heat, surrounded (he thought) by mosquitos on the delta. So he jibbed out again!! I decided that I may pass this way only once and I would give it a go. Plus the trip included a walking safari on Chief’s Island and I was excited about the prospect of getting close to the wildlife again.
The following day, pick up was at 0630am and it was raining heavily. I left JC in bed feeling guilty that he was leaving me on my own again and headed out to meet the 4 x 4 which would take me to the departure point. The poler expertly found his ay through the narrow channels of reeds and water lilies as I got soaked in the rain. After one and a half hours we reached the island and set off on the two hour walking safari. Would I get up close and personal with the animals again – no way. We saw elephant pooh, wildebeest pooh, antelope pooh, lion tracks and a buffalo carcass! So JC had the last laugh – a late breakfast and a relaxing day whilst I tracked pooh in the park!! Having said that the mokoro trip back ,when the rain had stopped ,was really the most peaceful, relaxing experience I have had in a long time, with just the sound of the water lapping on the sides of the canoe as we glided along through the narrow reed laden channels and the call of the many species of birds who live amongst the reeds.
The Mokoros...........................................The Polers.............. who know their way through the channels of the Okavango Delta........
It was disappointing not to have seen any animals but Africa is not a zoo and they are constantly moving around the small islands of the delta. You can, however, JC’s mirth as I told him about my day and my new name is “Denise – the Great White Pooh Hunter”!
We left Maun heading South West and then North to the Okavango pan handle, to enter Namibia on the western end of the Caprivi Strip. At Mehumba the border has to have been the smallest we have crossed so far. It took us less than half an hour to exit Botswana and enter Namibia. No visa required for UK citizens but there is a road tax of 185 Namibian Dollars – we had no Namibian money nor was there an exchange but they allowed us to pay in Botswana Pula at a rate of one for one. When we enquired about insurance the officer said it wasn’t required. When we asked what would happen if we had an accident he said “nothing”!!!!
Just through the border we camped at Nunda Safaris and Lodge www.nundaonline.com S18.07.032 E21.35.905 – a fantastic place with a beautiful terrace overlooking the river. We had heard about the great campsites in Namibia and this one certainly lived up to their reputation. If you want to eat dinner there you have to book it before 4pm. We were too late but took advantage of the fabulous terrace and watched hippos swimming as we sipped out sundowners in the setting sun.
Awaking to a dull cloudy day we were glad that the sun wasn’t shining. We never thought we would say that, particularly having seen the news about the terrible weather in Europe, but after temperatures in the high 30s for the past few weeks it really was a welcome relief from the sun!
It was a long straight 600kms road to Etosha National Park but the road was good and we made it there by 5pm. Thankfully the information in Lonely Planet is out of date and we were able to collect our permits and arrange our camping at the Von Lindquist gate, LP says you have to pre-book in Windhoek- miles away! Camping is 200 N$ per person and day permit is 85N$ per person. We camped at Nambutoni and, after crocodile for dinner, we watched the impalas and springbocks around the waterhole. Etosha or “Great White Place” covers around 23,000 sq kms and is home to many species of mammals and birds. Unlike the Chobe, where the animals all head for the river, making it perfect viewing, Etosha is a huge pan, very dry with waterholes scattered across the area – so you have to drive around the park, visiting the waterholes searching the animals out. At out first waterhole, there was absolutely nothing – we soon realised why when we spotted a lion in the tall grass – fantastic sight just metres away from us. I was so transfixed I forgot completely about the camera or you my readers. Mr Sensible however was on it straight away taking photographs as the lion just stared back at us. That one was obviously difficult to beat. We spent the rest of the day driving around the many tracks spotting, spring bocks, ostrich, gemsbock, wildebeest, antelope, impala and finally one lone elephant who, because of the white dusty environment looked completely white. Sadly we didn’t see any rhinos – they are in the park but I’m afraid with the temperature at 36C and the sun reflecting back off the white pan we gave up. Another great day – at least we got to see more than just pooh today.
Another wonderful day with the wildlife..................................................................................
We spent the night at Ombinda Camp near Outjo S20.07.196 E016.09.487 before heading for Swakopmund. We followed the road, enjoying the sight of small mountains in the distance for the first time since Rwanda the undulating road was a treat. As we approached the town we could see the desert and the dunes in the distance and then The Atlantic Ocean!!! The wind got up and the temperature dropped to 24C – wonderful. We are going to spend a couple of nights here and take advantage of the cool breezes before heading in to the Namib Naukluft Park and its famous huge sand dunes!!!!
Into the desert............................ A glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean...... Our stop for a couple of days........so she has to get the tent sorted......
Hope you like the pics this week..
Thanks for all of your messages – we really appreciate them. Sorry about the long delays between updates but its not always possible to plug in to the world wide web.
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