Namibia by Air and Land…..
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February 26 – March 3rd, 2013 (Eastern Hemisphere)
As I had wanted to see more of Africa, I made arrangements through a cruiser that Cindy and I had met in Bora Bora in 2010. James Sale (cute uh?) and his wife Jen were sailing around the world and from South Africa. They and their families were in the travel business and had told me to contact them when we got to the Cape Town area. James had designed a 5 day soujourn for us to see Namibia. Namibia is the country just north of South Africa and on the Atlantic Coast. It was formerly part of South Africa and became independent in the mid 1990\’s. It\’s economy is Agriculture, Tourism and Diamond Mining. We flew into the Capital City, Windhoeck and picked up our 4 wheel drive Ford Ranger. This would come in handy shortly!
We first drove to \”Africat\’ see: http://www.africat.org This is a combination big cat rescue and natural habitat. There are no lions at this time, five chetah\’s, 21 leopards, lots of all the other animals of Africa\’s plains. Giraffe, Elephant and lots of \”prey\” for the predators. On the drive in, we were stopped by a guide from the Raptor Park next door and she showed us this baby Pangolin she\’d rescued. VERY rare to be able to hand raise one too. She had saved the Mother from a \”pet sale\”. When the Mother gave birth, she ran off into the wild. They are ant eaters and though she will let him out in the wild. He\’ll have to be watched over as he had no Mother to show him how to stay away from predators.
Local Guide with Baby Pangolin near Africat…..
We had a spectacular experience seeing a male leopard just a few feet from our vehicle asleep. When it awoke, it rebuffed a female suitor and went up in a tree to finish his \”kill\”. The kill had been there for a day or two and was mostly gone, but the odor was very pungent. The female hung out below the tree and picked up some of the scraps. We got to spend a lot of time watching them and it was a wonderful experience to see these big cats in the wild. The next day, we saw the five cheetah\’s. They were posturing with other cheetahs in the next game reserve and we got to see the displays by the dominant male. All very interesting stuff.
Leopard with it\’s \”kill\” (Africat)……
We then drove to Namibia\’s signature wild animal reserve, the \”Etosha Pan\”. This is an enormous area with water holes and a huge salt pan. There are four main tourist compounds, two of which are new. We stayed in the newest upon arrival and they forgot to pick us up. We were only two of four people and somehow, got missed. So we drove our vehicle the one and a half hour drive. This is where the 4 wheel drive in the soft sand was a must. The road was one lane and through nothing short of a dense savannah. Nikki kept lamenting how she hadn\’t seen an Elephant yet (her favorite) when suddenly, two practically ran us over on the road! The bush was was so thick, we only go to see them for a minute.
The place we stayed was \”SO NEW\”, it wasn\’t really ready for tourists. No air conditioning and it was hot, poor fan system. nuff\’ said.
The next day, we drove to Okakuejo which was an entirely different experience. The rooms were nice, air conditioned and essentially right on a major water hole. We saw Black Rhinoceros, Elephants and Giraffe as well as a heard of Zebra and lots of the \”cat food\” animals like Springbok, Gembocks, Kudu\’s etc.
The following day, we drove to the newest encampment; Dolomite Camp. The encampment is on a hill and everyone has to be taken to the top on a narrow path in a diesel powered golf cart. was a spectacular setting and our room (which was very nice with a small pool) overlooked their watering hole. We were a bit surprised that we had not seen a lot of animals on the drive in, but this was to change that evening. We went on the evening safari tour and our expectations were not high. The guide did not seem to think we might see a lot due to the time of year and recent \”non sightings\”. However, he took us to a watering hole where we did see one Rhinoceros, two Elephants and the slightly different \”Mountain Zebra\”.
Hartman\’s Mountain Zebra…..
Then he took us on a flyer out of the usual track and we saw a few elephants, mostly mothers with young. Then we saw a few more, then a few more….. We went toward a watering hole just before sundown where at least five major groups of elephants showed up, totally over 65 in the large group. Some were as young as a few weeks, many of the male jueveniles were posturing and the old mothers seemed to be mindful of their groups. We were even charged by three different females over an hours time. Our guide told us that this was common behavior and no one ever got hit UNLESS they tried to come between the mother and her calf. Needless to say, this was a life experience and so unexpected.
Charging Mother Elephant….
We had a lovely evening with the small group at the onsite restaurant and bid farewell the next morning. As we drove off to our next encampment, we came upon our guide doing the morning tour. He told us he\’d spotted three Lions at the water hole we had visited last night and so we were off. Indeed we found the three lions and watched while they lazed away in the shade. The local antelope type animals were just glued (visually) to the lions while they very carefully came in for water.
We continued on our way and leaving Etosha Park, we drove to Damaraland Camp in hopes of seeing the Desert adapted Lions and Desert adapted Elephants. These are sub species which have different physical characteristics and can survive on less water. En route, we stopped at the Petrified Forrest (not much so see really) and the petroglyphs of Twelfelfontien. The petroglyph tour was interesting and had documented the ancient San People who had lived here about 8,000 years ago. The climate was much wetter then and it was hard to see how any nomadic tribes could have survived if they\’d experienced the very hot, dry Nambian desert of today.
Alas, the area was so dry that despite our guides best efforts, we did not see either the Lions or the Elephants. Welcome to touring \”real\” nature. We drove back to Windhoeck the next day and returned to Cape Town by air. Then…Nikki got an idea…..That will be our next blog.
KIT, Scott and Nikki…..