Southern Africa Bush Tails

Namibia News – April 2013

Dear AAC
Namibia has once again triumphed as a place of surprises, diversity and guides having to tell little white lies. Our Exploration guide Regan Fransman relates the following.

I was on a Great Namibian Journey with 2 single guests, who had gotten to know each other the night prior to departure. Before we left Windhoek we went to see some old and interesting buildings in Windhoek like the Memorial Museum, the Old and the New State House, the Christus Kirche and then we also visited Heroes Acre. We did not do that much of a city tour since we left it for the last day. They were amazed about the cleanliness of Windhoek, since we only did th e CBD area. We took lunch packs and had lunch under a nice big tree on our way to Kulala Reserve. They were also amazed by the amount of people and livestock that live in this arid area, with only the basic resources. We saw some baboons, kudu’s, springbok, oryx and a lot of domestic animals. When we went t hrough certain areas of the semi – desert area they were amazed to see water and were astonished about that. We did not do anything that afternoon as we only arrived at around 5 in the afternoon and had a nice sun downer at camp.

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We had an early wake up the next morning and set off for the dunes. The weather was not on our side and it was overcast with a lot of cloud cover, which made picture opportunity not of the best, because Helen is a keen photographer, but only as a hobby. None the less, we had a g reat time in the Dunes. There were certain times that the sun made its appearance through the clouds and we grabbed the opportunity to take photos of the dunes, it was great fun for the guests.

Due to the weather condition, it was nice and cool and made it nice to climb the dunes. We climbed Dune 45 although Helen did it alone, and Grant opted to stay behind as he recently had a knee operation, and could not walk far distances and do climbing. We drove down to Sossusvlei and he decided he will take his chances and walk down to Dead Vlei. We all took the walk at a slow pace and made it down to Dead Vlei and it was nice and cool, they loved it, and were amazed how the dunes can move past places like Sossusvlei without filling it up with sand. After that we vis ited Sesriem Canyon and did a short walk there, and had the Valley to ourselves. In the afternoon we too a drive out to the surrounding mountains, for a sun downer which they thought was amazing. They thought they were on the moon. The next day they did a scenic flight from Sossusvlei to Swakopmund and flew over some interesting places. Grant did quad biking in the afternoon and Helen did some window shopping and town hopping. We had dinner at the Hansa hotel and a nice chat about the history of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. The next day they did the boat cruise in Sandwich Harbour and we had dinner at The Lighthouse. They went down to Sandwich Harbour where we drove on the beach as it was low tide and then they had the dune lunch, which they thought was one of the best places to have lunch and they loved the dune drive after that.

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On our way to D -camp, we stopped at the ship wreck, Lichen fields, the desalination plant, Wlotskatsbaken and Henties Bay. We did a small tour of Henties Bay. We drove and had ou r lunch at the SRT Ugab camp. We had some soccer balls with us which the guests gave to the kids at the camp. We also visited the information centre and I explained to them what the purpose of the Save the Rhino trust is about and with all the pictures and information they had a broader understanding about our conservation plans for Namibia. When we went through the mountains they could not believe that a road or actually no road like that could be driven and were also amazed how vast Namibia is. They were also amazed how quickly the fauna and flora and the landscape changes. We had a nice scorpion dinner at the Boma (we told them we were looking for scorpions).

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It was the birthday of Grant and when he came down for breakfast the staff sang to him, he actually himself forgot that it was his birthday. That morning we went to search for the desert adapted elephants, but it took us such a long time to get to them because we stopped every 100/200 metres to explain other stuff, especially plants and geology. We found the elephants after some serious tracking in the mountains. They couldn’t believe that elephants and humans mutually live together like that, for them it was something out of this world how such a huge animal can live and survive in such an arid environment with not a lot of water and food sources, and still be in a pretty good condition. We did half a day and went for lunch at the camp and in the afternoon I took them to the village where they had a long talk with oom Jantjie Rhyn, and then Ben to ok them for a village tour. After that they had a broader insight on how people in rural areas in that specific area survive. We also distributed some soccer balls in the village.

The next morning we went for rhino tracking and the guests got up at 4, an d 4.30 we left. We took breakfast packs since they wanted to see sunrise in the bush. The rhino trackers also went in our vehicle, and we went to the Springbokwasser, but we had our breakfast and sunrise at Dopsteek. The guests said that it felt like they were in a dream to be there and to experience what they experienced. When the sun was up we went down pass the hunter’s camp and maybe 10 minutes after that we saw rhino tracks. Trackers got out but the tracks went over the mountain and it was only rocks t hat were there, making the tracking impossible for us. But the rhino trackers got out went after the tracks and the guests said they will never find the rhino on the tracks as it was only rocks. I said to them that the trackers have certain ways to read the signs and I kept myself busy explaining some flora in that area. After about 20 minutes one rhino tracker came running back and said they found 3 rhinos, the guests could not believe it. We had to go around the mountain and upper valley and then we walked over some serious rocks. We got to the three rhinos, but they heard us approaching and they slowly started to walk away. But the guests did manage to take some pictures. We decided to go back and we had our lunch at camp. After lunch, we went to Peter’s pools and then at about 5, we returned to the camp. The next day we went down as we heard some lions during the night. We found some tracks in the riverbed and we were tracking the tracks. It was so confusing, but the guest enjoyed the tracking attempt. They got very excited when they saw the tracks getting fresher and fresher. We tracked it up to Salvadora where the tracks ended. So we knew the lions were in there, we sat there for about 45 minutes but the elusive lion did not show his balls. We had a nice cup of tea with Garth Owen Smith who was camping in the river bed. And we had a nice talk about conservancies with him. We had dinner that evening where the guests drank and partied up to 2 o’clock.

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The next morning we had a nice bush breakfast on to p of the mountain and they were astonished by that. We visited Twyfelfontein and then we had a nice drive to Etosha, and in the afternoon since they were tired from the previous night, they decided to just hang out at the pool at Ongava Tented Camp. The ne xt morning we decided to just stay on the reserve, we did an early morning to see if we could find some rhinos but unfortunately none appeared, instead we found some cheetahs. A mother cheetah with her 3 cubs. We came back for lunch and they also relaxed a t the pool. The lions were in camp so we sat there for about 30 minutes watching them play and then we went for a sun downer drive. We saw 2 white rhinos and a lot of other general game. Then they had a nice private dinner with their two Italian friends.

The next day we went for a full day in Etosha. The waterholes in Etosha were relatively quiet, because the majority of the game moved to the north eastern side of Etosha, since there hasn’t been a lot of rain in the western side, so we focused on the smal ler things like lizards and stuff, which the guests also found interesting. We had lunch at Halali and returned to camp.

When we returned at the camp, the guests said that they wanted to eat early that evening, but they didn’t know that we had a bush dinne r surprise for them. The lions were in camp again and we were watching them, while the staff prepared the area for the bush dinner. They did not want to go for a drive, so I had to ‘convince them’ by telling them about a possible hyena with a kill. We drove to the bush dinner; they almost fainted when they saw the setup. They couldn’t believe that we eat where elephant, rhino and lion move through.

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The guests decided that they did not want to fly and they prefer driving back with their guide. We left early the next morning and returned to Windhoek where we did the other part of Windhoek for a city tour. After that we went to Pep Stores and Crazy Store, as they wanted to buy blankets and toys for the village kids. Then I dropped them off at the Olive G rove. The next morning I had breakfast with them, and that was the end of our tour.

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