welcome back to my blog. First of all thanks a lot for your positive feedback about my last post. Writing such an article takes quite some time and it’s very rewarding to see that there are people actually reading it 🙂 Some of you asked me if they will be soon able to read about Tanzania. Please be a bit more patient, I’m still not there yet in my story 🙂 In this post I’ll tell you about my trip leg between Brandberg and the amazing Victoria falls.
As I never know how to start when I write a new post, I’ll use the same trick as in every TV series and start with the very same two words and a short summary:
Previously in followsaypra… the family friendly version:
To finish my rtw trip with some nice adventures, I decided to join a camping overland tour from Capetown to Nairobi. After some days driving through the vineyards in North West South Africa, we cross the border with Namibia to arrive at the beautiful Fish river canyon. After that our journey takes us to the Namib desert where we enjoy the beautiful sea of dunes. A stop in Swakopmund the following days allow us to recharge our batteries and to enjoy some adrenaline activities. The episode ends with the truck arriving in the Brandberg area for a last stop before Etosha national park.
Sorry that there is no 24/7 camera to follow the group (although it could be a very entertaining reality show).
Previously in followsaypra… the real facts, T.i.A:
As I enjoy my stay in Capetown, I am entrusted by my friend AD a terrible secret: the ancestral recipe of the braai, a powerful way of cooking meat that makes South African warriors invicible on the battle field is the target of a secret underground organisation called “the shy neez” (because they don’t like to say no openly – cf http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=neez). To protect the legacy of the South African people, I am sent on a mission that will take me to the high mountains of Tanzania. I leave Cape town with my fellowship composed among others of a group of healers, a magical cat, some number wizards, and a German giant with whom I share my tent. After a few days driving through the vineyards in North West South Africa, I drink some magic potion that gives me hallucinations during the night: I hear some shy-neez spies attacked by a moody tent. Later on my trip, I have to cross the holy Oranje river to arrive in Namibia illegaly. After that, our journey takes us to the Namib desert where I get attacked by a molding marshmallow in the enchanting sea of dunes. In Swakopmund, a shy-neez spy tries to sneak in my Quad group but his piloting skills don’t allow him to follow the pace and he crashes in a field of asteroids. At the end of the episode, the fellowship arrives in Brandberg, the moutain of fire, before entering Etosha, home of the mighty pooping cheetah.
Now back to the flow 🙂
Day 9 is not the most interesting day of the trip. We leave the camp site in Uis quite early for a long drive from Brandberg to Etosha. The camp site was not very interesting except maybe for the ping pong tables. A visit to the Uis tin mines nearby was also possible but nobody was motivated to do it and we preferred to rest and spend the evening at the bar enjoying free WiFi.
After leaving Uis, we pass at a himba tribe village to drop some water. Himba people, especiall women can be recognized thanks to their typical hairstyle and their orange skin color due to the use of Otjize, a mixture of butterfat and ochre pigment.
The ride to our camp site near Etosha is very long and exhausting. As we arrive there in the middle of the afternoon, Armin proposes me to go for a short run to stretch our legs. I have enough after a 30min round but Armin is motivated to go for a second one. I finish the workout with some push-ups and sit-ups. I am so out of shape that I need afterwards 2 days to recover from this s…ession.
In the evening, I go to bed quite early not be too tired during the first game drive the next day.
We start day 10 pretty early with a first game drive at 06:30. For some of the group, it is the first game drive ever and the excitement is maximum. For me, even if I already saw the Big 5 in South Africa, my expectations are nonetheless still high as I’ve still never seen any cheetah or wild dog (also called Lycaon). For our first animal, we are quite lucky to find a lonely male lion sleeping, and not disturbed at all by the cars stopping around him to take pictures. The rest of the day, we find the usual suspects, Zebras, impalas, kudus, some jackals, giraffes and from the Big 5, we are lucky to spot a black rhino.
The landscape in Etosha national park is amazing. The nature is not so green as in South Africa but we often have a nice view on a very white desert separated by the horizon from a blue, sometimes dark blue endless sky.
The program on day 11 is quite similar and my expectations are exactly the same. The first game drive starts again at 06:30 and in a very good way. Indeed, the first animal we spot is a cheetah!! 🙂 The animal is quite far from the truck but still it is quite a delight to observe it in its natural environment. After a few minutes, we even get the chance to see something only a few people in the world have ever witnessed in their life: a cheetah pooping… 😀
In the following 2 hours, we have the chance to spot a lot of lions sleeping in the shade. This is before our guide Kapillar gets mad at us: the long drives and the early wake up were stronger than us and after a while we are all peacefully sleeping in the bus :).
We finish the day at our new camp site, the Namutoni resort located North of Etosha.
Nothing special to report about day 12. After a last game drive, we leave Etosha national park to drive to a few hours East to our next stop, the city of Grootfontein.
We spent most of the time on day 13 in the truck driving from Grootfontein to Divundu, located North of the Okavango delta near the border with Botswana. The drive was long and the high temperatures were nothing really enjoyable. However, at the end of the afternoon, we arrive at our new camp site on the border of the Kavango river. After having put up our tents, we go on a very nice sunset Cruise where we keep slaloming among heaps of hippos. Hippos are very territorial and can be dangerous when you come too close to them. We get to see that live when one big hippo opens his mouth and start walking towards us after our boat entered its comfort zone. Very impressive to see all those teeth! At the end of the cruise, the light of the sun going down reflecting on the river in a mix of blue, orange, yellow and gray is one of the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in this trip.
Nothing special to report about day 14. After having crossed the border with Botswana, we drive the whole day from Divundu to Maun, in the South of the Okavango delta. Arrived at our new camp site, we prepare our stuff and pack for one of the best highlight of the trip: 2 nights in the beautiful Okavango delta.
The transport to our camp site in the middle of the Okavango delta is done on mokoros. A mokoro is a kind of canoe made most of the time in wood and used principally in Botswana. To push and steer it in the shallow water of the delta, a pole is used by the “poler” to “push the ground away”. As there’s no motor involved at all, I enjoy the quietness of the nature and the sound of the boats moving slowly on the water. The 2 hours we spent in the mokoro to reach our camp site are super relaxing despite the few hippos we meet on the way and that are quite close to us. The camp site is a real bush camp. No electricity, no shower and a simple hole in the ground as toilet.
After we put up our tents and have some lunch, we relax at the camp with a nice nap and some refreshing swimming in the river. The sun is so strong that my shoulders get sun burnt after only 15 min standing in the water. This is only the third time in my life that I get sun burnt!
At the end of the afternoon, we leave the camp in small groups for a sunset game walk. We see the usual animals and one or two elephants in the distance.
We start the day by another bush walk just after the sunrise. This one will be a bit longer than on the previous day to allow us to walk further in the bush and increase our chance to spot animals. The first highlight of the walk is a close encounter with an elephant. We saw him from the distance behind a small hill and decided to come closer to observe him. As he turns around to leave the place, he notices us a few meters away. The instant is very intense and breathtaking. The elephant stops to observe us. He doesn’t really know what we are and how to react. Our guide tells us to keep quiet and stay calm. Any sudden movement could be misinterpreted by the animal and could make him charge us. Finally, after a few minutes, the elephant decides that we are no threat and just walks away.
The second highlight for me is to finally see a baobab in real life. Indeed the only image that I had from this tree was the one I got from reading the book “The little prince” by french author Saint Exupéry. This book was one of my favorite when I was a kid.
We come back to the camp just before noon right in time for lunch. After that, most of the group decide to go for a short nap but after a few minutes mother nature decides to interrupt it. Indeed, an elephant decided to stop by our camp and is eating just in front of us. Once again a very intense experience.
A bit later in the afternoon, we are offered the possibility to try mokoro poling. I decide to give it a chance by curiosity but find out very quickly that steering those boats is super difficult. The movement is kind of inverted compared to a canoe as we are pushing the ground and not the water to move. The experience is quite funny but after a few minutes fighting with my mokoro and falling in the water, I decide to cheat and bring it back to land by paddling SUP (stand up paddling) style.
At the end of the afternoon, we all get back in the mokoros but this time as passengers. Indeed, we are going on a mokoro sunset cruise. The experience is again incredible and I really enjoy the beauty of the orange light reflecting on the dark blue water.
We finish the day by a diner around the camp fire followed by some traditional songs and some games prepared by the polers team. We are very surprised to see our guide “Best” who was so serious the whole time having so much fun singing, dancing and playing a grandma for one of the song.
We also have a lot of fun jumping around the camp fire for the funny frog song.
After 2 nice days in the heart of the Okavango delta, it is now time for us to go back to Maun. After an early wake up and breakfast, we go back to the main land in our mokoros.
We are back at our previous camp site for lunch time. After some free time to relax, we go with some others of the group to the small Maun airport to do a short 45 min flight over the delta. The view from the air is impressive although we realize that the delta is very dry at this time of the year. I really enjoy flying in such a small aircraft, and we succeed to spot some animals on the ground.
Day 18 is another long day on the road as we drive all the way from Maun up to Kasane. The day starts pretty bad as some of the group have a problem with the seat rotation in the truck and this leads to a pretty agressive argument about who should seat where. As we are supposed to be all grown up, I am a bit surprised that some people get so emotional and fight so hard for such an insignificant thing.
After this unpleasant episode, the rest of the day is going pretty fine. At the front table, we play some games that our friend Anna brought with her, among others Qwirx and Coloretto.
I start day 19 quite relax as I spend the morning enjoying doing nothing except spending time at the bar to write a bit for the blog. Shortly after lunch, we are picked up by some 4×4 open vehicles taking us into the heart of the Chobe national park for a first game drive. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot anything really special during this drive, except maybe some groups of lions. At the end of the afternoon, we reach the bush camp where we spend the night.
Day 20 starts early with another morning game drive. As on the previous day, we are lucky to spot a lot of lions, but also a hippo on land during the day, as they are more likely to be found resting in the water to protect their skin from the sun.
Around noon, we drive back to our previous camp site in Kasane where we make a short stop before continuing to the border with Zimbabwe. The border crossing goes very slow, and on my visa, I get a brand new identity 🙂
We arrive at our destination for the day, Victoria falls in the early afternoon. After spending some time to book the activities for the following days, we put up our tents for the night (for the few who still have a bit of energy and some nerves left to camp) and then go for lunch in the city.
I spend the rest of the day on internet or walking in the city trying to escape from the many guys selling old Zimbabwean bank notes to tourists. In the late 90s, Zimbabwe got in a period of hyperinflation, which led to the printing of billion and trillion Zimbabwean dollar bills which are nowadays worth nothing.
On day 21, we go rafting on the Zambezi river with some of the group. I haven’t gone rafting since a long time and I really enjoy it. We manage to stay on the boat almost the whole trip till rapid number 18 from 19 called the Oblivion, that puts our raft completely vertical and sends us all in the water. The most difficult part of the tour is actually after we come out of the water as we have to climb all the way up from the river to the top of the gorge.
In the meantime, our friend En goes on a helicopter tour above Victoria falls and brings us back those wonderful aerial pictures.
We wake up quite early on day 22 to visit the Victoria falls before the heat starts killing us and before all the tourists arrive. The view on the falls is amazing. As we are in the dry season, the water volume is not so high and so we can enjoy walking in front of the falls without being completely wet. At the end of the trail, we go back to the city and cross the border to reach the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe to watch our friend En bungee jump.
Day 22 is also the last day of the first half of our trip. It’s time to say goodbye to some friends who are going back home and welcome new people joining the group.
In the next post, I’ll tell you about my adventures from Victoria falls to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. We’re almost there, stay tuned!