Namibia: The Road Trip Edition.

Day 5:

Our journey from South Africa had come to a close. As soon as we landed in Windhoek, Namibia we went through customs & grabbed our luggage, which took about 5 minutes because the airport was so tiny. Immediately, we headed out in search of our rental car representative. We were looking all over for a sign with our name or for someone wearing a Britz shirt. Neither were found. We were uncertain of what to do because we had no phone service, and had no clue of who we should ask.  Thankfully, one of the locals who I assume was probably a taxi driver stopped to help us.  Once he saw Britz on the paperwork, he told us to wait in place. He came back not long after, introduces us to the Brizt guy, and then recommended that we wait while he gathered the other Britz customers before transporting us all to the office.

Upon arrival at the Britz office, we were offered beverages and then set up with a representative. They brought us to their desk where we had to fill out several documents and give them as much information as we possibly could. They were incredibly thorough. In addition to a heap of paperwork, we were shown our car, and our rep walked us through everything on the car & even made sure that all the lights worked, and showed us some of the features… She even made sure that we had all the safety requirements that are required by the countries we were going to visit, such as neon green safety vests & 2 safety triangles.

As we were wrapping up our checks, I watched as one other couple that was there going through the checks of their camping truck.. The kind that has pop up tents attached to the top. I pointed them out to Brad, and that I thought they were more hardcore than we are. However, Brad then shared with me a funny and crazy tip from some of the locals that he knows from working in the DRC. TIP: You don’t want to camp on top of a 4×4 vehicle in Africa because the lions have figured it out. They know how to get you. …and that just doesn’t sound very pleasant to me. I joked about telling the campers, but why freak them out? Why kill their African buzz, you know??? …we never saw them again. haha!

With our vehicle loaded up, we hit the road. Brad was still driving on the opposite side of the car and opposite side of the road. Our first stop was in the actual town of Windhoek. We needed food & water for the road, and we needed to grab lunch. Our first plan of action was to eat. So with not many options in the Windhoek mall we decided to grab a couple burgers from Steers because the last time we had it in SA with Neil (remember, Neil??), it wasn’t half bad. This time, however, it was awful…. Room-temp burgers & soggy fries felt more like a punishment than an actual meal. We didn’t bother trying to finish our food. A swing and a miss. We just decided to move on. So we headed into the cute little market that sat near the parking garage, and decided to grab some grub. We grabbed a couple of apples, salted nuts, oreos, crackers, and I snagged a KitKat for later… Along with this, we grabbed 3 gallons of water for the journey. The goal was to grab things that could last us for about 10 days, and could withstand warmer temperatures if necessary. I’d say we succeeded.

Once the car was loaded up, and the parking was paid… the fun could begin. First, we had to navigate our way out of the city which was slightly tricky, at one point we were going the wrong direction and had to turn back. One thing that Brad & I don’t do… Pay for GPS. We utilize our iPhones as much as possible, which means, we are grabbing wifi at any possible moment to upload our maps, check routes, get addresses, whatever we need to do. This is also why I do as much mapping and routing as possible when I am home, that way I am able to have an idea and mental notes of our locations before our trip even starts. It’s kind of like The Amazing Race training.

iphone update 694We began heading south toward Sossusvlei. That was our fist big sight to stop and see on this road trip. The drive was quite long at approximately 5 hours but the scenery was EXQUISITE! I think we both felt that we were constantly at a loss of words because we took in some truly stunning views. Before the road turned to dirt, we were stopped at a stopping point where the lady asked us where we were going and for Brad’s drivers license, shortly after we passed a troop of baboons, and then… it was dirt.  At one point in the beginning of our drive we watched a massive eagle swoop down right in front of us to snatch some road kill out of our path. Our drive was starting off on a high note. The wildlife sightings were on point, but after that there wasn’t much more. We saw a couple other smaller animals such as tortoise, guinea fowl, warthogs, and of course a ton of cattle… We continued on through the valleys admiring the massive nests that were built up on the lines (phone or power, who could know??)… and constantly anticipating the next sighting. We passed through a gorgeous mountainous region where you could see for miles. The terrain was jaw dropping as was the view… We finally were beginning to drop in elevation, and the terrain began to change from grasslands to desert.

iphone update 261.jpgThe animal sightings vanished as we entered into the sandy vastness of Namibia. The drive was becoming slightly more dull as a sandy and rocky landscape became more constant. Finally, we began to see a bit more wildlife. springbok. We also had the great pleasure of passing over the Tropic of Capricorn.  A sign in the middle of nowhere covered in colorful stickers noting that we were in a pretty cool spot!iphone update 265.jpg

We finally reached the hardly existent “town” of Solitaire where we filled up on fuel and took advantage of a bathroom break before we continued onto our hotel.

We arrived early that evening at Moon Mountain Lodge. I was so excited about staying here because you feel somewhat exposed to the elements. Each individual room sits segregated on the side of the mountain, and requires 4×4 just to reach your room (otherwise, you park at the bottom and someone has to drive you from there). It was so worth it. Once we were checked in we had a couple hours to kill until dinner time. We wandered the grounds trying to get photos of butterflies, hawks, and whatever else flew our way. With minimal success, we headed back toward the lodge. We ended up grabbing our necessities and walked up to the main house where we sipped on our beers, scrolled through our photos, and watched the sun as it began to set.

NOTE: I should state here that after writing this blog & getting through the first 27, I realized that I am too boring when it comes to food. So, I have been doing my best to try new things when I travel. Now, when I get to China, don’t be expecting me to eat their green fermented eggs… That’s not going to happen. 

iphone update 293.jpgWith the dinner bell rung, everyone grabbed a table. We sat near the entrance and were quite close to the lovely buffet. I wasn’t sure of what to expect when Brad told me that they were serving springbok lasagna & oryx steaks, so I started with a bowl of amazing pea soup (normally I wouldn’t gravitate towards that), and geared up for my next course. I was going to do it! …and I did. I filled my plate with a mixed green salad, rice, mixed veggies, oryx steak, and springbok lasagna. With each bite, I was pleasantly surprised. You see, chicken is my main source of protein… and tuna. (I know, right… tuna, so stinky, but so delicious) I will occasionally go for steak meals, or pulled pork… but nothing too exciting. Anyways, with my plate loaded up…. I took my first bite, and realized that my food problems are mostly mental…. The problem is that unlike with chicken or steak: when I eat oryx I can’t stop picturing an oryx… So as I tried to work that out mentally, I began to realize that I was actually somewhat enjoying something new… I didn’t love it, but I didn’t mind it. I think Brad was proud of me too. Then there was the springbok lasagna… it wasn’t like traditional lasagna, the springbok had a very distinctive seasoning that I wasn’t keen on. But both new meats were tender and lean. I at least knew that what I was eating wouldn’t kill me and it was pretty healthy, fresh, and probably organic given that it was probably hunted off the African plains. Full from new meats, soups, and fresh breads.. dessert was announced. A type of sticky cake with a custard sauce… It was sweet and rich. I was thankful that they only served small pieces, as my stomach took all it could bare.

With full and satisfied tummies, we led ourselves down the dark raw walkway guided by only our iPhone lights. When we reached our room, we realized that our room had become bombarded with insects that seemed to be in a flurry all around us. There was nothing to do…. We were basically in the bush. …and it was the nature of the experience. Our sleeping quarters and our bathroom were separated by an open bridge, which was a little frustrating only because I didn’t want to let in anymore insects. But we made it work. We took turns going back and forth, taking quick showers & prepping ourselves for sleep. Once we were both lying down and ready to sleep, we realized that the flurry of insects would not leave us alone. This is when I realized that my husband is a genius… He turned on a light at the opposite end of the room to draw them away. Thankfully, it wasn’t a bright light. (Thanks, Africa.)  We were off to dream land.

Day 6:

I was up sooooo early. I knew breakfast wasn’t being served until 7, but I couldn’t help it. I could sleep no longer. Nature acted as our alarm in the form of a bird sitting outside of our open window chirping us awake. It was both annoying and magical at the same time. I don’t even know how the two can coincide, but it can. As I began to wake, I realized that the sun was beginning to rise over the mountains in the distance, and the view was just as beautiful as the evening before. I escorted myself out the door to the bathroom to start getting cleaned up and ready for the day… There was so much driving to be done, and I didn’t want to be late to breakfast.

All prepared, with bags in the car.. We drove up the hill to the main house & waited until they were ready to serve. Omelettes and toast made from homemade bread… The bread was so soft and so moist… It taste like the homemade bread my mom would make when I was a kid. It was so good that I went back for seconds.  We had to get going though… We wrapped up breakfast, checked out, made our way back down the mountain and took on the drive to Sossusvlei.

You could see for miles in all directions, and we had the pleasure on seeing a few groups of oryx on the way into the park. Once we reached the Sossusvlei park we went into the shop to purchase our park permit, and we both took advantage of the bathroom. …and then we were off. We showed our permit to the gatekeeper, and made our way in. Our first destination was the famous Deadvlei. It was the farthest back & also required a 1 kilometer walk in each direction, so we figured the sooner the better, in attempt to do it before the day was at its hottest point which I think was about 40 degrees Celsius, and 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Namibian Dunes
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The drive was overwhelming in a sense. The size and quantity of the orange dunes was absolutely magnificent. ….but that is the thing about sandy desserts, you get thirsty just by looking at them. They just look overbearingly hot. The drive to Deadvlei felt like it was going on forever. It was much farther than it seemed on Google Maps, but when is that not the case??? When we reached the entry for Deadvlei, there was a pick up & drop off for anyone that wanted to take a park shuttle… We, however, had 4×4… but our X-trail even seemed to struggle. The sand was intense… Fine, Shifty, Deep. There were a couple times when we weren’t confident that we could make it either way, even as we were being guided through by one of the local drivers. We could feel the car slip and slide as the sand would shift under and around the tires. Despite the struggle, we made it.

 

We geared up & made sure we had plenty of water. It was sweltering, but nothing that either of us couldn’t handle as we are both desert dwellers here in AZ. The walk naturally, started off easy, and we were feeling confident that it we could handle it with relative ease. We did for the most part… But the heat definitely slowed us down, and my Toms were constantly filling with searing hot sand… but I would say that it was definitely worth it for the experience, Let alone the view. We spent probably close to 30 minutes in the very small valley, as I snapped many stunning photos of the preserved trees, and towering dunes surrounding the area, while Brad naturally stood in the shade of one of the dead trees.

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Once we wrapped things up, we made our way back which was harder than the journey in, probably because of the steep exit, and prolonged time in the overpowering sun. At this point, my shoes were taking in so much sand  that my feet felt they were burning, and were completely packed into place. I could not move my toes as they were ever so carefully wrapped in fine sand. By the time we reached the car, the temperature inside had gone up significantly. We had to crank the AC, much as we do at home during the summer. As the car began to cool, I stood under the nearby tree to drain the sand from my faded navy slip-ons (here’s a video). It seemed like it went on forever. Well, I think it took about 9-seconds.

Our car ride back to the main road was a bit tense, as you never know at what point you could get stuck in the sludgy sand. Brad, somewhat calmly, continued to chomp down on his corn nuts as he weaved through the old tracks of other visitors. Meanwhile, I was ready to lose my cool between the stress and Brad’s crunching… #Marriage.  Finally, we reached the pavement and we were both relieved. We decided to skip Bid Daddy, because realistically…. All the dunes were big and orange… and it was hot as balls!!! So instead, since we still had to drive to Walvis Bay that day, we turned right back around with the intention of stopping at Dune 45.

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At Dune 45 there were only a couple other people there. One guy was having a solo dance party, and Brad & I were cracking up while watching. I had a strong admiration for his commitment to fun in such a desolate place. We watched as one other couple took their individual photos on the dune, and as they left we rotated in. Brad went first. I snapped a few pics of his adorable face on the massive pile of sand and then we switched… However, I didn’t just want to meander up about 30 feet… If I was going to do this I was going to commit. …and I did. I did my best to work my way up to the top of Dune 45 as quickly as possible. It was hard. The hot sand was filling and covering my feet again, it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and it was steep. I did my best to jog up, but at several points had to stop. I noticed, also that the other couple was waiting around watching me as I made this daring move at midday… As I continued up, it looked like would never end.. I don’t think I truly ever reached the tippy-top, but it definitely looks like I did. It just felt like it kept going and going… but I guess that is the nature of the desert, and Dunes never do stop shifting.  Finally, Brad snapped his photos, and I ran down…. I got off that dune as fast as possible, and immediately made my way to the giant tree for shade and to catch my breath.  Once I was settled, we were back in the car and on our way out of the park.

We wanted to stop for lunch, and thought that we had seen that there was a restaurant at the reception, but it looked like it was only a bar… and a bread dispensary??? There was a lot of wrapped bread on the table for sale. haha.  So we used the restrooms, and headed over the gas station in hopes of something to eat. We grabbed a container of Brie to eat with our crackers, a couple of drinks, and a candy bar, and fueled up again for the drive to Walvis Bay.

horseIt was another extensive drive, at approximately 5 hours, and we departed Sossusvlei around 1 PM. For the most part the views were quite barren but that didn’t keep us from seeing zebra in the distance where they could find grass, a baboon troop running free, and wild horses wandering in search of small patches of grass… In all honesty, I’ve never been so close to a wild horse, nor have I ever seen such skinny horses, but none the less.. They were beautiful. I think the people that drove past me photographing them probably thought I was crazy getting so close, but I couldn’t help myself.

Anyways, the terrain we passed through changed about every 100 km. We past through some grassier plains, rocky hills, areas that seemed to be composed of nothing but canyons, and sandy regions where it looked as if nothing could survive a single day, if even an afternoon. Eventually, it began to turn back into pale dunes… That’s when you know you are approaching Walvis Bay… more dunes.  We arrived into the city around 6 PM, and sadly, our phones went grid, which meant we were doing things by my memory. It turned out to be tricky… I just knew we were near the water, our hotel, Protea Hotel by Marriott, was blue and white, and had sea views… At one point we were going the wrong way, and we were getting frustrated. The key was to stay calm and just work it out mentally… Within 20 minutes we were there without any major issues. We got checked in and brought our bags in, which required us to haul them up stairs because there was noooo elevator.

We took about 30 minutes to unwind and get ourselves sorted before we headed down the way for dinner. We figured since we were in Namibia, it would be a good idea to get some German food… So, Brad scouted out Anchors at the Jetty Restaurant which was 3 minutes away, in a boating area right across from the hotel. We got a seat fairly easily inside because it was quite chilly and windy outside. It was a no-brainer with what to order… Schnitzel and chips… Holy Hell… We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. (Brad ordered the same thing). They brought us 2 massive pieces of chicken and a big pile of chips (fries) each!!! It was so much food, and it was incredible. We stuffed our faces like a couple of fat kids at a birthday party. It was so good!

With incredibly full stomachs, we quickly walked back to our hotel in attempt to escape the chill. We had to shower… and I’m glad I did when I did because when I was getting ready to wash my face later on, I learned the water died. I had to have Brad help me rinse my hands with our bottled water, and just left the soap on my face until we could be We were without water for about an hour.  We were exhausted, and I had started to fall asleep while we were watching a movie, so with that we wrapped things up in preparation for our early morning the next day.

Day 7:

It was the same old thing the next day, an early call for kayaking with seals with Pelican Point Kayaking. Because the activity interfered with our checkout time, we had to have our bags packed and in the car before our buffet breakfast, so that we could be to the kayaking company (right next to Anchors at the Jetty) by 7:30.  It was a slightly stressful morning because even though I am madly in love with my husband, we think and do things differently, especially since we spend more time apart than together, so sometimes things can get a little tense. Like how we got to breakfast, and had to rush… and I didn’t think he was eating fast enough… haha. There are times I want to smother him with a pillow, and times that I’m sure he probably wants to trip me into a pile of crabs.. I don’t know… It’s just marriage woes.

Either way, we had everything in the car, and the main debate was whether or not to bring my Nikon… I decided not to because 1) Brad was pretty against it, 2) it was more gear to bring, 3) there were water concerns… but I really wanted to, and sadly I went against my gut. But I had my iPhone.

ipad update 3629We ended up not needing to rush to the kayaking venue because they apparently had issues with another couple and had to get it worked out before we could all leave. But eventually we all loaded up into a big-ass 4×4 vehicle with kayaks in tow, and began our drive through town & on to Pelican Point, a long and skinny strip of sand that is ever-growing out through the Atlantic.  We passed along the lagoon filled with pink flamingos, drove through the salt fields, and passed the lighthouse. We saw jackals on the beach which look very similar to our coyotes here in AZ. (I was wishing for my camera at this point.) Also, there were many dead baby seals along the beach which was heart breaking, but when you realized how many seals were living on the beach, it did ease that slight heart ache a bit. Once our guide, Jens, had everything set up, we loaded into our kayaks and hit the water.
iphone update 441We first headed toward open water in hopes of sighting whales and dolphins, but none could be seen, so we switched direction back toward the massive line up of seals of all sizes. Some dried out and beached in their lustrous grey fur suits, and some looking oiled down as they flopped and glided through the water. We spent about an hour or two on the water observing the seals. Some came close and gave us a show, and others would retreat back to the beaches as if we were carrying the plague. It was fun. There were a few surprise splashes… which means I was incredibly upset that I didn’t bring my camera at this point.  All I wanted to do was get in and play with them, but the water was freezing (that’s the opinion of an AZ girl though).

Upon a water departure Jens had a table of sandwiches, tea & coffee set up for us.. Nothing fancy… but a satisfying snack after the exercise & fun. We all stood around and talked about Namibian history & the changes that are coming to Africa. It was a great educational time. It was sad to leave, but I knew there was more to see, and Brad & I, again, had another long drive coming.  On our way back into town, we pulled over to grab some snaps of the flamingos. Because I didn’t have either of my Nikons, Brad and I ended up grabbing the car & going back for a few more shots after we were dropped off.

From the flamingos, we began our drive to Etosha, making it a point to stop in Swakopmund for lunch. Brad has a co-worker with a flat there, and apparently he raves about how much better it is than Walvis bay. NOTE: However, apparently the two cities have a bit of a rivalry happening. Swakopmund seems slightly more geared to tourism, but I didn’t spend enough time in either to take sides with either. We drove through town in search of a place to find water and lunch! We found the Pick n’ Pay first, so we stopped in for a few gallons of water. Then we were back in the car driving up and down the streets in search of food… We found The Tug. A two story restaurant partially made from an old tug boat. We were able to sit on the balcony patio overlooking the Atlantic. We both ordered our fish dishes, and like most times… Brad was better. Mine was bone-in (a first for me!!), and although mine had a good flavor, I wasn’t crazy about the texture. I like mine a little more meaty and flaky.. and mine was more mushy. We ate all we could before we requested our check. With a need to satisfy our sweet tooth we headed back toward the ice cream shop we had passed by en route to The Tug. We pulled over and parked across the street from Ice & Spice Cafe. There was a short line, but it extended out the door. We new it would be good! We each got chocolate on a cone, and it was as refreshing as it was delicious. In true Natalie fashion it was gone within minutes… I had to eat it fast! It was melting!!!

From ice cream we headed to fuel. We wanted to top off before the journey continued, and it was crucial that we checked one of our tires as it seemed to be continually losing air slowly. We also grabbed a quick bathroom break because after our 40 minute drive into Swakopmund, we had another 4 hours and 45 minutes (approximately) until we reached the outskirts of Etosha National Park.  Honestly, this drive was pretty dull. There was no wildlife to be seen partially because once we hit the green plains and hills,  we also started hitting massive rain storms. We had to slow down drastically because of traffic, and the rain was pounding the car so hard at some points that you could hardly see more than 15 feet in front of you. ….but as most African storms usually do, it cleared up within 30 minutes.

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Our lunch at The Tug had ended up longer than planned, so because of that we also ended up driving in the dark which was a little bit terrifying because we knew at any moment a kudu or a springbok could lunge right in front of the car which would then leave us stranded with no phone service, possibly a totaled car, and/or dead! WOO-HOO! So we both attempted to keep our eyes pealed on the road. This night was rough. We were so exhausted from the early morning, and I was doing all that I could to stay awake & help Brad. Eventually, we arrived safe and sound at Etosha Safari Lodge, and once again we had gone without a meal. Dinner was not an option because we got in too late, but with that tardiness, exhaustion, and food deprivation came crankiness. Our best option was just to go to bed. We (mostly I) did our best to unpack the bare minimum since our belongings would be back in the car in less than 10 hours.  Honestly, this lodge was better than expected. It was clean, fairly comfortable, and I loved that our room was a completely separate building so we had no contact with or did not hear any other guests.

Day 8:

We were up early once again… We got ourselves ready, Brad loaded his things into the car, and went down for breakfast first. It was taking me longer to get ready and packed up, so I decided that I would just meet him. About 20 minutes later, I had everything in the car, and for the first time, was driving on the opposite side of the car! I found it to be surprisingly easier than anticipated. I drove down the hill to reception where breakfast was also served. It was once again a buffet. When is it not a buffet??? The buffet was filled with all the typical sorts, but the setting was phenomenal. It was in an outdoor courtyard filled with quirky furniture made with old tires and things… Their were large trees full of interesting bird nests, and the walls were painted with colorful people playing musical instruments. It was an enchanting space that I wish we could have enjoyed at dinner time.  With breakfast wrapped up, we checked out & then headed to Etosha which was maybe 15 minutes down the road.

Upon arrival, Brad checked in at the gate and filled out all the necessary paperwork & the pointed us in the direction of the permit office. Down the way was a small shop where I insisted that we get a map. …and like most wives, I was right. Although, the map was somewhat confusing at times… it was definitely helpful, and it had a great animal guide, which I think was the main reason Brad was okay purchasing it.

iphone update 1099Etosha served us well. Our first major sighting: a black rhino having a mud bath, literally on the side of the road. It was so beautiful. We watched as it rolled and cooled down, and then rubbed its horn against a dead tree, then crossed the road as if no one was watching.  We continued on and didn’t see much… tons and tons and tons of springbok and impala. There is no shortage. We also, got in some great bird sightings, and even saw a chameleon. Brad almost ran it over, and somehow as it was crossing the road ever so slowly, I saw it. I was so excited because a chameleon is one thing that I really wanted to see. Here are some great photos:

Giraffe Horizon
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NOTE: Within Etosha, there aren’t many rest stops… There was one that we went too because I needed to use the bathroom.. The gate was closed, but we weren’t sure if it was to keep us or wildlife out, so we entered it anyways and closed the gate as instructed. Unfortunately, the “bathroom” area was completely overgrown so I was forced to pop-a-squat over in a random area, and instructed Brad to keep a lookout for big cats.  SIDE NOTE: I prefer not to pee in nature, but when you gotta go, you gotta go… What I didn’t realize is that on this trip this would be the first of four times… There just aren’t many bathrooms through Africa’s vastness, and truthfully, looking back, I am surprised it was only 4 times… but I have a large bladder. 

iphone update 1110We spent probably 6 hours within Etosha driving up and down the dirt roads, most of which were in great condition . Again, Africa’s vastness is greatly downplayed on Google Maps. It took almost that whole time (with one major detour due to a road closure) to get from our starting point to our end point. We drove out to the lookout point of the pan, and it was interesting to see how vast the now dried up body of water once was.

NOTE: The thing with Etosha– We saw no elephants and not cats… We didn’t see any giraffes or zebra until our last hour… BUT!!!!! We did see spotted hyena, and don’t forget the rhino. There two that were walking along the pan, and it was so incredible to see them in person. Also, we got some beautiful photos of Wildebeest and we saw a red hartebeest for the first time ever.

Namibian Rains
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Eventually, we had to leave Etosha National Park in order to move along with our journey… We were headed to Rundu to spend the night. It was another 4 hour drive, and at this point, we had been surviving on granola bars and nuts…. and there was a slim chance of finding a decent meal between there and Rundu.  We stopped in Grootfontein to get fuel, and found another small grocery store where we were able to grab another container of brie and a box of Kips spring onion crackers… We were living on them at this point… NOTE: Thanks Kips for keeping us going! Nothing like cheese and crackers for lunner (between lunch and dinner), AGAIN… At some point, we were driving through a gnarly rain storm, once again: an Africa classic on this trip. Because we got out of Etosha a couple hours later than planned (also, the norm for us), we ended up driving in the dark again, but it wasn’t too bad. Thankfully, Rundu was a fairly decent size town, so that eliminated the threat of large animals, however…. getting to our hotel was kind of a pain. When we reached the road for our hotel we were all sorts of confused. The road was supposedly closed off and was all torn up, but there were no signs to redirect traffic. We had no clue how to get to our hotel, Tambuti Lodge, especially because it looked like there were no other roads connecting to it. Brad ended up getting out of the car and moving things out of the way so that we could get through.

Namibian Monsoon
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We arrived at our hotel a little before 10 PM. The ladies were getting ready to close up shop, and were glad we made it before they left. Again, we missed dinner… but we were welcomed with their hibiscus drink, and shown our room. It was fairly nice considering we were in Rundu. We also had a resident gecko, which gave us fond memories of our time in Zanzibar. FACT: Geckos are welcome guests because they at least eat the insects. …and in mosquito territory, that is always a welcome attribute.

iphone update 1131We snacked on a couple Oreos (Thank God, for Oreos in Africa), and then made the short journey to the car in the rain to grab our necessary luggage. At one point, I almost stepped on a millipede, and I had Brad telling me to stay on the path so that I don’t get bit by a mamba or a puff adder (no thank you). FACT: Life in the jungle is so much more intense than it should be… Threats of getting bit by anything venomous, and monkeys stealing your stuff.. It’s just not always a good time!

Finally, we were in bed with the intent to be up at a decent hour the next morning for another drive to Maun.

DAY 9:

iphone update 1142We woke up, started packing, and then made our walk to breakfast. Breakfast was served on a built out patio overlooking the Cubango River which separates Namibia from Angola, in other words… We could see Angola.

For once we didn’t have a breakfast buffet! But it was still Africa… which means there’s no American pancakes and American bacon awaiting me! I think we both ordered eggs and beans or something. It was decent, and enough to get us through. They also prepared a small serving of one of their traditional meals ( a type of porridge which was sour) for us to try. They also had hibiscus jam for us to try. It was good! Brad wanted to sell it in the US (he’s crazy). While we were there, we ended up having a long conversation with a really nice Aussie couple who was biking through Africa. They were spending several months taking it day by day through the vast African terrain. It sounded amazing, but I just don’t know that I want bike all over the continent… To each their own!

We got everything loaded into the car, and dropped our key off at the front desk. It was time…. time to head to Botswana!

With a 7 hour drive ahead of us (not including our time at customs) and the car loaded, we exited the premises, and in the day light we found the detour to the main road. We didn’t have to move anything out of our way this time! We stopped for fuel where I kept exchanging smiles and giggles with one of the beautiful women who was working there.

ipad update 4825.jpgWe headed in the direction of Caprivi Game Park which was a little under 2 hours away. When we got there, there was a full-figured woman sitting on a balcony with a pad of paper. We quickly registered, and were instructed to drive through. We didn’t have to show any documents this time, just sign on the line basically. Within 5 minutes of entering the park it began to rain. This greatly diminished the odds of us seeing any wildlife. At this point we still had not seen an elephant & it was killing us on the inside. But, we were not giving up hope! On this portion though, we got to see kudu in the bush, and we had beautiful adolescent Roan antelope staring us down in the middle of the road as it rained down around us. Other than that, nothing else was noteworthy.

We eventually reached the Namibian customs building. We filled out the necessary forms and were quickly in and out, and were directed toward Botswana.

…to be continued.

iphone update 1151

Notes to my Readers:

It was brought to my attention by an acquaintance that it didn’t sound like I enjoyed Namibia.  So if it comes across that way… please note, it wasn’t the place. I love Namibia, and i would go back in a heart beat. It was the journey through. I didn’t give us enough time in Namibia.  We were on a very tight schedule which meant we were missing meals, and driving constantly. We spent more time in our 4×4 x-trail then out of it, almost.  So with a grueling journey, would I do it again?? Absolutely! Namibia is a truly incredibly diverse place that perfectly mix-up of European influence while maintaining the Namibian culture. It was easy to get around, the roads (even the dirt ones) were in great condition, and there are so many jaw-dropping views to take in. We were constantly stopping for photos. 

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The Compulsive Traveler

out to see the world, and snap beautiful photos while doing so.

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