Etosha to Pretoria and onward!

Trip Start Jun 19, 2005
Trip End Jun 19, 2006

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Where I stayed
Okoukuejo Camp

Flag of South Africa  ,
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Our last order of business before heading north from Swakopmund to Etosha was to send our ailing Canon to Jo-burg for what ended up being extensive surgery. Camera-less, we blazed a trail for one of Africa's most renown and picturesque (sigh) wildlife parks. After another arduous day of driving, we pitched our tent in a dusty sun-baked campground at Okoukuejo Camp. The camp itself was beautiful, complete with bar and swimming pool. After a brief attempt at telling ourselves we should be content with our digs, we scoped a far better site, moved the tent and nestled in next to soon-to-be SA friends. The two couples, semi-retired Cape Townians, extended the warmest possible hospitality, right down to a '74 Pinotage that set the stage perfectly for some serious animal viewing.

Unlike Kruger, where you have to earn your animal sightings by combing the roads thoughout the massive park, all the camps in Etosha are arranged around watering holes that attract a stunning variety of birds and mammals. The postcard perfect sunset on the horizon beyond the watering hole announces the beginning of the show. The audience sits on benches, maintaining a reverent hush interrupted only by the occasional click of a camera, pop of a wine cork or snap from a can of Windhoek lager. Free of our photographic agenda, we focused intently on the scene before our eyes. (We are happy to include the attached renderings to ensure that you get a clear picture of the highlights).

Just as the sun set that first night, a momma and baby black rhino wandered onto the sepia set stage. Their hulking armored bodies were reflected perfectly in the water, and as they drank and nuzzled each other, several giraffes wandered across the desert, a Namibian skyline in the distance. Before the night was out, 6 adult and four juvenile elephants stole the show by splashing around and squirting each other with water. Three lionesses entered stage left to hunt a lone and daring zebra, while the male of the pride made his presence known via ground-shaking roars, reminding the ladies that he was ready to chow. We stayed up late into the night/early morning, mesmerized.
As we drove the next day to our last destination in the Park, we got close enough to a giraffe to hear her chomp-chomp on the leaves, and the swish of her tail in the cool morning air - we love giraffes! That evening we sat expectantly beside the smaller watering hole at the new camp, Namatomi, on the eastern edge of Etosha, waiting for the show to begin, but not so much as a springbok showed up. Back around our camp fire we met some other travelers who regaled us with tales of their evening drive, during which they came upon a huge pride of lions just chillin' on the road. The Kings' nocturnal roars teased us in our sleep that night, and inspired yet another first-to-the-gate dawn patrol, which yielded an up-close and personal encounter with a massive black rhino and several shy giraffes, but alas, it looks like the daytime lion-sighting will have to wait.

From Etosha, we headed south to Windhoek, Namibia's capital city. After a 12-hour drive and a scramble to find a place to stay before dark, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner at a candle-lit courtyard restaurant. Unfortunately, H did not emerge from this meal unscathed. Not once but twice she was shat upon by passing pigeons, leaving us to wonder, what's up with all the bad bird karma? First it was the kamikaze swifts, who to our horror seemed intent upon flying directly into our speeding car, leaving the grill covered in blood and feathers. As if that weren't enough, a gang of Namibia's version of the turkey insisted on playing chicken with us, staring us down as we hurled toward the foolish fowl. Don't they know the rules? Apparently not - the truck in front of us sent one of them catapulting over our car in a flurry of feathers. Taking note of the numerous ostriches along the roadside (not to mention the baboons, warthogs and springbok that are constantly crossing the roads), we decided we'd better make tracks for SA before the birds declared all-out war.

Leaving Namibia brought us close to the end of what feels to us like the first chapter of our journey. For nearly five weeks we have explored three countries, each as spectacular as the last. Namibia's diverse and sparsely populated landscape make it one of the most beautiful places either of us has ever seen, a place we repeatedly wished aloud that we could share with friends and family, and one we couldn't leave without telling each other we'd be back.

We crossed the RSA border a couple days back, and have made our way to Pretoria, where the trip began. We have been reunited with our beloved Canon, have secured visas for Mozambique, and with a tear in our eye, handed over the keys to Ali, our faithful Nissan Almera. We've been together from the beginning and covered just under 10,000 kilometers, roughly the equivalent of crossing the U.S. and back. We will miss her dearly as we begin the next stage of the trip. Tomorrow we take a bus northeast to Maputo, Mozambique where we plan to get certified to dive, and brush up on our surfing skills. What's the penalty in Moz for cheating on the math portion of the dive test? Will Mike eat what is reported to be some of the best sea food on earth? (ok, that's pretty far-fetched, but we needed a cliff-hanger). Tune in and we'll let you know. A dios for now...
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kristene1 on

Magestic Dunes
The pic of Dune3 is unreal! It looks like a painting!!! Incredible recaps of your adventure. Keep them coming :) - K. Eilers

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