Monday, June 9, 2008

South Africa by Truck: Cape Town, Swakopmund, Etosha and Chobe National Park, Harare (Week 3)

Day 14: Etosha - Okaukuejo camp

After breakfast we drove to the little town Outjo. Here we bought food and drinks for about 3 days, because this was not possible in the Etosha National Park. After the shopping we went to the Etosha National Game Park which was a two hour drive away. Once we entered Etosha the first animals we saw were two Zebra's. At 13:00 hour we arrived at our camp site Okaukuejo camp. In Etosha park there are three camp sites available. These camps are surrounded by a strong fence to keep the wild animals outside ( and to keep us inside between sunset and sunrise, when it was not allowed to be outside the camp sites ). In those camps there is a place for campers and also there are luxury cottages available. Further a swimming pool, few little shops and a bar is available.

Waterhole in Okaukuejo camp in EtoshaFor the next days the program was as follows. We had to get up very early around 05:00 o'clock so we could leave the camp by truck at sunrise for the so called Game drive. A Game drive is a tour through (a part of) the park where you hope to see some interesting animals. Around 9:00 or 10:00 AM we returned to the camp site to have a brunch. Till around 15:00 hours everybody could do what he or she liked. After that we left the camp site for a second Game drive of the day which lasted till around 18:00 - 19:00 hours, just before sunset. Between 10:00 and 15:00 o'clock it is to warm to see any animals, because they will hide at a cool place somewhere in the shadow. In the early morning and the late afternoon the animals become more active.Waterhole in Okaukuejo camp at night.

After diner we went to the waterhole which was located at the border of the camp. At this place a lot of animals come for a drink so it was possible to see the animals close by. When it becomes dark they will switch on a light so it was possible to sit there all night hoping to see some special animals like lions, elephants or even a rhino. We were lucky because we saw all of them before 01:00 o'clock so we could go to sleep for about 4 hours.

Day 15: Etosha - Okaukuejo camp

This whole day and night we would stay in Okaukuejo camp. So this means two game drives and in between some swimming, relaxing, eating ice creams, reading etc. During a game drive we came across a group of elephants with a baby elephant. They were crossing the road so had to stop. The mother elephant felt a little bit threatened and was thinking about attacking our truck.Sunset in Okaukuejo camp

Another highlight of this game drive was when we found the left over of a zebra (used to be). Probably it was killed at night or early morning by a lion. The pieces left were eaten by some excited jackals and vultures. After this we went back to the camp site to have some brunch. After we came back from the second game drive we were just in time to witness the beautiful sunset.

Day 16: Etosha - Halali / Namutoni camp

At 06:30 we left Okaukuejo towards our next campsite in Etosha, called camp Namutoni. In between Okaukuejo and Namutoni camp there is another smaller campsite called Halali, where we we going to have lunch. This was the only possible place to have lunch because it is not allowed to get out the car outside a campsite. From Okaukuejo to Halali we drove along the Etosha Pan, a large salt lake which covers a major part of Etosha. Along this way we deviated from our route to look for some cheetah's. It is very hard to find them but we succeeded to find a group of 5 cheetah's. Before lunchtime we arrived in campsite Halali. We had some hours to spent there so we went for a swim in the swimming pool. During this stay in Halali we heard about the deadly car accident of Princess Diana. This news was confirmed in a local newspaper we later on. Just before sunset we arrived in campsite Namutoni where we going to stay for the night. This campsite also has a waterpool but there were not many animals present.

Day 17: Etosha - Namutoni, Grootfontein

This early morning we left for the last game drive in Etosha park. We were lucky to see a mail lion but he didn't feel lucky to see us because he walked away. Charming side of an Elephant.Further we saw this morning a lot of giraffes walking around. Group of giraffes in stampedeWe also witnessed a stampede of giraffes on the salt lake Etosha Pan. Maybe they just liked to run like an early morning fitness or there was a predator in the neighborhood. After this spectacle we went back to camp Namutoni where we had pancakes for brunch. After the brunch we had some hours left. I went to a former German fort which was built in 1901. I visited a small museum which was located in one of the towers. In 1904 seven German soldiers defended the fort against 500 Wambo inhabitants without success. In the afternoon we left Etosha Park eastwards to go to our next campsite in the city Grootfontein, which is Dutch for 'big fountain'. We couldn't find a fountain but we did manage to find our campsite, located in the middle of the town surrounded by, once again, a fence. This time the fence was not needed to keep the dangerous animals outside but to keep the thieves outside.

Day 18: Rundu

From the city Grootfontein is was a long straight road to the city Rundu. Along this road we saw a lot of small settlements made of straw where the local inhabitants where living. The place we were staying the night was also a settlements but far more luxurious fitted out with a very small swimming pool, showers & toilets, bar etc. This place called Mayana Lodge was located along the Cubango river, the border between Namibia and Angola. In the evening the local inhabitants presented us a small show of singing and dancing. The rest of the evening we spent our time inside the bar where we played some darts.

Day 19: Caprivi strip, Kasane, Chobe

Today we left at 07:15 hours. We had to travel a large distance via the Caprivi Strip towards the border of Botswana where we were going to enter the Chobe wildpark. In this game park we were going to stay for two nights. The Caprivi Strip is a narrow ribbon of Namibian land which threads along between the borders of Angola, Zambia and Botswana. Going for a boatride around Sidudu IslandIt was very warm in this part of the country, about 30 - 40 degrees Celsius. And this is the winter season. What would be the temperature like in the summer season? In the late afternoon we reached the border post at Ngoma where we crossed the Linyanti River into Botswana. From here we drove through Chobe park towards the campsite Chobe Safari Lodge, located along the Chobe river near Kasane. After diner we went to the bar where we had some drinks at the swimming pool.

Day 20: Chobe

Like in Etosha park we had to get up very early in the morning because we were going for a game drive inside Chobe park. So at 6:00 we left the campsite in two smaller land rovers 4x4. It was not allowed to go by truck inside Chobe because it was too big. In the early morning it was still quite chilly which kept us awake. The highlight of the morning was the encounter of three little lion puppies. Probable the mother lion had left them because she went out for hunting. Back at the campsite we had some brunch. Till three o'clock we did some relaxing / reading at the swimming pool. At three o'clock we went for a boat cruise on a small part of the Chobe river around Sidudu Island, an Island located in the middle of the river. This boat trip made it possible to get very close to hippo's, crocodiles and elephants. Towards sunset we sailed back to the campsite where we had to prepare diner. This evening of the trip was the last evening the complete group would be together because for certain people this trip was going to end in Victoria Falls (three week trip). So we celebrated this occasion at the bar.

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