Swakopmund to Okavango Delta
21.02.2011 - 01.03.2011 25 °C
Monday – Spitzkoppe , Namibia
We camped at the foot of Spitzkoppe, a beautiful red rock which is one of Namibia ’s most well known landmarks, sometimes compared to Ayer’s Rock (although the Aussies on our trip thought there was no comparison). Claire made the climb up the rock to see some 200 year old bush paintings. The stars were incredible that night as there was no light pollution for miles around.
Tuesday – Cheetah Farm , Namibia
Cheetahs are not a protected species in Namibia and are often shot by farmers because they steal their livestock. The Cheetah Farm is run by goat farmers who decided to catch the cheetahs, and have given over a large part of their land to use as a reserve. They have persuaded other local farmers to call them when they have a cheetah problem, and they will go and catch the animal and move it to the reserve. Over the years, they have hand raised cubs who were rejected by their mothers, and now have 3 fully grown cheetahs as house pets! After meeting them, we went to the reserve to see the 17 wild cheetahs at feeding time. It was great to have the opportunity to get so close to animals that it’s unusual to see in the wild.
Wednesday / Thursday – Etosha National Park , Namibia
We spent a day and a half on game drives, and some of our top spots included:
- 3 lion cubs right by the side of the road, and a lioness in the same place when we passed again later.
- Lots of giraffes, in particular, a herd walking on the edge of the Etosha salt pan.
- A black rhino sitting on the plain and rolling in mud as we watched.
Week 3 – Sunday / Monday / Tuesday – Okavango Delta , Botswana
We spent two nights camping in the Okavango Delta, a huge national park criss-crossed with rivers, streams and small islands, which change every year when the rainy season arrives.
We were picked up early by a 4x4 truck which drove us to the Mokoro Station. A mokoro is a shallow canoe, traditionally made by hollowing out a tree, but nowadays made from fiberglass. Justice, our poler, stood in the back using a long pole to punt the boat along, and there was room for the two of us and our gear.
We had a relaxing journey through channels in the reeds and lily pools to our bush camp. We pitched tents, built a fire and the polers dug a hole for the bathroom area!! We were shown the path to our swimming area, a pool just around the shore of the island, but warned not to walk there without one of the polers because it was a popular area for elephants!
After a quiet afternoon of siestas and jokes about bushtucker trials, we crossed in our mokoros to another island and went for a bush walk. We had a safety briefing from Justice which included the classic quote “Elephants very good smelly, very good heary” and then headed off. Only 5 minutes later, we came upon a herd of elephants about 100 metres away. It was a magic moment, and a top highlight of our trip so far. After a few seconds, they realized we were there and turned towards us, trunks raised, smelling us. There was a brief adrenaline rush as they appeared to start walking towards us, moving quite quickly, but we were in good hands and got out of the way. We cut through some bushes and were in time to see them walking past us. We love elephants!
The following afternoon, we went on a mokoro safari. The direction we wanted to go in was blocked by a sleeping hippo in the main channel, so we had to turn round. Instead, we went to a lily pool and encountered another hippo, who was huffing, puffing, ducking under the water and then bursting back to the surface. It was an incredible sight although a little bit scary.
We returned to civilisation on the third morning and have never been so happy to have a shower. That afternoon, we finished off our time at the delta by taking a 45 minute scenic flight over it in a small plane. It was windy and not a very comfortable ride, but still amazing to see herds of elephants, giraffes and lots of hippos grazing next to the water.