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further north we go


View Namibia - 2017 on Ils1976's travel map.

Another early day, another day on the road. Somehow I am getting used to it, it is like going to work everyday but in a way better environment!

Just a few days ago we had to say goodbye to a lovely couple and today we had to say hello to a few other ones. Sam and Rinsy we already got to know yesterday and it seemed that a third new group member was going to join us as well, a German dude who lived in Switzerland and spoke a bit secretly about what he was doing in his daily life. Not that we cared to much, unless he was a serial killer of course. 

Once again we left the hotel at 7.30 sharp and once we were on the road, everyone was so curious about the new arrivals and about half an hour we got to know them even a little bit better, that is, Samantha and Rinsy. Our German dude remained a little bit of a mystery. He was the only one that didn't talk that much, but we weren't worried too much about that little fact.

As we were driving near the coastline, we stopped at one point to have a look at the beach and more in particular the boat that was stranded there. It seemed we were arrived at the infamous skeleton coast. It is said that the beach is filled with skeletons from humans and animals alike, but nowadays you can't see much of it anymore or at least the part that tourists are allowed to walk on that is. It is some sort of a national park and because nowadays there are too many tourists bothering the remains as well as getting on the shipwrecks and so on, there is a limit to where you can go. True or false, I don't know, but that is the explanation we got.

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Way back in time it must have been a horrifying era knowing that once you stranded on that beach you were sure to die because of the simple fact that there was nothing there. I am just so glad that I live in a time where you can be reached almost everywhere!

As we walked on the beach we had a nice view on the shipwreck and it made for great pictures. Even the locals tried to do there best to deliver some skeletons for us, but luckily it turned out to be from a seal and not a of a human.

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It was but a short stop and we quickly left the coastline behind us and went a bit more inland. Today we were going to travel more up north and it must have been around 11 AM when we finally saw a few real large mountains again. We were close to the Spitzkoppe, the largest mountain of Namibia. Although so I thought coz technically it is not a mountain but a group of granite peaks. No matter what it is, peak or mountain, it was actually quite impressive.

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As we stopped at the entrance of the park, we soon learned that we were going for a short walk in the vicinity of the peaks and with the heat that we were feeling again, we were all smart enough to bring some water with us. How I missed that warm feeling!

Our guide of today who's name I sadly enough forgot was really good and told us a lot about the landscape, the people and the animals in it and we also got to see some old Bushman cave paintings. Nowadays they are protected because till a few years back they noticed some vandalism. Why you do such a thing is still not clear in my head because something cool like that should be left alone so that all who wants can come and see it, but no, some people have to act stupid I suppose. Luckily they put an end to it and at the same time created a few jobs for the people living nearby.

The walk on itself wasn't that hard, I think it must have been a little less than 5K, but still, the heat made it unbearable for some and to be honest, I was just glad to see Chris and Rhyno again because I was starting to get hungry, not that I loved our guide telling all sorts of amazing things, but once we got food in front of us, we were all in silence.

It must have been a little after half an hour when we drove back to the entrance of the national park and dropped of our guide. A small toilet stop later, we were back on the road again and this time we were in for it for more than a couple of hours. I guess we were driving for more than 3 hours when we suddenly stopped at a small local market which was runned by some Herero women. I just loved their colorful dresses as well as the head shaped in the form of some bull horns. You can actually see that these women are proud of their heritage as they should be.

While our crew members were enjoying themselves with the kids and a soccer ball, us girls went for a look to see what was on sale. Most of it was indeed very touristy with puppets, handbags and so on, but there were also a few women making the bags which was quite interesting and fun to see that even the brand Singer was known here. This was the sewing machine my mother and grandmother had when I was little and seeing it here in the middle of the desert was quite amazing. They travel quite a distance those sewing machines!

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After saying goodbye to the women and their colorful market, it was back on the road again for a couple more hours and when it was almost dark, we arrived at our destination of the day, Khorixas.

Once again we were given the keys for our room and once we all got settled, a few of us settled near the small swimming pool. Tania tried to dip her feet into the water, but it was just so freezing cold that I decided to give it a miss. Although it was still quite hot considering the hour of the day, freezing water was the last thing on my mind and instead I went for a refreshing drink.

Dinner was served at the camping site of the lodge at 8 PM. Chris' restaurant was once again a major hit and didn't let anyone down. The curry with rice was delicious and as we all started talking about our interesting day tomorrow some of us went to bed early, some of us went for another drink and I must say that I began to like that Savanna cider more and more.

By the time it was midnight I closed my eyes and went of to sleep quite fast. I didn't even hear Tania telling me that she was going to check a few things on the internet. All was lost for me ... I can't remember the last time I slept that well!

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Namibia Comments (2)

meeting some lovely people


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We woke up as the sun was rising and as soon as we got all our stuff together and walked towards the camping site, Rhyno awaited us with a big smile and got a more than delicious breakfast prepared for us, are we spoiled are what?

It must have been a little after 7 AM when we got everything into the belly of our most trusted friend and as we passed along a supermarket to stock up on some water for the next upcoming days, it was full speed ahead towards another interested sight, the Petrified Forest which is situated in the middle of Damara land.

I guess we were driving for about an hour when our guide of the hour came to greet us and took us along for a walk throughout the place.
When you hear the word petrified forest, I immediately saw trees or a forest in this case, which through time changed into stone and in a way this was true, but in my head they were standing and I thought it was a real stone forest, but that is of course the trick of it all I suppose, because it was not! Somehow a few million years ago, tree trunks from a certain place travelled, if you may call it that, through a river, an Ice Age or even a flood till they arrived in Namibia.

Till this day several tree trunks are revealed, but still scientist think that only a small part of those tree trunks are uncovered. They believe that still 80 % of all the trees are under a layer of stone and sand. The hardest part of course is digging it all out and seeing what the difference is between real stone and a stone tree trunk.

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Looking at the few trees which were revealed, I must admit that Mother Nature is always at her best when it comes to weird things. I really like trees and it happens that I really love stones as well ... yep I am a strange person and I think my little niece has inherited this strange thing as well, coz just like me she carries a rock with her when she sees a nice one. I on the other hand, got rid of doing this, she just turned 4, so she has every right to do this! At her age it doesn't sound mad at all! :D

Thanks to the great explanation of our local guide, we learned so much about trees and nature and of course a little bit about the native plants as well. All in all it was a real interesting detour and don't you worry about me taking some stones. Doing this meant jail time, so I just left them be and only took a few pictures!

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After our walk, we drove further up north only to stop again at a local hotel near the tribe we were going to visit in the afternoon.

Rhyno prepared us another great lunch and with a full stomach, Norman gave us a little talk about what to expect coz this afternoon we had a quick visit with the Himba tribe. The tribe we were going to meet were used to have Western tourists walking around them and by selling some bracelets and other small stuff they ensure the future of the entire tribe. 

In a way I can relate to that but on the other hand I was a bit disappointed because it sounded a bit like some kind of freak show. Somehow I understand why they are doing is, but I kept on thinking that it wasn't the real deal till we actually got to meet them.

A guide went with us and told us as much as he could about their way of living, habits, culture and as we were allowed to take pictures, there was of course also the opportunity to buy some stuff. After spending little less than an hour with them, it learned us that they are friendly, witty when it comes to selling and some of them are even into a little bit of fooling around. I guess no different than any other society.

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Back on the road again, needless to say, this tribe became the talk of the evening and although I had my question marks when we were there, I was glad that I actually went and saw a little bit of their life!

Once again we arrived at Outjo when the sun was almost setting and while our crew was preparing dinner, we got settled into our rooms and there was even some time to have a look around the lodge.

Dinner was at 8 PM and Rhyno, Norman and Alington prepared us a more than delicious braai mixed with a bit of traditional African food and we loved everything. The food was just so delicious that I was surely going to miss it when I am going back home again, that's for sure.

Together with a few other people of our group, me and Tania went to the bar to have one last night cap and of course when it was time to close our eyes, I went to sleep instantly ... what a day!

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

bring on the animals!


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As the sun was rising, we quickly packed all of our stuff and had one more look that we didn't forget a thing, coz today another brand new and exciting day awaited us.

A little after 7 AM we all finished breakfast, quickly cleaned everything up and jumped inside Chris for another ride on the many roads of Namibia. Today we were on our way towards Etosha National Park, the biggest park of the country and it must have been more or less an hour later when we finally arrived at the gate of the park.

Literally translated Etosha means "Great White Place" and I guess the salt pan which covers most of East Ethosha has something to do with that. Most of the year, the salt pan is dry and attracts not that many animals unlike when the wet season arrives. Since now we were in the dry season, we didn't expect to see that much wildlife, but there is always a chance that all the important people got it wrong.

As we left the gate behind us, we slowly drove towards our stay for the night, Halali, which took us about half a day. Needles to say the trip towards the lodge was so interesting that at times we just wanted to stay at one of the waterholes we met along the way.

It must have been mere minutes when we were in the park when we saw loads of springbok frolicking around and just minutes after that, that other cute animal appeared, the zebra. They were just a joy for the eye. As we followed the road we even came across my favourite animal, the wildebeest, who was accompanied by a few warthogs. The uglier the animals became, the more I liked them. I could gaze at them for ours, but sadly enough Alington, our driver, decided something different.

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We had to be at our lodge by noon so that Rhyno could prepare lunch at the campsite and as we arrived and got our keys to the room, the both of us grasped the opportunity to have a cold and refreshing shower. It was just that hot that even the swimming pool of the lodge sounded appealing but sadly enough there wasn't time. Instead Rhyno offered us a delicious pasta lunch and afterwards it was back on the road and more gazing at all the different animals.

Just like in the morning we saw loads of springbok, zebra, ostriches, wildebeest and oryx. At the first waterhole we came acros a giraffe and what an impressive animal this is. The fun thing about it is, that everything needs to be in peace and quiet otherwise the animals don't come closer. So, whenever we drove for a while, we stayed at one particular spot for half an hour. At the waterhole we even spend an entire hour and it never got bored. The closer the giraffe came, the more exciting everyone got. We were all mesmerized just because one animal decided to go for a drink.
The entire afternoon was like that. Drive a little while till we spotted some animals, wait till they get closer, take pictures of them or just look at them and so it went on for a couple more hours till it almost got dark.

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When twilight came, we had to be back in the lodge and while Rhyno once again prepared a delicious meal for us, we were free to do whatever we wanted. Most of our group went to their room or to the waterhole of the lodge, which was in walking distance. Me and Tania on the other hand, just like 1 other member of our group hurried back to our room to change into some warmer clothes coz tonight we signed up for a night gamedrive.

As we arrived at the vehicles, we soon met up with the other persons and although it was hot when the sun was shining, from the moment it went to sleep, the cold arrived and it even got worse once we were on the road.

Our guide of the evening was very pleasant to talk to and maybe they have trained eyes because he saw everything. From small critters near the road to even the bigger ones a bit further inland. Driving in the dark is quite fun actually, you don't see a thing but still, when they turn on that infrared light, you see that you are not alone. So amazing actually.

Halfway into the drive, our guide suddenly speeded up the car. It turned out that another vehicle had spotted another big animal. In the beginning we thought it had something to do with a black Rhino. They are said to be rare, but for some reason today we already saw 4 of them and one almost charged our big truck Chris. Although this all sounded spectacular, we already saw them, needless to say, we didn't saw them in the dark. So bring on the rhino!

Speeding up for quite a while, we suddenly stopped in high grass and instead of seeing a rhino, we saw a leopard. She was hiding into the grass to hunt for some springbok. What a sight this was and immediately our guide told us that we were very lucky to see this.

We waited for a long while for the attack to happen, but because she was a bit vigilant, it took quite a while and in the meantime our guide took us a few kilometers further. Someone this time spotted a white rhino and let me tell you that is impressive as well.

3 white ones and 1 black rhino were ready to have a fight when all of a sudden our guide drove away towards the leopard again. It turned out that she just had killed a springbok and as we arrived at the scene, she was just walking to a tree with her prey. This is nature at her best, that's for sure.

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The night gamedrive lasted almost 3 hours and we were completely numb of the cold, but we were all smiling. This was adventure, this was the thing we came here to see and we were lucky to have seen it.

Back at the lodge, we first went for a hot shower and than it was time to go to sleep coz another short night awaited us.

Thinking back in bed about what an amazing day this had been, I must be honest and say that all the animals we came across today were more than interesting. From the tiny millipede till the big giants like an elephant. Sadly enough, we only saw it from a far distance, but it is said that a large group are in walking distance, so I was looking forward to seeing them tomorrow.

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

where the heck are those elephants !?

Another early day was in front of us, but me and Tania didn't mind one bit. To be honest, once breakfast was over, we couldn't be on the road quick enough and I guess the rest of the group was thinking the same coz our luggage had never been packed that quick.

With everyone save inside Chris, we left the lodge behind us and as we were dreaming of all the animals we would like to see today, the only animal that was on everyones mind was the elephant. We had seen so many amazing animals but till now we only saw one lonely elephant from a far distance and we wanted to change that.

There was a rumor going on that a large group was in the vicinity, but still, till now they were hiding pretty good because we didn't see them at all.

As the first few hours past, we only saw loads of springbok, wildebeest, zebra, ostriches and even a funny oribi which looks a lot like a small doe. These really are cute animals and although I didn't even know that they excisted, I must say that for me they always will be the African "Bambi".

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Every few hours, we had a toilet break and although Norman wanted to show us how lovely the landscape here in the National Park is, for some the thought of seeing an elephant was still on their minds and love and behold, it must have been half an hour later when we finally saw a herd of elephants in the far distance. 

Hiding behind bushes and trees, we were lucky to have Chris with us so that we could see a bit more, unlike the smaller vans, but still, the herd was a few hundred meters or so away when all of a sudden they decided to leave the safety of the trees behind them. It seemed they were on their way to attack a few vehicles, but instead they just walked next to them and as they were crossing the street we got a pretty amazing view on how big they really are. Quite incredible really.

Norman said that they were probably on their way to the nearest waterhole, so instead of just staying on the road like a few others, we drove off to this place only to arrive there about 15 minutes later. We waited for quite a while for the herd to show up, but sadly enough they never did. Instead we had a nice view on a family of impala who had the "bar" all to themselves, that is till a few zebras showed up.

This was a bit disappointing, but we couldn't wait any longer coz Norman wanted to be at our lodge for today around noon. Wanting is one thing, but as we came across a few giraffes along the way, needless to say, when we finally arrived at Okaukuejo Camp it was already past 1 PM.

We quickly got the keys for the bungalow of the night and as Rhyno was preparing lunch, the majority of our group went to the waterhole which was close to the camp. This place was really a paradise for animal and birdlife and although it was very hot, it was packed with wildlife like springbok, zebra, oryx, giraffes and so on.

I was a bit impressed to see so much animals together especially because of the heat, but I guess they all wanted to be near the fresh water and who could blame them.

After our quick lunch we hit the road again because the search for the herd was still on!

We drove for quite a while, but the herd was nowhere to be found. At one of the artificial waterholes, we met up with a lonely elephant and although we waited for the herd, it never came.

Norman thought that they were at another one and as Alington was driving on several roads commanded by Norman, they were lost as well. It seemed we lost our herd of this morning. We saw a few kudus but no elephants. Since some of us still wanted to see a few elephants, the search for another herd was on and armed with our binoculars and cameras, we were on the lookout for this magnificant mammals.

We still had an hour or so of daylight left when all of a sudden we saw another herd at an artificial waterhole and this time again there were little ones involved. This was just so cute that we all wanted to stay there for the remainder of the day, but sadly enough we had to go. It started to twilight so we needed to go back to the safety of the camp, which we made only by mere minutes. Thanks to the speed of Alington otherwise we had to spend the night outside the gates, which could have been interesting as well.

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Just like the day before, me and Tania signed in for a night gamedrive and altough most of our group thought we were crazy and wouldn't see a thing, the both of us just made sure we had warm clothes with us and about 2 hours later we were back on the road again, together with 4 other people from our group.

Crazy enough, just like yesterday we were immediately cold when we were driving up and down the dark roads and this time we asked for a few warm blankets but still it didn't seem to help all that much. Who knew it could be that cold!?

Like yesterday, our guide of this evening was searching for the more important animals, but instead we had to drive for quite a distance to see loads of springbok, zebras and other smaller animals. I guess it must have been halfway the drive when we suddenly came across a lioness. She was only a few meters away from our vehicle and I must admit that this was quite impressive seeing it was dark as hell.

Within the safety of our car, we drove further down the road and although our guide tried to look for animals, it seemed more difficult than the night before.

As we were on the way back to the camp, we suddenly heard a noice and saw a few jackals and hyenas running after eachother, it seemed that they were after the same prey. It wasn't easy to follow them all the time with the infrared light, but we sure got the pictures with all the noice going on.

Seeing it was almost time to turn back, our guide passed by one more waterhole and although we didn't expected to see a thing, we were pleasantly surprised to see a white rhino on the other side of the water. We waited for a while to see what was on his mind. Armed with blankets, a drink in our hands and sadly enough without the crisps, we were looking at real life National Geographic and we were definitely not ready to go back to the camp, but sadly enough our guide decided otherwise.

It must have been a bit later than 11 PM when me and Tania decided to go to sleep. We set our alarm clock at 6 AM coz according to Norman this was the time to see the sunrise and we wanted to make the most of it while we were still inside the NP.

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

onwards to the capital!


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6 AM is very early, but to be honest, we were getting used to it. Although I could have easily stayed in bed a little bit longer, the urge of seeing the animals at the waterhole were more to my liking, so as soon as we jumped out of bed, we made sure we had all of our bags together and onto the waterhole it was.

Upon our arrival at the waterhole we were surprised to see not a single animal. How strange is that ... I guess we were too late. We waited for half an hour, but still not even a zebra showed up. Bummer! It seemed that Norman got it all wrong and with a bit of regret, the both of us returned back to our bungalow to stow away our camera and onwards to the breakfast area it was.

Here we met up wit our American friend again and as soon as we were all ready for another day in this beautiful NP, big was my surprise when Norman announced that we were going to leave the park in the morning because when the evening came, we had to be in Windhoek.

It seemed that today was not going to be my day. I was just so looking forward to another day spotting some animals, but sadly enough about an hour later we left the NP behind us and back on the Namibian Highway it was. We kept on riding for a few hours till it was time for lunch and while our team was preparing our lunch at a local gas station, the rest of us just crossed the street and visiting a local market which was quite good at trying to sell their stuff.

We had the whole market all to ourselves and although everything looked very African and touristy, besides buying a few bracelets and small stuff, nothing much was sold. Lunch however was a succes and Rhyno once again for the last time did a hell of a good job. We were sure going to miss him that's for sure!

Making sure we left our picnic spot spic and span, we were soon back on the road again, only to arrive in the capital about a few hours later. Although it was still only a few hours in the early afternoon, we only had a quick tour of the city of less than an hour. Although I initially thought this was but a short history tour of the city, I got the feeling that not much was going on in the capital after all and about an hour of 2 later, we left it behind us, not without first seeing goodbye to a few group members who had to catch a flight straight out of Windhoek.

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It was really sad seeing them leave and I don't know why, but saying goodbye is not really my strength. I was just so glad that we went onwards to our lodge for tonight, Heja lodge, which was about an hour away from the city.

Not only in Belgium we are known with the word "traffic jam", even here on the African continent, they now a little bit of it and as we arrive at our lodge for the night it is already past 5 PM.

Dinner is set at 8 PM and with a little bit of time to spare, the both of us just have a short walk at the premises before we do get settled into our room and promptly at the agreed time, we met up with our fellow group members.

Our last supper luckily enough wasn't a sad one. We started all as strangers, but now that we were at the eve of saying goodbye to each other, we had a nice dinner reminiscing about all the things that happened during our trip and as we said goodnight to one another it was almost midnight. What a night it really was and with a smile on my face and to be honest as well a bit tired, I quickly drifted of to sleep.

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

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