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Cape Town in 24 hours!

Sleeping in sounded so nice after such a long flight, but with only 1 day here in Cape Town, the both of us wanted to make the most of it and see as much as we could. For me it was the first time in this city so I was a bit curious what there is to see and that said, when our alarm clock went of at 7 AM, I jumped right out of bed and was the first one to finish, ready for breakfast.

The breakfast area wasn't all that big, just a few tables near the reception area and strangely enough, when we arrived, it even seemed like the food was already gone. We were a bit confused, but when the owner of the joint arrived with some bread and more stuff for a hearty breakfast, we were ready to dig in.

With a full stomach and all our stuff we needed to survive a day in the city, we asked for a map of the neigborhood and went into the unknown. 

Our hotel was closely situated near Long Street, so it wasn't too hard to walk around and see interesting things. The first thing we came across seemed to be an interesting park called The Company's Garden. Although this park wasn't all that big, it still seemed to be a heritage site, but I guess it had something to do with the fact that in the old days, this park was made by European settlers who found this an excellent place to harvest some veggies since it was near the water.

Nowadays you can stroll through this small park with loads of native trees and plants, but I guess the main attraction of the park are the squirrels. You can find them everywhere and since they get fed by us humans, they aren't scared at all. This was just so cool and together with the Egyptian geese we found at a local fountain, made already my morning, but I guess seeing the table mountain from a far all covered in its blanket of clouds did the trick as well.

As we left the park behind us, we slowly walked towards St. Johns Street where you can find a few museums like the SA National Gallery and the SA Jewish museum, but since we only had one day, we just skipped both of them and walked further towards Roeland Street and as we passed along the District Six museum, we came closer to the castle of Good Hope.

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I guess it wasn't really high season for tourists coz there wasn't much "ambiance" at the castle. A quick sneak peek of the courtyard made us doubt wether or not to visit the fortress and its contents, but as we still wanted to see so much more, we just took a picture of the outside and further we went in the direction of Darling Street which houses a beautiful building more known as city hall. It was really mesmerizing and this you could say from the African street market as well.

We had a quick stroll through the market and from there we ended up at Longmarket street, where we had a cup of Rooibos tea as well as a relaxing view on the small tourist market across the street.

It must have been a little more than half an hour later when we decided to go to Bo Kaap first and have a bite to eat later on.

As we crossed several streets, we first thought that we were lost but all of a sudden the more than colorfull houses reached our sight and what a view it was. This is really a bright area of the city and I must admit that I loved it instantly. Unlike the Castle of Good Hope, this was more a tourist attraction than any other coz we already saw a few other tourists walking around and taking pictures. There was even een photo shoot going. I guess happy colors makes people feel happy and it seemed I was not the only one with a smile on my face.

With all this going on, we still needed to see so much, but as it was already 12 AM, we decided to use something more faster and jumped on the hop on / hop off bus. There are a few tours going in and out the center, but since we only had a few hours left, we went for the blue Mini Peninsula Tour which is also said to be the fabulous scenic drive and this certainly was true as we hit the road driving passed the Kirstenbosch Gardens, the vineyards, Constantia and even a detour to the Imizamo Yethu Township.

Sadly enough we didn't have time for a more closer look at all those interesting sights, instead we got off at V&A Waterfront and went on a search for some food, which we found in a Belgian restaurant called "Den Anker". From here we had an amazing view on the table mountain which by now had lost his tablecloth and although it must have been fun to go up there, sadly enough there was just no time anymore.

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Instead we just enjoyed the sun rays and went for a walk on the Sea Point Boulevard. Our goal was Saunders rocks, but the lack of time made us strand at the Sea Point Pavillion, not that it was too bad, the views of the ocean were more than great. 

We took the last bus back to the city center and got off at Long Street, a few minutes later we were back at the hotel and ready for a nice hot shower, a change of clothes and into the night we went for some more food searching, which we found in a local burger joint which had really great burgers.

By the time we were back at our hotel it was already 11 PM and by the time I closed my eyes, it was way after midnight. I really needed to sleep coz tomorrow another early day awaited us. I must admit that we had seen a lot in one day, but Cape Town is just so big and interesting, that it is near to impossible to see it all in a day!

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in South Africa Tagged landscapes mountains churches buildings people animals flowers park monument market walk south_africa musea indigenous_people Comments (4)

a long day filled with highlights

Our alarm clock went off at 4.30 AM. This by no means sounds inhumanly early, but the truth was that we were already awake because of our nightly visitor we came across around 2 AM. 

Since it was so darn hot in the room, we at one point noticed that our blower in the room which acted like an AC was off. As we stepped out of our bed, we suddenly noticed something really big sitting on our mosquito net and here we went again. It seemed no matter which country we were at, cockroaches always seem to find us and these are just one of the species on earth me and Tania don't like one bit.

With a lot of drama, we managed to put it in the corner of the room, but needless to say, we didn't slept at all. In just a few hours we needed to get up anyway, so we closed our eyes and tried to sleep, but it didn't work. I kept seeing that ugly S.O.B. in front of me.

As our alarm clock went off, we sprinted out of bed, checked every corner as well as our clothes and guess what, our lovely friend decided to go to the bathroom. I just hated him so much coz the thing we noticed is that this species can fly and his wings were really big. I tried to do as much as I could in 10 minutes while looking straight at the ugly thing and I was out of there.

We met up with the rest of our group a few minutes later and as we told them about our nightly visitor, it seemed we were the only "lucky" ones. As we left the lodge about 15 minutes later, we were ready for a long day ahead of us, hoping that by the time we arrived back in our room, Mr. Ugly wasn't there anymore!

It was still dark when we left Maltahöhe behind us and because I was just so freaking tired, it didn't took me long to fall asleep only to wake up again about an hour later. We were still driving and as it became a little bit lighter, we also saw our first animals passing by, which was so incredible cool. I instantly forgot that I was tired the minute I saw my first oryx. I now understand why it is the national symbol of Namibia, because they look really majestic with their long spiky horns.

Whenever you see oryx, you are sure to see that other funny animal as well, the springbok. Although at first we only saw a few, minutes later we saw dozens. We soon learned that springbok are the MC Donalds of Namibia and although they got that name, I liked them so much just because of the lovely colors.

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Arriving at our first toilet stop around 7 AM, I must say that I was more impressed by the enormous weavers nest next to the toilets. It was gigantic and it must have been carrying hundreds of birds. These birds are real engineers when you come to think about it.

Sadly enough we couldn't stay because we needed to be at that other impressive site in Namibia, Dune 45, where we arrived about an hour later. 

Driving through the dunes, one was more impressive than the other and as we arrived at the infamous Dune 45, some of our group members were a bit disappointed because others seemed higher and more interesting. I guess they all changed there minds once we were climbing the dune, it is a real challenge, that's for sure!

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Most of the group went up the dune sprinting, but since I am not such a mountain goat, I stayed behind and soon I only saw many footprints and beautiful dunes surrounding me. Not that I minded one bit, since it gave me the chance to look around and take pictures at the same time. In the end we almost all arrived at the far edge of the dune except our more older group members who decided to stay behind and have a short walk alongside the dune instead.

It must have been a couple of hours later when we all finished our breakfast and although we could have easily stayed a little bit longer, as soon as we cleaned up everything, we had one last look at the dune we just conquered and went inside Chris to have a relaxing rest for about half an hour, as we suddenly arrived at Sossusvlei.

Sadly enough Chris couldn't bring us all the way towards Deadvlei and instead we were divided into two groups and got into some smaller vehicles. Soon enough we knew why. Driving through so much thin sand was the same as walking into quicksand. Our driver was really worth his money, he sure knew where to drive unlike a few others who were stranded near the road. With a quick help they were "on the road" as well and before we even saw it coming, we arrived at Deadvlei. 

We needed to go for a short walk and although it wasn't that far, the heath made it a bit more unbearable, but that was all forgotten when we arrived at the scene.

I already saw so many pictures, but once you see it in own person, it is just incredible! I guess you must love trees like I do to see the beauty of it all, but still, this is just such an unbelievable beautiful place that you can't but like it. Even Tania did and she had her question marks when she first saw it! 

Luckily there are rules to preserve these trees and I just hope that all the tourists who come after us obey them as we did so that we can enjoy this wonder of nature for a long long time, so please ... DON'T TOUCH THE TREES!!!!

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To be honest, I could have stayed there for the remainder of the day, but I guess for most of us, they would get bored very quickly.

As we arrived back at our campsite of the moment, Rhyno prepared yet another delicious hot lunch and as soon as we all gobbled it down because it was once again so yummy, we cleaned everything up, making sure we didn't left a thing behind and about 15 minutes later we were on the road again, direction Maltahöhe.

Since we still had an entire afternoon of heatnes in front of us, we made a little detour to the Sesriem Canyon where we arrived about a few hours later.

The canyon itself was once a fine example of how rich the region was when a river ran through it and people from all over the place came here to find some water. The name of the canyon says it all as it is named after 2 dutch words being zes and riem. When you translate it into English, it says six belts. These six belts were used to bring the water to the surfice. How crazy is that, back in the time you only needed six belts of oryx skin and suddenly water appeared. When you look at the canyon now, you only see rocks and sand. When you are lucky and there is a bit of wind, there is dust as well. Everything you need for a proper desert.

After a short guided walk with Norman and Rhyno, we met up with Alington again and I guess we were all glad to be out of the heat and once settled into the belly of our iron beast, we had time enough to relax since it took us a couple of hours to drive back to Maltahöhe where we arrived back around 5 PM.

Once back in our room, I really yearned for a cold shower, but guess what, Mr. Ugly was still inside and claimed the room all to himself.

This time he didn't knew me and Tania! He had bugged us long enough and if a simple shoe couldn't kill him, we resorted to more drastic means and got some poison. Getting some spray from the owner of the lodge, we were weaponed and licensed to kill. Needless to say, about 5 minutes later we became murderers, but the cold shower another few minutes later made me feel all happy again. RIP Mr. Ugly, I am sure we meet up again in another country!

Dinner was yet again served at the terrace of our lodge and the staff made sure we left the table with a big smile on our face. They sure know how to make delicious food here in Namibia!

It must have been almost 10 PM when I turned back to my room and went to bed, simply because I was just that tired. It had been quite an amazing day, but now my head needed a rest and within minutes I went to sleep.

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Namibia Tagged landscapes people trees animals birds food desert road_trip nature canyon rocks friends sand africa road bush tour hike hot group colors dust heat overland_truck Comments (6)

the road trip continues


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Unlike the night before, this time around I had a great night's rest and maybe knowing that Mr. Ugly was gone to cockroach heaven made me feel a little bit better. Waking up early in the morning and knowing his relatives didn't show up, made us feel save so to speak and as soon as we packed all of our stuff, it was time for breakfast.

Just like the previous days, we had yet another early leave coz another day on the road awaited us. We really needed to drive a lot and in a way I somehow underestimated this, but than again, Namibia is such a large country compared to Belgium, that the chance we have to do some more driving in the next upcoming days is more than real.

As we were driving for a few hours, the views along the road changed from desert like into something a bit greener. There was still lots of sand and of course rocks aren't far away either, but somehow the scenery changed a bit and even the climate with it. It was still hot, even early in the morning, but it was more bearable. Maybe we started to get used to the heat, who knows?

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If this was true we were going to find out in the next hour coz our guide Norman arranged us a guided tour with Boesman. Although he is not native to the country, this guy is so into the desert and the country that everyone started to call him Boesman (from the African word Bosjesman) and the name sticked to him. He lives in the desert in the vicinity of Sesriem and together with his Japanese wive he met a few years back and his two little girls, he really has a blooming business. He doesn't like the crowds, but when he starts talking about the desert and the life in it, you hang to his lips from the first till the last minute.

This guy really deserves a medal and he really made us learn a little more about the desert and everything that goes with it. He also tried to explain a bit to us how to survive in the desert, but I was praying to do Gods at that same moment that I never ever going to need that. Hearing about it, is more than enough. I know, I am such a softie, but at least I am honest about it.

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At noon, we said goodbye to Boesman and his family and found ourselves a great picknick spot just half an hour later near the road. Rhyno prepared us a quick sandwich lunch and after bushie bushie, it was back on the road again.

Somehow I always managed to fall asleep after Rhynos lunch and I began to think he put some sleeping medicin in it since I wasn't the only one. We woke up a few hours later when we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. A few snap shots and jumps later and we were back on the road for another stretch of driving.

About an hour or so later, we drove through some pretty interesting landscapes as it seemed that the rocks are all twisted. Norman called it a moon landscape, I don't know how you can call it, but it was sure interesting and it made for great pictures.

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Back on the road again, me and Tania had the honor to sit in front with Alington and while we were chit chatting about everything and nothing in particular, we all of a sudden realized that we were not alone anymore. The landscape changed from rocky and sandy to flat and we even saw the Atlantic Ocean. What an experience it was. After a few hours of driving we arrived in Walvis Bay and although it was nice to see a big city again, I somehow wanted to go back to the peace and quiet.

For the first time in more than many days, we saw traffic lights again and loads of traffic that goes with it.

Although it was already 5 PM, we were still lucky to have a bit of daylight left so that we could see the infamous pink flamingos, but as we arrived at the scene, the only ones we saw where the normal ones. We couldn't see one pink birdie till all of a sudden someone of our group spotted a few way back in the water. A short walk alongside the beach made sure we got a glimpse of them as well and they were beautiful. 

Sadly enough we couldn't stay there forever and in a way I didn't mind one bit because the weather here at the coast was quite a bit different than we were used too and just like some others of our group I was freezing. Can't believe that I was thinking that, but I sure did. It was COLD!!!

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Back inside Chris again, we drove for another hour towards Swakopmund, the final destination of our day and as we arrived in the dark, we quickly got settled into our rooms and off we went again for some joint dinner at the centre of town.

Norman found us an Italian place where you can eat all sorts of things, even game and of course, this was the thing we wanted the most. Till now we only saw an oryx, springbok and a zebra, which was truly impressive, but I can tell you now, that their behinds are tasty as well. I love the meat that's for sure and although I like to see them in the wild, sorry guys and girls, but you really taste delicious!

By the time it was 10 PM, we arrived back at hour hotel and sadly enough we had to say goodbye to 2 members of our group. Our Brazilian couple Renate and Renato were leaving us and were going to spend another week at Zanzibar, the lucky bastards!

Saying goodbye is never easy even if you have spend such a short time with each other and as tears came to the surfice, even our crew was a bit surprised that we cared about each other so much. Yep, we were a gang of softies!

Back in our room, it didn't take me long to fall asleep. Tania still wanted to skype home to let the home front now that we were still alive and kicking, me on the other hand, just wanted to sleep and for once it didn't take me long. As soon as my head touched my pillow, I was off to dreamland

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Namibia Tagged landscapes people animals birds food water restaurant ocean nature rocks city africa group colors heat mammals overland_truck Comments (2)

further north we go


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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 Tagged mountains people animals food desert road_trip native market rocks walk cave africa road bush hike hot group peak viewpoint indigenous_people overland_truck Comments (2)

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 across 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 her prey to a nearby tree. 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 Tagged animals night nature adventure wild africa gamedrive mammals big_five Comments (0)

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