Day 271, Monday 01 October 2012 – Orange River, Namibia
Another belated post, I had intended to type on the truck as we went, but the roads are rough as anything and typing is impossible, even photo editing is not worth bothering with.
I can see why the other truck was in bed early, they were on the road before 6:00! Compared to them we had a leisurely wake up of 5:30, I was mildly hungover after that combination of beer, red and white wine and whisky. A lesson learnt nice and early on the trip though one forgotten way too much!
I had a walk around as the sun rose and took some photos of the mist over the small river on the farm. I have decided to switch back to shooting JPEG, I have been using raw for a while, but having to do everything in a bouncing truck with little battery life was going to be a pain, though of course I lose some of the detail – a tough choice.
Breakfast was cereal and fruit and I had a great hot shower before pulling down the tents, loading up the truck and getting on the road again.
Our first stop was at the gas station at Bitterfontein, there is a weaver bird colony living there which was cool and we all stopped to take photos. I am not really into birds, but it was a good lesson in shooting moving objects with the heavy 70-200mm lens. I was not overly happy with the results, but the weaver birds have cool nests, so am posting a shot anyway.
There were road works off and on all the way to the Namibian border.
Over the morning the terrain went from rolling farm land, through mountain desert areas which were very much like the Desert Road are in NZ’s North Island – accept huge, and into some very arid and rocky areas. It was great watching it all roll by though we were all staring out the windows waiting for our first glimpse of wildlife. We saw lots of cows and sheep and goats until finally just before lunch we saw a small heard of oryx in the Goegap nature reserve. Yay – we were all massively excited to see them. Though it was another lesson in safari photography as they were quite a way off and shooting with the 2x extender on the 70-200mm was difficult in a truck with people moving around. I am going to have getter better at holding the lens steady. I learnt that the oryx is one of the most dangerous creatures in southern Africa – even though it is only an antelope. People think they are safe but they are very territorial and will defend if they feel threatened, and those horns are huge.
There was this weird old quary site on the road side, from a distance it was hard to work out what it was, it looked like some alien fortress.
Lunch was in the nature park, it was hot and dry and quite beautiful, I have fallen in love with Quiver trees and took quite a few photos of these awesome trees.
I spotted this guy on a bathroom window.
The town of Springbok was few minutes drive away and we had to stop here to change vehicles. A recent South African law change means that foreign registered vehicles cannot transport clients over the border into Namibia, so we had to unload all our gear and jump into the Bundi Adventures van for the trip to Namibia and onto our camp at Bundi. The journey to the border took almost two hours and was pretty hot crammed into the van.
The border crossing was fairly straight forward, though it was interesting that at the SA border police post, after immigration we all had to hand in our passports to the police and then were told to leave the room leaving the van driver alone with the police. Not sure what happened there ! We did get our passports back though.
The last trip the guys did through the border everyone had to unload bags and were sniffer dogged and searched. We were all praying it was not going to happen to us – it was just too damn hot to be hanging about.
The border between SA and Namibia is the Orange River, named after the Dutch Prince William of Orange – not because the river is orange. The camp site was on the Namibian side of the border and not too far from the border crossing. The site was packed with loads of kids and families – it is the first day of school holidays in SA.
After unpacking the van, reloading the truck and putting up tents some of us took a quick dip in the river, it is perfectly safe to do so, no crocs or hippos this far south.
We all walked up a small hill next to the campsite for a sunset photo shoot, Brett our tour guide, is also doing photography lessons as part of the tour and held the first one on top of the hill. It was interesting listening in and Brett is a good teacher. The countryside is very bleak as well as beautiful, on this side of the river.
After dinner we sat around for a while waiting for the large group of people starting a five day river safari in the morning to clear from the bar area so we could go and have a quite beer and access the very slow internet. I managed to get to read a couple of emails, but the connection died before I could reply to any.
Brett found a small scorpion on the bench seat and grabbed UV light to show us how the scorpions glow under UV. The picture is crap, but you get the idea!
Brett is a wealth of knowledge about the local environment as well as the beasts and flora we are seeing on the journey, we are lucky to have such a great tour guide.
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