It was another early start this morning, up at 5:45 again to pack up the site and be ready to leave at 6:30. It seems practise has made perfect as we were pretty much all done and on the truck by 6:15, eager and ready to get going on another African adventure day. Today we are leaving Etosha National park and heading to Ngepi Camp on the Kovango River – and the Botswanan border. It is our final night in Namibia – a country I have really enjoyed, albeit from the comfort of a tour truck.
Our final game drive through the park was short and we did not see anything exciting enough to hit the stop button in the truck and we were out of the park just after 7:00 and hitting some nice black top for the five hundred kilometre drive to the border. It was going to be a long driving day.
Having some fairly smooth driving and with the town of Grootfontein ahead – and its potential for internet access, I spent a good chunk of time writing emails on my phone hoping to tap into some wifi and send them once we got to town.
However, as is normal with travelling, expectation and reality are often miles apart and there was no wifi and the internet access we did pay for was hopeless. I initially tried to upload one of the blog posts I have queued up ready to go, but that failed so many times I gave up, I did manage to get a message away to one of my boys on FaceBook, but that seemed to be the end of any access so I quit trying and wandered off in search of the next most important thing – coffee.
We got coffee at the local supermarket and it wasn’t too bad either. Tomorrow we are heading off into the Okovango Delta so we have stock up on important provisions at the supermarket – beer, wine, snacks – and of course water! Compared to SE Asia travelling in southern Africa is not too bad when it comes to water availability, most of the places we have been staying have potable water, it doesn’t always taste the best, but it is safe to drink. The Okovango is the exception so we have to stock up with a couple of days worth of bottled water and I have also taken a liking to fruit flavoured sparkling water as well.
I am feeling pretty good today, after a good sleep, plenty of water and no alcohol last night my hydration levels are up and am back to normal again. I must get back in the habit of drinking more water and stick to one type of drink of an evening.
As we moved into Kovango province there was an almost noticeable change in the countryside, there are a lot more trees and grass and subsequently there are a lot more people, a lot of small dusty hamlets on the road side as we moved north. With the villages and homesteads come a lot more people and animals, there are massive verges on the sides of the road, often grazing grounds for goats and cows – but there to allow drivers good visibility over the animals that decide to dart across the road. We were constantly braking and tooting at live stock on the way. We have been advised against taking photos of people from the truck, some get deeply offended and the throwing of rocks and sticks at the truck is apparently not uncommon if slight has been given – so there wont be too many photos of people.
The area is quite poor with a lot of the villagers being herders, there are few permanent structures and not a lot of power or water. Most of the trees have been chopped down for firewood but most of the family hamlets had a big tree were people sat during the heat of the day.
We passed a small bush fire as we approached the end of the journey, it is the start of fire season and there are signs of last years fire damage everywhere. I imagine a few sneaky land clearing fires were lit as well as the normal damage from lightening.
We arrived in Ngepi camp at 5:00 pm, it was not overly hot, but it is quite humid – the most humid of the journey so far, and of course it will get a lot worse as we go north.
As we are by the river and surrounded by trees we have moved into mosquito territory so it is now time for long trousers and shoes in the evening, as well as mossie repellent. I had read a book on malaria on the truck today and there is one strain of the bacteria that is particularly unpleasant, so double up on the precautions as well as the anti-malaria tabs.
Ngepi camp is quite amazing, it was set up a few years ago by some South Africans and is uniquely fitted out, it is quite basic but has the key amenities – a bar and a swimming cage in the Okavango river. As soon as we arrived and had pitched tents I was in my togs and down to check out the swimming cage. It is small square metal grilled cage – about 4 * 4 metres on the edge of the river. On the distant shore – in Botswana, I could see a couple of hippos bathing, and there are crocodiles all over – apparently, I didn’t see any though. The river was warm and fresh and it was so nice to be able to wash the dust off.
After a couple of drinks in the bar and dinner I watched a bit of England v San Marino on the TV with some of the bar staff and then went to bed early and listened to music while the others carried on socialising.
It was a long day in the truck and I needed some space to chill and contemplate, very hard to do in this situation, music in the tent in the dark is pretty good.