The Pandemic annihilated our travel plans for 2020/21. I know – we’re not alone! But at least we have the privilege of being able to pack our bags and head off into the sunset now – at a time when most are still confined to barracks.
I had bought a new vehicle; a Land Cruiser 76 Station Wagon way back at the end of 2019 in anticipation of a mega 12 month intrepid “safari” the length and breadth of Africa. It was not to be……. “you make plans and God laughs at you”, well something like that! I’d had the vehicle overhauled, customised and modified for our offbeat adventures; only for it to be to be left all this time, on its lonesome in a car port at our African home – Ingwelala.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way! As soon as it became remotely possible to travel, we pressed the reset button and decided that Namibia would be a good option. With rules and regs being changed like underpants, this is as adventurous as it gets for the time being. As much as I’d love to tackle a major trip, the thought of numerous African border crossings at a time like this, would be enough to reduce Mike Tyson to tears. “Discretion is the better part of valour”, as they say.
So Namibia it is, here we go……………
One last thing – if you’re wondering why it’s taken so long to make the first post, well……1. No Internet 2. Crap Internet 3. No Power!
28th Feb 2021 – Off We Go!
We spent the night with our dear friends John & Di and hit the road for the long drive to Upington, aiming to get there before nightfall.
We were making good progress until we hit a huge tailback about 250kms from Upington. It turned out to be a very serious head on collision in which there were three fatalities. Such a sad and depressing way to start the trip. Rather than wait for who knows how long, we decided to stop the night at Red Sands lodge which was only about 2kms back.
Red Sands is not our favourite place, surly staff, overpriced and very much has a “Vacancie Oord” feel to it. Nevertheless, thankful we were so close to reasonable accommodation.
1- 3 March 2021 – River Bank Lodge
Up at the crack of dawn and made tracks to Upington. We found a delightful place to stay on the banks of the Orange River.
First stop was a trip to Pathcare to take our COVID test. This is my third test and by far the worst. I think due to a slightly over zealous technician with a penchant to “ring the bells” of my tonsils. I nearly threw up all over her; so deep was the swab searching. She apologised……”sorry for making you cry”; “Don’t worry”, replied I – “you’re not the first and you won’t be the last!”
The testing is done in Cape Town so we have to stay two nights before we can pick up the results.
So……the results are negative and we’re ready to go. Well almost! After checking my photo gear, I realise I have left behind the battery charger. No…..can’t be, what kind of idiot would do that? One like me – it ain’t there. Panic stations. I looked for one on line; they are a mere R10,750.00 – over £500! I get on the phone to the Ingwelala Conservation Manager and have him check to see if it is where I think I left it. It is! It will now be sent by courier to our hotel in Windhoek in a week or so. Relief!
I was a little nervous crossing the border. Namibia has just about banned all food produce from South Africa; no meat of any kind. So, 10kms from the border we hide all the food in some secret compartments and hope for the best. As it turned out; nobody even asked, let alone checked.
3 – 5 March – GARAS PARK, Quiver Tree Campsite
This is a quirky little camp, just off the B1, close to Keetsmanshoop. It’s very funky, the campsite decked with “off the wall artefacts”……I’d hesitate to call it “art” but a lot of fun and quite imaginative. The facilities are very good……power, warm water showers, good shade and lovely views. Cost – N$ 320 p/n.
There are so many different types of quiver trees and it’s just a short walk before you are in amongst them. They are called Quiver Trees as the Bushman uses the dried out bark to make quivers for their arrows. They are in fact very large succulents…….and very beautiful, standing like proud sentinels amongst the desert scenery.
We have plenty of company – in the shape of armoured crickets, they’re everywhere, it’s a plague. Emma informs me not to piss them off, as they may squirt formic acid……nice!
4th March – The Quiver Tree Nightscape.
We explored the area. There is another, bigger quiver tree forest that is close to Giant’s Playground that we visited. First off was Giant’s Playground; it’s a unique geological formation of square rocks. It reminded me so much of Motobos Hills in Zimbabwe, only a square version. On to the Quiver tree forest. Although this one is larger and denser with more plentiful trees, it lacks the high vantage point of Garas Park with its incredible views to the west.
We fortunately decided to head back for sunset to capture the quiver trees at sunset and prepare for a few nightscape shots of the trees, set against an ink black sky with a billion heavenly bodies and the Milky Way.
Well, you know what they say……..”The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” (Robert Burns).
Mother Nature had different ideas! No sooner had I set up my nightscape studio, when a huge storm starting forming in the western skies. It became obvious, very quickly, that there would be no stars shining in the sky on this particular (and last) evening. Time to improvise! As it turned out, the sky was dreamscape sky – a bold, dramatic, multi-coloured palette of the most vibrant and imposing colour. I was delighted with the photographic results, and whilst I didn’t manage to get my “milky way” shot, I’m more than happy, and believe that the results of the shoot from the stormy sky are more original and dramatic.