Country: Namibia View Africa Map
Dates Visited:
May 20-June 19, 2007
Distance Since Last Update:6,219k
Total Distance: 53,345k
Population: 1.8 million
Capital: Windhoek
Languages: English, German, Afrikaans, Owambo, Herero, Kavango, Khoikhoi, San
Currency: Namibian dollar (US$1=N$7.4)
Borders: Angola, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe

 
 

Orange River - May 20, 2007
(Jim Writes) Another cold blustery day, we woke up to strong winds and spitting rain. The drive to the border was unremarkable and we crossed without hassle, saying goodbye to the most modern country in Africa. On the other side of the Orange River, we entered Namibia and after clearing the border, made our way to Abiqua Camp, a small river rafting camp located on a picturesque stretch of the Orange River. Finally, we’re back in majestic Namibia! Tomorrow we head for the Fish River Canyon!

 

 
 

Fish River Canyon - May 21, 2007
(Jim Writes) This morning we woke up to a magnificent sunrise! The sky was that perfect crisp blue that you only get on cold days. Just outside our tent window we could see the mirror-like reflection of the nearby canyon wall in the Orange River. Awash in the warm early morning light it was stunningly beautiful.

From the Orange River we headed northwest to the Fish River Canyon, along the way passing through an arid, rock strewn landscape dotted with quiver trees and springbok. From Hobas, we continued west until we reached the canyon rim. Peering over the edge, the Fish River Canyon reminded us very much of the Grand Canyon back in the US. An awesome sight, we spent the day exploring the northeastern rim, photographing quiver trees, and watching springbok graze nearby.

Back at Hobas, we made camp, built a fire, and hunkered down for another cold Namibian night. After over a year of what seemed like an endless summer, winter has finally come to Africa! And it has come in a big way. We are freezing. And we love it!

 
 
 
 

Canon Roadhouse - May 22, 2007
(Jim Writes) Last night it was freezing cold! The local forecast said it was supposed to get down to –3 degrees Celsius and I’m sure it did. Up before dawn, we packed up the tent and headed for the canyon to catch the early morning light. As we waited for the sun to rise high enough to light up the canyon walls, Sheri made a wonderfully hot breakfast that included hot chocolate and oatmeal.

By 10am we were back at the campsite where we showered and then headed for Ai-Ais. Along the way we took a leisurely pace, stopping often to watch passing ostrich, kudu, springbok, and dik diks. It was a relaxing way to spend a beautiful day in Namibia.

After a quick visit to Ai-Ais, we headed north again, stopping for the night at Canon Roadhouse, a warm and inviting middle of nowhere restaurant and guest house that allows camping. Once settled, we headed for their “Route 66” style bar for a beer by the roaring fire. Afterwards, we returned to camp to find a herd of kudu occupying our spot. Once we’d negotiated a peace treaty with the local wildlife, we cooked dinner and cozied up inside our tent for another cold night.

 

 
  May 23, 2007 - Luderitz
(Jim Writes) Another frigid morning, we laid in bed for a good 15 minutes as we struggled to muster enough courage to brave the cold. Our down sleeping bags were so warm and it was literally freezing outside. Once up, we dug deep into our clothes boxes in search of cold weather gear we hadn’t worn since the Sierra Nevada’s back in Spain. Layered up, we setoff for an early morning run, passing springbok and quiver trees along the way. It was a relaxing way to start another picture perfect day in Namibia.

Back at our campsite, we loaded up Betty and headed for Luderitz, 400k away. The scenic drive took us through a deserted landscape where the only inhabitants seemed to be ostriches, wild horses, and springbok. As we neared Luderitz, the landscape changed dramatically, as arid savanna morphed into a mix of rock and sand, and signs began to warn of sand drifts on the road ahead. Just outside of town, we entered a sea of dunes that continued to the ocean.

At Luderitz, we made camp on Shark Island, a beautiful spot surrounded by deep blue water teeming with birds and marine life. Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful camps we’ve had so far in Africa, we grabbed a bottle of South African wine and some olives, climbed onto the roof, opened all the windows in our tent, and enjoyed an incredible sunset as we watched dolphins hunt for fish just 30 meters off the front of our truck. Life’s good!

 
 
 
  Luderitz - May 24, 2007
(Jim Writes) This morning we drove just outside Luderitz to explore the former diamond-mining town of Kolmanskop Abandoned over 50 years ago, today, Kolmanskop is a deserted ghost town, it’s only resident a lone hyena that’s taken up residence in one of the deserted building. As we wondered about, we found a town that’s slowly being reclaimed by the desert. The once grand homes, the town hospital, butchery, ice house, and mining facilities, all slowly being buried in sand, some rooms already filled to the ceiling.

Afterwards, we worked our way through a lunar landscape to the coast to explore the surrounding flamingo filled lagoons and picturesque bays that define the coastline south of Luderitz. Wild and beautiful, it proved a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

Shortly before sunset, we returned to camp, where we once again grabbed a bottle of wine and climbed onto the roof of the truck to take in an incredible sunset.


 
  Sesriem - May 25, 2007
(Jim Writes) Today we made the long trip from Luderitz to Sesriem, gateway to some of the Namib Desert’s most impressive dunes. The drive was long, dusty and like most of the roads in Southern Africa, generally too well maintained to warrant discussion.

We arrived in Sesriem just after 3pm and decided to venture 60k down the main road leading into the dunes to do a little photo reconnaissance. Our first impression was one of awe as the road cut between kilometer after kilometer of giant red dunes. Along the way we spotted ostrich, gemsbok, and springbok scattered along the pan.

After a wonderful, albeit quick trip, we arrived at the Sesriem Campsite well after dark and made camp while being serenaded by resident jackals as they scavenged about in the darkness a short distance way from our truck.

 

 
  Solitaire - May 26-27, 2007
(Jim Writes) [Note: I’m writing this journal entry from our campsite along the ocean a few kilometers north of Walvis Bay. It’s 8:23pm and outside our tent there’s a jackal scavenging about our truck in search of leftovers from our dinner. He’s making all kinds of ruckus. This has become an almost nightly occurrence.]

(Jim Writes) Up at 5am, we quickly threw on our clothes, brushed our teeth, and pulled down the tent. By 5:30am we were in the truck and on our way towards Sossusvlei 65k away. Our goal was to reach the dunes by sunrise. As we setoff, it was still dark and the weather was a horrible mix of freezing cold and a whipping sandstorm. Driving along in the darkness with sand grinding between our teeth, in our eyes, noses and ears, we couldn’t help but be reminded of our journey across the Sahara a year earlier.

By 6:15 we’d reached the end of the main road. Another 5k down a sandy track and we were there. As we got out of the truck, the sun was just starting to poke over the horizon and, other than a handful of Gemsbok, we were completely alone. Magnificent!

The balance of the day was spent photographing the desert. In particular, we were drawn to Dead Vlei, a dry pan surrounded by high red dunes, with scraggly dead knobthorn trees scattered about the parched earth. It’s an amazing landscape, made more incredible by the Gemsboks and ostriches that inhabit the surrounding dunes.

Back at camp, we were exhausted and fell asleep by 9pm. Tomorrow will be another early day!

The next morning we got up at 4:50am. Following the same routine as the day before, we were on the road by 5:20am. Having scouted out the area yesterday, we returned to Dead Vlei. The first ones there, we arrived a good hour before the sun finally climbed over the dunes, casting the pan in a radiant early morning glow. Having selected the shot I wanted yesterday, all I had to do was return to the same spot, setup my equipment, and wait for the sun to turn up. And fortunately, the planets were in alignment, the weather was perfect, and I got the shot. A photograph I’ve been dreaming about for quite some time.

By early afternoon, we were back at Sesriem and on our way to Solitaire, our stop over point for the night. Tomorrow, we head for Walvis Bay and then on to the Skeleton Coast.

 
 
 
 
 
  Walvis Bay - May 28, 2007
(Jim Writes) Another uneventful drive. This time we covered 400 dusty kilometers between Solitaire and Walvis Bay. Don’t get me wrong, uneventful is good. Great in fact! It’s just that after months spent dodging bribe requests, landmines, and potholes, the roads in Southern Africa don’t offer up much excitement. What has provided a bit of entertainment are some of the other travelers we’ve come across at campsites in South Africa and Namibia. Southern Africa’s well developed infrastructure includes fancy campsites and caravan parks at every turn, complete with hot showers, electricity, braai (bbq) facilities and tourist. Lot’s of tourists. Just imagine the Griswalds (in this case the South African version) traveling their a dozen or more friends and family in a convoy of fully kitted out 4x4’s with trailers or 1970’s style caravans in tow. When the convoy arrives, it’s like the circus has come to town. Giant tents go up, the astro turf lawn is rolled out, awnings are erected, and chairs, tables, lighting systems, grills, satelitte TV’s, clothes lines, fences, and kitchen enclosures are fitted together. It sounds like a construction sight with everyone hammering down tent spikes and running compressors to blow up giant air mattresses. To be sure, the philosophy is the bigger the better! Ah yes, I’m starting to long for the days when camping meant finding a safe spot in the middle of a muddy road.

After a long day on the road followed by a brief stop off at Walvis Bay to stock up on food and fuel, we headed for Longstrand Resort, a sprawling campsite located between an endless sea of sand dunes and the ocean. It was another cold night, which made dinner a short affair. Afterwards, we retired to the warmth of our tent where we listened to jackals rummaging around the truck below in hopes of finding leftovers.


 
  Save the Rhino Trust - May 29, 2007
(Jim Writes) Up early, we ran a couple of quick errands in Swakopmund before heading north up the Skeleton coast to Cape Cross where we visited a colony of thousands of Cape Fur Seals. I’m not sure exactly how to sum up our visit. Located on a desolate stretch of wind blown beach, the seals seem to live a difficult existence. As we walked along the edge of the colony, we found bones everywhere, some with fresh chunks of bloody meat or dried flippers or seal skin still attached. Perhaps it was the foul weather or perhaps the dozen or so hungry looking jackals picking their way through the bones, but the place had an ominous, foreboding feel.

From Cape Cross, we continued Northeast up the Ugab River to a remote bush camp run by Save the Rhino Trust. According to Lonely Planet, it’s a wonderful camp where you have the best chance in Namibia to see rare black rhinos. Unfortunately, after a hard slog, we arrived to find the place virtually deserted. A few minutes later a care taker arrived and explained that four rhinos had died and therefore the camp had been closed for the time being. He did however say that we were welcome to camp, which we gladly agreed to do as it was a beautiful setting in a small isolated canyon. At our campsite, a prominent sign read “Beware of Elephants and Lions. Camping at Own Risk.” and a quick search around our boma revealed lion tracks a few meters away.

As a basic measure of safety, we backed Betty into the boma, blocking the entry way, and setup camp inside. It was a wonderful setting and a very relaxing night in the bush.

 
 
 
 

Palmwag - May 30, 2007
(Jim Writes) Up before sunrise, we setoff for the Skeleton Coast, a remote stretch of coastal desert wilderness named after the skeletal remains of the countless shipwrecks that litter its shores. It’s a desolate place characterized by isolated beaches backed by a seemingly endless sea of sand – windswept and shrouded in thick fog that blocks out the sun. Driving along, we couldn’t have felt much more alone in the middle of the Sahara. The only signs of life being shore birds, a handful of hardy springboks, and a lone jackal wandering the beach.

By Terrace Bay, we’d had our fill of dreary isolation and we headed west for Palmwag. The route from Springbokwater to Palmwag was wild. A remote wilderness where giraffes, gemsbok, mountain zebras, desert elephants and black rhinos roam free. It was a spectacular drive that felt more like an impromptu safari as we stopped often to view Damaraland’s abundant wildlife.

At Palmwag, we checked into the Palmwag Lodge. A wonderful little safari lodge where we were able to camp next to a small watering hole backed by beautiful mountains. After admiring another perfect African sunset, we spent the evening listing to the call of the wild as zebras grazed a short distance away and the erie laughing of spotted hyenas filled the air.

 
 
 
  Palmwag - May 31, 2007
(Jim Writes) Up before sunrise, we quickly packed up Betty and headed into Palmwag Lodge’s concession for a morning game drive. Within 100 meters of setting out we were already stopping for Gemsbok, then mountain zebras, giraffes, kudus, springbok, and dik diks. The landscape was a surreal lunar scape covered in a thick layer of grapefruit sized rust colored rocks. Soon we’d reached Guseb Canyon, where a pride of lions was spotted the previous day and where black rhinos are known to roam. As the sun slowly climbed into the sky we found a comfortable spot on the edge of the canyon, fixed our morning tea, and soaked up our wild surroundings. No lions. No rhinos. Plenty of everything else.

Back at camp, we enjoyed a late breakfast, followed by a lazy day of reading by the watering hole before setting out again for an afternoon game drive in another area of the concession. Again, we had a wonderful time, returning to camp just in time for another perfect sunset.

At camp, we built a fire, cooked a wonderful dinner and opened a bottle of South African wine as we listened to the thunder of zebra hooves against rocks and watched the silhouettes of unknown creatures darting around in the night.

 

 
  Kamanjab - June 1, 2007
(Jim Writes) From Palmwag, we headed for Kamanjab and the Otjitotongwe Cheetah Guest Farm, a farm owned by Tollie and Roeleen Nel, that serves as a sanctuary for “problem” cheetahs. We arrived at 1:30pm and after setting up camp, met up with Tollie, for a trip to see some of the farm’s 21 resident cheetahs. As Tollie explained, all of the cheetahs on the farm were captured and relocated after killing livestock on neighboring farms. His goal is to provide a sanctuary for these animals and, if possible, have them reintroduced into the wild.

Our first stop was his house where we found three cheetahs that he’s “domesticated” and keeps as household pets. At first glance, they seemed tame enough. We even had the opportunity to spend some time petting one of them before it jumped up and raced across the yard to attack a chick and then chomp down on the family dog’s tail, which pronounced his dissatisfaction with an ear piercing yelp! Tollie said his “domesticated” cheetahs love to go after the chickens and are quick to grab a goat and pull it through the fence when the opportunity presents itself (which according to Tollie is far to often).

Next we climbed into his pickup for a trip into the bush to feed the wild cheetahs. As we bounced along a narrow dirt track, three males emerged from the tall grass. In the late afternoon light, they were an awesome sight. Tall, sleek, powerful, and clearly built for speed. Soon, the three were joined by two more and then another and another. All hungry for the huge slabs of donkey steak, which were about to come their way. Following an incredible feeding frenzy, they all disappeared into the bush and we returned to camp. It was a memorable opportunity to experience one of nature’s most beautiful hunters on an intimate basis.

 
 
 
 
 

Opuwo - June 2, 2007
(Jim Writes) A travel day… this morning we departed Kamanjab for Opuwo, gateway to the Kaokoveld. After an uneventful drive, which bordered Etosha National Park, we arrived at the Opuwo Country Lodge by mid afternoon. A wonderful retreat located on a high hill overlooking the surrounding mountains, we made a wonderful camp and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the terrific view.


 
  Opuwo - June 3, 2007
(Jim Writes) Up early, our plan for the day was to get to Epupa Falls, located on the Kunene River bordering Angola. To get there we decided to take a less used four wheel drive track through remote bush which is home to a number of small Himba villages. From Opuwo to Etanga the road is a mostly good dirt track that fords a number of dry river beds and sandy section.

Making good progress, we were almost in Etanga by noon when we came across an Australian couple on motorcycles repairing a flat tire in the middle of the road. When we stopped to offer assistance, we struck up a conversation in which we learned that they too had just come from London, via the west coast of Africa, and were in route to South Africa. Once in SA, Amy plans to sell her bike and return to Australia while Rob plans to head north again for Russia, on his way around the world. A fascinating pair, we had many stories to share and before we realized it we’d talked for over three hours, stopping our chatting only long enough to entertain a Himba family who dropped by to see what we were all about.

With it getting late, we knew we wouldn’t make it to Epupa before dark and according to Amy and Rob, we’d be lucky to make it by dark tomorrow as they said the road gets very bad ahead. That said, we briefly discussed our options and not eager to break anything else on the truck, decided to return to Opuwo for the night and set out again for Epupa tomorrow.

Amy and Rob joined us at our camp back in Opuwo where we had a wonderful evening together telling war stories and discussing the road ahead.

 

 
  Epupa Falls - June 4, 2007
(Jim Writes) Up early, we had every intention of getting an early start. Then Amy was kind enough to fix tea and suddenly it was 11am. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable morning in which we picked up talking where we’d left off last night and, by taking the main track, we still managed to make it to Epupa by mid afternoon.

In Epupa, we took Pat and Ness’s advice and setup camp at Omarunga Camp, a picturesque campsite located on the southern bank of the Kunene River just across the border from Angola and less than 200 meters from Epupa Falls. Beautiful, tranquil, and relaxing, we fixed a late lunch and then hiked up to the falls before returning to camp to watch the sunset. Another long hard day in paradise.

 

 
  Epupa Falls - June 5, 2007
(Jim Writes) Epupa Falls is in the heart of Himba country. A tribal people that have managed to maintain their rich cultural traditions in a rapidly changing world. With their bodies and hair covered in a redish paste made of ochre and mud and wearing only goat-skin skirts, the women possess an exotic beauty that reminded us of the Hamar tribe in Southern Ethiopia (sans the AK-47’s). Having already encountered many Himba along the rocky and isolated back roads around Etanga, we weren’t dying to hire a guide for an official trip into one of the more frequently visited Himba villages around Epupa. That said, Pat and Ness spoke highly of Mel, Omarunga’s resident Himba expert, and we decided to accompany her into a tiny mud and thatch village that she’d come to know well.

In a nutshell, our visit was worthwhile. Mel provided a wealth of information about the Himba family structure, beliefs and traditions and our visit, while in poor light, nevertheless provided some interesting photo opportunities.

At the end of our visit several woman from the tribe asked Mel for a lift back into town. Stuffed into the back of a pickup truck with a half dozen half naked Himba was one of the moments that reminds us just how far we are from home – and our former corporate lives in Washington.

The remainder of the day was spent lazing about camp, reading, and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

 

 
  Epupa Falls - June 6, 2007
(Sheri Writes) Up early, we hiked up a goat path recommended by Mel to a spot she promised would offer the best view of the falls. From Mel’s recommended vantage point, we watched the sunrise directly in front of us. It was spectacular. The spray was backlit by the early morning light giving Epupa an entirely different mood.

A wonderful morning, we decided to delay our departure to Ondangwa one more day so that we could enjoy Epupa and the surrounding area a little longer. The balance of the day, Jim spent photographing some of the many monitor lizards and agamas around our camp.

 
 
 
  Ondangwa - June 7, 2007
(Sheri Writes) Today we departed Epupa for Ondangwa, the town in which we’d spent three days resting and relaxing just after crossing into Namibia from Angola three months ago. This time, our plan was to pass through more quickly – stopping long enough to resupply at the supermarket and do an oil change. Having spent an extra night at the falls, we decided to skip Swartbooi’s Drift in an effort to get to Etosha more quickly. It was a long, albeit easy, day of driving that took us through Himba villages and along the picturesque Kunene River. After six hours we reached Oshakati, where we had a list of errands to run before heading to Ondangwa for the night.

First on the list was a visit to KFC, as Oshakati was our last opportunity for greasy fast food for quite some time. While we were enjoying our chicken sandwiches and fries, a friendly cashier came to our table, leaned towards us, and whispered a warning to us. “There are bad people out there”, she said. “You need to take care and watch you car.” After our incident in South Africa and what we’ve heard about Namibia, this came as no major surprise. We thanked her for her words of caution and hurried through the rest of our meal. Outside, we jumped in Betty and Jim locked the doors before driving across the parking lot towards the exit. At the other end of the parking lot, as we waited behind another car to pull onto the main road, Jim caught something out of the corner of his eye. Before he could turn around and look, there was already a man yanking on the handle of his door aggressively trying to get inside. Behind him were several more men gathered and waiting. Fortunately the car in front of us pulled out, giving Jim enough room for a hasty exit. A bit stunned, a couple of blocks down the road we started talking about what we should do. We didn’t know Oshakati well and decided it was better to make a run for Ondangwa, a few kilometers up the road. Jim pushed Betty hard, leaving huge plumes of black smoke in our wake. Unfortunately, the smoke screen wasn’t enough to elude then men, which caught up to us in a small white car on the highway. The car full of men was so close to our bumper we couldn’t see the hood. Then it swung around and pulled alongside us where the men screamed and shook their fists before racing ahead and then swerving inexplicably off the road and across a dirt field, skidding wildly to a stop among a cloud of dust.

Our hearts still pounding, Jim raced ahead while I frequently checked the side mirror for them. They were gone. We arrived at Ondangwa rest camp a short time later. Shaken a bit but otherwise fine. In retrospect, it was one of those situations that ended without incident however we couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if Jim hadn’t locked the doors and they’d gotten inside.

To take our minds off of things, we made a quick dinner and settled into the tent early to watch a movie. A comedy was in order, so we pulled out American Wedding, which did the trick. Tomorrow we’ll finally be back in Etosha!!

 

 
  Etosha NP - June 8, 2007
(Sheri Writes) Not wanting to waste any time in Ondangwa, we got up at the crack of dawn to run a couple of errands that we couldn’t complete yesterday. First was a visit to a local South African mechanic to rotate our tires and change the oil, oil filter and fuel filter. This seemed easy enough. Unfortunately, nothing is easy and our quick oil change and tire rotation turned into a major ordeal when our locking wheel nuts wouldn’t come off (our mechanic back in SA presumably used an air gun to tighten them and they were hopelessly stuck). Soon the locking nuts were stripped and the mechanic was trying everything from a grinder to a blow torch to get them off. It was a nightmare that only got worse when he got the front right one off, stripping the bolt in the process. This lead to the hub being taken apart to replace the stripped bolt. Such a pain!

With our tires rotated, oil changed, and locking wheel nuts successfully removed, we made a quick trip to the grocery store before setting off for Etosha.

An hour and a half later, we reached the northern gate and headed for Numatoni Camp. We were finally back in Etosha National Park. Something we’d been looking forward to ever since our quick first trip back in March. This time we planned to stay as long as we liked!


 
  Etosha NP - June 9-15, 2007
(Sheri Writes) Our eight nights in Etosha were excellent. It was interesting to see how much had changed since our first visit back in March. It was the rainy season then so the plains were lush green and covered in zebras, the waterholes were empty, and overall wildlife was harder to spot. Now the plains were brown and empty, the waterholes were teaming with wildlife, and there were prides of lions, herds of elephants, black rhinos, and leopards, seemingly around every corner. We were in heaven. The feeling that we were finally settling into the Africa that we’d been dreaming about for so long was wonderful.

Over the next week we split our time between Numatoni, Halali, and Okaukuejo Rest Camps. All were so fruitful that our daily routine was more about chasing good light than wildlife. Up at 5:45 each morning, we competed with a professional wildlife photographer from South Africa to be first out the gate. Once at the waterhole du jour, we’d watch the drama unfold around us until mid morning when the light was gone and it was time for breakfast. Around 3pm we’d head out again, returning to our rest camp just in time to make dinner before the elephants and black rhinos began showing up at one of Etosha’s floodlit waterholes. Late at night we woke up often to the sound of lions calling in the distance – a sound that would become an almost nightly occurrence throughout Southern and East Africa.

By the time it was all said and done, we’d seen more lions than one cares to mention, four leopards, 13 black rhinos, and literally tons of everything else. We’d watched lions hunt twice (both times unsuccessfully), a leopard hunt once, and a black rhino get into a skirmish with a juvenile elephant (elephants one, rhinos zero). We’d also learned the hard way just how large a mature bull elephant can get when a curious bull walked up to Betty and scratched his side against our spare wheel carrier. Add that to the leopard, lions, and zebras we enjoyed on our first visit back in March and our experience can only be described as spectacular!

 
 
 
  Location - June 16, 2007
(Sheri Writes) After a few quick trips to our favorite waterholes, we ate breakfast and then set off for the half day drive to Rundu. After 4 hours we reached the quiet Kaisosi River Lodge, located beside the Okavango River. The campsite was great. Each site has its own shower and toilet, barbecue, and sink.
 
 
 
  Location - June 17-19, 2007
(Sheri Writes) From Rundu, we headed east along the Caprivi Strip to Mahongo National Park. Located on the Botswanan border, we planned our visit to Mahongo more as a pass through on the way to Botswana – our expectations being somewhat low since we knew the park had suffered from poaching in recent years. All that being said, we were pleasantly surprised. General game was plentiful and we spotted four animals for the first time: sable antelope, roan antelope, tsessebe, and bush buck.

What made the visit particularly interesting were the aggressive elephants! Still a little touchy about being hunted, if we came within 250 meters of one, he’d let us know, with absolutely no doubt, that we weren’t welcome. Displays of aggression included throwing down branches, flapping ears, swinging their head, trumpeting loudly, and in one case a bluff charge. Needless to say, we kept our distance.

When we weren’t being chased by elephants, we were relaxing at Ngepi Camp, a wonderful little hideaway located on the banks of the hippo and croc infested Okavango River. Camped beside us were six friendly South African’s who’d setup a classically South African tented village, complete with sleeping and dining tents, astro-turf carpet, and enough appliances to furnish a house. They told us that they’d just come from Chobe NP in Botswana. When asked what our plans were we told them that we were going to visit Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, Chobe NP, and other parks around Botswana. In response, one of them had a concerned look on his face as he served up 30 minutes of advice on traveling in Moremi and Chobe. After explaining that they’d been to Moremi and Chobe many times, he warned us about the roads. Apparently they were the worst in Africa, with sand deeper than a desert. And he warned us about camping. Apparently, camping in Moremi and Chobe (particularly Moremi) was the most dangerous in Africa. They told us tales of a croc pulling a ranger out of his tent and hyenas eating a boy. They also warned about the lions. The lions they said are terrible. Very dangerous. I have to admit, we couldn’t entirely contain our amusement and I chuckled softly. “You won’t think it’s so funny”, he said, “when you have to defend your homestead night after night from hyenas” (apparently they were none to happy about having their refrigerator hauled into the bush one night). I responded that it was OK because we don’t have a homestead. Just a tent on our roof. “You think that thing will protect you? Lions will be doing summersaults over your tent!” They seemed truly concerned and we were truly amused!

Harmless, our neighbors added to Ngepi’s vibrant atmosphere and for sure got us excited about the wilds ahead. The rest of our time was spent watching the hippos and sipping beer from Ngepi Camp’s deck overlooking the Okavango River. Life is good.