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I am very sorry that you had such a bad experience with the flight. Other than that, it seems Namibia have been treating you well so far! Some lovely sightings!

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Posted (edited)

Correction: it was two German geologists, not soldiers.

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Edited by Fischwife
To add picture files.
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Posted (edited)

Thank you!

 

For info, I think the gentlemen who sheltered here were Henno Martin and Hermann Korn.

 

Martin wrote a book about the experience, The Sheltering Desert, which I read some years ago (definately worth a read if you are interested in desert survival). I wish I had known this was where they hid when I drove past here in April!

Edited by Peter Connan
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3 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

I am very sorry that you had such a bad experience with the flight. Other than that, it seems Namibia have been treating you well so far! Some lovely sightings!

Perhaps if we'd all been served sherry and champagne on the flight, too, it would have been more fun. :D

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28 minutes ago, Peter Connan said:

Thank you!

 

For info, I think the gentlemen who sheltered here were Henno Martin and Hermann Korn.

 

Martin wrote a book about the experience, The Sheltering Desert, which I read some years ago (definately worth a read if you are interested in desert survival). I wish I had known this was where they hid when I drove past here in April!

Oh, thank you. I think our guide mentioned that book, too, but we forgot to write it down.

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Another report that is helping me relive our trip as well as pointing out things we didn't do or see. Very envious of your Dolphin sightings  but reading about the flight I'm glad we didn't bother. I'd decided that it was too expensive and from what you described an altogether unpleasant experience. We found the drive from Swakopmund to Cape Cross and back a little unrewarding. The seals? Pelican Point would have sufficed if I'm honest but that is just a personal opinion.

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I was getting angry on your behalf reading about the pilot and the other passengers. But it sounds like you stayed upbeat and clearly had some other excellent experiences to enjoy - and the aerial photos did turn out great!

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Posted (edited)

June 16

We left Swakopmund after a breakfast at the hotel. We drove north along the coast and the first community we passed was Henties Bay, which is primarily an off-the-grid holiday cottage area. Each house had its own colours, flag, and name. Francois described it as a drinking town with a fishing problem.

 

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Further along, just offshore, there was a shipwreck. There were men selling crystals there. Francois stopped to give them water.

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We turned onto the road to go inland and, on the horizon, we could see Brandberg mountain. As we got closer we came upon what was once a mining town. We stopped at a roadside rock market where there were all kinds of crystals and semi-precious stones. Francois gave the shop keeper something so we could take pictures. We took a tray and selected a few very small stones, including two desert roses. I had mentioned that tiger eye had been my favourite stone as a child, and Francois bought me a nice one as a gift.

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We continued on and saw some beautiful white-barked trees that grow out of the red rocks.  I can’t remember their name.

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We came to the sign for White Lady Lodge and took the road in, admiring the landscape on the way.

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Francois went into the lodge to ask where the elephants were, and then we went offroad, driving along the riverbed and then looking for them on the left bank. We drove for several kilometres and then Francois spotted giraffes.

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We parked and took pictures of them before they got spooked by a jeep behind them and galloped off. Shortly after, we drove back into the riverbed and Francois set up a braai under a tree. We had grilled tomato, onion, and cheese buns, pork, and beef cubes. It was great.

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Then we took a long route back to the major road, deciding to leave the elephants for the next day.

We headed for our lodge, Twyfelfontein Country Lodge, and checked in. Our room was really cute, with a bed taking up most of the space.  Behind the headboard wall of the bed was a closet and counter with mirror.  Facing that was the wide doorway to the toilet and shower area.  There is no door here. Privacy is provided by the headboard wall and by the toilet and shower being tucked on either side of the doorway. It was fine for us, but might not be the best accommodation for people who aren’t as close.  We were fortunate in that our guide had requested a front-facing room (rather than a mountain-facing room), so we had a lovely view. The lodge grounds were beautiful, with some rock engravings, a pool, and the dining room and lounge both on the second level, overlooking the pool and the view.  The structure is built into the rocks, which are incorporated into the main building in places.

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John and I went for a swim in the pool almost immediately to cool off (we Canadians were the only ones in the pool), and enjoyed watching the cute rock agamas that were running around there.

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We then went up to the bar where I tried a rock shandy and John had a local beer. (Rock shandies are essentially non-alcoholic (except for the bit of bitters), but they are very refreshing and are my new favourite drink. I’ve been trying to duplicate them at home.) Later Francois joined us and we went for a buffet dinner in the dining room.  There, he introduced us to Salome, an anthropologist and guide who built a lodge in Namibia and has written a book about it (My Island in Africa). I have just started reading this.

We went back to our suite and sat on the deck for a while looking at our photos.  We noticed a fat gecko near our porch light and wondered if it was real or was part of the décor.  We went inside to get the cameras, and when we came out, it was gone, which answered our question.  It was back the next evening, but we didn’t manage to get a very good photo.
 

Edited by Fischwife
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Posted (edited)

June 17

 

After a lateish breakfast we went to see the nearby rock engravings, a Unesco world heritage site. The most famous etching is of the lion man, thought to represent a shaman who could shape-shift. Elizabeth, from north of Etosha, was our guide. National Park guides are encouraged to get experience in different areas of Namibia. She was working at the rock engravings for her second guiding experience.

Elizabeth asked us if we wanted to do the long route or the short route. We chose the long. It wasn’t extremely long, but it would not be very accessible to someone with mobility issues, as there were places where we were climbing rocks. We saw a rock hyrax enjoying the hot sun.

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There were many etchings done with quartz on sandstone. Of note were penguins, seals, and hippos even though this was not near any bodies of water. Of course, the lion man etching was a highlight.

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We were surprised by recent evidence of elephants climbing the rocks to reach the acacia trees. Later Francois told us about elephants going into mountains during drought. The reception building for the etchings site was made from stones and recycled oil drums. We stopped for a cold drink there afterward and watched a starling enjoying the small fountain.

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From there we went to the Damara Living Museum. We saw stations like the weapons maker, chief’s hut, first wife's hut, second wife’s hut, a man tanning hides, the pharmacy, the women's craft hut, and the men's game area. The people participated in dancing and singing. At the gift shop, we purchased one of those little ornaments with that people in Swakopmund had been trying to sell us.

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Edited by Fischwife
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Posted (edited)

June 17 Cont'd

 

Went back to the pool for a swim before meeting Francois at 2 pm to drive up the riverbed, where we finally saw our first elephants: Rosie's herd of desert-adapted ellies! We found a spot to watch them without disturbing them, we thought, but then we saw more elephants approaching from the other side of us and realized we were in between them and the rest of the herd. So, we moved a little farther along. There were between 25-30 desert adapted elephants. For most of the time, except for about 20 minutes when there was another vehicle there, we had the elephants to ourselves. A couple of times, an elephant came pretty close to our vehicle, but was not showing signs of stress or aggression, so we stayed put and quietly took photos. As we were driving out of the riverbed, we saw several vehicles approaching with people going to see the ellies. The light might be better later in the day--I had to edit these photos so that the elephants weren't too much in shadow--but I liked having the ellies to ourselves.

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We spent a couple of hours watching the elephants, and then Francois took us for a sundowner to celebrate John’s birthday. As we were driving we saw two Rupples Korhaan, and Francois played a recorded call with his phone. The two birds listened and then responded.

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As we went further, we saw a baboon troop. They were very shy and moved away from us.

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Francois pointed out a sand grouse (?) right beside the road. We also saw a jackal in the distance.

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We went up the hill and parked. Francois set up chairs for us and gave us drinks.  He spotted eight Zebras on the edge of a distant hill. We watch the sunset and then returned to the lodge.

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Francois and Salome had cooked up a surprise for John for his birthday. After we ate dinner, the staff brought out a cake and sang Happy Birthday to John in three languages: Afrikaans, English, and Damara click language.

 

After dinner, we went stargazing with Ziggy, a retired guide with knowledge of astronomy. He showed us how to identify the Southern Cross and use it to find due south. He used a laser pointer to identify constellations (e.g. Scorpio) and certain stars (Alpha and Beta Centauri) and planets (Saturn and Jupiter) so that we could look at them with our binoculars. He then allowed us to look through his telescope, and we saw the rings and moon of Saturn and the spot and moons of Jupiter.  Once again, we were the only two who signed up for this, so we had Ziggy all to ourselves. It was a spectacular ending to John’s birthday in Namibia.  And we still had Etosha and Erindi yet to be explored.

To be continued…

Edited by Fischwife
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@Fischwife Great report and lovely photos. I am enjoying the practical details - they will be helpful when I plan my trip to Namibia.

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Links to videos:

Ruppell's Korhaan:


Happy Birthday:

 

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Love the eles - especially the closeup of one eating.

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Posted (edited)

The ellie shots are very nice Fischhwife, the little ones are so interesting to watch:lol:.

Your guide has certainly put in an effort for you two.

Edited by colbol
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Elephants are always a joy to watch ... alone or in a company. Nice that you have explained more about Twyfelfontein Country Lodge, @Fischwife ... and good photos and videos also.

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8 hours ago, xelas said:

Elephants are always a joy to watch ... alone or in a company. Nice that you have explained more about Twyfelfontein Country Lodge, @Fischwife ... and good photos and videos also.

Thank you. Your photos are amazing. I really enjoyed seeing some of the same places and animals through your lens. I am very much a beginner compared to you.

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And I enjoy seen same places through your eyes/lens! We are all beginners compared to someone :)!

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Thanks for your candid comments on the plane tour, rudeness and all. Those lovely aerial dune shots could not have been obtained any other way, though.  Your time on the water had some tremendous marine life sightings. Also the land dwelling jackal. The catamaran may have helped.

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June 18



We started off early for the drive to Etosha. It was a six-zebra morning, because they were on a hillside. On our way, we stopped at Outjo at the “bakery” and had cappuccino, some meat pies, and some pastries. Then we drove the rest of the way and settled into our room at Taleni Etosha Village, near the Anderson Gate of Etosha National Park. The room was huge and very nice.  The rooms are so spread out, there is a whistle attached to the room key in case of emergency.  Surprisingly, we had wifi in our room, though.

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We had a bit of a rest before meeting up again with Francois at 1:30 to go into the park. After passing through the gate, and assuring the guards we had no weapons or drones with us, we checked the nearest waterhole, Ombika. There was nothing there, so we went on to Okaukuejo. On the way we saw a warthog, and a group of zebras and a wildebeest on the road.
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Posted (edited)

When we got to Okaukuejo, Francois saw another guide he knew and asked her about lions. She said there was a mating pair at Nebrownii. Off we went, and sure enough, there were a male and a female lion at the waterhole, along with a very wary herd of springbok.

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At one point, there were three jackals too.

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The lions were resting, but we waited, watching a blacksmith lapwing who was near our vehicle.

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We didn't have too long to wait before the lions mated again.

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And again.

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Each time, it was the female who instigated the coupling, walking over to the male, rubbing against him, crouching and presenting her back end to him.

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Two more female lions showed up.

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The lionessess clearly knew the couple and were likely from the same pride.

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We hoped that they would hunt, but it was too hot, although once, when two springboks were fighting and distracted, one lioness started after them, but all the springboks moved away, and the lioness soon decided it was too hot to bother and settled down again with her sister.

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At one point, while the mating female was resting, one of the other lionesses tried to entice the male.

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He showed some interest until his mate noticed and came over. Then, he snarled at the temptress, making her back off, although she wasn’t happy about it. We could just imagine the conversation, “I told you never to call me when I’m with my wife, you hussy!” “You cad!”

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The male's attention turned back to his mate, and all was peaceful again.

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The couple mated five times in all before we decided to move on.  Apparently, this goes on for up to a week, and the couple usually doesn’t eat during that time.

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He's looking a little tired, but well pleased with himself.

 

The lions attracted quite a crowd of vehicles who kept jockeying for position. Some latecomers drove past the rocks that marked the boundaries of the parking lot.  Park wardens came by and handed out fines to the scofflaws.

Edited by Fischwife
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We returned to Okaukuejo for a bathroom break, and John and I checked out the waterhole there while Francois paid for the park permit. There was a lone bull elephant at that waterhole.

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We left and drove around a bit. We saw three kori bustards on the road, two males and a female.  On our way out of the park, we stopped again at Ombika and watched a single bull elephant there. We left as the sun was setting and saw a jackal in the tall grass.

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Back at Taleni Village, we saw a herd of kudus near the reception building.

At dinner, we tried hartebeest, and John had Etosha Sauvingnon Blanc to drink.

To be continued...

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Posted (edited)

June 19

We were up early, so we could go to Etosha as soon as the gates opened. We were the first vehicle in at Anderson gate. We were in the park until 5:25 pm—the 2nd last vehicle out, right after they had closed the gate (they were closing it as we approached) and drove over 180 km within the park, Francois told us that we had travelled 2465 km on our trip so far.

 

Unfortunately, our early start didn’t really pay off. We saw very little during our first 90 minutes in the park.

John and Francois had got it into their heads that we should look for rhinos, since we hadn’t seen any yet. However, we didn’t have any luck with rhinos (and, apparently, neither did anyone else in that part of Etosha that day), so we spent a lot of time driving and looking at scenery. We did have two secretary bird sightings that morning.

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We also some impala and some kudu, as well as an old bull elephant. 

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We checked out another waterhole with no luck, but at Gemsblokvlakte, there was another lion couple feeling the love. This male was older than the one at Nebrownii. He had a bigger mane, and he had a radio collar on.

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We watched for a bit and then decided to go to Salvadora to see the pan. Just around the corner from Gemsblokvlaktethere, there were a couple of vehicles stopped on the side of the road, so we pulled over. Just off the other side of the road, there was an older male cub calling—sort of a soft, moaning growl. Francois said he was calling his mother.  We saw the mother coming from the other side of the road. The cub crossed the road just in front of the vehicle ahead of us. The two met up and started off together into the bush, where there was a large male. Almost immediately the female signaled, and the adults mated. Then they all walked off into the bush.

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That made a total of nine different lions we saw, including three mating couples. We saw lions mating at least 7 times—maybe 8.  We have photos of lions mating from the rear point of view. We have photos of lions mating from the front point of view. We have videos of lions mating.  I was starting to worry about coming home across the border with all that kitty porn in my camera. We came across the original four lions from Nebrownii later that afternoon, lying in the bush beside the road west of Nebrownii, so that made 4 lion sightings in total.

Edited by Fischwife
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Posted (edited)

At Salvadora, the scenery was gorgeous, but the animals were way off in the distance.

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A couple of other waterholes in the area yielded impala, springbok, kudu, zebra, impala, wildebeest, and a very cheeky pied crow.  We were snacking on oranges, and the crow sat on the ground outside my window and gurgled. He was clearly begging for oranges.  I don’t know if he is accustomed to people feeding him, but I don’t feed animals in national parks.  When I ignored him, he got bolder, jumping on the hood of the vehicle and peering at us through the windshield.

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We went to Halali, where we bought some peanut butter, buns, and ice cream treats for lunch at the picnic tables there. We started slowly heading back towards Anderson Gate, still looking for rhino on the way, but no luck. We did see some lilac breasted rollers for the first time, but they flew off too quickly for me to get pics. We spotted some other birds that day, too, such as a Northern Black Korhaan, a Pale Chanting Goshawk, and a heron in flight.

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On the way back to Ombika we came across giraffes –a dozen or so eating and heading to the waterhole. We drove to the waterhole, and a female and male giraffe were walking towards it. The female was in heat and flirting, and the male was smelling but not taking any action. Eventually she was joined by five other males, who all took an interest, but the sun was setting, so we had to leave.

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Her milkshake brings all the boys to the waterhole.

 

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It was a long day with some unproductive stretches, but we had a number of interesting sightings, after all.

To be continued...

Edited by Fischwife
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Great pic's Fischwife, the giraffe shots are well captured :D

Etosha so far looks very inviting, even if no rhino !!!

 

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Those are some great sightings you have had, @Fischwife! So many lions making new lions ... Etosha will remain on or to-go list for quite many years in the future. I am curious if you were lucky with rhinos.

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