I wake really early, the sound of the bush is already getting louder and it’s not light. It’s really quite nice to listen to all the unusual sounds. It's a cold crisp morning, I find it hard to believe that in 2 hours it will be 35C.
I shower, yes checking and double-checking and amble off to breakfast with Carlos and the crew. Springbok and Impala watch me and not remotely interested. Ostrich have a look and walk off. I have a strange blast from the past and remember Johnny Morris talking over footage of all the animals he filmed. I can just imagine him saying ‘Oh what are you doing here’ in a voice similar to an old headmistress I once had, whilst I stare at the ostrich.
Nice breakfast of cheese omelette and some strong coffee.
It’s still not even light as we pile into the game bus and set off. We see all sorts of wildlife, including Warthog, Mearkats, and Bustard. We film them all and as the sun rises it's a beautiful day and getting warmer and warmer.
We arrive at a long fence and gate, covered in electric insulators. This is the lion area; wow, how exiting. Our guide explains that they are here for their own safety, as many lions get shot if they start taking cows and lambs. I think that’s a bit of a bum deal, they were here first and what do expect them to do if a lovely, plump lamb sidles past. Oh well that’s why I’m a chef and not a wildlife expert I suppose.
We drive through the next area of bush it's a huge area and come to a small valley about 1000 metres across with the same red dunes on each side. To our left, just visible through the bush we see the head of an enormous lioness resting. To our right the kill, which is about a day old, looks like a Wildebeest from what I can see. Our guide points out on the other dune across the valley the male lion, watching us all. It’s an incredible sight. All of a sudden she gets up and walks down the dune and past our truck not even giving us a second glance and wanders across the valley bottom and up the dune to him. They touch each other’s nose in an affectionate way and lay down together. His gaze is completely still fixed on the kill and us. Our guide tries to start the truck but the battery is flat.... can you believe it. He tries again, just a clicking sound. Looks like we need a push. Ritchie the soundman gets out and so does Carlos and they bump it backwards and the engine roars into life. They are in the truck in a flash.
The driver chuckles and we slowly creep closer to them for some close up camera shots. He explains to me that a lion can run 20 metres in about 2-3 seconds. So working that back I reckon they could have been on us in less than 12 seconds...We get closer and closer and get our shots. Finally we leave them in peace and head back to the lodge for a few pieces to camera and general GV’S.
After a lunch of a savoury mince pie, vegetables and sponge we meet up with some local Bushmen from the ancient San tribe, who were going to explain how they survive in this harsh environment. The four lads range from 18 -28 and are lean and fit. They explain how to keep water, brush your teeth, and how to hunt using poison arrows, all very interesting.
They explain how anteaters dig into termite mounds and that pregnant women will eat the sand from the mound, they try to get me to try some. I think they were having a laugh, all I got was a mouthful of sand, like eating sandwiches on a beach as a kid, it was vile. We all have pictures together and they try to teach me some of their language through a reserve ranger. We say thanks and goodbyes and head back to the clearing for more filming and pictures.
After a quick nap we filmed the sun down again and drank cold beers. Still feeling a bit tired, it’s was a quick dinner of Springbok, mash, veg with a blue cheese sauce and sweet potatoes it was off to bed.
I did try and see if I could find a scorpion or two but to no avail.
Sunday today, and up fairly early, breakfast omelette again, very nice, then back to pack my bag as were off to Soussusvlei to another game reserve. Some 5 hours drive away.
We say goodbye and head back into Mariental to get supplies and petrol. As we buy goods a local Namibian man takes and interest in Janice’s blue pumps and asks where she got them from she explains London, he looks bemused, really!!! We all laugh.
The 5-hour drive is good fun and better than I expected it to be. We chat about many things until after 2 hours when Carlos stops the car quickly. In the road I could see a large stick, more like log and it was moving. It was a Rock Monitor, a huge lizard. Carlos is very excited, as he has not seen one for many years. He hops out and so do Matt and I. Matt just gets him on film as I do as Carlos’s attempts to divert him towards us are thwarted. Apparently the tail can give you a nasty whack.
We travel a little further and in the road looks like a piece of black re-mould from a truck in the gravel. We drive past Carlos stops and reverses back and is clearly exited.
It’s a Black Spitting Cobra, one of the deadliest snakes not only in Namibia but also on the planet. I think it's dead, but he is not sure. He finds a long piece of plastic and touches the snake, nothing. We stand back and it moves it's head slowly to one side...it was VERY much awake, alive and well. (Once home I did some research, they do play dead!) All I can hear is Janice shouting, ‘Get away’ ‘Get back in the car’ and reciting various health and safety rules.
It's fine, I’m pretty sure I could outrun a Cobra over a small distance. Also, they do rear up and warn you before hand, so all was fine.
Back in the car we continue our journey through the Tsaris valley with some spectacular scenery. We stop at a small game reserve at Hammerstein in the middle of nowhere for lunch of toasted sandwiches and beetroot salad with pineapple and pasta, all very nice.
Here they have pet Springboks that are free to roam around the lodges and eating and kids play areas.
After lunch we only have an hour or so to go so settle back for a quick bit of shuteye.
Sossusvlei meaning ‘the gathering place of the water’ is a stunning game reserve surrounded by Camelthorn trees and mountains. This is gateway to the stunning brick red dunes, some 300 metres high, so high in fact you can surf (sand board) down them, that was for tomorrow.
The rooms and areas are very good and they even have a waterhole about 100 metres way lit at night so you can watch the animals whilst having dinner. The backdrop is breath taking. After a quick cold drink and nicely settled into our rooms it was time to meet Miko the reserves executive chef for master class on what game the reserve had to offer it's guests.
In his outdoor cooking area we filmed him as he prepared and cooked wait for this Warthog, Impala, Eland, Oryx, Ostrich, Kudu, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Springbok, Hartebeest, Gemsbok. We set up the cameras and off we went cooking and tasting. All I have to say were delicious.
Quick shower later, some pieces to camera and off to dinner and bed.