A couple of years ago I took my wife and 2 girls on a safari to Kenya. The lads stayed at home as it was the first time they really thought that going on holiday with your parents was really uncool. Now, sometime later and on reflection, they wished they had gone. This was brought to light even more, especially as I was going to go back to Africa to film my latest and final two films for Phil’s Worldwide Cookout series.
We had been to Peru and also Norway, so this fitted perfectly into cooking in fairy extreme places. My memories of Kenya were very nice ones, fantastic scenery, animals and of course food. We even flew into Jo’burg as we were to do on the first part of our 10-day trip.
I met the crew, Janice (boss) Ritchie (sound) and Matt (camera) at Heathrow’s Terminal 3, car picked me up on time and it was a nice pleasant day. The flight was an overnight one at 8.30 pm and was a nice change from flying to Peru with its time difference.
After a quick drink and a bite for the crew, I abstained, preferring to eat on the plane (something I would later regret) we boarded the Virgin Atlantic flight. The staff were charming and courteous. My seat was perfect and comfy. I’m not a big drinker at any time but did like the glass of Signal Cannon Chenin Blanc. Menu’s arrived and I chose the beetroot cured salmon and the slow-cooked feather steak.
The salmon dish was fine, nice salmon, and perfectly okay. The feather steak was cooked perfectly (in a bag) which is fine with me provided the meat tastes good to start with. Sadly it was bland and tasteless. The tiny amount of sauce was not enough to try and rescue the poor thing. The carrots and fondant potato (dry and tasteless also) I was hungry and ate too quickly, so feeling a bit full and uncomfortable skipped the dessert and cheese trolley, yes trolley. Two nice touches though did impress me though. Firstly the napkin with a small hole in one corner to button onto your shirt, secondly the cool wine holders that the staff can walk around the plane with, hold 3 bottles, like it. I set out my bed and tried to sleep, but did not sleep too well due to my indigestion, my own fault…
The next thing I know it’s breakfast and feeling slightly better-ordered coffee, orange juice and a bacon butty. All fine and perfectly acceptable.
We land and gather all the kit together, always a bit nervous that it’s gone to Australia or somewhere else (see Alaska) we have to declare all our stuff in and have a carnet to get signed. A sort of checklist to make sure what we bring in is going out. We then have to check-in for the next step of the journey to Windhoek, pronounced Vintook. That all done and getting slightly confused and in the wrong departure gates, we head off for some more food and a coffee. I use the loo and as I walk in I’m cheerfully greeted by the attendant who welcomes me to ‘his office’ now that’s what I call service. I take a few pictures in the airport of planes and get used to my new camera. This weirdly is a BA flight, didn’t realise they did an internal flight in Africa and will take approximately 1½ to 2 hours.
As we take off and fly out of Jo’Burg it’s not long before we are flying over nothing but scrub and parched earth as far as the eye can see. It’s very sunny and does have a certain beauty to it. As we get closer to Namibia it gets even more desolate. The food was okay, a nice salad, some lovely baked fish in tomato and pepper sauce. Vegetables are good some boiled sweet potato, and pattypan squash. Desert was a malt tart? Like a small cheesecake, it was very nice. The staff charming and were very good.
We land at the tiny airport in Windhoek about 2-ish, so already have been travelling for some 20 hours. Getting through passport control and also immigration is a nightmare. It takes about an hour including several changes in line, plus a rude confrontation with some ‘diplomats’ as we refused to budge. Next, we have to pass through the declaration in customs, carnet again. This was okay this time, I’m not really sure they understood what to do, but hey ho we were in!
We meet our two fixers on the ground from ‘Sense Of Africa’, the company who had organised a lot of our trip. Carlos, our guide and Desiree guide us to the pickup point for the 2 cars that we had hired for our long trips between the game reserves. Carlos insists that we have 2 extra wheels (something that would be very handy later in the week) Two Toyota Hi-Lux trucks are just the job here, although I’m a Land Rover man at heart. Carlos explains that 80% of the journey is going to be on gravel roads! And full of dust so be warned.
Matt and Ritchie take one truck and me, Janice and Carlos the other and we head off out of Windhoek. The scenery is really baron and very dry. We chat about rugby and former players also; Carlos is funny and pretty much what you would expect an African tour guide to be.
Our first stop was to be the game camp Intu Afrika Kalahari Private Game Reserve near the town of Mariental. This place has a lot of history, formally known as Zaragaebia, meaning dusty in the local dialect (no, really) a lot of people died here from 1903-1907 as the colonial and Nama forces tried to gain control. Now it’s a sleepy open space, and the focus is on beef exportation.
Most of the trip to the reserve is on tarmac roads. But for the last 25 miles to our first stop, we experience our first taste (literally) of what the next 1,200 miles were going to be. Gravel, dust-filled roads that stretch for miles and miles. There really is no letup, it goes on forever.
We finally arrive at the reserve after dodging Mongoose, Springbok, and Ibex, to an idyllic, quiet beautiful place.
We check into the very small lodge and we are all assigned our rooms. We are its only residents and each of us has a detached chalet/hut set in the bush.
On our 3-½ hour journey, Carlos was very careful to explain that Namibia is a dangerous place. There are many wild animals and insects that are quite deadly. Scorpions are everywhere, so are many species of snake including the Cape Spitting Cobra and the Black Spitting Cobra. If you are unfortunate and get bitten by one of these two you’ve probably got 45 minutes to get help or you’re dead. He tells us a story of a certain German lady who was bitten by a snake in her shower. They had to drive to the nearest village 40 minutes away to get help, she just made it…
I check the room and shower, all clear, I keep my bag zipped up and wash bag also. I then head off to meet the rest of the crew for dinner as the sun was setting and it was getting late.
Our dinner tonight was to be a ‘dune dinner’ this is where you drive into the bush and up onto one of the many deep orangey-red sand dunes. Here whilst the sun sets, staff set up a Braai, a sort of bar-b-que. The table is laid and we sip cold beers, all very welcome after nearly 24 hours travelling. We all start to flag, but soon get a second wind and exited by the brilliant sunset.
The dinner is really nice we have Oryx, a sort of Zebra with long black horns, very lean local lamb chops, beef and local spicy beef sausages, all delicious.
Offerings also included vegetables in cheese sauce, very popular here; salad and braised potatoes all cooked in deep, cast iron Dutch oven pans. Believe it or not desert was sponge and custard. By the time we finish, it’s pitch black, the sky is full of stars and we are full. Back to the lodge, quick chat and off to my room. I check all the areas again for any unwanted guests and climb into bed.
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. An Ostrich has a look and walks 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, Meerkats, 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 exciting. 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 comes 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 was 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 sundown 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 we’re off to Sossusvlei 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 an 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. On the road, I could see a large stick, more like a 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 does Matt and me. 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 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 excited.
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 beforehand, 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 a 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 the gateway to the stunning brick red dunes, some 300 metres high, so high in fact you can surf (sandboard) 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 breathtaking. After a quick cold drink and nicely settled into our rooms it was time to meet Miko the reserves executive chef for the master class on what game the reserve had to offer its 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.
A quick shower later, some pieces to camera and off to dinner and bed.
Up at 4:45 am to get to the dunes quickly so we could get the sunrise. The plan was to be at the gate (as you are not allowed in) so we could be the first to climb the 250m dune and film from the top. Carlos duly told us it would only take 15 minutes to climb. So after making sure the boss ranger would let us in early we set off.
From the gate to the reserve it’s a 35-40 minutes drive to the dunes. As the light got brighter and brighter the brilliance of the dunes and valley slowly came alive. It was a wonderful view, brick red dunes snaking their way across the horizon.
We parked and got all our kit out. The walk to the bases is deceiving, it takes a good 15 minutes, then once at the base, you realise how enormous they are.
I start to walk in hiking boots, it’s difficult and I keep to the ever-moving ridge. I get 20 metres up and start to struggle; especially now my boots are full of sand and the pressure is hurting my feet. They film me and I push on. I get halfway and Matt with camera, Ritchie with full sound gear and Janice with my camera start the long haul. I’m halfway and knackered, we all struggle. Once at the top the view is one to die for, I do a 360 with my Gopro camera (see images) and I get the sun rising, a little late…. 15 minutes…wait ‘til I see Carlos. In fact, it took an hour to scale the 280m dune. I take my hat off to the other 3, I had no kit and struggled, but I’m so glad I did.
After time to recover, we descend straight over the edge almost running down the steep gradient, it’s was fun, then off for a well earned breakfast out of the back of the truck, and it was still only 9 o’clock.
We film some pieces to camera and head back to the reserve for a shower and to get ready to film 2 cooking sequences that afternoon at the desert lodge, a sort of self-catering part of the main reserve. This was a little more rustic but had a nice pool and cooking area. The backdrop was superb. Miko had got all the bit’s ready I needed and was superb as was William F&B Director. I was going to cook mussels with bacon and beer and grilled ostrich steaks with blue cheese butter.
After a quick re-jig of the Braai for Matt’s backdrop, we set off and filmed both recipes in quick succession, which looked and tasted great.
After clearing up we set off back to the lodge for lay down, cold beer and dinner in that order.
The lodge did some fantastic food including making all its own bread and some spectacular cheeses from Mariental.
6.15 am start today as we and to pack bags and leave for the town of Swakopmund, this was to be a 5-hour trip again.
We pass Baboons and it starts to rain lightly, and after 2 hours we come to a small watering hole called Solitaire in the middle of nowhere. It’s festooned with rusting American cars and tractors. It’s famous for its bakery and is a stop for many of the tourists on their way across Namibia. We film me buying cakes and a piece to camera.
After a coffee we push on for another 2 hours across some very baron land, the bush giving way to desert, with nothing at all. We cross the Tropic of Capricorn and nearly run over 2 Bat Eared Foxes.
We finally skirt around civilisation and the town of Walvis Bay and onto Swakopmund. A prosperous place. The outskirts of the town have a large township with some 10,000 residents, more about that later. We meet our local guide Craig, have a toastie and a coffee at Cafe Anton and walk through the souvenir sellers, then onto our hotel the magnificent old railway station now the Swakopmund Hotel. It’s so nice to be hereafter driving across such a dusty country. My room is modern and very comfortable, with all the mod cons. The staff are amazing and really helpful.
We dump our stuff and head straight out to the township with another guide Mambo. He belongs to the Damaraland tribe and takes me to meet a couple of the elders. We film there and he gives us the guided tour explaining that many of the residents here have walked thousands of miles with nothing. I feel quite uneasy that less than a mile away I’m in complete luxury! The price of a house in the township is about 8k, and 9 people will live in that. The house where Oma Lina (the elder lives) she has lived in for 27 years, it’s a real eye-opener. In part of the township, the houses (if you can call them that) are made of what they can find, plastic sheets, offcuts of wood and bits of rusting metal. One plot Mambo jokes ‘This one has ocean view’.
Quickly we move onto The Back Of The Moon, a bar and a very small restaurant. Here Mambo and I meet Jennifer who cooks a traditional meal for us. This included millet porridge, braised spinach, beans, fried chicken, and a couple of dried fruits plus Mopani worms, the caterpillar of a moth that lives on the Mopani tree. They are boiled and cooked with onions and tomatoes. Not for the faint-hearted, they are a delicacy and served on special occasions Mambo and Jennifer explain.
Even in with all this dust and wind, the place is spotless and I have to wash my hands before eating, and even then only with my right hand. As I leave the township I can’t help thinking that I would like to bring my kids here, to show them how lucky they are and that when they turn their noses up at some of the food I prepare, or moan when they have to wash up on occasions.
Back at the hotel, I shower and nap before going out to the Tug restaurant a rather smart place on the beach. Here we film the sunset and the varieties of seafood on offer.
Dinner is good; I start with large chewy, salty oysters, firmer than the British species. Next deep-fried hake and chips with a sweet tartare (not really for me) Nice South African Pinotage Rose.
Back at the hotel, I flop into bed late.
Up early again and have a nice breakfast, they even serve oysters here for breakfast. Janice, Matt and I set off to see the souvenir sellers whilst Ritchie has a massage on his neck. Swakopmund is waking up and it’s chilly and overcast. We haggle over Oryx horns and carved Giraffe. In the end, everyone is happy and we get back to the hotel ready to leave. Carlos is to take all our bags onto Tyfelfontein and we are to pick up a couple of Cessna planes, so we can film the Skeleton Coast.
We pass through the township and I think of Mambo, then onto the airstrip. Here we meet Martin our young pilot and film all our bit’s and bobs. He explains he is going to fly us down to the disused diamond mines over the dunes then up the coast, over the wrecks, seals and finally over the mountains to the game reserve, all good with me.
The plane we are in has the door removed so Matt (and I) can get some great shots. The weather is warming up but Martin explains that it will be colder near the coast, but should warm up when we head inland.
Willi our other pilot turns and he refuels. He is flying with us so we can get plane-to-plane shots. Finally, we are ready to go and we strap ourselves in and taxi down the gravel runway.
Willi takes off and then we follow rising way off over Swakopmund and over the vast area of dunes. The sun is out fully now and it’s a spectacular sight. Miles and miles of dunes are beneath us. After about 30 mines we fly over the disused and abandoned mines. Then sweep to our right over the surf and the Skeleton Coast, it takes my breath away, the sun is now reflecting off the surf we are all excited, apart from Ritchie, who is asleep in the back.
We fly for what seems like an age over lonely fisherman, wrecks, millions of seals and patchy holiday homes. We fly by Walvis Bay and onto Swakopmund waving Willi off to land. The weather changes and the fog takes over, and all of a sudden it gets very cold in the plane as the doors is off. Martin explains that in 30 minutes we will turn inland and fly over the mountains and it will warm up considerably. Janice is happy, at one point she was shivering, but now the scenery change dramatically.
We fly between two mountains and descend into the valley beyond. The runway I can see ahead and Martin skilfully brings the plane down to about 100 ft, flies over the runway and circles around. He explains that here you always check first, the last thing you want is an ostrich or warthog running across at the last moment. This time we land perfectly and the heat really hit’s you. We are at Twyfelfontein in southern Damaraland, a nature lodge, with wildlife including elephants, ancient bushman drawings and lovely surroundings set in the brick red mountains.
Our transport arrives, but Matt wants to film the taking off so we hang around. Martin gets increasingly agitated at the time it takes to refuel his plane. It’s all hand-pumped here and takes an age. He is now too late for his next pick up. We say our goodbyes and head to the lodge and our rooms. The rooms are comfortable and fine. We head into the lovely lodge and order a sandwich. While we wait our guide Ziggy comes and introduces himself to us. He’s a bit spikey, and not happy we are eating as it’s 3.55. He is due to take us out at 4. We compromise and say 4.15. Once we have all the kit together we set off and he warms up.
We go some 30k into the bush to a dry riverbed in search of elephants. On the way, we see secretary birds, Ostrich, Warthog and many deer including one of the smallest species. Finally, we come across a lone elephant, grazing, it’s a truly lovely sight. He’s about 30 and very handsome. We kick on and find more but to no avail then Ziggy stops for sundown and a bottle of rose Champagne is cracked open. Matt films it and I take photos.
It gets dark very quickly here and also old once the sun disappears, so we head back to the 25k with coats on. By the time we are back, it’s pitch black and heads for the shower to warm up, checking of course for snakes and scorpions. Dinner is a carvery style (government-owned) and is a case of dodging very rude middle-aged Germans in the melee for food. God, they complain so much. Eventually, I plump for roasted pork, delicious, plus roasted tongue rice and vegetables. I have to say of all the places we stayed and ate in this was the most disappointing. Off to bed early as Janice has changed her mind and we are heading to our final destination one night early.
Breakfast is early as usual, after taking some lovely sunrise shots. The Germans from the night before are back in a vengeance. This time even ruder the previous evening, I keep well away. They all go quickly so I settle down to breakfast, skipping the cereals on offer after watching 2 large blackbirds hopping about in the bowls. Matt and Janice turn up.
We are to film the rock paintings, Burnt Mountain and the ‘Organ Pipes’ on the way to our final reserve Erindi, but that’s another 4 hours away minimum. So we crack on, Carlos drives us 20 minutes to rock art and we film drawings (in fact they are carvings) going back many years. Burnt Mountain is like a quarry with black as deposit’s, looking like a burnt mound, not a mountain. Organ pipes are more interesting, shafts of rocks formed by volcanic laver pushing upwards from the ground.
We then drive 2 hours into nowhere, along dusty tracks, finally stopping a couple of small shacks, where there are ladies and kids selling trinkets. We film one of the ladies and kids and purchase some bits and bobs. Back in the car we then head off for lunch at the next town. I have a spicy beef sausage hot dog, which is nice. Janice is hassled by the gem sellers and Ritchie intervenes, they disperse pretty quickly. We fill up with petrol and leave sharpish.
Another 2 hours, we are knackered and we finally arrive at Erindi game reserve. As we go through the gate you think you are here, but this reserve is 140,000 sq. miles. We drive another 20 minutes before we get to the main lodge. We dodge Impala, Kudu, Oryx and Wildebeest.
We check-in and go to our rooms straight away. I shower and relax looking at all the animals that are outside my window. Ritchie and I go to look at the restaurant, it’s pretty spectacular. A beautiful room overlooking the main watering hole. Whilst we have a drink Zebra, Giraffe, and Warthog gathers in the late afternoon sun. Crocs sunbathe and Hippo’s grunt at each other. After 30 minutes 2 large bull elephants around the corner and the Zebra runoff. They are huge. I go to get Janice and Matt tells him to get the camera. Right on cue, the whole elephant family turn up, 15 or 16 mums, kids and babies, thank god we got a camera.
After a few minutes, the white rhino turns up also, what a show.
We retire for dinner, with a sort of ‘Seen that, done it’ attitude. Dinner is very good, starting with some lovely snails in a garlic sauce, followed by roasted Oryx sirloin with whole coriander and spices, it’s pretty damn good. The staff sing and dance for us, this is a great place. I head off to bed with a full belly and sleep really well.
Yes, you guessed it up at 5 am for our first game drive. Our guide is Ooli. He is a huge man, with a friendly disposition and a happy face. We set off and immediately pass a Black Rhino; he’s okay but a bit twitchy. We then see two lions in the ‘hospital’ section ready to go back into the wild.
Across the bush, we encounter many species of game and also come across a nest of ostrich eggs. Ooli is in constant radio contact with a man called Timothy who is out spotting for us. He is by the lions and calls us in. There are two large males, brothers, plus 2 lionesses. Apparently, they had eaten a large kill two days ago so were quite docile. Ooli explains they are really nocturnal and will hunt at night. Mind you this does not stop one of the lionesses jumping up when a stray Kudu is spotted some 200 metres away. Her gaze is fixed and she does not move. The other 3 take no notice. We watch and film them for a good 30 minutes then push on to a great open plain. Here we do a couple of driving shots and have coffee. The sun is gaining height and it’s starting to warm up. An inquisitive Warthog keeps running near us, as do some Blue Wildebeest. We pack up and head back to the lodge and a hearty breakfast.
After breakfast we head off into a small village set up to show people how the native Bushmen would live, hunt and look after themselves, very similar to our first game reserve. We film them and I buy some knick-knacks for my girls, we say our goodbyes and leave.
By now it’s really getting hot and we decide, due to the lovely backdrop to film another cookery slot. I was going to prepare Oryx Carpaccio with some firm local cheese grated over.
The locals/staff are slightly bemused but are really helpful and more than happy to get involved, all with the hippos in the back of the shot.
We retire for an hour and sleep, and then back to the lodge for a spot of tea before our afternoon game drive again with Ooli. I have some nice tea and lemon meringue, it’s pretty good.
We meet up with Ooli and head off this time to find the Elephants. Immediately as we leave the security of the compound we come across the pack of wild dogs, some 30 of them ripping apart a Warthog. Their squeaking of excitement and feeding frenzy was a little scary. Janice does not look. We head off into the bush. The sun is getting low in the sky and everything takes on a lovely warm glow. Matt calls this the golden hour; I can see why. We see more Wildebeest, Ostrich and various antelope. We drive to the fenced perimeter and watch two Giraffe feeding on acacia blossom high up in the trees.
Ooli gets a call from Timothy; they were with 3 large bull elephants. We make our way back the way we had come and take a left turn. In front was another game vehicle and there they were in all their magnificence. Three 6 tonne elephants, ripping trees apart like matchsticks. One approaches the other vehicle, stands his ground…shakes his head and walks off. We however and approached by one of the elephants called Stompe. He’s a bit aggressive and I’m sure he thinks about turning over our Land Rover. Ooli claps a couple of times and he walks away. For a second, I’m thinking ‘Oh no’.
We leave them to it and set off back to the lodge, but on the way come across the rest of the family on the way to the watering hole.
We get slightly too close for mum’s liking and she charges, trumpets us and we move away quickly. The sun is going down pretty quickly now so we decide to go back to the lodge and have a drink there. On the way, we pass the now calmer and very full-bellied wild dogs. They view the truck with suspicion. Ooli reminds me that they know the truck, however, if we got out, they would rip you to pieces in seconds. To this extent when we get to the gate and electric fence he pushes it open with the truck, rather than getting out. Can’t blame him.
In my room, I can see Wildebeest coming to the watering hole as I pack my bag. After a quick shower, I go to the lodge for my last dinner. Zebra and Rhino are back to drink so are the Crocs.
After another cracking dinner of roasted Oryx sirloin, I go to bed feeling really happy that we have made two cracking films.
Up early and breakfasted we set off to Windhoek in the two cars. Everyone seems a bit quiet; I always think there is a lull after seeing so many lovely sights. The gravel stops some 25k into our journey and we hit tarmac again. It’s about 3-4 hours so a long trip. We pass a family of baboons on the roadside and I fall asleep again.
At the airport, we check in this time much more easily and with no hassle. The flight to Jo’Burg is fine, with nice food and staff.
Jo’Burg we arrive and re-check in again. I bump into an old friend Louise quite weirdly who now works for Virgin Atlantic. We hug and kiss.
Flights great overnight with only 1 hour time difference. Dinner was very good, including a perfectly acceptable chicken curry with nice rice. Next thing we are having breakfast, with no hot drinks?? Someone had forgotten to fill up with fresh water in Jo’burg, Oh well it will have to be a Costa at the airport.
I really loved Namibia, it’s food, wildlife, and people.