05/2008 - Namibia , 1st part , Northern regions

11-day trip to Namibia (first part) visiting Windhoek, Okahandaja , Waterberg Plateau, Grootfontein , Hoba Meteorite, Etosha National Park, Halali, Outjo , Kamanjab , Kaokoveld , Epupa Falls, Himba village, Opuwo, Damaralang , Etendeka , Fort Sesfontein, Petrified Forest , Organ Pipes , Burnt Mountain , the rock engravings at Twyfelfontein , the Namib region, Valley of the Pyramids

 

We organized our three-week trip to Namibia with great accuracy in order to see the most important places of the country.

After carefully considering the offers received by various Namibian Travel Agencies, contacted via Internet, we accepted the offer of the Sunrise Tours & Safaris (link:  http://www.africa-adventure.org.za/s/sunrise/ )

We couldn’t make a better choice.

Mrs. Gertrude planned an extraordinary journey choosing excellent hotels and / or tented camps, thus obtaining a good  quality / price ratio even better  than our best expectations .

After this introduction I must say that, on the last day of our stay in Namibia, ready for the return flight to Italy, we realized that we had been robbed of all our hand luggage, including most of the photographic material.

I was able to describe this journey using the limited photographic material remained to all the participants.

To express my gratitude, I dedicate to my friends the two photos in this gallery: the first one represents our group, the second one the flags of Namibia , Italy and Venice.

I wish to thank, in particular, Cecilia and Joseph, who had been so wise not to let their photographic material be robbed, but also Daniela , Lorena , Alberto and Lele who saved something. As far as I am concerned I have everything to blame myself for.

We began our journey with a visit to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.

We visited the pedestrian Post Street Mall with its Gibeon meteorites , the Lutheran church Christuskirche, the Parliament ( Tintenpalast ), a monument to the Herero Chief Hosea Kutako , ending with a visit to the many street vendors who were selling craft products .

Then we visited Penduka (literal translation: Awake!) . It is part of a non-profit project that works on the development of handicrafts (embroidery, carvings, woven fabrics) .

The next day we left the capital to reach the Waterberg Plateau in Okahandaja region.

Along the way we stopped in the town of Okahandaja (translation: city of flowers) with an interesting craft market and we could see huge termite mounds overlooking the Waterberg .

We arrived at the Waterberg Resort, in whose entrance there is a fine example of a stuffed lion. While we were preparing to start the tour of the Plateau we met our first Herero woman, dressed in a typical costume.

It was our first safari and our excitement was palpable I remember, over all, the magnificent giraffes.

I also remember that, on our way back after the sun setting, we had to muffle ourselves up in blankets against the big chill.

We left early in the morning to go towards Etosha National Park .

Along the way, near Grootfontein town, we stopped to admire the Hoba meteorite , the largest in the world , with its 45 tons of weight;  it is thought to date back to 80.000 years ago.

We arrived at our hotel, located within the park. It was very well equipped .

In the afternoon, we made the first of a long series of excursions in the heart of the park in the hope of spotting animals. We were not very lucky : we saw the usual zebras, giraffes, gnus. Nothing was really interesting.

The next day we woke up at dawn to try to spot some rare animals but we were unlucky as well.

That very morning we travelled to reach Halali which is located in the inner part of the park.

On the way, we met some other animals, although not very important .

We reached the Hotel Halali Double Rooms and, in the afternoon , we went out for the usual excursion in the bush. This time we were more lucky than in the previous attempts .

The next morning we did not believe we could see anything more exciting than we did the previous afternoon . Instead we met a whole family of lions, including their pups.

It was, definitely, our lucky day.

Even during the afternoon excursion, we saw interesting animals and a wonderful sunset

Just before we left , we met a spider with a not at all reassuring resemblance.

Along the way, in the distance, we saw a great cloud of dust near the road. We found out that it was an ostrich that was cleaning itself … with the land of the savannah.

We left the park near Okaukuejo Camp. Then, we reached the town of Outjo where we took the last supplies before proceeding northwards.

We entered the region of northern Damaralang to reach the Otjitotongwe Lodge, located in the area of the town of Kamanjab ; in the Lodge we spent the night.  The place was a bit spartan, not so lunch.

They offered us a single dish represented by an excellent oryx-pie .

The owners of the Lodge live with two tamed cheetahs, and in their estate of over 40 hectares, they take care of all the cheetahs which need assistance (some are blind, some miss their legs). We went to give them their only daily meal on board of a tall vehicle that protected us from any danger.

We woke up at 4.00 a.m. in order to leave an hour later for the far north of Namibia. We stopped for fuel and breakfast and for the “veterinary cordon fence” (Red Line: animals from the northern region cannot enter the southern zone).

We arrived in Opuwo , the farthest town before reaching the border with Angola , where we had our first contact with the Himba people .

Crossing the Kaokoveld region, we continued towards Epupa Falls on the Kunene River .

We drove along a very bumpy track; the landscape, initially very green, became sandy or rocky . We met different people and different animals, as well as a huge baobab tree .

Early in the afternoon, we reached the Epupa Falls; we stayed in the Omarunga Tented Camp characterized by the presence of colourful lizards. We could admire the Epupa waterfalls swollen with water; so, they were quite spectacular .

We went to visit a Himba village quite close to the Tented Camp.

The Himba people are famous because they rub their bodies with red ocher and the women, mostly characterized by very graceful features, wear only a skirt.

We woke again at dawn to cross again the northern part of the region of Kaokoveld along the bumpy track that took us back in Opuwo. We stayed in Opuwo Country Lodge , situated on top of a hill with a magnificent view. In the afternoon we visited a second Himba village .

Another early rising (at 5:40 a.m.) to be ready for the long transfer that would take us into the semi-desert region of Damaralang; a great wildlife area even if it is outside the national parks.

We stopped and met an elderly Himba woman along the way.

We made a stop at the old German Sesfontein Fort. We had a picnic lunch near an abandoned campsite and then we went to a lonely but beautiful Lodge where we had a coffee and took a rest, since the journey was exhausting for the heat.

We entered the Reserve along the trails that cross the savannah .

The views were very impressive and the Etendeka Mountain Tented Camp was very well-equipped.

During the day we got to know the bush, thanks to an early morning walk that allowed us to see plants, insects and minerals as well as enjoy breathtaking scenery in an unusual environment.

In the afternoon we made another excursion with the jeep and we had close meetings with giraffes, zebras and elephants. It was really interesting!

We had a very busy day; not only for the kilometric distance to be covered, but also, and especially , for the numerous visits to be made . First of all, I remember the children met, then the Petrified Forest, the Organ Pipes (strange columns of dolerite) and the Burnt Mountain formed by volcanic scoria.

The cave paintings of Twyfelfontain , dating back to more than six thousand years ago, were very interesting for their excellent state of preservation.

In the afternoon, along the way, we met some Herero women dressed in their traditional costumes. They were mainly selling dolls. Finally, we crossed the arid region of the Namib desert admiring, in the horizon, the Valley of the Pyramids. Before reaching the sea, because of the meeting  between the heat of the desert  and the humidity of the ocean, we entered a very foggy area.

The humidity was so much that we needed to use the windscreen wipers of our car .

We arrived very tired in Swakopmund.