Day 19 –
L: I forgot to mention that there was a croc on the rock behind Steve in the photo at the Kunene River at Camp Syncro, see if you can spot it. Also,the next day the river was up by about half a meter, apparently they open the gates to regulate the water level.
L: Strangely enough I did not sleep very well last night S: And kept waking me……L: There were 2 single beds pushed together each with their own mosquito-net which we were using for the first time. It feels so separate which we were not used to it so I tossed and turned. We had only just got into bed with the nets all sorted when we heard that squeak! Another GAC (ground armored cricket), Steve got up with me and stalked it and took it outside. But we were not as lucky with the next one…..it kept me awake half the night. There were also a lot of sounds like something scurrying around, perhaps a mouse in the house. I wondered if it came in with us as I found evidence of a corner of the powdered milk packet having been bitten off in one of our storage boxes.
I was up early to see the sunrise and the loads of birds in and around the bird-bath. We were lucky to catch a tiny Striped Tree Squirrel which is also only found this far North according to our mammal book.
Then we had a visit from 2 Red-Billed Spurfowl who hungrily ate the bread that we offered them, but no sign of our 2 little Rosy-Faced Lovebirds this morning.
Coffee and toast and then pack up time…….
We had seen that there was a “donkey” for hot water so we wrongfully assumed that Sebalong would have known to light it as the water from the solar panel heating system would be cold, but alas, no. N$300 per person, you expect warm water.
We soon warmed up as the sun was shining by the time we said goodbye to the lovely “House on the Hill”, it had been so good to have indoor plumbing, a kitchen and lounge suite for a change :-). S: What’s wrong with my kitchen in the back of the bakkie? L: It’s dusty!! But thanks.
S: And then it was the fun of 4 hours at 20kms/hour over rocky tracks and sandy plains!! And all that before the next two hours along the gravel road back to Opuwo. More rock sections than sand, it takes a lot of concentration to try to keep the tyres off the sharpest rocks with the track twisting and turning all the time. We passed the remains of an X-Cape off-road caravan along the way.
L: Once we were back on the gravel road from Etanga to Opuwo, I had taken a photo of an ostrich ambling up the road in front of us and just a bit further an ostrich on the left hand side of the road unexpectedly decided to flap its wings and charge across in front of us to join its mates on the other side of the road……S: All I could do on the gravel road was stand on the brakes! Thank goodness for ABS braking as we managed to slow down in time to avoid it. L: When you see them close up, you realise how huge and powerful their legs are.
I was lucky to see an Olive (Madagascar) Bee-eater while stopped for Steve to bargain with the locals and purchase a bead bracelet for himself. He also gave the lady one of the crocheted blankets for her baby boy.
At last able to get signal, we could touch base with our girls and got caught up on their news via What’s App. We also let Elana know where we were as she puts up a daily map of our trip on Facebook for all our family and friends to follow, thanks so much, E.
We arrived back in Opuwo and filled up with diesel after waiting in a queue for the only pump that was operating. It was Sunday and a public holiday which meant it would be carried over to the next day. We booked in to camp for the night at Opuwo Country Lodge campsite again.
We later met three young chaps that were camping on the site next to us. Frederik from Dusseldorf in Germany and Adriaan and Daniel from Toules in France.
We spent a few hours catching up and posting the blog and doing the washing for the last week. Luckily there was left over potjie for supper so that was easy.
It was so warm that we could leave all the sides of the tent open, except for the mosquito netting, of course. What a contrast of weather in this area.
Day 20 –
L: Rise and shine…..I really wanted to say hi, by phone, to Nicole and Heather, our girls, so we called them both at work just before the start of the new week. It was lovely to hear their voices after 3 weeks, but the airtime just gets chewed up so fast. LOL, we are one hour behind them so they were feeling hardly done by as we were still lying in the rooftop tent while they were ready to start their day.
We collected up all our goodies and dry washing and set off once again. The guys were going in the same directions as us too.
We needed to draw cash and get a few groceries so it was off to the OK in Opuwo. This time Steve had decided to go in with me staying at the car and he had better luck with no-one shoving products at him to buy for them. Some of the things were so much cheaper than normal especially since we have always found Namibia to be so more expensive than South Africa. S: The only bread for sale was a rye bread imported from Germany. After a bit of discussion with our German friend, who was also picking up supplies, I decided to give it a miss. There must be some serious preservatives in the mix if it was still ok to eat after being imported from Germany and then still transported to Opuwo.
The gravel road north to Epupa Falls is also a good one but, like all these roads once you get into the rolling hills, have many many so called dry water crossings at the bottom of every hill. So you might be travelling at 80km/h and then you have to brake, down to 30km/h to go through the dip, accelerate up over the hill and then down into the next dip, and so on. Rather tedious after a while.
Every now and then there is a fancy memorial or graveyard along the road. They are put up for the chiefs who have passed on. One graveyard had a sign which said that you would be prosecuted if you stopped to take photos. We did stop at one that looked like a memorial and took some photos. Nobody came to arrest us. L: There are even some with a cover for shade to protect the deceased from the elements?
L: After 188 kms we arrived at Epupa Falls campsite. We were told that we could camp for the one night only on the last available river site, but when we explained that with the rooftop tent it would mean taking everything down to move the following day, the receptionist, Grace said that we could keep it for the 2 nights stay. This is the first time that we have been to a “drive-through” reception, how convenient.
When our neighbours from last night – Adriaan, Daniel and Frederik arrived, we offered for them to share our site so that would not have to be at the back without the view of the falls. What a view!! we can see the water where it is sucked down to make Epupa Falls. The spray from the falls is not anything like Victoria Falls spray, but it is lovely to be able to camp right at it.
We left the guys to set up their tents and had a snack and a nice, cold drink at the top-deck restaurant overlooking the falls. After chilling for a while we did the short hike from the campsite to see the front of the falls. It was super to see it and Steve was boulder-hopping across a part of the river to get a better view. I opted to stay on the shore with my funny ankles. He was calling to me, but with the waterfall’s constant shhhhhh sound, I couldn’t make out what he was saying. He literally dragged me through the river, with me nervously wondering what he was up to, and then I saw it! What a sight, it is so deep and the best of all, it has a constant rainbow over the waterfall, caused by the spray catching the light. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet – I love it :-)))))
When we walked back into camp, the guys had their tents about 3 meters from the river, lying and relaxing with their feet no more than a meter from the rivers’ edge. That is until I told them that there are crocodiles in the Kunene River!!! At the same time, I started taking a picture,which they thought was of a crocodile, but was in fact, of our now known by Steve as our “resident” Water-Moniter – about a meter-and-a-half in length. The guys are still not sure whether to believe us or not about the crocodiles, but we had camped at Camp Syncro with the crocs making their presence known. I am amazed that there are no warnings of the dangers of swimming in the river, both for the very strong current as well as the predators. It is also not fenced off so you hope that they cannot climb the bank. The next-door campsite does, however, have the warning signs and that of falling palm nuts!!
S: We shared our braai area with the 3 youngsters and swopped stories. It was a bit difficult making ourselves understood with the language-barrier, but we managed. Their English is a lot better than our French and German (which is nil).
Adriaan has been volunteering at a school near Ruacana – helping to improve the facilities. Isn’t it amazing who God puts in our path as it is a pre-school for a lot of children whose parents aren’t able to give them much. So Lesley gave him a few of the crocheted and knitted blankets for him to deliver when he returns there once his holiday comes to an end, after which he will be returning home to France. The school is Panduleni Kindergarten, Okapika B Junction, Ochifo with Mathilda there as their teacher.
L: There is a bird that is endemic to this area – a Rufous-Tailed Palm-Thrush which I was lucky enough to see, but have not yet managed a good photo of it.
We met a large group of people from East London who were also going to do Van Zyl’s Pass and we had a long chat about driving through Africa – Mark, Noel, Brian, Jeannie and then Mark, Rene and Peter gave us some tips too.
It was a great evening, warm with no buzzing mozzies to worry us and the constant sound of the waterfall to lull us to sleep…….and that we did zzzzzzz.
Day 21 –
L: We woke up to the sound of the river and I got up to take pics of birds and things……
I met a lovely lady called Sheena from Sotherby’s in Knysna who asked if, one day when we are back in SA and get to Knysna to please look her up as she would love to hear about our trip. I also gave her our blog address.
S: We said our goodbyes to the youngsters who were on their way back to Opuwo, but not before pumping up one of their tyres which had dropped down to 0.8 bar. L: The other three at 2.5 bar and no car-book as a guide. S: Hopefully they got to their destination with no incidents. When next we looked around the camp site had practically emptied out. It has filled up a little as we type this, but we took a walk down the road (up the river) to another campsite (Epupa Camp) looking for crocodiles this afternoon and that one is completely empty. We only saw staff. The camping there is a little more expensive N$120 p/p/n but the best thing is that it has a little splash pool. The drinks are also more expensive. What cost N$34 for two drinks here, cost N$45 there. So there are pros and cons of both places. I must say if you are going to stay a length of time here it might be better to opt for the place with a pool as it gets really hot here. L: But there you don’t hear the rushing water or see the spray as the water rushes over the edge of the rocks to crash to the river-bed below.
We didn’t see any crocodiles, but we did see a really strange monkey on the Angolan river bank. It seemed to be alone, but I don’t think I have seen one like it before. It is very slender with an extremely long tail. My mammal book lists something similar as a Syke’s Monkey, but shows them as being way more East. Maybe he was brought here…… Oh, and by the way, nobody picked up on our Gola – mix of lamb and goat joke……..
S: We have not got any meat left so we are doing bread, potato and onion on the braai tonight. Just an excuse to have a fire. L: Don’t forget the leftover beef fillet, bought in Upington…….Steve kneaded the olive, tomato and basil bread and thought I was joking when I told him to get his hands in there. Yes, Steve, cooking is sometimes messy. (Cheryl, I always think of you when I make bread, with your Tannie Doem story. Private joke 😉
S: Tomorrow we will stop somewhere on the way to Ruacana for a night and we have then decided to head for Oshakati as I need to do some servicing and an oil change on the vehicle. L: It is time for the next service as 7 500 kms have somehow crept onto the clock since the last….Being diesel, we don’t take chances. S: I can do it in any camp site, but the problem is the draining and disposing of the oil. The sump takes 7,8 liters and I do not have a container to take that amount. I also need to buy oil and Oshakati will definitely have it. I am carrying all the filters I need so we don’t have to worry about that.