Day 22 –
L: So last night was a bit strange as there are 2 dogs that stay here permanently in the house next to our campsite. Just after midnight they went crazy and barked for ages with the owners shining torches down from their double-storey house in every direction. We never saw anyone to ask this morning, but I wonder if a crocodile managed to climb the bank…….of course, being in the rooftop-tent I just rolled over and went back to sleep. Poor Steve took a while to get some zzzzzz.
We had a quick breakfast and packed up and were on the road just after 8am. The road from Epupa Falls is one of those up and down with drifts for “5kms” that goes on for 100. They obviously buy that sign in bulk and put it up every now and then. Most of the people leaving the campsite today and yesterday were going to be doing Van Zyl’s Pass today so by my count there would be at least 12 cars on the pass today compared to when we did it and never saw another car the whole day!
S: We stopped off at Kunene River Lodge for lunch and luckily for us arrived at noon as lunch was between noon and one! We spent a little while over lunch overlooking the Kunene River in the shade with many birds and the cutest baby tree-squirrel to amuse us.
L: Rolene from the lodge warned us that the roads going further would take us 2 hours to do the 60 kms. The roads are really bad so we are getting used to the slow pace. We now have an average moving speed of 52 kms/hour. It was nice travelling along the Kunene River passing all the settlements along the riverbank. Every now and then when the locals are friendly, I “hooha” them with the air-horn hooter, but, shame, some of the very innocent nearly die of fright with one little chap even tripping off the edge of the track. It is rather funny though as we cannot imagine what they think the sound is….an elephant or a cow or a truck??
S: When we arrived in Ruacana we tried to buy engine oil at the fuel-station, but I was not prepared to pay N$339 for a 5 liter can of Castrol. We did find some meat at the quick shop which was really good and reasonable – Kunene Meat Suppliers.
We found Ruacana Eha Lodge and booked in to camp for the night at N$75 per person per night. What was encouraging, or maybe scarey, was the fact that the whole premises was surrounded by an electric fence.
L: We braaied while the donkeys, brayed – loudly. The campsite is very nicely set out with a braai area, table-top, sink with water plus electric plug and light. We even had a little patch of grass for the princely sum of N$150.
S: We headed out of Ruacana towards Oshakati for 170 kms – as Lesley is typing this, I nearly hit a donkey! He just decided to amble across the road, right in front of the car. Normally they look at you out of the corner of their eye, this dude didn’t, he just carried on walking……Once again, we are grateful for ABS brakes. I stopped 2 feet away from him and he still didn’t move!
Back on track, this is a long, straight, tiring road as we are trying to find a place to stay as we are getting into the late afternoon.
We started out the day with good expectations of being able to find a place to service the vehicle, change the oil and camp overnight. It turns out that Namibia still has Ascention Day as a public holiday so a lot of the shops were closed in Oshakati and when we were assigned an armed guard outside the Spar and told to park in the disabled parking bay, we knew that things had gone downhill. We had been told to watch out for crime by the owner of the Kunene River Lodge, but now the police were warning us first hand.
L: I went in to the Spar so that Steve could stay in the car and I must say that it was a pleasure to shop with hardly anyone there and a lady security guard following me the whole time, presumably for my protection. How sad and we are still in lovely Namibia…….
S: We went about a kilometer up the road to the Engen garage with a Wimpy attached and had a very nice burger and milkshake!! L: Coffee-milkshake!! S: I managed to buy oil at the Engen garage for N$275 for 5 liters compared to about R200 in Cape Town.
L: We had got to see where the Penduleni Kindergarten School of Ruacana was, where Adriaan volunteers, but it was closed.
Up to now, 50 kms from Okongo on C45 we have been stopped in 5 separate Police Road-blocks. They all ask Steve for his licence, check that the car is licensed and ask for the border permit. The last one told us to please not pack the car so full as we could not see out the back windows…..Steve showed him how the reverse-camera works, so we can see behind us. We had a good giggle afterwards wondering what of our equipment he would like us to leave behind. We are not sure what they did about the guy with two totally different number-plates on the back and front of his car, a taxi that didn’t know if he was coming or going??? Or the taxies travelling at 100 in 60 zones.
S: We had no idea where we were going to stay for the night, but just kept driving in the hope that we would find something. The last policeman to stop us suggested that we continue to Okongo as there is accommodation in the “town” and we would be safe.
We stopped at a conference centre which said accommodation, but there was no room in the inn so they sent us to their camping place at the other end of town, called a lodge L: Allusions of grandeur!!
L: This place is still being built, they charge only N$50 for a campsite and we were lucky enough to get a double room with main-en-suite for only N$300 and when Steve left to pay at the conference centre, he was told that it included breakfast for the two of us!! Bargain. S: The sand around here is so thick that I had to use 4 wheel drive in a few places, and was not keen to camp.
L: Now, our only problem is that we have no water, it has been switched off (except of course what we are carrying in our tanks). We have finished making supper and washed up so that is ok, but a shower would be amazing before bed. We enjoyed a good plate of Goulash with mushrooms, peas and Basmati Rice. We have a few odds and ends to do and will get an early night for the next leg of our journey tomorrow.
One of our friends, Meds, let us know that her Dad had designed the hydro-electric dam at Ruacana. It is a massive project and is visible on the hill from miles away. The roads leading from the dam are really well-maintained, but it is strange that there is a 120km/hour sign on the top of the hill, makes you wonder how many people fly up and down these hills. We had seen a few taxis at break-neck speed during the day.
We have decided that most Namibians have a cell-phone and frequent the many bars and shebeens. We have been amused by the various names and spelling. Today we saw The Frend Bar, Zo-Zo Bar 1and 2 and This Night Bar as well as Three Sisters in the Beer Garden Bar to name a few.
We have now done just over 5 000 kms in our 22 days and will soon be into our third country, Zambia!!