After eventually leaving Swarkopmund the guides I was supposed to meet in Usakos hadn’t arrived yet. Instead we met them further along towards Windhoek at a random gas station. I had already met one of them, Kefas, from a couple of tours in Windhoek and now I was introduced to Benjamin.
Finally with my two guides I felt much more relaxed. There would be no more waiting for lifts and dealing with taxis. We drove to Spitzkoppe (which involved driving about an hour back the way I’d just come), a spectacular group of peaks. The views for sunset and sunrise would be amazing and I can imagine how beautiful the night sky would look filled with stars. However we didn’t stay there as the plan was changing once more. We had only an hour or so to look around before driving 300km north to our overnight stop at Otjiwarongo with just one R Kelly CD to entertain us.
We reached Otjiwarongo just before dark and set up the tents. My first camping experience in over two years and Kefas’ first time ever! After a visit to the local supermarket we cooked up a meal on the barbeque. There were no beers however as apparently they don’t sell alcohol on Sundays. The next morning we stopped at the local crocodile farm before our planned drive towards Etosha. Unfortunately Kefas received a phone call from the agency telling him he needed to be back in the office to lead another tour. So as he headed back to Windhoek, myself and Benjamin drove north.
As we travelled I chatted with Benjamin and got to know him a little better. He told me how he was orphaned relatively young and had to get himself through university. He’d done various jobs in the past, including as a delivery driver. One time he stole two bags of rice but was spotted by his employer. However, rather than lose his job, the employer gave him best advice he’s ever had. If you’re going to steal, make sure it’s big enough that you only have to steal once.
After a quick stop off at the beautiful Lake Otjikoto we arrived mid afternoon at Etosha National Park. This was what I really wanted to see in Namibia and I wasn’t disappointed. We had two nights there, stopping at Namutoni on the east side the first night and then at Halali in the centre. I also had two game drives included as part of my excursion as well as several others with Benjamin at the wheel of the trusty VW Viva.
Whilst Etosha isn’t the worst place to drive in Namibia there are several roads where a 4×4 would be beneficial. The Viva got us around though and we saw so many cool animals wandering around their natural habitat. This is what I came to Africa to see. From hyenas to wildebeest, zebras, various antelope, rhino, ostriches, giraffes and elephants.
After Etosha we drove to the Himba village. A traditional village for the Himba people, one of the tribes that occupy the north of Namibia. It is run as an education centre where visitors can come and see how the tribe lives and learn about their customs. On the way to our overnight stop back in Otjiwarongo, R Kelly playing away, we passed a giraffe at the side of the highway. I had a sudden strange realisation that whilst this would have been startling several weeks ago, now it was just normal.
After our final night we went to visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund 40km outside Otjiwarongo, where I learnt a lot about the plight of these beautiful animals and how many problems they face. The CCF are doing a lot of valuable work around education and loss prevention in Namibia to help these seriously endangered animals.
That was the last stop of my week around Namibia. I had seen everything I wanted to and much more. I’d met many locals and learnt a lot about the country and its culture. We drove the last couple of hours back to Windhoek. My final experience with the VW Viva and the same eight R Kelly songs I was now all too familiar with. Benjamin dropped me off at my hostel and we said our goodbyes. Leaving me to plan the next part of my trip, wondering what else I’d see and where I’d go.