Namibia 2016 – Opuwo & Etosha

Terrace Bay to Opuwo -428km- all unsealed roads

Another long drive.

From the arid landscapes we’re transitioning to the rocky bush. Occasionally annoyed by people stopping on the road for whatever reas…Giraffes!

Our food reserve is quickly disappearing as people ask us to stop to give them food, or shoes. I hope they like German almonds. We take a mental note to fill the car with basic staple, as some items just means km of walk in the heat  to the nearest town for people who live so remotely. The smiles we get in return are priceless.

We finally reach Opuwo. Such a fascinating place. People just walk up and down the main road, displaying all sort of tribal clothing. From modern hip hop hatted jazzy style, to Himbas and Hereros.

The air is very dry an dusty as we head towards a Himba village. Apparently it hasn’t been raining for over 3 years here (I’m dedicating this sentence to all my Scottish friends here).

We found mainly women and children at the village, as the men went hunting for the day. The elder woman chatted in a friendly and cheeky way. They are all very nice and smiling. We are shown how they mix core powder ground from the stone with butter oil to be applied to their skin, and how they burn branches to smoke/scent their clothesline hair.

The kids are very friendly. Some of them will later try to sell us their hand made jewellery by talking to us in English and even using Italian numbers! Apparently half of them are schooled.

I left a bit dazed but nevertheless charmed by their friendly ways and smiles..

In the evening Opuwo keeps on its lively buzz with bars peppering the main road where people dance on loud music.

Then my First night camping. There’s a general black out so we are getting use to a life with a torch..

Then it’s time to head down to Hobatere
There I had my first encounters with most of Africa’s big mammals.

The set up:

2 lionesses just killed and fed into a zebra. One laying around the waterhole, the other one up in the rocks. Young male lion feeding further away. 1 Elephant observing the whole thing. Then quickly the whole herd of elephants arrived, out of one bush. Chased the lioness and took over the drinking hole. The bigger ones alternating the watch on us and on the lionesses. Zebras and giraffes just behind us watching helplessly waiting for their turn.

Me watching the whole thing downing a Windhoek lager. In absolute awe. Tears in my eyes.

The day after we went for a morning drive. Back at the waterhole we were all fixed on the lionesses, still there, on our right hand side. Suddenly, a few meters in front of us, a leopard jumped out of the tree and swiftly fled on the rocks. We were all shocked. The guide included as apparently leopards are a rare sight.

The drives through Etosha were somehow subdued after that, we were lucky to see a lot of fauna though at the waterholes. Especially on the western part of the park. Herds of elephants and giraffes. Some courting scenes. Many zebras, a whole family of warthogs, a eland, wilderbeest, springboks, kudus.

The scene of us watching an elephant owning a waterhole, while being watched by a huge male lion 15m away, as I noticed it when I finally turned my head left..

Or the whole group of lions sleeping under a huge tree right on a parking area letting dozen of cars approaching to watch them. Unbothered.

At the Ongawa reserve, as I was heading for dinner on the open terrace overlooking a waterhole, I was greeted by a black rhino. We observed it rolling in the mud closer from the hide later.

Then a giraffe approached us while we were having the dessert. As you do.

Then back to Windhoek. Last night for Sabrina, 3 more to go for me. We clocked 3,077km in 12 days. Mostly on unsealed roads.

We rock.

In the evening Elia the driver takes us to the top floor bar of the Hilton for a beautiful sunset view of Windhoek. We have a aperitif together and learn more about Namibia, its economy, its scarce population and the “Fill Namibia” mantra. It’s a safe and friendly country and it’s attracting a lot of interest, not only tourism wise.

And then again, the realisation of how easy it was to connect with people living and growing up in such a different reality.

We are all humans after all. All different in our sameness. All the same in our differences.

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