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Home, sweet home. How do you like the zebra tablecloth and yellow (!) paraffin lamp?

It rained a little overnight but by the morning the ground had started to dry out and what had last night been a very slippery short walk to the washrooms today was not quite so much of an ice rink. It was still cloudy overhead and we got ourselves up and out early so that we had maximum time to navigate the muddy stretch of road before we again hit tarmac. A German chap was cruising round the campsite in his truck looking for someone with diesel. He didn’t have enough to get him to the next petrol station and the pumps at the Parks Office were dry, another reminder to fill our jerry cans.

As expected the dirt road was pretty hairy in places and we took it slowly and cautiously to get through. Although we stitched to 4x4 mode a couple of times I sensed that the other people who passed us had just stuck in normal two wheel drive mode. It’s a difficult call to make as you don’t know how much experience they have of driving in these conditions but we were both definitely of the “take it easy” mindset. As we hummed the Simon and Garfunkel song Slip Sliding Away to ourselves our thoughts turned to the girls at the campsite who had borrowed our kettle this morning. They were only here in a normal small car so I suspect they had a very interesting trip back along that road. It took us an hour to do the 24km back to tarmac.

Back on the main road we headed north up to Otjiwarongo where we fill up with fuel, both the tank and the jerry cans. Signs at the petrol station implied we could pay by credit card but when Stef tried to it all got a bit confusing. If you pay by plastic you have to pay at the tyres company next door, and no doubt they then have some sort of arrangement with the petrol station to pass the cash back. Most odd. Stef also went in search of a lamp so that we had more light at our campsite. I’d assumed that he would buy a battery operated one so that we could also use it inside the tent at night but no. He came back with an old fashioned paraffin lamp which has much more character.

We carried on up to Otavi where we made a short stop at the Spar for a coffee and some lunch. Otjiwarongo had been a small frontier type town but compared to Otavi it was large. We got a friendly welcome and had the feeling that not many foreigners make a stop here. I took over the driving and before long we were at Tsumeb where we topped up with fuel and took on fresh food supplies. Here too it was a small town but time, money and care had been taken to make the entrance to town impressive with a long palm tree lined avenue leading down to the outskirts of town.

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Black-backed jackal - arriving early for dinner!
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All we could think of was "ooh, aah" and give each other another hug.

Again heading northwards we carried on up the B1 until we turned off west to make our way to Namutoni on the eastern edge of the Etosha National Park. We made it to Namutoni by about 4:30, checked in and set up camp. This parks office is located at an old German fort, which still stands to attention and makes an impressive back drop as you enter. The campsite was quite large and open with more people on it that at the place last night. We’d stopped at the shop to top up our firewood and Stef came out with a big grin on his face. The chap in front of him had bought gin and tonic for his sundowners and Stef followed suit. My excuse for drinking it is that the tonic has quinine in it so it’s really only for medicinal purposes!

As we sat enjoying the sunset a large truck rolled in behind us. It was like a bus set on top of a large 4x4 style chassis. Where the luggage compartments would be on a normal bus hatches opened up to reveal a field kitchen. The doors of the bus/truck opened and out poured a group of Lonely Planet style backpackers all with swimming gear in hand and heading off to the pool. As they passed us by we heard them recounting their travelling tales which were in the vein of “when I did this I was absolutely slaughtered”. We both looked at each other and didn’t really need to say how glad we were that we had not gone for the tour option after all.

Our next visitors for the night were a few locals about which signs are posted in the camp office. Black backed jackals prowl the campsite at dusk and for an hour or so afterwards when everyone is cooking. They are sly creatures who just sidle up to your site without you really noticing them. They are bold too coming very close to the fire, on the scavenge for whatever they can get. We shooed them away from our site but you could sense that other people feed them which is why they come on the prowl.

Stef got another fire going, something he has now become a dab hand at although I’ve decided not to ask how many firelighters he uses in the process. We had our first braai of our trip so far, no doubt one of several barbecues that we will have in South Africa, before climbing the ladder and heading off to another night’s sleep in our tent.