Hello and welcome to Part 2 of our road-trip adventures, where Chris and Jenna go camping all over Namibia and some other places for 3 weeks. This is where the “Condor” part of our blog really kicks in. In this case, the Condor (first name Toyota) is our wheels, our bed, and sometimes our bird-viewing deck.
After a joyous time with Chris’s family, we promptly headed to the Okavango Delta in Botswana, right next door to Namibia. We drove through a desert without fences, passed many ostriches and some meerkats on the way, and arrived at a town called Maun. From outside of Maun, we took a 1-hour motor boat ride through the Okavango Delta to meet our guide, Twist, at his village. Twist took us out in his mokoro, which is like a dugout canoe, on the delta for 3 days. We sloooooowed down, enjoyed the water, watched birds, took walks on islands, and slept under the stars. The wateriness of the delta was refreshing after so many dry desert months.
We then returned to the diverse desert landscapes of Namibia and visited another big cat conservation organization called the AfriCat Foundation, where they focus on not only cheetahs, but leopards, lions, caracals, and African wild dogs as well. We found their work to be complementary to Cheetah Conservation Fund’s, and we were glad to meet another great organization in the area.
In search of desert-adapted elephants, we headed northwest and found some unexpected surprises. After a long day of driving through infinitely flat desert, we began approaching dry, rocky mountains. We came over a 1,645 meter pass to see a stunning view of mountains upon mountains upon mountains. In front of all those mountains, just on the side of the road, was a truly wild cheetah (!!!), roaming freely in its natural habitat. We quickly jumped out of the car, the cheetah leapt to the downhill side of the road toward a herd of impala, and we spent about 30 minutes watching this magnificent cat with the pink-red sun setting behind all those layers of mountains. It was sooooo special…
Well, we did find those desert elephants – 17 of them. They were of all ages, including a 1-day old baby. We were lucky enough to arrive at their water source just when they did – it was truly a celebration.
Still in the northwestern desert, we visited Twyfelfontein, one of the most extensive rock art groupings in southern Africa. These engravings were made by the Bushmen centuries ago. The Twyfelfontein area has over 2,000 rock art sites.
At the northernmost point of our drive on the western side of Namibia, we went to visit a traditional Himba village. We met Himba women and children, visited their earthen buildings made from wood and cow dung plaster, and admired their beautiful crafts.
After all these years of hearing about it, we finally found the-middle-of-nowhere! It sure is desolate, but they do have these amazing plants out there… Welwitschia! Some of these plants grow to be over 1,000 years old. They only grow 2 very shredded leaves in their whole lifetime. Believe it or not, they are conifers and are related to our redwood trees in California!
Making our way further west, we had a sweet reunion with the ocean after 6 long months. How amazing is the ocean! Here in Namibia we see the Atlantic, and her crashing waves reminded us of northern California’s big waves in the Pacific. Where freshwater meets the sea there is a bird wonderland. Flamingos galore!
With only a few days left, we are enjoying gazing upon the Southern Cross and counting our lucky stars…
– Jenna and Chris