Sunday, May 26, 2013

Greetings from Namibia

Greetings All,
We have embarked on our next adventure in Namibia in southwest Africa.  After a 14+ hour flight across the pond, we arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa.  We had a tight connection and made it to the gate as our flight to Windhoek, Namibia was boarding.  Our work visas finally arrived via email but we had already boarded the flight to Johannesburg and could not print them out.  We decided to enter Namibia as tourists and deal with our work visas later.  We made it through passport control OK although, the officer did ask what we were going to do in Namibia for 9 weeks.  I replied that we were retired and had more time to travel.

After a good night's sleep, we were ready for the four hour drive to the Kalahari.  We rented a Ford Ranger 4x4 with manual transmission.  With two spare tires in the back, a full tank of diesel, and a cell phone we were ready for our journey south.  The hardest part was backing out of the Guest House driveway. Our first destination was the Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch.  As we pulled into reception we were greeted by an Oryx seeking shade in the carpark and Skanky, a female Springbok. Skanky was sporting a pair of stylish horn guards to prevent her from stabbing the tourists.

We went on a game drive in the afternoon and spotted more Oryx, Springbok, Greater Kudu, Plains Zebra and Blue Wilderbeest.

Back at the lodge it was time to feed the Cheetahs.  There are three resident male Cheetahs.  They were actually given to the Game Ranch by the Cheetah Conservation Fund, the organization we will be volunteering at the month of June.  All three Cheetahs were orphaned and have been at the Game Ranch for 8 years.  Springbok was on the menu for the evening and the boys chased us after our land rover had entered their enclosure (we were still in the vehicle).  Stephanus threw each cheetah a hunk of springbok which they grabbed and rushed off to eat in peace.

We left the Game Ranch around 9:30 this morning to continue our drive south.  Our final destination is Fish River Canyon Lodge.  After the Grand Canyon, the Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in the world.  The Lodge is perched on the rim of the canyon with spectacular views.

The climate here is arid and not much grows except for clumps of milk bush, a type of euphorbia with poisonous milky latex and bizarre looking quiver trees.  The Quiver Trees can grow up to 300 years old and can store water in their fibrous trunks.  They are called Quiver Trees because the Bushman use the branches to make quivers to carry their arrows.

Tomorrow we start a 4-day hike to the bottom of the canyon and along the Fish River.  Unfortunately, Namibia is experiencing a drought.  The rains did not materialize this year.  The Fish River is drying up which is not good for the wildlife.  We'll get a close look tomorrow.

Happy Memorial Day.
Peggy and Marc

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