Skeleton Coast and on

Skeleton Coast

Having left Etosha we decided to head for skeleton coast only the southern bit is accessible ,we arrived after driving though fantastic scenery ( bit like Arizona in USA flat topped mountains the remains of old lava flows this being one of the oldest geological areas in the world I believe) only to find we could not progress that dayas it was after 3 and there are safety concerns, camped overnight there – free site basic but OK very desert like and left early next day.

the beast

Park proper 150k is as you have seen on TV – not many wrecks as they break up quickly. You exit the park then enter another where recreation – fishing etc is allowed.

Stopped at cape cross seal reserve – as seen on TV 80, 000 plus seals and cubs but the smell and noise are unbelievable But so cute!! I am told I wanted to seen rare brown hyenas eating the poorly ones ( no joy) but Emma took about 3 million pictures!

 

some of them – there were lots!!!

Remind you Of Anyone?

Then on to Swakopmund bit odd very new, obviously booming stayed the night in very posh campsite – own shower, WC etc that would put most UK hotels to shame. Next day headed for top end of Namib national park this bits rocky big sand dunes etc are further south. Again fantastic geology -superlatives cannot be overused here.

Road to and from nowhere – marvelous!

Looked up a camping place called Rooiklip – well off beaten track (which is in fact not beaten at all) stayed on a plot , one of 3, essentially a semi cave with a view to die for and so quiet I cannot begin to describe it. So we booked another day. People running it were nicely batty, loved landrovers, were rearing a Gemsbok (oryx) serious horns already, kept 30 odd tortoises, a biting zebra , meerkats– just our cup of tea really.

Rooiklip miles from anywhere

The Flinstones ?

 

Road to Windhoek again nice ending on plains, instead of rabbits by roadside they have warthogs, found a garage that had some spares so got suspension back – travelling in comfort for first time in ages. Did some shopping – even me first time in nearly 30 years.

the next episode – lovely ! ahhghh!

 

Angolan Rally And Etosha

The Angolan Rally

 

Day 1

Got to the border for opening time at 8.00am very slow paperwork including them wanting a word for word copy of our entry visa for some reason, also our yellow fever certificates ,why when we were leaving the country I don’t know. Customs guy was so drunk( yes, at 8.00am) he did not notice we had no entry stamp on the carnet, it took him all his efforts and several dummy runs to line up and stamp the exit slip.

A few feet up the road then we were in Angola – all very smart and efficient, language a problem but thankfully everybody helped us. Then we sat and waited as our passports were passed round and round but not returned. Eventually we drove, with an immigration guy to the police station where it became clear they would not let us go on without a police escort – armed it transpired – to protect us from bandits. So we sat and waited and eventually,by late morning the escort arrived and off we go initially roads not too bad but we knew worse was to come, after a while we stopped at a police post and waited again.

Had a useful English/ Portuguese lesson with the officer in charge then the new escort x2 turned up. So we now had the equivalent of a small army all with AK47s or Uzi machine pistols and off we set at very high speed. Roads terrible going down a hill, as it was getting dark when the brakes failed completely – managed to stop ,found out brake pipe bracket was loose and pipe had sheared off. Hammered pipe flat to stop leak/ keep up pressure and off again into the gloom. Not long after, going up a steep hill we were horrified to see a red lorry speeding towards us on a road that was not wide enough for the two of us.

Emma -Its not going to stop !!!

Mike -No its bloody not !

Coming down hill we could only sit and wait as we had nowhere to go on our side – it increased speed as it came down and at at last minute he just veered off through the bush thankfully missing us. He had turned his engine off and was free-wheeling ( common here to save fuel) clearly without brakes. Hearts pounding we decided not to go to the enquiry some distance away in the bush ,so started off after our armed escort.

Last few miles were completed in the dark when we arrived at the police station we said we would stay there for the night as they still would not let us go alone.

Emma got lucky as one of the young guys fancied her – his chat up technique of jabbing her hard in the arm was not successful though.

 

 

Angola rally Day 2

Got up in the dark as the army assembled and off we went on a good tarred road – what joy, they finally left us in N’zeto but we had had an armed escort for about 300k by this point.

Local commander, who was very jolly instructed a policemen on a motorbike to help us get fuel – there was none in the garage,so he bought some off one of the smaller local dealers. These seem to be mainly women who anticipate shortages ,stock up ,then sell at a premium.

Landscape very nice, best described as Baobab forest, many trees still with large fruits.Road south was terrible for the most part, half way down the worst bit the brakes failed again this time the other front pipe had sheared off ,I then realised it was not loose bolts that had caused the problem but the fact that they had not been fixed back on by the guys who fixed the steering. Hammered that pipe flat and continued on with only back brakes. Not recommended on any road let alone rough tracks I can tell you.

Got to Luanda late afternoon, pleasant surprise as fuel was only 30p a litre and modern garages stocked essentials like beer and wine! Bush camped in a forest under a pylon clearing very peaceful

Angola rally Day 3

Travelled to Huambo about 390 miles, mountainous scenery , spectacular in parts, plenty of garages but no fuel. Wild camped in the bush and it was quite cold for first time since Europe.

Angola Day 4

 

Huambo to Xangongo about 425 miles Food supplies limited as shops did not have much, breakfast consisted of pineapple, biltong, peanut butter washed down with coke – tasty

Emma, tickled by the fact that little children seen to carry their own chairs to school so loads of kids walking along with brightly coloured chairs on their heads or quite elaborate hand carved versions in different styles.

Wild camped again as we sadly couldn’t make the border in time,before it closed for the night.

Day 5 The border

We made it ! On day 5 with several hours to spare,it had been a very stressful/hairy few days and we were so relieved,to finally arrive at the Namibian border

The last stretch of road in Angola had been great for a while. Quite a few shelled tanks etc still line the road – relics of the war. Quite warm during the day (30c) but locals dressed for Arctic conditions.

We are back to sleeping -bags again….and woolly socks for Emma.

The border crossing quite painless no real checks on Namibia side I walked out to go into a bank to pay vehicle tax and nobody batted an eyelid. There was the world again as we know it shops, supermarkets even a KFC (not that we like !) all quite surreal.

A Short journey later we were in Etosha National Park which on the first day indicated how fantastic it is , spotting 3 lionesses, 1 male and cubs having late lunch, zebra, giraffe, springbok everywhere, impala, Oryx, Steenbok, Red Hartebeest, Ostrich, Corey bustards ( huge) and plenty more besides………. Heavenly!

As we discovered on arrival, it is peak season here, hence the abundance of wildlife and as it is so dry all the animals congregate at the various waterholes,so you are guaranteed to see plenty of action (just like “The Lion King ”!!) We have seen Black Rhino, apparently extremely rare with only 3,000 wild in the whole of Africa and We’ve been fortunate enough to see 3 of those. Also a Cheetah mum and nearly fully grown cubs having lunch under a bush reasonably close but so well camoflaged hard to see and photograph.

cheetas having lunch

everthing got out of its way – grumpy old B -reminds me of someone

Black faced impala( local sub species that only live around here), 2 Lionesses in the middle of road,elephant holding up the traffic,Jackal,spotted Hyena,yellow Mongoose,Kudu and a wildcat, which are nocturnal,so once more pretty lucky to have spotted one.

yes we stopped

We were only going to stay for two or three nights,but ended up staying five as we couldn’t tear ourselves away!We Stayed at two different camp-sites within the park,both of which have fantastic facilities,hot showers and plenty of them,a huge area all to yourselves, numerous loo’s (I can’t tell you how good this is after nearly 5 months without one !!)

All this being the reason there’s been no action on “the blog”, we’ve been far too busy sitting at waterholes from dawn until dusk,but we have taken loads of photo’s,which I hope will speak for themselves…….wonderful

Have a look at our photos,it’s more than we can say