Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.
|Saturday, November 03, 2018 20:49:54|
Africa SW 2018: 5 Train Otjiwarongo to Windhoek, Namibia
Thursday, November 1, 2018
No sleeping in today. We were awakened at 5 AM and at 5:30 AM our hand luggage for the overnight stay in Mokuti Lodge was collected. Everyone was provided with an overnight soft sided bag when we boarded the train.
It was a 10 ½ hour bus day, but once we entered Etosha National Park we were able to see hundreds of animals in their natural habitat so no one was complaining. There were herds of zebra, springbok, kudu, hartebeest, eland and gemsbok, plus dozens of elephants, several with babys, and lots of giraffe, also with babys. We saw several lions, twice the big males had two female each. There were baboons, foxes, jackals, ostrich and numerous varieties of large and small birds. At one point we had to stop the bus to let a herd of 19 elephants cross the road in front of us – no one argues with them about the right of way. Our expert driver Bruce turned the bus sideways across the road to give maximum viewing to everyone. It is not permitted to get out of your vehicle in the part, as those who do could be dinner for the residents. The elephant herd had a number of babys with their mothers, protected by several large bulls.
The park has a number of large salt pans. We drove along the edge of the largest one, Etosha Pan, which covers 4,831 sq. km, and at its widest points it is 110 km long by 60 wide. The park covers an area of 22,912 sq. km. When first made into a park in 1907 it covered 80,000 sq. km but has been gradually reduced in size. Etosha means great white place.
It was fascinating to watch giraffe groups standing on the other side of bushes. It looked like several communication towers, which is probably why a group of giraffe are not called a herd, but a tower. Throughout the tour our very knowledgeable guide, Rolf Tonnemacher, was able to keep us well informed about history, information on the habits of the animals and loads of other interesting facts in both English and German. I couldn't believe he had any voice left by the end of the tour.
Having sighted almost every animal on our wish list close up, we left the park for the deluxe Mokuti Lodge, located just outside Lindequist Gate. The rooms were nice. BBQ dinner was served on an outdoor patio, where animals grazed on their lush lawns. Night time temperatures are reaching 15C.
Friday, November 2, 2018
We had to check out of the hotel early, then joined a 3 hour safari drive in open vehicles. It wasn't as dramatic as yesterday and we missed Rolf's commentary, but we added a cheetah to our sighting list, and were very close to a solitary male lion who was sleeping beside the road when about a dozen other vehicles arrived. He then got up and strolled away into thick bush. It was a good lesson in why wandering around the park is not a good idea.
It was a 3 ½ hour drive to Otjiwarongo, where the train was sitting, and by 3 PM it was rolling toward our stopping point for tonight in the direction of Windhoek. We had dinner with Michael and Daniela from Dresden, Germany, with whom we had become friends, then we all made the long trek to the bar car at the other end of the train where free drinks were being offered. Marilynn and I partied on in the second bar car which was gaily decorated with helium filled balloons. About 8 of us danced and laughed until last call at midnight.
Saturday, November 3, 2018
We were greeted by our bar and laundry bill sliding under the door this morning. I had breakfast alone, as Marilynn was not at all enthusiastic about getting up, so I provided a little room service. Bills were paid, tips given and questionnaires filled as the train made its way to Windhoek, arriving a little after mid-day. We boarded the same bus with Bruce still at the wheel and headed off on a city tour, with Rolf giving us loads of information. He was born in Namibia and is incredibly knowledgeable about the country. Our luggage had been collected from our cabin on the train and sent on to the hotel.
We first drove into one of the black neighbourhoods, where most residents lived in a maze of small corrugated iron shacks. It was a hot day, but the inside temperature of these metal places must be impossible. A stop was made at a project to provide work for local women. There is a crafts shop selling the things they make, and a restaurant. Michael and I immediately found a cold beer and sat at a table with a great view over the lake created by a dam. Rolf says it is very polluted but beautiful to look at..
Our tour continued through the area of government buildings where the government runs the country. Rolf took those on our bus on a walking tour, but I had to give it up when faced with a long flight of stairs up to a building donated to Namibia as a museum by North Korea. I wandered to a nearby park where the wedding party were being photographed, then back to the bus.
We were dropped off at the very nice Avani Windhoek Hotel, where we said goodbye to our loyal driver, Bruce. There was a farewell gathering with drinks and snacks before walking 5 minutes to the La Marmite restaurant for a final multi course dinner together. There was quite a bit of panic as I was notified by Air Namibia that our flight tomorrow was cancelled and there are 7 others that were booked on it. The organizers would not believe it was cancelled, but finally all are booked on a new flight that requires leaving the hotel at 6 AM. This will begin the next stage of the trip.