Wouter and Elmari's Y2K Land-Rover tour, leg 5

2000-07-01 to 2000-07-09

Maun - Etsha - Tsodilo - Rundu - KouKouas - Oshakati - Opuwo - Epupa

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Saturday, 2000-07-01, Maun : It was cold in Maun, 7.5 degrees, with a chilly wind. We stayed over at the Sedia Hotel's camping ground, the ablution blocks and showers are good, the ground is not too level though. P10 per person per night.

We're spending the day in Maun, so I adjust the clutch, add oil, and generally fiddle with the Rand-Lover. We head off to town, buy Black Label, Windhoek, white wine, red wine, soda, tonic, oil, and lots of other groceries.

We meet up with Terry and Ina Cotton in their ex-army high roof Series II camper conversion, Daniel, Julia & kids in their "20 year old" 130, and Clive and Sylvia in their V8 110.

Sunday, 2001-07-02, Maun : We stayed over at the Crocodile Rest Camp, where the wood is useless and bloody expensive. I'll go back to the Sedia next time.

I fill up at P2.01/litre, 50.374 litres. Calculate that I used 13l/100k from Nata to Maun, not bad.

Rileys Rileys Rileys
So, at 10:30, we all meet at Rileys for a beer. Up to now, we (Elmari and myself) had been planning the trip, of course with assistance from the other people. From here on, the Cottons take over. They have more experience than us, they've been here before, and so forth.

You'll notice that the focus changes somewhat -- Ina is allergic to people (and who can blame her? *grin*), and she likes going as far off the beaten track as possible.

Road from Toteng So, the first step is to get around the delta. If you look at a map of the area, you'll notice that the road runs southwest from Maun to Toteng and then west and northwest to the Etsha's and the turn-off to Tsodillo Hills.

Lunch stop Lunch stop Lunch stop
Here we are, next to the road, having lunch. You'll notice that there's only three of us here, we broke up into two groups since that's easier to keep in convoy than one larger group.
Pim foraging Looks like Pim ran out of food, since he had to forage for wild melons next to the road... *grin*
Lunch stop Daniel took the opportunity to teach McKenzie to drive a manual gearbox -- like all beginner drivers, she had great difficulty with the clutch, stalling the 130 even in low box. But I'm sure, with a bit of practice, we'll make a Land-Rover driver out of her.
Harassing wildlife Of course, one's day is not complete if one does not take the opportunity to harass the local wildlife.
"Yo! Yo!, you!, stoopid cow! Mooooooooooooo!"

[WPT 067 -19.681133 22.195349 02-JUL-00 13:51 GMT 15:51 SAST Meet convoy]

[WPT 068 -19.949541 22.250302 02-JUL-00 14:20 GMT 16:20 SAST Turnoff]

[WPT 069 -19.863834 22.388393 02-JUL-00 14:47 GMT 16:47 SAST Small village]

We caught up with the leading group at 15:55. Turned off the road, onto a dirt track leading to a small village. Find a fairly empty spot and make camp.

Bush camp Bush campfire Bush camp Rene, passed out, Joke, cooking
Aaaaaaaaaarrrrgggggghhhhh, it's HELL in Africa!

Etsha turnoff [WPT 072 -19.113164 22.268777 03-JUL-00 09:49 GMT 11:49 SAST Turnoff to Etsha 6]

Monday, 2000-07-03 : We resumed the trek towards Tsodillo Hills. First stop was Etsha 6, where we filled up with petrol (P100's worth at P2.10/l), beer, and curios.

Fuel Beer Curios

Skeleton They have Land-Rovers, or at least the remains of Land-Rovers, in Etsha 6 too...

Tsodillo Tsodillo Tsodillo Elmari bartering at Tsodillo

[WPT 076 -18.761671 21.743107 03-JUL-00 14:42 GMT 16:42 SAST Tsodillo]

And so it came to pass that we at last reached the mighty hills of Tsodillo.

And not without some overheating and letting air out of tyres either, I may add. On hindsight I should have lowered the tyre pressure earlier.

We made camp, spoke to the park ranger in attendance (Nxao, a 30 year old San / Bushman), and parked off in general. The wind came up, and we decided to sleep in the Land-Rover. Good decision.

Tuesday, 2000-07-04, 0700, Tsodillo : Daniel came round and said that Ina wanted to leave again today. He's against the idea, since we drove all the way, and there's this whopping great hill to explore. I agree, and we decide to go exploring and then leave in the late afternoon, and get as close to the main road as possible before camping.

So, we've got our cameras and binoculars and a bottle of water and we're waiting for the last people to join us. I check the Lonely Planet, there really are "dancing penises" in these hills, I thought Daniel was joking earlier.

Elmari and paintings uuuuuuup! At the top View

Thandie and Elmari looking for snakes Rock paintings Rock paintings

Daniel: "Three singing vaginas, two dancing penises, and a giant baobab tree"

At the top of the hill, Thandie sees a snake. Later, Pim is looking for Thandie, "maybe she was bitten by a snake".

Wouter: "I lost my wiiiiiife, on Tsodillo hiiiils -- aaargh, I'm beginning to sound like Daniel! Shoot me, shoot me now!"

A well, you just had to be there (This one time, at Tsodillo... :-)

So we had some fun and games at the top of the hill, eventually made it back down again, but that's not what I want to tell you about... want to tell you about the dancing penises... yes, I eventually found them.

Dancing Penises closeup Dancing Penises Self portrait

Elmari had by this time had enough of traipsing through the hills, so she stayed in the Land-Rover while I walked off into the bushes and eventually found these world famous rock paintings.

Well, I called Daniel and the rest of the crowd, and we all walked over, and many photographs of the women in the presence of the phallic drawings were made.

We left Tsodillo hills at 16:10, and slogged on through the sand (with Daniel roaring past in his V8).

[WPT 078 -18.604134 21.991271 04-JUL-00 16:13 GMT 18:13 SAST Camp next to road]

Off course, Daniel makes an enormous fire, being American and it being the Fourth of July and all. And all that wood was just lying next to the road waiting to be burnt...

Wednesday, 2000-07-05, 07:00 : We're treated to a spectacular sunrise. We couldn't have picked a better spot, after a few minutes driving we hit the main road.

09:00, Shakawe : We find a technical school type place where Daniel can get his exhaust (on the 130 :-) welded up. I take the opportunity to pump my tyres back to 2.2F/2.5R. Daniel's welding is finished at 11:00 and we hit the road, cruise through the border formalities, and hit Rundu at 15:00.

[WPT 080 -17.915107 19.770069 05-JUL-00 13:29 GMT 15:29 SAST Saswitch in Rundu]

The first thing I looked for, and found, was a Saswitch machine. We drew N$1000 each. I jump on the cellphone to phone home, congratulate my mother with her birthday yesterday. Elmari hits a craft shop, I put in N$232's worth of fuel (72.1 litres).

Rundu open market Rundu open market Rundu open market Rundu open market

Rundu open market McKenzie was an instant hit with the video camera, filming the dancing and playing it back to the fascinated audience.

All well and fair, but we still had to go quite a long distance to meet up with the Cottons at the Koukouas Ferien Farm. So, we hit the road.

Daniel buying stuff The long and very straight road
Daniel and Elmari buying and browsing.
Daniel later gave the model Discovery that
he bought here, outside Rundu, to us.
The road from Rundu to Grootfontein is straight and flat. We made pretty good time, reaching the farm at about 8.

[WPT 082 -18.905701 18.292505 05-JUL-00 18:18 GMT 20:18 SAST Koukouas Ferien Farm]

Ferien Farm There was no sign of Ina & company (They had told us they were planning to drive down via Ncaute in a dry riverbed, not taking the B8. We assume they're stuck in the riverbed somewhere, no worries).

The accommodation was extremely basic, with a paraffin powered shower similar to the one on the back of my Land-Rover. Except that my one is gas powered, and works :-)

Ferien Farm

Thursday, 2000-07-06, 11:30, Koukouas : I spend some time adjusting the clutch, checking the brakes, adding oil. Elmari does some washing. Daniel & co sound a bit stressed, fortunately we're camped far upwind :-)

I woke up with a headache and sinus. Either a cold or malaria. Took some MedLemon (aspirin + vitamin C + menthol) - no fever, so I guess not malaria.

We decide to wait here until 13:00 or 14:00, to see if the Cottons will catch up. Someone (can't remember, probably Daniel) volunteers to try to phone Brian Cotton, see if his parents left a message with him, tell him to tell them that we're planning to be in Oshakati tonight.

Daniel presents us with the wooden Disco look-alike he bought outside Rundu -- where oh where shall I pack it?

Only 1/2 drum water left, so I filled up both containers. Looks like 50L of water lasts us about 4 days. Maybe I should convert one of the fuel tanks to carry water instead :-)

14:00, the Cottons rock up. No problems, the route took them longer than expected. Daniel decides to go, we pack quickly, catch up with Daniel & Pim at the farmhouse, where there's a curio shop.

[WPT 083 -18.898351 18.321199 06-JUL-00 13:41 GMT 15:41 SAST Gate to Koukouas Ferien Farm]

Our first stop is a Giant Baobab, at
[WPT 084 -18.885439 18.321708 06-JUL-00 14:07 GMT 16:07 SAST Giant Baobab]

Giant Baobab Most of us walked the few hundred meters to the baobab, and took photos. Daniel decided to rather "watch the cars", and sends McKenzie with the video camera, looks at the tree on video when McKenzie gets back. Giant Baobab

Sachsenheim We ended up at Sachsenheim for the night. Pim found the place in his Lonely Planet, which was newer than mine. Camping cost R10 per campsite and R20 per person, but I would really not recommend this place unless they upgraded their solar powered showers (Yes, I kid you not, solar powered showers. Nice and warm first thing in the morning, suuuure).

The next morning Daniel got the rates reduced to R10 per person, he was not impressed by the cold showers.

We are operating any automotive engine / Hollyday Inn Bottle Store The signposts and stores in northern Namibia are very interesting, to us "westerners", sometimes. We found that a small town could consist of three or four shops and a few houses next to the main road. "General Dealer" -- "Bar" -- "Bar" -- "Bottle Store" or "Bar" -- "Bottle Store" -- "Supermarket" or even "Bar" -- "Bottle Store" -- "Bar". Clear proof that beer contains all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals for a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

We caught up with Daniel at a scrapyard outside Oshakati. He was buying Land-Rover badges -- South African (i.e. Series III and later) ones. Apparently these are worth money in the States. I resolve to eBay my stock as soon as I get home :-)

[WPT 087 -17.774554 15.694919 07-JUL-00 10:47 GMT 12:47 SAST Oshakati]
We stopped at the Oshakati open shithole / market.The Lonely Planet describes Oshakati market as "a collection of mostly unpleasant smells" -- I concur, YE GADS! While walking into the market, I see someone trying the passenger side door. I rush back, of course no one saw nothin'. We take turns guarding the LRs. I send Pim to smell the market, he thought I was joking about just how SIF it smells.
Oshakati open market

OK, enough local atmosphere, we go find the Shoprite to do some serious shopping. I get 100l fuel at N$3.21/l

Stopped I tell Daniel to go on ahead, and stop at the first nice spot outside town for lunch. We catch up, do lunch. After lunch Daniel takes the lead, with us bringing up the rear. We expected to catch him in a place called Okahao, but we never saw him again... well, not for a while anyway. The road out of Okahao looks nothing like the map, so much asking for directions later we find the right road. Daniel didn't, they ended up in Ruacana...

We managed to avoid the dangers inherent in the Hotel California in Okahao.

The road was quite good, we averaged 50-60km/h. Went over a 1400m high pass, up from 1100m, then down into Opuwo, beautiful with the lights shining in the twilight.

Friday 2000-07-07, 20:00 SAST, Opuwo :

It's already dusk when we get to Opuwo. I stop and ask the first bunch of people next to the road where the campsite is. They point straight ahead to the Moreness Bar & Restaurant, where I find the proprietor, a frenchman, who directs us in the right direction (Left at the T into town, down and around a bend, past the turnoff left, and then to your right over a nice Land-Rover type track to the camp. NOT easy to find at night). I ask if the restaurant is any good, "of course" sez the proprietor/owner :-)

We (eventually) find the campsite, and Rene & Joke. Elmari and I decide to go back to the restaurant, Pim & Thandie stays behind with Rene & Joke. So we have a romantic evening for two, Elmari even puts on lipstick.

The restaurant has one weird menu. Trust me. Wait, here's an excerpt:

Macaroni & chickenN$40
Spaghetti & BeefN$40
Rice & Red MeatN$40
Sea Food (Spaghetti & Hake Fillet)N$45
Sea Food (Spaghetti & King Klip Fillet)N$50
Red MeatN$20

So, I decide to have "Boere Wors & Rice, N$40", Elmari settles for "Macaroni & Chicken, N$40", but... no Boere Wors. And no macaroni. So, we talk to zee French gentleman, he says: "No problem, chicken, mutton, beef, rice, good rice, no problem. Chips, no problem" *wave hands* *wave hands*

Well, you had to be there...

I say "beef, chips", Elmari says "chicken, chips", he says "no problem", disappears. Elmari takes pictures, I remind her that she wanted a salad, "no salad". OK, "vegetables?" - "no problem"

The table wine is Overmeer, choice of the red box or the green box, N$ 4.00 per glass. We decide that beggars can't be choosers, and in that part of the world even paying customers don't get much choice, so we drink some more.

Daniel & co rocks up at a quarter past eight, having made a U turn at Ruacana, eventually finding Opuwo, and seeing the yellow Rand-Lover parked outside they come looking for us. We tell him about our campsite, but according to Daniel there's another campsite, he goes off to try and find it. Comes back, instead of the campsite they found "the priest's son", who collects money for some charity. Of course we later heard that the priest (as expected) doesn't have a son.

So, Daniel gets the frenchman to make them vegetarian food - "no problem".

BTW, the vegetables were frozen peas. Apparently Jaki (Rousset, the frenchman) has tremendous supply problems, the locals live on beer (well, we knew that :-) and he has to drive to Windhoek twice a week in season to get supplies.

Opuwo campsite Saturday, 2000-07-08: Daniel refuses to pay for the camp site, because the showers were cold. Ah well. We pay and leave, figuring that we have better things to do (like shopping...)

We fuel up at the BP in town, at N$ 3.18/l, which amazingly enough is cheaper than in Oshakati. Thandie buys more beer, there's a long dry road ahead. There's a curio shop in the middle of town, and a bakery. And our first Himba. Beautiful legs. Ah man... those legs...

Fuel... lotsa fuel...

Old man While waiting for the shoppers, an old man begs me for R1. I give it to him in exchange for a picture of him.

We meet a couple from Napier in a SIII with a trailer. NG Kerk Napier Kaokoland mission. Erik & Hester, Hester was in Res with Elmari in Stellenbosch. Small world, if you have Elmari's memory for names and faces.

Soccer Daniel plays soccer with the locals, their ball is just a tad flat.

The Lonely Planet tells us that the road from Swartbooisdrift to Epupa falls takes 12 hours. We decide that we would rather spend some time at the falls, and we take the easy road via Okangwati. Rene decides to go via Swartbooisdrift, figuring that the rest of the group (Terry, Ina & co) would also do that and catch up with him.

Himba Himba Himba Himba

Lunch break We parked off in a river bed next to the road (Just past the Swartbooisdrif turnoff, ISTR) for lunch, and traded with the locals for real Himba necklaces.

Project Vehicle Supposedly there's a hot spring outside Okangwati somewhere. We didn't find it. What we did find is this nice SII project for someone who can fix things.

There's a "Traditional Himba Village" just outside Okangwati, but I figured that anything signposted as "traditional" probably isn't.

Epupa Falls: We got to the falls fairly late in the afternoon, made camp, parked off. There were a lot of people at the falls, and we had to jockey the cars around a bit to fit everyone in. Sunset at Epupa Falls

American sleeping beauties Sunday, 2000-07-09: We wake up to doors slamming, people packing, bloody early in the morning. Our neighbors must have slammed every door on their car at least three times. The sun rose on a deserted camp site.

I got up early, made coffee. For the first time Thandie is also up early, she normally takes a while to get started in the morning. We are not impressed.

<--- American sleeping beauties (hehehe)

Pim moves closer to us, away from the toilet which isn't flushing, and starts fixing his flat tyre. I fix the toilet, dirt in the valve. I assume their water supply is just a pipe somewhere upstream, and a hippo kicked up some dirt which came down the pipe and blocked the little sieve...

Fixing tires Fixing tires

We went for a hike up the hill, to get a nice view of the falls and the campsite. Had a hot shower when we got back -- the gas conversion of the geyser works well.

Epupa Falls Epupa Falls Epupa Falls Epupa Falls

Elmari in the shade We had refried leftovers for lunch, a nice nap after lunch, got up at 14:00 (local time) because it was too hot in the tent. Elmari does some laundry, I plan the route -- we would like to go via Van Zyl's pass, but we need an extra day, maybe two, to do that. Next time.

Mad dutchman swimming
Mad dutchman swimming
I heard a splash, and saw a pair of boots... Pim was swimming, someone had obviously warned him of the underwater duwweltjies of Epupa. I would have been more worried about the crocodiles... :-)

Later on, we tried getting some of the seeds/nuts/whatever out of the trees. I found that shooting them with a kettie worked better than poking them with a stick.

Nutty dutchman foraging

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