Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Namibia: Bikes and Boats

Other Posts: Trip Overview, Little Kulala Lodge, Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, Sesriem Canyon And Scenic Flight, Swakopmund Sandboarding, Walvis Bay Dune & Sea Tour, Doro Nawas Camp, Damarland Sites, Damaraland Living Village Song, Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, The Skeleton Coast, Hoanib Game Drive and Lions, Serra Cafema Camp and Scenic Drive, The Himba

While at Serra Cafema Camp we spent a morning riding quad bikes. The last time we rode ATVs was 18 years ago at Dave's aunt's house, but that was just a short trip. This time we were going to be riding for a few hours in the desert.

The night before our excursion we noticed a teen/young adult in camp with a heavily bandaged arm. And yes, he did injure it on his quad excursion. Albert, our guide, said he didn't follow the rules and that is why he busted his arm. We would definitely follow the rules because we knew the nearest town was some 200 miles away.

It would be just the two of us with our guide that morning. Tony and Val departed for their next camp just before we took to the bikes (hooray). We had to pass a driving test before we could go out into the desert. After helmets and gloves were distributed, we walked to the ATV parking area and circular track. Albert taught us how to shift (of course they were manual) and watched us go around the track several times. After 3 laps he was confident we could handle the trip. Unfortunately the fist few moments were the hardest. We had to go up a pretty steep hill with loose rocks and a deep edge of a cliff on one side. Holly wasn't feeling too confident in this section. Fortunately it did not last too long and were were onto sand and dirt terrain.

Albert said if we got stuck In sand not to worry. He would eventually turn around and get us unstuck. Dave took advantage of his generosity 3 times. We covered about 50km alternating between long straightaways and small dune climbs. We had a few scenic stops including the sighting of the second Himba village. The only wildlife we encountered were a few oryx and springboks.

Later that afternoon we had our final activity of the trip, the scenic boat ride. We were joined by another couple from England (younger than us) tonight. Our trip would not be that long given that many sections of the river were too shallow this time of year. We started with a slow tour of camp from the water and then went to an area where the crocodiles usually hung out. We saw a few of them pretty close-up.

Sundowners tonight would be on the other side of the river, which was the country of Angola. We walked inland for a few minutes (sandals not the right choice of footwear for areas frequented by livestock) and watched a Chimba family bring their herd in for the evening.

After the trip we had enough time to enjoy our last few waking hours in camp watching the river go by and dining on the deck. The next morning we would take three different airplanes to get us back to Windhoek. Being conservative travelers we did not want to push our luck of missing the flight to Joburg that night. With lots of little planes involved we thought the logistics may be too aggressive. Instead, we relaxed in Windhoek with a trip to Joe's Beerhouse and another great dinner at the Olive Grove.

Our flight On Saturday to Johannesburg was in the afternoon, leaving us time to lounge around the inn for the morning and catch up on Facebook and such. In Joburg we had a marathon duty free shopping spree (great airport for souvenirs and nougat) that wore us out. We were looking forward to a few hours in the British Airways Lounge. As luck would have it, the attendant asked if we would take the same seats on the earlier flight, with the only real difference to us being time spent in JNB vs. Heatrhow. We agreed to the swap, leaving us only about a 30 minute rest before boarding our flight. We were glad we switched because the lounge in Heathrow was much nicer than the one in Joburg. We treated ourselves to showers, some really good high-end champagne they were serving, and Dave tried every scotch over 18yrs old. The rest of the trip back to Chicago was uneventful and we made it home in time to prepare to go back to work the next day.


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