Searching For The Big 5 & A Person

19th of March 2016:

I was so happy to leave Swakopmund we had only been here for two days but those two days felt like a week with all the drama that occurred. I finally had a nice peaceful morning off, with no activities or police officers to deal with. We weren’t bound to leave Swakopmund until 2pm so the morning was filled with Facebook, chatting about Eurovision and eating chocolate cake with a vanilla milkshake at the village cafe. We were heading off to Spitzkope, I had seen photos and it looked breathtaking one of those places that you couldn’t imagine was actually real but rather a series of photoshops. Our drive to Spitzkope was only four hours with the sun beaming down on my bare skin with no escape. As we arrived it was as breathtaking as the picture led on. Beautiful rock mountains surrounded us. Nick and I walked up the rock facing our campsite to get a better view in the 15 minutes we had before our guided tour. 

spitzkope, Namibia

It was amazing, the landscape showed numerous huge rock mountains with bare flat, sandy ground surrounding the rocks and the horizon. We were suppose to have a guided tour with locals about the ancient rock paintings but as it was their long weekend due to Independence Day they were at the soccer. Luckily our tour guide, Bella has been working here for 5 years so she explained all the pictures in detail as if she had heard it a hundred times.

As we walked back from the walk I was exhausted, my calves were tightening up every step of the way. I was happy to sit down and have a bit of down time. Unfortunately I wished it was that simple and the night ended there. An American girl named Kat (Katherine) said she was going to “find her husband and walk with him up that rock.” This particular rock was enormous, I would rather call it a mountain and the terrain didn’t look simple, all natural with no path. As the sun was setting I headed back up the same rock from earlier (this time only taking 5 minutes) and enjoyed the beautiful sunset, setting in between two rocks in the horizon. As I was just about to head back down with everyone, Andrew (Kat’s husband) turns up. With a quizzical concern I ask if he saw Kat. This is the point of the night where the night changed to more drama. He said that Nick had said the same thing to him at the campsite but he thought he was joking. As soon as he realised we weren’t lying his face dropped. Sudden concern spread across his face. We headed back down thinking that she might be at the campsite, but no one had seen her. Ten minutes passed and I saw, Andrew, Jamie and Cara getting torches to find her. The sun had set and they only had 20 minutes before true blackness would occur. I joined them knowing I was the last person she talked to before hand and hating the feeling of helplessness if I just sat waiting at the campsite. I told them which rock she headed up (as there is 3 around us) but Andrew said he told her he was climbing the other one so we headed his direction. Our torches aren’t ideal for finding someone on a rock 100m away. We yelled her name for an hour, whilst continuing to shine our light hoping to see some sort of object looking like Kat, but nothing. Once the sun had gone to bed and the moon and the stars were our only source of light we had to retreat back. I’ve never looked for a person before, not like this in the dark screaming their name, but it was terrifying. As every 10 minutes passed it was like hope was diminishing as well. My fear was she had hurt herself, one image was she was unconscious on the rock face. I told everyone that we should head back to the campsite to make sure she hadn’t turned up and if she wasn’t there at least we could get more people involved. It wasn’t safe for us to be roaming the wilderness with wild animals (apparently a panther) in the night let alone her. The nerve-racking thing was I knew she had no torch or water, she was an intelligent women but is devoted to her husband enough to not turn around when it gets dark, this I knew. I studied psychology and for some reason she has been one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met. As we were only a couple 100m away we heard a scream. We stopped abruptly and looked at each other knowing that, that was not just wishful thinking that it was real. As we heard it again “Cara” we ran. Adrenaline kicked in and after only 100m we found her safe on the ground with Nick and the others. To see her safe sent a rush of emotions, relief that she was ok and unharmed, but anger at how scared she had made us after an hour searching in the dark. Apparently what had happened was she was on the rock (that I had said) and flashed her camera at the campsite. Nick saw it and ran to the rock. He climbed all the way up to her where he says could have easily broken bones or killed yourself as there were crevices and a gorge you had to jump over. As he reached her he had to bring her back down and it’s lucky their both unharmed. It wasn’t until the next day I saw his leg was covered in bruises and scratches. She was in shock when I saw her, she was just crying in embarrassment. Saying she didn’t even think anyone would be looking for her, and she just thought the sunset was so pretty she didn’t think about it getting dark. At least she was alive. When we got back to the campsite, our leader told us Acacia has only ever had one incidence and that was when someone decided to climb the same rock in the middle of the night and died. 
The night ended in one of those moments where you think to yourself, my life is amazing. We slept on top of one of the rocks outside where the stars glistened and the moon burned bright like a lantern.

20th of March 2016:
We awoke whilst the stars were still in the black sky. We left to go to Etosha whilst the sun was rising above the horizon. Etosha campsite was amazing with a waterhole where wild animals can come and go whilst people observe them only a few metres away. We arrived at 3pm with only an hour before our first safari drive. Excitement was looming as we were so close to seeing wild animals for the first time. At 4pm we were on the truck with cameras charged and eager eyes looking out hoping to see a glimpse of one of the big 5. In our 3 hours we saw a dead giraffe, rhino and springbok. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite as good as we may have hoped for. We had a big day full of driving and from all our drama from Swakopmund Bella treated us to dinner at the restaurant where we had Kudo, soup and salad definitely filled my stomach up. 

Etosha, Namibia

We then set up camp by the waterhole and watched in dead silence with 100’s of people a rhino drinking. It was amazing to see a big animal all by itself drinking water. Every now and again it would raise it’s head listening out to the surroundings before relaxing and drinking the water again. I wish I could of stayed awake longer but once the rhino had left for 10 minutes I had to fall asleep. Nick stayed up till 12pm where he saw one hyena.

21st of March 2016:

Today was a full day of game driving in Etosha. This morning we set off at 7:30am it was a 4 hour game drive and I wish I could say we saw so many amazing animals but it just wasn’t true. Unless your a bird watcher then maybe you would have enjoyed it. We did however see a herd of zebras which was amazing. Four hours seemed to have dragged on as our weary eyes grew wearer as time passed and no animals in sight. We were back in time for lunch where we had a gorgeous beef burger. This afternoon was amazing as we all spent three hours in the pool as the sun was shining. It was one of those moments where I just loved my life, the absolute freedom, and pure joy of it all. As 4:30pm came around we were back on the truck ready for a another 2 hour game drive. My hopes were low and I truly wasn’t expecting anything after this mornings adventures. It’s at the point where you have no expectation that life surprises you, because you let it. Straight away we saw a Cape buffalo from there numerous giraffes including a little baby one. It was not until this one particular animal that made it a day we would never forget. Thomas started yelling “luver, luver!” Unfortunately I had no idea what that meant as he was so excited he was speaking Dutch instead of English after a few seconds he realises and yells “LION! LION!”

Etosha, Namibia

 I quickly hit the buzzer to inform the driver to stop, as we started reversing back we saw one male lion sitting next to a waterhole behind a tree. We stood there taking pictures and staring for 20 minutes as our excitement propelled to a whole new level. We were so excited we saw a lion. Livy was taking photos on her phone when suddenly she dropped it out the window in front of the lion. We were 20 metres away so in two seconds the lion could jump up and get us. Our driver, George says “are you fucking kidding me.” As he jumps out quickly to retrieve it. He risked his life for her phone. 

As we came back to our campsite we were all still buzzing in disbelief that we actually saw a lion. Nick and I ran to the waterhole to see if we could see any more animals. As the sun began to set a beautiful rhino was wondering over slowly as springbok and zebras lined the horizon. It was a breathtaking moment, a gorgeous pink sunset as a backdrop to a big rhino peacefully drinking water in the reflective water. We sat in silence as we watched this gorgeous animal so peaceful in its movements. As a result of living in the moment we missed having dinner with everyone. Thankfull Bella left us a big steak and mash potatoes to have when we arrived. Majority of the group paid for an additional night game drive. I knew we would still have heaps of game drives left and one night drive included but I didn’t want to miss out on anything. The night game drive finished at 11pm and I was well and truly asleep an hour before. Fortunately for me they didn’t see anything but a hyena for a few moments, I felt bad they had spent a lot more money then they should of but I was happy I didn’t miss out on anything as bad as that sounds.

22nd of March 2016:

We were up early in the morning again off to Windhoek. It was a full day of driving again. I’m becoming use to waking up, getting on the truck and sitting for hours, then getting off and setting up a tent, and today was no different. When we arrived at Windhoek we were in the middle of a fairly big town. Nick and I didn’t set up our tent we chose to sleep outside in the cool air where it would be one of our last times. Thankfully a few people upgraded so we stole their mattresses and it felt like a gorgeous bed instead of a thin mattress on gravel. We went to the pool where we chatted and sun baked the last few hours of sunlight away. This seems to be a routine, arrive, go to the pool then dinner. Such a hard life! Dinner tonight wasn’t included so we all went to Joes bar for dinner. It was a huge restaurant with random decor everywhere you looked. It was more of a mixture of old western meets Africa, if you can visualise that. I had a chicken pasta it was amazing, since Africa I hadn’t had chicken and only pasta once so I was in heaven. The night ended fairly early considering and soon we were all snuggled up in our sleeping bags being blinded by the moonlight. 

23rd of March 2016:

Today we were off to Botswana saying goodbye to Namibia. Another long day led to arriving at our campsite in the late afternoon. We set up our mats on the sand half a metre from ants holes. If you know me you know how much I hate ants there horrible and to sleep with them that’s a different story. Our campsite was rustic but pretty with old huts surrounding us. We went on a bush walk with natives showing us plants they use to help with pregnancy and back ache. A specific plant is used and crushed up for back ache the proceeding is far worse than I could imagine. They would cut their back and put the herb inside the cut and then would have to lie still for 3 days and would magically be healed. The lady showed us her back and she had at least 8 lines all the way up her back. They then sat around a fire and cooked the beetles they had found. It was an amazing feeling and I loved every moment of it. This was why I came to Africa to learn about their culture and there way of life. The children were adorable as well showing us her beetle she caught all by herself. One girl was 6 whilst the other was only 6 months old. 

24th of March 2016:

We were up and on the truck again ready to go to Maun. I was starving by the time we arrived to the town. This was the first time we could get out Botswana money but typical I went to get lunch first (using my card). We went to Nandos where I got a chicken burger and chips. It was pretty satisfying even though normally when I’m away I don’t like to eat at fast food places. Whilst eating the chips we waited in the line for the ATM. The issue with Africa is everyone uses the ATM no one uses card so the line takes 10 to 15 minutes at least. I felt safe that we weren’t going to get robbed because people take out their life savings compared to us who took out only 20 in case we wanted snacks. The sun was so hot it instantly made you sweat. As we sat on the ground next to the trucks shade Bella arrived. She told us that she was going to buy us food instead of making it back at the campsite. I instantly regretted Nandos I could of gotten free lunch, this moment of envy did not last long. The local restaurants food looked horrendous and I was happy I was full. 

Our campsite had a pool and a bar with wifi, what more could you want? Nick jumped in the pool instantly and I came over just to test the water and because I was too lazy to put my bathers on. If only I hadn’t been lazy. Nick pulled me in clothes and all, so I quickly got changed into my bathers and hung my clothes out to dry. After an hour I went to go have a nice shower. Sometimes you truly just need some tender, love and care to your body and hair. If only I had done it after beach volleyball. I was covered in sand head to toe. It was so much fun and I would love to tell my p:e teacher that I only missed one serve out of the 20 or so I did! Why did I not have this much strength back in year 11. I had always hated volleyball since p:e and this was the first time that I actually enjoyed it. You can really see people’s true personalities come out when you play sport, especially the competitive and sore losers. 

After a bit of wifi I went to sleep outside on the pool benches, if only I had known. At 1am I awoke to a million mosquito bites. I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I told Nick I was going to set up our tent and sleep in there. He surprisingly agreed and thought it was a great idea, I clearly wasn’t the only one getting attacked. In 20 or so minutes we were in the tent snuggled up falling into a deep peaceful sleep. 

25th of March 2016:

I was exhausted but it was the day we were off to the delta. I had my little backpack full of clothes and toiletries made and was ready for the adventures that awaited. We jumped on a truck that had two lines of seats facing outwards with only a tin roof for shelter. The sun was already quite strong at 7:30am. We had 2 hours of being on the truck where 1.5 hours was on dirt, sand and mud making it incredibly uncomfortable and bumpy. As we arrived locals in little boats were by the waters edge awaiting to greet us. The boat was a two person little canoe. They use to make them out of trees but as the government has banned this they have to use acrylic ones. The lady who used a stick to steer the boat in between the reeds and canals where crocodiles and hippos leaked was called a poller. They get taught at a very young age. From the night before I was beyond exhausted that I fell asleep on our 2 hour boat ride. The canoe was my hip width and we were sitting on plastic chairs with no legs. I awoke when my head fell back and I felt the plastic bend, it was lucky we didn’t fall out. I tried to stay awake because it was an amazing experience but I just couldn’t, at one point I congratulated myself on not falling asleep but then I realised I had been asleep the entire time I just dreamt of the scenery. 

Delta, Botswana

By the time we arrived at the campsite I was burning, tired and hungry, not ideal mood to be in. It was already 12:30pm. They told us lunch would be ready in an hour. Our tent was amazing, we could stand up in it as well as two beds. We had a mini backyard that consisted of a bucket shower and a drop toilet. Lunch was amazing it was mince with bread on top in a metal tin cup. I was by far satisfied now. We asked the tour leaders to take us swimming and to teach us how to do polling. It was so much fun we were playing volleyball in the water (in a big circle passing it to each other). The nerve racking thing was there was a man who stayed in the boat on guard in case there were hippos. Luckily we were fine. We got back with only 15 minutes before our walk. The walk was amazing we were out in the wilderness just walking trying to find lions and rhinos. Terrifying but exciting. I was more at the back of the line as I saw our guide freeze turn to us to shuffle us back. I didn’t know what was happening but at the top of the little termite hill our guide and a few people saw two huge Buffaloes only a few metres. These animals are incredibly dangerous. They don’t show any warning signs of threat or if they will charge. They will literally just start charging you especially how close we were. Luckily we backed up and saw them running off a few minutes later. 

The night was sensational we had a campfire roaring with a hippo only 10 metres in the water also roaring. We had popcorn around the fire before dinner. I haven’t had popcorn since being home and I may have eaten three bowls worth. Dinner we had soup and bread for entree, chicken and rice for mains and a apple crumble for desert. If I wasn’t satisfied at the popcorn I defiantly was by the end of the three course meal. Then the locals came and sang two songs to us and danced around the fire. One dance is where they go on the ground and pretend their a frog and stick their arse in the air very different. It was by far a sensational night but after the night before I was well and truly ready for a good nights sleep in a bed.

26th of March 2016:

Delta, Botswana

We awoke nice and early to do a morning walk around the Delta. We saw the hippo again only 30 metres away in the river. The hippo can stay under water for 6 to 7 minutes and therefore can be hard to find in the dark behind reeds. We were back in the canoes with the poler. Thankfully we were only crossing the river, except over where we had spotted the Hippo. The walk was another 2 hours where it took an hour to see more than just a dead Buffalo’s head. As we approached the lake we saw two hippos playing in the water and one crocodile. This was amazing and terrifying both animals could easily kill us if they felt threatened or hungry in the case of the stealthy fresh water crocodile. We stood in awe for at least 30 minutes watching these amazing beasts happily playing in the water. As we turned back to walk back to our campsite, zebras and giraffes were eating the morning grass and trees. It was picturesque animals eating and frolicking all around us. The walk makes you realise how small humans are to the animal kingdom. We were the last group to get back, but I would have happily stayed at the lake an hour longer. Unfortunately this meant we were behind schedule so breakfast was quick and we were back in the canoe heading to the truck. I don’t know what way we went to get to the campsite but the way back only took us 30 minutes. Another group were waiting by the truck for their adventure to the delta, but ours had unfortunately ended. I wish the truck ride wasn’t so long another 2 hours of driving on dirt, mud, sand you name it. Thankfully we got back at 1pm on the dot where lunch was ready.

When some of the group came back from their Delta flight we were lucky enough to have dinner at the bar. This is where a nice dinner some how escalated into drunk people jumping in the sand and making sand angels whilst others were swimming or “skinny dipping” in the pool. It was a night I won’t ever forget.  

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