#26 – Visiting Etosha National Park in Namibia
A woman gave birth to a son in the tiny hospital we were staying at, but the sound must have been merged into the deep dream quite well, as I hadn’t heard anything. While drinking a cold coffee on Luis his recommendation, he drew a portrait of me.
After saying goodbye to Luis and Anyisa, I noticed that my motivational tank was topped up once again. It gave me the energy to cycle the last stretch of Angola towards Namibia, while an equal amount of a fresh blue sky and humble white clouds was towering above me.
Having to cycle on the left side of the sandy Namibian road, I immediately got impressed by the big sized stores, a KFC and the big improvement in lifestyle. I soon got the feeling of being close to home, when a bratwurst became victim to my hunger.
“Can I try one caterpillar?”, I asked the lady selling them. “Yeah, no problem”, she replied, giving me a no-way-back ticket. As much as I find these insects filthy, I was eager to try eating one of them. Completely dried, they tasted a bit like a biscuit.
The road was harsh. Cars are allowed to drive 120 km/h and both with the 5 cm yellow line, there is another 5 cm of tarmac on the outside which I concentrated on to use. And I got a little grumpy when I found another huge crack in the new tyre, but I was surprised that it held for the entire day.
Beside the long and flat road I found a small farm to put up my tent. The son and the mother of the family were spading the farmland to grow corn, while I enjoyed a cold shower with running water, a feature I haven’t seen with locals since Morocco.
“What do you miss the most from home?”, people ask me regularly. “Yogurt with muesli”, I reply, “after my family and friends ofcourse”. Since my arrival in Namibia, my journey has become a little more pleasant, as even small cities offer yogurt.
The road was kind of boring, with long and flat stretches, fast driving cars and a solid dry heat. It’s for that reason that I pushed myself to make a lot of progress, to get over it as soon as possible.
As the sun started to lower down, I found a campsite near Etosha National Park. Due to the offseason I shared the enourmous space only with some German tourists.
A short but exhausting ride brought me to Etosha National Park, one of the most promising parks in Africa. At the campsite I got reunited with Tania, and after chatting with her it was time to go on safari.
Because of the rain season, there is a plenty of water and finding wild animals is more difficult for that reason. Nevertheless, this park contains loads of several species of the most beautiful animals of Africa. We spotted zebras, giraffes, gazelles, impalas, wildebeests, warthogs, oryx and jackals, but the most impressing one was the group of cheetahs we saw from just a few metres.
Well equiped we fought the cold as the safari jeep went into the park in the waking morning. The animals were already in their office, in the midst of their day chasing deadlines to find food. The giraffes and the elephants acted as real workaholics, as they chew on their green meals for about 16 hours a day. The lions we saw on the other hand, would do fine as an official, as they rather relax.
The place was filled with loads of animals, from a flock of zebras to a lonely hyena, and from a car chasing elephant to a wide variation of coloured birds. And it was not only the animals that satisfied our minds, but the stunning nature had its part in it as well.
Namibia is the second least dense populated country in the world, after Mongolia. With the relative busy North side of the country I hadn’t experienced areas without people yet. But today that would change.
100 km with nothing than straight roads, low vegetation and a boiling sun. Not a single village could be found, only a handful of farms. It meant that I had to bring enough food and water for the entire day, which I regularly had to make use of at the tables of the few official pick nick spots.
And after this empty stretch, there was a well developed city. I made a quick visit to a bike shop, which turned out to be outdoor shop as well. I came for a new tyre, but left with a cheap airbed, before I went to my host. The white Namibian couple had to go away, but the gorgeous Bengal cat held me a pleasant welcome.
After taking it very easy at my host this morning, I continued my journey on the road filled with butterflies. Eveywhere I looked I saw them, and often had to wipe one off my shirt.
During lunch at a pick nick spot I met Jonas, who also cycled to the middle of nowhere. He was on his way to ask a farmer for a job, as he will loose his current one and needs to take care of his two sons. I shared my last sandwich and a bottle of water with him, and wished him good luck.
Some time later I arrived in Grootfontein, where I was invited to Andries’ house, the farmer I met in Angola a few weeks earlier. He and his wife were all into cooking, from making and selling cookies, to enjoying a typical Namibian braai.
“Goedemorgen”, my host Andries said to me as I moved myself into the living room. The Afrikaans language he speaks, is coming from the Dutch language and was brought to Cape Colony by Dutch shippers in the 17th century. A group of Afrikaans speaking Oorlams – the offspring of white male farmers and African women – moved to what is now called Namibia in the 19th century.
Being able to conversate in my own language, makes me almost feel at home. And especially when my host puts a lot of effort into helping me with getting new tyres and repairing my laptop. We ordered a couple of new tyres in the capital and brought away my laptop to see if it could he repaired, but sadly it’s officially dead. Luckily I could borrow a laptop, so I can work on my video.
And last but not least, we were able to get our hands on a real map of Namibia, allowing me to get a good overview of all the roads and villages. As Namibia has a lot of empty spaces, I need to prepare better than usual.