From Windhoek to Waterberg

Since we didn’t sleep the night before (in the plane on the way from Europe to Africa) we enjoyed a good night’s rest in a cosy bed even more. Using the extra blanket – as in the US they’re called comforter in Namibia – we slept well and it was snugly warm.

So, we get up at 8 and already now what little luggage we brought to Namibia is spread chaotically around our room. This bothers me a little…the safari hasn’t even started and already certain items seem to have gone missing. Frantically I try to put everything back to a sensible place in our luggage, constantly assessing the expected periodicity of use of the item.

After a quick breakfast we’re picked up by our guides Stefan & Marga in order to run the last errands in Windhoek before we’re off for the wilderness. We shop at a large US-style supermarket located inside a mall in the center of Windhoek. The goods at display all look tasty but it’s hard to tell for us what we really need as we don’t know what our guides already bought for us. Food management during our safari is basically their responsibility. To be on the safe side we buy 20l of water per person in large 4l containers. Since the sleeping bags that came with the Land Rover’s camping equipment really don’t look like their made for temperatures below 10°C we also buy some extra blankets for our roof-top tent beds. Also, since we didn’t bring too much cash to Namibia (advise by travel agency) we try to withdraw cash from the ATM machines in the mall. We have to try out a few until we find one that is willing to accept our Maestro cards AND sputter out cash.

While loading our Land Rovers I realize that Akiko and I really travel light. Compared to the other two cars ours is half empty. I realize that we really didn’t bring a lot of luggage, indeed. Again I run through my mental packing list to see if I can come with items we forgot at home. I can’t and, therefore, I try to calm down.

Then, finally, we hit the road and head north towards Waterberg Plateau. I quickly get used to the Land Rover and to driving on the left side of the road. At a large BP gas station on the outskirts of Windhoek we have the Land Rovers checked for water, oil, gas, and tire pressure.

Last check at the gas station before leaving civilisation as we know behind for a while
Last check at the gas station before leaving civilisation as we know behind for a while

In Okahanja, the next major village, we make a brief stop. There’s a nice craft market, many people hang around aimlessly. I wonder what they’re up to all day long. I feel watched and this makes me uncomfortable, ill at ease. Are we safe here? Getting used to Africa isn’t easy in the beginning…
At a nice liquor store (bottle store) we buy beer for Akiko and soda for me. Again, I notice that we buy less than the others in our party. What’s wrong with us?

Along the road from Okahanja to Waterberg we encounter the first “wild” animals: special species of sheep, baboos, small wardhogs, and a bush bock.

Waterberg plateau
Waterberg plateau

The camp at Waterberg is neat and clean and we’re surprised about the sanitation. The camp ground might as well be somewhere in Europe. When Marga tells us that all the other camps on our route will be much less “luxurious” I wonder what to make of that comment. Is she joking? Is she trying to scare us? Or is she simply trying to set our expectations straight? I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough.
When we put up our roof tent for the first time we realize that whoever prepared the car and its camping equipment for us packed a ladder extension that doesn’t fit the ladder properly. I get angry that this anonymous African – and Africans in general – and his sloppy work. Not that it couldn’t happen elsewhere in the world… I get loud, hectic, and also a bit frustrated since also the tent itself isn’t as expected. The fact that Stefan’s Land Rover’s ladder extension doesn’t fit either doesn’t exactly improve my mood. After some hammering and bending I manage to make them both fit, though. Meanwhile Stefan & Marga prepared dinner and my mood curve points skywards sharply 🙂 Life is good now and I apologize to Akiko for my behavior.

Namibia 2009 photos

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