Windhoek to the Kalahari

Tuesday 11 to Saturday 15 October

Windhoek was an opportunity to get organised for our next leg of our Southern Africa journey.

A long day of plane rides and airports had left us very tired. Never used to feel like that in early travelling days. I guess age has a way of reminding us that life is finite!

We were picked up at 8am and taken to the car hire place. A Toyota 4 wheel drive Fortuna.  The usual discussion of what level of insurance we should take out. Of course we finally opted for the highest cover. Just hope it turns out to be a waste of money.

Next was the briefing of the car. Speed limits. Black Box (they know where you are). Break down protocol. Accident protocol. How to drive through sand. How to change a tyre. Tool box with two jacks, tow rope, and a compressor to adjust tyre pressure in sand. What have we got ourselves in for?

Personal and belongings advice. This really frightened us – keep the doors locked and the windows up. Don’t get out of your car if you are stopped, just wind one window down a couple of centimetres. Backpacks will be stolen before suitcases so don’t have them on show. But there was no tonneau to cover our luggage.

Shopping was next. A SIM card for the travelling phone. Muesli bars and fruit juices for on the road lunches. Water. Restock toiletries. And a suitcase to disguise our backpacks and their precious contents – our computers. Unfortunately, the only suitcase in the size was bright turquoise and clearly visible through the darkened windows. Problem solved with a black sheet to cover everything in the boot. Are we being over-precautious?

We did a quick tour of Windhoek – the national museum and Cristuskirche, the shopping street and lovers lookout. And we were on the road.

Windhoek was hot and the air extremely dry. The country was just as dry. Scenery stunning. The road was straight, well marked and well maintained.

We shared the 200km drive. I needed to get a few miles practice in the car.

Red Dunes in the Kalahari was our first safari lodge and it was beautiful. Just 12 bungalows around a dry lake bed. The restaurant and swimming pool were set on what is probably an island in the wet, connected by a boardwalk.

All the other guests were German speaking from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. They all spoke English. Our language incompetencies were again realised. The staff moved between their own language, English and German with ease.

We quickly realised that this was one of the more upmarket resorts of our travels, well decorated with extremely competent and friendly staff.

From our verandah we watched Elands, monitor lizards and ground squirrels around the waterhole.

We tried riding the fat wheel bikes in the late afternoon. They certainly power through the sand. The seat on Bruce’s bike was not adjustable and too high, so the ride could be considered as not very successful, given Bruce’s numerous attempts to get his leg over the bike without getting tangled in his camera bag.

The safari tour zig zagged around the 40,000 hectare property, with the guide treating us to information about plants, animals and birds. It finished with a sundowner on a stunning red cliff and great conversation with our new German speaking friends.

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What we saw…

  • Eland is the largest antelope. They may live to 27years. 9 months gestation. They can jump 2m, whereas a Kudu can jump 2.5m
  • Ground squirrel
  • Monitor lizard
  • Camel thorn acacia. Used as wood for barbequing. They can live to 300 years
  • . Seed pods rich in protein. Roots can go 14m into the ground.
  • Sociable weavers build a big nest. They co-habitate with red headed Finch & rosy faced & love bird & pygmy falcon.
  • Their enemy is the cape cobra
  • . There could be 500 birds In the wet it can weigh as much as 1000kg, which is too heavy for the tree to support it.
  • Oryx grazers and can be independent of water for approximately 2 months. Male & female have horns . They can survive by overheating and then cool themselves through their nasal passage. Enemies are the lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena
  • Blue wildebeest. Males live together in a bachelorhood. If an old bull becomes tired it will leavs the bachelorhood and live alone. Breeding groups are made up of a number of females with one bull.
  • Oryx is the national animal and is huntable
  • African wild lily is toxic. Grows very high in the wet
  • Common springbok. Life expectancy 7 years, gestation 5.5 months, maturity 7months
  • Male many females. Male chooses which female to sit on eggs. Female sits daytime when she is camouflaged, male sits at night and also protects the chicks.
  • Biggest eye of mammals small brain??
  • Three thorn bush. Drinkable water. Ostriches, springboks etc feed
  • Bushman silky grass. Grow high in wet. Used as a camouflage. Laid out to slaughter animals
  • Pristleh bush pink flower
  • White brown vein butterfly
  • Ground squirrel eats roots and lives in big groups.
  • Ostrich family
  • Black springbok.
  • Black wildebeests from South Africa, smaller with a white tail
  • Lone blue wildebeest
  • Zebra bercel or plain zebras. Stripes further apart & around body Dependant in water. Life approx. 25 years,
  • gestation 1 year, sexually active at 3 years.
  • Common Impala. Other is the black face. A group is called a harem
  • Mountain aloe
  • Sherberts tree. Sweet fruit. Boil leaves in water for a good constipation relief.
  • Tops of trees common fiscal bird
  • . Hunts skinks or rock agama. They can get the lizards caught in thorns so the small bird can manage to eat its prey.
  • Yellow … snake catcher
  • Red hartebeest is the second fastest antelope
  • Parkinson’s African is for nose bleed
  • Sulphur bush with white trumpet flowers, silvery bush
  • Black thorn tree. Thorns stick, berry
  • Kori Bustard is the heaviest flying bird. Bushman made traps of
  • gum from the Acacia millefiore
  • to trap the birds
  • Stinky bush
  • All acacias have thorns
  • Male impalas
  • Female nyalas not native, from South Africa. Males are grey
  • Two types of Springbok, black & common
  • Acacia millefiore again
  • Blue wildebeest at waterhole
  • Single springbok
  • Oryx cows & calves
  • Ostriches open wings to keep cool
  • Blasbok, South African not native
  • Millipedes are black but bleached by sun, grass eaters
  • Termite mounds. Porcupines stay out of sun but eat them at night. Could be 2-3 m underground
  • active
  • Moles move underground. Earth dug up for air.
  • Albino blesbok
  • Sundowner drinks