This Is The Way

Sat. 1st June ’24

Looking back at the camp from a waterholeTo make the most of our time at Hoanib Valley Camp, we have signed up for a morning walk with Linus. This means at 7:30am be ready to walk having enjoyed a full breakfast. It is good to take life at a slower pace giving us a chance to see the smaller natural world. It is interesting that the guides respect the dangers of the river bed and do not walk there as it is difficult to see any danger lurking in the trees or bushes. They have seen cheetah and leopard tracks but the animals themselves have been elusive. Yesterday, Linus told us that after the rains, they will not drive in the riverbed for several days after the water has gone to let the ground firm up again.

Camp tucked against the foot of the hillsWe do check out a couple of waterholes for tracks, to see who has visited in the night. Due to the clouds of yesterday and cold wind it is all very quiet. To survey from above we head up one of the surrounding hills to see if the group of elephants seen upstream have made it this far yet. Again all is quiet. We content ourselves with the enjoying the scenery and also the rock formation we are scrambling over. Like with most hills, we encounter many false tops and eventually decide the true top is a step too far, so turn back and scramble back to the sandy floor. It is a short walk back to the lodge and the reality of packing our packs again to head on to our next adventure.

Following Linus along the riverbedThe Lodge has received a late booking so Linus needs to go to Sesfontein (and the main road) to meet them. We had been debating whether we knew the way out on our own so are pleased that Linus is happy to escort us. After about half an hour’s drive, winding around the sandy riverbed, we suddenly came across a family of elephants and Linus stops and comes over to us to explain this is the family we were looking for this morning. We have time to stop and watch them as well as grab a few more elephants photos. Don’t ask the total count but we are sure when we get home we will find some great images.

Bonus elephants!Dave is now getting quite confident driving through sand as well as traversing rough terrain, which is an added benefit of driving ourselves along the riverbed. The sat nav said we were driving on a 4×4 track with sand, elephants and flash floods!! It was almost lunchtime when we arrived back at Fort Sesfontein so we stopped for a drink before heading on to our next campsite and another night in the roof tent. Before we get there, however, we need to cross the Vet fence where the vehicle has to be checked to ensure we do not have any raw meat on board. We had been warned about this, so all good on that front.

Giraffe. So photogenic.Most of our route is retracting our steps so we just head on as we know the way daydreaming and listening to more podcasts as the dirt road is in good condition. Suddenly there is a cry “giraffe “and sure enough munching away at the side of the road is a lovely giraffe. He was not concerned by passing traffic (probably one car an hour) so another few photos were called for.

As we changed direction and headed east the terrain changed and the road began to climb. This is not Mungo’s favourite type of road. Early gear changes are required and momentum retained as much as possible to make the top. The mountain tops were like corrugated rocks and quite spectacular and seemed to go on for miles. The road passes through what is known as Grootberg Pass. Mungo was glad to reach the top and then it was a short hop to the campsite. Again each campsite was secluded from its neighbour and each had its own braai, kitchen, toilet and shower.

Looking down from Grootberg PassWe opted for hot water this evening so the campsite owner lit a fire under the boiler to provide hot water for the shower as well as for washing the dishes in. Quite a come down having to cook our own meal again. Luckily the campsite sells braai packs of meat as this is the only opportunity to buy meat after the vet gate. I suppose we could have planned a vegetarian meal but we didn’t.

Astrophotography is getting better - perhaps too much foregroundAgain we were slow in lighting the fire so dinner wasn’t ready until gone 8pm and the sun had gone down long before then. So it was out with the head torches, which are very handy in such situations. The temperature was also dropping fast once the sun had gone in and we almost lost count of the required number of layers to keep warm. No central heating for chilly evenings (looking at you Jackie and Roger!!). No hot water bottles like we had last night either. I now remember why I try to avoid camping now I am getting older. We must thank Linus as he showed us (like The Mandalorian) that, this is the way!

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2 Responses to This Is The Way

  1. Sheelagh says:

    I love the landscape photography and the wildlife…but the stars are quite unbelievable. Xx

  2. BlogAdmin says:

    Thanks Sheelagh. For our first 2 weeks here, we were frustrated because the moon was waxing and by sunset it had already risen. Now we are getting time too see the night sky with no moon, no artificial light and no clouds – and you are right, it is absolutely astonishing.

    Also, one of the (few) things a camera can do better than the human is to pick up stars (esp. with the 30s exposure I have been using). However, even to the naked eye, the Milky Way is clearly visible weaving its way across the sky. Really beautiful – and easy to see why the Incas thought it was a (sacred) river.

    I’d better keep practising the astrophotography then!

    Dave. X

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