We left the mining town of Tsumeb, and headed the relatively short distance to “Roy’s Rest Camp”, en-route we diverted off the main route to visit the Hoba Meteorite. This is the largest meteorite that has ever been discovered on Earth, and weighs a staggering 60 tonnes, and apparently fell to Earth less than 80,000 years ago. There is no real crater at the site, so some believe it bounced (a bit like a stone skimming on a pond), from the crater site over near the west coast of Namibia. However it got here, it is mighty impressive to see (and for Jac to jump on).
The site is now a National Monument, and unlike most places like this in Africa (and that includes Namibia), it has been done really nicely, and obviously it doesn’t get that many visitors but its got decent toilets (Africa decent……..), and a small shop, apparently funds were made available by Rossing Uranium LTD to build the centre and protect the site (which had been damaged by vandals previously).
After a night at Roy’s (and giving three very excited Spanish women a guided tour of Colonel K), we set off to visit a San Bushman village. This was about a 130km round trip including 12km down a very narrow sand track to the village. It was a long drive “just to visit a village” but it was well worth it. The village is part of the Ju/Hoansi tribe (this is the localised tribe, but they are known as San Bushman in general terms). We were met with a very warm welcome, by a young lad that spoke reasonable English (he was the only person in the village that seemed to speak or understand English), who instructed us that we were going to meet a” San” hunter, who would show us how they make a fire. The old guy made it look very very easy.
There is a more “modern” part to the village about 2 kilometres further down the track,where about 400 people live. Apparently about 80 people live in the traditional way of the San, here in this amazing setting.
The San Bushman traditionally hunt their food with tiny bows and arrows, but make no mistake those arrows are deadly, as they are tipped with poison (made from the larvae of a particular beetle that feeds in a particular type of bush), and have sustained the tribesmen for many thousands of years. They rely on “stealth” creeping up on their quarry and hitting it from close range. I asked how long it takes for the poison to work and for the prey to die, after much chatting our young guide translated that if say a Giraffe or Eland (a large antelope) was hit with three arrows they would have to track the injured animal for about two days, and then hopefully get to the dying quarry before any of the other predators beat them to it. Life is, or was tough here.
Before we left the truck we had a debate about what footwear we should have on, trainers or full on walking boots (obviously to protect against snake bites, and scorpions, walking boots are a safer bet), but we figured that if we did walk with anyone in the bush, they would only have flip flops on, so we went with trainers. These guys were barefoot, there were no shoes to be seen anywhere, and trust me, the thorns in Namibia are huge and will puncture a car tyre. It was decided that they would take me and Jac on a ‘bush walk’, so off we went after the “Hunter” and our “guide”.
Whilst on our walk we were shown, a traditional snare, that was set up to catch ground feeding birds, which really are ingeniously set up, and super sensitive. Then we were shown a few of the herbs that they use, this included our young guide getting under a bush and digging with his bare hands to unearth a tiny piece of Camphor root.
We noticed that we were being followed by a couple of ladies from the village (we never did find out why), but they followed at a discreet distance, so I stopped and waited for them to come round the corner to take a photo of them, straight away, they smiled and posed for the camera.
Eventually we arrived back in the clearing of the village, and there were a lot more people up and about now, with many of the women making traditional jewellery.
At this point we were split up, Jac taken to do woman’s work (making jewellery) with an old lady, and me, well I did manly things like making a bow! I noticed when we were out walking, that the old fella had cut down a stick, but didn’t realise that this was to be the basis of my own start into archery. So whilst Jac was shaping Ostrich egg shell into round discs and drilling it with a stick with a pin in the end of it, I was shaping my bow and making the string from the fibre’s of a local plant.
Then hey presto…. Jac’s had a fantastic necklace and bracelet made, and I had my very own bow! Apparently Jac’s bracelet was free but if she wanted the necklace (which was very nice), it was $80NAD (about £3.50), and my bow was free, but if I wanted any arrows they were $40NAD each, so I bought one bone tipped one, and one steel tipped one (I was not trusted with the poison).
So Jac was wearing her stuff, so that meant I had to try out my bow! The village elder decided we should re-enact a hunting scenario, and so we had to creep up on our “quarry”, and then loose our arrows into the tiny target. It was great fun but he seemed to be taking it all very seriously.
I even managed to hit the target on my fourth go, I was pretty chuffed.
We were then taken back to the village clearing, and the village elder told us that the women would carry out some traditional dancing for us, so off he went to round up some willing participants.
The first part involved a strange dance using a fruit that they called a ‘mango-orange’, and involved each woman doing a short dance and then throwing it behind them for the next woman to catch and carry on the dance, this is a traditional dance when the men return with a successful kill.
Then of course Jac got ‘roped in’ to dance with these tiny people, I was videoing it, and it was so funny to watch, the camera was shaking.
Lastly a dance was performed showing how a sick person could be healed using the power of the mind (the guy smokes something to take him into a trance), this was quite an eerie sight and very atmospheric.
Eventually we had to say our farewell’s, and we were taken back to our truck by our guide and was shown the “shop” to see if we wanted to buy any of the items made in the village.
Obviously I had to buy a quiver for my two arrows! At the shop there was a small girl with her mum, and Jac decided this was the perfect time to give away one of the many second hand toys that we brought back to Africa, that were kindly donated by our great nephews and nieces. So after a quick rummage in the toy box, Jac presented the little girl with a Minnie Mouse, that was donated by my sister’s daughter Hannah. This simple gift has made this little girl a very happy bunny!
We felt very privileged to have been allowed to visit these people and we had an amazing day seeing how they live. It seems that the young San people now aren’t interested in learning these ancient ways, and would rather either work on the local farms or move to the nearby towns. It’s a real shame, as this village has shown that tourists would support these local communities.. We really had a great day.
As though to prove this fact, Jac decided for the first time on this trip she would try driving the Colonel. She done good!
After another night at “Roy’s”, we set off for the northern town of Rundu, and after driving through the scruffy but booming town, we came to the turning off the gravel track down to the campsite that we were aiming for. After about two kilometers we were faced with a seriously flooded track infront of us, there was a sign to say that it was flooded for 0.8km, and the depth was 800mm, the trouble was we couldn’t actually see the route of the track, and could we actually trust this sign? Or indeed was the campsite open anyway? There was a local guy sitting there that assured us that we could manage the flood in the truck, but we decided to turn around and find another campsite. If we had to cross it we probably would have gone for it, but with no markers visible, it was only for a campsite ,we decided that discretion was best used here. We ended up at a campsite/lodge quite near the town centre, but still overlooking the flooded Okavango River, this is the border with Angola.
Our plan was to get some fresh fruit and veg, and spend one night here only, then head on down the Caprivi Strip (Zambezi), the next day. Plans never quite work out eh…….
The next day after a leisurely breakfast and a long chat with a South African couple (the only other campers here), we set off for the village of Divundu, about 200km’s east. After about 30km on the bumpy tarmac road, the steering on the Daf went mental, shaking and shuddering, so we stopped. I expected to see a punctured tyre. but no all tyres were fully inflated.So I got underneath and checked the steering to see if anything had worked loose, but all seemed ok, so we set off. About 2km’s further down the road, it happened again, and it wouldn’t clear the very violent shaking until we completely stopped. After another longer look underneath, and checking the wheels we decided to return to Rundu to try get it sorted there. After a slow drive back, and asking lots of people we eventually found a truck repair workshop, ATR (Advanced Truck Repairs), this reminded us of our local village garage but much bigger!
The workshop foreman, decided (as I thought) that it was probably a ‘shot’ wheel bearing, so he got one of the guys to jack up all four corners and check the wheels, nope all good here. Then an older mechanic noticed that the front tyres (and the left hand side in particular) were wearing unevenly, so got the guy to swap the spare for the worst worn tyre. We then took it for a test drive, and amazingly it seemed ok! He deduced that the wheels were badly out of alignment and this needed doing urgently, so we booked it in the next morning for 7.30am.
The next morning arrived and it was wet, very wet, but here a bit of rain doesn’t stop anything, and the guys carried on setting up the lazer equipment, and eventually (after freeing up the seized track rod ends), set up the truck hopefully with perfectly aligned wheels (fingers crossed). What you can’t see on the photo below is the guy under the truck, laying in about 3 inches of water.
Anyway after 5.5 hours of labour (for two guys mostly), and the wheels aligned we paid our bill (approx £90.00), and finally set off for Divundu at about lunchtime. All seems good with the steering now, with no shaking, so again fingers crossed.
We headed for Ngepi Camp, which we phoned ahead to make sure it was accessible during the flood season, we were told that the camp was accessible all year round even by a 2 wheel drive! Well I’m not sure what sort of 2wd vehicles that he meant, but it wasn’t a Fiesta or Focus! It was a long slow 5km drive down a bumpy sandy track to the camp, but what a camp, it really is a great place, right on the banks of the Kavango River.
The river is fully in flood at the moment (running into the Okavango Delta in nearby Botswana), and is full of crocodile’s and hippo’s (which you can hear constantly). The thing that Ngepi Camp is most famous for is its Ablutions! Some of these toilets and showers have had so much thought and work put into them, including the “Poopa Falls” WC (this was the nearest toilet to our camp spot).
Even the plumbing looks like something out of the old “mouse trap” game. But the view from up there on your “throne” is breathtaking (for a toilet) over the flooded farmland away from the river.
And of course you have to share it with “friends”.
And then there is the appropriately named “lav-a-tree” which has been built up over a fallen tree.
It is a lovely rustic, and amusing place with a great relaxed atmosphere, after our loop of the Caprivi Strip we will return here before crossing the nearby border into Botswana, a beautiful, and wild place.
Thanks for reading