Strathspey Wildlife  
Africa 2008
"Discover Namibia (Exodus Travel)

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Sunday & Monday  14th-15th September 2008


It's that time again -  another trip to Africa, and, as always one that has been eagerly awaited since we booked back in January. Our journey to Windhoek, Namibia's capital, involved a transfer at Frankfurt, and as we boarded our Lufthansa A319, this was in fact our second day on the road, having flown south from Inverness the day before. Whilst waiting for our Lufthansa flight we met the first of our fellow travellers as Julia came over to introduce herself. A flight of just over an hour took us to Frankfurt, where we met Sarah and Keith, and some other Exodus travellers booked on to the Namibia lodge trips. We had a wait of around three hours before boarding our Air Namibia A340 for the serious bit of the travelling, a flight  of just under ten hours. We found the A340 to be quite comfortable in its 2-4-2 layout, with an  acceptable amount of legroom to ensure some level of sleep, though inevitably, flying was as tiring as ever. We touched down at Windhoek's Mosea Kutako International Airport at 8.20 am - spot on schedule, but then had to endure quite a prolonged wait as we made our way through passport control.

   

 After what seemed an age we eventually emerged to meet Maxwell our tour leader, who in turn introduced us to Gecko and Jonas to complete the crew of three who were to look after us so well over the forthcoming two weeks. The guys helped us with our rucksacks onto our safari truck and we settled in, introducing ourselves to the remainder of the group before driving to a nearby lodge to pick up four more of the group who had flown in earlier in the week, direct from Heathrow and thus avoiding the change at Frankfurt. It was here at this lodge where Nancy and I were in for a surprise or two - well, three actually. As one of the group of four walked out to join us the face behind the sunglasses rang a bell. I felt sure it was a lady named Brenda, who had been on our gorilla trip to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda in 2005. My suspicions were reinforced as her niece Claire, and Claire's mum Jan followed behind. What a small world!! I feel we certainly gave them a big surprise too. We were introduced to a fourth member of their group - another Claire - (who I shall refer to as "Little Claire" from hereon in to avoid confusion.) The last I recall of Brenda was her, on our last night in 2005, standing on a chair singing "Oh Happy Day." Brenda  didn't have any recollection though Claire and Jan clearly did, asking "Who could forget it!!!" It was great to see them all again.
 
       


We were now 10 in number, with two additional travellers still to join us as we made our way to Windhoek where we changed our pounds sterling into Namibian dollars, bought some drinking water for the next day or two and a couple of welcome ice-cold drinks. We were very impressed by Windhoek,
very clean and modern, and much larger than I anticipated. After a little rest and refreshment we were ready for the journey to our first overnight stop
 at Autabib Farm. We arrived just before 2pm and the lads prepared us a lunch of cold sausages and salad. Whilst this was largely a camping holiday with tents erected by the crew, we were using the farm's own permanent tents on this first night. After lunch Max excused himself to go and pick up our outstanding two travellers, and were joined a short time later by Chuck and Lori, who had travelled all the way from California. We retired to our
 tents to unpack and sort our gear into some semblance of order for the remaining two weeks, and to take a very-much-awaited refreshing shower.
 After lunch we had time to relax and take a stroll around to visit a nearby artificial waterhole. A few birds were around, but in the heat of
the day, there were no mammals around apart from the proverbial mad dogs and Englishmen ... and a couple of Yanks!!  The lads prepared our evening meal, presenting us with a dish of chicken in ginger beer sauce and rice, very nice too - followed by fruit salad and custard. And so our first day in
Namibia drew to a close, with everybody having had an opportunity to recover from their travels. The following morning, as with most mornings on the
trip, involved an early start, but that is the way it should be. Early mornings provide the best chance of seeing the animals when they're most active,
and with a fair amount of travelling it made for a pleasant start.

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