Part 2 of the Africa catch-up posts!
Relatively short drive to Etosha National Park this morning, and spent the day on a game drive on the truck. The animals were all hiding unfortunately, so we decided to retreat to our camp by 3pm, lured by the promise of showers. Hurrah! When we rolled up we discovered an incredible surprise: the campsite had a huge, clean pool! When you haven’t showered in two days and have been in the heat, squashed into a truck with 20+ people, that’s as good as it gets. Spent a few beautiful hours in the pool then moved on to one of the highlights of the campsite: a viewing area of a waterhole in the park, which the animals liked to frequent. Spent a few hours there around sunset and was so happy to see elephants and rhinos turn up. One of the elephants came right up to the wall in front of where we sat and I swear I could have touched it with a little bit of a stretch. My heart almost stopped!
Spent the wee hours of the morning stuck in the bathroom feeling absolutely horrid and then had to get back on the truck in the morning for a three hour game drive with no possibility of a toilet stop. One of my bad days … armed with immodium and a brave face, I curled up on the truck and expected the worst, which thankfully didn’t happen. Whew! After the morning at Etosha, we drove to Otjitotongwe Cheetah Park in Kamanjab – a very strange set up where the owner of the farm keeps four cheetahs as house cats, and has a number of ‘wild’ ones in enclosures. I’m not sure how I felt about that but apparently farmers in the area were shooting cheetahs so it made sense to take them in.
Drive to Spitzkoppe today with a few stops along the way – one to pick up some Oryx for dinner. Spitzkoppe is a massive rock formation made of granite and some 750m high. I spent a few hours in the afternoon on top of one of the smaller rocks, reading my book and thinking about how close to the end of the trip we are :(
Driving into Swakopmund was strange – I found myself gawping at the fact that there were pavements, traffic lights and road signs. Aside from that, if you stand at certain points in the town, you can see the sand dunes when looking one way, and the sea when looking the other. Bizarre. We stopped off at an agency in town to book some activities; I signed up for sky diving and quad biking :D Next we headed to Amanpuri Lodge, which was to be our accommodation for the next four nights and it had BEDS. Ooooh yeah. Had a nice lunch in town, as well as the best swordfish I have ever had for dinner (Kücki’s). Awesome food and lots of it was going to be a theme for the next few days.
Skydive day! I have wanted to do this for over a year and a half and finally it’s time! I had ants in my pants from about midday, even though we weren’t due to be picked up until 2pm and probably drove the other girls who were doing it a bit bonkers. When it came down to it, we ended up spending about three hours at the air field as there was only one plane and quite a few groups of people. I was the very last person to jump that day (not by choice) and, to put it succinctly: OMG. Funnily enough it wasn’t the jump that scared me, it was the plane. The teeny weeny little plane we had to climb up to 10,000 feet in. Once I got in though, it wasn’t actually bad at all and everything happened so quickly once we hit 7,000 feet that I didn’t have time to worry. The free fall was my least favourite part of it all; it didn’t feel like we were falling so much as standing in front of an incredibly strong fan. I actually struggled to breathe and thought I was going to pass out. Cue: goldfish mouth. The most amazing part for me was after the parachute opened; there was absolute stillness and the most beautiful view I have ever seen. I will undoubtedly do it again just for those five minutes. I was on a complete high for hours after landing :)
Spent the morning at the post office wrapping and sending home some bits I’ve picked up along the way. In the afternoon a group of us went for a few hours of quad biking on the dunes. I wasn’t nervous about this at all until we started and I realised how fast those things can go. Then I did what I wasn’t supposed to do: I got a little cocky, accelerated into a turn and Bam! My quad bike overturned :O Luckily I escaped with just a few cuts and bruises, and a bit more caution. Great fun though and some incredibly stunning views of dunes stretching for miles. You definitely wouldn’t want to get lost out there!
Last day in Swakopmund :( It was my only free day for a while, and I used it to plan some things for India which I had left till the last minute. There were a few rugby games on during the day and I caught the tail end of the Wales vs. All Blacks – perfect excuse for a party! Met some weird characters that night, including a guy who could down a bottle of cider in – I shit you not – two seconds. I gave it a go, dribbled all over myself and failed. Kelly and I stumbled home at some point, realised along the way that it was Christmas Eve (I’ll explain this in my next post) and decided to play Silent Night as we entered the dorm. This wound up with me laughing my head off on the floor and waking everyone up. Sorry, guys!