The Last Leg

This was the last day of our Namibian Lodge Safari. We’d be heading back down the tarmac main road to Windhoek where our adventure had begun. Before leaving our latest NWR accommodation at the Waterberg Plateau, however, we were heading off on a hike up the Waterberg, if conditions were reasonable.

J17_1031 Striped MongooseJ17_1011 Striped MongoosesQuite early in the morning, the resort was being scoured by a group of Striped Mongooses – apparently you can say Mongeese as the plural but Mongooses is preferred – looking for their breakfast. They provided some photographic entertainment, much of which was a tad frustrating given the rapidity of their movements, prior to us setting off in search of our breakfast. Cute little chaps.

_17C1991 Waterberg targetFortunately, the Waterberg wasn’t living up to its name this morning so it was game on for our assault on the plateau. We started up a very gentle incline through a wooded area before hitting the main part of the ascent which decidedly required hands and was more climb than walk. Our route would take us up the notch in the cliff shown right. There was a very game 80-year-old lady with us on our trip who had set off with us. Yikes! Hardly surprisingly, although she had once tried both potholing and climbing in her youth, when faced with the rough, hand-over-hand scramble as the route headed upwards, she decided that her climbing days were now behind her and elected to sit on a rock and wait at the foot of the climb for our return. Very sensible. For the rest of us, the sandstone rock provided quite secure footing but some of the “steps” proved a considerable challenge for those with shorter legs.

_17C1999 Waterberg summitWe hit the summit and the climb was worth it. Beneath the Waterberg, which stands alone and is said to be “older than Africa itself” (something to do with Gondwanaland splitting up), the land stretched out before us as an unimaginable amount of flat emptiness; empty largely of human habitation, at least, or so it seemed. It’s certainly the most wilderness I’ve clapped eyes on.

On the way down, things livened up for me; we began spotting dragonflies. The day had begun warming up, the undergrowth and clearings were moist, and dragonflies had begun their day. We saw five species on the way down, one of which looked familiar and one of which “”got away unsnapped, so I was hopeful of notching up few personal new ones – “lifers”. Here are some, suitably labelled.

_17C2012 Shadow-bridge Widow maleJ17_1091 Little Skimmer maleJ17_1101 Julia Skimmer male

See, there are dragonflies in Namibia. 🙂  I may have seen 9 species in total, which is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but it’s still a pretty meagre haul, given that we’d covered large tracts of a whole new country with considerably varying habitats. I must keep in mind, though, that it was never a dragonfly hunt, per se, and I couldn’t actively seek them out. So, some small consolation.

The remainder of the day was a pretty tedious slog back to Windhoek and the Klein Windhoek Guest House, where we’d begun our travels. At least we were on a tarmac road and the slog was comfortable with the African vibro-massage having ceased. So had most of the need for a steering wheel; I swear this road had a 100-kilometre stretch that was as strait as an arrow. Maybe this was where the Romans had learned their road-building craft. The tour notes make a highlight of one of those dreaded craft markets where we stopped for lunch. We got the flavour of it when sellers approached us as we stepped down out of the Landcruisers. A few of our number crossed the road intent on having a look but soon returned  fed up with fending off stall holders.

There was little more in the way of entertainment other than watching straight Namibian road builders at work: they were transforming this major north-south trunk road into a dual carriageway. In this wet season, the traffic was lighter than you’d see on any road in the UK,even a country lane, but it supposedly gets busy at other times of year, in the main season. Frankly, I doubt they truly understand the word busy, though.

It’s true that we need water for life and when you have a raging thirst, a glass of cool water hits the spot admirably. When you’ve been sipping it warm every 15 minutes for most of a day, you get somewhat tired of it, though, and mirages of cold beer begin forming in the mind.

Get thee behind me, Satan.

Posted in 2017 Namibia

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