Only a few days have passed since we left Sesreim and so much has happened already!
As I was the leader on the 10th when we transferred to Namib-Naukluft it was my job to make sure camp was set up in time for us to go out on a short trek that evening but unfortunately things didn’t go to plan. Dan seemed to have turned one or two people to the dark side and they just made life difficult for me. They took ages to set up camp and then took a long time to get ready for the trek meaning that it would be dark by the time we got back, which didn’t help. Although I did manage to get a photo of me with a bird eating out of my hand during the time I was waiting which is pretty cool.
After a while we were all finally ready for the trek. We had to do the 10km Olive Trail today as the longer Waterkloof trail takes 8 hours and would just not have been possible this late in the day. It was still daytime when we started the trek but the sun was rapidly approaching the horizon. The scenery was absolutely amazing as you can see from my photo below. The Naukluft region of Namib-Naukluft is a lot more mountainous than the Namib region, which Sesreim borders, and I saw some of the most amazing scenery I’ve ever seen while in the region.
The trek only took a couple of hours but it was dark by the time we reached the last part – a traverse along a rock wall over a dark pit full of water. I’m OK with heights but not the idea of falling from them so traversing a rock wall without being able to see what was below me was not fun. To get around we attached ourselves to the chain that had been attached around the side of the canyon with a harness and carabina and traversed it one by one, albeit slowly. Not one of the best parts of the week but it was worth it for the views.
On the 11th we headed off in the morning on the longer Waterkloof trail which was estimated to take 8 hours. Once we started Rod took a few people who developed pretty bad blisters on the night trek with him into town to get supplies. We continued on our trek and saw, once again, loads of absolutely amazing scenery including trees as far as the eye could see, a quiver tree, rock pools and also some baboons just ahead of us in the canyon near the end of the trek. There was a little bit of climbing up hills on this trek but nothing compared to that traverse on the Olive Trail.
When we returned back to the campsite we found that those baboons we saw had caused all sorts of trouble. After the others returned from buying supplies they were relaxing in the campsite when they heard a noise. They didn’t know what it was until a few minutes later when some baboons went walking past them carrying our medical kit. Will, one of the group leaders, chased them up a hill before throwing rocks at them to make them go away (but not before they ate half of our paracetamol collection). That wasn’t the only thing they did – they broke into the truck, ate all of our bread, threw Jon’s T-Shirts onto the ground and left some rather smelly deposits on one of the seats. That cause quite a few problems throughout the rest of the expedition, as did them peeing on one of the other tents in our group.
That evening we relaxed at the campsite and had an early night ready for a long drive ahead of us but the sleep was short lived due to a visitor that came past our tent in the night. I was half asleep when I heard some rustling outside. It made me alert but I didn’t know what it was until I heard the loud growl of a Leopard right outside our tent. Sam didn’t wake up but I’ve never seen anybody jump and sit up as quickly as Simon did when he heard it. It walked away after a couple of minutes and we all slept again but I was very nervous at the time as I didn’t know what it was planning to do.
This morning we made the trip from Namib-Naukluft to Hobas – the town at the start of Fish River Canyon. We passed through Mantahohe and Bethanie on the way and stopped at a petrol station for supplies, to use the toilet and to refuel the truck. We thought the toilet was locked until the attendant at the petrol pumps called us over and unhooked a key out of the tree above him and handed it to us. Hardly secure but it worked. Somebody bought a HUGE bag of what looked like wotsits – it was 12 inches square at the bottom and about 3 foot tall!
After stopping off for supplies we made our way to the Hobas campsite where we watched the sunset over the Fish River Canyon and had a nice BBQ to mark our last day before embarking on a long trek through the canyon that will take 4 days starting tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to it as I’m not the most athletic of people but it will be an experience I’m sure.