I can’t say that last night was the best night we have had. The noisy campers continued talking at the top of their voices to well past midnight last night and almost managed to set off their car alarm just before midnight too. Then at 5:15am the people next to us left their chalet and managed to shine their car lights right into my eyes as they left. That was the end of my sleeping for the night. I wanted to get up and start banging some dishes in the campers ears to give them some of their own medicine but I restrained myself for Helen’s sake (she was still sleeping).
We had agreed to leave no later than 10am but everyone was ready to leave earlier than that and so we pulled out at about 9:30am. We were heading into Namibia and the Caprivi strip. The route took us through the Chobe National Park (on the tar road at 80km/h though) to the Ngoma border post. We did see a herd of elephant crossing the road and a herd of zebra on the side of the road. The border post must be one of the most beautiful you could experience as it is right on the river (in fact the river is the international border). The Botswana side was relatively quick and painless and then across the river and into Namibia. That side took a little longer as we had to do an Ebola check (not kidding) and then passport control (including lengthy forms … I wonder what they do with all those paper forms) and then road tax and then police check where you had to fill in the engine and vin numbers of the cars in a large book (I wonder who will ever look at that again). An hour later and we were actually driving on the Trans Caprivi Highway toward Katima Mulilo.
Growing up as a child I saw reports on Katima Mulilo and thought it was an army base only (given the fighting that was always described in the region) but it is a thriving small town now. There is a new shopping mall in town now which includes a Pick ‘n Pay (though when we got there it was closed and no one seemed to know why). We had to go the other supermarket which was chaotic to say the least. The queues to check out where 10-15 people long. The one we were standing in suddenly had the cashier leave and so we ended up merging with another line (making it about 20-30 people long). Bryan tried paying with credit card with no success and eventually just paid cash. It was lunch time and the only alternative seemed the KFC across the road. What we discovered is that everyone in KM seemed to be trying out the KFC for lunch (including a significant proportion of the Namibian army). The process of getting our orders was extremely slow and painful. Steven (one of our group … whose children had their first KFC today!) discovered that they had been open for 2 months only and clearly the staff needed a lot more training. We eventually all got our lunch and about an hour later we were on the road again.
We followed the road west to Kongola and then we turned south down to our lodge for the night (Camp Kwando on the Kwando River). In total the drive was just over 200 kms but it took us most of the day as we arrived around 3:45pm. The lodge is right on the river and all our rooms have views over the river. They are nicely appointed. Some of the group went for a late afternoon run out of the lodge on a sandy road back the main road and back again. Stephen and I did some late afternoon birding around the camp and added two more lifers and took our birding tally up to 122 for the trip. The Caprivi strip is a birders paradise and some birds are only found here so we are hoping to add significantly to our tally.
As there are no self-catering facilities here we are eating in the restaurant for the next two nights. They are very relaxed here and quite happy for us to bring our own wine (which we did). The expectations at dinner were quite high after getting the starter which was African Spinach Surprise with a tomato sauce. It was really very good but that definitely was the high point of the dinner. The main course was sirloin steak but they must have been marching the cows before they slaughtered it and well done was the only way it seemed to come. The desert was pumpkin pudding (maybe to celebrate 4 July?) which tasted similar to Malva pudding. The company and conversation were excellent again though.
Until tomorrow … P, H. S, M & C (and she deserves to be last given her comments today about my physique)