We managed to secure the last spot for our truck and tents in the park, which allowed us to camp and explore the national park for a three days. Arriving around noon there was plenty of time to do some laundry and then walk the five kilometers over to the Sesriem Canyon. From the viewpoint on top you could not really see much of it, so we walked down and through the narrow canyon.
The next morning we started driving at four while it was still dark outside. The plan was to make it to the dunes at sunrise which unfortunately we did not. The last few kilometers we were told that we needed to buy tickets for a 4*4 drive, as our truck was not fit for driving through the sand. We arrived just after sunrise, but got to see the shadows moving on the dunes which was just as fascinating. It took a little more than an hour to hike up the Worlds biggest sand dune, called Big Daddy, and after a short moment viewing the landscape alone from the top I ran it down in less than two minutes.
What I had been looking forward to seeing the most in Sossosvlei was the dead trees called the “Dead Vlei”. After having ran down “Big Daddy” I saw some trees standing lonely at the bottom and took some pictures, not knowing that I was actually standing in “Dead Vlei” watching those exact trees. Even though it looks quite beautiful on photos, it was not more than just a few trees to see and much less impressive than what I had expected.
Having crossed over from Angola we were now in what can be called “Africa Light”, or Africa with Shoprite supermarkets in every small town. People spoke english and there were again more tourists around.
We were planning on staying three nights in Etosha National Park, but as all of the campsites were full we only got one night in Halali and then two nights in the Eldorado Guest farm just a couple of kilometers outside of the park entrance.
As we had already bought a 72 hour entrance pass to the park, we still went the whole three days on safari, driving our truck on the dusty roads. What I found particularly special about Etosha compared to other national parks was that everything was happening around the waterholes. We could be driving for hours without seeing much more than some ostriches, oryxes and impalas and then it was first when we stopped at the viewpoints, usually by waterholes that we got to see rhinos, lions, elephants and giraffes. But that was also the beauty of Etosha. The camps, like Okaukuejo where we stopped for lunch every day had their own waterholes where you could sit day and night and watch the animals come to drink, while you could peacefully be sitting drinking some wine yourself. People might have had other experiences than me, traveling in the dry season, but all safaris I have been on before like in Botswana, Zambia, South Africa etc it has been more of a “hit or miss” than it was in Namibia.
Etosha was one of the places I had been looking forward to visiting the most on my West Africa trip and it did not disappoint me. We saw heaps of animals in a comfortable and relaxing way and had pools, good food and plenty of time as there was no longer any deadlines for visas etc that we had to reach. I finally had a feeling that the rest of my West Africa trip was going to be a holiday.
Angola is in an economical crisis at the moment. The inflation rate is high and expats are no longer allowed to bring the local currency out of the country. Therefore there is a huge black market for currency where people would pay four times the official rate for dollars and euros. We used that to our advantage and got lots of local currency for the euros we had brought. Just like when we exchanged at the black market in Nigeria we were stuck with lots of cash that we could not use or exchange outside the country. So we stopped in Lubango to spend the rest.
Our food kitty was easily spent on spaghetti, tomato paste and other food that we use a lot. Most people also stocked up on and filled the truck with snacks and alcohol which was sure to be finished by the time we reach Cape Town.
Lubango was also a place known for having the World’s third biggest Jesus statue, only surpassed by Lisbon and Rio. It also had a huge Hollywood like sign next to it. After we had played around with the two and taken plenty of pictures, we set off towards Namibia.
The landscape through Angola must have been the most beautiful on our trip, with curvy roads winding up the mountains.