Namibia - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 37

Fish River Canyon

Friday 18th April

We slept well last night and both awoke this morning to clear skies. Sandy got up about thirty minutes before me and went down to the river to photograph the sunrise over the water. After a quick shower, we settled in around the fire for breakfast. Each morning, the two trainee guides set out breakfast on a table near the fire and boil water for tea and coffee. Yesterday had fried egg on the menu but today there were only bananas, bran flakes and some bread and peanut butter. The only milk that is on the truck is powdered milk. I asked the driver about stocking up on some fresh milk. We were told by the travel specialist in Cape Town, as well as the Wildlife (that’s the tour company that we are travelling) tour representative, that we should be able to ask the tour leader for anything we needed and they would make every effort to accommodate us. I asked the tour leader about stocking up on some fresh milk, even if only for a few days, and he told me that it was not practical to accommodate these requests from everyone. This upset me quite a bit as this policy was, in my view, contradictory to what we were told and promised prior to our trip departure. I ended up eating nothing and moped for the better part of the morning. Ruth, the Australian woman, overheard my fresh milk request and later also impressed upon the guides the need to stock up on some. Since we are way out in the sticks, there may not be any opportunity to replenish supplies for a few days anyway. If necessary, I will get my own milk when we reach another major town, which will probably be Windhoek (the capital of Namibia).

We dismantled the tents and left the camp-site by around nine in the morning. Our first obstacle for the day was to clear the border crossing into Namibia just down the road. The crossing was hassle free and we all got out of the truck to tend to the South African as well as Namibia immigration formalities. We now have some more stamps in our passports. Just when we thought we were ready to leave, our driver popped his head through the door (as he often does) to tell us that there would be a delay as one of the border guards had queried one of his work permit documents. The fax that was sent to them was apparently not clear and one of the dates was unclear. Being a typical cross border immigration psychopath, the guy wanted to exercise his authority and was probably looking for a bribe. Luckily, our driver contacted his head office that, in turn, contacted the head immigration officials in Windhoek and a brief phone call from on high was enough of an incentive for the official to speed everything along. We were on our way after a brief ten-minute delay in all.

The four-hour drive to the camp-site near Fish River Canyon was uneventful as we passed through some extremely desolate desert terrain. Very little rain falls here and the vegetation is scarce and very arid. We arrived and erected our tents just before sitting down to lunch, again around the table near the fire. The tents themselves are fantastic and take literally just a few minutes to unpack and put up. They are very spacious, have a built-in floor and are quite comfortable. Your can nearly stand up straight right in the middle.

After lunch, we all got back on the truck and headed our for a half-hour drive to the edge of Fish River Canyon (except the two trainee guide who stayed behind to have dinner prepared and ready for our return). The canyon itself is a marvel of nature and is very similar to the Grand Canyon. It is a bit smaller than the Grand Canyon but no less spectacular and beautiful. After parking the truck near a picnic and lookout spot, we were allowed a few hours to walk around to a couple more lookout spots to enjoy the view. It was a lovely day out and the canyon is a marvel to behold.

We left the canyon after watching the sunset and boarded the truck for the thirty-minute drive back to camp. When we arrived, the two guides were already busy with dinner and had scavenged a small pile of dead twigs from around the camp to fashion a campfire. Ordinarily, this would not be necessary but someone had apparently forgotten to offload the firewood from the truck before we left for the canyon.

Dinner was another success with pork chops and ‘Irish potatoes’ (jacket potatoes to you and me) on the menu. Once again a superb dinner prepared under the stars on an open campfire. It’s amazing how well these guides can prepare a meal with just the bare essentials to work with

After dinner, we all congregated around the laptop to view the photos from the past twenty-four hours. It was another relaxing evening.

Luckily, this camp-site has an electrical outlet just a few feet away from us so I have been able to offload the digital cameras and write this log entry without actually depleting any battery reserves. I still have a completely full battery in reserve and there is just over 50% of life left in this one – enough for several days without power if necessary.

Tomorrow is a very early start, as we must be packed, fed and out of here by about six-thirty. Not being a very good morning person myself, I’m sure I will be quite grumpy for most of the morning.