dimanche 21 mai 2017

Namibia, Day 12, Wednesday, 26 April 2017. East Etosha to Milgard Estate.

Tomorrow we are boarding the plane home in Windhoek, the capital.  That is over 500 km South, so we have a long way to go. Fortunately this highway is paved. Mostly we drive through almost uninhabited veld, the name given to this arid semi desert landscape. Private game lodges are scattered here and there and we get glimpses of animals; warthogs, baboons and antelopes. Further south higher trees, lusher grass and cattle. This is the agricultural center of Namibia. The terrain becomes increasingly mountainous;very beautiful.
At lunch we visit the AfriCat foundation in Okonjima. This is a 200 sqkm game reserve for the rehabilitation of the big cats, leopards, lions and cheetahs. It is also a beautiful lodge, the best mix of modern design with open spaces and lots of glass but with African materials, accessories, fabrics etc. I asked: it costs over CAN$700 for 1 night.
From the lunch table we observed a family of warthogs and kudus and springbocks from afar.
A guide took as on a tour into the cheetah reservation. They cannot be let out into the main area because there are too many leopards there for whom they are a preferred lunch. Hopefully some of the cheetahs will be relocated into the wild but it is difficult to find a big enough range for them. As always, livestock farmers are at odds with the predators, a balance is difficult to achieve.
After some searching we find two young cheetahs sleeping near the track. We could see them very well, but it is not the same thrill as watching them stalk a herd. The guide was interesting and passionate and told us a lot about the cats in general.
We also came across a few Kudus, much to my delight as we hadn't seen any and they are my preferred antelope. I find them totally majestic with their impressive horns and beautiful markings.
We continue our ride toward our next lodge, the Midgard Country Estate near Okahandja. Okahandjia is the "garden town" of Namibia. It's a very clean quiet town with tree lined boulevards. It is 70 km north of Windhoek and is fast becoming a sleeper town of the capital.
The Estate is not in the town but 70 km into the mountains on a bad gravel road. Well the bus decided that it had had enough and broke down, some shaft or other component had broken. Luckily this happened close to Windhoek so the driver was able to call for another bus to save us. It was no big deal, first we had a beautiful sunset from the top of the road and when darkness came we had fun in the bus. The new bus came in about 1 hr and we arrived 30 min. later at Midgard. Pity it was dark because it looked very nice, more "civilized", yet with a bunch of baboons making mischief. Our "last" supper was almost touching: we had become friends. Lindy ordered drinks and wine for everybody to make up for the breakdown. Our gang tempted Lindy to a cigarette and more wine on the terrace, finally the staff had to tell us to go, they wanted to sleep. It is in these improvised moments one gets closest to the real life in Namibia, I greatly appreciated it.

From Makuti Lodge to Midgard Lodge, 577km and a new bus
The road is paved at last

A female kudu
A baboon spectator

Bonjour from Okahandja

The AfriCat site

10 km inland
Well fenced
Good lunch in a nice setting
A warthog close by
Our guide Asser
Sleeping cheetah
Shaft tailed Whydah
Martial eagle
Exhibit of Namibia game
Tracking collars

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The bus gave up on us on the way to Midgard Estate
Not too far from Okahandja
We're in good spirits
With the new bus we make it to Midgard Estate
Our room
Farewell dinner
Lindy with Marc-André and Mathieu
Lindy, Lynne, André, Maria, Rona and Kevin

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