lundi 15 mai 2017

Namibia, day 3, Monday 17 April 2017. Windhoek to Mirage Desert Lodge

In the lobby of the Souther Sun Tomba Hotel at 4:30AM, we meet four of our fellow travellers; the couple Marilyn and Bill and the "two brothers" Bob and Kevin. We check in at a very sleepy empty airport, not many people flying to Windhoek on Easter Monday morning! There, we meet the lovely ladies Lynne and Rona.  All our new friends are American except for Rona who is Scottish,
The Flight takes just over an hour but we get a full breakfast.
8AM, we step out into the sunny tarmak of Windhoek airport. Our guide is Belinda or Lindy, I think it is going to be fine, she seems enthusiastic, speaks good English and has a lovely smile.
Our destination is the Mirage Desert Lodge, the name is very well chosen as it sits in the middle of nowhere and just rises up out of the desert! It is located in the Namib Naukluft National Park near Sossusvlei, south of Windhoek.
We get our first taste of "African massage", the rattle and shake of riding over rutted gravel roads. Well you can't have the wonders of space and emptiness and expect a paved highway.  No doubt the tar will soon come but I am very happy to have experienced the ride when it was still more rugged. The land is beautiful bush veld, sandy, gravely soil, small bushes and tufts of grass, all in pastel earth tones. It is almost totally empty which has a very calming effect on me, a bit like meditation.
We arrive at about 2PM, it is a beautiful astonishing place! Luckily there are the photos to help me, because describing all the details would take a book. The architecture is funny gothic style, reminds me a bit of Dracula but not in a sinister way.
The reception area has a little courtyard with a pond and red fish, many sculptures of Francolins (partridges) it is cool inside. Our block is across a sandy garden with stone designs neatly laid out. It is a two-storey structure with a pool in the middle and full of plants. The balcony runs all around, so you can enjoy the peaceful garden from the top. I discovered that one could go up another flight onto the tower, what was on top? A toilet, and a bed! Unfortunately I did not have the nerve or the time to actually use it, it must be quite an experience to sit there in the incredibly starry night. Luther started the Protestant religion after a eureka moment on the loo of the castle tower, wonder if I would have come up with something?
Our room is enormous, very comfortable and unmistakably African. The bed has a dias of mousseline curtains around it, we don't use it, we open the windows. Once the lights are off, the bugs don't seem interested to come in.
The dining area is in another building, you get there on a path which passes a big acacia tree, and there is a spotted owl! Apparently this is his preferred spot.
At 4PM we set out in two open jeeps for a desert tour and sunset happy hour.
The desert here is not sand but stony soil with small shrubs. The guide is very knowledgeable, it’s a goof thing André has noted some of the  names.
Many tracks of animals cross our path but we don't actually see any. What we do see are Fairy circles. These are inexplicable, perfectly round patches of barren land. The best scientific theory attributes them to termites but this has not really been proven so I go with the fairies! It's like crop circles, nobody has a scientific explanation. Let the fairies dance. The jeeps stopped on a high ridge with a spectacular view and magnificent sunset. The Naukluft maountains take on hues of pink and mauve and red ocre and the shadows go from purple to indigo, breathtaking.
Lindy and co produce a lavish cocktail with tablecloth and goodies. I took sometime off to drink in everything by myself before joining the real drinking .
When the sun goes down it becomes rapidly cold and dark so we head back quickly to more food and drink. All very good but a bit too much considering the amount of sleep in the last 48 hours.
The staff are super friendly, the group seems to gel nicely (no Trumpian fights), Marc and Mathieu are happy and so are we, everything perfect. Thank you fairies for our lovely circles.

  JNB - WDH 1220 km
 Desert view from the plane
Our guide Belinda (Lindy) and driver Keegan
The drive from Windhoek to the Mirage Desert Inn (Sossuvlei), 333 km
 A Namibian family and their donkey-driven cart
 It rained heavily for a few minutes
 Our first Oryx
 Google Earth view of the Mirage Desert Inn
 Quite a setting in the desert
 Our friendly owl
 The Mirage Desert Inn
 Our room
Lindy and our local desert guide
 Off to our sunset desert tour
 GPS track of the sunset tour, 22 km
Our safari truck
 Shadow on the sand
 Moringa tree
 Fairy circles
Parkinsonia Africana tree
 Service in style
 One happy gang
 Sunset colors
At the dinner table

1 commentaire: