vendredi 19 mai 2017

Namibia Day 8, Saturday, 22 April 2017. Camp Kipwe

Very special day because it was unscheduled. The program called for a visit to the Himba tribe which would have meant another 6 hours of African massage. The camp was too nice not to have more time to enjoy it. Mathieu discovered that the Camp offered a desert elephant tracking safari and the four of us decided to do that. Fortunately Lindy was very understanding, she changed the program, which was difficult for her as she is not her own boss. She arranged the safari, six of us went, it was the highlight of the whole tour as far as I am concerned. I am very grateful to Lindy to have turned this little rebellion into a positive experience for all of us.
Desert elephants have longer legs and bigger soles, but are otherwise exactly the same as the savanna elephants. There are much fewer of them, they have a shorter life span due to their poor diet and harsh conditions. Our guide found the family, about 10 or more of all ages. He drove right into the middle of the grazing animals, they totally ignored us because they are used to the vehicle from which they fear nothing. The guide specified that you cannot and should not attempt to get that close to an elephant in any other condition. It was marvellous, one little guy came right up and wrapped his trunk around the front grate of the jeep. Another seemed very interested in Mathieu, he stuck his trunk almost into his face which freaked him out - silently. It was very funny to see his face! The others went about their business feeding off the trees, and the young ones play- fighting. Of course the elephants are the stars, but then there are birds, there is the smell, the sounds, the feel of the grass and the thorns.  We could experience all of that during the picnic breakfast, we were not allowed to go far, but for me it was enough to dream.
In the afternoon most of us went with the bus to a petrified forest. Again it was not so much the petrified pieces themselves that interested me the most but the opportunity to walk. We saw many Welwitschia flowers, they are endemic to the Namib desert and are believed to live up to 2000 years. The plant is not very pretty, two leaves undulating on the ground, but, it's something you can see nowhere else!
We stopped to visit a Damara family which Lindy knew personally. It was very moving to see a life so totally stripped of all but the bare necessities. For any of us bare necessity would mean an awful lot more than what we saw. "Aunti Maria", the mother, showed us the storage room, it was empty. I would panic if I had to feed all the children we saw outside with that empty pantry. She showed us the meager garden, the dirt floor sleeping quarters. But the children go to school, a thing their parents never could dream of. They have to go to boarding school because of the great distance and lack of transport. One woman worked on a hand driven Singer sewing machine, they had access to water with a hose, so they do not have to carry it on their heads so I guess this is progress. It is a life lesson to think of how much energy we waste by accumulating stuff.
In the evening, another sunset cocktail and a delicious meal. We eat a lot of local game, Kudu, Springbock, Oryx but other then that the food is very good but not exotic. I wondered if I could eat kudus seeing what beautiful splendid animals they are, but then I thought our poor chickens have a much more miserable life and would be more deserving of our pity. I am not ready to be vegetarian so I'll eat the pretty and the uglier ones sparingly.

 Google Earth view of our Damaraland drives, 138 km
 6:25 AM, ready for the elephant drive
 An springbock watches us
Another springbock in sunrise colours
Here's the elephant family
 Baby elephant and mother
Almost human
 Baby elephant exploring our truck
 A very close encounter with Mathieu
 This young one is showing off
 Having a grand time
The grass is better on top
Coffee break
Drive back to lodge
 More impalas on the way
 Arriving at Camp Kipwe
 11:20, off we go to Petrified Forest
 thousand of year-old petrified trees
A very large specimen
 Welwitschia Marabelis, 2 leaves and a 20m deep root.
Lives for 1500 years, flowers once a year
Approaching Aunty Maria's family home 
 A Singer sewing machine in good use
 The dwelling
 An electric generator
 Aunty Maria shows the cotton shrub from which textile fibers are extracted
 The older sister teaches the children how to count
 Back to Camp Kipwe
 A coloured lizard
 100 steps to the top for cocktails
 Magnificent view... an inspiration for a future painting
Sunset colours
Another painting?
 Our cabin

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