samedi 20 mai 2017

Namibia, Day 9, Sunday, 23 April 2017. Camp Kipwe to Etosha Safari lodge, Etosha National Park.

We leave early in order to make the detour to visit the Himba tribe which was on the programme for yesterday. It made much more sense to visit them en route to Etosha rather than spend a whole day driving back and forth. In hindsight I think that change made all the difference in the tour, I can't thank Lindy enough for listening to our request.
We visited a small pocket of Himba living isolated in the South, the actual Himba tribe lives further North.  Their main attraction seems to be that the women are topless, covered in a red ocre paste including the hair and wearing a lot of jewelry. Although it is interesting to see people still living like that, I and many others had the distinct feeling of visiting a zoo.  It left me with a feeling of unease: white tourists gawking at "savages". We were led into a hut where women supposedly cleansed themselves with smoke. Contrary to the men in the tribe, the women are not allowed to use water. The English of the guide was very bad and frankly I thought the whole thing fake. I had watched a documentary with Frédéric Lopez on TV5 on the Himba and that was genuine and very interesting: The TV crew stayed a week with the real tribe and shared their lives, cooked with them, etc. The women we visited seemed totally annoyed as they sat in a circle selling mediocre handicrafts while being photographed by the herd of tourists.  Obviously a moneymaking enterprise.
In the early afternoon we arrived at the Etosha Safari Lodge. A very nice lodge but with less character than the previous one. Also, we only stayed one night and couldn’t really get in the mood.  We set out at 4PM in two jeeps eager to visit the park. We had to drive for half an hour before arriving at the park gate. The main feature of the park is the enormous salt pan which is 150 km long and up to 50 km wide. It only fills up sometimes during the rainy season, November to May, but was already completely dry. The land is open and flat with some wooded areas, the colours are beautiful: muted pastel greens and all shades of ocre to red and mauve. It is endlessly interesting to watch the tall grasses with their silvery tufts and try and spy on some hidden animal. It helps to sit high up in the open jeep or in the bus.
We saw plenty of Oryx, Springbucks, Gnus and a Jackal. Also birds: Kori Bustards and Korhans, The highlight of the tour was a herd of 14 giraffes giving us a sunset spectacle. Marc was getting impatient to see his first giraffe, he was delighted as they obliged in showing themselves in such a beautiful way. This put everybody in a good mood for supper. Another beautiful day, how lucky we are.

Last super breakfast at Camp Kipwe
Camp Kipwe to Etosha, 450 km
Google Earth view of our drive to Etosha
Rugged terrain
Crossing the Huab river
The Huab river after the rain
Arriving at the Himba village
The school building
A well organized teacher
With our local guide
Marc-André shows the children their photos
Demonstrations by the Himba women
A beautiful lady
Inside the hut, a demonstration of "smoke cleansing".
We managed to get a smile
The men's hut.  Note the solar cells; they're watching TV
Himba women selling their handicrafts
What am I doing in the middle of the circle?

Etosha Safari Lodge
Google Earth view of the Lodge site
The cabins
Our room
Safari ride through the park, 70 km
Our first giraffe
Ground squirrel
Northern Black Kurhan
Kori Bustard
Kori Bustard showing off
Giraffe galore

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