Thursday, April 4, 2013

Camping on the Kunene

Ok, it's been another busy couple of weeks so I'll post a few blogs about them, starting with two weekends ago when we went camping along the Kunene River on the Angolan boarder. So here goes:

View from the pool. How cool is that?!
A friend of the one of the volunteers has a house on the Kunene River up near Ruacana Falls, so on Friday, we all met in Ongwediva at their house there, packed up all our gear into their bakkies and headed out for the two hour drive to the river. It was a nice ride (we were in the king cab of the roomy, air conditioned truck-- luxury!) and the landscapes were beautiful. There was one moment where you go up a hill and on the other side, instantly, the entire landscape changes from mostly flat with the occasional tree to hills and hills of greenery. It was really quite spectacular.

Anyway, we got to Jan's house on the river and then drove up a very steep hill (making your driveway look like a bunny slope Christina!) the ridge of the mountain where we were able to enjoy the amazing view from the POOL! On the ledge. Wicked awesome. When it started to get cooler (and our stomachs started to grumble) we went back down to the house to start the braai. Of course, braaiing takes about 4 hours, so we didn't actually eat until almost midnight, but it was well worth the way because it was, as usual, delicious. We passed the time while the guys cooked by playing a travel version of Apples to Apples where you actually have to come up with the nouns/adjectives that start with the letter of the die that you rolled instead of getting them on cards. It was a lot harder than it sounds. We did help with dinner a little-- if you were ever wondering how many Americans it takes to make a Greek salad, the answer is 6. When dinner was over, we set up out mattresses out on the huge porch which overhangs the river, hunted for crocs in the water with a giant spotlight (we could see their eyes shining on the opposite bank, but no actually sightings) and then fell asleep under the stars.

I've decided to transport this
bathroom back home with me

The next morning, we had a nice breakfast, again cooked for us by the guys (they really do spoil us) and then we began to pack up our things and drive a little ways up the river to Johnny's camp where we would drop off some things, and pack up others for our hike. The camp was beautiful, and as odd as this sounds, I fell in love with the bathrooms. They had a really cool outdoor-shower-y feel (probably because they were...) and I took a picture because I sort of want the bathroom in my future home to look like it. There was also a really cool bar area made out of really large tree trunks. The area around the camp was a striking mix between desert and jungle.
Lots of tall trees with twisting branches and vines hosted a handful of monkeys that were swinging around the campsite, doing their best to hide from our view, yet the dry sand and thorny brambles were a vivid reminder of just how dry this country is. We relaxed for a bit at the camp, killing time until the hottest part of the day had passed. After divvying up the supplies, we hoisted our packs on our backs, were handed homemade walking sticks from Johnny's crew, and we embarked on our 4 hour hike along the river.

At first we were walking through lots of open fields in the hot sun, but eventually this gave way to more of a rocky gorge along the river. It was scorching hot, and the footing was a little precarious  but it felt sooo nice to be getting some exercise and enjoying the views that we didn't mind at all. Pretty soon our water bottles were empty, so we stopped at a place a long the river with some swift moving water to fill our bottles and take a dip without worrying about the crocodiles. We had to anchor ourselves on some rocks so as not to be swept away by the current, but the water was nice and refreshing, and I was reminded of swimming up at Livermore.
Our camp site.

We eventually had to get out, dry off, and move on so that we could make it to our camp site before sunset. After another couple of hours hiking, we found a little beach-y area along the river that we thought would make a perfect resting place. We filled up our water bottles again and began to gather firewood and set up our sleeping gear.
Mosquito nets + rope = perfect sleeping
under the stars
Instead of bringing tents, we each brought our mosquito nets and we tied a long piece of rope between two trees to hang them from. We cooked another delicious braai over the fire and then spent another night sleeping under the stars and listening to the rushing of the water over the rocks.

It was so cool to wake up the next morning, on a beach, looking out over river to the Angolan mountains on the other side.

This is what I woke up to.
After a nice breakfast of fruit, coffee, and left over meat, we packed up the campsite and headed out for the last (short) leg of the hike to where we would meet one of Johnny's workers who was bringing the truck to drive us back to the camp site.

Oh hai there little guy!
As much as we enjoyed the hike, we were all thankful not to have to hike back in the midday sun. We arrived back and Johnny's camp and explored a little while the guys cooked lunch. I got to snap some photos of the monkeys and Kristin decided to be adventurous and take the little kayak (with a broken rake as a paddle) into the croc infested waters.
After another amazing meal, we packed up the trucks one last time and drove back to Oshakati to prepare for the week ahead. Luckily, it was going to be a short week due to the long Easter weekend and we all had our Swakop adventure to look forward to. That's all for this post. Check back soon for "Swakopmund-- aka: "Is this still Africa""

Love from Namibz,

Also, for more pictures, check out the whole album here.

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