Oct 252011

This will be mostly a photo update.  We were up quite early, where the lodge provided (instant) coffee and muffins before a 6am safari drive.  The idea is that the animals are most active at this hour, and foraging for food.  What I’d failed to plan for is the weather.  It was COLD…and especially cold when the open-air jeep got moving.  Everywhere we’d been on this trip was in the 80s-90 fahrenheit, so I wasn’t prepared for moving in the wind when it was barely 50!  Oh well, the sun came up within the hour, and at least made things tolerable.  So, on that note…

Well, good morning Mr Giraffe!

Or how about a warthog?

Or maybe an impala?  They were EVERYWHERE!

Or a water buffalo?

Or finally…a lion!  They were quite obviously on the prowl, but we didn’t really get to see any hunting.

After a roughly two hour drive, we were back to the lodge for breakfast.  The buffet was nothing special, but it was adequate.   After breakfast we had to rush a bit, because we had planned a day trip to Namibia in between the day’s two safari activities.  I will confess the primary motivation for this trip was that I couldn’t stand to be across the river for Namibia and not cross of a new country!  However, in the end, it turned out to be a really cool experience.

The trip was billed as a “Namibian Village Tour” and we expected something really cheesy and fake.  However, it was just the two of us, and the villages on Impalila Island where we went were completely authentic, fully functioning villages.  Yes, the village ladies had set out some crafts to sell (which for all we know came from China or Ghana) but other than that, these were definitely real villages.

First, the oldest Baobab tree on the island:

Anyone who’s been to Africa knows that stores often have very creative Christian-inspired names.  In this case, welcome to the GOD KNOWS shop!

The island school, with a plaque proudly proclaiming it was financed by my employer:

For a long time during the apartheid period, Namibia was occupied by South Africa.  Our guide stressed to us repeatedly that this period was not all bad for Namibia, because the South Africans had done a good deal of infrastructure building.  Selfishly-motivated or not, it was clear it had made an impact.  Maybe a lesson for international development?  That said, a bridge the guide said was an especially useful addition to the island:

After a couple of hours of walking in the intense sun we were good and crispy, and after checking out via the most informal immigration post I’ve ever experienced (don’t worry – still got the stamp!) we were back on the boat to Botswana.  We had maybe an hour to relax, before the evening’s safari drive.  I’d end with a few pictures, and just say that the evening drive was awesome.  We saw lions stalking a group of buffalo for the kill, but unfortunately the park closed at 6pm and we had to be out before they went for it.  It was unclear the next morning if they succeeded or not, but pics will tell that story tomorrow.

Matt and his best friends:

Of course, who can resist another awesome African sunset:

Back to the lodge just in time to enjoy a Savanna Dry before hitting the buffet.  Unfortunately, not nearly as good as BBQ night the night before, but hey…it’s a hotel buffet, so it was perfectly adequate.  Off to bed early again, because we were going to get in one more early morning game drive before leaving and see what the lions had gotten up to!

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