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Sunday, July 15

Etosha


Brett: We left later than expected and were rushed getting to Etosha National Park and to our camp before the gates closed. We saw elephants, but couldn't stop for long. We camped at Halali, which was nice (but very full) and had a massive braai. The first day, we explored the park to the west of Halali. We saw black rhino crossing the road right in front of us, which was awesome, and some secretary birds in the morning. We saw very little game in the afternoon and was I starting to feel exhausted from moving so fast and having to continually watch the temperature gauge. Our second night was at Okaukuejo, our last night with the Kerrs as they needed to head for Windhoek to sort out a few things on their car. The Kerrs made us a cake at dinner using their Hobb oven - we took it down to the fantastic water hole, where we saw two black rhinos in a stand off - they were literally singing to other - very strange. In the morning, I heard a lion killing something and rushed down to the waterhole. It was just before sunrise and the lions were just finishing eating by the time I got there, although it was still difficult to see in the low light. We said goodbye to the Kerrs and headed out on our morning game drive. The Kerrs had been desperate to see a male lion with big mane, and as we headed towards a waterhole near Halali we saw two female and one male lion lying under a tree. We texted the Kerrs but weren't sure if our message got through. A few minutes later they turned up anyway, got a perfect spot, and just then the lions all stood up. The male lion seemed to have a horrible taste in his mouth, and was yawning and licking his lips and showing his teeth - the Kerrs were going bananas at the thrill of the perfect massive maney lion doing a series of classic Lion King poses - a first for them!

With 10 minutes to spare before our permit ran out, we spotted Mike and Emma in the car park at Namutoni. We had last seen then in DRC before they headed to Kinshasa for repairs, and they looked a little disheveled  We got a very short version of their hectic two weeks in Kinshasa, getting the car fixed and getting their Angolan visas. They had a very tense argument to avoid a big bribe at Matadi, which sounded terrible and not something Mary would have coped with, and they were then rushed through Angola with a super-fast police escort (even though they had a letter in Portugese to say they didn't need one), and narrowly avoided a massive accident with a truck which probably would have written them off. They had been camping at police stations along the way, where exhausted, and hadn't showered in a week or so. They were really excited to be in the land of plenty and were busy enjoying the magnum ice-creams at the camp shop. We really wanted to change our plans to spend the evening catching up with them, but we couldn't make it work - horrible to be on a schedule.

We drove on to Roys Camp (north east of Grootfontein), which is a great spot with cool decorations. We treated ourselves to the buffet dinner at the campsite - bobotie, sweet potato mash, chicken wings and many different types of salad (for Mary) and mavla pudding. Yum! If you're ever in the area and need enormous portions of delicious food, it's definitely the spot to go. They had the radio on a local station playing Afrikaans "treffers" so we got to listen to a few classics that we recognised (thanks Simon!) as well as some new ones that were actually quite catchy....you know you've been on the road too long when you're bopping along to Kurt Darren's "Grooter as Groot".

Mary: I woke up with a sudden urge to get rid of clutter, so we left our rubbish TentCo awning on a table in the campsite with a note if anyone wanted it - it just took too long to set up, and couldn't cope with any wind. In Rundo, someone decided to help us with the mission by breaking into our car and stealing our kindle, broken laptop, sat phone and all our chargers - not really the stuff we were thinking of getting rid of. We were parked at a busy Engen petrol station, right in front of the door to the shop, and had popped in for less than 5 minutes when it happened. We had locked the car and Brett had checked out the window twice. Someone had broken into our car with a screwdriver and knew exactly what they wanted to take. Brett reacted very quickly when he saw the door was unlocked, but the security guards, staff and other people around pretended they hadn't seen anything. We were able to disable the phone and kindle and the laptop was broken, so they got nothing of value, but it is really irritating, expensive and inconvenient to us. What a welcome back to Southern Africa! For the next trip, we would design a padded charging box for our electronics, with a slam lock.

There was more nothing we could do about it, so we headed for Ngepi Camp ($23) near Divundu on the Okavango River in the Caprivi. It is a proper backpacker place, with funny signs and nice campsites on the river. We made a bonfire and listened to the hippos close by - by this stage of the trip, we got over the loss quickly - it really is just stuff (and Brett has 2 backup copies of the photos hidden in different places).

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