I was starting to wonder when I was going to get time to write the next blog mainly due to he big mileage each day and the fact that I am now amidst the real wildlife.
Well they do say that every cloud has a sliver lining so I guess this is mine to own.
I had been warned about the possibility of picking up dirty fuel even from the big well known fuel stations. We guess what…I found some. I had tried to stay close to the major names in fuel but due to the remoteness of some of the places I had no choice but to use one that I should have just known was going to be the one. I had been carrying a funnel with built in filter for this very reason but unfortunately when the panniers decided to part company with the bike last week the funnel had been smashed and I hadn’t replaced yet. So my fault!
Probably the last 100 km had been a bit lumpy yesterday until it became obvious that there was a fuel problem. I managed to get to my overnight accommodation and used the work shop facilities there to strip out the fuel pump to find a very black fuel filter. I did what I could with limited resources ( and skill ) to clean it out and re assembled it. On arriving back at the bike this morning I found there was a very small leak of fuel. Long story short the staff here were fantastic and in a combined effort with Brian the Manager, Rudi a local mechanic was found and was here within the hour. Now sitting typing this as he works his magic on the Beast.
So the bike is sick and so am I. Started taking my anti Malaria tablets a few days ago and have been feeling rough ever since. Local advice is ….”don’t take them they will make you feel terrible. We don’t take anything and just go get the treatment if we feel sick”. Dilemma!! Fuel stations are hard to find let alone toilets!
So come on I hear you say…those that are still awake. What’s been happening on the road. Well here has been very little gravel to ride for the last two or three days. Again that’s mainly due to the fact that I have to head between fuel stations. Earlier in the week I had a great surprise when I arrived at Etosha Safari Camp. Set just about 3 km from the Etosha National Park I was really looking forward to getting out and seeing some animals. Like all National parks here motorcycles are not allowed into the park….obvious reasons when they have lions roaming about. Not to worry the lodge has vehicle that take visitors to the camp out on guided drives. Unfortunately on both days I was there there were no other guests that wanted to go into the park. Disappointing but not the end of the world.
Just across the road I had seen a sign for Cheetahs…..I will go there I thought. So I took a ride down the track to what was a small guest house. I paid my 100 Namibian Dollars and then took a walk with the guy who worked on the farm to see the cats. Chatting to him it seems that this is fact a hunting farm which breeds Zebra, Kudu, Eland and other buck purely for hunting. So I asked where the cheetah and leopard came from. They were trapped on the farm because they were hanging around the water hole and attacking the animals that were to be hunted. So how do you hunt a Zebra was my next question. ” we take the client to a hide by the waterhole and when the animal comes to drink he shoots it”. Not much of a challenge in my unqualified opinion and not any different to what the cheetah and leopard were doing! Maybe some room in the cages for a few extra “hunters”. The only photo I could actually bring myself to post is this one of the Leopard looking like he is out in the wild somewhere. Shame about the fence that surrounds him.
I have friends that are hunters and others that are not and some that think there is no place on earth for it. The following is MY opinion. I don’t ask you to agree or condemn. I will never hunt. I will however if the need arises cull an oversized herd. I know people who I admire greatly that will as part of their job track and shoot injured animals including dangerous game. I don’t find anything sporting in hunting down a healthy animal to shoot for a trophy but I do realise there are some people who do consider it their form of sport. Within conservation I am also aware that the fund from a single hunter can bring in to a area as much as 20 tourists. Plus the hunters environmentally impact is far far less than the 20 tourists who will drive around the bush in several vehicles eat 20 meals at each sitting, shower 20 times and flush the toilet 20 times ( probably more if they are taking anti Malaria Tablets!! ). So in summery if the funds from these hunts can be put back into the conservation of the species and not into the pockets of farmers who breed stock just so it can be shot for profit then I say I will accept that.
What I saw at this hunting farm was nothing short of caging animals to make a profit. I also got the feeling that if someone came along with the right offer then theses cats could find them selves being released and free to roam down to the waterhole where someone with a small appendage would be waiting for them to stoop and drink!
Like I said My Blog My Opinion. Please afford me the same right to have mine as I do you to have yours!
Now that’s off my chest! I have been working my way north for a few days now. Nice tar roads since leaving Damara Mopane and lovely trees, super green trees. My two nights at Etosha Safari Camp were nothing short of brilliant with a super wow factor when I found the Shabeen themed bar and restaurant. Without exception all the staff where upbeat smiling and friendly. In the evening over dinner the was a guy playing guitar and sing traditional African songs with many of the waiting staff joining in either with the singing or dancing around the fire. As a lodge experience it could not have been better. The reaction from the diners left me in no doubt that this place is a smash hit.
In an attempt to shorten the miles I had a stop over at a small guest lodge just north of Grootfontein called Fiume Lodge. I was the only guest that night but I was looked after very well by the staff and the room was very nice indeed. The place is surrounded by various antelope and ostrich and has a good selection or birds also. Well worth using as an overnight on the way to Rundu. It has an outdoor swimming pool and pool table inside as well as DSTv for sports fans or just miss watching tv. I have to say I don’t think there is anything on tv I can say that I have missed.
So now I was heading even further north right up to the Namibia/Angola border. On route I passed through a check point for animal control. This seems to be the point where all the privately owned farms on the Southern side stop and the Government owned land starts heading north. Within 500 metres I was staggered at the change. Suddenly I was in what I think everyone expects Africa to be. Houses made literally from sticks rocks and mud were all along the road side. It was a Saturday so the world and his wife seemed to be out and about along with all their goats cows and the odd mad dog. I must have spent the next 200kms waving at children and adults alike. I stopped to speak to a guy and asked if he would mind if I took a photo of his family. We eventually agreed on a price that seemed to start at the cost of my bike and got down to 20 nam dollars. ( about £1.30 ). Mom reluctantly joined the kids after much coaxing.
It was around about now that the bike started to cough a bit but I am not going to go on about that as it’s gonna be fine!! ( haven’t seen Rudi for a while…..hope all is good! ) I reached Hakusembe River Lodge around mid afternoon and was greeted by Edi. He showed me to my extremely spacious room which is right on the edge of the camp and sits just a few metres from the mighty Kovango River. formerly know as. The Okovango River and the home of the Konvango people the perfectly pointless “o” has now been dropped and returned to its original name. This lodge has recently undergone a major refurb and I must say it’s stunning. I was lucky enough to go on a boat ride last night with the lodges River guide Paublo. His knowledge of the bird life and the local people from both side of the River ( it’s the natural border line between Namibia and Angola ) is outstanding. I even got a close up of this 2.5 metre croc…..ok when I say close!!
So now I am going to chill out for the rest of the day somewhere near a loo. I have total confidence in Rudi the spanner man but just have to remember things take time. THIS IS AFRICA!
I don’t think it would be right if I didn’t mention the passing of Nelson Mandela this week. We all know that for many months in fact years he has been extremely sick. Madiba was the man who inspired my interest in South Africa and is someone who I have admired greatly. To some he was a terrorist, to many he was a freedom fighter but remember this. He was the man who stood for his people at a time when they were being oppressed. He was a man that paid a price for his actions. Then he was the man who when released from prison said ” now we must forgive and forget” His one and only desire was for all people of South Africa to live together as equals and in peace. I hope that the people of South Africa will continue his work and make his dream come true. I think the world can learn a lot. Thank you Tata Madiba.