After exactly one month working on the project in Mayana I decided to take a few days off and stay at the Ngepi Camp, which is on the outskirts of Mahango National Park and about 200km East of Rundu. It is set on an island under amazing trees with permanent river frontage and surrounded by seasonally flooded swamps. I have to say right away: if you ever visit Namibia don’t miss this place! It is awesome! Their staff is extremely friendly, their food is delicious and they run a great sustainable concept! Check out their website!
On Monday we made out way to Rundu to first run some errands for the center and by noon I was ready to leave Rundu. So we went to the “central bus station” to arrange for transport to the camp. Joseph assisted me on that and he wanted to make sure that I get a transport which takes me straight to the camp and not just to Divundu which is the nearest town. We found a minibus who could take me to the camp, but he said that he wouldn’t leave until 2pm. So by know I know that this actually means leaving the earliest at 4pm. We searched the grounds for another option and found a guy who had a smaller van and could only take 6 passengers which meant we probably would leave sooner since he doesn’t have to fill up that many spaces. He said that he would leave at 1pm and has including myself now 5 passengers. So I was sure that we’d be out of Rundu by 1.30pm at the latest…far from it. When we returned from the supermarket where I got some snacks – ‘cause you know, you need snacks when travelling – he informed me that one passenger had dropped out and the others were still shopping. So we waited around until 2.30pm when the dad of the family he was taking came to the car with 2 full shopping carts and told us, that his wife and kid were at the other end of town. We left to pick them up which took another half hour because they wanted to get food from Wimpy’s – which is the local fast food chain. After that we went to a gas station and when filling up the car the driver parked the car and we waited. What we waited for – no clue. We finally left Rundu at about 3.30pm. And I figured that I was about right with my estimated departing time for the other transport. When we were on the road we were actually proceeding pretty fast and after about 1.5 hrs it was only another 10km to Divundu – soon listening to church music and gospel would come to an end!
Saddly I was wrong again. We had to take a little detour to drop the family, then picked up two guys who are building the drivers new home and after had to deliver something to a guy in another village – surprisingly that went quickly because the guy was waiting on the street for us, probably the whole day. We finally made it to Divundu, which is nothing more than a T-junction with a gas station and maybe one or two shops. I saw a sign for the Ngepi Camp saying 14km so I was sure we’d be there within 10 minutes. Wrong again! The last few kilometers were off road driving and I thought the driver is going to kick me out soon because his car was very low and he kept scratching the ground and we nearly got stuck in the swamps.
I finally arrived at the camp just after 6pm and found out that they run on South African time – haven’t found out yet why – so it was already 7pm. I checked in and was shown to my treehouse. Since it was already dark by then and dinner was about to be served, I just put down my bag and went back to reception to enjoy their free Wi-Fi. I just chatted to a few tourists, had dinner and went straight to bed. The dinner was amazing and I especially enjoyed the chicken. It was a great change to my usual rice or noodles with veggies. It also was pure enjoyment to sleep in a super comfy double bed. I was very grateful for my ear plugs because there were many unusual sounds around from hippos, birds, insects and what not. I had a great first night and woke up to a beautiful sunrise because the treehouse is very secluded and right at the river. I got up and put a jumper on and just sat on the deck to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. When the sun was completely up I got ready to go for breakfast. I ordered an omelet with toast and I have to tell you, it was DEVINE! I enjoyed it sooooo much – unfortunately they also just had instant coffee, but it was much better than mine. I need to find out which brand they use and might have to switch.
On my first day I inquired with reception if they would offer any activities for the day and signed up for the sunset cruise. Unfortunately the tourists I met the night before had already left and there were not many around, so I missed my chance to join them on a drive through the Mahango Park. But there was still a lot to explore at the camp and I checked out all their ablutions which are very unique and also the other treehouses. I was pretty happy with No. 8 – to me it was the very best one. After my tour of the camp I returned to my treehouse and put the hammock up and just relaxed. In the afternoon I wanted to try their hot shower and first I was not impressed because the water wasn’t really hot but I thought oh well – warmer than at my place. Just a few seconds later I found out that solar warmed water actually does get pretty hot and I had to turn on some cold water. AMAZING!!! My first “real” shower since I left Windhoek.
The evening cruise was pretty nice and I found out that more people arrived to the camp – of course many Germans but I didn’t really engage with them, ‘cause you know… The cruise was great! We observed a big herd of elephants on the other side that
came down from Bwabwata National Park to drink from the river. There must have been at least 70 elephants. We were also able to spot quite a few hippos, birdlife, a water buffalo and had an amazing sunset all accompanied by a nice cold Savanna Dry.
At night I inquired with reception again about a game drive but since most tourists have their own car, they don’t book with them, but Macky – one of the staff – offered to ask around the other lodges if they would do one and would get back to me. I had been crossing my fingers ever since. Sadly none of the tourists I talked to were going to Mahango Park or they had already been.
The next morning pretty much started the same. I enjoyed another beautiful sunrise, had my breakfast on the sun deck and watched the occasional hippo diving up. I returned to my treehouse to enjoy my hammock and read a little.
All in a sudden I heard some strange noises and was sure that this was no hippo. I looked up and just across from my treehouse on the other side of the river there were some elephants. I quickly got my camera and was amazed that more and more elephants kept showing up to have a drink and fun at the water. It was spectacular! I might have gone a little crazy with taking pictures. I watched them for about 1.5 hrs and then they returned into the bush. I also spotted some otters, antelopes and another water buffalo.
In the afternoon Macky told me that another lodge has availability on a game drive and they would pick me up at 14.15pm. I was so excited and run off to my treehouse to get my stuff, I missed that it was for the next day. 😀
So I am very much looking forward to that and happy to have extended my stay until Friday!