My last full day at Ngepi Camp started as usual: enjoying the sunrise, having breakfast, chatting to a lovely Swiss couple, chilling in the hammock – which I have been over doing because I got quite the sunburn – and some reading. And of course I was looking forward to 2pm because this was when I was going on my game drive into Bwabwana National Park.
The Park is named after a village which is situated within the park – roughly translates to “gargling water” – and stretches over about 6100km2 and it is right along the Okawango River. In 2007 the two parks West Capriri Game Park and Mahango Game Park have been united to the Bwabwana Park. It is not the most famous park in Namibia or best place to observe wildlife but I was still looking forward to spot some game. I am also still missing the leopard from my Big Five! Cameron, our guide, was pretty friendly and I got to sit in the front with him, but when he said whoever spotted the first lion or leopard gets a free bottle of wine, I knew we wouldn’t see any cats. Too bad, but there will be many more chances to come on this trip.
First we went to a waterhole where we observed some elephants and wild hogs drinking and on our way there we spotted ostriches, zebras and impalas. Since there are just two routes to choose from – one 10km and the other 20km – we made our way back to the main road which actually leads to Botswana. We continued on to the 800 years old baobab tree where we stopped for some refreshments. On our way we saw bush bucks, an oryx, kudus, more impalas and wild hogs as well as a small giraffe, beautiful birds and a hippo and a croc in the distance in the swamps. The baobab tree was right at the river so you could wonder down there and I spotted an otter which later turned out to be a monitor lizard when I zoomed in on the picture. After about 3.5 hours we made our way back to the main entrance. Although I had been on better game drives in Africa – it is amazing how picky and unimpressed you get after a few of them – I still had a lovely afternoon. Cameron also took be back to his lodge and showed me around. It was a nice place but more for the 60+ tourists I’d say and I was even happier with staying at Ngepi Camp.
Back at the camp I enjoyed one last hot shower and arranged my transport back to Rundu. The driver who took me to the camp told me he’d pick me up at 5am and I had to double check with him if he meant 5am Namibian time or the unofficial Caprivi time which equals South African time. I still really don’t know why they change the time at the lodges – Cameron told me it is because they are so far East that they don’t switch to winter time and Macky told me that tourists coming from Botswana would get confused otherwise. Well the pick-up was 5am Namibian time and I was worried that he would not show up on time and I had to wait in the cold for him. I had set my alarm to 4.30am and at 4.35am the driver called and asked where I was since he was already at reception. I just don’t get African Time! I hurried up and by 4.45am we were out of there. We picked up some more passengers and money to buy stuff in Rundu for people. Since I was still pretty tired I wanted to take a little nap, but again we listened to very loud gospel music and a lady singing “Thank you Mr Jesus for this song”…NOT!!! Unfortunately one passenger was really into this one and sang along while the driver and another passenger were chatting very loudly. I was therefore very pleased to leave the car at 7.30am when we reached Rundu. I just did some minor shopping for water and some veggies. After I tried to call my usual drivers to give me a ride home but I was out of luck. I flagged down a Rundu taxi to take me to the cola cola shop where the cars for Mayana usually leave and was prepared to wait around some more since I was sure that at this time no one was going in that direction. Luckily the taxi driver was pretty friendly and chatty and after dropping the passenger off who was already in the car, I asked him if he would take me all the way to Mayana. He said sure and wanted to know how much I’d offer him for the trip. I told him N$50 – normally it costs N$20 per person, but then they fill up all the seats on the car – and he said ok. Glad that money makes the world go round on this end, too. Also he was lucky because Joseph and 2 of his friends were standing at my stop to go into Rundu. So good day for him and I was happy to be back at home early! About 2hrs later one of my preferred drivers called me back to ask if I was still in need of a taxi to Mayana and I was so happy that I didn’t have to wait around for him.
So now I have to get back to work since I only have another 4 weeks left before MCP-members are coming to Mayana and there is still a lot to do. I hope that the team has recharged their batteries over the last few days and we can keep up the good work!