Wow, what a beautiful place. It feels quite literally like the middle of nowhere. It's difficult to describe the feeling and the isolation of the place. From Etosha we drove about 4 and a half hours – and mind you, Etosha is not what any American would call 'civilization' – and we came to a slice of Namibia that is incredibly rugged and beautiful. The main 'road' is graded gravel, winds though riverbeds, doesn't care to warn you of steep inclines or sharp turns and is all in all, wonderful. When we arrived at our campsite at Mowani Mountain Camp, we were a little befuddled since we had not camped in Africa before this. We checked in at the main lodge and they told us what campsite to go to and then we were on our own. Yikes. No electricity…but there was running water which included a toilet, shower and kitchen area with a sink. We barely made it to our campsite by sunset so we scurried to set up the first night. It worked and all but was a little hasty.
We woke up at sunrise the next morning, not having been eaten by lions, hyena or baboons so that was a good start to the day. Kidding of course … We hadn't see any animals in this area and figured it was just too inhospitable for them. Why else would they allow camping? So we got up at sunrise because the Nature Drive (aka Desert Elephant search party) left at 7. Spoiler Alert: yes, we found the desert elephants and that was Awesome! But long before that we got to see how much activity there really was in Damaraland… A lot! Turns out there are elephants, lions, hyena, cheetah, leopard, jackals, kudu, oryx, springbok, baboons, and lots of little birds, creepy crawlies, etc. We didn't see any of the predators except for a few jackal with their babies… Jackals are already pretty little guys – maybe the size of a Sheltie but skinnier…like a miniature coyote – and their pups?, kits? are tiny and so darn cute!
About 3 hours into the drive, we started seeing elephant poo and knew we were headed in the right direction. If you're tracking elephants, follow the poo. They eat plants ALL day, and A LOT of them, so you can imagine they're pretty regular shall we say. Before long we see two bulls at a waterhole and got to watch and follow them for quite a ways down the riverbed (dry as a bone!) until we found about 7-10 females. One of the ladies was heavily preggo and another had a baby with her – the guide said it about 4 months old and was apparently exhausted … it's napping antics were pretty great. Stand up, look around, sway, down on front knees, tumble sideways and then flop into napping position.
Later that day we toured the World Heritage Site of the Twfelfontein rock engravings. Twyfelfontein is an Afrikaans word meaning 'doubtful fountain' because the white settler that found these engravings came there because there was a natural spring nearby that sometimes produced enough water, sometimes not. These engravings into the granite were means of communication between the Damara tribespeople …they we're nomadic and traveled in small groups so this is essentially how they left 'notes' for each other.
That night we made our dinner at the campsite, set up the tent, drank wine and enjoyed the unbelievable tranquility of the 'middle of nowhere'. We only wished our friends were there to share it with us! We were treated to a passing thunderstorm that night at about 2am – just enough rain to get things wet but not enough to make much difference in the desert.
Oh and there's a few photos below … The odd looking plant is a Welwitschia – this one was only about 100 yrs old but there are some where we are going that are about 1500 years old. It grows very slowly and only produces two leaves that twist and fray and give it it's strange look. Ancient though!