29.05.2008 - 04.06.2008 26 °C
After almost a week in tents (and in my case without a sleeping bag) I was pleased to arrive into Swakopmund - Namibia's second city and the adventure capital of Africa.
I grabbed the opportunity to go sandboarding on the dunes. Similar to snowboarding, sandboarding down 100m high dunes is an amazing sensation. Later I progressed onto the jump and, with the steepest part of the dune below me, I managed to land the jump...before falling over again soon after.
Following the stand up boarding, I switched to the far easier, but equally thrilling, lie down boarding. I was clocked travelling at 64km/h by the speed gun - 1km/h less than the day's record. On an even faster course I was determined to do better, but crashed the board at about 50km/h down the dune before rolling another 20m down the dune. After initial panic, I assured everyone I was still intact and can now relive this, and other sandboarding glories on dvd. Although my legs were sore from climbing the dunes time and again, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
The next day we travelled onwards to the edge of Etosha National Game Park, passing some intricate rock carvings and a 'petrified forest' (not as cool as it sounds - it is simply wood that has turned to rock).
Entering Etosha, we stopped to admire countless zebra, giraffe and wildebeast. Our campsite bordered one of the rare water holes of the area where we had our much anticipated first sighting of the African elephant. We looked on in awe, not only at his huge size, but also the sound created by his flapping ears. At sunset we watched the different ways the animals drank the water - the elephant spraying himself with his trunk; the giraffe looking almost comical as it bent low to dip his long neck into the water.
Throughout the night we were kept awake by the roaring of lions and howling of jackals. Keen to see, rather than just hear the wildlife, we spent the following day on a game drive. We saw zebras wander across the path (bringing a whole new meaning to zebra crossings) and giraffes gracefully run through the bushes.
The highlight though was unquestionably a close encounter with an elephant herd. As a group of 8 elephants passed about 30m from the bus, a huge 4m tall matriach separated from the others and began walking, at an increasing pace, towards the bus. My group, being the tourists we are, were delighted with the photo opportunities...it was only when the elephant started to provacatively flap her ears about 3m from the bus that we began to worry. It later materialised that the guide's view of the elephant had been completely obscured by the surrounding bushes. When the elephant burst through, the driver, who normally has the air of someone who has seen it all before, started shaking - and promptly stalled the bus. Eventually we fled down the road - for a while with the elephant in hot pursuit...
After more safari driving we arrived in the sprawling Namibian capital of Windhoek, and a couple more days of travelling later, had arrived into Botswana.