Monday, June 18, 2012

bush

"you know you are truly alive when you are living among lions"
karen blixen, out of africa


we're now on the last leg of our trip through namibia. we are heading south towards okonjima, then to windhoek where we began, completing a somewhat wonky circle around the country.  leaving etosha late morning put us at outjo town just in time for lunch. outjo had an open bank, petrol and the best pizza in africa! we ordered takeaway since it was near 100 degrees outside and no shade to leave the truck in. we chose the special: 2 small pizza's $72.00 n (around $8.00 u.s.) . and then we waited... had a cold beer each, read the paper (chuck) wrote in journal (lori) watched a large group of overlanders come in, buy pastry's and soft drinks (big decisions) considered another beer, but we are driving. when eventually out of the kitchen came a smiling cook holding a very large box. our small pizzas. it almost didn't fit across the front seat of our car. omg, oh my gosh, was it ever good. we made a mental note, must return sometime to outjo for more someday.  :)
passed through otijiwarongo...

 the drive to okonjima from the b-1 was 18 kilometers. then, once inside the gate, it's several more km's to camp. we were required to follow the same rules of other camps, you must stay in your car, and no speeding.



 okonjima - home of the africat foundation. set amid the rolling omboroko mountains, this protected 20,000 hectare wilderness is a place chuck has wanted to return to for 17 years.

for the last 20 years the africat foundation and the hanssen family have rescued over 1,000 cheetah and leopards that have been trapped as a result of human/wildlife conflict on the farm lands in namibia. over 85% of these big cats have been returned to the wild. as with most animal rescue programmes, there are those individuals which cannot be released immediately. injured as well as orphaned cheetahs and leopards, too young to be on their own in the wild without their mothers, are taken into africats care.


chuck saw many changes since he was here last. africat has acquired more land, okonjima now has 3 camps, and his fond memory of seeing cheetah wandering the grounds surrounding reception, doesn't happen anymore.



 after greetings and cool drinks, we were shown to our room, view 1. good name heh? (warthogs outside!)



 we were too late for the days activities, but chatting and fireplace sitting suited us fine! it gets cold here in the evening!


 after dinner we were invited to a hide. this one was a long low shack in the shape of an L, with very small windows. right outside is a waterhole. peter, our guide (you must go with a guide, single file, quiet and careful please!) put scraps out on the ground, but not before scanning the area very carefully with a torch (flashlight). i was thinking 'hurry, you never know what might be lurking'


we sat in silence, waiting and watching. only minutes later a porcupine arrived! and then another, and another, 3 porcupines! they lined up in front of the food and began crunching and smacking. we giggled quietly. when they were finished they scuttled away, sounding like a paper bag full of sticks. we waited so long for something else to appear, we were falling asleep. peter said 'shall we go?' and i think we were all in agreement. time for bed. another perfect day in africa.


 morning view


 weavers nest


 pumbas in camp


 many! haha hee hee, see?


 jambo pumba  :)


 built in shade  :)


banded mongoose


 guinea fowl feather from chuck  :)



 the cape turtle dove says in the am : work harder work harder, and in the pm: drink lager drink lager   :)
(told to us by our funny guide jonas). this morning we are looking for cheetah.


here is the device used to locate a signal. we found one! jonas, our guide stopped the truck and said, 'we will walk'. so we got out, all eight of us. six guests and the guides peter and jonas. the rules for a walking safari are, stay in a single file line, no talking, stop when the lead guide stops, and walk when he does. the two other couples were unsure, uneasy. i managed to get in line right behind jonas (exciting!) then the two other couples were behind me, then chuck, finally peter.

we began walking off the road through the bush. stickers and thorns catching on clothes, every step bringing up a small cloud of dust. it was hot. and exciting. about ten minutes later the woman behind me began complaining. i could hear her, even if i couldn't understand her language. then, she tapped me on the shoulder and said 'excuse me. how long must we keep walking?' i just shrugged and smiled. more walking. and then, we stepped out into a clearing, and far across to the other side, i saw a termite mound, and then nearby a spotted tail flipped up out of the long grass.

cheetah!

we kept walking, not directly to the cheetah, but circling around coming closer all the while. i am looking back at chuck and grinning ear to ear, he winking at me. the woman taps me again 'how much closer must we go?' i whisper to her 'it's okay' and keep following jonas. we are about 3 car lengths away now and the woman calls jonas loudly, she says she is not comfortable and we must stop now! jonas tells her it is fine and motions her to quiet. and we walk on. we are on the edge of the bush, not in the open, standing single file,
with two cheetah only yards away from us now. so thrilling!!



they stayed for only a short time, before getting up and disappearing into the surrounding bush. i am sure the woman was thrilled too by now, she seemed to lose her fear and began taking photos. we all smiled (quietly). whew!
it was then i saw that peter had carried a large kind of board with him. on the way back chuck found a porcupine quill and gave it to me! 


 a purple roller!! we've never seen one!

the next morning we were going to look for leopards. i couldn't sleep in anticipation. and because lions have been calling all night. they sound so close, as if their outside our door. ROAR ROAR roar huff huff huff. this is how it sounds. the first roar is the loudest and then it gets softer, until all you hear is the deep huff huff huffing. i really love it. it's 5:30 am, wake up call, time to go!

we drove around, greeting the wakening bush veld. we saw: oryx, sand grouse, banded mongoose, squirrel, red-billed frankolin, swallowtail bee eaters. and then jonas said 'there is a leopard in the tree'. WHAT? he whispered it again as we drove through trees and brush, thorns poking, a branch even broke off and i had to pry it off my seat. but all the while never taking my eyes off the trees in front. WHERE? we couldn't see.
until we drove directly in front of an acacia and jonas pointed up. 'there'.


up in the tree was nkozi. an eight year old male leopard, with a fresh killed zebra (you can just make out the leg). we watched him lick his prize for a few minutes, and then he stood up


 looked at us


 and began to climb down



 out of the tree










there were six of us, plus the guide on the truck, and except for the sound of camera shutters, it was silent. jonas had told us earlier to be very quiet and still if we find leopard. make no sudden movements he said


 i am pretty sure that just comes naturally when you find yourself close to one of these, oh my goodness


 nkozi is a very big boy


 we sat and watched him walk away. it was then i think i remembered to breath. i was so lucky to be sitting closest to him. on a safari truck everyone has a good view, but sometimes it can be great. jonas was really happy about these photos, nkozi is his favorite he told us. he asked if i could send him the photos. with pleasure!


 so exciting, and so early in the morning still. what would we see next? 14 giraffe!


 granpa pumba


 leopard #2  incredible! as soon as jonas radioed in his location, mr. leopard was gone


 and please believe me, a few hours later, we saw leopard #3. three leopards in one morning!


 we came upon more bat eared foxes, 5 of them playing together. when they saw us, they started playing statue. hee hee



we didn't return until the afternoon, hours past when we were expected. the staff graciously made breakfast for all of us. we talked with our new friends, going on another game drive in the afternoon, and the next day too, and even having dinner together. it's so easy to make friends on safari. did i tell you they are from madagascar and they've invited us to visit?


 we found more cheetah, these brothers are different than the first pair we saw. these boys were orphaned as cubs and will never be returned to the wild


 hee hee, so playful




 jonas is a good and patient guide

 africat (a free cat) namibia




last night in the bush, last sundowner



 tomorrow we leave for windhoek and begin the long trek home. tonight, we looked at the stars, the crescent moon, and as we walked the path to our room, we took in every sight and sound and smell of the bush.



 but we have one more place to visit before we go:

 REST - rare and endangered species trust
this is seamore! a great eagle owl. he was found in the midst of a cattle kraal, not moving and was in great danger of being trampled, he was rescued and brought to r.e.s.t, to be cared for by maria.



 i love him!! maria asked if we'd like to hold him, he needed to get used to other people. YES please! he looked right at me and made chirpy noises!


 this is an endangered cape griffon vulture we had an opportunity to feed




 maria invited us into her hide, to watch a vulture restaurant


we waited two hours, watching vultures fly in, lured by the scraps maria had put out for them, you can see the pile of guts and other bits and pieces laying in the dirt


 this tree had 2 vultures on it when we arrived


two hours later, it looked like this



 a tawny eagle flew in


 a lot of birds came, but no one made the move towards the food




 maria said it could be any minute or several more hours. we took the decision to leave. we had a drive to windhoek still and preferred to arrive before dark. we made such fast friends with maria she invited us to stay at her guest cottage. oh couldn't we just stay one more week? sigh (greedy lori) we made a donation to support REST and maria said we would be the sponsors of seamore for the months of june and july! our name would be on the board! and she gave me a beautiful bag with a cape griffon vulture on it. our new friend walked us down the hill to our car where we reluctantly said goodbyes


 bye baboons


 bye okonjima



 on the road to windhoek


our trusty ride(yellow plate). we put almost 3000 kilometers on this vehicle.


not to be missed, joe's beerhouse, windhoek , namibia


at the airport. guess who all these pelican cases belong to? the bbc. and the planet earth crew! they had been filming in the kalahari. fantastic friendly talented people.


 goodbye namibia, karee nawa (stay well)


 one last thing, before i end this extraordinarily long post


remember jonas and the photos he asked for? 




 i made jonas a book of his favorite leopard, nkozi






thank you for great memories


 our route



there are many things that didn't make it into these posts, but i have kept your attention long enough. i don't think it's possible to describe all that we saw and experienced, but i hope these posts gave an idea of the beauty and wonder of this country namibia. 

if you are thinking of  planning a safari here is a travel agency we have used and highly recommend, we've booked two trips through them now and will definitely do so again.
rhino africa safaris, based in cape town. 

thank you for coming along, it's been a pleasure!
xxx lori



40 comments:

  1. wow, just wow. what an amazing adventure you had. i am thinking i would have been a bit terrified being that close to a big cat, although i am not sure i would have yelled out. LOL i am looking forward to showing my boys this post in the morning. :)

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  2. Oh My Goodness Dear Lori Ann, I found myself holding my breath as I moved from one picture to the next, they are all so stunning. What amazing experiences you and Chuck had and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing them with all of us. It has been such a pleasure to have a peek into your trip and I am so very thankful. It was all just amazing!

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  3. I could just keep looking and reading these posts over and over and probably will. Amazing is an understatement. How can a place I've never been to be so special. xxx

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  4. It's simply amazing! What an incredible journey. Thank you so much for taking us along to share it. The photos are stunning. The Cheetahs so beautiful. I'm sure Jonas will treasure his book you made for him. You must have a head full of all the sights and sounds and colours and people you met on this incredible journey.

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  5. Awesome! It is very hard to describe the emotions when you encounter such wildlife and untamed beauty. But you've captured it all so well in your gorgeous photos. And relayed it beautifully in your posts. Jonas will love the book you made. What a wonderful gesture. Have a fantastic week. Tammy

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  6. I don't have words for this one, Lori. What an amazing (and brave!) woman you are.

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  7. This leaves me almost speechless! So beautiful and captivating. Thanks so much for sharing such an inspiring adventure with us! Loved everything about it!

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  8. Lori ~ I wonder if you know what a captive audience you've had through this blog journey...I got up at 4:30 this morning and turned the computer on just to see if you had done this last post.

    I will be back ~ probably many times ~ today to look again and again. Thank you sooooo much for sharing this wonderful journey you and Chuck had with the rest of us!

    Melissa

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    1. Lori ~ I thought about this post all day and the thing that kept coming back to me was the comment you made about Peter carrying 'a large type of board with him' while you were stalking the cheetah...

      and everytime I thought about it, I remembered hiking in Alaska a few years back, terrified of being attacked by a bear, and my brother-in-law handing me the can of bear spray (it was supposed to ease my fear....it didn't!!!) and how neither a can of bear spray or a large type of board is really much protection from such giant predators!!! you are sooooo brave :)
      Melissa

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  9. I may be repeating myself here, but what a gift you have given, taking us on this incredible journey. What stunning adventures you had. Just getting this glimpse of them has somehow awakened a longing in me. To breath in the wonders of this earth.

    Thank you, Lori.

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  10. How sweet that you made a book for your special friend! I'm sure he will never ever forget your thoughtfulness! Thanks for sharing your trip with us :)

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  11. Oh Lori, I cried at the end. Nkozi and the owl were my favorite, but I loved every photo and every animal. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this awesome trip with us all. Very special.xoxo

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  12. Oh Lori, are we back home - end of this journey? Thank you so much for taking us with you! You have had extra ordinary trip and so amazing experiments! xxx Teje

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  13. Oh I don't want your trip to end. Your pictures and stories were amazing. I really enjoyed all of your posts. If you make a book from your trip I'll be the first one to buy a copy of it.

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  14. I agree...I love this beautiful story- adventire in Africa Lori. I keep on saying this but your images are just breathtaking.
    How sweet of you to make a book...what a gift.

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  15. Lori, What a spectacular journey! Thank you for sharing this story, beautiful photos, and breathtaking views. This is an Africa that doesn't appear in the news and you have made me yearn to go their one day and take this trek.
    Great memories--and the BBC & Planet Earth should hire you! XOXO

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  17. scrolling down through these amazing images my heart almost stopped when i came upon the leopard in the tree.

    oh wow. i cannot imagine the excitement that must have shot through you when you saw this - my heart would have been in my mouth. and the owl.....my favorite. how lucky to see these gorgeous creatures. thank you for sharing your journey - i've never been to africa and would love to go someday.

    xo

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  18. I have really enjoyed all your Africa posts - you are very talented in many ways - writing and photography being just two! Thanks so much - I know how long these photo heavy posts take to make. I'm sad it's over now - I bet you were too ;)

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  19. To live ones own Out Of Africa for a snap shot must be thrilling.

    Your photos are beautiful.

    Christy
    Lil Bit Brit

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  20. Lori, such a gift you have shared with us! The photos are breathtaking. I've loved every one--every post. Thank you.

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  21. don't think i haven't been here already. i've swooned again.

    i have lots to say, but for now i'll just say that the cheetah looks kind. kind eyes....

    these posts are miraculous

    xoxo
    kj

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  22. Wow, what an absolutely amazing trip. Your photos are utterly gorgeous, and I love the book you made for guide, what a great idea to show you appreciated his guiding!!

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  23. I'm thinking my backside has become part of this chair as I've spent so much time reading, admiring,dreaming and drooling over all your gorgeous photos.
    What an incredible journey for us, as well as you. I'm sorry it's over,,,,I could do this for a long time still!
    Only a very generous person would think of making a book for their guidefriend, and these awesome posts for blogfriends!
    It's been great Lori,,,my BIG thanks to you for the effort put into this!

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  24. WOW Lori,
    What a post...I just felt as thrilled as you seeing the cheeta's...you were really lucky seeing so many of them...and those vultures..very nice and the purple roller is beautiful!!!and I love the book you made for your guide...I just LOVED this post and enjoyed each and every shot..thans for taking us along.Have a great day!

    Shantana

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  25. I too am very grateful to you for sharing your spectacular photos and stories with us. I have dreamed of doing a photo safari in Africa for many years, and feel like I just experienced the next best thing. You are such a talented photo journalist who can engage the reader to feel your joy, or distress, we just become completely hooked right up to the end, still wanting more. Can't wait for your next adventure, be it home or abroad! Karee nawa, Lori.

    Jan

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  26. Oh my goodness Lori!! that was awesome!! I love the sequence of the Leopard in the tree, how kind of you to make a book for Jonas!
    You have started something with me and warthogs - I think they are soo cute!
    And those vulture pictures, just amazing!
    It would never have entered my head to go on a safari in Africa but now I can't stop thinking about it.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip. Glad you both had such a lovely time.

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  27. Lori, the pleasure was all ours!! Thank you so much for every photo you have shared with us, as well as your delightful commentary which makes the pics so much more exciting!!
    It's been an exhilarating journey........ can you go on another holiday soon??!! ;o)

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  28. Thank you so much for sharing all these posts about your trip Lori. I would never be able to visit Africa myself - I struggle when temperatures reach 70F, I just don't do heat - so it is wonderful to share your personal account.

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  29. I even loved the vultures, and every other creature, and you and Chuck, always smiling (I would have, too). You are such a wonderful story-teller and provide all these magnificent photos along. I want to add another thank you for this common journey we all took with you! As the poem at our blog says ... once you heard the coucal cry, you`re hooked on Africa for life!

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  30. Hi Lori, I have no words to say how amazing this post is! I was thrilled to see the great photo book you made for Jonas. This was absolutely an unforgettable journey to Africa to all of us,hehe! Thank you for sharing your time and your experience with us and welcome back home.
    with love,

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  31. It's really hard to describe how special your posts and photos have been. Thanks once again for sharing. This last post was amazing, really unbelievable...there's almost too much....Mother Earth is a splendid place!

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  32. I LOVE all of these amazing photographs! Someone is a pretty amazing photographer...is it you or your husband? that leopard was pretty amazing. I feel like I got to meet him too!

    :)Lisa

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    1. Earth mama, the Amazing Photographer is LORI!!!

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  33. Hey Lori, I came across this blog today and thought you might enjoy.

    http://onestonedcrow.blogspot.com/

    Best wishes, Tammy

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  34. that was rivetting and such beautiful places, people and cats - lots and lots of cats! i love your description of a lion roar - yup thats how it sounds exactly huff huff huff - its true!

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  35. Oh Lori, I am away for a day and look what I missed~ I feel so enriched by all your pictures and diary of your trip, that shot of the leopard jumping from the tree is so extroidinary. I can't wait to show my husband who loves the big cats. Thank you Lori for sharing your incredible adventure.
    xx
    julie

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  36. Thanks for taking us, Lori. You did do it justice. You even made me miss the vultures. (A fresh perspective - my mother tells about the porcupine who keeps on ruining her garden!) This is the Namibia I know best, it looks like the farm. Oh, to sit down in joe's beerhouse and discuss all of this. Yes, Africa is more than what you read in the news, or see in the movies. Like any place, I guess? I cannot wait for your next adventure!
    Emma

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  37. wow lori! i am sad the journey for us is over. i love nkozi. what a gorgeous creature and such handsome pictures you got of him. i think indy should be a leopard like nkozi for halloween. : ) what a beautiful book you made for your friend. you are so thoughtful.

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xoxo lori