From Etosha to Ugab

From Etosha we drove to Otjiwarongo, where – with some misadventure, i.e. the theft of cameras, iPad, cellphones, but fortunately not the Nikon, or our passports (!) – we spent the night. Next morning, somewhat disillusioned with the place, we went on to Ugab, where we stayed at the fabulous Ugab Terrace Lodge. Fabulous for its views, that is, its accommodation, and its extraordinary location, atop a narrow ridge reached by a death-defying climb up a track that in the last stretch seems to point vertically into the skies. Everything good, except for the food, which was merely decent, though miles – aeons – better than the crap we were fed at Namibia Wildlife Resorts. Needless to say, after several days in which food was simply sustenance at best, we tucked in with gusto. Here, to ease the transition to the next stage of our journey, are a last few photos from Etosha, and two landscapes from Ugab. The bird in

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Sunset, Okaukuejo

Day One in Etosha ended as it had begun, back at the Okaukuejo camp. The camps in the park, run by Namibia Wildlife Resorts, were comfortable and clean, though not always well maintained, and the staff, I regret to say, were for the most part graduates of the Soviet school of hospitality – surly, unhelpful, unresponsive. The food was pretty dreadful, and expensive. The best bet, we discovered, was to get a burger for lunch at the cafeteria, and avoid the dinner buffets altogether. The waterhole at Okaukuejo, famed in the guide books for its ‘teeming’ animals, was mostly deserted. We sat up late and got up early, waiting with tripod and cameras and binoculars for that magical sighting, and were lucky enough to see two male lions appear after dark, the one night, to drink, and then – quite literally – melt away into the darkness. We saw a rhino, too, splashing about in the waterhole after dark, black-backed

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The Road to Okondeka

The road to Okondeka runs west from the Okaukuejo camp, the main rest camp in Namibia’s fabulous Etosha wildlife reserve. You head out across open plains, waving with grasses, and then the salt pan comes into view on your right, a silver, lunar sea that runs to the horizon. A haze of heat and dust hangs in the air, fine, like powder. We watch for a while as a black-backed jackal skirmishes with a pair of vultures at a carcase; further on, a long line of zebra, preceded by wildebeest, crests a low hill and winds towards us. It is pretty much true to say that over that first morning, and the days that followed, almost all sense of time vanished: the vast expanse swallows you up, and your everyday human concerns and anxieties with it. In that sense, Etosha is a spiritual as much as a tourist experience. Which is a good thing as the latter – aka Namibia Wildlife Resorts – is

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Out of the frying pan

If Namibia, metaphorically speaking, was the frying pan, what with its 40 degree temperatures, desert elephants and the extraordinary vistas of Etosha, then returning to still-grey and chilly Toronto has been a leap, or spill, into the metaphorical fire. We just haven’t stopped, since landing at Pearson. It started with two mailboxes: our physical mailbox, which contained, when we wearily prised open our front door after 30 hours in transit, a missive from Citizenship and Immigration, inviting me to attend a citizenship swearing-in ceremony on May 17th. Quite the welcome home, I’d say. Talk about rolling out the red carpet. Waiting for me in the other mailbox, my email inbox, was a string of messages, pertaining to a possible contract in – you guessed it – the place we had just come from, South Africa. The flurry of emails and conference calls since then has all trended in one direction: the possibility of more work back home, and more travel. There will

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