The long write up of our Namibia trip…

29 September 2012
Grunau …. Interesting place in a sort of one horse town kind of way. We’d purposefully booked a place in ‘town’ as it had three rooms and J and T wouldn’t have to share, but due to a variety of misunderstandings (still not sure what they are) we have ended up with a room for Wouter and I and the kids staying in the teardrop. In fairness to the Road House she did offer them a room further down the drag but they’re still busy building them and although they have beds and a bathroom, the electricity isn’t in yet and neither is the plumbing. Don’t blame the kids for not wanting to trek through the dark over the building rubble to come use our loo in the night should the need arise so we’ve parked them outside our door and Wouter scored a free six pack of Windhoek Lager as compensation. Right now that beer is worth more than a room in a five star hotel.
According to our trusty Namibian guide book the Road House has a simple restaurant and a ……….. Having surveyed the scene and asked the ‘locals’ supper will be eaten at the Country House… Which is ‘billik’ according to our landlady. No clue what she meant but I have entirely exhausted my Afrikaans trying to explain why my kids are happier staying in a teensy caravan than a huge room with about ten beds. (Jessica reckons the entire place has been built with orgies in mind based on the size of the baths and showers being built in the rooms, you could fit about five ppl in the shower alone)
Of course as per usual when travelling with someone who isn’t exactly the most organised it was a bit disturbing to discover the kids SA passports had expired in May 2012, we still had the UK ones and they’re far from expiring. I got more and more nervous the closer we got to the border crossing in Vioolsdrif but after a bit of hannering on the part of the immigration dude and a few confused looks he stamped both their SA and the UK ones and sent us of our way. Phew…. On the Namibian side I didn’t bother with the SA ones and it was plain sailing.
Suffice to say the mile after mile of stark Namibian vast nothingness is starting to wear on my soul and we’ve only been driving for a day and a half, still have the same ahead and then the trip back…
I managed to goof up again by losing the folder which has all of our booking info, car registration details etc. in it, basically we’d be up the creek without it. Fortunately Tamsyn remembered seeing it on the bed in one of the unfinished rooms and after a bit of an exchange with the security dude (who kept looking very suspiciously at us) he phoned the owners and some poor bloke came out to open the office so we could get the keys for room 5. Travelling with me is one huge adventure.
Honest review: Road House
Baring in mind they are hectically busy with building new rooms which I must say do look very nice and modern so things will change soon. If you’re an easy going traveller who takes things in their stride and aren’t too phased by little niggles then this place is fine. Our toilet wouldn’t flush unless we filled the cistern 7 times with a jug of water, the fridge door didn’t close properly so it kept making weird noises in the night and the bathroom needs a good paint and some tlc, however the bed was very comfortable and if it weren’t for all the noises in the night I would have slept the sleep of the just. Things would probably have been better for all of us if there hadn’t been the mixup over our original booking but as we’re staying there on the way back perhaps my second review will be a little more kind.
Supper proved entertaining, the food when it eventually arrived (2 hours after ordering) was very edible but a more uptight traveller might say that was because we were ravenous by this stage. Wouter had gemsbok which was extremely tasty and will probably be ordered again. There was a huge tour group ranging in age from ancient to midde aged who had the poor waitress running off her feet delivering of all things toasted sarmies and chips to most of the tables. Not sure if they’d never seen white ppl before or if it was our appalling attempt at holding a conversation in Afrikaans but we kept getting surreptitious glances and some sweet old dear on her way out mumbled something to us which none of us caught. The food was simple but very nicely prepared and I would recommend the place just don’t count on fast service if there is more than two tables occupied.
30 September 2012
We had breakfast at the Wimpy just outside of Keetmanshoop and stopped off for fuel and provisions at the spar in mariental.
4 October 2012
We are back at The 1000 Olive guest house having survived being robbed and the furnace like heat in Etosha. Let’s talk about the pleasant parts first, oh my phewk did we see lots of animals and if the postcards in the convenience store at the camp are anything to go by we saw everything except the really elusive leopard and cheetah, kind of bummed about that. The watering hole lived up to the various reviews I’d heard from others and we got to see rhino, elephant, the ever present springbok, jackals, wildebeest, giraffe, kudu, gemsbok, warthog, zebra – it was flippen darn amazing. My personal favourite were the elephants, they are such majestic beasts that take their time and quietly walk over the rocks to get to the water, who knew they were so quiet. Our first night filled us with wonder as we watched five rhino have a drink and take a bath, by the third night we were so blasé we didn’t even bother going to see them again. Rhino? Pfft been there, done that. In fact we kind of got blasé about most of the animals we were seeing, there were so many of them. Herds of wildebeest and zebra, masses of springbok and even the elephants were plentiful when we did our drives around the park. We did have the honour of seeing five lions, two males at one watering hole who put made a point of being typical cats and showing off their magnificence and later three lionesses trying to keep cool by bathing in yet another watering hole.
Which makes for a nice segue into the heat issue, starting to think all our holidays are going to have the ever present “oh my heck I am in hell”. Second day it was still 42 deg at four in the afternoon with no respite in sight. I have to confess I wasn’t at my best and there was a tad bit (‘k, A LOT) of whining and moaning on my part but it was friggen hot! Tamsyn and Jessica swam quite a bit and thankfully the pools were not like those in Disney World, who the heck heats a pool in a climate where the average temperature is in the high thirties with 100% humidity? Anyhow I digress the pools were lovely and cool and if I had been thinking before the trip I might have brought my costume but as we know, thinking and organising for trips is not one of my strong points. As it was the kids didn’t bring either so we spent an hour in O……wa on our way to Etosha going into every clothing store they had trying to find costumes. Nada, but we managed to come up with a plan and make do with the limited offerings. The robbery I mentioned at the beginning occurred here with Wouter being pestered by the local pan handlers selling everything from hair dye to knives and some swine managed to open the car door and steal his wallet (with all his cash, cards, ID book, drivers license etc in it) right from under his nose and the amazing part of it was Wouter never left the side of the car he was there the whole time. Bastards. So time we didn’t intend to spend was wasted at the police station reporting the theft, not that they seemed terribly disturbed by it, more like resigned to the fact that unsuspecting tourists who are only too happy to spend money in their town are being ripped off and left with a very nasty taste in their mouths. We do not like the town of O…..
Back to Etosha, the first night we opted to eat at the one and only restaurant which provides a buffet at the crazy price of $170 a head. Wouldn’t have minded so much if the food had been better, nothing really wrong with it but there was nothing really exceptional about it either. Variety of salads for starters, soup, then for mains a choice of lamb or chicken with rice, veggies and dessert was some sort of tart, fruit salad and a chocolate brownie with ice cream. In other words nothing we haven’t made at home and in most cases made better. When you think that tourists from all over the world come out spending lots of money to stay in air conditioned rooms and all they get each night is chicken or lamb, doesn’t seem right somehow. There is a general lack of attention to detail and upkeep of the park, the road signs in most cases are so faded you can’t make out what they are and the service is pathetic. ‘Africa time’ is in full force and just buying a cold drink from the little shop takes forever. There is so much potential for greatness and opportunity to deliver a five class experience but I’m guessing no-one complains very loudly because when you go to sit by the watering hole at night and get to see jumbo elephants spraying water down their backs, an owl catch and eat his prey and the soon to be extinct rhino you forget about the niggles and lack of service and find yourself transported back in time to an Africa where the game were plentiful and ruled the land. It really is as magical as people claim it to be.
Much of day two was spent by the pool where a slight breeze kept the temperature to almost bearable and every now and then Tamsyn would shake water from the pool onto my back and feet, really did the trick. We had a marathon two’s and four’s competition and later in the afternoon went on a drive to find meerkats, sadly we were unsuccessful but we did see all the others mentioned already. Supper was a mince and rice creation cooked entirely by Tamsyn who has now officially been declared the camp chef and will be called upon again to perform culinary delights on future trips. Each night we were serenaded by the king if the beasts and although I haven’t actually slept very well at all our little teardrop is remarkably comfortable and seems to be holding up well.
As food appears to feature quite heavily in this post I should speak about the meal we had in Windhoek on our way up to Etosha at Joe’s……. Also a buffet and funnily enough $170 per head but that is where the comparison ends. They had zebra, eland, kudu, beef and warthog on offer, plus beef stew, chicken curry, Eisbein, pork chops and a variety of vegetable dishes, potatoes in all forms and more desserts than even Tamsyn could eat. Highly recommend eating there just go hungry.

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