We wake up at sunrise, make some mokador and coffee and get Belinda packed up. The morning light on the rocks behind us renders a pleasant red.
Ugab Rhino Camp worked out as a great place to stay. I can’t imagine if the river was actually full and the place was teaming with rhino, elephant, lions, etc… That would be crazy, camping right beside it all. Hopefully we get into some of that today when we get to Etosha.
On the way out we stop and Peter runs in to drop off a nice wad of cash in the donations box. I hope the save the rhinos trust does well and gets properly appropriated.
We pass by the little huts and domes again heading out.
This time around we deflate the tires for the treacherous jagged rock hill. I start singing that stupid “Now you’re a man!” song again. I don’t know how that became the tire inflation/deflation tune but we all crack up every time.
Oh yeah. Deflated tires over all these rocks is much much better. We let Mark tackle the jagged hill of sketch again since he nailed it yesterday, then hand the reigns back to Drisdelle. We get passed all the rocky nonsense and back to the dirt. Time to re-inflate. Now you’re a MAN!!
It’s pretty in here with the rocky hills and tall yellow grass. Looks good in this morning light
Just a shit road to nowhere. I love it. The truck destroys it no problem. Time to go through the drastic landscape changes from yesterday in reverse. Rocky hills and trees to the lowland grass to red dirt to the beach.
I’m making pb&j sandwiches for everyone in the back seat with a knife I just sharpened. Going 100 down a dirt road doing this, brilliant. “Look at that tower of peebers!”, “Look at that jelly wiggle!”
It’s gonna take a good 6 hours to get to Etosha so we’re just zippin the rooster. We spot a road around a giant rock and figure it’s as good a spot as any for a pee break. We do a loop around. Yep. Just a big rock
There’s a small collection of shanties on one side like this is supposed to be a thing. No one here now though.
After shaking the mister we spot a large hole right next to us. “What lives in there?”, “Hyena maybe?”, “Should we throw rocks in?”, “Not advisable.”
Peter pulls out an air freshener we’d picked up a while back from the glove box. “Is it time for Little Joe?”, “Sure, couldn’t hurt.” He unwraps it from the plastic and my eyes instantly start burning. “Holy fuck that’s strong!”, “Smells like flaming urinal cakes!”, “Oh gaaawd, make it stop”, “Fuck you, Little Joe!” Giggling, Peter stuffs it in the glove box again and slams it shut likes he’s exorcised a demon in there. This only slightly muffles the smell. “Ahhh jeeeezuz, sorry about that, boys.” We agree to bury Little Joe and dusk.
We get back on the road away from the giant rock. Jamie hits the windshield washer and somehow the stench of Little Joe gets sucked up through the vents and biffed back in our faces. “There it is again?!”, “What the fuck!”, “The cab smells like a truck stop bathroom”, “On fire!”, “Little Joe, you miserable shit!”
We start to see local tribes by the road clothed in just strips of red cloth. Some are totally naked. As we drive by they spread their arms and dance as a way of enticing us to pull over to their little shanty shops by the roadway. One little girl has a wide smile when she sees us and pulls this amazing double sprinkler move that gets us all busted up in the truck. Ahhh that kid rules. We keep emulating the move. Laughs every time. Yep, that’s a keeper. Thanks kid.
But no killer dance moves or full frontal nudity can sway us from our mission to get to Etosha by sundown. We’re not sure when they close the gates to the park but we intend to be inside them when they do.
Of course, then we get stuck behind a bus kicking up so much dust we can’t even see the road we’re on. Finally get around that and there are some slower moving cars. Same thing. Total dust out. Drisdelle has to hang way back just to see, then wait for a long straight stretch to close the distance again and pass totally blind through the dust before he can get his revenge on the other side. All while plowing into potholes and rocks no one can see at passing speed. I’ve driven in whiteouts before and not knowing if you’re still on the road or if there’s an oncoming car beyond the visible wall is scary shit.
We stop in a town called Kamanjab for gas. The landscape changes to rolling gold hills w small fall colored trees covering everything. More foliage probably means more animals. We pick up some random road snacks: The Bar-One mars bar clone, ginger beer, and a variety pack of game biltong.
It takes another 2 hours to get near the gates of Etosha. Yep it’s on. We whiz by 7 giraffes eating a shrub by the road. Then come the zebras and wildebeests. Springbok, Oryx and Impala by the road. Ok, here we go, it’s animal time. Better let these guys cross.
We hit the gates just before closing and get ourselves checked in. Mission 1 accomplished. Sign up the book with truck details and grab a permit for 330 a day. The landscape completely changes again. Open plains, brush and tiny trees now. We drive through the opening of the park and it’s all herds of zebra and ostriches, the odd kudu. 22,000 square clicks of open space with watering holes and hundreds of animal species. This is great.
We pass by a camp named Dolomite that looks baller. No vacancies there. We’re aiming for a place called Olifantrus tonight. Mark read that you can camp in their overflow area if it’s all booked. We’re on the case.
Elephant crossing signs. Badass.
Ok, gotta let this giraffe cross too.
Helmeted guinea fowl keep kamikaze running out into the road in front of us. We’re almost there now. Alright it’s just around the corner. I hear some crashing through the brush on our left. Ahhh dude, you should probably let this guy cross. A giant elephant comes out of the brush beside us. She turns towards us and flaps her ears up. “Ahhh, reverse homie”, “I’m trying, I’m trying!”
We back things up and give her some space.
“Shit, we’re a bit close to that elephant”, “This is awesome!”
The giant passes slowly and we give her some breadth before pulling forward again. Olifantrus is just around the corner, how perfect. We pull into a gated area. There are some picnic areas, a few admin buildings and a large structure that was used to cull elephants years ago. Place looks dope.
We go in and the girl says that there are no sites available but we can camp in the overflow picnic spots if there are any left. Look out. Yep, there’s two left. Alright, pay up and we go get Belinda situated. Mission 2 accomplished.
Etosha looks to be great already. Can’t wait to check out some watering holes tomorrow. We back the truck into a spot and break out some cocktails to cheers our excitement. The only difference between this and a camping spot looks to be no water hose. Whatever. This place rocks! Olifantrus has a gazeebo-type hide across a bridge into the wilderness that overlooks a watering hole. The sun is setting, we should hightail it over there and see if any animals are around.
(Spoiler alert: there are..)