Up early again and have a nice breakfast, they even serve oysters here for breakfast. Janice, Matt and I set off to see the souvenir sellers whilst Ritchie has a massage on his neck. Swakopmund is waking up and it's chilly and overcast. We haggle over Oryx horns and carved Giraffe. In the end everyone is happy and we get back to the hotel ready to leave. Carlos is to take all our bags onto Tyfelfontein and we are to pick up a couple of Cesna planes, so we can film the Skeleton Coast.
We pass though the township and I think of Mambo, then onto the airstrip. Here we meet Martin our young pilot and film all our bit's and bobs. He explains he is going to fly us down to the disused diamond mines over the dunes then up the coast, over the wrecks, seals and finally over the mountains to the game reserve, all good with me.
The plane we are in has the door removed so Matt (and I) can get some great shots. The weather is warming up but Martin explains that it will be colder near the coast, but should warm up when we head inland.
Willi our other pilot turns and he refuels. He is flying with us so we can get plane-to-plane shots. Finally we are ready to go and we strap ourselves in and taxi down the gravel runway.
Willi takes off and then we follow rising way off over Swakopmund and over the vast area of dunes. The sun is out fully now and it's a spectacular sight. Miles and miles of dunes are beneath us. After about 30 mines we fly over the disused and abandoned mines. Then sweep to our right over the surf and the Skeleton Coast, it takes my breath away, the sun is now reflecting off the surf we are all exited, apart from Ritchie, who is asleep in the back.
We fly for what seems like an age over lonely fisherman, wrecks, millions of seals and patchy holiday homes. We fly by Walvis Bay and onto Swakopmund waving Willi off to land. The weather changes and the fog takes over, and all of a sudden it get very cold in the plane as the doors is off. Martin explains that in 30 minutes we will turn inland and fly over the mountains and it will warm up considerably. Janice is happy, at one point she was shivering, but now the scenery change dramatically.
We fly between two mountains and descend into the valley beyond. The runway I can see ahead and Martin skilfully brings the plane down to about 100 ft, flies over the runway and circles around. He explains that here you always check first, the last thing you want is an ostrich or warthog running across at the last moment. This time we land perfectly and the heat really hit's you. We are at Twyfelfontein in southern Damaraland, a nature lodge, with wildlife including elephants, ancient bushman drawings and lovely surroundings set in the brick red mountains.
Our transport arrives, but Matt wants to film the taking off so we hang around. Martin gets increasingly agitated at the time it takes to re-fuel his plane. It's all hand pumped here and takes an age. He is now too late for his next pick up. We say our goodbyes and head to the lodge and our rooms. The rooms are comfortable and fine. We head into the lovely lodge and order a sandwich. While we wait our guide Ziggy comes and introduces himself to us. He’s a bit spikey, and not happy we are eating as it's 3.55. He is due to take us out at 4. We compromise and say 4.15. Once we have all the kit together we set off and he warms up.
We go some 30k into the bush to a dry riverbed in search of elephants. On the way we see secretary birds, Ostrich, Warthog and many deer including one of the smallest species. Finally we come across a lone elephant, grazing, it’s a truly lovely sight. He’s about 30 and very handsome. We kick on and to find more but to no avail then Ziggy stops for sundown and a bottle of rose Champagne is cracked open. Matt films it and I take photos.
It gets dark very quickly here and also old once the sun disappears, so we head back the 25k with coats on. By the time we are back it's pitch black and head for the shower to warm up, checking of course for snakes and scorpions. Dinner is a carvery style (government owned) and is a case of dodging very rude middle aged Germans in the melee for food. God they complain so much. Eventually I plump for roasted pork, delicious, plus roasted tongue rice and vegetables. I have to say of all the places we stayed and ate in this was the most disappointing. Off to bed early as Janice has changed her mind and we are heading to our final destination one night early.
Breakfast is early as usual, after taking some lovely sunrise shots. The Germans from the night before are back in a vengeance. This time even more rude the previous evening, I keep well away. They all go quickly so I settle down to breakfast, skipping the cereals on offer after watching 2 large black birds hopping about in the bowls. Matt and Janice turn up.
We are to film the rock paintings, Burnt Mountain and the ‘Organ Pipes’ on the way to our final reserve Erindi, but that’s another 4 hours away minimum. So we crack on, Carlos drives us 20 minutes to rock art and we film drawings (in fact they are carvings) going back many years. Burnt mountain is like a quarry with black as deposit's, looking like a burnt mound, not a mountain. Organ pipes are more interesting, shafts of rocks formed by volcanic laver pushing upwards from the ground.
We then drive 2 hours into nowhere, along dusty tracks, finally stopping a couple of small shacks, where there are ladies and kids selling trinkets. We film one of the ladies and kids and purchase some bit's and bobs. Back in the car we then head off for lunch at the next town. I have a spicy beef sausage hot dog, which is nice. Janice is hassled by the gem sellers and Ritchie intervenes, they disperse pretty quickly. We fill up with petrol and leave sharpish.
Another 2 hours, we are knackered and we finally arrive at Erindi game reserve. As we go through the gate you think you are here, but this reserve is 140,000 sq. miles. We drive another 20 minutes before we get to the main lodge. We dodge Impala, Kudu, Oryx and Wildebeest.
We check in and go to our rooms straight away. I shower and relax looking at all the animals that are outside my window. Ritchie and I go to look at the restaurant, it's pretty spectacular. A beautiful room overlooking the main watering hole. Whilst we have a drink Zebra, Giraffe, and Warthog gather in the late afternoon sun. Crocs sunbathe and Hippo’s grunt at each other. After 30 minutes 2 large bull elephants round the corner and the Zebra run off. They are huge. I go to get Janice and Matt tells him to get the camera. Right on cue the whole elephant family turn up, 15 or 16 mums, kids and babies, thank god we got a camera.
After a few minutes the white rhino turn up also, what a show.
We retire for dinner, with a sort of ‘Seen that, done it’ attitude. Dinner is very good, starting with some lovely snails in a garlic sauce, followed by roasted Oryx sirloin with whole coriander and spices, it's pretty damn good. The staff sing and dance for us, this is a great place. I head off to bed with a full belly and sleep really well.